Associated Press

Paul George leads Pacers over Timberwolves, 109-103

Leave a comment

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — On a night when he was picked for his fourth All-Star game, Paul George looked every bit the part.

Karl-Anthony Towns was right there with him, but the young Minnesota Timberwolves star will not be joining George in New Orleans next month.

George scored 32 points after being picked for his fourth All-Star game to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 109-103 victory over the Timberwolves on Thursday night.

“I’ve got to bring it,” George said. “I’ve got to be ready at all times, always got to have the mindset to be aggressive.”

Myles Turner added 23 points, and Jeff Teague had 20 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds to help the Pacers snap a three-game losing streak. Indiana outrebounded Minnesota 44-34 and shot 52 percent.

Towns had 33 points and 10 rebounds, Zach LaVine scored 23 points, and Andrew Wiggins had 21 for Minnesota. But the Timberwolves missed a chance for their first four-game winning streak since 2012.

“It felt like we were a step slow all night,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said.

The Pacers had lost three in a row and four of six since a trip to London snapped a five-game winning streak.

“Ever since we got back from London we haven’t been the same team since before we left,” Teague said. “We had to come out tonight and play with a lot of energy, played hard, and just got to continue to keep going.”

George was named a reserve for the Eastern Conference about an hour before tipoff, and he came out firing with the 21-year-old Wiggins checking him. George hit 3 of 4 3-pointers and got Wiggins to foul him on a 3-pointer with seven minutes to play. Thibodeau picked up a technical foul for arguing the call and George, the leading free throw shooter in the league, made all four foul shots for an 86-81 lead.

Towns hit a pair of 3-pointers to try to jumpstart a Wolves charge and LaVine hit another to cut the deficit to 96-90. But Teague and C.J. Miles each hit 3-pointers late in the shot clock down the stretch to turn back the Wolves.

“We almost pulled it off,” Towns said, “but almost isn’t good enough.”

TIP-INS

Pacers: Indiana is 12-2 this year in games in which they shoot 50 percent. … F Kevin Seraphin was scratched with a sore right knee. Coach Nate McMillan said he tried it in practice on Wednesday and was still sore so they held him out. … The Pacers shot 55.6 percent (10 for 18) from deep.

Timberwolves: Nemanja Bjelica struggled offensively, making just 1 of 6 shots and 1 of 5 3-pointers, many of them open looks. … Minnesota had been one of the best rebounding teams in the league over the last month, but were soundly beaten in that category on Thursday night and were outscored 13-5 in second-chance points. … Towns had his 35th double-double of the season.

ALL-STAR GEORGE

“I think being a reserve is personally special because the coaches are voting you in and have more respect for your game. Obviously, I love being a starter as well, but it’s always a special and a humbling opportunity to be an All-Star in this league.” – George on his selection.

BIG MOMENT

After Wiggins made a layup to pull Minnesota to 106-103 with 15 seconds to play, Teague took the inbounds pass and headed up the sideline. It appeared that he stepped out of bounds, which would have given the Wolves the ball with 12 seconds left. But officials didn’t call it, Teague squirted up the sideline and fed Turner for a dunk to seal it.

“He was out of bounds, so it’s (down) three with a chance to tie,” Thibodeau said. “But we put ourselves in a bad position.”

ROUGH NIGHT

The Towns family had a rough night. Karl-Anthony was left off the All-Star team and his father, Karl, was hit by Wolves mascot Crunch during a stunt in the second quarter. Crunch slides down the stairs on a sled, but he hit Karl Towns’ leg. Big Karl stayed in the game though, watching the second half with an ice pack on his right knee, but needed crutches to leave the arena.

 

Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldridge nails three from one knee during warmups (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

Take that Stephen Curry.

Gregg Popovich would pull him so fast he’d look like a fidget spinner if he tried this in a game, but during warmups before Game 4 Monday night LaMarcus Aldridge knocked down a deep three from one knee.

If Aldridge is taking a lot of threes that’s not a good sign for the Spurs, but we’ll see if he can have a big night and keep the Spurs alive in this series.

Stephen Curry drains shots from near half court during warmups like they’re layups

Getty Images
3 Comments

Stephen Curry‘s pregame warmups draw people into the arena early, it’s a show in and of itself.

Before Game 4 Monday night, Curry was taking a couple shots from the center-court logo. And draining them. Like layups. Because he can.

We’ll see if he can put on that kind of show when the game tips off.

Gregg Popovich makes it official: No Kawhi Leonard for Game 4

1 Comment

This was expected. It still sucks to hear.

Kawhi Leonard is out for Game 4 vs. the Warriors Monday night.

Leonard has sprained his left ankle in Game 5 against the Rockets and sat out Game 6 of that series (a San Antonio win), then returned for Game 1 against the Warriors. He re-injured his ankle twice in that game — once stepping on David Lee‘s foot, once when Zaza Pachulia slid under him on a jumper and took away his landing space. Leonard left that game with his team up 23 points, but the Warriors rallied back to win Game 1 and have controlled the series ever since. Leonard has not returned to the series.

San Antonio will play with pride on Monday night, but it may not be enough. You can bet the Warriors were reminded all day about taking their foot off the gas after what happened with Cleveland Sunday.

Report: Orlando hires Toronto GM Jeff Weltman to be president of basketball operations

Leave a comment

In Toronto, Masai Ujiri is the head of basketball operations and the guy with the hammer on deals. Jeff Weltman was his right-hand man and team GM.

Make that was his right-hand man, Weltman has been hired by the Orlando Magic to run its basketball operations, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Orlando Magic have hired Toronto Raptors general manager Jeff Weltman as the franchise’s president of basketball operations, league sources told The Vertical.

Weltman met with Orlando CEO Alex Martins and ownership on Monday, finalizing a five-year deal, league sources said.

Orlando officials had been intrigued with Cleveland GM David Griffin, but moved steadily toward Weltman as they became further engaged with his candidacy in recent weeks, league sources said. Weltman has been deeply involved in every aspect of the Raptors’ front office under president Masai Ujiri as Toronto became a perennial Eastern Conference contender.

Making a move now is smart in this sense: The Magic have the No. 5 pick in this draft and would want the guy making the big picture decisions about this roster on board to make this selection.

That roster already has some quality pieces — Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, maybe Elfrid Payton — but has underachieved. There were questions about the culture and a lack of accountability, and that blame ultimately fell on GM Rob Hennigan and he was let go. Frank Vogel is locked in as

Frank Vogel is locked in as coach, so how well Weltman and Vogel work together — and share a vision — will be key.

Weltman is well-respected around the league. He spent five seasons as an assistant GM in Milwaukee, and has been with the Raptors since 2013 as that team has risen up the Eastern Conference standings and had its best run in franchise history. He also has worked with the Clippers and in Denver. He’s been one of those guys expected to get a chance in the big chair for a few years now.

He’s got it, and it’s an interesting challenge in Orlando.