Archive for May, 2008

Why the Celtics reached the Finals

NBA.com writes: “5) They finally figured out how to win on the road. After failing to do so against Cleveland and Atlanta, Boston managed to pull off two victories in Detroit against one of the best home teams in basketball. 4) Outside of a disappointing Game 2, the C’s stayed strong at home. Boston went undefeated on its homecourt in its first two series and didn’t blink after dropping one at the Garden. 3) After having a rough postseason, Ray Allen finally awoke for big performances in Games 5 and 6. The “Big Three” was starting to look more like a dynamic duo, but Allen pulled himself together in the final two games of the series, erupting for 29 points in Game 5 and posting 17 on Friday. 2) The Celtics figured out how to disrupt every aspect of Tayshaun Prince’s game. Boston held him to 6.3 points per game over the prior three contests and didn’t stop in Game 6. He struggled, going 3-of-10 from the field on Friday. Even after coming up with a crucial steal in the final minutes, he reverted back to his abnormal form as James Posey came from behind, swiping the ball straight out of his hands and dashing Detroit’s final hopes. The staple of Pistons’ basketball looked anything but against Boston. 1) Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. When you combine the “Truth” with the “Big Ticket” and put them against the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals, you get 44 points per game and a 4-2 series victory.”

May 30: Celtics 89, Pistons 81

The AP reports: Paul Pierce scored 27 points, Ray Allen had 17 and Kevin Garnett added 16 to lift the Boston Celtics to an 89-81 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals… After playing two Game 7s, the Celtics will get a needed break before hosting Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on Thursday night… The Pistons blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost in Game 6 of the conference finals for the third straight year. They were eliminated on their home court for the first time during a six-year run that included a trip to the conference finals each year and the 2004 title… Chauncey Billups played well and Richard Hamilton scored 21, but the rest of their teammates had lackluster efforts—especially Rasheed Wallace… Wallace scored just four points on 2-of-12 shooting and had three turnovers in what might’ve been his last game as a Piston and could’ve been Flip Saunders’ last as Detroit’s coach. President of basketball operations Joe Dumars will likely make some sort of moves on the bench, the court or both.

Ticker reports: The Celtics, who avoided a third straight Game Seven this postseason, outscored the Pistons 29-13 in the final period to secure the victory. Boston used a powerful 23-6 run to seal the win… After Jason Maxiell gave Detroit a 74-72 edge with a fadeaway jumper, Pierce sliced through the lane and completed a three-point play to give the Celtics the lead for good with 5:25 remaining… Billups scored 29 points for Detroit, which lost in the Eastern Conference finals for the third straight season. The defeat already has raised questions about the job security of coach Flip Saunders.

InsideHoops.com Stat Notes: The Celtics shot 44.4%, the Pistons 42.0%. Both teams were awful from three-point range. The Celtics hit 20-of-27 free throws, the Pistons 17-of-21. Rebounding was close. The Pistons had 19 assists, the Celtics just 14.

For the Celtics, Pierce (8-of-12, 10-of-13 free throws) had 27 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Ray Allen (6-of-12, 3-of-8 threes) was alive with 17 points and 6 rebounds. Kevin Garnett (just 7-of-16 with a mere 4 free throw attempts) had 16 points and just 6 rebounds with 4 assists. Kendrick Perkins had 7 points and 7 rebounds. Rajon Rondo needed 13 shots for his 11 points and 4 rebounds. James Posey had 4 rebounds and two steals.

For the Pistons, Billups (9-of-20) had 29 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Richard Hamilton (9-of-14) had 21 points and 2 blocks. But then, a severe dropoff: Tayshaun Prince (3-of-10) had 10 points and 4 rebounds. Jason Maxiell (3-of-4) had 7 with 2 steals off the bench. Antonio McDyess (2-of-3) had just 6 points and 6 rebounds. Rasheed Wallace (awful 2-of-12) had 4 points and 10 rebounds. Rodney Stuckey (just 1-of-4) scored 4.

