Archive for May, 2012

lebron james

To LeBron James, the simple solution could have prevented the bigger mess.

While not directly calling out the officiating crew at Tuesday’s Game 5 of this Miami Heat-Indiana Pacers Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series, James said Thursday that harsher immediate action could have prevented the eventual suspension of Heat power forward Udonis Haslem for Thursday night’s Game 6 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

James said had Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough been immediately cited for a Flagrant 2 foul Tuesday and ejected for his hard hit on Dwyane Wade, then there would have been no retaliation foul from Haslem. Hansbrough instead was cited for a Flagrant 1 foul, which allowed him to remain in the game. The NBA later upgraded the violation to a Flagrant 2 foul, which would have mandated immediate ejection…

“If there was a Flagrant 2 to start with,” James said, “then U.D. would have never fouled him, which means U.D. never would have got suspended. I mean Hansbrough, it’s not the first time that he went after one of our players this year. We have two guys suspended and basically they have no one suspended.”

– Reported by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

- The Celtics are not expecting to have Avery Bradley for the rest of the playoffs because of a left shoulder injury, a source close to the shooting guard said Wednesday. Asked for a percentage about Bradley having played his final game this season, the source said in the “high 90s.’’

The source said it’s “highly likely’’ Bradley’s left shoulder would pop out again - it has popped out twice in the series against the 76ers - and playing would put him at risk of “serious structural damage.’’

Bradley has missed the past two games with soreness in both shoulders. The Celtics brass, along with Bradley’s representatives, appear close to deciding to sit him for the remainder of the playoffs. Coach Doc Rivers called Bradley’s injury “day to day,’’ but said he was not sure when he would return.

– Reported by the Boston Globe

On one hand, the club knows it needs to get him ample rest if he is to play at a high level. On the other hand, the C’s can’t afford to have him out of the game for too long.

Doc Rivers has tried to manage the 36-year-old center’s minutes, and Wednesday night in Game 6 against the Philadelphia 76ers Garnett played 41 and had 20 points and 11 rebounds in Boston’s 82-75 loss that set up a Game 7 Saturday.

“It can be hard, but we’ve got to give him breaks or we wouldn’t be getting what we are from him,” said Rivers.

Veteran guard Keyon Dooling may have put it best.

“Unfortunately this isn’t a video game,” he said. “You actually need a little rest.”

– Reported by the Sports Xchange

Lamar Odom might want to join Knicks

Lamar Odom

Who will Lamar Odom play for next season? That’s currently out of his control. He’s under contract with the Dallas Mavericks, who likely will trade him or waive him.

But a source with knowledge of Odom’s thinking says the New York Knicks would be “on the top of his list” if the Queens native becomes a free agent.

“Lamar is big on being comfortable,” the source said. “And New York is somewhere he can be comfortable.”

The Knicks’ interest in Odom is unclear at this point.

They likely will be limited in their spending this summer. New York is expected to use its mid-level exception to retain restricted free-agent Jeremy Lin, which would leave the organization with little money to spend on free agents.

– Reported by Ian Begley of ESPN New York

Sixers force a Game 7 with Celtics

jrue holiday

The buzz at the start was for Allen Iverson’s ceremonial return.

By the end, more than 20,000 fans were on their feet and going wild for Jrue Holiday, Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala and the rugged-and-determined play that kept the eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers alive for at least one more game.

Yes, the Sixers are talking about Game 7 - and they’re taking this improbable postseason run back to Boston.

Holiday scored 20 points, and Brand had 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Sixers to an 82-75 victory over the Celtics on Wednesday night that tied the Eastern Conference semifinals.

No team has won consecutive games in a series where neither team has played well enough to seize control. But the Sixers were good enough to win Game 6, improving to 5-0 this postseason in games following a loss…

Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo could be playing their last game together Saturday night if they can’t find a way to hang onto the ball and put away a Sixers team that won’t quit…

The Celtics posted ugly numbers across the board: Blame the loss on the 33 percent shooting, the 17 turnovers or the 3 for 14 3-point shooting. Either way, there’s enough to go around. Pierce had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Garnett had 20 points and 11 boards…

Pierce led the parade to the line for the Boston. He made his first 11 attempts for a Celtics team that was 17 for 17 through three quarters. The Celtics made only 19 field goals through three.

