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  • Friday, April 25, 2014
    Clippers grind out win over Warriors
    By The Sports Xchange

    OAKLAND, Calif. -- Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers labeled it winning ugly.

    • The Golden State Warriors called it losing uglier.

      On a night when the Warriors missed 26 of their 31 3-point attempts, the Clippers got eight late points from point guard Chris Paul and held on for a 98-96 victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference first-round series.

      The win allowed the Clippers to offset a Game 1 loss in Los Angeles and regain the home-court advantage in the best-of-7 series. Game 4 is scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Oakland, with the Clippers now holding a 2-1 lead.

      "I thought we earned the game because we played better (than the Warriors) overall," Rivers said after his club snapped a five-game road losing streak in the postseason. "Winning ugly is beautiful to me, but I know we can play better."

      The Clippers led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter and by 11 to begin the fourth, but found themselves clinging to just an 87-86 advantage after Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson scored inside with 4:24 to play.

      Power forward Blake Griffin, the Clippers' leading scorer with 32 points, dropped in a tough jumper from the right corner to increase the margin to three, and Paul took over from there.

      The veteran nailed a 15-footer with 3:18 to go and then a 3-pointer with 2:40 left to push the Clippers' advantage to 94-86.

      Paul added three free throws in four attempts down the stretch as the Clippers held on for the narrow win.

      "It's a good win for us," Paul assured. "But I told the guys in one of the huddles: We're not going to win or lose this series in this one game. We have to come out just as hungry Sunday."

      Fittingly, the game ended on a missed 3-pointer by the Warriors, with the ball landing in the hands of Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, his 22nd rebound of the night.

      Down two with 7.8 seconds left, the Warriors went for the win. Star point guard Stephen Curry took an inbounds pass, and after not being able to dribble around Paul, he stepped back and fired a potential game-winning 25-footer.

      The tough shot went just 23 feet, however, and the Clippers were able to hold on.

      "I knew who was getting it," Paul said. "I figured he would shoot it. I tried to make him as uncomfortable as possible."

      Warriors coach Mark Jackson felt Paul went a little overboard in his effort.

      "You're supposed to be able to land," Jackson said of Curry, who fell backward after some contact with Paul after the shot. "Clearly he wasn't allowed to. I'm not expecting an apology (from the NBA office) tomorrow."

      Griffin's 32 points came on 15-for-25 shooting as the Clippers hit 46.5 percent of their shots.

      Paul finished with 15 points and Jordan added 14 to go with 22 rebounds. Shooting guard JJ Redick had 14 points and backup guard Jamal Crawford was good for 13.

      Thompson led the Warriors with 26 points, but he missed nine of his 11 3-point attempts on a night when Golden State shot just 19.4 percent from beyond the arc.

      Curry complemented Thompson with 16 points and 15 assists. Backup forward Draymond Green (13 points), power forward David Lee (12), small forward Andre Iguodala (11) and center Jermaine O'Neal (10) also scored in double figures for the Warriors, who shot just 41.6 percent.

      "A bad shooting night," said Thompson, who missed one of the key shots of the night for the Warriors.

      Despite missing 22 of their first 25 3-point shots and falling 18 down in the third quarter, the Warriors rallied to make a game of it in the fourth quarter.

      Curry and Thompson, who had combined to make just one 3 in the first 42 minutes of the game, buried back-to-back jumpers from beyond the arc, getting the Warriors within 87-84.

      When Thompson scored from inside on Golden State's next possession, suddenly it was a one-point game with 4:24 to play.

      Griffin countered with his tough shot from the right corner, but Thompson then had a chance to tie with a wide-open look from 26 feet. He missed, and the Warriors never caught up.

      "That felt great," Thompson noted. "I was even walking back (on defense) thinking I made it. That one hurt."

      The Clippers made their big push in the third quarter, extending a three-point halftime advantage to 18 with a 19-4 burst to open the period.

      Griffin was at his best during the dominant run, scoring Los Angeles' first 10 points on just six shots.

      NOTES: PF Blake Griffin became the first Clipper to score 30-plus points in consecutive playoff games since Elton Brand accomplished the feat in the 2006 postseason. ... The game featured flagrant fouls by Clippers SF Matt Barnes and Warriors backup F Draymond Green, and a technical foul on LA PG Chris Paul. ... The Clippers had lost five in a row in Oakland and 15 of their last 17, all in regular-season play. ... The Clippers were making their first-ever visit to Oakland for a playoff game. ... The loss was the first for the Warriors in the first round of postseason play since May 4, 1994, against Phoenix. ... Among those in attendance were San Francisco Giants home run king Barry Bonds, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and three guys the Warriors traded away within the past year -- Cleveland Cavaliers SG Jarrett Jack, Utah Jazz SF Brandon Rush and Los Angeles Clippers F/G Kent Bazemore.

  • Friday, April 25, 2014
    Clippers 98, Warriors 96
    By The Sports Xchange

    OAKLAND, Calif. -- Point guard Chris Paul scored eight of his 15 points after the Golden State Warriors had closed to within one with 4:24 to play Thursday night, lifting the Los Angeles Clippers to a 98-96 win in Game 3 of the Western Conference first-round series.

    • The Clippers, who lost Game 1 at home last Saturday, have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, with Game 4 scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Oakland.

      The Clippers led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter and by 11 to begin the fourth, but they found themselves clinging to an 87-86 lead after Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson scored inside with 4:24 to play.

      Power forward Blake Griffin, the Clippers' leading scorer with 32 points, dropped in a tough jumper from the right corner to increase the margin to three, and Paul took over from there.

      The veteran nailed a 15-footer with 3:18 to go and then a 3-pointer with 2:40 left to push the Clippers' advantage to 94-86.

      Paul added three free throws in four attempts down the stretch as the Clippers held on for the narrow win.

      Griffin's 32 points came on 15-for-25 shooting as the Clippers hit 46.5 percent of their shots.

      Center DeAndre Jordan added 14 points to go with 22 rebounds, shooting guard JJ Redick had 14 points and backup guard Jamal Crawford was good for 13.

      Thompson led the Warriors with 26 points, but he missed nine of his 11 3-point attempts on a night when Golden State shot just 19.4 percent (6 of 31) from beyond the arc.

      Curry complemented Thompson with 16 points and 15 assists. Backup forward Draymond Green (13 points), power forward David Lee (12), small forward Andre Iguodala (11) and center Jermaine O'Neal (10) also scored in double figures for the Warriors, who shot just 41.6 percent.

      Despite missing 22 of their first 25 3-point shots and falling 18 down in the third quarter, the Warriors rallied to make a game of it in the fourth quarter.

      Curry and Thompson, who had combined to make just one 3 in the first 42 minutes of the game, buried back-to-back jumpers from beyond the arc, getting the Warriors within 87-84.

      When Thompson scored from inside on Golden State's next possession, suddenly it was a one-point game with 4:24 to play.

      But Griffin hit his tough shot from the right corner and Paul brought it home from there.

      The Clippers made their big push in the third quarter, extending a three-point halftime advantage to 18 with a 19-4 burst to open the period.

      Griffin was at his best during the dominant run, scoring LA's first 10 points on just six shots to push the lead out to 56-44.

      Redick added a pair of hoops, including a 3-pointer, and Jordan connected twice from short range to complete the 19-point run, pushing the lead to its max at 65-47 at the 6:00 mark.

      The Clippers led for a majority of the first half but had ample opportunity to take more than just a 46-43 advantage into halftime.

      The Warriors missed all five of their 3-point attempts in the first quarter and gave away seven turnovers that became eight Clippers points, yet the Warriors managed to stick within 24-21 at period's end.

      The Clippers' failure to pull away early was a result of less-than-stellar shooting both from the floor (10 of 24, 41.7 percent) and at the free-throw line (two of six, 33.3 percent). They also went the first 3:14 without a point until Paul dropped in a short jumper.

      Griffin had nine of his 15 first-half points in the second quarter, helping LA build a lead that grew as high as nine.

      But Golden State scored the final six points of the half, three on a 3-pointer by Thompson -- the Warriors' first 3 after 10 misses -- to climb within three at the intermission.

      NOTES: The first quarter of the game featured two technical fouls (one on each team for defensive three-second violations) and a flagrant foul on Clippers SF Matt Barnes, who threw Golden State SF Andre Iguodala to the ground under the LA basket while battling for rebounding position. ... Before the game, Clippers coach Doc Rivers fully recognized what kind of factor the Oakland crowd figured to be, citing previous experiences when the Warriors were offering a far less attractive product. "The reason I respect them," he said of Warriors fans, "is they were good when they (the Warriors) were bad. Now that they're good, they're really loud." ... On the other hand, Warriors coach Mark Jackson cautioned his team not to count on gaining an advantage from the crowd. "They will not score a basket, they won't get a defensive stop and they won't get a rebound," Jackson promised. "But this place will be off the charts as far as the energy in the building." ... One Warriors fan soaking up that energy was Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, on hand to root on one of his former standouts, Golden State backup F Draymond Green.

  • Friday, April 25, 2014
    Grizzlies get by Thunder in OT to take 2-1 series lead
    By The Sports Xchange

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- After a second straight overtime victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder and another night of erratic shooting from forward Kevin Durant and guard Russell Westbrook, Memphis guard Tony Allen didn't mince words about what the Grizzlies are trying to do.

    • "Pretty much make the Derek Fishers of the world, the Caron Butler, (Thabo) Sefolosha ... make those guys beat us," Allen said.

      It couldn't be done Thursday night at FedExForum as the Grizzlies won, 98-95, to go up 2-1 in their first-round Western Conference playoff series.

      Getting there wasn't easy as the Thunder rallied from a 17-point deficit with less than eight minutes to play in regulation to get the game into overtime. In Game 1 in Oklahoma City, the Thunder led by as many as 25 points, but the Grizzlies made their own stand and got to within two points before losing by 14.

      It might not have seemed like a significant effort then to the Thunder, but Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley (20 points) said it mattered.

