Archive for April, 2013

nate robinson

Chicago Bulls guard Nate Robinson doesn’t hide his dislike for the Brooklyn Nets’ C.J. Watson. In fact, Robinson views it as a positive.

“We’re just competitors,” Robinson said Monday after helping the Bulls even their Eastern Conference quarterfinals at a game apiece. “I don’t like him, he don’t like me. That’s how it’s going to be. There’s animosity between the two of us, and for us, that’s good.”

The cause of the animosity isn’t certain. Robinson essentially filled Watson’s role on the Bulls, who waived Watson last offseason and then signed Robinson to a non-guaranteed contract.

– Reported by ESPN Chicago

Josh Smith

Josh Smith, the Hawks’ leading scorer, will play in Game 2 against the Pacers Wednesday after suffering a sprained right ankle in the playoff series opener.

Smith was a full participant in Tuesday’s workout. He missed the on-court portion of Monday’s workout after suffering the injury in the third quarter of the Game 1 loss.

“I should be all right,” Smith said. “It’s still a little sore but it’s playoff time and I have to suck it up.”

– Reported by Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The first game was a blowout and the second was a buzzer-beater, but both were wins for the Clippers and that means they hold a 2-0 advantage over the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the Western Conference NBA playoffs.

It’s a good omen for the Clippers, who have been up, 2-0, in a playoff series only one other time in franchise history. That time, in 2006, they went on to defeat the Denver nuggets, four games to one. It also holds an historical advantage as only 15 times in NBA playoff history has a team lost a series after winning the first two. 

Those things mean little to the Clippers, however. Nobody in their locker room was satisfied after Chris Paul’s buzzer-beating bank shot gave the Clippers a 93-91 victory in Game 2 at Staples Center. 

“All we did was protect our home court,” Vinny Del Negro said. “You have to win four games. We did what we were supposed to do. We know we’re going to have to play better in Memphis.” 

It would be difficult to play better than Paul did down the stretch. He scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half and was the only Clippers’ player to score in the final 3:46 of the game. But the Clippers held a 12-point lead with just under 10 minutes to play and let the Grizzlies get back in to tie the game. They were able to get away with that at home, but trying that on the road would be playing with fire. 

– Reported by Peter Yoon of ESPN Los Angeles

Charlotte Bobcats fire coach Mike Dunlap

Charlotte Bobcats President of Basketball Operations Rod Higgins announced today that the team has relieved Mike Dunlap of his duties as head coach. The search for his successor will begin immediately.

“Rich Cho and I conducted our season-ending review and met with Coach Dunlap to reflect on this season.  As an organization, it was decided that we needed to make a change with the head coach position,” Higgins said. “We want to thank Mike for his contribution and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Dunlap was hired as the fifth head coach in franchise history on June 20, 2012 and posted an overall record of 21-61.

According to the Charlotte Observer, “Dunlap’s strength was player development and his greatest success was probably the improvement of point guard Kemba Walker. But he appeared to have friction at times with some of the veterans, including a verbal altercation with guard Ben Gordon during a shootaround. Players were asked in their exit interviews last week for a review of Dunlap’s coaching style. It’s unclear how much that factored in the decision to let him go. In a post-season interview with the Observer Friday, Dunlap said he had evolved as a coach this season. He noted that he had backed off on managing every aspect of games from the sideline and had shortened practices.”

Wizards inspired by Randy Wittman crying

On Nov. 26, the Wizards lost a home game to San Antonio, 118-92. It was the 12th straight loss to start the season, and the postgame locker room for the Wizards was an emotional scene. On Thursday, a tale told by Martell Webster revealed for the first time just how emotional it was.

“After we lost that 12th game and he came into the locker room – I don’t even know if he wants me to share this, but I don’t care – and he was crying, man, after that game,” Webster said. “And he told us that he cared about us. And for me, that was a point in the season where I was just like, I’m in. I’m totally in. I bought into the system. And when I did that, that’s when my season began to turn to a positive light, and I started to succeed after that point.

“That meant a lot because it showed that he really cared. He didn’t care about his job. He didn’t. He just cared about the guys that he was coaching. And that was amazing. That was touching for me. But that’s when I realized that I really wanted to buy into this system.”

A.J. Price said he also committed to the system after that night.

“I definitely remember that,” he said. “That showed me how passionate he was as a coach.

– Reported by Sarah Kogod of the Washington Post DC Sports Bog

On the flight back to Atlanta, Hawks coach Larry Drew watched tape of his team getting pushed around in Game 1 of the playoffs.

”I couldn’t believe my eyes, to be perfectly honest,” Drew said Monday.

So, the normally upbeat Drew delivered a scathing message to his players: If they don’t get more passionate and a lot more physical, this series against the Indiana Pacers won’t be lasting very long.

