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Grizzlies clinch seventh straight playoff berth

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Mike Conley scored 28 points, Zach Randolph added 22 points and 12 rebounds, and the Memphis Grizzlies clinched a playoff spot with a 99-90 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night.

Memphis’ win, coupled with Denver’s 122-114 loss at Charlotte earlier Friday night, earned the Grizzlies their seventh straight postseason berth.

But Memphis had to weather a 3-point shooting rally in the closing minutes. Dallas made six of its first nine 3-point attempts in the final frame, a jumper by Wesley Matthews cutting Memphis’ advantage to 94-90 with just over a minute left.

But Dallas could get no closer, dropping its fourth straight.

Troy Daniels finished with 21 points for Memphis, shooting 7 of 12 from outside the arc.

Six Mavericks finished in double figures, led by 13 points each from Dirk Nowitzki, Matthews and J.J. Barea. Matthews also had seven assists, and Nowitzki grabbed 12 rebounds.

Dallas trailed by 15 with about 8 minutes left when Barea and Matthews converted consecutive 3-pointers. Another 3 from Yogi Ferrell – his only points of the game – brought the Mavericks’ deficit to single-digits.

Nowitzki, Barea and Matthews would add a trio of 3-pointers over a 1-minute span late to pull Dallas close, but not close enough.

The Mavericks dealt with poor shooting to open both of the first two quarters, missing five of six shots to start the game and six straight to open the second quarter.

The second set of misfires contributed to a 16-2 run and an eventual 21-point Memphis lead. Dallas was at 22 percent shooting in the half, including hitting 2 of 16 shots outside the arc.

That led to Memphis carrying a 55-34 lead into the break, Conley collecting 14 points, while Daniels and Randolph scored 12 each.

No Mavericks were in double figures at that point.

After halftime, it was Memphis struggling to hit shots, setting off a 16-4 rally by Dallas to bring the deficit to single digits – 59-50. But the Grizzlies countered with eight straight points to take the lead back to 17.

That allowed Memphis to hold a 74-62 lead entering the fourth.

TIP-INS

Mavericks: The NBA announced Friday that G Devin Harris was fined $25,000 for his actions after ejection from Wednesday’s game at New Orleans. … The Mavericks recorded 15 assists, breaking a string of nine straight games of at least 20 assists.

Grizzlies: With its seventh straight playoff berth, Memphis has the third-longest streak of postseason appearances behind Atlanta and San Antonio. … The win assured Memphis (42-34) of its seventh consecutive winning season. … The Grizzlies’ sixth 3-pointer of the game, converted in the second quarter, gave Memphis 700 on the season – a mark not previously reached in franchise history.

GASOL RETURN UNKNOWN

Grizzlies coach David Fizdale said the timetable for the return of center Marc Gasol, who missed his fourth game with a sore left foot, remains unclear. “He did work out (Friday), which was good,” Fizdale said. “He moved on it. There’s still some soreness there.”

TAKING A LOOK

With the Mavericks virtually eliminated from the last Western Conference playoff spot, coach Rick Carlisle seems to be turning to younger players down the stretch. “This is an important time for us to look at these guys,” Carlisle said. “I’d rather look at them playing against guys like (Mike) Conley or (Zach) Randolph instead of undrafted free agents in the summertime.”

ROOKIE POINTS

One Mavericks rookie – Jarrod Uthoff from Iowa – scored two points in the loss Wednesday to New Orleans, his first points in the NBA. “That’s a pretty big deal for a guy who has the NBA dream like all of us did growing up,” Carlisle said. Uthoff didn’t play Friday night.

UP NEXT

MAVERICKS: Dallas is in the midst of a five-game road trip and plays at Milwaukee on Sunday.

GRIZZLIES: Memphis heads out on its final road trip of the season, playing the Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Kobe is the Lakers’ all-time leader in steals (and other trivia rookies don’t know)

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“He played 20 years … I mean, yeah I guess.”

That’s what Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball had to say in this video after learning that Kobe Bryant was the all-time leader in steals for his franchise. You have to hand it to him, it is a little surprising. Even more surprising is that Bryant has 220 more than Magic Johnson at No. 2.

In a video posted to YouTube by Complex on Saturday, rookies tried to answer questions similar to the one Ball pondered over, like what team drafted their head coach, who the NBA all-time leading scorer is, and what day the first game of the season starts on.

A lot of the responses were pretty funny, including the guys getting wrong what year Adam Silver became NBA commissioner. Poor David Stern has already been forgotten about!

Meanwhile, Ball looked the sharpest. He’s going to come in handy when the Lakers play pub trivia.

Artist makes other 29 NBA team logos featuring the Toronto Raptor (PHOTO)

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It’s summertime in the NBA, which means a lot of us are just trying to find ways to keep our minds occupied until training camp starts.

Thankfully, some of us are artists, including u/bbnexus over at the r/NBA subreddit. Apparently they wanted to use some of the free time we have here during the NBA offseason for a little art project. Specifically, turning all of the remaining 29 NBA team logos into one featuring the Toronto Raptor.

The result is a pretty impressive amount of effort having gone into these logos. I personally think the edition for the Hawks, Timberwolves, and Celtics are the best ones.

Via Reddit:


A fun game to play here is to figure out which logo goes to which team.

Based on how some of the new Nike uniforms have turned out for teams this year, perhaps u/bbnexus should get the job designing a future ones based off of these logos.

Kevin Durant responds to school handout telling kids to avoid being like him

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Kevin Durant is having a pretty good summer. He is obviously in a full on “I have a ring now” mode and is just battling everyone he can set his sights on. He’s confident, as he should be.

Durrant responded to critical comments conservative commentator and ex-ESPNer Britt McHenry made about the Golden State Warriors forward not wanting to visit the White House should an invitation come for the team.

Now, Durant has seen a handout that a teacher gave to kids in school comparing him and Michael Jordan. In the handout, it asks kids to refrain from being like Durant, asking them not to take the easy way out by cheating in class. Instead, it asks them to be more like Michael Jordan and not take shortcuts.

That’s not even a correct interpretation of the facts, much less a very good analogy. Nevertheless, when SB nation published an article on an image of the handout on Twitter, Durant responded.

Via Twitter:

Firing might be a little harsh but perhaps the person who wrote this handout could put their hardcore sports allegiances away for a minute? Things like this and up on the Internet, you know?

Stan Van Gundy talks up Pistons’ rookie Luke Kennard

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Luke Kennard came out of Duke with one of the best jump shots in the draft — he’s got a skill that translates to the NBA and will help the Pistons. The questions were about his defense and athleticism, but he started to answer those when he averaged 17.2 points a game in the Orlando Summer League. He hit threes but generally just looks like a guy who just knows how to get buckets.

So far, at the Pistons’ training facility and in the Orlando Summer League, coach and decision maker with the Pistons Stan Van Gundy likes what he sees from his rookie, he told the Pistons’ official website.

“Pretty much what we thought offensively, maybe even did a better job passing the ball than I thought,” Van Gundy said. “He’s able to make plays off the dribble , that nice change of pace, and things I hadn’t seen a lot of. He really has a great feel for the game and how to play in addition to clearly his ability to shoot the ball….

“We’ve seen that a lot. He’s got great mental toughness,” Van Gundy said. “The thing I have great confidence in is that as he runs into challenges in the league – and everybody does and he’ll be no exception – I just think he’s a smart guy who’s adaptable. I think he’ll figure out a way to combat it. I’ve got great confidence in his ability to do that….

“The thing I didn’t know that he showed me is he has the ability to move his feet defensively. Now, he’s still got a long way to go in terms of handling some of the other things, rotations and things like that. But he certainly showed that he can get down in a stance and move his feet. I did not have a good feel for that going into the draft, so that was a positive.”

Yes, you should take a coach talking up a rookie before a game is played with a grain of salt.

However, the comment about the potential to defend is good news. SVG is right that mental toughness, and willingness to put in the work, is what will allow Kennard to take steps forward, but he has to have a baseline to get there and Van Gundy thinks he has that. Kennard has challenges ahead of him but if he can keep hitting shots the Pistons will give him time to work out everything else.

Kennard is going to get plenty of run as the backup to Avery Bradley at the two in Detroit. In with a second unit of guys like Stanley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver, Kennard is going to get his chances to score. He could put up decent numbers for a rookie.