Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Brown

Mark Cuban’s least favorite referee assigned to Mavs game

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My mind in these situations always floats back to a junior high basketball coach. We were sitting in the basement locker room of our gym when I was in 8th grade and we were convinced the referees had robbed us of a win with a bad call at the end of the game.

“If you really wanted to win, you should have played harder the first three quarters. Leave it up to the refs and you get what you get,” our coach spit out. He was right. Later coaches said the same things, in more colorful language.

But fans never see it that way. After a season of becoming emotionally invested in players it’s easier for us to blame a referee than the player with the blown defensive assignments. And Dallas fans will be ready to blame the referee Tuesday night.

Danny Crawford will be working Game 2 of the Dallas/Portland series tonight in Big D.

According to Tim MacMahon at ESPN Dallas, the Mavericks are 2-16 in the playoffs when Crawford is working.

Dallas is 48-41 in the rest of their playoff games during the ownership tenure of Mark Cuban, who has been fined millions of dollars in the last 11 years for publicly complaining about officiating.

“Not saying a word,” Cuban wrote in an email when asked to comment on the Mavs’ playoff history with Crawford.

Tonight, whenever there is a call against Dallas — no matter how obvious the foul — there will be howls and complaint from the fans. Clearly the league has it in for Dallas, because Crawford was there for Game 3 of the 2006 finals against Miami, and was there for subsequent key losses as well.

It’s easier to blame the refs than your players, your guys. Even if the truth is Dwyane Wade got those calls in 2006 — not all of them good calls — because he was the aggressor. In the NBA, the aggressor gets the calls the vast majority of the time. No, there has to be some vast NBA conspiracy.

Dallas fans weren’t complaining when they had a 19-2 free throw advantage in the fourth quarter in Game 1, in large part because they became more aggressive and attacked more. But tonight, those same fans will be convinced the referees have it out for them.

Put simply, referees do have influence in a game — but far less than the players. If you are worried about the referees, take the decisions at the end of the game out of their hands by playing better early on.

If Dallas plays four quarters like it did the fourth a couple days ago, this will all be moot. And that’s what really matters.

Kings’ Rudy Gay suffers apparent torn left Achilles tendon, would be done for season

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This not only changes the Kings dreams of making the playoffs in the West, it also alters the trade deadline and free agency.

Rudy Gay, the Kings wing and second-leading scorer, has been diagnosed with a torn left Achilles tendon, according to the team. During the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers, Gay drove out of the right corner and, untouched, fell to the floor hard. He had to be helped off the court by teammates.

Team doctors made the initial torn Achilles diagnosis, which will need to be confirmed by an MRI scheduled for Thursday. He would be out not only for this season but likely the start of the next one as well.

Without Gay, a lot more will fall on Matt Barnes and, once he returns from his calf injury in a couple of weeks, Omri Casspi. Those two are a drop off from what Gay brought to the Kings — this season the team gets outscored by 10 points per 100 possessions when he is off the court — and with that team’s playoff chances have taken a hit (they are 1.5 games out of the eight seed after Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers). Don’t be surprised if the Kings look to add a scorer at the trade deadline.

Gay was not happy in Sacramento and said he planned to opt out of the $14.3 million final year of his contract to be a free agent next summer, which made him someone potentially traded before the deadline (although the Kings being in the playoff hunt impacted that). Gay averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for the Kings, and while his game was a little old school — more isolation and midrange shots than teams prefer — he put up points. Enough that he was drawing trade interest heading toward the deadline from Oklahoma City and other squads.

That is all off the table now. At age 30, if Gay does still opt out of his contract for next season this will impact what he would make on the free market.

Zaza Pachulia lays out Russell Westbrook, stands over him (video)

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Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.

Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.

Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.

Report: 76ers’ Ben Simmons sitting entire season still on table

TARRYTOWN, NEW YORK - AUGUST 07:  Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers poses for a portrait during the 2016 NBA Rookie Photoshoot at Madison Square Garden Training Center on August 7, 2016 in Tarrytown, New York. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images
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That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?

It just won’t die.

Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.

Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.

76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.

It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.

Roy Hibbert passes ball into hoop, reacts with perfect facial expression (video)

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The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.

Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).