Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat

Tyson Chandler tweaks ankle against Sixers, out two games

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UPDATED: March 2, 2:11 pm: The good news is that X-rays on Chandler’s ankle were negative. But the bad news is he will be out at least two more games, according to the Dallas Morning News. Those games are against the Pacers and the surging Grizzlies. That Grizzlies game starts a four-games-in-five-nights stretch for Dallas, so it is possible Chandler will be rested more.

March 1, 8:31 pm: Scary moment for the Mavs on Tuesday night: during the second quarter of their game against the Philadelphia 76ers, center Tyson Chandler landed awkwardly on his right ankle and looked to be in a considerable amount of pain. Chandler attempted to stand up on his own, but eventually returned to the floor as he waited to be examined by the Mavs’ training staff.

However, Chandler’s injury wasn’t deemed to be too serious. According to Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com, Chandler was diagnosed with an ankle sprain, and though he won’t return to the game tonight, it’s unlikely that he’ll miss considerable time. Dallas doesn’t play again until Friday, which should give Chandler plenty of time to rest his ankle. That said, all of this is based only on the training staff’s initial determination of Chandler’s injury, and his status could change with more time for assessment.

For now, the Mavs can breathe a sigh of relief. Although Dallas is deeper in the middle than most (having Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi available on the bench is a significantly better center outlook than most teams can claim), Chandler is the unquestioned leader of the Mavs’ eighth-ranked defense. Haywood is a very solid defender in his own right, but he isn’t as athletic as Chandler, and not as capable of challenging ball-handlers on the pick-and-roll and recovering in time to defend the paint. Chandler is one of those uncanny defenders who can seem to be everywhere at once, and his ability to defend the interior compares with that of Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett. Chandler can’t claim a defensive impact quite as profound as those two, but his impact on Dallas’ defense is similar.

The Mavs are among the best teams in the West, but a hard fall for Chandler (or Dirk Nowitzki) is all it would take for Dallas’ season to come crashing down. Injuries to other players would derail the Mavericks’ contending hopes, but Chandler’s play this season has made him an irreplaceable element. Dallas could try to make do with Haywood and Mahinmi, but neither can do what Chandler does for the team’s defense, just as no other player could do what Nowitzki does for the offense.

NBA: Kenneth Faried got away with foul on decisive basket in Nuggets’ win over Bulls

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The Bulls’ biggest loss Friday was Jimmy Butler to injury. His absence certainly contributed to a loss to the Timberwolves the following night.

But Chicago also lost to the Nuggets on Friday, and perhaps that wouldn’t have happened if the game were called correctly down the stretch.

With Denver up two points and 21.1 seconds remaining, Kenneth Faried offensively rebounded a free throw and scored. The Bulls then intentionally fouled down the stretch, and Faried and Danilo Gallinari added a few free throws in the Nuggets’ 115-110 win.

One problem: Faried should’ve been called for offensively fouling Taj Gibson on the key putback, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Faried (DEN) extends his arm into Gibson (CHI) and dislodges him, affecting his ability to retrieve the rebound.

This was a huge swing. Instead of Taj Gibson – a 69% career free-throw shooter – going to the line for two attempts with Chicago down two points, Faried put the Nuggets up four. Even if Gibson split at the line, the Bulls would have been in significantly better shape.

As usual, we can’t know what would’ve happened if this call were made correctly. But it significantly set back Chicago.

NBA considering if jump-on-back foul should be flagrant foul

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The video above is an intentional foul — Chris Paul jumped on the back of Dwight Howard. The same thing has happened to Andre Drummond.

Is it a flagrant foul?

The Boston Celtics tweeted this out on Sunday.

The NBA was quick to let people know that this is just something under consideration — there has been no change in the rules. This may well be where the league is headed, but it’s not there yet.

The NBA defines a flagrant foul as “unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent.” To me, leaping on a player’s back like that qualifies. (A flagrant two foul is “unnecessary and excessive contact” and leads to an ejection; this is not that.)

Jared Dudley — one of the more vocal players on union issues — added a good point.

Consider this part of the coming changes on the intentional fouling rules period. But this one tweak could come much faster.

NBA: Foul on Cavaliers that sparked Celtics’ comeback called in error

Cleveland Cavaliers' J.R. Smith makes a move on Boston Celtics' Evan Turner (11) during the third quarter of a NBA basketball game in Boston Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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The Cavaliers were in great shape against the Celtics on Friday, leading by four points with seven seconds left.

Then, it all went so wrong for Cleveland.

J.R. Smith was called for fouling Evan Turner on a made layup, cutting the margin to two points. Turner missed the free throw, but the ball went out of bounds off the Cavs. Then, Avery Bradley made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Boston the win.

Rewind, though, and an incorrect call drove the sequence, according to the NBA.

Smith shouldn’t have been called for fouling Turner, per the Last Two Minute Report:

Smith (CLE) makes incidental contact with Turner’s (BOS) body as he attempts the layup.

If this were officiated correctly, the Cavs would’ve had the ball and a two-point lead with 5.9 seconds left. That’s not a lock to win – they’d still have to inbound the ball and make their free throws – but it’s close.

Cleveland is definitely entitled to feel the refs wronged them out of a victory.

Report: Kevin Durant has “done his due diligence on the Bay Area”

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Kevin Durant has not made up his mind about what he will do as a free agent this summer. Until his playoff run ends, whenever that may be for the Thunder, his focus will be on bringing a title to Oklahoma City.

But even he admits he can’t help but think about free agency a little.

The buzz around the league is Golden State is at the front of the line if Durant decides to leave OKC, and he has done some research, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

The Warriors play in front of an intimidating Oracle Arena crowd and are expected to debut a new San Francisco arena in 2019. Durant has quietly done his due diligence on the Bay Area, too, sources told Yahoo Sports.

His people — specifically agent Rich Kleiman and personal manager Charlie Bell — would be stupid not to have done some research on not only Golden State but on every other team he might consider: Houston, Miami, Washington, both teams in Los Angeles, the Knicks, and on down the line. Golden State, playing with Stephen Curry, certainly would have its attractions.

I’m still in the camp that Durant signs a 1+1 deal to stay in Oklahoma City (meaning he can opt out after one more season, in 2017), and it’s all about the cash. While he could get 30 percent of a $90 million cap this summer (about $27 million a season to start), with one more year of service in 2017 Durant could get 35 percent of $108 million ($37.8 million to start). That’s a lot of cash. Plus he gets one more chance at a ring with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, who both are 2017 free agents.

But you can be sure whatever Durant decides, it will be well researched and thought out. And he’s not going to announce it in a live special on ESPN.