– Reported by Dan Gelston of the Associated Press

Rondo’s final line on Wednesday - nine points, six assists and nine rebounds - was the kind you expect to see from in at the half.

“I don’t know” was C’s coach Doc Rivers’ response when asked about Rondo’s very un-Rondo-like game.

“He wanted to play well,” Rivers added. “He attacked early and missed some shots. He probably got caught in between himself because he saw the offense wasn’t working.”

Boston shot 33 percent from the field and turned the ball over 17 times (for 19 points).

You want to know what a recipe for defeat looks like?

Shooting that poorly and turning the ball over that many times, is a start.

And when you consider so much of Rondo’s game is dependent on others making shots, it’s not all that surprising that the Celtics All-Star’s numbers weren’t nearly as impressive as they usually are.

– Reported by A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE

The Celtics flew home for Saturday’s Game 7 with some odious numbers, but none worse than those turned in by the architect of that win in Game 5.

Rajon Rondo, who for long stretches had as many turnovers as assists, finished with perhaps his worst night of the postseason — nine points on 4-for-14 shooting, six assists, four turnovers and his one redeeming stat of nine rebounds.

But he had company. Brandon Bass, the Game 5 hero, had eight points on 2-for-12 shooting against some intensified trapping. Ray Allen, now maneuvering on two bad ankles and struggling to keep up with Philadelphia’s quick guards, fell into foul trouble and shot 4-for-11.

They could only get so far on Kevin Garnett’s jump shooting this time. Keyon Dooling can only dig into his speech file so often.

The Celtics, now 2-11 in potential road game closeout opportunities over the last five years — the new Big Three era — are thus thanking the skies for the fact they have homecourt advantage.

– Reported by Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald

Jrue Holiday led the Sixers with 20 points and dealt six assists. Brand gutted through a sore neck and shoulder for 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Iguodala and Turner had 12 each, and Williams chipped in with 11.

Defensively, the group held Celtic guard Rajon Rondo to only nine points and six assists, and limited Boston to 26-for-78 (33.3 percent) from the floor and turned them over 17 times. And with starting ‘two’ guard Avery Bradley sidelined again with a shoulder injury, there weren’t many able bodies for Rivers to look to.

“It’s what we have,” Rivers said. “Avery is a great defender, but I can’t worry about [not having him]. The penetration hurt us and the isos and they were picking who they wanted [to isolate]. That’s what I would do. I know Doug well. I’m gonna give him a call and say, ‘Listen, none of that.’ We have to do a better job of helping those who can’t keep guys in front of them.

“They’re athletic, young, they’re very fast, and they play with a lot of energy. We knew coming in this would be hard. They have a quickness advantage and we understand that.”

– Reported by Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News

Evan Turner hasn’t exactly been an offensive machine during this series, but with Allen assigned to him this appeared to be a game where he could break out.

The previous two games saw Turner score in double figures, but his shooting (10-for-35) has been anything but stellar.

By halftime on Wednesday, even with the Sixers struggling to hit shots from the field - they were just 14-for-35 from the field - Turner was off to a decent enough shooting start (3-for-5) that it didn’t look too far out of the realm of possibility that the former No. 2 overall pick might put up some impressive numbers.

And while he never really got his offensive game untracked, that was less important than what he did at the defensive end.

– Reported by John N. Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer

Miami Heat center Dexter Pittman has been suspended three games without pay for striking the neck and shoulders of Indiana guard Lance Stephenson, and Miami forward Udonis Haslem has been suspended one game without pay for striking the head and shoulders of Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

Both Pittman and Haslem had their Flagrant Foul Ones upgraded to Flagrant Foul Twos, as did Indiana’s Hansbrough, who struck the head of Miami’s Dwyane Wade on a foul that occurred shortly before Haslem’s foul.