”It becomes a little bit mind-boggling, particularly when you get to the playoffs,” he said. ”You’re going to come up with schemes and ways to defend things … but the last thing you think you need to come up with is any kind of motivating to get the guys to compete and play at a high level.”

The Pacers were quite the bullies in the opener of the best-of-seven series - and the visiting team barely pushed back. Atlanta was outrebounded 48-32. Indiana got to the foul line a staggering 34 times, compared to just 14 for the Hawks. The result was not all that surprising: a 107-90 rout that led to the scathing critique from Drew.

– Reported by Paul Newberry of the Associated Press

When the Cavaliers hired Mike Brown as their coach in 2005, owner Dan Gilbert first talked to Phil Jackson about coaching in Cleveland.

Eight years later, that same scenario appears to be playing out again.

Brown remains the leading candidate to return to Cleveland and replace Byron Scott, who was fired last week following his third losing season with the Cavaliers. On Saturday, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that Brown was open to reuniting with a franchise he led to five straight playoff appearances and the NBA finals.

Brown met on Sunday night with Gilbert, who fired him in 2010 after the Cavs were ousted by Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals. It’s not clear where the meeting took place, but Brown has been in the area recently because he’s moving his family back to Cleveland - a decision he made long before Scott was fired.

WKYC-TV first reported Brown and Gilbert were going to have dinner together. It’s not known if Brown, who went 272-138 with Cleveland, was offered the job.

– Reported by Tom Withers of the Associated Press

Paul George has big goals in mind

Indiana’s Paul George is already thinking big.

He wants that breakout regular season to become the norm and hopes Sunday’s triple-double is just the start of a far more tangible prize.

This is how George rolls - never satisfied with past performances, always intent on proving the doubters wrong - and it will be no different when the Pacers line up for Game 2 against Atlanta on Wednesday night. George’s mission: Proving he can be even better.

”I don’t want people to think it’s a one game type of thing,” he after Monday’s practice. ”I want to do outdo myself from Game 1.”

That won’t be easy after George finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists, tied Reggie Miller’s playoff record by going 17 of 17 from the free-throw line before missing his final attempt, joined Mark Jackson as the only players in the franchise’s NBA history to produce a triple-double in the playoffs, and was every bit as efficient on defense.

– Reported by Michael Marot of the Associated Press

The Phoenix Suns today announced that Lance Blanks will no longer serve as the club’s general manager. 

“Lance has been a trusted friend and colleague,” said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby.  “I thank him personally and professionally for his hard work on behalf of the Suns.  We will continue to prepare for the offseason even as we look for his replacement.”

Blanks was originally named to the post on Aug. 5, 2010, after serving in the front offices of the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs.

Steve Nash playing hurt for Lakers

steve nash

It took Steve Nash three weeks to return to this point, but he made it painstakingly clear that he’s far from fully healed from a sore right hamstring.

Nash only described his hamstring as “OK” after scoring 16 points on only 6-of-15 shooting Sunday in the Lakers’ 91-79 loss in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center.

“I’m not myself. I’m not moving that well,” Nash said. “I was struggling a little bit. There were a few shots I would normally make.”

Will Nash feel healthy enough to play Wednesday in Game 2?

“I hope so,” Nash said.

– Reported by Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News

larry sanders

The third-year pro was in foul trouble throughout the game and never found a rhythm in the Bucks’ 110-87 loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday night in Game 1 of the teams’ Eastern Conference playoff series.

“I kept having to press the reset button to get myself loose,” Sanders said of his foul woes.

Sanders finished with six points, five rebounds and five fouls while being limited to 19 minutes. He drew his fourth foul with 9 minutes 31 seconds left in the third quarter and had to go to the bench.

After returning to the court, he missed two short-range shots in the fourth quarter and picked up a fifth foul on a drive by Dwyane Wade.

At that point Sanders exited and gave one thumb up to referee Sean Corbin.

“Just tell him to stay confident,” Bucks guard Brandon Jennings said of his advice for his teammate. “I mean, we’ve got one Tuesday (Game 2) and it’s going to be another hostile environment.

– Reported by Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Thunder blast Rockets 120-91 in Game 1

kevin durant

As awkward as he felt going up against his former teammate, Kevin Durant didn’t have a problem quite literally standing in James Harden’s way in the NBA playoffs.

Durant scored 24 points and drew a rare offensive charging foul, and the Oklahoma City Thunder routed Harden and the Houston Rockets 120-91 on Sunday night in Game 1 of their playoff series.

Durant, who’s known more for his three NBA scoring titles than for stepping in the way of oncoming opponents, got in Harden’s way on a transition drive in the third quarter in a standout defensive effort for the Thunder against the league’s second highest-scoring offense…

After letting Houston wipe away an 11-point deficit in the first half, the Thunder regained control with a 14-1 surge just before halftime and kept pouring it on.

