Boston Celtics v New Orleans Hornets

Doc Rivers ‘doesn’t like’ league fining Spurs for resting their starters

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When David Stern issued a statement stating the league would be fining the Spurs $250,000 for resting four starters on Thursday night in Miami, it was sure to create some controversy.

There was no rule specifically stating Gregg Popovich could not sit his players whenever he chooses, so handing down a steep punishment for it doesn’t seem like a decision brimming with justice.

Not surprisingly, veteran and esteemed head coach Doc Rivers wasn’t in favor of the ruling, and told reporters so before his Celtics faced the Blazers on Friday.

From Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com:

“I don’t like it, I just don’t like it,” Rivers said before Boston’s game Friday night against the Portland Trail Blazers. “I do get the other side of it, but it’s a tough one. You have to coach your team to win in the long haul, and you have to do whatever you need to do. If that’s sitting players, then you sit players. It’s a tough one.”

Would Rivers shy away from resting his veterans in a similar situation?

“Listen, we’ll do it when we want to do it. And we should be able to do it,” said Rivers. “It can be early in the season, end of the season. Now if we give a guy [a day] off because he has a family thing — it’s just so many things here. Hopefully we all figure it out.”

Rivers was candid with his comments, but his words were also to be expected.

Every coach in the league wants the option to make personnel decisions from night-to-night based on whatever criteria they feel is best — for their individual team, and for that individual game.

Stern’s hefty fine makes it a little trickier to do that moving forward, though something tells me that coaches as wily as Rivers and Popovich will always find a way to make their own decisions.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

Minnesota Timberwolves Zach LaVine slam dunks the ball during the NBA all-star skills competition in Toronto on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Associated Press
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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: