How many different ways can the Spurs own the Suns?

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The Suns have won their fair share of regular season games against the Spurs over the past five years. It’s not like they’ve never won against the Spurs. It just feels like it.

Jason Richardson missed a wide-open (and I mean WIDE OPEN) breakaway dunk to tie, and Steve Nash randomly passed up on a tying three pointer with no time left and the Spurs once again topped the Suns in a late season game’, 113-110.

Richardson, a two-time dunk champion, looked stunned even as he was coming down as his one-handed attempt rimmed out and fell to the waiting arms of the Spurs. The Suns needed a steal, got one by doubling and rotating effectively (not something they do terribly well), then got the outlet to Jason Richardson, who went up, and just… missed.

Now, he could have put two hands on the ball. Players miss dunks all the time. A perfect dunk doesn’t even touch rim. But seriously. A two-time dunk champion, and one of the better players in the league misses a wide-open, break-away dunk to tie? How does that happen?

It’s Suns-Spurs. Obviously.

This is the same rivalry that’s featured Steve Nash being kept out of the final minutes of a playoff game because of a nosebleed caused by accidental contact that couldn’t be stopped. The same perennial battle that’s seen Tim Duncan hit his first three pointer of the 2008 season to win a playoff game.

No matter what happens, the result is always the same in the ones that seem to matter the most. You have to wonder if there’s some sort of greater force at work. No matter how unlikely the event needed, they seem to occur , and they always seem to fall against the Suns. Even this year’s Spurs team, which is far from the dominant squad it was at the height of this rivalry, somehow finds a way to topple Amaré Stoudemires 41 and 12.

Nash’s dish was just as inexplicable. After the pass, Nash seemed to be frustrated at something Channing Frye failed to do. Whether it was drifting closer to Nash to have time for the shot, or drifting to the perimeter for the range they needed to tie, Frye did neither, and the time expired.

Nash had a wide open shot, after nailing one to give them an opportunity to tie, and passed it up. How does that occur?

Meanwhile for the Spurs, a great overall game that maybe they can use as the better-late-than-never game to turn the tide on this season.

Rumor: Paul George told former Pacers teammates he wanted to join the Lakers

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Paul George to the Lakers is a capital-T thing.

George is from Southern California, and he keeps indicating his dissatisfaction with the Pacers. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Even Lakers president Magic Johnson is talking about George.

Where do rumors like this originate?

Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News:

A SoCal native, he’s been talking about playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, for a long time. He’s never made his long-term intentions a secret within the Pacers’ locker room, according to former teammates. He wants to wear the purple and gold.

Did George say he dreamed of playing for the Lakers growing up? Did he say it’d be cool to join his boyhood favorite team if the situation presented itself? Or did he say he wanted to get the heck out of Indiana to join the Lakers as soon as possible?

There are so many ways his comments to teammates could get misconstrued as they get passed down in the game of telephone.

But the Lakers threat – to whatever degree it’s real – looms, and it’ll impact how the Pacers handle their offseason.

Jazz call deactivating Jeff Withey, who was accused of domestic violence, ‘strategic basketball-related decision’

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Jazz Center Jeff Withey was accused of domestic violence in a police report filed by his ex-fiancée.

Withey played a small role in Utah’s first two playoff games, but once the accusation over an alleged 2016 incident became public, he hasn’t seen the court. Withey received a DNP-CD in Game 3 against the Clippers, and the Jazz deactivated the center for Game 4 last night.

Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News:

The team called it a “strategic basketball-related decision.”

Withey was always going to see a reduced role with Rudy Gobert returning from injury.

Though Gobert didn’t play in Game 3, the Jazz had two injured players – Gobert and Alec Burks on the inactive list – so Withey was active but never played. But Withey was active for Game 1, which Gobert started healthy before injuring his knee 11 seconds in.

Therefore, deactivating Withey in Game 4 for Joel Bolomboy, a little-used second-round rookie who has yet to play in the postseason, is a curious choice for basketball reasons. It’s almost as if that wasn’t the reason.

Russell Westbrook on Rockets laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws: ‘Probably the guys that don’t play’

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The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.

Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.

But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.