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Tex787
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john howard

McGrady to NY helping the way for LeBron posted by john howard

New York unloaded a lot more money on Thursday in hopes of landing LeBron.

Here is what transpired: 

New York gained:  Tracy McGrady and PG Sergio Rodriguez

New York lossed:  Jordan Hill, Jarred Jeffries and draft consideratoins in 2011 and 2012

Houston gained:  Kevin Martin and C Hilton Armstrong and draft considerations from NY in 2011 and 2012 Jarred Jeffries and Jordan Hill

Houston lossed:  Tracy McGrady Cal Landry and Joey Dorsey

Sacremento gained:  Cal Landry, Joey Dorsey, Larry Hughes

Sacramento lossed:  Kevin Martin and Hilton Armstrong

New York is taking a gamble, but a good one.  What they got isn't working.  They have a lot of contracts that are going to expire and unloaded more salary.  So, they will have enough money to sign 2 free agents the maximum.  LeBron James is the first choice.  The other could be McGrady as he gets to audition for the big money for the next 30 games.  That is smart for all parties involved.  New York gets to see if McGrady is a fit.  McGrady gets to prove how good he is. And, Houston is rid of his contract and got something out of it.

Sacramento puzzled me a little here.  They unloaded Martin's salary of 10 mil per year.  But, for how good he is, that is a bargain.  Larry Hughes is up and down.  They did get some youthful talent in Landry and Dorsey, but that wasn't worth Martin.

The big winner was Houston.  They are in the playoff hunt and just got better now and for the future.  They got Kevin Martin, a guy who is immediately there go to guy.  That was SMART.  They gave up proven inside talent Landry for potential inside talent in Hill.  Hill could be better in time.  That get weaker for now, but Martin makes up for it.  Hilton Armstrong provides some size which they currently have none.  Houston did very very good today.

Continue reading "McGrady to NY helping the way for LeBron"


john howard

McGrady sweetstakes---Knicks? posted by john howard

Houston has been shopping Tracy McGrady all year and something is a about to happen.  The leading candidate is the New York Knicks.  McGrady could be a 20pt scorer again with the up tempo style of play New York has. I think he would be a perfect fit for them. 

A third team may have to be involved and latest rumor has the Wizards.  Houston might get Caron Butler from Washington and the Knicks would send much traveled Al Harrington to DC.  Sounds like a swapping of big salaries and not much improvement.  There will be other players involved and draft picks for sure.  But, the main thing is McGrady in the biggest market.  If he could stay healthy for any length of time, he could really profit well.  He might be enough of a surge to get them into the playoffs this year. 

Continue reading "McGrady sweetstakes---Knicks?"


Sabrina

Welcome Back Rip! posted by Sabrina

For starters, welcome back Rip Hamilton! With an impressive 18 points this game against the Golden State Warriors, Rip made sure his return was not overseen. Although Rip was the talk of the game, Rodney Stuckey was the point leader with an impressive 29 points this game.

Rodney Stuckey has proven that he is not a rookie anymore. He is much more consistent in his shot and now has found a place as a leader of the team. This team has definitely changed since winning the 2004 Finals, but it's a great way to start over. Stuckey has found his place and so have Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon. The three rookies all had playing time this game and showed that they have potential. Jonas Jerebko had a few amazing plays, shots and assists, and Austin Daye showed his confidence as he took a chance when he scored tonight. Jerebko and Daye are shining, but Dajuan Summers seems to be left behind. It's a question whether his lack of playing time is due to his lack of skill or adjustment to the NBA, but Jerebko and Daye are taking the spotlight.

A big question in mind was if the chemisty of the team would be broken when Rip and Tayshaun come back, but Rip has shown anyone with doubt that the Pistons can adjust and work together as a team. With Ben Gordon and Tayshaun Prince still out, the Pistons were able to extend their winning streak to a 5 game streak. The expected date for Ben Gordon and Tayshaun's return have not been confirmed, but it seems like they will be playing soon. Tayshaun, please come back soon. I've been saving you on my fantasy basketball team haha. The Pistons may see a positive change with all their injured players back in the line up, bringing the Pistons back to their full potential.

Continue reading "Welcome Back Rip!"


Colin Linneweber

Blazers Center Greg Oden is an unfortunate bust posted by Colin Linneweber

Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden fractured his left kneecap during a game against the Houston Rockets Saturday night at the Rose Garden.

 

Oden, 21, the first overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Trail Blazers, underwent surgery on his left patella the following day and he will be shelved for the remainder of the 2009-2010 campaign.

 

“I’m obviously disappointed having worked so hard to get where I was. This is a setback but I’ll be back. It’s in God’s hands now,” said Oden, who was averaging 11.7 points and 8.8 rebounds this season as a starter.

 

“I want to thank the fans, my teammates and everyone in the Blazers family for all of their good thoughts.”

 

Oden, an affable seven-foot giant who is likable and easy to support as a fan, apologized to his teammates once he received his diagnosis.

 

“He didn’t do anything,” said forward Lamarcus Aldridge. “People don’t understand that injuries are part of the game. We all are at risk every time we play so I think injuries are going to happen. It’s unfortunate that it’s happened to him.”

 

Many hoops analysts described Oden as a “once-in-a-decade player” after he led Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis to three consecutive Indiana Class 4A basketball championships before he graduated in 2006.

 

After Oden received his high school degree, he decided to attend Ohio State University.

 

Despite battling a serious wrist injury, Oden managed to lead the Buckeyes to the 2007 NCAA championship game where they ultimately lost to the University of Florida 84-75.

Continue reading "Blazers Center Greg Oden is an unfortunate bust"


nbahawks

Hawks soaring high on new NBA season posted by nbahawks


The Atlanta Hawks is creating a lot of buzz in the new season of the National Basketball Association.Despite their less stellar lineup, the Hawks is on top of the leader-board in the young season of the premier professional basketball league in the planet. The Hawks is currently sporting an impressive 11-2 record after they defeated the Houston Rockets 105-103 Friday night.High flying Hawks power forward Josh Smith played hero for the top team in the NBA by scoring on a put back from a miss by Hawks top point guard Mike Bibby with 0.7 seconds remaining. Marvin Williams, the starting small forward of the Hawks top scored for the team with 29 points to help defeat the Rockets, one of the top teams in the NBA Western Conference.The recent victory of the Hawks is remarkable since the Rockets are on the verge of defeating the team and hand them their third loss but the impressive play of Smith saved the youth laden ball club to escaped with a victory. Prior to his game winning shot, Smith stayed mostly from the bench due to foul trouble but he was able to returned in the waning moments of the game and lead his team to victory.The strong and impressive plays of the Hawks is getting huge praise from basketball fans and experts. During the off-season, the Hawks is not among the top contenders for the NBA crown this season due to their less star studded roster. However, despite the lack of big named players in its lineup, the Hawks still showed class and impressive talent to defeat 11 teams so far.Aside from the strong plays of its veteran players Smith, Bibby and Joe Johnson, the Hawks also get huge contribution from newly acquired NBA veteran Jamal Crawford who contribute in both offence and defence for the team. Aside from the Hawks, the run and gun Phoenix Suns is also playing good this NBA season. NBA superstars point-guard Steve Nash and power forward Amare Stoudamire are playing well to lead the Suns to an impressive record in the NBA.Fans of Hawks team can buy the tickets to watch the NBA game live.

