Jazz coach Jerry Sloan to resign Thursday; Ty Corbin to replace

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UPDATE #2, 4:39 pm: It has been confirmed now by the Salt Lake Tribune and other sources that current Jazz assistant Ty Corbin will take over as the Jazz interim head coach.

UPDATE 2:38 pm: This is about as official as it will get until Sloan steps up to the podium, Jazz players are calling their agents saying Sloan is out, according to a tweet from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Most expect Ty Corbin to get the job.

The press conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. in Utah (5 p.m. Eastern). It will be shown live on NBA.com.

1:44 pm: Long-time Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan will resign at a  press conference in a couple hours, according to a tweet from the Deseret News.

Sloan is the longest tenured coach in the NBA, having taken over back in 1988. Sloan, 68, just announced days ago that he had signed a one-year extension with the team. Reports are assistant Phil Johnson also is stepping down.

We say stepping down, although we wonder how much he was pushed out the door. As much as an institution like Sloan could be forced to do anything in Utah.

Wednesday night Sloan, usually one of the fastest coaches to the post-game media interview, was more than 30 minutes late and appeared “shaken” when he arrived. When asked about it Sloan said he, General Manager Kevin O’Connor and the rest of the staff had a post-game meeting but would not go into details. He said the media would be informed Thursday of what was discussed.

The Jazz have struggled this season compared to previous seasons, they are 31-23 and the six seed in the West. But that has a lot more to do with Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver and Wes Mathews leaving via free agency, being replaced by lesser talents like Al Jefferson (a poor fit for Sloan’s flex offense), than anything Sloan has done. Last season C.J. Miles could barely get on the floor, this season Sloan has to use him in key situations because there is no Jazz bench to speak of. Mehmet Okur has played in just 13 games. Sloan has been the same coach for decades, he gets the most out of what he is given, he has taken bad teams to the playoffs and good teams to the finals. He didn’t forget how to coach, he was just was given less to work with by O’Conner this season.

There have been 245 coaching changes around the NBA since Jerry Sloan took over his job.

As for potential successors, it is likely the Jazz would want to keep it in the family, so to speak. The most likely choice is Ty Corbin, although Jeff Hornacek could be in the mix.

Thunder pick up Paul George in his return to Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Paul George made a winning return to Indiana, hitting the clinching free throws with 10.7 seconds left in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 100-95 victory over the Pacers on Wednesday night.

Steven Adams had 23 points and 13 rebounds and Russell Westbrook finished with 10 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists in his ninth triple-double this season. The Thunder have won two straight on the road.

Victor Oladipo led the Pacers with 19 points and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 15. Indiana had a chance to tie the score after getting the ball back with 15.2 seconds left, but George got a steal then hit a couple free throws.

The Pacers’ winning streak ended at four.

But the highly anticipated matchup between George and Oladipo, the key components in last summer’s blockbuster trade, didn’t go as expected.

George was booed loudly during introductions and every time he touched the ball. Fans only cheered for George when he was called for a foul or made a mistake and it seemed to take a toll on the four-time All-Star. He finished 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting, had two rebounds and four turnovers.

Oladipo, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, didn’t have a typical night either. He was 9 of 26 with five rebounds and six assists.

The result: Both teams struggled.

Indiana led 27-22 after one but gave the lead right back by allowing Oklahoma City to start the second quarter on a 9-0 spurt.

After the Pacers answered with a 9-0 run, the Thunder closed the half on a 9-3 spurt to make it 51-46.

The trend continued in the second half.

Indiana charged back to take a 63-59 lead before the Thunder used an 11-2 run to pull out to a 73-69 lead going into the fourth.

Oklahoma City extended the lead to 92-81 with 5:16 to go but only scored six points the rest of the way. That was just enough to hold on.

TIP-INS

Thunder: Oklahoma City is 4-10 on the road. … Oklahoma City got its first series split with the Pacers since 2012-13. … Oklahoma City had 17 offensive rebounds and was 13 of 29 on 3-pointers.

Pacers: Thaddeus Young had 11 points, 10 rebounds and seven steals. … Made 11 3s but fell to 14-3 when making 10 or more 3-pointers in a game this season. … Center Myles Turner had three blocks, his 12th game this season with three or more. … Former Colts coach Tony Dungy attended the game. He’s in town for Thursday night’s NFL game between the Colts and Broncos.

ALL-STAR DAY

The Pacers got a win before they even took the floor.

A little less than three hours before tip, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Indiana would host the 2021 All-Star Game. It will be the first time the Pacers have hosted the marquee event since 1985.

The move comes seven months after Larry Bird hand-delivered the formal proposal at the league’s New York headquarters in an IndyCar.

UP NEXT

Thunder: Faces Philadelphia on Friday, trying to improve to 17-1 in the series since moving to Oklahoma City.

Pacers: Host Detroit on Friday, seeking a seventh straight home win in the series.

 

Rockets’ Clint Capela on Warriors: ‘I expect to beat them’

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During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”

Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.

The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.

Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:

“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.

That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.

There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.

PBT Extra Player of the Week: Victor Oladipo

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Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.

That place turned out to be the Pacers.

Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.

That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.