Jimmy Butler admitted after the Chicago Bulls’ 94-88 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Monday night that he believes he has been focused too much on offense and not enough on defense.

The Bulls still lead the series 3-2, but after dropping two straight games, the group’s confidence has taken a hit. Butler acknowledged that as a leader of this team, he has tried to speak to teammates in order to get the group back on the same page.

“I have,” Butler said. “I’ll stay on us about it. I’m supposed to be the prime-time defensive guy, and I haven’t been guarding a soul. I’ve been worried about offense too much, and I need to change that quickly or it’s going to be my fault.”

ESPN Chicago

Knicks star forward Carmelo Anthony is technically a New York native, but he spent much of his childhood in Baltimore.

He’s watched the city fall apart in recent days with riots and looting, so he decided to speak out in an Instagram message to Baltimore that’s been liked over 57,000 times and has 1,500 comments as of Tuesday morning.

“We need to protect our city, not destroy it,” he wrote in the message below. “What happens when we get the answers that we want, and the media attention is not there anymore? We go back to being the same ol Baltimore City again.”

NJ Advance Media

There are different levels of knee surgery. Some are relatively minor, while others can really mess an athlete up for a season or two, or much longer. Here’s the Dallas Morning News reporting:

Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons said he’s delaying surgical work on his right knee until after the Mavericks are finished with their playoff run and that he and doctors won’t know exactly what’s wrong with the knee until he has the procedure.

Parsons has been getting multiple medical opinions on his injured knee, which kept him out of the final six games of the regular season and ended his playoff run after one game.

He also has been with the Mavericks for all of their playoff games, and that won’t change.

“There’s a lot of opinions and a lot of different things out there, but really the doctors won’t know anything until they open me up,” Parsons said at the Mavericks’ shootaround Tuesday morning. “So I’m not going to say something is going to happen or not happen and then be wrong. I really won’t know until they open me up.

Tyson Chandler denies throwing a punch at Dwight Howard

Here’s the Houston Chronicle clearing up something you may have heard about but probably didn’t because it didn’t actually happen. Not the Chronicle’s fault. They’re simply clarifying what’s up. Here is the report:

Tyson Chandler denies throwing a punch at Dwight Howard

Dallas center Tyson Chandler said he had no idea there were rumors that he might face suspension for an altercation between he and Rockets center Dwight Howard in Game 4 on Sunday.

On Monday, a video of a play where Chandler and Howard were tangled up and both called for technical fouls floated around social media. In some angles, it looked like Chandler might have thrown a punch, which according to NBA rules would have left him with a one-game suspension.

Chandler said he hadn’t heard any of that speculation until shoot around before Game 5 on Tuesday.

“That is the first time I heard that,” Chandler said. “I didn’t throw any punches. I wouldn’t throw a punch at Dwight.”

Kevin Love injury update: Out for second round, perhaps longer

nba blog

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love sustained a left shoulder dislocation during the first quarter of yesterday’s game in Boston vs. the Celtics. His shoulder was assessed, reduced in the locker room, immobilized and he did not return to the game. X-rays and a MRI have been performed, as well as further evaluation at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health today by Cavaliers head team physician Dr. Richard D. Parker and Dr. Mark Schickendantz.

Evaluation and imaging have defined the extent of the injury: an acute anterior inferior glenohumeral dislocation with the corresponding ligament/labrum tearing and humeral head bone bruising. Currently, Love is undergoing training room treatments while additional opinions are being obtained and treatment options being explored.

Love will be unavailable for the Cavaliers’ upcoming Conference Semifinal playoff series and an update regarding his status beyond that will be determined over the next several days.

J.R. Smith and Kelly Olynyk suspended, Kendrick Perkins fined

J.R. Smith and Kelly Olynyk suspended, Kendrick Perkins fined

Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith has been suspended two games without pay and Boston Celtics center Kelly Olynyk has been suspended one game without pay for their roles in separate incidents during Cleveland’s 101-93 victory over Boston on April 26 at TD Garden, it was announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations. In addition, Cavaliers center Kendrick Perkins’ second quarter Flagrant Foul 1 has been upgraded to a Flagrant Foul 2 and he has been fined $15,000.

Smith’s incident, during which he swung his arm and made contact with the head of Celtics forward Jae Crowder, resulted in a Flagrant Foul 2 and his ejection at the 10:24 mark of the third quarter of the game. Smith will serve his suspension in Games 1 and 2 of the 2015 NBA Eastern Conference semifinals when the Cavaliers host the winner of the Chicago Bulls vs. Milwaukee Bucks series.