Continue reading "Hawks soaring high on new NBA season"


Scott Shepherd

Fun With Box Scores posted by Scott Shepherd

In the NBA these days, it seems like there is a stat for everything. We’ve got PER, offensive efficiency ratings, defensive efficiency rating, and so on and so on.

It seems like every team in the league now employs their own stat guru. And while I’m not one to question the use of all these new statistics to evaluate NBA players (I actually kinda like them), I’m old school.

 

To me, all the new stats in the world can’t tell the story of an NBA game as well as the good, old fashioned box score.

 

Therefore, I’m starting a new feature today called “Fun With Box Scores”.

 

Every Monday, I’ll be posting some of the more interesting things that jumped out at me from the previous week’s box scores.

 

This week, they are, in no particular order:

 

The Cavs were +38 when LeBron was on the floor this week. They were -27 when he wasn’t.

 

Meanwhile, the Cavs were -3 when Shaq was on the floor and +19 when he wasn’t.

 

Rasheed Wallace took 8 shots on Wednesday…all three pointers. For the week, ‘Sheed attempted 36 shots. 25 of them were three pointers.

 

Danilo Gallinari was 8-16 from deep on Saturday. He was 1-6 on two-point shots. For the week he was 18-36 on three-point shots and 4-11 on two-point attempts.

 

Carmelo Anthony had 113 points in 116 minutes this week.

 

Greg Oden had 26 points in 99 minutes. He also had 19 fouls.

 

Speaking of fouls, Hasheem Thabeet had 8 in 24 minutes of play this week. In his defense, he did have four blocks, giving him a nice one block for every two fouls ratio.

Continue reading "Fun With Box Scores"


Scott Shepherd

NBA Opening Night Quick Thoughts posted by Scott Shepherd

Happy New Year!

With the new NBA season set to tip off with four games tonight, here are some of the things I’ll be watching for in tonight’s action.

Boston @ Cleveland, 7:30pm

I can’t wait to see LeBron again this season. Last year, coming off the Olympics, you could see that his focus was on improving defensively. Now, without a summer in the spotlight, I’m curious to see if he’s made any improvements to his already unreal game. Is this the year we finally see LeBron use his Karl Malone-like body to beast on people inside?

Also, I’m curious to see what kind of pregame theatrics the Cavs come up with. You know Shaq can’t stand to be out of the spotlight, I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries to one-up LeBron’s chalk thing with something of his own.

As for Boston, I really want to see how Rondo responds to not getting a contract extension. Last year he was a triple-double waiting to happen in the playoffs, but at the same time, Boston was not a threat.

Are we going to see the more subdued Rondo that won the title in ’08, or will it be the ’09 version that was the centerpiece of that team?

And of course, I’m looking forward to seeing Rasheed Wallace’s giant new cornrows. Those would have been ugly 4 years ago. Nice throwback hairstyle, 'Sheed.

Washington @ Dallas, 8:30pm

Curious to see the return of the former Agent Zero. I wrote last season that he could be this decade’s Grant Hill, and not in a good way. Three knee surgeries in 17 months is a terrible route to take to NBA superstardom. It’s nearly impossible to bounce back from that.

Continue reading "NBA Opening Night Quick Thoughts"


Devin

It's official, Lakers' Ron Artest is a Celine Dion fan!!!!!!!!!!! posted by Devin

Celine Dion and Ron Artest go together like cereal and mayonnaise yet somehow the self proclaimed "thug", Artest, makes it work.  The guy is known for his wild antics such as going into the crowd and beating up a fan, but it seems that Artest is beginning to display a softer side.  As a Laker fan I love that we are bringing a little crazy on our team because a team can always use a little crazy, right? Although he can't carry a tune and the video is clearly irritating you get a sense that he means what he is singing which makes is somewhat enjoyable to watch.  I am going to stop talking about it and just let you watch it:

This is going to be an entertaining 5 years for us Laker fans.  Artest is bringin' the crazy.

Devin

Continue reading "It's official, Lakers' Ron Artest ..."


Danny Noblitt

Overrating Trevor Ariza posted by Danny Noblitt

As a Laker fan who is one of Trevor Ariza's biggest supporters and whose friend had him dubbed Trevor "the future" Ariza, it was sad to see him go. He was a key cog in the Lakers' championship wagon and delivered some of the most exciting and timely plays of the season. He is still young and will probably get better.

But let's not get carried away. Trevor was a 9 point, 4 rebound a game guy this past season who was a great wing defender. This is not to diminish what he brought to the Lakers, but rather to put it in it's proper place. Ron Artest put up superior numbers and played a more vital role for the Rockets, but everyone is talking about how Ariza is ther better player. It's silly.

This leads me to my more general point that it is easy to overvalue a player based on one playoff performance and playing on the right team. Ariza benefitted from coming alive at the right time (the playoffs), playing in a huge market (Los Angeles) alongside one of the all-time greats (Kobe Bryant) and for the best coach of all-time (Phil Jackson). His accomplishments shined in the LA spotlight and he was deified for his performance. He had some great moments, no doubt. His late-game steals against Denver in the Western Conference Finals were magical, and his top of the key heave against Orlando in game 5 of the NBA Finals was the most underrated play of the 2009 playoffs.

But based on public perception, you would think he was a 20 point a game guy who shot 50% from beyond the arc. While he did shoot 47% from 3-point range in the playoffs, he is 30% from that distance for his career. He has struggled in every system other he has ever played in and cannot create his own shot.

Continue reading "Overrating Trevor Ariza"


john howard

Houston summer league posted by john howard

Second round pick Chase Budinger lit it up!!! He led the team in scoring with 17.8 ppg in the Las Vegas summer league.  He shot 68% from the floor and 94% from the line. And, was 8 of 11 from 3 point range.  This is great news for a team that may not have McGrady until the halfway point and may not get Yao Ming back at all.  If they do get those 2 stars back, things will be different.  Until then, the youngsters are going to have to play.  They found one that can shoot.

This was not a good year for the Rockets not to have a first round pick.  But, they got 3 second round picks. Budinger was 44th overall. Jermaine Taylor was another second round pick.  He averaged 11 points, shot below 40%, and had over 2 assist a game.  Those are more like a second rounders numbers.  Sergio Lull from Spain did not play in summer leage.

Another very pleasant surprise was the play of Joey Dorsey.  He averaged 10 points and 15 rebounds.  He also had 3 assists and almost 3 blocks a game.  The Rockets are going to be small inside and Dorsey will be one of them.  If he can yank down rebounds like he did in summer league, he will get his chance.

