Archive for April 29th, 2013

Josh Smith

Josh Smith scored 29 points as the Atlanta Hawks built a 17-point lead at halftime, then withstood an Indiana comeback over the final two quarters to even the series with a 102-91 victory in Game 4 on Monday night.

After struggling much of the second half, Smith made every big play down the stretch. He swished a rare 3-pointer, came up with an offensive rebound to set up a 3 by Kyle Korver, then finished off a fast break with a right-handed dunk.

Paul George scored 18 of his 21 points in the second half as the Pacers made a game of it but couldn’t come back from a 57-40 deficit at the break.

Tied at two wins apiece, the series returns to Indianapolis for Game 5 on Wednesday night.

Korver added 19 points off the bench, most of them coming on his specialty: the 3-pointer. He knocked down five from outside the arc, including the biggest one with 2:33 remaining after Al Horford threw up a wild shot that missed. Smith snatched one of his 11 rebounds and spotted Korver lurking all alone on the outside.

Horford chipped in with 18 points.

Indiana was better offensively but still struggled to make shots, finishing at 38 percent on a 32-of-84 performance. George came alive after halftime, connecting three times from beyond the stripe, while every other starter was in double figures.

It wasn’t enough.

– Reported by Paul Newberry of the Associated Press

Nets win 110-91, cut Bulls lead to 3-2

Brook Lopez

Flourishing instead of fading in the fourth quarter, the Brooklyn Nets extended their first season in Brooklyn.

They need one more victory to set up the biggest game here yet.

Brook Lopez had 28 points and 10 rebounds, Deron Williams added 23 points and 10 assists, and the Nets beat Chicago 110-91 on Monday night, cutting the Bulls’ lead to 3-2 in their first-round playoff series.

Recovering from a collapse two days earlier that sent them home on the brink of elimination instead of tied, the Nets battered the Bulls on the boards and forced Chicago into being the team that wilted down the stretch.

”We came out very aggressive, as we have the past few games. I think the difference was just we sustained it for essentially a full 48 minutes tonight,” Lopez said.

Andray Blatche scored 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter and Gerald Wallace had consecutive baskets in the finishing surge as the Nets finally pulled away in a game they led most of the way, but never by too much.

Two days after rallying for a 142-134 triple-overtime victory, the Bulls were outscored 15-1 at the finish and failed to set up a second-round series with Miami. Instead they will host Game 6 on Thursday…

Nate Robinson had 20 points and eight assists starting in place of point guard Kirk Hinrich, who bruised his left calf in Saturday’s game…

Butler scored 18 points for the Bulls, who were outrebounded 44-33 and gave up 24 second-chance points…

Wallace scored 12 points and Reggie Evans grabbed 12 rebounds as the Nets improved to 6-0 all-time in Game 5s at home. They have never lost a series when holding home-court advantage.

– Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

Celtics hoping revived offense has life in Game 5 vs Knicks

It started with a 3-pointer by Avery Bradley 16 seconds into the game. It ended with a layup by Jason Terry with 6.5 seconds left.

Yes, the Boston Celtics finally got their offense going.

”It’s coming,” Terry said. ”You can feel it.”

It was there on Sunday - for much of the game, anyway - when the Celtics beat the New York Knicks 97-90 in overtime to avoid being swept in the opening round of the playoffs.

But if it’s not there on Wednesday night in New York, the Celtics will have a very tough time forcing a sixth game Friday night in Boston.

The Celtics scored fewer than 20 points in six of the first 10 quarters in the series. They managed a meager eight points in the fourth quarter of the opener - one less than Terry scored by himself in the last 1:32 of overtime on Sunday. They scored 78, 71 and 76 points in the first three games after scoring fewer than 80 just five times during the regular season.

”We’ve got a lot of basketball in us,” Terry said, ”but there’s always something like one quarter that holds us back. So if we can put together four quarters of great Celtics basketball, ball movement, getting out in transition, then this series is going to be a long one.”

– Reported by Howard Ulman of the Associated Press

The NBA announced today that the league’s Relocation Committee has unanimously recommended that the NBA Board of Governors deny the application of the Sacramento Kings to relocate to Seattle.

The Board will convene during the week of May 13 to vote on this matter.

Anything can happen in the full vote, but unless something drastically changes it’s expected to that the full board will follow suit and vote to keep the Kings in Sacramento.

Dwight Howard

Whenever an NBA team doesn’t win a championship, Steve Nash believes it’s inevitable changes will happen in the offseason. But the Lakers guard stated in strong terms that he hopes that doesn’t involve Dwight Howard.

“I’m very hopeful that Dwight will be back,” Nash said. “I think this is the place for him. He’s in the prime of his career. He’s got his best years ahead of him. He can play for one of the greatest franchises in sports and an amazing city. This has got to be the place for him and I’m hopeful that he sees it that way.”

