Archive for May 18th, 2013

lance stephenson

Lance Stephenson scored nine of his playoff career-high 23 points during a late 11-2 run Saturday night, leading the Indiana Pacers past the New York Knicks, 106-99 and into the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2004.

The New York native also had 10 rebounds and the Pacers were spurred by the return of point guard George Hill two days after he was diagnosed with a concussion.

Next up is a rematch with Miami, the team that eliminated Indiana last season. Game 1 will be Wednesday at Miami.

Carmelo Anthony scored 39 points and Iman Shumpert had 19 for New York.

Indiana is 6-0 at home in the playoffs, but this one sure wasn’t easy.

Indiana trailed 92-90 with 5:43 left in the game. The Pacers rallied after Roy Hibbert blocked Anthony’s dunk attempt and Stephenson scored on a layup that started the decisive spurt…

George had 23 points and West finished with 17. Hill was just 2 of 10 from the field in his return but scored 12 points, had five rebounds and four assists…

The Knicks were 18 of 18 from the free throw line.

– Reported by Michael Marot of the Associated Press

George Hill

Point guard George Hill will be available to play for the Indiana Pacers in tonight’s Game 6 vs the New York Knicks. Although he’s not a star, Hill is a big part of the Pacers, and having him active definitely makes them a better team.

From the Pacers:

Over the last two days under the care of the Indiana Pacers’ medical staff, George Hill has participated in each step of the NBA’s Return-to-Participation Exertion Protocol as part of the NBA’s Concussion Policy.   During the process, George remained symptom-free after each step including his workouts earlier today.  After consultation with Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, the NBA’s Director of Concussion Management, the Pacers’ team physicians have cleared George to play in tonight’s game.

NBA Western Conference Finals preview

Tim Duncan

It would be a mistake to view this as a direct sequel to 2011, when eighth-seeded Memphis knocked off the No. 1 Spurs in the first round to engineer one of the biggest upsets in recent NBA history.

The Grizzlies no longer have the steady, veteran hand of Shane Battier, or the wild cards that were Greivis Vasquez and O.J. Mayo. Neither are the Spurs relying on spare parts to shore up their front court around a hobbled Tim Duncan.

But with most of the main faces returning — Duncan, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Tony Parker, Mike Conley, Manu Ginobili, both coaches — the tone of the matchup will remain the same: Football on hardwood.

Perhaps no team in the NBA is better at imposing their will than the Grizzlies. It is not by accident that their slogans — “Grit ‘N Grind” and “Whoop That Trick” — imply violence. The Grizzlies are tough, the Grizzlies are physical, and the Grizzlies are relentless, a perfect match with the blue-collar city they represent.

“If you thought this was physical,” Duncan said after the Spurs eliminated Golden State, “it’s going to turn up about 10 notches.”

The Spurs flinched badly under such circumstances two years ago, becoming only the fourth No. 1 seed to bow out in the first round. But after recapturing some of the defensive edge from their past championship campaigns, they can now give almost as good as they get.

– Reported by Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News

Knicks vs Pacers Game 6 preview

Knicks vs Pacers Game 6 preview

The New York Knicks visit the Indiana Pacers at 8 p.m. ET tonight for Game 6 of the Eastern conference semi-finals. With the Pacers up, the Knicks must win or be eliminated from the postseason.

Here’s the Associated Press on the matchup:

The Indiana Pacers won’t know until Saturday night whether point guard George Hill will start in Game 6 against New York.

Hill participated in the team’s morning shootaround, which is part of the process of passing his concussion test. But doctors had not yet cleared Hill to play.

”He just did some work today. He looked fine, but he has to do more tests this afternoon,” coach Frank Vogel said. ”There’s a long list of things that’s part of the NBA’s protocol. He’s in the middle of that process. He’s not ruled out, not cleared to play. He’s a game-time decision.”

Vogel said he was preparing to play without Hill.

Hill scored 26 points Tuesday night in Game 4 after a first-quarter collision with Knicks center Tyson Chandler. Two days later, after the team’s shootaround, Hill was still complaining of headaches. Team doctors then diagnosed him with a concussion, forcing him to sit out Game 5. His replacement, D.J. Augustin, played nearly 39 minutes and had no assists as the Pacers lost 85-75. The win allowed New York to climb back within 3-2 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals.

Indiana gets a second chance to close out the series Saturday at home, where they are 5-0 in the postseason and have won all five games by double digits.

Vogel has not said who will start Saturday if Hill does not play.

”We prepare for guys to be out. D.J. Augustin, Ben Hansbrough. Lance (Stephenson) understands that he has to play some (point guard),” Vogel said. ”They’ve prepared for that all year. . Mentally for those guys, knowing might help them a little bit.”

– Reported by Michael Marot of the Associated Press

Here is the rest of the How to Win Game 6 blueprint [for the Knicks]:

“Forty-eight minutes of commitment,” Woodson said on ESPN radio yesterday.

Limit the Pacers’ second-chance points because they have difficulty scoring. Every Knick crashes the boards.

Jump on the Pacers early, make them start sweating a Game 7 at the Garden and take the crowd out of it at the same time.