James White is also on the roster and scored 11 a game.  Not much to write home about.  Overall, the Rockets had to be pleased given their situation and what they had to draft with.

Continue reading "Houston summer league"

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NBA playoff picture update: Blazers' home-court hopes still alive, Mavs and Hawks are in, Pa

If you're anything like me and Detroit Pistons rookie Peyton Siva, when it gets this late in the season, you come out of the weekend like: So let's get caught up on how the weekend that just passed reshaped the playoff picture, which is mere days away from being officially finalized, starting with an instant classic in Rip City. Well, that was awesome. The Sunday night matchup between the playoff-bound Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors was just too good to be limited to 48 minutes. Get caught up quickly on the late-game craziness and overtime back-and-forth here: (If you'd like a longer, more context-rich recap that stretches back to the start of the fourth quarter, Gmo's Rockets' Highlights has you covered.) Despite a season-high 47 points on 16 for 29 shooting from irrepressible flamethrower Stephen Curry, and a combined 72 points from Curry and Klay Thompson on 13 for 27 shooting from 3-point land, the Blazers held off the Warriors, 119-117 , in a celebration of shot-making and scoring-as-liberating-performance-art that would've made Toni and Candace proud. LaMarcus Aldridge's pick-and-pop 20-footer with 39 seconds remaining capped a 26-point, seven-rebound night for him and stood up as the game-winner. Nicolas Batum (18 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block in 44 minutes) did a little bit of everything, and while Damian Lillard was off (13 points on 3 for 13 shooting and some shaky decision-making that has led to post-game grumbling ), reserve guard Mo Williams was there to pick up the slack with 18 points on 8 for 10 shooting, three rebounds, three assists and no turnovers in 22 minutes off the pine. He was pretty psyched about it, which makes sense: This was one of the best games of the yr 2nite. #ripcity —Mo Williams (@mowilliams) April 14, 2014 The win improved Portland to 53-28, securing no worse than the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference and bringing them within a half-game of the Houston Rockets for the No. 4 spot. The Blazers and Rockets are now officially locked into playing one another in the first round, but which squad will have home-court advantage remains to be seen —one more Houston win (either Monday night over the San Antonio Spurs or Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans) will give the Rockets the honors, while Portland can still open the playoffs at home if Houston loses out and the Blazers beat the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday . The Warriors are still assured of a postseason berth, having clinched with their Friday night win over the Los Angeles Lakers. But the loss to the Blazers means they can't finish higher than sixth, ensuring that they're going to get either the Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder or Clippers in the first round. It also opens the door for a Warriors team that has scuffled a bit of late (5-5 in their last 10 games) and could be without center Andrew Bogut (who left Sunday's game early with an apparent rib injury ) sliding even further down the Western bracket, where they're now just a half-game ahead of the No. 7 seed, which belongs to ... DDoS: Dallas denial of service. Eric Bledsoe is very quick, very fast and very good at getting to the basket, which makes him a pretty good late-game option when the Phoenix Suns desperately need a basket to tie the Dallas Mavericks in a game between two of the three teams scrapping for the last playoff spots in the brutally competitive Western Conference. Unfortunately for Bledsoe and the orange-and-purple-loving folks of the Valley of the Sun, though, Brandan Wright appears to be Cloak : Wright's third block of the game (to go with 12 points and 11 rebounds off the bench) sealed a 101-98 win that locked up a playoff berth for the Mavericks, who could finish as high as sixth in the West depending upon how the next three days shake out for the Warriors; Dallas now sits at 49-32, a half-game behind the Dubs for the No. 6 spot, and a half-game clear of the eighth seed currently held by ... Just keep grinding. The Memphis Grizzlies closed Sunday strong with a 102-90 win over the Lakers, their third straight victory, thanks in large part to monster games from center Marc Gasol (18 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and three steals in 36 minutes) and point guard Mike Conley (24 points on 9 for 12 shooting, eight assists, two steals and just one turnover in 34 1/2 minutes). So, naturally, the play we're going to show you was made by Zach Randolph, who picked a pretty good time to become a passing wizard: Let's see that from a different angle and at a more Z-Bo appropriate rate of speed, please: I've thought a lot about which new Zach nickname I like best after this, and I've come to the conclusion that it's "Ricky RuZ-Bo." You may feel free to try to sway my opinion in the comments, but it's probably going to be pretty hard. (Also, way to finish the layup, Nick Calathes, thus turning this into an official highlight.) Thanks to Phoenix's Saturday loss, the Grizzlies now hold a one-game lead over the Suns for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Memphis and Phoenix play on Monday night ; if Memphis wins, they're in, and the Suns will see their shockingly successful season come to a disappointing end on Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings. It's kind of a big game out in the desert. Top billin' . The Indiana Pacers are once again atop the Eastern Conference, thanks to an impressive 102-97 victory over the Thunder in ABC's Sunday matinee fueled by Lance Stephenson's NBA-leading and Pacers franchise record fifth triple-double of the season (17 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds), strong play up front from Paul George and David West (a combined 41 points and 18 rebounds), and —will wonders never cease! —legitimate contributions from the Pacer bench, led by recently returned point