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Nuggets put Blazers on the ropes with series-shifting Game 5 rout

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com DENVER — Two points separated the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers after the first four, grueling games of these Western Conference semifinals. They piled up the same number of three-pointers and free throws as well. The games were that good, that tight, and the difference between the two teams was negligible at best. Then Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time) happened. Paul Millsap happened. Nikola Jokic happened. Jamal Murray happened. The manifestation of a Nuggets team that’s been dancing with a destiny that leads to the Western Conference finals, finally happened. Their 124-98 rout of the Trail Blazers in Game 5 at Pepsi Center was the sort of declaration Nuggets coach Michael Malone has been predicting for his team since they were locked into a back-and-forth struggle with the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. [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] They evened the series Sunday (Monday, PHL time) in Portland, showing mettle beyond their years by snapping the Trail Blazers’ 12-game home winning streak that dated back to the regular season, with an inspired effort to stave off the certain doom of a 3-1 deficit. Tuesday night’s (Wednesday, PHL time) salvo was a seismic shift in the opposite direction. The Nuggets’ biggest lead was 31 points and their intentions were plain for everyone to see. Millsap roasted the Blazers for 24 points and eight rebounds, dominating while being featured more and executing his considerable advantage in small-ball situations. “The best thing about Paul Millsap is he’s true to himself, he never tries to be something he’s not,” Malone said. “He’s not a rah-rah guy, he’s not a guy that’s going to be screaming and yelling. But I think his calm demeanor has an effect on our group. Young team going through all of this for the first time and when you can look to a four-time All-Star with 90 playoff games under his belt, that’s reassuring. He’s kind of the calm for our team and I think that has a tremendous impact on all of our young players.” Two in particular during this postseason and this series, to be sure. Jokic led the way with 25 points, 19 rebounds and six assists before fouling out late, leaving little doubt as to who deserves to wear the crown as the best big man in the league right now. Murray was splendid again, with 18 points and nine assists, while his backcourt mate Gary Harris chipped in with 16 points and six rebounds. Will Barton and Malik Beasley scored 10 points each off the bench, leading a 33-point bench scoring effort that will need to travel back to Portland for Thursday’s (Friday, PHL time) Game 6 if the Nuggets have any chance of winning three straight and ending this series in six games. “We know going to Portland for Game 6 is going to be really tough,” Malone said, referencing his team’s Game 6 struggles in the first round. “Game 6 in San Antonio, we did not come ready to play, mentally or physically. I hope that we have a much different mindset going in to Portland for Game 6.” The Blazers have some serious tweaking to do, in a short amount of time, as well. Their starters didn’t even play in the fourth quarter, Terry Stotts acknowledging that the 30-point hole his team was fighting out of might have been too large, given the circumstances. And the need to preserve the energy of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and the crew for what sets up as their biggest game of the season was obvious. “At this point, it’s one game at a time facing elimination,” Lillard said. “We know that we’re more than capable of getting it done in the next game. We don’t feel like we’ve played our best basketball yet, and with our back against the wall, we don’t really have a choice. Our mindset is to just get to the next one, take care of home and make it back here.” Stotts has adjustments to make before Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) as well, after the Nuggets bludgeoned his team in the paint for a 66-44 scoring advantage, while also outrebounding them 62-44. The decision to switch Enes Kanter’s primary defensive assignment from Jokic to Millsap Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), with Al-Farouq Aminu being tasked to try and contain the much bigger Jokic, backfired as Millsap went to work immediately on Kanter. “They just played harder than us,” Kanter said. “I think that was probably … even the coach said, probably this was our worst basketball the last six weeks. Shots didn’t fall in, on defense we weren’t really communicating with each other, we didn’t really trust each other. We’ve just got to learn from this and just go home and take care of home, because right now, that’s the most important game of the year.” The atmosphere Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at Moda Center promises to be electric. The Blazers have long enjoyed one of the best home atmospheres in the league. But will it serve as the advantage it has in the past when the Nuggets are fresh off two straight huge wins in this series, the first on that floor? “We have two must-wins,” Stotts said. “Somebody was going to have a must-win after tonight and it’s us. So we have two must-wins ahead of us.” That four-overtime loss in Game 3 Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) could have been the emotional breaking point for the Nuggets. It wasn’t. A school shooting Tuesday morning (late Tuesday, PHL time) in a Denver suburb where Malone lives with his wife and daughters rattled the coach and an entire community. That sort of life-altering event could easily have sidetracked Malone and his team. They persevered. The Nuggets were locked in from the start. When it became clear that the Blazers weren’t going to be able to keep up the pace, they kept pushing until the final buzzer. They understand the opportunity staring them in the face; a conference finals date with the two-time reigning champion Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets, who are tied 2-2 heading into Game 5 Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) at Oracle Arena. It’s a wild shift for a team that failed to play its way into the playoffs last year on the final night of the regular season, only to rebound and earn the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoff chase this season. If the atmosphere for Game 4 or even Game 5 seemed overwhelming, Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) promises to be otherworldly for both of these teams that were previously separated by so little. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. 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: abscbn abscbnMay 8th, 2019

Anthony Davis helps Lakers rout Trail Blazers to tie series

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida — Anthony Davis had 31 points and 11 rebounds and the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers bounced back from an opening loss to beat the Portland Trail Blazers, 111-88, on Thursday  night (Friday morning, August 21, 2020, in the Philippines) in Game 2 of the first-round Western Conference playoff series. LeBron James […] The post Anthony Davis helps Lakers rout Trail Blazers to tie series appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 21st, 2020

Jazz rout Nuggets to tie series

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida — Donovan Mitchell scored 21 of his 30 points in a big third quarter and the Utah Jazz beat the Denver Nuggets 124-105 on Wednesday (Thursday morning, August 20, 2020, Philippine time) to even the first-round playoff series at a game apiece. Mitchell was 10 of 14 from the floor, helped […] The post Jazz rout Nuggets to tie series appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 20th, 2020

