Kevin Durant buys Malibu mansion

I bought pizza today. You probably bought something recently as well. Well, Kevin Durant made a cute little purchase of his own in April, reports the LA Times:

Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors has shelled out $12.05 million for his own slice of beachfront in Malibu.

Set on a privately gated street, the multilevel contemporary home was originally built in 1976 and extensively remodeled five years ago. Features include open-concept living and dining rooms, wide-plank French oak floors and vaulted ceilings — a likely must-have for the 6-foot-10 basketball player.

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The Warriors and Pelicans begin their second round playoff series tonight. Warriors guard Stephen Curry won’t participate this evening, but he should return soon, perhaps as early as Game 2. Here’s the SF Chronicle with the latest:

Warriors guard Stephen Curry is likely to return for Game 2 of the second round Tuesday night after being ruled out for Game 1 on Saturday.

Golden State head coach Steve Kerr informed Curry after shoot-around Saturday morning that he wouldn’t play Game 1 against the Pelicans. The decision came down to the fact that Curry has only played one 5-on-5 contact scrimmage since he sprained his left MCL in a March 23 win over Atlanta.

“When you’ve been out five weeks and you want to play in the playoffs,” Kerr said, “I don’t think one scrimmage is enough.”

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LeBron James speaks on upcoming Game 7

Game 7 of any NBA playoff series is an epic event. Even bigger is when a legendary player like LeBron James is involved. Because at this point in his career, everything LeBron does makes history. That’s not an exaggeration. Here’s the News Herald reporting on tomorrow’s Pacers at Cavs event:

The Cavs and Indiana Pacers are deadlocked, 3-3, heading into their game at 1 p.m. April 29 at Quicken Loans Arena. The winner, or, more appropriately, the survivor, advances to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Toronto Raptors.

“I think Game 7 is the greatest two words in sports,” Cavs star LeBron James told reporters in Indianapolis after the Cavaliers were crushed, 121-87, in Game 6 on April 27. “With us having Game 7 on our home floor, our fans are going to be truly excited to be a part of that. I hope our guys are excited about that as well.

“Just don’t take these moments for granted. I’ve been part of Game 7’s for quite a while. It’s something you wish you can get back when you’re not playing the game anymore.”

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The Knicks need a new head coach. They also need help in the roster department, but let’s not focus on that right now. Here’s ESPN NY with the latest on the coach interview front:

Knicks reportedly will interview Juwan Howard for coaching job

Miami Heat assistant Juwan Howard will interview with the New York Knicks for their coaching vacancy, league sources told ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

The interview is expected to take place on Saturday, per sources.

Team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry are looking for the club’s next head coach after they fired Jeff Hornacek following the Knicks’ 29-win regular season.

Mills and Perry also interviewed former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt in Europe earlier this week, per league sources.

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And here’s the Palm Beach Post with more:

The list of candidates since Jeff Hornacek was fired after compiling a 60-104 record in two seasons is long. President Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry reportedly have spoken with former Cavs coach David Blatt, Celtics assistant coach Jay Larranaga, former Heat assistant and Memphis coach David Fizdale, G League coach Jerry Stackhouse, former Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, former Hawks and Knicks coach Mike Woodson, analyst Kenny Smith and analyst and former Warriors coach Mark Jackson. And they plan to meet with Spurs assistant James Borrego.

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The playoffs are all about health. Well, and winning. Okay, mostly winning. But being healthy helps with the winning. See how it all ties together? Take notes. Anyway, here’s the Houston Chronicle with a Rockets update:

Key Houston Rockets reserve forward Luc Mbah a Moute is optimistic that he will be able to play in Sunday’s Game 1 against the Utah Jazz after missing the first round due to a dislocated right shoulder.

Mbah a Moute, who suffered the injury in the Rockets’ April 10 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, is officially listed as questionable. He went through his first full practice of the playoffs on Saturday, which he hopes is the final step before being cleared to return.

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Getting rest and staying healthy is a huge part of winning in the NBA playoffs. The Rockets are happy to have some time off prior to the second round. Here’s the Houston Chronicle:

Though the Rockets had played just five games since the previous break in the schedule, they did not mind getting time before the second round while the Thunder and Jazz work their way through their first-round series.

