When the Lakers are struggling — for example, losing four in a row like they have now — Phil Jackson usually tries to lighten the mood at his press conferences.
Joking, funny Phil Jackson, who sounds a lot like regular Phil Jackson so unless you’re around him a lot it can be hard to tell. Wednesday it was comedian Jackson talking to the media after the game.
The Orange County Register’s Kevin Ding got the distinction and tried to play it up in his story.
Asked about Rudy Tomjanovich’s chances of making the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, Jackson smiled and said he was supportive of everyone, including his former colleague Kevin Loughery, who despite being such a “loser” in his coaching record was just a great guy.
Asked if Tomjanovich’s two titles as Rockets coach should have asterisks next to them because they came with Michael Jordan away from Jackson’s Chicago Bulls, Jackson smiled and said: “Definitely! No doubt about it!”
But if you are not used to being around Jackson and don’t get his tone and humor, or you just read the words Jackson said, not listening to the audio, you get the impression Jackson was smacking around Rudy T., a former Lakers coach and current scout. That seems to have made the rounds. But this comes off to those around him more like Jackson’s sense of humor, albeit he was a bit cranky that day.
So everyone — chill out. It’s Friday, let it go and head to happy hour a little earlier.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.