Doncic has 9th triple-double of season, Mavs rout Warriors

By The Associated Press SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Luka Doncic had 31 points, 15 assists and 12 rebounds in his ninth triple-double of the season and the Dallas Mavericks routed the Golden State Warriors 141-121 on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 25 points, Kristaps Porzingis had 18 and Seth Curry added 17 off the bench for the Mavericks. They snapped the Warriors' four-game winning streak. D’Angelo Russell had 30 points and eight 3-pointers in the first half but injured his neck after falling and colliding with Dwight Powell during the third quarter. Russell returned for the start of the fourth, but the Warriors were down by 19 at that point. He finished with 35 points and six assists and shot 13 for 21. The Mavericks pulled away when Russell was out, outscoring the Warriors 45-24 in the third quarter. Hardaway made a deep 3 with 6:55 left in the third to give the Mavericks an eight-point lead that would only grow as the game went on. HEAT 117, 76ERS 116, OT MIAMI (AP) — Jimmy Butler made the second of two free throws with 2.3 seconds left in overtime, giving Miami a wild victory over Philadelphia. Butler finished with 25 points, nine rebounds and nine assists to help improved its NBA-best home record to 15-1 and move back into second place in the Eastern Conference. He was fouled by Al Horford as he tried a jumper for the lead, missed the first foul shot and then connected on the second. Tobias Harris had a good look at a 3-pointer as time expired, but his shot from the right corner hit the rim and bounced away. Miami got a one-point win for the second straight night, after topping Indiana at home Friday. Philadelphia lost by one for the second straight night, after falling at Orlando on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) — the first time the 76ers have lost consecutive games by a single point since Jan. 25 and 27, 1995. Joel Embiid had 35 points and 11 rebounds for Philadelphia. RAPTORS 113, CELTICS 97 BOSTON (AP) — Kyle Lowry scored 30 points, Serge Ibaka had 20 and Toronto snapped Boston’s five-game winning streak. Patrick McCaw and Fred VanVleet each added 18 points to help defending champion Toronto avenge a loss on Christmas (Dec. 26, PHL time) and send Boston to its second loss in 15 games at home this season. Kemba Walker led the Celtics with 30 points, and Jaylen Brown had 17. Playing their first game since losing by 16 to the Celtics on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) — the first NBA game in Canada on Christmas — the Raptors never trailed in breaking a two-game losing streak. Toronto was without two of its top four scorers due to injuries — Pascal Siakam (groin) and Norman Powell (left shoulder subluxation). The Raptors also were missing center Marc Gasol (left hamstring). All three were injured Dec. 18 (Dec. 19, PHL time) at Detroit. ROCKETS 108, NETS 98 HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden had 44 points and 10 rebounds and Houston built a big early lead and withstood a late rally from Brooklyn. Houston has won five of six games, with its only loss coming against Golden State on Christmas (Dec. 26, PHL time). Russell Westbrook and the Nets’Taurean Prince were both ejected with about 20 seconds to go when they started yelling at each other after Prince fouled Westbrook. Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets with 17 points and 11 assists. BUCKS 111, MAGIC 110 MILWAUKEE (AP) — Khris Middleton scored 21 points and NBA-leading Milwaukee overcame Giannis Antetokounmpo's absence for the second straight night. Antetokounmpo, the NBA MVP last season, also missed the Bucks' victory Friday (Saturday, PHL time) in Atlanta because of back soreness. Middleton also had seven assists and five rebounds to help the Bucks improve to 29-5 overall and 16-2 at home. Ersan Ilyasova, starting in place of Antetokounmpo, had 17 points and 14 rebounds. Evan Fournier led Orlando with 23 points. NUGGETS 119, GRIZZLIES 110 DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic scored a season-high 31 points and had 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his seventh triple-double of the season and 35th overall, leading Denver past Memphis. Will Barton added 20 points and Jamal Murray and Mason Plumlee each had 15 to help the Nuggets win for the eighth time in nine games. Jaren Jackson Jr. led Memphis with 20 points. BULLS 116, HAWKS 81 CHICAGO (AP) — Lauri Markkanen had 25 points, Zach LaVine added 19 and Chicago nearly led wire-to-wire against short-handed Atlanta. Battling an illness and questionable until a few hours before the game, Markkanen was 8 for 14 from the field, making 4 of 9 3-pointers. The Bulls have has won three of four. John Collins had 34 points for the NBA-worst Hawks. They have dropped 10 straight for the second time this season. PELICANS 120, PACERS 98 NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Brandon Ingram scored 24 points, Jrue Holiday added 20 and New Orleans won its third straight. JJ Redick scored 15 points, and Lonzo Ball added 13 for New Orleans. Aaron Holiday scored 25 points for Indiana. KNICKS 107, WIZARDS 100 WASHINGTON (AP) — Julius Randle scored 30 points and equaled a season high with 16 rebounds, Bobby Portis added 17 points and New York. It was the Knicks' second straight victory, just the second time this season they've won two straight. Both wins have come on the road. Isaiah Thomas and Jordan McRae each scored 20 points for Washington. SPURS 136, PISTONS 109 SAN ANTONIO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan had 29 points, LaMarcus Aldridge added 25 points and 12 rebounds and San Antonio hit a season-high 18 3-pointers. San Antonio was 18 for 35 from 3-point range, including a career-high five by Aldridge. San Antonio set a season-high with 42 points in the third quarter, fueled by a 25-9 run. Andre Drummond had 21 points and 18 rebounds for Detroit. SUNS 112, KINGS 110 SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Devin Booker had 32 points and 10 assists and Phoenix held off Sacramento to snap an eight-game losing streak. Kelly Oubre Jr. added 20 points and 16 rebounds, and Ricky Rubio had 21 points and eight assists. Buddy Hield scored 23 points for Sacramento. The Kings have lost six straight. CAVALIERS 94, TIMBERWOLVES 88 MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Darius Garland and Collin Sexton each scored 18 points and Cleveland overcame an NBA season high-tying 29 turnovers to hold off Minnesota. Tristan Thompson added 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers. Jeff Teague scored 18 points for Minnesota. LAKERS 128, TRAIL BLAZERS 120 PORTLAND, Ore (AP) — Kyle Kuzma scored 24 points, LeBron James had 21 points and 16 assists, and Los Angeles Lakers snapped a season-long four-game losing streak. Kuzma highlighted a strong performance by the Lakers' reserves, who provided 72 bench points. Portland’s bench scored 36 points. Anthony Davis added 20 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers. Damian Lillard had a game-high 31 points for Portland, which dropped its third straight. Hassan Whiteside had 19 points and 16 rebounds. JAZZ 120, CLIPPERS 107 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Donovan Mitchell scored 30 points, Jordan Clarkson added 19 points in his second game with his new team, and Utah beat the Clippers. Clarkson, who was acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), came off the bench to shoot 7 of 13 from the field. The Jazz shot 48.6% from 3-point range to win for the seventh time in eight games. Kawhi Leonard scored 20 points and Paul George added 19 for the Clippers. The Jazz scored the last 11 points of the game to seal the victory, holding the Clippers scoreless over the final 3:35. The Clippers made just four field goals in the fourth quarter......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2019

Giannis gets 3rd triple-double, Bucks rout Knicks 123-102

By The Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in his third triple-double of the season, and the Milwaukee Bucks followed their big victory over the Lakers by routing the New York Knicks 123-102 on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). Avoiding any letdown two nights after winning a showdown against Los Angeles for the NBA's best record, the Bucks (26-4) made their first six 3-pointers and opened a big early lead that grew to 29 points. Antetokounmpo had secured his triple-double by midway through the third quarter after playing just 23 minutes. Khris Middleton scored 23 points and Kyle Korver had 17 for the Bucks, who are playing without starters Wesley Matthews and Eric Bledsoe because of right leg injuries. They didn't miss them at all. Julius Randle had 20 points and eight rebounds for the Knicks, who lost for the second straight night. ROCKETS 139, SUNS 125 PHOENIX (AP) — James Harden scored 47 points, Russell Westbrook added 30 and Houston beat Phoenix. The Rockets won for the 10th time in 13 games and improved to 20-9. Harden shot 15 of 27 from the field, including 9 of 19 from 3-point range. He leads the NBA with 38.5 points per game and blew past that number with his fourth quarter outburst, hitting his quartet of 3s in a span of about three minutes. Westbrook added 10 assists, and Clint Capela had 14 points and 17 rebounds. The Suns have lost six straight games and fell to 11-18. Kelly Oubre Jr. led Phoenix with 26 points, and Devin Booker had 19. All five starters scored in double digits for just the third time this season. 76ERS 125, WIZARDS 108 PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid had 21 points and 13 rebounds and Josh Richardson added 21 points to lead Philadelphia over Washington. Ben Simmons had 14 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds for the 76ers, who snapped a three-game losing streak overall and a two-game skid at home. Bradley Beal had 36 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Wizards. Washington has lost three in a row and nine of 11. Isaiah Thomas added 20 points, but was ejected with 2:53 remaining for going into the stands. Philadelphia suffered its first two home losses in its last two times out, Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) against Miami and Friday (Saturday, PHL time) versus Dallas. Both teams used zone defenses that neutralized Philadelphia’s offense. CLIPPERS 134, SPURS 109 SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Kawhi Leonard had 26 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in three quarters and won in San Antonio for the first time since leaving the franchise. Leonard was 11 for 16 from the field with four steals and two turnovers in setting a hurried pace the Spurs were unable to match. Los Angeles had six players in double figures, including 21 by Montrezl Harrell and 20 by Lou Williams. Paul George finished with 11 points. DeMar DeRozan, who had 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting in the first quarter, finished with 24 points to lead San Antonio. Marco Belinelli added 17 points. BULLS 119, PISTONS 107 DETROIT (AP) — Zach LaVine scored 33 points and Coby White added 19 to help Chicago outlast short-handed Detroit. The Pistons were without Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose, and the Bulls pulled away late thanks to LaVine's outside shooting. He and White made five 3-pointers apiece. Detroit has lost four straight. Andre Drummond had 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Pistons, who swept the season series against Chicago in 2018-19 but have lost the first three meetings with the Bulls this season. Griffin has been dealing with an illness, and Rose missed the game with left knee soreness. TRAIL BLAZERS 113, TIMBERWOLVES 106 PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Damian Lillard scored 29 points, Hassan Whiteside had 16 points, 22 rebounds and seven blocks, and Portland defeated Minnesota. Andrew Wiggins scored a game-high 33 points for Minnesota. Lillard set the tone for the Blazers early, scoring 19 points in the first half to push Portland to a 61-52 halftime lead. In addition to Lillard, co-star CJ McCollum had 26 points and swingman Kent Bazemore scored a season-high 19 for the Trail Blazers, who played without a banged-up Carmelo Anthony. NETS 122, HAWKS 112 NEW YORK (AP) — Spencer Dinwiddie scored 39 points and Brooklyn overcame a 47-point performance by Trae Young and beat Atlanta. Garrett Temple added 25 points, and DeAndre Jordan had 12 points and a season-high 20 rebounds for Brooklyn. Alex Len had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Atlanta, which lost its seventh straight game. JAZZ 114, HORNETS 107 CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Bojan Bogdanovic scored 26 points, Rudy Gobert had 17 points and 19 rebounds and Utah beat Charlotte for its fifth straight victory. Donovan Mitchell added 20 points for the Jazz (18-11), and Joe Ingles had 14 points, including two pivotal 3s in the fourth quarter. Jazz coach Quin Snyder was ejected midway through the fourth quarter after arguing for a foul call. Terry Rozier had 29 points and Devonte Graham added 22 points for Charlotte (13-19). GRIZZLIES 119, KINGS 115 MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 18 points, Jae Crowder added 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Memphis beat Sacramento. Seven Grizzlies reached double figures in points, including Dillon Brooks, with 16. Grayson Allen and Ja Morant had 13 each as Memphis snapped a two-game losing streak. Harrison Barnes led the Kings with 25 points, while De’Aaron Fox scored 22. Richaun Holmes had 18 points and 12 rebounds......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 22nd, 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

