Archive for May 16th, 2013

Harrison Barnes

Golden State Warriors rookie forward Harrison Barnes needed six stitches to close a cut above his right eye after a hard fall in the second quarter of a playoff game against San Antonio on Thursday night.

Barnes fell hard to the court after leaping to contest a drive from Boris Diaw. After a few minutes on the ground, Barnes was led back to the locker room. Barnes got the stitches at halftime and returned to the court to a loud ovation just before the start of the third quarter.

– Reported by the Associated Press

zach randolph

The Grizzlies have won eight of their last nine playoffs games, and upended a pair of higher seeds along the way. They have blossomed in the NBA’s elite landscape like a weed, which is to say it’s been pretty darn difficult to get rid of a grit-and-grind team that’s bucking trends in the postseason.

The fifth-seeded Grizzlies’ path to the conference finals was rather remarkable. They lost two straight games to the fourth-place Los Angeles Clippers to start the opening round and then won four straight. Memphis dropped Game 1 against top-seeded Oklahoma City and won the next four contests to capture the West semifinals.

The Grizzlies began their playoff history in Memphis losing their first 12 games. This version of the Griz is 18-13 over the past three postseasons behind the commitment to a core group of Conley, Tony Allen, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.

“It’s just confidence,” Randolph said. “It just continues to build and build, and guys continue to get better and better.”

– Reported by Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal

A look at Trail Blazers offseason needs

If the Blazers keep their lottery pick — and that’s a big if as it appears Olshey will look for willing trade partners — it is likely the team pursues a shooting guard.

The Blazers have four pressing needs this offseason: a starting center, a backup point guard, a high-scoring shooting guard and depth at small forward. With $11.6 million in cap room, a lottery pick and three second-round picks, they have enough assets to probably solve two, maybe three, of those issues this summer.

Olshey has been frank about searching for a starting center either in free agency or via trade. Olshey has also expressed an interest in retaining Eric Maynor as his backup point guard, which will likely come using a $2.6 million exception for teams over the cap.

This draft class is largely considered a down class, but if there is a strength, it is at shooting guard, where Ben McLemore (Kansas), Victor Oladipo (Indiana), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia), Franklin and Glen Rice Jr. (Georgia Tech/Development League) as well as combo guards like CJ McCollum (Lehigh) and Carter-Williams.

– Reported by Jason Quick of the Oregonian

Rihanna goes off on J.R. Smith

Rihanna alleged Thursday what many Knicks fans already suspected about J.R. Smith and his playoff woes.

In a comment on Instagram, the singer wrote that Smith is struggling because “his a** be hungover from clubbing every night during playoffs.” Smith has shot just 28.6 percent from the field since Game 5 of the first round series against the Celtics. The Knicks are down 3-1 and facing elimination heading into Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals vs. the Pacers.

Before being suspended for elbowing Celtics guard Jason Terry in Game 3 of the first round, Smith was excellent, shooting 48 percent, including 4-of-9 from 3-point range. Last week, Rihanna and Smith were pictured partying at Greenhouse, a club in Manhattan.

The two were rumored to be dating last year. Rihanna appeared to be replying to someone commenting on one of her photos when she outed Smith’s hard-partying exploits.

– Reported by the New York Post

If the San Antonio Spurs choose Deshaun Thomas in next month’s NBA draft, they might have a hard time reaching him to tell him. That’s because when the Spurs asked the former Ohio State star for his phone number Wednesday night, he refused to give it to them.

Thomas said teams asked him plenty of difficult and interesting questions during his interview process at the combine. But the most interesting, he said, was the fact the Spurs’ first question was for his cell phone number and his e-mail address. He gave them the e-mail, but not the phone number.

“I can’t go around giving it out to everyone,” Thomas said Thursday with a laugh. “Now if they want to draft me, I’d be happy to give it to them.”

– Reported by Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal

Mayor Kevin Johnson arrived home today and said the group led by Silicon Valley executive Vivek Ranadive was close to finalizing a deal to buy the Sacramento Kings.

“It’s going to be close to being signed in the next day or two,” the mayor said at Sacramento International Airport. “I’ll be surprised if we get past the weekend. I feel very confident about that.”

Ranadive is in talks to buy the Kings from the Maloof family after the NBA on Wednesday rejected the franchise’s proposed move to Seattle. NBA Commissioner David Stern said the league was working to close the deal by the end of the week.

Speaking by phone, Kings co-owner George Maloof said negotiations with Ranadive are “going on fine.”

– Reported by Ryan Lillis, Dale Kasler and Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee

Ousted NBA players’ association executive director Billy Hunter alleges in a lawsuit that president Derek Fisher had a secret deal with owners during the 2011 lockout that benefited himself, his publicist and certain players.

Hunter contends that Fisher undermined Hunter’s efforts to make an agreement and interfered with his position by secretly negotiating with select owners in violation of union bylaws.

Filed Thursday in California Superior Court, the suit seeks unspecified damages for defamation and breach of contract. It also names the National Basketball Players Association and Jamie Wior, Fisher’s publicist, and says Fisher and Wior worked after the lockout ended ”to terminate his employment without cause and in violation of his contract.”

