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Coaching great John Thompson of Georgetown dead at 78

By JOSEPH WHITE AP Sports Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — John Thompson, the imposing Hall of Famer who turned Georgetown into a “Hoya Paranoia” powerhouse and became the first Black coach to lead a team to the NCAA men’s basketball championship, has died. He was 78 His death was announced in a family statement released by Georgetown on Monday. No details were disclosed. “Our father was an inspiration to many and devoted his life to developing young people not simply on but, most importantly, off the basketball court. He is revered as a historic shepherd of the sport, dedicated to the welfare of his community above all else,” the statement said. “However, for us, his greatest legacy remains as a father, grandfather, uncle, and friend. More than a coach, he was our foundation. More than a legend, he was the voice in our ear everyday.” One of the most celebrated and polarizing figures in his sport, Thompson took over a moribund Georgetown program in the 1970s and molded it in his unique style into a perennial contender, culminating with a national championship team anchored by center Patrick Ewing in 1984. Georgetown reached two other title games with Thompson in charge and Ewing patrolling the paint, losing to Michael Jordan’s North Carolina team in 1982 and to Villanova in 1985. At 6-foot-10, with an ever-present white towel slung over his shoulder, Thompson literally and figuratively towered over the Hoyas for decades, becoming a patriarch of sorts after he quit coaching in 1999. One of his sons, John Thompson III, was hired as Georgetown’s coach in 2004. When the son was fired in 2017, the elder Thompson -- known affectionately as “Big John” or “Pops” to many -- was at the news conference announcing Ewing as the successor. Along the way, Thompson said what he thought, shielded his players from the media and took positions that weren’t always popular. He never shied away from sensitive topics -- particularly the role of race in both sports and society -- and he once famously walked off the court before a game to protest an NCAA rule because he felt it hurt minority athletes. “I’ll probably be remembered for all the things that kept me out of the Hall of Fame, ironically, more than for the things that got me into it,” Thompson said on the day he was elected to the Hall in 1999. Thompson became coach of the Hoyas in 1972 and began remaking a team that was 3-23 the previous season. Over the next 27 years, he led Georgetown to 14 straight NCAA tournaments (1979-92), 24 consecutive postseason appearances (20 NCAA, 4 NIT), three Final Fours (1982, 1984, 1985) and won six Big East tournament championships. Employing a physical, defense-focused approach that frequently relied on a dominant center -- Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo were among his other pupils -- Thompson compiled a 596-239 record (.715 winning percentage). He had 26 players drafted by the NBA. One of his honors -- his selection as coach of the U.S. team for the 1988 Olympics -- had a sour ending when the Americans had to settle for the bronze medal. It was a result so disappointing that Thompson put himself on a sort of self-imposed leave at Georgetown for a while, coaching practices and games but leaving many other duties to his assistants. Off the court, Thompson was both a role model and a lightning rod. A stickler for academics, he kept a deflated basketball on his desk, a reminder to his players that a degree was a necessity because a career in basketball relied on a tenuous “nine pounds of air.” The school boasted that 76 of 78 players who played four seasons under Thompson received their degrees. He was a Black coach who recruited mostly Black players to a predominantly white Jesuit university in Washington, and Thompson never hesitated to speak out on behalf of his players. One of the most dramatic moments in Georgetown history came on Jan. 14, 1989, when he walked off the court to a standing ovation before the tipoff of a home game against Boston College, demonstrating in a most public way his displeasure against NCAA Proposition 42. The rule denied athletic scholarships to freshmen who didn’t meet certain requirements, and Thompson said it was biased against underprivileged students. Opposition from Thompson, and others, led the NCAA to modify the rule. Thompson’s most daring move came that same year, when he summoned notorious drug kingpin Rayful Edmond III for a meeting in the coach’s office. Thompson warned Edmond to stop associating with Hoyas players and to leave them alone, using his respect in the Black community to become one of the few people to stare down Edmond and not face a reprisal. Though aware of his influence, Thompson did not take pride in becoming the first Black coach to take a team to the Final Four, and he let a room full of reporters know it when asked his feelings on the subject at a news conference in 1982. “I resent the hell out of that question if it implies I am the first Black coach competent enough to take a team to the Final Four,” Thompson said. “Other Blacks have been denied the right in this country; coaches who have the ability. I don’t take any pride in being the first Black coach in the Final Four. I find the question extremely offensive.” Born Sept. 2, 1941, John R. Thompson Jr. grew up in Washington, D.C. His father was always working — on a farm in Maryland and later as a laborer in the city — and could neither read nor write. “I never in my life saw my father’s hands clean,” Thompson told The Associated Press in 2007. “Never. He’d come home and scrub his hands with this ugly brown soap that looked like tar. I thought that was the color of his hands. When I was still coaching, kids would show up late for practice and I’d (say) ... ‘My father got up every morning of his life at 5 a.m. to go to work. Without an alarm.‘” Thompson’s parents emphasized education, but he struggled in part of because of poor eyesight and labored in Catholic grammar school. He was moved to a segregated public school, had a growth spurt and became good enough at basketball to get into John Carroll, a Catholic high school, where he led the team to 55 consecutive victories and two city titles. He went to Providence College as one of the most touted basketball prospects in the country and led the Friars to the first NCAA bid in school history. He graduated in 1964 and played two seasons with Red Auerbach’s Boston Celtics, earning a pair of championship rings as a sparingly used backup to Bill Russell. Thompson returned to Washington, got his master’s degree in guidance and counseling from the University of the District of Columbia and went 122-28 over six seasons at St. Anthony’s before accepting the job at Georgetown, an elite school that had relatively few Black students. Faculty and students rallied around him after a bedsheet with racist words was hung inside the school’s gym before a game during the 1974-75 season. Thompson sheltered his players with closed practices, tightly controlled media access and a prohibition on interviews with freshmen in their first semester -- a restriction that still stands for Georgetown’s basketball team. Combined with Thompson’s flashes of emotion and his players’ rough-and-tumble style of play, it wasn’t long before the words “Hoya Paranoia” came to epitomize the new era of basketball on the Hilltop campus. Georgetown lost the 1982 NCAA championship game when Fred Brown mistakenly passed the ball to North Carolina’s James Worthy in the game’s final seconds. Two years later, Ewing led an 84-75 win over Houston in the title game. The Hoyas were on the verge of a repeat the following year when they were stunned in the championship game by coach Rollie Massimino’s Villanova team in one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. Success allowed Thompson to rake in money through endorsements, but he ran afoul of his Georgetown bosses when he applied for a gambling license for a business venture in Nevada in 1995. Thompson, who liked playing the slot machines in Las Vegas, reluctantly dropped the application after the university president objected. Centers Ewing, Mourning and Mutombo turned Georgetown into “Big Man U” under Thompson, although his last superstar was guard Allen Iverson, who in 1996 also became the first player under Thompson to leave school early for the NBA draft. “Thanks for Saving My Life Coach,” Iverson wrote at the start of an Instagram post Monday with photos of the pair. The Hoyas teams in the 1990s never came close to matching the achievements of the 1980s, and Thompson’s era came to a surprising and sudden end when he resigned in the middle of the 1998-99 season, citing distractions from a pending divorce. Thompson didn’t fade from the limelight. He became a sports radio talk show host and a TV and radio game analyst, joining the very profession he had frustrated so often as a coach. He loosened up, allowing the public to see his lighter side, but he remained pointed and combative when a topic mattered to him. A torch was passed in 2004, when John Thompson III became Georgetown’s coach. The younger Thompson, with “Pops” often watching from the stands or sitting in the back of the room for news conferences, returned the Hoyas to the Final Four in 2007. Another son, Ronny Thompson, was head coach for one season at Ball State and is now a TV analyst. ___ Joseph White, a former AP sports writer in Washington who died in 2019, prepared this obituary. AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnNov 15th, 2020

30 Teams in 30 Days: Cavaliers to lean heavily on young roster

Like most summers in the NBA, the 2019 edition was chock full of trades, free agent news and player movement. From the defending-champion Toronto Raptors to just about every other team in the league, change was the most applicable word when it came to describing team rosters for the 2019-20 season. With the opening of training camps just around the corner, NBA.com's Shaun Powell will evaluate the state of each franchise as it sits today -- in order of regular-season finish from 2018-19 -- as we look at 30 teams in 30 days. * * * Today's team: Cleveland Cavaliers 2018-19 Record: 19-63, did not qualify for the playoffs Key additions: Darius Garland (Draft), Kevin Porter Jr. (Draft), Dylan Windler (Draft), John Beilein (coach) Key departures: JR Smith, Cameron Payne, David Nwaba The lowdown: The first season in the post-LeBron James era, Part II, was almost a carbon copy of the first one: He leaves and the team crumbles. This was pretty much expected from a team that was built around LeBron and then suddenly grew old overnight once he left. It didn’t help matters when Kevin Love, given a rich contract the previous summer, played only 22 games because of injury. That ensured the Cavs would be locked into a rebuilding season and rookie point guard Collin Sexton would receive ample playing time as a result, which was not necessarily a bad thing at all. After shaky initially, Sexton finished strong and averaged 20 points the last 2 1/2 months to make the All-Rookie Second Team. Also, swingman Cedi Osman benefited from increased playing time and had moments in his second season. In a mild disappointment, Larry Nance Jr. failed to take a generous step in his development and there’s fear he will be nothing more than a scrappy, hard-working role player who’ll make the occasional highlight dunk. Otherwise, the Cavs’ season served no major purpose. The remaining pieces from the LeBron era either crumbled in various ways or simply disappeared: JR Smith was suspended, essentially for insubordination; Love was hurt; Tristan Thompson plateaued; George Hill and Kyle Korver were traded. The Cavs sunk toward the bottom of the East, fell off radar for the first time in six years, and once again found themselves back in the lottery looking for help. Summer summary: In a summer of surprises around the NBA, one of the more under-rated events happened when the Cavs’ coaching search ended with a 66-year-old grandfatherly type who never spent a day on an NBA bench. John Beilein might well be a revelation, one way or another. He spent much of his college career at Michigan, where he was highly respected for his strategy, composure and character -- three elements he’ll need in Cleveland. Beilein had flirted with the NBA in years past; when nothing materialized, some NBA people thought his time had passed, especially once he reached retirement age. But the Cavs went with an out-of-the-box choice anyway, plucking Beilein even as the college-to-NBA transition comes with inconsistent results and yellow flags. Brad Stevens is the exception, and besides, he was in his mid-30s when he left Butler and took the Celtics job. The one current college coach whose name surfaces the most in NBA conversation is Jay Wright of Villanova, who has served on Team USA and appears NBA-ready (temperament, two-time champ, even wardrobe). Word is Wright will be on the Sixers’ short list if and when that job opens. Because of Beilein's age and the state of the Cavs, he seems a bridge-gap coach; if so, that’s a smart choice. He’s experienced at managing young players, and the Cavs will build their next era through the Draft. Top free agents don’t make Cleveland a destination choice, even when presented with the chance to play alongside LeBron. Given how quiet the Cavs were this summer, the odds are great that they’ll return to the draft lottery in 2020 and give Beilein additional players in their early 20s to nurture. He’ll have five this season, with Sexton and Osman returning, plus Darius Garland, Dylan Windler and Kevin Porter Jr. coming on via first-round picks. The prize is Garland, the No. 5 pick who was limited by a meniscus injury to five games in his one and only season at Vanderbilt. This seems eerily similar to years earlier when the Cavs took another guard with a limited (11-game) college career: Kyrie Irving. Garland was a three-time Mr. Basketball in Tennessee and was considered the best recruit ever at Vandy, and that’s about all NBA scouts had to work with this spring. Not only was his college career brief, but he also left the combine early. Apparently, that was enough for the Cavs, smitten by Garland’s instincts. The only question is how he fits with Sexton; both can play off the ball, although each is more comfortable as the lead playmaker. Porter represents a wild card of sorts. Talent-wise, he can be considered a steal with the 30th pick ... after being red-flagged by teams following a suspension at USC for poor conduct that cost him much of that single season. Porter was a workout beast prior to the draft, a swingman who brings great size (6-foot-6) and can create off the dribble. The Cavs had nothing to lose by choosing him at that point. Windler benefited from four years in college, steering underdog Belmont to the NCAA tourney and developing into a prospect by his senior year. The Cavs and Beilein can figure out how it all fits later. Right now, Cleveland is all about stockpiling as many assets as possible and giving that young core plenty of time to make their mistakes now, rather than later. And speaking of assets, they didn’t trade Love this summer. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be on the roster when next season ends, either. If the right price comes along — and that’ll be tricky because of his age, injury history and salary — Love can and will exit. LeBron James will eventually get a statue outside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse (formerly Quicken Loans Arena), but he isn’t walking through that door again. The Cavs must take another road to respectability, and it could be a long one. 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. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 3rd, 2019