Young Denver Nuggets set sights much higher this season

By Arnie Stapleton, Associated Press DENVER (AP) — The Nuggets didn’t make major upgrades over the summer like so many of their Western Conference opponents, and they’re fine with that — they figure Denver will turn into a desired destination soon enough. The Nuggets return a young corps that won 54 games last season and came within four points of reaching the conference championship. Eight of their top 12 players are 25 years old or younger, including All-Star center Nikola Jokic, power forward Jerami Grant and fascinating forward Michael Porter Jr., the No. 14 selection in 2018 who sat out last season as he recovered from back surgery. Although they didn’t make any splashy moves in the offseason, the Nuggets were busy over the summer, acquiring Grant from Oklahoma City, picking up Paul Millsap’s $30 million option and signing point guard Jamal Murray to a $170 million extension. Five months later and coach Michael Malone is still blown away by The Joker’s playoff performance that put him in some pretty elite company. In 14 games, the Nuggets’ unpretentious 24-year-old superstar averaged 25.1 points, 13 rebounds and 8.4 assists. The only other players to post averages of at least 20 points, 10 boards and eight assists while playing at least 10 games in the postseason are Oscar Robertson in 1963, Wilt Chamberlin in 1967 and LeBron James in 2015. “Going into the year I don’t know how you can even have an MVP discussion without mentioning his name because of what he did last year, for a guy that is supposedly unathletic and out of shape,” Malone said. “I think he proved a lot of people wrong.” So did the Nuggets, who ended a six-year playoff drought by going 54-28 and becoming the youngest No. 2 seed ever. They won their first playoff series since 2009 with a seven-game ouster of Gregg Popovich and the Spurs in the opening round before falling at home in Game 7 to the Trail Blazers. “We saw our young players grow up,” Malone said. “You can’t replicate those 14 games in the postseason. You can’t replicate two Game 7s. And I think all of our players have grown from that experience. They’re coming back more confident.” COACH’S CAUTION Now that the Nuggets have broken through and tasted playoff success, Malone’s main goal is to make sure his team guards against letting up. “That’s going to be our greatest challenge,” he said. “It’s not the Lakers, the Clippers, the Warriors, the Jazz or Rockets. It’s us. Fighting ourselves and fighting human nature and not thinking that we’ve arrived, because we haven’t done a damn thing yet.” NO JOKE Malone wants more AND less out of Jokic. “We became so reliant upon Nikola in the postseason,” he said. “I go back to Game 7, when we lost to Portland and he came to my office he’s crying and apologizing for missing a big free throw. He missed the free throw because he was dead tired. The guy was playing 40 minutes a night. Hopefully this year in the playoffs — if we get back to the playoffs — we don’t have to be so reliant on him.” MOTIVATED MURRAY Murray cringes when he hears someone say the Nuggets can end Golden State’s reign out West and reach the NBA Finals. “We need to have the mentality that we’re going to win it,” he said. Murray figures the Nuggets have all the ingredients: “a passing center, shooters all around, the deepest bench.” What they need is more consistency, starting with his own. “I can’t go 4 for 18 or whatever I was in Game 7” against Portland, he said. GRATEFUL GRANT The Nuggets acquired Grant from the Thunder for a 2020 first-round pick. The 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward is coming off a breakout season that saw him set career highs in points (13.6) and rebounds (5.2). He also blocked 100 shots and collected 61 steals. “It’s good to get off a sinking ship,” said Grant, the son of longtime NBA player Harvey Grant. “I couldn’t really ask for a better situation.” PERSISTENT PORTER “I have no pain. All my flexibility is back and I feel pretty good out there,” said Porter, who has only played in three games since high school because of his bad back (and a knee injury that scuttled his Summer League plans). “No matter how many times you fall it’s up to you if you’re going to get back up, even if you fall a million times,” Porter said. “Eventually my time will come when I’m meant to be a basketball player.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 16th, 2019