The incidents occurred during the Heat’s 115-83 victory over the Pacers on May 22 at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.

Haslem will serve his suspension on Thursday when the Pacers host the Heat in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series. Pittman will begin serving his suspension in Game 6.

lebron james

Miami Heat forward LeBron James, winner of the 2011-12 NBA Most Valuable Player Award, headlines the NBA All-Defensive First Team, the NBA announced today. James totaled 53 points overall, including 24 First Team votes. He was the lone player to top 50 points.

Joining James on the NBA All-Defensive First Team are forward Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder (47 points), guards Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers (35 points) and Tony Allen of the Memphis Grizzlies (33 points), and center Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic (41 points). Ibaka and Allen earn First Team honors for the first time; Allen was an NBA All-Defensive Second Team selection last season.

James led the Heat to a 46-20 mark and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. He paced the Heat in steals (1.9 spg) and defensive rebounds (6.4 drpg), and tied for the team lead in rebounds (7.9 rpg). With James leading the effort, Miami’s defense tied for fourth in opponent scoring (91.3 ppg), and ranked third in forced turnovers (16.6) and fifth in opponent field goal percentage (.434).

serge ibaka

Ibaka paced the league in blocks (3.65 bpg) while Paul led in steals (2.53 spg). Howard was the league’s leading rebounder (14.5 rpg) as well as its top defensive rebounder (10.8 drpg). The Grizzlies allowed 96.0 points per 100 possessions with Allen on the court compared to 101.7 points per 100 possessions with him off.

The NBA All-Defensive Second Team consists of guards Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, center Tyson Chandler of the New York Knicks, and forwards Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls and Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics.

Chandler had already won the Defensive Player of Year award. So why did he only get named to the second All-Defensive team? Because a group of media members, not the league’s coaches, vote for that award.

The voting panel for the all-defense squads consisted of the NBA’s 30 head coaches, who were asked to select NBA All-Defensive First and Second Teams by position. Coaches were not permitted to vote for players from their own team.  Two points were awarded for a First Team vote and one point was awarded for a Second Team vote.

Luol Deng

British basketball has improved a lot in recent years. After winning two games and finishing 13th at last year’s EuroBasket in Lithuania, Great Britain’s men’s team will have another opportunity to show the world their progress when they host this summer’s Olympic Games.

Thanks to some talented players such as Joel Freeland (Unicaja Malaga) and Pops Mensah-Bonsu (Besiktas Milangaz) as well as the much-anticipated impact of new face Ben Gordon (Detroit Pistons), the GB team could prove to be a tough opponent to beat in London.

Having made his senior national team debut in 2007, Luol Deng will once again be captain of this promising young squad.

Dealing with a torn ligament in his left wrist since January, Deng played through the pain for most of the season.

“It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my career so far. It’s been hard, but I’m proud to have pushed my limits,” he added.

Still undecided about whether or not he’ll need to have surgery to treat his injury, Deng is clear about his post-season schedule.

“I still don’t know if I’ll need a surgery. It will depend on how my wrist feels in the next few weeks. But right now, my mind is only focused on the Olympics,” he said.

– Reported by FIBA.com

udonis haslem

We won’t know until late Wednesday afternoon if the NBA will hand down any suspensions for Game 6 in this knock-down, drag-out Miami Heat-Indiana Pacers series.

But Pacers forward Danny Granger left little doubt what he thought should happen in the wake of Udonis Haslem’s flagrant foul on Tyler Hansbrough in the first half of Tuesday’s 115-83 Heat blowout win.

“Obviously it was retaliation for Tyler’s foul on [Dwyane] Wade,” Granger said of the play a few trips earlier at the other end of the court. “I mean, I saw it was bad in the game. Then I came back here and I saw the replay. It looked about three times worse. That was all-out. I expect to see Flagrant 2. I’d be shocked if they don’t upgrade it after looking at that play. …

“Seeing it in slow motion, it was obvious what [Haslem’s] intent was. I think it was just as dangerous as what Metta World Peace did to James Harden. I know he was trying to protect his teammate, but it was a hard foul.”

