Marcin Gortat says personal issues distracted him this season

Here’s the Washington Post blog reporting on Wizards center Marcin Gortat, who made some partially-revealing comments about his play this season:

marcin gortat was dealing with personal issues

Sometime around the all-star break, the gregarious Marcin Gortat who had captivated the District vanished. After several months of humorous, insightful and candid takes, he politely rushed through interviews if he did them at all. When asked twice over the final weeks of the season to assess his individual campaign, Gortat said he would address his personal situation during his exit interview. That came Monday.

“I would say in the eight years of my career, the eighth year was pretty much the toughest one from a personal standpoint,” said Gortat, who completed the first of a five-year, $60 million contract. “I had some issues during the season and that definitely didn’t help me to focus on basketball. That part is on me, definitely on me. I can’t blame anybody for that. I’m not going to talk about those issues. That’s why we call this personal business.”

Kyrie Irving health status for Eastern Conference Finals: good to go

Kyrie Irving says he will play in Game 1 vs Hawks

The Cleveland Cavaliers are still without Kevin Love, who is out for the rest of the playoffs and inactive for months beyond that, but banged-up guard Kyrie Irving appears healthy enough to play in Game 1 against the Atlanta Hawks in the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals. Here’s the Akron Beacon Journal reporting:

Kyrie Irving worked overtime Monday, bouncing around the court during a shooting drill with LeBron James long after the formal portion of practice had ended.

Irving is still fighting injuries to both his left knee and right foot, but he moved fluidly and without a limp. And most importantly, he declared himself ready for Wednesday’s opening game of the Eastern Conference finals at the Atlanta Hawks.

“I’m going to go,” he said.

Irving’s availability was never really in doubt, although Cavaliers coach David Blatt cast a temporary shadow when he said he was hopeful Irving would be ready. After Irving was a full participant on Monday, Blatt said he was “encouraged’ by the progress his star guard made in a relatively short amount of time.

LaMarcus Aldridge had thumb surgery today

LaMarcus Aldridge had thumb surgery today

LaMarcus Aldridge had thumb surgery today

Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge underwent successful surgery today to repair the injured radial collateral ligament of his left thumb. Dr. Thomas J. Graham performed the procedure at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

Aldridge is expected to be able to return basketball activity in approximately eight weeks.

The Blazers finished the regular season with a 51-31 record. They lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the NBA playoffs, in five games.

In the regular season, Aldridge averaged 23.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. His season almost ended early due to his thumb injury, but he played through it.

Rockets complete comeback, eliminate Clippers in seven games

James Harden scored 31 points, Dwight Howard had 16 points and 15 rebounds and the Houston Rockets never trailed in a 113-100 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, sending them to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1997.

It’s the ninth time in NBA history that a team has overcome a 3-1 series deficit to win a playoff series.

The Rockets needed an epic comeback to overcome a 19-point third-quarter deficit and force Game 7. No such heroics were needed Sunday when they were up by 17 after three and Howard opened the fourth quarter with a 3-point play to push it to 88-68.

Blake Griffin scored five points in a 9-0 run to cut the lead to eight points with less than 2 1/2 minutes remaining. Harden made a pair of free throws after that, but a dunk by DeAndre Jordan got the Clippers within eight again. This time Trevor Ariza hit a 3 from the corner to secure the victory.

– Associated Press

Kevin Seraphin wants a starting role, somewhere

Here’s CSN Washington reporting on 6-10, 278-pound Wizards backup center Kevin Seraphin, who feels ready to step up into a starting role, whether it’s with his current squad or someplace else:

Kevin Seraphin wants a starting role, somewhere

Barring a major roster overhaul that creates room for Kevin Seraphin and a bump in salary, his time with the Wizards, who acquired him in a trade five years ago on draft night, will end.

In his most significant playoff duty of his four-year career, Seraphin came in for an ill Marcin Gortat on Friday and scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 28 minutes in a series-closing 94-91 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of the East semifinals.

Seraphin, who signed a one-year qualifying offer last summer for $3.9 million to remain in Washington, is eager to spread his wings.

“I definitely want a chance to be a starter,” Seraphin, who matched his career high with 79 regular-season appearances but didn’t start a game for the 46-win Wizards, told CSNwashington.com. “I definitely want to be somewhere I have a chance to be a starter.”