      "That third quarter in Game 1 showed us what we were capable of doing," he said.

      On Thursday, Durant and Westbrook went 19-for-53 (36 percent) as each finished with 30 points.

      The Thunder's 3-point shooting was especially atrocious as they hit just 5-of-28 for 17.9 percent. Durant, 10-for-27 overall, finished 0-for-8 from long range. Westbrook, 9-for-26 from the floor, was 4-for-13 from 3-point range.

      Also problematic: Oklahoma City finished with 13 assists and 16 turnovers and gave up 22 points off the turnovers.

      "When you shoot 39 percent, there aren't many assists to throw around," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.

      "Personally, I think we missed a lot of good looks," Durant said of the errant threes.

      Meanwhile, the Grizzlies outscored the Thunder in the paint 62-48.

      "They're a power-post team and Conley does a great job manipulating pick-and-rolls," said Brooks.

      Memphis power forward Zach Randolph recorded 16 points, 10 rebounds and a team-high six assists. Guard Tony Allen scored 16 off the bench, with nine rebounds and three assists. Center Marc Gasol had 14 points and eight rebounds and backup point guard Beno Udrih scored 12 points in 14 minutes.

      The Grizzlies led 44-36 at halftime and during one stretch Allen (10) and Udrih (eight) scored 18 straight points for Memphis.

      "When our starters came out, (the bench) actually played better," Conley said.

      The Thunder's 17-0 run in the fourth quarter tied the score at 81 with 57 seconds to play on a Westbrook 3-pointer.

      Memphis went up 85-81 when Allen picked Westbrook's pocket and went in for a layup with 33 seconds to play.

      But the game went into overtime on a four-point play by Westbrook, who was fouled by Allen while sinking a 3-pointer; he hit the free throw to make it 85-85.

      "I hate myself for being in one of those plays," Allen said

      Conley missed a driving layup on one end and Durant's 3-pointer missed on the other to set up overtime. Conley then sparked the Grizzlies in the overtime, scoring five straight points on a 3-pointer and layup to give Memphis a 92-88 lead.

      Guard Courtney Lee held off the Thunder by hitting three foul shots in the final 10 seconds.

      Durant and Westbrook had just five assists between them and Durant says they know that must change. The Grizzlies' bench outscored the Thunder bench 34-9.

      "We own up to it," Durant said. "We've got to get guys involved. We'll take that on our shoulders."

      As for coming back in the series, the Thunder can draw on the 2011 conference semifinals against Memphis that they won in seven games.

      "We've been here before," Brooks said. "A matter of fact, we've been here before with this Grizzlies team."

      NOTES: In the previous two playoff meetings between the Thunder and Grizzlies, the eventual series winner lost Game 1 and won Game 2 (boding well for Memphis). ... On Thursday, Grizzlies PG Mike Conley was named the NBA Sportsmanship Award Winner for the 2013-14 season, the first player in franchise history to win the Joe Dumars Trophy. He also was off to a strong start in the playoffs -- averaging 17.5 points, 11.5 assists and 6.0 rebounds through two games. To try and disrupt him, the Thunder used 6-foot-7 G Thabo Sefolosha on Conley at times, and Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger expects to see more of it, saying, "It was good for them." ... Thunder back-up PG Reggie Jackson had made just 1-of-10 shots from the floor through the first two games, but did pull down eight rebounds and make four assists in the Thunders' Game 1 victory. "To me, that's a good game," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "Your game is more than just making shots."

  • Friday, April 25, 2014
    Hawks hold off Pacers to take 2-1 lead in series
    By The Sports Xchange

    ATLANTA -- The Indiana Pacers were making their final charge.

    • Forward Lance Stephenson's layup had just cut Atlanta's lead to six with three minutes to play, and the Hawks' ensuing possession was falling apart.

      Pressured in front of his bench, Atlanta point guard Jeff Teague barely avoided stepping out of bounds and was forced to toss up a contested 3-pointer on the run with the shot clock running out. Swish.

      It's been that kind of stretch for the unraveling Pacers, and the upstart Hawks gladly added to their woes with a 98-85 win Thursday at raucous Philips Arena

      Teague led all scorers with 22 points, and the Hawks hit 10 3-pointers in the second half to take a 2-1 series lead. Game 4 is Saturday in Atlanta, where the Pacers have won only twice in their last 11 games.

      Atlanta guard Kyle Korver hit four 3-pointers, including a dagger shot from the corner that put the Hawks up 12 with 1:40 left. Korver finished with 20 points, and forward DeMarre Carroll added 18 for an Atlanta team looking to become the sixth eight seed to win a first-round playoff series.

      "That was the best Hawks crowd I've ever been a part of," said Korver. "It's one thing to cheer when your team makes a play. It's another thing to cheer your team to make a play. I thought a couple of times, when we were down, it really got us going. That was really awesome tonight. We really felt the energy."

      The Pacers, who are just 16-16 since the All-Star break, again got subpar performances from their top playmakers. Forward Paul George got in early foul trouble and didn't score in the first half. He finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds, but scored just three points in the fourth quarter.

      "It was a tough time for our guys," said Indiana coach Frank Vogel. "You've got to credit the Hawks. They played better basketball than we did. "We've got to do a better job creating shots for ourselves. We've got to share the basketball a little bit better. We have to execute a little bit better. We've got to get the confidence to step up and make the good looks."

      Indiana center Roy Hibbert was a non-factor and had only four points and two rebounds in 19 minutes of action. Hibbert missed several shots wildly, failed to handle seemingly easy passes and sat out for the majority of second half.

      After a Hibbert turnover in the first half, cameras caught Indiana team president Larry Bird burying his head in his hands. The Hawks finished burying the Pacers in the second half.

      "We've all tried to talk to him and keep him confident," Indiana forward David West said of the struggling Hibbert. "It's hurting him. He wants to help us and he wants to play well. He's hard on himself. We've got to figure out a way to get him involved. It's a long playoff series, so we're not going to panic. We came down here to get one game, and that's what we're intending to do."

      Atlanta shot 30 percent in the first half and made just two of 16 3-pointers, allowing Indiana to stay close. The Hawks led 39-38 at halftime, but got hot in the third quarter.

      "Our group is confident when it comes to shooting," said Hawks first-year coach Mike Budenholzer. "Even after the two of 16 in the first half, they know we believe in it (the 3-point shot) and they know it's part of how we want to play."

      Carroll was the energizer in the third quarter. The fourth-year forward out of Missouri hit a pair of 3-pointers and converted a traditional three-point play in the third to help Atlanta's lead grow to 10. He also took the charge that gave George his second foul and sent him to the bench with 8:45 left in the first quarter. Atlanta hit eight 3-pointers in the third quarter.

      "Coach really relies on me and told me before the season that he wants me to guard the best player every night," said Carroll. "That's what I wanted to do. I'm trying to be one of the elite defenders."

      Stephenson led the Pacers with 21 points and fueled Indiana's last charge with big plays on both ends of the court. He had 12 points, two assists and two steals in the fourth. But the Hawks always had an answer. Sometimes it was a 3-pointer; other times it was by getting to the free-throw line. Atlanta outscored the Pacers 30-16 at the foul line.

      NOTES: Indiana outrebounded the Hawks 51-41. ... After reports surfaced early this week that Pacers coach Frank Vogel was coaching for his job in the playoffs, Indiana general manager Kevin Pritchard took to his Twitter account Thursday to address the rumors. "Larry Bird told me his sources say Frank Vogel's job is safe," Pritchard tweeted. ... The Hawks are in the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season, the longest streak in the Eastern Conference. ... Indiana F Luis Scola and Atlanta F Mike Scott were assessed technical fouls midway through the second quarter, after a brief standoff. ... Pacers F Lance Stephenson and G Evan Turner reportedly were involved in an altercation at practice before Game 1 of the series. Both players downplayed the incident and said there were no hard feelings. ... Indiana C Roy Hibbert did not have a rebound in the first half. He's averaged six rebounds in the first two games.

  • Friday, April 25, 2014
    Grizzlies 98, Thunder 95 (OT)
    By The Sports Xchange

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis Grizzlies won their second straight overtime game, 98-95, over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night at FedExForum to go up 2-1 in their first-round Western Conference playoff series.

    • Point guard Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 20 points and power forward Zach Randolph recorded 16 points, 10 rebounds and a team-high six assists.

      Guard Tony Allen scored 16 off the bench, with nine rebounds and three assists. Center Marc Gasol had 14 points and eight rebounds and backup point guard Beno Udrih scored 12 points in 14 minutes.

      Thunder forward Kevin Durant scored 30 points and added nine rebounds and five blocks. Guard Russell Westbrook finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds.

      The Thunder trailed by 17 points with fewer than eight minutes to play in regulation. They then went on a 17-0 run, tying the game 81-81 with 57 seconds to play on Westbrook's 3-pointer.

      Memphis went up 85-81 when Allen picked Westbrook's pocket and went in for a layup with 33 seconds to play.

      But the game went into overtime on a four-point play by Westbrook, who was fouled by Allen while sinking a 3-pointer and hit the free throw to make it 85-85.

      Conley missed a driving layup on one end and Durant's 3-pointer missed on the other to set up overtime.

      Conley sparked the Grizzlies in overtime, scoring five straight points on a 3-pointer and layup to give Memphis a 92-88 lead.

      Guard Courtney Lee held off the Thunder by hitting three foul shots in the final 10 seconds.

      The Thunder shot twice as many free throws -- 30 to 15 -- but Memphis finished with a 62-48 edge on points in the paint.

      Memphis led 44-36 at halftime. From the 1:15 mark of the first quarter until 5:30 left in the second, all 18 Grizzles points were scored by Allen (10 straight) and Udrih (eight straight).

      Allen and Udrih nearly matched Durant (12 points) and Westbrook (nine points) as the Thunder's two primary scorers combined for 21 first-half points. The Grizzlies led by as many as 12 in the first half and Oklahoma City's largest lead was four.