Trailblazing coach Thompson dies at 78

John Thompson, who made history as the first black coach to win a US national college basketball championship when he led Georgetown to the title in 1984, has died, his family said Monday. He was 78. Thompson, who played a pioneering role in advancing black coaches, also helped develop the careers of several NBA stars […] The post Trailblazing coach Thompson dies at 78 appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsSep 1st, 2020

MPBL: Sarangani and GenSan team up to extend help

Besides being busy with their respective squads for the next Chooks-to-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League season, Sarangani head coach John Kallos and GenSan team manager Mermann Flores have joined hands for a bigger purpose. The newly-minted Marlins tactician felt the need of the referees, who are gravely affected by the pandemic, as they are paid on a per-game basis. "Hindi kasi gaano napapansin ang mga referee kaya nagtulong-tulong kami ng coaching staff ko at players sa Sarangani," said the 37-year-old mentor. "Alam din kasi namin na day-to-day basis lang ang salary ng referees, kaya gusto rin namin silang mabigyan ng tulong." The two distributed more than 300 relief packs to groups of referees,and also to the military frontliners in Quezon City, Marikina, and Antipolo. Warriors manager Flores led the relief operations in Antipolo. And they will continue their drive next week in Sarangani and General Santos. "Aabot pa itong mga nalikom natin sa GenSan at Sarangani. Magkakaroon pa ng second at third wave," said Kallos. Sen. Manny Pacquiao, founder of the Chooks-to-Go sponsored league, also donated face masks while lawyer Bong Gacal gave 30 sacks of rice. Aside from relief packs, Sarangani mentor also donated some 20 aerosol boxes to Philippine Children's Medical Center, Philippine Heart Center, and to the local governments of Pasig and Manila. Sarangani finished dead last in the Chooks-to-Go Lakan Season with a 1-29 record while GenSan was swept by Bacoor in the South Division Quarterfinals......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2020

Sarangani looks to improve on one-win season with new coach

After a season filled with controversies, Sarangani Province will be having a fresh start with John Kallos calling the shots come the next season of Chooks-to-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League. The 36-year-old Kallos will be tasked to turn things around for a dysfunctional Sarangani squad who made quite some noise last year for the wrong reasons. The franchise was most known for its game-fixing involvement last November which resulted in the league filing charges against 21 members of the then-SOCCSKARGEN squad. The league then took over the squad in order to keep the competition calendar going. This led to a disastrous start to Sarangani's campaign, who dropped its first 21 games before chalking up its only win via a 78-74 triumph over Quezon City-WEMSAP. The team went on to finish dead-last in the Lakan Season with a disappointing 1-29 record. Kallos, who spent the last three seasons with Caloocan-Victory Liner, will replace interim head coach Manuel Torralba. To kick-start the cleansing of the team, Kallos bared that he will be bringing in a bunch of veterans and familiar faces to aid the Sarangani's rebuild. "Siyempre, aalisin natin ung mga panget na gawain dati, we will put players and coaching staff na competent, mga hardworker at meron pagmamahal sa trabaho at loyal," said Kallos, who led the Supremos to a 16-14 win-loss record this season, falling behind Pasay with a 17-13 card for the last playoff slot. "I will build a team na trusted ko, build a good relationship with the players and always do your best and work hard." Jester Macabagdal, Maricon Rearte, and Gilbert Cole -- his trusted deputies during his time in Caloocan and Adamson -- along with Cris Bautista, Andrew Belarmino, and Emman Romey will make up his coaching staff. Beefing up the squad are veterans Chico Lanete and Manila-Frontrow's Marvin Hayes, who met with Sarangani officials and committed to the team last Tuesday. "Kilala ko na kasi siya since PBL days dati sa Nutrilicios team, player siya ng brother ko [Monel Kallos] and he is a winner and a leader," said Kallos of Lanete, a floor general who won three championships with the San Miguel Beermen at the tail-end of his pro career. Paul Sanga, Mark Sarangay, and brothers Joe and Carlo Escalambre -- who all played under Kallos in Caloocan -- all agreed to join their head coach in Sarangani next season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 19th, 2020

Kobe Bryant left deep legacy in LA sports, basketball world

By GREG BEACHAM AP Sports Writer LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant inspired a generation of basketball players worldwide with both his sublime skills and his unquenchable competitive fire. He also earned Los Angeles’ eternal adoration during his two decades as the fierce soul of the city’s beloved Lakers. Less than four years into his retirement from the NBA, Bryant was seeking new challenges and working to inspire his daughters’ generation through sports and storytelling when his next act ended shockingly early. Bryant, the 18-time All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday. He was 41. The crash occurred in the foggy hills above Calabasas, California, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. A different person familiar with the case confirmed Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna also was killed. Both of the AP's unnamed sources spoke on condition of anonymity because few details of the crash had been released publicly. Authorities said nine people were on the helicopter, and all were presumed dead. No names were released. Bryant lived south of Los Angeles in coastal Orange County for much of his adult life, and he often used helicopters to save time and avoid Southern California's notorious traffic. He often traveled to practices and games by helicopter before his playing career ended in 2016, and he kept up the practice after retirement as he attended to his many new ventures, which included a burgeoning entertainment company that recently produced an Academy Award-winning animated short film. The crash occurred about 20 miles from Mamba Sports Academy, Bryant’s basketball training complex in Thousand Oaks, California. A girls basketball tournament was scheduled for Sunday at the facility. Bryant, who had four daughters with his wife, Vanessa, dedicated himself to boosting women’s sports in recent years, coaching and mentoring basketball players around the world. Gianna, better known as Gigi, had a promising youth career. Bryant sat with her courtside at a Brooklyn Nets game late last year, clearly passing along his wisdom to his daughter. Bryant told Jimmy Kimmel in 2018 that Gianna wanted to play in the WNBA and recalled how fans would often approach him saying “you gotta have a boy, you gotta someone to carry on the tradition, the legacy.” Gianna took exception: “She’s like, 'Oy, I got this,’” Bryant recalled. Bryant retired nearly four years ago as the third-leading scorer in NBA history, finishing two decades in Lakers purple and gold as a prolific shooter with a sublime all-around game and a relentless competitive ethic that inspired strong reactions from fans and opponents alike. He held that No. 3 spot in the league scoring ranks until Saturday night, when the Lakers’ LeBron James passed him during a game in Philadelphia, Bryant’s hometown. “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames,” Bryant wrote in his last tweet. “Much respect my brother.” On Saturday night, James said he was "happy just to be in any conversation with Kobe Bean Bryant, one of the all-time greatest basketball player to ever play. One of the all-time greatest Lakers.” News of Bryant’s death inspired an outpouring of grief around the sports world and beyond, but it was felt particularly painfully in Los Angeles, where Bryant was unquestionably the sprawling city's most popular athlete and one of its most beloved public figures. The Lakers’ next game isn’t until Tuesday night against the crosstown rival Clippers, but hundreds of fans — many in Bryant jerseys and Lakers gear — spontaneously gathered at Staples Center and in the surrounding LA Live entertainment complex on Sunday, weeping and staring at video boards with Bryant’s image before the Grammy awards ceremony. “I thought he was going to live forever,” Lakers great Magic Johnson told KCBS-TV. “I thought he was invincible. ... There was nobody who took more pride in putting on that Laker uniform than Kobe. Nobody. He was just special. We will miss him and we’ll remember him for his greatness, but let’s not forget how he impacted the world, too.” The NBA kept its games on as scheduled when the news broke, but the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors both took voluntary 24-second shot clock violations at the start of their game in honor of Bryant, who wore No. 24 for the second half of his career. Several other teams followed up by deliberately taking delays of 24 and 8 seconds, honoring both of his jersey numbers. Many players were seen crying before their games, and James looked emotional on the tarmac when he got off the Lakers’ team plane from Philadelphia. Bryant’s future appeared to be limitless in retirement, whether in sports or entertainment. He opened a production company shortly after leaving the Lakers, saying he was just as passionate about storytelling as he had been about his sport. He won an Oscar in 2018 for his contributions to “Dear Basketball,” an animated short about his relationship to the game. He also produced content for ESPN. In 2003, Bryant was charged with attacking a 19-year-old employee at a Colorado resort. He had said the two had consensual sex, and the charge was eventually dropped. The woman later filed a civil suit against Bryant that was settled out of court. Bryant's adulation remained strong in Los Angeles even during the sexual assault allegations. Bryant became one of the game’s most popular players as the face of the 16-time NBA champion Lakers franchise. He was the league MVP in 2008 and a two-time NBA scoring champion, but he also earned 12 selections to the NBA’s All-Defensive teams. He teamed with Shaquille O’Neal in a combustible partnership to lead the Lakers to NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002. He later teamed with Pau Gasol to win two more titles in 2009 and 2010. A two-time Olympic gold medalist with the dominant U.S. team, Bryant retired in 2016 after scoring 60 points in his final NBA game. In December 2017, the Lakers hung banners retiring his No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys in the Staples Center rafters in an unprecedented double honor. Bryant looms large over the current generation of NBA players, most of whom grew up either idolizing Bryant or absorbing his work ethic and competitive spirit in the same way Bryant's generation learned from Michael Jordan. After James passed Bryant on Saturday, he remembered listening in awe to Bryant when the superstar came to speak at a childhood basketball camp. “I remember one thing he said: If you want to be great at it, or want to be one of the greats, you’ve got to put the work in,” James said. James later teamed up with Bryant on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team in Beijing. “He had zero flaws offensively,” James said. “Zero. You backed off of him, he could shoot the 3. You body him up a little bit, he could go around you. He could shoot from mid-range. He could post. He could make free throws. ... He was just immortal offensively because of his skill set and his work ethic.” Bryant was a basketball superstar for his entire adult life, and he grew up from a teenager to a respected veteran in the unforgiving Hollywood spotlight. He entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996 after a childhood spent partly in Italy, where his father, former NBA player Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, played professionally. He spoke four languages and played a major role in the NBA's international growth over his two decades in the league, traveling the world and connecting with athletes in other sports and celebrities. The Lakers acquired the 17-year-old Bryant in a trade shortly after Charlotte drafted him, and he immediately became one of the most exciting and intriguing players in the sport alongside O’Neal, who had signed with the Lakers as a free agent. Bryant won the Slam Dunk Contest as a rookie, and the Lakers gradually grew into a team that won three consecutive championships. Bryant and Gasol, the Spanish star, formed the nucleus of another championship team in 2008, reaching three straight NBA Finals and winning two more titles. Between those title runs and before the quiet final years of his career, Bryant accomplished innumerable feats including an 81-point game against Toronto in January 2006. Bryant's final NBA seasons were dogged by injuries, but he still went into retirement with that jaw-dropping 60-point performance against Utah. ___ AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 27th, 2020

PBA Finals By the Numbers: Electrifying answer

You think “The Trilogy” is living up to expectations so far? Yes, the answer is yes. Meralco and Ginebra delivered another great game in the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals, this time in Lucena as both teams went all the way to Quezon province for Game 2. The series is now tied at one game each following the Bolts’ electrifying answer and here’s some numbers from that Game 2 win before a pivotal Game 3 tips off Sunday.   16 Total 3-pointers fired by the Meralco Bolts, a franchise-high for a Finals game. In a game that was pretty much dead even across all categories, Meralco’s three-point shooting, which was not present in the series opener, was the key difference in the Game 2 win.   7 Total Meralco players that scored at least one 3-point shot. Baser Amer led the way with five triples while John Pinto added four, all in the opening period. Even import Allen Durham had a good shooting night from deep, nailing three triples.   0 Number of assists for Justin Brownlee. All of a sudden, JB can’t drop dimes which is weird because he pretty much led the league in assists all conference long. Game 2 would have been a the second straight Finals game where Brownlee had zero assists but a stats error in Game 1 awarded one assist to Japeth Aguilar. That was it though. Brownlee, who averages almost seven assists per game in the Governors’ Cup, has one assist in two Finals games.   19 Largest lead of the night for Meralco in Game 2. Game 2 marked the second straight game that the Bolts held a double-digit lead against Ginebra in the second half. They also almost blew one for a second straight game. However, Meralco learned its lesson from Game 1 and they take a crucial win to make the series tied at 1-1.   29 Total bench points for Meralco in Game 2. The Bolts got big games from their starters but it was the bench that pushed them to victory with John Pinto sparking a first-quarter run with 12 points on four triples. With the Gin Kings coming back to start the second half, Nico Salva was a good pick for coach Norman Black from his bench as he dropped nine points in the quarter. Anjo Caram and Brian Faundo also had quality minutes from the Bolts as the Meralco bench outscored that of Ginebra, 29-12.   329 Total 3-point shots for Justin Brownlee in his PBA career, most for any import. Brownlee’s make 54 seconds into the first quarter put him at 326, which passed Lamont Strother’s mark of 325 to break the record. JB finished Game 2 with four triples for 35 points.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 11th, 2020

Joe Judge, old-fashioned at 38, wants blue-collar Giants

By Tom Canavan, Associated Press EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Joe Judge has every intention of bringing old-fashioned blue-collar football back to the struggling New York Giants. Roughly three minutes after being introduced as the head coach of the Giants, the relative unknown 38-year-old disciple of two of football's coaching greats set out to answer the question of who is this young man taking over a franchise that has made the playoffs once since the 2011 season. “What I am about is an old-school physical mentality,” Judge said Thursday. “We are going to put a product on the field that this city and region are proud of because this team will represent this area. We will play fast. We will play downhill. We will be aggressive. We will punch you in the nose for 60 minutes and we will play every play with a relentless, competitive attitude.” The team did not release terms of Judge's contract, but it certainly was not close to the seven-year, $62 million deal the Carolina Panthers gave Matt Rhule on Tuesday. The former Giants assistant had been considered a front-runner for the Giants' job. Judge refused to answer a question about being the Giants' second choice, insisting his sole focus is taking advantage of the opportunity he has been given. He said his team will be fundamentally sound and prepared. He said he will take care of his players and asked them to give everything they have. If that sounds like things that Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Alabama coach Nick Saban would say, it's not surprising. Judge worked for both men, winning two national titles with Saban and the Crimson Tide and three with Belichick and the Pats. Judge said Saban taught him to address everyone on not only what they had to do, but how it should look, what they are going to do to get there and why it is important. Belichick made him understand the need to be flexible with his personnel and to make sure they were playing to their strengths. Judge talked for roughly 20 minutes in setting out his goals for a team that has won 12 games over the past three seasons, including nine under Pat Shurmur over the past two. Shurmur was fired a week ago Monday. They Giants needed eight days and five interviews to find a successor. Co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, who have lost credibility with their recent hires of Ben McAdoo and Shurmur, described Judge as detailed-orientated, passionate, disciplined, someone with a voracious appetite to learn, a great communicator, a student and a teacher. Judge plans to take his time assembling a staff, saying he wants teachers. He wants his players to have a team-first approach. Mara said he went into the interview with Judge on Monday not expecting that much since he did not know much about him. Halfway through the meeting, he felt strongly the Giants had their next coach. The Giants had an interview scheduled with Rhule on Tuesday. The team planned to keep the appointment but Rhule's agent telephoned to say his client had a deal with the Panthers. The Giants felt the length of the deal was too long and Mara said they were excited about Judge. “There are always risks when you hire a coach who has never been a head coach. I am just excited about what he brings to the table. He has a certain poise and presence.'' Tisch spoke with Judge on Tuesday, a day after his initial meeting with Mara, general manager Dave Gettleman and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams. “We got the right guy at the right time on the right time,” Tisch said. Judge refused to discuss his plans for either the offense or defense. He also didn't want to talk about his players until he studied them. “We will do whatever fits our personnel against a specific opponent, 3-4, 4-3, man, zone," Judge said. “We are going to look at the best path and that could change week by week. We want to build in versatility with our players and multiples on all sides of the ball.'' Gettleman said Judge is excellent evaluating college talent, someone who can get players functioning quickly in making the jump to the NFL. While the Giants have two budding stars in quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley, they need help at several positions, particularly linebacker, on the offensive line and a pass rushing lineman......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2020

AP source: Giants nearing deal with Pats Judge to be coach

By Tom Canavan, Associated Press EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants and New England Patriots assistant Joe Judge are working on a deal for him to become the team's head coach, a surprising move for the four-time Super Bowl-winning franchise that tumbled to the bottom of the NFL in recent years, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the deal is not done. Mentored by Bill Belichick and Nick Saban in a 15-year career, Judge would become a head coach for the first time. At 38, he would be one of the youngest NFL coaches. Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams currently is the youngest at 33. Judge has won three Super Bowls with New England in eight years as an assistant on Belichick's staff. He was the fifth candidate the Giants interviewed since firing Pat Shurmur on Dec. 30. Among those, Mike McCarthy agreed Monday to become the Dallas Cowboys' new coach. Another candidate, Matt Rhule, who was supposed to interview with New York on Tuesday, is instead headed to the Carolina Panthers, according to people familiar with those situations. The third new coach tabbed for the NFC East in a week — Ron Rivera was hired by the Washington Redskins on Wednesday — Judge would take over a team that went 4-12 and 5-11 in Shurmur's two seasons and has been to the playoffs just once since winning the Super Bowl after the 2011 season. He would be the Giants' fourth head coach since Tom Coughlin was let go after the 2015 season. Ben McAdoo, hired in 2016, didn't last two seasons. Steve Spagnuolo, currently Kansas City's defensive coordinator, served as interim coach after McAdoo was fired in '17. Judge, the Patriots' special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach, would inherit a team with a talented young quarterback in Daniel Jones and former rookie of the year running back Saquon Barkley. The Giants have the fourth pick in this year's draft and approximately $85 million in salary-cap money to spend. The Patriots lost to the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night in the wild-card round. Judge joined the Patriots as a special teams assistant in 2012 and helped guide them to Super Bowls titles in the 2014, ’16 and ’18 seasons. Before joining New England, he spent three years in the same role under Saban at Alabama. He won titles with the Crimson Tide in 2009 and '11. He also coached at Mississippi State and Birmingham-Southern. With Judge as special teams coordinator since 2015, New England consistently ranked as one of the NFL's top units. He added receivers to his responsibilities in 2019. He coached kicker Stephen Gostkowski to the All-Pro team in 2015 and special teams captain Matt Slater to the same honors in 2016 and this season. Belichick called Judge "an excellent coach" and said he excelled in his added duties this season. "Joe’s done a great job. He’s done a great job with the kicking game," Belichick said. “He’s expanded the role a little bit and that’s kind of had a little bit of a ripple effect in the way we’ve organized the kicking game, but that’s all worked out pretty efficiently. Joe’s done a good job of organizing that, as well as taking care on some other things with the offense and particularly receivers.” Judge met with Giants co-owner John Mara, general manager Dave Gettleman and vice president of football operations Kevin Abrams at the team's New Jersey headquarters on Monday. The Giants had been expected to interview Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels this week along with Baylor's Rhule. But Rhule did not interview with them, the person said. New York also had been given permission by Dallas to speak with former Cowboys coach Jason Garrett about the head coaching job. An interview was planned later this week, the person said. Garrett's contract with the Cowboys does not expire until next week. There have been reports the Giants are considering Garrett for a job as a coordinator or quarterbacks coach, but the person said the new coach will determine his staff. Others interviewed were Kris Richard, the Dallas defensive assistant coach and former Seattle defensive coordinator; Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy; and Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale. ___ AP Sports Writers Schuyler Dixon in Frisco, Texas; Steve Reed in Charlotte, N.C.; and Kyle Hightower in Foxborough, Mass., contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2020

