Author: Brett Pollakoff

Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls - Game Five

Jason Kidd makes aggressive timeout call late in Bucks’ win over Bulls (VIDEO)


With the Bucks holding a precarious four-point lead late in Chicago on Monday, and after Michael Carter-Williams looked to reset the offense after a fast break opportunity didn’t work out, Jason Kidd wanted to make sure his young team had the proper instructions.

He attempted to call timeout, but whether due to the noise in the arena or the officials being focused on the play, they didn’t acknowledge Kidd, at least initially.

So, Kidd did what any self-respecting NBA head coach would in that situation — he jumped up and down, and screamed the closest referee’s name in order to achieve the desired result.

Damian Lillard scores 32 points to help Blazers avoid being swept by Grizzlies (VIDEO)

Utah Jazz v Portland Trail Blazers
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Damian Lillard was among the Blazers who had struggled through the first three games of their playoff series against the Grizzlies, and not surprisingly, all three of them resulted in Portland losses.

Facing elimination on Monday, Lillard was able to return to form to help his team avoid elimination, if only for one more night.

Lillard looked incredible at times, and finished with 32 points on 12-of-23 shooting to lead his team from 10 down in the fourth to a season-saving victory.

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The spin move to split the double team and reverse layup at about the 58-second mark was among his more impressive plays of the night.

Incredible 35-point performance from Deron Williams leads Nets to overtime Game 4 win over Hawks

Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets- Game Four

NEW YORK — Deron Williams had scored five total points on 2-of-15 shooting over the last two games of Brooklyn’s first-round playoff series against the Hawks, and was benched for the entire fourth quarter of Saturday’s Game 3, which the Nets won more due to an uncharacteristically lackluster Atlanta performance than because of anything else.

But Williams figuratively rose from the dead on Monday, and turned in an incredible performance to lead his team to a 120-115 overtime victory which evened the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.

“It’s very satisfying,” Nets head coach Lionel Hollins said of Williams afterward. “The kid has overcome a lot of adversity, with the injuries and with the negativity around his name. For him to come out showed a lot of character to put on a performance like that, especially when we needed it. Because without that performance, I don’t know if we get out of here with a win. I’ll take it, and I’m excited about it.”

Williams finished with 35 points, five rebounds, seven assists and three steals, and scored 16 in the fourth quarter while making some incredibly difficult shots. He had been buried by the media in recent days, and Hollins, unprompted, jumped to his defense at Sunday’s practice.

“I’m disappointed in how everybody’s coming down on Deron and trying to treat him like he’s a pariah,” Hollins told reporters. “Deron’s a good person, he’s a good player. Now, is he on the level that you guys think he should be? That’s your fault for thinking that somebody should be something.”

“No player is the same as he was four years ago,” Hollins continued. “All I’m saying is the guy has played well and somebody picks out that he has two points. So what? He played well. It’s not just about the scoring. There’s a lot of teams that would be better because they have some guys who score a lot of points. But it’s about winning, it’s about doing the right things for the team. And I’ll defend Deron till the end on that and all my players to the end.”

On this night, no defense of Deron was needed. He started off hot with 11 first-quarter points, and set the tone early for his teammates by playing with a high level of aggressiveness. The Hawks were largely unfazed, however, and went on a run in the second quarter to erase an eight-point deficit and take a six-point lead into the halftime intermission.

One particular play stood out — a fast break opportunity where Atlanta pushed the ball, and zipped three quick passes around to create a wide open corner three for Mike Scott, which he calmly knocked down. These were the Hawks that won 60 games during the regular season, and it appeared as though they might have returned in time to take control of the series.

Atlanta carried its strong play through the third, where it pushed the lead to as many as 12 points. The Hawks dominated the period by knocking down 13 of their 20 shot attempts, and hitting the offensive glass hard to rebound all but two of their misses.

But Williams opened the fourth quarter by hitting back-to-back threes and a step-back jumper to cut the lead to three, while singlehandedly bringing his team back. He made a lot of tough shots, but the craziest came with his team trailing by two and just under two minutes to play. The shot clock was winding down, and he was being hounded by Jeff Teague some 35 feet from the basket.

And then, this happened.

“I said thank god,” Hollins remarked, when discussing the shot that was characterized as a prayer in a postgame question. “We needed it, and it was answered.”

