Author: Brett Pollakoff

Atlanta Hawks Media Day

Hawks to rest all five starters Saturday after clinching East’s top seed


The Atlanta Hawks clinched the best record in the Eastern Conference by beating the Heat on Friday, and it’s the first time the team has accomplished this feat since the 1993-94 season.

One day later, the Hawks will do something that could impact the opposite end of the playoff race in the East, as well.

Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Jeff Teague will miss his second straight game due to injury, and on the second night of a back-to-back with nothing more at stake, will rest Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Paul Millsap and Al Horford against the Hornets.

Charlotte is coming off of a tough double overtime loss in Washington on Friday, and will surely take all the help it can get.

The Hornets are one of four teams in the mix for the final playoff spot in the East, but are slipping fast after suffering three straight losses. They trail Boston by a game-and-a-half, but are also behind both Indiana and Brooklyn in the standings.

Expect more of Atlanta resting players to round out the regular season, and we may see the Cavaliers do the same at some point once that two-seed has been fully secured.

Stan Van Gundy: ‘Absolutely no chance’ Magic induct him into team Hall of Fame

Stan Van Gundy

Stan Van Gundy coached the Orlando Magic for five seasons, but exited the club by way of a messy divorce.

The Dwight Howard saga that played out so publicly claimed Van Gundy as one of its primary victims, and Orlando has been in a full-fledged rebuild ever since.

The Magic inducted Shaquille O’Neal into their team Hall of Fame on Friday, and while it’s unclear if Van Gundy harbors any ill will toward the franchise, he’s not expecting to be the recipient of a similar honor at any point in the future.

From Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel:

Including playoff games, Van Gundy has more wins than any Magic coach. He bailed them out after the Billy Donovan disaster in the spring of 2007 when the Florida Gators coach reneged after taking the job.

Van Gundy steered the club to one NBA Finals appearance in 2009 before being fired after the 2011-12 season.

And that begs the question: Will the Magic, in time, ever put Van Gundy in their hall of fame?

“There is no chance — absolutely no chance,” Van Gundy laughed. “Not the way things went down at the end. I guess if there’s a whole different group of people here — possibly. But not with the current group. That ain’t happening.”

Van Gundy has long had a reputation of speaking his mind, even when it may not be politically correct to do so.

You can bet he let the ownership in Orlando have it after the way they handled the Dwight debacle, and that may be the main reason that Van Gundy considers his ties to the Magic organization somewhat permanently severed.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr: ‘I would vote for Russell Westbrook’ for MVP

Golden State Warriors v Denver Nuggets

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr stunned reporters following his team’s blowout win over the Grizzlies on Friday, if only for a few moments.

Kerr was asked to give his opinion on the hotly-contested race for MVP, one in which Golden State star Stephen Curry is (of course) prominently featured.

But instead of answering diplomatically or extolling the virtues of Curry’s campaign, Kerr instead went in a completely different direction.

From Michael Wallace of

“For the record,” Kerr answered with a blank expression, “I would vote for Russell Westbrook.”

All within earshot froze.

Faces frowned.

Necks jerked. …

Kerr quickly ended the madness before anyone could think to check if anyone had spiked the barbeque sauce on the Warriors’ postgame meal spread. The prankster was in full postseason form.

“Didn’t somebody else just say that?” Kerr said as he lobbed the wisecrack that shattered the silence with laughter. “I’m just kidding. Make sure the sarcasm is noted.”

This was Kerr simply messing around, but it was also a subtle dig at a small controversy endured by the Cleveland Cavaliers last week, when Kevin Love said that he too would give Westbrook the nod — over his teammate, LeBron James.

This is what it’s come to for these Warriors with the regular season drawing to a close. They are rolling opponents on a nightly basis, and appear to be capable of reaching a level that no other team in the West can match.

Evidently, until the playoffs begin, all that’s left are the jokes.

Earl Clark signs 10-day contract with Nets, contributes to win over Cavaliers

Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets

NEW YORK — The Nets signed Earl Clark to a 10-day contract on Friday, and before that night’s contest against LeBron James and the Cavaliers, head coach Lionel Hollins set the bar fairly low in terms of his expectations.

“I expect him to play,” Hollins said. “I expect him to come in and help us. We’re looking around for somebody that can give us some offense by spreading the court making shots, and he’s tall — hopefully he’ll get a rebound or a blocked shot every now and then.”

Clark did much more than that.

In just over 11 second-half minutes, Clark provided an energetic spark, and contributed seven points on 3-of-5 shooting, to go along with a rebound, a steal and an assist.

“I was afraid to leave him in, and I was afraid to take him out,” Hollins said afterward. “The reality was, after he made the shot, I decide to just let him go. I didn’t feel comfortable at first watching him, and then after he made the shot, he looked comfortable, and then he did something on the defensive end, and then I said, ‘come on back out,’ and let him have some time. I didn’t want the game to get away from us — I think we were down 65-63 at the time — but as it worked out, he got in the flow.”

Clark played like a man desperate to show he belongs, after having been out of the league for more than a year; his last NBA game was played on March 15 of last season. He’s spent this season in both the D-League and China, and is only in Brooklyn because the Nets are in the middle of a playoff push, and need the body after Thaddeus Young went down with an injury.

But if Clark can put together similar performances in the future, he may get the chance to stick around.

“I just think it’s another opportunity that’s come around for me,” Clark said, via Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. “I tried to answer the door. I think I played cool enough, just coming from home and working out and this being my first day with the team. It’s a good win.”

Mark Cuban rips officials, NBA: ‘It’s criminal’ how Monta Ellis doesn’t get calls

TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2014 - Day 1

The Mavericks were blown out at the hands of the Spurs on Friday, and Monta Ellis, the team’s leading scorer, was seen leaving the arena on crutches after suffering an apparent leg injury.

That combination of events had Mark Cuban in a foul mood afterward, so much so that he lit into the game’s officials for the lack of foul calls Ellis receives, and also ripped the NBA for the way the league has responded to his series of complaints.

From Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas:

Cuban, who has calmly mentioned in the past that Ellis doesn’t get as many calls as he should, said he was set off after seeing Spurs power forward Tim Duncan smack Ellis in the face without a foul being called.

“He got hit in the face, Duncan got his body lower, hand was down like this in the replay, and then [referee] Monty McCutchen says he was straight up and down,” Cuban said. “Say you missed it, cool. Say you’ll look at it, cool. Say you weren’t sure, cool. Say it wasn’t your call, cool. But when the second defender doesn’t jump, it can’t be up and down. When a drive starts at the top of the key and you go straight down, it’s not lower box, it can’t be up and down unless you jump. That’s crazy, and it happens three times a game for Monta, every game. It’s ridiculous.” …

“I’m not allowed to say how many and what, but we literally have a play list of all the calls of Monta getting smacked and no call,” Cuban said. “It’s crazy. It’s crazy. It’s always the same: ‘Oh, it’s incidental,’ or ‘It’s not this, it’s not that.’ We tried. We tried to play the game.”

Cuban also took to Twitter to air his grievances.

Cuban has been vocal on this topic in the past, and has been fined more than once by previous commissioner David Stern for his public criticism of officials.

These comments may earn him his first fine from Adam Silver, but aside from that (or the league admitting incorrect calls after the fact), there’s not much else that’s likely to come from Cuban’s latest round of remarks.