With NBA Playoffs looming, Portland should have kept their heads

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Portland, Oregon may not be a big fancy city, but one thing it does have is incredible basketball fans. Smart, passionate, devoted NBA basketball fans. The collective IQ at a Blazers game is probably higher than the average. But last night it plummeted to Neanderthal levels, and it’s got nothing to do with getting mad at the official.s It’s when they did it.

Last night during the Blazers-Mavericks game, fans became so incensed at a series of what a vast majority of people would call bad calls, things got a little out of hand. Ticky-tack control fouls, foolish technicals, absurd unevenness, and pretty much one of the worst balances of the season, officiating wise. Yet, probably not the worst, and even if so, something that happens routinely in the NBA. And Blazers fans, with where they’re at, have to keep a calm head.

They did not.

As Blazers Edge covers expertly in their recap, fans started throwing things on to the court. Okay, not cool, but that’s nothing too bad. Worthy of ejection if busted, and not acceptable, but that happens about as frequently as these types of games occur. But they also started throwing things into the Mavericks’ huddle.

Too far.

I’m not going to waste your time or mine on why this unacceptable, the possible dangers of doing so, nor am I going to mention the words ‘Ron Artest” or “Malice at the Palace.” But let’s just all agree that throwing things at people is a good way to get things out of hand in a hurry.

But if we’re looking for a long-term effect of this, try this on for size.

The Blazers may be screwed come the playoffs. Sure, there are a handful of regular season games between now and the postseason. But the real consequences will come in the playoffs. With that kind of atmosphere, in what will probably end up with a series against just those Mavericks they played DodgeBeer with last night, or the Los Angeles Lakers.

You know, because LA doesn’t usually end up on the positive side of the officiating.

The Blazers fans have now set a tone that the refs have to respond to. And respond they will, most likely in the form of setting an early tone, delivering quick fouls and technicals, to make it clear that such behavior will not be allowed again. They have an obligation to set a tone, and while the officials have seen their fair share of these kinds of incidents, their hand is still forced in this instance.

Which is bad news for the Blazers. They need a scrappy first round. They need to rely on heart and ability, because their talent is severely limited by injury and other factors. They are in a position of needing to play the kind of game the officials now cannot let go because of their behavior last night. You create an environment of chaos, and unfair or not, the riot police is going to come to restore order and put people back in their homes.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the tantrum the collective of Blazers fans (and personnel) will needle the refs to go back the other direction. But if they find themselves with Dirk Nowitzki or Kobe Bryant at the line 40 times in a round one game, they’ll have to deal with the fact that they, at least partially, were at fault.

The season of unfortunate circumstances for the Blazers continues.

PBT Podcast: Derek Fisher fired, plus your trade questions from Twitter

Derek Fisher
Associated Press
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Derek Fisher is out as coach of the New York Knicks.

In this latest podcast, NBC Sports’ Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman discuss the odd timing of that move — we expect another shoe to drop as to why. It’s not that Fisher was a great coach, but replacing him with Kurt Rambis mid-season is not an upgrade. And Luke Walton isn’t available until this summer.

After struggling to figure out what the Knicks are thinking, Helin and Feldman answer questions off Twitter from readers/listeners on the coming trade deadline including discussions of Blake Griffin, Jeff Teague, the Pistons, the Jazz, the Knicks, and more.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Warriors’ center Festus Ezeli to have knee surgery, out indefinitely

Golden State Warriors center Festus Ezeli, left, of Nigeria, looks to pass the ball as Denver Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in Denver. Golden State won 118-105. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Associated Press
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Festus Ezeli has been a rock-solid backup for the Warriors this season, playing almost 18 minutes a night behind Andrew Bogut giving the team 7.5 points and 5.9 rebounds a contest. Golden State’s defense is 3.6 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court, and he’s part of the team’s long-term plans.

But he’s going to be out for a while now following knee surgery, the team announced and as reported by Monte Poole at CSNBayArea.com.

http://www.csnbayarea.com/warriors/festus-ezeli-undergo-knee-surgery

The surgery is exploratory, which is why the Warriors say there is no timeline for recovery yet.

The surgery is on his left knee; it was his right one that had reconstructive surgery and forced him to miss all of two seasons ago.

This is a blow to the Warriors’ depth, but little has slowed their march this season. More Mo Speights is not ideal, but the Warriors can just go small more often and run teams out of the building that way.

Ezeli is a restricted free agent this summer and the Warriors would like to keep him on the roster and expand his role, particularly if they do not retain Andrew Bogut. The severity of this knee injury could impact Ezeli’s ability to earn a big contract this summer, but hopefully for him, it’s not that serious.

Russell Westbrook stands behind Kevin Durant, mimics him during interview (video)

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, right, gestures after scoring as forward Kevin Durant stands by during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Thunder won 117-113. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Choose your spin.

This is why Kevin Durant is leaving the Thunder. Russell Westbrook doesn’t respect him.

or

This is why Kevin Durant is re-signing with the Thunder. He and Russell Westbrook have so much fun together.

Report: Magic open to talking Tobias Harris trade, looking to add experience

Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen (9) grabs the uniform of Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris (12) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
AP Photo/Brandon Dill
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Tobias Harris signed a four-year, $64 million contract with the Magic just last summer.

Now, just 50 games later…

Marc Stein of ESPN:

I’m skeptical this is significant. Teams discuss trades for many players for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t mean the player is likely to be dealt.

Orlando in particular has a roster of players who cause significant debate about their value. It’s helpful to know what other teams think of Harris, and soliciting trade offers is a good method to learn his worth.

It’s more intriguing the Magic are looking to add experience. They should probably go the opposite route, but they’ve tried (and failed) for years to accelerate their rebuild. At 22-28 – four games and three teams from playoff position – now is not the time to seek shortcuts. Spend the rest of the season developing young players – and probably securing a higher draft pick in the process.

One of Harris’ best traits is his youth. He’s just 23. See what other teams would offer for him, sure. But, in all likelihood, it’s better to let him grow into the veteran Orlando needs rather than trading him for one when the rest of the team isn’t ready to win, anyway.

My guess is that’s what Orlando will do. Remember, always consider who has incentive to leak this information anonymously and what they’d be positioned to know.