Wizards put up fight but fall to Hawks

Here’s CSN Washington reporting on the Wizards, whose offseason has begun:

Yes, the Eastern Conference semifinals with the Atlanta Hawks, was super duper close, painfully so for the Washington Wizards. Historically so at that. The last four games were decided by five points or less. That hadn’t happened in an NBA playoff series since 2006. The Wizards lost the last three of those games en route to dropping the series 4-2.

John Wall’s fractured left hand and wrist stands out as the obvious “What if” question of the series. Even with the All-Star point guard missing three games and playing the last two with those five fractures, Washington took Atlanta, a team that ran away with the Eastern Conference regular season title, to the brink.

Get past Wall and the question is what differences led to the Wizards thinking about summer vacations instead of meeting LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals.

“I guess little details,” center Marcin Gortat said after revealing details of food poisoning that kept him on the bench for most of the series finale. “Little details in our game. Scrappy little details and that’s why we get punished for I guess.”

Magic interview power forwards at Draft Combine

Here’s the Orlando Sentinel reporting on the Magic, who have a nice set of guards on their roster but can use some help up front:

Attempting to detect a pattern in the players a team interviews at the NBA Draft Combine is a dangerous exercise.

Orlando Magic officials, for instance, don’t disclose the names of the 18 players they spoke with during the event. Making matters more difficult: The league assigns the interviews based on the demand for specific players. So the prospects the Magic interviewed weren’t necessarily the people the Magic wanted to interview most.

But if the Magic are intent on shoring up their power forward spot through the draft, the team made some progress in its research. Team officials interviewed at least six power forward prospects during the combine — UCLA’s Kevon Looney, Kentucky’s Trey Lyles, Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky, Arkansas’ Bobby Portis, Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas and LSU’s Jordan Mickey — those players said.

Kyrie Irving sits out Saturday practice

Kyrie Irving sits out Saturday practice

The Cleveland Cavaliers recently proved they can win a big game while LeBron James’ shot is off and Kyrie Irving (and Kevin Love) aren’t on the floor, but it’s not something they care to attempt on a regular basis. Ideally, Irving will be out there, making defenders look slow while he racks up points. But he’s banged up. Here’s the Akron Beacon Journal reporting the latest:

Kyrie Irving sits out Saturday practice

Cavs’ All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving was held out of practice Saturday after reaggravating a left knee injury in Thursday’s closeout Game 6 against the Chicago Bulls.

An MRI on Monday revealed tendinitis in Irving’s knee. Irving has also been battling a right foot strain suffered in Game 2 of the first-round series against the Boston Celtics.

Cavs coach David Blatt said Irving saw the doctors again Friday. Blatt couldn’t give a definitive assessment of Irving’s status for Wednesday’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Hawks in Atlanta, but said the Cavs “hope” he can play.

Kyrie Irving resting his sore knee

Kyrie Irving resting his sore knee

All-Star guard Kyrie Irving has stayed off the practice court to rest his injured knee as the Cavaliers began preparing for the Eastern Conference finals against Atlanta.

Irving sat out nearly three quarters of Game 6 in Chicago on Thursday night after aggravating tendinitis in his left knee. Irving was seen by team doctors on Friday and on Saturday Cavs’ coach David Blatt says he’s hopeful his starting point guard will play in Wednesday’s Game 1 in Atlanta.

– Associated Press

James Harden on bench during wild Rockets Game 6 comeback win

The Rockets unleashed an amazing comeback Thursday to win Game 6 in Los Angeles against the Clippers, and they did so with their star guard on the bench watching the show. Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting:

James Harden on bench during wild Rockets Game 6 comeback win

James Harden never heard his name, never asked to go back in.

The Rockets reserves were rolling, the Clippers lead shrinking and Harden kept sitting. As the Rockets rallied from a 13-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter, a 17-point hole when Harden sat and a 19-point Clippers lead when it had swelled to its largest, Harden remained on the Rockets bench.

He did not play even a full second in the fourth quarter (he entered the game, but no time expired before he was back out) as Rockets coach Kevin McHale stayed with the players that turned the game around and sent the series to a Game 7 on Sunday. Harden had no complaints.

“Amazing. It was really amazing. Just really proud of those guys in that fourth quarter, man, to keep fighting, keep battling. They did a tremendous job on both ends of the floor, battling, holding that team to 15 points. Being down 13, … those guys kept battling and it was an amazing job.”

James Harden trying to shake off effects of flu

The Houston Rockets face elimination tonight in Game 6 unless they can step up and once again beat the Los Angeles Clippers. Rockets star James Harden, who is averaging 24.8 points, 6.0 assists and 9.2 assists per game in this second round series through five games, is shaking off the effects of the flu. Here’s ESPN.com reporting:

James Harden trying to shake off effects of flu

James Harden was coughing and trying to clear his throat during his chat with reporters on Thursday morning.

