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  • Warriors PG Curry wins Magic Johnson Award
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 3, 2016

    Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry was named winner of the Magic Johnson Award, which goes to the player who best combines excellence on the court with cooperation and dignity in dealing with the media and the public.

    • The award, announced Tuesday, is given out by the Professional Basketball Writers Association. The other finalists were New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap.

      Curry, a point guard, helped the Warriors to a 73-9 record -- best in NBA history -- and he led the league in scoring (30.1) and 3-point baskets (402).

      The award was created in 2001 and named after Johnson, considered the ideal model for the award.

  • Clippers strive to keep core together
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 3, 2016

    Blake Griffin isn't going anywhere.

    • The popular trade target will be with the Los Angeles Clippers next season, coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday.

      Griffin missed much of the season because of quad and hand injuries, the latter a self-inflicted wound resulting from landing a punch in a fight with assistant equipment manager Matias Testi during an argument at a Toronto restaurant. The Clippers suspended Griffin four games because of the Jan. 23 fight, which occurred as he was nearing a return from a quad injury.

      "We have a priority of trying to just keep making our team better. Obviously because of the injuries -- Blake's in particular -- we literally don't know what we could have done. Even during the playoffs, he still wasn't 100 percent," Rivers said.

      Griffin missed 41 games and logged just five games before the playoffs, where he injured his quadriceps again and point guard Chris Paul went down with a broken hand.

      The Clippers fourth consecutive season of 50-plus wins ended in another playoff loss. Rivers said part of it was health, but he thinks the entire team could be back.

      "I think they all want to come back, and we're going to make a strong effort to bring all our guys back. The good news about the free-agent guys who are opting out on their contracts -- as they should, because everyone knows what we can spend and what we can't spend -- I can't find one who doesn't want to be here," he said.

      Rivers said he would not trade Griffin, even if an attractive sign-and-trade opportunity comes about with a player such as Kevin Durant, the top available player on the market in July. Paul signed a five-year, $107 million extension in 2013 but the deal includes an opt-out clause this summer.

      Rivers said Paul will exercise the opt-out but wants to remain with the Clippers.

      Center DeAndre Jordan is not available via trade, either, Rivers said. Jordan infamously backed out of a verbal agreement with the Dallas Mavericks in July 2015 when Rivers, Griffin, J.J. Redick and others showed up at his home on the eve of the signing to change his mind.

  • Kings' coaching candidates list extensive
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 3, 2016

    As the Kings shop for their fourth head coach since the end of the 2014 season, the list of candidates to replace George Karl in Sacramento is multiplying.

    • David Blatt, who took the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2015 but was let go in January and replaced by top assistant Tyronn Lue, interviewed with general manager Vlade Divac this week.

      There are a number of familiar names coming in to meet Divac behind Blatt, including Charlotte Hornets assistant coach Patrick Ewing, former Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale, former Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek and former Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson.

      Karl was 44-68 in one-plus season with the Kings, who hired him to replace Tyrone Corbin.

      Kings assistant coach Corliss Williamson was also scheduled to be interviewed for the position.

      Indiana Pacers assistant coach Nate McMillan could be interviewed.

      The Kings completed interviews with several other candidates with NBA coaching experience. Former Minnesota Timberwolves and Toronto Raptors coach Sam Mitchell, former Los Angeles Clippers and Chicago Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro and former New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson met with the team last week.

  • NBA roundup: Thunder pull even with Spurs
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 3, 2016

    SAN ANTONIO -- Russell Westbrook scored 29 points and handed out 10 assists, and Kevin Durant added 28 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder outlasted the San Antonio Spurs 98-97 Monday in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinal and tied the best-of-seven series at one win apiece.

    • Durant canned a floating jump shot off an assist from Westbrook with 33 seconds left to give Oklahoma City a 96-91 lead, but the Spurs responded with an Aldridge 3-pointer, just his second of the season. Westbrook then made two free throws with 18.3 seconds left to push Oklahoma City's lead back to four points, at 98-94.

      Aldridge (41 points) hit three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt with 13.5 seconds left to bring the Spurs to within 98-97.

      On the ensuing inbounds play, San Antonio's Danny Green stole the ball from Durant, and it was eventually passed in the corner to Patty Mills, who missed a 3-pointer with two seconds left. The two teams scrambled for the ball under the basket, but the Spurs could not get off another shot.

      Cavaliers 104, Hawks 93

      CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 25 points and came up with two big steals late in the game as Cleveland continued its dominance over Atlanta to win the opener of an Eastern Conference semifinal series.

      It was the eighth consecutive victory for the Cavs over the Hawks after sweeping them in the conference finals last season and winning all three meetings in the regular season this season.

      Kyrie Irving had 21 points and eight assists for the Cavaliers, and Kevin Love had 17 points and 11 rebounds despite a tough 4-of-17 shooting night. Tristan Thompson had 14 rebounds for the Cavs, who improved to 9-0 all-time against the Hawks in the postseason.

