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  • Pelicans rookie Dejean-Jones dies from gunshot wound
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, May 28, 2016

    New Orleans Pelicans rookie guard Bryce Dejean-Jones died from a gunshot wound to his abdomen, his agent told ESPN Saturday. He was 23.

    • The Dallas, Texas, County Coroner also confirmed Dejean-Jones' death to NBC Sports.

      "Bryce overcame a lot of obstacles to get to this point in his career," said his agent, Scott Nichols. "He was a joy to be around, a talent just turning the corner in his career."

      Dejean-Jones, who was undrafted, signed a three-year contract with the Pelicans in February after playing consecutive 10-day contracts. He averaged 5.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 19.9 minutes over 14 games (11 starts). His season ended when he had surgery for a broken right wrist.

      Dejean-Jones played collegiately at USC, UNLV and Iowa State.

  • Free agent DeRozan sees return to Raptors
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, May 28, 2016

    Guard DeMar DeRozan, who will become a free agent for the first time in his career, hopes to stay with the Toronto Raptors.

    • One day after the Raptors were eliminated from the NBA playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers, DeRozan was asked if he can find a better situation than Toronto

      "I don't think so," DeRozan said Saturday, via ESPN.com. "My mindset has always been Toronto. I've always preached it. I was passionate about it when we were losing, when we were terrible. I said I was going to stick through this whole thing, and I want to be that guy who brings this organization to where it is now. I definitely don't want to switch that up after we win."

      The 6-foot-7, 220-pound DeRozan, who will become an unrestricted free agent July 1, averaged 23.5 points during the regular season and 20.9 during the postseason.

      The Raptors, appearing in the conference finals for the first time in franchise history, were eliminated by the Cavaliers 113-87 in Game 6 on Friday night. DeRozan finished with 20 points.

      The two-time All-Star has spent his entire seven-year career with the Raptors.

      DeRozan, 26, is expected to get offers from other teams, including his hometown Los Angeles Lakers, who could offer him a maximum contract starting at $25 million annually.

      According to ESPN, collective bargaining rules will allow the Raptors to offer DeRozan up to five years at around $145 million while other teams will be able to offer him up to four years at around $107 million.

      "I grew up in L.A. That's my home. There's not a part of L.A. I haven't seen," said DeRozan, who attended Compton High School and USC before being selected No. 9 overall by Toronto in the 2009 NBA draft. "I don't get caught up into it. I let whoever comes up with that say what they want to say. The only thing appealing to me is the things I've done in this organization and the things that can be done here. And that's always been my mindset since I've been here.

      "I've been saying it for a long time. I haven't changed, not one bit. I took pride in putting that Raptors jersey on when people counted us out or when people said, 'Why go to Toronto? Why this, why that, why this, why that?' You hear it so much -- that gave me the motivation to want to prove people wrong or prove critics wrong -- why this organization can't be a winning organization. You know what I mean? I took pride in that a long time ago. To see how far (we've come), that's what it's all about."

  • LeBron gets emotional after reaching sixth straight Finals
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, May 28, 2016

    An emotional LeBron James got choked up moments after he celebrated his sixth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals on Friday night.

    • With James scoring 33 points and Kyrie Irving adding 30, the Cavaliers overwhelmed the Toronto Raptors 113-87 in Game 6 to advance to the NBA Finals for the second year in a row.

      James' voice began to crack when asked by ESPN's Doris Burke what he is most proud of with his trips to the championship series.

      "I don't know," James said on the court. "I have heard all the questions, and that right there is a stumper. Um, I am just very humbled and gracious that the man above has given me the opportunity to play the game that I love. And I get to go out here and do it every single night in front of my fans.

      "It is very emotional to be a part of something like this. This is my sixth straight. It means everything."

      James, who also had 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocks Friday night, has been on the winning Eastern Conference team every season since 2011. He won the first of four straight conference titles with the Miami Heat, followed by the past two with Cleveland.

      James told reporters after the game that he didn't fully appreciate last year's trip to the NBA Finals in his return to Cleveland due to injuries that knocked out Kevin Love and Irving in the postseason.

      Love dislocated his shoulder in the first round against the Boston Celtics last year and was lost for the postseason. Then Irving required season-ending surgery on his left kneecap after injuring it in Game 1 of the Finals against the Golden State Warriors, who went on to win the series 4-2.

      "There's definitely a different feeling," James said as he sat next to Love and Irving in the postgame interview. "I didn't appreciate last year myself personally on getting to the Finals. Just so much was going on in my mind, knowing that Kev was out for the rest of the season and knowing that Ky was dealing with injuries all the way from the first round. I just didn't appreciate it.

      "It's definitely a different feeling. Having these guys right here at full strength, having our team at full strength, and the way I feel personally, I appreciate this moment, to be able to be a part of it and to be there once again."

  • Warriors, Thunder both face must-win situation
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 27, 2016

    Saturday's Game 6 of the Western Conference finals has the feel of a must-win game for both teams.

