Dion Waiters hopes to stick with Thunder

Thunder shooting guard Dion Waiters started 15 games this regular season, but otherwise came off the bench. He’s an erratic player who is helpful for stretches, but must also refine his decision-making ability. In the regular season he averaged 9.8 ppg on 39.9% FG, and in the playoffs he put up 8.4 ppg in 41.7% FG. Here’s the Oklahoman with an udpate on his future with the team:

Dion Waiters hopes to stick with Thunder

Waiters is 24 years old. He had a solid postseason, proving he can impact the game, both offensively and defensively, on a winning team. Two-way wings are hot commodities in this market flush with money. He’ll get plenty of interest. But because he’s restricted, the Thunder have the right to match any offer he receives.

Durant is the top priority for this franchise when July 1 hits. But Waiters’ future, especially if Durant returns, will also be a crucial decision. The Thunder has a history of losing young, talented backup guards. Waiters is in that James Harden, Reggie Jackson role. But his early public comments should give OKC hope it can retain him.

Warriors in good shape to achieve rare comeback

Mere days ago, the Warriors were down 3-1 to the Thunder and looked overmatched. They weren’t playing up to the level we’ve come to expect from them. Stephen Curry’s shot wasn’t golden. Draymond Green was erratic and not helping the squad. But then the efficient, effective Warriors that we’re used to seeing returned for Game 5 and again in Game 6, and suddenly we have a tied series and an upcoming Game 7. Monday night should be epic. Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle reporting:

Warriors in good shape to achieve rare comeback

The Warriors have a chance to do what few thought they could do and something rarely done before, because they’ve managed to send the Western Conference finals to a winner-take-all Game 7 on Monday.

The Warriors are the 31st team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after trailing 3-1 and the first team to do so in a conference finals since Portland in 2000 against the Lakers.

Among the first 232 teams that trailed 3-1 since the league went to a seven-game format, only nine have won the series.

Things certainly looked bleak for the Warriors after consecutive 20-point losses had them facing elimination for the first time in Steve Kerr’s two-year tenure, but they’ve won two in a row to get the odds back on their side. Home teams are 100-24 in Game 7s. In conference finals, teams that rallied from a 3-1 deficit to play Game 7 at home are 8-2.

Grizzlies hire David Fizdale as head coach

Memphis Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace today named David Fizdale as the team’s new head coach.

Here is what the Grizzlies say about Fizdale:

Considered one of the rising stars in NBA coaching ranks, Fizdale comes to Memphis after spending eight seasons (2008-16) with the Miami Heat, including the last two as the assistant head coach and the previous six as an assistant coach under Erik Spoelstra. During that time, Fizdale’s assistance in game preparation, involvement in player development and rapport with the roster played a major role in the Heat’s championship success. Dating back to his first season on the Heat sidelines in 2008-09, Miami won more playoff games (70) and playoff series (15) than any team in the NBA and compiled the league’s second-best regular season (.623) and fourth-best postseason (.619) winning percentages.

Before his tenure in Miami, Fizdale spent four seasons (2004-08) as an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks, where he was instrumental in the development of their young players. The Hawks increased their win total in each of his final three seasons and in 2007-08 earned the franchise’s first postseason appearance since 1999. He began his NBA coaching career as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors for one season (2003-04).

Prior to joining the Warriors, Fizdale spent five seasons coaching in the college ranks. After one year (1997-98) in the Heat video department, he started his coaching career as an assistant coach at his alma mater, the University of San Diego. After four seasons (1998-2002) with the Toreros, he spent one season (2002-03) as an assistant coach at Fresno State University.

A three-year starter at point guard while playing at the University of San Diego, Fizdale was selected to the All-West Coast Conference team after his senior season in 1996.

The Los Angeles native earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and a minor in sociology from San Diego in 1996.

Late turnovers hurt Thunder in Game 6 loss

A few days ago, the Thunder had a 3-1 lead in their Western Conference Finals series against the Warriors. But after last night it’s a tied series, with Game 7 in Oakland on Monday. Here’s the Oklahoman reporting on some key late turnovers that helped seal OKC’s fate last night:

Late turnovers hurt Thunder in Game 6 loss

Forget the Thunder’s disappointing 55-win record this season or Golden State’s record-setting 73-win march to history. Forget the first round breeze by Dallas, the second round shock of San Antonio, the first five games of this series and the first 45 minutes on Saturday night.

Go back to October or mid-March or two weeks ago and lay out this scenario for Sam Presti or Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook: You’re up three at home with possession of the ball and under three minutes to play. Close it out and you’re in the NBA Finals. None of what came before it matters. Not the midseason struggles, the KD free agency chatter or the historic dominance of their two conference rivals. KD and Russ will jump at that scenario every time. The bumpy road had navigated them to that very spot on Saturday night, a conference title in their grasp. But in three of the most agonizing minutes in the franchise’s young history, they fumbled it away.

Neither star had a first half turnover in Game 6. Not one in 24 minutes. But Durant and Westbrook combined for eight turnovers on Saturday night. Six — 6!!! — came in the final three minutes. That’s six on the Thunder’s final eight possessions, all committed by Durant and Westbrook. The final one didn’t matter. KD fumbled it away with seven seconds left. But by then, the damage was already done, the colossal loss already decided.

Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones shot to death in Dallas

Tragedy has struck the New Orleans Pelicans and the league. Here’s the New Orleans Times-Picayune reporting:

Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones shot to death in Dallas

New Orleans Pelicans player Bryce Dejean-Jones was shot to death in Dallas after he mistakenly entered the wrong apartment, his agent told CNN on Saturday (May 28).

Scott Nichols told the news network that Dejean-Jones was in Dallas to visit his girlfriend for his daughter’s first birthday.

Dejean-Jones was fatally shot after breaking down the door to a Dallas apartment, authorities said Saturday.

A man living at the apartment was sleeping when he heard his front door kicked open, Dallas Police Senior Cpl. DeMarquis Black said in a statement. When Dejean-Jones began kicking at the bedroom door, the man retrieved a handgun and fired.

Thunder-Warriors Game 5 provides much-needed drama

With many recent playoff games coming by way of blowout rather than dramatic close victory, fans need all the thrilling games they can get. And Thunder at Warriors Game 5 Thursday night provided just that. Here’s CSN Bay Area reporting:

Thunder-Warriors Game 5 provides much-needed drama

Finally, the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder provided a game that more completely explains why there should be two more of them.

Not because of the identity of the victor, mind you. The Warriors extended the Western Conference Final with a sweatbox-quality 120-111 win over the Thunder in Game 5, forcing a trip back to the Midwest. No, we speak of more of its quality, and the way it more accurately reflected the strengths, weaknesses, quirks and hidden face cards of these two teams.

Kevin Durant was brilliant. Stephen Curry was healed. Russell Westbrook was deliciously erratic and indomitable in the best Iversonian tradition. Andrew Bogut rose from the morgue to play perhaps his best important game since those in the Denver series two years ago, and Stephen Adams struggled as a result. There was give and take, yin and yang, hoi and polloi and a wonderful sense of balance between two teams that would do this mostly sub-mediocre postseason an enormous solid by having the NBA declare it a best of 13-series.

Andre Roberson steps up big in Game 4

The Thunder beat the Warriors 118-94 on Tuesday to take a 3-1 lead in their Western Conference Finals series. OKC shooting guard Andre Roberson, who generally plays as limited a role a starter on a good team can play, stepped up in dramatic fashion and was one of the best players on either squad. It was impressive. Here’s the Oklahoman reporting:

Andre Roberson steps up for Thunder in Game 4

Klay Thompson bricked a 3-pointer on one end, the sharpshooter drawing a rare blank as he tried to snipe his shell-shocked Warriors back from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit.

Eighteen seconds later, Andre Roberson dropped in a corner 3 on the other, the non-shooter nailing a 3 for a fifth consecutive game, bumping the Thunder’s commanding lead to 16. It soon jumped to 18 to 20 and beyond, the cushion growing as Roberson’s point total kept rising…

“I’m a basketball player, man,” Roberson said, a bit peeved at the notion that he’s a one-sided liability. “I can go out there and do it all.”

His stat-line on Tuesday night bore that out: 17 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, five steals and two blocks – becoming the only player in the past four seasons to reach those numbers against Golden State. In his 40 minutes, OKC outscored the Warriors by 25.

Klay Thompson erupts in 3rd quarter but Warriors still lose Game 4

There were very few bright spots for the Warriors on Tuesday, but if you forced us to pick one it was awesome third quarter play from shooting guard Klay Thompson, helped make a game out of this thing. For a stretch, at least. But the Thunder were collectively the clearly stronger squad last night. Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle reporting:

Klay Thompson erupts in 3rd quarter but Warriors still lose Game 4

Thompson understandably saw himself as partly culpable for his team’s 72-53 halftime deficit. He scored all of four points in the half, on just four attempts from the field, and spent more time than usual on the bench because of foul trouble (he picked up his third with 7:55 left in the second quarter).

He emerged from the locker room with fresh bravado, essentially winging it — and scored 19 consecutive Warriors points during a scintillating, third-quarter stretch. By the time Thompson’s personal run ended, his team trailed only 80-74 and harbored genuine hopes of an epic comeback…

He finished with a team-high 26 points, on 9-for-17 shooting.

Draymond Green continues to struggle

The champs are in trouble. After getting blown out in Game 3 and beaten fairly soundly in Game 4, the Warriors are down 3-1 to the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. One Warriors in particular who has struggled in dramatic fashion has been Draymond Green. Here’s CSN Bay Area reporting:

Draymond Green continues to struggle

Green’s performance in a 118-94 loss to Oklahoma City in Game 4 brought neither him nor the Warriors any comfort.

Game 3 was the worst of his four-year career, and Game 4 was about as bad.

“I don’t think the last 48 hours affected me,” Green said. “But I think it’s the first time in my life that I didn’t respond to critics. That’s what’s kind of been my story.”

A second-round draft pick in 2012 that was selected for the All-Star team in February played 38 minutes. The sum of his production was 6 points (1-of-7 shooting from the field), 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals, one blocked shot – and six turnovers.

Draymond Green must still be extra careful for rest of playoffs

Warriors forward Draymond Green escaped suspension for his kick to Thunder center Steven Adams, though he still needs to be extra careful for the rest of the playoffs, as the Oklahoman explains:

Draymond Green must still be extra careful for rest of playoffs

On Monday, the Golden State Warriors forward was fined $25,000 and his Flagrant “1” foul on Thunder center Steven Adams in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals was upgraded to a Flagrant “2”. The ruling puts Green dangerously close to missing a postseason game, but keeps him eligible for Tuesday’s game at Chesapeake Energy Arena…

Green said Monday that his first thought was the Flagrant “1” was going to get rescinded and that he wouldn’t be facing a suspension…

Green already had a Flagrant “1” foul (worth one point) entering the series with the Thunder. Add that to the upgrade to a Flagrant “2” (worth two points), and Green is one point away from an automatic one-game suspension. Under NBA rules, if a player’s playoff total exceeds three points, he’s suspended for the game after his point total has exceeded three.