      Dennis Schroder scored a career-playoff-high 27 points for the Hawks, who went more than four minutes late in the game without a field goal as the Cavs pulled away. Paul Millsap had 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Kent Bazemore had 16 points and 12 rebounds for Atlanta.

  • Pacers undecided whether Vogel will be retained
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 3, 2016

    Indiana Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird said in an interview Monday that he is undecided about bringing head coach Frank Vogel back for a seventh season.

    • "I don't know what's going to happen," Bird told the Indianapolis Star, adding that a decision will be made following his conference call with Pacers owner Herb Simon.

      Bird said there is no timeline for the decision, but he wants to move quickly to allow Vogel to seek employment elsewhere if a move is made.

      Indiana has gone 250-181 in six seasons under Vogel, who took over as the team's head coach following the firing of Jim O'Brien in 2011.

      Under Vogel, the Pacers have made the playoffs five of the last six years. Indiana made back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals appearances in 2012-13 and 2013-14.

      Vogel served as the head coach of the Eastern Conference in the 2014 NBA All-Star Game.

      This season, the seventh-seeded Pacers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs following an 89-84 loss to the second-seeded Toronto Raptors in Game 7 on Sunday.

  • NBA roundup: Heat, Raptors win Game 7s
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 1, 2016

    MIAMI -- Goran Dragic had a game-high 25 points as the Miami Heat advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals, routing the Charlotte Hornets 106-73 in Game 7 on Sunday afternoon.

    • The Heat advance to face the Raptors in the second round, with Game 1 on Tuesday in Toronto.

      Miami, which never trailed, also got 15 points from Luol Deng, 12 points from Dwyane Wade and 10 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks from Hassan Whiteside.

      In franchise history, Miami is 6-3 in Game 7s. Before Sunday, the Heat's most recent Game 7 came in 2013, when they beat the San Antonio Spurs for the NBA championship.

      Charlotte, which just a few days ago had a 3-2 series lead, failed to close out the Heat. Hornets guard Kemba Walker, who had 37 points against Miami on Friday, was held to nine points on 3-for-16 shooting. He also had a team-high three turnovers.

      Raptors 89, Pacers 84

      TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points and Toronto defeated Indiana in the seventh game of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

      The Raptors led most of the way and used a 28-20 third-quarter surge to take a 14-point lead into the fourth quarter. Indiana had the ball with 26.9 seconds to play and the Toronto lead still at three, but the Raptors made the stop. DeRozan sank two free throws to stretch the lead to five with 6.5 seconds left to clinch the game.

      Jonas Valanciunas had 10 points and 15 rebounds for Toronto, Norman Powell scored 13 points, and Patrick Patterson had 11. Kyle Lowry added 11 points and nine assists.

      Paul George scored 26 points and had 12 rebounds for Indiana. George Hill added 19 and Monta Ellis 15. George broke Indiana's playoff-series record with 191 points, topping the mark of 181 set by Reggie Miller in the 1995 Eastern Conference finals.

      Warriors 118, Trail Blazers 106

      OAKLAND, Calif. -- Klay Thompson bombed in a game-high 37 points and Draymond Green recorded his second career postseason triple-double as Golden State ran away early from Portland en route to a victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

      Hitting four 3-pointers, Thompson poured in 18 of his 37 points in the first quarter, during which he single-handedly outscored the Trail Blazers 18-17. For the game, Green produced 23 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in 37 minutes. The Warriors were again without reigning league MVP Stephen Curry (knee).

      Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 30 points but shot just 8-for-26 while being covered mostly by Thompson.

  • NBA notebook: Curry may return for Game 3
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 1, 2016

    The Golden State Warriors just might see star guard Stephen Curry on the court for Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinal series against the Portland Trail Blazers.

    • Curry missed Sunday's series opener due to a sprained MCL in his right knee and coach Steve Kerr said before Sunday's contest that it is "pretty slim" that Curry would be able to play in Tuesday's Game 2.

      But Game 3 isn't until Saturday in Portland, giving Curry a chance to further his rehab and test the knee in 5-on-5 scrimmages.

      "It just depends how his week goes," Kerr said. "We'll just monitor him and see how it goes and hopefully get him back at some point. ... It's nice to have that long break between (games) 2 and 3."

      The Warriors beat the Trail Blazers in Game 1 Sunday.

      --Luke Walton admits it was a difficult decision to leave the Warriors but feels he is up to the challenge to take over as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

      "It was a tough decision, but I didn't have to sleep on it because I already kind of thought it out," said Walton, who addressed the media Saturday for the first time since being hired by the Lakers. "Obviously, I love that the past two years, the players here are incredible, not just talent-wise, but the people they are. I love the coaching staff I work with here."

      NBA coaching sources told ESPN's Marc Stein that Walton landed a five-year deal with the Lakers, with four years guaranteed, at an annual salary between $5 million and $6 million, depending on incentives.

      Walton served as the Warriors' interim head coach at the start of this season and led the team to a 39-4 record, including an NBA-record 24-0 start, before coach Steve Kerr returned after recovering from back surgery.

      -- Longtime NBA coach George Karl reflected on his rocky tenure with the Sacramento Kings, including his clashes with star center DeMarcus Cousins and the team's front office.