“I think it’s good,” Rockets forward Trevor Ariza said. “It will give us time to rest and give us time to work on things that we didn’t do so well. But the fact that we got it over with, it’s an encouraging thing.”

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During Game 5 on Wednesday, Gobert picked up his fourth shooting foul on Carmelo Anthony early in the third quarter, which led to OKC’s 32-7 run to end the period after the Thunder trailed by 25 points.

“When Rudy went out, that impacted us. But that said, I thought our struggles on the offensive end impacted our defense too much,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “We’ve known during the year if we struggle offensively that our defense has to stay solid.

“But I thought when they did start making plays and Rudy went out that we were fighting it, but we didn’t execute as well as we needed to offensively against the switch, got some good looks, missed them, and then the biggest thing is 37 points in the third quarter, just kind of back in the game and they had confidence and life, and we didn’t do what we needed to do.”

Gobert’s defensive presence was certainly missed as Westbrook went off for 20 of his 45 points in the third and Paul George also dropped 12 of his 34 during that stretch. With Gobert on the court, Utah’s defensive rating was 89.9, but it jumped to 133.5 with him off the court, according to NBA Advanced Stats.

Deseret News

Despite having blown a 25-point lead in Game 5 of their playoff series Wednesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road, the Utah Jazz still had a chance to come away with the win even if all the momentum had shifted to the Thunder.

Nevertheless, Oklahoma City made the necessary plays down the stretch to claim the victory. In particular, a 10-2 run from the home team in the middle of the fourth quarter did the Jazz in.

Following a Rudy Gobert putback dunk with 6:40 remaining, the Jazz led by a point, 91-90. Russell Westbrook, however, responded 30 seconds later with his fifth 3-pointer of the second half to give the Thunder the 93-91 edge.

Deseret News

Celtics assistant coach Jay Larranaga acknowledged Thursday that he interviewed with the Knicks for their coaching vacancy last week.

Larranaga, who is Brad Stevens’ lead assistant, said the interview with the Knicks took place in Milwaukee between Games 3 and 4 of the Celtics’ first-round series with the Bucks.

“They’re in the middle of their process. We’re in the middle of our process,” Larranaga told reporters at the morning shootaround in Milwaukee before Thursday night’s Game 6.

NY Newsday

“Obviously they’re in the middle of their process,’’ Larranaga said. “We’re in the middle of our process. I appreciated them coming out here. Obviously all my focus is on the Milwaukee Bucks.’’

Boston.com

Mason Plumlee undergoes surgery

Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee has undergone a surgical repair of a core muscle injury this morning. The surgery was performed by Dr. William Meyers at the Vincera Institute in Philadelphia.

The Nuggets say that Plumlee will resume basketball-related activities this summer and should be at full-strength when the team opens training camp for the new season.

Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic had a post season MRI at Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento that revealed a slight tear of the medial meniscus in the left knee.

Today, he will undergo a minimally invasive meniscus debridement procedure at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. The arthroscopic procedure will be performed by Dr. Riley Williams.

The Kings expect he will make a full recovery and an update will be provided when it is available.

The Jazz lead the Thunder 2-1 in their first round playoff series. Jazz center Rudy Gobert’s defense has been key for the Jazz as long as he’s been on the team, and of course stakes get even bigger in the postseason. Here’s the Oklahoman reporting:

Donovan Mitchell doesn’t let opponents dribble past him on purpose. But sometimes, the Utah Jazz rookie doesn’t mind when they do.

Even when the likes of Russell Westbrook get past Mitchell, he’s not too concerned. “I’m like, ‘OK, try it,’” Mitchell thinks to himself. “I’ve tried it, and it doesn’t work.”

Utah’s 7-foot-1 Rudy Gobert protects the basket like few players in NBA history. It’s not just his shot-blocking or the threat of shot blocking. It’s his quick reactions and 7-foot-9 wingspan, which makes Gobert a horizontal enforcer as much as a vertical enforcer.