– Reported by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

larry bird

Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird doesn’t do a lot of interviews. He prefers to stay in the background and let his players get the attention.

But when Bird talks, you listen.

That was the case about two hours after the Pacers suffered the worst playoff loss in franchise history – 115-83 – in Game 5 against the Miami Heat.

“I can’t believe my team went soft,” Bird said on the phone. “S-O-F-T. I’m disappointed. I never thought it would happen.”

When asked to elaborate on those comments, an obviously frustrated Bird said, “That’s all I have to say.”

– Reported by Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star (Blog)

Police arrest OKC shooting suspects

Oklahoma City police have arrested a second suspect after at least eight people were shot following an NBA playoff game.

Police say they arrested a 17-year-old man late Tuesday in connection with the shootings in the Bricktown entertainment district the previous night…

Police also arrested 19-year-old Rodney Hill in the shootings. Both suspects face eight complaints of shooting with intent to kill. Formal charges have not been filed.

– Reported by the Associated Press

dwyane wade

Suddenly, the road back to the Eastern Conference finals no longer looks daunting for Miami.

Not after the Heat left the Pacers beat up and banged up.

LeBron James scored 30 points, Dwyane Wade added 28, and the Heat moved a win away from the NBA’s final four with a 115-83 victory over the hurting Pacers on Tuesday night, a game where three flagrant fouls added more chapters to an already-physical series and Indiana watched starting forwards Danny Granger and David West leave with injuries.

”This is our challenge right now, to leave it behind us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”A lot of good things tonight, but we have to focus on the next one.”

That would be Game 6 in Indiana on Thursday night. The Heat lead the best-of-seven East semifinals 3-2.

James added 10 rebounds and eight assists. Shane Battier scored 13 points, Mario Chalmers had eight points and 11 rebounds, and Udonis Haslem finished with 10 points for Miami, which never trailed, held a 22-2 edge in fast-break points and shot a franchise playoff-record 61 percent - best of any team in the playoffs this season.

Paul George scored 11 points for Indiana, with Granger and West adding 10 points apiece. Granger left with a sprained left ankle in the third quarter and departed the arena in a walking boot, while West departed with what the Pacers called a left knee sprain at the end of that period - something that West thought was born of a cheap shot…

A series marked by ugly moments had perhaps its worst with 19.4 seconds remaining when Miami reserve center Dexter Pittman went across the lane to send a forearm into the chin area of Indiana’s Lance Stephenson - who was caught on camera making a choke sign toward James during the Pacers’ Game 3 win, drawing the ire of the Miami locker room.

Pittman was caught on camera winking after the foul.

– Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

Playing at a pace that minimized the advantage the Pacers held in the power rotation with center Roy Hibbert and power forward David West, the Heat got plenty of thrill-show theatrics from James and Wade on the fastbreak, with Wade clearly having regained the legs he lacked at the start of this series. The Heat outscored the Pacers 22-2 on fast breaks, while limiting them to .337 shooting.

“That’s a big key for us, when we’re able to make stops and get out on transition,” Wade said.

But this wasn’t only James and Wade, and there therefore was no need for James to repeat Sunday’s 40-point performance or for Wade to come up with something similar.

Instead, it was fill-in power forward Shane Battier, who again started in place of sidelined Chris Bosh, converting three first-quarter 3-pointers to set the tone, after entering 2 of 12 on 3-pointers in the series. He closed with 13 points.

– Reported by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Hansbrough’s claw work marked the second game in a row the Pacers have bloodied a Heat player. In Game 4, Pacers reserve Lou Amundson gashed Haslem in the head with an elbow. The cut required stitches.

Apparently, Haslem had seen enough.

