Paul George

Pacers are doing an awful lot of finger pointing

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Paul George spent more of his post-Game 4 press conference blaming the referees, but he also saved some shade for Lance Stephenson, who challenged LeBron before the game.

George in his postgame press conference, via ASAP Sports:

Q.  You mentioned that maybe you need to watch what you say.  Do you think that Lance’s comments took him out of the game at all today?  He was scoreless until about almost halfway through the third quarter.
PAUL GEORGE:  Yeah, maybe so.  You know, maybe so.  When you make comments regarding trash talking and just being caught up between another player in a matchup, you got to bring it.  You got to bring it.
I’m pretty sure a lot of people were going to be tuned in to see what Lance was going to do because of what he said.  Maybe there’s a lot of pressure on him.  And everybody goes through situations where you just struggle.  Just because of what was said and what was done, it just wasn’t a good time for him.

Roy Hibbert, who went scorless, via Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

“The game plan really wasn’t to utilize me as much; I’m just trying to be effective as I can,” Hibbert said. “Would I like a little bit more touches early on? Yeah. But that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes.”

There’s a fine line between making excuses and offering explanations. After each game, the media asks players and coaches to explain what happened. If they give an honest explanation that isn’t liked, the media will skewer them for making excuses.

Stephenson was probably affected by his rift with LeBron, and it’s reasonable for George to be upset by that needless distraction. That doesn’t excuse George for playing so poorly.

The Pacers didn’t go to Hibbert much early, opting to milk the David West-Rashard Lewis matchup (maybe even too often bypassing sound offense to exploit that mismatch). That doesn’t excuse Hibbert for disappearing.

Indiana’s All-Stars can play better. The rest of their team – Frank Vogel included – can perform better, too.

Those facts should be more independent of each other than they are. Before addressing issues out of their control, George, Hibbert and every other Pacer should look in the mirror and do what they can first.

Enjoy 50-best circus shots of last NBA season

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As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.

For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.

Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.

To avoid trash talk, Steven Adams told Kevin Garnett he didn’t speak English

Kevin Garnett
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Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.

Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.

Brilliant.

Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.

Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy “encouraged” by players speaking out, protesting social issues

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 17: Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons yells to his players during the first half of the NBA Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on April 17, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)  *** Local Caption ***Stan Van Gundy
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Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.

Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.

A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…

“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”

Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.

The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.

Sunday is 16th anniversary of greatest dunk ever: Vince Carter over Frederic Weis

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It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.

But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.

Best. Dunk. Ever.

By anyone.

Weis was never the same.

In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.

Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.