Archive for May 4th, 2013

One day after the Atlanta Hawks were bounced from the NBA playoffs, Larry Drew remained their coach.

Whether he sticks around much longer is the most pressing issue for a team that expects a radical transformation this summer.

General manager Danny Ferry, who will get to put his imprint on the franchise heading into his second year, said Saturday it was too soon to make a call on the future of a coach he inherited.

Ferry said the disappointment of a six-game loss to the Indiana Pacers needed to wear off a bit before he decides whether Drew should get another contract.

– Reported by Paul Newberry of the Associated Press

Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich will miss Game 7 of Chicago’s series against the Brooklyn Nets.

Coach Tom Thibodeau said Deng remained hospitalized in Chicago with an illness and was unable to travel for Saturday night’s game. The starting forward was tested for meningitis this week and Thibodeau said the team is still waiting for results.

Hinrich missed his third straight game with a bruised left calf.

– Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

lebron james

LeBron James on Sunday is expected to win his fourth NBA most valuable player award in five years. He joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell as those who have won the trophy at least four times.

However, none of the members of this distinguished club endured the extreme expectations as James.

“I think I’ve been able to exceed expectations because I didn’t get involved into the expectations that people put on me,” James said. “I knew I was making the jump from high school to the NBA because I knew that I was ready. I knew that I could play at a high level. I didn’t care what everyone was writing on me and saying this is who you have to be.”

James, a celebrity since his days at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio, put all the attention in the background. It helped him evolve into one of the best players in league history, a career that began the moment he was placed on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2002 as a high school junior.

At that moment, he was labeled “The Chosen One.”

“I really didn’t know how big it was,” James said of the cover. “I got asked about that a lot. I had been on basketball magazines before. I really didn’t know the magnitude of Sports Illustrated when I was a kid. I’m from Akron, Ohio. We don’t really talk about stuff like that too much. I just thought I was on another basketball magazine. My friends were happy about it. It was in the library at our school. That was it. It kind of started something that I really didn’t know if I was ready for. But the best thing about it was I didn’t know how big of a cover that was. It didn’t really mess with me too much.”

James averaged 26.8 points, eight rebounds and 7.3 assists in his 10th season, leading the Heat to the league’s best record. He somehow managed to improve on last year, which many considered his best season as a pro. James ranked in the top 10 in scoring, assists, steals and field-goal percentage and also finished second in the Defensive Player of the Year voting.

– Reported by Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

When it was over Thursday night in Oakland, Calif., each man in a suit found a nook in the concrete back hallway of Oracle Arena, lost in what-ifs.

Josh Kroenke and Masai Ujiri. The front-office duo that restructured the Nuggets. The team’s biggest fans.

Each man took extremely hard the loss that knocked the Nuggets out of the playoffs. But on Friday, it was back to work. Meetings and media, phone calls and texts. Kroenke and Ujiri are committed to getting the Nuggets deeper in the playoffs, and it appears they are committed to each other as work partners.

Ujiri’s contract as general manager is up at the end of June. Kroenke, the team president, said Friday: “For the fans, they should know that Masai wants to be here, and I think he enjoys working for me. I think we make a pretty good team, along with Pete (D’Alessandro, vice president of basketball operations) and Dan (Tolzman, scouting director) and the rest of our scouting staff. So I wouldn’t anticipate any issues there.”

– Reported by Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post

PJ Carlesimo

In the morning before their season-defining game, Nets players voiced their support for interim coach PJ Carlesimo – whose fate as interim coach has yet to be addressed by upper management.

“He’s been great,” said Joe Johnson. “Our whole coaching staff, but PJ has been terrific. He always takes our input in games, practice, whatever. He’s a coach that really listens to us and gives us great feedback. I would love to see him back. He’s done a great job since he took over.”

Andray Blatche, while noting that he doesn’t know whether he’d return as a free agent after the season, echoed Johnson’s sentiment.

“As far as the job he’s done, he’s done a great job,” Blatche said. “The whole coaching staff in preparing us and getting us ready for these games. Our scouting report has been pretty good, that’s what has helped us in getting back from 3-1.”

Carlesimo has been criticized for his inconsistent rotations and lack of youth development, but he’s also reeled off an impressive 38-23 record since taking over for Avery Johnson.

– Reported by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Blog)

derrick rose

Speaking on what could be the final day of the Chicago Bulls’ season, Derrick Rose said he’s unaware of outside criticism of his decision to sit out the season after May 2012 surgery to repair his torn left ACL and wouldn’t be bothered by it anyway because he’s listening to how his body feels.

“That’s my first time hearing about it,” Rose said Saturday of the critical fan contingent. “I barely turn on the TV. I’m with my son all day. So that’s about it.

“I’m feeling about the same, still being patient, still trying to take care of my body and just trying to enjoy this time and cheer on my teammates.”

Rose said there’s no benefit to announcing that he’s out for the season and said watching playoff games in street clothes has been difficult.

“It’s been hard,” he said. “But I’m able to get past it, knowing that my teammates are out there playing hard, giving the game everything they got. That’s all I can ask for.

