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Lillard, Blazers clinging to pride at playoffs edge

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com PORTLAND, Ore. — He’s top-10 in the NBA in talent, perhaps top-five in likability and there’s no question where Damian Lillard ranks in the only place he has ever called home in the NBA. Taken as a bundle, the Trail Blazers guard presents an impressive case for himself as a player worthy of your respect, something he craves and certainly deserves to a large degree. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Lillard had his Playoff Moment when he sank the buzzer-and-series-winning shot from nearly half-court to erase Oklahoma City and his nemesis, Russell Westbrook, from the first round. It was the kind of play that separates the truly great players from the very good. It was as if the casual basketball fan discovered Lillard overnight, or rather, the next morning on social media and TV highlight replays, since that game ended well past bedtime for much of the country. But as Kenny Smith, the former player and popular commentator on TNT once said: “The regular season is when you make your fame. The playoffs is when you make your name.” And so, with that in mind: Since Lillard has since been unable to duplicate those heroics of three weeks ago and is struggling mightily here in his first taste of the Western Conference finals, what do we call him in this, his seventh season? Great? Or very good? Right now he gives the appearance of a marathon runner who wheezes toward the finish line only to see someone cruelly push it forward another mile. His ribcage might not be totally intact (to what extent only he knows) after Warriors forward Kevon Looney fell on Lillard while they chased a loose ball in Game 2. The Warriors are causing additional problems for Lillard by trapping him constantly with elite defenders Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, making him work for shots and space. "I'm seeing Draymond Green, and he's behind that kind of like tracking my movements," Lillard explained. "So it's like a next layer of defense that I'm paying attention to... I'm not, I guess, wanting to explode and get around that guy because I see what's waiting for me, and then just the crowd, and I put myself in a tough position." Clearly, he’s not right physically. The Warriors are singling him out defensively, and the Blazers are one loss from elimination partly, if not mainly, because Lillard’s impact has been minimized. His pain goes beyond his ribs and frustration. To know Lillard is to know his pride is certainly aching as well. This is his chance to get his due, to shine deep into May for once, and do that against the two-time defending champions, and yet it’s all going wrong for him. Even if healthy, Lillard lacks a high level of championship savvy talent around him, and elimination from the conference finals was probably destined to happen regardless of Golden State riding without Kevin Durant. The Warriors are that good and the Blazers are that raw. But with Lillard shooting 33 percent in the series, they might get swept, and that’s too bitter of a pill for any player with Lillard’s credentials. He’s one of the most complete shooters in the game, someone who mixes three-pointers, mid-range jumpers and rim attacks to rank annually among the top scorers in the NBA. He’s also smart with the dribble and deadly in isolation. This season was one of his best, when he averaged nearly 26 points and helped the Blazers to a No. 3 seed. This will surely place Lillard on one of the All-NBA teams, perhaps even First Team, which is difficult to do in a league rich with standout combo guards. Even more admirable is Lillard doing this on a team largely of role players, with the exception of CJ McCollum. Even including the other half of their backcourt, the Blazers have only one player with All-Star honors: Lillard. He’s the rare player under 6'4" who carries a team. On that note, Lillard always bristled when he felt he wasn’t getting his proper respect, be it All-Star mentions or MVP discussions. And most of the time, he had a point. Lillard suffers from two issues: his regular season games tip at 10:30 ET and, until now, he never took the Blazers beyond the second round. His playoff record is 19-31. Last spring was especially agonizing: Lillard was outplayed by Jrue Holiday and the Blazers were swept by the Pelicans in the first round. He made redemption a goal and this year’s first round was a smashing success made sweeter by the series-winning shot. And yet, did the grueling seven-game second round against Denver drain the energy from Lillard? Including the last game of that series, he’s shooting just above 30 percent in his last four games. Against the Warriors, he has one more basket than turnovers (15 to 14). The rib injury certainly hasn’t helped (although Lillard downplayed it). "It's there, but it's not something that's affecting anything that I'm doing,” he insisted. “Obviously you feel it, but that's it." Although he’s averaging more career points against the Warriors than any other team, those were mainly regular-season numbers. It’s an entirely different level in the postseason and particularly this deep into it. The Warriors are forcing the ball from his hands, daring other Blazers to take shots, and when Lillard does keep the ball, his looks aren’t always clean. "It's tough,” he admitted. “They're doing a good job in their coverages.” So what’s left of the Blazers? Unless there’s a premium performance coming from Lillard and McCollum in Game 4, their season is likely done after Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). With Green and Stephen Curry looking nostalgic, the Warriors have that 2015 feeling when they won a title without Durant. The Warriors also know they’ll get nine days’ rest with a sweep, as if they need any further motivation. At this point, all the Blazers have is their pride, with none bigger than Lillard’s. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsMay 20th, 2019Related News