Less than a minute after Hansbrough’s flagrant foul on Wade, Haslem went after Hansbrough with what looked like a deliberate shot to the face. Hansbrough was in the act of shooting but it appeared Haslem worried little about trying to block the shot. Instead, he crushed Hansbrough with both arms.

Hansbrough’s head snapped back as he went to the ground. Haslem was whistled for a flagrant 1. From there, the Heat outscored the Pacers 83-58. After the game, Hansbrough said he wasn’t sure if Haslem’s foul was intentional.

– Reported by Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald

A cut opened above Wade’s right eye after Hansbrough attempted to block his shot and scraped Wade in the head. Hansbrough was assessed a flagrant-1 foul. Blood dribbled down Wade’s temple and left a stain on his white jersey as he shot free throws.

Indiana’s Danny Granger was prone twice after landing awkwardly on his ankle (the first time on James’ foot) and left the game for good in the third quarter.

Dexter Pittman jammed a blatant elbow into Lance Stephenson’s ribs as he drove the lane. Payback for Stephenson’s choke pantomime directed at James in Game 3? Juwan Howard had also lectured Stephenson before Game 4.

Haslem’s nine stitches were oozing. He took an elbow from Lou Amundson in Game 4. He said he wasn’t seeking revenge on Hansbrough.

– Reported by Linda Robertson of the Miami Herald

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced that the Golden State Warriors plan to build a new sports and entertainment arena on the waterfront in San Francisco in time for the 2017-18 NBA season. The privately financed arena will be located at Piers 30-32 on San Francisco Bay, south of the Bay Bridge, between the Ferry Building and AT&T Park.

“We are working with the Warriors to get a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose arena built on the waterfront in San Francisco and completed in 2017,” said Lee. “The Warriors have been the Bay Area’s basketball team for 50 years, and today sets the stage for the Warriors to be the Bay Area’s team for another 50. This project will provide millions of dollars in new tax revenue for San Francisco over the long term for services local residents need, including public safety, parks, public transit, pothole repair, youth programs and senior services.”

“Building a world-class, state-of-the-art sports and entertainment facility will create thousands of new jobs for local residents,” said Warriors Co-Executive Chairman and CEO Joe Lacob. “We are pleased to be privately financing the arena – with no money from the City’s general fund and no new taxes – and look forward to providing an incredible entertainment experience for Bay Area fans.”

The new facility will host the Bay Area’s NBA basketball team, as well as provide a spectacular new venue for top-tier concerts, cultural events and conventions, prominent events the City currently cannot accommodate. The new arena will be located in an incredibly transit- and pedestrian-rich location, with a Muni Metro stop at its doorstep, and only a few blocks from Embarcadero Station and the new Transbay Transit Center.

“With convenient options for BART, Muni, CalTrain and ferry service, this will be one of the most transit-friendly facilities in the nation,” said Warriors Co-Executive Chairman Peter Guber. “We know that’s important for our fans and a real positive to this location.”

Under the agreement, the City will provide the land and the Warriors will pay to repair the crumbling piers, and privately finance the arena project. The cost of repairs is estimated at $75 to $100 million.

In addition to the creation of thousands of new jobs for Bay Area residents, the new arena will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new economic growth and activity for the City.

“Games, concerts, conventions and other events will bring people from all over the region, and the money they spend will directly benefit local businesses,” said San Francisco Travel President & CEO Joe D’Alessandro.

Warriors seek move back to San Francisco

The Golden State Warriors are jumping across the bay, with plans for a privately financed, $500 million waterfront arena that would allow the team to play its home games in San Francisco for the first time in more than four decades.

The NBA franchise would leave Oakland for a 17,000- to 19,000-seat arena that would be built on Piers 30-32 near the foot of the Bay Bridge, a short walk from downtown, and open in time for the 2017-18 season.

“It is going to happen - let there be no doubt,” Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob said Monday.

The arena would also host conventions and entertainment events such as concerts, Lacob said. Plans for the site also include 100,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space.

