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  • 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.

  • Magic reportedly reach deal with Vogel
    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.

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

  • Raptors C Valanciunas out for Game 2 versus Cavaliers
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 19, 2016

    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.

      His availability to return during the series against Cleveland is in doubt after comments made by general manager Masai Ujiri on Wednesday.

      "I don't know if we'll be able to have him back," Ujiri told reporters. "You wish a guy like that could be playing, because I feel that's a difference -- he'd be the best big guy in the game by far to me, so that would've helped us. But we don't have that and that's the nature of the NBA. You move on."

      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.

  • Heat make Whiteside top priority
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 19, 2016

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

    • "He's a game-changer," Riley said. "I don't even think he's reached his real ceiling."

      The Heat enter a transition offseason with questions about their biggest and best. Dwyane Wade will be a free agent, but Riley said he talked to Wade and both sides are eager to stick together. Chris Bosh, who has $75 million on his contract but missed 81 games the past two seasons due to blood clots, is a major X-factor.

      Whiteside's contract is the matter of utmost importance to the Heat, Riley said.

      "Your offense is only as good as what you do at the defensive end," Riley said. "… That's why Hassan is so important to us in a lot of ways. He'll block shots, he'll rebound the ball, he'll change 10 other shots, he'll scare the hell out of about four or five other people coming into the paint and he's got some intangibles that simply you just can't find."

      Whiteside was there for the taking by all 30 NBA teams and went to China and Lebanon to get professional work. With the Heat last season, he made $981,000, a figure that could rise to more than $12 million per season when free agency begins July 1.

      What else the Heat might be able to add depends largely on 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. Riley sounded optimistic but cautiously so.

      "Not just the Heat but the doctors and also Chris are looking to proceed forward to find a way to get him back on the court," Riley said. "I think that's all we can say right now. We are very encouraged by trying to find a way over the next two or three months to find a protocol and a program that will get him back playing. That's always been our objective. We're in this together," Riley said, echoing the words of coach Erik Spoelstra following the Game 7 conference semifinals loss in Toronto last week.

      Last summer, the Heat convinced point guard Goran Dragic to stay in Miami for less money than he could have earned elsewhere. Dragic said he's ready to lead the recruiting pitch to keep Whiteside, who averaged a double-double in 2015-16.

      "He was unbelievable this season. He was great for this team. Hopefully, he sees that everybody likes him here. I love playing with him," Dragic said, joking that he would need to create a Snapchat account to keep in contact with Whiteside. "Of course, we want him back … hopefully he stays."

  • Reports: Knicks set to hire Hornacek as coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 18, 2016

    Jeff Hornacek, who never guided his team to the playoffs in 2 1/2 years as head coach of the Phoenix Suns, will be the next head coach of the New York Knicks, multiple media outlets reported Wednesday.

    • Bleacher Report first broke the story.

      Hornacek, 53, was fired by the Suns on Feb. 1 when the team was 14-35. The previous two seasons, he produced 48-34 and 39-43 records.

      Derek Fisher was replaced as the Knicks' coach on Feb. 8 after a 23-31 start to his second season. New York went 17-65 in his first year.

      Interim coach Kurt Rambis guided the Knicks to a 9-19 mark down the stretch this season.

      After the season, the Knicks reportedly had interest in Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton, former Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel and former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt. In addition, Rambis was viewed as a front-runner due to his longtime relationship with Knicks president Phil Jackson dating to their time with the Los Angeles Lakers.

      Walton wound up accepting the Lakers' head-coaching job.

      Despite the presence of high-scoring forward Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks have endured three consecutive losing seasons. They have won one playoff series since the 1999-2000 season.

      Anthony led the team again this season with an average of 21.8 points per game. Forward Kristaps Porzingis finished second in Rookie of the Year voting this week after averaging 14.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

      Hornacek enjoyed a lengthy playing career as an NBA guard. The Suns' second-round draft pick in 1986, he spent six years in Phoenix. He then was with the Philadelphia 76ers for 1 1/2 seasons before playing 6 1/2 season with the Utah Jazz.