Fox, Hield lead Kings to 113-92 rout of Knicks

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — De'Aaron Fox scored 24 points, Buddy Hield had 22 and the Sacramento Kings routed the New York Knicks 113-92 on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time) for their second straight victory following a 0-5 start. Harrison Barnes added 19 points and Richaun Holmes finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings, who brought the momentum from their 102-101 home victory over Utah on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) across the country and ran away from the Knicks. Sacramento led by as many as 32 points in a surprisingly simple start to a three-game road trip. Nemanja Bjelica chipped in 10 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Marcus Morris scored 28 points for the Knicks, who dropped their third straight and fell to 1-6. Rookie RJ Barrett had 22 points. Sacramento led by nine after one quarter, then opened the second with an 11-0 run to build a 43-23 lead on Bogdan Bogdanovic's 3-pointer with 7:34 remaining in the half. New York didn't score until more than five minutes had elapsed in the period, and after clawing back within 12 later in the quarter, promptly gave up the next nine points as the Kings pushed the lead to 55-34. A 61-41 halftime lead quickly was expanded to 76-44 on Fox's jumper, and boos broke out during a third quarter that ended with Sacramento ahead 90-64. TIP-INS Kings: Coach Luke Walton's pregame interview with reporters was attended by a couple special guests. His father Bill, a Hall of Fame player, stood in the back along with Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead. Both wore Kings sweatshirts. "In the NBA season you're on the road a lot, so any time you can have family and friends around, it's a nice mini break. But they know and we know we're here for business. We're here to try to get better as a team and try to win a game." ... The Kings have won the last four meetings. Knicks: Second-round pick Ignas Brazdeikis made his NBA debut in the fourth quarter. He scored four points. ... Coach David Fizdale changed up his starting lineup, inserting Bobby Portis at center in place of Mitchell Robinson. Portis scored two points. Robinson had 10. ... The Knicks remained short-handed in the backcourt, with point guards Elfrid Payton (strained right hamstring) and Dennis Smith Jr. (personal reasons) still out. FATHER KNOWS BEST Though Bill Walton has been a popular TV broadcaster and is known for his loquaciousness, he picks and chooses his spots when it comes to talking to his son about the game. "My dad's been great my whole basketball career, whether I was a player or now into coaching," Luke Walton said. "He offers advice when I want it and he knows when to leave me alone. So he's a great person to be able to talk to and communicate about the game, what he sees, but he also knows that this is my job and I'm doing it. So, when and when not to put his voice in there." UP NEXT Kings: Visit Toronto on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Knicks: Visit Detroit on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 4th, 2019

The NBA’s West race should be incredibly good this season

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press Stephen Curry knew roster change was inevitable. That being said, Curry and the Golden State Warriors aren’t changing their expectations. The five-time defending Western Conference champions aren’t the popular pick to represent their side of the league in this season’s NBA Finals, understandable after losing the likes of Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala. But Curry said the Warriors will strive to remain what they’ve been over the last half-decade — “a team that’s feared across the league.” “Look at every era of basketball,” Curry said. “For a team to sustain this type of level of play and this greatness, it doesn’t happen that often. And when you need to retool, it may look different, but the great teams, great players figure it out as they go.” Thing is, there are so many great players — and potentially great teams — in the West this season. The Los Angeles Clippers are the prohibitive favorite to win the NBA title, at least according to oddsmakers in Las Vegas, after landing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Los Angeles Lakers still have LeBron James, and added Anthony Davis. Houston reunited James Harden with Russell Westbrook. Denver and Utah bring back strong cores. Portland might have the league’s best backcourt. “You just can’t take it for granted,” Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti said. “It’s really, really hard to win games in the NBA, especially the Western Conference, the way it is now.” Maybe harder than ever. “We want to maintain the culture that we’ve built, but we want to make sure our players are put in the best position to succeed, and the last four years we pretty much knew exactly what that meant,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We don’t really know what it means this year. That’s why we have a lot of work ahead, but it’s exciting. I’m looking forward to it.” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said the West will be great for fans and the league — not so much for coaches, players and owners. “Somebody is probably going to come in ninth and get fired when they shouldn’t because they did a great job,” D’Antoni said. “But that’s the way it is.” A look at the West, in predicted order of regular-season finish: PLAYOFF BOUND 1. Denver — The team that few are talking about, for puzzling reasons. They’re young, they already know how to win and the Nuggets’ win total has risen in each of coach Michael Malone’s first four seasons there. No reason to think that won’t continue. 2. Houston — James Harden is entering his 11th season. Russell Westbrook is entering his 12th. Mike D’Antoni is entering the last year of his contract. It sure seems like title-or-bust time in Houston, and the wide-open West could be for their taking. 3. L.A. Clippers — When Paul George gets back from his recovery from shoulder surgeries to join Kawhi Leonard on the new-look Clippers, this is going to be a team with frightening potential on defense. They’ll peak toward the end, and could win it all. 4. L.A. Lakers — This is absolutely not to say they’re the fourth-best team in the West. LeBron James knows it’s all about April, May and June, and he certainly isn’t going to care where the Lakers are seeded as long as they’re in the playoffs. 5. Utah — Donovan Mitchell is just starting to come into his own, Rudy Gobert is still the defensive player of the year and Joe Ingles is better than people realize. The addition of Bojan Bogdanovic was big, as was adding Mike Conley — if healthy. 6. Golden State — The five-time defending West champs lost Durant, Iguodala and Shaun Livingston — plus won’t have Klay Thompson for most of the season. But the Warriors still have Curry. Relax. They’ll be fine. 7. Portland — This is way too low, but that’s life in the West right now. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are elite, Terry Stotts is underrated and don’t be surprised if the Blazers tweak the roster after Jusuf Nurkic returns to take a title shot. 8. San Antonio — LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan lead a team that features a young core of Lonnie Walker IV, Dejounte Murray and Derrick White. Oh, and Gregg Popovich is still there. Count the Spurs out at your own risk. IN THE MIX 9. Dallas — Dirk Nowitzki is gone, but the new star-duo pairing of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis has enormous potential. The Mavs haven’t won a playoff series since the 2011 NBA Finals, but this season will see them get closer. 10. Minnesota — Ryan Saunders’ first full season will lead to improvement, but even a five-game leap to .500 won’t get it done as far as a West playoff berth this season. But if Karl-Anthony Towns plays 82 games at his potential, who knows? 11. Sacramento — Rick Adelman took the Kings to their last playoff appearance in 2006. Luke Walton is the team’s 10th different coach since; he has Harrison Barnes, De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley and Buddy Hield, yet still faces a tall task. 12. New Orleans — Zion Williamson’s knee is already a concern, not a good sign for the No. 1 overall pick. Lonzo Ball’s shot is better and J.J. Redick has never missed a postseason. But if Williamson isn’t full-go, it may be tough sledding for New Orleans. FACING LONG ODDS 13. Oklahoma City — There is a lot of talent on this team: Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams. If all goes right, the Thunder will contend for a spot. Or will they make more trades and collect more picks? 14. Phoenix — Devin Booker is entering his prime. But the Suns have averaged 22 wins over the last four seasons, are on their fourth coach — Monty Williams — in a span of 24 months and still seem overmatched in the loaded West. 15. Memphis — The Grizzlies’ first-round pick in 2020 is top-six protected or else it conveys to Boston. The Celtics might not want to plan on getting this one. This year’s goal for the Grizzlies? Simple: Get Ja Morant settled into his new job. WHAT TO KNOW Three-Team Ring Circus Kawhi Leonard has a chance to win a ring with a third different team if the Clippers win the title. LeBron James and Danny Green would do the same if the Lakers win it all. The only players to win a championship with three different franchises: John Salley and Robert Horry. Spurs Streak San Antonio is bidding for a 23rd consecutive playoff appearance, which would give the Spurs outright possession of the NBA record. They’re currently tied with Philadelphia with 22 straight playoff trips (the 76ers’ franchise did it from 1950 through 1971, that span starting when they were the Syracuse Nationals). Wide Open The league’s general managers have wildly different views on which team will win the West. In NBA.com’s annual preseason polling of GMs, six different West teams — the Clippers, the Lakers, Golden State, Houston, Denver and Portland — got at least one vote as the conference’s best. LeBron Milestone LeBron James has 993 games of 20 or more points, third-most in NBA history. When he gets to 1,000 of those, he’ll be the last to hit that milestone for many years. Kevin Durant may be the next; he’s got 720. Good Sign With James Harden and Russell Westbrook, Houston becomes the sixth team to have two players who each won an MVP in the last three seasons. Of the other five, four — the 1959 and 1960 Boston Celtics, the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers and the 2017 Golden State Warriors — won an NBA title. The other was the 1984 76ers......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 19th, 2019

