Atlanta Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll suffered a left leg injury with 4:59 remaining in the fourth quarter of last night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. An X-ray was negative and an MRI revealed a left knee sprain. Carroll will be listed as questionable and his status will be updated as appropriate.
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Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry has been fined $5,000 by the NBA for violating the league’s anti-flopping rules during Game 1 of the Warriors’ Western Conference Finals series against the Houston Rockets.
The incident occurred with 3:07 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Warriors’ 110-106 victory over the Rockets on Tuesday night at Oracle Arena.
UPDATE: According to AFP, “I don’t agree with it,” Curry said Wednesday. “I watched the play over and, transition play, so obviously balance is not very good in that situation.” Added Curry: “That play happens countless times. I wasn’t even looking for the foul. I was just reacting to the contact.” Warriors coach Steve Kerr also disagreed with the fine — not because Curry’s move wasn’t a flop, but because such falls, from minimal contact, are so common.”
Cavs take 1-0 series lead vs Hawks
J.R. Smith knocked down a tough 3-pointer, then another. Turning toward the fans, their heckling transformed to groans, he blew off his right index finger and motioned toward his side, like he was holstering his pistol.
Yep, Smith was that hot.
While LeBron James led Cleveland with 31 points, it was Smith who ignited the Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. He made eight 3-pointers and scored 28 points in a 97-89 victory over the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.
”When he gets hot,” Cleveland coach David Blatt marveled, ”he gets smoking hot.”
Intent on bringing Cleveland its first NBA title, James sealed the victory with a soaring dunk in the final minute.
J.R. Smith steps up in Game 1 vs Hawks
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks 97-89 on Wednesday to open the NBA Eastern Conference finals.
With a berth in the NBA championship finals on the line in the best-of-seven series, J.R. Smith set a Cavaliers club record for three-pointers, draining eight from beyond the arc.
His 28 points accounted for all of the scoring by Cleveland reserves.
“I was just trying, if anything, to take good shots,” Smith said. “I got in a rhythm early and just stayed aggressive.”
Kyrie Irving health status for Eastern Conference Finals: good to go
The Cleveland Cavaliers are still without Kevin Love, who is out for the rest of the playoffs and inactive for months beyond that, but banged-up guard Kyrie Irving appears healthy enough to play in Game 1 against the Atlanta Hawks in the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals. Here’s the Akron Beacon Journal reporting:
Kyrie Irving worked overtime Monday, bouncing around the court during a shooting drill with LeBron James long after the formal portion of practice had ended.
Irving is still fighting injuries to both his left knee and right foot, but he moved fluidly and without a limp. And most importantly, he declared himself ready for Wednesday’s opening game of the Eastern Conference finals at the Atlanta Hawks.
“I’m going to go,” he said.
Irving’s availability was never really in doubt, although Cavaliers coach David Blatt cast a temporary shadow when he said he was hopeful Irving would be ready. After Irving was a full participant on Monday, Blatt said he was “encouraged’ by the progress his star guard made in a relatively short amount of time.
Rockets complete comeback, eliminate Clippers in seven games
James Harden scored 31 points, Dwight Howard had 16 points and 15 rebounds and the Houston Rockets never trailed in a 113-100 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, sending them to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1997.
It’s the ninth time in NBA history that a team has overcome a 3-1 series deficit to win a playoff series.
The Rockets needed an epic comeback to overcome a 19-point third-quarter deficit and force Game 7. No such heroics were needed Sunday when they were up by 17 after three and Howard opened the fourth quarter with a 3-point play to push it to 88-68.
Blake Griffin scored five points in a 9-0 run to cut the lead to eight points with less than 2 1/2 minutes remaining. Harden made a pair of free throws after that, but a dunk by DeAndre Jordan got the Clippers within eight again. This time Trevor Ariza hit a 3 from the corner to secure the victory.
– Associated Press
Wizards put up fight but fall to Hawks
Here’s CSN Washington reporting on the Wizards, whose offseason has begun:
Yes, the Eastern Conference semifinals with the Atlanta Hawks, was super duper close, painfully so for the Washington Wizards. Historically so at that. The last four games were decided by five points or less. That hadn’t happened in an NBA playoff series since 2006. The Wizards lost the last three of those games en route to dropping the series 4-2.
John Wall’s fractured left hand and wrist stands out as the obvious “What if” question of the series. Even with the All-Star point guard missing three games and playing the last two with those five fractures, Washington took Atlanta, a team that ran away with the Eastern Conference regular season title, to the brink.
Get past Wall and the question is what differences led to the Wizards thinking about summer vacations instead of meeting LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals.
“I guess little details,” center Marcin Gortat said after revealing details of food poisoning that kept him on the bench for most of the series finale. “Little details in our game. Scrappy little details and that’s why we get punished for I guess.”
Kyrie Irving sits out Saturday practice
The Cleveland Cavaliers recently proved they can win a big game while LeBron James’ shot is off and Kyrie Irving (and Kevin Love) aren’t on the floor, but it’s not something they care to attempt on a regular basis. Ideally, Irving will be out there, making defenders look slow while he racks up points. But he’s banged up. Here’s the Akron Beacon Journal reporting the latest:
Cavs’ All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving was held out of practice Saturday after reaggravating a left knee injury in Thursday’s closeout Game 6 against the Chicago Bulls.
An MRI on Monday revealed tendinitis in Irving’s knee. Irving has also been battling a right foot strain suffered in Game 2 of the first-round series against the Boston Celtics.
Cavs coach David Blatt said Irving saw the doctors again Friday. Blatt couldn’t give a definitive assessment of Irving’s status for Wednesday’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Hawks in Atlanta, but said the Cavs “hope” he can play.
All-Star guard Kyrie Irving has stayed off the practice court to rest his injured knee as the Cavaliers began preparing for the Eastern Conference finals against Atlanta.
Irving sat out nearly three quarters of Game 6 in Chicago on Thursday night after aggravating tendinitis in his left knee. Irving was seen by team doctors on Friday and on Saturday Cavs’ coach David Blatt says he’s hopeful his starting point guard will play in Wednesday’s Game 1 in Atlanta.
– Associated Press
James Harden on bench during wild Rockets Game 6 comeback win
The Rockets unleashed an amazing comeback Thursday to win Game 6 in Los Angeles against the Clippers, and they did so with their star guard on the bench watching the show. Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting:
James Harden never heard his name, never asked to go back in.
The Rockets reserves were rolling, the Clippers lead shrinking and Harden kept sitting. As the Rockets rallied from a 13-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter, a 17-point hole when Harden sat and a 19-point Clippers lead when it had swelled to its largest, Harden remained on the Rockets bench.
He did not play even a full second in the fourth quarter (he entered the game, but no time expired before he was back out) as Rockets coach Kevin McHale stayed with the players that turned the game around and sent the series to a Game 7 on Sunday. Harden had no complaints.
“Amazing. It was really amazing. Just really proud of those guys in that fourth quarter, man, to keep fighting, keep battling. They did a tremendous job on both ends of the floor, battling, holding that team to 15 points. Being down 13, … those guys kept battling and it was an amazing job.”
James Harden trying to shake off effects of flu
The Houston Rockets face elimination tonight in Game 6 unless they can step up and once again beat the Los Angeles Clippers. Rockets star James Harden, who is averaging 24.8 points, 6.0 assists and 9.2 assists per game in this second round series through five games, is shaking off the effects of the flu. Here’s ESPN.com reporting:
James Harden was coughing and trying to clear his throat during his chat with reporters on Thursday morning.
The Houston Rockets’ starting guard will play in Thursday’s critical Game 6 against the Los Angeles Clippers while still feeling the effects of the flu.
“I’m all right, I’m good,” said Harden, who played through the illness and needed IV fluids the morning of Game 5 on Tuesday. “I’m all right, I’m in a good place right now.”