      The Kings fired Karl on April 14.

      "I never felt I got into a good place with Cuz (Cousins)," Karl told the Sacramento Bee in an interview at his home. "Some of that was my stupidity when I said that no player is untradable.

      "I still believe that. But I should have been smart enough not to say it, and I in no way, at any time, thought DeMarcus was going to get traded."

      "Eighty percent of the time, I think the Kings did what had to be done," Karl told the newspaper. "But I'm old-school enough to think that a coach has to feel powerful, has to feel supported -- and I never felt that level of support. ... Vlade (Divac, the Kings general manager) has a helluva task ahead of him. The roster needs to be tinkered with. He is going to be in for an NBA free agency unlike anything we have ever seen."

  • Curry resumes light shooting, looking toward Game 3
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 1, 2016

    The Golden State Warriors just might see star guard Stephen Curry on the court for Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinal series against the Portland Trail Blazers.

    • Curry missed Sunday's series opener due to a sprained MCL in his right knee and coach Steve Kerr said before the contest that it is "pretty slim" that Curry would be able to play in Tuesday's Game 2.

      But Game 3 isn't until Saturday in Portland, giving Curry a chance to further his rehab and test the knee in 5-on-5 scrimmages.

      "It just depends how his week goes," Kerr said. "We'll just monitor him and see how it goes and hopefully get him back at some point. ... It's nice to have that long break between (games) 2 and 3."

      Curry injured the knee in Game 4 of the first-round series against the Houston Rockets on April 24. He underwent an MRI exam -- that's when the ligament injury was diagnosed -- and general manager Bob Myers said the reigning MVP would miss at least two weeks.

      Curry is seemingly ahead of that timetable in that he has already began light shooting. On the other hand, he still needs to test the knee with planting and change-of-direction drills before he can be cleared to play.

      "It's all speculation," Kerr said. "As Bob said from the beginning, the two-week timetable was just kind of a random guess more than anything based on past history of these MCL injuries. So, we don't really know, but that's the hope, is that by the middle of next week we'll get him back in more basketball-type movements."

      Curry has expressed that he's aware he won't be 100 percent when he returns. Sitting out playoff games is hard for him but he said he is trying to focus on the efforts of his teammates.

      "I had the utmost faith and confidence in the 14 other guys on this team to go out and show who they are and what they're capable of, and they've obviously done that," Curry told reporters. "I only played 38 minutes in the first round and we finished it in five. They're a very capable group without me.

      "Obviously I'd like to be out there with them and I feel like we're a better team when I'm out there, but the way that they play and the way they have that confidence and swagger about them, it's fun to watch. We're going to need that, the same energy, focus and confidence going forward to start this next round."

      Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts wasn't buying into the notion that his club has received a major break with Curry sitting on the sidelines.

      "They're a great team without Steph," Stotts said. "They're a historically great team with him."

  • Karl reflects after firing by Kings, clashes with Cousins
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 1, 2016

    Longtime NBA coach George Karl reflected on his rocky tenure with the Sacramento Kings, including his clashes with star center DeMarcus Cousins and the team's front office.

    • The Kings fired Karl on April 14, one day after the franchise completed its 10th consecutive losing season (33-49). Overall, Karl went 44-68 in parts of two seasons with the Kings.

      Part of Karl's downfall with the Kings was his inability to get along with Cousins.

      "I never felt I got into a good place with Cuz," Karl told the Sacramento Bee in an interview at his home. "Some of that was my stupidity when I said that no player is untradeable.

      "I still believe that. But I should have been smart enough not to say it, and I in no way, at any time, thought DeMarcus was going to get traded."

      Karl nearly lost his job on multiple occasions during the season before general manager Vlade Divac ultimately decided to make the coaching change last month, sources told ESPN.

      Karl told the Sacramento Bee that he felt a lack of support from Divac and the rest of the front office.

      "Eighty percent of the time, I think the Kings did what had to be done," Karl told the newspaper. "But I'm old-school enough to think that a coach has to feel powerful, has to feel supported -- and I never felt that level of support. ... Vlade has a helluva task ahead of him. The roster needs to be tinkered with. He is going to be in for an NBA free agency unlike anything we have ever seen.

      "If the decision is made to keep Cuz, you have to put the right players around him. But it can't be about Cousins. You have to make basketball decisions."

      Karl, 63, praised Cousins' talent throughout the interview.

      "Whether or not they trade Cuz, they have to empower their coach," Karl said. "They have to let him coach. It takes a few years to build a program. It becomes a culture, an energy force.

      "Vivek (owner Vivek Ranadive) wanted magic to happen. But in the NBA, magic happens once in a while -- and usually is associated with Larry Bird, Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan. I think you can win with him (Cousins), but my thing is, how long is it going to take to get there? Then, how long before you become a winning team? I think there are faster ways to go."

  • Walton feels ready for Lakers' challenge
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 1, 2016

    Luke Walton admits it was a difficult decision to leave the Golden State Warriors but feels he is up to the challenge to take over as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

    • The Lakers reached a contract agreement on a multiyear deal Friday night with the 36-year-old former player and Golden State assistant coach. Walton will remain on the Warriors' staff for the remainder of the team's playoff run. The Warriors opened their second-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.