      Conley scored five points in a 7-0 run that put the Grizzlies up 71-54 with 2:54 left in the third quarter. But the Thunder closed the quarter on a 7-0 run to make it 71-61 going into the fourth.

      The Grizzlies then went on a 10-3 burst to start the quarter and again led by 17, 81-64, after a layup from center Kosta Koufos at 7:44. The Grizzlies didn't score again until Allen's dunk with 45 seconds left in regulation.

      NOTES: In the previous two playoff meetings between the Thunder and Grizzlies, the eventual series winner lost Game 1 and won Game 2 (boding well for Memphis). ... On Thursday, Grizzlies PG Mike Conley was named the NBA Sportsmanship Award Winner for the 2013-14 season, the first player in franchise history to win the Joe Dumars Trophy. He also was off to a strong start in the playoffs -- averaging 17.5 points, 11.5 assists and 6.0 rebounds through two games. To try and disrupt him, the Thunder used 6-foot-7 G Thabo Sefolosha on Conley at times, and Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger expects to see more of it, saying, "It was good for them." ... Thunder back-up PG Reggie Jackson had made just 1-of-10 shots from the floor through the first two games, but did pull down eight rebounds and make four assists in the Thunders' Game 1 victory. "To me, that's a good game," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "Your game is more than just making shots."

  • Thursday, April 24, 2014
    Hawks 98, Pacers 85
    By The Sports Xchange

    ATLANTA -- Indiana Pacers forward Lance Stephenson had just hit a 3-pointer to cut the Atlanta Hawks' lead to four with 7:30 to play in the fourth quarter. He followed it up by forcing a turnover on Atlanta's next possession, but slipped and lost the ball out of bounds. It's been that kind of stretch for the unraveling Pacers. And the upstart Hawks took full advantage.

    • Atlanta guard Kyle Korver converted a four-point play after Stephenson's mishandle, swishing a 3-pointer and hitting the ensuing free throw, and the Hawks pulled away in the final minutes of a 98-85 win Thursday in front of inspired crowd at Philips Arena.

      The Hawks lead the best-of-seven first-round playoff series, 2-1. Game 4 is Saturday at Philips Arena in Atlanta.

      Atlanta hit 10 of their 12 3-pointers in the second half, none more spectacular than point guard Jeff Teague's runner from in front of his own bench with the shot clock expiring. Teague's 3-pointer put the Hawks up 87-78 with 2:48 left.

      Korver drained his sixth 3-pointer a minute later, the dagger shot that has the Hawks looking to become the sixth No. 8-seed to win their first-round playoff series. Korver finished 20 points, and Teague led all scorers with 22 points.

      The Pacers lost again and got subpar performances from their top playmakers. Forward Paul George got in early foul trouble and didn't score in the first half. He finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds, but scored just three points in the fourth quarter. Center Roy Hibbert had only four points and two rebounds in 19 minutes of action. He sat out for the majority of second half.

      The Pacers trailed only 39-38 at halftime. Atlanta's 30-percent shooting, including 2-for-16 from the 3-point line, helped keep Indiana close. But the Hawks got hot up in the third quarter. Forward DeMarre Carroll was the energizer.

      The fourth-year forward out of Missouri hit a pair of 3-pointers and converted a traditional three-point play to help Atlanta's lead grow to 10. Carroll finished with 18 points.

      The Pacers cut into the lead, but Atlanta guard Lou Williams hit a 3-pointer to close out third quarter with the Hawks leading 67-58.

      Stephenson led the Pacers with 21 points and fueled Indiana's last charge, but Atlanta had an answer, sending Indiana to its ninth loss in its last 11 games in Atlanta.

      NOTES: After reports surfaced early this week that Pacers coach Frank Vogel was coaching for his job in the playoffs, Indiana general manager Kevin Pritchard took to his Twitter account Thursday to address the rumors. "Larry Bird told me his sources say Frank Vogel's job is safe," Pritchard tweeted. ... The Hawks are in the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season, the longest streak in the Eastern Conference. ... Indiana F Luis Scola and Atlanta F Mike Scott were assessed technical fouls midway through the second quarter, after a brief standoff. ... Pacers F Lance Stephenson and G Evan Turner reportedly were involved in an altercation at practice before Game 1 of the series. Both players downplayed the incident and said there were no hard feelings. ... Indiana C Roy Hibbert did not have a rebound in the first half. He's averaged six rebounds in the first two games.

  • Thursday, April 24, 2014
    Bobcats' McRoberts fined for foul on Heat's James
    By The Sports Xchange

    Charlotte Bobcats forward Josh McRoberts was fined $20K for his hard hit to the neck of Miami Heat forward LeBron James, the NBA announced Thursday.

    • The foul against McRoberts occurred at the end of the Heat's 101-97 win over the Bobcats on Wednesday in Game 2 of the playoff series between the two teams. The foul was upgraded to a Flagrant 2.

      Game 3 of the series is Saturday.

  • Thursday, April 24, 2014
    Pacers GM says 'Vogel's job is safe'
    By The Sports Xchange

    Indiana Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard said Thursday that head coach Frank Vogel's job is "safe," despite the team's recent slide.

    • This comes one day after an ESPN.com report that Vogel may be "coaching for his job" even after a 56-win season that secured the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

      Pritchard, who serves as the Pacers' top aide to team president Larry Bird, tweeted:

      "Larry Bird just told me his sources say Frank Vogel's job is safe."

      Following Indiana's 101-85 triumph over Atlanta in Game 2 of the teams' first-round playoff series, sources told ESPN.com on Wednesday that coming back to win the series against the Hawks would not automatically guarantee Vogel's job.

      Vogel's players defended their coach on the eve of Thursday night's Game 3 in Atlanta.

      "Leave Frank alone, man," Pacers swingman Lance Stephenson told reporters Wednesday after practice. "We (are) getting ready for the playoffs. I don't know why the media's trying to do all this negative stuff on us."

      Said All-Star forward Paul George: "I want to put that pressure on myself, make sure I keep Coach here."

      The Pacers got off to a 40-11 start, but then went just 16-15 the rest of the way before a loss in the series opener to the eighth-seeded Hawks.

      Bird made in-season moves to acquire forward Evan Turner from Philadelphia and add center Andrew Bynum for bench depth on top of last summer's additions of forward Luis Scola and point guard C.J. Watson,

      The moves were made to get the Pacers closer to return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2000 -- when Bird was the coach.

  • Thursday, April 24, 2014
    No stopping Aldridge, Blazers in second playoff win
    By The Sports Xchange

    HOUSTON -- Coach Kevin McHale had coyly offered zero clues as to what the Houston Rockets would devise in defending Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge differently compared with what was done in Game 1 when Aldridge set a franchise postseason scoring record for the Trail Blazers.

    • Despite a defensive adjustment that attempted to slow Aldridge's pace down, he delivered another scintillating performance and the Trail Blazers defeated Houston 112-105 on Wednesday night at Toyota Center to take a 2-0 lead in a Western Conference quarterfinal series.

      Houston forced Aldridge out of the post, where he crushed the Rockets en route to a 46-point, 18-rebound effort on Sunday night, yet Aldridge still managed to pour in 43 points and corral eight rebounds to win his duel with Rockets center Dwight Howard, who paired 32 points with 14 rebounds and four blocked shots.

      Aldridge, one of the most prolific midrange scorers in the NBA, dominated from that area on the floor, making 13 of 15 shots from the field through the close of the third quarter as Portland built a workable margin.

      "God blessed me with some skill level because last game it was all inside and this game it was all outside," Aldridge said. "That's why you go home every summer and try to get better. You're always trying to come back with something more every year and now I have that balance of playing inside and outside."

      Also critical for Portland was the performance of its bench, with guard Mo Williams and forward Dorell Wright combining for 28 points in support of Aldridge and guard Damian Lillard (18 points, 11 assists).

      Game 3 is Friday night at the Moda Center in Portland.

      Rockets guard James Harden delivered his second subpar performance of the series, missing 13 of 19 shots from the floor while scoring 18 points and committing five turnovers before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Harden missed 20 of 28 shots in the series opener.

      Houston forward Chandler Parsons (15 points) missed 10 of 15 shots from the floor. The Rockets' defense was abysmal again, but their ball movement offensively was equally poor. Houston totaled just 16 assists for a second consecutive game, which is key to its inability to match Portland.

      "I'm not worried about my offense," Harden said. "I'm worried about our defense, our defense as a team. When we get stops and get out in transition, everybody feels good about themselves and that's when the assists flow in and things start going well. If we can't get stops, it makes it more difficult. They are a very good team.”

      After playing Howard to a standstill in the first half, Aldridge scored 16 third-quarter points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field to push the Trail Blazers to an 83-77 lead heading into the fourth quarter. He scored six points in just over a minute to boost their lead to 67-58 and, after the Rockets responded with a 9-0 run, Aldridge drilled another midrange jumper.

      With 6.7 seconds left in the third quarter, Aldridge nailed a step-back 18-footer and the Rockets were in scramble mode the rest of the way.

      "What can they do to stop him," Lillard said of his thoughts while watching Aldridge tear apart the Rockets. "He was hitting tough fadeaways, getting into the lane and getting guys in the air and drawing fouls. He was great once again just like Game 1. He really carried our team. He played like an MVP again."

      The first half offered a spectacular display of one-upmanship between Howard and Aldridge, with Howard scoring a franchise-postseason-record 19 first-quarter points after a sizzling 6-of-6 shooting start.

      Aldridge was not quite as hot early -- he scored 11 points in the first quarter -- but caught fire in the second and nearly matched Howard by intermission.

      After Howard completed an alley-oop with 5:41 left in the half, Aldridge scored 10 consecutive points for the Trail Blazers. His 15-foot fadeaway with 3:12 left cut the deficit to 50-46. Aldridge added two free throws before the half closed, upping his total to 23, just two shy of Howard's 25. The energy Howard supplied with his raucous start was negated.

      "We've got to move the ball and attack," McHale said. "We can't hold it. We've got to set better picks. We've got to have more flow and more side to side.