    • For the Golden State Warriors, who staved off elimination by winning Game 5 at home on Thursday, Saturday's game in Oklahoma City is literally a must-win contest, because they trail 3-2 in the best-of-seven series. A loss would put a major stain on their record-breaking season in which they went 73-9 during the regular season.

      But the Oklahoma City Thunder also must consider Saturday's game pivotal because they don't want to face the Warriors in a decisive Game 7 in Oakland on Monday.

      The Thunder did take Game 1 in Oakland, but the Warriors lost only two games at home during the regular season, and are 8-1 at home in the postseason.

      Meanwhile, the Thunder have blown out the Warriors in the two games in Oklahoma City, winning by margins of 28 and 24 points.

      "Oh, we know we're going back home," Durant said after scoring 40 points, one shy of his career playoff high, in Thursday's loss. "But we can't relax. We've got to keep our foot on the gas, and we've got to play much better. I thought we played extremely hard tonight.

      "They didn't outplay us; they didn't outwork us. I thought both teams were in a slugfest tonight. So we've got to bring that energy back home. It was a matter of us making a few shots and playing a little more solid defense on them. We'll see what happens."

      Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook added 31 points in Game 5 and is averaging 28.0 points in the series compared to 25.6 points for his point-guard counterpart, two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry.

      Curry averaged just 21.5 points in the first two games in Oklahoma City but had his best game of the series Thursday in Oakland, when he collected 31 points. He also had five steals, prompting one reporter to ask Durant and Westbrook afterward whether Curry's defense is underrated.

      Westbrook laughed and covered his face, leaving Durant to answer.

      "He's pretty good, but he doesn't guard the other best point guards," Durant said. "I think they do a good job of putting a couple of guys on Russell from (Klay) Thompson to (Andre) Iguodala, and Steph, they throw him in there sometimes. He moves his feet pretty well. He's good with his hands.

      "But, you know, I like our matchup with him guarding Russ."

      Curry wasn't the only Warriors player who performed better on Thursday as center Andrew Bogut and forward Draymond Green both improved on their previous showing.

      Bogut had 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting to go along with 14 rebounds and two blocks, while Green had 11 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, four blocks and just two turnovers.

      "I was better tonight. I still didn't do all the things I'm capable of doing," Green said. "Shots, sometimes you can't control that. The one thing I can control is the way I go out there and fight and battle. That was my mindset tonight. I was coming to a fight."

      The Warriors must find a way to break through in Oklahoma City or their record-breaking season may be deemed a failure.

  • D'Antoni takes over as coach of Rockets
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 26, 2016

    The Houston Rockets and Mike D'Antoni agreed to a deal that will make D'Antoni the team's new head coach, according to multiple reports.

    • The length of the deal is reportedly for four seasons. The 65-year-old D'Antoni hasn't been a head coaching since being fired by the Los Angeles Lakers after the 2013-14 season.

      D'Antoni has also coached the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns and the New York Knicks. He has a 455-426 record in 12 seasons.

      Houston had two coaches this past season. Kevin McHale was fired 11 games into the campaign and J.B. Bickerstaff took over on an interim basis.

      D'Antoni finished last season as the associate head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers.

      D'Antoni has traditionally run an up-tempo offense at his previous stops, which certainly would be pleasing to star guard James Harden.

      Rockets center Dwight Howard wasn't a fit with D'Antoni's system when the two were together with the Lakers. Howard has been expected to opt out of his contract and become a free agent.

  • Curry, James head All-NBA selections
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 26, 2016

    Golden State guard Stephen Curry was a unanimous selection to the All-NBA first team and Cleveland forward LeBron James was chosen first-team for the 10th time, the NBA announced Thursday.

    • Curry received all 129 first-place votes after earlier being named unanimous MVP of the league. Curry and James were joined on the first team by Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook, San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard and Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan.

      James is the ninth player in NBA history to make the first team 10 or more times. The record of 11 is shared by Kobe Bryant and Karl Malone.

      Curry, the two-time MVP, made the first team for the second straight season. Westbrook, Leonard and Jordan are all first-time selections.

      Named to the second team were Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant, Golden State forward Draymond Green, Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins and Portland guard Damian Lillard.

      The third team consists of Detroit center Andre Drummond, Golden State guard Klay Thompson, Indiana forward Paul George, Toronto guard Kyle Lowry and San Antonio forward LaMarcus Aldridge.

  • Fizdale agrees to become Grizzlies' coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 26, 2016

    Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale has agreed to a four-year deal to become head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, multiple outlets reported Thursday.

    • Fizdale, 41, was an assistant coach with the Miami Heat the past two seasons. This is his first head-coaching job at any level.

      Fizdale replaces Dave Joerger, who was fired after last season and subsequently became coach of the Sacramento Kings.

      Fizdale also has been an NBA assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks. He also served stints as a college assistant coach at the University of San Diego and Fresno State.