Mid-major to millions: Ja Morant’s life is changing quickly

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press CHICAGO (AP) — Here’s how much everything has changed for Ja Morant in the last 12 months: He’s gone from being considered the No. 3 option at Murray State to the possible No. 2 pick in the NBA draft. Put another way, he’s a player from a mid-major and will soon be a multimillionaire. Even Morant doesn’t fully understand how quickly it has all come to fruition. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] “It’s been crazy, honestly,” Morant said. “Coming from being under the radar to one of the most talked-about players now, obviously, it’s been rough. It’s something I’m getting used to. But I’m happy for it.” Morant made his appearance at the NBA’s draft combine Thursday (Friday, PHL time); he wasn’t playing, but has talked with a handful of teams since he arrived in Chicago. With Zion Williamson seeming very much like a lock to go No. 1 overall, a pick held by the New Orleans Pelicans, that would seem to point to Morant going No. 2 to the Memphis Grizzlies. Morant has met with the Grizzlies. If they’ve decided he’s their guy, they haven’t told him yet. “I haven’t heard it myself from Memphis,” Morant said. “But obviously, I’ve seen what was on the internet. I’d really be happy with any team that drafts me. It means they see something in me. It’s just an honor to play this game at the highest level and just to be in the position that I’m in right now.” Williamson is not attending the combine; he met with teams earlier this week and left Chicago before the combine technically started. The NBA invited 77 players to the combine. Of those, 41 are listed on rosters to compete in games through Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Others will go through various testing and have their measurements such as height, weight and wingspan recorded — but won’t be playing any 5-on-5. Morant is hardly alone in that regard; most of the top players who were invited are doing the same thing, including Texas Tech guard and presumed early lottery pick Jarrett Culver. “There are a lot of talented guys here,” Culver said. “To be talked about as one of the top players in this draft, it’s just an honor.” They’re already selling tickets at Murray State for a draft party to watch Morant, so Racers fans can cheer him at least one more time. He helped them to back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference championships and a 54-11 record over the last two seasons. He averaged 12.7 points as a freshman, then 24.5 points and 10 assists while shooting 50 percent as a sophomore. His stock soared, and he’s about to go places he’s never been. Morant said he’s never played in an NBA arena and doesn’t know much about most NBA cities. All he really knew about Chicago before arriving this week was Michael Jordan and the Bulls. He played in Detroit as a freshman — not in the Pistons’ building, but rather at Detroit Mercy, before a crowd of 1,107. “Ja Morant, everybody knows about him,” Grizzlies director of player support Elliot Perry said at the draft lottery earlier this week, when Memphis bucked the odds and jumped up to the No. 2 pick. “He was a super-explosive young man, very exciting. I think he has a lot of confidence in himself and his abilities. He’s one of those guys who will be good.” Good, probably. Boastful, probably not. Morant isn’t the type to proclaim himself the best player in the draft, or even the second-best for that matter. He’s a kid from the small town of Dalzell, South Carolina, from a mid-major school like Murray State, who hasn’t even started to fathom that he’s likely a few weeks away from a contract that will pay him somewhere around $8 million next season. “I’m just a pass-first point guard who just loves to get his teammates involved,” Morant said. “I feel like my IQ is the strongest part of my game, being able to make plays for me and my teammates.” Regardless of where he goes, this experience has been a long time coming for his family. Tee Morant, Ja’s father, was a high school teammate of Ray Allen’s and a good college player who had an opportunity to play professionally overseas. When he found out that his wife was pregnant, he scrapped those playing-abroad plans and stayed home. Ja was born, and he had a coach even before knowing what basketball was. Morant doesn’t have NBA players that he idolizes. He just tries to play in his dad’s image. “That’s my motivation,” Morant said. “It’s like I’m living my dream and his dream through me right now.”.....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsMay 16th, 2019Related News

Pelicans going at own pace after hitting NBA lottery jackpot

By Brett Martel, Associated Press NEW ORLEANS (AP) — In the NBA city most familiar with “gris-gris,” folks see no small measure of poetic justice in the fact that their team will dictate the fate of a coveted prospect named Zion. Mystical explanations aside, the Pelicans are in the driver’s seat now — but say they’re in no hurry to disclose their plans for likely pick Zion Williamson or disgruntled All-Star Anthony Davis. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] A franchise that looked downtrodden for months since Davis requested a mid-season trade has been suddenly buoyed by the leverage that comes with winning the NBA’s draft lottery— and the option to pick the Duke star, widely seen as the best pro prospect since Davis entered the league in 2012. “What it’s doing to the franchise and to the city of New Orleans is probably not even measurable at this point,” said David Griffin, hired just weeks ago as New Orleans’ top basketball executive. “There’s a groundswell of excitement that frankly is palpable. “What has to come next is that we have to make it mean something. This is a lot of fun, but we’ve got to build a winner now.” It was welcome news for beleaguered sports fans in Louisiana, who had endured a rough start to 2019. It started with the “NOLA no-call,” a pair of missed penalties in the waning minutes of the NFC championship that likely cost the NFL’s Saints a Super Bowl berth. Fans were so angry that many joined lawsuits against the league or attended parties on Super Bowl Sunday which featured re-runs of the Saints’ 2010 title triumph instead of the most recent championship game between New England and the Los Angeles Rams. Less than two weeks later, Davis, the city’s six-time NBA All-Star and face of the Pelicans, publicly requested a trade, and the firing of ninth-year general manager Dell Demps followed not long after. Even at the major college level there was disappointment when one of LSU’s best campaigns in program history was tainted by the suspension of coach Will Wade amid questions surrounding his recruiting tactics. Wade wasn’t reinstated until after LSU was eliminated in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, and his future remains far from certain. Political commentator James Carville — a Louisiana native, New Orleans resident and avid sports fan — said Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) that the recent series of setbacks had led him to adopt a pessimistic theory that, “We are a cursed people, and so all we’re going to get is curses.” Then came Tuesday night’s (Wednesdahy, PHL time) NBA draft lottery, which the Pelicans had a 6% chance of winning. In New Orleans, interest had focused more on seeing which other team would get the top overall pick and become more of a player in a potential Davis trade. Instead, the Pelicans got that pick, placing them in a stronger position to try to change Davis mind — or dictate more favorable trade terms. “This is big,” said Carville, a Pelicans season ticket holder along with his wife, and fellow political commentator, Mary Matalin. “It’s good for the psyche of everybody.” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry stood up and joyously shouted an expletive when New Orleans was announced as the lottery winner, after which he apologized with a grin, sat back down and put both hands on his head. Pelicans ticket office staff celebrated wildly with shouts, leaps and hugs. Owner Gayle Benson’s decision to hire Griffin, who announced at his introduction last month that he would not make a coaching change, combined with the New Orleans’ top draft position, represent a sharp turn in fortune for Gentry after a trying year that began with last summer’s defections during free agency of DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo. But it could take a while to see how the Pelicans’ lottery luck plays out. Griffin, the club’s executive vice president of basketball operations, foreshadowed a deliberate approach to dealing with Davis, who is under contract through next season. “I want Anthony Davis to be part of this,” Griffin said. “If Anthony wants to buy into that, then that’s fantastic. And if he doesn’t, then we’ll deal with it when it becomes appropriate. But this isn’t something for me where that answer happens because of a conversation. That answer is going to reveal itself over a period of time.” Griffin also stopped short of confirming that the Pelicans would draft Williamson — albeit for reasons relating more to his insistence on adhering to his own managerial process than because of any doubts about the 6'7", 285-pound Duke star. “We just have to know what the fit is like among those people in the pool for us in terms of who we thought were the most elite players,” Griffin said, emphasizing that “there was more than one” such player. “Everybody wants to look at this as this is a fait accompli. If that were true, we would have gotten up there with somebody’s jersey in our hands,” Griffin said. “I’m not saying there’s anything at all derogatory about Zion in any way. What I’m saying is ... you can hope that people are like-minded, but until you talk about what matters to you and you sit in a room together, it’s hard to know.” One thing is for sure, it’s nice to have options......»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsMay 15th, 2019Related News

New Orleans Pelicans win NBA draft lottery, right to pick No. 1 - Inquirer Sports

CHICAGO Zion Williamson has never been to New Orleans. That may be changing very soon. The Pelicans bucked seriously long odds Tuesday night, winning the NBA draft lottery and the right to have the f.....»»

Source: Philippinetimes PhilippinetimesCategory: NewsMay 15th, 2019Related News

New Orleans Pelicans will pick first in NBA draft - The Manila Times Online

CHICAGO: Advertisements Advertisements Advertisements Advertisements Loading... The post New Orleans Pelicans will pick first in NBA draft appeared first on The Manila Times Online ......»»

Source: Manilanews ManilanewsCategory: NewsMay 15th, 2019Related News

Report: Davis still wants trade from Pelicans

NBA.com staff report Despite New Orleans' unexpected victory in Tuesday's (Wednesday, PHL time) Draft Lottery, Pelicans star Anthony Davis still wants to be traded according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. The New Orleans Pelicans are now set up to be Zion Williamson’s franchise to lift, and No. 1 pick could ease potential trade of Anthony Davis. His stance on a trade has not changed, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. — Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 15, 2019 The Pelicans won the lottery for the second time in their history, and the first since 2012, when they selected Davis out of Kentucky. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] If Davis is indeed traded, the Pelicans will at least console themselves not only with whatever assets they'll receive in return, but most especially presumptive top prospect Zion Williams, who electrified college basketball with his rim-rattling athleticism during his lone season at Duke. Davis, 26, initially asked to be traded in late January, midway through his seventh season with the Pelicans. He holds a player option that will allow him to reach unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2020. The six-time All-Star is averaging 23.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 466 career games. The Pelicans have reached the playoffs just twice during his tenure, with one series victory......»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsMay 15th, 2019Related News

New Orleans Pelicans will pick first in NBA draft

CHICAGO: Advertisements Advertisements Advertisements Advertisements Loading... The post New Orleans Pelicans will pick first in NBA draft appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Source: Manilatimes_net Manilatimes_netCategory: NewsMay 15th, 2019Related News