      "We really haven't moved the ball really well. We haven't shot too well either."

      NOTES: Rockets C Dwight Howard set a franchise record for points in the first quarter of a playoff game with 19. Hall of Fame C Hakeem Olajuwon scored 18 points in the first quarter of Game 4 of a Western Conference first round series against the Utah Jazz on May 5, 1995. ... Rockets G Patrick Beverley was in the starting lineup despite suffering in Game 1 a re-aggravation of a right knee strain that sidelined him for eight games down the stretch of the regular season. ... Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts expressed a desire to generate more production from his bench, particularly during those stretches when F LaMarcus Aldridge takes breathers. Aldridge scored 46 points and grabbed 18 rebounds while logging 45 minutes in Game 1, a 122-120 overtime win for Portland. The Trail Blazers were a minus-15 in the eight minutes Aldridge rested on the bench.

  • Thursday, April 24, 2014
    Trail Blazers 112, Rockets 105
    By The Sports Xchange

    HOUSTON -- Forward LaMarcus Aldridge delivered another scintillating performance and the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Houston Rockets 112-105 on Wednesday night at the Toyota Center to take a 2-0 lead in a Western Conference quarterfinal series.

    • Aldridge had 43 points and eight rebounds to win his duel with Rockets center Dwight Howard, who paired 32 points with 14 rebounds while adding four blocked shots.

      Portland guard Mo Williams and forward Dorell Wright combined for 28 points off the bench in support of Aldridge and guard Damian Lillard (18 points, 11 assists).

      Game 3 is Friday night at the Moda Center in Portland.

      Rockets guard James Harden delivered his second subpar performance of the series, missing 13 of 19 shots from the field while scoring 18 points and committing five turnovers before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Houston forward Chandler Parsons (15 points) missed 10 of 15 shots from the floor.

      After playing Howard to a standstill in the first half, Aldridge scored 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field to push the Trail Blazers to an 83-77 lead heading into the fourth quarter. He scored six points in just over a minute to boost the lead to 67-58 and, after the Rockets responded with a 9-0 run, Aldridge drilled another midrange jumper.

      With 6.7 seconds left in the third quarter, Aldridge nailed a step-back 18-footer and the Rockets were in scramble mode the rest of the way.

      The first half offered a spectacular display of one-upmanship between Howard and Aldridge, with Howard scoring a franchise-postseason-record 19 first-quarter points after sizzling 6-of-6 shooting from the field.

      Aldridge was not quite as hot early -- he scored 11 points in the first quarter -- but he caught fire in the second and nearly matched Howard by intermission.

      After Howard completed an alley-oop dunk with 5:41 left in the half, Aldridge scored 10 consecutive points for the Blazers. His 15-foot fadeaway with 3:12 left pulled Portland to 50-46. Aldridge added two free throws before the second quarter closed, running his total to 23, just two shy of Howard's 25.

      Most critical for Portland: Howard's scorching start did little to buoy the Rockets. When guard Patrick Beverley drained a baseline jumper at the buzzer, he merely pulled the Rockets even at 53 at the half. When Aldridge resumed his dominant ways in the third quarter, Houston was helpless.

      NOTES: Rockets C Dwight Howard set a franchise record for points in the first quarter of a playoff game with 19. Hall of Fame C Hakeem Olajuwon scored 18 points in the first quarter of Game 4 of a Western Conference first round series against the Utah Jazz on May 5, 1995. ... Rockets G Patrick Beverley was in the starting lineup despite suffering in Game 1 a re-aggravation of a right knee strain that sidelined him for eight games down the stretch of the regular season. ... Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts expressed a desire to generate more production from his bench, particularly during those stretches when F LaMarcus Aldridge takes breathers. Aldridge scored 46 points and grabbed 18 rebounds while logging 45 minutes in Game 1, a 122-120 overtime win for Portland. The Trail Blazers were a minus-15 in the eight minutes Aldridge rested on the bench.

  • Thursday, April 24, 2014
    Mavericks finally defeat Spurs to even series
    By The Sports Xchange

    SAN ANTONIO -- After San Antonio's Gregg Popovich received his third NBA Coach of the Year trophy on Tuesday, his counterpart with the Dallas Mavericks, Rick Carlisle, suggested that the award hardly seemed sufficient.

    • "Why don't we just give him Coach of the Century?" Carlisle said Wednesday. "He's the greatest."

      Carlisle was pretty good himself on Wednesday. His team's defense thwarted San Antonio at every turn, inducing 24 turnovers by the Spurs en route to a 113-92 victory that evened their Western Conference first-round series at one victory apiece.

      Dallas also snapped a 10-game losing streak against San Antonio.

      Guard Monte Ellis led the Mavericks with 21 points, one more than forward Shawn Marion. Guard Devin Harris scored 18 and forward Dirk Nowitzki added 16.

      The Mavericks were much more efficient with the ball than San Antonio, committing just eight turnovers.

      But Dallas really won the game on defense. The 24 turnovers were the most by San Antonio this season. Dallas turned them into 33 points.

      "Dallas, they played a great game," Popovich said. "Turnovers have been a weak link for us throughout the year."

      Only reserve guard Manu Ginobili prevented the night from turning out even worse for the Spurs. He scored 27 points, converting 5-of-6 3-point shots. But the two other members of the Spurs' Big Three -- Tony Parker and Tim Duncan -- scored 12 and 11 points, respectively.

      Duncan, who scored 27 in Game 1 of the series, attempted only five shots, hitting four, on Wednesday.

      Other Spurs had rougher nights, most conspicuously forward Kawhi Leonard, who was 1-for-5 and scored six points. He was also in foul trouble early in the game.

      It was a night of futility for San Antonio's role players, guys who had made shots all season. Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli, Danny Green and Boris Diaw combined for 22 points; Mills missed six of seven shots.

      "We were locked in, playing team defense," Ellis said. "We were locked into the system we came into the series with."

      San Antonio trailed 56-51 at halftime, but the deficit could have been much larger. The Spurs committed 15 turnovers in the half, one more than they average per game. They lost the ball 13 times in the first 17 minutes. Dallas turned the 15 turnovers into 19 points.

      San Antonio didn't help itself by missing six of 14 free throws in the half.

      "In every category you can look at, we shot ourselves in the foot," Duncan said.

      One thing the Spurs did well in the half was limit Nowitzki to nine points on 4-of-12 shooting. On one of the rare times that he shook loose from Spurs center Tiago Splitter, Nowitzki made a short jump shot to give the Mavs their biggest lead of the half, 15 points, with 2:31 remaining.

      But the Spurs countered by finishing the half with a 10-0 push. Ginobili scored eight of the 10 points, including an acrobatic putback after Mills missed a driving layup.

      "The run at the end of the first half could have derailed us," Carlisle said. "But at halftime we regrouped, got it back together, and had a really strong second half."

      Ginboli said the Spurs wasted a nice comeback.

      "We made a great run," Ginobili said. "We thought we were in a good situation. We thought if we cut down the turnovers and played a little better ‘D' we'd be in a good situation."

      NOTES: Dallas coach Rick Carlisle is always generous with his praise for San Antonio's Gregg Popovich, who was named NBA Coach of the Year for the third time on Tuesday. "Why don't we just give him Coach of the Century?" Carlisle said Wednesday. "He's the greatest." Carlisle said the Spurs' long run of success -- four NBA titles since 1999 -- can be attributed to factors beyond the continuity on a team that has kept F Tim Duncan, G Manu Ginobili and G Tony Parker together for 12 seasons. "He's one of the guys responsible for a lot of changes (in the league)," Carlisle said. "Those guys were playing faster and shooting more 3s before most other teams. He's always been ahead of the curve, and the results do speak for themselves." Popovich is famously careful about managing playing time; no Spur averaged 30 minutes per game this season, a first for any team since the NBA and ABA merged in 1976. But the coach said he does not have restrictions during the playoffs. Indeed, Duncan played nearly 38 minutes against Dallas in Game 1. "It's one of the reasons we manage minutes, so if we need somebody to extend now, they've got the energy to do it," Popovich said. "You want your best players on the court as much as you can have them there." ... Carlisle left G Devin Harris in his role as a reserve on Wednesday. Harris led the Mavs with 19 points in Game 1. ... Popovich said Duncan had no lingering problem with the left knee that forced him to leave Game 1 late in the third quarter. Duncan came back to play nine minutes in the fourth quarter, scoring nine points. He said he merely suffered a charley horse. "He's fine," Popovich said.

  • Thursday, April 24, 2014
    Mavericks 113, Spurs 92
    By The Sports Xchange

    SAN ANTONIO -- After San Antonio's Gregg Popovich received his third NBA Coach of the Year trophy on Tuesday, his counterpart with the Dallas Mavericks, Rick Carlisle, suggested that the award hardly seemed sufficient.

    • "Why don't we just give him Coach of the Century?" Carlisle said Wednesday. "He's the greatest."

      Carlisle was pretty good himself on Wednesday. His team's defense thwarted San Antonio at every turn, inducing 24 turnovers by the Spurs en route to a 113-92 victory that evened their Western Conference first-round series at one victory apiece.

      Dallas also snapped a 10-game losing streak against San Antonio.

      Guard Monte Ellis led the Mavericks with 21 points, one more than forward Shawn Marion. Guard Devin Harris scored 18, and forward Dirk Nowitzki added 16.

      The Mavericks were much more efficient with the ball than San Antonio, committing just eight turnovers.

      But Dallas really won the game on defense. The 24 turnovers were the most by San Antonio this season. Dallas turned them into 33 points.

      Only reserve guard Manu Ginobili prevented the night from turning out even worse for the Spurs. He scored 27 points, converting 5 of 6 3-point shots. But the two other members of the Spurs' Big Three -- Tony Parker and Tim Duncan -- scored 12 and 11 points, respectively.

      Duncan, who scored 27 in Game 1 of the series, attempted only five shots, hitting four, on Wednesday.

      Other Spurs had rougher nights, most conspicuously forward Kawhi Leonard, who made 1 of 5 shots and scored six points.

