Mavericks’ Dorian Finney-Smith’s season-high 17 lead Mavs past Kings 99-79

Leave a comment

DALLAS (AP) — Even after scoring a season high in points, Dorian Finney-Smith wanted to talk about his defense.

The rookie had 17 points, leading six Dallas players in double figures as the Mavericks beat the Sacramento Kings 99-79 Sunday.

The Mavericks, who lost to Sacramento by 31 points at home 11 days ago, started fast. They made 11 of their first 15 shots and never trailed.

Later, some of his teammates teased him for passing up open shots.

“When I get a hand on a ball or a tip, it gets me going,” Finney-Smith said. “I try not to lose focus on what I bring to the table, and that’s defense. If I’m making shots, that’s a plus.”

Deron Williams, Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews each scored 15 for Dallas.

DeMarcus Cousins scored 33 for Sacramento. The Kings were minus second-leading scorer Rudy Gay, who missed his third consecutive game because of a strained right hip flexor.

A 10-0 Mavericks run early in the second quarter opened a 38-26 lead and the Kings never got closer than nine for the remainder of the game.

“We’ve got to come out and be the aggressor, that’s just plain and simple,” Cousins said. “We can’t get off to slow starts. We can’t let a team gain confidence. We’ve got to be the aggressors every night.”

It was barely 30 degrees in Dallas and the start time was moved up three hours to 3 p.m. – that avoided a conflict with the Cowboys, whose home game against Tampa Bay was originally scheduled for the daytime and later switched to night.

Following a 120-89 home loss to the Kings on Dec. 7, the Mavericks called a team meeting. They’ve won three of four at home since then and are 3-3 overall.

“We remember (the loss), but the biggest thing is that our demeanor has to be like this every night,” Matthews said.

TIP-INS

Kings: Cousins had 23 of Sacramento’s 44 points in the first half. … Ty Lawson was the only other Sacramento player in double figures, with 10 points.

Mavericks: The Kings scored just 14 points in the third quarter, a season low for a Mavericks opponent. … Williams had seven assists and passed current Dallas television analyst Derek Harper for 21st place on the NBA’s all-time assists list with 6,584.

HARRIS A HERO

Devin Harris had a season-high 14 points and seven rebounds for the Mavericks. He made a three-point play and a four-point play to cap a 12-2 Dallas run that gave the Mavs a 76-56 lead with 2:33 left in the third quarter.

Harris had missed the team’s first 16 games with a sprained right big toe.

“When he feels good physically, he moves with joy out there,” coach Rick Carlisle said.

LET IT BEE

Kings coach Dave Joerger called for a truce in an ongoing spat between Cousins and the Sacramento Bee newspaper. Cousins recently confronted a Bee writer after a column that referenced the arrest of the 6-foot-11 star’s brother.

“This guy is the face of our franchise,” Joerger said. “He’s done and said some things that he wishes he could do over. He has improved.”

“I’m not justifying anything that he’s done. What he did was excessive. But enough is enough,” he said.

TRIBUTE TO SAGER

The Mavericks joined the list of NBA teams to hold a moment of silence before their game in honor of TNT broadcaster Craig Sager, who died Thursday. Team owner Mark Cuban remembered Sager fondly before the game.

“Smiles are underrated,” Cuban said. “Nice is underrated. Getting people to smile every time – that’s something not a lot of people have been able to accomplish.”

 

Hawks, coach Mike Budenholzer agree to part ways

Getty Images
Leave a comment

This was expected.

It was pretty obvious Mike Budenholzer didn’t want to stick around and lose a lot of games with the Atlanta Hawks as they rebuild the next few years, especially after he had been stripped of his GM powers. Budenholzer went well down the road with the Phoenix Suns about their open coaching position before thinking better of it. Since then he has set up a meeting with the Knicks about their coaching vacancy, a job he reportedly wants badly.

At this point there was no need for the Hawks and Budenholzer to continue their sham marriage, so they have agreed to amicably separate, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and since confirmed by the Hawks.

Budenholzer said this to Wojnarowski of ESPN:

“I am grateful for the five years that I spent as coach of the Atlanta Hawks, and will always cherish the incredible contributions, commitment and accomplishments of the players that I was fortunate enough to work with here,” Budenholzer told ESPN on Wednesday night. “From ownership to management, support staff to the community, I’ll look back with great pride on what we were able to achieve together with the Hawks.”

