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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Ginboli said the Spurs wasted a nice comeback.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Normally patient with the media, Spoelstra bristled.

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

      "We expect a dogfight in Charlotte."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Bosh credited Wade -- and Spoelstra.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Apparently, that was so last month.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      There are reports of fighting among teammates.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • He might lose credibility if he continues that claim.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Pierce finished with seven points and six rebounds.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Valanciunas led the way for Toronto with eight points.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Dhiren Mahiban

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Valanciunas led the way for Toronto with eight points.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014
    Clippers turn around and rout Warriors
    By The Sports Xchange

    LOS ANGELES -- After a foul-plagued outing and a surprising setback in Game 1, Blake Griffin returned with a vengeance on Monday night.

    • The Clippers forward scored a playoff-high 35 points, leading Los Angeles to a 138-98 blowout of the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals at the Staples Center.

      Griffin connected on 13 of 17 shots from the field and nine of 10 free throws. He also did not commit a foul in 30 minutes after fouling out with 16 points and three rebounds in 19 minutes in Game 1.

      "I think we were a little encouraged because we played so poorly and they played well Saturday," said Griffin, who also had six rebounds. "I think we just kind of looked at our mistakes, tried to rectify them and tried to correct them. I think the big difference was we were actually more relaxed. You (could) just tell in the locker room everybody was relaxed, everybody was so confident that we just go to come in and execute."

      "You saw it tonight, how dominant he is," said point guard Chris Paul, who finished had 12 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and five steals. "I think when we play that way, with that force and thrust, it's hard to defend him."

      Seven Clippers scored in double figures, including forward Danny Granger, who came off the bench to deliver 15 points. Forward Hedo Turkoglu had 13 points and center DeAndre Jordan added 11 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. Griffin, Paul and Jordan did not play in the fourth quarter.

      The Clippers evened the best-of-seven series at one win apiece. Game 3 is Thursday at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

      "We're going back home, so we'll be alright," said Warriors guard Klay Thompson, whose foul woes limited him to seven points. "We'll throw this one out."

      The points scored Monday are a playoff club record for Los Angeles, topping the 123 it had in a 130-123 loss to the Phoenix Suns in 2006.

      Like Game 1, Los Angeles bolted out of the gate to a double-digit lead. However, unlike the opener, the Clippers never relinquished the lead and coasted from start to finish.

      "We were tentative," Golden State coach Mark Jackson said. "They disrupted us with their intensity, with their aggressiveness defensively. Give them credit. There is no sense in pointing the finger anywhere else other than the fact that we didn't get it done."

      The third-seeded Clippers blitzed the sixth-seeded Warriors for a 67-41 halftime lead. It was a club record for points in a half for Los Angeles. Griffin scored 21 in the first half.

      The Clippers, who scored at least 30 points in each quarter, also benefited from 15 Warriors turnovers that they cashed in for 18 points before the break. Los Angeles had only seven miscues in the half. Overall, Golden State finished with 26 turnovers to 13 for the Clippers.

      "It was a good win for us, obviously," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "They came in here and did what they had to do, but I liked how we approached the game, and came out and played the right way tonight on both ends of the floor."

      Point guard Stephen Curry led Golden State with 24 points, scoring 20 in the second half when the outcome was practically decided. Forwards David Lee and Draymond Green and guard Jordan Crawford each scored 11.

      "Just a rough game all the way around," Lee said. "They responded like what we talked about before the game. It was a game they needed to respond, and they did that today and we didn't play our best game at all."

      Los Angeles shot 56.6 percent (47-for-83) from the field compared with 47.4 percent (36-for-76) for the Warriors. The Clippers also converted 12-of-25 (48 percent) 3-pointers to 4-of-19 (21.1 percent) for the Warriors.

      NOTES: Golden State C Jermaine O'Neal, who replaced injured C Andrew Bogut in the starting lineup and finished with 13 points and four rebounds in a strong performance on Saturday, was pivotal in the Warriors' Game 1 win. "He played great," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought he was probably, if not the most important player in Game 1, he was close." Rivers and O'Neal, who played for Rivers for two seasons in Boston, earned technicals in the second quarter for jawing at each other. ... Golden State has won 16 of 20 previous playoff series when it captured Game 1. ... Saturday's victory gave the Warriors a franchise-record 25 road wins. ... Game 4 is scheduled for Sunday at Oracle Arena in Oakland, where Los Angeles has dropped five in a row and failed to win there since Dec. 25, 2011.