      He made the 1992 All-Star team with the Suns. Hornacek reached the NBA Finals in consecutive seasons with the Jazz in 1997 and 1998, losing each time to the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan.

      In 1,077 career games, Hornacek averaged 14.5 points, 4.9 assists and 3.4 rebounds.

  • NBA notebook: James, Cavs rolling in playoffs
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 18, 2016

    LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are living up to the top spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

    • After drubbing the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night, the Cavaliers are looking downright unbeatable with a 9-0 record this postseason to show for it. he Cavs are rolling, and James and Kyrie Irving are a big reason why. James scored 24 points and Irving, the team's leading scorer this postseason, had 27 as the Cavs made just seven 3-pointers but shot 55.4 percent and scored 56 points in the paint.

      "(Tuesday) they wanted us to be in the paint," James said. "We tried to take advantage of that. I keep telling you we're not a jump-shooting team. We're a balanced team. We're able to do whatever the game dictates, and we're able to adjust to that."

      The Cavaliers are the first team to win their first nine postseason games since the 2012 San Antonio Spurs, who won their first 10 before losing four straight to Oklahoma City.

      --LeBron James' lifetime deal with Nike could be worth more than $1 billion.

      The Cavaliers star's business manager and agent, Maverick Carter, suggested in a GQ story that James' lifetime Nike endorsement deal might top $1 billion. During the interview with the magazine, Carter was asked about rapper Kanye West's contention that the agreement was worth $1 billion. Carter smiled and pointed one finger skyward.

      "Yeah. It's a fantastic deal. Nike feels great about the deal," Carter told GQ. "That's the most important thing. As great as I feel, as great as LeBron feels -- Nike feels fantastic about it. It's the largest deal in the history of the company. Their hope is he makes even more. And our hope is that, too, obviously."

      James signed the lifetime contact with Nike in December. The deal was reported as the largest single athlete guarantee in the sports apparel company's history.

      --The Houston Rockets plan another interview with Philadelphia 76ers assistant Mike D'Antoni for their head coaching opening.

      According to ESPN.com sources, the 76ers' associate head coach has landed a second interview with Houston and is an "increasingly serious candidate."

      D'Antoni, 65, will meet this time with Rockets owner Leslie Alexander, according to ESPN.

      The Rockets met with D'Antoni and former Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel after Rockets interim 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.

  • Cavs rolling behind James, Irving against Raptors
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 18, 2016

    CLEVELAND -- LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are living up to the top spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

    • After drubbing the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night, the Cavaliers are looking downright unbeatable with a 9-0 record this postseason to show for it.

      The Cavs are rolling, and James and Kyrie Irving are a big reason why.

      James scored 24 points and Irving, the team's leading scorer this postseason, had 27 as the Cavs made just seven 3-pointers but shot 55.4 percent and scored 56 points in the paint.

      "(Tuesday) they wanted us to be in the paint," James said. "We tried to take advantage of that. I keep telling you we're not a jump-shooting team. We're a balanced team. We're able to do whatever the game dictates, and we're able to adjust to that."

      The Cavaliers are the first team to win their first nine postseason games since the 2012 San Antonio Spurs, who won their first 10 before losing four straight to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

      "It's one game," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of the 115-84 loss Tuesday. "It's just one game."

      James was pleased to go home with the win in Game 1. But he enters Game 2 of the best-of-seven series on Thursday hoping for clarity from officials who called 45 total fouls in the first game, 25 on the Raptors.

      "Nowadays to get a flagrant foul, you've got to fall down and grab your head and roll on the ground. LeBron being so strong, guys bounce off him," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said Wednesday. "He's not going to hit the ground as hard as other guys do. A lot of times it's still a flagrant foul. If someone else gets hit, they fall on the ground, grabbing their head, taking 30, 40 seconds to get up. That just automatically triggers the referees to go to the scorer's table and review it and come up with a flagrant foul. So I don't know."