Patriots Way has often been a bust elsewhere

By Steven Wine, Associated Press MIAMI (AP) — On a sweltering August morning early in training camp, Miami Dolphins first-year coach Brian Flores made a mistake. It was a mental lapse involving the defense, the sort of thing he rails against every day. And so Flores did what his players do as punishment in such situations, sprinting across the field into the corner, slapping a wall designated for the acknowledgement of mistakes in practice and then hustling back to rejoin his team. "I'm going to lead by example," Flores said. OK, so maybe he's not a Bill Belichick clone. But how far does Flores fall from the Belichick coaching tree? The answer could determine whether the Dolphins win with their new coach, a longtime New England Patriots assistant. The Dolphins hired Flores even though the Patriots' Way tends to be a dead end for other teams. While the Pats are six-time Super Bowl champions under Belichick, his former New England assistants have combined for one playoff victory as NFL head coaches. "You can't replicate what they have up there, right?" former Patriots tight end Dwayne Allen said. "A lot of people have tried and failed." That group includes former head coaches Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini and Josh McDaniels in the NFL, and Charlie Weis at Notre Dame and Kansas. The jury is still out on two second-year head coaches with New England backgrounds: former Belichick assistant Matt Patricia (6-10 with the Lions last year) and ex-Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel (9-7 with the Titans). Add to that sextet the somewhat successful Bill O'Brien (43-41 entering his sixth season with the Texans, but only 1-3 in the playoffs), and their combined winning percentage is .430, compared with Belichick's .741 in New England. Some suspect Belichick's proteges have tried too hard to Be Like Bill. "There have been mistakes," said former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who spent nine seasons playing for Belichick and is now an ESPN analyst. "When you try to clone Bill Belichick's style and it's not who you are, it's going to come off as disingenuous. You're not going to feel real to players, and players can feel that. That mistake has been done in the past by his coaching tree." Patricia had a rocky first season in part because he sounded a little like Belichick during news conferences, snapping at questions and providing short answers that made him a punchline with pundits. Mangini was a control freak who was hard on his players with the Jets and Browns, and he got off to a bad start in Cleveland when he made rookies take a 10-hour bus trip to attend his youth camp. McDaniels wore a hoodie every day in Denver and yelled at his assistants. In sum, Belichick's proteges tend to mimic his unrelenting approach. And they tend to struggle. "They try to push it hard, and it's hard for certain players to grasp," Bruschi said. "Say you've been coddled. It can be a shock to the system when you're told to be somewhere at a certain time, stay until a certain time, work hard every second you're there and do things a certain way, which is a night-and-day difference from the previous head coach. Some of these coaches experience resistance, and it's hard to break that. You're reprogramming players on what winning football is." In Miami, Flores must reprogram a franchise that hasn't won a playoff game since 2000. He spent 15 seasons with the Patriots and hired two former Patriots assistants as his coordinators with the Dolphins. But Flores said the things he stresses — working hard, putting team first and being tough, smart and on time — don't make him a Belichick copycat. "There are a lot of high school coaches who are saying the exact same things," he said. "And pee wee coaches." Flores said his mentors make up a large group that includes his pastor, parents and high school coach, which suggests he's not trying to transform the Dolphins into the Patriots South. "The big thing about leadership is being authentic," Flores said. "So if you try to be someone else, it's not real leadership in my opinion. I've tried to take a lot from a lot of people, a lot of different leaders that I've come across. But at the end of the day, I've got to be me." It makes a good song. Allen, who spent time with the Dolphins this summer, believes it will make Flores a good coach. "You can't replicate what they have in New England, and coach Flores has done a great job of not trying," Allen said. "This is his ship, and he's going to run it his way." Dolphins players say Flores mixes a drill sergeant demeanor with a fondness for corny jokes. He's more forthcoming and expansive with the media than Belichick, but he has showed his no-nonsense side by firing an assistant less than a week into training camp and publicly criticizing receiver Kenny Stills' practice performances. Stills and left tackle Laremy Tunsil were traded Saturday to the Texans in a deal that netted Miami three high draft picks. As with most coaches, the real test for Flores will be how he handles defeat. Mantras about hard work and putting team first can sound hollow when a season sours. Or Flores can Be Like Bill and rarely lose......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 1st, 2019

Rookie Survey: Film study revealing much to this year s class

By John Schuhmann. NBA.com The incoming rookie class may be done with college, but study time is never over. Preparing for the NBA is about more than just the work on the floor and in the weight room. At the annual Rookie Photo Shoot in early August, NBA.com asked several rookies about watching film, whether their coaches [or trainers] want them focusing on certain players or certain aspects of the NBA game. A lot of names came up more than once, but the young guys aren't just watching current stars. In fact, you may be surprised by some of the vets that they're studying. Here's what the rookies had to say ... * * * Zion Williamson | New Orleans Pelicans | No. 1 overall pick "They just want me to be myself and play ... [Watches his own film] to see what kind of mistakes I made, where I could have made a better read." R.J. Barrett | New York Knicks | No. 3 overall pick "I like to watch LeBron [James], James Harden and Michael Jordan, because Michael Jordan is just the greatest, and I love the way that LeBron and James Harden play. They can score and pass." De'Andre Hunter | Atlanta Hawks | No. 4 overall pick "One of my coaches told me to watch Kawhi Leonard and focus on how he beats his defender and how he finishes at the rim ... He's really strong with the ball. He doesn't do a lot of moves to get past his defender. He just does what he needs to do and once he gets to the rim, there's no games either. It's a dunk or a strong finish." Darius Garland | Cleveland Cavaliers | No. 5 overall pick Have the coaches asked?: "Not yet." Who do you like to watch?: "D'Angelo Russell, Kyrie [Irving], [Dame] Lillard ... Just to see how they play pick-and-rolls, their reads ... Coming off the pick-and-roll coming toward the middle, you always have the back-side corner, because they always sink in to help the roller ... Opposite corner's always open, especially if you're going downhill like Russell Westbrook." Jarrett Culver | Minnesota Timberwolves | No. 6 overall pick "They talked about Scottie Pippen, players like that ... He can bring the ball up, he defends well ... Versatile for sure ... I go back and watch the games. I'm a big Jordan fan, so I watch Scottie Pippen all the time." Coby White | Chicago Bulls | No. 7 overall pick "They want me studying a little bit of everybody, a little bit of Dame... The way he moves without the ball whenever C.J. [McCollum] has it ... We watch Chris Paul pick-and-rolls, little things." Cam Reddish | Atlanta Hawks | No. 10 overall pick "Not anybody specific, but they want me watching film, definitely ... Players at my position ... So I watch Kevin Huerter, because he was at my position last year ... Just catching up on the [Hawks'] plays." P.J. Washington | Charlotte Hornets | No. 12 overall pick "I'm looking at guys like Draymond Green. I feel like me and him have similar body types, similar games as well. He's been really successful, so that's one of the guys that the coaches want me to embody ... Both [offense and defense] ... The way he pushes the break, gets everything set up at his position is crazy. He pushes the ball and gets everybody involved." Tyler Herro | Miami Heat | No. 13 overall pick "They want me watching Klay Thompson, J.J. Redick, guys that run off screens ... Just the footwork they have, how they run at one level coming off a screen, how quick they get off their shot, and really just how they move without the ball." Romeo Langford | Boston Celtics | No. 14 overall pick "Paul George and Devin Booker ... How they use their bodies to create contact and create shots." Nickeil Alexander-Walker | New Orleans Pelicans | No. 17 overall pick "We watch a lot of Wes Matthews, mainly for defensive purposes, how he guards ball screens ... The valuable things like guarding the ball Wes does really well ... Being a great teammate, things that you can't really teach he wants us to look at." On guarding screens: "It's positioning, knowing who you're going up against, knowing the scouting report, knowing the plays and when the play might happen, and what's going to happen after a pass is made, after a cut is made, stuff like that." Goga Bitadze | Indiana Pacers | No. 18 overall pick "I watch the bigs like Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, most of the European bigs and try to get something ... Playmaking, reading situations and making plays." Matisse Thybulle | Philadelphia 76ers | No. 20 overall pick "My trainers will tell me to watch [Andre] Iguodala on defense and Manu Ginobili off the ball on offense." Brandon Clarke | Memphis Grizzlies | No. 21 overall pick [The coaches haven't asked] "as of right now ... I like to watch some old players, just to see the moves that they used, guys like Kevin Garnett, Shawn Marion, Michael Jordan, all of those dudes ... [Watching Garnett] I'm watching his heart, really, how hard he's playing, how much fun he's having, stuff that I would like to mimic." Grant Williams | Boston Celtics | No. 22 overall pick "I love watching guys like Draymond and Kawhi Leonard, how they play on both ends of the court, whether it's Draymond's passing and versatility on the offensive end, and Kawhi playing the mid-range." Ty Jerome | Phoenix Suns | No. 24 overall pick "I asked [about film] and there response was just to be my best self, as far as being focused on really trying to improve my game and master our offense and our principles." "So he sent me clips of Philly [where Suns coach Monty Williams was an assistant last season] ... I'll probably be playing a lot on the ball ... It's about how they move, the different reads off it, and where you can be." Nassir Little | Portland Trail Blazers | No. 25 overall pick "They haven't asked me that yet, but it's probably going to come up soon ... I watch Kawhi Leonard, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, guys like that ... I'm looking at where they get to, where they get their shots off, their different spots." Admiral Schofield | Washington Wizards | No. 42 overall pick "P.J. Tucker, Tony Allen, Shane Battier, Stanley Johnson, Marcus Smart, Kawhi Leonard ... Just how they're able to switch on different guys, be physical, play smart and not foul ... Just their motor on defense, and what they do on the offensive end as well, keeping it simple, especially my first couple of years." John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst 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......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 20th, 2019