      It was also a night of futility for San Antonio's role players, guys who had made shots all season. Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli, Danny Green and Boris Diaw combined for 22 points; Mills missed 6 of 7 shots.

      San Antonio trailed 56-51 at halftime, but the deficit could have been much larger. The Spurs committed 15 turnovers in the half, one more than they average per game. They lost the ball 13 times in the first 17 minutes. Dallas turned the 15 turnovers into 19 points.

      San Antonio didn't help itself by missing six of 14 free throws in the half.

      The Spurs did at least one thing right in the half, limiting Nowitzki to nine points on 4-of-12 shooting. On one of the rare times that he shook loose from Spurs center Tiago Splitter, Nowitzki made a short jump shot to give the Mavs their biggest lead of the half, 15 points, with 2:31 remaining.

      But the Spurs countered by finishing the half with a 10-0 push. Ginobili scored eight of the 10 points, including an acrobatic putback after Mills missed a driving layup.

      NOTES: Dallas coach Rick Carlisle is always generous with his praise for San Antonio's Gregg Popovich, who was named NBA coach of the year for the third time on Tuesday. "Why don't we just give him Coach of the Century?" Carlisle said Wednesday. "He's the greatest." Carlisle said the Spurs' long run of success -- four NBA titles since 1999 -- can be attributed to factors beyond the continuity on a team that has kept F Tim Duncan, G Manu Ginobili and G Tony Parker together for 12 seasons. "He's one of the guys responsible for a lot of changes (in the league)," Carlisle said. "Those guys were playing faster and shooting more 3s before most other teams. He's always been ahead of the curve, and the results do speak for themselves." Popovich is famously careful about managing playing time; no Spur averaged 30 minutes per game this season, a first for any team since the NBA and ABA merged in 1976. But the coach said he does not have restrictions during the playoffs. Indeed, Duncan played nearly 38 minutes against Dallas in Game 1. "It's one of the reasons we manage minutes, so if we need somebody to extend now, they've got the energy to do it," Popovich said. "You want your best players on the court as much as you can have them there." ... Carlisle left G Devin Harris in his role as a reserve on Wednesday. Harris led the Mavs with 19 points in Game 1. ... Popovich said Duncan had no lingering problem with the left knee that forced him to leave Game 1 late in the third quarter. Duncan came back to play nine minutes in the fourth quarter, scoring nine points. He said he merely suffered a charley horse. "He's fine," Popovich said.

  • Thursday, April 24, 2014
    Heat hold off Bobcats 101-97
    By The Sports Xchange

    MIAMI -- The Charlotte Bobcats have never won a playoff game.

    • On Wednesday, their best player, forward Al Jefferson, was playing on one healthy leg, and the Bobcats were facing the two-time NBA champion Miami Heat in their own building and in full health.

      And, oh yes, the Bobcats had to deal with Heat forward LeBron James and his 32 points, six rebounds and eight assists.

      Yet, somehow, Charlotte had a chance to tie the score in the final 10 seconds before losing 101-97 Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

      The Heat leads the best-of-seven first-round Eastern Conference playoff series 2-0. Game 3 will be played Saturday at Charlotte.

      Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was asked if was surprised by "the fight of the Bobcats."

      Normally patient with the media, Spoelstra bristled.

      "That's absurd," he said. "Not in the playoffs. Once you get to this level, it gets highly competitive.

      "We expect a dogfight in Charlotte."

      Wednesday's game was a little like that, too, especially after Charlotte cut a 16-point deficit to three. A 3-pointer by guard Kemba Walker and a runner by Jefferson made the score 97-94 with 1:42 left.

      After a miss by Heat forward Chris Bosh, Charlotte had a chance to tie, but guard Chris Douglas-Roberts was off the mark on a 3-point try.

      James made one free throw with 50 seconds left after taking a hard foul by forward Josh McRoberts, who may face a league penalty for the hit.

      "I was just trying to catch my breath," said James, who declined to comment on whether he thought it was a flagrant foul.

      Walker, who had 16 points, then made another 3-pointer with 11 seconds left to cut Miami's lead to 98-97.

      Miami finally put Charlotte away on two free throws by James with 10 seconds left and guard Dwyane Wade's steal against Douglas-Roberts on the Bobcats' final possession.

      "He wasn't my man," said Wade, who had 15 points. "But I saw him bobble the ball and made a play."

      Bosh credited Wade -- and Spoelstra.

      "Dwyane made the correct play," said Bosh, who had 20 points and hit 4 of 5 3-pointers. "(Spoelstra) gives us the freedom to rely on our intelligence and make plays.

      "We had a little bit of slippage (in the game), but we got out of here with the win."

      Charlotte was led by forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who had 22 points and 10 rebounds.

      "That was the best game he has played as a pro," Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. "He set the tone defensively. He was attacking the basket. He had three offensive rebounds. He played an all-around game."

      Charlotte also got a courageous effort from Jefferson, who played 40 minutes despite a painful foot injury. He scored 12 of his 18 points after halftime and finished with 13 rebounds.

      "I thought he was better in the second half when he got more comfortable with his foot, but obviously he was nowhere close to 100 percent," Clifford said. "He had no mobility."

      Miami led by as many as 13 points in the first quarter, but Bobcats guard Luke Ridnour banked in a 3-pointer from beyond the top of the key at the buzzer to cut their deficit to 29-19 at the end of the quarter.

      James scored 12 points in the first quarter and six in the second as the Heat took a 57-47 lead at halftime.

      "We started the game well, but as soon as we subbed, our defense went down and our turnovers went up," Clifford said. "In the second half, we subbed a lot less."

      NOTES: Heat PG Mario Chalmers started despite a deep bruise on his left shin and finished with 11 points, including nine in the first quarter. ... Bobcats F Al Jefferson started despite a left foot injury that required two cortisone shots before the game. He left the game briefly during the first quarter, went to the locker room, got his foot retaped and returned. ... Heat F Chris Bosh's 6.6-rebound average during the season was a career low. His scoring average of 16.2 was the lowest since his rookie season of 2003-2004. ... Bobcats coach Steve Clifford on his boss, team president Michael Jordan: "He will text me with what he sees. He knows our team well and can identify our players' strengths individually. He knows what we're trying to do, and he's a great resource for me. I appreciate how he treats me -- he gives suggestions but lets me know I'm the coach."

  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014
    Heat 101, Bobcats 97
    By The Sports Xchange

    MIAMI -- Forward LeBron James scored 32 points to lead the Miami Heat to a hard-fought 101-97 playoff victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

    • The Heat lead the best-of-seven first-round Eastern Conference playoff series 2-0. Game 3 will be played Saturday at Charlotte.

      There were seven lead changes early in the first quarter, but Miami took control toward the end of the quarter and was comfortably ahead until Charlotte cut its deficit to 91-87 with 4:40 left in the fourth quarter.

      That is when Heat forward Chris Bosh stepped up and made a 20-foot jumper and a layup -- James had assists on both plays -- to give Miami a 96-87 lead with 3:35 left.

      But Charlotte battled back on a 3-pointer by guard Kemba Walker and a runner by forward Al Jefferson to cut Miami's lead to 97-94 with 1:42 left. After a Bosh miss, Charlotte had a chance to tie, but guard Chris Douglas-Roberts missed a 3-pointer.

      James made one free throw with 50 seconds left after taking a hard foul by forward Josh McRoberts. Walker then made a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left to cut Miami's lead to 98-97.

      Miami finally put Charlotte away on two free throws by James with 10 seconds left and guard Dwyane Wade's steal against Douglas-Roberts on the Bobcats' final possession.

      James made 11 of 18 shots from the floor, grabbed six rebounds and had eight assists. The Heat also got 20 points from Bosh, 15 points from Wade and 11 from point guard Mario Chalmers. Charlotte was led by forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who had 22 points and 10 rebounds. Jefferson, hobbled by a foot injury, contributed 18 points and 13 rebounds.

      Miami led by as many as 13 points in the first quarter, but Bobcats guard Luke Ridnour banked in a 3-pointer from beyond the top of the key at the buzzer to cut their deficit to 29-19 at the end of the quarter.

      James scored 12 points in the first quarter and six in the second as the Heat took a 57-47 lead at halftime.

      Bosh, who was scoreless and had just one rebound in the first quarter -- largely due to getting hit with two quick fouls and playing just five minutes -- was much better in the second quarter. He was 2 of 2 on 3-pointers and had 10 points.

      Chalmers added 11 points in the first half and Wade had seven.

      Kidd-Gilchrist led Charlotte at the half with 15 points. Jefferson was held to six points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field.

      NOTES: Heat PG Mario Chalmers started despite a deep bruise on his left shin. ... Bobcats F Al Jefferson started despite a left-foot injury that required two cortisone shots before the game. He left the game briefly during the first quarter, went to the locker room, got his foot re-taped and returned. ... Heat F Chris Bosh's 6.6-rebound average during the regular season was a career low. His scoring average of 16.2 was the lowest since his rookie season of 2003-2004. ... Bobcats coach Steve Clifford on his boss, team president Michael Jordan: "He will text me with what he sees. He knows our team well and can indentify our players' strengths individually. He knows what we're trying to do, and he's a great resource for me. I appreciate how he treats me -- he gives suggestions but lets me know I'm the coach."

  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014
    NBA roundup: Knicks' Dolan, Jackson reportedly at odds
    By The Sports Xchange

    New York Knicks owner James Dolan said last month that he willingly and gratefully ceded control of the front office to bring in Phil Jackson as team president.

    • Apparently, that was so last month. Dolan and Jackson are clashing over personnel decisions, the New York Daily News reports, with Dolan pushing to retain select personnel that Jackson has already decided not to keep. His first, and predictable, move as president was firing coach Mike Woodson.

      Almost immediately after, reports out of New York surfaced that members of the front office were encouraging Jackson to keep assistant coach Herb Williams in some capacity. Responding to a question about the Daily News report, Jackson said Wednesday that Dolan has "been very true to his word" thus far in his promise to give Jackson autonomy over basketball decisions.

