Archive for April 22nd, 2013

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

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