Tag:2011 WC Playoffs
Posted on: April 18, 2011 5:08 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 5:22 pm
 

Nate McMillan fined $35K for officiating comments

Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan was fined $35,000 for comments he made about the officiating in Game 1 of his team's series against thenate-mcmillan Dallas Mavericks. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Any time Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki goes 13-13 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter to win Game 1 of a playoff series, you know there are going to be some upset people on the opposite sideline. That's exactly what happened on Saturday, as Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan vented some frustration at the officiating after his team lost to the Mavericks, 89-81.  that helped send Dallas to an 89-81 victory.

On Monday, the NBA fined McMillan for his comments about the officials -- about the 19-2 fourth quarter free throw disparity in particular -- and released the following statement. 
Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan has been fined $35,000 for public comments about the officiating, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations. 
McMillan made his comments following Portland’s 89-81 loss to the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center on April 16. 
So what did McMillan actually say? Not much. 

The Oregonian transcribed his post-game statements, which were presented as surprise and frustration rather than rage.
"The free throws, I just don't get that," McMillan said. "It's hard for our guys to know how to play out there when it's called a little different. (The free throw difference was) 19-2 in the fourth quarter. And I felt like we were attacking and guys really didn't know how to play with the fouls that we're being called.
"A lot of touch fouls and I thought that (gave them) momentum and pretty much gave them control of the game in the fourth quarter," McMillan said. "This game was pretty much decided at the line in the fourth quarter." 
While McMillan's criticism wasn't that direct or heavy-handed, he surely knows that he shouldn't have said anything at all if he didn't want to hear from the league office in this strict post-Donaghy era. Did he make the comments intentionally? It's a good possibility, as Portland could play up to three more road games in this series and he surely doesn't want to see such a disparity again. 

Is it worth the find to send that message? And does anyone listen when a coach gripes like this? Who knows. But McMillan recently got a two-year contract extension, so he can afford it either way.
Posted on: April 17, 2011 7:42 pm
 

NBA Playoffs Hornets-Lakers: The return of CP3

Chris Paul returns to prominence in an incredible performance against the Lakers in Game 1. 
Posted by Matt Moore




Derrick Rose. Rajon Rondo. Russell Westbrook. Great point guards all. But after a season where he looked indecisive at times, inconsistent and passive, Chris Paul stepped onto the biggest stage and showed everyone why he's considered the best "pure" point guard in the game. 

(Before we get started, Derrick Rose is the presumptive MVP of the league. Bulls fans, let's not start a fight about who's better. They're both great. Let's leave it at that.)

After the Hornets' win over the Lakers, here were some of the trending topics on Twitter: "#cp3" was No.1, and "#chrispaul" was No.3. The world took notice. It was easy to see why. Paul blistered the Lakers the entire game, drowning Derek Fisher in ISO and pick and roll situations. Late in the game, to show the amount of confusion on the Lakers' side, Pau Gasol was put on an island against one of the quickest players in the NBA. Paul calmly crossed him over and nailed a dagger fadeaway jumper. 

The praise was unanimous for CP3, and it really put him back on the map. For most of the season, Paul played extremely well at times, and extremely passive at times. He would let others take the lead. But without David West, Paul became the intiator, and took the team on his back. That's the Hornets' best option of attack in a series where they are woefully overmatched in size and ability. But as long as the Lakers continue to attempt to guard Paul with Fisher and be lazy on their help, Paul will have opportunities. 




Check out more data from Hornets-Lakers in our GameTracker
Posted on: April 17, 2011 7:08 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 3:10 am
 

NBA Playoffs Hornets-Lakers: perfectly upsetting

The New Orleans Hornets delivered a stunning Game One defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers. How worried should LA be? Posted by Ben Golliver.

hornets-lakers

The New Orleans Hornets beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 109-100, in Game One of their first round playoff series, and coach Monty Williams couldn't have drawn it up any better. Everything he could have wanted to go right did go right, and even some things that no one could have expected fell in the Hornets' favor. The "Can lightning strike twice?" question hangs over this result like a thundercloud, but its worth cataloguing New Orleans' many triumphs before turning our attention to Game Two adjustments.