The Houston Rockets’ starting guard will play in Thursday’s critical Game 6 against the Los Angeles Clippers while still feeling the effects of the flu.

“I’m all right, I’m good,” said Harden, who played through the illness and needed IV fluids the morning of Game 5 on Tuesday. “I’m all right, I’m in a good place right now.”

His team isn’t.

The Rockets trail the Western Conference semifinal best-of-seven series 3-2, and to force a Game 7 at home, they must win in a place where they have played badly.

The Clippers lead the Rockets 3 games to 2 in their second round playoff series. Tonight’s Game 6, in Los Angeles, is must-win for Houston. Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting:

Josh Smith will start Rockets-Clippers Game 6

Rockets coach Kevin McHale said he would start forward Josh Smith again in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

Smith started in Game 5 and forward Terrence Jones came off the bench.

“We just tried to change some things up, tried to get (Jones) with that second unit, maybe get him some more looks, get him going,” McHale said. “Josh is a very good passer. We gotta use another guy out there to break them down.”

Joakim Noah wins 2014-15 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award

Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls has won the 2014-15 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award as selected by the Professional Basketball Writers Association (PBWA). The honor, named after the NBA’s second commissioner, is presented annually by the PBWA to the player, coach or athletic trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community.

The other finalists for the award were forward Tobias Harris of the Orlando Magic, forward Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pistons, guard Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and forward Zach Randolph of the Memphis Grizzlies.

Noah, a two-time All-Star center who has spent his entire eight-year career with the Bulls, has dedicated himself to helping children develop a stronger sense of self through his Noah’s Arc Foundation (NAF). The foundation recently launched the “Rock Your Drop: The Drop of Consciousness” anti-violence initiative, which supports those affected by violence and encourages youth to express themselves through creative outlets like sports and art.

NAF also produced the “You’re Not Alone” anti-violence video featuring first-hand stories from those who have lost loved ones to violence, including Noah’s teammates Taj Gibson, Nazr Mohammed and Derrick Rose. Last summer, in his ongoing efforts to raise awareness of gun violence and promote unity in Chicago, Noah and NAF debuted the #ChicagoStandUp public service announcement and hosted a basketball tournament that brought together young men from the south and west sides of the city.

“Joakim’s initiatives to slow the violence in Chicago should inspire us all to help in our communities,” said PBWA President Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. “His creative, sustained efforts stood out in perhaps the deepest pool of worthy candidates in the 41-year history of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.”

Without Tony Allen, Grizzlies lose Game 5 to Warriors

Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle reporting on Wednesday’s Warriors-Grizzlies second round playoff game, which went quite badly for Memphis:

Without Tony Allen, Grizzlies lose Game 5 to Warriors

Much like the last playoff game in Oakland, Game 5 came down to a key Grizzlies player who was a game-time decision because of injury. While Mike Conley put on a face mask and cape in Memphis’ win in Game 2 at Oracle Arena, Tony Allen was not able to play with a bad hamstring Wednesday night.

The defensive repercussions were obvious, but the Grizzlies were actually somehow worse offensively without their jump shot-challenged tough guy.

“It’s huge, being without Tony,” Grizzlies guard Courtney Lee said. “We can’t replace his energy or his defensive intensity. We needed to step up tonight and we didn’t.” Memphis shot 5-of-25 in a 12:35 span over the end of the first quarter and most of the second quarter, turning a 25-15 lead into a 49-37 deficit.

Memphis shot 5-of-25 in a 12:35 span over the end of the first quarter and most of the second quarter, turning a 25-15 lead into a 49-37 deficit.

And a 12-point deficit might as well be 24 — which it grew to — for a big, physical team that can’t get out on the fastbreak (six points all night) or shoot threes (they made four).

John Wall returns in Wizards Game 5 loss to Hawks

Nobody expected injured Washington Wizards guard John Wall to return during these playoffs. But yesterday it happened, and he gave it his all, though the Wizards fell slightly short to the Atlanta Hawks. Here’s CSN Washington reporting:

John Wall returns in Wizards Game 5 loss to Hawks

John Wall threw himself on the floor with 32.6 seconds left, and the score tied at 78, for a loose ball, corralled it and called a timeout. He slapped the floor repeatedly with his good hand, the right one, as he sensed a Game 5 victory was near Wednesday.