InsideHoops.com exclusive: Michael Beasley, expected to be the first or second pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, told InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner Friday afternoon that his official height measurement, taken by the NBA that day, was 6′8″ 1/2.

He was hoping to come out 6′9″ or even 6′10″, as some media outlets had listed him.

Hawks coaches still in limbo

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Sekou Smith) reports: Hawks coach Mike Woodson didn’t realize he’d still be auditioning for his job at this late date. Yet nearly a month after the Hawks’ stunning playoff run ended in a Game 7 defeat in Boston, Woodson and his staff are still in limbo regarding their futures. Contracts expire June 30 and now a new general manager, Rick Sund, who was hired Wednesday to replace Billy Knight, has to evaluate the Hawks’ entire basketball operations staff before rendering decisions on who stays and who goes. Sund repeated Thursday the same thing he said a day earlier, that he’ll “spend the next week and half or so being a good listener and getting a lay of the land” before doing anything.

May 29: Lakers 100, Spurs 92

The AP reports: Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers dispatched the defending champions, and are headed to the NBA finals for the first time in four years. Bryant scored 17 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter, and the Lakers rallied from an early 17-point deficit to beat the San Antonio Spurs 100-92 on Thursday night and win the Western Conference finals in five games… A 3-pointer by Luke Walton and baskets by Jordan Farmar and Bryant gave the Lakers a 74-68 lead with 8 1/2 minutes remaining, and they were on top the rest of the way. The Spurs led by as many as 10 points early in the third quarter, but the Lakers turned up their defensive intensity during a 19-8 run that gave them a 61-60 lead—their first since the opening minute. Bryant scored nine points during the spurt. Los Angeles led 64-63 entering the final period. The Spurs got 3-pointers from Finley, Ginobili and Barry during a 15-1 run that gave them a 33-16 lead early in the second quarter. The Lakers went nearly 7 1/2 minutes without a field goal until Farmar scored three straight baskets to trim San Antonio’s lead to 11.

InsideHoops.com Stat Notes: The Spurs shot 48.6%, the Lakers 44.7%, but the Lakers took 85 shots, the Spurs 74. The Spurs also nailed 7-of-15 three-pointers, the Lakers 8-of-21, which is still good. Both teams shot 18 free throws, but the Lakers hit a few more. The Lakers grabbed a few more rebounds, but the Spurs had 22 assists, the Lakers 16. Overall, the Lakers shit two more field goals, one more three-pointer, and three more free throws.

For the Lakers, Kobe Bryant (16-of-30) had 39 points, 2 steals, and not too much else. Lamar Odom (5-of-10) had 13 points, 8 rebounds and little else. Pau Gasol (just 5-of-15) had 12 points, 19 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks. Sasha Vujacoc scored 9 with 3 steals, and Vladimir Radmanovic and Jordan Farmar each scored 8.

For the Spurs, Tony Parker (11-of-22) scored 23 with 4 assists. Tim Duncan (just 7-of-19, just 5-of-10 free throws) had 19 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists. Mike Finley (4-of-9) had 13 points and 4 rebounds. Brent Barry and Kurt Thomas both shot very well for 11 points each, and Thomas had 7 rebounds (but 3 turnovers). Manu Ginobili (just 3-of-9) had 9 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, and the same turnovers as assists. Bruce Bowen had 3 steals and little else, offensively at least, in almost 38 minutes.

NBA fines Rasheed Wallace

Rasheed Wallace of the Detroit Pistons has been fined  $25,000  for  his  use of profanity and criticism of the officiating following  last  night’s  game,  it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

Wallace  made his comments to the media following the Pistons’ 106-102 loss to  the  Celtics  in  Game  5  of the 2008 NBA Eastern Conference Finals in Boston.

Doug Collins is Bulls coaching candidate

“I have spoken with Bulls management recently about their head coaching vacancy and will resume conversations after the conclusion of my work for TNT in the Western Conference Finals. There is no agreement in place.” Doug Collins

Here is Jim Paxson from the Bulls today: “I have been in contact with Doug Collins in regard to our head coaching position.  Contrary to some reports that are currently out there, we have not reached an agreement.  Right now, his commitment is covering the Western Conference Finals for TNT.  When that series concludes, we will continue our dialogue.  In the meantime, I will continue to talk to other candidates and review our options.” 

OJ Mayo is here after all

Apparently Mayo either did manage to make his flight or caught another one, because a PR person spotted him in the hotel where today’ interviews will take place.

OJ Mayo misses flight to pre-draft camp

UPDATE: Mayo is here after all. A PR person had said he won’t be here due to a missed flight but he either did catch it or caught another and will do interviews as scheduled.

InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner reports that O.J. Mayo missed his flight to Orlando today and will therefore not be around for media availability when eight other top players get interviewed this afternoon.

The league invited nine players expected to be probable lottery picks to a separate interview session. Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon are in that group.

Like other top players, Mayo was not expected to actually play in games.

Measurements, strength and skills testing is Friday. Mayo should make that.

May 28: Celtics 106, Pistons 102

The AP reports: Boston’s three All-Stars finally put it all together to move the Celtics one win away from the NBA finals for the first time since the original Big Three’s heyday. Ray Allen scored 29, hitting a long 2-pointer with a minute left after Detroit came within one point, then he and Kevin Garnett each made a pair of free throws down the stretch as the Celtics beat the Detroit Pistons 106-102 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday night… Kendrick Perkins had career playoff highs with 18 points and 16 rebounds, and Rajon Rondo added seven points, 13 assists, six rebounds and four steals for Boston. Paul Pierce scored 13 of his 16 points in the first half, when Perkins outrebounded the Pistons 13-11 by himself… Chauncey Billups scored 26 and Richard Hamilton had 25 points for Detroit, which has reached the conference finals six consecutive years but played for the championship just twice and won once in that span… Rasheed Wallace picked up a technical with 5:18 left in the game. It was his sixth of the postseason, and his next earns him a one-game suspension.

Ticker reports: Kevin Garnett poured in a game-high 33 points while Kendrick Perkins added 18 points and 16 rebounds as the Celtics defeated the Detroit Pistons, 106-102, to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series… Hamilton strained his right elbow with 8.2 seconds left but X-rays were negative… Afterward, the volatile Wallace tore into officials Mike Callahan and Ken Mauer. “All them (garbage) calls they had out there,” Wallace said. “Mike and Kenny, you saw that (garbage), a lot of them phantom calls, cats flapping and falling, they’re calling that (garbage). That (garbage) ain’t basketball, what they run out there. It’s all entertainment, all that (bleeping) entertainment.” … Detroit took command of the game early in the second, building an eight-point lead. But the Celtics went on a 16-4 run to end the first half, highlighted by Garnett’s desperation 3-point bank shot as the shot clock expired with 1:23 remaining before halftime.

Hawks new GM will be Rick Sund

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Sekou Smith) reports: The Hawks have reached an agreement with former Seattle general manager Rick Sund, who will be announced Wednesday afternoon as the team’s new general manager. The hiring of Sund, 56, wraps up a nearly four-week hiring process the Hawks kept under wraps. Sund, a consultant for the Sonics this past year after being reassigned by a new ownership group in April 2007, will take over for Billy Knight, who resigned after six years with the franchise, the last five as general manager.

NBA playoffs disappear from TV in China

The AP reports: NBA playoff games have mysteriously disappeared from Chinese television. Entertainment programs on Chinese television were suspended last week during a three-day period of mourning for victims of the deadly Sichuan earthquake, including NBA playoff games. When the mourning period ended, the NBA playoffs returned as the state-run national broadcaster CCTV showed the Western Conference final between the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs. However, subsequent games have not been shown.

