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Rockets shake up playoffs by smashing Spurs in Game 1

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In the second quarter:

  • Rockets: 17 fastbreak points
  • Spurs: 16 total points

Houston followed an eye-opening first quarter with a whirlwind second quarter, building a 30-point halftime lead en route to a 126-99 win over San Antonio in Game 1 of their second-round series Monday.

This was tied for the second-biggest road Game 1 victory ever. The Jazz beat the Suns by 39 in the 1991 first round, and the Rockets also beat the Trail Blazers by 27 in the 2009 first round.

For any playoff game in the shot-clock era, Houston built the 12th-biggest halftime lead. The advantage swelled to 39 in the fourth quarter before the Spurs won the dredges of garbage time.

“It’s one win,” said James Harden, who scored 20 points and dished 14 assists, half on 3-pointers. “It’s a good win for us, but we’ve got to get ready for Game 2.”

The Spurs ought to know. They beat the Thunder by 32 in Game 1 of last year’s second-round series then lost in six.

But winning early is San Antonio’s M.O. The Spurs had won 14 of their last 15 Game 1s. They often have a superior strategy to start a series, and then sometimes their lack of athleticism catches up to them.

It’s unclear where they go from here.

San Antonio’s bigs – David Lee, Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge – looked inept defensively. They couldn’t hang in the pick-and-roll or keep up in transition.

Houston center Clint Capela (20 points on 8-of-10 shooting and 13 rebounds) had an incredibly clear path to the rim.

Trevor Ariza (23 points on 5-of-10 3-point shooting), Ryan Anderson (14 points on 4-of-10 3-point shooting) and Eric Gordon (11 points on 3-of-6 3-point shooting) helped by spacing the floor. In all, Houston shot 22-of-50 (44%) from beyond the arc.

Mike D’Antoni’s Rockets will keep attacking those mismatches, and James Harden appears uniquely qualified to orchestrate.

The Spurs’ size netted little on the other end. Lee, Gasol and Aldridge combined to score 14 points on 4-for-12 shooting in 75 minutes.

Kawhi Leonard (21 points on 5-of-14 shooting, 11 rebounds and six assists) posted impressive individual numbers, but he didn’t move the needle.

It’s difficult to find a solution that doesn’t involve San Antonio going small, something Gregg Popovich has been reluctant to do. Perhaps, Popovich will give a bigger role to center Dewayne Dedmon who played somewhat well in garbage time but made a bigger splash by having Nene grab his neck and get ejected then getting ejected himself.

Pistons sign Luis Montero to two-way contract

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) The Detroit Pistons have signed Luis Montero to a two-way contract.

The team announced the deal Monday. The 6-foot-7 Montero played 49 games last season for the Sioux Falls Skyforce and Reno Bighorns of the NBA G League. He played in 12 NBA games with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2015-16, averaging 1.2 points, 0.3 rebounds and 0.1 assists.

NBA teams are allowed two two-way players on their roster at any time, in addition to the 15-man, regular-season roster.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

LeBron James reportedly so frustrated with Kyrie Irving he is “tempted to beat his ass”

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Anyone else getting weary of the spin wars between the Kyrie Irving and LeBron James camps?

Irving thinks LeBron and his camp leaked the trade report and are trying to drag his good name through the mud. LeBron  — the man who led the way in teaching other players they should take control of their destiny and where they play — is angry that a player took control of his how destiny and is about to leave him high and dry. Right now both sides are trying to control the story — does Irving really envy Damian Lillard and John Wall‘s roles over his own, or is that spin? —  while fans come up with trade proposals. (No, a Kyrie for Carmelo Anthony trade is not happening.)

About the only thing that is clear is that this relationship is beyond repair. As evidence, we bring you the latest bit of spin, this from Stephen A. Smith’s “sources” as he spelled out on his radio show, (those sources are almost certainly are in the LeBron camp).

The full quote was: “If Kyrie Irving was in front of LeBron James right now, LeBron James would be tempted to beat his ass.”

I imagine if they were face-to-face right now it would look like every other NBA “fight” — they would push each other then make sure other guys jumped between them and held them apart so they could jaw but not actually have to throw a punch.

And yes, I know it’s Smith and we should take what he says with a full box of Morton’s Kosher Salt, but he illustrates a point:

Right now, the fight between Kyrie and LeBron is the sides trying to control the narrative.

No doubt LeBron is frustrated, he is in the legacy building part of his career and the Cavaliers were the consensus best team in the East with a shot at a ring next season. No Kyrie — almost no matter who Cleveland gets back in a trade — means the Cavs take a step back (while the Warriors and every other team in contention got better).  LeBron feels hurt and a little betrayed and is spinning that.

Irving is within his rights to ask out. There are certainly a variety of reasons he wants out, but at the top of the list is he wanted to control his own destiny before LeBron left next summer (probably) and Kyrie was left as the star on a team built to go around LeBron. Not that Cleveland did anything wrong, that is exactly the kind of team the Cavaliers should have built, LeBron will go down as an All-Time top 5 player, and this team brought Cleveland its first ring in 54 years. That doesn’t mean Irving can’t read the writing on the wall and want out.

For now, the drama will not stop between these two — nor will the spinning.

Timberwolves put out “0 for 30” video featuring Dave Chappelle missing a lot of jumpers

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The Minnesota Timberwolves are doing some work on their home arena, the Target Center, and it just so happens they had a special brick layer that got them started in 2013.

That extra helper was none other than comedian Dave Chappelle.

The team released a video on their social media platforms this week featuring Chappelle taking a bunch of jumpers on their floor in 2013. With a shot form somewhere between Shawn Marion and Stephen Curry, Chappelle wasn’t exactly a long range gunner.

Via Twitter:

I mean, it seems a little ridiculous to put up a video of the guy from four years ago hitting bricks and equating that to helping you remodel your home arena, but I feel like Chappelle can probably take it.

Either way, good work by the social team over in Minnesota.

Draymond Green reportedly to face civil lawsuit over 2016 Lansing incident

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Last summer, just before going to camp for the Rio Olympics, Draymond Green got into some kind of altercation with Michigan State University football Jermaine Edmondson. Green allegedly slapped him during this. Green was arrested, but the prosecutors had better things to deal with, so Green’s charges were reduced to a noise violation, where Green had to pay a $500 fine and $60 restitution fee. Because it was a civil infraction, there is no “guilty” or “not guilty” plea entered. And that was the end of it.

Or so we thought.

According to Marc Spears of ESPN, a civil suit is about to stem from this.

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, facing a civil lawsuit believed to be tied to an incident last July in which he allegedly slapped a former Michigan State football player, is confident things “will be resolved soon.”…

The expectation from Green’s camp is that the lawsuit is in response to a sequence of events last July that culminated in Green allegedly slapping then-Spartan player Jermaine Edmondson. The alleged slap followed a verbal dispute outside an East Lansing bar in the early morning of July 10, 2016, and was preceded by an encounter two nights earlier allegedly involving Edmondson, his girlfriend, Green and two of the NBA star’s associates.

I’m not going to speculate on the validity of the claim, or the motive for the suit, I was not hanging out in a Lansing bar last July and I am not in the plaintiff’s head.

I can say, as someone who spent years as a young reporter covering courts and police, these kinds of cases are tough for the plaintiff to prove his/her case and get paid. While in a civil case the standard to reach drops to “a preponderance of the evidence,” the plaintiff has to prove damages.  The fact prosecutors wanted nothing to do with the case usually is a sign it’s a difficult case to make.