Nuggets set futility record going 0-22 from three in loss to Trail Blazers

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One week ago, the Portland Trail Blazers set an NBA record by going 0-for-20 from three.

The Nuggets came into the Trail Blazers house on Thursday and did them two better.

Denver went 0-for-22 from three to set a new NBA futility record — and still had a chance to win this game, but fell 101-93. In fact, if you throw out the ugly first quarter for Denver they actually would have won this game.

They dug themselves a hole, one they needed a few threes to get out of and those never came.

The Nuggets spread the misses around — Andre Iguodala was 0-for-6, Ty Lawson 0-for-4, Corey Brewer and Jordan Hamilton each 0-for-3, in all seven different Nuggets missed threes.

But they had a chance in this game because they attacked — Denver scored 74 points in the paint. That also led to a lot of free throw attempts (24) and they made 17. Do the math people — Denver made just one mid-range shot in this game, all their points came in the paint or at the line. It’s a very efficient way to play — if you just knock down a few threes.

This game was decided early. The Nuggets scored just 14 first quarter points on 31.8 percent shooting. George Karl was either desperately looking for anything that worked or not over the flu as he used 12 guys in the first quarter. (In reality he was trying to send a message to his starters.) Portland wasn’t lighting it up, shooting just 36 percent but it did hit three threes (Wesley Mathews was 2-of-5 from deep, he finished with 20 points) and only had 1 turnover, so they had the lead by 11 after one quarter. That was a hole Denver could never get out of.

The pace picked up in the second quarter (there were 102 possessions in the game) and with that Denver was at an advantage. They ran, they attacked, they pushed it and it worked. Denver had 31 fast break points to Portland’s seven. At one point the Portland lead got all the way down to three midway through the fourth quarter.

Then Damian Lillard (12 points, 10 assists) and Nicolas Batum (22 points) hit back-to-back threes and Denver… well, they set a futility record.

Nice night for J.J. Hickson and his fantasy owners — 18 points and 18 rebounds. Brewer, Lawson and Iguodala each had 13 to lead Denver.

PBT Extra: Disciplined Celtics highlight bad habits of Milwaukee Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.

The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.

I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.

Ettore Messina to coach Spurs in Game 3 following death of Gregg Popovich’s wife

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.

That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.

But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.

On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.

To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.