The Trail Blazers patience has been rewarded

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press Bravo, Portland. Bravo. Doing the right thing isn’t easy in the NBA, where patience is a rare virtue. The Trail Blazers were swept in the first round of the 2017 playoffs. They got swept again in the first round last season. Portland had lost 10 consecutive playoff games going into this year. Ordinarily, that’s a recipe for firings, trade demands and roster dismantling. Instead, the Blazers stayed the course. And their reward is a trip to the Western Conference final, starting Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) against two-time defending champion Golden State. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] “It speaks to the character of our organization and what we’ve become,” All-Star guard Damian Lillard said. The Blazers have become a model of consistency. They could have gone the other way. A lot of teams have gone the other way. Neil Olshey, the Blazers’ general manager, took an uncommonly measured approach last season and kept Terry Stotts — currently the fourth-longest-tenured coach in the NBA. Lillard stayed committed and didn’t stomp his feet or force a trade like so many other players in his situation have done or tried to. CJ McCollum, Lillard’s backcourt partner who carried them Sunday (Monday, PHL time) with 37 points, doesn’t mind that he could get more shots elsewhere. “This is arguably the biggest win that we’ve had in the franchise for a long time,” Stotts said after Sunday’s (Monday, PHL time) Game 7 win at Denver — the first Game 7 road win in team history. “To be a part of it, to do it the way we did, I’m thrilled.” In a lot of ways, Sunday (Monday, PHL time) epitomized what the Blazers have done in recent years. They got down 17 early on the road in a Game 7. They battled, chipped at the deficit, eventually found the right combination of things that worked and didn’t panic. “Just stay with it,” Stotts said. “Trust was the biggest thing.” He was speaking of Game 7. He could have meant the last two offseasons. Trust takes time to build, and the Blazers now have it from top to bottom. This is how close-knit they are: After the game, Lillard lauded teammates, coaches, the training staff, the front office, the team’s security and the members of the sports media relations staff. He forgot nobody. “Everybody we see every day, everybody’s invested in what we’ve created,” Lillard said. Some teams should be taking notes. So should some players. This is an era in which teams spend years tanking instead of competing, yet still charge plenty to fans willing to come see their inferior product. An era where a bad team like Phoenix somehow decides after one year that a well-regarded coach like Igor Kokoskov needs to be fired — a move that means Devin Booker will start his fifth NBA season playing for a fifth different coach. An era where an elite player like Anthony Davis can pursue a trade with a year and a half left on his contract in New Orleans, starting a circus that became a massive problem for both the Pelicans and the Los Angeles Lakers. The Blazers didn’t demand that someone else fix their mistakes. They did it themselves. Olshey knew Portland’s roster was flawed after being swept by Davis and the Pelicans last season, that it wasn’t deep enough to handle injury issues. So he took a chance on Seth Curry, Warriors star Stephen Curry’s brother who wasn’t in the league last season, and signed him over the summer. He swung a trade in February and got Rodney Hood to fortify the bench. He fought off plenty of other clubs to sign Enes Kanter when he was freed by the New York Knicks — and that move proved enormous after center Jusuf Nurkic went down with a broken leg. But the moves Olshey didn’t make the last two summers are part of why the Blazers are here now. So are the moves he made three months ago. So, too, are the moves he made four years ago when the Blazers were rebuilders after LaMarcus Aldridge and three other starters left. “We had the roster turnover four years ago and everybody was quick to shoot us down, count us out,” Lillard said. “And at that point, we didn’t know for sure what direction we were going to go in.” Now they know. They’re heading to Oakland and the Western Conference final. ___ Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds@ap.org.....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsMay 13th, 2019Related News

AP source: Timberwolves hire Rockets exec Gersson Rosas

By Dave Campbell, Associated Press MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A person with knowledge of the process tells The Associated Press that the Minnesota Timberwolves have decided to hire current Houston Rockets executive Gersson Rosas as president of basketball operations. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) because the team had yet to announce the hire of Rosas, who has been a finalist for the top job with several other NBA teams. He had a three-month stint as general manager of the Dallas Mavericks in 2013, before resigning and returning to the Rockets, who have taken one of the league’s most progressive approaches to personnel and strategy under general manager Daryl Morey. Rosas replaces Tom Thibodeau, who was fired at midseason from his dual role as president and coach......»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsMay 2nd, 2019Related News

Numbers preview: Milwaukee Bucks (1) vs. Boston Celtics (4)