Film Study: Little room for Leonard to move in Game 2

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com OAKLAND -- The Golden State Warriors got what they needed out of their trip to Toronto. With their Game 2 victory, they took home-court advantage in The Finals from the Toronto Raptors as the series moves to Oakland for what could be the final two games at Oracle Arena. The Warriors are banged up. Kevon Looney is likely done for the season with a cartilage fracture in his chest, Klay Thompson is questionable for Game 3 with a strained left hamstring, and, as of Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), Kevin Durant's will not play in Game 3. But the champs are 45-8 in playoff home games over the last five years and they were able to put together one of their best defensive games of the postseason on Sunday. After the Raptors scored 118 points on 97 possessions in Game 1 (their third-best offensive game of the postseason), the the Warriors held them to just 104 points on 101 possessions in Game 2. That was done with Toronto registering a playoff-high 23 second-chance points (so the Raptors scored just 81 points on their 101 initial offensive possessions). The Eastern Conference champions were bound for some regression. In Game 1, the Raptors shot a remarkable 15-for-23 (including 5-for-9 from three-point range) in the last six seconds of the shot clock, according to Second Spectrum tracking. That was unsustainable and, indeed, they shot just 5-for-20 (0-for-6 from three-point range) in the last six seconds of the shot clock in Game 2. If 43 shots in the last six seconds of the shot clock over two seems like a lot, well, it is. In the regular season, no team averaged more than 17.5 field goal attempts in the last six seconds. The Raptors averaged the fifth most, but that was just 14.3 per game. With better defenses and slower pace in the playoffs, that number was at 17.3 through the first three rounds. In this series, with the Raptors working their offense late into the clock even more, it's at 21.5 per game. While Toronto has 43 shots in the last six seconds of the shot clock, Golden State has just 16. On one hand, playing late in the clock slows the overall pace against an opponent that can hurt you in transition. In the regular season, the Warriors' effective field goal percentage of 64.2 percent in the first six seconds was the best mark for any team in any portion of the shot clock. On the other hand, playing late into the clock puts pressure on a team's offense. For every team in the league, effective field goal percentage is lowest in those last six seconds of the clock. In most instances, the Raptors would probably like to get something earlier in the clock. But getting a good shot early in a possession has proven to be difficult. The Raptors have been moving the ball. Their 330 passes in Game 2 were the most they've had in a game since the first round (if you don't count the 349 they had in their double-overtime win in Game 3 of the conference finals). But all those passes mean that Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors' best player and most efficient scorer, isn't getting his in-rhythm shots off the dribble, via pick-and-rolls or isolations. Leonard has been forced to give up the ball more than the Raptors would probably like. All eyes on Kawhi The Warriors have obviously been defending Leonard aggressively. The second defender on pick-and-rolls has generally stayed with Leonard until he has given up the ball. They've doubled him in the post and even sent a second defender at him before he can get into an isolation situation. When Leonard has managed to get into the paint, he's been met by a crowd of defenders. All that attention has resulted in a lot of trips to the line. He's drawn 22 fouls (nine more than any other player in the series) and, with 28 free throw attempts in two games, Leonard's free throw rate (FTA/FGA) in The Finals (0.824) is more than double his rate through the first three rounds (0.397). The attention should also result in some open shots just one or two passes away. But Leonard's teammates have attempted only 25 shots off his passes. That accounts for just 23 percent of the 108 shots his teammates have taken while he's been on the floor, a rate almost in line with his rate from the regular season (22 percent). For context, Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James had rates of *42 percent and 51 percent in the regular season, respectively. * In case that last part was a little confusing, here's the math: Antetokounmpo's teammates took 3,184 shots while he was on the floor. Of those 3,184, 1,133 (42 percent) were off his passes. Leonard is one of the most complete players in the league, but playmaking is his shortcoming. When he had nine assists in Game 5 of the conference finals, it was a career high ... for both the regular season and playoffs (now 574 total games). A look at the film from Game 2 of this series can show us why a guy who has the ball as much as he does and who draws so much attention from opposing defenses is averaging less than four assists per game. It also shows us how the Raptors continue to get stuck in late-clock situations. Dribbling out of the double Leonard's reaction when he's double-teamed is often to dribble out of it. If he can attack quickly and get one defender to screen the other, he can get an open shot ... Leonard did the Michael Jordan trick of attacking the doubling big in the direction from which he came & having the big screen his own teammate. pic.twitter.com/fEVle6tXE4 — John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) May 10, 2019 Dribbling out of the double-team could also get him a better angle to make a pass or allow him to attack again, like he did in the second quarter on a play that led to an open Norman Powell three-pointer (with some help from Marc Gasol's screen on Andre Iguodala)... But often, the results aren't so great. Here's a first-quarter play where he dribbled out of a double team, couldn't get the ball to any of the teammates that popped open, and had to take a tough shot with one second left on the clock ... In the second quarter, after dribbling out of a double-team, he was unable to get the ball to an open Pascal Siakam on the baseline ... A couple of Leonard's five turnovers were a result of him driving too deep into a crowd. "I thought we hit an action and something would be there," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said after Game 2, "and they would cover it up with some help defense. Well, when there's help, there's got to be somebody else probably open on the other side of the floor, and I thought we kind of shot a few too many into multiple defenders or two defenders around the basket, where those probably should have been maybe swung to the other side." Unable to deliver Leonard's inability to get the ball to the open man on Sunday wasn't just about passing out of double-teams. Here was Leonard collapsing the Golden State defense with a drive and Kyle Lowry popping open on the left wing ... But Leonard didn't deliver the ball right away and by the time he got it to Lowry, the Raptors had lost the advantage they had gained from the paint attack ... Here was an opportunity to deliver a pick-and-roll pocket pass to a rolling Gasol for a four-on-three situation, with Klay Thompson trailing the play ... But Leonard couldn't make the pass (credit DeMarcus Cousins' defense to some extent), Thompson got back in the play, and Siakam was eventually smothered by Iguodala ... Bad spacing The Raptors' inability to take advantage of the attention paid to Leonard in Game 2 wasn't just about Leonard himself. There were also a few cases of bad spacing, where he was doubled and just didn't have sufficient outlets with which to make a play ... Example 1, which led to a turnover ... Example 2, which led to a Fred VanVleet miss from 3-point range ... Working off the ball Leonard still managed to work his way to 34 points in Game 2. Sometimes, the Warriors gave him a little space to operate. There were multiple occasions in which he bullied his way to the basket (see the Looney injury noted above). There were also a couple of nice off-ball cuts and duck-ins. A need to be better It's tough to nitpick Leonard's performance in these playoffs. He's averaged 30.9 points per game on a true shooting percentage of 62.3 percent (the fifth-best mark among players with at least 100 postseason field goal attempts). He has hit some huge shots and he has played some stifling defense himself. While he can save his team some precious seconds on a lot of these possessions by making better and quicker decisions, Leonard's teammates must ensure the floor is properly spaced around him. Furthermore, Nurse and his staff have to find ways to loosen up the Golden State defense, which will continue to make Leonard play in a crowd in Game 3 on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst 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......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 5th, 2019

He makes us go : Green elevates Warriors to 3-0 series lead

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com PORTLAND, Ore. — There is nothing Draymond Green failed to do Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) when he helped push the Blazers to the edge and the Warriors to the verge. Here is the checklist of his duties: Dribbler, pace-setter, rescuer, shooter, director, shot blocker, shot-caller and the one that probably escaped most witnesses, psychiatrist. Yes, Dr. Dray suddenly offered his services and sofa when poor Jordan Bell blew a breakaway dunk during a critical moment, just as the Warriors were in the process of flipping an 18-point deficit during their 110-99 victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. [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] Bell immediately hung his head as he returned downcourt, and seconds later at the next timeout, he slowly headed toward the Warriors bench with slumped shoulders. But who intercepted him before he could take another step? That’s right, it was Green, famously known for his cool and soothing words in times of crisis. (OK, put the laugh track here.) But seriously … The type of leader every team needs ????pic.twitter.com/Tr3JblKAyX — Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 19, 2019 “I knew he wasn’t going to lecture me or anything like that,” said Bell. “He just told me that everybody misses dunks, that I shouldn’t worry about it, that mine happened to be an open one, and to keep my head into the game because I’d get another chance.” Bell paused. “I was down here,” he said, lowering his hand, “and he lifted me up here.” And wouldn’t you know, Bell got that next chance minutes later. This time, the dunk was thrown down ferociously and completed with a chin-up that belonged at LA Fitness. We can give Green credit for the 20-point, 13-rebound, career playoff-high 12-assist triple double, and we can give Green partial credit for that second-chance slam, too. That’s more like it JB ???? pic.twitter.com/JUvMfKQDsl — Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 19, 2019 The man was that multi-layered. “I don’t even know what to say about Draymond,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. Once again, Green demonstrated his value to the Warriors in these playoffs with a magnificent all-around game. He left fingerprints all over the Moda Center court and various Blazers' efforts. He was there for the Warriors when nothing else worked, and he was there for the Warriors when everything finally began to click and they needed a finishing touch. His desire and will do not show up directly on the stat sheet, yet those elements made the victory possible. The Warriors won for the fourth straight game without Kevin Durant and are one more away from reaching the NBA Finals for the fifth straight year. It makes you wonder: As great as Durant is, would the Warriors be more vulnerable if it was Green who were out with a calf strain instead? That question stands valid because the Warriors lack anyone who does what he does. The energy, intensity, floor direction, ability to defend three and sometimes four different positions, as well as the rebounding were all apparent Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) and in heavy doses. They came alongside leadership, evidenced by Green giving Bell a pat on the back during that down moment. Green played Game 3 as a blur, grabbing rebounds, pushing the ball up the floor, creating scoring chances for himself or his teammates and providing help defense that triggered the pace. Green was forceful because Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were 9-for-24 shooting in the first half, at times overwhelmed by the trapping Blazers defense. So Green took it upon himself to make things happen and provide the foundation for a second-half comeback. The Golden State defense held Portland to 13 points in the third quarter, Curry had 11 points in the fourth quarter, and this series simply continued along the same path. “He was the difference-maker,” said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. “His energy, the way he was pushing the ball, he kept them going. He makes his teammates better and defensively he’s all over the place. He impacted the game.” In the third quarter, Green poked the ball loose from Damian Lillard for one of his four steals. At the time, the Warriors were down 12 and in dire need of a jolt. But here’s what was remarkable about the play. Not only did the 6'7" Green stoop and strip one of the NBA's most composed ballhandling point guards (although perhaps not in this series), but he also managed to search for and grab it while it bounced between him and Lillard, then dribbled downcourt without missing a beat. The dexterity, quickness, daring and smarts sets Green apart from others who play his role, or at least try to emulate it. “More than reacting, he acts,” said Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams, who oversees the team’s defensive schemes. “There’s reacting and then there's acting. He’s an actor. He sees things. He’s decisive.” Green is averaging 18 points, 12 rebounds and almost 10 assists across the last two games and those numbers barely tell the real story. It’s just heightened because of Durant’s absence. In those two games, the Warriors trailed Portland by 17 and 18 points and Green was the point man on the rally. He says his main purpose is to give Thompson and Curry a breather from the load and responsibility. With the Blazers throwing traps at those two guards to limit their scoring, Green is forcing Portland to pay him respect. He is, in essence, breaking down Portland’s defense by pushing the ball and directing the attack. “I know I have to be more aggressive,” he said. “I think it’s easy to get (Curry and Thompson) to take more shots, but we can’t put that much pressure on them, so I just take it upon myself to get the tempo where I want it and make plays for other guys as well.” It was no coincidence that six Warriors off the bench managed to get at least one basket with Green directing traffic. And Green managed to play such a high-energy game without making constant mistakes; he had only two turnovers in 38 minutes. “He’s playing with force and he’s playing with discipline,” said Kerr. “He’s playing under control. He’s not letting anything bother him, like officiating, bad shots, he’s just moving on to the next play. From that standpoint, he’s as good as he’s ever been.” This is the Draymond Green that makes the Warriors more than willing to put up with the occasional nonsense, mostly stemming from his short temper and low tolerance with the officiating yet also with teammates and coaches at times. The constant technical fouls, the early-season clash with Durant, the high maintenance that often comes with coaching him, those are all part of the package. Taken as whole, that package is more positive than negative. And when there’s no negative, as it’s been through much of this postseason, the package is irresistible. “It’s nothing new; I’ve seen him do this for seven years,” said Thompson. “I’m just so proud of Dray. He makes us go.” There was no more positive reinforcement from Green than when he comforted Bell and told the young player to shake off a missed dunk seen by millions and laughed at by thousands inside Moda Center. Green gave Bell the encouragement needed to forget the embarrassment and maintain composure, which was important because Kerr kept Bell in the game. That set Bell up to gain redemption. And the Warriors, after struggling through a sloppy start, to gain complete control of a series that could end Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) in a sweep. “I’m one of the leaders of this team and in those situations you either go one of two ways. You’re either going to do your job and lift everybody up or you’re going to go the opposite way,” said Green. And so Green, with passing, defense and pace-setting, is stamping his signature on this series. His floor direction is flawless. He hasn’t shown the ability to direct the Blazers right out of the playoffs, but that’s perhaps just a matter of time. 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. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2019

