Author: Brett Pollakoff

Nikola Mirotic, Joakim Noah

Bulls’ Nikola Mirotic commits flagrant foul in Game 6 with clothesline of Iman Shumpert (VIDEO)


Nikola Mirotic caught Iman Shumpert with a clothesline of sorts in the second quarter of Game 6 between the Bulls and the Cavaliers, and was issued a flagrant-one foul because of it.

The contact to the neck was unnecessary, and the flagrant-one seemed to be the correct call.

Shumpert seemed to be unaffected, and scored his team’s next five points to put the Cavaliers up 47-40 with 4:31 to play in the first half.

Taj Gibson’s next flagrant foul will trigger automatic suspension

Taj Gibson

Taj Gibson was ejected from the Bulls’ Game 5 loss to the Cavaliers, for a “kick” to Matthew Dellavedova that didn’t look nearly as bad on the replay as it did in real time.

Dellavedova had grabbed Gibson with a leg lock, which caused Gibson to shake his foot free. That more than anything else is why he appeared to kick Dellavedova while he was down, and despite this being clear on the replay, the officials felt that a flagrant-two foul was warranted — perhaps due to the totality of Gibson’s actions during the entire possession.

A day later, the league ruled that Dellavedova would be issued a retroactive technical foul for his actions. But Gibson’s flagrant-two would stand as called, and that has him in line for an automatic suspension should he pick up another flagrant foul at any point during the postseason.

Fron K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

The NBA retroactively assessed a technical foul to Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova for his role in the altercation Tuesday that led to Taj Gibson’s ejection with 10 minutes, 25 seconds left in Game 5.

Gibson’s flagrant-2 foul didn’t get downgraded, which means he has three points for two flagrant fouls during the postseason. Another flagrant would trigger an automatic suspension — one game for a flagrant-1 and two for a flagrant-2.

“Still don’t understand it,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said of Gibson’s ejection. “It was a nothing play.”

By itself, it was indeed. But Gibson was working on a confrontation with Dellavedova from the possession’s early stages, and the end result (to me) meant the ejection was justified.

Gibson will need to be careful the rest of the way, but with the Bulls facing elimination should they lose at home to the Cavaliers on Thursday, he may not have to watch himself for that much longer.

Al Horford hits game-winner to give Hawks Game 5 win over Wizards

Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks - Game Five

The Hawks and the Wizards battled through an ugly but competitive Game 5 contest, only to give us one of the postseason’s more exciting finishes.

In the end, it was Al Horford grabbing an offensive rebound and getting a put-back to go with 1.9 seconds remaining that was the difference, and Atlanta came away with the 82-81 victory to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

John Wall returned to the starting lineup for the Wizards, and played through the five fractures on his non-shooting hand. While he was far from dominant, he was plenty effective, and at times spectacular. Wall finished with 15 points on 7-of-15 shooting, to go along with seven assists, four rebounds and four steals.

Horford, meanwhile, was the man for the Hawks. In addition to coming up with the game-winner, he got the job done on both ends of the floor all night long, leading his team in scoring with 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting, to go along with 11 rebounds and five blocked shots.

Again, this game was far from aesthetically pleasing. The two teams combined to shoot 9-of-38 from three-point distance, and committed a ridiculous total of 42 turnovers.

The Hawks barely scored at all during the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter, and were only able to put up three points on free throws during that painfully long stretch. Their first field goal of the period didn’t come until Kyle Korver knocked down a long three with just under five minutes to play which cut the Wizards lead to three. That was part of a 14-0 run that put the Hawks back in control with under two minutes left.

Then came the late-game heroics.

Paul Pierce was stripped of the ball with the game tied and under 20 seconds left, and that led to a perfectly-executed two-on-one Atlanta fast break that gave the Hawks a two-point lead. Pierce was clearly fouled by Korver on the play, but nothing was called, and he seethed on the bench during the ensuing timeout while plotting his revenge.

Pierce came through on the next possession, knocking down a big-time three to give Washington a one-point lead with eight seconds left. But his effort ultimately went to waste.

Dennis Schröder came flying in for a layup attempt with a few seconds left, and as the shot came off, Horford was in the right place at the right time to convert the game-winning finish.

Despite the ugly statistics, this was a highly-competitive contest that came down to the game’s final possession. Wall played well enough to be emboldened for Game 6 at home, and given just how close the games in this series have been, it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see these two teams back in Atlanta on Monday for a decisive Game 7.

Kevin Durant reveals sketch of his upcoming signature shoe from Nike, the KD 8


Kevin Durant didn’t get much on-court use of his current signature sneaker model from Nike thanks to a season that was unfortunately derailed by injuries.

Here’s hoping the KD8, which Durant himself has been teasing the unveil of through his social media channels, gets a lot more on-court action from the man himself.

At first glance, the shoe appears to have a lower silhouette than the previous model, and a change in the forefoot cushioning — perhaps in response to the Jones fracture Durant suffered early in the season.

We’ll have the full details of the KD8 as soon as they’re officially revealed, which likely can’t be too far off given Durant’s recent willingness to distribute the information.

Report: ‘Not enough support’ among GMs to change ‘Hack-a-Shaq’ rule

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Four

Adam Silver has said he’s on the fence about whether or not the league should look to change the rules surrounding intentional fouls away from the ball — also known as the Hack-a-Shaq strategy — that sends dismal free throw shooters to the line on purpose.

From a strategy standpoint, it can seem to make sense.

From an aesthetic standpoint, it’s brutal to watch.

The NBA is an entertainment product above all else, so removing the least entertaining portion of the game would seem to be in the league’s best interest. But while an earlier report placed the odds of the league making such a change at 85 percent, the latest version seems to indicate that team executives aren’t wholeheartedly convinced.

From Ken Berger of

At the annual meeting of NBA general managers Wednesday in Chicago, there was no overwhelming consensus to change the rules to discourage teams from intentionally fouling poor free-throw shooters, league sources told

“There is not enough support to change it,” one executive in the meeting said. “It’s one of those perception is bigger than reality issues.”

League officials presented data on intentional fouling that strongly suggested the problem is an isolated one, despite all the attention it has gotten during the postseason. According to the data shared with GMs at the meeting, 76 percent of the intentional fouls this season — regular season and playoffs — have been committed against five players: DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Joey Dorsey and Andre Drummond.

Jordan, the Clippers’ center who has been hacked into the next century through the first two rounds of the playoffs, has accounted for about half of all intentional fouls this season, according to the league data.

The statistics presented are what likely killed the desire to make a change more than anything else.

If such a small percentage of players are the ones victimized by the strategy the vast majority of the time, then it would seem to be a smaller problem than most have made it out to be. But because two of those players are currently facing each other in a high-profile seven-game series in the second round of the playoffs, it can make for some extremely ugly basketball, nationally-televised all by itself for the NBA-watching world to see.

It’s worth noting that this will still be discussed by the competition committee during its July meeting in Las Vegas, and it may still be recommended that the rules need to be changed. But it’s far from a consensus at this point, at least in the early stages of discussion.