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014
    Clippers 138, Warriors 98
    By The Sports Xchange

    LOS ANGELES -- Forward Blake Griffin scored 35 points, leading the Los Angeles Clippers to a 138-98 blowout of the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals Monday night at Staples Center.

    • Griffin connected on 13 of 17 shots from the field and nine of 10 free throws. He also had six rebounds. Point guard Chris Paul had 12 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and five steals, while forward Danny Granger came off the bench to score 15 points. Forward Hedo Turkoglu finished with 13 points and center DeAndre Jordan added 11 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. Griffin, Paul and Jordan did not play in the fourth quarter.

      The Clippers evened the best-of-seven series at a game apiece. Game 3 is Thursday at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

      The points scored Monday are a playoff club record for Los Angeles, topping the 123 it scored in a 130-123 defeat by the Phoenix Suns in 2006.

      Like Game 1, Los Angeles bolted out of the gate to a double-digit lead. However, unlike the opener, the Clippers never relinquished the lead and coasted from start to finish.

      The third-seeded Clippers blitzed the sixth-seeded Warriors for a 67-41 halftime lead. It was a club record for points in a half for Los Angeles. Griffin scored 21 in the first half.

      The Clippers, who scored at least 30 points in each quarter, also benefited from 15 Warrior turnovers, which they cashed in for 18 points, before the break. Los Angeles had only seven miscues in the half. Overall, Golden State finished with 26 turnovers to 13 for the Clippers.

      Point guard Stephen Curry led Golden State with 24 points, scoring 20 in the second half when the outcome was practically decided. Forwards David Lee and Draymond Green and guard Jordan Crawford each scored 11.

      Los Angeles shot 56.6 percent (47-for-83) from the field compared to 47.4 percent (36-for-76) for the Warriors. The Clippers also converted 12-of-25 (48 percent) on 3-pointers to only 4-of-19 (21.1 percent) for the Warriors.

      NOTES: Golden State C Jermaine O'Neal, who replaced injured C Andrew Bogut in the starting lineup and finished with 13 points and four rebounds in a strong performance Saturday, was pivotal in the Warriors' Game 1 win. "He played great," Clipper coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought he was probably, if not the most important player in Game 1, he was close." Rivers and O'Neal, who played for Rivers for two seasons in Boston, earned technicals in the second quarter for jawing at each other. ... Golden State has won 16 of 20 previous playoff series when it captured Game 1. ... Saturday's victory gave the Warriors a franchise-record 25 road wins. ... Game 4 is scheduled for Sunday at Oracle Arena in Oakland, where Los Angeles has dropped five in a row and failed to win there since Dec. 25, 2011.

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014
    Grizzlies tie series with overtime victory
    By The Sports Xchange

    OKLAHOMA CITY - The Memphis Grizzlies wanted to play their game. After allowing the Oklahoma City Thunder to pour in 100 points in Game 1, they knew they had to take some steam out of the Thunder if they stood a chance of coming away with a win on the road.

    • For the Grizzlies that meant following the lead of reserve guard Tony Allen. Even though he scored only eight points, he set the tone and attitude that allowed them to come away with the 111-105 overtime victory Monday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.

      "Just trying to just cause havoc the best way possible," Allen said. "It's kind of to my favor."

      The best-of-seven series is tied at 1-1 heading to Memphis for Game 3 Thursday. But the win did not come easily for Memphis, which squandered a five-point lead in the final 19 seconds of regulation time and survived a 36-point performance from Thunder forward Kevin Durant.

      With 2:19 left in overtime, Randolph scored to give the Grizzlies a 105-101 advantage. Durant responded with a 3-pointer to bring the Thunder to within one.

      After the Grizzlies missed a shot, Durant drove to the rim on a fastbreak attempt, but could not convert after running into Memphis guard Courtney Lee. The Grizzlies came up with the loose ball.

      Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha then stole the ball from Grizzlies guard Mike Conley.

      After a timeout, Durant was fouled by center Marc Gasol. Durant hit only one of two from the free-throw line to tie game at 105-105 with 35 seconds left.

      Oklahoma City didn't score again as the Grizzlies' defense stiffened. Randolph and Lee scored the last six points to close out the contest. Randolph's bucket with 26 seconds left put the Grizzlies ahead to stay.

      "It's tough to take that hit and go into overtime," Memphis coach David Joerger said of blowing the lead in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter. "That was a big moment. In that huddle it was a big moment for us because we came out and executed and got stops in the first two minutes of the overtime. I'm proud of our guys."