Howard hasn’t publicly stated his intentions. But returning to the Lakers seems a no brainer for various reasons. Howard would earn $117.9 million with a five-year deal if he signed with the Lakers. He would earn $87.9 million over four years if he went somewhere else.

– Reported by Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News (Blog)

Ron Artest

Although he reiterated time and again he choice to remain a Laker, Metta World Peace stayed non-committal on whether he will exercise his $7.7 million player option to return next season.

“It’s really not important to me right now,” World Peace said. “What’s important is next year coming back and starting off the right way and building some consistency early. That’s the only thing on my mind right now. Not contracts or anything like that.”

World Peace isn’t necessarily sending out conflicting messages. Marc Cornstein, World Peace’s agent, told this newspaper that he could opt out in hopes of seeking a long-term extension. Either decision carries a certain amount of risk. Should World Peace exercise his player option, the Lakers could waive him using the one-time amnesty provision in hopes of clearing space within their current $100 million payroll. Should World Peace opt out, there’s a chance the Lakers wouldn’t resign him for the same reason.

– Reported by Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News (Blog)

Bulls PG Kirk Hinrich will miss Game 5 vs Nets

The Bulls will be without point guard Kirk Hinrich on Monday night against Brooklyn because of a bruised left calf. His absence might give Game 4 star Nate Robinson a chance to start in the potential clincher for Chicago.

Hinrich was hurt during Saturday’s 142-134 triple-overtime victory, playing through the injury to finish with 18 points and a playoff career-high 14 assists in 60 minutes.

But he was wearing a walking boot Monday, walking with a noticeable limp.

– Reported by the Associated Press 

Andrew Bogut

The guard from Pennsylvania sees some of his game in the center from Australia.

Actually, Nuggets coach George Karl didn’t sound that fond of Warriors center Andrew Bogut, explaining, “Bogut does a little of the little things, he sets the illegal screens, pushes guys around, tries to taunt and flaunt — a little bit like how I used to play, though I wasn’t 7-1.”

Karl was a pesky guard for the Spurs back in the 1970s. He was asked before Sunday’s game about Bogut, who had taunted Nuggets center JaVale McGee in Game 3 to punch him in the face.

“I was once sent into the game to instigate a guy to punch me in the face,” Karl said. “Brian Taylor, he punched me, I punched him, and it was a 16-minute fight. Well, Brian Taylor hit me first, I hit him from behind and then it was going on all over the place. I was sent into the game to hold, grab and wrestle — things that Bogut does really well.”

– Reported by Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post

Joe Johnson

Brooklyn Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo thinks Joe Johnson’s critics have no idea what they’re talking about.

Responding to a question during a Sunday conference call about how critics think Johnson is too reliant on isolation plays, settles for too many jumpers and isn’t worthy of his max contract, Carlesimo replied, “It’s hard to be polite and answer the question. ‘Critic’ is such an ambiguous term. I would call them uniformed or basketball unintelligent. Everybody’s entitled to their opinion. It would be hard for me to think that there was an intelligent basketball person making a statement like that about Joe Johnson.”

– Reported by Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York

paul george

The Pacers, these Pacers, are not the stay-out-all-night, party-hearty, go-hard-or-go-home types.

So why can’t the Indiana Pacers, losers of 12 straight games in Atlanta, beat this ordinary Hawks team on the road? Why can’t they come into Philips Arena, which is usually three-quarters filled with fans who’d rather be watching football, and take down a team that will be dismantled at season’s end?

It’s understandable to lose 11 straight in San Antonio, as the Pacers have. It’s not understandable to lose 12 consecutive times in Atlanta, where the Hawks have been beacons of mediocrity over the years.

“I have no theory why,” Paul George said after the Pacers practiced in advance of Monday night’s Game 4. “Sometimes we’ve played well down here and lost. Sometimes, like (Saturday night), we’ve played poorly and lost. I couldn’t give you a reason.”

– Reported by Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star

dwight howard

For four straight games, the San Antonio Spurs showed off all the teamwork and tenacity that the Los Angeles Lakers lacked all season long.

And when the Lakers’ tumultuous season finally collapsed Sunday night, the smooth Spurs rolled right past them to the second round.

Tony Parker scored 23 points, and San Antonio completed its first-round sweep of the injury-plagued Lakers with a 103-82 victory in Game 4.

Tim Duncan had 11 points and six rebounds for the second-seeded Spurs, who will face the winner of Denver’s series with Golden State in the second round. They’ll get plenty of rest after flattening the Lakers, who staggered through back-to-back blowout losses at home without three regular starters in their first opening-round exit since 2007.