      San Diego is Fizdale's alma mater and he was an All-West Coast Conference selection as a senior (1995-96 season).

  • Nebraska's White withdraws name from NBA DraftWH
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 26, 2016

    Andrew White III will be back at the University of Nebraska for his senior season after withdrawing his name from consideration for the NBA Draft on Wednesday.

    • The guard made the decision on the last day for underclassmen to pull out of the draft while retaining NCAA eligibility.

      White said in a statement released by the school, "I felt good about the pre-draft process. It was encouraging, and I gained as much ground as anyone throughout the process. I wanted one more year to fine-tune my game and put myself in better position for the NBA next summer.

      "I want to thank the teams who invited me to their in-house workouts, and Nebraska for supporting me during this process. It has been very helpful in gathering information in preparation for my future. Thank you to everyone who has been following my progress throughout the spring and being understanding and supportive, as I evaluated whether to turn pro or return for my senior year."

      According to the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star, White worked out last week for the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics.

      White, a transfer from Kansas, produced 16.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in his first season with Nebraska in 2015-16. He grabbed honorable mention All-Big Ten honors after a season that included a 35-point game against Penn State.

      Nebraska coach Tim Miles said in a statement, "We are excited to have Andrew remain with our program. This has been a valuable time for him, as he has tested his skills against some of the best competition and received very important insight from key NBA personnel.

      "We look forward to continuing to help Andrew's development to improve his NBA profile even more than he already has done through this process. I believe next year could be our most complete team with a great opportunity for success in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournament, I'm happy Andrew will be with us to go out and prove it."

      The Huskers finished 16-18 last season.

  • Trimble to return to Maryland, pulls out of NBA draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 26, 2016

    Point guard Melo Trimble withdrew his name from the NBA Draft and will return to the University of Maryland for his junior season.

    • "I am really excited to return for my junior season at Maryland," Trimble said in a press release. "It's truly special that I get to continue to play in front of my family, friends and our amazing fans. I'm looking forward to working out with my teammates this summer and I am excited for what we can accomplish. I learned a great deal through this experience and I am committed to working hard in getting better each day. I'm appreciative of all the support that I have received from Coach Turgeon, my family and my teammates throughout this process. I look forward to continuing my education and building upon the success that we have had at Maryland."

      The news came hours before Wednesday's deadline for players to pull out of the draft and retain their college eligibility.

      Trimble was considered a potential second-round pick at best and his stock reportedly fell after a disappointing showing at the recent draft combine in Chicago.

      In his sophomore season, Trimble averaged 14.8 points, 4.9 assists and 3.6 rebounds. As a freshman in 2014-15, he contributed 16.2 points, 3.0 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game.

      The Terrapins lost to Kansas in the Sweet 16 in March, with Trimble averaging 20 points in three NCAA Tournament games.

      Even with Trimble's return, Maryland will be missing four starters: seniors Jake Layman and Rasheed Sulaimon, plus junior Robert Carter Jr. and freshman Diamond Stone, who both left early for the NBA Draft.

  • Grizzlies reportedly set to hire Fizdale
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 25, 2016

    The Memphis Grizzlies offered their head-coaching job to Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale, multiple media outlets reported Wednesday.

    • According to the Memphis Commercial appeal, Fizdale and San Antonio Spurs assistant coach James Borrego were the finalists for the job. The Grizzlies also reportedly spoke with former Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel, who subsequently was hired as the Orlando Magic's head coach, plus former Grizzlies and Nets coach Lionel Hollins, Charlotte Hornets assistant Patrick Ewing, Portland Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts and Spurs assistant Ettore Messina.

      Fizdale, 41, would replace Dave Joerger, who was fired May 7 after reaching the playoffs in all three seasons he was the head coach. The Grizzlies finished the 2015-16 regular season with a 42-40 record and were swept in four games by the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs.

      Fizdale, who has been with the Heat since the 2008-09 season, has never been a head coach.

      Guard Mario Chalmers played for Fizdale with the Heat before being traded to Memphis last November, and he said on Twitter that he approved of the decision.

      "Fizz to Memphis huh. I like that move. Great coach and even a better person. Happy for my guy Fizz," Chalmers tweeted.

      Fizdale was primarily responsible for player development and game preparation while with the Heat.

      Prior to joining the Heat coaching staff, Fizdale was an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors in 2003-04 and the Atlanta Hawks between 2004 and 2008.

      He began his coaching career as an assistant at the University of San Diego, where he played point guard.

  • Curry takes blame as Warriors on brink of elimination
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 25, 2016

    There was plenty of blame to go around Tuesday night after the Golden State Warriors dropped Game 4 and reached the brink of elimination in the Western Conference finals.

    • But league MVP Stephen Curry wanted any credit for the 3-1 deficit funneled to him after the Oklahoma City Thunder rolled to a 118-94 rout of the Warriors on Tuesday night.

