NBA Playoffs: Utah scores at will against Denver, takes 2-1 series lead

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The Nuggets got out to an early lead against the Utah Jazz on Friday, taking a 27-21 lead after the first quarter behind 10 points by Chauncey Billups. They were running their offense, they were hitting their shots, and they even managed to keep the Utah crowd quiet.

Then Paul Millsap showed up, and things got very bad very fast for the Nuggets. Millsap went 8-8 from the field in the second quarter, with most of his points coming from finding seams in the Denver defense and taking the ball right at the basket. The Jazz took a four-point lead into halftime. They stretched the lead to 10 early in the third quarter, and never looked back. 
The Jazz looked like a team who’s had the same coach for 22 years, and the Nuggets looked like a team struggling to get by with an interim coach. They didn’t have enough energy on defense. They got sloppy on offense, losing the turnover battle 14-7 and getting out-assisted 27-12. They folded when Utah took the lead and the crowd got going. The Nuggets didn’t execute at either end of the floor, and that’s what killed them on Friday. 
The Nugget bigs had a terrible game, going 2-11 from the field against a thin and undersized Utah frontline. Anthony and Billups accounted for 25 points each, but no other Nugget was able to score in double figures. Affalo only got two shots. Smith went 3-9. Ty Lawson was able to beat the Jazz in the open court a few times and was the only Nuggets rotation player with a positive +/-, but it wasn’t enough. 
Deron Williams and Paul Millsap were brilliant for the Jazz, combining for 46 points on 19-28 shooting from the field. (Millsap also added 19 rebounds.) Kyle Korver had a mark of +22 in 25 minutes and had more assists than any player on the Jazz. 
You can break this game down all you want, but at the end of the day the Jazz played like they had a purpose and the Nuggets didn’t. The Nuggets are likely one of the two most talented teams in the conference. If they don’t start playing like there’s something at stake, they could easily find themselves in a 3-1 hole when they fly back to Denver. 

Check out the 100 best crossovers of last season (VIDEO)

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Do you have 22 minutes to watch the 100 best crossovers of last season? It’s Monday, of course you do. It’s either that or work.

Here they are, as compiled by the fine folks at NBA.com. Enjoy. And don’t be shocked that Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry, and Russell Westbrook have the top spots.

And if you must go into the comments and complain that technically not all of these are crossovers, go ahead, but it doesn’t change anything. It’s like saying there is only one way to make a proper matzo ball soup — there are a lot of variations (I like it with dill in the broth), and they all can be delicious. Just enjoy it.

Cavaliers name Koby Altman full-time general manager

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CLEVELAND (AP) The Cavaliers have named Koby Altman their full-time general manager.

Altman’s promotion had been expected for days and was made official on Monday. The 34-year-old has been serving as Cleveland’s interim GM this summer after David Griffin parted ways with the club following the NBA Finals.

Altman has been with the club since 2012. He will be the fifth GM for owner Dan Gilbert since 2005.

Gilbert said he’s been impressed with the job Altman has done over the past five weeks and said he “has the credentials, knowledge, experience and instincts to be an outstanding general manager. … I am confident that Koby is equipped and prepared to lead and succeed in this dynamic environment.”

Altman is taking charge during an interesting juncture for the Cavs. All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving recently asked to be traded and LeBron James is heading into his final season under contract.

More AP basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Report: Derrick Rose commits to sign with Cleveland Cavaliers

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It looks like former NBA MVP Derrick Rose is heading to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Rumors have been swirling all week about Rose, who could be a backup or big-minute replacement for Kyrie Irving, who reportedly wants to be traded away from LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

According to reports released on Monday from Yahoo! Sports and ESPN, Rose has committed to sign with the Cavaliers after completing a physical. Rose will be paid $2.1 million on a one-year contract.

Via Twitter:

The Cavaliers have had one of the weirder offseasons, and while adding Rose isn’t necessarily the strangest thing they have done, it could be a larger signal for the rest of the league with regard to what direction the team is going to go.

Rose played OK in New York last season, and would be well suited as a backup bench spark for a contending team if he found the right fit. The Cavaliers will likely try him out in lineups with Lebron, but how he fits in as of the end of July isn’t quite clear. Will he be a backup? Will he be the de facto starter if Irving is no longer on the team come opening night?

The 2017 NBA offseason has been endlessly interesting, and this move is another in a long series of twists and turns.

Report: Spurs paying Pau Gasol about $16 million each of next two years

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The Spurs got Pau Gasol to decline his $16,197,500 player option, allowing them to chase major free agents. They didn’t take advantage of that flexibility, so they’re re-signing Gasol to make him whole – and then some.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Sources: Free agent Pau Gasol’s deal to return to Spurs: three years, $48M with a partial guarantee on final year

If Gasol’s 2018-19 salary is guaranteed – strongly implied by this report – this is a bad contract.

The 37-year-old Gasol, still a nice player, isn’t worth $16 million this season in a tight center market. It’s fine to pay him that much given the circumstances of his opt out. But to guarantee him a similar amount – salary-cap rules dictate his 2018-19 salary be within 5% of his 2017-18 salary – at age 38 is an awful choice.

Especially for San Antonio, which was shaping up to have massive flexibility next summer.

The Spurs can still have significant cap room if LaMarcus Aldridge, Danny Green and/or Rudy Gay opt out. But then they wouldn’t have Aldridge, Green or Gay. So, the more space to upgrade, the better. San Antonio just cut about $16 million from that maneuverability.

Kawhi Leonard is a 26-year-old superstar who has proven his ability to thrive deep into the playoffs. Instead of aggressively working to add talent to chase another championship, the Spurs are surrounding him with the status-quo declining-veteran supporting cast.

That was acceptable this year, once Chris Paul chose the Rockets. But to commit about $16 million toward a similar team in 2018 is a major mistake.