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com The Milwaukee Bucks were the best team in the Eastern Conference in the regular season, finishing with both the league's best record and it's best point differential. But the playoffs are different than the regular season, and after sweeping a hobbled opponent in the first round, the Bucks now face a team with much more postseason experience. The Boston Celtics were supposed to be where the Bucks are, holding the No. 1 seed and favored to reach The Finals. They also swept through the first round, but with a little more drama than Milwaukee went through. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Milwaukee has the MVP favorite and has built a successful system around him. Boston has a group that reached Game 7 of the conference finals last year and a star that hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history. Both teams have shown that they can get it done on both ends of the floor. Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for the Eastern Conference semifinals. Milwaukee Bucks (60-22, 4-0) First round: Beat Detroit in four games. Pace: 101.3 (5) OffRtg: 120.2 (1) DefRtg: 96.8 (3) NetRtg: +23.5 (1) Bucks postseason notes - General: 1. Won a playoff series for the first time since 2001. That had been the league's longest active drought. 2. Outscored the Pistons by 23.5 points per 100 possessions, the sixth best mark for any team in any series in the 23 years for which we have play-by-play data (338 total series). None of the four games were within five points in the last five minutes. 3. Outscored the Pistons by 52.5 points per 100 possessions in the third quarter, the best mark for any team in any quarter in the first round. 4. Rank 15th in time of possession, controlling the ball for just 19.8 minutes per game. Bucks postseason notes - Offense: 1. Were the most improved offensive team in the first round, scoring 6.7 more points per 100 possessions than they did in the regular season (when they ranked fourth offensively). The 120.2 per 100 they scored were also 11.6 more than Detroit allowed in the regular season, and that was the biggest jump in defensive efficiency. 2. Rank seventh in the playoffs in ball movement (314 passes per 24 minutes of possessions) and second in player movement (11.5 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession). 3. Have averaged 26 transition possessions per game, most in the postseason. 4. Have shot 40.2 percent on catch-and-shoot three-pointers, second best in the postseason. Bucks postseason notes - Defense: 1. The Pistons averaged 56.8 drives per game, fourth most in the first round. But they shot just 35 percent and drew fouls just 4.0 percent of the time on drives. Those were both the lowest marks in the first round. 2. Detroit shot 45 percent in the restricted area and 42 percent in the paint overall. Both were the worst marks in the first round. 3. Allowed Detroit to score 117.5 points per 100 possessions in the second quarter, but just 89.7 per 100 otherwise. Bucks postseason notes - Lineups: 1. Starting lineup - Bledsoe, Brown, Middleton, Antetokounmpo and Lopez - outscored the Pistons by 39.5 points per 100 possessions, the third best mark among lineups that have played at least 35 minutes in the playoffs. 2. The Bucks have outscored their opponents by 38.7 per 100 with Brook Lopez on the floor. That is the best on-court NetRtg mark among players that have averaged at least 15 minutes in three postseason games or more. 3. The Bucks have allowed just 84.7 points per 100 possessions with George Hill on the floor. That is the lowest on-court DefRtg mark among players that have averaged at least 15 minutes in three postseason games or more. Bucks postseason notes - Individuals: 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the postseason in both fast break points per game (7.3) and ranks second in points in the paint per game (15.5). 2. Antetokounmpo has taken 23.9 percent of his shots from three-point range, up from 16.3 percent in the regular season. That's the second biggest increase among players with at least 500 field goal attempts in the regular season and at least 50 in the playoffs. 3. Antetokounmpo has a free throw rate of 61 attempts per 100 shots from the field, highest among players with at least 50 postseason field goal attempts. He has shot 63 percent from the line, the worst mark among players who have averaged at least six free throw attempts per game. 4. Antetokounmpo has grabbed 18.6 percent of available rebounds while he's been on the floor. That's the fourth highest rate among 125 players who have averaged at least 15 minutes in three playoff games or more. 5. Sterling Brown had two first-round games with six or more assists. He's recorded six or more assists just once in 112 career regular-season games. 6. Eric Bledsoe has shot 20-for-24 (83 percent) in the restricted area, the second best mark among players with at least 20 restricted-area attempts in the playoffs. Antetokounmpo (29-for-39) has the third best mark. 7. Bledsoe eight blocks, two steals and just four personal fouls. That ratio of steals + blocks per personal foul (2.5) is the highest among players who have played at least 50 minutes in the postseason. Pat Connaughton (2.3) has the second highest ratio and is one of two players that have played at least 50 minutes and have more blocks than personal fouls. 8. The other is Brook Lopez, who has averaged a postseason-high 3.5 blocks per game. Opponents have shot 42 percent at the rim when Lopez has been there to protect it. That's the second best rim protection mark among players who have defended at least five shots at the rim per game. Antetokounmpo (21 percent) has the best mark among players who have defended at least four per game. 9. Khris Middleton has shot 8-for-12 on pull-up three-pointers, the best mark among players who have attempted at least 10. He's shot just 3-for-12 on catch-and-shoot threes. Boston Celtics (49-33, 4-0) First round: Beat Indiana in four games. Pace: 95.8 (11) OffRtg: 103.7 (12) DefRtg: 95.8 (1) NetRtg: +7.8 (5) Celtics postseason notes - General: 1. Three of their wins over Indiana were within five points in the last five minutes. 2. Trailed at halftime in three of the four games. Were outscored by 5.2 points per 100 possessions in the first half and outscored the Pacers by 21.2 in the second half. Celtics postseason notes - Offense: 1. Worst first-round offense (103.7 points scored per 100 possessions) among teams that have advanced to the conference semifinals. 2. Scored just 96.3 points per 100 possessions in their two home games, but 110.9 in two games in Indiana. 3. Rank eighth in the playoffs in ball movement (313 passes per 24 minutes of possessions) and 13th in player movement (10.7 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession). 4. Rank 14th in field goal percentage in the paint (48.5 percent), but third in effective field goal percentage on shots from outside the paint (54.0 percent). Celtics postseason notes - Defense: 1. Were the most improved defensive team in the first round, allowing 11.2 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did in the regular season (when they ranked sixth defensively). The 95.8 per 100 they allowed were also 13.5 fewer than Indiana scored in the regular season, and that was the biggest drop-off in offensive efficiency. Had the best defensive game of the playoffs thus far (74 points allowed on 96 possessions). 2. Indiana averaged 11.8 roll man possessions, most in the postseason. But they scored just 0.89 points per possession on them, down from 1.03 in the regular season. 3. Held Indiana to just 0.52 points per possession, the postseason's lowest mark, on isolations. Celtics postseason notes - Lineups: 1. Lineup of Irving, Brown, Tatum, Horford and Baynes is one of five (and the only one among teams that haven't been eliminated) that have scored less than a point per possession in 35 minutes or more. It has been the best defensive rebounding lineup in that group. 2. The Celtics have scored just 87.7 points per 100 possessions with Baynes on the floor. That is the fourth lowest on-court OffRtg mark among players (and lowest among those that have advanced) that have averaged at least 15 minutes in three postseason games or more. They've scored 115.7 points per 100 possessions in 96 minutes with Horford on the floor without Baynes. 3. The Celtics have allowed just 84.8 points per 100 possessions with Terry Rozier on the floor. That is the second lowest on-court DefRtg mark among players that have averaged at least 15 minutes in three postseason games or more. Celtics postseason notes - Individuals: 1. Jaylen Brown has an effective field goal percentage of 69.0 percent, the fifth best mark among players with at least 25 postseason field goal attempts and up from 52.5 percent in the regular season. 2. Gordon Hayward has averaged 31.1 minutes per game off the bench, most among reserves in the playoffs. 3. Hayward was a perfect 4-for-4 on shots with the game within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter against Indiana. He also has the most free throw attempts in the postseason (11) without a miss. 4. Hayward leads the postseason with 1.8 secondary assists per game. 5. Al Horford has averaged 10.3 rebounds per game, up from 6.7 in the regular season. That's the biggest jump among 163 players who have played in at least three playoff games after playing in at least 40 regular season games. Jaylen Brown (from 4.2 to 6.8) has seen the fourth biggest jump. 6. Kyrie Irving has averaged 6.0 isolation possessions per game, third most in the playoffs. The 1.08 points per possession he's scored on those ranks second among players who have averaged at least three isolation possessions per game. 7. Irving has shot just 39 percent in the paint and has taken only 31 percent of his shots in the paint. Those marks are down from 55 percent and 42 percent in the regular season. 8. Marcus Morris has taken only eight percent (3-of-41) of his shots in the restricted area. That's the fifth lowest rate among 111 players with at least 25 shots in the playoffs and down from 21 percent in the regular season. 9. Jayson Tatum has scored just 0.45 points per possession (shooting 4-for-18) on isolations, the second worst mark among players who have averaged at least three isolation possessions per game. He's shot 25-for-39 (64 percent otherwise). Regular season matchup Bucks won, 2-1 (1-0 in Milwaukee) Nov. 1 (Nov. 2, PHL time) @ Boston - Celtics 117, Bucks 113 Dec. 21 (Dec. 22, PHL time) @ Boston - Bucks 120, Celtics 107 Feb. 21 (Feb. 22, PHL time) @ Milwaukee - Bucks 98, Celtics 97 Pace: 101.0 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes Milwaukee OffRtg: 109.5 (10th vs. Boston) Boston OffRtg: 105.6 (13th vs. Milwaukee) Matchup notes: 1. Aron Baynes played in the Celtics' win and missed their two losses. Jaylen Brown missed the first game, both Al Horford and Marcus Morris missed the second game (which Semi Ojeleye started at center), and Gordon Hayward missed the third game. Horford and Baynes played less than a minute together against the Bucks. (They were a minus-4 in 57 minutes together in last year's first round series.) 2. Nikola Mirotic was only with the Bucks for the third meeting, but played two games against Boston with the Pelicans and scored 25 points (shooting 6-for-11 from three-point range) against the Celtics on Nov. 26 (Nov. 27, PHL time). 3. The Bucks outscored the Celtics, 62-22, in the paint in the Nov. 1 (Nov. 2 PHL time) game. But the Celtics won with a franchise-record 24 three-pointers. 4. The Feb. 21 (Feb. 22, PHL time) game was one of just five games this season in which the Bucks scored less than point per possession, and the only one of those five games that they won. 5. The Bucks won the second quarter in all three games, scoring 139 points per 100 possessions. They lost the third quarter in all three, scoring just 92 per 100. 6. The Celtics outscored the Bucks by 23 points in 69 minutes with Al Horford on the floor and were outscored by 33 points in 75 minutes with Horford off the floor. The bigger difference was on defense, where they were 25.3 points per 100 possessions better with Horford on the floor. 7. The Bucks' regular starting lineup - Bledsoe, Brogdon, Middleton, Antetokounmpo and Lopez - was outscored by 21 points in its 36 minutes, registering more turnovers (17) than assists (15) and shooting just 4-for-20 from three-point range. 8. The 31.0 points Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged were the most for any Eastern Conference player that played at least two games against Boston. He had 46 points in the restricted area. No other player in the season series had more than 16. 9. Antetokounmpo recorded assists on just 13.7 percent of his possessions. That was his fifth lowest mark against any opponent this season. 10. Kyrie Irving shot 8-for-29 between the restricted area and the three-point line. Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart combined to shoot 2-for-22 from three-point range. 11. Bledsoe is one of three players who defended Irving for more than 100 possessions this season. Irving shot more than usual and the Celtics scored more efficiently than usual on those possessions where Bledsoe was the defender. 12. Horford was the primary defender on Antetokounmpo in the two games that Horford played, but Ojeleye defended Antetokounmpo for almost as many total possessions (40) as Horford (41) over the regular season series. The Celtics were more successful defensively on the possessions with Horford defending Antetokounmpo. The opposite was true in last year's playoff series. John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsApr 28th, 2019Related News