      "We've got to believe in ourselves. There's obviously frustration," said Curry, who is averaging more than 30 points per game in the series but missed nine of his first 10 shots in Game 4. "It's a terrible feeling once again not stepping up and being ourselves and playing our game. ... This isn't how we're going to go out."

      The Warriors have plenty to fall back on, especially at Oracle Arena, where Golden State took the first game of the series and had only two regular-season losses. Then again, this is the first time the Warriors have lost three straight during their record-setting successful run as they attempt to defend their NBA title.

      "The last two games, it's gotten away from us. A lot of that falls on my shoulders and playing better," Curry said.

      He's shouldering far more than scoring responsibilities.

      Coach Steve Kerr stayed with Curry on Russell Westbrook but that matchup was dominated in Game 4 by the Thunder point guard, who had 36 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Curry's lagging performance isn't the only worry for the Warriors.

      Draymond Green had another poor outing after Game 3, when his kick of Steven Adams was a major plot line. Green has two field goals and 10 turnovers in the past two games.

      "I think our energy goes as my energy goes, and I've been awful," Green said. "At the end of the day, I know I've got to be better in Game 5. This is all or nothing. We've put in too much work to go out like this."

      The Thunder would love to end the series Thursday and Westbrook said defensive intensity -- Oklahoma City forced 21 turnovers in Game 4 -- is vital to sealing the series.

      "I think we're in a good place," Westbrook said Tuesday night. "You've got to move on to the next game. Every game is different. Try to find ways to see where we can get better. ... We played a little slower parts of the game. They made a run. But I think we'll get back to the drawing board and figure out what we need to do to close it out."

      The teams are averaging 225 points per game in the first four games and in consecutive games the Thunder went for 72 in the first half.

      Kerr traced the output back to giving Oklahoma City extra possessions. Because of the length of Thunder defenders, long rebounds have gone against the Warriors and Westbrook has been credited with flawlessly getting the sprinting Warriors out on the fast break.

      "When you have 21 turnovers, it's going to be pretty hard to guard Russell. So we've got to take care of the ball better and that will help our defense," Kerr said.

  • Spurs' Leonard selected unanimously to all-defensive team
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 25, 2016

    San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard was named a unanimous selection for the NBA All-Defensive team announced Wednesday.

    • Joining Leonard, the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, on the first team were Golden State forward Draymond Green, Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul and Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley.

      The players were selected by a panel of 130 sportswriters across North America. Leonard received all 130 votes.

      Leonard made the NBA All-Star team for the first time this season and was part of a San Antonio defense that held opponents to a league-low 92.9 points per game. He is the first non-center to receive the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award in back-to-back seasons since Dennis Rodman 25 years ago.

      Leonard averaged 1.78 steals, which ranked 12th in the NBA, 5.5 defensive rebounds and a career-high 0.99 blocked shots per game.

      Paul was named to the first team for the fifth consecutive season and the sixth time overall. Leonard, Green and Jordan were on the first team for the second straight season.

      Named to the second team were Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap, Indiana Pacers forward Paul George, Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside, Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen and Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler.

  • Series returns to Cleveland for pivotal Game 5
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 24, 2016

    Kevin Love is fine, but healthy might not describe the Cleveland Cavaliers after a rough road trip left them to return to Ohio tied in the Eastern Conference finals with the Toronto Raptors.

    • Love had 13 points and was 5 of 23 from the field at Toronto in surprising losses in Games 3 and 4 to the Raptors, who won both games on their home court. He said he stepped on an official's foot and tweaked a knee.

      Love sat on the Cavaliers' bench most of the second half on Monday night.

      "More so the knee (than the ankle hurting) ... but nothing that will prevent me from playing," Love said.

      There is no underselling the magnitude of the fifth game in a series tied 2-2. According to NBA Stats, teams that win the fifth game in such scenarios wind up taking the series more than 78 percent of the time.

      Raptors coach Dwane Casey said the biggest difference on Monday in his own team was confidence.

      "I think just understanding where we could get shots," he said. "How we could get stops. I thought we protected the paint better. This team is a great scoring team, so I think that you've got to have balance of what you want to take away and you've got to pick your poison."

      In winning their second consecutive game, the Raptors led by as many as 18 points during the second quarter and were ahead by 16 at halftime before Cleveland's perimeter barrage found traction.

      The Cavs owned the Raptors in Cleveland in the first two games of the series with uncanny outside shooting. Now the challenge for Toronto is finding a way to hold up in Cleveland, though the Raptors are assured at least one more home game on Friday in Game 6.

      "They played well the first two games and they protected home," Lowry said. "Now we've protected home."

      James led Cleveland with 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds in Game 4. But after winning 10 consecutive games to start the playoffs, the Cavaliers are navigating the type of adversity that James said would be good for Love and point guard Kyrie Irving.

      "We've got to come out and hit first and be more aggressive and bring a physicality from the start of the game, not wait until we get down 16, 18 points to finally start playing with that aggressiveness," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said Tuesday. "I think our guys are ready. We had a great film session today. We see what we need to do, and we're ready and prepared to do it."

