Warriors sweep Pelicans in first round

The Golden State Warriors have quickly escorted the New Orleans Pelicans out of the the playoffs and into the offseason. Which is either rude or polite, depending on how you look at it. Rude, because nobody wants to be swept from the playoffs. But polite, because the Warriors ended the Pelicans quickly. They didn’t draw it out. No time was wasted. Time is valuable. Yeah. Anyway, here’s the San Francisco Chronicle reporting:

For about a month now, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has been waiting for his team to take its game to another level.

The wait is over.

They practiced most everything Kerr has preached this season in a 109-98 victory over the Pelicans on Saturday night to sweep the best-of-seven, first-round series.

The Warriors will play the winner of the Memphis-Portland matchup in the Western Conference semifinals, a series that could start next weekend in Oakland.

With a chance to close out the plucky Pelicans, the Warriors played nearly perfect ball. They outshot the Pelicans 54.2 percent to 22.7 percent from three-point range, dished out 28 assists to 10 turnovers and won in fastbreak points 20-0. The Warriors even beat New Orleans in rebounding (39-36) and paint points (44-40).

The stellar team stats came on the coattails of some brilliant individual efforts. Stephen Curry had 39 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, Draymond Green put up 22 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Klay Thompson added 25 points.

Wizards forward Otto Porter playing well against Raptors

Here’s the Washington Post blog with a positive report on Wizards forward Otto Porter:

Wizards forward Otto Porter playing well against Raptors

A feisty Porter has emerged against the Raptors to do a little bit of everything. He is averaging 10.7 points and 7.3 rebounds in 34 minutes, though much of his performance isn’t represented on a stat sheet. His three-pointer with 4 minutes 23 seconds remaining in Game 3 Friday handed Washington a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. He has salvaged possessions with tap-outs and been a nuisance on both ends of the floor. He does the grunt work that’s made the Wizards’ wildly successful small lineup with Pierce at power forward as potent as it is.

“He’s been the difference,” Raptors guard Greivis Vasquez declared after the Wizards’ Game 3 win.

Porter’s greatest contribution, however, may be his defense. The long-limbed Porter – he is 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan — has served as a DeMar DeRozan stopper of sorts during the series and it was evident again Friday.

Stephen Curry hit six 3-pointers during a 39-point night, and the Golden State Warriors cruised to 109-98 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, completing a sweep of their first-round playoff series.

Klay Thompson added 25 points for the Warriors, the NBA’s top overall seed, who will wait to host Game 1 of their second-round series against the winner of the Portland-Memphis matchup.

Draymond Green added 22 points and 10 rebounds for Golden State, which raced to a 67-54 halftime lead and widened the gap to as many as 24 points in the second half before the desperate Pelicans briefly cut their deficit to single digits in the final minutes.

Curry had eight rebounds and nine assists in Game 4.

Anthony Davis had 36 points and 11 rebounds to close out what has been a remarkable third season for the Pelicans’ 22-year-old franchise player. He just didn’t have quite enough help.

– Associated Press

They were beaten badly in the regular season and were losing by a little in the playoffs.

On their seventh try this season, the Nets finally got a victory over Atlanta. Get another one Monday, and they will be all even with the No. 1 seed in this Eastern Conference series.

Brook Lopez had 22 points and 13 rebounds, Thaddeus Young added 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Brooklyn trimmed Atlanta’s lead to 2-1 with a 91-83 victory Saturday.

“We know they’re going to make adjustments, but we really feel we can compete with these guys and we have a lot of confidence right now,” Lopez said.

The Nets seized control with an 18-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarters after the Hawks grabbed their first lead since the opening basket. Bojan Bogdanovic added 19 points for the eighth-seeded Nets, who qualified for the playoffs on the final night of the regular season.

– Associated Press

Paul Pierce making life difficult for Raptors

Here’s the Boston.com blog reporting on Washington Wizards small forward Paul Pierce, who is doing mean things to the Toronto Raptors in their first-round playoff series:

Paul Pierce making life difficult for Raptors

Paul Pierce continues to make life miserable for the Toronto Raptors.

The former Celtics star scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of three-pointers in crunch time to help clinch a 106-99 win for his Washington Wizards over the Raptors on Friday night. The win gives Washington a commanding 3-0 series lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Truth finished the night shooting 5 of 9 from the field, including 4 of 7 from beyond the arc in just 27 minutes of action. Wizards’ coach Randy Wittman limited Pierce’s minutes so the veteran could be fresh in the fourth quarter and the move paid major dividends.

Derek Fisher a fan of Celtics coach Brad Stevens

Here’s ESPN New York reporting some praise for young Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, who continues to make the most of a fairly limited roster. The Celtics are in big trouble in their first-round playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers but they’ve still played well and put up a good fight:

Derek Fisher a fan of Celtics coach Brad Stevens

If you’re an NBA fan who appreciates how well Brad Stevens has the Boston Celtics playing, you’re not alone.

New York Knicks coach Derek Fisher is also a big fan of Stevens’ work.

Fisher mentioned Stevens’ named fairly frequently over the course of the season when talking about coaches he appreciates. There are aspects of Stevens’ approach that Fisher wants to emulate.

“I think Brad kind of has that feel where most of the work is already done and he’s allowing the guys to go out and play the game,” Fisher said of Stevens’ “quiet” sideline demeanor. “That’s kind of the way I feel. That will be my style going forward.”

Mavs hoping to avoid sweep by Rockets

Mavs hoping to avoid sweep from Rockets

The Houston Rockets lead the banged-up, short-handed Dallas Mavericks 3-0 in their first round playoff series. Here’s ESPN Dallas reporting:

All that’s left for the Dallas Mavericks is to play as hard as they can Sunday night to avoid getting swept in their first-round series against the Houston Rockets.

It’s doubtful effort alone will be enough to derail the inevitable.

None of the 110 NBA teams that have previously trailed three games to none in a best-of-seven series has ever rallied to win the series — and the Mavs aren’t going to be the first.

They simply don’t have enough healthy players or talent to beat these Rockets, who won 56 games and finished second in the Western Conference.

Injuries are never an excuse for losing, and the Mavericks certainly aren’t making excuses, but there comes a time when a team suffers so many injuries that it becomes compromised.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle fined for public criticism of officiating

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle fined for public criticism of officiating

Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle has been fined $25,000 for public criticism of officiating, it was announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations.

Carlisle made his comments following the Mavericks’ 130-128 loss to the Houston Rockets on Friday, April 24, at American Airlines Center.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “I’m sure they’ll put the money to good use, I’m very confident of that,’’ Carlisle said after Saturday’s practice. “I accept the fine. “I have strong feelings about how I feel about my team and I’m going to fight for my team, and that’s just the way it’s going to be. I’m a lot like my owner — I’m going to fight for my guys.’’”

Marcin Gortat steps up in Wizards Game 3 win vs Raptors

The Washington Wizards are on a roll. Now up 3-0 in their first-round series against the Toronto Raptors, the team has regained some of the swagger they enjoyed earlier in the season. Here’s the Washington Post blog reporting:

Marcin Gortat steps up in Wizards Game 3 win vs Raptors

Marcin Gortat’s season reached a nadir in Canada on Feb. 11. He had just watched his Washington Wizards play an entire fourth quarter against the Toronto Raptors from the bench for the third time this season because Coach Randy Wittman had elected to use smaller lineups without him. Gortat was visibly fuming. He had signed a $60-million contract over the summer and he didn’t anticipate sitting in the fourth quarter during marquee matchups as part of the deal.

“It’s tough. It’s really tough especially the last year I played pretty much every fourth quarter,” Gortat said after the game. “It’s a coaching decision. You guys have to ask him why I’m not playing.”

Fast-forward three months and Gortat is starring – and playing fourth quarters –against the same Raptors as the Wizards have taken a commanding 3-0 series lead. The center registered team highs of 24 points and 13 rebounds in 42 minutes while adding strong rim protection at the other end in the fourth quarter of the Wizards’ 106-99 Game 3 win Friday.

Warriors unleash amazing comeback to win Game 3 vs Pelicans

The Golden State Warriors unleashed an amazing comeback to push Game 3 of their first round playoff series against the New Orleans Pelicans into overtime, and then coming away with a shocking win. Golden State now has a 3-0 series lead. Here’s CSN Bay Area reporting:

The Warriors became the third team in postseason history to overcome a deficit of at least twenty points entering the fourth quarter, and win.

Steph Curry’s miraculous game-tying 3-pointer with 2.8 seconds left in regulation will be remembered forever, but he wouldn’t have been able to play the role of hero without a lot of help from his teammates.

“We were pretty desperate,” Steve Kerr said following the historic win. “We went small. We put Shaun Livingston in there. We gave Steph a brief rest to start the fourth … our small unit in the fourth quarter just came in and turned it into a track meet.

“Draymond was fantastic. When you go small and you have to guard (Anthony) Davis, you’re really not getting much help on the backside and Draymond thwarted several lobs and plays at the rim, and got rebounds and then we were able to get out and run.

But I’m gonna have to watch the tape. I’m not quite sure what happened. I’m as startled as everybody else.”

Spurs need an effective Tony Parker

Here’s the San Antonio Express-News with a key health update on the Spurs:

Tony Parker will play Game 3 vs Clippers

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says perennially hobbled point guard Tony Parker will play in Game 3 tonight against the L.A. Clippers. Given Parker left Game 2 in the fourth quarter with soreness in his right Achilles tendon — to go with a rolled ankle and thigh contusion suffered in Game 1 — it is fair to wonder how effective he might be.