Twenty more minutes for Chris Copeland. In an ugly series, he can be the difference with his 3-point shooting. He opens the floor up for Melo and Co.

Keep encouraging J.R. Smith.

“He made a very positive step forward,” Woodson said. He’s long overdue for a breakout game.

No whining about the referees. Keep your composure.

Thirty points and a big fourth quarter from Carmelo Anthony.

– Reported by Steve Serby of the New York Post

Serbian police say Predrag Danilovic, who played for the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks, is seriously injured after being stabbed in a fight.

Police say Danilovic was hurt during a brawl early Saturday in a cafe in a residential part of the capital, Belgrade. Doctors say Danilovic underwent an operation to treat injuries to his abdomen, head and arms.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Not many were calling Victor Oladipo a potential top-10 draft pick when he was a freshman defensive specialist at Indiana.

The general consensus was that he had to improve offensively to be considered an NBA prospect.

Guess NBA teams already have an idea of Oladipo’s work ethic.

Flash-forward two basketball seasons. It will stun analysts if Oladipo doesn’t hear his name called among the top-10 players during the NBA draft June 27.

Oladipo talked about his meteoric rise over the past two days at the NBA predraft combine and even he has a hard time believing his good fortune.

“I remember back a couple of months ago I wasn’t getting any attention, a couple of years ago I wasn’t getting any attention so it’s all kind of surreal for me every time,” Oladipo said at the Attack Athletics gym. “It just drives me. I know what it feels like to be at the bottom and be overlooked and every thing like that. I’m just going to use the experience to keep working hard and staying in the gym.”

– Reported by Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press

C.J. McCollum remains intrigued with the 76ers even though they didn’t request to interview him at the NBA draft combine.

“I was [attending college] pretty close to Philadelphia, out in Bethlehem,” the Lehigh senior guard said. “So I will be interested to see if they are taking a guard or a post player in this draft.”

The organization’s biggest needs are a post player and a backup point guard. However, one could argue that McCollum could be a solid addition to a team planning to make offseason moves via trades and free agency.

“I’m a fan of the Philadelphia 76ers,” McCollum said. “So it will be interesting to see what happens.”

– Reported by Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer

Once his purchase of the Kings is finalized, Vivek Ranadive should take a pick and a shovel, perhaps borrow a battering ram and a bulldozer, and obliterate the section of Sleep Train Arena that houses the team’s basketball operations.

While this is regarded as a weak draft class, there is no shortage of talent on the front-office or coaching markets.

Veteran coaches Jerry Sloan, Nate McMillan, Jeff and Stan Van Gundy are available, as are highly regarded assistants Mike Malone and Brian Shaw. Established front-office types eager to join or take over a staff include Larry Bird, Don Nelson and Chris Mullin. And while Warriors special assistant Jerry West undoubtedly would push Golden State’s Travis Schlenk, another famous former coach is itching to become involved in personnel.

Phil Jackson here, Jeanie Buss down there? Dare we be tempted to discuss?

Who knows? New bosses tend to hire people they know, so keep an eye on current Warriors. And Ranadive has yet to even reveal the extent of the anticipated overhaul. But his track record within the software industry suggests someone who moves swiftly.

– Reported by Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee

Damon Stoudamire

Damon Stoudamire was one of most popular players in Arizona history — an electrifying, high-scoring guard with a cool nickname.

Now, Mighty Mouse is headed back to the desert.

The former Portland Trail Blazers point guard and Wilson High School graduate was hired as an assistant coach under Sean Miller on Friday, a move that’s sure to be a big hit with one of college basketball’s most fervid fan bases.

“We are thrilled to welcome back Damon Stoudamire to the University of Arizona to become a part of our coaching staff,” Miller said in a statement. “Damon is an immensely talented recruiter, and is also very comfortable teaching and coaching the game. More importantly, his credibility in all aspects of our game is unmatched — he simply has ‘been there and done that’ at the highest level. I believe strongly that he will be invaluable in helping many of our current and future student-athletes do the same.”

– Reported by the Associated Press

Saturday night, the Knicks either take a giant step toward South Beach by forcing a Game 7 at the Garden or their season is over.

The Knicks didn’t break their 40-year championship drought Thursday night in a season-saving 85-75 victory, but coach Mike Woodson may have found the formula to beat Indiana and zoom into the Eastern Conference Finals in Miami.

Woodson discovered a new second-half rotation that lacks Jason Kidd and a rusty Amar’e Stoudemire with rookie scoring ace Chris Copeland and point guard Pablo Prigioni taking their places. It spread the floor and made the Knicks look like themselves again.

Perhaps the basketball gods are finally smiling on this cursed franchise as the Knicks try to become only the ninth team to ever rally back from a 3-1 hole.

– Reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post

Rudy Gobert was the biggest prospect at the NBA draft combine.

The center from France stands 7 foot 1/2 in his socks and 7-2 in his sneakers. He has an incredible 7-81/2 wingspan and massive hands.

Yet the 20-year-old is a raw talent. He needs to get stronger and polish up his post game in order to contribute in the NBA.

However, his athleticism and size are why he’s projected to be a mid-first-round pick in June’s draft. The 76ers, who are likely to get the 11th pick, interviewed Gobert here on Friday.

– Reported by Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer

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