The incident involving Olynyk, in which he became entangled with Cavaliers forward Kevin Love and yanked his arm down, occurred with 5:22 remaining in the first quarter of the game. Olynyk will serve his suspension in the first game of the 2015-16 NBA regular season for which he is eligible and physically able to play.

The incident involving Perkins occurred with 1:44 remaining in the second quarter of the same game.

To view the plays, click on the following links:

J.R. Smith

http://www.nba.com/video/channels/originals/2015/04/27/jr-smith.nba/index.html

Kelly Olynyk

http://www.nba.com/video/channels/originals/2015/04/27/kelly-olynyk.nba/index.html

Kendrick Perkins

http://www.nba.com/video/channels/originals/2015/04/27/kendrick-perkins.nba/index.html

After sweeping Pelicans, Warriors get time to rest

One really nice thing about tossing an opponent out of the playoffs as quickly as possible is that the winning team gets to relax and heal up before the next round begins. After sweeping the New Orleans Pelicans, the Golden State Warriors get to recover physically and study who they face next.  It’s a luxury. Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle reporting:

During the next week, the Warriors want to mix rest with repetitions, treatment with training and all-out scrimmaging with sit-down studying. It’s a delicate balance that Kerr observed a handful of times in winning five championships as a player with the Bulls and Spurs.

But the Warriors might actually have a head start on some of those teams. They’re pretty healthy and rested already.

Point guards Stephen Curry’s arms are scratched and bruised from being held and grabbed, and power forward Draymond Green rolled his left ankle a couple of times in the series. But the only player to miss any time during the first round was reserve forward-center David Lee, who has almost fully recovered from a lower back injury.

Kevin Love thinks Kelly Olynyk injured him on purpose

Here’s the Boston.com blog reporting on Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, who suffered a dislocated shoulder at the hands of Celtics big-man Kelly Olynyk during a play that looked like pro wrestling just as much as it looked like basketball:

Kevin Love thinks Kelly Olynyk injured him on purpose

Kevin Love was not in a celebratory mood after the Cleveland Cavaliers swept the Celtics out of the postseason on Sunday afternoon. Following the game, Love made it clear that he blamed Boston’s Kelly Olynyk for a dislocated left shoulder he suffered in the game.

“I thought it was a bush league play,” Love said of Olynyk’s foul. “I mean I was out there and Olynyk was in a compromising position and had no chance to get the ball. It’s just too bad he would go to those lengths to take someone out of a game and do it to someone. I have no doubt in my mind he did it on purpose.”

Love suffered the shoulder injury midway through the first quarter after getting tangled up with Olynyk as both players attempted to rebound a loose ball. Olynyk was whistled for a foul on the play, but Love was forced to miss the remainder of the contest with the injury.

Warriors sweep Pelicans in first round

The Golden State Warriors have quickly escorted the New Orleans Pelicans out of the the playoffs and into the offseason. Which is either rude or polite, depending on how you look at it. Rude, because nobody wants to be swept from the playoffs. But polite, because the Warriors ended the Pelicans quickly. They didn’t draw it out. No time was wasted. Time is valuable. Yeah. Anyway, here’s the San Francisco Chronicle reporting:

For about a month now, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has been waiting for his team to take its game to another level.

The wait is over.

They practiced most everything Kerr has preached this season in a 109-98 victory over the Pelicans on Saturday night to sweep the best-of-seven, first-round series.

The Warriors will play the winner of the Memphis-Portland matchup in the Western Conference semifinals, a series that could start next weekend in Oakland.

With a chance to close out the plucky Pelicans, the Warriors played nearly perfect ball. They outshot the Pelicans 54.2 percent to 22.7 percent from three-point range, dished out 28 assists to 10 turnovers and won in fastbreak points 20-0. The Warriors even beat New Orleans in rebounding (39-36) and paint points (44-40).

The stellar team stats came on the coattails of some brilliant individual efforts. Stephen Curry had 39 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, Draymond Green put up 22 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Klay Thompson added 25 points.

Wizards forward Otto Porter playing well against Raptors

Here’s the Washington Post blog with a positive report on Wizards forward Otto Porter:

Wizards forward Otto Porter playing well against Raptors

A feisty Porter has emerged against the Raptors to do a little bit of everything. He is averaging 10.7 points and 7.3 rebounds in 34 minutes, though much of his performance isn’t represented on a stat sheet. His three-pointer with 4 minutes 23 seconds remaining in Game 3 Friday handed Washington a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. He has salvaged possessions with tap-outs and been a nuisance on both ends of the floor. He does the grunt work that’s made the Wizards’ wildly successful small lineup with Pierce at power forward as potent as it is.

“He’s been the difference,” Raptors guard Greivis Vasquez declared after the Wizards’ Game 3 win.

