NBA not making changes to toothless flopping fines; replay use expanded

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This was David Stern back in June at the start of the NBA Finals, when asked about the league’s flopping policy of reviews, warnings, then $5,000 and escalating fines:

“It isn’t enough. It isn’t enough. You’re not going to cause somebody to stop it for $5,000 when the average player’s salary is $5.5 million. And anyone who thought that was going to happen was allowing hope to prevail over reason.”

That’s what we were all thinking. So we were going to see a change right?

Nope.

The NBA owners (in their Board of Governor’s meeting in Las Vegas) voted to continue the flopping policy and fines as is for another season. This was Stern (who works for the owners, remember) on Thursday after the BOG meeting.

“There was a report on our flopping rules and the competition committee thought they were working well and didn’t recommend any changes to them,” Stern said.

Okay then. Apparently somebody thought that worked last season so we are going to get another round of it.

Stern also talked about how there was some discussion of ways to speed up the replay process. What that could mean is by next playoffs there will be a fourth official at the desk to handle replay, and eventually the NBA could go to an NHL-like system where a central office makes all the video replay calls (that process is generally quicker than the NBA’s current system).

“It’s always something that’s a tradeoff, but we really want to get it right,” Stern said.

While flopping system of penalties stays the same, there are a number of other replay and rule changes for next season:

• Replay can now be used with wider latitude on block/charge plays — before referees could only use it to determine whether a defender was inside or outside the restricted area, now officials can reverse a charge call, or uphold a blocking call at the same time. Meaning they can call a block, look at the video and change the call to a charge.

• Replay also now can be used to determine whether an off-ball foul occurred before or after a player has started his shooting motion on a successful shot attempt, or before or after the ball was released on a throw-in.

• Finally with replay, if a referee is looking at one call and sees an unsportsmanlike, flagrant penalty that was not called, he can now make that call.

• One new rule says if an offensive player “leaves the floor and does not immediately return to the floor” (providing he is not injured or something) his team will give up possession.

• Stern also spoke on the impact of new CBA on free agent movement.

“There’s a little bit more free agent movement than we had under the old agreement, and that is something we projected and expected, because there’s more player sharing as teams under the cap acquire players and as teams who are up against the tax level or above it find themselves making harder decisions about what players are necessary to retain or not.”

He said this makes the league more competitive.

• Stern said he expects there to be approved testing of HGH for players once the league and union discuss the issue. However, right now the union leadership is shifting so things are stalled.

Russell Westbrook hits game-winning 3-pointer to beat Kings (VIDEO)

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Welp, looks like Russell Westbrook is re-energized after All-Star Weekend.

As the first night of games after the break got underway on Thursday night, it was Westbrook who gave us a jolt as he helped the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Sacramento Kings on the road.

With just a second to go, Sacramento’s Justin Jackson had tied the game up at 107-107. This came after Vince Carter pulled up confidently from nearly 30 feet out, missing badly. Sacramento missed another follow, and then Jackson put home the final try.

Via Twitter:

That left the Thunder to advance the ball with just one second left.

Oklahoma City ran a simple play with Westbrook running near-to-far across the arc from the inbounder, eventually settling at the top of the 3-point line.

He let it fly, and that allowed OKC to come away with a win, 110-107.

Bulls find way to lose despite being up by 5 with 35 seconds left

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CHICAGO (AP) Ben Simmons scored 32 points, making two free throws with 5.6 seconds left to complete Philadelphia’s rally from five points down in the final minute, and the 76ers beat the Chicago Bulls 116-115 on Thursday night.

Joel Embiid had 30 points and 13 rebounds, and Simmons added 11 assists and seven rebounds as Philadelphia won its sixth straight and snapped a four-game road losing streak.

Bobby Portis had a career-high 38 points and Zach LaVine added 23 for the Bulls, who were 18 for 34 on 3-pointers.