guard C.J. Watson, who had 20 points in 25 minutes off the bench and steadied Indy's ship on a day where George Hill didn't quite have his fastball. After Friday's loss to the Miami Heat, the Pacers had once again dipped down to the No. 2 spot; now, Indy's just one more win (in Wednesday's finale against the Orlando Magic) or one more Miami Heat loss away from securing home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, thanks in part to ... Birds of war . Shouts out to the Atlanta Hawks, who became the eighth and final team to earn a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference on Saturday by beating the Heat, 98-85 , behind 18 fourth-quarter points from Lou Williams and another strong outing (25 points, four rebounds, four steals, three assists and no turnovers in 36 minutes) from point guard Jeff Teague, who's averaging 20 points and 5.5 assists per game on 50.7/37.8/90.7 shooting splits over his last 10 games . The Hawks can't get any higher than the eighth seed, but they've made the playoffs for the seventh straight season despite losing expected centerpiece Al Horford less than two months into head coach Mike Budenholzer's first year in charge, which is commendable, if not necessarily the great big goal for general manager Danny Ferry and company. Weep not for the memories. The Hawks locking up the eighth seed means the New York Knicks —who earned wins over the playoff-bound Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls this weekend —are officially eliminated from postseason contention. New York's 14-5 run over the last five weeks has been nice enough, but it wound up being too little and too late —this is what happens when you lose 40 of your first 61 games, even in a historically poor Eastern Conference —and now Carmelo Anthony will miss the playoffs for the first time in his 11-year NBA career. Perhaps this apparently taped-and-edited-off-TV (which feels thematically appropriate) highlight reel celebrating the 2013-14 Knicks set to "One Shining Moment" will make you feel better, Melo: The cherry on top of the Knicks' season-long sundae of absurdity? This, from Amar'e Stoudemire after Sunday's win over the Bulls, as noted by Steve Popper of the Bergen Record : "On paper we might be the best team in the league. We’ve got great players on this team who accomplished so much. We just couldn’t put it together." Best of luck to the Knicks in the on-paper playoffs, which begin on the 12th of never. (By the way, the Knicks have to win their final two games —against cross-borough rivals the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday and the Raptors on Wednesday —just to meet the projected record produced by ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton that set so many Knicks fans and players to raging before the start of this season. It's funny how things work out.) Walk the dinosaur. The Raptors clinched the Atlantic Division title on Friday despite losing to the Knicks thanks to the Hawks knocking off the Nets. They tied a franchise record Sunday with their 47th win of the season, besting the circling-the-drain Pistons, 116-107 , in a game that saw DeMar DeRozan score 14 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter and punctuate the proceedings with a very loud, very forceful flush atop the dome of Pistons forward Kyle Singler: The combination of the Raptors' win and the Bulls' Sunday loss to the Knicks means both teams enter Monday at 47-33, with Toronto re-taking the No. 3 seed in the East by virtue of being a division winner. The Raptors conclude their regular-season slate with a home game against the worst-in-the-NBA Milwaukee Bucks on Monday and one last meeting with the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, while the Bulls welcome the 23-57 Magic tonight before finishing things off in North Carolina against the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday. Seed toss. Superchunk . Quickly: EASTERN CONFERENCE •If Miami loses to the Wizards on Monday , Indy's No. 1 in the East and the Heat are No. 2. •If the Raptors beat the Bucks and the Bulls lose to the Magic , Toronto locks up No. 3 seed and puts Chicago at No. 4. •The Nets ensured that they can't finish any worse than No. 6 in the East by beating the Magic on Sunday. If the Wizards lose to the Heat, Brooklyn's No. 5. •If the Wizards beat the Heat and the Bobcats lose to the Hawks , Charlotte's locked into No. 7. (Lots of stuff can still happen for the Wizards. Bullets Forever's Mike Prada runs through the various postseason possibilities.) WESTERN CONFERENCE •The Spurs beat the Suns on Friday, clinching the NBA's best regular-season record and securing home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. They're one win away from tying the 2005-06 squad (63-19) for the most wins in franchise history; if they beat the Rockets on Monday and the Lakers in the season finale on Wednesday , they'll finish at 64-18, the best mark of any Spurs team of all time. This is where we remind you that Tim Duncan is 11 days shy of his 38th birthday, and that the Spurs are ridiculous. •The Thunder's Sunday loss to the Pacers gives the Clippers an outside shot of securing the West's No. 2 seed. If OKC beats the Pelicans on Monday, they lock up No. 2 and put the Clippers in third place. But if, by some stroke of unpredictable magic, Oklahoma City loses to a Pelicans team without Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday and Jason Smith (and possibly Tyreke Evans and Brian Roberts, too), the door's still open just a bit for L.A. to take over No. 2 —basically, they need to win their last two games and they need the Thunder to lose their last two games. •If the Rockets beat the Spurs , Houston's the No. 4 seed and Portland's the No. 5 seed. •If Golden State beats the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Warriors lock up the No. 6 seed. •If the Grizzlies beat the Suns , Memphis clinches the No. 8 seed and eliminates Phoenix. •if the Suns beat the Grizzlies, they stay alive; if Phoenix and Golden State both win, Dallas locks up the No. 7 seed. Got all that? Of course you do. Now, to cleanse your palate, here's Russell Westbrook not exactly sticking the landing on his attempt to play after-the-whistle troll. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