      Casey said the goal in Game 5 is to keep the Cavaliers within striking distance. Laughers broke out in Game 1 -- when Lowry spent much of the second half on the bench -- and Game 2.

      "What we've got to do is cut down on the runs," Casey said. "The games that we lost there, there were probably three- or four-minute segments, portions of the game that really did us in in both games.

      "If we can sustain our defense against their runs and not let them blow it open in those three- or four-minute segments -- and we've got to respond offensively. That's what we did not do when they went on their offensive run in Cleveland. So ... hopefully we've figured it out."

  • Former NBA player Kermit Washington arrested
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 24, 2016

    Former NBA player Kermit Washington, best known for violently punching Rudy Tomjanovich in a 1977 game, has been arrested as part of an investigation involving Homeland Security.

    • The reason for Washington's arrest is expected to be revealed at a press conference at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas City on Wednesday.

      Washington, 64, was arrested in Los Angeles by agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Internal Revenue Service.

      TMZ reported that Washington's arrest is connected to the investigation of NFL Hall of Famer Ron Mix, who pled guilty to tax fraud on Monday.

      Washington, while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, delivered the most infamous punch in NBA history when he shattered the face of Tomjanovich, a star player for the Houston Rockets. Tomjanovich suffered several broken facial bones from the force of the punch and nearly died.

      In addition to the Lakers, Washington played for the Boston Celtics, San Diego Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors during 10 NBA seasons. He was an All-Star for Portland during the 1979-80 season.

  • NBA notebook: Green, Warriors wait for suspension decision
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 23, 2016

    Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green was fined but not suspended by the NBA as a result of kicking Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams in the groin during Sunday's Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.

    • The foul was upgraded from a Flagrant Foul 1 to a Flagrant Foul 2, and Green was fined $25,000. Kiki VanDeWeghe, the NBA's Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations, made the announcement Monday afternoon.

      The ruling is good news for the Warriors, who feared Green might be suspended for Tuesday's Game 4 of the series, which Oklahoma City leads 2-1.

      The incident occurred with 5:57 remaining in the second quarter of the Thunder's 133-105 win over the Warriors in Game 3 in Oklahoma City. Green was driving to the basket against Adams when Green stopped and lifted his leg, causing him to kick Adams in the groin.

      "After a thorough investigation that included review of all available video angles and interviews with the players involved and the officials working the game, we have determined that Green's foul was unnecessary and excessive and warranted the upgrade and fine," said VanDeWeghe. "During a game, players -- at times -- flail their legs in an attempt to draw a foul, but Green's actions in this case warranted an additional penalty."

      Green went 1-for-9 for six points, with four rebounds and three assists along with four turnovers Sunday.

      --The Toronto Raptors are on the verge of getting a big boost in their quest to make playoff life miserable for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

      That big boost would come from 7-footer Jonas Valanciunas, who participated in Monday morning's shootaround. The 24-year-old Lithuanian has missed the past seven playoff games with a sprained ankle, but the Raptors upgraded Valanciunas' status from "doubtful" to "questionable."

      "We're going to see how he reacts this afternoon," coach Dwane Casey told reporters. "He's still pretty sore, but we're going to wait and see."

      Before being hurt, Valanciunas averaged 15 points and 12.1 rebounds per game.

  • Valanciunas makes progress, could play in Game 4
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 23, 2016

    The Toronto Raptors are on the verge of getting a big boost in their quest to make playoff life miserable for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    • That big boost would come from 7-footer Jonas Valanciunas, who participated in Monday morning's shootaround. The 24-year-old Lithuanian has missed the past seven playoff games with a sprained ankle, but the Raptors upgraded Valanciunas' status from "doubtful" to "questionable."

      "We're going to see how he reacts this afternoon," coach Dwane Casey told reporters. "He's still pretty sore, but we're going to wait and see."

      The Raptors are coming off a 99-84 beatdown of the heavily favored Cavaliers, who lead the best-of-seven series 2-1.

      Casey was coy when asked if his big man would play Monday.

      "We'll see."

      Before being hurt, Valanciunas averaged 15 points and 12.1 rebounds per game.

      In his absence, backup Bismack Biyombo came alive in Game 3 hauling down 26 rebounds and blocking four shots. Biyombo's defense stifled the Cavs, who saw their 10-game postseason win streak halted.

      Monday's game starts at 8:30 p.m. ET.

  • Warriors' Green fined, but avoids suspension
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 23, 2016

    Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green was fined but not suspended by the NBA as a result of kicking Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams in the groin during Sunday's Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.

    • The foul was upgraded from a Flagrant Foul 1 to a Flagrant Foul 2, and Green was fined $25,000. Kiki VanDeWeghe, the NBA's Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations, made the announcement Monday afternoon.

      The ruling is good news for the Warriors, who feared Green might be suspended for Tuesday's Game 4 of the series, which Oklahoma City leads 2-1.