T-wolves' Rubio to miss Nuggets game for personal reasons

em>By Jon Krawczynski, Associated Press /em> MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio will miss the game on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) against the Denver Nuggets, but it has nothing to do with the trade rumors that have surrounded him of late. Rubio left the team on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) for personal reasons and will not rejoin the Wolves until late Sunday or Monday, coach Tom Thibodeau said Saturday after practice. Rubio had to return home to Spain, and his brother posted on Instagram that their grandmother had passed away. Rubio did not play in the second half against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday (Friday, PHL time) because of tightness in his left hip, but Thibodeau said Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) that was not a concern going forward. Kris Dunn and Tyus Jones filled in admirably, helping the Wolves defeat the Clippers, 104-101. Rubio said after the game he was not concerned about the injury, though it did interrupt an impressive run for the pass-first point guard. In his previous five full games, Rubio was averaging 13.2 points and 14.0 assists, looking more like the playmaker he was earlier in his career. 'I'm playing better, feeling better and the results are there,' Rubio said last week after a win over Oklahoma City. 'But I don't want it to be just a four-game stand. I want to be all season long like that. It's hard. We have a lot of games, but my expectations are high and I keep them high because I work hard to do it.' It has taken time for Rubio to acclimate to a new system in Thibodeau's first year as coach, leading many across the league to believe that the sixth-year pro could be traded to make room for Dunn, the fifth overall pick in last summer's draft. Thibodeau has historically preferred a point guard who is more of a scorer than Rubio, a career 37 percent shooter and a 31 percent shooter from 3-point range. But shooting has never been Rubio's strong suit. He excels at getting others involved, playing good defense and controlling the tempo of the game. With the trade deadline less than a month away, and Rubio on a hot streak, trade chatter has expectedly picked up. The Wolves are just 15-28, though they are 9-10 since a 6-18 start. Still, it's clear that they have a lot of improving to do to become a factor in the Western Conference, and Rubio appears to be one of the few assets they are willing to part with that could fetch a decent player in return. ESPN reported that the Wolves and Detroit Pistons had discussions about a Rubio-for-Reggie Jackson trade, but Pistons coach and team president Stan Van Gundy shot that down on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). Van Gundy told reporters in Detroit that he texted Jackson to tell him 'this is the crazy season. We're not trading you for Ricky Rubio.' Dunn hasn't been any better as a shooter in his rookie season, making 37.6 percent from the field and shooting a ghastly 27 percent from three-point range. But he had played more than 20 minutes in a game just three times in the previous two months before Rubio's injury on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). 'When you have shorter minutes, you have to try to be more ready,' Dunn said Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). 'Try to go out there and impact the game right away. You can get the feel when you have more minutes, but I understand. Ricky's a great player. I'm just trying to learn off him.' Dunn likely will start against the Nuggets, with Jones serving as the backup point guard. Dunn said he has been getting more and more comfortable in his first season and will be ready when Thibodeau calls on him. 'I'm starting to understand who I am as a player (and) what's my role on the team,' Dunn said. 'Just figuring out guys, what's their tendencies and trying to understand coach's philosophy.' .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 22nd, 2017Related News

Nets stop 11-game losing skid by routing Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Brook Lopez and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 23 points apiece and the Brooklyn Nets ended an 11-game losing streak, routing the New Orleans Pelicans 143-114 on Friday night. Caris Levert added 17 points on 6-of-6 shooting for the Nets, who had seven players in double figures while beating their season high for points by 16.  br /> Their 29-point victory was 11 more than their previous largest. They also set season highs for points in the second quarter (37) and points in any quarter with 43 in the third. Anthony Davis led New Orleans with 22 points and nine rebounds despite leaving in the third quarter with a leg injury. The defeat was a huge comedown for him and the Pelicans a day after he was named a starter for the NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 21st, 2017Related News

Sixers rally by Blazers for eighth win in 10 games

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Robert Covington scored 22 points and made two 3-pointers in the final 40 seconds to lead the streaking Philadelphia 76ers to a come-from-behind 93-92 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night. Ersan Ilyasova scored 24 points and Joel Embiid added 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the Sixers, who have won four straight and eight of their last 10. Embiid, who sparked the recent surge, suffered a bruised left knee in the second half and didn't play the final 8:50 of the game. But the Sixers rallied for the victory without their prized center as Covington drilled the winner with 4.5 seconds left before Mason Plumlee missed a shot at the buzzer on the other end. It was Covington's second game-winning basket this month after his buzzer-beater sunk the Timberwolves on Jan. 4. Damian Lillard scored 30 points for the Blazers, who have lost four straight. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 21st, 2017Related News

Towns leads Timberwolves past injury-depleted Clippers

em>By Tim Liotta, Associated Press /em> LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Karl-Anthony Towns scored 37 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 45 seconds left, and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Los Angeles Clippers 104-101 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). Andrew Wiggins added 27 points, including two free throws with five seconds left that helped Minnesota snap its six-game road losing streak. DeAndre Jordan had 29 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Clippers, but was unable to make enough free throws down the stretch to keep his team in front. Austin Rivers added 20 points for Los Angeles. The Clippers played without star point guard Chris Paul, who tore a ligament in his left thumb Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) during a 120-98 victory over Oklahoma City. Paul underwent surgery Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) and is expected to be out six to eight weeks. Los Angeles is still missing star forward Blake Griffin due to injury as well. He is expected back in a week or two. Minnesota pulled to 97-96 when Towns sank a three-pointer with 2:48 to play. At the other end, the Timberwolves hacked Jordan repeatedly, looking to take advantage of his poor foul shooting. The big man went 4-of-8 from the line over five possessions, setting the stage for Towns to drain a jumper from the left elbow to tie the score at 98 with 2:28 to go. After Jordan made 1-of-2 again, Wiggins missed from the outside and Jamal Crawford made a 14-footer with 1:28 left for a 101-98 Los Angeles lead. Towns answered with a short jumper to pull Minnesota to 101-100 with 1:12 remaining. Crawford missed a short jumper before Towns hit an 18-footer with 45 seconds left to put the Timberwolves up 102-101. After J.J. Redick missed a three-pointer from the right side, Wiggins grabbed an offensive rebound at the other end and made two free throws to put Minnesota up by three. Redick and Crawford missed long three-point attempts in the final four seconds. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Timberwolves: /strong> /em>This was the first road victory for the Timberwolves since they beat Atlanta on Dec. 21 (Dec. 22, PHL time) em> strong>Clippers: /strong> /em> Los Angeles shot 48 percent from the field but went 4-of-22 on three-pointers. The 7-0 mark tied the franchise record to start a calendar year. The team was also 7-0 to begin 1974 when the franchise was located in Buffalo. After this game, the Clippers play 10 of their next 11 on the road. They open a five-game trip in Denver on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), return home to play Golden State on Feb. 2 (Feb. 3, PHL time) and then set out on another five-game swing. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Timberwolves: /strong> /em> Home against Denver on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). em> strong>Clippers: /strong> /em> At the Nuggets on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 20th, 2017Related News

Anthony Davis 21 points lead Pelicans past Magic 118-98

Anthony Davis 21 points lead Pelicans past Magic 118-98.....»»

