Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel complains to an official during the second quarter of Game 1 of their first round NBA Eastern Conference basketball playoffs against the Orlando Magic in Indianapolis

Pacers coach Frank Vogel fined for planting seed in refs’ heads

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There will be no working the referees through the media before the series starts.

That is what the NBA essentially said when it came down Saturday with a $15,000 fine for Pacers coach Frank Vogel less than a day before his team opens the second round against the Heat.

Vogel started trying to plant a seed in the officials minds last week when he said the Heat flopped more than any team in the NBA, adding:

“It’ll be very interesting to see how the referees officiate the series and how much flopping they reward. . . . Every drive to the basket they have guys not making a play on the ball, but sliding in front of drivers. Often times they’re falling down even before contact is even being made. It’ll be interesting to see how the series is officiated.”

It might be a price Vogel is willing to pay if he gets a few calls. While his team is better than people think he’s and the Pacers are going to need every break to go their way to have a real chance in this series.

The NBA was passing out other fines on Saturday:

• Atlanta’s reserve big man Ivan Johnson was fined $25,000 for flipping off some Boston fans during Game 6 of that series. Yes, Ivan, Boston fans can be obnoxious, still can’t flip them off. Even when they deserve it. Just one of life’s many rules.

• Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon was fined $35,000 for suggesting that Kevin Garnett is a dirty player. Hate to tell you this Gearon, but this isn’t libel and truth isn’t a defense. Here are the exact comments:

Last night, we are playing this old physical team. They are old. I know what happens when you play basketball, old guys foul. [Kevin] Garnett is the dirtiest guy in the league. We are playing Boston last night and they had two fouls the whole first half. We had five times that and we’re athletic.”

KG said those comments fired him up and were behind him dropping 28 on the Hawks in the closeout Game 6. So well done, a fine and you got your team eliminated. That’s a hard to pull off daily double.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

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Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

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Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.