Tyreke Evans Francisco Garcia Eugene Jeter

Baseline to Baseline recaps: The Grizzlies and Kings with the finish of the year

Leave a comment

What you missed while purchasing the iPhone bottle opener

Kings 100, Grizzlies 98: Two struggling teams that could use a win and it came down to this:

Kings up 97-96 with 5.5 seconds left, no timeouts left for anyone. Memphis inbounds the ball from the sidelines to O.J. Mayo and runs a poorly-designed play — Mike Conley, who inbounded the ball, ran right past Mayo, basically just bringing the extra defender for the double-team right to the ball. Mayo ignored this and worked along the three-point line and eventually near the top of the key took an off-balanced, off-one-leg fall away two. And he drained it. Grizzlies by one.

Now there is 1.5 seconds left, and with no timeouts the Kings inbound to Tyreke Evans, who gets the ball near the free throw line, dribbles a couple of steps, shoots as time expires — and drains a 50 footer for the win. Arco Arena goes wild.

Best ending this season. Go ahead and make all the “it takes that kind of shot for the Kings to win a game” jokes you want, their fans deserve something like this.

Pistons 104, Celtics 92: At one point Tracy McGrady made the steal and Ben Wallace finished with the power dunk on the break. When that is happening, you know the Pistons are having a good night.

This was just a night when the Celtics played poor defense — Kevin Garnett’s early exit certainly was part of that — and Detroit just could not miss. As a team the Pistons shot 55.7 percent, plus they hit 10 of 15 from three. McGrady had 21 on 7 of 11 shooting. Charlie Villanueva got a little revenge — not that he was looking for it — hitting 4 of 6 from three on his way to 14 points.

This was a big win for Detroit. This was just one of those games for Boston.

Lakers 103, Hornets 88: Phil Jackson moved Andrew Bynum into the starting lineup as a surprise, and that moved Lamar Odom back to the bench. The result was better Laker defense at the start and much better player and ball movement from the Lakers bench players. That meant an easy win.

One night after the Lakers struggled to hit anything against the Spurs they shot 67.6 percent in the first half against the Hornets and put up 59 points (and had an 18-point lead). Los Angeles basically led the whole way. Bynum was big on offense, too, scoring 18. Odom had a game high 24 off the bench.

Heat 125, Rockets 119: The tempo was way up for this one — 99 possessions — and that led to a lot of offense for both teams. And not much transition defense. It shouldn’t be a shock this one was close because the Rockets are scrappy and play hard every night (Byron Scott should show his Cavs the films). But in the end, talent wins out and the Heat had too much of it. Joel Anthony has had some really impressive ends of games for the Heat.

Bobcats 101, Cavaliers 92: Tonight it was Stephen Jackson’s turn to look like he loves Paul Silas’ new system, dropping 38 on the Cavs. Jackson was able to drive into the lane at will — we love Captain Jack here at PBT, but if he is driving unimpeded to the rim you have problems, he is not that quick. The fact that Jackson was constantly in the paint tells you all you need to know about the Cavs effort in this one.

Hawks 103, Warriors 93: The fact the Hawks don’t defend the rim well should have played into the hands of the Warriors and their penetration, but Golden State just turned the ball over too much and settled for too many jumpers. Meanwhile the Hawks were efficient and able to do basically whatever they wanted on offense. This was the best the Hawks looked on offense in a while, with nice ball and player movement.

Wizards 104, Pacers 90: The dreaded second game of a back-to-back, fourth-game-in-five-nights game for the Pacers. Then throw in a team that wants to run like Washington and you get a Pacers team fading in the second half. Andray Blatche had 10 points in the fourth quarter to seal the win.

Nuggets 119, Timberwolves 113: Chris Andersen had five key points in the final two minutes for Denver:  Two on a reverse layup when his man (Kevin Love) went to help on Chauncey Billips penetration and Andersen cut baseline to the basket; Two more on free throws when he drew the offensive rebounding foul on Love; Then one more when he drew another foul on Love, this time when the two were fighting for defensive rebounding position and Andersen sold a little shove with a big flop (he hit one of two from the line).

Thunder 114, Nets 93: It was an up-tempo game and you had to know the Nets could not hang with the athletes of the Thunder at that pace. The Nets fueled that pace with 15 first-half turnovers and their habit of launching up threes that led to long rebounds.

Sixers 123, Suns 110: Vince Carter returned and had 18 points on 8 of 20 shooting, and was 1 of 6 from three.

Look, we’ve been telling anyone who will listen the last few weeks that the Sixers are better than people think. If you don’t play any defense and let them dominate the boards you make it easy. That’s what happened. The Suns defense is awful and the Sixers have the people to exploit it.

Jazz 103, Clippers 95: Eric Gordon probably had the best Clipper dunk of the night, which is disappointment. As for the game, the Clippers led at half but the Jazz came out on a 16-3 run to start the second and went on to win from there.

Reports: Kings still to talk to Nate McMillan, Mark Jackson, more in wide-open coaching search

Mark Jackson
Leave a comment

Essentially, the Sacramento Kings coaching search is the polar opposite of the New York Knicks coaching search. Which frustrates Carmelo Anthony, but that’s another story.

The Kings have spoken to four potential coaches but plan to talk to a number more, including former Golden State coach Mark Jackson and current Pacers assistant Nate McMillan. Here is now Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee put it.

The Kings have received permission to interview assistant coaches Elston Turner of Memphis and Nate McMillan of Indiana for their head-coaching position, according to league sources….

Former Warriors coach Mark Jackson also will interview for the job. He was not retained two years ago, despite leading Golden State to a 51-31 record…. Sacramento also is interested in Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton but has not received permission to interview him, and it’s uncertain if the Kings will meet with him.

