Kyle Lowry to critics of him playing All-Star weekend: “Come say it to my face”

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Kyle Lowry took part in the All-Star Saturday Three-Point Contest. Then he participated in the All-Star Game on Sunday. He admitted to getting in a round of golf on that Monday.

Lowry has not played in a Raptors game since then, needing wrist surgery to remove “loose bodies” from the wrist that had been bothering him and getting worse. He hopes to be back for the playoffs. That sent the Raptors from thinking — with the additions of Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker — they might be able to climb back up to the two seed, to wondering if they can hold off Atlanta and keep home court in the first round.

It’s not hard to draw a line for fans on Twitter, or for talk radio hosts, Lowry shouldn’t have played All-Star weekend. Even though the “loose bodies” in his wrist are a repetitive use injury — meaning it didn’t happen with one moment or blow, rather it built up over a long time, meaning years — people tend to make simplistic assumptions that confirm what they want to hear. And frustrated Raptors fans are letting Lowry hear it on social media.

Well, he’d hear it if he was listening. Here is what he said pregame Monday, via Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun.

“I didn’t pay no attention to it to be honest,” Lowry said. “I enjoyed my all-star weekend. If anybody had any problem with it, come say it to my face. That’s how I feel.”

Lowry also confirmed the injury was years in the making.

“From what I’ve been told, it’s a 10-year process,” Lowry said.

“It’s a long process of wear and tear, and bumping and grinding, and hitting guys. It’s a little bit of wear and tear. It was just at the point where it got a little bit worse to the point where I couldn’t play. If it’s that serious for me, I knew it was something that needed to be checked on.”

I don’t think you can knock a guy for wanting to be on the court, and wanting to rep his team on a big stage.

The Raptors are in the best stretch of basketball in franchise history, including winning 56 games last season and making the conference finals for the first time ever. This year they are on pace for 48 wins and, assuming they stay the four seed, would likely face the Cavaliers in the second round.

That’s not the step forward some were hoping for. That said, management clearly knows its window is right now and made a smart, aggressive move by trading for Ibaka (with the intention of re-signing him this summer). That’s a move designed to help them match up with Cleveland. Of course, the real problem is Cleveland still has one LeBron James, and there is no counter to that. But the Raptors have tried to position themselves if the Cavaliers are not fully themselves come the playoffs.

Lowry will be there for that — and everyone complaining knows they need him to have a chance in that series. Those same fans will be back on board soon enough.

 

 

 

 

Steve Kerr “uncertain” if he will coach in NBA Finals

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The Warriors have gone 12-0 through the playoffs, the first team to sweep the first three rounds of the playoffs since the NBA went to a best-of-7 in all three rounds (a couple Lakers teams did it when the first round was best-of-5).

That doesn’t mean they haven’t missed Steve Kerr as coach, but they haven’t needed him. Yet. Mike Brown has done the job quite well.

Will Kerr be back for the NBA Finals? He told Marc Spears of ESPN he doesn’t know.

Kerr had back surgeries two summers ago, and that caused him to miss the start of the 2015-16 season (Luke Walton ran the show). Kerr coached through pain caused by a slow leak of spinal fluid until nausea and pain became too much at the start of this postseason. Kerr has had a new procedure — one that is apparently promising, one that we hope works to end the leak — but he’s understandably cautious about jumping back in.

That said, the next round, against the Cavaliers (barring the most improbable comeback in NBA history), is when the Warriors will need Kerr’s creative mind and solutions to the challenges Cleveland presents.

He’s also got more than a week to decide since the Finals don’t start until June 1.

Manu Ginobili receives standing ovation upon exiting what may be his final game

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Manu Ginobili is a four-time NBA champion, a two-time All-NBA player,  two-time All-Star, and a Sixth Man of the Year.

He’s also the most popular Spur of his generation — walk around San Antonio, even at the peak of the Spurs runs, and you saw more Ginobili jerseys than Duncan or Parker or Robinson or anyone else. Ginobili is beloved.