NBA playoff picture update: Blazers' home-court hopes still alive, Mavs and Hawks are in, Pa

If you're anything like me and Detroit Pistons rookie Peyton Siva, when it gets this late in the season, you come out of the weekend like: So let's get caught up on how the weekend that just passed reshaped the playoff picture, which is mere days away from being officially finalized, starting with an instant classic in Rip City. Well, that was awesome. The Sunday night matchup between the playoff-bound Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors was just too good to be limited to 48 minutes. Get caught up quickly on the late-game craziness and overtime back-and-forth here: (If you'd like a longer, more context-rich recap that stretches back to the start of the fourth quarter, Gmo's Rockets' Highlights has you covered.) Despite a season-high 47 points on 16 for 29 shooting from irrepressible flamethrower Stephen Curry, and a combined 72 points from Curry and Klay Thompson on 13 for 27 shooting from 3-point land, the Blazers held off the Warriors, 119-117 , in a celebration of shot-making and scoring-as-liberating-performance-art that would've made Toni and Candace proud. LaMarcus Aldridge's pick-and-pop 20-footer with 39 seconds remaining capped a 26-point, seven-rebound night for him and stood up as the game-winner. Nicolas Batum (18 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block in 44 minutes) did a little bit of everything, and while Damian Lillard was off (13 points on 3 for 13 shooting and some shaky decision-making that has led to post-game grumbling ), reserve guard Mo Williams was there to pick up the slack with 18 points on 8 for 10 shooting, three rebounds, three assists and no turnovers in 22 minutes off the pine. He was pretty psyched about it, which makes sense: This was one of the best games of the yr 2nite. #ripcity —Mo Williams (@mowilliams) April 14, 2014 The win improved Portland to 53-28, securing no worse than the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference and bringing them within a half-game of the Houston Rockets for the No. 4 spot. The Blazers and Rockets are now officially locked into playing one another in the first round, but which squad will have home-court advantage remains to be seen —one more Houston win (either Monday night over the San Antonio Spurs or Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans) will give the Rockets the honors, while Portland can still open the playoffs at home if Houston loses out and the Blazers beat the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday . The Warriors are still assured of a postseason berth, having clinched with their Friday night win over the Los Angeles Lakers. But the loss to the Blazers means they can't finish higher than sixth, ensuring that they're going to get either the Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder or Clippers in the first round. It also opens the door for a Warriors team that has scuffled a bit of late (5-5 in their last 10 games) and could be without center Andrew Bogut (who left Sunday's game early with an apparent rib injury ) sliding even further down the Western bracket, where they're now just a half-game ahead of the No. 7 seed, which belongs to ... DDoS: Dallas denial of service. Eric Bledsoe is very quick, very fast and very good at getting to the basket, which makes him a pretty good late-game option when the Phoenix Suns desperately need a basket to tie the Dallas Mavericks in a game between two of the three teams scrapping for the last playoff spots in the brutally competitive Western Conference. Unfortunately for Bledsoe and the orange-and-purple-loving folks of the Valley of the Sun, though, Brandan Wright appears to be Cloak : Wright's third block of the game (to go with 12 points and 11 rebounds off the bench) sealed a 101-98 win that locked up a playoff berth for the Mavericks, who could finish as high as sixth in the West depending upon how the next three days shake out for the Warriors; Dallas now sits at 49-32, a half-game behind the Dubs for the No. 6 spot, and a half-game clear of the eighth seed currently held by ... Just keep grinding. The Memphis Grizzlies closed Sunday strong with a 102-90 win over the Lakers, their third straight victory, thanks in large part to monster games from center Marc Gasol (18 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and three steals in 36 minutes) and point guard Mike Conley (24 points on 9 for 12 shooting, eight assists, two steals and just one turnover in 34 1/2 minutes). So, naturally, the play we're going to show you was made by Zach Randolph, who picked a pretty good time to become a passing wizard: Let's see that from a different angle and at a more Z-Bo appropriate rate of speed, please: I've thought a lot about which new Zach nickname I like best after this, and I've come to the conclusion that it's "Ricky RuZ-Bo." You may feel free to try to sway my opinion in the comments, but it's probably going to be pretty hard. (Also, way to finish the layup, Nick Calathes, thus turning this into an official highlight.) Thanks to Phoenix's Saturday loss, the Grizzlies now hold a one-game lead over the Suns for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Memphis and Phoenix play on Monday night ; if Memphis wins, they're in, and the Suns will see their shockingly successful season come to a disappointing end on Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings. It's kind of a big game out in the desert. Top billin' . The Indiana Pacers are once again atop the Eastern Conference, thanks to an impressive 102-97 victory over the Thunder in ABC's Sunday matinee fueled by Lance Stephenson's NBA-leading and Pacers franchise record fifth triple-double of the season (17 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds), strong play up front from Paul George and David West (a combined 41 points and 18 rebounds), and —will wonders never cease! —legitimate contributions from the Pacer bench, led by recently returned point guard C.J. Watson, who had 20 points in 25 minutes off the bench and steadied Indy's ship on a day where George Hill didn't quite have his fastball. After Friday's loss to the Miami Heat, the Pacers had once again dipped down to the No. 2 spot; now, Indy's just one more win (in Wednesday's finale against the Orlando Magic) or one more Miami Heat loss away from securing home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, thanks in part to ... Birds of war . Shouts out to the Atlanta Hawks, who became the eighth and final team to earn a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference on Saturday by beating the Heat, 98-85 , behind 18 fourth-quarter points from Lou Williams and another strong outing (25 points, four rebounds, four steals, three assists and no turnovers in 36 minutes) from point guard Jeff Teague, who's averaging 20 points and 5.5 assists per game on 50.7/37.8/90.7 shooting splits over his last 10 games . The Hawks can't get any higher than the eighth seed, but they've made the playoffs for the seventh straight season despite losing expected centerpiece Al Horford less than two months into head coach Mike Budenholzer's first year in charge, which is commendable, if not necessarily the great big goal for general manager Danny Ferry and company. Weep not for the memories. The Hawks locking up the eighth seed means the New York Knicks —who earned wins over the playoff-bound Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls this weekend —are officially eliminated from postseason contention. New York's 14-5 run over the last five weeks has been nice enough, but it wound up being too little and too late —this is what happens when you lose 40 of your first 61 games, even in a historically poor Eastern Conference —and now Carmelo Anthony will miss the playoffs for the first time in his 11-year NBA career. Perhaps this apparently taped-and-edited-off-TV (which feels thematically appropriate) highlight reel celebrating the 2013-14 Knicks set to "One Shining Moment" will make you feel better, Melo: The cherry on top of the Knicks' season-long sundae of absurdity? This, from Amar'e Stoudemire after Sunday's win over the Bulls, as noted by Steve Popper of the Bergen Record : "On paper we might be the best team in the league. We’ve got great players on this team who accomplished so much. We just couldn’t put it together." Best of luck to the Knicks in the on-paper playoffs, which begin on the 12th of never. (By the way, the Knicks have to win their final two games —against cross-borough rivals the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday and the Raptors on Wednesday —just to meet the projected record produced by ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton that set so many Knicks fans and players to raging before the start of this season. It's funny how things work out.) Walk the dinosaur. The Raptors clinched the Atlantic Division title on Friday despite losing to the Knicks thanks to the Hawks knocking off the Nets. They tied a franchise record Sunday with their 47th win of the season, besting the circling-the-drain Pistons, 116-107 , in a game that saw DeMar DeRozan score 14 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter and punctuate the proceedings with a very loud, very forceful flush atop the dome of Pistons forward Kyle Singler: The combination of the Raptors' win and the Bulls' Sunday loss to the Knicks means both teams enter Monday at 47-33, with Toronto re-taking the No. 3 seed in the East by virtue of being a division winner. The Raptors conclude their regular-season slate with a home game against the worst-in-the-NBA Milwaukee Bucks on Monday and one last meeting with the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, while the Bulls welcome the 23-57 Magic tonight before finishing things off in North Carolina against the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday. Seed toss. Superchunk . Quickly: EASTERN CONFERENCE •If Miami loses to the Wizards on Monday , Indy's No. 1 in the East and the Heat are No. 2. •If the Raptors beat the Bucks and the Bulls lose to the Magic , Toronto locks up No. 3 seed and puts Chicago at No. 4. •The Nets ensured that they can't finish any worse than No. 6 in the East by beating the Magic on Sunday. If the Wizards lose to the Heat, Brooklyn's No. 5. •If the Wizards beat the Heat and the Bobcats lose to the Hawks , Charlotte's locked into No. 7. (Lots of stuff can still happen for the Wizards. Bullets Forever's Mike Prada runs through the various postseason possibilities.) WESTERN CONFERENCE •The Spurs beat the Suns on Friday, clinching the NBA's best regular-season record and securing home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. They're one win away from tying the 2005-06 squad (63-19) for the most wins in franchise history; if they beat the Rockets on Monday and the Lakers in the season finale on Wednesday , they'll finish at 64-18, the best mark of any Spurs team of all time. This is where we remind you that Tim Duncan is 11 days shy of his 38th birthday, and that the Spurs are ridiculous. •The Thunder's Sunday loss to the Pacers gives the Clippers an outside shot of securing the West's No. 2 seed. If OKC beats the Pelicans on Monday, they lock up No. 2 and put the Clippers in third place. But if, by some stroke of unpredictable magic, Oklahoma City loses to a Pelicans team without Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday and Jason Smith (and possibly Tyreke Evans and Brian Roberts, too), the door's still open just a bit for L.A. to take over No. 2 —basically, they need to win their last two games and they need the Thunder to lose their last two games. •If the Rockets beat the Spurs , Houston's the No. 4 seed and Portland's the No. 5 seed. •If Golden State beats the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Warriors lock up the No. 6 seed. •If the Grizzlies beat the Suns , Memphis clinches the No. 8 seed and eliminates Phoenix. •if the Suns beat the Grizzlies, they stay alive; if Phoenix and Golden State both win, Dallas locks up the No. 7 seed. Got all that? Of course you do. Now, to cleanse your palate, here's Russell Westbrook not exactly sticking the landing on his attempt to play after-the-whistle troll. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

