Pacers trade Danny Granger to Sixers for Evan Turner

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It was a lackluster NBA trade deadline by any reasonable standard, and once 3 p.m. Eastern had come and gone, there was nothing of note that went down that would improve any of the contending teams significantly.

It wasn’t until more than 30 minutes after the deadline had passed that we found out about the biggest deal of the day.

The Pacers have traded Danny Granger to the Sixers in exchange for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen, a deal first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Zach Lowe of Grantland added that the Sixers also received a future second round pick in the deal.

We knew about Philadelphia’s willingness to part with Turner, just as they had done with Spencer Hawes earlier on deadline day. It wasn’t even believed that it would take all that much to acquire him either, based on his status as a restricted free agent next summer at the relatively high price of a qualifying offer just short of $9 million.

What came as a surprise was Indiana’s decision to trade its former franchise player.

Granger was back as part of Indiana’s regular rotation after missing close to a season and a half due to various injuries. He was essentially a shell of the former All-Star level talent he had proven to be in 2009, when he was a dominant primary scorer who effortlessly averaged 25.8 points per game.

This season, Granger has been reduced to a bench role, and has posted averages of 8.3 points and 3.6 rebounds, while shooting just 35.9 percent from the field in 22.5 minutes per contest. He is in the final year of a huge contract, and Indiana wasn’t expected to sign him as an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Turner, however, is a completely different story. He’s a talent on the wing that will immediately add to the Pacers’ depth, and with Indiana going all in on its pursuit of a championship this season, his averages of 17.4 points, six rebounds and 3.7 assists will be an instant boost to those title chances.

If Turner wasn’t to work out in Indiana for some reason, there’s really no risk here. Granger was gone at the end of the season anyway, and if the Pacers don’t want to overpay for Turner’s skill set by matching any offer he receives on the open market, they can simply let him walk in free agency, essentially having given up nothing for the chance to upgrade the roster in advance of the playoffs.

Turner started all 54 games that he appeared in for the Sixers this season, and averaged 34.9 minutes per contest. He’ll likely see a reduced role in Indiana, especially as they’re getting him acclimated to their system. But the Pacers’ hope is that he’ll be able to play at that same level in shorter bursts, making things even tougher on opponents when trying to match up with an Indiana team that currently sits at the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

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.

LeBron James: Reporter warned me about question on Gregg Popovich’s wife before live TV interview

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In her on-court interview with LeBron James following the Cavaliers’ Game 2 win over the Pacers last night, TNT sideline reporter Allie LaForce asked him about the death of Gregg Popovich’s wife.

LeBron appeared emotional as he gathered his thoughts.

That prompted some to criticize LaForce for ambushing LeBron on a sensitive subject on live TV. But that’s not what happened.

Uninterrupted:

LeBron:

I’m not on social media right now, but I was made aware through some friends through texts that a question was asked to me postgame, and a lot of people feel I was blindsided. That is absolutely false. Allie LaForce told me that she was going to ask the question and if it was OK.

And once I started talking about it, once we were on air, actually my emotions kind of took over. And that was just my emotions coming straight from my heart about the late Erin Popovich.

It’s unfortunate. It’s a tragic loss. My thoughts, my prayers, once again goes out to the Popovich family, to Gregg, to the Spurs family, to the whole Spurs fan base.

And also guys, please get off Allie LaForce’ back, because she followed the proper protocol and she warned me. So, get off her back, man. She’s very professional, and she does a great job at her work.

Like I said, thoughts and prayers to the heavens above. We all know the man above never makes mistakes, even when we question it. But it’s a sad, tragic time right now for the NBA family, and we’re all praying and hoping for the best.

It would have been surprising if LaForce hadn’t done that. Somewhere between nearly nobody and absolutely nobody in her position is trying to embarrass players.

PBT Extra: If Portland is going to turn series around it starts with Damian Lillard

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This was the year the Trail Blazers were going to break through. They were defending better as a team. There was some depth on offense. And Damian Lillard was playing at a level that will get him on many voters’ MVP ballots.

Instead, they are down 0-2 to Anthony Davis and New Orleans, having dropped both games at home to open the series. Portland is on the verge of being bounced in the first round for the third time in four years.

If Portland is going to turn this series around, it starts with Lillard, something I discuss in this latest PBT Extra. C.J. McCollum needs to get more buckets, Jusuf Nurkic needs to contribute more on both ends, but for Portland it all begins and ends with Lillard and it’s on him to start the turnaround.

Rockets easily overcome James Harden’s horrid shooting night, win Game 2 over Timberwolves

AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith
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James Harden shot 2-for-18 – the worst field-goal percentage (11%) on so many attempts in a playoff game in nearly a decade and the worst ever in a first-round game.

The Rockets still won by 20 because of their stout defense, a strong supporting star in Chris Paul and Harden’s foul-drawing ability.

Houston’s took a 2-0 series lead with a 102-82 win over the Timberwolves on Wednesday. Game 3 will be Saturday in Minnesota, but the top-seeded Rockets have seized firm control.

Every No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 seed to take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven first-round series have won it. There’s little reason to believe Houston will become the exception.

The Rockets are no longer as reliant on Harden, the likely MVP who seemed to wear down last postseason.

They buckled down defensively before letting up in a fourth quarter that was entirely garbage time. Houston forced more turnovers (16) than allowed assists (15) and contested shot after shot.

It’s becoming increasingly clear the Timberwolves have no quick solution to the Karl-Anthony Towns problem, and it’s not simply a matter of deciding to feed him more. Yes, he can get favorable post matchups against the Rockets’ switching scheme. But Minnesota lacks quality entry passers. The Timberwolves are also short on shooters and need him to spread the floor – even if that skill is less-helpful after a switch. Towns scored just five points in 24 minutes tonight.

His teammates were barely, if at all, better. The focus has turned to Towns, but this was a far-wider letdown.

On the other hand, Paul (27 points and eight assists) led Houston’s offense. Gerald Green (21 points and 12 rebounds) got hot. Even Harden (7-of-8 on free throws) chipped in thanks to his elite foul-drawing ability.

The Rockets aren’t always the most enjoyable team to watch, and that was the case tonight. Mostly, because they put this game out of reach long before it actually ended.