The question is does Walton have any interest in the job at all. The consensus around the league is he does not (he is expected to take a long look at the Lakers’ opening).

Sam Amick of the USA Today reported the same names, here is who he said has already discussed the job with Kings decision maker Vlade Divac.

The Kings, who fired George Karl on April 14 after they finished 33-49 and missed the playoffs for the 10th consecutive time, are known to have interviewed Vinny Del Negro (former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers coach), Mike Woodson (former Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks coach; now an assistant with the Clippers), Sam Mitchell (former Toronto Raptors and Minnesota Timberwolves coach) and Kevin McHale (former Timberwolves and Houston Rockets coach).

Much like Walton, there also are questions about the level of McHale’s interest in the job (the Rockets are going to pay him for a couple more seasons, so he is in no rush).

The Kings are not making a rushed decision, which is a good thing by Divac — he needs to get this hire right.

Watch some of Hawks 12 blocked shots in close-out Game 6 vs. Celtics

Leave a comment

Atlanta got to the playoffs on the strength of their defense.

That also won the Hawks their first-round series against the Celtics — Boston struggled to get score consistently against Atlanta. On Thursday night that included 12 blocked shots as the Hawks took away the paint and the Celtics could not make them play.

Well done by the Hawks but that defense is about to be put to the test in the next round — the Cleveland Cavaliers have much more dangerous weapons.

No longer rebuilding, Pistons hope to improve in offseason

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 20: Tobias Harris #34 Andre Drummond #0 and Marcus Morris #13 of the Detroit Pistons celebrates during the first half of the NBA Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on April 20, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) The Detroit Pistons have finally moved beyond the rebuilding stage.

After their first playoff appearance since 2009, Stan Van Gundy’s Pistons can look ahead to the offseason knowing that if they simply keep their current starting lineup intact, the future could be fairly bright. That’s not to say that Detroit will stand pat, but the team’s key players are young enough that the Pistons can envision more success if this group stays together.

“We’re now not at the time of wholesale change anymore. We went through that,” said Van Gundy, who just wrapped up his second season as Detroit’s coach and team president. “We’re not making deals just to make deals. We like the guys we have, but we’ve got to add to it, and if there’s ever a chance to make a significant upgrade – yeah.”

The Pistons went 44-38, their best record since 2008, before being swept in the first round of the playoffs by top-seeded Cleveland. When Van Gundy met with reporters Thursday, he talked about a lot of potential improvements that can come from within – such as Andre Drummond‘s free throw shooting, Stanley Johnson‘s skill set and the team’s overall defensive approach.

The 22-year-old Drummond remains the Pistons’ biggest star. As he enters restricted free agency, the team has not expressed any reservations about trying to sign him long term – despite his sub-40 percent free throw shooting, an issue which occasionally relegated him to the bench during crunch time.

“He’s a 22-year-old All-Star center. There aren’t very many guys in the league who have the abilities that he has,” Van Gundy said. “We’ll move forward and obviously do everything we possibly can to try to get him re-signed.”

Detroit’s starting lineup of Drummond, Reggie Jackson (26 years old), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (23), Tobias Harris (23) and Marcus Morris (26) was good enough to lift the Pistons into the postseason, and the team also has the 19-year-old Johnson, a lottery pick last year. Van Gundy says he wants Johnson to work on developing his individual skills in the offseason, which isn’t always easy for players in the years before they reach the NBA.

“They don’t really get, or haven’t had summers where they could take an extended period of time and really focus on skill development,” Van Gundy said. “They’re always playing AAU, then with Stanley, USA Basketball, then they have a summer where they’re going to draft workout after draft workout after draft workout, and then right after that, they’re just going into summer league.”

As for Drummond’s woeful foul shooting, Van Gundy says it’s wrong to view it purely as a mechanics problem. Drummond shot 35.5 percent this season from the line and was 11 of 34 in the playoffs.

Van Gundy was asked if having Drummond try to shoot underhanded could be an option.

“I think right now everything’s on the table,” Van Gundy said. “We all know it’s an important thing, Andre more than any of us. I think he’s pretty open to anything, but there’s a lot of ways to attack this problem, and we’ll all have a hand in it.”

Although the Pistons don’t have to worry much about losing Drummond before next season, Anthony Tolliver and Steve Blake are both unrestricted free agents. They combined for only 69 minutes in the playoff series, and Van Gundy was somewhat noncommittal about their future.

“In just a very general sense, I like the idea of having both of them back,” he said. “But – and I was honest with them – there’s priorities ahead of re-signing them.”

Follow Noah Trister at http://www.Twitter.com/noahtrister

Hawks close out Celtics, advance to face Cavaliers

<> during the first quarter of Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden on April 28, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
Leave a comment

The first Eastern Conference semifinals matchup is set: the Atlanta Hawks closed out the Boston Celtics 104-92 on the road to win their first-round series in six games and advance to the second round, where they will face the Cleveland Cavaliers beginning on Monday.

The Hawks controlled the game from start to finish, neutralizing Boston’s offense and attacking Isaiah Thomas on the other end. Thomas finished with 25 points, leading all scorers, but shot just 9-for-24 from the field.

In the second half, Atlanta’s lead stretched as far as 28 points, before a Marcus Smart-led comeback in the fourth quarter cut it to 12 and Atlanta was able to put the game away.

From a talent standpoint, this series was always going to be skewed away from the Celtics, especially after Avery Bradley‘s hamstring injury in the first round of the playoffs. And Atlanta’s superior talent won out in Game 6, with every Hawks starter reaching double figures.

From here, Atlanta will face Cleveland in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, this time with everybody fully healthy for both teams. Boston is set up for an interesting offseason, with a high lottery pick coming from Brooklyn, a ton of cap space and dark-horse status in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes.