Report: No Cavaliers veterans liked David Blatt

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Cavaliers general manager David Griffin tried to pin David Blatt’s firing on lackluster results on the court.

That’s a tough case considering Blatt guided Cleveland’s to last year’s NBA Finals and a 30-11 start this season.

So, what was it?

LeBron James, despite his denials and public statements, has received plenty of blame for Blatt’s dismissal. But he apparently wasn’t the only Cavalier down on Blatt.

Far from it.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

This is my 14th year covering the NBA. Before I covered the NBA, I covered colleges for a while, where I covered several coaches who went on to be relatively big-time coaches.

And on every team and every coach I’ve ever covered, I’ve never seen a coach dynamic with a team like I saw with David Blatt.

And I don’t know the way he handled the Russian national team. I don’t know the way he handled his teams in Greece. I don’t know how he handled his teams in Israel, in Russia, in Italy, everywhere else he went.

All I know is what I saw, and I saw a guy who completely was unable to get even a modicum of respect from a majority of his players.

And I also saw star players and veteran players – not just LeBron, OK. We know LeBron had issues with him. But basically any player that had any sort of veteran status in the league, more than Joe Harris and Matthew Dellavedova – all the veterans didn’t like him, either. He wasn’t able to win over about anybody.

Blatt clearly had a problem with how he spoke to people. Despite being a first-time NBA coach, he insisted at pointing out his vast experience at every turn. He thought that would get him respect that wasn’t coming from NBA veterans.

That’s on him.

LeBron also could’ve done more for Blatt. Players’ follow the star’s lead, and LeBron set the tone of undercutting Blatt. Teammates noticed. (They also noticed how Blatt responded, further eroding the coach’s standing.)

Of course, LeBron wasn’t obligated to defend Blatt to his teammates. LeBron can make his own judgments. If he didn’t believe in Blatt, LeBron didn’t need to carry the coach’s water.

Blatt had to earn that respect. It wasn’t – and shouldn’t have been given – just because he held the title of head coach. Players are increasingly and correctly asserting their own worth. A coach is just part of a collective trying to win – not a supreme leader to be feared and worshipped. LeBron, one of the most accomplished players in the league, understand that more than most.

He won’t have to deal with another LeBron, but this is a good lesson for Blatt if he wants to continue coaching in the NBA. He needs to reevaluate how he builds trust with players.

All NBA teams could also learn from this. How well a coach and players get along matters only so much. The Cavaliers were incredibly successful under Blatt, who did an alright job managing the action on the court. As long as there isn’t an outright mutiny – and Blatt avoided that – players’ talent reigns supreme.

But eventually, personalities matter, and it seems the Cavs just got tired of dealing with Blatt’s.

Paul George ejected for arguing calls, Pacers go on to lose to Heat

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Paul George already had one technical in the game (from a double technical situation), when he thought he was fouled and should have gotten a call fairly early in the third quarter of a tight Pacers game against the Heat.

George apparently wouldn’t let up barking at the referees, maybe said some magical words, but whatever happened the officials hit him with a second technical. He was tossed. You can see the reaction above.

The Pacers hung close in the game until the Heat went on a 21-4 run to open the fourth and that was the ballgame. If you’re the undisputed leader of your team — as George is — you just can’t get tossed for things like this.

Warriors first team to clinch playoff slot with win over Nets

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 27 points on a night Kevin Durant missed his first game of the season with a hand injury, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Brooklyn Nets 112-95 on Saturday to clinch a playoff berth.

Klay Thompson added 24 points. Curry converted a four-point play just before halftime to put his team up 62-51 at the break. The two-time reigning MVP had five 3-pointers and five assists.

This is just a first step for these star-studded, NBA-best Warriors (49-9): They want the No. 1 seed in the West. Oh, and a championship.

Durant sat out with a bruised left hand. He injured his pinkie in the first quarter of a 123-113 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, and X-rays were negative. He practiced Friday with his left hand heavily taped and still had some discomfort Saturday.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 16 points in the Nets’ 16th straight defeat.

Nate Robinson goes through players’ legs to get out of double team in D-League

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Nate Robinson is trying to make an NBA comeback by starting in the D-League, playing for the Delaware 87ers, the affiliate of the Sixers.

They were going up against the Raptors’ affiliate when Robinson was trapped on the wing by a double-team — so he literally went between the legs of 7’3″ Walter Tavares and drove out of it. He got into the lane and was fouled.

If a pass between the legs is a nutmeg, what exactly is that?

This is my new favorite highlight of the year.

Carmelo Anthony’s jumper with 0.3 seconds left gives Knicks 110-109 win over 76ers

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NEW YORK (AP) — Carmelo Anthony made a jumper with 0.3 seconds left to give the New York Knicks a 110-109 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.

The Knicks blew a 17-point lead and fell behind by one when Jahlil Okafor scored with 9 seconds remaining. But Anthony dribbled left after a timeout, pulling up over Robert Covington to cap his 37-point performance.

The Knicks then intercepted the 76ers’ inbounds pass to hold on and snap their two-game losing streak.

Derrick Rose added 18 points and Justin Holiday had 14 for the Knicks, who won for just the third time in 11 games. They played without starters Kristaps Porzingis (sprained right ankle) and Joakim Noah (sore left hamstring).

Okafor had a season-high 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the 76ers nearly pulled out the victory after beating Washington on Friday. Dario Saric had 19 points and 15 rebounds, and Covington finished with 20 points and 10 boards.

The Knicks avoided falling behind the 76ers into 13th place in the Eastern Conference, but they seem to realize it might be too late to get ahead of the teams they need to. They came in five games behind Detroit for the eighth and final playoff spot, and coach Jeff Hornacek before the game talked of players’ development as a goal instead of trying to make a playoff push.

Before the game, Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said his experience was that teams playing on the second night of a back-to-back usually started quickly before getting fatigued. But it was the Knicks was started fast thanks to Anthony, who was 7 for 10 for 17 points as New York led 31-25.

The Knicks led by 10 at halftime and Rose scored 10 in the third to keep Philadelphia from cutting into it. The Sixers were still down double digits well into the fourth quarter before Okafor and T.J. McConnell led them in what became a frantic finish.

TIP-INS

76ers: Philadelphia had won four of its previous five games. … The Sixers have dropped six straight at Madison Square Garden.

Knicks: Hornacek said Porzingis was considered day-to-day, with a possibility of returning in their next game Monday. But he said Noah would be out longer after having a setback in his recovery during the break. … Noah celebrated his 32nd birthday.

TWEETS

Knicks President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson tweeted for just the fourth time this season on Saturday, wishing Tex Winter a happy 95th birthday. Winter was his former assistant coach and is considered the pioneer of the triangle offense. Jackson ended the tweet with a triangle emoji.

SPEAKING OF THE TRIANGLE

The Knicks have started running it more, according to Hornacek. He says it not only benefits the younger players on offense but also helps the Knicks be in better position to get back on defense. The Knicks ran the offense that Jackson used to win 11 championships as a coach under Derek Fisher and Kurt Rambis the previous two seasons, but Hornacek had opened up the offense this season to get the Knicks playing quicker.

UP NEXT

76ers: Host Golden State on Monday.

Knicks: Host Toronto on Monday. The Raptors have won the last five meetings.