NBA playoff picture update: Blazers' home-court hopes still alive, Mavs and Hawks are in, Pa

If you're anything like me and Detroit Pistons rookie Peyton Siva, when it gets this late in the season, you come out of the weekend like: So let's get caught up on how the weekend that just passed reshaped the playoff picture, which is mere days away from being officially finalized, starting with an instant classic in Rip City. Well, that was awesome. The Sunday night matchup between the playoff-bound Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors was just too good to be limited to 48 minutes. Get caught up quickly on the late-game craziness and overtime back-and-forth here: (If you'd like a longer, more context-rich recap that stretches back to the start of the fourth quarter, Gmo's Rockets' Highlights has you covered.) Despite a season-high 47 points on 16 for 29 shooting from irrepressible flamethrower Stephen Curry, and a combined 72 points from Curry and Klay Thompson on 13 for 27 shooting from 3-point land, the Blazers held off the Warriors, 119-117 , in a celebration of shot-making and scoring-as-liberating-performance-art that would've made Toni and Candace proud. LaMarcus Aldridge's pick-and-pop 20-footer with 39 seconds remaining capped a 26-point, seven-rebound night for him and stood up as the game-winner. Nicolas Batum (18 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block in 44 minutes) did a little bit of everything, and while Damian Lillard was off (13 points on 3 for 13 shooting and some shaky decision-making that has led to post-game grumbling ), reserve guard Mo Williams was there to pick up the slack with 18 points on 8 for 10 shooting, three rebounds, three assists and no turnovers in 22 minutes off the pine. He was pretty psyched about it, which makes sense: This was one of the best games of the yr 2nite. #ripcity —Mo Williams (@mowilliams) April 14, 2014 The win improved Portland to 53-28, securing no worse than the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference and bringing them within a half-game of the Houston Rockets for the No. 4 spot. The Blazers and Rockets are now officially locked into playing one another in the first round, but which squad will have home-court advantage remains to be seen —one more Houston win (either Monday night over the San Antonio Spurs or Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans) will give the Rockets the honors, while Portland can still open the playoffs at home if Houston loses out and the Blazers beat the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday . The Warriors are still assured of a postseason berth, having clinched with their Friday night win over the Los Angeles Lakers. But the loss to the Blazers means they can't finish higher than sixth, ensuring that they're going to get either the Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder or Clippers in the first round. It also opens the door for a Warriors team that has scuffled a bit of late (5-5 in their last 10 games) and could be without center Andrew Bogut (who left Sunday's game early with an apparent rib injury ) sliding even further down the Western bracket, where they're now just a half-game ahead of the No. 7 seed, which belongs to ... DDoS: Dallas denial of service. Eric Bledsoe is very quick, very fast and very good at getting to the basket, which makes him a pretty good late-game option when the Phoenix Suns desperately need a basket to tie the Dallas Mavericks in a game between two of the three teams scrapping for the last playoff spots in the brutally competitive Western Conference. Unfortunately for Bledsoe and the orange-and-purple-loving folks of the Valley of the Sun, though, Brandan Wright appears to be Cloak : Wright's third block of the game (to go with 12 points and 11 rebounds off the bench) sealed a 101-98 win that locked up a playoff berth for the Mavericks, who could finish as high as sixth in the West depending upon how the next three days shake out for the Warriors; Dallas now sits at 49-32, a half-game behind the Dubs for the No. 6 spot, and a half-game clear of the eighth seed currently held by ... Just keep grinding. The Memphis Grizzlies closed Sunday strong with a 102-90 win over the Lakers, their third straight victory, thanks in large part to monster games from center Marc Gasol (18 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and three steals in 36 minutes) and point guard Mike Conley (24 points on 9 for 12 shooting, eight assists, two steals and just one turnover in 34 1/2 minutes). So, naturally, the play we're going to show you was made by Zach Randolph, who picked a pretty good time to become a passing wizard: Let's see that from a different angle and at a more Z-Bo appropriate rate of speed, please: I've thought a lot about which new Zach nickname I like best after this, and I've come to the conclusion that it's "Ricky RuZ-Bo." You may feel free to try to sway my opinion in the comments, but it's probably going to be pretty hard. (Also, way to finish the layup, Nick Calathes, thus turning this into an official highlight.) Thanks to Phoenix's Saturday loss, the Grizzlies now hold a one-game lead over the Suns for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Memphis and Phoenix play on Monday night ; if Memphis wins, they're in, and the Suns will see their shockingly successful season come to a disappointing end on Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings. It's kind of a big game out in the desert. Top billin' . The Indiana Pacers are once again atop the Eastern Conference, thanks to an impressive 102-97 victory over the Thunder in ABC's Sunday matinee fueled by Lance Stephenson's NBA-leading and Pacers franchise record fifth triple-double of the season (17 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds), strong play up front from Paul George and David West (a combined 41 points and 18 rebounds), and —will wonders never cease! —legitimate contributions from the Pacer bench, led by recently returned point guard C.J. Watson, who had 20 points in 25 minutes off the bench and steadied Indy's ship on a day where George Hill didn't quite have his fastball. After Friday's loss to the Miami Heat, the Pacers had once again dipped down to the No. 2 spot; now, Indy's just one more win (in Wednesday's finale against the Orlando Magic) or one more Miami Heat loss away from securing home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, thanks in part to ... Birds of war . Shouts out to the Atlanta Hawks, who became the eighth and final team to earn a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference on Saturday by beating the Heat, 98-85 , behind 18 fourth-quarter points from Lou Williams and another strong outing (25 points, four rebounds, four steals, three assists and no turnovers in 36 minutes) from point guard Jeff Teague, who's averaging 20 points and 5.5 assists per game on 50.7/37.8/90.7 shooting splits over his last 10 games . The Hawks can't get any higher than the eighth seed, but they've made the playoffs for the seventh straight season despite losing expected centerpiece Al Horford less than two months into head coach Mike Budenholzer's first year in charge, which is commendable, if not necessarily the great big goal for general manager Danny Ferry and company. Weep not for the memories. The Hawks locking up the eighth seed means the New York Knicks —who earned wins over the playoff-bound Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls this weekend —are officially eliminated from postseason contention. New York's 14-5 run over the last five weeks has been nice enough, but it wound up being too little and too late —this is what happens when you lose 40 of your first 61 games, even in a historically poor Eastern Conference —and now Carmelo Anthony will miss the playoffs for the first time in his 11-year NBA career. Perhaps this apparently taped-and-edited-off-TV (which feels thematically appropriate) highlight reel celebrating the 2013-14 Knicks set to "One Shining Moment" will make you feel better, Melo: The cherry on top of the Knicks' season-long sundae of absurdity? This, from Amar'e Stoudemire after Sunday's win over the Bulls, as noted by Steve Popper of the Bergen Record : "On paper we might be the best team in the league. We’ve got great players on this team who accomplished so much. We just couldn’t put it together." Best of luck to the Knicks in the on-paper playoffs, which begin on the 12th of never. (By the way, the Knicks have to win their final two games —against cross-borough rivals the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday and the Raptors on Wednesday —just to meet the projected record produced by ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton that set so many Knicks fans and players to raging before the start of this season. It's funny how things work out.) Walk the dinosaur. The Raptors clinched the Atlantic Division title on Friday despite losing to the Knicks thanks to the Hawks knocking off the Nets. They tied a franchise record Sunday with their 47th win of the season, besting the circling-the-drain Pistons, 116-107 , in a game that saw DeMar DeRozan score 14 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter and punctuate the proceedings with a very loud, very forceful flush atop the dome of Pistons forward Kyle Singler: The combination of the Raptors' win and the Bulls' Sunday loss to the Knicks means both teams enter Monday at 47-33, with Toronto re-taking the No. 3 seed in the East by virtue of being a division winner. The Raptors conclude their regular-season slate with a home game against the worst-in-the-NBA Milwaukee Bucks on Monday and one last meeting with the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, while the Bulls welcome the 23-57 Magic tonight before finishing things off in North Carolina against the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday. Seed toss. Superchunk . Quickly: EASTERN CONFERENCE •If Miami loses to the Wizards on Monday , Indy's No. 1 in the East and the Heat are No. 2. •If the Raptors beat the Bucks and the Bulls lose to the Magic , Toronto locks up No. 3 seed and puts Chicago at No. 4. •The Nets ensured that they can't finish any worse than No. 6 in the East by beating the Magic on Sunday. If the Wizards lose to the Heat, Brooklyn's No. 5. •If the Wizards beat the Heat and the Bobcats lose to the Hawks , Charlotte's locked into No. 7. (Lots of stuff can still happen for the Wizards. Bullets Forever's Mike Prada runs through the various postseason possibilities.) WESTERN CONFERENCE •The Spurs beat the Suns on Friday, clinching the NBA's best regular-season record and securing home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. They're one win away from tying the 2005-06 squad (63-19) for the most wins in franchise history; if they beat the Rockets on Monday and the Lakers in the season finale on Wednesday , they'll finish at 64-18, the best mark of any Spurs team of all time. This is where we remind you that Tim Duncan is 11 days shy of his 38th birthday, and that the Spurs are ridiculous. •The Thunder's Sunday loss to the Pacers gives the Clippers an outside shot of securing the West's No. 2 seed. If OKC beats the Pelicans on Monday, they lock up No. 2 and put the Clippers in third place. But if, by some stroke of unpredictable magic, Oklahoma City loses to a Pelicans team without Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday and Jason Smith (and possibly Tyreke Evans and Brian Roberts, too), the door's still open just a bit for L.A. to take over No. 2 —basically, they need to win their last two games and they need the Thunder to lose their last two games. •If the Rockets beat the Spurs , Houston's the No. 4 seed and Portland's the No. 5 seed. •If Golden State beats the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Warriors lock up the No. 6 seed. •If the Grizzlies beat the Suns , Memphis clinches the No. 8 seed and eliminates Phoenix. •if the Suns beat the Grizzlies, they stay alive; if Phoenix and Golden State both win, Dallas locks up the No. 7 seed. Got all that? Of course you do. Now, to cleanse your palate, here's Russell Westbrook not exactly sticking the landing on his attempt to play after-the-whistle troll. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