      The incident occurred with 5:57 remaining in the second quarter of the Thunder's 133-105 win over the Warriors in Game 3 in Oklahoma City. Green was driving to the basket against Adams when Green stopped and lifted his leg, causing him to kick Adams in the groin.

      "After a thorough investigation that included review of all available video angles and interviews with the players involved and the officials working the game, we have determined that Green's foul was unnecessary and excessive and warranted the upgrade and fine," said VanDeWeghe. "During a game, players -- at times -- flail their legs in an attempt to draw a foul, but Green's actions in this case warranted an additional penalty."

      During Monday morning's shootaround, before the ruling was announced, Green said based on his in-game conversation with referee Scott Foster he doesn't expect to be suspended.

      "I said, 'Scott, how am I getting a Flagrant because my leg went in the air trying follow-through on a shot, to sell the call,'" Green recalled Monday. "He said, 'Draymond, I'm not saying intentional. Honestly, I don't think it was intentional at all. But you caught him in the groin area so I have to give you a Flagrant.' I didn't argue it or nothing. I said OK, that's understandable.

      "I followed through on a shot. I'm not trying to kick somebody in the men's section. I'm sure he wants to have kids one day. I'm not trying to end that on the basketball court. That don't make sense. I brought the ball over the top this way (makes motion), he fouled me, and I brought my leg up. I mean, I know my core's not strong enough to stop my leg halfway from wherever it was going."

      The Warriors defended Green's knee to Adams' midsection in Game 2 and again said Sunday's actions were unintentional.

      "I thought it was inadvertent," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "There was contact on the play. I was shocked they even looked at it. Scott Foster told me they were looking at it to either determine if it was Flagrant 1 or Flagrant 2, I was in shock. There is inadvertent contact all the time on plays. So that really surprised. I would think they would rescind it. This stuff happens all the time."

      League MVP Steph Curry agreed with his coach.

      "There was no intent," Curry said. "Watching the replay, I think that's clear."

      The Thunder are not so sure.

      "The way I look it," Thunder guard Russell Westbrook said, "it looks intentional to me. That's two times in the last two games."

      In the Eastern Conference finals, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dahntay Jones was suspended one game for hitting Toronto Raptors center Bismack Biyombo in the groin. The NBA announced the suspension Sunday.

      "I didn't see the Dahntay Jones incident, but from what I heard, he punched him. If I come punch you in your head, I probably did that on purpose because I'm going to intentionally use my arm," Green said Monday. "I don't think you could ever really compare a leg to an arm. There's multiple plays where -- I did it later in the game, where I got fouled and my right leg went up. I always ... Russell said I did it on purpose, but he's a part of the superstar group that started all this acting in the NBA, I think. So I sold the call."

      Green went 1-for-9 for six points, with four rebounds and three assists along with four turnovers Sunday. Green was named to the All-Star team this season and averaged 14.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists during the regular season. In 13 playoff games he is averaging 16.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists.

  • Cavs' Jones suspended; Raptors coach Casey fined
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 22, 2016

    Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dahntay Jones was suspended one game for striking Toronto Raptors center Bismack Biyombo during Saturday's Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the NBA announced Sunday.

    • Jones struck Biyombo in the groin with 17.6 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of Toronto's 99-84 win.

      The 35-year-old reserve has played sparingly during the series, scoring just two points in three games.

      The league also fined Raptors head coach Dwane Casey $25,000 for his public criticism of officials Saturday.

      "I said it before the game. We have the greatest officials in the league. But how you can miss fouls like that and calls like that," Casey said in Saturday's postgame press conference. "I can't see it. I've been in this league a long time, in college basketball a long time, but again, there's got to be consistency. The same foul on one end has got to be the same foul on the other.

      "I've been on both sides of it. I've been where the whistle has been in favor of you. But for whatever reason -- and I understand we have great officials, and it's a hard game to call -- but some of these fouls are unbelievable."

      Cleveland leads the best-of-seven series 2-1.

  • Casey pleased with win, upset with call
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 22, 2016

    Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey was in a foul mood after the Raptors' 99-84 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday.

    • Foul as in upset with calls by the officials in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals in Toronto despite the win that closed the Raptors' deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

      "I said it before the game. We have the greatest officials in the league. But how you can miss fouls like that and calls like that," Casey said after the game. "I can't see it. I've been in this league a long time, in college basketball a long time, but again, there's got to be consistency. The same foul on one end has got to be the same foul on the other."

      Casey takes particular issue with the disparity of fouls. The Cavs shot 16 more free throws than the Raptors in Game 3 and have taken 35 more free throws in the first three games of the series. The Cavs were called for only 10 fouls during Saturday night's game.

      "I've been on both sides of it," Casey said. "I've been where the whistle has been in favor of you. But for whatever reason -- and I understand we have great officials, and it's a hard game to call -- but some of these fouls are unbelievable."

      It was also reported after the game that Cavs reserve Dahntay Jones could be subject to discipline for a potential low blow near the end of the game against Raptors center Bismack Biyombo, who finished with a team-record 26 rebounds and four blocked shots.

      "(Biyombo) is not getting the calls," Casey said. "We shoot zero free throws in the fourth quarter. Zero. He's getting hit. There's one play where they almost have a brawl. He gets killed on that play.

      "I don't know if he's getting hit because of how physical and tough he is, but he's getting cracked. To his credit, I thought he was going to lose his head when he got the technical foul, but he kept playing.

      "He's one of the top rebounders in the league, and no telling how many times he gets hit and fouled under there without being called. Again, I'm going to say this: I think he gets hit almost on every rebound and putback there is, and he just doesn't get the calls, whether he's rolling to the bucket, and we've just got to have consistency with that."

      Casey also didn't like how a situation was handled late in the first half when DeMarre Caroll was given a technical foul when Tristan Thompson accidentally ran into Jordan. Thompson was called for a technical.

  • Cuban would consider being Clinton's VP if asked
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, May 21, 2016

    Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he would "absolutely" consider being Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's running mate if asked in her likely fight against presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

    • In an excerpt of an interview that will air on Sunday's "Meet the Press" with NBC anchor Chuck Todd, Cuban was asked if he would listen if the Clinton campaign came to him offering the vice presidency.

      "Absolutely," Cuban said. "The key would be, she'd have to go more to the center.

      "If she's willing to listen, if she's willing to, you know, hear other sides of things, then I'm wide open to discussing it," Cuban said.

      Cuban said in the excerpt that Clinton is drifting left of center during her Democratic presidential primary fight with Sen. Bernie Sanders.

      "I think Sen. Sanders has dragged her a little too far to the left," Cuban said. "Things like college tuition and really other business elements that I think could hurt the economy."

      Cuban's comments come one week after he reportedly was contacted by an anti-Trump group to run as a third-party candidate in this year's presidential election.

      Cuban told The Washington Post that a group of conservative politicians approached him to run in an attempt to block Trump.

      "I don't see it happening," the 57-year-old Cuban wrote in an email to the newspaper last Saturday.

      Cuban became the Mavericks' majority owner in 2000. The Mavs won their only NBA championship in 2011 and have missed the playoffs only twice in 17 seasons since Cuban bought the team.

  • Rain creates busy Saturday at Charlotte
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 20, 2016

    By Reid Spencer

    • NASCAR Wire Service

      Distributed by The Sports Xchange

      CONCORD, N.C. -- Persistent rain wiped out all track activity on Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, setting up a full day of racing on Saturday at the 1.5-mile track.

      Both the Sprint Showdown, which will determine three qualifiers for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, and the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race were rescheduled for Saturday.

      Practice for the all-star race will open Saturday activity at 9:30 a.m. ET, followed by the Sprint Showdown at 11 a.m. and the Truck race at 12:30 p.m.

      All of Saturday's activity will be broadcast on FS1.

      With the starting field for the Showdown set by owner points, according to the NASCAR rule book, Chase Elliott will lead the field to green from the pole position with Austin Dillon beside him.

      Ryan Blaney, Elliott's chief rival for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will start third beside veteran AJ Allmendinger in fourth.

      The winners of each of three segments (20, 20 and 10 laps) will transfer into the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, with qualifying for the main event scheduled to start at 7:10 p.m. The all-star race is set to start at approximately 9 p.m. on FS1.

      The starting field for the Truck race was set according to speeds from Thursday's abbreviated practice, fastest to slowest. That put Kansas winner William Byron on the pole with Spencer Gallagher beside him on the front row and Ben Kennedy and Johnny Sauter third and fourth, respectively.

      Series leader Matt Crafton will take the green flag from the 17th starting spot.

  • Warriors' Curry says his elbow is OK
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 20, 2016

    Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry isn't having any lingering problems with his right elbow after falling on it Wednesday night during Game 2 of the Western Conference finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    • Curry developed a tennis ball-sized bump after diving into the stands going after a loose ball during the Warriors' 118-91 win that tied the series at one victory each.

      "Oh, it's fine. Swelling went down, so no worries," Curry said Friday at the Warriors' practice facility.

      But he was wearing a shooting sleeve over the elbow for protection.

      "Just compression to make sure I can get shots up and not have any swelling,"

      Curry said. "It's sore, just because of the impact, but the spot it's at doesn't affect the range of motion, so I can shoot and dribble and do all I need to do. It's uncomfortable, but it's not necessarily painful."

      Curry said the swelling made the injury look more severe than it is.

      "These are, from what I hear, very common injuries. You land on something, hard surface, or get bumped -- elbow, hip, knee -- they tend to kind of swell up," he said. "They don't cause any problems mechanically or what not. I can still use my arm, do what I need to do. It just looks ugly and is a little uncomfortable. That's it."

      The series resumes in Oklahoma City on Sunday, giving Curry more time to heal. He has also dealt with a sprained ankle and a sprained knee earlier in the playoffs.

      "I'm doing all right, nothing to really worry about," Curry said. "It's nice to have three days in between to get your body right."