      Kyle Lowry, the Raptors' All-Star point guard, continued a wildly erratic postseason. He was 4-of-14 shooting and spent most of the second half on the bench with his head in a towel.

      There is growing doubt 7-footer Jonas Valanciunas will be able to play this week. He's still hobbled by a sprained ankle and hasn't played since that injury in Game 3 of the previous series against the Miami Heat.

      Lowry is vital to any chance the Raptors have to pull off the playoff upset. He had a career-high 43 against the Cavs in a February victory at Air Canada Centre. Neither Lowry nor Demar DeRozan attempted a free throw Tuesday. With Lowry on the bench, the Raptors got little from Cory Joseph, who struggled at both ends of the court.

      "We've got to come out of the gate with that mindset, being aggressive like we usually do," Lowry said. "I think we didn't try to do that until later on in the game."

      DeMarre Carroll had a strong record defending James entering Tuesday's game but was manhandled in the paint in Game 1. James set a playoff-career best going 11 of 13 from the floor (84.6 percent).

      James' first nine baskets came near the restricted area and attempted only one shot -- a 3 from the wing -- outside of the paint. Cleveland went inside after averaging nearly 17 3-pointers per game through the first two playoff rounds. The Cavs led by as many as 35 in the fourth quarter. But James wanted to give the credit to Irving.

      "He's grown," James said. "Every single day, every single week, month over these past two years, becoming a leader, a staple of this team."

      Casey thought the defensive rotations broke down once the Raptors denied the Cavs 3-point looks.

      "We've got to continue to keep those (3-pointers) down, work to keep those down, and also at the same time make sure we understand and be disciplined as far as how we take away their roll guy," Casey said. "Because I thought that hurt us, especially in the second quarter."

      The sweeps in each of the first two rounds meant the Cavs played just eight games in the last 33 days, while the Raptors were stretched to seven games in each of their first two series. All the time off has done little to disrupt Cleveland's rhythm. It might have sapped the Raptors of some of their bounce, but Thursday is the time to rediscover it, or the Raptors will be down 2-0 heading home in their first-ever Eastern Conference final appearance.

      "I thought they were quicker than us tonight, and the reasons are not important. It's not an excuse," Casey said. "It's one game. But they were the quicker team, and we've got to make adjustments of how we want to combat that quickness."

  • LeBron's Nike deal may be worth more than $1 billion
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 18, 2016

    NBA icon LeBron James' lifetime deal with Nike could be worth more than $1 billion.

    • The Cleveland Cavaliers star's business manager and agent, Maverick Carter, suggested in a GQ story that James' lifetime Nike endorsement deal may top $1 billion.

      During the interview with the magazine, Carter was asked about rapper Kanye West's contention that the agreement was worth $1 billion.

      Carter smiled and pointed one finger skyward.

      "Yeah. It's a fantastic deal. Nike feels great about the deal," Carter told GQ on Tuesday. "That's the most important thing. As great as I feel, as great as LeBron feels -- Nike feels fantastic about it. It's the largest deal in the history of the company. Their hope is he makes even more. And our hope is that, too, obviously."

      James signed the lifetime contact with Nike in December. The deal was reported as the largest single athlete guarantee in the sports apparel company's history. James signed a seven-year, $93 million deal with Nike when he entered the NBA in 20013 and signed another deal with the company in 2010.

  • Rockets consider D'Antoni for head coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 18, 2016

    The Houston Rockets plan another interview with Philadelphia 76ers assistant Mike D'Antoni for their head coaching opening.

    • According to ESPN.com sources, the 76ers' associate head coach has landed a second interview with Houston and is an "increasingly serious candidate."