All-Star point guard Chris Paul, of course, leads any breakdown of this game. In the fourth quarter he was as unstoppable as he's been at any point in his career, scoring 17 points in the final quarter on a variety of jumpers, drawing fouls seemingly at will. You can't blame Lakers guard Derek Fisher too for the explosion, as he generally played textbook defense and made Paul work. The Lakers did switch a few high screen-and-rolls and Paul exploited mismatches with Lakers bigs -- particularly Pau Gasol -- to create space for jumpshots. But this was about an All-Star being locked all the way in, finishing with 33 points, 14 assists, seven rebounds, four steals and just two turnovers in 41 minutes, commanding New Orleans' offense with intelligence and using his quick hands and excellent instincts to full effect on defense. Los Angeles has made a habit of getting behind early and digging itself out late: Paul's two-way play made sure there would be no comeback.

It would be a mistake to call this a one-man show, though, as New Orleans' role players came up huge. Who could have expected the Hornets bench -- one of the weaker groups in the playoffs -- to combine for 39 points on an amazing 72% shooting from the field, led by a perfect 5-5 from reserve center Aaron Gray and 5-6 from guard Jarrett Jack. Every man on the Hornets bench finished with a positive +/- for the game, with Gray posting a whopping +25 in his 20 minutes. Will they play as well as a group again in this series? Probably not.

As big as those contributions was New Orleans' overall defensive effort, which can only be described as excellent. Trevor Ariza frustrated Kobe Bryant down the stretch, New Orleans' undersized bigs did an excellent job of managing Los Angeles' long frontline and the Hornets scored 17 points off of 13 Lakers turnovers, a critical difference-maker given that the Hornets turned the ball over just three times (!) the entire game. By comparison, New Orleans' season-low for turnovers in the regular season was five.

Again, everything went right for the Hornets. They dominated the possession game. Their bench badly outplayed LA's. Chris Paul won the match-up of superstars against Kobe Bryant (35 points, four rebounds, five assists, five turnovers). Improbably, both Carl Landry (17 points, five boards) and Aaron Gray (12 points) scored more than Pau Gasol (eight points, six boards).

That last sentence, more than any other reason, is why it's difficult to believe New Orleans' Game One stunner will be sustainable. The Hornets lost Gray in the game's final minute to a nasty ankle injury, and getting more from Gasol will be at the top of the list of Lakers adjustments. Gasol's face was cut and bloodied early in the game and he was an absolute non-factor down the stretch, attempting just two shots in the fourth quarter (one was a lay-up with the game out of reach). Without Gray, who looked like New Orleans' most capable one-on-one post defender aside from Emeka Okafor, the Hornets' frontline will be stretched to an even greater degree, with Carl Landry, D.J. Mbenga and Jason Smith called into greater service. If that trio winds up getting the best of Gasol over a seven-game series, he might need to consider entering the Witness Protection Program.

The Lakers can also get more from center Andrew Bynum, who scored easily around the basket, playing over the top of New Orleans after Okafor got into some early foul trouble. Bynum finished with a respectable 13 points and nine rebounds and the Lakers would do well to pound it into him more than they did on Sunday. Mbenga resorted to desperation hard fouls on Bynum multiple times and there's no reason the Lakers shouldn't be parading to the free throw line throughout the rest of this series.

Given how many breaks went New Orleans' way, it's not panic time yet for the Lakers. They'll need to re-think their defense on Paul, paying him extra attention and perhaps using Kobe Bryant to defend him more often. They'll certainly need to turn to Gasol more often and he'll need to show up. More than anything, Los Angeles simply needs to realize they likely took New Orleans' best punch. The same match-up advantages that made them prohibitive favorites entering the series are still there. And, pending Gray's availability, could be even more pronounced. 

Internal motivation remains the biggest issue for the Lakers, who played flat through stretches, particularly in the first half, on Sunday. New Orleans delivered a wake-up call to a team that's lacked focus for a few weeks now. LA needs to respond in Game Two. And, given their talent advantages and enhanced motivation following the loss, it would be shocking if they didn't.
Posted on: April 17, 2011 6:29 pm
 

Aaron Gray suffers ugly looking ankle injury

Posted by Royce Young



I don't think the Hornets could've pictured a more perfect result in Los Angeles Sunday. They walked in to Staples without anyone giving them any kind of a chance and upset the defending champs 109-100 behind a huge day from the best point guard in basketball, Chris Paul. (Yeah, remember him?)

But with a minute left, the Hornets perfect day got a small smudge put on it as center Aaron Gray went down with a nasty looking rolled ankle. Gray had to be helped off the floor and appeared to be in a great deal of pain. Obviously he'll have X-rays and all the like, but I'm assuming he's doubtful for Game 2, and potentially the rest of the series. The way he grabbed high up on his leg said high ankle sprain and those are no fun.