  • Magic officially name Vogel head coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 20, 2016

    The Orlando Magic officially announced the hiring of Frank Vogel as their head coach on Friday.

    • The 42-year-old Vogel spent the past five years as the Indiana Pacers head coach before the team decided to go a different direction after the 2015-16 season. Terms of Vogel's contract with the Magic weren't immediately available.

      "While we were conducting our search, it became very evident that Frank is a terrific fit for our organization," Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said. "He is a strong, hard-working and experienced leader, who will continue to instill smart, physical, unselfish and defensive-minded basketball in our group. We welcome him into the Magic family as we move forward in a positive direction."

      Vogel replaces Scott Skiles, who resigned last week after one season as Orlando coach.

      "In Frank (Vogel), we feel we have someone with tremendous perseverance, character and great balance," Magic CEO Alex Martins said. "He is an effective communicator, who brings a wealth of strategic and postseason experience, and is someone who is incredibly excited to embrace the journey ahead. We are excited to welcome Frank and his wonderful family to our Magic family."

      In five-plus seasons with the Pacers, Vogel's teams posted a 250-181 record and reached the playoffs five times, winning the Central Division title twice and going to the Eastern Conference finals once. The 250 wins are a franchise record in the NBA.

      The Magic finished the 2015-16 season with a 35-47 record under Skiles, winning 10 more games than the previous year.

      "I believe in the young core that they've put together here," Vogel told the Orlando Sentinel. "The young talent, I think, is a really good situation. They're ready -- ready to take that next step. I feel like they've gotten some of the growing pains out of their system, as you deal with in any kind of rebuild situation."

      Vogel started his NBA career as the head video coordinator with the Boston Celtics under Rick Pitino before becoming an assistant coach for the Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers. He also worked as an advanced scout for the Los Angeles Lakers and the Washington Wizards.

      The Memphis Grizzlies were highly interested in Vogel's services after the Pacers decided not to renew his contract. The Houston Rockets and New York Knicks also had interest.

      Orlando also interviewed assistant coach Adrian Griffin for the post. Griffin was Skiles' lead assistant.

  • Rockets narrow list for head coaching job
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 20, 2016

    The Houston Rockets appear to have narrowed their head coaching search to Philadelphia 76ers assistant Mike D'Antoni and Charlotte Hornets assistant Stephen Silas.

    • According to ESPN, Silas' two interviews impressed team officials and included the last one with owner Leslie Alexander.

      Silas, the son of longtime power forward and former head coach Paul Silas, has been an assistant with New Orleans, Cleveland, Washington and Golden State before returning to Charlotte in 2010.

      D'Antoni had a second interview with the Rockets and Alexander this week.

      D'Antoni has been a head coach with Denver, Phoenix, the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers.

      Rockets interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff withdrew from consideration for the position earlier this month. The Rockets fired Kevin McHale just 11 games into what was the first season of a three-year deal.

      The Rockets lost to the Golden State Warriors in five games in the first round of the playoffs. After his meeting with team officials, Bickerstaff withdrew from consideration, despite posting a 37-34 record after succeeding McHale.

  • NBA notebook: Magic reportedly land Vogel as coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 19, 2016

    Frank Vogel has reached a deal in principle to become the new coach of the Orlando Magic, the Orlando Sentinel reported Thursday.

    • Vogel will replace Scott Skiles, who resigned as coach last week after one season on the job.

      Vogel, 42, wasn't retained by the Indiana Pacers after spending the previous five-plus season as coach of the franchise. He went 250-181 in the regular season and made five playoff appearances.

      The Memphis Grizzlies were highly interested in Vogel's services. The Houston Rockets and New York Knicks also had interest.

      --Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks were unanimous selections on the NBA All-Rookie Team, the NBA announced.

      Joining Towns and Porzingis on the first team are Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns, Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets and Jahlil Okafor of the Philadelphia 76ers.

      The second team consists of Miami's Justise Winslow, the Los Angeles Lakers' D'Angelo Russell, Denver's Emmanuel Mudiay, Indiana's Myles Turner and Sacramento's Willie Cauley-Stein.

      --The Toronto Raptors will again be without center Jonas Valanciunas when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers in Thursday's Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

      Valanciunas has been sidelined since injuring his right ankle in Game 3 of the second-round series against the Miami Heat.

      The 7-foot Valanciunas has averaged 15 points and 12.1 rebounds in 10 playoff games this season.

      Toronto was no match for Cleveland in Tuesday's opener as it suffered a 115-84 loss.

      --Pat Riley expects a fun July in Miami, and his plan starts with getting on the right side with center Hassan Whiteside.

      Whiteside's contract is the matter of utmost importance to the Heat, Riley said. Also up in the air is the future of forward Chris Bosh.

      His contract would only come off the books if he's traded or forced into medical retirement, in which case the deal isn't erased until February, a calendar year after his last game. Bosh said last week retirement was not currently a consideration.