Los Angeles Lakers v Oklahoma City Thunder- Game One

Update: Police say OKC shooting not tied to Thunder game; Arrests made


UPDATE #4, May 23,  11:26 AM: Police have made a second arrest in the case, a 17-year-old minor.

The first arrest was of 19-year-old Rodney Hill. No charges have been filed but both are being held on the complaint of shooting with intent to kill.

UPDATE #3 9:45 PM: Oklahoma City Police have made an arrest in the case. From the AP:

Police say Rodney Hill was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon, but no other details have been released. Capt. Dexter Nelson says the shooting didn’t appear connected to the playoff game, which Oklahoma City won to advance to the NBA Western Conference finals.

Basically, it looks like a fight outside a bar escalated and there just happened to be thousands of people around exiting a game. It had nothing to do with the team. Still the Thunder will be under pressure to step up security for future games.

UPDATE #2 5:13 PM: Oklahoma City Police are now saying that the shooting was not related to the Thunder game at all. From the Associated Press:

Police Capt. Dexter Nelson said Tuesday that there have been no arrests in the Monday night shooting. Nelson says witnesses reported seeing a group of females in an altercation with a group of males just before the shooting about 11:30 p.m. Monday.

Men and women fighting? I thought that only happened in New York?

Obviously (even before this report) this was not on the Thunder, this was on people who look for trouble and used this as an excuse. Sadly, it happens everywhere (see: soccer hooligans). That said, the Thunder said they would work with police to up their security for future games, including Thunder Alley where games are shown outside the arena.

UPDATE 8:45 AM: The final tally was eight people injured — seven of them shot and one person was critically wounded, plus a pregnant woman was punched in the abdomen — according to the Oklahoman. There have been no arrests in the case. Yet.

The incident took place just a few blocks from the arena where the game was played. Police estimate there were about 5,000 people in the area when the shooting took place. The area is where a lot of people park or go out after the games. There have been growing crowds — in addition to the packed building about 5,000 people watched the game on a big screen outside the arena, an area called Thunder Alley. The shootings did not take place in the arena or Thunder Alley but did involve the crowd from the game.

It’s unfortunate this kind of thing happens, but it’s not unprecedented. For example, the Lakers used to show playoff games on a projection outside Staples Center when it first opened more than a decade ago (the Shaq/Kobe Lakers era) but stopped after fan violence following a win.

2:27 am: Multiple people have been wounded by gunfire near the Thunder’s arena in downtown Oklahoma City in the wake of the Thunder win over the Los Angeles Lakers. A win that sent them to the Western Conference Finals.

From the Oklahoman:

Multiple people were shot downtown shortly after the Thunder game let out Monday night, police said….

One person was shot in the back, another in the upper arm and a third in the hand, according to police radio traffic. Victims are still turning up to hospitals. The victims’ conditions are not yet known.

Two suspected shooters are in custody at the Bricktown Harkins Theater, Oklahoma City police Capt. Lisa Camacho said.

We don’t have a lot of details yet, we don’t know about the suspects or their motives. That said, there no excuse. It grows frustrating to see every time a team wins — hockey in Vancouver, college basketball in Lexington and the list goes on around the world — there seems to have to be violence afterwards.

PBT will update this as we get more information.

51 Questions: Do the Phoenix Suns finally have a playoff formula?

Miami Heat v Phoenix Suns
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PBT is previewing the 2015-16 NBA season by tackling 51 big questions that we can’t wait to see answered once play tips off. We will answer one a day right up to the start of the season Oct. 27. Today’s question:

Do the Phoenix Suns finally have a playoff formula?

It has been five years since the Phoenix Suns made the playoffs, tying the franchise record for longest playoff drought. It’s the fourth longest active drought in the NBA (Timberwolves at 11, Kings at nine, and Pistons at six).

Think about it this way: The Magic, Sixers, and Jazz have been to the playoffs more recently than the Suns.