Just after a fan nailed a half-court shot to win $20,000 in the break after the third quarter, Durant drove for a two-handed slam while getting fouled and Oklahoma City was soon up by 30.

Harden, playing against the team that traded him away just before the season started, had 20 points but the Rockets were held 15 points below their regular-season scoring average while shooting 36 percent. Houston, which set a franchise record for 3-pointers during the regular season, finished 8 for 36 (22 percent) from behind the arc…

The Thunder were already up by 23 when Larry Hill connected on the half-court shot and went bounding toward Oklahoma City’s huddle in celebration, getting congratulated by Thabo Sefolosha before the team’s bison mascot pulled him back away…

Russell Westbrook ended up with 19 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. Serge Ibaka chipped in 17 points and Kevin Martin, Harden’s replacement in the sixth man role, had nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter with the game already in hand…

The game ball got switched out in the second quarter after it went into the stands and a drink was spilled on it.

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

lebron james

LeBron James has never taken fewer shots in a playoff game than he did on Sunday night, which at first glance might seem like a good thing for the Milwaukee Bucks.

It was not.

James scored 27 points on 9 for 11 shooting - finishing two assists shy of a triple-double - while Ray Allen scored 20 off the bench and the defending champion Heat picked up where they left off in the NBA playoffs a year ago, never trailing on the way to beating the Bucks 110-87 in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference first-round series.

”All I care about is the win,” James said. ”I didn’t even know my stats. I just knew that we were playing efficient offensively besides the turnovers. We want to try to keep that going.”

Dwyane Wade scored 16, Chris Bosh added 15 and Chris Andersen finished with 10 on 4 for 4 shooting for the Heat, who opened their title defense by holding Milwaukee to 42 percent shooting and outrebounding the Bucks 46-31.

Brandon Jennings scored 26 points and Monta Ellis added 22 for the Bucks, who have not won the opening game of a playoff series since May 2001…

Milwaukee came into the series with Jennings predicting his team would oust the reigning champions in six games.

They’ll have to win four of five now for that to happen.

And with James playing like this, the odds would seem particularly slim. He had 10 rebounds and eight assists - both game-highs. His assist total was only six shy of what the Bucks managed, combined…

Miami outrebounded Milwaukee 22-9 after halftime.

– Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

Spurs handle Lakers 91-79, take Game 1

manu ginobili

Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker scored 18 points each as the San Antonio Spurs led from early in the first quarter and beat the Los Angeles Lakers 91-79 on Sunday in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series.

Tim Duncan added 17 points and 10 rebounds, Matt Bonner had 10 points and Kawhi Leonard had eight points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio.

Dwight Howard had 20 points and 15 rebounds, Steve Nash scored 16 points and Pau Gasol added 16 points and 16 rebounds for Los Angeles.

Despite the double-doubles from Howard and Gasol, the Lakers failed to take full advantage of their inside presence, much to the consternation of the injured Kobe Bryant, who watched the national broadcast.

”Post. Post. Post,” Bryant tweeted in reference to the Lakers’ offense.

Bryant is out for the remainder of the season with a torn Achilles.

Los Angeles’ length caused San Antonio problems early as the Spurs missed their first three shots - all inside the paint - as they altered their shots to avoid Howard and Gasol…

Manu Ginobili hit a pair of 3s to give San Antonio a 70-57 lead to close the third. Ginobili was 6 for 13 from the field and 3 for 5 on 3s.

– Reported by Raul Dominguez of the Associated Press

Paul George shines in Pacers Game 1 win over Hawks

Paul George offered to do anything it took to win in the playoffs.

He lived up to his word.

The All-Star forward scored a career playoff high 23 points Sunday, finished with 11 rebounds and 12 assists, played good defense and, yes, led the rejuvenated Pacers to a 107-90 victory over Atlanta and their first 1-0 lead in the playoffs since 2006.

”I just tell myself, ‘keep attacking,”’ George said. ”The last week I’ve just really have been trying to take care of my body, getting massages, cold tub, eating healthy.”

George, who had been trying to recover from an abdominal strain, and his teammates certainly had time to get healthy after coach Frank Vogel gave four of the starters three days off following last Sunday’s loss at New York. None of the four - George, Roy Hibbert, George Hill and David West - logged a minute in Wednesday’s regular-season finale, either…

Despite going 3 of 13 from the field, the All-Star forward made his first 17 free throws - tying Reggie Miller’s single-game playoff record for best percentage. George then missed his 18th and final free throw with 2:35 to play, falling just short of Miller’s mark…

Hill, who sat out parts of practice Friday and Saturday with an injured left groin, made his first six shots and finished 7 of 10 from the field with three 3-pointers and 18 points. Hibbert still got 16 points and 11 rebounds, and backup Jeff Pendergraph scored 11 points, too…

The Pacers outrebounded Atlanta 48-32, limited the Hawks to 14 fast-break points and 90 overall. It was their best defensive performance in two weeks…

Indy native Jeff Teague led the Hawks with 21 points and seven assists, while Josh Smith had 15 points and eight rebounds. The only other Atlanta player to reach double figures was Al Horford with 14 points.