The matchup between a limping Parker and Clippers All-Star Chris Paul has not been a fair fight so far. Paul has outscored Parker 53-11 in two games, a gulf the Spurs have been forced to make up in other areas.

Though the Spurs have used several different defenders against Paul, including newly minted Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard, Parker has drawn the assignment to start the game.

Dirk Nowitzki claims to not know what happened with Rajon Rondo

Mavericks point guard Rajon Rondo doesn’t appear to be a Mavericks point guard anymore. Now he’s a guy that used to play for them, is still signed to the team, but allegedly has a back injury, and also seems grumpy quite often, and now is hanging out someplace else. How’s that for a pinpoint summary? Anyway, here’s the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporting:

Dirk Nowitzki has no idea what happened with Rajon Rondo

The face of the Dallas Mavericks – Dirk Nowitzki – said he’s not been informed on why exactly point guard Rajon Rondo is no longer slated to play any more basketball games with this franchise.

“I wasn’t there if (owner Mark) Cuban or them talked to him,’’ Nowitzki said after Friday morning’s shootaround at American Airlines Center. “I wasn’t there, so I think that it’s something I don’t or can’t comment on.

“Maybe later on I’ll get enlighten more and I’ll be in the loop. But as of now I’m focusing on who’s here and we’ve got an important game tonight in front of our home crowd, and that’s how I look at it.’’

On Wednesday, coach Rick Carlisle said Rondo sustained a back injury early in the first quarter of Tuesday game against the Houston Rockets. But after the game – when Rondo was benched after playing 10 listless minutes – Carlisle said he didn’t put Rondo back in the game because of the effectiveness of J. J. Barea and Raymond Felton.

Paul Pierce says teammate John Wall is the best NBA PG

Here’s the Washington Post blog reporting good news, that Wizards forward Paul Pierce thinks Wizards guard John Wall is awesome:

Paul Pierce says John Wall is the best NBA PG

John Wall was one of the primary reasons why Paul Pierce surprisingly joined the Washington Wizards last summer. He viewed Wall and Bradley Beal as an up-and-coming back court on the brink of stardom.

After an all-star regular season and a masterful 26-point, 17-assist Game 2 performance against the Toronto Raptors, Pierce doesn’t think the Wall is just on his way to becoming one of the best point guards in the NBA. The 17-year veteran believes Wall already is at the top of the totem pole.

“Top to bottom, he’s the best point guard,” Pierce claimed Friday morning. “You talk about [Golden State Warriors point guard] Stephen Curry, the amazing things he’s done, the three-point shooting, but I just look at overall game. You look at the way [Wall] can score, the way he can pass, the way he can defend. Top to bottom I think he’s the best point guard in the league.”

No Defensive Player of Year award for Draymond Green just yet.

Here’s CSN Bay Area reporting on versatile Warriors talent Draymond Green:

Was Draymond Green the real 2014-15 Defensive Player of year?

After finishing second in the voting for NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Warriors forward Draymond Green says he’s not angry. Disappointed? Absolutely. Puzzled? No doubt.

He would truly like to hear an explanation for such fluky, aberrant voting.

Green had more first-place votes than winner Kawhi Leonard (45 to 37) but lost the overall voting because he was completely left off 42 ballots.

“Now, I don’t understand that,” Green said Thursday morning. “I don’t understand that one. But it is what it is.”

Each voter lists three players for the award. Leonard, the San Antonio forward, received 332 points overall. Green finished with 317 points. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan finished third, with 261 points and 32 first-place votes.

Warriors aiming for sweep of Pelicans

Here’s CSN Bay Area reporting on the Golden State Warriors, who were the best team in the league in the 2014-15 regular season and hope to keep it rocking all playoffs long:

The Warriors are up 2-0 despite some obvious difficulties with New Orleans. With the elongated form of Anthony Davis blanketing half the court, the Pelicans have been disruptive on defense. On offense, they’ve utilized screen-and-rolls to get Davis near the rim or, more damaging, to give Quincy Pondexter and Eric Gordon open looks beyond the arc.

But if the Warriors fix those two problems — and they believe they will — it’s realistic to believe they can win twice at Smoothie King Center and achieve the sweep.

“I like the position we’re in,” coach Steve Kerr told CSNBayArea.com. “I don’t think we’re ahead of the game; you don’t get ahead of the game until you win on the road. But I feel good. I know we can play better.”

The Warriors have put together impressive stretches but no truly impressive game, partly because New Orleans is a well-coached, high-quality team. But the Warriors expect better.

