SAN ANTONIO — Not everything interesting that players and coaches say from practice can make it into a full-blown story. But sometimes, the answer to a single question is deserving of being mentioned all by itself.
Especially when Gregg Popovich is the one giving the response.
There were plenty of questions about Tony Parker’s status for Game 4, after an MRI revealed that he suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain and was officially being listed as day-to-day.
A reporter wondered aloud to Popovich whether or not he might just “mail in” Game 4 in order to give Parker some extra rest to get right for the remainder of the series, and it went over about as well as you might have imagined.
“I’ve just got to tell you, that phrase ‘mail in Game 4 …’ Popovich began, clearly agitated by the proposition. “It confuses my whole brain. I don’t think I can think past that comment. I would like to help you, but I don’t know how to help you. You can come back to our coach’s office and hit us up. We’ll be talking about all these sorts of things. Any ideas are welcome. I have no idea until I know how healthy he is tomorrow.”
Popovich can be famously difficult if a question isn’t posed to him in precisely the right way, and this one wasn’t that outrageous on the surface. San Antonio played at different times over the course of the season without some if its key players, and managed to win a very high percentage of those games no matter who was on the floor.
“We played all season long with minus a couple of guys in different cases for whatever amount,” Tim Duncan said on Wednesday. “I was gone for ten games, Tony was gone for a little while, Manu was gone for a little while. We made adjustments. We played without individuals. On this stage at this time, [if Parker is unable to play] it would be obviously a huge loss for us.”
So again, it wasn’t that crazy of a question to ask. But Popovich gave us yet another reminder that how you approach him with such things is as important as anything in determining the level of bite you get when receiving his response.
Jose Calderon, Andrew Bogut, Brandon Jennings all officially waived; contenders line up for their services
They have to clear waivers (Wednesday) before they can sign with a new team. However, all three seem to be headed to teams with dreams of going deep into the playoffs.
The Golden State Warriors want a little depth at the point for the postseason, and they are going with the steady but aged veteran Calderon. He will have limited run behind Stephen Curry and Shaun Livingston, but he will have a role in the playoffs and as a steadying force.
The Washington Wizards are going another, more talented but more combustible direction, and appear the frontrunners to sign Brandon Jennings (Chris Haynes of ESPN had that link. . The Wizards have not loved the play of Trey Burke this season and have leaned on Tomas Satoransky to run some point, expect Jennings to get some healthy run if and when he arrives in Washington.
Bogut is expected to sign with the Cavaliers, although the Spurs could have a shot at him and other teams are asking to get in the mix (not his former team the Warriors, however).
NBA: Bulls beat Suns after two key missed calls late in fourth quarter
The collective ‘we’ were happy the Bulls reached overtime against the Suns on Friday, because we saw Dwyane Wade‘s fantastic dagger dunk.
The Bulls were happy they reached overtime, because they won the game in the extra period.
But with correct officiating down the stretch, Phoenix probably would have won in regulation.
The Bulls got away with two key violations late in the fourth quarter, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.
First, Jimmy Butler got away with traveling with 1:58 left, per the league:
Butler (CHI) move his pivot foot.
Instead of a Chicago turnover, Butler kicked the ball to Nikola Mirotic, who hit a 3-pointer.
Then, Denzel Valentine got away with a defensive three-second violation with a minute left, per the league:
Valentine (CHI) is in the paint without actively guarding an opponent for longer than three seconds.
A correct call would’ve given any Sun on the court — either Eric Bledsoe (who’s making 85% of his free throws this season and 80% for his career) or Devin Booker (82%, 83%) — a single free throw and Phoenix a fresh shot clock.
Instead, the Suns — facing a tougher road penetrating the paint — turned the ball over.
On their own, those missed calls were each big swings. Together, they were huge in Chicago’s win.
NEW YORK (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets have waived veteran forward Luis Scola.
Scola averaged 5.1 points and 3.9 rebounds in 36 games this season, falling out of the rotation as the league-worst Nets focused more on their younger players, even though the Celtics hold swap rights on Brooklyn’s first-round pick.
General manager Sean Marks said Monday the Nets felt that Scola “deserved the opportunity to contribute to a playoff contender.” Because he was waived by the March 1 deadline, Scola would be eligible to sign with another team and appear on its playoff roster.
Scola has averaged 12 points while playing for five teams in his 10 NBA seasons, and won an Olympic gold medal with Argentina in 2004.
Raptors’ Kyle Lowry undergoing surgery, aims to return for playoffs
Lowry is the Raptors best player, and answering his call, they upgraded around him by trading for Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker. Now Lowry isn’t around to lead the charge.
Maybe I’m reading too much into the wording, but merely aiming to return for the playoffs is hardly convincing. Does that mean there’s a chance he could miss the postseason?
That’d be a disaster for Toronto, which has put eggs in the basket for this season, Lowry’s last before unrestricted free agency.
Even if Lowry misses “only” several weeks and returns fully healthy for the playoffs, this harms the Raptors majorly. They’re fourth in the East, but barely behind the third-place Wizards and a chance to avoid the Cavaliers until the conference finals.
This is welcome news to Washington and the Celtics, who might be underdogs in the second round to Toronto’s souped-up roster. Now, it seems increasingly likely Cleveland would face the Raptors in the second round — if they get that far.
Cory Joseph is a fine backup, and Delon Wright offers intrigue as a third point guard. Pressing both up a level just invites problems.
Toronto’s trades positioned the Raptors to rise down the stretch. Now, they’ll just try to hold their ground.