It was by no means the game’s deciding play; that would have been this one from Thaddeus Young, an and-1 floater with just under a minute to play in the overtime session. But it was one of the most important in terms of keeping the Nets in it long enough to eventually emerge victorious.

“I honestly don’t know what happened,” Williams said of his shot-clock-buzzer-beating shot. “I just knew the clock was winding down, I had to get a shot off and it felt good as soon as it left my hand.”

Williams never responds publicly to criticism, and seems to take any negative comments in stride — including some that came from his former teammate Paul Pierce just before the postseason began. But he does hear them, and when someone like his head coach takes up publicly for him, the kindness doesn’t go unnoticed.

“It definitely means a lot,” Williams said of Hollins defending him. “I thanked him today after the game, and it means a lot when your coach, when you’re struggling like that, when your coach comes out and defends you the way he did, it definitely means a lot. It says a lot about how much he cares about not only me, but this team and our players.”

Hollins has been able to turn the negativity surrounding Williams early in this series into a huge positive, which has galvanized his team in the process. Williams was able to respond on the court with a transcendent Game 4 performance, and hopes to build on it the rest of the way.

“I just want to keep being aggressive like this throughout the series,” Williams said. “We evened it up, we’re playing better as a team, and we’re figuring things out. So I just need to keep being aggressive like this.”

Chris Paul scores 34 points, Clippers win Game 4 to even series with Spurs

Tiago Splitter, Chris Paul

The Clippers were in desperation mode entering Sunday’s Game 4 against the Spurs, and after the previous game where they never led and trailed by as many as 37 points, you knew things would be different for them from the opening tip.

L.A. brought the energy from the very start, got superstar performances from Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and was able to pull away for the 114-105 win in San Antonio to even the best-of-seven series.

Paul was magnificent, and finished with 34 points on 11-of-19 shooting, to go along with seven assists. He really took over in the fourth, scoring 10 of his points in the final period — a feat even more impressive when considering the fact that he picked up his fifth personal foul with 8:25 to play, yet was able to remain aggressive the rest of the way.

Griffin, meanwhile, finished with 20 points, but his work on the glass in hauling down 19 rebounds was even more critical to his team’s success.

The Clippers got a huge boost off the bench from Austin Rivers, who finished with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting in 17 minutes of action. A reserve unit which usually only features Jamal Crawford as a capable scorer benefited greatly from Rivers’ shifts, as he was aggressive and attacking on the offensive end of the floor where he was seemingly (and uncharacteristically) unable to be stopped.

On the Spurs’ side, San Antonio was competitive for most of it, as expected. Kawhi Leonard had another solid overall performance in finishing with 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists, but he wasn’t nearly as impactful as he’d been in the last two contests. Danny Green missed all six of his attempts from three-point distance, and Patty Mills provided an early spark, but then seemed to get too many minutes later on when Tony Parker might have been more under control, and better able to guide the San Antonio ship.

It was as close to a must-win as possible for the Clippers, who would have faced the daunting task of trying to beat the Spurs three straight times just to keep their season alive had they fallen in this one. But Paul and Griffin made sure that the series would be headed back to Los Angeles all tied up at two games apiece.

Warriors’ Andrew Bogut in line for contract bonus if he makes All-Defensive team

Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans - Game Four

Draymond Green may have gotten more first-place votes for Defensive Player of the Year than the actual winner of the award did, but Andrew Bogut has been just as strong for the Warriors in anchoring the league’s best defense from the center position.

And he’s about to get a nice payday because of it.

Plenty of players have incentive bonuses worked into their contracts, and Bogut is no different. He’s already met a threshold for games played, and should he be named to one of the league’s All-Defensive teams, Bogut will receive a well-earned reward of almost two million dollars.

From Rusty Simmons of

(via HoopsHype):

Warriors center Andrew Bogut played more than 65 regular-season games and is expected to make one of the NBA’s All-Defensive teams this month.

If that happens, Bogut will get a bonus of 15 percent of his salary — more than $1.9 million. The bonus will be added to the three-year, $36 million extension he signed in October 2013.

The bonus would count against the Warriors’ salary cap, but team officials say it wouldn’t push the number into the luxury tax.

Bogut made the first team on three of our four unofficial All-Defensive team ballots, and made the second team on the fourth. He seems to be a lock to land on one of the two when the league makes the announcement official in the coming weeks.