Although the actual design has yet to be worked up, team President and CEO Rick Welts said that “this will be an architecturally significant building, resting on an iconic site.”

– Reported by Phillip Matier of the San Francisco Chronicle

Knicks likely keeping coach Mike Woodson

coach mike woodson

The Knicks are expected to announce Mike Woodson’s new contract as coach sometime “this week,” according to a source familiar with the situation. Lawyers began hammering out details on the pact last week and are committed to getting it done before Memorial Day weekend.

Woodson could get a three-year contract — which is the length of time left on the pacts of Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler.

It has been 13 days since the Knicks’ season ended, but the contract delay was understandable because Woodson had to fire his agent, Joe Glass, upon request from Knicks owner James Dolan.

– Reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post

Ramon Sessions did the best he could to keep Russell Westbrook from making a high-flying dunk that would energize the Oklahoma City Thunder.

No matter.

Even with his feet flat on the ground, Westbrook found a way to get the Thunder rolling past the Los Angeles Lakers and into the Western Conference finals for the second straight year.

After Sessions committed a foul to stop him on the fast break, Westbrook flipped the ball up toward the rim and got it to go in for what would become a three-point play. Westbrook took off toward the scorer’s table, pumping his fist as the home crowd celebrated.

There was no turning back after that, and Oklahoma City pulled away for a 106-90 victory in Game 5 on Monday night to knock the Lakers out of the playoffs…

Westbrook finished with 28 points, Kevin Durant added 25 points and 10 rebounds and the two All-Stars skipped their usual rest periods to power the Thunder ahead in the second half…

Kobe Bryant scored 42 points for the Lakers and took the briefest of rest - less than 2 minutes - in the second half. It didn’t even take that long for the game, and their season, to slip away…

”I’m not fading into the shadows,” said Bryant, a five-time NBA champion with the Lakers. ”I’m not going anywhere. We’re not going anywhere.” …

Gasol then came through with a monster game - 23 points, 17 rebounds and six assists - and Steve Blake scored a playoff career-best 19 points to save the Lakers that time. Bryant didn’t get nearly as much help against the Thunder.

Gasol took 14 shots, his most of the series, but made only five to finish with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Metta World Peace scored 11 and Bynum 10.

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

Andrew Bynum, Gasol’s fellow 7-footer, had only 10 points and four rebounds after getting into early foul trouble.

The Lakers’ second unit, maligned from start to finish this season, totaled five points. Jordan Hill and Devin Ebanks scored two points apiece and Steve Blake had one, Their Thunder counterparts produced 35 points.

“I know we’re asking our ‘bigs’ to do a lot, but I know for sure we could have gotten more scoring from those two guys,” Brown said of Gasol and Bynum.

“We also could have gotten more from our bench.”

Oklahoma City was too good for the Lakers when it mattered most.

The Thunder were too fast, too athletic and too much for the Lakers to handle, starting with a burst that turned an 83-77 lead going into the fourth quarter into a 93-79 edge moments later.

– Reported by Elliot Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News

The beleaguered and beaten Lakers still lined up to give their props to the victors.

At the front of the OKC line stood three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant, who was met first by Lakers coach Mike Brown.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks and Brown then exchanged pleasantries.

James Harden and Metta World Peace, an NBA sideshow since World Peace delivered a vicious elbow on April 22, slowly worked their way through the line before they finally came face-to-face.

World Peace gave a faint smile. Whatever reaction Harden had was swallowed by his lengthy beard.

They cupped hands, shared a hug, gave each other one pat on the back and then moved down the line.

World Peace said he told Harden, “Great job” and added, “James is a really good player.”

– Reported by John Rohde of the Oklahoman

At least eight people were shot downtown shortly after the Thunder game let out Monday night, police said.

About 11:35 p.m., shots were reportedly fired on Reno Avenue between Mickey Mantle Drive and Joe Carter Avenue, about three blocks east of Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“Preliminary reports indicate that eight people were shot and one person suffered blunt trauma, and that person was a pregnant woman,” Oklahoma City police Capt. Dexter Nelson said.

