Mike Brown taking Andrew Bynum’s latest ejection in stride


Andrew Bynum was ejected early in the fourth quarter of the Lakers loss to the Rockets on Friday, and by all accounts, it was a situation that should have been completely avoided. Bynum already had picked up one technical foul, and after scoring on a strong post move inside, he turned to the Houston bench and demonstratively let them know just how pleased he was with his accomplishment.

That was enough to get him tossed in the referees’ eyes. In the eyes of Lakers fans, Bynum’s act is growing tired, and the majority wish the team would step in and do something about his recent behavior, which seems to be lacking maturity and growing more defiant by the day.

Lakers head coach Mike Brown, however, in speaking before his team was set to face the Suns in Phoenix on Saturday, didn’t seem overly concerned.

“Obviously I talked to him about it, but you take it in stride,” he said. “We’ve had other guys, from Josh McRoberts to Matt Barnes to myself get kicked out. It’s part of the course of the season, in my opinion. You hope it doesn’t happen, because we need everybody to be there on the sidelines, and obviously we needed Andrew last night. But the NBA fines you for getting the first tech, the NBA fines you for getting the second tech, and then you go from there and hopefully it doesn’t happen again.”

Bynum was ejected the last time L.A. played the Rockets too, and of course, there was the benching that took place after he launched an ill-advised three-pointer early in the shot clock. But there won’t be any type of internal suspension of the team’s All-Star center, an idea that Brown laughed off as being as ridiculous as it sounds.

“Then I should have suspended myself, and I should have suspended Josh McRoberts, and Matt Barnes, and my good buddy Gregg Popovich should be suspended 16 times a year because of his tirades, and I could go on down the line,” Brown said. “I think if it’s a problem or it gets out of hand, where a guy gets kicked out multiple times, then maybe. But (Bynum) doesn’t even lead our team in technicals. So, do I suspend him when he’s maybe fourth or fifth … I don’t know if that makes sense.”

As for his discussion with Bynum and what his big man’s reasons were for his actions, Brown declined to share those details. Bynum didn’t speak to reporters after the game on Friday, and it was the same in Phoenix before the game Saturday.

Brown did say that he stressed to Bynum the importance of not taking himself out of games like this in the future. And he believes, at least for now, that his message has been received.

“He gave his reasoning; you can ask him what his reasoning was,” Brown said. “He gave it, I said OK, and we moved on. Again, he knows that we need him on the floor. He knows that we needed him on the floor Friday night. For me to sit here and continue to beat a dead horse on it, it’s not going to do me any good or him any good once you get your message across.”

James Harden scores 34, Rockets hold off Timberwolves 129-120

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — James Harden had 34 points and 12 assists, and Houston held off a fourth-quarter rally to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 129-120 on Sunday night for the Rockets’ 26th win in 28 games.

The West’s top team led by as many as 25 before the Timberwolves, holding on for dear life in a tightening playoff race, pulled within five in the fourth. The loss dropped the Wolves into the eighth playoff spot after they started the day in a three-way tie for fifth.

Harden had 11 points in the final 6:34, including a 3-pointer with 58 seconds left that effectively secured the win.

Chris Paul and Clint Capela each had 16 points for the Rockets.

Jeff Teague led Minnesota with 23 points, Andrew Wiggins had 21, and Karl-Anthony Towns and Jamal Crawford each added 20.

The Wolves got a burst of energy after a fourth-quarter scuffle between Gorgui Dieng, Paul and Gerald Green. Green was ejected for coming to Paul’s defense after a frustrated Dieng pushed him down after a foul. With the pumped-up crowd chanting “Gor-Gui!,” Derek Rose had back-to-back layups to pull the Wolves to 109-102. But Paul hit a jumper with Crawford in his face, and Harden easily drove past Dieng for a layup to give the Rockets some breathing room.

Minnesota’s 19-6 run made it 115-110 with 3:58 to play before Trevor Ariza hit a 3, and the Rockets were able to answer every Wolves bucket to hold off the rally.