Herro, Nunn help Heat reach 3-0 in Las Vegas Summer League

By The Associated Press After a couple easy wins to start the NBA Las Vegas Summer League, things finally got tougher for the Miami Heat. Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn made sure they got through it. Herro scored 25 points, Nunn added 19 and the Heat edged the Orlando Magic 96-92 on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) to remain undefeated in Las Vegas. Miami joined Memphis, Detroit and Minnesota at 3-0, in good shape for seeding purposes when the 32 teams are trimmed to eight for the tournament. The Heat can thank their backcourt that has played so well on the campus of UNLV. There wasn't too much to do in the opener, when Miami led by 51 points in a 103-62 rout of China, when Herro and Nunn combined for 38 points. They put up 38 more against Utah, when Miami led by as much as 19 in an eventual 12-point victory. They were even better when Miami was finally tested against Orlando (1-2), which had a 12-point lead. But Herro, the No. 13 pick out of Kentucky, poured in 15 points in the second quarter before Nunn, who spent last season with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA G League, finished it off with 11 in the fourth quarter. Amile Jefferson had 24 points and 15 rebounds for Orlando. THUNDER 84, CROATIA 76 Kevin Hervey scored 13 points as Oklahoma City kept Croatia winless in its NBA Summer League debut. The Thunder improved to 2-1 by outscoring the Croatians 25-7 in the fourth quarter. Marjan Cakarun had 13 points for Croatia (0-3), which blew its chance for a first victory by going 2-for-8 with 10 turnovers in the fourth quarter. HAWKS 87, PACERS 67 Jordan Sibert scored 21 points on seven three-pointers to lead Atlanta in a matchup of teams which came into the game winless. Charles Brown added 18 points and Tahjere McCall added 15 for the Hawks (1-2). Alize Johnson had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers (0-3), who were 4 for 29 (14 percent) from three-point range. JAZZ 97, TRAIL BLAZERS 93 Tony Bradley and Tanner McGrew each scored 17 points for Utah (2-1). The Jazz overcame 35 points from Anfernee Simons, who was 6-for-7 from behind the arc and 13-for-18 overall. Gary Trent Jr. was 4-for-15 but finished with 12 points and eight rebounds for the defending champion Blazers (1-2). GRIZZLIES 79, SUNS 69 Tyler Harvey scored 19 points to lead Memphis in an ugly game in which both teams shot 35 percent. Keenan Evans added 15 points, while recently acquired Grayson Allen and Dusty Hannahs both had 13 for the Grizzlies (3-0). James Palmer Jr. scored 18 points for Phoenix (1-1). CELTICS 95, NUGGETS 82 Carsen Edwards made five three-pointers and scored 23 points for undefeated Boston (3-0). He had 15 points in the first half, leading the Celtics to a 42-35 lead. Grant Williams added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Celtics. Brandon Goodwin led Denver (1-1) with 28 points and Jarred Vanderbilt had 12 points and 12 rebounds. RAPTORS 85, KNICKS 73 Chris Boucher had 23 points and seven rebounds to help Toronto (1-2) win its first game. Malcolm Miller added 19 points and eight rebounds. RJ Barrett had 17 points, 10 rebounds and six assists to lead New York (0-3). Kevin Knox added 15 points and Mitchell Robinson had 13 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks. ROCKETS 94, KINGS 92 Gary Clark and Chris Clemons combined for 44 points and 37 field-goal attempts in Houston's first win. Clark had 24 points and eight rebounds, and Clemons made six of the Rockets' 17 three-pointers. Clark gave Houston (1-2) a 92-90 lead on a scoop shot in the lane with 51.7 seconds left and after a Sacramento miss, Clemons made it a four-point lead with two free throws. Kyle Guy led Sacramento (2-1) with 16 points. CLIPPERS 90, WIZARDS 72 Jerome Robinson scored 17 points and Terance Mann had 15 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists for the Clippers. Robinson made four three-pointers in the first half and scored 14 points as Los Angeles (2-1) built a 50-39 lead. Amir Coffey also finished with 15 points for the Clippers. Admiral Schofield paced Washington (1-2) with 16 points. Rui Hachimura, the No. 9 pick out of Gonzaga, did not play......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 10th, 2019

Trail Blazers cohesiveness helped them to conference finals

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers faced a number of challenges on the journey to their first Western Conference finals in 19 years. But there was one they couldn’t overcome: The Golden State Warriors. Portland’s run in the playoffs, which captured fans’ imaginations after Damian Lillard’s buzzer-beating three-pointer to clinch the opening-round series over the Thunder, ended with a sweep by the defending champions. [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] “We put together a great season and we put ourselves in position to go to the Finals,” Lillard said. “I think every other team in the league would wish they could be in our shoes; not only making the playoffs but playing for an opportunity to get a chance to go to the Finals. We just ran up on a team who has been there the last four years.” Portland was coming off two straight seasons that ended with first-round playoff sweeps. The team, which had surprisingly little turnover over those years, came into the season unified and determined to take the next step. But before the first game was played, the Blazers were hit by the death of owner Paul Allen after a battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The co-founder of Microsoft was a hands-on owner and a familiar face at the Moda Center, and Portland dedicated its season to him. Injuries would challenge the Blazers down the stretch. Lillard’s backcourt partner CJ McCollum missed 10 games with a knee injury. But it was center Jusuf Nurkic’s injury that caused the most concern going into the playoffs. Portland’s seven-foot big man broke his left leg after crashing awkwardly in an overtime victory at home over the Brooklyn Nets on March 25 (Mar. 26, PHL time). Nurkic was averaging 15.6 points and 10.4 rebounds a game and many considered Portland’s playoff prospects dim without him. Fortunately, the Blazers were able to turn to Enes Kanter, who was waived by the New York Knicks following the trade deadline and signed by Portland for the rest of the season. Kanter averaged 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds in 23 regular-season games with the Blazers, including eight starts. Portland finished 53-29 and clinched the third seed in the Western Conference, earning home court for the first round — and a series with the Thunder. The Blazers wrapped that series up in five games — capped by Lillard’s walkoff three-pointer. But even in the playoffs the Blazers couldn’t escape misfortune. Kanter separated his left shoulder in the final game against Oklahoma City. He was questionable for the conference semifinals against Denver but played, although he often winced in pain. Jonathan Yim, Portland’s video coordinator and player development coach, was in a serious car accident before the series with the Nuggets. The Blazers coaching staff wore bow ties in his honor in Game 2. That series went to seven games, with the Blazers sealing their date with Golden State on Denver’s home court. The Warriors were simply too much for the Blazers, climbing back from double-digit deficits in each of the final three games. Lillard played with separated ribs in the final two. The team’s on-court leader, Lillard averaged 25.8 points and 6.9 assists and earned his fourth All-Star nod during the regular season. He averaged 33 points in the opening round against the Thunder, but his production fell against Denver and Golden State when he was double-teamed. Lillard said the past few seasons of relative stability — after four of Portland’s five starters moved on to other teams in 2015 — have bonded the team. “Each year we’ve come back with the right attitude,” Lillard said Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). “We’ve been able to stick together through a lot of adversity and I think just what we’ve hung our hats on, what we’ve believed in, our culture, the togetherness, we’ve been able to truly build on that. And I think we should be encouraged.” Lillard could be in line for a hefty raise in the offseason. If he is named to one of the postseason’s All-NBA teams, he’ll qualify for a supermax contract extension worth $191 million. Lillard has two years remaining on his current contract. Asked about the prospects of a big extension, Lillard laughed and said: “I don’t understand why that’s even a question.” Coach Terry Stotts already benefited from the team’s run in the playoffs, signing a multi-year contract with the team that was announced at exit interviews. Terms of the deal were not released. “The guys in the locker room are special, it’s been a special season,” Stotts said. “Always tough to lose the last game of the year, but I couldn’t be more proud of the group that we’ve had.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2019

Blazers head home for Game 3, down 2-0 to Golden State

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Damian Lillard says Golden State did its job and protected home court. Now it’s time for the Trail Blazers to do the same. The Western Conference finals between the upstart Blazers and the defending champion Warriors shifts to Portland on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) with Golden State holding a 2-0 advantage. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] The Blazers were up 15 points at the half and led by eight with 4.5 minutes left before the Warriors rallied — boosted by Kevon Looney’s dunk with less than a minute left, and a game-sealing steal from Andre Iguodala — for a 114-111 victory in Game 2 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). Golden State capped the game with a 14-3 run to avoid falling into a tie in the best-of-seven series. “Lost the game, but you know, their job was to take care of their home floor, and we’ve got an opportunity to do the same thing,” Lillard said. Lillard, who grew up just a few miles from Oracle Arena, finished with 23 point and 10 assists, but was thwarted by Golden State’s defense, including Iguodala’s at the end. CJ McCollum had 22 points in Portland’s eighth straight playoff loss to the Warriors since 2016. “We’ve got to bring that same energy at home, understand that this is the first time in 19 years we’ve been in the conference final,” McCollum said. “I know they (the fans) will be excited and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity playing at home and building on what we’ve done. “Being down 0-2, it’s not what you would like to see but it’s our reality, so now we got to go get some at home.” Stephen Curry led Golden State with 37 points. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said experience pushed Golden State at the end after Portland’s dominant play for most of the game. “We’ve done this a few times, and yeah, we stole it for sure,” Kerr said. Golden State, vying for a fifth straight trip to the NBA Finals, won the opening game against the Blazers 116-94, with Curry scoring 36 points to lead the way. The series so far, and particularly Game 2, has been an entertaining battle between Curry and his younger brother Seth, who plays for the Blazers. It is the first time that brothers have played each other in a conference final. The younger Curry had 16 points and four steals off the bench on Thursday (Friday, PHL time), including a steal on his brother. Seth Curry even engaged in a little trash talk when his brother was at the free throw line as the game wound down. “This was like the coolest experience I think I’ve ever had playing against him. We talked about the stage and he was amazing tonight,” Steph Curry said. “You know, every minute he was out there defensively, he was a pest. Made three big shots the fourth quarter that were very timely.” He added with a smile that it must have been nerve-wracking for his parents, “but it worked out perfectly tonight: He played well and we won.” Game 3 will be the first conference final game in Portland since 2000. The Blazers lost that series to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in seven games. “I know they are going to be excited,” Stephen Curry said in noting the atmosphere at the Moda Center. “We’ve got to do whatever we can to hopefully take them out of it early. Knowing Portland is going to feed off that energy, it’s going to be tough to win up there, so we got to bring it.” Back at home, the Blazers won’t need to deal with the return of Kevin Durant. The two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP is still out with a right calf injury and isn’t set to be re-examined until next week, meaning it’s likely he’ll miss the rest of this series. Durant, who won’t travel with the team to Portland, averaged 34.2 points in the playoffs before he was injured in the third quarter of Golden State’s Game 5 victory over Houston. The third-seeded Blazers bested Oklahoma City 4-1 in the opening round, then needed all seven games to get past the Denver Nuggets in the semifinals. The Warriors downed both the Los Angeles Clippers and the Houston Rockets in six games to get to the conference finals. The winner in the West will go on to face the winner of the East series between the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks. ___ AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2019