      ---Phoenix guard Goran Dragic, who helped lead the Suns to a 23-win improvement while establishing career highs in scoring and field goal percentage, was named the 2013-14 NBA Most Improved Player on Wednesday.

      Collecting 408 of a possible 1,134 points, Dragic received 65 first-place votes from a panel of 126 sportswriters and broadcasters. Guard Lance Stephenson of the Indiana Pacers (158 points, 13 first-place votes) and forward Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans (155 points, 16 first-place votes) came in second and third, respectively.

      Dragic, who entered the 2013-14 campaign with a career scoring average of 9.5 points, averaged a career-best 20.3 points to go with 5.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds, as the Suns finished with a record of 48-34, one game behind the Dallas Mavericks, who claimed the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

      ---Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel, despite a 56-win season that secured the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, is "coaching for his job," ESPN.com reported Wednesday.

      After Indiana's 101-85 win over Atlanta in Game 2 of the teams' first-round playoff series, sources told ESPN.com that coming back to win the series against the Hawks would not automatically guarantee Vogel's job.

      The Pacers got off to a 40-11 start, but then went just 16-15 the rest of the way before a loss in the series opener to the eighth-seeded Hawks. The decision on whether to retain Vogel at season's end will rest with Pacers president Larry Bird.

  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014
    Report: Knicks owner Dolan already creating turmoil
    By The Sports Xchange

    New York Knicks owner James Dolan said last month he willingly and gratefully ceded control of the front office to bring in Phil Jackson as team president.

    • Apparently, that was so last month.

      Dolan and Jackson are clashing over personnel decisions, the New York Daily News reports, with Dolan pushing to retain select personnel that Jackson has already decided not to keep. His first, and predictable, move as president was firing coach Mike Woodson.

      Almost immediately after, reports out of New York surfaced that members of the front office were encouraging Jackson to keep assistant coach Herb Williams in some capacity.

      Responding to a question about the Daily News report, Jackson said Wednesday that Dolan has "been very true to his word" thus far in his promise to give Jackson autonomy over basketball decisions.

      "As far as Jim Dolan's promise or his premise when I took this job that's he's going to leave basketball decisions up to me, really, he's been loyal to that promise," Jackson said at a press conference. "And going forward from last week through this week, just wanting to talk to Mike (Woodson) when we were through talking to him, the staff -- it's all our decision. He's been very true to his word to this point."

      Jackson, who received a five-year, $60 million contract to run the team and come out of retirement from coaching as a first-time team executive, promised changes throughout the organization in announcing Woodson's departure.

      Dolan was considered mettlesome by past regimes and changed general managers prior to the start of the 2013-14 season.

      Jackson also said Wednesday that he expects to speak with several coaches about the vacancy, including Steve Kerr, who many believed to be the favorite.

  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014
    Report: Pacers' Vogel 'coaching for his job'
    By The Sports Xchange

    Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel, despite a 56-win season that secured the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, is "coaching for his job," ESPN.com reported Wednesday.

    • Following Indiana's 101-85 triumph over Atlanta in Game 2 of the teams' first-round playoff series, sources told ESPN.com that coming back to win the series against the Hawks would not automatically guarantee Vogel's job.

      The Pacers got off to a 40-11 start, but then went just 16-15 the rest of the way before a loss in the series opener to the eighth-seeded Hawks.

      The decision on whether to retain Vogel at season's end will rest with Pacers president Larry Bird.

      Bird made in-season moves to acquire forward Evan Turner from Philadelphia and add center Andrew Bynum for bench depth on top of last summer's additions of forward Luis Scola and point guard C.J. Watson, The moves were made to get the Pacers closer to return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2000, when Bird was the coach.

      There are reports of fighting among teammates.

      ESPN.com sources confirmed a Yahoo! Sports report that Turner and guard Lance Stephenson got into a practice-floor fight on the eve of Game 1 against Atlanta. Sources told ESPN.com it wasn't the first time in recent weeks that Stephenson has clashed with a teammate.

      ESPN.com also reported that Stephenson and guard George Hill had to be separated on the bench during a 26-point home loss to San Antonio on March 31.

      Questions about Vogel's job security began in March after Bird told The Indianapolis Star that he has been disappointed at times this season.

      "A lot of times, we don't take the fight to (the opponent)," Bird told the newspaper on March 11. "A lot of times we sit back and wait and see how it goes. And that was the case even when we were winning a lot of games early in the season. We've got to be mentally prepared to really go after the teams we're playing against. We can't have the mindset it's just another game; it's a very important game. All of them are.

      "I'm sort of going to Frank's side because he's had so much success by staying positive. We do have to stay the course. But I also think he's got to start going after guys when they're not doing what they're supposed to do. And stay on them, whether you've got to take them out of the game when they're not doing what they're supposed to do, or limit their minutes. I will say, he hasn't done that enough."

      During the last week of the regular season, Bird told local ABC affiliate WRTV-6 that "I back Frank 100 percent."

      Vogel received a two-year contract extension during the 2012-13 season that has him under contract through next year.

  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014
    Suns' Dragic wins Most Improved Player award
    By The Sports Xchange

    Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic, who helped lead the team to a 23-win improvement while establishing career highs in scoring and field goal percentage, was named the 2013-14 NBA Most Improved Player on Wednesday.

    • The annual award is presented to a player who has made a significant improvement from the previous season.

      Collecting 408 of a possible 1,134 points, Dragic received 65 first-place votes from a panel of 126 sportswriters and broadcasters. Guard Lance Stephenson of the Indiana Pacers (158 points, 13 first-place votes) and forward Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans (155 points, 16 first-place votes) came in second and third, respectively. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote received.

      Dragic, who entered the 2013-14 campaign with a career scoring average of 9.5 points, averaged a career-best 20.3 points to go with 5.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds, as the Suns finished with a record of 48-34, one game behind the Dallas Mavericks, who claimed the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. He shot a career-best .505 from the field and a career-high .408 from behind the 3-point arc, the only player in the NBA to shoot at least 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range.

      Dragic is the third Sun to win the award, joining Kevin Johnson (1988-89) and Boris Diaw (2005-06).

  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014
    Wizards up 2-0 after winning in Chicago
    By The Sports Xchange

    CHICAGO -- Even after Washington's two road wins in the first-round playoff series, guard John Wall continues to insist the Wizards are the underdogs against the Chicago Bulls.

    • He might lose credibility if he continues that claim.

      The fifth-seeded Wizards rallied from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter and pulled out a 101-99 victory over the Bulls on Tuesday night at the United Center.

      The Wizards hold a 2-0 lead in the series, with the scene shifting to Washington for Game 3 on Friday night.

      "I think we did a great job of staying calm and composed," Wall said. "Early in the season, we would get rattled. Guys would try to make plays one-on-one. Tonight, we trusted our offense. We made big shots and got offensive rebounds."

      Guard Bradley Beal scored 26 points, including nine points in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter. Washington trailed 87-77 with 6:59 remaining after two free throws by Chicago guard Jimmy Butler.

      Beal knocked down a couple of 3-pointers after the Wizards won scrambles for offensive rebounds. He split two free throws with 52.9 seconds remaining to tie the score at 91. After the Bulls missed two shots, Beal's jumper at the end of regulation was off target.

      "Defensively, we got stops," Washington coach Randy Wittman said. "That is what won the game. It was our defense and rebounding that did it for us."

      Wizards center Nene scored the first six points in overtime and Washington kept the lead at 101-95 with 42.6 seconds left after Wall hit two free throws.

      Chicago scrambled back and had a chance to tie the score when guard Kirk Hinrich went to the foul line with 2.4 seconds left. But he missed the first attempt, clanked the second off the rim on purpose and Washington grabbed the rebound to seal the victory.

      "I thought I should have made the layup, to be honest," Hinrich said of the final play. "I just wasn't able to do it. I thought I might have shot a little quick, thinking about it now in my mind. Just have to move on."

      After trailing by as many as 17 points in the first quarter, Chicago took its first lead of the night at 65-64 when forward Mike Dunleavy hit a jumper from the key with 5:05 left in the third quarter.

      Guard D.J. Augustin led the Bulls with 25 points, forward Taj Gibson scored 22 and center Joakim Noah had 20. Augustin was quiet down the stretch after Washington used 6-foot-8 forward Trevor Ariza for the defensive assignment.

      "It was a good strategy for them," Augustin said. "I think we went to some counters to get somebody else open. They were smart and they played good tonight."

      In Game 1, Wall and Beal combined to shoot 28 percent from the field (7 of 25). In Game 2, the two guards totaled 27 points in the first half while shooting 53 percent from the floor (10 of 19).

      "Throughout the whole year, we've been growing and growing," Beal said. "Now in the playoffs, we're playing for something bigger. It was our main goal coming into the season, but we're not satisfied."

      Washington dominated the first quarter, jumping to a 7-0 lead after three possessions, then opening a 29-12 advantage when Ariza drained a 3-pointer with 1:57 left in the quarter.

      Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau went to his bench quickly and Augustin provided a needed spark. He scored eight quick points to bring the Bulls within 29-20.

      Chicago made another push late in the second quarter, using a 14-2 run to close the gap to 47-46 on Gibson's driving bank and three-point play with 1:58 remaining in the first half. Wall answered with seven straight points to boost Washington's lead to 56-49 at halftime.

      Things got testy late in the second quarter when Beal and Hinrich exchanged shoves after Beal was called for a foul while waiting for an inbounds pass. Both players were given technical fouls.

      In the third quarter, Noah and Ariza earned double technicals for getting in each other's face after battling for a rebound.

      "Throughout the year, it hasn't been pretty," Noah said of the Bulls. "But we're a team that found a way. The last two games we fell short. So we're disappointed, but we're not going to stop fighting."