      Randolph paced the Grizzlies with 25 points and six rebounds. Conley scored 19 points to go along with 12 assists and seven rebounds. Lee and Gasol each posted 16 points while guard Beno Udrih came off the Memphis bench to score 14 points.

      Durant scored his 36 points on 12-for-28 shooting. He also collected 11 boards and four assists. Guard Russell Westbrook added 29 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Forward Serge Ibaka had 15 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots in the loss.

      The Grizzlies led by nine points with a little more than eight minutes left in the fourth quarter before the Thunder rallied to take a one-point lead on a Durant basket with 1:14 left.

      After battling for a couple of offensive rebounds, the ball found its way into guard Mike Miller's hands at the top of the key for a 3-pointer that gave Memphis a 95-93 advantage with 53 seconds left in regulation.

      Westbrook tried to answer, but his 3-point shot was off and the Grizzlies got the rebound. Conley was fouled and he hit one of two free throws.

      The Thunder got the ball to Durant, but he turned it over under Allen's pressure.

      "We have to do a better job getting their hands off him," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said of Allen's defense on Durant. "They did a good job of putting their hands on us and we didn't free ourselves up enough."

      Conley went to line again and hit a pair to give the Grizzlies a 98-93 lead with 18 seconds remaining.

      Durant made a 3-pointer while being fouled and falling out of bounds. The ensuing free throw closed gap to 98-97 with 13 seconds left.

      Conley was fouled and missed one of two from the line for a 99-97 Memphis lead with 12 seconds to go.

      The Thunder tried to get the ball to Durant, but he was covered by Allen. Westbrook ended up with an off-balance 3-pointer that was off the mark. But center Kendrick Perkins, who had just been reinserted into the game, came down with the offensive rebound and put back at the buzzer to send the contest into overtime.

      Even though the Thunder hit only 9-of-30 from behind the arc, Durant said his team's shot selection was fine.

      "I made 5-of-12," Durant said. "I think that's a great percentage. We shot the shots that were open. I think we settled for a few. But like I said, we put ourselves in position to win a basketball game. They just made more plays than we did."

      NOTES: Oklahoma City Thunder F Serge Ibaka received the April Kia Community Assist Award in recognition of his charitable contributions and generosity in his home country of the Republic of the Congo, the NBA announced. "It was my dream when I was young to help those orphanages," Ibaka said. "My mom died when I was 7 and I know how hard it is for those kids in the street, how they live, what they need, so that is why I want to work with UNICEF to do the best I can to help them." ... Ibaka came in fourth in NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. Chicago's Joakim Noah took home the award. "Joakim is obviously one of the best defenders in the league and Serge is right there," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "He's my defensive player of the year. I know what he does for us." ... After Game 1 of the series, members of the Memphis media expressed the opinion that coach David Joerger needed to bench F Tayshaun Prince and start F Tony Allen. "We won 50 games and it's been pretty good since the All-Star break playing the way that we were," Joerger said. "So I don't know if we should jump off a cliff after a bad first half. I think that's absurd."

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014
    Grizzlies 111, Thunder 105 (OT)
    By The Sports Xchange

    OKLAHOMA CITY -- Forward Zach Randolph scored 25 points to lead the Memphis Grizzlies past the Oklahoma City Thunder 111-105 in overtime of Game 2 of a first-round playoff series at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

    • The best-of-seven series is tied at 1-1 heading to Memphis for Game 3 Thursday. But the win did not come easily for the visiting squad.

      With 2:19 left in overtime, Randolph scored to give the Grizzlies a 105-101 advantage. Forward Durant responded with a 3-pointer to bring the Thunder to within one.

      After the Grizzlies missed a shot, Durant drove to the rim on a fastbreak attempt, but could not convert after running into Memphis guard Courtney Lee. The Grizzlies came up with the loose ball.

      Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha then stole the ball from Grizzlies guard Mike Conley.

      After a timeout, Durant was fouled by center Marc Gasol. Durant hit only one of two from the free-throw line to tie game at 105-105 with 35 seconds left.

      Oklahoma City didn't score again as the Grizzlies' defense stiffened. Randolph and Lee scored the last six points to close out the contest.

      Conley scored 19 points to go along with 12 assists and seven rebounds. Lee and Gasol each posted 16 points while guard Beno Udrih came off the Memphis bench to score 14 points.

      Durant led all scorers with 36 points on 12-for-28 shooting. He also collected 11 boards and four assists. Guard Russell Westbrook added 29 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Forward Serge Ibaka had 15 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots in the loss.