“Everything is very, very preliminary. We still don’t know the actual number of victims. We believe that one person is critical, and the other injuries are not believed to be life-threatening,” Nelson said.

– Reported by the Oklahoman

Read NBA fan reaction and share your views in this basketball forum topic.

brandon bass

The fifth, newest and least-heralded member of the Celtics’ starting lineup, Brandon Bass erupted for a career playoff-high 27 points on Monday night, scoring 18 in the third quarter as Boston pulled away from the Philadelphia 76ers to win 101-85 and take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

”We’ve got a few good players on the team that they had to focus on,” said Bass, who left the game to a standing ovation with 2 minutes left and Boston leading by 18. ”That left me open, and I was able to take advantage of my opportunity.”

The 27 points matched Bass’ regular-season career high, and the 18 points in the third was one off his career playoff high for an entire game. It was also more than the Sixers scored in the quarter as a team…

Kevin Garnett added 20 points and Rajon Rondo had 13 points and 14 assists for the Celtics, who can advance to the East finals with a victory in Philadelphia in Game 6 on Wednesday. The Sixers would need a win at home to force the series back to Boston for a decisive seventh game…

Brand scored 19 and Evan Turner had 11 points and 10 rebounds for Philadelphia, which led by six points early in the third quarter before Boston scored 14 of the next 16 points. Bass had eight of them, including back-to-back dunks followed by a steal that set up Ray Allen’s fast-break layup to give the Celtics a 63-57 lead with five minutes left in the quarter…

Paul Pierce had 16 points - a perfect 9 for 9 from the free throw line - and Allen, back in the starting lineup because of an injury to Avery Bradley, had five points.

– Reported by Jimmy Golen of the Associated Press

“All in all, I just think we had a bad third,” said Lou Williams, limited to nine points. “We had a bunch of turnovers and they scored on all of them, especially when we’re in their building with an experienced team like that. We didn’t help ourselves in the third. A lot of that was transition basketball. They were running off of turnovers and guys were scrambling, trying to get matched up, and Bass was a recipient of a lot of those plays, statement plays that gets the crowd involved with two dunks in a row. We just never could recover.”

After the Sixers took a 50-47 lead at the break, Bass outscored them by two points in the third when the Celtics took command and the Sixers folded more times than a map. They’ll get a chance to redeem themselves and even the series on Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center in Game 6, which will begin at 8 p.m. Game 7, if necessary, will be Saturday in Boston.

During that 28-16 burst, the Sixers’ defense left much to be desired. In the second part of the third quarter, the Celtics got four dunks just from the Sixers not rotating properly. And Bass looked Larry Bird-like, making all but one of his seven shots, making all of his six free throws and perhaps pretty much wrapping up the series.

– Reported by Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News

The Celtics trailed by four at halftime, but Bass’s unlikely outburst was the catalyst for a third quarter that saw the Celtics shoot 61 percent and hold Philadelphia to 33 percent shooting. Bass was 6 for 7 in the third; Rajon Rondo assisted on 7 of Boston’s 11 field goals in the period. The Celtics played the game without Avery Bradley, who sat out with a left shoulder injury.

Bradley’s defense was missed in the first half as the Celtics allowed Philadelphia to shoot 55 percent from the floor. The Sixers had eight offensive rebounds and scored 10 second-chance points in the first half.

But the Celtics turned it on in the third quarter, putting their foot down after halftime like they so often do. In the blink of an eye, the Celtics went on a 10-0 run to take a 63-57 lead with 4:56 remaining. They led by nine points after three and never looked back.

– Reported by Gary Dzen of the Boston.com Blog

Orlando Magic Chief Executive Officer Alex Martins announced today that Stan Van Gundy has been relieved of his duties as head coach. In addition President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Otis Smith and the organization have mutually agreed to part ways.

“On behalf of the DeVos Family, we sincerely appreciate and thank Otis and Stan for all that they have done on and off the floor for the Orlando Magic,” said Martins. “These are the days you dread in this business, but we feel it’s time for new leadership and new voices.