Porter’s greatest contribution, however, may be his defense. The long-limbed Porter – he is 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan — has served as a DeMar DeRozan stopper of sorts during the series and it was evident again Friday.

Stephen Curry hit six 3-pointers during a 39-point night, and the Golden State Warriors cruised to 109-98 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, completing a sweep of their first-round playoff series.

Klay Thompson added 25 points for the Warriors, the NBA’s top overall seed, who will wait to host Game 1 of their second-round series against the winner of the Portland-Memphis matchup.

Draymond Green added 22 points and 10 rebounds for Golden State, which raced to a 67-54 halftime lead and widened the gap to as many as 24 points in the second half before the desperate Pelicans briefly cut their deficit to single digits in the final minutes.

Curry had eight rebounds and nine assists in Game 4.

Anthony Davis had 36 points and 11 rebounds to close out what has been a remarkable third season for the Pelicans’ 22-year-old franchise player. He just didn’t have quite enough help.

– Associated Press

They were beaten badly in the regular season and were losing by a little in the playoffs.

On their seventh try this season, the Nets finally got a victory over Atlanta. Get another one Monday, and they will be all even with the No. 1 seed in this Eastern Conference series.

Brook Lopez had 22 points and 13 rebounds, Thaddeus Young added 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Brooklyn trimmed Atlanta’s lead to 2-1 with a 91-83 victory Saturday.

“We know they’re going to make adjustments, but we really feel we can compete with these guys and we have a lot of confidence right now,” Lopez said.

The Nets seized control with an 18-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarters after the Hawks grabbed their first lead since the opening basket. Bojan Bogdanovic added 19 points for the eighth-seeded Nets, who qualified for the playoffs on the final night of the regular season.

– Associated Press

Paul Pierce making life difficult for Raptors

Here’s the Boston.com blog reporting on Washington Wizards small forward Paul Pierce, who is doing mean things to the Toronto Raptors in their first-round playoff series:

Paul Pierce making life difficult for Raptors

Paul Pierce continues to make life miserable for the Toronto Raptors.

The former Celtics star scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of three-pointers in crunch time to help clinch a 106-99 win for his Washington Wizards over the Raptors on Friday night. The win gives Washington a commanding 3-0 series lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Truth finished the night shooting 5 of 9 from the field, including 4 of 7 from beyond the arc in just 27 minutes of action. Wizards’ coach Randy Wittman limited Pierce’s minutes so the veteran could be fresh in the fourth quarter and the move paid major dividends.

Derek Fisher a fan of Celtics coach Brad Stevens

Here’s ESPN New York reporting some praise for young Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, who continues to make the most of a fairly limited roster. The Celtics are in big trouble in their first-round playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers but they’ve still played well and put up a good fight:

Derek Fisher a fan of Celtics coach Brad Stevens

If you’re an NBA fan who appreciates how well Brad Stevens has the Boston Celtics playing, you’re not alone.

New York Knicks coach Derek Fisher is also a big fan of Stevens’ work.

Fisher mentioned Stevens’ named fairly frequently over the course of the season when talking about coaches he appreciates. There are aspects of Stevens’ approach that Fisher wants to emulate.

“I think Brad kind of has that feel where most of the work is already done and he’s allowing the guys to go out and play the game,” Fisher said of Stevens’ “quiet” sideline demeanor. “That’s kind of the way I feel. That will be my style going forward.”

Mavs hoping to avoid sweep by Rockets

Mavs hoping to avoid sweep from Rockets

The Houston Rockets lead the banged-up, short-handed Dallas Mavericks 3-0 in their first round playoff series. Here’s ESPN Dallas reporting:

All that’s left for the Dallas Mavericks is to play as hard as they can Sunday night to avoid getting swept in their first-round series against the Houston Rockets.

It’s doubtful effort alone will be enough to derail the inevitable.

None of the 110 NBA teams that have previously trailed three games to none in a best-of-seven series has ever rallied to win the series — and the Mavs aren’t going to be the first.

They simply don’t have enough healthy players or talent to beat these Rockets, who won 56 games and finished second in the Western Conference.

Injuries are never an excuse for losing, and the Mavericks certainly aren’t making excuses, but there comes a time when a team suffers so many injuries that it becomes compromised.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle fined for public criticism of officiating

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle fined for public criticism of officiating

Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle has been fined $25,000 for public criticism of officiating, it was announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations.

Carlisle made his comments following the Mavericks’ 130-128 loss to the Houston Rockets on Friday, April 24, at American Airlines Center.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “I’m sure they’ll put the money to good use, I’m very confident of that,’’ Carlisle said after Saturday’s practice. “I accept the fine. “I have strong feelings about how I feel about my team and I’m going to fight for my team, and that’s just the way it’s going to be. I’m a lot like my owner — I’m going to fight for my guys.’’”

