Jazz’s Al Jefferson says everything good with him, coach

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After he was benched the entire fourth quarter a few nights ago — where he had good seats to watch Derrick Favors lead a comeback — Al Jefferson waived off reporters and was clearly frustrated. Since he didn’t even get put back in for overtime when other players did, the reasoning seemed clear.

But it’s all good. We don’t know why you even think there’s a problem with him and new coach Ty Corbin. That’s what he told the Deseret News. As always, it’s the media making stuff up.

“(Coach) made a joke about it earlier,” he said, “and I kind of got upset because I really hate it when people put words in my mouth or say that I’m upset about something.”

“Besides this cold I got, I got no problem. I’m not upset about nothing, especially with coach,” Jefferson said. “I think coach is doing a wonderful job. I don’t know. I guess that just it — people don’t have nothing else to write about. They just want to make up some stuff. I don’t have no problem with coach.”

“I have a right to be upset. We just lost a game that we should’ve won,” Jefferson said. “I was more upset for the simple fact that the young guys played hard and get us back into the game and push it in overtime and lose, but not one time did I say I was upset with coach or anybody else.”

Jefferson talking to the media was purely coincidentally right after GM Kevin O’Conner said told the told the Utah media that players would speak to them because that’s part of the players job.

For the rest of the season, Jefferson may be watching a lot more and playing less. The Jazz are out of playoff contention and young guys like Favors are going to get a lot of run to try and develop the and get them used to the Jazz system. But Jefferson is good with that. He says so.

PBT Extra: Disciplined Celtics highlight bad habits of Milwaukee Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.

The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.

I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.

Ettore Messina to coach Spurs in Game 3 following death of Gregg Popovich’s wife

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.

That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.

But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.

On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.

To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.