Archive for May 16th, 2012

Paul Pierce

Pierce, who shot a combined 5 for 20 as the teams split the first two games in Boston, began Wednesday’s contest by missing his first six shots from the field. Yet he ended with nine points in the first quarter, keeping the Celtics competitive before they could truly find their rhythm.

Rarely does someone shoot 2 for 8 from the field in the first 12 minutes and make such an impact.

The Sixers won the first quarter 33-28. Without Pierce, things would have been much worse for Boston.

Pierce scored the Celtics final seven points of the quarter, including two driving dunks.

“I wanted to be aggressive regardless,” Pierce said. “When I’m limited to 7 to 9 shots in a game, that isn’t me, and I have to be aggressive in everything I do.”

– Reported by Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer

kevin garnett

Kevin Garnett scored 27 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and used a dominant second quarter to help the Boston Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers 107-91 on Wednesday night and take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Whistled for a costly illegal pick late in a Game 2 loss, Garnett crushed the Sixers early and never let them think about a fourth-quarter rally.

Garnett scored 13 of Boston’s 32 points in the second quarter and the Celtics became the first team to win by double digits. Game 1 and Game 2 were each decided by one point.

Rajon Rondo had 23 points and 14 assists. Paul Pierce [stats], playing with a banged-up knee, had 24 points and 12 rebounds.

Game 4 is Friday in Philadelphia.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Their old legs may still cost the Boston Celtics this series against the younger, fresher Sixers. For a night, though, old heads prevailed over young legs in a big way.

“This was a team that you could see did not want to be down two (games) to one, playing Game 4,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said. “You could just see. They’ve been in a lot of these kinds of games. They know how important a swing game is to get that home court back. And they played great.”

The Celtics may have knee problems and foot problems and ankle problems. They may be sore and achy and stiff-legged. But they are still a team with a championship pedigree, a team with legitimate superstars. They were not about to panic after two close games in Boston. If anything, they looked annoyed as they swatted the Sixers, 107-91, Wednesday night.

It was just one basket among many. But everything about this game was in a dunk by Paul Pierce in the first quarter. The Celtics’ mainstay had missed a couple of layups. His sore knee had left him looking slow and old through the first two games. Now he came driving down the lane, fire in his eyes, and slammed the ball angrily.

“That’s who he is,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.

– Reported by Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer

Greg Oden might want to join Miami Heat

greg oden

Greg Oden, 7-0, hasn’t played since 2009-10 and is recovering from his fifth knee surgery in five seasons. A Grantland.com story said that “right now” Oden’s plan is to take next season off to rehab, then come back in 2013-14. But his agent, Mike Conley Sr., told us Oden is positioned be ready to play in December or January “as far as being effective and in shape” and will explore options in the coming months, with the possibility of joining a team next season. But nobody obviously can know for sure when he will be ready.

The Heat hasn’t called but “Greg has talked about Miami,” Conley said. “He has interest. He’s not retiring.” Oden, the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, has played just 82 career games for Portland (which released him in March) and averaged 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.

Whether the Heat takes a flyer on Oden or not – and Miami has nothing to lose, really, if or when they ever deem him healthy - the bigger question is this: With limited financial resources, can Pat Riley significantly upgrade at center during the Big Three era?

– Via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald 

Los Angeles Lakers forward Devin Ebanks and center Andrew Bynum have each been fined for separate violations, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President Basketball Operations.

Ebanks has been fined $25,000 for actions prior to and following his ejection from the Lakers’ 119-90 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals on May 14.

Bynum has been fined $15,000 for failing to make himself available to the media following the Lakers’ practice on May 15.

Indiana Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird is the recipient of the 2011-12 NBA Executive of the Year award, the NBA announced today.

As President of Basketball Operations, Bird oversaw a Pacers team that went 42-24 (.636), earning the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference and finishing with the league’s fifth-best record.