But a 3-2 series lead for the Wizards is oh-so-far away. Wall blocked Dennis Schroder’s shot on the final play as he drove to the basket, but Al Horford darted in like a bowling ball to send bodies scattering to grab the loose ball for the putback with two seconds left and an 82-81 victory for the Atlanta Hawks at Phillips Arena.

“It felt great. I didn’t have any problems with my hand,” Wall said after having 15 points, seven assists, four rebounds and four steals. “I was able to play aggressive and make plays so I was fine.”

Queens gym being named after Anthony Mason

Queens gym being named in honor of Anthony Mason

The late Anthony Mason was an awesome NBA player, and is dearly missed. Here’s the New York Daily News reporting:

Springfield Gardens Education Complex in Queens will honor the memory of its most-decorated basketball player on Thursday when it names its gymnasium for former Knick Anthony Mason in an afternoon ceremony.

Mason, one of the signature players on Pat Reilly’s mid-1990’s Knicks teams, died at age 48 on Feb. 28, less than a month after suffering a heart attack.

“It’s a wonderful way of honoring my pops,” said Anthony Mason Jr., the former St. John’s star. “He really cared about his school.”

Andrew Bogut remains healthy

No, Andrew Bogut isn’t injured. He’s still good to go.

Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle reporting good news on the Warriors front:

Andrew Bogut banged up, but still healthy

Andrew Bogut said his ribs are fine. In fact, his post-Game 4 X-ray was on his left knee, and that checked out OK, too.

“Everything is good,” the Warriors’ center said after Wednesday’s shootaround. “No problems.”

Bogut did grab at his right ribs a couple of times during the second half of the Warriors’ Game 4 victory over Memphis, and it was reported by multiple outlets that he had X-rays on his ribs. But the big man said the bigger concern was a tweak he felt in his left knee, and that’s what he had checked after the game.

Pau Gasol plans to play Cavs-Bulls Game 6

Pau Gasol plans to play Cavs-Bulls Game 6

Here’s ESPN Chicago reporting on Bulls power forward Pau Gasol, a key member of the squad who could certainly be the difference between a tied series or the Cavs advancing and leaving Chicago in the dust. The Cavs lead the series 3 games to 2, so Thursday is must-win for the Bulls:

Pau Gasol plans to play Cavs-Bulls Game 6

Pau Gasol says he’s going to try and play in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night. Gasol missed the past two games because of a strained left hamstring.

“I made some good progress today,” Gasol said after the Bulls’ workout on Wednesday. “No residual pain from [Tuesday] also works. We’re making progress. At the end of the day, [Thursday] is the game and I’ll do everything I can to help the team. … I’ll be out there. Whichever way I can be, I will be.”

Gasol initially hurt his hamstring in Game 2 and played only 22 minutes in Game 3 after being taken out in the second half.

Turner Sports has signed Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaq to contract extensions for TNT’s Inside the NBA studio TV show

TNT’s “Inside the NBA” studio TV show has signed host Ernie Johnson and analysts Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal to multi-year extensions.

“We truly believe Inside the NBA is among the best studio shows of all time and a large part of its success is due to the unrivaled chemistry between Ernie, Charles, Kenny and Shaquille,” said Lenny Daniels, president of Turner Sports. “We’re looking forward to continuing the creativity and pioneering spirit behind the show for a very long time.”

The content of the show includes popular re-occurring segments such as “EJ’s Neat-O Stat of the Night,” “Gone Fishin’” and “Shaqtin’ a Fool.”

Inside the NBA is the most-watched NBA studio show on cable television, based on Nielsen Research, and frequently generates the second most-watched program on cable throughout the NBA Playoffs (trailing only live game coverage).

It’s a surprise to many that Shaq lasted all these years. But the network is clearly intent on keeping him around.

Fan discussion: Shaq, Ernie, Kenny and Chuck sign multi-year deal with TNT

Alan Anderson had ankle surgery today

Alan Anderson had ankle surgery today

Brooklyn Nets guard/forward Alan Anderson underwent successful arthroscopic surgery today, May 12, to remove bone spurs from his left ankle, General Manager Billy King announced. The procedure was performed by Nets’ foot and ankle specialist Dr. Martin O’Malley at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. Anderson is expected to resume basketball-related activities in July.

Anderson played in 74 games (19 starts) for Brooklyn this past season, with averages of 7.4 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. In six postseason contests, Anderson posted averages of 11.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, while shooting a team-best .610 from the field and .625 from three-point range.

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