Author: Brett Pollakoff

Central Florida v Connecticut

Kevin Ollie, rumored to be a candidate to replace Scott Brooks in OKC, says he’s staying at UConn


The Thunder are going to take a long look at potentially replacing Scott Brooks this summer, for a variety of reasons.

It isn’t only that Oklahoma City missed the playoffs this year, because that’s more due to injuries than it is the fault of Brooks. But his Xs and Os on the offensive end of the floor have long been criticized, and with the Thunder having just one more season before Kevin Durant can leave as an unrestricted free agent, it’s critical they do everything possible to make an immediate run at a title.

The latest candidate rumored to be linked to the still-filled head coaching position is Kevin Ollie, who is now coaching at the University of Connecticut, but has a relationship with the Thunder organization after playing there during his final NBA season in 2010.

Ollie, however, seems to have taken his name out of the running for any potential opportunities.

From Anthony Slater of

“As I have said many times, I am proud and honored to be the head basketball coach at the University of Connecticut and I have no plans to pursue other opportunities,” Ollie’s statement read. “We are already excited about next season and I am looking forward to preparing our team to be the best we can be on the court, in the classroom, and in our community.”

Sam Presti and the Thunder front office have yet to comment on the future of Brooks. Though Brooks was publicly backed by his star players recently, a Yahoo report right after the season said OKC was taking its time to reassess the coaching position before deciding which direction to move.

Presti is scheduled to have a press conference on Friday morning where he’s likely to discuss the situation.

It’s unlikely we’ll get much clarity on the situation during that press conference. As long as Brooks still holds the position, his general manager isn’t going to openly discuss the possibility that he’s searching for a replacement.

But it’s a reality that the Thunder organization has to do everything in its power to make sure next season isn’t Durant’s last in Oklahoma City — and that includes looking high and low for an upgrade at head coach.

Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas starts the fast break by dribbling through Kevin Love’s legs (VIDEO)

Isaiah Thomas

As the Cavaliers began to take control of their Game 2 matchup with the Celtics, the only thing that was keeping Boston alive on the offensive end of the floor was the aggressive, crafty play of Isaiah Thomas.

Thomas led his team with 22 points and seven assists, and used this nifty bit of dribbling to get by Kevin Love — who has at least a foot of a height advantage over Thomas — to start one of his team’s fast breaks in the second half.

Love, of course, had his own highlights in this one, and the Cavaliers emerged as the victors to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

[via EOB]

Wizards’ Bradley Beal: Raptors ‘think that we’re some punks’

NBA Play-offs. Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors

The Raptors opened Game 2 against the Wizards by getting out to a 10-point lead, in a game they had to have if they were going to have a chance at winning the best-of-seven series.

But by halftime, the Wizards had turned things around and were able to take an 11-point lead into the intermission, thanks in large part to 20 first-half points from Bradley Beal on 9-of-14 shooting.

So, what got him going? Perhaps his outburst was prompted by his opponent.

“They think that we’re some punks,” Beal said during his halftime walk-off interview. “They think that they can push us around, but … we’re not rolling.”

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It’s unclear what specifically got under Beal’s skin. But his 28 points on the night led all scorers, and the Raptors, trailing 2-0 with the series headed back to Washington, now find themselves in an impossible situation.

Kyle Lowry leaves with leg injury late in Raptors’ Game 2 loss to Wizards (VIDEO)

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Kyle Lowry suffered a shin contusion after colliding with Paul Pierce with six minutes remaining in Toronto’s Game 2 loss to the Wizards on Tuesday.

The game had already been decided; the Raptors were trailing by 15 points at the time, and Lowry had been largely ineffective, finishing with just six points on 3-of-10 shooting to go along with four assists in 27 minutes of action. But he left the game and did not return, which has his status for Game 3 at least a little bit in doubt.

From Brian Windhorst of

The Raptors said Lowry will be re-evaluated Wednesday and it’s possible he could get some tests to determine whether there is any damage.

“It’s a little left knee, left shin contusion,” Lowry said. “But I’ll be OK.” …

“He’s trying to get back from the time that he’s had off from his back, when you’re trying to get back into the groove and he struggles,” coach Dwane Casey said. “I know Kyle; he isn’t going to say “it’s my back,” but that’s the difference.”

Toronto’s problem on this night was on the defensive end of the floor, where Bradley Beal and John Wall combined for 54 points and 19 assists during a game where Washington built a lead of as many as 23 points.

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It didn’t look too bad, and Lowry may ultimately be fine with a couple of days rest. But the Raptors need his mobility and playmaking on the floor if they’re going to begin to climb back into this series.

LeBron’s 30-point performance leads Cavaliers to hard-fought Game 2 win over Celtics

Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Two

The Cavaliers took Game 2 from the Celtics, but they needed plenty of heroics from both LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to get the job done.

James finished with 30 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, while Irving added 26 points of his own to secure the 99-91 victory, and the 2-0 series lead that came along with it.

Boston outworked Cleveland for much of the first half to lead by as many as nine points, despite shooting just 38.3 percent from the field over the first two periods. The Celtics used offensive rebounds and Cavaliers turnovers to earn eight additional shot attempts, and got contributions from everyone to keep the game close.

But despite an early measure of success, Boston trailed by one at the intermission. The Cavaliers then went up by 14 points midway through the third, thanks to a 15-2 run that featured not one, but two incredible alley-oop slams — the first on a half-court pass from James to Kevin Love, and the second on a fast break where Irving found James for one of the game’s more thunderous finishes.

But the Celtics didn’t quit. They were able to slowly and steadily battle back, behind the offense of Isaiah Thomas and a defense which forced seven fourth-quarter Cavaliers turnovers. Boston was back within two with just under seven minutes to play, and was within four with a little over three minutes left before Irving and James — who combined to score all 24 of Cleveland’s fourth-quarter points — were able to close the game out.

The Celtics may have finished the regular season with a record of just 40-42, but they ended it on a tear, winning 23 of their last 35 games. They’re better than their record would indicate, they’re capable of causing problems for their opponent for extended stretches, and they made the Cavaliers work for everything they got in this one.

But in the end, the elite level of talent on the Cleveland roster was too much to overcome, and that will almost certainly be the case for the final two (or perhaps three) games that remain in this first-round series.

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