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.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.