Archive for May 27th, 2013

San Antonio Spurs reach NBA Finals

Tony Parker

The San Antonio Spurs are back in the NBA Finals for the first time since they won their last championship back in 2007.

Tony Parker scored 37 points in his best game this postseason, and the San Antonio Spurs finished off a sweep Monday night of the Memphis Grizzlies with a 93-86 win on Monday night in the Western Conference final.

The Spurs now have won six straight in these playoffs, handing two straight losses to a team that had been undefeated on their own court in their best postseason in franchise history. Memphis finished off its best season ever swept by the very same franchise that needed four games to knock them out of their first playoff appearance back in 2004.

Parker had his best game this postseason as he hit 15 of 21 and all six at the free throw line earning the Spurs and Tim Duncan plenty of rest before Game 1 of the Finals on June 6.

”He’s been amazing,” Duncan said of Parker. ”Every year he gets better and better and better. He’s been carrying us. You can see tonight he carried us the entire game.”

Duncan hugged Manu Ginobili before heading off the court, celebrating the chance at a title that slipped away a year ago when the Spurs blew a 2-0 lead to Oklahoma City losing four straight. The 37-year-old Duncan finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. Kawhi Leonard added 11…

The Spurs shot 51.3 percent (39 of 76) from the floor and outscored Memphis 52-32 in the paint, even though the Grizzlies had a 41-34 edge on the boards. Memphis led only briefly and the last at 6-4 as the Spurs took control early.

Memphis stayed close only by getting to the free throw line, making more shots there (17 of 24) than San Antonio took (12 of 13). The Grizzlies also got a career-high 22 points from reserve Quincy Pondexter, 18 of those in the second half. Pondexter was the only player from Memphis to shoot over .500. Zach Randolph finished with 13, continuing his struggles at the line where he was 5 of 8, and Marc Gasol had 14.

Reported by Teresa M. Walker of the Associated Press

Lionel Hollins is no fan of flopping

Lionel Hollins is no fan of flopping

In response to the NBA’s $5,000 flopping fine on Grizzlies guard Tony Allen after Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, Memphis coach Lionel Hollins conceded the league’s anti-flopping rules were appropriate and could possibly be enforced more widely.

“Flopping isn’t a part of the game and it shouldn’t be a part of the game,” Hollins said. “That’s why we have rules in place. There are probably a few more that could be called on a lot of people still in it.”

The NBA instituted new rules to deter flopping prior to this postseason. A violator will be fined $5,000 after the first infraction, $10,000 after the second, $15,000 after the third and $30,000 after his fourth flopping offense. Any subsequent violations are subject to league discipline. Allen was the fourth player to be issued a fine for flopping during this year’s playoffs.

Derek Fisher of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Jeff Pendergraph of the Indiana Pacers and J.R. Smith of the New York Knicks were each assessed a $5,000 fine.

Reported by Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com

The Phoenix Suns appear close to hiring Jeff Hornacek as their head coach.

A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Sunday that the Suns are in contract negotiations with Hornacek, although no deal has been finalized. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no public announcement had been made.

The comments came after azcentralsports, which includes the Arizona Republic, reported Sunday that Hornacek reached agreement on a three-year contract.

If all goes as anticipated, Hornacek would be introduced at a news conference Tuesday.

Reported by the Associated Press

Mark Cuban’s goal is to make the Dallas Mavericks a championship team again within a two-year window.

After Dallas missed the playoffs for the first time in 12 years, the owner vowed the Mavs would have a “quick rebuild.” The pending pitch to free agents this summer — including Chris Paul and Dwight Howard — is that the franchise can take a significant step forward next season and then have the salary-cap space available again in 2014 to make more major upgrades.

“We want to be a championship team. We’ve never said we have to be a championship team this year,” Cuban said Saturday on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM during his first interview since the Mavs’ season ended. “We want to be a better team, a top-seed team. If we get the top free agent, that doesn’t leave us a whole lot of flexibility to add a lot of players, but we have a good nucleus around them. We know we’ll have a good team, but we won’t know if we have a great team.

“If you look at this like a two-year plan, then we think we’re on a track to have a great team by the end of next year.”

Reported by Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas

Udonis haslem

Udonis Haslem was nonexistent offensively in the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals. He knew he was going to get an opportunity to change that heading into Game 3.