      The Grizzlies didn't shrink from the moment of being down 0-1 in the series. After battling for a couple of offensive rebounds, the ball found its way into guard Mike Miller's hands at the top of the key for a 3-pointer that gave Memphis a 95-93 advantage with 53 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

      Westbrook tried to answer, but his 3-point shot was off and the Grizzlies got the rebound. Conley was fouled and he hit one of two free throws.

      The Thunder got the ball to Durant, but he turned it over under guard Tony Allen's pressure. Conley went to line again and hit a pair to give the Grizzlies a 98-93 lead with 18 seconds remaining.

      Durant made a 3-pointer while being fouled and falling out of bounds. The ensuing free throw closed gap to 98-97 with 13 seconds left.

      Conley was fouled and missed one of two from the line for a 99-97 Memphis lead with 12 seconds to go.

      The Thunder tried to get the ball to Durant, but he was covered by Allen. Westbrook ended up with an off balance 3-pointer that was off the mark. But center Kendrick Perkins, who had just been reinserted into the game, came down with the offensive rebound and put back at the buzzer to send the contest into overtime.

      NOTES: Oklahoma City Thunder F Serge Ibaka received the April Kia Community Assist Award in recognition of his charitable contributions and generosity in his home country of the Republic of the Congo, the NBA announced. "It was my dream when I was young to help those orphanages," Ibaka said. "My mom died when I was 7 and I know how hard it is for those kids in the street, how they live, what they need, so that is why I want to work with UNICEF to do the best I can to help them." ... Ibaka came in fourth in NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. Chicago's Joakim Noah took home the award. "Joakim is obviously one of the best defenders in the league and Serge is right there," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "He's my defensive player of the year. I know what he does for us." ... After Game 1 of the series, members of the Memphis media expressed the opinion that coach David Joerger needed to bench F Tayshaun Prince and start F Tony Allen. "We won 50 games and it's been pretty good since the All-Star break playing the way that we were," Joerger said. "So I don't know if we should jump off a cliff after a bad first half. I think that's absurd."

  • Monday, April 21, 2014
    Raptors GM Ujiri fined
    By The Sports Xchange

    Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri was fined $25,000 by the NBA for using obscene language during a pep rally before the team's first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets.

    • NBA commissioner Adam Silver announcement the punishment on Monday night after it was reported by multiple news outlets earlier in the day that Ujiri was issued only a formal warning for his behavior by Silver and NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn.

      Ujiri apologized at halftime on Saturday and again Monday for saying "F--- Brooklyn" at a gathering outside the Air Canada Centre before Game 1 against the Nets on Saturday. He said he was just trying to fire up the crowd but got carried away with his language.

      "I do apologize," he told USA Today on Monday. "It was the wrong choice of words. My mom raised me better than that."

      The Nets came away with a 94-87 victory in Game 1.

      "I have a responsibility here, and my responsibility is to rally our fans and our team and be a leader who is passionate about the game and what I do and stand tall for who we are," Ujiri said.

  • Monday, April 21, 2014
    Corbin out as Jazz coach
    By The Sports Xchange

    Tyrone Corbin will not be back as Utah Jazz coach next season.

    • The team announced Monday that Corbin will not be offered a new contract.

      The Jazz said the search for a replacement will begin right away.

      Corbin took the job in February 2011 when longtime coach Jerry Sloan retired after 23 years. He compiled a 112-146 record that included one playoff appearance in 2012 and a second winning season in 2012-13 (43-39). But the Jazz struggled to a 25-57 record this season, the franchise's worst mark since 1981-82.

      "The decision to make impactful changes in our organization is never taken lightly," Jazz owner Greg Miller said. "Ty has always represented the Jazz franchise in a first-class manner both on the court and in the community. He did a wonderful job of building relationships with the players and encouraged their growth throughout the season. We wish Ty, Dante and their family nothing but the very best for their future."

      Corbin, 51, enjoyed a long playing career in the NBA that extended from the 1985-86 through the 2000-01 seasons. He served as an assistant coach for the Jazz from 2004 to 2011 before he was promoted to replace Sloan.

  • Monday, April 21, 2014
    NBA roundup: Knicks fire Woodson
    By The Sports Xchange

    The New York Knicks announced Monday that coach Mike Woodson and his entire staff were relieved of their duties.

    • Woodson's status was the subject of speculation throughout the regular season, but the team made his departure official after a 37-45 finish to this season.

      Woodson had one year and $3.3 million left on his contract.

