Archive for April, 2011

The Golden State Warriors have informed Head Coach Keith Smart that he will not be retained for the 2011-12 season, the team announced today. Smart, who was named head coach of the Warriors on September 27, 2010, led Golden State to a 36-46 record during the recently-completed 2010-11 NBA season.

“It’s never easy to make difficult decisions, especially when it involves someone that we have a great deal of respect for like Keith Smart,” said Warriors Owner Joe Lacob.  “After meeting extensively with Larry Riley and Bob Myers, we came to the conclusion that a change was necessary at this particular time.  I think Keith did an admirable job this season and he should be commended for many of the positive things that transpired both on and off the floor.  The team showed improvement and their effort was never in question.  However, we’ve elected to pursue a new path and we wish Keith the very best.  He’s a quality person and we thank him for the time he invested with our organization.”

Smart, 46, originally began his tour of duty with the Warriors as an assistant coach during the 2003-04 season.  He spent seven seasons in that capacity before being elevated to head coach – the 23rd in franchise history – prior to the start of last season.  A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Smart also served as interim head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the final 40 games of the 2002-03 season.

“I obviously have a great deal of admiration for Keith as both a professional and a friend,” said Warriors Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations/GM Larry Riley. “He’s dedicated a lot of time, hard work and commitment to this job, not only over the course of the last year as the head coach, but the previous seven years with our organization.  We’re grateful for his contributions and have the utmost respect for him.  From our standpoint, however, we feel it is in our best interest as we move as an organization and begin to focus and prepare for the future.  At this time, we do not have a timetable for hiring a successor.  We’ll conduct our due diligence and make a good, sound decision when we’ve identified that individual.”

Marc Berman of the New York Post reports:

Knicks may seek to bring Wilson Chandler back this summer

The Knicks would have to get lucky, but one of their targets this summer is to bring Wilson Chandler back into the fold, The Post has learned.

Chandler, who was dispatched to Denver in the Carmelo Anthony trade, will be a restricted free agent, and a source said he would love to return to the Knicks. And the Knicks would love to have him back, as coach Mike D’Antoni believes he’s the perfect versatile fit for his system who does so many things, including rebound. Chandler’s Nuggets trail Oklahoma City 3-1 in the first round.

Chandler’s new agent is Happy Walters, who also represents Amar’e Stoudemire and Knicks surprise reserve standout Shawne Williams, also a free agent whom the Knicks would like to bring back.

Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star reports:

Danny Granger says Joakim Noah played dirty

Danny Granger had to be restrained from going after Bulls center Joakim Noah as the teams exchanged handshakes on the court at the end of the Bulls’ series-ending 116-89 win.

Granger accused Noah of playing dirty throughout the game, taking cheap shots at Pacers, including forward Josh McRoberts, who was ejected in the third quarter.

Granger was in the hallway outside the locker room using expletives to describe Noah’s play.

“Everybody saw what Josh did and he got ejected,” Granger said. “Nobody caught what happened first. It’s always the second man. (Noah) was playing dirty the whole game. My teammates got caught with it and nothing happened.”

McRoberts was ejected in the final seconds of the third quarter for throwing an elbow at Noah. The former Carmel High School standout said he was retaliating for an “elbow to his throat” from the Bulls center.

Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman reports:

Durant downplays verbal dispute with Westbrook

The cameras didn’t catch it, but the broadcast’s sideline reporter did.

Midway through the first half of Monday’s Game 4 loss at Denver, the Thunder’s All-Star duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook reportedly had a heated exchange during a timeout. TNT sideline reporter Pam Oliver reported the verbal dispute during the game.

On Tuesday, the Thunder insisted the jawing was positive.

“It was all about trying to do the right thing,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We got to get a stop. That’s what it was about. We got to stop the ball. Their point guards are getting inside the paint. The bigs and the guards have got to do a better job of stopping the basketball. That’s what the conversation was about.

“It’s funny because it’s in the playoffs on national TV, but it happens a lot. It doesn’t happen every timeout every game. But guys are emotional. Guys care about what we do and they express that and I like that. I do the same thing.”

Durant also downplayed the incident.

“We’ve been doing that all season,” Durant said. “That’s a part of a basketball team. You’re not going to always be happy all the time. … Sometimes you have to scream at guys for them to get the point. That’s what we were doing.”

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reports:

On Monday, Carmelo Anthony was asked every which way to endorse D’Antoni and he answered the questions like a senator caught in a love triangle.

Melo was evasive and non-committal, which was apparently enough to fool some in the media that Dolan’s new favorite player believes the Knicks have the right head coach. In fact, the exact opposite is true. According to a person close to Anthony, the player D’Antoni wasn’t thrilled about acquiring, is far from convinced that D’Antoni’s system is the right fit for his game.