”Obviously, it wasn’t a fair fight,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. ”When you’re a competitor, you want to compete on an even basis, and the Lakers weren’t able to do that. … Even though it wasn’t a fair fight, we still want to win the series, and I’m glad we did. Our focus was great.”

San Antonio never trailed in the clincher, leading by 25 points in one more businesslike effort against the seventh-seeded Lakers, who provided their usual drama right down to their last gasp.

In his final game before unrestricted free agency, Dwight Howard scored seven points before getting ejected early in the third quarter for arguing. Pau Gasol had 16 points for the Lakers, who were swept from the postseason for the second time in three years despite a late courtside appearance by Kobe Bryant on crutches.

– Reported by Greg Beacham of the Associated Press

NBA center Jason Collins says he is gay

The following is by Jason Collins, to Sports Illustrated

Jason Collins

I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.

I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, “I’m different.” If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.

My journey of self-discovery and self-acknowledgement began in my hometown of Los Angeles and has taken me through two state high school championships, the NCAA Final Four and the Elite Eight, and nine playoffs in 12 NBA seasons.

I’ve played for six pro teams and have appeared in two NBA Finals. Ever heard of a parlor game called Three Degrees of Jason Collins? If you’re in the league, and I haven’t been your teammate, I surely have been one of your teammates’ teammates. Or one of your teammates’ teammates’ teammates.

Now I’m a free agent, literally and figuratively. I’ve reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to continue to play basketball. I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that. At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful.

– Reported by Jason Collins with Franz Lidz via Sports Illustrated

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

UPDATE:  NBA Commissioner David Stern issued the following statement this morning regarding Washington Wizards center Jason Collins announcement today: “As Adam Silver and I said to Jason, we have known the Collins family since Jason and Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family.   Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”

ANOTHER UPDATE:  The following statements are from Atlanta Hawks Managing Partner/NBA Governor Bruce Levenson and President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Danny Ferry on behalf of the team: “We have great respect for Jason and his message today. Creating an environment where we support, respect, and accept our players’ individual rights is very important to us,” said Hawks Managing Partner and NBA Governor Bruce Levenson. “Jason represented everything that we look for as a member of the Atlanta Hawks and we are proud he wore our jersey.” “Our focus will always be on bringing in players that can contribute to the greater good of the Atlanta Hawks and ensuring that we create the most accepting, respectful, and productive environment for players to succeed,” said Hawks President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Danny Ferry.


lebron james

LeBron James can cross another item off his to-do list.

James scored 30 points, Ray Allen had another big game against his old team and the Miami Heat got their first playoff sweep in the Big Three era, advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals with an 88-77 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday.

”It was our next big step as far as our growth,” James said. ”It’s so hard to win on the road in the playoffs, in someone’s building - especially when someone is playing for their last life. It’s a big step for us.”

And now the Heat have some much-needed time to rest. Dwyane Wade sat out Sunday’s game, only the second postseason game he’s missed in his career, because of his aching right knee. But with Miami not playing until next Saturday, at the earliest, he’ll have plenty of time to treat the three bone bruises that caused him to miss six games near the end of the regular season.

Miami plays the winner of the Brooklyn-Chicago series. The Bulls lead that series 3-1, with Game 5 on Monday night in New York…

Monta Ellis led the Bucks with 21 points, and Larry Sanders had 11 rebounds to go with seven points.

But Milwaukee got almost nothing again from Brandon Jennings, who didn’t even play in the fourth quarter. Jennings, who had guaranteed the Bucks would win the series in six games, finished with three points on 1-of-7 shooting.

After scoring 26 points in Game 1, Jennings had 27 total in the final three.

– Reported by Nancy Armour of the Associated Press

pau gasol

It’s up for debate who finally asked Gasol to start playing again like the guy who won those championships. Bryant said he told Gasol to “go to the block and not move.” Eventually, D’Antoni accepted it, either out of necessity because so many players were injured for L.A. or not.

“He’s arguably, we could talk best center in the league,” D’Antoni said of Gasol after Game 4. “Skill wise, for sure.”

And Gasol is sure that he doesn’t want to see those skills go to waste next season, whether he’s in L.A. or not.

“I’d like to [be featured again], I really do,” Gasol said. “Because it’s frustrating for me for most of the year to be in a position where I can’t provide everything that I can as a player. So, you try to do what it takes and then do what you’re asked for, but it’s just difficult.” “It was difficult for me, so, it’s something that I’m also aware I’m getting older and at some point my role will have to adjust,” he said. “But if I’m healthy, I know I can do so much and hopefully it will be here. But, who knows?

“I definitely want to be in a situation where I can maximize my abilities and help the team the most that I can, and devote completely to it.”

– Reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles

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