Deron Williams struggles badly in Game 2 vs Hawks

Here’s ESPN New York reporting on Nets point guard Deron Williams, who shot bricks in Brooklyn’s Game 2 loss to the Atlanta Hawks: 

Deron Williams struggles badly in Game 2

Coming off one of the worst playoff games of his career, Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams knows he needs to produce at a higher level.

Asked to assess where his game is on Thursday, Williams responded, “Do I really have to answer that? I just came off two points, 1-for-7 [shooting]. I can play better.”

In Brooklyn’s 96-91 Game 2 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night, Williams, as he said, had just two points on 1-for-7 shooting. He missed a wide-open, potential game-tying jumper with 10 seconds remaining.

The Nets trail the Hawks 2-0 in their first-round series. Game 3 is Saturday afternoon at Barclays Center.

Chandler Parsons out with knee injury

Chandler Parsons out with knee injury

Here’s the Houston Chronicle with an update on injured Mavericks forward Chandler parsons:

A day after the Mavericks announced that he would be out for the remainder of the season, forward Chandler Parsons said he will require surgery on his right knee.

Parsons will meet with more doctors and will have more information next week. He said the knee injury – which he sustained March 29 when the Mavericks played in Indiana – has only gotten worse over the past several weeks.

He said there is no tear or structural damage, but that the knee will need repair.

“I have a few other appointments next week,” Parsons said. “It just never got better and it’s just so frustrating right now because I obviously want to be playing with my team. I want to be out there. It’s the playoffs. It’s the most fun time of the year and I was looking forward to this series against Houston and its all taken away from me, so it is devastating and I want to be out there but I have tried every possible thing to try to play – rehab, rest, different treatments – and nothing has worked. I have a couple of options to go over with doctors next week and make a decision next week on what I am going to do.”

Kawhi Leonard wins 2014-2015 NBA Defensive Player of Year

Kawhi Leonard wins 2014-2015 NBA Defensive Player of Year

San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who became only the sixth forward to lead the NBA in steals per game since the league started tracking the statistic 42 years ago, is the recipient of the 2014-15 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, the NBA announced today. He becomes the first Spurs player to win the award since David Robinson in 1991-92.

Leonard garnered 37 first-place votes and 333 total points from a panel of 129 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. He edged the Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green, who tallied 45 first-place votes and 317 points. The Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan finished third with 261 points (32 first-place votes).

Also in the voting, Anthony Davis (Pelicans) came in 4th, Rudy Gobert (Jazz) 5th, Andrew Bogut (Warriors) 6th, and Tony Allen (Grizzlies) 7th.

Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote received.

The 6-7 Leonard averaged career highs of 2.31 steals and 5.9 defensive rebounds to help anchor a Spurs defense that held opponents under 100 points per game (97.0) for the 20th consecutive season. According to NBA.com/Stats, San Antonio ranked third in the NBA in defensive rating, allowing 99.6 points per 100 possessions. The Spurs gave up only 97.1 points per 100 possessions when Leonard was on the court, a defensive rating that would have led the league over the entire season. When Leonard was off the court, though, San Antonio permitted 102.2 points per 100 possessions, a league-average defensive rating.

Atlanta Hawks sale agreement reached

The Atlanta Hawks today announced that a definitive agreement has been signed for the purchase of the NBA franchise by an ownership group led by Tony Ressler, co-founder of Ares Management. The group also includes seven-time NBA All-Star Grant Hill, Clayton Dubilier & Rice partner Rick Schnall, and Spanx founder Sara Blakely and Marquis Jet co-founder Jesse Itzler, who are married.

The transaction, which includes operation of Philips Arena, requires the approval of the NBA Board of Governors. Terms of the sale were not released.

“We are honored and thrilled to have been chosen to become the new stewards of the Hawks,” said Ressler. “We respect the NBA’s approval process and, accordingly, can say no more other than we are incredibly excited by the Hawks’ success and wish them luck in the playoffs.”

“We are excited to welcome this new ownership group and are deeply gratified by its commitment to the Hawks and the Atlanta community,” said Hawks CEO Steve Koonin. “We are pleased that the group is committed to continue building on the franchise’s storied history and recent success.”

The sellers were advised by Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Inner Circle Sports, and the buyer by Moelis & Co.

The Dallas Mavericks announced that after being re-evaluated today forward Chandler Parsons is out for the remainder of the playoffs. He is currently exploring surgical options to address his right knee injury. The Mavs are currently facing the Houston Rockets in the first round of the postseason.

Parsons (6-10, 230) played 36 minutes in Game 1 at Houston and had 10 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists.

Also, guard Rajon Rondo sustained a back injury in last night’s game at Houston. He is out indefinitely and is seeking additional medical opinions.

In two games vs. Houston, Rondo has averaged 9.5 points, 3.0 assists and 1.0 rebound in 18.6 minutes.

In related news, Devin Harris is listed as probable for Game 3 vs. Houston after missing Game 2 with a left great toe injury.

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