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.

Bucks hire Suki Hobson for training staff

The Milwaukee Bucks today announced that Suki Hobson has been added to the team’s training staff as Senior Strength and Rehabilitation Specialist. Hobson brings over 15 years of experience working with elite athletes in the fields of strength, power and injury rehabilitation to the Bucks organization.

Hobson joins the Bucks full-time after previously running her own interdisciplinary athletic performance and sports consultancy company, Athlete Revolution International, which is based in Melbourne, Australia, and operated around the world. Regarded for her innovative, athlete-centered, goal-driven and scientific approach to training, Hobson is a leader in the fields of strength training and athlete rehabilitation, with a particular emphasis in rehabilitation from ACL injuries. She has previously worked with multiple Australian Football League teams as well as the Queensland Academy of Sport, where she trained Olympic athletes during two summer and one winter Olympic cycles.

Monty Williams fired

Monty Williams fired by Pelicans

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New Orleans Pelicans head coach Monty Williams has been fired. The team qualified for the playoffs, and although they were swept 4-0 in the first round by the Golden State Warriors, they played pretty well and were competitive for large parts of each game. This has been looming for a while now, though.

More info here: Pelicans fire coach Monty Williams.

NBA Draft 2015 being held in Brooklyn

The 2015 NBA Draft will be held in Brooklyn NY’s Barclays Center. It’s the third year in a row the draft is being held in that arena.

Here’s more info: 2015 NBA Draft location: Barclays Center, Brooklyn NY

New Philadelphia 76ers team logo

The Philadelphia 76ers today unveiled an updated brand identity, which includes a redesigned primary logo and a series of partial and secondary logo variations in advance of the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday, May 19 and the introduction of new uniforms on Thursday, June 18.

The logo set is effective immediately and updates the iconic Sixers design through the incorporation of new and traditionally significant elements:

New Philadelphia 76ers team logo

The team’s new primary logo is a modern interpretation of the classic Sixers insignia, stylistically redeveloped to include a patriotic blue border with six white stars and “PHILADELPHIA” adorned across the heading. The familiar white basketball has been visually updated with a positional rotation of the seams. The emblematic ring of 13 stars present in the primary, partial and secondary logos continues to represent the original American Colonies.

Fan discussion here: New Sixers logo

NBA fines Dwight Howard $15K

Dwight Howard fined for hard foul on Matt Barnes

NBA fines Dwight Howard $15K

The NBA announced today that they have fined Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard $15,000 for making contact above the shoulders with Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes in Rockets-Clippers Game 4 on May 10.

Howard’s actions occurred with 9:21 remaining in the first quarter of the Clippers’ 128-95 win over the Rockets on May 10 at Staples Center.

The Clippers currently lead their second round series with the Rockets three games to one.

Hopefully people can handle the truth

Here’s the Boston Herald reporting on Paul Pierce, who as a member of the Washington Wizards is currently making life difficult for the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs:

Paul Pierce plans to stay in basketball after playing days end

Someday, Pierce may have to deal with deals of his own. He won’t be through with basketball when he’s through playing, and, yes, he’d very much be interested in returning to the Celtics to work and learn under Ainge when he’s done bedeviling younger opponents.

“Truthfully, I love the game,” he said. “I want to have my hands on some aspect of the game, whether it be management, ownership. I don’t know right now about coaching. I’m not sure yet. But I definitely want to be involved with the game in some form or fashion.

“It’s definitely a tough business,” he added. “It’s definitely hard work that Danny has to do. He has to think about so many things that come into play when you’re a GM. It’s the relationship you have with the players, it’s the future, it’s about the money and the salary cap. You’ve got to make difficult decisions all the time. And as bad as he wants to win, he understands it’s a building process also, until you can make your move.

“It’s like playing chess. You know, sometimes you’ve got to play your pawns, like he did in ’07, until he made his big move to make the trades. . . . Sometimes it works, and sometimes it don’t.”

Asked if he could see himself in that job, Pierce grins. “I think I’m a fairly good chess player.”

DeAndre Jordan sets a free throw-related NBA record

If you watched yesterday’s Game 4 between the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers, your main memory may be that of a tall dude standing still at a line while missing free throws. Here’s the Los Angeles Times reporting:

DeAndre Jordan sets a free throw-related NBA record

What a long, strange trip to the free-throw line for DeAndre Jordan. Again and again.

The Clippers center is now in the NBA record books, though not for a reason he’d ever envision, after taking 28 free-throw attempts in the first half of the Clippers’ playoff game Sunday.

The Houston Rockets kept fouling him intentionally, so Jordan kept going to the line, eventually passing Shaquille O’Neal’s 27 free-throw attempts for the Lakers against Portland in the second half of a 2000 playoff game.

“That’s crazy,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin said. “I’ve never witnessed that or experienced that. For us to just maintain our composure … we just grinded it out.”

All in all, Jordan made 14 of 34 free throws in the Clippers’ 128-95 victory over Houston in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals.

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