Bird set the tone for the 2011-12 season by naming Frank Vogel, who had served in an interim capacity for 46 games during the 2010-11 season, head coach on July 6, 2011. He added to an already strong nucleus by signing David West in December, and beefed up the Pacers’ bench by trading for Lou Amundson and Leandro Barbosa. Indiana’s draft picks under Bird’s watch have included three key contributors on this year’s team: Paul George (2010), Tyler Hansbrough (2009), and Roy Hibbert (2008).

A three-time MVP as a player (1984, 85, 86) with the Boston Celtics, the Indiana basketball legend won NBA Coach of the Year honors in 1997-98, his first season on the sidelines, after guiding the Pacers to a 58-24 mark. In three seasons as head coach, Bird led Indiana to a 147-67 record and its only Finals appearance in 2000. Bird is the only person to win all three awards – MVP, Coach and Executive of the Year. Red Auerbach, Frank Layden and Pat Riley are the only people to earn both Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year honors.

Bird totaled 88 points and received 12 first-place votes from a panel of his fellow team executives throughout the NBA. The San Antonio Spurs’ R.C. Buford finished second with 56 points (eight first-place votes) votes and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Neil Olshey finished third with 55 points (six first-place votes). Executives were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.

Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley said it’s too soon to predict what moves, if any, that the team will make to improve the roster.

He did emphasize, though, that the franchise isn’t in position to add much salary.

The Griz have big contracts committed to Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. They have Mike Conley on a modest long-term deal, and will have to make similar tough decisions on several free agents this summer.

“We can’t be in the luxury tax business,” Heisley said. “We’ve got to make some financial decisions. That’s without question.

“But we have to step away from this a little bit and let this settle down. I’m not going to allow myself to have any feelings about the roster right now. I don’t want us to look at Game 7 and make decisions for the future. That would be a mistake. You have to look at the season, the players and what’s available. But we’ve got a heck of a lot of talent coming back.”

– Reported by Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert wants to bring the NBA All-Star game back to Cleveland.

Gilbert, who opened his new downtown casino Monday, said he plans to approach the league about hosting a future All-Star weekend. He hopes Cleveland would be able to get one “in the next few years.” The city last hosted the mid-season event in 1997, when the league celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Gilbert said Cleveland is again poised to hold such an event because of his casino as well as a downtown convention center under construction.

– Reported by Tom Withers of the Associated Press

Status of Magic front office in doubt

Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins said Tuesday night that his evaluation process of the team’s basketball operations department is still ongoing.

“No decisions have been reached,” Martins told the Orlando Sentinel via text message.

Martins and Chairman Dan DeVos have said team officials evaluate the performance of the basketball-operations department and other areas within the organization after every season.

But the status of Otis Smith, the team’s president of basketball operations and general manager, and coach Stan Van Gundy are in doubt.

– Reported by Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel (Blog)

Kobe Bryant discusses not taking charges

kobe bryant

“We got a couple guys that take charges, but for the most part, the one guy that took a charge is now playing in Oklahoma,” Bryant said after practice Tuesday, referring to Derek Fisher. “I don’t take charges. Metta [World Peace] don’t take charges. Steve [Blake] will take a charge every now and then, but most everybody else just stands up and plays.”

The 33-year-old veteran who is playing in his 16th season said part of the reason for his longevity is his aversion to sacrificing his body to draw offensive fouls.

“I learned from my predecessors,” Bryant said. “[Scottie] Pippen had a [messed] up back taking charges. [Larry] Bird had a [messed] up back taking charges. I said, ‘I’m not taking charges.’ I figured that … out at an early age.”

Bryant said that Pippen and Bird didn’t share their charge-taking horror stories with him to influence his decision, he merely noticed through observation. He also picked up on other legends who benefited from not taking charges.

– Reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles

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Tom Thibodeau

General manager Gar Forman on Tuesday said the Bulls will pick up Tom Thibodeau’s third-year team option and reiterated the desire to sign the coach to a long-term extension.

“We started having conversations about an extension with him in the fall,” Forman said. “We hope to continue those discussions. Obviously, we value Tom greatly. We value what he brings to the organization and the team. We think he’s one of the finest coaches in the league and hope he’ll be our coach long-term.”

In late March, Thibodeau and management did their best to diffuse an ESPN story that suggested Thibodeau was annoyed he hadn’t had his option picked up. Both sides have said publicly they hope to reach an extension. So while negotiations on years and dollars likely will feature haggling, both sides sound committed to the same goal.

“I’m not worried about that,” Thibodeau said. “Those things all take care of themselves.”

– Reported by K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune

derrick rose

If Derrick Rose returns next season, it’s unlikely he’ll be the player he was before he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee April 28.

That’s if he returns. The doctor who performed the successful surgery to repair Rose’s isolated ACL tear and a meniscus tear Saturday morning at Rush University Medical Center said some athletes take longer to recover for reasons that can be physiological as well as psychological.

“There’s no question that happens,” Dr. Brian Cole said. “People ask why don’t you get back to pre-injury level. In some cases, there’s just a level of confidence that they just don’t get, which is why we emphasize it so much during rehab, to help train an individual that it’s safe to do this.”

The Bulls aren’t counting on Rose returning next season. They aren’t even planning for it. But general manager Gar Forman said he will keep the core of a team that had the league’s best regular-season record in consecutive seasons together with an eye toward the future.

– Reported by Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times

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tim duncan

The San Antonio Spurs had just taken Game 1, and Manu Ginobili didn’t want to hear another word about winning 15 in a row or not losing in more than a month.

”I don’t even want to know about that,” Ginobili said.

On the other side of the AT&T Center, Clippers’ All-Star Chris Paul needed no reminder that his wretched performance contributed to the Spurs’ 108-92 victory over Los Angeles in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals on Tuesday night…

Tim Duncan had 26 points and 10 rebounds following an eight-day layoff for the top-seeded Spurs, who wore down Los Angeles in what was the sixth game in 11 day for the Clippers. Game 2 on Thursday night will make it seven in fewer than two weeks…

The Spurs have won 15 in a row, haven’t lost since April 11 and are winning by an average margin of nearly 17 points during that span. It’s the longest winning streak in the NBA playoffs since the 2004 Spurs carried 17 straight wins into the second round that season…

Blake Griffin scored 15 points in 28 minutes a day after estimating his sprained left knee had him feeling ”80 percent” at best. The All-Star said he became tired quicker than usual, and also turned his left ankle early in the game…

Paul, who ended the first round with an aching hip, scored just six points and didn’t make a single basket in the second half. Parker was barely any better, putting together seven points and 11 assists, and didn’t talk to reporters after the game…

– Reported by Paul J. Weber of the Associated Press

One sign the Spurs had their legs: They made 13 of 25 on 3-pointers, tying a franchise playoff record, including three apiece from Kawhi Leonard (16 points), Danny Green (15) and Ginobili.

During the break between the end of the first round and start of the second, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich fretted the extended time off might discombobulate the rhythm his team had gained in the first round.

He paced his team through every-other-day practices, including full-squad scrimmages, trying to keep his players sharp.

“You’ve got to do whatever you think is necessary to try to keep your rhythm, keep your conditioning and not get anybody hurt,” Popovich said.

After some early struggles — such as nine first-half turnovers — the Spurs rounded into form. Up by eight at intermission, the Spurs put together a 26-11 run in the third quarter to build a lead that got as large as 19 points.

– Reported by Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News

Thing is, the Spurs just keep coming after you in waves while pulling player after player out of their deep pool of reserves. Each one of them is effective and makes and not impact in their own right, with some as good or better than the starter they are replacing.

When someone is struggling, as Parker did while scoring just seven points on 1-of-9 shooting, Ginobili can pick up the slack with 22 points and Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green can combine to hit six 3-pointers and score 31 points.

“Everyone else got it going, and they’ve done that before,” Paul said. “And Tony is such a great player he’s still going to get everyone involved.”

When Popovich eventually found the right mix of personnel, the Spurs dropped a 26-15 hammer on the Clippers to build a 19-point third-quarter lead.

Meanwhile, the Clippers were left to look around wondering what the heck just happened.

“We were scrambling around a little bit at that point,” Griffin said. “And you just can’t do that against a good team like the Spurs.”

– Reported by Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News

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