“They both brought die-hard dedication and an unmatched work ethic on a daily basis,” added Martins. “Their success is well documented, as the Orlando Magic has had the fourth best record in the NBA over the last five years, and entering the playoffs this year the third most playoff wins over that period of time. The disappointment of getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs these past two seasons played a primary role in our decision, as we feel our momentum towards winning a championship has paused. We wish Otis and Stan all the best and we look forward to taking the next step towards winning that championship.”

Van Gundy was named head coach on June 7, 2007, becoming the ninth head coach in franchise history.

Van Gundy has a career NBA head coaching regular season record of 371-208 (.641), including 259-135 (.657) in five seasons in Orlando. He led Orlando to five postseason berths, three Southeast Division titles and the 2009 Eastern Conference crown. Prior to coming to Orlando he served as head coach of the Miami Heat for two-plus seasons.

In 2007-‘08, his first season in Orlando, Van Gundy guided the Magic to a 52-30 record and the Southeast Division Championship. It was the Magic’s first division crown since 1995-‘96. Orlando also advanced past the opening round of the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 1996, defeating Toronto 4-1.

During the 2008-‘09 campaign Van Gundy led the Magic to a 59-23 record and through a memorable playoff run, capped off with the 2009 Eastern Conference championship and a berth in the NBA Finals, marking the second trip in franchise history.

In 2009-‘10, Van Gundy directed the Magic to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight year, after compiling a 59-23 record during the season.

Last season, 2010-‘11, Orlando finished 52-30 and made its fourth straight trip to the playoffs. It was Orlando’s fourth straight 50-win season and Van Gundy became the second-fastest active coach to 300 career wins and seventh-fastest all-time. He also coached his 500th career game and had the sixth-most wins in NBA history through 500 contests.

This past season, Orlando finished 37-29 (.561), good for sixth-best in the Eastern Conference. The Magic advanced to the postseason for the sixth consecutive time, the longest active streak in the Eastern Conference.

Smith was promoted to president of basketball operations on July 28, 2010. Smith was named general manager on May 3, 2006. He was assistant general manager during the 2005-06 campaign, after serving as director of player development for two seasons.

Under Smith’s leadership from 2005-‘06 to 2011-‘12, Orlando advance to the playoffs all six times, recorded 50-plus victories in a club-record four straight seasons (2007-‘08 to 2010-‘11), captured three consecutive Southeast Division titles (2007-‘10), advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in two straight postseasons (2009-‘10) and reached the 2009 NBA Finals after winning the Eastern Conference title. The Magic were 299-177 (.628) during Smith’s tenure as general manager.

Smith was a member of the inaugural 1989-‘90 Magic squad and spent three seasons playing in Orlando (1989-‘92). Smith averaged 11.4 ppg., 4.1 rpg., 1.9 apg. and 1.01 stlpg. in 195 games with the Magic. He played in 375 career NBA regular season games with Denver, Golden State and Orlando, averaging 10.5 ppg., 3.8 rpg., 1.8 apg. and 1.01 stlpg. in 20.6 mining.

Nate McMillan

Probably the most prominent name attached to the Charlotte Bobcats’ coaching search – former N.C. State star Nate McMillan – will be in Charlotte tonight and Tuesday to interview with Bobcats management, a source familiar with the situation confirmed to the Observer.

The Bobcats were also set to interview assistant coach Stephen Silas Monday. Silas served as lead assistant to his father, Paul, whose contract was not renewed last month.

McMillan was fired in March as coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, following a 42-point road loss to the New York Knicks. He was 266-269 as coach in Portland and preceded that with a 212-183 record as coach of the then-Seattle Supersonics.

Despite the end, McMillan had strong seasons in Portland, winning 54 games in the 2008-09 season and 50 in the 2009-10 season. He told the Observer last month that he had interest in the Bobcats situation.

– Reported by Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer (Blog)

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