Curry, Lillard battle for NBA supremacy, Oakland s affection

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND — He arrived at the Western Conference finals wearing the jersey of the Oakland A’s, who play right next door at the Coliseum, just a five-minute drive from where he was born. Damian Lillard paused and signed a few autographs before entering Oracle Arena, because he is a man of the people, and these are his people. None of them mention that, in their hearts, they’re rooting for him to lose this playoff series, and so it goes unspoken, a truce in a sense. For this fleeting moment, they’re Lillard fans, until the ball goes up. And then it’s all for Steph Curry, all night long. There is a competition within the competition between the Warriors and Blazers, and it is the battle for the affection of Oakland. There is Lillard, the pride of the Brookfield Village neighborhood, who has blossomed into a bonafide star with the Blazers. And then there’s Curry, the symbol of a basketball renaissance here, who has raised the profile of Oakland the last several years. Now you see why The Town is a bit conflicted. A bit. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] The conference championship may well hinge on the performance of these All-NBA guards. Game 1 was fairly lopsided, both in terms of the teams — Warriors 116, Blazers 94 — and the two principles. Lillard struggled Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) and appeared whipped, physically if not mentally, no doubt from a grueling seven-game second round that just wrapped up 48 hours earlier. He missed 8-of-12 shots, had seven turnovers and, in a rarity for him, he was a non-factor for Portland. He’s a combined 7-for-29 in his last two games. Meanwhile, Curry rolled, dropping 36 points and the Blazers along with them. And so, this is the verdict: Portland cannot hope to stretch this series beyond four games, five tops, without the max from Lillard. He obviously means that much. And Curry, now working without the comforts of his injured co-star Kevin Durant for the second straight game, and maybe without Durant for another two games, needs to keep his skills elevated to prevent suspense from encroaching on the series. The Warriors are well aware of what Lillard has done to them in the past; he has averaged more points against the hometown team (27.0) than any in his career likely because of provincial pride. Yet Golden State is also aware that he has yet to beat them in any game or series of significance. “He’s one of the best guards in this league and carries a chip on his shoulder and it has (worked) well for him in his career,” said Draymond Green. “A special talent. I know he’s excited to be back home playing in the last year at Oracle. So it’s special for him but it don’t mean nothing to us. We’ve got to come out here and try to stop him. A tall task.” While the East Bay has given birth to its share of NBA stars, with Bill Russell, Jason Kidd and Gary Payton among them, Lillard is still freshly active and refreshingly loyal. The connection between him and Oakland remains unwavering despite fame and distance and the fact it’s his job and desire to shock the world in the next few weeks. He played at St. Joseph Notre Dame in Alameda and then finished at Oakland High, and a thick section of fans at Oracle Wednesday were wrapped in Blazers gear and made their preference clear. Most were either from the old neighborhood or family members. His high school coach, Damon Jones, is a Warriors season ticket holder, and Jones said: “Nobody bought me a drink tonight.” The coach added, playfully: “They gave me a hard time. When the Warriors scored, they wanted to turn around and slap five but then caught themselves at the last minute.” Jones remembers Lillard as being a promising and quick guard who picked up the nuances of the game rapidly. “He was very personable for someone his age, a solid teammate,” Jones said. “He still keeps in touch with all of his former teammates. It’s a brotherhood and he’s the leader. He’s always trying to be a positive influence on everyone around here.” Lillard returns every summer to give away backpacks with school supplies and funded the renovation of the Oakland High gym. He’s a familiar sight around town in the offseason and always approachable, and that loyalty and devotion doesn’t go unnoticed. “People here respect him,” said Raymond Young, Lillard’s AAU coach. “When he comes here to play, people here say they’re going to clap for Damian but cheer for the Warriors. Only he can get that kind of reaction. His loyalty comes from his family. His mother and father were no-problem parents. They let us coach him. He was a joy to be around. Still is.” Lillard is even more endearing because he comes from humble beginnings and is self-made. Both of his youth coaches are admittedly shocked by his impact in the NBA. He wound up at Weber State. He wasn’t highly recruited by the big schools. Even nearby Cal-Berkeley came late. “But if he goes there,” said Young, “does all this happen?” Lillard is revered in another place as well. Portland is also smitten by his loyalty; in an age of transient stars, Lillard has never wanted to play anywhere else. Perhaps this has cost him some visibility, with a majority of his games tipping off at 10:30 ET. It’s a price he’s more than willing to pay. Lillard has never taken a team this deep into the playoffs, where legends and reputations are made, and so being in the conference finals represents some new and deserved shine for him. A layer of that invisibility was peeled off in these playoffs where Lillard has come up massive. His shot from nearly 40 feet that eliminated Oklahoma City in the first round, and the bye-bye wave reaction, became iconic. Then he followed up with a strong second round as well against the Nuggets, although as that series crept to the conclusion, Lillard shot just 3-for-17 in that Game 7, then followed up with a 4-for-12 Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), proof that he might be gassed — and also that the Warriors cooked up a defensive game plan specifically for him. “Obviously it’s a little bit difficult physically and emotionally just because you’re excited about being in the Western Conference finals,” said Lillard. “You come straight here form Denver and get ready for the best team in the league. But once we lace our shoes and put our uniforms on, it’s fair and square. You got to go out there and handle your business. "They did a good job defensively and even when I was trying to find (teammates), they were getting deflections. They were making me play in a crowd. I thought they were successful at that … in this first game.” But his toughest task of all might be upstaging Curry, particularly here in Oakland. While Lillard has flourished through much of the postseason, Curry by comparison has been mild, especially by his standards. The missed layups, a famously flubbed dunk attempt and sporadic three-point shooting was unsightly. And then, after Durant limped off the floor, Curry felt a sense of urgency and a flush of greatness. He buried the Rockets with a pair of epic fourth quarters, then kept the faucet running Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). The Blazers couldn’t limit or at least slow him anywhere on the floor, especially from the three-point line, where Curry was a sizzling 9-for-15. And no missed layups. In his last six quarters of basketball, Curry has scored 69 points with 13-for-24 shooting on 3s. “I know what I’m capable of doing on the floor," Curry said, "and the situation calls for me to be more aggressive and hopefully that will continue. It’s nice to see the ball go in. I want to maintain that. I didn’t shoot well for 4.5 games the last series. Every game is different. You have to reestablish yourself and that’s my perspective no matter how I play.” Curry didn’t arrive wearing the baseball jersey of the home team, and if anything has been spotted at San Franciso Giants games across the Bay, where the Warriors will call home starting next season. But don’t get anything twisted. Curry’s bond with Oakland, developed over time, is genuine and real for someone born and bred a country away in Charlotte, and the feeling is mutual. The tug of war for the heartstrings of Oakland is subtle between the pair of franchise players on the floor in this playoff series. Call it a draw from the standpoint of whom the fans here respect and appreciate. There’s enough love to be shared by both. Yet in the basketball sense, this series is on the verge of being owned by the one wearing the jersey that reps Oakland. Curry has more momentum and better teammates, and Durant is on deck. Oakland, therefore, will indeed cheer for one of its own, for Damian Lillard. But the way this series and these playoffs are going, The Town is anxious to pop bottles with Steph Curry once again, at the usual place and time, for one last 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 15th, 2019

