I hope y’all like Tex Mex, because the road to the NBA finals in the West runs through San Antonio.
Sure, the two seed Lakers and top seed Spurs play next Tuesday, but now people will want to see that game about as much as they want to listen to a new Go-Go’s album. Or a watch regular season Kansas City Royals game.
Mathmatically the Lakers are still alive, but the Spurs all but wrapped up the top spot in the West they beat the Atlanta Hawks 97-90 in a pretty sloppy game Tuesday. The win kept the Spurs (59-19) two games up on the Lakers in loss column — and three of San Antonio’s four remaining games are against lottery teams. They weren’t likely to lose those if they put out much effort, so even if the Spurs fell to the Lakers (and the Lakers won out) it wouldn’t matter if they won the other three.
Then the Lakers went out and played a sloppy, disinterested game against the Jazz and lost.
The Jazz were one of those lottery teams expected to roll over at the end of the season, but to quote Apollo Creed’s trainer from Rocky, “He doesn’t know it’s a damn show! He thinks it’s a damn fight!” Gordon Hayward hit a game winning free throw, then Kobe Bryant fumbled the ball out of bounds on the last play and walked off the court staring at his hands in disbelief.
That puts the Lakers at 55-22, 3.5 back with four to play and three back in the loss column.
The Spurs magic number is 2 (any combination of Spurs wins and Lakers losses to reach that number and San Antonio clinches the West). Look for the Lakers to start resting guys as they realize they are the two seed (third seed Dallas is two full games back of Los Angeles and is not going to catch them).
San Antonio does have Chicago just 1.5 games back and the Spurs magic number for the best record in the NBA is 4. Meaning the Spurs still need to get some wins to lock up home court throughout (Chicago still plays Boston, Orlando and has a New York/New Jersey back-to-back left, so there may be losses in their future).
All hail the Spurs. They won the regular season prize. Which is not the big prize they covet, but it does come with home-court advantage. And Tex Mex.
Rockets star Chris Paul preemptively volunteered to pay Gerald Green‘s fine for shoving Gorgui Dieng, who had just pushed over Paul.
Of course, the NBA gave Paul something to follow through on.
The league also fined Celtics forward Marcus Morris.
Houston Rockets guard/forward Gerald Green has been fined $25,000 for shoving Minnesota Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.
The incident took place with 10:13 remaining in the Rockets’ 129-120 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 18
Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris has been fined $15,000 for verbal abuse of a game official, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.
The incident occurred at the conclusion of the Celtics’ 108-89 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday, March 18
I couldn’t spot Morris’ incident on video, but Green definitely earned his fine. Fortunately for him, he was just supporting a teammate who understand how to value role players.
Nick Young and rapper Iggy Azalea had a very public relationship then a very public breakup.
D'Angelo Russell, then Young’s Lakers teammate, recorded and published a video of Young discussing being with other women. Young also impregnated his ex-girlfriend and then got caught cheating by Azalea on home-security cameras.
Azalea on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen:
I burnt it all.
I burnt a lot, and I threw stuff in the pool, too. I started off with water, and it just seemed like that didn’t work.
Every designer you can think of, I burned.
I was like, I’m going to find something you care about, and I’m going to start destroying that, which was his clothes. And we had a fire pit outside, a nice fire pit that you can put on with the gas.
I text him a video and I was like, “Hey, I’m burning your s—. I’m starting with the cheap s—.”
“I’m burning your things. And so, I don’t know where you’re at, probably with some girl. So, I hope you get home quickly, because I’m moving on. We’re progressing on the spectrum of cheap to expensive.”
But I will say expensive doesn’t burn. Expensive things do not burn well. All the Forever 21, [sound of going up in flames].
Young, now with the Warriors, is still reaping what he sowed.
A couple months ago, Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said he believed he had the backing of president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry.
Now, Hornacek isn’t being quite so presumptuous.
Hornacek, via Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:
“At the end of the season I’m sure we’ll sit down with (president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry) and figure out what we’re doing,” said Hornacek, whose two-season coaching record with the Knicks fell to 55-96 following Thursday’s loss to the Sixers. “As a coach you’d like to know if you’re going to be here next year. But our job right now is take the guys that we have on this team and try to get them better.”
Hornacek then acknowledged that the conversation with the front office about his future has not yet happened.
The Suns fired two of Hornacek’s assistants in 2015 then fired Hornacek about a month later. He knows what the writing on the wall looks like.
And there’s plenty of writing on the wall in New York, even if the Knicks aren’t firing shots across Hornacek’s bow quite so aggressively.
The since-ousted Phil Jackson hired Hornacek. Most executives in Mills’ position want to hire their own coach.
Notice how hard Hornacek is trying to frame this Knicks season as about player development, not their record (which, incidentally, is the correct way to view it). But here’s betting Mills uses Hornacek’s dismal record as cover to fire him.
That isn’t exactly fair to Hornacek, but he’s also the one who started Jarrett Jack at point guard most of the season. Hornacek tried to win with a flawed roster and didn’t. Hornacek’s player-development credentials are hardly impeccable, either. Coaches in his position usually take the fall.
There’s still a chance the end-of-season conversation leads to the Knicks keeping Hornacek. But, at this point, that’d be surprising.
LeBron James said Trae Young better go pro.
The freshman Oklahoma point guard listened.
Young, as told to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
I’ve been preparing most of my life to join the NBA, and that time has come for me now: After an unforgettable year at the University of Oklahoma, I will enter the June NBA draft and fully immerse myself in the pursuit of a pro basketball career.
Young is one of the NBA draft’s most polarizing prospects. He should still go in the lottery, but where will likely depend on the order of teams.
His fans see him as the next Stephen Curry, and Young has certainly shown flashes. He handled a huge load of the Sooners’ offense, because he was comfortable pulling up for deep 3-pointers and passing out of the pick-and-roll.
But he can be too sloppy with the ball, and NBA defenses will take away some of the simpler passes he made with great consistency at Oklahoma.
There’s also concern about his diminutive 6-foot-2 frame, especially defensively. If Young isn’t a lights-out shooter, that deficiency becomes a much bigger concern.
Young made 41% of his 3-pointers through December then just 33% this calendar year. His overall percentage – 36% – is still strong, especially coupled with an 86% mark on free throws. But he’s not the sure thing from outside he appeared to be when perception took hold.
Young’s reputation is probably ahead of his ability. But that can be true right now, and the 19-year-old could still have an NBA career worthy of a very high pick.