Marcin Gortat steps up in Wizards Game 3 win vs Raptors

The Washington Wizards are on a roll. Now up 3-0 in their first-round series against the Toronto Raptors, the team has regained some of the swagger they enjoyed earlier in the season. Here’s the Washington Post blog reporting:

Marcin Gortat steps up in Wizards Game 3 win vs Raptors

Marcin Gortat’s season reached a nadir in Canada on Feb. 11. He had just watched his Washington Wizards play an entire fourth quarter against the Toronto Raptors from the bench for the third time this season because Coach Randy Wittman had elected to use smaller lineups without him. Gortat was visibly fuming. He had signed a $60-million contract over the summer and he didn’t anticipate sitting in the fourth quarter during marquee matchups as part of the deal.

“It’s tough. It’s really tough especially the last year I played pretty much every fourth quarter,” Gortat said after the game. “It’s a coaching decision. You guys have to ask him why I’m not playing.”

Fast-forward three months and Gortat is starring – and playing fourth quarters –against the same Raptors as the Wizards have taken a commanding 3-0 series lead. The center registered team highs of 24 points and 13 rebounds in 42 minutes while adding strong rim protection at the other end in the fourth quarter of the Wizards’ 106-99 Game 3 win Friday.

Warriors unleash amazing comeback to win Game 3 vs Pelicans

The Golden State Warriors unleashed an amazing comeback to push Game 3 of their first round playoff series against the New Orleans Pelicans into overtime, and then coming away with a shocking win. Golden State now has a 3-0 series lead. Here’s CSN Bay Area reporting:

The Warriors became the third team in postseason history to overcome a deficit of at least twenty points entering the fourth quarter, and win.

Steph Curry’s miraculous game-tying 3-pointer with 2.8 seconds left in regulation will be remembered forever, but he wouldn’t have been able to play the role of hero without a lot of help from his teammates.

“We were pretty desperate,” Steve Kerr said following the historic win. “We went small. We put Shaun Livingston in there. We gave Steph a brief rest to start the fourth … our small unit in the fourth quarter just came in and turned it into a track meet.

“Draymond was fantastic. When you go small and you have to guard (Anthony) Davis, you’re really not getting much help on the backside and Draymond thwarted several lobs and plays at the rim, and got rebounds and then we were able to get out and run.

But I’m gonna have to watch the tape. I’m not quite sure what happened. I’m as startled as everybody else.”

Spurs need an effective Tony Parker

Here’s the San Antonio Express-News with a key health update on the Spurs:

Tony Parker will play Game 3 vs Clippers

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says perennially hobbled point guard Tony Parker will play in Game 3 tonight against the L.A. Clippers. Given Parker left Game 2 in the fourth quarter with soreness in his right Achilles tendon — to go with a rolled ankle and thigh contusion suffered in Game 1 — it is fair to wonder how effective he might be.

The matchup between a limping Parker and Clippers All-Star Chris Paul has not been a fair fight so far. Paul has outscored Parker 53-11 in two games, a gulf the Spurs have been forced to make up in other areas.

Though the Spurs have used several different defenders against Paul, including newly minted Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard, Parker has drawn the assignment to start the game.

Dirk Nowitzki claims to not know what happened with Rajon Rondo

Mavericks point guard Rajon Rondo doesn’t appear to be a Mavericks point guard anymore. Now he’s a guy that used to play for them, is still signed to the team, but allegedly has a back injury, and also seems grumpy quite often, and now is hanging out someplace else. How’s that for a pinpoint summary? Anyway, here’s the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporting:

Dirk Nowitzki has no idea what happened with Rajon Rondo

The face of the Dallas Mavericks – Dirk Nowitzki – said he’s not been informed on why exactly point guard Rajon Rondo is no longer slated to play any more basketball games with this franchise.

“I wasn’t there if (owner Mark) Cuban or them talked to him,’’ Nowitzki said after Friday morning’s shootaround at American Airlines Center. “I wasn’t there, so I think that it’s something I don’t or can’t comment on.

“Maybe later on I’ll get enlighten more and I’ll be in the loop. But as of now I’m focusing on who’s here and we’ve got an important game tonight in front of our home crowd, and that’s how I look at it.’’

On Wednesday, coach Rick Carlisle said Rondo sustained a back injury early in the first quarter of Tuesday game against the Houston Rockets. But after the game – when Rondo was benched after playing 10 listless minutes – Carlisle said he didn’t put Rondo back in the game because of the effectiveness of J. J. Barea and Raymond Felton.

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