      The 65-year-old D'Antoni will meet this time with Rockets owner Leslie Alexander, according to ESPN.

      The Rockets met with D'Antoni and former Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel after 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.

      The offensive-minded D'Antoni has been a head coach with the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers.

      Houston also has interviewed former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt, former Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell, Charlotte Hornets assistant Stephen Silas, Rockets assistant Chris Finch, TNT analyst Kenny Smith and San Antonio Spurs assistant Ettore Messina.

  • Sixers win draft lottery
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 17, 2016

    The ping-pong balls fell just right for Philadelphia on Tuesday night and now the 76ers will have the first pick in the NBA draft and have the opportunity to draft LSU star Ben Simmons or Duke star Brandon Ingram.

    • Many believe Simmons and Ingram to be the two best prospects in this draft class.

      Drafting second will be the Los Angeles Lakers.

      The Boston Celtics will get the third pick.

      Philadelphia finished the season with the worst record, 10-72, which gave them the best chance at getting the top pick.

      The Sixers had a 25 percent chance of landing the top pick, the best odds in the bunch. But the Lakers (19.9 percent) and Celtics (15.6 percent) weren't far behind.

      The draft will be held on June 23.

  • NBA notebook: League says refs missed travel call
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 17, 2016

    With less than 20 seconds left on a pivotal possession for Oklahoma City, Steve Kerr knelt on the floor a few feet away and mouthed the words, "That's a travel."

    • Instead, referees awarded a timeout to the visiting team with 17.2 seconds left. The Golden State coach was right, according to NBA senior vice president of replay and referee operations Joe Borgia. Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook lifted his pivot foot and dragged it forward with a 103-100 lead on Monday night.

      Coming out of the timeout, Westbrook was fouled and hit two free throws to push the Thunder lead to five in their 108-102 win in the Western Conference finals opener.

      "The officials, no one could get in a good position to see him drag that pivot foot," Borgia said in a postgame interview on NBA TV. "It's an unfortunate miss, but so much going on in the play, the speed of it, and officiating is about getting angles and sometimes you just can't get them, and they did not get a great angle on that play."

      --Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry said he wasn't showing disrespect to Cleveland forward LeBron James when he recently stated that Golden State guard Stephen Curry was probably the best player in the NBA.

      The comment quickly gained traction and the perception was that Lowry was slighting James as the Raptors and Cavaliers prepared to open the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night. The Raptors advanced by defeating the Miami Heat on Sunday and Lowry said during an ESPN post-game interview: "LeBron is probably one of the best players in the league besides Stephen."

      Lowry said at Tuesday's shootaround that there was no intent to disparage James.

      "I would never throw shade on one of the greatest players in history of basketball," Lowry told reporters.

      --Oklahoma City center Steven Adams apologized for making a derogatory remark on Monday night about Golden State's guards.

      Adams, who is from New Zealand, referred to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson as "quick little monkeys" during a postgame interview after the Thunder's 108-102 victory in Monday's Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. Adams later learned that the remarks were offensive and issued an apology to USA Today.

      "It was just a poor choice of words, mate," Adams said. "I wasn't thinking straight. I didn't know it was going to upset anyone, but I'm truly sorry. It was just a poor choice of words. I was just trying to express how difficult it was chasing those guys around."

  • Raptors PG Lowry said he wasn't slighting Cavaliers F James
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 17, 2016

    Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry said he wasn't showing disrespect to Cleveland forward LeBron James when he recently stated that Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry was probably the best player in the NBA.

    • The comment quickly gained traction and the perception was that Lowry was slighting James as the Raptors and Cavaliers prepare to open the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night.

      The Raptors advanced by defeating the Miami Heat on Sunday and Lowry said the following during an ESPN post-game interview: "LeBron is probably one of the best players in the league besides Stephen."

      Lowry said at Tuesday's shootaround that there was no intent to disparage James.

