Jerry Sloan shoves official, may face suspension

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Ah, late March. When winter gives its last gasp, the flowers begin to bloom, baseball season starts to ramp up, and the Jazz start coming apart at the seams.

The Jazz, after going on an absurd run throughout the first two months of the year, have returned to their home planet. After a thrilling, come-from-behind win against Phoenix on March 4th, the Jazz were riding high, nigh unstoppable. Now they’ve lost three of their last five, road losses to playoff teams. Understandable losses, but still games they need to be winning as April approaches. And what’s more, they’re coming unhinged a bit.

I submit for evidence exhibit A: Jerry Sloan shoving an official with his forearm with .02 seconds left and the Jazz down three possessions.

With .02 seconds left in the Jazz loss to the Suns last night, Ronnie Price went for a garbage time breakaway dunk (“The Shannon Brown Special”). Grant Hill fouled Price hard, and the Jazz took exception. Because, you know, Grant Hill has a reputation for being that kind of player.

The Salt Lake City Tribune’s Ross Siler has the details of what happened next. After the officials failed to call a flagrant foul on Price, they went to the replay to see how much time was left. Sloan, outraged, backed down a security guard… yes, the 67 year old coach backed down a security guard trying to talk at the officials. Then after the officials came out of the replay session, Sloan got into it with official Michael Smith. The result was Sloan shoving Smith his forearm, and, as you’d expect, getting sent to the showers.

Siler points out this is the third time since 93 the Jazz legendary coach has made physical contact with an official. I’m pretty sure you can expect Sloan to miss a few games for his impulse reaction.

Tough old bastard, that Sloan.

UPDATE: A commenter points out that the reason for Sloan’s outburst was Amar’e Stoudemire walking from the bench across court towards the Jazz bench after the play. Stoudemire said later he thought the game was over, according to Siler. Of course, Stoudemire does kind of have a history of walking on the floor off the bench at bad times. 

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.