Source: Philstar PhilstarCategory: SportsJan 19th, 2017Related News

Run and gun Pelicans cruise past Magic

em>By Guerry Smith, Associated Press /em> NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis had 21 points and 15 rebounds and the New Orleans Pelicans cruised past the road-weary, short-handed Orlando Magic 118-98 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Terrence Jones and Langston Galloway added 18 points each for the Pelicans, who never trailed after the first quarter and extended their lead to as many as 28 points. Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton had 14 points each to lead Orlando, which finished 1-5 on a season-long six-game trip that featured five games in the last eight days. The Magic played their third straight game without leading scorer Evan Fournier, who is out with a bruised right heel. The Pelicans, back from their own season-long five-game trip, beat the Magic down the court all night to start a season-long six-game home stretch. New Orleans passed its season-high of 30 fast-break points midway through the third quarter and finished with 38. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 19th, 2017Related News

Leonard scores 34, helps rally Spurs past Timberwolves

em>By Raul Dominguez, Associated Press /em> SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Kawhi Leonard had 34 points and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a strong start by the Minnesota Timberwolves for a 122-114 victory Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Leonard's fourth straight 30-point game helped him become the first San Antonio player to score 950 points in the season's first half since Tim Duncan in 2003. Coming off a career-high 38 on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) against Phoenix in Mexico City, Leonard was 12-for-17 from the field. LaMarcus Aldridge added 29 points on 12-for-20 shooting, spoiling Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau's 59th birthday. San Antonio had difficulty with Minnesota's explosive starting lineup. Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points and 16 rebounds, and Ricky Rubio added 21 points and 14 assists. Zach LaVine scored 18, Gorgui Dieng had 17 and Andrew Wiggins 10. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 18th, 2017Related News

Timberwolves kick in more money for arena renovations

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx owner Glen Taylor is kicking another $9-12 million into the Target Center renovation project. The Timberwolves announced the additional funds on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). The team says the new money will be used to get new seats, railings for the lower bowl, a new skyway off of the backside of the arena, and an improved Wi-Fi platform. Taylor says the new money is geared toward making sure the project to refurbish the dated arena in downtown Minneapolis is as effective as possible. It will push the total cost of the project to between $138-141 million. Renovations are underway and the city-owned building is scheduled to close this summer so the project can be completed in time for the start of the 2017-18 NBA season. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 17th, 2017Related News

Teague, George help Pacers hold off Pelicans

em>By Michael Marot, Associated Press /em> INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Jeff Teague fell just short of the first triple-double of his career Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), and Paul George scored 20 points to help the Indiana Pacers hold off the New Orleans Pelicans 98-95. Teague finished with 16 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds as Indiana won for the fifth time in six games. All-Star center Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 16 points despite missing the final 19 minutes after hurting his right hip and left thumb. Team officials said X-rays were negative. Without Davis, the Pelicans' came up just short. After playing catch-up most of the game, they finally tied the score at 91 with 4:10 to go. But Teague broke the tie with a three-pointer on Indiana's next possession. New Orleans had three chances to tie it again in the final 20 seconds but Jrue Holiday missed a 22-footer with 19.9 seconds to go, E'Twaun Moore missed a layup with 4.8 seconds left and Tyreke Evans' three-pointer from the right corner hit nothing but air as the buzzer sounded. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 16th, 2017Related News

Matthews leads Mavericks to 98-87 win over T-Wolves

em>By Dave Jackson, Associated Press /em> DALLAS (AP) — Wesley Matthews scored 19 points and Dirk Nowitzki added 17 and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 98-87 Sunday (Monday, PHL time). J.J. Barea scored 15 points for Dallas, and Deron Williams had 13 points and 10 assists. Gorgui Dieng scored 21 points and Andrew Wiggins had 19 for the Timberwolves, who had their three-game winning streak snapped. Dallas broke open a two-point game by closing the third quarter on an 11-4 run, then Barea scored his team's first nine points of the fourth quarter. His bank shot in the lane with 8:01 to go extended the Mavs' lead to 88-76. Seth Curry then scored the next five points with a triple and a fast-break layup to give Dallas its largest lead of the game. Seeking their first four-game winning streak since December 2012, the Timberwolves closed a 14-point, third-quarter deficit to as little as two. Dieng scored nine points in the quarter, making all four of his field-goal attempts. Nowitzki scored 10 points in a 17-4 run at the start of the second quarter, including seven straight to finish the run. His three-pointer as the trailer on a Mavericks' fast break gave Dallas its biggest lead of the half at 44-29. They led 56-47 at the break. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Timberwolves: /strong> /em> Zach LaVine had missed the past two games with a hip bruise, but warmed up before the game and coach Tom Thibodeau declared him ready to go. He scored 11 points. em> strong>Mavericks: /strong> /em>The Mavericks announced the signing of guard Pierre Jackson to a 10-day contract. Jackson played for the Mavericks from Dec. 27 to Jan. 6 (Dec. 28-Jan. 7, PHL time), averaging three points, before being waived. Dallas also recalled forward Nicolas Brussino from the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League, where he was averaging 16 points and eight rebounds. strong>PEER RECOGNITION /strong> As head of the National Basketball Coaches Association (NBCA), Dallas coach Rick Carlisle talked about the association's announcement of the Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award. The award will be the only one chosen by an NBA coach's peers and will be announced at the end of the regular season. Goldberg was the first executive director of the NBCA. 'Michael Goldberg is a beloved figure in the coaching world,' Carlisle said. 'We felt it was time to honor the work that he's done. This is a unique award because it's going to be voted on by peers only. It will have a little extra meaning for coaches. It's really time for something like this to happen.' strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Timberwolves: /strong> /em>Stay in Texas with a visit to San Antonio on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). em> strong>Mavericks: /strong> /em> Visit Chicago on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) for the first of a two-game road trip. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 15th, 2017Related News