Marc Gasol returns, will play Wednesday for Grizzlies

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UPDATE 7:12 pm: Well, that was fast — Marc Gasol is going to return to the Grizzlies lineup Wednesday night as they take on the Knicks in New York.

Gasol knows his own body. But ab injuries like this can linger, he shouldn’t push it. Hopefully there isn’t a setback.

This could be trouble for the Knicks, who will be without Tyson Chandler on Wednesday to counter the big Memphis front line of Gasol and Zach Randolph.

2:38 pm: With Marc Gasol in the lineup, the Memphis Grizzlies are a team built for the playoffs — they defend, they like grinding games, they can pound you inside.

Without Gasol it’s hard to picture them getting out of the first round. He’s that important — the most well rounded center in the game, he brings more than his 14.3 points and 7.8 rebounds a game. He’s their anchor.

And he tells the Commercial Appeal he’ll be back from his torn abdominal muscle before the playoffs start.

“No, no, no,” Gasol said. “We’re going to try to keep (treating it) and when it feels good and gets better, I’ll get out there. I don’t care if it hurts a little bit. I have no problem with that. We’re going with indefinite. But it’s going to go game-by-game, day-by-day.”

This is an example of what happens when you don’t rest an injury at first. Gasol injured his abs on March 6 against Portland but kept playing through it, aggravating it and making it worse against New Orleans March 22.

“I was playing anywhere from 60-65 percent before New Orleans,” Gasol said. “I felt like it wasn’t getting better. I felt pain and I was ineffective rebounding the ball. I lost all of my explosiveness. I’m not very explosive anyway but the little bit I try to be was gone. It just hurt real bad. When we did the test it was obvious.”

It would be nice if Gasol could get back for a few games before the playoffs, but the important thing is to get him as healthy as possible before the games get serious. Because in the Western Conference there will be no easy rounds.

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.

LeBron James: Reporter warned me about question on Gregg Popovich’s wife before live TV interview

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In her on-court interview with LeBron James following the Cavaliers’ Game 2 win over the Pacers last night, TNT sideline reporter Allie LaForce asked him about the death of Gregg Popovich’s wife.

LeBron appeared emotional as he gathered his thoughts.

That prompted some to criticize LaForce for ambushing LeBron on a sensitive subject on live TV. But that’s not what happened.

Uninterrupted:

LeBron:

I’m not on social media right now, but I was made aware through some friends through texts that a question was asked to me postgame, and a lot of people feel I was blindsided. That is absolutely false. Allie LaForce told me that she was going to ask the question and if it was OK.

And once I started talking about it, once we were on air, actually my emotions kind of took over. And that was just my emotions coming straight from my heart about the late Erin Popovich.

It’s unfortunate. It’s a tragic loss. My thoughts, my prayers, once again goes out to the Popovich family, to Gregg, to the Spurs family, to the whole Spurs fan base.

And also guys, please get off Allie LaForce’ back, because she followed the proper protocol and she warned me. So, get off her back, man. She’s very professional, and she does a great job at her work.

Like I said, thoughts and prayers to the heavens above. We all know the man above never makes mistakes, even when we question it. But it’s a sad, tragic time right now for the NBA family, and we’re all praying and hoping for the best.

It would have been surprising if LaForce hadn’t done that. Somewhere between nearly nobody and absolutely nobody in her position is trying to embarrass players.

PBT Extra: If Portland is going to turn series around it starts with Damian Lillard

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This was the year the Trail Blazers were going to break through. They were defending better as a team. There was some depth on offense. And Damian Lillard was playing at a level that will get him on many voters’ MVP ballots.

Instead, they are down 0-2 to Anthony Davis and New Orleans, having dropped both games at home to open the series. Portland is on the verge of being bounced in the first round for the third time in four years.

If Portland is going to turn this series around, it starts with Lillard, something I discuss in this latest PBT Extra. C.J. McCollum needs to get more buckets, Jusuf Nurkic needs to contribute more on both ends, but for Portland it all begins and ends with Lillard and it’s on him to start the turnaround.