For Budenholzer, the long-time Spurs assistant and a strong Xs and Os coach, look for him to both push for the Knicks job and be in the running if/when the Milwaukee Bucks job opens up whenever their season ends. In both cases he’s a fit — those are teams that need a culture and system reset, and Budenholzer proved he can bring that to Atlanta (that was a good team before they let Al Horford and Paul Millsap walk for nothing).

With Atlanta, they likely will turn to a top assistant coach who will get a chance to develop young players on that team (and not cost Atlanta as much as an established coach). Stephen Silas of the Hornets is a rumored name, but there are others.

LeBron James overrules controversial finish with game-winning 3-pointer (video)

Leave a comment

LeBron James‘ turnover with the game tied late looked like a bad call. LeBron’s block of Victor Oladipo on the ensuing possession looked like a goaltend.

Did the Cavaliers get robbed of a crucial possession? Did the Pacers get robbed of two go-ahead points?

LeBron nullified those questions with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Cleveland a 98-95 win and a 3-2 series lead. The game-winner capped a great game by LeBron (44 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists) and moves the Cavs to the verge of advancing.

When a team with home-court advantage can close out a best-of-seven series with a road Game 6, it has 52% of the time. It has won the series 92% of the time.

The odds are even better with LeBron. LeBron has won 11 straight closeout games, nine of them on the road. He’ll have another opportunity Friday with Game 6 in Indiana.

Raptors’ ‘culture reset’ shines in Game 5 win over Wizards

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
Leave a comment

The Raptors promoted ball movement. They emphasized 3-point shooting. They empowered their reserves.

This was why.

Backups Delon Wright and C.J. Miles and starting center Jonas Valanciunas – who was benched in previous postseasons due to his old-fashioned style, but expanded his game beyond the arc this year – scored Toronto’s final 18 points in a 108-98 Game 5 win over the Wizards on Wednesday. Stars DeMar DeRozan (0-for-4 from the field) and Kyle Lowry (0-for-1 from the field, 0-for-2 on free throws) struggled down the stretch, as the Raptors burst open what had been a one-point lead.

Though DeRozan (32 points) and Lowry (17 points and 10 assists) were good overall, they succumbed late in previous playoff games. Toronto didn’t want that duo stuck with the burden of creating so much in a stagnate offense.

Hence, Masai Ujiri’s famous “culture reset.”

The results have been mixed so far against a tougher-than-average-eight-seed Washington. But at least the Raptors – up 3-2 entering Friday’s Game 6 in Washington – are on the verge of advancing.

When a team with home-court advantage can close out a best-of-seven series with a road Game 6, it has 52% of the time. It has won the series 92% of the time.

Raptors honor victims of van attack before Game 5 (photos)

Dave Sandford/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

TORONTO (AP) — The Toronto Raptors honored the victims the deadly van attack Monday with a moment of silence Wednesday night before Game 5 of their playoff series against the Washington Wizards.

Players from both teams held up banners with the hashtag #TORONTOSTRONG as they stood on the court during the tribute and the national anthems that followed:

The Raptors, the Wizards and the NBA will make a donation to a fund for victims and those affected by the incident.

Raptors President Masai Ujiri spoke about the attack after the Raptors practiced Tuesday.

“What we do doesn’t really matter sometimes,” Ujiri said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to be on that sidewalk.”

Guard Kyle Lowry said he was impressed by the actions of Const. Ken Lam, who earned international acclaim for peacefully arresting of suspect Alek Minassian.

“In America he would definitely have been shot up,” Lowry said. “He did an amazing job of making a judgment call. I think more people could learn from that.”

Coach Dwane Casey was struck by how close the carnage occurred to his own Toronto neighborhood,

“It’s not too far from up the street from where I live,” Casey said.

Casey and his coaches were in the midst of a meeting Monday afternoon when assistant Rex Kalamian’s phone buzzed with someone informing him of the tragedy. The coaches stopped their meeting and turned on a television to find out what had happened.

“It’s very unfortunate,” Casey said. “Just this weekend I was talking to people saying how safe Toronto is, how it’s a melting pot and you don’t have the same crime. Hopefully though, sport can offer a relief, some reprieve.”

Like Casey, Ujiri said he is proud of Toronto’s reputation as a safe, welcoming place.

“Everywhere I go, I brag about this city,” Ujiri said. “It’s the safest place in the world. It’s the best city in the world and it’s going to continue to be the best place and the best city in the world.”

Toronto police said the 10 people killed and 14 injured in the attack were “predominantly” women, but have declined so far to discuss a motive. The 25-year-old Minassian has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.