      "It was a tough decision, but I didn't have to sleep on it because I already kind of thought it out," said Walton, who addressed the media Saturday for the first time since being hired by the Lakers. "Obviously, I love that the past two years, the players here are incredible, not just talent-wise, but the people they are. I love the coaching staff I work with here."

      NBA coaching sources told ESPN's Marc Stein that Walton landed a five-year deal with the Lakers, with four years guaranteed, at an annual salary between $5 million and $6 million, depending on incentives.

      Walton served as the Warriors' interim head coach at the start of this season and led the team to a 39-4 record, including an NBA-record 24-0 start, before coach Steve Kerr returned after recovering from back surgery.

      "I was a little nervous about making the phone call because we have such a good thing going here, and I respect (Kerr) so much," Walton said. "But he was blown away. He couldn't believe how quickly it had happened, but he was so excited. It was like two friends talking. He was really, really happy for me, the opportunity. We had that call, and I was at his house three hours later."

      Kerr obviously will miss Walton, the son of Hall of Famer Bill Walton.

      "Luke called me maybe around 4 o'clock or so," Kerr said, "and said, 'I got good news and bad news.' I said, 'What's the good news?' He said, 'The Lakers offered me the job.' I said, 'What's the bad news?' He said, 'I took it.' I said, 'You're right. That is bad news. We're going to miss you.'"

      Kerr was asked what advice he would give to Walton.

      "I'm gonna say it's too bad you don't have Steph and Klay and Draymond anymore," said Kerr, smiling. "You're on your own, pal.

      "No, Luke and I will have a lifetime friendship, and we will undoubtedly share ideas and thoughts, coaching-wise, that kind of thing."

      Walton will be leaving a team that won an NBA-record 73 games this season as the Warriors chase their second straight title.

      The Lakers are coming off a franchise-worst 17-65 season, but Walton said he is ready for the challenge.

      "(The Lakers) laid it all out. They showed what they want to do, players they plan on going after, all that stuff," Walton said. "That's exciting to me. Get to be with one of the greatest organizations in the history of sports, and they're ready and willing to get after it."

      Lakers legend Magic Johnson welcomed the team's new hire.

      "Luke Walton was a champion as a player and an asst. coach and he will bring that championship mindset & attitude to the @Lakers organization," Johnson tweeted Saturday.

  • Curry ruled out of Sunday's game, but Tuesday ...
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 1, 2016

    Golden State guard Stephen Curry will watch from the sidelines when the Warriors face the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series on Sunday.

    • But coach Steve Kerr left the door open a slight crack that Curry could play Tuesday night in Game 2.

      "I'd be shocked if he played Tuesday because he hasn't even been out on the floor yet," Kerr told the San Jose Mercury News. "I'm not going to rule him out for Tuesday, but not much of a chance he'd play then."

      If Curry can get back on the practice floor in the next couple of days, Kerr said he could better evaluate his star guard's health.

      Curry suffered a Grade 1 medial collateral ligament sprain in his right knee during Game 4 against the Houston Rockets on April 24. He was expected to miss at least two weeks, which would have put his return date around May 9.

      "If he can progress throughout the week, fortunately Game 3 isn't until Saturday," Kerr said. "Maybe we'll get a chance to see him on the court for a couple of days and see what it looks like."

  • Clippers' Pierce 50-50 on retirement
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 30, 2016

    Paul Pierce of the Los Angeles Clippers was in tears after the Portland TrailBlazers eliminated the Clippers from the NBA playoffs on Friday night and said he is considering retirement after 18 seasons.

    • The 6-7 forward had the least productive season of his career, averaging career-lows of 6.1 points and 2.7 rebounds in 68 games, failing to average in double figures in points for the first time.

      "Each and every year for the last couple of years, I've thought long and hard about walking way from the game," Pierce told reporters. "The process will continue this summer, as I think long and hard, as I step closer to getting older in age, seeing how my body feels, talk to my family. I don't want to make an emotional decision right now, so I'll just take some time off, sit down with my family, and really think about it, think long and hard.

      "It's just gotta hit you one day. You know, you just never know, man. You just don't know, you know what I mean? Right now it's 50-50. I'll see how I feel when I wake up, if I feel like getting ready for next season. If I don't feel that feeling, that fire's not there, it's going to be tough."

      Pierce averaged 20.0 points and 5.7 rebounds in 18 seasons with the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards and the Clippers, after the Celtics made him the 10th pick of the 1998 NBA Draft as an All-American out of Kansas.

      In 2008, Pierce led the Celtics to the NBA title and was Finals MVP.

      Pierce is under contract with the Clippers for two more seasons. He's scheduled to have a cap hit slightly over $3.5 million both years, with his 2017-18 salary only partially guaranteed,

  • Lakers hire Walton as coach after Warriors' season ends
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 30, 2016

    Luke Walton is returning to the Los Angeles Lakers as their coach.

    • The Lakers reached a contract agreement on a multiyear deal Friday night with the 36-year-old former player, general manager Mitch Kupchak announced. Walton will become the 26th coach in franchise history.

      Walton, an assistant with Golden State, will remain with the Warriors until the end of their season. Walton served as the interim coach at the start of this season and led the team to a 39-4 record, including an NBA-record 24-0 start, before coach Steve Kerr returned after recovering from back surgery.

      "I loved everything about my time at Golden State and learning from Steve," Walton told ESPN. "I'll forever be grateful to him, the organization and the team. But I have always dreamed of being a head coach and the chance to do that for an organization like the Lakers doesn't come around very often."

      Byron Scott was fired last Sunday after the Lakers struggled to the second-worst record in the NBA this season at 17-65. They were 38-126 in Scott's two seasons as coach.

      "We're excited to bring Luke back to Los Angeles, where we feel he's going to start an outstanding coaching career," Kupchak said in a statement. "He's one of the brightest young coaching minds in the game and we feel fortunate that he'll be leading the on-court future of our team."

      Walton is in his second season with the Warriors. After his 10-year NBA playing career ended, he served as an assistant at the University of Memphis in 2011 and as a player development coach for the Los Angeles D-Fenders in the NBA Development League in 2013-14 before joining the Warriors.

      "I'm incredibly happy for Luke," Kerr said. "As we witnessed earlier this season, he has all of the intangibles necessary to be an outstanding head coach in this league, including a terrific understanding of the game and the ability to communicate with a wide range of people. He's certainly ready for this opportunity and I'm confident he'll do a great job with the Lakers once our season is complete."

      As a player, Walton averaged 4.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 564 regular-season games for the Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers. He played on the Lakers' NBA championship teams in 2009 and 2010.

      "We are thrilled for Luke," Warriors general manager Bob Myers said. "This is a tremendous opportunity for him to return home and serve as head coach for one of the most storied franchises in sports. Luke has done an incredible job during his two-year stint with our team and has played a significant role in our success, including last year's championship and again this season under some very unique circumstances. We are certainly going to miss Luke after we conclude our playoff run this season, but we wish him the very best with the Lakers."

      Walton's biggest praise came from his father, Hall of Famer Bill Walton, who did so in proud dad fashion by tweeting a picture of Luke as a young child.

      "Who would have ever thought that little Luke Walton would be the head coach of the Lakers, so happy for him," Bill Walton posted Saturday on Twitter.

  • NBA roundup: Trail Blazers eliminate Clippers
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 30, 2016

    PORTLAND, Ore. -- Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 46 points to lead the Portland Trail Blazers past the Los Angeles Clippers 106-103 Friday night at the Moda Center.

    • Lillard scored 26 points and McCollum added 20 as the Trail Blazers closed out the Clippers in six games in their first-round playoff series.

      Mason Plumlee contributed nine points -- including the deciding three free throws in the final 14.7 seconds -- and grabbed 14 rebounds for Portland, which opens Western Conference semifinals play Sunday at Golden State.

      Jamal Crawford came off the bench for a career playoff-high 32 points for the Clippers, but missed on a driving layup that could have tied the game in the closing seconds. Austin Rivers collected 22 points, eight assists and six rebounds while DeAndre Jordan had 15 points and 20 boards for the losers.

      Heat 97, Hornets 90

      CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Dwyane Wade scored 23 points and hit two clutch shots in the final minute, and Miami forced a decisive Game 7 with a victory over Charlotte in their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

      Wade's 3-pointer with 46 seconds remaining gave the Heat a 93-88 lead, and then after a Charlotte basket, he hit a fallaway 18-footer with 19.5 seconds left to push the lead back to five.

      The Heat led by as many as 13 in the first half and 12 in the second, thanks to 60 percent shooting from the field in the first half. They went cold in the third quarter but still finished at 45.8 percent.

      Game 7 is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday in Miami.

      Pacers 101, Raptors 83

      INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul George had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Indiana used a dominating second half to defeat Toronto in Game 6, tying the best-of-seven series 3-3 and forcing Game 7 on Sunday in Toronto.

      After leading 65-64 late in the third quarter, Indiana used a 32-5 run to increase its lead to 97-69 with 3:02 remaining.

      The Pacers scored the fourth quarter's first six points and led 77-64 with 10:38 remaining, prompting a Toronto timeout. The run became 12-0 for an 83-64 advantage. Indiana shot 64 percent from the field in the second half.

  • Lakers hire Walton as coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 29, 2016

    Luke Walton is returning to the Los Angeles Lakers as their coach.

    • The Lakers reached a contract agreement Friday with the 36-year-old former player, general manager Mitch Kupchak announced. Walton will become the 26th coach in franchise history.

      Walton, an assistant with Golden State, will remain with the Warriors until the end of their season. Walton served as the interim coach at the start of this season and led the team to a 39-4 record, including an NBA-record 24-0 start, before coach Steve Kerr returned after recovering from back surgery.

