The AP reports:
The Chicago Bulls clinched the NBA’s last unclaimed playoff spot on Wednesday night, as Derrick Rose scored 27 points and Joakim Noah added 21 points and 13 rebounds in a 98-89 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
Overcoming numerous injuries, internal strife, key trades and a horrible stretch early in the season, the Bulls closed the regular season with a three-game winning streak to beat out Toronto for the right to face Eastern Conference top seed Cleveland.
Needing a win or a Raptors loss to New York to get in, the Bulls quickly took it to the Bobcats, never trailing and leading by as many as 18 points.
Tyrus Thomas had 16 points and nine rebounds against his former team, while Gerald Wallace scored 15 points and Stephen Jackson 14 for the Bobcats, who had already locked up the seventh seed in the East and a first-round matchup with Orlando.
Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:
David Stern was asked about the Bucks’ performance this season, in which they made the playoffs, the team’s financial state and the Bradley Center.
“I think that it certainly is up to the Bucks to fill up their arena before we spend a lot of time thinking about a new one,” Stern said. “It’s also fair to say that the powers that be in Milwaukee understand that the Bradley Center is reaching sort of the end . . . . It will soon be among the oldest non-renovated or replaced buildings in the NBA. But that’s not an immediate decision. That’s something people are working on and looking at there.”
The Bucks drew an average of 15,108 fans per game at the Bradley Center this season, 281 fans fewer per game than last season. The Bucks finished 24th in the league in attendance, the same ranking they had the previous season.
Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-news reports (via blog):
Spurs guard George Hill tweaked his previously injured right ankle stepping on a camera man in the first quarter of tonight’s game at Dallas and will not return.
Hill, who missed four games this month with a strained ankle tendon, landed on the cameraman on the baseline after completing a layup with 7:14 to play in the quarter.
I’m actually surprised this doesn’t happen more often. Some of the camera and photographer areas near the basket are extremely crowded. There’s very little room for NBA players around the baseline near the basket support. Which is strange, because players are a tad more important than the guys who record or take photos of them.
Marc Berman of the New York Post reports:
CC Sabathia told WFAN there’s a likelier chance of his friend LeBron James leaving for New York if Cleveland wins the NBA title.
Asked about James’ thought process, Sabathia told hosts Evan Roberts and Joe Benigno, “I think it depends on what happens this year in the playoffs and how they play, to see how close they get and if they win, how that weighs in his decision.
“I know he wants to go where he can win. I know he likes the idea of New York.”
Sabathia added, “I think if he won (a title), it would be easier for him to leave.”
The AP reports:
The San Antonio Spurs turned in a starting lineup for the season finale that included Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Then coach Gregg Popovich changed his mind.
Duncan and Ginobili didn’t even suit up for a game against the Dallas Mavericks that had direct playoff implications — a Dallas win would give the Mavs the No. 2 seed and the Spurs the No. 7 seed, meaning they would meet in the first round of the playoffs.
Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe reports:
Celtics coach Doc Rivers downplayed the report that he was considering leaving the team at season’s end. He said he evaluates his future with the team each summer, taking into consideration his family more than anything else. He acknowledged, however, that this year has been a difficult one, challenging him to find ways to motivate a team plagued by injuries and inconsistency.
“I would say what I’ve said for the last three years,” Rivers said. “This is old news. I don’t think about it to be honest.”
STATEMENT FROM GAR FORMAN
The Chicago Bulls are focusing all of our energies into the remainder of this season and, as such, were disappointed at the recent stories that may have distracted from that. Reports of a recent internal disagreement between a Bulls executive and the Bulls head coach were the result of each expressing their passion about the health and well being of their players and the desire to win basketball games.
The event occurred in Coach Del Negro’s office, not in the locker room and not in front of the players, as some wrongly have reported. This disagreement, while not communicated well by either party in the heat of the moment and in the immediate aftermath of a tough loss, was a result of conflicting views, but all based on the fine balance required to ensure both the immediate and long-term success of the team and the health of its players. The fans well know that the Bulls are dedicated to the team’s day-to-day success, but first and foremost want to protect the health and well being of its players.
The Bulls have a full and complete understanding of what took place, but, as requested by all parties, will address the attendant issues with the participants after the season is over. At this point, everyone intends to keep focused on the remaining games.
The Boston Celtics announced today that the club has signed free agent forward Tony Gaffney and free agent guard Oliver Lafayette to contracts. Per team policy, terms of the deals were not disclosed.
“We believe that both of these players have good potential to help us in the future and we are looking forward to evaluating them during the summer,” said Danny Ainge, Celtics President of Basketball Operations.
Gaffney, a 6’8”, 205 lbs forward, most recently played for Altshuler Saham Galil Galboa in Israel and appeared in one game scoring two points and grabbing two rebounds before his season ended prematurely due to a foot injury. The former UMass Minuteman and Massachusetts native averaged 11.5 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game as a senior in college. He was named the Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year that season (2008-09) and was named to the All-Atlantic 10 Second Team and Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team.
Lafayette, a 6’2”, 190 lbs guard, appeared in 48 games for Fort Wayne of the NBA Development League this season and posted averages of 17.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game while shooting 38% from three-point range and 80% from the free throw line. Lafayette ranked 10th in the Development League in steals per game and ranked ninth in assists per game this past season. He recently was named an NBA Development League Co-Performer of the Week for the last week of the D-League season, and averaged 26.4 points, 8.0 assists and 6.4 rebounds over his last seven games.
The Sacramento Kings exercised the team option on forward Carl Landry’s contract for the 2010-11 season, as announced today by Kings’ President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie.
Landry was acquired midseason by the Kings via trade and averaged 18.0 ppg (.520 FG, .741 FT%) and 6.5 rpg in 28 games (all starts) for Sacramento.
The AP reports:
David Stern says the issue of players resting at the end of the regular season will be discussed among NBA executives, though he doesn’t see anything coming of it.
The commissioner says he is “troubled by it, because it would be our preference that healthy players play,” but says the decision is one that has always been left up to the teams.
I totally understand NBA teams about to enter the playoffs wanting to make sure their key players are healthy for the post-season. But of course, fans who are paying big ticket prices for games want to see good action, and not the bench guys playing while star players barely break a sweat or sit out entirely. But that’s just how it is. Fans going to the last few games of the regular season simply need to know that depending on a team’s situation, a key star or two may not be out there.