Pacers Paul George fined $25,000 for criticism of referees (which he was wrong about anyway)

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The Pacers’ Paul George had to know he was getting fined when he said this after Game 4 Monday night:

“Looking at the stat sheet, we outplayed them. You got to give them credit. They won this game at the free‑throw line. They really just were able to get to the line more than we were, but I thought we outplayed them tonight….

“But, again, they made 30 free throws, and that put them over the edge. I mean, you can’t tell me we don’t attack the basket as much as they attack the basket. You can’t tell me we’re not aggressive. Maybe we’re too aggressive. But I feel like we’re just as aggressive as they are attacking the basket and making plays at the rim. Maybe this was just home cooking.”

The league gave George what was expected Tuesday, hitting him with a $25,000 fine for “public criticism of the officiating.” George knew that was coming and probably should have brought his checkbook to the press conference to save time.

What George probably didn’t expect was the media and fan backlash against his comments.

George and the Pacers didn’t attack the rim like the Heat did — four of George’s 16 shots came within eight feet of the rim. George had zero drives that started outside 20 feet and got inside 10 feet for a shot (LeBron James had 11). The list goes on with George and the Pacers.

The Heat got 17 more free throw attempts in Game 4 for the same reason the Pacers got 22 more in Game 1 — they were the aggressors. In the NBA the team that attacks gets to the line, the Pacers have not done that the past couple games. The Pacers defense has allowed the Heat a ridiculous 111.5 points per 100 offensive rating this series. That is the problem, not the referees.

Frank Vogel is trying to get his team focused back on the game for Game 4.

The question is will it even matter at this point? The Pacers have not been a consistently focused team since about the All-Star break.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.

DeMarcus Cousins on Confederate statues: ‘Take all them motherf—ers down’

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DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.

So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.

Cousins, via TMZ:

“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”

These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.

Not whom I want to honor, either.

Kevin Durant: Kyrie Irving-LeBron James situation ‘just a regular NBA problem’

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Kevin Durant knows something about star teammates not always getting along.

So, the Warriors forward is not freaking out about the disconnect between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James and Irving’s subsequent trade request.

Durant, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:

“It’s just a regular NBA problem, right? A lot of teams have gone through this before,” Durant told ESPN. “They’ll figure it out. That’s a great organization, a championship organization. They’ll figure it out.”

“It’s not the end of the world,” Durant said. “Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”

Durant is definitely right in the larger sense. Teammates spat and requests trades more often than we realize. Remember, both Irving and the Cavaliers probably prefer this never became public.

But I’m not sure Cleveland will figure this out with the ease Durant suggests. David Griffin, who had proven so adept at putting out these fires, is gone. LeBron’s free agency looms. This could be extremely destructive to the Cavs.

The fact that this “regular NBA problem” became public only intensifies it – and raises it something greater.

Report: Heat signing Jordan Mickey

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Jordan Mickey – the No. 33 pick by the Celtics in 2015 – became the first second-round pick in memory to sign the year he was drafted and receive a higher initial salary than first-round picks.

He’s keeping the checks coming.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Mickey will be the Heat’s 16th player with a standard contract, though Matt Williams (unguaranteed) will likely be waived to meet the regular-season roster limit.

I’m not sure where Mickey fits on this team, which already has several bigs. Hassan Whiteside, Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk will likely play ahead of him. Miami also has A.J. Hammons (who might be just dead salary) and Udonis Haslem (who might provide nothing more than veteran leadership).

The Heat could just see Mickey as someone they can develop. At that point, how he fits into the current roster doesn’t really matter.

Mickey – 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan – is a mobile defender with nice timing for blocking shots inside. He even possesses a work-in-progress 3-pointer in his arsenal. There’s plenty for Miami to help mold.