Author: Brett Pollakoff


Tristan Thompson meets Kent Bazemore at the rim, gets all ball on monster rejection (VIDEO)


An underrated storyline through the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals is just how well the Cavaliers’ bigs have performed on both ends of the floor.

In Cleveland’s blowout Game 2 victory, for example, Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov combined for 17 points and 23 rebounds, and strongly impacted their team’s effort defensively

This particular play, where Thompson rose to meet Kent Bazemore at the rim for the monster rejection, was ruled a foul by the officials. But replays show the block was clean, and it’s just one example of the rim protection the Cavaliers have going for them at this stage of the playoffs.

Hawks’ Kyle Korver leaves Game 2 with ankle sprain, does not return (VIDEO)

Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game Two

Late in the third quarter of Cleveland’s Game 2 win over the Hawks, Kyle Korver came up hobbling, and headed to the locker room for further evaluation.

It turned out that Matthew Dellavedova had rolled onto Korver’s leg as Korver went diving for a loose ball, and suffered what the team was calling an ankle sprain. X-rays were negative, and with the game having already been decided, there was no point in Korver attempting to return to the contest.

Korver was 4-of-11 shooting in 32 minutes before the injury occurred, but his mere presence on the floor stretches the defense and creates opportunities for his teammates. If he is unable to go in Game 3, Atlanta could be in further trouble in what’s already looking like a very short series.

No Kyrie Irving, no problem: Cavaliers cruise to blowout Game 2 win over Hawks

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Kyrie Irving was ruled out for Cleveland’s Game 2 matchup with the Hawks, and just how healthy he can be later in these playoffs will go a long way in determining the Cavaliers’ championship chances.

But for one night, against an Atlanta team dealing with injury issues of its own, LeBron James was more than enough for Cleveland to get the job done.

James finished with 30 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists to lead the Cavaliers to an easy 94-82 win, one that put Cleveland up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.

The best player for the Hawks in the postseason has been DeMarre Carroll, but his status was in doubt for this one after leaving Game 1 with a knee injury. He started and played 34 minutes, but was tentative offensively, and looked uncharacteristically awkward at times while trying to defend James.

With Irving’s absence and Carroll’s injury, James asserted himself from the opening tip. He scored 13 first quarter points to get things going, before moving into more of a facilitator role as the game went on — and his teammates rewarded him by knocking down shots.

Iman Shumpert and James Jones combined for 17 points in the second quarter, and LeBron’s first seven assists all resulted in makes from three-point distance.

The Hawks were able to hang around, however, and trailed by just four early in the third despite it never really feeling like they posed a credible threat to take the Cavaliers out. Cleveland made that perception a reality by putting together a 19-4 run that lasted almost six minutes, and extended the lead to 20 points late in the period. Atlanta never challenged the rest of the way, and the fourth quarter was, for the most part, extended garbage time.

Things got even worse for the Hawks when they lost two more key players with injuries. Kyle Korver left in the third with what the team was calling an ankle sprain, after Matthew Dellavedova rolled onto his leg during a scramble for a loose ball. A short time later, Al Horford was helped off the floor with a knee injury, but he returned after being examined on the bench.

Injuries weren’t the reason the Hawks were so overmatched, however, and they weren’t a factor for the victorious Cavaliers.

Atlanta hasn’t been dominant for quite some time; the Hawks won 40 of their first 48 games of the season, before finishing just 20-14, and losing twice in the first round of the playoffs to a 38-win Brooklyn Nets squad. Winning 60 games in the watered-down Eastern Conference isn’t as impressive as it may have seemed on the surface, and the Cavaliers, even without Kyrie Irving, were able to expose the Hawks for what they are, and are likely to continue to do so for the two more games it will take to wrap up this series.

James Harden was ‘kicking chairs’ after Rockets’ Game 2 loss to Warriors

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Two
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James Harden was magnificent in Game 2 against the Warriors, but ultimately came up short.

Trailing by a point with possession and eight seconds or so remaining, Harden was unable to get a shot off, and turned the ball over after being double-teamed by Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson on the final play of the contest.

It was a crushing loss, and we saw some of Harden’s frustration as cameras caught him knocking some curtains over on his way to the locker room.

Evidently, there was more.

From Jimmy Spencer of Sporting News:

“Kicking chairs, it’s frustrating,” Harden said. “Frustrating to give the game away like that for myself.” …

“Ten out of 10 times, we’ll take that play,” Harden said. “It gave me confidence, but it’s still frustrating when I know I could have at least got a shot up.” …

“Got the ball off the glass, and I’m thinking, just to try to get an easy one,” Harden said. “They did a good job of having two guys on me, so I couldn’t attack, and when I looked up I saw a red jersey and it was Dwight so I tried to throw it back to him. At that time I’m thinking five seconds on the clock, so I tried to get the ball back, and there was still two guys right there. I watched the film. It’s just a tough, tough play.”

Watching it again, it appeared as though Harden had a brief opportunity to get a shot up earlier in the possession, after he got a bit of separation from Thompson. But he passed up the shot, perhaps because Harrison Barnes was running right behind him at that very moment, and Harden didn’t feel he had the space.

Either way, the frustration is completely understandable.

Pero Antic commits flagrant foul on LeBron James (VIDEO)

Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game One

LeBron James was in attack mode from the very beginning of his team’s Game 2 contest against the Hawks, which was predictable for a couple of reasons.

With Kyrie Irving out of the lineup due to the lingering effects of a knee injury, James would need to be more assertive in taking control on the offensive end of the floor. And, with Atlanta’s DeMarre Carroll playing through a knee issue of his own, James would want to attack his defender as much as possible since he’s out there while being well below 100 percent.

As a result, James was largely unstoppable — so Hawks big man Pero Antic resorted to simply shoving him to the ground.

It wasn’t an attempt at defense, so I’m fine with the flagrant call, which only came after officials went to the monitor for a video review.

James finished the first quarter with 13 points, and the Cavaliers were out to a double-digit lead early in the second.