Author: Brett Pollakoff

Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler

Tyson Chandler won’t be suspended for throwing punch at Dwight Howard in Mavericks’ Game 4 win over Rockets


With under three minutes to play in the Mavericks’ Game 4 win over the Rockets, Tyson Chandler and Dwight Howard got tangled up under the basket.

Unlike the somewhat similar play that occurred between Kevin Love and Kelly Olynyk that cost Love the remainder of the postseason due to injury, no one was hurt in the Chandler-Howard exchange.

But that’s only because a right-handed swing that Chandler took at Howard ultimately missed its mark.

A play like that is supposed to result in an automatic ejection, if in fact it was determined that Chandler was throwing a punch. It could also have resulted in a suspension, but evidently the league decided to look the other way, and believe that Chandler’s intent wasn’t to hurt Howard, but to merely break free.

From Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

The NBA opted not to take any further action on an altercation in which Mavericks center Tyson Chandler seemed to take a swing at Rockets center Dwight Howard, a person with knowledge of the decision said. …

NBA rules call for a one-game suspension for trying to strike an opponent, whether open-handed or with a closed fist or whether it lands or not. But Chandler’s swing at Howard could have been ruled as part of the effort to get free. …

“It’s playoff basketball,” Dwight Howard said. “He’s fighting for his life. We’re fighting to move on. It’s going to be a battle. I don’t care (if the games are physical), as long as we get a chance to fight and hit back. It really doesn’t matter to me. I understand what they’re goal is as far as to try to get me frustrated, to try to get me to pick up some cheap fouls. I just have to stay away from it.”

Chandler denied having any intention of starting an altercation.

Chandler said he hadn’t heard any of that speculation until shoot around before Game 5 on Tuesday.

“That is the first time I heard that,” Chandler said. “I didn’t throw any punches. I wouldn’t throw a punch at Dwight.”

Other than perhaps Rockets fans in this instance, no one is rooting for players to be suspended. But it seems pretty clear that Chandler was frustrated and took a swing at Howard here, which means the rules pertaining to a situation like this one should have been properly enforced.

Anonymous GM: If Brook Lopez wants to stay with Nets, ‘he should be able to get whatever he wants’

Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets

Deron Williams was unquestionably the star of the Nets’ Game 4 win over the Hawks on Monday, but Brook Lopez was just as important to his team’s winning effort.

Lopez finished with 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting, while grabbing 10 rebounds and protecting the rim with four blocked shots.

The performance was far from an aberration; Lopez has been on a tear to end the regular season, and his dominant inside presence has continued to be a factor against the East’s top-seeded team in the playoffs.

Lopez will have a choice to make this summer. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Nets have to hope it’s one that allows him to remain in Brooklyn — and not only for next season.

From Fred Kerber of the New York Post:

One opposing general manager, who said the prevailing thinking around the league is Lopez stays put and gets a max deal, may have summed it up best.

“If he walks, where are they going? They don’t have draft picks. They’re flip-flopping their pick [with Atlanta]. They’re getting the 29th instead of the 15th. For their future, I don’t see how they can lose him,” the GM said. “If Brook wants to stay there, he should be able to get whatever he wants.” …

Lopez has options. He can opt out and stay with the Nets on a five-year deal — other teams can offer four — and that would ease any self-worry about foot issues resurfacing. Or with all the TV money set to flood the market after next season, Lopez could sign a two-year deal with a player option for the second year. It makes no sense not to opt out.

Lopez has a player option for $16.7 million for next season, but can certainly make more in guaranteed money by signing a longer-term deal, either in Brooklyn or somewhere else.

The point, here, is that Lopez seemingly has all the leverage. The Nets need to keep their All-Star caliber talent in place if they hope to compete, because there is no help coming in the form of young talent through the draft for the next several seasons. Brooklyn might like to convince Lopez to take the two-year route, just to maintain some semblance of future cap flexibility. But what’s more important is securing his services for what appears likely to be the prime of his career.

Robin Lopez personally customized shoes for Damian Lillard (PHOTOS)

Sacramento Kings v Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard launched his own signature line of shoes from adidas this year, and while the D Lillard 1 is aesthetically pleasing in a variety of colorways, there’s something special about one of your teammates taking the time to customize a pair personally.

Robin Lopez did just that, and Lillard wore what appeared to be a hand-painted pair during his season-saving 32-point performance in the Blazers’ Game 4 win over the Grizzlies.


Jarrett Jack fires back at Paul Pierce after Deron Williams’ breakout Game 4 performance

Deron Williams, Paul Pierce

Before the playoffs began, Paul Pierce had some less-than-flattering things to say about the Nets, a team he played for the previous season.

Pierce specifically targeted Deron Williams, and questioned whether or not he could truly perform on one of the game’s biggest stages.

“Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate,” Pierce said. “But I felt once we got there, that’s not what he wanted to be. He just didn’t want that.

“I think a lot of the pressure got to him sometimes. This was his first time in the national spotlight. The media in Utah is not the same as the media in New York, so that can wear on some people. I think it really affected him.”

It didn’t affect him in Game 4, where Williams turned in a transcendent 35-point performance to lead his team to a Game 4 victory over the top-seeded Hawks, silencing all critics in the process.

Jarrett Jack was among those that were there to pick up Williams when he was down the last few days, and after Williams responded brilliantly on the court, Jack addressed Pierce’s comments.

From Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:

“I’m not worried about people that’s saying stuff that’s not inside this locker room. So, if you’re on another team and you comment on another player, I don’t understand why you’re doing that anyway,” Jack told the News. “Especially that’s something that’s in the past, it’s over and done with. If you had something you want to say, you should have done it when you were in the locker room with him. And doing it publicly, I just thought that was, I don’t know. I don’t want to say it’s in poor taste because I think Paul is a professional, he’s just answering a question, but I probably wouldn’t have done it in that fashion.”

Should the Nets continue to come together they way they have over the past two games, and find a way to become just the sixth eighth-seeded team to knock off a one-seed in postseason history, they’ll get a chance to face Pierce and the Wizards in the second round.

J.R. Smith posts apology after getting suspended: ‘I must be better as a player and as a person’

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The header of the Instagram page for J.R. Smith reads as follows:

“I’m just me! An I’m perfectly fine with not being perfect!”

The irony, of course, is the lack of spelling perfection displayed. (Well, that and his less-than-perfect on-court actions.)

Smith was suspended two games for the backhand punch he landed to the face of Jae Crowder during Cleveland’s Game 4 win in Boston on Sunday. It was a costly play, because the Cavaliers had already seen Kevin Love leave the game due to injury, and since he’ll now be unavailable for at least the entirety of their second-round series, Smith should have been smarter in not doing anything that could jeopardize his team having to play with another starter out of the lineup.

That’s the situation Smith placed his team in, however, and shortly after the news of the suspension was announced, Smith posted an apology of sorts to his Instagram page.

“Not the player I want to be not the player I want my teammates an family to see not the person I want the fans to see but I will be better! I must be better as a player an as a Person!”

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Smith started in 45 of his 46 regular season appearances for the Cavaliers, and averaged 12.7 points on 42.5 percent shooting in 31.8 minutes per contest. That’s a lot of minutes to replace, and the threat of him as a shooter is far greater than that of someone like Matthew Dellavedova, who could get the bulk of the minutes replacing Smith in the starting lineup.