NBA playoff picture update: Blazers' home-court hopes still alive, Mavs and Hawks are in, Pa

If you're anything like me and Detroit Pistons rookie Peyton Siva, when it gets this late in the season, you come out of the weekend like: So let's get caught up on how the weekend that just passed reshaped the playoff picture, which is mere days away from being officially finalized, starting with an instant classic in Rip City. Well, that was awesome. The Sunday night matchup between the playoff-bound Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors was just too good to be limited to 48 minutes. Get caught up quickly on the late-game craziness and overtime back-and-forth here: (If you'd like a longer, more context-rich recap that stretches back to the start of the fourth quarter, Gmo's Rockets' Highlights has you covered.) Despite a season-high 47 points on 16 for 29 shooting from irrepressible flamethrower Stephen Curry, and a combined 72 points from Curry and Klay Thompson on 13 for 27 shooting from 3-point land, the Blazers held off the Warriors, 119-117 , in a celebration of shot-making and scoring-as-liberating-performance-art that would've made Toni and Candace proud. LaMarcus Aldridge's pick-and-pop 20-footer with 39 seconds remaining capped a 26-point, seven-rebound night for him and stood up as the game-winner. Nicolas Batum (18 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block in 44 minutes) did a little bit of everything, and while Damian Lillard was off (13 points on 3 for 13 shooting and some shaky decision-making that has led to post-game grumbling ), reserve guard Mo Williams was there to pick up the slack with 18 points on 8 for 10 shooting, three rebounds, three assists and no turnovers in 22 minutes off the pine. He was pretty psyched about it, which makes sense: This was one of the best games of the yr 2nite. #ripcity —Mo Williams (@mowilliams) April 14, 2014 The win improved Portland to 53-28, securing no worse than the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference and bringing them within a half-game of the Houston Rockets for the No. 4 spot. The Blazers and Rockets are now officially locked into playing one another in the first round, but which squad will have home-court advantage remains to be seen —one more Houston win (either Monday night over the San Antonio Spurs or Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans) will give the Rockets the honors, while Portland can still open the playoffs at home if Houston loses out and the Blazers beat the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday . The Warriors are still assured of a postseason berth, having clinched with their Friday night win over the Los Angeles Lakers. But the loss to the Blazers means they can't finish higher than sixth, ensuring that they're going to get either the Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder or Clippers in the first round. It also opens the door for a Warriors team that has scuffled a bit of late (5-5 in their last 10 games) and could be without center Andrew Bogut (who left Sunday's game early with an apparent rib injury ) sliding even further down the Western bracket, where they're now just a half-game ahead of the No. 7 seed, which belongs to ... DDoS: Dallas denial of service. Eric Bledsoe is very quick, very fast and very good at getting to the basket, which makes him a pretty good late-game option when the Phoenix Suns desperately need a basket to tie the Dallas Mavericks in a game between two of the three teams scrapping for the last playoff spots in the brutally competitive Western Conference. Unfortunately for Bledsoe and the orange-and-purple-loving folks of the Valley of the Sun, though, Brandan Wright appears to be Cloak : Wright's third block of the game (to go with 12 points and 11 rebounds off the bench) sealed a 101-98 win that locked up a playoff berth for the Mavericks, who could finish as high as sixth in the West depending upon how the next three days shake out for the Warriors; Dallas now sits at 49-32, a half-game behind the Dubs for the No. 6 spot, and a half-game clear of the eighth seed currently held by ... Just keep grinding. The Memphis Grizzlies closed Sunday strong with a 102-90 win over the Lakers, their third straight victory, thanks in large part to monster games from center Marc Gasol (18 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and three steals in 36 minutes) and point guard Mike Conley (24 points on 9 for 12 shooting, eight assists, two steals and just one turnover in 34 1/2 minutes). So, naturally, the play we're going to show you was made by Zach Randolph, who picked a pretty good time to become a passing wizard: Let's see that from a different angle and at a more Z-Bo appropriate rate of speed, please: I've thought a lot about which new Zach nickname I like best after this, and I've come to the conclusion that it's "Ricky RuZ-Bo." You may feel free to try to sway my opinion in the comments, but it's probably going to be pretty hard. (Also, way to finish the layup, Nick Calathes, thus turning this into an official highlight.) Thanks to Phoenix's Saturday loss, the Grizzlies now hold a one-game lead over the Suns for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Memphis and Phoenix play on Monday night ; if Memphis wins, they're in, and the Suns will see their shockingly successful season come to a disappointing end on Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings. It's kind of a big game out in the desert. Top billin' . The Indiana Pacers are once again atop the Eastern Conference, thanks to an impressive 102-97 victory over the Thunder in ABC's Sunday matinee fueled by Lance Stephenson's NBA-leading and Pacers franchise record fifth triple-double of the season (17 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds), strong play up front from Paul George and David West (a combined 41 points and 18 rebounds), and —will wonders never cease! —legitimate contributions from the Pacer bench, led by recently returned point guard C.J. Watson, who had 20 points in 25 minutes off the bench and steadied Indy's ship on a day where George Hill didn't quite have his fastball. After Friday's loss to the Miami Heat, the Pacers had once again dipped down to the No. 2 spot; now, Indy's