Hood hopes to be ready for Game 1 after hyperextending knee

DENVER (AP) — Portland guard/forward Rodney Hood remains hopeful he can play in the opening game of the Western Conference Finals after hyperextending his left knee. Hood left Game 7 on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) against Denver after colliding with Nuggets forward Torrey Craig on a screen in the third quarter. Hood stayed down on the floor, clutching at his left knee as trainers checked on him. Hood was helped into the locker room. [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 had six points in 20 minutes as the Trail Blazers beat the Nuggets 100-96 to advance. “They checked my knee and everything was stable,” Hood said. “Major relief.” Game 1 of the conference finals is Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time) at Golden State. “Day-by-day,” Hood said. “Hopefully the pain goes down. Hopefully it’s feeling better by Tuesday.” In a Game 6 win at Portland, Hood had 25 points. Nuggets coach Michael Malone referred to him as the “MVP of the series.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 13th, 2019

No extra drama needed for Nuggets, Blazers in Game 7

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com DENVER -- All the posturing you can muster won’t win you this all-important game. No amount of name-calling, shoving, screaming, shouting or tough guy antics and gestures will save you when it’s all on the line in Game 7 of the NBA playoffs. And there are enough guys playing for both the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers that know it, even if most of them have only observed a Game 7 from the stands or even further afar. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] It’s a simple proposition, these Game 7 affairs. You win, you play on. Your season continues and all of the goals you set are still attainable. You lose, you’re done. None of the things you believed in before that last opening tip of the season remain. Pack up your stuff and head home for the summer. That’s the reality, the fate both the Nuggets and Trail Blazers are facing Sunday afternoon (Monday morning, PHL time) at Pepsi Center, the all-important Game 7 showdown in the Western Conference semifinals that will define one team’s season and render the other’s mute. There’s a finality to it, a certain air of drama that cannot be found anywhere else in the postseason. So it doesn’t matter if you have “sassy *** dudes, frontrunners,” as Blazers reserve guard Seth Curry put it after things got chippy late in Game 6 Thursday night (Friday, PHL time), one side or broadcast talent on the other taking cheap and unnecessary shots at injured Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, Sunday afternoon's (Monday, PHL time) business is an up-and-down affair for all involved. Win and you play on or lose and you’re done. “I’m looking forward to Game 7,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “Games 7s are special.” No extracurricular activity from either side will change that fact. “Both teams want to win the game,” said Nuggets center Nikola Jokic. “Basketball is an emotional game. Of course, we’re going to talk trash or whatever. Both teams just want to win the game.” That doesn’t mean you don’t look for every advantage possible to help fuel your cause. Blazers big man Zach Collins played a huge role in making sure this series found its way to Game 7, joining Rodney Hood in providing a huge boost off the bench in Game 6. And it was more than just his season-high 29 minutes and playoff career-high 14 points and five blocks. It was his physicality and activity around the rim and in the paint on both ends of the floor, his refusal to allow the Nuggets to find a groove. “We’ve just got to go in and keep playing our game,” Collins said. “I said it after the game, [Denver] has been way too comfortable for a lot of games in this series and [in Game 6] we made them a little uncomfortable. We just need to continue that, regardless of if it’s a Game 7 or not. Obviously, it’s win or go home for both teams. It’s going to be very difficult, especially in [Denver] to go in and get a win, but we can do it.” The Nuggets leaned on their sterling 34-7 record at Pepsi Center during the regular season, the best home mark in the league, as a confidence booster two weeks ago. “We have the best home court advantage in the NBA,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “We’re going to rely on that once again and try to close it out in Game 7.” The Nuggets owning that recency advantage: they needed a Game 7 win here to survive the San Antonio Spurs in the first round, means something. The game and that series provided lessons Malone’s postseason rookies need to tap into this time around, even if they don’t realize it now. “It’s weird,” Nuggets guard Jamal Murray said. “Everybody keeps talking about experience. And I just want to say that we’ve been here before. [We go] back home and regroup like we did for San Antonio, come back with energy and just … be ready to play. I think we had too many lapses [in Game 6]. Dame [Lillard] felt really comfortable, he wasn’t comfortable last time, so we need to be tougher on him … like I said, just regroup, come back and get a win.” If only it was that simple. The pressure to get out of the first round is one thing. The opportunity to make the conference finals is a different monster. The Nuggets last played in a conference final in 2009, when Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith and Nene led the way. That group had a mix of seasoned pros who had championship (Billups) and extensive experience (Billups and Martin) competing on a championship level, to go along with younger and emerging superstar talent like Anthony. And they were ultimately no match for the Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol-led Los Angeles Lakers. So these current Nuggets are well within their right to acknowledge the very real anxiety that comes with a game of this magnitude. “No nerves, “Jokic said. “I just felt something different the first game of the playoffs because it was something different. Just because we call it the playoffs, Besides that, everything else is the same.” The Blazers haven’t seen a Game 7 since a 2003 first-round series against Dallas. But they do not believe the absence of experience in this case makes any bit of difference. “It’s just another game -- a game we want to win, obviously,” Blazers guard CJ McCollum said. “We understand what’s at stake. Somebody’s got to go home. Somebody’s got to go to Cabo, go to Cancun, as Chuck [Barkley] would say. For us, it’s go out there and compete, find the coach’s game plan, understanding that it’s going to be a pretty hostile crowd and they’ll be confident at home, but we’ve got to bring the energy and pressure just like we did [in Game 6].” Damian Lillard has guided his team this far and promised to stick to the basics in the days and hours leading up to the game. Rested bodies and minds are crucial. “The number one thing is have our minds right,” he said. “Don’t overthink, don’t make some big crazy deal or anything like that. We’re going to play a basketball game. It’s a big game and we’ve won on their floor before and we know what type of mentality we had when we did that. We’ve got to go out there, be tough, be physical, be sharp in our scouting report, play for each other, play with each other on both ends and just put the pressure on them. “Make them earn everything on their offensive end and then when we get the ball, make sure that we get shots up,” Lillard continued with his simple but extremely detailed breakdown of what needs to be done. “Value every possession, don’t go out there turning the ball over, playing into their hands where they get an opportunity to get their crowd involved. So that has to be our mentality, to just be sharp, be physical, go in there ready to take the game, because the only way it’s going to happen is us going in there and taking it.” It’s a Game 7, after all, no extra drama needed. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. 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 12th, 2019

Blazers bibitbitin ang Nuggets sa Game 7

NBA – Tiniyak ng Portland Trail Blazers na may Game 7 pa sa kanilang Western Conference semifinal playoff series laban sa Denver Nuggets sa kanilang 119-108 panalo nitong Game 6. Nanguna si Damian Lillard para […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  remateRelated NewsMay 10th, 2019

Raptors crush Sixers, Nuggets rout Blazers to gain NBA series edge

LOS ANGELES: The Toronto Raptors dismantled the Philadelphia 76ers and the Denver Nuggets dominated Portland Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) to take commanding leads in their NBA playoff series. The Raptors…READ The post Raptors crush Sixers, Nuggets rout Blazers to gain NBA series edge appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsMay 8th, 2019

Nuggets dominate Game 5, push Trail Blazers to the brink

    MANILA, Philippines – Nikola Jokic turned up big as the Denver Nuggets crushed the Portland Trail Blazers, 124-98, to take a 3-2 series lead in the NBA Western Conference semifinals on Tuesday, May 7 (Wednesday, May 8, Manila time). Jokic unloaded 25 points, 19 rebounds and 6 assists to power ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsMay 8th, 2019