      "We're excited to bring Luke back to Los Angeles, where we feel he's going to start an outstanding coaching career," Kupchak said. "He's one of the brightest young coaching minds in the game and we feel fortunate that he'll be leading the on-court future of our team."

      Walton is in his second season with the Warriors. After his 10-year NBA playing career ended, he served as an assistant at the University of Memphis in 2011 and as a player development coach for the Los Angeles D-Fenders in the NBA Development League in 2013-14 before joining the Warriors.

      As a player, Walton averaged 4.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 564 regular-season games for the Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers. He played on the Lakers' NBA championship teams in 2009 and 2010.

  • Mavericks PG Williams plans to opt out of contract
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 29, 2016

    Dallas Mavericks point guard Deron Williams plans to decline the player option in his contract and become a free agent, ESPN.com reported on Friday.

    • Williams just finished the first season of a two-year contract. He averaged 14.1 points and 5.8 assists this season.

      Williams will soon undergo surgery to repair a sports hernia that curtailed him during Dallas' five-game series playoff loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

      Williams came to Dallas -- his hometown -- to revive his career after being a huge disappointment during his four-plus seasons with the Brooklyn Nets.

      "I would love to be back," Williams told reporters recently in regards to his interest in remaining with the Mavericks. "This was a great year for me. My family is settled and happy here, so it'd definitely be great to be back."

      Of players scheduled to become free agent, Memphis' Mike Conley is considered the top point guard.

  • Hornets lose C Hawes for rest of series
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 28, 2016

    The Charlotte Hornets will be without Spencer Hawes for the remainder of their NBA first-round playoff series after the backup center sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee during Wednesday night's game against the Miami Heat.

    • Hawes underwent an MRI exam on his right knee Thursday that showed the damage. The Hornets said his condition will be reassessed in a week.

      Charlotte plays host to Miami on Friday night in Game 6. The Hornets hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series after their win in Game 5.

      The 7-foot Hawes was averaging 3.6 points and 3.2 rebounds in five playoff games.

  • Azalea saves Nick Young from bad tattoo
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 28, 2016

    Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Nick Young had a season to forget, on and off the court.

    • His scoring average dropped to single digits, his engagement to pop star Iggy Azalea was questioned after teammate D'Angelo Russell recorded his infidelities on a video and a pair of shoes signed by Kobe Bryant were thrown in the trash.

      But on Wednesday, thanks to Azalea's "love" he caught a break and was saved from further embarrassment.

      "Guys, I wanna let you know. Nick cant spell and if it wasnt for the LOVE i have for him. He would have 'BORN REBLE' tatted across his back," Azalea tweeted to her 6 million followers.

      Azalea recounted how she walked in and saw Young's tattoo and noticed "BORN REBLE looked different to the way i remember it," she tweeted.

      Azalea arrived just in time as "Born" was already inked and the tattoo artist was about to start on "Reble."

  • NBA roundup: Warriors eliminate Rockets
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 28, 2016

    OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors didn't skip a beat without star point guard Stephen Curry, routing the Houston Rockets 114-81 Wednesday night to finish off a 4-1 triumph in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

    • The defending NBA champs will move on to face either the Portland Trail Blazers or Los Angeles Clippers. The Warriors almost surely will be without Curry for most, if not all, of the second-round series after he sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee during Game 4 against the Rockets on Sunday.

      Klay Thompson led Golden State with 27 points. Veteran Shaun Livingston stepped into Curry's starting role and contributed 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting.

      Ten of Livingston's points came on 4-for-4 shooting and a pair of free throws in the first quarter, during which the Warriors scored the first eight points and suffocated every Rocket not named James Harden en route to a 37-20 lead. Harden had 18 points in the quarter en route to a game-high 35.

      Hornets 90, Heat 88

      MIAMI -- Courtney Lee hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 25 seconds remaining, and Charlotte earned a victory over Miami to take a 3-2 lead in a first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

      With the Hornets trailing 88-87 in the final minute, Charlotte guard Kemba Walker missed a jumper. But -- for the second game in a row -- Lee came up with a huge offensive rebound. This time, Lee went right back up, hitting his game-deciding 3-pointer.

      Marvin Williams led Charlotte with 17 points. The Hornets also got 14 points each from Al Jefferson and Walker. Lee had eight points as Charlotte won its third straight game in the series.

      Dwyane Wade had a game-high 25 points, but he missed a shot on a drive to the basket with 2.6 seconds left that could have tied the score on Miami's final possession. Lee blocked Wade's shot from behind, and Wade complained he was fouled -- to no avail.

      Trail Blazers 108, Clippers 98

      LOS ANGELES -- CJ McCollum had 27 points, and Damian Lillard scored 16 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter as Portland earned a victory over short-handed Los Angeles to take a 3-2 lead in their Western Conference quarterfinal matchup.

      Maurice Harkless contributed 19 points and 10 rebounds, Allen Crabbe added 11 points, and Mason Plumlee and Gerald Henderson chipped in 10 apiece for Portland. Plumlee also grabbed 15 rebounds.