The Thunder is down two games to one in this Western Conference playoff series, and Gobert is the reason why. For a full decade, the Thunder offense has revolved around Westbrook’s assaults on the basket. He’s been scared by neither man nor beast. Not by Tim Duncan. Not by DeAndre Jordan. Not by Marc Gasol. Westbrook would go where others dared not trod.

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Now this is fun. Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio has a monster game Game 3 in his team’s win against the Thunder. Russell Westbrook struggled. And Westbrook was quite vocal that Game 4 will be a totally different story. Here’s the Deseret News with Rubio’s reaction to what Russ said:

So, when Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook ended Saturday’s press conference with his ballsy statement, Utah Jazz guard Ricky Rubio was certainly aware of the comments.

“He made some shots,” Westbrook said of Rubio. “Too comfortable, but I’ma shut that (expletive) off next game, though. Guarantee that.”

However, the Spanish floor general is focused on the team for Game 4, not any individual matchups with the reigning MVP. Tonight’s game is set for 8:30 p.m. on TNT.

“He makes a big deal,” Rubio said. “Of course, they lost Game 2 and Game 3, of course they’re going to come ready, not just him, we expect the whole team to come ready back and be physical, and we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing in the last couple games. We made adjustments and go for the game.”

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It’s smart for most pro athletes to avoid social media during the playoffs. But some have little use for it altogether. Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting on Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins:

Criticized much of the season on Twitter and elsewhere for his inner flame burning too low, Wolves young star Andrew Wiggins’ cool now maybe is serving him well with the heat turned up in the playoffs.

Wiggins has been the Wolves’ most consistent player in this best-of-seven series with Houston so far and he said at Monday’s shoot before Game 4 that he hasn’t — and won’t — pay attention to the words of those who want more from a guy who last fall signed a max contracts that begins next season.

“I don’t really go on social media too much,” Wiggins said. “I just watch movies, play video games and play with my dog. That’s it. Everything else I don’t see.”

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The Spurs looked totally down and out in their first-round playoff series against the Warriors, yet were able to come up away with a Game 4 win. Here’s the San Antonio Express News reporting:

Spurs acting coach Ettore Messina made one key defensive adjustment in Game 4, assigning Danny Green to defend Klay Thompson from the start. Thompson had been abusing matchups against the smaller Patty Mills throughout the first three games, averaging 25.6 points. With a bigger, longer defender on him in Game 4, Thompson went 4 of 16 from the floor and finished with 12 points. The Spurs also took the novel approach of putting point guard Dejounte Murray on Draymond Green, limiting the Warriors forrward’s upside as a playmaker.

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The Sixers and Heat series has been a joy to watch. Here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting on the Heat, who have put up a great fight but are now one game from elimination:

Two games later, and with the Heat on the brink of elimination, there is no room for fun. They need a victory Tuesday in Game 5 in Philadelphia to keep the season alive. The Sixers lead 3-1 in the best-of-7 series.

“I was just having fun with that in Game 2,” Wade said. “It’s not about him. It’s about us. It’s about these 15 guys going on the road against a team that’s looking to close us out to win their first playoff series. We got to do what most people don’t think we can do.”

Only 11 teams have rallied from a 3-1 deficit in league history. The Cleveland Cavaliers were the last team to do it when they defeated the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Heat did it in 1997, rallying against the New York Knicks in the conference semifinals.

“It’s not necessarily us against the world,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s us against the Philadelphia 76ers. We have to find a way to finish games. They’ve really nailed us in the fourth quarters in all four games — except the one we were able to pull away. We just have to do better. Through three quarters we’ve been up. It’s going to require a full 48-minute game of absolute our best effort.”

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Wizards win Game 4, tie Raptors series 2-2

The Raptors were an excellent team almost all regular season, winning 59 games (second most in the entire league) and clearly played at a higher level than in the past. And started strong in the playoffs, winning their first two at home against Washington. But the Wizards did what was needed and defended homecourt in DC, tying the series 2-2. We have a battle on our hands. Here’s the Toronto Star with more:

Maybe Casey’s team will respond more favourably in the friendly environs of the Air Canada Centre. As it was, the Raptors capped a forgettable trip to the U.S. capital with a second straight loss, 106-98, to leave their best-of-seven series deadlocked at 2-2. For the second straight game the Raptors saw an early lead undone by careless turnovers and unforced mistakes. For the second straight game, the Wizards got a big performance from Bradley Beal to vault themselves back into the series. Even after Beal fouled out with 4:58 to play — after he scored 31 points on 19 field-goal attempts — the Wizards got it over the finish line. John Wall inserted a dagger, making one of his floating mid-range jump shots to put the Wizards up 102-96 with 58 seconds to play. Wall, for whom the Raptors have yet to find an antidote, finished with 25 points and 14 assists.

Yet again, Toronto’s vaunted depth failed to show itself, leaving all-stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry to carry far more of the load than they did en route to 59 regular-season wins. DeRozan responded to a steady diet of single coverage with a big game, scoring 35 points and getting to the free-throw line 18 times. Lowry, meanwhile, scored 19 points, going 4-for-6 from three-point range. But Toronto’s other starters were less effective. And Toronto’s bench, which averaged 42 points a game during the regular season, contributed just 22 points. C.J. Miles was 0-for-3 from three-point range. Delon Wright had just seven points on seven shots.

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The assist to turnover radio tells a lot about what a team is doing with the ball. If it’s high — if a team has way more assists than turnovers — the night probably belongs to them. As for the Timberwolves, who lost games 1 and 2 to the Rockets but secured a Game 3 victory, here’s the St Paul Pioneer Press reporting:

Against a Rockets team that has been creative in the way it switches on defense and brings extra defensive help, the Wolves struggled a bit while losing the first two games. In a Game 2 blowout loss in Houston on Wednesday night, the Wolves had only 15 assists and 16 turnovers while being held to 82 points.

What a difference a game makes.

In Saturday night’s 121-105 victory over the Rockets at Target Center, the Wolves had 29 assists and seven turnovers. Those 29 assists are tied for the second-most in the playoffs by a Wolves team. Four starters had three or more assists seven players had multiple assists. It is no coincidence the Wolves set all kinds of franchise playoff scoring records; their 35 points in the third and 34 in the fourth are their top two quarters. Their 121 points was a franchise record, too.

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Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow has been fined $15,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct for intentionally stepping on and attempting to damage the facemask of Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, which took place after Embiid’s facemask had fallen onto the playing court, occurred with 7:51 remaining in the second quarter of the 76ers’ 128-108 win over the Heat on Thursday, April 19 at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The Warriors are handling their first round opponent, the Spurs, quite handily so far, taking a 3-0 series lead while playing without guard Stephen Curry. Here’s the SF Chronicle with the latest on Steph:

Warriors guard Stephen Curry has officially been ruled out another week, the team announced Friday afternoon.

Curry, who had his Grade 2 left MCL sprain re-evaluated Friday, is set to be re-evaluated again on April 27. That would conceivably put his earliest possible return at a potential Game 7 of the first round.

Such an extended series appears unlikely, given that Golden State enters Game 4 against the Spurs on Sunday with a 3-0 lead.

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Here’s the Miami Herald reporting on Heat center Hassan Whiteside, who through three playoff games is receiving just 13.7 minutes per outing of playing time, averaging a mere 3.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.

From a national perspective, Thursday night began and ended the same way for the Heat, with TNT’s Charles Barkley bashing Hassan Whiteside before and after the 76ers’ Game 3 win against the Heat that gave Philadelphia a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.

What happened in between Barkley’s remarks Thursday was even more discouraging for Whiteside, who has managed just 11 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in 41 combined minutes during three games in this playoff series while committing seven turnovers and nine fouls.

And with Saturday’s Game 4 looming, Whiteside, who’s active on social media, made clear he’s tuning out the torrent of criticism: “I don’t get caught up in the guys that can’t do my job but talk about my job.”

A night after Whiteside curiously attributed his struggles to lack of involvement on offense, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Friday “we’re not going to change the playbook, but certainly we’ll work to get Hassan active on both ends and where you feel him in the game. Part of that is my job. We had a film session today, and we were working on that. He’s going to do his part.”

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