No need for Malone to sell Nuggets: Their time is now

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com PORTLAND, Ore. — Give Michael Malone credit, the Denver Nuggets coach is as relentless a salesman as there is in basketball. Whether it’s moving speeches delivered to his own team or pleading with television audiences to stand up and take notice of the splendid compilation of talent the franchise has stockpiled in recent years, he refuses to let up. From building the legend of Jamal Murray or waxing poetic about the virtues of Nikola Jokic, the nimble giant prone to triple-doubles on the regular, Malone is prepared to use the bully pulpit to make sure no one overlooks the Nuggets. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] A seven-game series win over San Antonio in the first round produced some of Malone’s best stuff to date, including him trumpeting Jokic as not only a legitimate Kia MVP candidate (true, this season) but also a surefire future Hall of Famer (could be, the way he’s playing). So you had to know Malone was going to be on his Nuggets informercial grind after they refused to lose Sunday (Monday, PHL time) in Portland, bouncing back after losing a grueling four-overtime thriller to the Trail Blazers here Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) with a gritty 116-112 triumph to tie this series at 2-2 headed back to Denver for Tuesday’s (Wednesday, PHL time) critical Game 5. “I’m so proud of our group,” Malone said, after his talented crew showed off the chops needed to regain the homecourt advantage they surrendered in their Game 2 loss at Pepsi Center. “And in the closing moments, I really was confident because in close games this year we were 13-3 [in games] decided by three points or less, best record in the NBA. We’re 12-1 in the second nights of back-to-backs, best record in the NBA. Our guys are tough; to come in here and win this game some 36 hours after losing a four-overtime game speaks to just how tough we are. So I wasn’t worried, we had our starting group out there. “Jamal, who I thought was phenomenal tonight, goes 11-for-11 from the foul line in a hostile environment and really kind of with the series hanging in the balance. You go down 1-3, and we all know how that story ends. I think the confidence of doing the same thing in the first round against San Antonio helped us, but our guys stepped up. We never frayed. We stayed together. And I can’t speak enough about the resiliency and toughness of our team.” And he shouldn’t. The Blazers had won 12 straight games at home dating back to the regular season and were 22-2 on their home floor since January 5. When the Nuggets saw their 10-point lead shrink to just a point with 3:02 to play as Portland closers Damian Lillard (28 points) and C.J. McCollum (29) led the charge, Denver could have easily folded up under the emotional weight of Game 3 and their current predicament. But they proved to be as resilient and tough as Malone said they were. Jokic was brilliant again, collecting his fourth triple-double (21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists) in his first postseason, second only to the five Magic Johnson piled up during his rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers. And Murray was even better, finishing with a game-high 34 points and draining six straight free throws in the frantic closing seconds to seal the win for a Nuggets team that didn’t allow fatigue, a raucous and sellout Moda Center crowd or the pressure to avoid that 3-1 hole rattle them. “It wasn’t the first time,” Murray said of his embrace of the pressure with the game on the line at the line. “I think free throws are my thing. My dad and I do a lot of training [on] free throws. Blindfolded, he’ll talk to me just like how the crowd is, put pressure on me. I take 1,000 free throws in practice to make or or two … and tonight, it ended up being six.” The number Malone focused on afterwards was 11, as in the number of playoff games Murray and Jokic have played in as they continue to establish themselves as postseason stars. “You think about how young we are and and what we are doing, going on the road and winning a tough game in a hostile environment,” Malone said, “and for Jamal to be the centerpiece of that has been phenomenal. If you’re a Denver Nuggets fan, how excited are you about this team now. More importantly, how excited are you for our future? We have a chance to be a really good team for many, many years and Jamal is going to be a big part of that.” The same goes for Jokic, obviously. He’s already an All-Star and is going to end up on the All-NBA first or second team as well as the top five of the voting for Kia MVP after the regular season he put together. That might explains why the entire Nuggets bench froze as they watched him limp to the sideline in the final moments after being kneed in the leg in the final seconds. “Your heart skips a beat,” Malone said. “Nikola is the face of our franchise, but he just got kneed, it was nothing serious and and we were able to hold on for the win.” For all of Malone’s bluster about his group, it’s not even necessary at this stage of the season. The Nuggets earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoff chase on the strength of a talented and deep roster that might not resonate with casual NBA fans, but is celebrated by those in the know. Touting their accomplishments in real time makes sense for a coach trying to empower his team to believe in themselves in what could and perhaps should be a nice stretch of playoff runs in the future. But anyone paying attention can tell that the future could be now for these Nuggets. A trip to the conference finals one year after they failed to make the postseason field on the final night of the season in what amounted to a play-in game in Minneapolis last April, is a hell of a start. Malone knows it. His team knows it. And so do the Trail Blazers, who are well aware of the opportunity they squandered in a series where wavering confidence by the Nuggets might have been the only advantage they could exploit. “The good thing for us is that we won a game on their court,” Lillard said. “So it’s not like we lose both games there. We’re in a good space, 2-2, we know we’re capable of winning on their floor and that’t what we’ve got to get done. Obviously, it’s disappointing … we didn’t want to let an opportunity like this slip, but it happens. It’s playoff basketball and we’ve got to move forward.” So do the Nuggets, which is where Malone the master motivator comes into play. And just so we’re clear about something, his sell job is genuine. He knows of what he speaks in assessing a young team on the rise, having spent time coaching in Cleveland and Golden State during the formative stages with what would turn out to be teams that made it to The Finals (2007 in Cleveland). He was on Mark Jackson’s Warriors staff when they turned the corner from a lottery team to  playoff outfit (2012-13 season), helping nurture the core group of a team that has won three of the past four NBA titles and become a potential dynasty that no one saw coming at the time. So if Malone sees special things in his current team, it’s his responsibility to shout about it every now and then, both to the basketball public and especially internally. Youngsters like Jokic and Murray, Gary Harris and Malik Beasley, Torrey Craig and Monte Morris and even veterans like Paul Millsap, Mason Plumlee and Game 4 hero Will Barton, who knocked down huge shots to help seal the deal, need to hear the positive reinforcement from their coach. And that’s not even taking into account what absorbing these moments means for Michael Porter Jr., who is spending his rookie season recovering from back surgery, and is certainly going to be a part of that bright future Malone is so passionate about. If anything, this Nuggets team is ahead of schedule, two wins shy of a trip to the Western Conference finals with three games to play. Two of those are coming on their home floor, where Denver compiled the best record (34-7) in the league during the regular season. Maybe Malone is right to speak the Nuggets’ success into existence rather than wishing and hoping for it to come to fruition without a word otherwise. But he won’t have to go all car salesmen on the final day of month much longer. A couple more performances like the one the Nuggets put on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) and this whole thing, the refurbished franchise with all the boxes checked on the roster -- now and for the foreseeable future -- sells itself. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. 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 6th, 2019

