Larry Drew not happy with (Josh Smith’s) shot selection after loss to Celtics

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Hawks head coach Larry Drew lamented his team’s poor shot selection after a loss in Boston on Friday, one where his team gave up 118 points to a Celtics squad that hadn’t scored that many since an overtime win over the Nuggets way back on Feb. 10.

Atlanta shot 45.5 percent from the field as a team, which isn’t terrible. But Drew said the types of shots his players were taking ended up feeding into his opponent’s hands.

From Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“If you are not taking good shots, it’s as good as a turnover,” Drew said. “That is not anything we’ve haven’t talked about every road game we’ve played. We talk about our shot selection. We talk about not turning the ball over. We talk about limiting them to one shot and coming up with the rebound. When you take bad shots it’s as good as a turnover and tonight we took quite a few.”

Drew didn’t name names, of course, but a cursory glance at the box score tells us that he must have been referring to Josh Smith.

On a night when Al Horford was out of the lineup due to illness, Smith took it upon himself to take control of the offense. He finished with 18 points on 7-23 shooting, including making just one of his five shots from three-point distance.

Smith shot the ball 10 more times than any of his teammates, and checking out where the shots were coming from, it’s not difficult to see exactly what his head coach was talking about.

source:

There’s a lot of long twos mixed in there, and Smith finished the night shooting 6-11 in the paint, but just 1-12 outside of it.

Drew can make veiled references to Smith’s shot selection through the media all he wants, but the fact is he’s allowed Smith to play this way going on three seasons. Whether Drew’s offense is the issue or whether he simply hasn’t been able to get Smith to attack the basket the way he should, plenty of the blame for Smith’s shot selection rests firmly on the coach’s shoulders.

Russell Westbrook on Rockets laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws: ‘Probably the guys that don’t play’

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The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.

Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.

But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.

Report: Austin Rivers returning for Clippers-Jazz Game 5

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There have been bigger injuries in the Clippers-Jazz first-round series: Blake Griffin‘s toe, Rudy Gobert‘s knee and Gordon Hayward‘s stomach.

But Clippers guard Austin Rivers has yet to play due to a strained hamstring.

It sounds as if that will change tomorrow.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This is neither as big a deal as the Clippers will make it out to be nor as meaningless as Rivers’ many detractors will claim.

The 6-foot-4 Rivers will provide an important defensive upgrade on the perimeter. The Clippers haven’t successfully hidden Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton, allowing Utah too many quality looks. Here how the Jazz have shot when defended by each, per NBA.com:

  • Crawford: 18-of-36 (50%), including 7-of-17 on 3-pointers (41%)
  • Felton: 13-of-24 (54%), including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers (63%)

Rivers needn’t be great to help behind Chris Paul and J.J. Redick.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.