David Stern says league will discuss adding goaltending calls to instant replay list

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NBA commissioner David Stern wants the NBA to do away with goaltending as we know it, and adopt the international rule which would allow players to touch the ball as soon as it hits the rim. The competition committee has fought him on this issue, and it’s not one that’s likely to change anytime soon. But at the very least, the league is going to discuss adding goaltending calls — especially those made in game-deciding situations — to the list of reviewable plays.

Stern was in Phoenix on Tuesday to take in the game between the Suns and the Spurs, and met with the media for about 20 minutes just prior to tip-off. When asked if there were any plans to expand instant replay, he offered up his thoughts on the goaltending rule as it currently exists, and discussed the nuances of implementing any changes.

“Our competition committee has the final word on these matters, but I think there’s going to be a very robust discussion about goaltending … which, I’m not going to mention LaMarcus Aldridge and the Portland game,” Stern said.

The game Stern spoke of involved Aldridge cleanly blocking a late-game layup attempt from Kevin Durant, but the referees ruled it a goaltend, and that sent the game into overtime where the Blazers went on to lose. The league issued a statement admitting the call was wrong, but it was too little, too late for a struggling Blazers team that was deprived of a win in regulation.

“What we want to do (with instant replay) is get it right, without killing the flow of the game,” Stern said. “My proposal, which doesn’t get any respect at all,  is to eliminate basket interference. It hits the rim, adopt the European rule — it’s in play. You know, ‘Is the hand just over the cylinder? Or not?’ Why task the referees with that? Just do it the European way. It’ll make free throw misses more fun too. But that’s not something that I have been successful on.”

This isn’t the first time Stern has mentioned his push to adopt the international rule on the matter. But he made it clear that his opinion is the minority one among those who make these decisions, so it seems he just wants to ensure that the current rule — since it impacts points scored and could potentially decide games, as it did in Portland — gets interpreted correctly, with the benefit of a second look if the situation should warrant it.

But when is that, exactly? Stern said that there’s a growing sentiment to make these types of plays reviewable only in the last two minutes of a game. The problem there is, of course, the fact that doing so might send a conflicted message.

“It’s ironic with how many of our fans would be satisfied in doing more just in the last two minutes,” Stern said. “And that’s something that we sort of resisted, but we’re getting pulled along. Because it counts the same in the first two minutes as the last, and we counsel our officials that a foul’s a foul (no matter when it occurs). And sort of saying, ‘oh yes, but the last two minutes is different,’ is sort of an interesting route.

“But, it’s true.  Our fans are saying the last two minutes should be treated differently. So we’re going to look at it, and see what’s going on.”

Stern talked about a system where coaches could throw a challenge flag similar to the way replay is handled in the NFL, but discounted it at the same time, pointing out that it places an unfair disadvantage on the team that just got the ball and is heading down the court in transition.

So that won’t be happening, and apparently, a complete change where the league does away with the current rule altogether won’t be happening, either. But goaltending seems to be an area that the league has focused on, and it will likely be a topic that finds its way into the instant replay system in the very near future.

Russell Westbrook threw it down all over Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

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A rough night for the Thunder will not stop the Russell Westbrook highlights.

The Thunder had another poor game and fell to a Hornets. Westbrook tried to push the team back, but the Thunder defense that has kept them in games all season was not good enough against Charlotte, and the OKC offense was once again up and down.

Westbrook had 30 points on 22 shots on the night, and none of them were as impressive as this transition throwdown on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Jahlil Okafor excited about fresh start with Nets

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NEW YORK (AP) — Jahlil Okafor finally got the fresh start he wanted.

Okafor was the consensus No. 1 high school player in his class, won a national championship at Duke, and averaged 17.5 points and seven rebounds in his rookie campaign for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Then things changed drastically.

Okafor struggled with injuries and a logjam at his position in his second season.

“When I first got drafted there, we already had Nerlens (Noel) there, Joel (Embiid) was there, so we’re trying to have three starting centers on the same team,” Okafor said Monday at his introductory news conference with his new team, the Brooklyn Nets.

“It just never really was the right fit.”

The 76ers traded Okafor along with seldom-used guard Nik Stauskas and two draft picks to the Nets on Thursday. Philadelphia got forward Trevor Booker from Brooklyn.

Okafor also had off-court problems during his time in Philadelphia. He got a speeding ticket for driving 108 miles per hour and was suspended by the 76ers for two games after in an altercation outside of a Boston nightclub with a heckler.

“Speeding obviously is illegal,” Okafor said. “I know that’s not what you’re supposed to do. I guess you just learn how the page can turn on you and how everything can flip. I can’t really say I learned anything, because you know going in that’s not right. You just learn from your mistakes, but (it was) a tough thing that I went through, I got past, and I’m looking to better times now.”

Okafor, the third overall pick in the 2015 draft, joins D'Angelo Russell, the second overall pick in the same draft class, on the Nets.

“We’re just very excited to get on the court together,” Okafor said. “You never would’ve thought the number two and number three picks would be playing on the same team a few years after, but like I said, everything happens for a reason and I’m really excited.”

Russell also had problems on and off the court with the team that drafted him. He was criticized for recording a video of former Lakers teammate Nick Young that aired sordid details about Young’s private life. The Lakers gave up on Russell and drafted Lonzo Ball as his replacement.

“I feel like we’re similar in that we have a lot to prove,” Okafor said. “I know he’s working his (butt) off as well. Right now he’s rehabbing, trying to get back on the court. I think we both have a chip on our shoulder and we have a lot to prove. We’re definitely similar in that regard.”

Okafor understands he has areas to improve, mainly defense and rebounding.

“I’m not a perfect player,” Okafor said. “I’m 21. There are things that I need to work on, that I have worked on and that I’ll continue to work on.”

He’s excited about fulfilling his potential with a new team.

“I feel really motivated right now, but I’ve always been motivated,” Okafor said. “This is the first time where people are against me in a sense because I’ve always been the hyped-up guy. It’s something new for me to experience, so I’m glad that I am experiencing it.”

 

Report: Celtics’ Marcus Morris to miss “extended time” to let knee heal

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Marcus Morris missed the Celtics’ first eight games of the season in an effort to get healthy. Upon his return he’s been solid, first as a starter, then coming off the bench, but his left knee continued to be an issue.

Morris was out Sunday when the Celtics beat the Pistons, and he’s going to miss more time trying to get a troublesome left knee right, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

How much time is “extended time?” Probably at least a couple of weeks.

Morris has averaged 12.1 points and 5.5 rebounds a game this season, with a true shooting percentage of 52.5, which is right around the league average.

This could mean more run for rookie forwards Semi Ojeleye and Daniel Theis, both of whom have played well in limited minutes.

Tristan Thompson expected to return to Cavaliers Tuesday, come off bench

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson could play for the first time since Nov. 1 on Tuesday against Atlanta.

Thompson has been sidelined with a strained left calf. The team initially said Thompson would be out for up to four weeks, but he said Monday that timeline was inaccurate and that his injury was more serious. Thompson did not divulge any other details about the injury.

Coach Tyronn Lue says Thompson will not start when he returns, meaning Kevin Love will remain at center. Thompson says he’s fine with a reserve role and made it clear he’s willing to do whatever Lue needs.

The Cavaliers have won 14 of 15 and their defense has improved dramatically over the past month.

Thompson says he’ll have the same mindset on the floor as always and “just be myself. Being myself has worked out pretty well for me.”