NBA admits refs missed a huge call at the end of the Pacers’ win over the Warriors

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Kevin Love’s big shot to beat the Clippers may have been the big story in the NBA on Friday, but there was another play near the end of regulation in the game between the Pacers and the Warriors that was just as exciting.

Only with that one, the NBA admits the officials made a horrible mistake.

Here’s how the play transpired: Game tied at 91, shot clock and game clock virtually in sync. Monta Ellis dribbles it down at the top of the three-point arc with George Hill defending. Ellis makes his move with about five seconds left, but Hill appears to get the steal, and goes for the and-1 lay-in at the other end.

Watching the replay, however, it’s clear that Hill’s foot, and not his quick hands, deserve the credit for the steal. And since it was an intentional gesture with the foot, it should have been the Warriors’ ball out of bounds instead of game over in the Pacers’ favor.

The NBA admitted as much in a statement on Saturday, via my man Matt Steinmetz of CSNBayArea.com:

With 5.4 seconds remaining in the Indiana-Golden State game on Jan. 20, Pacers guard George Hill intentionally kicked the ball away from Warriors guard Monta Ellis during his cross over dribble. According to rule no. 10, Section IV.b, kicking the ball or striking it with any part of the leg is a violation when it is an intentional act. The officials missed the kicked ball violation which should have resulted in a deadball situation and Golden State inbounding the ball on the sideline nearest the spot of the violation.

In real time, and given the position of the closest official (behind Hill in front of the Warriors’ bench), it was likely impossible to tell that Hill had made that ever-so-slight move forward with the right foot, just as Ellis tried to cross over, which allowed him to get the steal. And certainly, this admission from the league is too little, too late as far as the Warriors and their fans are concerned. But more and more, as the league continues to review and admit to these mistakes going forward, it’s a positive step in general for the way things may transpire in the future.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.