May 27: Lakers 93, Spurs 91

The AP reports: Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers are one win away from returning to the NBA finals. Bryant had 28 points and 10 rebounds and the Lakers beat the San Antonio Spurs 93-91 on Tuesday night to take a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference finals. It was the Spurs’ first home loss this postseason, and the defending champions face elimination when Game 5 is played in Los Angeles on Thursday. Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 29 points and 17 rebounds. Reserve Brent Barry had 23 points and his last-second 3-point attempt could have given the Spurs the win. He claimed he was fouled on the play by Derek Fisher but there was no call… The Lakers led all game after opening a 22-8 lead. The Spurs got within 81-79 in the fourth quarter, but the Lakers scored seven straight points… The Lakers were up 77-70 heading into the fourth quarter. Barry’s 3 brought the Spurs within 77-75 and his running jumper got them to 79-77… Los Angeles came out with energy and took advantage of sloppy play by the Spurs to lead by as many as 14 points in the first quarter.

InsideHoops.com Stat Notes: The Lakers shot 44.7%, the Spurs 40.0%. But the Spurs shot a bit better from three-point range (though under 30%) and hit 24-of-26 free throws, the Lakers 14-of-19. The Lakers had 9 more rebounds, but the Spurs had 5 more assists. And the Lakers had 14 turnovers, the Spurs just 8.

For the Lakers, Bryant (14-of-29) had 28 points, 10 rebounds and just 1 assist. Lamar Odom on just 9 shots (and 8-of-9 free throws) had 16 points and 9 rebounds. Vladimir Radmanovic (5-of-8) scored 11 with 6 rebounds. Pau Gasol (4-of-7) had 10 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 blocks. Luke Walton needed 10 shots for 9 points off the bench.

For the Spurs, Tim Duncan shot just 10-of-26 (plus 9-of-11 free throws) for 29 points, 17 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks. Tony Parker (8-of-17, 7-of-7 free throws) scored 23 plus 4 rebounds and 9 assists and just one turnover. Brent Barry (7-of-14, 5-of-12 threes) had 23 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals in 27 minutes off the bench. Francisco Oberto, Mike Finley, Robert Horry and Ime Udoka did very little. Manu Ginobili in 36 minutes off the bench was lousy, shooting 2-of-8 for 7 points and 7 assists.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer (Branson Wright) reports: Assistant general manager Chris Grant will remain with the Cavaliers despite rumors that he was a lock to become the General Manager of the Atlanta Hawks. Grant, according to a source close to the situation, turned down an offer made by the Hawks.

Kings exercise option on Geoff Petrie

The Sacramento Kings and Maloof family today exercised the option on President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie’s contract for the 2009-10 season.

“We’ve had the privilege of working with Geoff for the past nine years and consider him to be the best general manager in the NBA,” explained Kings owner Joe Maloof. “He’s respected league-wide for his dedication to the game, innovation, scouting and diligence. We look forward to our continued work with Geoff as we bring the Kings back to prominence.”

A two-time NBA Executive of the Year award winner, Petrie has been a key figure behind the success of the Sacramento Kings over the past 14 years.

“I want to thank Joe, Gavin, and the rest of the Maloof family for their ongoing trust, loyalty and support,” said Petrie. “We are all committed to working diligently in the present so as to ensure a more productive, exciting and entertaining future for our fans, players and staff.”

Under Petrie’s direction, the Kings have qualified for the NBA Playoffs in eight of the past 10 campaigns and nine of the past 13 years overall, while winning Pacific Division titles in 2001-02 and 2002-03 and advancing to the 2002 Western Conference Finals. Between 2000-01 and 2004-05, Sacramento joined San Antonio and Dallas as the only teams in the league to register 50-plus wins in each of those years.

When Petrie was named The Sporting News NBA Executive of the Year following the 1998-99 campaign, he became the first person to win both the league’s executive and rookie annual awards. Petrie shared the 1971 NBA Rookie of the Year award with Boston’s Dave Cowens. Following the 2000-01 season, Petrie was named the Sporting News Executive of the Year for a second time.

The Canadian Press, via the Globe and Mail, reports: Therese Quigley was named president of Canada Basketball on Tuesday, becoming the first woman appointed to the post. Quigley, who is also the athletic director at McMaster University in Hamilton, originally joined the Canada Basketball board of directors in 2006… Joining her on the executive committee is Jacques Miqueu as vice-president. Miqueu, who first joined the board in 2006, has coached basketball and taught physical education for 25 years and was president of the Quebec Basketball Federation prior to joining the Canada Basketball board.

Official pre-draft camp player list

The 2008 NBA pre-draft camp begins tonight (Tuesday, May 27) with some drills, and then features three days of games. It once again is taking place in Orlando, where the weather is around 85-90 degrees and humid.

Here are the pre-draft camp players, with rosters coming tonight.

As usual, the top players aren’t actually going to play. The rest will. But there are always a few last-minute pull-outs of the camp, so we’ll adjust that list if a few guys don’t show up. But the list was released a mere half day before the start of the camp this year, so it’s possible everyone on it actually comes.

InsideHoops.com begins full pre-draft camp coverage this afternoon.

May 26: Pistons 94, Celtics 75

The AP reports: Playing his best game playoff game in perhaps a decade, Antonio McDyess had 21 points and 16 rebounds to lift Detroit to a 94-75 series-evening win over the Boston Celtics on Monday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals… Boston’s Big Three shot awfully as did most of the Celtics, but the NBA’s top-seeded team stayed competitive for much of the game thanks to a stark disparity in free throws. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen combined to miss their first seven shots and finished 11-for-38 from the field… Detroit scored the first 10 points of the game and started the second quarter with an 11-2 run, but led just 43-39 at halftime. The Celtics stayed in the game by making 17 of 20 free throws in the first half while Detroit was 5-for-9… The Celtics fell to 1-7 on the road and 0-6 when trailing after three quarters.

InsideHoops.com Stat Notes: The Pistons shot 51.4%, the Celtics just 31.8%. Both teams shot 9 threes but barely hit any. The Celtics had 32-of-39 free throws, the Pistons 20-of-26. Boston had a few more rebounds, but the Pistons won the assists category, 27-12. And the Pistons only had 7 turnovers, the Celtics 14. The pistons won the blocks category, 10-3 (Rasheed Wallace 5 blocks).

For the Pistons, McDyess (8-of-14) had 21 points and 16 rebounds. Richard Hamilton (8-of-10) had 20 points and 7 assists. Rasheed Wallace (6-of-9) had 14 points, just 5 rebounds, but 5 blocks. Jason Maxiell (6-of-6) scored 14 off the bench. Chauncey Billups (just 3-of-12) had 10 points, 7 assists and 2 steals.

For the Celtics, Kevin Garnett (just 6-of-16) had 16 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks. Paul Pierce (awful 3-of-14) had 16 points, 8 rebounds and 4 turnovers with just 1 assist. Ray Allen (awful 2-of-8 but 7-of-9 free throws) scored 11 with little else. James Posey on 6 shots had 11 off the bench. Kendrick Perkins (4-of-6) had 10 points and 6 rebounds. Rajon Rondo (awful 2-of-8) had just 4 points and 4 assists.

Conference finals notes

Boston has yet to trail a series in the postseason. The Celtics are 9-1 at home and 1-6 on the road. Los Angeles also has not trailed in a series. The Lakers are 7-0 at home and 3-3 on the road. San Antonio is 7-0 at home in this postseason and has won 13 straight home games overall.

The Spurs held the Lakers, who lead the postseason in scoring at 107.3 points per game, to 83 points in Game 3. Overall, the Spurs are allowing an average of 97.3 points during the postseason, including 91.6 at home.

Boston is allowing the fewest points in the playoffs at 86.4 points per game.