His team isn’t.
The Rockets trail the Western Conference semifinal best-of-seven series 3-2, and to force a Game 7 at home, they must win in a place where they have played badly.
The Clippers lead the Rockets 3 games to 2 in their second round playoff series. Tonight’s Game 6, in Los Angeles, is must-win for Houston. Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting:
Rockets coach Kevin McHale said he would start forward Josh Smith again in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals on Thursday night in Los Angeles.
Smith started in Game 5 and forward Terrence Jones came off the bench.
“We just tried to change some things up, tried to get (Jones) with that second unit, maybe get him some more looks, get him going,” McHale said. “Josh is a very good passer. We gotta use another guy out there to break them down.”
Without Tony Allen, Grizzlies lose Game 5 to Warriors
Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle reporting on Wednesday’s Warriors-Grizzlies second round playoff game, which went quite badly for Memphis:
Much like the last playoff game in Oakland, Game 5 came down to a key Grizzlies player who was a game-time decision because of injury. While Mike Conley put on a face mask and cape in Memphis’ win in Game 2 at Oracle Arena, Tony Allen was not able to play with a bad hamstring Wednesday night.
The defensive repercussions were obvious, but the Grizzlies were actually somehow worse offensively without their jump shot-challenged tough guy.
“It’s huge, being without Tony,” Grizzlies guard Courtney Lee said. “We can’t replace his energy or his defensive intensity. We needed to step up tonight and we didn’t.” Memphis shot 5-of-25 in a 12:35 span over the end of the first quarter and most of the second quarter, turning a 25-15 lead into a 49-37 deficit.
Memphis shot 5-of-25 in a 12:35 span over the end of the first quarter and most of the second quarter, turning a 25-15 lead into a 49-37 deficit.
And a 12-point deficit might as well be 24 — which it grew to — for a big, physical team that can’t get out on the fastbreak (six points all night) or shoot threes (they made four).
John Wall returns in Wizards Game 5 loss to Hawks
Nobody expected injured Washington Wizards guard John Wall to return during these playoffs. But yesterday it happened, and he gave it his all, though the Wizards fell slightly short to the Atlanta Hawks. Here’s CSN Washington reporting:
John Wall threw himself on the floor with 32.6 seconds left, and the score tied at 78, for a loose ball, corralled it and called a timeout. He slapped the floor repeatedly with his good hand, the right one, as he sensed a Game 5 victory was near Wednesday.
But a 3-2 series lead for the Wizards is oh-so-far away. Wall blocked Dennis Schroder’s shot on the final play as he drove to the basket, but Al Horford darted in like a bowling ball to send bodies scattering to grab the loose ball for the putback with two seconds left and an 82-81 victory for the Atlanta Hawks at Phillips Arena.
“It felt great. I didn’t have any problems with my hand,” Wall said after having 15 points, seven assists, four rebounds and four steals. “I was able to play aggressive and make plays so I was fine.”
No, Andrew Bogut isn’t injured. He’s still good to go.
Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle reporting good news on the Warriors front:
Andrew Bogut said his ribs are fine. In fact, his post-Game 4 X-ray was on his left knee, and that checked out OK, too.
“Everything is good,” the Warriors’ center said after Wednesday’s shootaround. “No problems.”
Bogut did grab at his right ribs a couple of times during the second half of the Warriors’ Game 4 victory over Memphis, and it was reported by multiple outlets that he had X-rays on his ribs. But the big man said the bigger concern was a tweak he felt in his left knee, and that’s what he had checked after the game.
Pau Gasol plans to play Cavs-Bulls Game 6
Here’s ESPN Chicago reporting on Bulls power forward Pau Gasol, a key member of the squad who could certainly be the difference between a tied series or the Cavs advancing and leaving Chicago in the dust. The Cavs lead the series 3 games to 2, so Thursday is must-win for the Bulls:
Pau Gasol says he’s going to try and play in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night. Gasol missed the past two games because of a strained left hamstring.