      J.J. Redick had 19 points, while Jamal Crawford scored 17 for the Clippers, who played their first game of the series without Blake Griffin (partially torn left quad tendon) and Chris Paul (fractured right hand). Both of the stars were injured Monday in the Clippers' Game 4 loss at Portland. DeAndre Jordan collected 16 points and 17 rebounds for Los Angeles.

  • NBA roundup: Hornets, Blazers take 3-2 series leads
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 28, 2016

    MIAMI -- Courtney Lee hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 25 seconds remaining, and the Charlotte Hornets earned a 90-88 victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in a first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

    • Charlotte, with a chance to end the best-of-seven set, will host Game 6 on Friday night.

      With the Hornets trailing 88-87 in the final minute, Charlotte guard Kemba Walker missed a jumper. But -- for the second game in a row -- Lee came up with a huge offensive rebound. This time, Lee went right back up, hitting his game-deciding 3-pointer.

      Marvin Williams led Charlotte with 17 points. The Hornets also got 14 points each from Al Jefferson and Walker. Lee had eight points as Charlotte won its third straight game in the series.

      Trail Blazers 108, Clippers 98

      LOS ANGELES -- CJ McCollum had 27 points, and Damian Lillard scored 16 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter as Portland earned a victory over short-handed Los Angeles to take a 3-2 lead in their Western Conference quarterfinal matchup at Staples Center.

      Maurice Harkless contributed 19 points and 10 rebounds, Allen Crabbe added 11 points, and Mason Plumlee and Gerald Henderson chipped in 10 apiece for Portland. Plumlee also grabbed 15 rebounds.

      J.J. Redick had 19 points, while Jamal Crawford scored 17 for the Clippers, who played their first game of the series without Blake Griffin (partially torn left quad tendon) and Chris Paul (fractured right hand). Both of the stars were injured Monday in the Clippers' Game 4 loss at Portland. DeAndre Jordan collected 16 points and 17 rebounds for Los Angeles.

  • Warriors give Lakers go-ahead to speak with Walton
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 27, 2016

    The Los Angeles Lakers received permission from the Warriors to interview Golden State assistant coach Luke Walton for their head-coaching vacancy after the first round of the playoffs.

    • The Lakers parted ways with head coach Byron Scott on Sunday after a franchise-worst 17-65 season.

      Walton, 36, has a history with the Lakers, having been on two NBA championship teams in his nine seasons as a player in Los Angeles.

      This season, Walton stepped in as the Warriors' interim coach and guided the team to a 39-4 record while head coach Steve Kerr recovered from back surgery. The Warriors won each of their first 24 games, an NBA record to open a season, and they wound up with a 73-9 mark, the best in league history.

      All of Walton's wins were credited to Kerr, per NBA rules.

      Walton tied for eighth in NBA Coach of the Year voting, which was won by Kerr.

      Kerr confirmed Wednesday that Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak asked if he could talk to Walton. The meeting could occur soon if the Warriors close out their first-round Western Conference playoff series against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night. Golden State holds a 3-1 series advantage in the best-of-seven series.

      The New York Daily News recently reported that Walton turned down an opportunity to speak with the New York Knicks about their head-coaching job.

      Golden State general manager Bob Myers said last week on the team's TV pregame show, "Luke is gonna be a head coach someday, but he's gonna be deliberate about how he goes about it, which is smart. He's got good options, I think he'll continue to have good options. He's in a good place."

      Another assistant coach from the Warriors' 2014-15 championship team, Alvin Gentry, left the team to become the head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans before the 2015-16 season.

  • NBA notebook: Celtics expect PG Thomas for Game 6
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 27, 2016

    Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens is optimistic about the chances of point guard Isaiah Thomas playing in Game 6 on Thursday night against the Atlanta Hawks.

    • Thomas suffered a mild ankle sprain near the end of the Celtics' 110-83 loss to the Hawks on Tuesday night in Atlanta. Boston trails 3-2 in the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series.

      After averaging 35 points in the Celtics' two wins in the series, Thomas was limited to seven points in Tuesday's game.

      Stevens said Thomas' swelling was minimal the day after the game.

      "Every update I've gotten is positive," Stevens said Wednesday. "Isaiah seems really positive about it, feels good. I'm sure they'll take extra looks at it now that we've arrived home, but the swelling wasn't bad and he feels good. So all signs point toward him being ready to go."

      The Celtics won't get injured guard Avery Bradley back in this series, though. He has missed four games with a strained right hamstring.

      --Forward Chris Bosh indicated his desire to return to the court for the playoffs but the Miami Heat restated their position that he is out indefinitely.

      Bosh and his wife broke weeks of silence about his status with social media posts Tuesday.

      Bosh's wife, Adrienne, tweeted "#BringBackBosh" to her personal Twitter page. The hashtag quickly spread on Twitter.

      It was the first comment from the family on Bosh's basketball status since he was sidelined because of blood clots in mid-February.

      Bosh later posted a video on social media of him shooting in an empty AmericanAirlines Arena with the message, "Still got it."

      The posts followed the Heat's two losses to the Charlotte Hornets, who pulled out an 89-85 victory in Game 4 on Monday night to even the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series at two games apiece. Game 5 was scheduled Wednesday night in Miami.

      Bosh was in Charlotte with the Heat but has avoided interviews. The 11-time All-Star has been sidelined due to a second round of blood-clot issues.

      Following the social media posts, the Heat repeated the position they have held since February.

      "There is no update. He is out still indefinitely," Heat spokesman Tim Donovan told ESPN.

      Bosh last played on Feb. 9 and had to pull out of the NBA All-Star Game due to the medical problem.

      --Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt met with New York Knicks president Phil Jackson to discuss the team's head coaching vacancy, according to multiple reports.

      The meeting took place on Monday. Knicks general manager Steve Mills and Blatt were teammates on the Princeton basketball team in the 1970s.

      The 59-year-old Blatt was 70-48 with the Cavaliers before he was abruptly fired in January. Blatt guided Cleveland to the NBA Finals last season and the Cavs were leading the East at 30-11 when he was fired.

      Interim coach Kurt Rambis has remained a strong frontrunner to become the Knicks' permanent head coach.

      Rambis, 58, has a career record of 65-164, including a 9-19 mark as the Knicks' interim coach following the firing of Derek Fisher this season.

  • Celtics expect PG Thomas for Game 6
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 27, 2016

    Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens is optimistic about the chances of point guard Isaiah Thomas playing in Game 6 on Thursday night against the Atlanta Hawks.

    • Thomas suffered a mild ankle sprain near the end of the Celtics' 110-83 loss to the Hawks on Tuesday night in Atlanta. Boston trails 3-2 in the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series.

      After averaging 35 points in the Celtics' two wins in the series, Thomas was limited to seven points in Tuesday's game.

      Stevens said Thomas' swelling was minimal the day after the game.

      "Every update I've gotten is positive," Stevens said Wednesday. "Isaiah seems really positive about it, feels good. I'm sure they'll take extra looks at it now that we've arrived home, but the swelling wasn't bad and he feels good. So all signs point toward him being ready to go."

      The Celtics won't get injured guard Avery Bradley back in this series, though. He has missed four games with a strained right hamstring.

      "The injury, plus just what a hamstring injury can do moving forward, is something that we just have to be very, very careful with, and Avery's got to be very, very careful with," Stevens said. "He feels better. As of two days ago, or yesterday, he had done a little bit more jogging, etcetera, but had experienced some soreness after that, which is not atypical for trying to come back from a hamstring injury."

  • Bosh wants to play but Heat restate he's still out
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 27, 2016

    Forward Chris Bosh indicated his desire to return to the court for the playoffs but the Miami Heat restated their position that he is out indefinitely.

    • Bosh and his wife broke weeks of silence about his status with social media posts Tuesday.

      Bosh's wife, Adrienne, tweeted "#BringBackBosh" to her personal Twitter page. The hashtag quickly spread on Twitter.

      It was the first comment from the family on Bosh's basketball status since he was sidelined because of blood clots in mid-February.

      Bosh later posted a video on social media of him shooting in an empty AmericanAirlines Arena with the message, "Still got it."

      The posts followed the Heat's two losses to the Charlotte Hornets, who pulled out an 89-85 victory in Game 4 on Monday night to even the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series at two games apiece. Game 5 was scheduled Wednesday night in Miami.

      Bosh was in Charlotte with the Heat but has avoided interviews. The 11-time All-Star has been sidelined due to a second round of blood-clot issues.

      Following the social media posts, the Heat repeated the position they have held since February.

      "There is no update. He is out still indefinitely," Heat spokesman Tim Donovan told ESPN.

      Bosh last played on Feb. 9 and had to pull out of the NBA All-Star Game due to the medical problem. It was first reported as a calf injury and it later became commonly referred to as an injury related to blood clots. For Bosh to return to the court, he would have to be cleared by Heat doctors.

      Bosh said in a March 10 statement that he does not currently have blood-clot issues. He missed the final 30 games of the 2014-15 season due to severe clotting issues.

  • Blatt meets with Knicks about coaching job
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 27, 2016

    Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt met with New York Knicks president Phil Jackson to discuss the team's head coaching vacancy, according to multiple reports Wednesday.

    • The meeting took place on Monday. Knicks general manager Steve Mills and Blatt were teammates on the Princeton basketball team in the 1970s.

      The 59-year-old Blatt was 70-48 with the Cavaliers before he was abruptly fired in January. Blatt guided Cleveland to the NBA Finals last season and the Cavs were leading the East at 30-11 when he was fired.

      Interim coach Kurt Rambis has remained a strong frontrunner to become the Knicks' permanent head coach.

      Rambis has a career record of 65-164, including a 9-19 mark as the Knicks' interim coach following the firing of Derek Fisher this season.

      Rambis, 58, has a longstanding relationship with Jackson, who at season's end complimented him for helping the Knicks run the triangle offense more effectively.

      Rambis worked two stints as an assistant coach to Jackson with the Los Angeles Lakers, joining him for four of his 11 championship rings.

      Jackson also discussed the Knicks' vacancy with Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton earlier this month. Walton reportedly decided he was not interested in the job.