Haslem delivered in Miami’s 114-96 win on Sunday in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. scoring a season-high 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting.

“We’ve been watching film and saw some adjustments we could make,” Haslem said. “Credit my guys for finding me and I just shot it with confidence.”

Haslem made his first five shots and all four attempts in the first quarter as the Heat made quick work of the Pacers to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.

“When our bench and role players are playing well, we’re very tough to beat,” Miami center Chris Bosh said. “It started out with [Haslem] and he got us off to a great start.”

Reported by Brian Peloza, special to the Miami Herald

Three coaching candidates will return for second interviews this week with the Milwaukee Bucks, a league source confirmed Sunday.

Los Angeles Lakers assistant Steve Clifford is scheduled to interview again Tuesday, while Houston Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson and Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew will return Wednesday as finalists for the Bucks head coaching position.

No other candidates are currently in the running, according to the source.

The Bucks also previously interviewed former Portland and Seattle coach Nate McMillan and 34-year-old Rockets assistant J.B. Bickerstaff. Bucks officials also met with former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.

Clifford has close ties to former NBA coaches Jeff Van Gundy and Stan Van Gundy and worked last season as an assistant with the Lakers.

A 1983 graduate of Maine-Farmington, Clifford worked five seasons on Stan Van Gundy’s staff in Orlando and was with the Magic when it reached the 2009 NBA Finals.

Reported by Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

lebron james

Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers Game 3 Recap

Miami put LeBron James right in the middle of the action Sunday night, and this time, the Indiana Pacers didn’t have an answer for him or his Miami Heat teammates.

By moving James to the post, the Heat won the scoring battle in the paint, kept Indiana at arm’s length and pulled away for a 114-96 victory and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

”I made a conscious effort to get down in the post tonight, to put pressure on their defense,” James said. ”The coaching staff wanted me to be down there tonight, and my teammates allowed me to do that.”

It was a move reminiscent of when the Los Angeles Lakers played Magic Johnson in the post in place of the injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during the NBA Finals more than two decades ago.

And it worked just as well.

James rebounded from the two late turnovers that cost Miami in Game 2 by scoring 22 points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing out three assists. Hours after Dwyane Wade learned he would only be tagged with a flagrant foul from Game 2 and not a suspension, he finished with 18 points, eight assists and four rebounds. Chris Bosh added 15 points and three rebounds and all five Miami starters reached double figures.

The move allowed Miami to outscore Indiana 56-32 in the paint…

Miami committed a playoff franchise-low one turnover in the first half and finished with only five. James finished with none.

The Heat shot 54.5 percent against a team that finished the regular season with the NBA’s best defensive field goal percentage and also made 24 of 28 free throws. They matched the highest scoring output in a quarter during this season’s playoffs with 34, broke the franchise playoff record for points in a half (70) and fell one point short of tying the third-highest point total in a playoff game in franchise history…

David West

David West led Indiana with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Roy Hibbert had 20 points and 17 rebounds. Paul George finished with 13 points and eight assists, not nearly enough to keep the Pacers perfect at home in the postseason…

Indiana opened the second half looking more like the team that had given Miami fits in Games 1 and 2. The Pacers hit back-to-back 3-pointers and got a three-point play from George Hill. When Lance Stephenson followed that with 1 of 2 free throws, the lead had been cut to 74-67.

It didn’t last.

Reported by Michael Marot of the Associated Press

“We were disappointed,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Sunday of dropping Friday’s game, “and that’s where you have to embrace the competition.”

Still, few could have foreseen the number the Heat put on the scoreboard at halftime: 70.

A team that had scored 84 total points in the first halves of the series first two games simply detonated in the first half.

Like Dwyane Wade’s dunk on Roy Hibbert in the second quarter.

Like Udonis Haslem’s first six shots, each putting points on the board.

Like Chris Andersen’s first three shots, which gave him 15 consecutive playoff conversions from the field (a streak he would extend to 16 in the second half on his 4-of-4 night).

Heck even Ray Allen hit a 3-pointer to end the second quarter and give the Heat a franchise record for points in any playoff half, his first points in three visits to Indiana this season, having missed his first 11 shots of the season at the Fieldhouse.

“What we talked about in the locker room,” Spoelstra said, “was tonight was a team win.”

Reported by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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