“I made some good progress today,” Gasol said after the Bulls’ workout on Wednesday. “No residual pain from [Tuesday] also works. We’re making progress. At the end of the day, [Thursday] is the game and I’ll do everything I can to help the team. … I’ll be out there. Whichever way I can be, I will be.”
Gasol initially hurt his hamstring in Game 2 and played only 22 minutes in Game 3 after being taken out in the second half.
Dwight Howard fined for hard foul on Matt Barnes
The NBA announced today that they have fined Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard $15,000 for making contact above the shoulders with Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes in Rockets-Clippers Game 4 on May 10.
Howard’s actions occurred with 9:21 remaining in the first quarter of the Clippers’ 128-95 win over the Rockets on May 10 at Staples Center.
The Clippers currently lead their second round series with the Rockets three games to one.
DeAndre Jordan sets a free throw-related NBA record
If you watched yesterday’s Game 4 between the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers, your main memory may be that of a tall dude standing still at a line while missing free throws. Here’s the Los Angeles Times reporting:
What a long, strange trip to the free-throw line for DeAndre Jordan. Again and again.
The Clippers center is now in the NBA record books, though not for a reason he’d ever envision, after taking 28 free-throw attempts in the first half of the Clippers’ playoff game Sunday.
The Houston Rockets kept fouling him intentionally, so Jordan kept going to the line, eventually passing Shaquille O’Neal’s 27 free-throw attempts for the Lakers against Portland in the second half of a 2000 playoff game.
“That’s crazy,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin said. “I’ve never witnessed that or experienced that. For us to just maintain our composure … we just grinded it out.”
All in all, Jordan made 14 of 34 free throws in the Clippers’ 128-95 victory over Houston in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Kyrie Irving struggling, playing with foot strain
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving looks like a shade of his former self lately as he struggles to play through injury. Would taking a game off to recover help? Problem is, there’s no margin for error left. The Cavs and Chicago Bulls are tied 2-2 in their very gritty second round playoff series. Both teams are two losses away from elimination. Tough situation, especially with the Cavs already missing injured forward Kevin Love. Here’s the Cleveland Plain Dealer reporting:
It’s been a frustrating last few games for Irving, who has been diagnosed with a right foot strain. He gave everything he had on Sunday, but the three-time All-Star still couldn’t prevent the thoughts from creeping into his head: He started to feel like he had a question for his teammates.
“I asked them if they still wanted me out there,” he revealed after Cleveland’s 86-84 Game 4 win against Chicago.
This is not the same unstoppable offensive force who stunned San Antonio for 57 points in March; or the player who exploded for 30 points in his playoff debut against Boston, squashing any talk about his readiness for the NBA’s biggest stage.
This is a wounded youngster who scored 12 points on Sunday and is now averaging 11.5 points on 5-of-23 (21 percent) shooting in the last two games. But his numbers, while they are well below Irving’s standards, don’t seem to matter to his teammates. One of them, Iman Shumpert, didn’t hear Irving’s pointed query, but there wouldn’t have been much to ponder.
“I definitely always want him out there if he can go,” Shumpert said after the game. “We will be hurt after the season. Right now we have to get wins.”
No reason yet to expect a John Wall return in these playoffs
There’s no real reason to expect a John Wall return from injuries during the ongoing NBA playoffs, but a bit of hope is still being kept alive. Here’s CSN Washington reporting:
The fractured left and and wrist of John Wall is starting to look better, but there’s no indication that he’s anywhere close to practicing or playing again as the Wizards prepare Sunday for Game 4 with the Atlanta Hawks on Monday at Verizon Center (TNT, 7 p.m. ET).
“Good. Swelling, again, down,” Wittman said when asked if his All-Star point guard had done anything on the practice court following Saturday’s Game 3 win. “Its heading in the right direction so again we’re not to the point of him doing anything on the floor yet or of that nature. It’s heading to a situation where hopefully he can get the ball in his hand, get the feeling, see how that feels and then you take those steps like that.”