Bucks making case as favorites to win title

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com MILWAUKEE -- In the wake of a wire-to-wire, 125-103 victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, a question for the group: Shouldn't the Milwaukee Bucks be the favorites to win this thing? No, not the conference finals. At this point, they're obviously the heavy favorite to win the East. Prior to this year, 72 teams had a 2-0 lead in the conference finals, and 67 of them went on to win. But why aren't the Bucks the favorites to win the NBA championship? Is there a case to be made against 1) what was the best team in the regular season and 2) what has been an even better team in the playoffs? [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] Maybe this is a we'll-believe-it-when-we-see-it league. How can you pick a team to win a championship when its best player had never won a playoff series prior to this year? Until they lost in five, it was easier to imagine the Celtics, with their talent and with their recent history of playoff success (back-to-back trips to the conference finals), being the team to represent the East in The Finals in the first year A.L. (after LeBron). And then the Bucks outscored the Celtics by a total of 65 points over the last four games of the conference semis. It's similarly difficult to pick against the Golden State Warriors until they actually lose. The two-time defending champs have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Presumably, they'll have Kevin Durant back for The Finals should they finish off the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals. And even without Durant, the Warriors boast the same 2-0 conference finals lead the Bucks currently possess. But the Warriors haven't been as sharp as they were in each of the previous two postseasons. Five of their 10 playoff wins have been within five points in the last five minutes. Last year, only four of their 16 wins were within five in the last five. In 2017, it was four of 16 as well. With the postseason's 10th-ranked defense, Golden State has outscored its opponents by 6.4 points per 100 possessions over its 14 games. The Bucks have outscored their opponents by more than double that: 15.1 per 100. That feels like the mark of an eventual champion. Through 10 playoff wins last year, the Warriors had outscored their opponents by 9.6 points per 100 possessions. Through 10 playoff wins in 2015, they had outscored their opponents by just 7.7 points per 100. It was only in 2017, when they won their first 15 playoff games in Durant's first season in Golden State, that the Warriors were as dominant as the Bucks have been thus far. At 10-0 two years ago, Golden State had outscored its playoff opponents by 16.5 points per 100 possessions. At that point, the Warriors had the No. 2 offense and the No. 1 defense in the postseason. That's exactly where the Bucks stand after Game 2 on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Milwaukee is a complete team in more ways than one. The defense has been there almost every night. The Bucks have held their opponents under a point per possession (the measure of elite defense) in six of their 11 games and only once (their Game 1 loss to Boston) have they allowed them to score more than what was the league average (109.7 points scored per 100 possessions) in the regular season. Even with the rise in three-point shooting over the last few years, the most important shots on the floor remain those at the basket, and no team has been better at both preventing and defending those shots than the Bucks. After allowing a league-low 29.6 points per game in the restricted area in the regular season, the Bucks have allowed just 22.0 per game in the playoffs. In this series, Raptors drives have been met with a swarm of Milwaukee defenders, making it difficult to either score in the paint or get off a clean pass to an open shooter. After shooting 57 percent in the paint through the first two rounds (in which they faced two very good defenses), the Raptors have shot just 49 percent (36-for-73) in the paint through the first two games of the conference finals. On Toronto's first possession of Game 2, Marc Gasol posted up Khris Middleton after a switch and spun around Middleton for a layup, only to be rejected by Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Raptors went scoreless on their first five possessions, had just 39 points on 49 possessions at halftime, and were too far behind for a 39-point third quarter to matter much. "I think the way we played on both ends of the court in the first half," Budenholzer said afterward, "is what we're trying to get to." After a bit of an offensive struggle in Game 1, the Bucks broke out on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). The elite defense led to 28 fast-break points, a size advantage inside led to 17 second-chance points, and six of their nine rotation players scored in double-figures. Three of those six came off the bench. While Toronto coach Nick Nurse has had to both shorten and alter his rotation in these playoffs, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer has seemingly found contributors wherever he has turned. George Hill and Pat Connaughton were huge in the Boston series, Malcolm Brogdon didn't need long to find his rhythm after missing the first eight postseason games, and on Friday (Saturday, PHL time), Ersan Ilyasova had what Budenholzer called "clearly his best game of the year," scoring 17 points, drawing three charges, and registering a plus-22 in just over 21 minutes off the bench. The Bucks have the presumed Kia MVP, but their biggest strength in these playoffs has been their depth. Through 11 games, they've outscored their opponents by 12.0 points per 100 possessions with Antetokounmpo off the floor. Unlike his fellow Eastern Conference coaches, Budenholzer has never had to rush his best player back onto the floor. And this team is now 10-1 with Antetokounmpo ranking 40th in postseason minutes per game at 32.3. While the Raptors' offense has struggled to take advantage of the attention paid to Kawhi Leonard, every Bucks rotation player has played with confidence and freedom. "They're not going to let me play one-on-one," Antetokounmpo said after registering 30 points, 17 rebounds and five assists in Game 2. "So this series is not going to be about me; it's going to be about my teammates being ready to shoot, being ready to make the right play." "We try and empower them," Budenholzer said of his team's role players. "We try to play a way where they all feel like they can contribute and do things. Hopefully that's paying off for us." There's no argument to the contrary. But is there an argument against this team being the favorite to win the championship? While it remains difficult to pick against the team that won last year and remains intact, new champions come along all the time, and it's easier to see them in hindsight than in the moment. Of course, as good as they've been playing and as special as this run has felt, Bucks players refuse to get ahead of themselves. "You can't," Eric Bledsoe said. "That's how you lose focus. The biggest thing with this group is just taking a game at a time, and not looking forward to The Finals. Anything can happen. So we're focused on Game 3." "It's a great opportunity that we have," George Hill added, "but it means nothing until we get there." The players have to keep their minds on Toronto. But the rest of us can feel free to envision the future, one that includes an NBA championship. John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst 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......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2019

Has Kyrie Irving played his last game for Celtics?

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press It begins. When the buzzer sounded in Milwaukee on Wednesday night, the question immediately became this: Has Kyrie Irving played his last game for the Boston Celtics? It’s very possible. Welcome to free agency, Kyrie. [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] He’s now in the place that other big names like Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson all will be whenever their respective seasons end, whether that happens with a playoff defeat, or with an injury — Durant left Game 5 of Golden State’s Western Conference semifinal series against Houston on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) with a right calf strain — or with their fingerprints smudging the golden surface of the Larry O’Brien Trophy. They will all hear some version of the question that Irving got. Free agency doesn’t technically start until July 1, but in actuality it began for the superstar point guard with 8:40 left in the fourth quarter of Game 5 — when he checked out for the last time in what capped Boston’s ousting from the Eastern Conference semifinals by the Milwaukee Bucks. He has a player option for next season, one that would pay him about $21 million. No one expects him to pick up that option. Irving got the question a number of different ways Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time), and his defense was stellar. No hints, whatsoever. “I’m just trying to make it back to Boston first, safely,” Irving said. “Get to see my family. Decompress. Do what human beings do.” This will be a seismic free-agent summer in the NBA and everyone has known this was coming for some time. Durant, Butler, Leonard, Thompson, Irving and Kemba Walker all may sign deals worth well over $100 million apiece. Combined, the total value of those six looming contracts could flirt with $1 billion if everyone involved decides to max-out and not take shorter-term deals. The New York Knicks might have close to $75 million in salary-cap space, more than enough to potentially land Irving and Durant. The Los Angeles Clippers could have close to $60 million. Brooklyn, Dallas, Atlanta and Indiana might have about $50 million apiece. The Los Angeles Lakers — even with LeBron James’ big contract and a coaching search that has gone from slow to stuck — have more than enough to add some major names. It will be wild, starting with lots of eyes on Golden State. Questions about Durant leaving have percolated all season and will only pick up between now and July 1. Thompson’s future has been the source of much debate. Imagine: The Warriors could win their third straight title and fourth in five years, and they might break up anyway. Butler will take a long look at signing elsewhere, and he might start hearing ‘the question’ as soon as Thursday (Friday, PHL time) when Philadelphia now on the ropes against Toronto. Leonard’s future with the Raptors may be tied to how deep they go in the playoffs. Walker’s situation in Charlotte hinges on the size of the offer the Hornets make to keep him. Irving tried to make all the chatter about his future go away in early October, when he stole the show at a preseason event for Celtics fans at the team’s arena in Boston. He grabbed the microphone, walked toward midcourt and delivered a sentence that is going to get replayed a lot over the next eight weeks. “If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here,” Irving said. Sounded great then. Doesn’t seem so iron-clad now. And truth be told, the Celtics might be thinking they’re better off without Irving anyway given how they went deeper in the playoffs with him sidelined last season and his struggles over the last four games of the Milwaukee series. They were 35-19 at one point. They went 19-18 the rest of the way. They went 14-17 in Irving’s last 31 appearances. They were 12-3 when he didn’t play this season. Irving won’t be taking a whole lot of questions — if any — over the next few weeks about his future. He knows what would be asked. All that matters now is his answer. ___ Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds@ap.org.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 9th, 2019

Coaches association announces Michael H. Goldberg Award

em>NBCA press release /em> The National Basketball Coaches Association (“NBCA”) is proud to announce the inception of the Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award. The Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award will be an annual award given to honor the most successful Head Coach in the National Basketball Association (“NBA”) as voted upon by his or her peers. It will be the only award chosen entirely by NBA Coaches. Every season, Head Coaches representing all 30 NBA Teams will select the winner. The winner of the 2017 Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award will be announced at the conclusion of the 2016-2017 NBA regular season. This award will recognize the dedication and hard work of NBA Head Coaches. The Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award will be presented to a Coach who helped guide his or her players to a higher level of performance on-the-court and showed outstanding service and dedication to the community off-the-court. The Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award is named after the esteemed Michael H. Goldberg, the long-time Executive Director of the National Basketball Coaches Association (a group that encompasses all Head and Assistant Coaches in the NBA and its alumni group). In 1980, six years after the NBCA was founded, Michael H. Goldberg became its first Executive Director. Building upon the existing foundation of the NBCA, he guided it during the years of the greatest growth in professional basketball. He helped gain significant benefits for NBA Coaches, including billions of dollars in increased retirement funds, and disability insurance. And so, the Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award honors the substantial contributions of Mr. Goldberg, who set the standard for loyalty, integrity, passionate representation, and tireless promotion of NBA Coaching. “This award honors the life work of a great leader, tireless foot soldier for the best interests of Coaches and the NBA, and most importantly, a trusted friend,” said NBCA President Coach Rick Carlisle. “The Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award will have special meaning because of its namesake and the fact that it is voted on by all Head Coaches.” Mr. Goldberg graduated from New York University in 1963 and later attended St. John's University School of Law, receiving his law degree in 1966. After law school, he joined the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (“SEC”) where he was a Branch Chief. He left the SEC in 1972 and became General Counsel for the American Basketball Association (“ABA”). Mr. Goldberg guided the ABA along with its late Commissioner, Dave DeBusschere, until the league merged with the NBA in 1976. Through the agency he founded, National Media Group, Inc., Mr. Goldberg has been a fixture in the business of sports marketing working over the years with a wide variety of prominent corporate sponsors and licensees wishing to promote their products and services through sports/entertainment tie-ins. Among a long list of clients are IBM, American Express, Schick, Fleer Trading Cards, Gatorade, Nike, Self Magazine, Sports Illustrated, the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB. The agency also played a key role in the growth of the sport of basketball in the US and abroad, organizing the Gatorade World Coaches Clinic program, and launching the highly successful NBA/FIBA McDonalds Basketball Championship. He now devotes himself primarily to his work on behalf of the NBCA. “Michael Goldberg is a legend in basketball circles and has distinguished himself by his relentless advocacy on behalf of NBA coaches and his deep caring for everyone involved with our game,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “This new award reflects his vital and everlasting contributions to the NBA.” The Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award will be presented to a Head Coach who exemplifies the same high quality of integrity and excellence that Michael H. Goldberg exhibited during his highly respected career. “It is truly an honor and a privilege to be recognized by this award,” said Michael H. Goldberg, NBCA Executive Director. “I have been very fortunate to work with the National Basketball Coaches Association for over thirty-five years. During this time, I have found the Coaches to be passionate, wise, and caring leaders. This award, determined by peer vote, is tremendously meaningful to our NBA Coaches, the League, as well as for my family and me.” .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