      "I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mike Woodson and his entire staff," team president Phil Jackson said in a statement. "The coaches and players on this team had an extremely difficult 2013-14 season, and blame should not be put on one individual. But the time has come for change throughout the franchise as we start the journey to assess and build this team for next season and beyond."

      Woodson went 109-79 (.580) in parts of three seasons, which included two consecutive appearances and an Atlantic Division title. However, the team finished out of the playoffs this season.

      The Knicks will immediately begin a search for a new coach.

      According to a report from the New York Post late last week, TNT analyst Steve Kerr expects to be the Knicks' next coach and that he would accept the job if offered to him.

      ---Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman announced that he is retiring.

      Adelman was 97-133 in his three seasons in Minnesota and the Timberwolves were 40-42 in 2013-14. They last made the playoffs at the end of the 2003-04 season.

      Adelman went 1,042-749 in 23 seasons in the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets and Timberwolves. He ranks eighth all-time in NBA coaching wins.

      ---Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was selected as the 2013-14 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year/

      Noah, 29, is the second Bull to win the award, as he joins Michael Jordan, who won the award in 1987-88.

      After finishing fourth in last year's balloting, Noah collected 555 out of a possible 1,125 points, including 100 out of a possible 125 first-place votes from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Indiana center Roy Hibbert (166 points, eight first-place votes) and the Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (121 points, eight first-place votes) came in second and third, respectively.

      Noah, 29, averaged 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals during the regular season.

      ---Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley is expected to play Game 2 of the first-round playoffs series against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday after an MRI revealed no new damage to his injured right knee.

      Beverley, who sustained a torn meniscus in the knee earlier this month, re-injured it during Sunday's Game 1 loss.

      ---The NBA said that officials made a mistake when they called a foul on Rockets center Dwight Howard with 10.8 seconds left in overtime of Sunday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

      Instead, the foul should have been called on Portland power forward Joel Freeland.

  • Monday, April 21, 2014
    Noah named Defensive Player of Year
    By The Sports Xchange

    Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was selected as the 2013-14 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year, the league announced Monday.

    • Noah, 29, is the second Bull to win the award, as he joins Michael Jordan, who won the award in 1987-88.

      "Joakim is many things for our team and he has proven to be a terrific competitor, leader and teammate. But what Joakim truly is, is a winner," Chicago Bulls general manager Gar Forman said in a statement. "He will be the first to say that this is a team award, but he sets the tone for our defense and I cannot think of anyone who is more deserving of such a prestigious individual honor. The organization is very proud of Joakim and wants to congratulate him for being named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year."

      After finishing fourth in last year's balloting, Noah collected 555 out of a possible 1,125 points, including 100 out of a possible 125 first-place votes from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Indiana center Roy Hibbert (166 points, eight first-place votes) and the Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (121 points, eight first-place votes) came in second and third, respectively. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote received.

      This season, Noah helped the Bulls hold opponents to a league-low 91.8 points per game, while ranking second in the league in opponent field goal percentage (.430). Individually, he ranked sixth in the NBA in defensive rebounds with 618, eighth in defensive boards per game with 7.7 and ninth in blocks with 121. For Noah, it marked the fourth time in his career that he topped 100 blocks in a season. He also registered a career-high 99 steals.

      "We are very pleased that Jo has been recognized as the Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year. It is a richly deserved honor," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He continues to grow as a player each and every year; he is now a two-time NBA All-Star, as well as NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Most importantly, he is being recognized for his contributions to winning."

      Noah tied his career high by appearing in 80 games, as he posted 11.3 rebounds per game (sixth in the NBA), 1.51 blocks (12th) and 1.24 steals per game. Along with Detroit center Andre Drummond and New Orleans forward Anthony Davis, he was one of only three players in the NBA to average at least 10.0 rebounds, 1.50 blocks and 1.20 steals per game. He also ranked fifth in the league in combined blocks and steals with 220.

      Noah, selected ninth overall by the Bulls in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft, garnered NBA All-Defensive First Team honors in 2012-13, as well as second team accolades in 2010-11. In seven seasons with Chicago, the Bulls big man owns career averages of 9.9 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.47 blocks and 0.87 steals per game. He also ranks fourth in franchise history in blocks (700), fifth in blocks per game (1.47) and sixth in defensive rebounds (2,882).

      Noah also averaged 12.6 points and 5.4 assists during the regular season.

      Chicago, the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, lost its first-round series opener against the No. 5 seed Washington Wizards on Sunday. Game 2 is Tuesday in Chicago.