The game was seemingly over by halftime; Houston shot 63 percent, hit 11 3-pointers and led by as many as 24 in the first half while turning the ball over only three times. Harden had 10 assists in the first half, when the Wolves were as close as three before Houston reeled off a 12-0 run and didn’t allow Minnesota to recover.


Jimmy Butler targeting return to Timberwolves before end of season

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Jimmy Butler could return to the court for the Minnesota Timberwolves before the end of the regular season, if he stays on track with his rehabilitation from knee surgery.

Butler spoke to reporters Sunday for the first time since the meniscus injury he suffered Feb. 23 at Houston . He confirmed an initial recovery estimate of four to six weeks. Even on the long end of that timetable, he’d likely have two games with the Timberwolves before the postseason.

Butler said he’s confident in both his ability to heal in time and the team’s ability to hang on to a spot in the playoffs. The Wolves entered their game against the Rockets in a three-way tie for fifth place in the Western Conference, but no room for a slump.

For more AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Gerald Green ejected for pushing Gorgui Dieng into stands (VIDEO)

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I don’t know why everyone in the NBA is so geeked this weekend. Coaches are getting fined, referees are throwing dudes out left and right. Maybe it’s because most of us recently saw the sun for the first time in five months, although I couldn’t tell you for certain.

As the Minnesota Timberwolves and Houston Rockets went head-to-head on Sunday, something had players on both sides itching. Early in the fourth quarter, Timberwolves big man Gorgui Dieng got into it with Houston’s Chris Paul and Gerald Green.

The incident came as Dieng was being defended by Paul in the low post. Paul was whistled for a foul while trying to get the ball away from Dieng, but even after the whistle blew the Rockets guard did not stop trying to get the ball. Dieng responded by pushing Paul, who fell to the ground as if someone cut the strings on him.

That prompted another whistle from the refs, and a crowd of players ensued. Green rushed to push Dieng, sending the Timberwolves center into the stands.

When the scene settled, Dieng was issued a technical foul and Green was ejected.

After the game, Dieng told reporters he thought Paul’s constant digging for the ball was a cheap shot, so he responded in kind.

Minnesota, energized, tried to make a late push on the top team in the Western Conference but came up just short. Houston beat the Timberwolves, 129-120.

Alvin Gentry, Stan Van Gundy fined $15,000 each for criticizing officials

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All is not right between NBA players, coaches, and the referees. What else is new?

After contentious games on Saturday night, both Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy and New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry expressed their opinions about what they felt was a poor officiating.

Van Gundy — whose team lost to the Portland Trail Blazers as they continued on to their 12th straight win — complained that his players were being “screwed” as they were knocked down, hammered, and hit. Gentry was especially infuriated after a late foul call went against his team as James Harden was hit on the hand while shooting a 3-pointer.

Now, the NBA has announced that both coaches have been fined $15,000 each for public criticism of officials.

Things were slated to get better between the NBRA and NBPA after the All-Star break. The two sides were supposed to have a meeting which discussed some of the more concerning trends that players and coaches have publicly complained about this year. That meeting got moved up to December, with more talks to come later. It’s not clear if they’ve done any good.

Right after All-Star Weekend guys like LeBron James were still making waves about how they are being officiated. Coaches like Doc Rivers continue to openly complain about the referees and draw fines. Van Gundy and Gentry are just the latest additions to the list, and it’s unlikely they’ll be the last before the season ends.

Hell, the end of the game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors was just about as bad as we’ve seen all year. In that game, Raptors coach Dwane Casey was ejected after a comment made by a fan sitting near the floor was incorrectly attributed to him.

The NBA lost a lot of veteran officials due to retirement in the changeover to this season, and the transition has been rough. They’re going to need to figure some things out over the summer. I expect bigger announcements about those efforts to come out after the NBA Finals as a means to restore public faith in the officiating crews.