– Reported by Michael Marot of the Associated Press

David Lee injured, out for rest of 2013 playoffs

Golden State Warriors forward David Lee will miss the remainder of the 2013 NBA Playoffs due to a complete tear of his right hip flexor, the team announced today following an MRI that was conducted this morning.

Lee, 29, registered 10 points and 14 rebounds in 29 minutes during last night’s Game 1 loss against the Denver Nuggets before leaving the contest with 11:33 remaining in the fourth quarter due to the injury.

In 79 games during the regular season, Lee averaged 18.5 points (15th in NBA), 11.2 rebounds (T-4th), 3.5 assists and 36.8 minutes per contest, earning a spot on the Western Conference All-Star Team.  The 6’9” forward led the league with 56 point/rebound double-doubles, becoming the first Warriors player to lead the NBA in the category since Wilt Chamberlain in 1963-64.

This really damages the Warriors’ playoff hopes. They’re currently in the first round of the postseason, matched up against the Denver Nuggets. Although Denver has some key injuries as well, the Warriors frontcourt is pretty empty without Lee’s services.

Joakim Noah continues to battle foot problems

The Nets are bringing postseason basketball to Brooklyn, and Joakim Noah might have to miss the party.

Noah, who grew up in New York, is battling foot problems and might be sidelined when the series opens Saturday, leaving the Chicago Bulls without their top option to defend Nets All-Star center Brook Lopez.

”It’s really hard, it’s really hard,” Noah said Friday. ”All the work you put in is to play in this situation. This is probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with in my career right now. Going back home and playing in these playoff games means the world to me. Not being able to be ready for that is hard. I’m going to try and do everything I can to help the team.”

Noah’s absence could make a huge difference in what shapes up as a competitive series between the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds in the Eastern Conference. Chicago won three of the four meetings during the regular season, but only one game was decided by more than four points.

– Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

Brandon Jennings sticks up for his Bucks

Brandon Jennings

Brandon Jennings smiled when asked about his Thursday night prediction of the Bucks over the Miami Heat in six.

Hey, somebody had to stick up for the Bucks, right?

“We were joking around,” Jennings said after the Bucks practice session Friday at the Cousins Center. “I was joking around with Aaron Rodgers before I even said it.

“Of course it’s always going to be taken to the next level. But at the end of the day, we’re getting bashed on ESPN. We’re getting bashed on TNT, anyway. Now that I say we’ll win in six, now it’s a problem.”

– Reported by Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Blog)

 

“Our sympathies and condolences go out to all of the families that were affected by this disaster in Boston,” Jason Terry said. “And the Boston people who are constricted to their homes right now while they try to find these people that have done this terrible thing. We’re thinking about it, but, again, fortunately we got out of there in time, so we’re not too distracted. But they are in our thoughts.”

“Well you can’t help but to see it,” echoed Paul Pierce. “You wake up, turn on the Internet, it’s cause for concern, especially with us having families in the areas that these situations are happening in. I got phone calls from home, the whole city’s locked down, especially in the area where I live at, so it’s definitely a concern. You worry. But, we’re here, there’s nothing we can really do about it. Hopefully everything takes care of itself back home with the law enforcement doing what they have to do to secure the situation.”

Added Kevin Garnett: “The city’s crazy, man. I think everybody’s kind of trying to at least focus in a little bit on, obviously, our game and the playoffs. But the obvious thing is everybody’s worried, also. I hope everybody back home, especially in the whole New England area, is OK, and safe.”

– Reported by Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston

Byron Scott

Former Cavaliers coach Byron Scott told The Plain Dealer today that he didn’t think he got a fair shake from the team that fired him on Thursday.

“I’m disappointed, more than anything,” Scott said in a telephone interview. “I don’t think I got a fair shake.”

Scott was informed of his firing on Thursday morning, after the team lost 16 of its last 18 games to finish this season 24-58. That gave him a three-year record of 64-166.

He said he spent several hours at the Cavs practice facility in Independence on Thursday, exchanging words, hugs and tears with players before leaving about 2 p.m. He expects to return to his home in California on Saturday, but will come back at least once to pack up his office.

“I’ll land on my feet,” he said.

– Reported by Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer

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