      "I would never throw shade on one of the greatest players in history of basketball," Lowry told reporters. "I would never do that. Some people will take it for too much. LeBron is LeBron James. He'll probably be (one of the) top three players of all-time when he retires."

      James said he didn't take offense to Lowry's comment.

      "None taken," James said.

      Lowry's play will be a key for second-seeded Toronto if it harbors any chance of upsetting the top-seeded Cavaliers.

      In three regular-season games - two won by the Raptors - Lowry averaged 31 points and shot 66 percent from the field.

      "We can't worry about what everybody else says or what they think," Lowry said. "We got the No. 2 seed for a reason. At the end of the day, people going to have their opinions and that's what opinions are for."

  • Thunder C Adams apologizes for comments
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 17, 2016

    Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams apologized for making a derogatory remark about the Golden State Warriors' guards.

    • Adams, who is from New Zealand, referred to Golden State guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson as "quick little monkeys" during a postgame interview after the Thunder's 108-102 victory in Monday's Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

      Adams later learned that the remarks were offensive and issued an apology to USA Today.

      "It was just a poor choice of words, mate," Adams said. "I wasn't thinking straight. I didn't know it was going to upset anyone, but I'm truly sorry. It was just a poor choice of words. I was just trying to express how difficult it was chasing those guys around."

      The 22-year-old Adams, who came to the United States in 2012 to play college basketball at Pittsburgh, cited cultural differences as being partly to blame.

      "It's just different, mate," Adams said. "Different words, different expressions, and stuff like that. But they obviously can be taken differently, depending on which country you're in. I'm assimilating, mate, still trying to figure out the boundaries. But I definitely overstepped them."

  • NBA admits missing Westbrook violation
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 17, 2016

    With less than 20 seconds left on a pivotal possession for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Steve Kerr knelt on the floor a few feet away from the action and mouthed the words "That's a travel."

    • Instead, referees awarded a timeout to the visiting team.

      The Golden State Warriors head coach was right, according to NBA senior vice president of replay and referee operations Joe Borgia: Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook lifted his pivot foot and dragged it forward with a 103-100 lead.

      Referee Monty McCutchen awarded Westbrook a timeout with 17.2 seconds remaining.

      Coming out of the timeout, Westbrook was fouled and hit two free throws to push the Thunder edge to five.

      "The officials, no one could get in a good position to see him drag that pivot foot," Borgia said in a postgame interview on NBA TV. "It's an unfortunate miss, but so much going on in the play, the speed of it, and officiating is about getting angles and sometimes you just can't get them, and they did not get a great angle on that play."

  • Reports: Stotts, Trail Blazers agree to three-year extension
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 17, 2016

    Coach Terry Stotts and the Portland Trail Blazers agreed to a three-year contract extension that would tie him to the team through 2020, multiple media outlets reported Monday.

    • The news was first reported by The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

      Working with a team that had just one starter, guard Damian Lillard, returning from 2014-15, Stotts guided the Blazers to a 44-38 record this season and the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

      In the postseason, Portland eliminated the Clippers in six games after Los Angeles lost point guard Chris Paul to a broken hand and forward Blake Griffin to a quadriceps injury.

      Portland fell in five games to the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors during the Western Conference semifinals.

      In voting for NBA Coach of the Year, Stotts finished second behind Golden State's Steve Kerr.

      Stotts just completed his fourth season on the bench in Portland, and he has a 182-146 (.555) regular-season record with the Blazers. He also guided Portland to a first-round playoff series win over the Houston Rockets in 2013-14.

      Including stints as a head coach with the Atlanta Hawks (2002-03 and 2003-04) and the Milwaukee Bucks (2005-06 and 206-07), Stotts owns a career 297-314 regular-season mark (.486) and a 12-20 postseason record (.375).

      Stotts, 58, played college ball for Oklahoma and was a second-round pick of the Houston Rockets in 1980. However, he never appeared in an NBA game, though he played in the CBA and in Europe.