This is a bigger blow than you might initially think. Yes, I realize we're talking Aaron Gray here, but the seven-footer was very productive Sunday for New Orleans scoring 12 points on 5-5 shooting in 20 minutes. His value inside on Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol definitely didn't show up in the box score. And with the Hornets already missing David West, they're very thin on the interior already. So subtracting Gray will definitely hurt them going forward.

It's an injury though that's a lot more important than it seems at first glance but when Chris Paul plays like Chris Paul, the Hornets can pretty much plug in anyone. Jason Smith and D.J. Mbenga will be called upon in bigger ways now to back up Emeka Okafor.

But the Hornets lead 1-0 though and if you'd have handed them at least a split in L.A. a week ago, they probably would've said, "OK, we'll trade a win in Game 1 for Aaron Gray, straight up."
Posted on: April 17, 2011 4:53 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 4:59 pm
 

Lakers G Kobe Bryant injures neck during Game 1

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant went down with an apparent neck injury just before halftime of Game 1 against the New Orleans Hornets. Posted by Ben Golliver.

In the closing seconds of the first half of Game 1 against the New Orleans Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant hit a fallaway jumpshot in the left corner to cut New Orleans' lead to 52-44. His momentum carried him to the floor, where he slid backwards into the courtside seats. Bryant's neck contacted one of the seats with some force and he lay facedown on the ground, motionless, as the Hornets went up the court for their offensive possession.

After Hornets guard Chris Paul hit a three pointer, Lakers forward Ron Artest hit a halfcourt heave to close out the first half, 55-47. Bryant remained on the ground as the half ended and, once the buzzer sounded, Lakers staffers rushed to attend to Bryant, who was slow to get up but eventually walked off under his own power. 

During halftime, the Orange County Register reported that Bryant was diagnosed with a "bruised neck, according to Lakers PR." ABC reported that Bryant is "pretty sore" but that he did not undergo any X-Rays or further testing. Bryant is expected to play in the second half.

Here's video of what was a heart-stopping scene for Lakers fans.

Posted on: April 17, 2011 2:26 am
Edited on: April 17, 2011 2:45 am
 

NBA Playoffs Mavericks-Blazers: 3 surprises

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 of their first round NBA Playoffs series. Posted by Ben Golliver.
dirk-mavs-blazers

Stop me if you've heard this one before: Dallas Mavericks All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki won a home playoff game by parading to the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Nowitzki's 13-13 performance at the stripe in the final quarter -- 12 minutes of perfection that sealed Dallas' 89-81 Game 1 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers -- was a familiar ending, but there were plenty of surprises that preceded it. 

By virtue of being one of the most evenly matched series, Blazers-Mavericks was also one of the most scrutized. Here's three game-changing factors that nobody saw coming.

1. Jason Kidd explodes from deep

Everyone assumed that Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd would step up his production above the numbers he put up during the season series against the Blazers. Twice in four games, Kidd failed to make a shot and he averaged less than five points a game over the four meetings between the two teams.

On Saturday, the Blazers simply lost track of him time and time again and he bombed away eagerly. Whether he was open in semi-transition, open because of slow rotation, open because Blazers guards went under high picks, one thing was for sure: Kidd was open. When the dust settled, he finished with 24 points on 6-10 from downtown. That's the most points Kidd has scored in a game in more than a year -- since April 3, 2010 -- and tied for the most three-pointers he's made this season. Talk about the perfect time to show up.

It's unlikely Kidd will have another explosion like this, but he probably won't need to. In Dallas' balanced scoring attack there are plenty of other offensive options who can put up bigger numbers than they did in Game 1. Jason Terry, in particular, is due for a game in which he gets more than five shots and 10 points (half of those coming on fourth quarter free throws) as he's also struggled against Portland this season. JJ Barea (1-7), Peja Stojakovic (2-7) and DeShawn Stevenson (2-4) are all also capable of more. Kidd, in a sense, called his own number tonight because it was required, especially with Nowitzki struggling with his efficency early in the game. Look for order and scoring balance to be restored as this series continues. 

More on Blazers at Mavs
Related links
Video
2. Brandon Roy plays down the stretch
The most head-scratching coaching decision of this game -- and arguably of Portland's season -- came when Nate McMillan opted to play guard Brandon Roy the entire fourth quarter instead of starting guard Wesley Matthews, fellow reserve Rudy Fernandez or center Marcus Camby.

Just once in the last month has Roy played more than 26 minutes -- a recent home win over the Lakers -- and nothing about his recent play suggests he should be playing the crunch time minutes in this series. Roy shot just 33% from the field in April and has looked tentative with the ball in his hands and reluctant to shoot. To be blunt, he's a half-step slow and regularly over-thinking; reactive rather than proactive. The role he's filled has been that of a drive-and-kick facilitator, yet his speed and quickness with the ball in his hands has not recovered from his most recent knee surgeries and he doesn't draw the off-ball attention he once did. The result on Saturday was a bogged down late-game offense that failed to generate free throws or clean looks and allowed Dallas to make a major run late in the final quarter.

What's even more confusing, though, is that McMillan has almost always turned to Matthews late in games when the Blazers have held the lead. Portland led 72-66 with less than six minutes to go, the perfect situation to swap Roy for Matthews and slam the door shut. Not only is Matthews a superior defender, he's also a superior outside shooter (Matthews has shot 40.7% from deep this season while Roy has shot 33.3%). As a team, Portland shot 2-16 from deep on the night , including 1-7 in the final quarter. While Matthews struggled early with turnovers, he certainly has shown this season that he deserves more than 19 minutes and three shots. If Matthews wasn't such a nice guy and team player, he should be seething.

Even if McMillan decided Matthews simply didn't have it going in the pressure-packed situation that is Game 1, he had other options. Rudy Fernandez, although not a true impact player on Saturday, had six points, two rebounds and one assist in 18 minutes. If not Fernandez, then going back to a larger lineup -- with Marcus Camby in the middle -- would have been another option. While that would likely have led to easier double teams and more congestion for LaMarcus Aldridge -- who was excellent on the evening, finishing with 27 points and six boards -- Camby, who 18 rebounds in 29 minutes, would have been a difference-maker on the boards late, as Dallas center Tyson Chandler's four fourth-quarter rebounds were huge in extending Dallas possessions and ending Portland possessions.

Really, the late-game strategy should have been simple: Anybody But Roy. He finished 1-7 on the evening for two points and played exactly how recent history suggested he would play: flat, late and not in tune with a flowing offensive team concept. What's more, McMillan's decision was a departure from his usual rotation, necessitating an adjustment from all of Roy's teammates. Why did he do it? And, more importantly, why now? 

3. Gerald Wallace is virtually invisble

Publication after publication touted Blazers forward Gerald Wallace as the X-factor in this series for plenty of good reasons: his defensive versatility, his array of offensive skills, his veteran leadership and his combination of experience and toughness. Wallace has told reporters in recent weeks that he's settled into his surroundings after some initial nervousness following a midseason trade that sent him from the Charlotte Bobcats to the Blazers. Tonight, we didn't see that.

Wallace was as invisible as he has been in a month, shooting a jittery 4-13 from the field, committing three turnovers and scoring just eight points and five rebounds in 38 minutes. To find a performance from Wallace that was that lacking, you have to go all the way back to March 15 which, incidentally, was a game against the Dallas Mavericks. That's an immediate red flag for Portland's upset hopes.

Wallace is McMillan's jack-of-all-trades, a player who is surely capable of defending multiple positions. But, on the offensive end, he struggled to find space against Dallas' veteran defense, a group that played a motivated and intelligent game all-around from start to finish. Dallas focused most of its team energy on Aldridge, and Wallace couldn't quite find the correct spacing and timing to get the points Portland needs from him. His ineffectiveness was arguably systematic, as this was a low-scoring, fairly ugly game in which Portland never found a solid offensive rhythm (except for Aldridge). Wallace surely has better nights in him, just as Portland's offense does. A few more made three-pointers from deep and everything else will open up. Wallace should be a key beneficiary.
Posted on: April 17, 2011 1:19 am
Edited on: April 17, 2011 2:09 am
 

George Karl has had some words for OKC -- why?

Posted by Royce Young



George Karl has been talking a bit of smack about the Thunder talking smack. Him, and the Nuggets, have accused their first round opponent of being "cocky" and talking a larger-than-usual amount of junk.

Karl said this recently: "There’s no question there’s a cockiness to Oklahoma City ... We know what they were saying after the game here. We know what they were saying. We know. I’m not going to bring it to the public, but we know."

But Karl took it even farther, calling his former assistant and current Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks, "cocky." "He’s confident and his team is confident,” Karl told reporters in Denver recently. “At times when you get beat by him, you think they might be too cocky." Brooks, who is decidedly uncocky responded in a very Scott Brooks way.

