Knicks get smacked around in New York press after Game 1 “effort”

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“Stinko de ‘Melo”

That play on Cinco de Mayo was the headline on the back of the New York Post on Monday morning after the Indiana Pacers beat the Knicks handily in Game 1. In Madison Square Garden. Anthony fell back on the effort card.

“You take out the X’s and O’s, they flat-out played harder than we did,’’ Anthony said. “They outplayed us and outworked us. Nothing else needs to be said about that.’’

“Big Trouble”

That was the New York Daily News back page headline, getting to the heart of the matter for New York — the Pacers size and length, particularly Roy Hibbert defending the rim, is a real problem for the Knicks because it is not going away. “Knicks have no answer for Indy’s plus-sized lineup,” the Daily News adds.

The Knicks are already considering lineup changes to deal with the issue. New York has had success with small ball this season — Carmelo Anthony as a four playing on the wing more — because they had Tyson Chandler covering them in the paint. But David West bruised Anthony for 20 points while ‘Melo shot 10-of-28.

So New York is considering starting Raymond Felton at the one, Iman Shumpert at the two, Anthony the three, Kenyon Martin at the four and Tyson Chandler at the five spot. Pablo Prigioni would come off the bench. That possible new five-man lineup didn’t play a minute together in Game 1, nor did it play a minute together as a group all season long (according to NBA.com Knicks lineup data).

But the Knicks have to do something, particularly on the defensive end. Much like last series it’s not going to be easy to score on the Pacers — this was statistically the best defensive team in the NBA last season. They do it without a fancy system, they just have long athletes who play hard and contest everything. New York worked hard to get Anthony switched onto the lesser defender in West all game but he still struggled because West can play some defense, too.

The Knicks need a lineup that can both score and slow the Pacers, who got a balanced attack out of a variety of different looks. Which is a lot harder to defend, so it makes sense Woodson is looking at size.

He has to do something, because if the Pacers win another game on the road Tuesday night the hits the Knicks took from the New York tabloids on Monday will seem like a friendly pat on the back.

Isaiah Thomas loses tooth, calmly hits two 3-pointers vs. Wizards (VIDEO)

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Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas is going to need a dentist after Sunday’s Game 1 against the Washington Wizards. While trying to fight around a screen, Thomas caught a spare elbow and wound up with his dental work all over the floor at TD Garden.

The play came in the first quarter as Thomas was trying to guard Washington’s Otto Porter Jr. coming off a screen. As Porter reached for the ball as the pass came to him on the curl, he wound up whacking Thomas in the front of his grill.

Thomas’ tooth could be seen on slo-mo replay flying across the air.

Warning: sort of gross.

Via Twitter:

Gross! Although it should be said that it seems possible that Thomas’ tooth is actually a bridge, which is to say it was missing already. The Celtics medical staff was able to put the tooth back in during the second quarter.

Meanwhile, Thomas came back up the floor after losing his tooth and hit two 3-pointers, so perhaps it’s good luck?

Why is Robin Lopez holding this dog during his exit interview? (VIDEO)

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What did Chicago Bulls center Robin Lopez have to say during his exit interviews? I can’t really tell, it’s all a bunch of white noise. All I see is him holding his giant, shaggy dog named Muppet while speaking to reporters.

I can’t get over it, really. Why hasn’t someone thought of this before?

Lopez is the perfect candidate to do this if you think about it, given his propensity to be a little off-kilter.

Via Twitter:

Lopez was mostly talking about taking away positives from a weird Bulls season in which they struggled all year until miraculously making the 8-seed before challenging top-ranked Boston in round 1.

Clippers, Jazz prepare for Game 7 in Los Angeles

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LOS ANGELES  (AP) – Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul was adamant the sun would not set on Paul Pierce‘s NBA run in Salt Lake City on Friday night.

“I looked over at ‘Truth’ during one of (those) timeouts and I said ‘You’re not ending your career in Utah,’ ” said Paul, referring to Pierce’s popular nickname. “We told him that. We just said we want to keep this thing going for him. Paul was big tonight. Like the 3 he hit over there on the wing, and stuff like that. Just his energy and his voice in those different timeouts I think was huge for us.”

With a crucial 98-93 victory over the Utah Jazz in Game 6, the Clippers will attempt to extend the career of the 39-year-old Pierce, who is retiring at season’s end, and capture the series Sunday in Game 7 at Staples Center.

The winner advances to the second round to meet the Golden State Warriors in a best-of-seven affair beginning Tuesday at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.

Paul, whose two late free throws sealed the win against the Jazz, led the charge by scoring 29 points, dishing eight assists and allowing the Clippers to avoid elimination in the opening round for the second straight season. The Portland Trail Blazers bounced them last season in six games, aided by injuries to Paul and Blake Griffin.

And as Paul loathes to hear, the point guard has never guided a team past the second round.

“This is what we talked about before (Game 6),” said Paul, who has become the Clippers’ main force offensively with Griffin out of the playoffs again, this time with an injury to his big toe. “Doc (Rivers) said to go out there and give yourself a chance. We knew we couldn’t win both games (Friday), and we wanted to give ourselves a chance.”

Utah will have another opportunity to end Pierce’s career on Sunday despite missing a chance on its home court. After the Jazz won Game 5 on Tuesday at Staples, All-Star forward Gordon Hayward made it clear he didn’t want to return for a Game 7.

Hayward, though, is humming a different tune now.

“We’ve come a long way from where we were three years ago,” Hayward told the Salt Lake Tribune. “If you had told me at the beginning of the year you’d be in a Game 7 against the Clippers in L.A., I’d have been like, ‘Bring it on.’ ”

The Jazz will be forced to bring their best with center Rudy Gobert hobbling again. Gobert, who sustained a hyperextended left knee in Game 1 that kept him out of the lineup for two games, sprained his ankle in the second half of Game 6 and was forced to the bench because of it during critical stretches.

Gobert said the ankle wouldn’t hinder him Sunday.

“I sprained it on somebody’s foot,” said Gobert, who finished with 15 points, nine boards and three blocks, according to the Tribune. “I tried to run through it, but that didn’t work out. I’ve had a lot of sprained ankles before. I will be good.”

PBT Extra: Can Toronto threaten Cleveland, LeBron James in second round?

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There are a few reasons to think the Toronto Raptors can push and maybe even upset the Cleveland Cavaliers in their second round playoff series that starts Monday. For one, they went six games last playoffs and this is a deeper, more versatile Raptors team with Serge Ibaka as the power forward/center, P.J. Tucker coming off the bench, and the emergence of guys like Norman Powell. The Raptors have a great backcourt in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. And, the Cavaliers were not a focused or good defensive team in the first round.

On the other side of the ledger, the Cavaliers have LeBron James.

I break down this series in the latest PBT Extra.