Phoenix hasn’t bottomed out on a rebuild, they’ve actually been pretty good — they surprised everyone and won 48 games two seasons ago, then had 39 wins last season when things went very wrong and injuries crushed the team after the All-Star break. However, in a deep Western Conference pretty good isn’t good enough.

Suns management and ownership wants that to change. They want back in the playoff dance. Now.

It’s why they went hard after LaMarcus Aldridge this summer, coming in a surprising second to a Spurs team that nobody was likely to catch in that chase.

This summer the Suns made other moves to address needs. They went out and got Tyson Chandler as a free agent. The first reaction was he was there to provide a shot blocking and defensive quarterbacking, two things the Suns sorely lacked. However, just as importantly, they needed a vocal locker room leader, a vacuum that was part of the problem in Phoenix’s implosion last season.

The Suns also needed shooting, they went out and got Mirza Teletovic and drafted Devin Booker.

It’s easy to think the Suns regressed because they lost a lot of talent since the last trade deadline — Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, Gerald Green, Brandan Wright — but they believe the pieces they have now fit together better.

Phoenix believes it can make the playoffs; it thinks it finally has the right formula.

Maybe. They will be in the mix. But a four things have to happen to make that a reality.

First is Chandler has to lead a defensive renaissance on this team. Last season they were average, 17th in the NBA in defensive efficiency, but Chandler can help change that. First, he gives them defensive rebounding that they lacked. He gives them a quarterback that they needed to call things out and have everyone on the same page (reports of how he talks on defense are already pouring out of camp). And he helps protects the paint — that means Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, and P.J. Tucker can pressure the ball more and take risks out on the perimeter knowing Chandler can erase some mistakes.

The second is an obvious one: Bledsoe and Knight need to be able to work well together. They are going to share playmaking duties, and both are going to spend time working off the ball, both need to be ready for that mental adjustment. We haven’t seen that much yet, we need to see how it works out.

Third, there needs to be shooting to space the floor. Bledsoe is a penetrator who is a career 32 percent from three, while Knight shot just 31.3 percent from three after being traded to the Suns (likely due to ankle injuries that required off-season surgery). Those two men will be running the pick-and-roll with Chandler, who sets a good pick, rolls hard and can finish, but doesn’t have shooting range. The Suns other two starters are likely P.J. Tucker, who is not a huge threat from three but shot a respectable 34.5 percent from there last season, and Markieff Morris, who is a career 32.8 percent from three.

If I’m an opposing defense, what’s to keep me from going under picks and packing the lane against the Suns? Phoenix needs Knight to return to the guy who is a career 36 percent from three, they need Morris to improve from the outside, and they need guys like Teletovic and Booker to play key minutes and space the floor at times.

Fourth, and finally, they need the potentially volatile mixture of an unhappy Morris and a coach in Jeff Hornacek in the last year of his contract not to combust. Everyone is saying all the right things at the start of camp, and this is why guys like Chandler and Ronnie Price were brought in, but there is the potential for things to go sideways, especially if some early losses pile up.

The biggest hurdle for the Suns in ending their playoff drought is they are in the Western Conference.

Even if all four of things mentioned above go right for them — if they run and hit more threes plus play better defense — this is likely a 45 win team (give or take a few, and probably take). The problem is that in the West that may not be enough. Barring injuries, there are likely seven lock playoff teams in the West — Spurs, Warriors, Clippers, Rockets, Thunder, Grizzlies, and Pelicans. That leaves the Suns battling teams such as the Jazz, Mavericks and maybe the Kings for that final playoff spot. It may take more than 45 wins, and things are going to have to break the Suns’ way to get there.

Maybe Robert Sarver gets his way and the playoff drought ends this season, it’s more likely than snow in Phoenix this winter. But I wouldn’t bet much on either happening.

LeBron says “get it done” message was for both Cavaliers, Thompson

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Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.

So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.

When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.

At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.

The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.