San Antonio’s Tim Duncan, who scored 22 points in Sunday’s Game 3 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, has now scored at least 20 points in 72 postseason games since 2003, the most 20-point games during that period. Detroit’s Richard Hamilton has scored 20-plus points in 70 playoff games since that time. Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki (56) and Los Angeles’ Kobe Bryant (53) round out the top four.

In Sunday’s Game 3 win, Duncan had 22 points and 21 rebounds, joining Dwight Howard and Carlos Boozer as the only players with 20-20 games in this postseason.

Manu Ginobili (30 points), Duncan (22) and Tony Parker (20) each scored at least 20 points in the Spurs’ Game 3 win Sunday, the 14th time the trio has scored 20-plus points in the same playoff game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, all time, Boston’s Larry Bird, Dennis Johnson and Kevin McHale scored at least 20 in the same playoff game 15 times, while Philadelphia’s Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer and Chet Walker also did it 14 times.

Hamilton, who has 2,348 career points in the playoffs, broke Isiah Thomas’ franchise record for postseason scoring this year. He scored a game-high 26 points in Boston’s 94-80 win in Game 3 and matched a team record by making all 16 of his free throws.

Rookie Rodney Stuckey is averaging 13 points for Detroit in the conference finals after averaging 9.8 in the semifinals, 5.2 in the first round and 7.6 during the regular season.

Boston’s Rajon Rondo is averaging 11.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.76 steals in 32.7 minutes per game during the playoffs. During the regular season, the second-year guard averaged 10.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.68 steals in 29.9 minutes per game.

- NBA News

May 25: Spurs 103, Lakers 84

The AP reports: “He is such a competitor,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after Manu Ginobili scored 30 points to lead the Spurs to a 103-84 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals… Tim Duncan had 22 points, 21 rebounds and five assists, and Tony Parker added 20 points and five assists for the Spurs, who remained unbeaten at home this postseason. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 30 points and Pau Gasol scored 15… Lamar Odom struggled all night, finishing 2-of-11 from the field for seven points. But he had six of the Lakers’ 13 assists and 11 rebounds… Up 69-57 entering the fourth, the Spurs opened with a 12-4 run, and Parker’s layup gave them a 20-point lead with a little over 8 minutes to play. Then Bryant did what Bryant does: almost single-handedly pulled his team out of the hole. He hit four 3-pointers over the course of less than 2 1/2 minutes and his last one brought the Lakers within 88-76 with 5 minutes to play… The Lakers struggled in the second quarter—turning the ball over early in the period on a shot-clock violation, missing free throws and shooting 7-of-17 from the field—and the Spurs pulled away.

InsideHoops.com Stat Notes: The Spurs shot 51.4%, the Lakers 42.7%. The Spurs nailed a terrific 10-of-18 three-pointers (Ginobili hit 5 threes), the Lakers a decent 6-of-17. The Spurs hit a decent 17-of-23 free throws, the Lakers an awful 8-of-17. The Lakers had a few more rebounds, but the Spurs had 22 assists, the Lakers just 13. Turnovers were close.

For the Spurs, Ginobili (9-of-15, 5-of-7 threes) had 30 points (and not much else) off the bench. Tim Duncan (8-of-17) had 22 points, 21 rebounds and 5 assists. Tony Parker (9-of-15) had 20 points and 5 assists. Mike Finley scored 8, Francisco Oberto 7, Brent Barry 6 off the bench.

For the Lakers, Kobe Bryant (13-of-23) had 30 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, but 4 turnovers and one assist. Pau Gasol needed 18 shots for 15 points and not much else. Jordan Farmar (4-of-9, 2-of-3 threes) scored 10 off the bench. Vladimir Radmanovic on 8 shots had 9 points and 9 rebounds. Lamar Odom (awful 2-of-11) had 7 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists, but 5 turnovers. Derek Fisher and Sasha Vujacic were lousy.

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