Warriors' Zaza Pachulia has Kerr, not critics, in his head

JANIE McCAULEY, AP Sports Writer OAKLAND, California (AP) — Zaza Pachulia heard all the negative noise from his Golden State Warriors fans, and he began taking it personally. He was the new guy at the start of this NBA season, the lone non-All-Star in Golden State's decorated starting lineup. He was no Andrew Bogut, the imposing big man he replaced, and fans got nasty with their frustration. Now, Pachulia constantly recalls what coach Steve Kerr preaches: The only thing that matters is how the Warriors feel about each other, not what anyone outside thinks or says. Not that it was easy for Pachulia to ignore the scrutiny. 'That was one of the biggest challenges I've had. I've never been in this situation,' he said on Monday. 'It's a lot of responsibility, I understand it. It was very emotional for me at the beginning. I was kind of taking it very personal. But that's where mental toughness kicks in. 'I'm fortunate I have friends who have been in this situation throughout the league, but most importantly, the biggest help came from my coaching staff.' With Kerr in his ear, Pachulia has made an effort to tune out the critics. As expected, the Warriors have needed time to jell this season, and Pachulia's been at the center of the development. Early on, the center from Georgia took a passive approach, and also found himself in subpar shape. Now he's getting more comfortable, and is emerging at the perfect time. The Warriors are headed into the second half, and Pachulia has found his place complementing Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson. Last month, Pachulia had season-bests of 15 points and 14 rebounds in a win at Brooklyn, and he believes that helped him turn a corner. He has four straight games scoring in double figures entering Tuesday's home matchup with Miami after doing so just twice in his first 32 games. In a victory at Sacramento on Sunday, Pachulia made a jaw-dropping, no-look backward heave that was right on target to Curry and led to an easy basket by the league MVP. 'He's tried some crazy stuff before, but he made a good, timely read as the best way to get me the ball,' Curry said. 'It was right on target, one bounce into my lap and I was able to finish it. I'm sure Coach will make sure he's not experimenting too much more with that.' Pachulia's enjoyed being part of the 'fancy stuff' these pass-happy Warriors get up to — Golden State wracks up 30-assist performances at an astonishing rate. 'Zaza's got a little flair to him,' Kerr said on Monday. 'He likes making plays like that. Not that he's constantly making them, but he's got a little of that in him. I know he had fun with that play.' Never before had the big man been part of a team with so many great players, and finding his way with this group made for a daunting adjustment. That core of talent is the reason he chose to join Golden State for his 14th season. 'No disrespect to Dallas, Milwaukee, but we weren't this type of team. No one was expecting a championship from us,' Pachulia said. 'This team is different, right? Let's be honest. So every time you make a mistake on the court, and that's very normal, especially in the beginning, it looks like 10 times, 100 times worse. 'Fans are spoiled here because of the types of seasons they had — last year, where they broke the record even though they lost in the Finals, it was amazing. The year before they won the championship, so they were feeling really comfortable with the players and the personalities they had.' For Pachulia, the improvements have come from focusing on the small things — such as minor footwork adjustments and working to better defend the perimeter. That has come with a willingness to learn. 'The thing that I'm most proud of in watching him this year is his growth. I'm talking about a guy who's played a lot of basketball,' Warriors assistant coach and defensive guru Ron Adams said. 'The ability to be coached at his age has really been fun. ... He is one of those lifelong learners.' Still, Pachulia knows the compliments from those around him must be earned. From the basketball-crazed Bay Area fans, too. 'My skin got thicker,' Pachulia said. 'I don't listen to stuff from outside or even if I hear or if I read something, I just let it go very easily. It's not bothering me, because the truth is that Steph or Klay or KD or Draymond or Andre (Iguodala), all these guys, they either like playing with me or they don't. That's what matters. The coaching staff is happy with my presence or not. 'Maybe the first day, you're not expecting any of your teammates to give you some good words. We've played enough games that my teammates have a lot of compliments to say about me. My coaching staff has a lot of compliments to say about me. Those compliments don't come just like that. They are professionals and you get a compliment because you deserve it. That means a lot.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

Raonic beats Nadal, keeps Brisbane title defense on track

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal was up a set and had a break point against defending champion Milos Raonic when he sent a forehand just wide. It was a mistake the 14-time Grand Slam champion wouldn't recover from. Raonic made the most of the reprieve, holding serve in that fifth game of the second set and then attacking Nadal's serve in the eighth to swing the momentum his way in a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 quarterfinal win Friday at the Brisbane International. The top-seeded Raonic broke Nadal's serve again to start the third set, and calmly held on for only his second win in eight matches against the Spaniard. Raonic served 23 aces and hit 50 winners to just 19 for Nadal, who could only convert one of his seven break-point opportunities. As well as the big, deep service returns, Raonic also repeatedly went to the net, trusting his instincts and putting pressure on Nadal. 'Today the mentality behind the match was what sort of kept me around,' Raonic said. 'Some moments things weren't looking great. I wasn't efficient coming forward. I was missing some shots I shouldn't be. I was rushing. 'But at least I kept myself there, and I was able to always recuperate the next point. That's what I have to be most proud of.' Nadal, coming back from a layoff after an injured left wrist curtailed the end of his 2016 season, beat Raonic in an exhibition tournament last week. But Raonic played with more intensity in Brisbane, and Nadal said a couple of lapses were costly. 'Probably if I put that passing shot forehand cross, I had the break in the second set, big chance that we will be here one hour before with a victory,' Nadal said. 'That passing shot was long, and that's it. Then he had the break and match changes.' Nadal said three wins at the exhibition tournament, two wins and a close result in Brisbane gave him confidence his progress was good ahead of the Australian Open, where he is desperate to make amends for a surprising first-round exit last year. Still in contention to start back-to-back seasons with a Brisbane title, Raonic will play seventh-seeded Grigor Dimitrov — a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 winner over No. 4 Dominic Thiem — in the semifinals. U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka and third-seeded Kei Nishikori will meet in the other semifinal match. The second-seeded Wawrinka beat unseeded Kyle Edmund 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semifinals in his first trip to the Brisbane tournament. In the previous three years, Wawrinka won the title in Chennai in the first week of the season before heading to Australia for the season's first major. Wawrkina has a 4-3 lead over Nishikori in career head-to-heads, including the semifinals at the U.S. Open last year, but Nishikori won two of the three meetings in 2016. Nishikori has now reached the semifinals four times in seven visits to the Brisbane International, needing just an hour for a 6-1, 6-1 quarterfinal win over Australian wild-card entry Jordan Thompson. 'I think I played one of the best matches so far, really dominating from the baseline and serving good today,' Nishikori said. 'Everything was working well.' U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova will play Alize Cornet in the women's final on Saturday. Cornet was leading 4-1 when French Open champion Garbine Muguruza retired with a right thigh injury. Pliskova beat sixth-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-4 in the other semifinal match. 'A little bit of luck never killed anybody,' said Cornet, who finished last year ranked No. 46 but now expects to be seeded at the Australian Open. 'I'm just going to take it. I really enjoy the fact that I'm in the final. It's a big day for me, yeah.' Muguruza didn't think the injury setback would trouble her at the Australian Open. 'It will not stop me,' Muguruza said. 'Cornet was playing good. I couldn't match her level today. I had some pains, and I thought it was smarter to take care of my body.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2017

Wawrinka, Nishikori to meet in Brisbane semifinals

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori will renew a growing rivalry when they meet in the semifinals of the Brisbane International. Wawrinka dropped the opening set in a tiebreaker against unseeded Kyle Edmund on Friday but recovered for a 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4 win, reaching the last four in his first trip to the Brisbane tournament. In the previous three years, Wawrinka won the title in Chennai in the first week of the season before heading to Australia for the season's first major. 'Was a tough match, for sure. Long match. Quite humid, also. Also tough physically. But, in general, I think I'm feeling good and ready (for the semifinals),' Wawrinka said. 'For sure, I want to win more matches here and not stop now.' Wawrkina has a 4-3 lead over Nishikori in career head-to-heads, including the semifinals at the U.S. Open last year, but Nishikori won two of the three meetings in 2016. 'We always play a really tough match,' Wawrinka said. 'We played each other few times already last few months, so it's going to be interesting to see. We practiced here this week. I'm sure it's going to be a good match.' Nishikori has now reached the semifinals four times in seven visits to the Brisbane International, needing just an hour for a 6-1, 6-1 quarterfinal win over Australian wild-card entry Jordan Thompson. Thompson beat former top 10 regular David Ferrer in the second round but against Nishikori, he only managed to hold serve twice. Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open finalist, only made 11 unforced errors and didn't face a breakpoint. 'He was, I guess, a little bit tired, for sure. Against David, he was playing great match and maybe he wasn't 100 percent today,' Nishikori said. 'But for me, I think I played one of the best matches so far, really dominating from the baseline and serving good today. Everything was working well.' Seventh-seeded Grigor Dimitrov had a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over No. 4 Dominic Thiem and will meet either defending champion Milos Raonic or 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in the semifinals. In the women's semifinals, French Open champion Garbine Muguruza retired with a right thigh injury while trailing Alize Cornet 4-1 in the first set. Cornet advanced to a final against either U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova or sixth-seeded Elina Svitolina, who ousted No. 1-ranked Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals. 'When she decided to stop, I was a little bit surprised, but a little bit of luck never killed anybody,' said Cornet, who finished last year ranked No. 46 but now expects to be seeded at the Australian Open. 'I'm just going to take it. I really enjoy the fact that I'm in the final. It's a big day for me, yeah.' Muguruza has had a run of injuries in Brisbane. She retired after one set last year and withdrew entirely in 2015. She didn't think the latest setback would trouble her at the Australian Open. 'It will not stop me. I just felt a little bit exhausted on the court,' Muguruza said. 'Cornet was playing good. I couldn't match her level today. I had some pains, and I thought it was more smart to take care of my body.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2017