“I’ve been called a lot worse. Trust me,” Brooks said Saturday. “My mom calls me a lot worse after we lose.

"You guys know me,” Brooks continued. “I worry about what we do with our team and focus on what we do. My job is to get our guys ready to play. We’ve done a pretty good job with that. … I care about what I do. I care about what our players do, and that’s where it ends. Denver, they can do the things they do. That’s on them. That’s on George, that’s on their staff. I focus on our team, our guys and I believe in what we do.”

I have a pretty good feel for Brooks -- and the Thunder -- because I live in OKC and cover the team up close. And I have never seen anything out of them that I'd call cocky. I do think there's a new confidence to them and maybe a bit of swagger since the Kendrick Perkins trade, but I wouldn't call it cockiness. Especially when it comes to Brooks. "Scott Brooks" might as well be the antonym for "cocky." He is easily one of the most humble coaches in the league.

So of course it makes me wonder: What is Karl trying to achieve here by going on the offensive? It almost seems like he's trying to manufacture bulletin board material for his team. Almost like he's trying to bait the Thunder into giving him some. Could he really be that desperate for motivation? Possibly. Especially when you consider that Karl went on record saying he wanted to avoid Oklahoma City, and with the Thunder beating the Nuggets rather solidly twice in the past two weeks.

So far -- if that is indeed Karl's intention -- it's failed. Kevin Durant wouldn't bite when Jim Rome asked him about it. "We just play basketball. We don't do any talking other than letting people know how good a team they are and how tough the series is going to be." Durant made it a point to say a number of times how tough he thought the series would be and how good he thinks the Nuggets are. If Karl's trying to bait the Thunder, he's going to have to take it up a notch.

A big reason for OKC avoiding it? They fall in step behind their soft spoken leader. Brooks has set a very humble, respect-your-opponent, turn-the-other-cheek tone with his group. When asked if he had a response for Karl's claims, Brooks once again took the high road.

“I don’t think we need to warn our guys,” he said. “Our guys are basketball players. We play basketball. We’re into our team. We’re into what we do on the court. That stuff off the court…why worry about that? That has no bearing on this series at all. Our guys love to play, they’re gym rats, they care about the game, they respect the game. They care about what they do. They represent themselves, the organization and the city well. That’s all I care about.

“I don’t get into going back and forth and I don’t tell our guys, because that’s not who they are. We don’t have to address an issue that’s not there. … I’ve been with George for a few years and he does his thing his way, and he’s very successful. I have a lot of respect for him.”

Karl no doubt has never been shy about speaking his mind and being candid with reporters, but this just feels forced to me. He's been around the block and has won a lot of games so I'm sure it's calculated. If he's pulling out all the stops to motivate his guys, that's his prerogative. He might be trying to get in the heads of the young Thunder squad. He might be trying to make them play with the wrong kind of emotion.

Whatever Karl is up to, I think he's got his reasons. Doesn't stop me from thinking it's probably a bad move, though. In trying to make some bulletin board material from scratch, I think he just gave some to the Thunder.

Posted on: April 15, 2011 7:52 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2011 7:55 pm
 

Lakers C Bynum (knee) goes through practice

Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum practiced on Friday despite a knee injury. Posted by Ben Golliver. andrew-bynum

Back on Wednesday, we noted that Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum hyperextended his knee during a Tuesday night game against the San Antonio Spurs but that an MRI revealed he had only suffered a bone bruise and no structural damage. At the time, Bynum was cleared to play for the Lakers once the postseason started.

The Lakers open their first round series with the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday and the Associated Press reports that Bynum will be ready to go after going through a full practice on Friday.
"I'm fine," Bynum said. "It's nothing that's not normal for me at this point." 
Bynum believes he'll be back to normal when second-seeded Los Angeles hosts the Hornets in the first-round opener Sunday, even while acknowledging "my normal is a little bit skewed." 
Coach Phil Jackson isn't quite so optimistic, saying he'll see how Bynum reacts from Friday's practice on Saturday before guessing how effective he'll be against New Orleans.
"Actually, I was a little concerned," Jackson said. "He started out practice and felt like the knee was a little loose, a little different, but he proceeded and played fine."
As noted in our CBSSports.com Hornets-Lakers preview, Jackson should have the luxury of managing Bynum's minutes carefully, as New Orleans has an undersized and thin frontline that Pau Gasol has feasted on all season. Assuming everything goes as planned and LA continues its dominance of New Orleans, all the Lakers need from Bynum is for him to use the series as a tune-up for later tests.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com