When he was taken out near the end of Game 4, maybe his final game as a Spur, the fans erupted into a standing ovation (joined by Stephen Curry, who stepped away from the free throw line to let the moment happen).

Ginobili hinted during the season this would be his last, but has said repeatedly during the playoffs he didn’t know what he would do during the season. He looked like he had game left in the tank during the Western Conference Finals (he had 15 points in Game 4 and was one of the Spurs best players in the series). The question is, at age 40 next season, will he want to go through all the work it takes to get physically ready for the next season.

Warriors take control early, hold off Spurs to sweep series, advance to NBA Finals

Associated Press
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This series was decided early in the second half of Game 1, when Kawhi Leonard’s ankle rolled. He never got back on the court in the next three games, the Spurs were +21 when he was on in that first game and -85 the rest of the way. Without his defense on one end and shot creation on the other the Spurs could not match up.

The Spurs didn’t play like it was over Monday night — while the Warriors would hit threes and go on runs, the Spurs would answer back never let them completely pull away. They got buckets from Kyle Anderson (20 points off the bench) and 15 from Manu Ginobili in what may have been his final NBA game (he got the start, and the crowd erupted when he was taken out near the end).

It wasn’t enough. The Golden State Warriors were the better team — maybe even if Leonard had played — and they were in control of this game the entire way, getting 36 points from Stephen Curry and 29 from Kevin Durant.

The Warriors went on to win 125-110 and sweep the Spurs 4-0. Golden State swept through the West undefeated at 12-0, and they will take on the winner of the East (we all know it will be Cleveland). The Finals don’t begin until June 1.

This is the Warriors third straight trip to the Finals.

“Our chemistry is getting better and better,” Durant said after the game. “We’re going to need it even more in the next series, whoever we play, we’re just looking forward to it. I’m glad we got this done.”

There was a lot of respect between the teams after the series, particularly for Ginobili.

“Somebody I grew up watching, amazing competitor, even more fun playing against him,” Durant said after the game. “I got nothing but love and respect for him, plus he wear my shoes every year so that’s a plus. He was phenomenal this series.”

There also was a feeling among fans that we were robbed of a good series by the injury to Leonard (and the cheap play by Zaza Pachulia that caused it). Without Leonard (and Tony Parker) the Spurs struggled to create shots and generate consistent offense against a stout Warriors defense.

It was evident at the start of Game 4. San Antonio opened game 3-of-16 shooting, but the bigger issue is they went 1-of-8 in the paint against a Warriors team that started small (Patrick McCaw instead of JaVale McGee). Meanwhile, the Spurs were 7-of-7 in the paint to start the game. That is why the Warriors raced out to a quick 12 point lead midway through the first quarter.

The game hung around the 10-point era until an 11-0 Warriors run midway through the second quarter. The Spurs kept fighting, they had 13 more shots than the Warriors in the first half — thanks to 9 Golden State turnovers and 8 San Antonio offensive boards — but the Spurs shot 34.5 percent in the first half, and it wasn’t enough because the Warriors shot 60 percent. The Warriors shot 74 percent (14-of-19) in the second quarter. Because of that it was Warriors 65, Spurs 51 at the half, and Curry and Durant each had 18 for Golden State; Kyle Anderson has 10 points to lead the Spurs.

The second half saw the lead bounce between 10 and 20 most of the time, the Spurs would make a little run and the Warriors would answer with some crisp ball movement and a three. Curry was 5-of-13 from three on the night to lead the way.

Draymond Green added 16 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists for the Warriors.

Now the Warriors get more than a week off to rest and prepare for the Finals.

Kevin Durant blocks Dejounte Murray twice on one shot (VIDEO)

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Kevin Durant was doing it all in the first half — he had 18 points to lead the Warriors (tied with Stephen Curry) and was making plays all over the court.

That includes racing back on this play and blocking Dejounte Murray‘s layup. Twice. On one shot.

The Warriors have led by 20 and been in control through the start of the third quarter. KD was at the heart of that.