      NOTES: Before the game, Chicago C Joakim Noah was presented the NBA Defensive Player of the Year trophy by Dikembe Mutombo, who won the award four times. ... Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau finished third in coach of the year voting, which was announced Tuesday, behind San Antonio's Gregg Popovich and Phoenix's Jeff Hornacek. "It's great. They had a terrific season. He's one of the all-time greats," Thibodeau said of Popovich. ... Washington coach Randy Wittman on how the Wizards produced a winning road record this season: "I just think it's a mental thing. Once the season started and we started winning on the road, it's a belief that you can go in any arena and have an opportunity to win." ... Washington collected its first win in Game 1 of a playoff series on Sunday since April 18, 1996, when it beat the Philadelphia 76ers 95-94.

  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014
    DeRozan, Raptors even series with Nets
    By The Sports Xchange

    TORONTO -- After shooting just 3-for-13 from the field and being held to 14 points in Toronto's loss last Saturday, Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan went back and watched the Game 1 tape multiple times.

    • "I'm a student of this game, DeRozan said. "I went back and watched the whole game two or three times and just understand where I can get my shots, opportunities where I could score the easy buckets."

      DeRozan led the way with a game-high 30 points in Game 2, as the Raptors evened their best-of-seven series with the Brooklyn Nets at a game a piece with a 100-95 victory Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre.

      "Just really taking advantage of the mistakes I made the first game and not doing the same thing in this game," said DeRozan, who finished 9-for-21 from the field and 12-for-14 from the free throw line. "Coming out more aggressive."

      Toronto center Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 14 rebounds. Forward Amir Johnson went 8-for-10 from the field, finishing with 16 points and nine rebounds. Guard Greivis Vasquez had 11 points and forward Patrick Patterson had 12 off the bench for the Raptors.

      DeRozan playing in his second career playoff game, had 17 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter.

      "He's a great offensive player, he's an all-star," said Nets guard, Deron Williams, who finished with 15 points in the loss. "We knew he was going to bounce back from the first game. This is his first playoff series and he did a good job.

      "He took over the game, we've got to do a better job of stopping him, especially late."

      Nets forward Paul Pierce missed two opportunities from 3-point range with less than 25 seconds remaining. The first would've given Brooklyn a late lead, and then Pierce had an opportunity to pull Brooklyn to within one with 14 seconds remaining, but couldn't get his shot from beyond the arc to drop.

      "Great looks, he had some great looks," said Nets coach Jason Kidd. "It's basketball, sometimes they go in and sometimes they don't. With him, he made the three-point play and then the table is set, he gets a wide open three. It happens."

      Pierce finished with seven points and six rebounds.

      Nets guard Joe Johnson went 7-for-13 from the field for a team-high 18 points in the loss. Forward Mirza Teletovic had 14 points, and guard Deron Williams finished with 15 points and five assists.

      "We allowed 36 points in that fourth quarter, way too high for us especially for someone who prides itself on defense, getting stops, especially down the stretch. We didn't do that tonight," said Williams. "Break downs and they definitely got what they wanted. We couldn't stop them."

      For the second straight game, Toronto committed 19 or more turnovers, recording 20 turnovers Tuesday.

      "We definitely need to clean up on our turnovers, we definitely have to go through film, do whatever we've got to do to clean that up," said Amir Johnson.

      Added DeRozan "At the same time, we're trying to play fast especially against Brooklyn, some times that may cause some costly turnovers. We understand that, We've still got to clean it up."

      DeRozan walked in from the elbow and threw down a monster one-handed jam much to the delight of the 20,382 in attendance -- part of an early fourth-quarter 6-0 run, allowing Toronto to retake the lead 70-69.

      DeRozan later made a 20-foot shot with 2:45 left to break an 85-85 tie and give Toronto the lead for good.

      "I'm just happy for him because a lot of people said he had a bad game," said guard Kyle Lowry, who finished with 14 points, six assists and nine rebounds in the win.

      "Everyone has a bad game once in a while. The fact that he is an All-Star and he knows how to get his points. Tonight he just showed what he can do. He did an unbelievable job of attacking, being aggressive and he got his rhythm going. Once he gets his rhythm going, he is a hard guard."

      Earlier, Brooklyn scored on eight of nine possessions before Pierce missed a 3-pointer as the Nets used 17-6 run to take a three-point lead, 56-53.

      Johnson led the way with 12 third-quarter points, including 3-for-3 from three-point range and 4-for-6 from the field. Guard Shaun Livingston added six points as Brooklyn carried a 66-64 led into the fourth.

      Through three quarters, Toronto committed 17 turnovers while Brooklyn committed just five.

      DeRozan led the way with 11 points and Vasquez had nine off the bench as Toronto led 45-39 at the break.

      Teletovic had 11 off the bench for the Nets while forward Kevin Garnett and Williams each had seven for Brooklyn at half.

      After falling behind early 8-1 in the first quarter, Raptors coach Dwane Casey called a timeout to regroup his team. The moved paid off as Toronto outscored Brooklyn 20-11 in the final 8:35 of the quarter to take a 21-19 lead after one.

      Valanciunas led the way for Toronto with eight points.

      Garnett led the way for Brooklyn with five points as the Nets went through a stretch of missing nine straight field-goal attempts. Williams and Johnson each had four points in the first quarter.

      NOTES: Raptors coach Dwane Casey finished fifth in NBA Coach of the Year voting. ... Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri was fined $25,000 on Monday for the expletive he used Saturday outside the Air Canada Centre during a pep rally before Game 1. ... NBA super fan James Goldstein was courtside for Game 2. ... Toronto mayor Rob Ford also attended the game. ... Ontario native and Kansas Jayhawks small forward Andrew Wiggins took in Game 2 of the Nets-Raptors series. ... The series moves to Brooklyn for Game 3 on Friday night and Game 4 on Sunday.

  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014
    Pacers tie series with victory over Hawks
    By The Sports Xchange

    INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Pacers needed just six and a half minutes Tuesday to drive home their point.

    • A 19-0 run over that time led the Pacers to a dominating 101-85 victory over the Atlanta Hawks to tie their best-of-seven, first-round series at one, vividly producing images of how the Pacers ran over opponents early this season.

      Pacers forward Paul George scored a game-high 27 points, including eight in the third quarter, and was greeted by virtually the entire bench when he hit a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to end the quarter.

      "We're together,” George said. "If this is what it took for everyone to understand how close this team is, then that's what it was. We've got each other's back.”

      George also had a game-high 10 rebounds, leading Indiana's 38-rebound attack, and a game-leading six assists.

      Forward Luis Scola, who didn't score a basket in Indiana's series-opening loss Saturday, came off the bench to supply 20 points. Point guard George Hill scored all 15 of his points in the second half. Guard C.J. Watson came off the bench to add 10.

      "He rewards you for believing in him," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said of Scola. "You know he's a warrior and you know he's got big-game experience."

      Forward Paul Millsap led Atlanta with 19 points. Guard Jeff Teague, who scored 28 points in the series opener, had 14 and was held to two points in the second half.

      Game 3 will be played Thursday night at Atlanta's Phillips Arena, and George knows Teague will be back in a big way for that game.

      "He's a great player,” George said. "I'm going to challenge him. I'm going to go back at him.”

      "I'm super excited," said Teague, an Indiana native. "I'm ready to get out of here, being from here. I'm looking forward to getting back home and in front of the Atlanta crowd, which will be a rocking crowd."

      The Pacers, once down 11 points, began the third quarter with a four-point deficit after Millsap scored 13 points in the first half.

      Hill scored 10 points in the third quarter and George had eight as the Pacers outscored the Hawks 31-13. Atlanta missed 15-of-20 shots in the third quarter and had six rebounds to Indiana's 10.

      "Thirty-one points and 75 percent (shooting). We've got to be better defensively," Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said.

      The Pacers used the 19-0 streak to put the game away, bringing their home fans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to their feet after a few days of criticism that included some choice words from former NBA star and current TV broadcaster Charles Barkley.

      "We were in a must-win situation,” said Indiana forward David West, who had six assists and eight points. "We had to play with a certain level of desperation. We just got active with our voices, our hands. I thought we were able to give ourselves a chance to win this game in the third quarter.”

      The 19-point run by the Pacers covered the last 3:33 of the third quarter and nearly the first three minutes of the fourth quarter. By the time Atlanta guard Louis Williams stopped the streak on a running shot for a basket with 9:03 left in the game, Indiana had pulled ahead 87-65.

      And if the score rolling up quickly on the Hawks was not damaging enough, the final few seconds of the third quarter completely destroyed them.

      A block by Indiana forward Ian Mahinmi set up a fast break and George hit a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to end the quarter with Bankers Life Fieldhouse erupting in noise. The Pacers scored the last 14 points of the third quarter and the first five points of the fourth.

      "We put the print on this game in the third quarter,” George said.

      NOTES: Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer congratulated his former boss, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, by phone on Tuesday after Popovich was named NBA Coach of the Year. "I'm a little biased. I think he's the coach of the year every year," said Budenholzer, who was a Spurs assistant for 17 years before becoming Atlanta's head coach in 2013. ... Before Tuesday's game, Atlanta G Jeff Teague had averaged 26.5 points per game in his two most recent games against Indiana. His 16.5 points per game average during the regular season was a career high. ... The Pacers won their last game in Atlanta, 89-85 on Feb. 4, breaking a 12-game losing streak at Phillips Arena. Game 3 of the series is Thursday at Phillips Arena. ...The Pacers are attempting to break playoff history against the Hawks. In all previous five playoff series between the teams, the winner of Game 1 has won the series.

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014
    Raptors 100, Nets 95
    By The Sports Xchange

    By Dhiren Mahiban

    • TORONTO -- Guard DeMar DeRozan had 15 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Toronto Raptors to a 100-95 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series at Air Canada Centre Tuesday night.

      The win, Toronto's first postseason victory since April 24, 2008, evens the best-of-seven series with Brooklyn at a win a piece.

      Toronto center Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 14 rebounds. Forward Amir Johnson went 8-for-10 from the field, finishing with 16 points and nine rebounds. Guard Greivis Vasquez had 11 points and forward Patrick Patterson had 12 off the bench for the Raptors.