”Wior harbored aspirations to assume a position of responsibility with the NBPA,” the suit says. ”She set out to craft a new public persona for Fisher, taking control of his media appearances and public statements and encouraging him to overreach his authority.”

– Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

Knicks in tough spot vs Pacers

JR Smith

Only eight teams in NBA history have climbed out of a 3-1 hole to advance.

“I’m very disappointed to be in the position that we’re in,” [J.R.] Smith said. “We’re still not out of it. We’re still in a good position to where we can still make some noise.”

The Knicks feel good because they’re home, where they have gone 34-12 this season, playoffs included. The Knicks also believe the shots that didn’t fall in Games 3 and 4 in Indiana — they missed 102 of 158 attempts — will drop in the Garden.

But just being home won’t necessarily address their inconsistent defense and the way they have been dominated on the boards by Roy Hibbert and the bigger Pacers.

Hoping to change that, Woodson started Kenyon Martin at power forward and brought guard Pablo Prigioni off the bench in Game 4. Indiana still outrebounded the Knicks, 54-36. The Pacers’ starting frontcourt grabbed 35 alone. Woodson likely will return to his usual starting five of Prigioni, Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Anthony and Tyson Chandler Thursday night.

– Reported by Al Iannazzone of New York Newsday

Derrick Rose

Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose was ruled out of the team’s 94-91 loss in Game 5 of an Eastern Conference semifinal against the Miami Heat, meaning he officially missed the entire season after undergoing ACL surgery on May 12, 2012.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said the team was right to take a cautious approach with its star this season.

“If we were going to make a mistake, we wanted to make the mistake on the side of caution,” Thibodeau said. “We feel good about where he is. He has the whole summer to build more confidence and that’s the important thing. As we said when he first had the surgery, we weren’t going to rush him back, and we held to that. I think it was the smart decision.”

Rose was given an 8-12-month prognosis for a return by the surgeon after the operation and passed the 12-month mark on Sunday.

– Reported by ESPN Chicago

Derrick Rose

Al Capone’s vault is no longer the biggest hoax in Chicago history.

Welcome to the top spot, Derrick Rose’s “Return.”

After the inspiring adidas “Return” documentary advertorial that started the season of our discontent, and all the time wasted, I mean spent, monitoring and predicting and debating the date of Rose’s return and then ruminating on the murky reasons why it didn’t happen, it’s mercifully over.

The Miami Heat finished off a 4-1 series victory in the Eastern Conference semifinals Wednesday, so it’s officially official that Rose will not return this season. I don’t need a source to verify it.

Rose is now free to shoot around in private, rather than before games, and stash the playoff suits until his next GQ cover shoot. He can continue his training at the Berto Center and in Los Angeles, and prepare for a long-awaited return to action next fall.

He will be ready. We will be ready. Let the healing begin!

– Reported by Jon Greenberg of ESPN Chicago

JR Smith

Could Thursday night be J.R. Smith’s last game as a Knick?

Smith, the sharpshooter who has been in a prolonged slump, said Wednesday after practice that he’s not thinking about his future beyond Thursday’s Game 5 of the Knicks-Pacers series. That’s a good thing, because the game is the first out of a possible three win-or-go-home contests for the Knicks.

If the Knicks don’t find a way to come back from their 3-1 deficit, it is likely almost everyone’s future with the team will be up for discussion.

About the same time he won the Sixth Man of the Year award at the end of the season, Smith said he planned to exercise his right to opt out of his contract. Soon afterward, things started to go downhill for him. Over the last six games, dating back to Game 5 of the Knicks’ first-round series against Boston, Smith is shooting 26-for-91 (28.5 percent) from the field. After going 7-for-22 in the Game 4 loss at Indiana, Smith blamed himself for the fact the team was on the verge of elimination.

– Reported by Barbara Barker of New York Newsday

zach randolph

The Memphis Grizzlies advanced to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 88-84 on Wednesday night.

Zach Randolph had 28 points and 14 rebounds, Mike Conley added 13 points and 11 assists for Memphis, the fifth seed.

Kevin Durant missed a 16-foot jumper from the left wing to tie it with 6 seconds left, finishing off a miserable shooting night for the three-time NBA scoring champion.

Durant ended up with 21 points on 5-for-21 shooting, the third-worst performance of his playoff career. The Thunder, who made it to the NBA Finals last season, were eliminated in five games. The top seed in the West went 2-6 after All-Star guard Russell Westbrook went out with a knee injury that required surgery.

Serge Ibaka had 17 points and eight rebounds before fouling out with 1:26 to play during a desperation comeback try for the Thunder.

Oklahoma City trailed by 12 with three minutes left before going on a 16-6 rally, with Reggie Jackson’s 3-pointer cutting the deficit to 86-84 with 14.3 seconds remaining.

Randolph missed both free throws with 11.3 seconds on the clock to give the Thunder one last chance to save their season. Durant got the ball beyond the 3-point line on the left wing and navigated around Tony Allen before missing the jumper.

Allen then made two free throws to close it out.

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

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