just one more win (in Wednesday's finale against the Orlando Magic) or one more Miami Heat loss away from securing home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, thanks in part to ... Birds of war . Shouts out to the Atlanta Hawks, who became the eighth and final team to earn a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference on Saturday by beating the Heat, 98-85 , behind 18 fourth-quarter points from Lou Williams and another strong outing (25 points, four rebounds, four steals, three assists and no turnovers in 36 minutes) from point guard Jeff Teague, who's averaging 20 points and 5.5 assists per game on 50.7/37.8/90.7 shooting splits over his last 10 games . The Hawks can't get any higher than the eighth seed, but they've made the playoffs for the seventh straight season despite losing expected centerpiece Al Horford less than two months into head coach Mike Budenholzer's first year in charge, which is commendable, if not necessarily the great big goal for general manager Danny Ferry and company. Weep not for the memories. The Hawks locking up the eighth seed means the New York Knicks —who earned wins over the playoff-bound Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls this weekend —are officially eliminated from postseason contention. New York's 14-5 run over the last five weeks has been nice enough, but it wound up being too little and too late —this is what happens when you lose 40 of your first 61 games, even in a historically poor Eastern Conference —and now Carmelo Anthony will miss the playoffs for the first time in his 11-year NBA career. Perhaps this apparently taped-and-edited-off-TV (which feels thematically appropriate) highlight reel celebrating the 2013-14 Knicks set to "One Shining Moment" will make you feel better, Melo: The cherry on top of the Knicks' season-long sundae of absurdity? This, from Amar'e Stoudemire after Sunday's win over the Bulls, as noted by Steve Popper of the Bergen Record : "On paper we might be the best team in the league. We’ve got great players on this team who accomplished so much. We just couldn’t put it together." Best of luck to the Knicks in the on-paper playoffs, which begin on the 12th of never. (By the way, the Knicks have to win their final two games —against cross-borough rivals the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday and the Raptors on Wednesday —just to meet the projected record produced by ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton that set so many Knicks fans and players to raging before the start of this season. It's funny how things work out.) Walk the dinosaur. The Raptors clinched the Atlantic Division title on Friday despite losing to the Knicks thanks to the Hawks knocking off the Nets. They tied a franchise record Sunday with their 47th win of the season, besting the circling-the-drain Pistons, 116-107 , in a game that saw DeMar DeRozan score 14 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter and punctuate the proceedings with a very loud, very forceful flush atop the dome of Pistons forward Kyle Singler: The combination of the Raptors' win and the Bulls' Sunday loss to the Knicks means both teams enter Monday at 47-33, with Toronto re-taking the No. 3 seed in the East by virtue of being a division winner. The Raptors conclude their regular-season slate with a home game against the worst-in-the-NBA Milwaukee Bucks on Monday and one last meeting with the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, while the Bulls welcome the 23-57 Magic tonight before finishing things off in North Carolina against the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday. Seed toss. Superchunk . Quickly: EASTERN CONFERENCE •If Miami loses to the Wizards on Monday , Indy's No. 1 in the East and the Heat are No. 2. •If the Raptors beat the Bucks and the Bulls lose to the Magic , Toronto locks up No. 3 seed and puts Chicago at No. 4. •The Nets ensured that they can't finish any worse than No. 6 in the East by beating the Magic on Sunday. If the Wizards lose to the Heat, Brooklyn's No. 5. •If the Wizards beat the Heat and the Bobcats lose to the Hawks , Charlotte's locked into No. 7. (Lots of stuff can still happen for the Wizards. Bullets Forever's Mike Prada runs through the various postseason possibilities.) WESTERN CONFERENCE •The Spurs beat the Suns on Friday, clinching the NBA's best regular-season record and securing home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. They're one win away from tying the 2005-06 squad (63-19) for the most wins in franchise history; if they beat the Rockets on Monday and the Lakers in the season finale on Wednesday , they'll finish at 64-18, the best mark of any Spurs team of all time. This is where we remind you that Tim Duncan is 11 days shy of his 38th birthday, and that the Spurs are ridiculous. •The Thunder's Sunday loss to the Pacers gives the Clippers an outside shot of securing the West's No. 2 seed. If OKC beats the Pelicans on Monday, they lock up No. 2 and put the Clippers in third place. But if, by some stroke of unpredictable magic, Oklahoma City loses to a Pelicans team without Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday and Jason Smith (and possibly Tyreke Evans and Brian Roberts, too), the door's still open just a bit for L.A. to take over No. 2 —basically, they need to win their last two games and they need the Thunder to lose their last two games. •If the Rockets beat the Spurs , Houston's the No. 4 seed and Portland's the No. 5 seed. •If Golden State beats the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Warriors lock up the No. 6 seed. •If the Grizzlies beat the Suns , Memphis clinches the No. 8 seed and eliminates Phoenix. •if the Suns beat the Grizzlies, they stay alive; if Phoenix and Golden State both win, Dallas locks up the No. 7 seed. Got all that? Of course you do. Now, to cleanse your palate, here's Russell Westbrook not exactly sticking the landing on his attempt to play after-the-whistle troll. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Rockets-Pelicans Preview

The Houston Rockets figure to rest some of their key players in a meaningless regular-season finale. [read full article]

From FOX Sports Digital

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