      Nets guard Joe Johnson went 7-for-13 from the field for a team-high 18 points in the loss. Forward Mirza Teletovic had 14 points, and guard Deron Williams finished with 15 points and five assists.

      Nets forward Paul Pearce, who got into foul trouble early, was limited to just seven points and six rebounds.

      For the second straight game, Toronto committed 19 or more turnovers, recording 20 turnovers Tuesday.

      DeRozan walked in from the elbow and threw down a monster one-handed jam much to the delight of the 20,382 in attendance - part of an early fourth-quarter 6-0 run, allowing Toronto to retake the lead 70-69.

      DeRozan later made a 20-foot shot with 2:45 left to break an 85-85 tie and give Toronto the lead for good.

      Earlier, Brooklyn had scored on eight of nine possessions before Pierce missed a 3-pointer as the Nets used 17-6 run to take a three-point lead, 56-53.

      Johnson led the way with 12 third-quarter points, including 3-for-3 from three-point range and 4-for-6 from the field. Guard Shaun Livingston added six points as Brooklyn carried a 66-64 led into the fourth.

      Through three quarters, Toronto committed 17 turnovers while Brooklyn committed just five.

      DeRozan led the way with 11 points and Vasquez had nine off the bench as Toronto led 45-39 at the break.

      Teletovic had 11 off the bench for the Nets while forward Kevin Garnett and Williams each had seven for Brooklyn at half.

      After falling behind 8-1 in the first quarter, Raptors coach Dwane Casey called a timeout to regroup his team. The moved paid off as Toronto outscored Brooklyn 20-11 in the final 8:35 of the quarter to take a 21-19 lead after one.

      Valanciunas led the way for Toronto with eight points.

      Garnett led the way for Brooklyn with five points as the Nets went through a stretch of missing nine straight field-goal attempts. Williams and Johnson each had four points in the first quarter.

      NOTES: Raptors coach Dwane Casey finished fifth in NBA Coach of the Year voting. ... Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri was fined $25,000 on Monday for the expletive he used Saturday outside the Air Canada Centre during a pep rally before Game 1. ... NBA super fan James Goldstein was courtside for Game 2. ... Toronto mayor Rob Ford also attended the game. ... Ontario native and Kansas Jayhawks small forward Andrew Wiggins took in Game 2 of the Nets-Raptors series. ... The series moves to Brooklyn for Game 3 on Friday night and Game 4 on Sunday.

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014
    Pacers 101, Hawks 85
    By The Sports Xchange

    INDIANAPOLIS -- Forward Paul George and the Indiana Pacers answered their doubters on Tuesday night.

    • George scored a game-high 27 points and the Pacers defeated the Atlanta Hawks 101-85 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to tie their best-of-seven first-round playoff series at one game each.

      Game 3 will be played Thursday night at Atlanta's Phillips Arena.

      Forward Luis Scola, who did not score a basket in Indiana's 101-93 loss in the series opener on Saturday, came off the bench to supply 20 points. Point guard George Hill added 15 points.

      Forward Paul Millsap led Atlanta with 19 points. Guard Jeff Teague, who scored 28 points in the series opener, had 14 and was held to two points in the second half.

      A 19-point run by the Pacers in the last three minutes of the third quarter and the first three minutes of the fourth quarter buried the Hawks. By the time the streak was over, Indiana had pulled ahead 87-65.

      And if the score rolling up quickly on the Hawks was not damaging enough, the final few seconds of the third quarter completely destroyed them.

      A block by Indiana forward Ian Mahinmi set up a fast break and George hit a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to end the quarter with Bankers Life Fieldhouse erupting in noise.

      The Pacers scored the last 14 points of the third quarter and the first five points of the fourth. The Hawks went six minutes without a basket.

      Hill scored 10 points in the third quarter and George had eight as the Pacers outscored the Hawks 31-13.

      The Pacers, once down 11 points, began the third quarter with a four-point deficit after Millsap scored 13 points in the first half.

      Teague and Millsap burned the Pacers early. They each hit five of their first eight shots from the field, helping the Hawks build an 11-point lead in the second quarter. But they were held to a combined six points in the third quarter, when the Pacers took control.

      Scola gave the Pacers a big lift in the second quarter. The 6-foot-9 bench player hit 5 of 10 shots from the field in the quarter, scoring 11 points and grabbing five rebounds. Scola scored on three consecutive possessions, which kept Atlanta's lead to six points at the time.

      NOTES: Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer congratulated his former boss, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, by phone on Tuesday after Popovich was named NBA Coach of the Year. "I'm a little biased. I think he's the coach of the year every year," said Budenholzer, who was a Spurs assistant for 17 years before becoming Atlanta's head coach in 2013. ... Before Tuesday's game, Atlanta G Jeff Teague had averaged 26.5 points per game in his two most recent games against Indiana. His 16.5 points per game average during the regular season was a career high. ... The Pacers won their last game in Atlanta, 89-85 on Feb. 4, breaking a 12-game losing streak at Phillips Arena. Game 3 of the series is Thursday at Phillips Arena. ...The Pacers are attempting to break playoff history against the Hawks. In all previous five playoff series between the teams, the winner of Game 1 has won the series.

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014
    NBA roundup: Popovich named Coach of the Year
    By The Sports Xchange

    San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich credits his players for rebounding in resilient fashion from what he considers the most devastating defeat in his coaching tenure with the franchise -- Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals -- to post the best record in the league a year later.

    • Popovich's players and a panel of voters are inclined to give the veteran coach some of that credit.

      Popovich is the recipient of the Red Auerbach Trophy as the 2013-14 NBA Coach of the Year. Popovich, accepted the award after a playoff walkthrough Tuesday, said he owes much of the credit to general manager R.C. Buford -- never honored as executive of the year -- and owner Peter Holt.

      "I'm very honored, for a whole lot of reasons," he said. "First of all, because there are so many coaches that did such a great job this year. A lot of people were really special, and to be singled out is pretty humbling. I know I've been very lucky for a good number of years, and I know full well that I just represent part of what goes on here. A lot of people contribute to any sort of award like this. So this award, with Coach Auerbach here, belongs to a lot of people is the bottom line. I'm honored and very thankful."

      The Spurs finished with a league-best 62-20 (.756) record, which provided them with homecourt advantage throughout the postseason and gave the franchise 15 consecutive seasons with at least 50 victories under Popovich.

      San Antonio lost in the 2013 NBA Finals to the Miami Heat, who rallied from a 3-2 series deficit with a furious last-minute comeback in Game 6 and won Game 7 in Miami.

      ---Steve Kerr played for Phil Jackson in Chicago, they dine together when TNT basketball assignments put Kerr in the same city and there is no pretending the hypothetical coaching conversation between them would be a new one.

      That said, Kerr voiced caution to those predicting his next move is to become head coach of Jackson's New York Knicks.

      "I do anticipate talking with Phil Jackson at some point. But when that time comes it will come but for now there's really not a whole lot to talk about," said Kerr, via XMRadio, while on assignment for the first round of the NBA playoffs as a TNT basketball analyst. "We've remained close over the years, since he retired from coaching, even while he was coaching the Lakers, I would often have dinner with him on the road if I was playing for another team even, just to catch up. I went to his daughter's wedding a few years ago in Montana. We've been very close."

      Kerr was rumored to be a prime candidate for Jackson long before coach Mike Woodson was officially fired by the new Knicks president on Monday. Kerr has never been a coach, but worked as general manager of the Phoenix Suns upon his retirement from the NBA as a player.

      ---The Golden State Warriors agreed to terms with Salesforce.com to purchase land in San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood, where the team intends to build a new arena.

      "We believe Mission Bay is a perfect fit," Joe Lacob, co-executive chairman and CEO of the Warriors said in a statement. "It is a wonderful inland site in a dynamic part of the City that is convenient for fans from all over the Bay Area. We are buying private property, but the city will also get a new 5 1/2-acre waterfront park. It's a win-win for everyone."

      The Warriors are targeting the 2018-19 season to open the arena. The team first arrived in San Francisco in 1962 and played there until moving to Oakland for the 1971-72 season.

      The Warriors abandoned their plan to build an arena on Piers 30-32 just south of the Bay Bridge.

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014
    Warriors plan to build new arena
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Golden State Warriors agreed to terms Tuesday with Salesforce.com to purchase land in San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood, where the team intends to build a new arena.

    • "We believe Mission Bay is a perfect fit," Joe Lacob, co-executive chairman and CEO of the Warriors said in a statement. "It is a wonderful inland site in a dynamic part of the City that is convenient for fans from all over the Bay Area. We are buying private property, but the city will also get a new 5 1/2-acre waterfront park. It's a win-win for everyone."

      The Warriors are targeting the 2018-19 season to open the arena. The team first arrived in San Francisco in 1962 and played there until moving to Oakland for the 1971-72 season.

      The Warriors abandoned their plan to build an arena on Piers 30-32 just south of the Bay Bridge.

      "We've said all along we wanted to create a spectacular cultural destination for the city and the entire region," said co-executive chairman Peter Guber "This is about a shared cultural experience: going to a beautiful and inviting place to see a game, see a show, attend a convention. It will be easily accessible, state of the art, digitally fit, and second to none."

      Although specific details of the plan remain to be announced, the Warriors said previously discussed basic elements of the event center remain in effect: the arena will hold about 18,000 seats; it will showcase NBA basketball games as well as concerts, cultural events, family shows and convention activities; and it will be privately financed on private land.

      The new Warriors event center will be built on 12 acres of private, inland property, bounded by 3rd, 16th and South Streets, and Terry Francois Blvd.

      The transaction with Salesforce.com involves no public property and no public subsidy. There are no naming rights or sponsorship rights associated with the transaction.

      Mission Bay, a former redevelopment area that became the home of the University of California, San Francisco's second campus, has been emerging as a modern urban center for the past 15 years. The Warriors' new home will be within walking distance of several public plazas, parks, restaurants and retail corridors. AT&T Park is only a few blocks to the north.