Keith Smart, DeMarcus Cousins

Kings have players-only meeting before beating Bucks

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The value of player-only meetings gets wildly overstated in the NBA. But there can be value if there is honesty and accountability taking place.

After the Kings beat the Bucks on Thursday night several players referenced a meeting called by veteran Chuck Hayes after the Kings had lost a couple nights earlier to Denver.

While the Paul Westphal firing was playing out on the big stage, it was Hayes and some film study that may have made the biggest difference, several players told the Sacramento Bee.

At the meeting, said DeMarcus Cousins, players “had our heart-to-hearts, we all discussed what we need to do better, we all held each other accountable. Chuck, he got on the bigs. I got on the bigs. (Francisco Garcia) got on the guards.

“It showed tonight,” Cousins said. “We went over film and showed our mistakes, just rotations and how in the offense we catch (the ball) and just stop. So we went over a lot and we got a good thing out of it.”

The Kings did have their best effort of the young season in the second half Thursday, coming from 21 down to get the win. Of course, now that leader in Hayes will be out for a month, which is not the kind of thing a team meeting can make up for.

Joel Embiid ‘wasn’t too happy’ with way 76ers handled earlier injury announcement

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 6: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during the second half against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on January 6, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeat the 76ers 110-106. 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. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Joel Embiid missed 14 of 15 games amid confusion about his injury status. Then, the 76ers announced he’d miss four more. Then, they said he’d be out indefinitely.

Embiid wishes they would’ve just provided a longer timeline publicly in the first place.

Embiid, via Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly:

“I wasn’t too happy with the way it was kind of handled before,” Embiid said. “I saw the day-to-day part. I was told that I was going to miss at least two or three weeks. So I wasn’t happy with the way it was handled.

“I thought keeping my name out there was going to just like literally have people think about me all the time instead of just saying when I was going to be back.

That’s a reasonable complaint. It’s unfair to Embiid for questions to constantly swirl about his return when the team well knows it’s not imminent.

This is why teams often err on the side of a longer timeline in their public releases. If the player stays on his real timeline, he looks heroic for returning early. If he has a setback, maybe nobody outside the organization will ever know and question his toughness.

76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo, via Camerato

“We should have just said ‘out indefinitely,’ even though the treatment was still day to day,” Colangelo said. “But the fact that there was uncertainty, I’ll own that.”

Fixing strained relationships between the front office and players was one of the reasons Colangelo replaced Sam Hinkie. This isn’t the type of mistake Colangelo should be making.

But at least he took responsibility and seemingly learned from it. At this point, that’s all you can ask.

Nick Young says he thought Lakers traded him

Los Angeles Lakers' Nick Young celebrates his three-point basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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Nick Young… not so good at deciphering the trade deadline.

Last year, Young celebrated remaining with the Lakers — a day before the deadline.

Los Angeles didn’t deal him, keeping him long enough to rehab his value this year. So, as last week’s deadline approached, word leaked the Lakers sought a second-rounder for Young.

And on deadline day, Young saw this tweet from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Young on Spectrum Sportsnet, as transcribed by Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll:

“We all seen someone was going to Houston. Everybody was looking at me,” Young said, letting out a laugh that can only be described as a combination of nervousness and relief. “I thought I was gone, but it turned out to be ‘Celo.”

A minute later, as Young said, Wojnarowski revealed the rest of the trade. The Lakers were sending Marcelo Huerteas to the Rockets:

Young seems to enjoy being in Los Angeles, but it’s not clear he’s in Magic Johnson’s long-term plans. Young holds a $5,668,667 player option for next year. Opting out could be the best way for the 31-year-old in the midst of a career year to secure one more lucrative contract. But if the Lakers couldn’t get a second-rounder for him now, that could portend a cool free-agent market.

Whatever Young does this summer, at least he’ll spend the next few months with Los Angeles as he determines his plan.

NBA: Hornets incorrectly denied game-tying FT attempts in final seconds of loss to Clippers

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Foul or defend?

That’s the eternal question for teams trying to protect a late three-point lead.

While many fans believe fouling is the astute strategy, most American coaches opt to defend.

Defending is a better strategy than meets the eye, because it’s relatively easy to defend the arc when you know your opponent needs a 3-pointer. Plus, as coaches commonly believe, fouling offers too many opportunities for something to go wrong.

The Clippers almost learned that the hard way in their win over the Hornets on Sunday.

But an officiating error helped L.A. preserve its late lead, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.

With the Clippers up three, Chris Paul intentionally fouled Kemba Walker with 2.1 seconds left. Walker made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second.

In the battle for the rebound, Blake Griffin should have been called for committing a loose-ball foul on Marvin Williams with 2.0 seconds left, per the league:

Griffin (LAC) grab Williams’ (CHA) jersey and affect his ability to rebound.

The league also ruled Williams got away with a loose-ball foul on Griffin in the same tenth of a second, but Griffin’s foul should have been whistled first.

A correct call would’ve given Williams — who’s making 85% of his free throws this season and 80% for his career — two attempts from the line with a chance to tie the game.

Instead, Griffin grabbed the rebound and was intentionally fouled with half a second left. He hit one free throw, and the Clippers won, 124-121.

Draymond Green, Kevin Durant take turns playing while holding Durant’s shoe (video)

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The adventures of Kevin Durant‘s shoe:

  • Falls off as Durant shoots a jumper
  • Left on the far side of the court for an entire Warriors defensive possession
  • Lightly kicked by 76ers forward Robert Covington, who should have tossed it into the crowed
  • Picked up by Draymond Green, who sets a screen while holding it
  • Tossed by Green to Durant
  • Held by Durant as he defends and tips a rebound
  • Put back on by Durant just in time for him to assist Stephen Curry