And when Chauncey Billups comes out and says there is no perfect coach and happens to mention that Larry Brown - D’Antoni’s polar opposite and Dolan’s sworn enemy - is his all-time favorite, I think it’s safe to assume that the veteran point guard isn’t reading “Seven Seconds or Less” in his spare time.

The AP reports:

Louisville’s Rick Pitino will not coach Puerto Rico’s national team, citing scheduling conflicts in announcing his change of plans Wednesday.

The Cardinals’ coach had agreed in December to coach Puerto Rico in a pre-Olympic qualifying tournament late this summer and had hoped to have his Louisville team play the Puerto Rican national team as part of a foreign trip. But the NCAA shot down that proposal because Puerto Rico is Commonwealth of the United States and is not considered a foreign country under NCAA rules.

Zaza Pachulia now a villain in Orlando

Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

Zaza Pachulia now a villain in Orlando

Before Hawks center Zaza Pachulia took the floor in Orlando on Tuesday night he knew the good vibes he once shared with Magic fans were over.

“My rookie year I was fans’ favorite here,” Pachulia said before Game 5 of the first-round Eastern Conference playoff series. “Now I am the most hated.”

The relationship soured after Pachulia head-butted Magic guard Jason Richardson during Game 3 in Atlanta on Friday. Richardson retaliated by smacking Pachulia in the face, and the NBA suspended both players for Game 4 on Sunday in Atlanta.

Magic fans greeted Pachulia with boos when he checked into the game and also when he touched the ball early. The Magic selected Pachulia in the second round of the 2003 draft, and he was on the cover of the team’s in-house magazine in April 2004.

Andre Iguodala fights through knee issue

Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News reports:

Andre Iguodala fights through knee issue

The chondromalacia in Iguodala’s right knee, a chronic condition that dates back more than 5 years, flared in mid-March. That’s right about the time Phillies second baseman Chase Utley was shelved with the same condition, possibly for as long as 3 months.

Had it happened earlier this season, Iguodala would have been shelved, too. Had the Sixers been out of the playoff picture, Iguodala would have been shut down.

Instead, he played for the next month. The knee cost Iguodala only the last two games of the regular season, when Sixers management insisted he sit, general manager Ed Stafanski said.

Then, on that knee, four times in 9 days in the NBA playoffs’ marquee matchup, as the Sixers faced the Miami Heat, Iguodala played. He drew the masochistic duty of defending LeBron James, the world’s most punishing small forward, and Dwyane Wade, currently the world’s best shooting guard. He also was asked to be the hub of the offense.

In agony.

“It hurts, because you can’t really lift,” Iguodala said. “You go into a jump shot and you feel like it’s going to give at times. You feel a pinch. You don’t know if the pain is going to come back. You’re thinking about it every shot. Every plant. That’s probably the toughest.”

Herb Gould of the Chicago Sun-Times reports:

Bulls set to play winner of Magic-Hawks series

The Bulls will open their second-round series Monday against the winner of the Orlando Magic-Atlanta Hawks series, which is headed to Game 6 on Thursday in Atlanta after the Magic’s 101-76 victory at home Tuesday. The Hawks lead the series 3-2.

‘‘I’m speechless right now,’’ Rose, who played only 30 minutes because of foul trouble, not his ankle, said after winning an NBA playoff series for the first time. ‘‘I really can’t believe it. It’s a great accomplishment. We’re going to try to keep this thing going.’’

Coach Tom Thibodeau knew this was a moment for his players.

‘‘It’s always good to advance,’’ he said. ‘‘It doesn’t mean a lot to me as coach.’’

Still, he seemed pleased that the Bulls had delivered a solid knockout punch in Game 5 after four tough encounters.

‘‘We knew we were capable of playing better,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘There were things we had to correct, but we were also up 3-1. In the playoffs, every win is hard to get. I liked our mentality today.’’

Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel reports:

Jason Richardson had stitches sewn in left foot Tuesday

Jason Richardson played through considerable pain Tuesday night after stepping on glass at his home in Orlando in the afternoon.

The accident caused him to have seven stitches sewn into the bottom of his foot before the Orlando Magic’s 101-76 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday.

When asked about how much it hurt, Richardson exhaled and said, “It’s tough. It hurts.”

The AP reports:

Kobe dunks help Lakers beat Hornets 106-90 in Game 5

Kobe Bryant scored 19 points and threw down two stirring dunks on a sprained left ankle, and the Lakers beat the New Orleans Hornets 106-90 in Game 5 on Tuesday night, taking a 3-2 series lead.

“He’s an incredible athlete, so that injury isn’t going to stop him,” said Ron Artest, who scored 11 points…

Andrew Bynum had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Pau Gasol added 16 points as the two-time defending NBA champions roared back from a slow start in a pivotal game for their threepeat hopes with another dramatic playoff performance by Bryant, who injured his ankle in Game 4…

Trevor Ariza scored 22 points, Marco Belinelli added 21, and Chris Paul had 20 points and 12 assists for the seventh-seeded Hornets, who have lost three of four since their stunning Game 1 victory. Ariza hit five 3-pointers, but managed just six points in the second half as the Lakers took control of the game and perhaps the series.

Los Angeles also forced 19 turnovers by the Hornets, who were outscored 22-2 in second-chance points after dominating that effort-based statistic in Game 4.

The AP reports:

Rose, Bulls eliminate Pacers, 116-89 in Game 5

Derrick Rose scored 25 points, Luol Deng added 24 and Chicago finally played like a top seed, knocking off the Indiana Pacers 116-89 in Game 5 to wrap up their first-round playoff series Tuesday night…

Rose seemed just fine after spraining his left ankle in Game 4. He had it taped and acknowledged he was a bit apprehensive at first, but he wound up hitting 8 of 17 shots. He dominated in the early going and came up big in the third after the Pacers pulled within four. He scored 10 points over the final six minutes after returning with four fouls, and Chicago ended the quarter on a 23-8 run to blow the game open.

The Bulls hit 14 of 31 3-pointers, including five by Keith Bogans (15 points) and three each by Deng and Rose. Deng also had seven assists and six rebounds.

Joakim Noah added 14 points and eight rebounds, and the Bulls won a playoff series for the first time since they swept Miami in the first round in 2007 and only the second time since the championship era. It was clearly their most impressive performance of the postseason even though Carlos Boozer scored just two points…

Danny Granger scored 20 for the Pacers and had some strong words afterward for Noah. He accused Noah of throwing elbows that ultimately led to a technical foul for A.J. Price after an altercation with Tyler Hansbrough and an ejection by Josh McRoberts later in the game.

The AP reports:

The Orlando Magic aren’t ready for their season to end just yet.

Facing their first opening round postseason exit since 2007, the Magic blew out the Atlanta Hawks 101-76 on Tuesday night.

Magic extend series with 101-76 win over Hawks

Jason Richardson scored 17 points and J.J. Redick added 14 off the bench to lead the Magic.

The win trims Atlanta’s series’ lead to 3-2 and keeps alive the Magic’s hopes of becoming the ninth team in NBA history to win a playoff series after trailing 3-1. If they can win Game 6 Thursday in Atlanta, they would host a decisive Game 7 on Saturday.

Magic center Dwight Howard battled foul trouble throughout the night and had just one field goal, finishing with eight points and eight rebounds. Orlando didn’t need his offense, though, as it broke out of a series-long shooting funk with 11 3-pointers…

Josh Smith scored 22 points to lead Atlanta, which shot below 40 percent for just the second time this series…

For the second straight game the Magic’s bench got some production led by Redick. It also got 11 points from Ryan Anderson and nine from Gilbert Arenas, who had erupted for 20 in Game 4.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports:

Derrick Rose OK to play despite ankle sprain

Derrick Rose participated in the walkthrough portion of Tuesday’s morning shootaround and got individual shots up afterward, reiterating he planned to play on his sprained left ankle as the Chicago Bulls try to close out the Indiana Pacers in Game 5.

“It’s good,” Rose said. “I gotta get treatment and then I’m out there. (Monday), it was a little stiff. Today, I got more more motion in it.”

Coach Tom Thibodeau said of Rose: “He’s feeling better. We’ll see how he feels before the game.”

The AP reports:

udonis haslem

Heat forward Udonis Haslem says he’s hopeful of returning to the Miami lineup sometime this postseason.

Continuing his comeback following a ruptured foot ligament in November, Haslem went through another full practice with Miami on Tuesday. Haslem says there was less pain and soreness in his foot after the workout than he expected.

Haslem says he feels like his time is coming.

Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Bucks will keep Carlos Delfino next season

Bucks general manager John Hammond confirmed Tuesday that forward Carlos Delfino will be returning for a third season with the team.

The Bucks have a $3.5 million team option on Delfino for the 2011-’12 season. The Argentine forward averaged 11.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 49 games with the Bucks last season and made 40 starts.

Delfino suffered a concussion in the first week of the season and eventually missed 32 games due to symptoms from a series of hits to the head.

He was able to return to the lineup in late January and had back-to-back 30-point games in March against New York and Sacramento. That established a career high for points.

Ron Artest wins 2010-11 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award

Ron Artest of the Los Angeles Lakers is the 2010-11 recipient of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award presented annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association. The award is named for the second commissioner of the league and honors an NBA player or coach for outstanding service and dedication to the community.

Artest won for his tireless efforts to promote awareness of mental health, including fund-raising, appearing before Congress in support of Mental Health in Schools Act and his all-around advocacy on the issue. Artest also raffled off his 2010 Championship Ring, raising more than $650,000 for mental health awareness, and took part in a public service announcement in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.

“Ron has such a passion for the issue, and has demonstrated such leadership he was a perfect choice for such a prestigious award,” said Doug Smith of the Toronto Star and president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association. “His work embodies the kind of dedication to important causes that NBA players have become known for.”

The PBWA represents approximately 150 writers for newspapers, magazines and Internet services who cover the NBA on a regular basis. Members nominate players and coaches and vote for the award. The finalists for the award this season were Artest, Marcus Camby of the Portland Trail Blazers, Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic and Kyle Korver of the Chicago Bulls.

Read fan reaction and discuss your own opinion in this forum topic.

Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News blog reports:

After watching the first three games of the Spurs-Grizzlies playoff series, Spurs rookie center Tiago Splitter finally made his postseason debut in Monday’s Game 4.

His performance turned out to be one of the few bright spots for the Spurs. The 25-year-old rookie from Brazil logged 21 minutes and 32 seconds and scored 10 points, with nine rebounds. He made 5 of 9 shots and committed only one turnover.

“I thought he was wonderful,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “I thought he did a lot of good things out there.”

Popovich opened the second half with Splitter on the court instead of veteran Antonio McDyess, but Popovich said that was a tactical decision only.

“Antonio had three (first-half) fouls, and you need him at the end of the game to guard Zach (Randolph),” he said. “We didn’t want to start Antonio for that reason.”

The AP reports:

Ty Lawson scores 27, Nuggets stay alive vs Thunder

Ty Lawson scored a career playoff-high 27 points and J.R. Smith and Danilo Gallinari hit clutch shots down the stretch to help Denver beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-101 on Monday night as the Nuggets avoided a first-round sweep…

In denying the Thunder their first playoff series win since moving from Seattle in 2008, the Nuggets went to the hoop better than they had all series and relied on the smooth touch of Gallinari, who totaled just 13 points in the previous two games but finished with 18 Monday night to counter Durant’s 31 points and Westbrook’s 30…

Despite shooting just 31 of 44 from the stripe, the Nuggets sank eight straight during one key stretch in the fourth quarter as they grabbed control and then sank 6 of 8 in the final 23 seconds…

Durant’s four free throws pulled the Thunder to 89-87 with 4 1/2 minutes left, but Lawson’s layup sparked a clinching 8-0 run that included Gallinari’s fadeaway and 3-pointer.

InsideHoops.com notes: The Nuggets shot just 38.6% but hit 9-of-19 three-pointers and spent the night at the free throw line, where they shot 31-of-44… Raymond Felton shot just 2-of-10 for the Nuggets off the bench… Al Harrington and Wilson Chandler came off Denver’s bench and combined to shoot 0-of-8… Russell Westbrook took 30 shots for the Thunder, hitting 12. He was 0-of-7 from three-point range and finished with 30 points… Kevin Durant shot 8-of-18 for 31 points… Thunder forward Serge Ibaka had 13 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks… Aside from Westbrook, Durant and Ibaka, no other Thunder players scored more than seven… The Thunder still control the series. We at InsideHoops.com still expect them to advance.

The AP reports:

tyson chandler

Tyson Chandler wound up with 14 points and 20 rebounds, but his most important contribution might’ve been setting the aggressive, exciting tone the Mavericks needed to bounce back from a devastating loss and beat the Trail Blazers 93-82. Dallas leads the series 3-2, with two days to rest up before trying to close things out in Game 6 on Thursday night in Portland…

Dallas not only outrebounded its taller foe 49-37, the Mavs grabbed a whopping 20 offensive rebounds. Chandler had 13, and swatted several more to guards near midcourt. His offensive boards were the most ever by a Dallas player in the playoffs and the most for anyone in the playoffs since Shaquille O’Neal had 14 in 1995.

“They played like they wanted it more than we did,” said Portland’s Brandon Roy, who went from scoring 24 points in Game 4 to just five in 26 minutes…

Nowitzki led Dallas with 25 points, 11 coming in the third quarter, when the Mavericks broke open a tight game with a 15-5 run. Still, everyone was waiting to see whether they could protect it this time…

Jason Terry scored 20 points for Dallas and Shawn Marion added 14. Jason Kidd had 14 assists and four points, with his only basket coming long after the game was decided.

Andre Miller led Portland with 18 points and Gerald Wallace scored 18. LaMarcus Aldridge had only 12 points.

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