No rest for the weary: Nuggets, Blazers back at it

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets could use the kind of break everybody else is getting in the second round of the NBA playoffs. If anybody deserved some time off, it’s the All-Star center who just played 65 minutes in a game. But there’s no rest for the weary now. The Nuggets and Trail Blazers will be back on the court Sunday (Monday, PHL time) for Game 4, surely a little low on fuel after they tied an NBA record by playing four overtimes Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) in Portland’s 140-137 victory. [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] “Both teams are exhausted, so it’s the same for them as it is for us,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “We will not use that as an excuse. We haven’t used it all year long and we won’t start using it now.” The conference semifinal round is a series of starts and stops, where it’s difficult for any team to build much momentum because there have been so many gaps between games. Philadelphia and Toronto, who have Game 4 of their series Sunday (Monday, PHL time), play just twice in a seven-day span. In the other Eastern Conference semifinal, Milwaukee and Boston had two days off in between both Games 2 and 3, and Games 3 and 4. When Golden State and Houston played Game 3 of their series Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time), it was their first time back on the court since Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). Then there’s Denver and Portland, who barely had time to catch their breath after the Trail Blazers’ victory in Friday’s marathon gave them a 2-1 lead. They are playing every other day to start their series, and would only have an extra day between games if it’s extended to a seventh game. So while Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid has ample opportunity for treatment on his sore left knee that was such a problem when the postseason began, Portland’s Enes Kanter’s left shoulder has little time to heal before he’d have to get back on the court to resume tussling with Jokic. “As far as the minutes, everybody’s tired. Were built for what’s happening right now. That’s what we had to do to win the game,” Portland’s Damian Lillard said. “Now we’ve got to go do our jobs away from the floor to make sure that at 4 o’clock Sunday we’re ready.” At least Portland wrapped up its first-round series against Oklahoma City quickly, earning some down time after Lillard’s long three-pointer ended the series in five games. But the Nuggets had to go the distance against San Antonio, meaning they had only one day off between ending one series and starting the next. Recover quickly and win Sunday (Monday, PHL time), and they’ve evened the series and regained home-court advantage. But if not, the No. 2 seeds are facing a 3-1 hole, which is a tough spot no matter their energy level. The seven-foot, 250-pound Jokic insists he’ll be ready. “They always talking about I’m not in shape. I’m in really good shape. I don’t know what they’re talking about,” Jokic said. “When I came here I was maybe a little bit chubby, but there’s really no difference in me now. I’m feeling good.” A look at Sunday’s (Monday, PHL time) games: RAPTORS AT 76ERS Philadelphia leads 2-1. Game 4, 3:30 p.m. EDT (3:30am, PHL time) NEED TO KNOW: The 76ers have won the last two games after Toronto’s Game 1 victory. The Raptors have not lost three straight since Nov. 12-16. Kawhi Leonard’s 31.5 points per game rank second to Kevin Durant so far, but Toronto has averaged just 91 per game in the last two games. INJURY WATCH: Toronto is listing forward Pascal Siakam, one of the leading candidates for the Most Improved Player award, as doubtful because of a bruised right calf. Siakam, averaging 22.9 points, was called for a flagrant foul when he stuck his right leg in the path of Embiid during the fourth quarter of Game 3. Embiid’s knee appeared to strike Siakam’s calf. Siakam left the game moments later and did not return. KEEP AN EYE ON: The score at halftime. The 76ers had 64 at the break in Game 3, the fourth time they’ve reached 60 in the first half this postseason, and Leonard noted that was an area the Raptors had to improve. PRESSURE IS ON: Kyle Lowry. All Toronto’s players need to step up more in support of Leonard but the point guard in particular acknowledged he needed to be better after a dismal 2-for-10, seven-point performance in Game 3. NUGGETS AT TRAIL BLAZERS Portland leads, 2-1. Game 4, 7 p.m. EDT (7am, PHL time) NEED TO KNOW: CJ McCollum, who scored 41 points in 60 minutes, along with Lillard (58 minutes) and Kanter (56) are the Blazers who went the longest in Game 3. So there might be an opportunity for Rodney Hood, who scored seven points in the fourth OT, or one of Portland’s big men to get a little more time Sunday (Monday, PHL time). INJURY WATCH: Kanter posted a photo of himself on the training table getting treatment soon after Game 3. He finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds and said afterward he didn’t know if he’d be able to play in Game 4. Whatever it freaking takes #RipCity pic.twitter.com/ok9l0Mf5I8 — Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) May 4, 2019 KEEP AN EYE ON: The energy levels. Game 4 might be one of those that isn’t determined by who plays better, but rather by who has the most left in the tank. PRESSURE IS ON: Jokic’s supporting cast. The Serbian has three triple-doubles and ranks second among all players in both rebounds (12.6) and assists (9.1) per game in his first postseason. But the Nuggets probably can’t count on him staying at that level Sunday after he played the fourth-most minutes in NBA playoff history in Game 3, falling just two short of the record, so other players have to take on some of his usual load. ___ AP Sports Writer Anne Peterson in Portland, Oregon contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 5th, 2019

WATCH: NBA game recap and highlights

      MANILA, Philippines – Damian Lillard struggled but CJ McCollum took charge as the Portland Trail Blazers overpowered the Denver Nuggets, 97-90, to level the series at one game apiece in the NBA Western Conference semifinals on Wednesday, May 1 (Thursday, May 2, Manila time). McCollum collected 20 points, 6 rebounds ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2019

Portland takes Game 2 against Denver, series tied 1-1

DENVER — CJ McCollum scored 20 points, picking up the slack with backcourt mate Damian Lillard struggling, and the Portland Trail Blazers turned back the Denver Nuggets 97-90 Wednesday night (Thursday morning, Philippine time) to even their playoff series at 1-1. The Trail Blazers led by 15 at halftime, 17 in the third quarter and 14 […] The post Portland takes Game 2 against Denver, series tied 1-1 appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2019

Blazers aren t worried; Nuggets aren t satisfied

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com DENVER -- Terry Stotts has his schedule locked in through Mother’s Day. Same goes for Damian Lillard. That would take the Portland Trail Blazers’ coach and star point guard through Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinal against the Denver Nuggets, themselves hunkered down and prepared to go the distance in this series, if need be. [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] They’ve only played one game; Game 2 is Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) at Pepsi Center. But both sides seem resigned to the fact that the victor won’t get out of this series anytime soon. The Blazers are undaunted after coming up short in Monday’s (Tuesday, PHL time) Game 1, when the Nuggets capitalized on 18 Portland turnovers and turned them into 23 points in a 121-113 win. “It’s a seven-game series,” Stotts said Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). “I think both teams feel like they can play better. I read where coach [Michael] Malone and their players seem to think they can play better. We think we can play better. That’s part of a NBA series." “There’s certainly a lot we could have done better,” Stotts continued. “And when you have a chance to go back and watch it on video, you need that confidence going into the next game. A lot of it was at the defensive end. Offensively, the turnovers were a big concern. Hopefully, we’ll take care of that. But defensively there were a lot of areas we could clean up.” The Blazers had no answer for Nikola Jokic, who played a fantastic all-around game and took advantage of every defender Stotts tried on him. But the Nuggets didn’t fare much better against Lillard, who had his way with them to the tune of a game-high 39 points. “He still had 39 points, so we still have to do a better job and I think we will,” Nuggets guard Gary Harris said. “We just have to continue to stay locked in, continue to come back and get ready and just look at the film and look at the areas we can get better.” So for all the data you want to utilize from their respective first-round series, most simply do not apply this time around. Not only is the style completely different, but also the sense of urgency shifts into high gear, given what’s at stake for the winner. The adjustments, both schematically and emotionally, require work from both sides. “It’s a completely different game and opponent,” Malone said. “From Derrick White and DeMar DeRozan, who are not known as three-point shooters, to guarding CJ [McCollum] and Damian Lillard, who are very efficient three-point shooters. So your mindset has to change there on that alone, the personnel. “But now, I think going into this series, Damian Lillard in the first round, he was averaging 33 pick-and-rollls per game. That’s a crazy number. Your bigs are under constant duress, constant pressure to guard and contain, as are your smalls.” Lillard and McCollum promise to keep the pressure on, like always. Now they have to wipe their own history clean of what worked and didn’t work against the Thunder and focus squarely on the Nuggets. Attacking the perimeter defenders the Nuggets can throw at them might not produce the same results they did against the Thunder. The Nuggets have an assortment of longer and more active defenders they can throw at the guys who power the Blazers’ attack. With only a day between games to make adjustments, mistakes must be kept to a minimum. “Every series is going to be different,” Lillard said, clearly ready to move on from the Blazers’ recent playoff past. “Teams are different. The first round is not the second round. The Thunder are not the Nuggets. So I think your approach … obviously, that’s why you prepare so completely different. But the mentality has to stay the same as far as what we’re trying to get done. Being aggressive, being connected, doing everything together. I think in that way it’s the same. They’re a completely different team. And all that said, we had a chance to win the game … so in the end it’s just one game.” There’s a chance for six more in this series. And both sides seem prepared for as much. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. 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 1st, 2019