“Who knows? It’s still in the air where I’m still trying to be positive and still trying to take care of my body.”

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

Vinny Del Negro

Los Angeles Clippers general manager Gary Sacks wasn’t in a mood to say much about any of the major decisions hanging over the franchise this summer in the first few moments after the Memphis Grizzlies knocked the Clippers out of the playoffs with a 118-105 win in Game 6 Friday night.

“We just lost the game. We’re going to let the dust settle a little bit and then evaluate everything,” a clearly disappointed Sacks told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “Our coaches and players did a good job this year. But right after the game, I can’t really comment on it.”

“It” would be the future of head coach Vinny Del Negro, whose contract expires at the end of June. According to a source, the Clippers had preliminary discussions with Del Negro about an extension to his contract before the season, but tabled them indefinitely, effectively putting Del Negro in a make-good situation.

“That’s what it was last year, too,” Del Negro said after the game. The Clippers had a team option on him after last season as well.

“So I just go about my business. I think my staff has done a fantastic job. I give them a ton of credit. Players. You’ve got to deal with a lot of things when you’re in this position, but I enjoy it.

“It’s something that I want to do, not something I have to do. I enjoy it, I enjoy the competition, I enjoy seeing guys develop and come together as a team. A lot of things are thrown at you, that’s for sure, but I love the challenge of it.”

– Reported by Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles

Luol Deng

Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng remained in a Chicago-area hospital Saturday morning and will miss Game 7 against the Brooklyn Nets while guard Kirk Hinrich is a game-time decision with a bruised calf.

Deng tweeted on Thursday that he was taken to the emergency room on Wednesday and his symptoms indicated he might have meningitis, requiring him to undergo a spinal tap.

“As a result of the spinal tap I suffered the worst headache I’ve ever experienced and been the weakest I’ve ever felt,” Deng tweeted. “Yesterday I was unable to walk or even get out of bed. I made it to the UC and was sent home. (Friday) morning my symptoms worsened.”

He added that he was “the weakest I’ve ever felt” from a viral flu that forced him to miss a Game 6 loss and said symptoms worsened Friday morning, leading to a trip to the emergency room.

– Reported by ESPN Chicago

mike conley

The Grizzlies won an old-time Memphis wrestling match Friday night, and now they’re headed back to the Western Conference semifinals for the second time in three seasons after getting the final takedown.

Mike Conley and Zach Randolph scored 23 points each, and the Grizzlies beat the Los Angeles Clippers 118-105 on Friday night to take the first-round series 4-2.

The Grizzlies had never won four straight postseason games before this series, and they became only the 10th team in NBA history to win four straight after trailing 0-2. They will open the second round at Oklahoma City on Sunday in a rematch of the franchise’s only other Western semifinal that the Thunder won in seven in 2011.

Memphis finished with seven players in double figures. Tony Allen had a postseason-best 19 points, and Jerryd Bayless had 16.

Reserve Matt Barnes scored a career playoff-best 30 points for Los Angeles. Chris Paul had 28 points before being ejected with 2:29 left for crashing into Marc Gasol off a missed free throw, though he shook hands with several Grizzlies before going to the locker room. Blake Griffin didn’t start because of his sprained right ankle, and he scored nine points in 13:56. Caron Butler added 14…

Having the commissioner on hand didn’t slow anyone down in a game featuring lots of headlocks and knockdowns with the only thing missing a steel cage as they combined for seven technicals. Even Grant Hill had three fouls in 3 minutes himself in the first half, and Chauncey Billups got a flagrant-1.

Randolph was ejected, too, with 1:57 remaining. He tossed his headband toward the stands and celebrated as he walked to the locker room…

Los Angeles led only once - at 45-44 on Barnes’ fourth 3-pointer with 5:08 left in the second quarter. The teams had four more ties before Quincy Pondexter hit a 3 with 2:02 left putting the Grizzlies ahead to stay at 54-51.

– Reported by the Associated Press

kevin durant

Kevin Durant scored 27 points and Kevin Martin added 25 to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 103-94 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night, sending them to the second round of the playoffs for the third straight season.

The Rockets were looking to become just the fourth team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after trailing 3-0.

But the Thunder opened the fourth quarter with a big run to take the lead and cruised to the victory.

Martin finally gave the Thunder someone to take scoring pressure off Durant for the first time since All-Star Russell Westbrook had season-ending knee surgery. He had 21 points by halftime and Westbrook’s replacement, Reggie Jackson helped out by scoring 17.

James Harden, who the Rockets said had strep throat on Thursday, led Houston with 26 points.

Oklahoma City used a 14-4 run at the beginning of the fourth quarter to take a 92-81 lead. Derek Fisher and Durant both hit 3-pointers in that stretch. Houston missed six shots, including two layups, and had two turnovers as the Thunder built the lead…

Houston got 25 points from Chandler Parsons, while Omer Asik had 13 points and 13 rebounds…

Martin came one point shy of his career-high points in the playoffs of 26.

– Reported by the Associated Press

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