Russell Westbrook to undergo knee surgery, out indefinitely

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Russell Westbrook will undergo surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee and will be out indefinitely, the Thunder announced on Friday.

The injury occurred with 5:34 to play in the second quarter of the Thunder’s Game 3 win over the Rockets, and as seen in the video clip above, there will undoubtedly be plenty of fans in Oklahoma City blaming Houston’s Patrick Beverley for this unfortunate turn of events.

Westbrook was heading to the sideline and the Thunder were going to call for a timeout, but Beverley kept playing until he heard the the whistle, and knocked knees with Westbrook, causing the Thunder guard to twist awkwardly before falling to the floor.

Beverley said after the game (via CSN Houston) he was unconcerned with Westbrook’s frustration at his aggressive play.

“I don’t care what your status is, any of that,” Beverley said. “I’m just trying to win basketball games, so whatever it takes. If someone gets frustrated, someone gets frustrated. By the end of the day, I’m there to play basketball and help the Rockets win, so that’s my only focus.”

There is no timetable for Westbrook to return, and it would be foolish to rule him out for the rest of the postseason in case the Thunder were able to make a deep run without him. While every athlete is different, Metta World Peace of the Lakers returned to action just 12 days after undergoing surgery to repair a similar injury.

This is devastating news for a Thunder team that finished the regular season with the best record in the Western Conference, and had legitimate championship aspirations. They still have plenty of firepower, however, and Kevin Durant stepping up to take on more of the load offensively might be an equally scary proposition for the Thunder’s opponents to deal with.

Westbrook had never missed a game to this point in his five-year NBA career due to injury. He posted averages of 23.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 7.4 assists in 34.9 minutes per game this season.

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.