Chicago had a 115-114 lead and the ball with 8 seconds to go before Embiid deflected an inbounds pass to create a turnover. Simmons came up with the ball near half court and was fouled by Denzel Valentine. He made both free throws.

Portis had a chance for a game winner, but his short attempt – with Embiid defending – just missed.

The 76ers raced to a 25-7 lead midway through the first quarter before Portis got hot and Chicago started making 3s.

Philadelphia’s lead was down to 33-29 at the end of the quarter and the Bulls busted out for 40 points in the second to take a 69-67 halftime lead. Chicago was 9 of 12 on 3-pointers in the quarter, including 4 for 5 by Portis.

The 76ers were up by five early in the fourth before Portis scored six straight points – on a 3-pointer and a three-point play – to put the Bulls on top 101-100. A few minutes later, Portis dunked over Embiid to stretch the lead to 111-106 with just over four minutes to play.

LaVine hit a 3-pointer to make it 115-110 with 1:02 left.

TIP INS

76ers: C Embiid has nine straight double-doubles . Simmons has six triple-doubles this season, which ties him with Wilt Chamberlain (three times) and Billy Cunningham for most in a season in team history.

Bulls: To look at some younger players during the final 25 games, C Robin Lopez and G/F Justin Holiday were removed from the starting lineup. Both were inactive on Thursday as Cristiano Felicio and David Nwaba (21 points) started; Also, Cameron Payne – who played in his first game on Thursday – will replace Jerian Grant as the backup point guard.

“It really is hard,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “It’s hard for Robin, it’s hard for Justin and it’s hard for Jerian, who’s probably making as big a sacrifice as anybody.”

UP NEXT

76ers: Host Orlando on Saturday.

Bulls: Visit Minnesota Saturday night.

Kelly Oubre gets caught untying Rodney Hood’s shoes (VIDEO)

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The NBA seems to have a secret obsession with tying and untying shoes mid-game. J.R. Smith once got a warning for doing as much, finally earning himself a $50,000 fine after doing it multiple times. Likewise, other players like Rajon Rondo and Danny Green have pulled down the shorts of opponents while the clock was rolling.

Perhaps that emboldened Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre on Thursday night as his team took on the Cleveland Cavaliers in Ohio.

During the game, game operations crew at The Q ran a video on the big board that appeared to show Oubre untying the shoes of Cavaliers guard Rodney Hood.

Via Twitter:

These guys have so much to think about during a game I’m honestly impressed that they have the time to remember to do petty stuff like this.

I suppose it worked?

Oubre had 17 points off the bench, adding five rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Hood had just eight points in 27 minutes on the floor.

The Wizards beat the Cavaliers on the road, 110-103.

Report: Warriors will spend trip to D.C. with kids, not Trump

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Donald Trump decided to disinvite the Golden State Warriors to the White House despite team winning the 2017 NBA Championship. Many members of the Warriors have been critical of Trump during his short tenure in Washington D.C., which the former mail order steak salesman has not taken lightly.

With no invitation to the White House on hand, and considerable doubts that the team would go even if the opportunity resurfaced, the Warriors have decided to take a private tour around the nation’s capital instead.

According to a report from ESPN, the team will take a trip with just players, coaches, and some kids to a discreet location as part of a tour.

Via ESPN:

Head coach Steve Kerr left it up to the players to determine how they wanted to spend their time, and the players selected a venue in which local kids would join them. It will be closed off to the media, sources said.

The players wanted the outing to be a personal, intimate experience.

“It’s their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it’s up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans,” Kerr told ESPN. “I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they’re doing.”

Golden State will be in D.C. to play the Washington Wizards on February 28. They will reportedly take their trip — sure to be fun for the kids — the day before.

Meanwhile, you have to wonder if an NBA team will ever visit the White House while Trump lives there. People from LeBron James to Gregg Popovich have spoken out about their disagreements with him, and the Warriors were pretty vocal about not attending a ceremony with Trump.