Dan Feldman

Erik Spoelstra on Dwayne Wade’s final shot: ‘He got fouled’

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The Hornets escaped Miami with a two-point Game 5 win yesterday, but not before roughing up Dwyane Wade on his final shot.

Cody Zeller and Courtney Lee defended Wade’s attempted putback, and Wade fell to the floor after contact.

Enough contact to warrant a foul?

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, via Dave George of The Palm Beach Post:

“I don’t need to see it,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said when asked if he watched a replay on the crucial no-call. “He got fouled.”

Wade, via Ethan Skolnick of the Miami Herald:

“I haven’t looked at it,” Wade said. “It’s pointless now. There’s no reason for me to look at it. It’s not going to change anything. I thought I did. But it wasn’t called.”

Officials rarely blow the whistle in those closing moments, because they don’t want to decide the game – as if letting a foul go uncalled isn’t also deciding the game. I hate how the de facto rules change in crunch time, but everyone – including Zeller and Lee – knows the situation. That affected how Charlotte defended.

Should it have been a foul? It’s close. I think Zeller was clean, but it appears Lee got his hands too much on Wade.

It’ll be interesting to see what the Last Two Minute Report says after the NBA reviews the play from multiple angles.

There’s a less suspense about Spoelstra’s fate. He’ll probably get fined.

Warriors, despite dropping game, historically dominant in series win over Rockets

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The Rockets stunned the basketball world.

By beating the Warriors once.

With a Game 3 upset, Houston upended the widely held assumption that Golden State would dominate a first-round sweep. But that altered only the series’ length, not the Warriors’ preeminence.

Golden State outscored the Rockets by 94 points in its 4-1 victory – a combined point difference topped by only one four-game sweep in NBA history.

Overall, the Warriors’ +94 ranks fourth among all series. The Thunder (who outscored the Mavericks by 91) and Spurs (who outscored the Grizzlies by 88) also produced historically lopsided series in this year’s first round.

Here’s every series in which a team’s combined point difference was at least 70:

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Series Scores
2009 first round: DEN d. NOH, 4-1 113-84, 108-93, 93-95, 121-63, 107-86
2010 conference semifinals: ORL d. ATL, 4-0 114-71, 112-98, 105-75, 98-84
1986 first round: LAL d. SAS, 3-0 135-88, 122-94, 114-94
2016 first round: GSW d. HOU, 4-1 104-78, 115-106, 96-97, 121-94, 114-81
2016 first round: OKC d. DAL, 4-1 108-70, 84-85, 131-102, 119-108, 118-104
2001 conference finals: LAL d. SAS, 4-0 104-90, 88-81, 111-72, 111-82
2016 first round: SAS d. MEM, 4-0 106-74, 94-68, 96-87, 116-95
1971 conference semifinals: MIL d. SFW, 4-1 107-96, 104-90, 114-102, 104-106, 136-86
2008 first round: BOS d. ATL, 4-3 104-81, 96-77, 93-102, 92-97, 110-85, 100-103, 99-65
1987 first round: LAL d. DEN, 3-0 128-95, 139-127, 140-103
1989 conference semifinals: PHO d. GSW, 4-1 130-103, 122-127, 113-104, 135-99, 116-104
1948 semifinals: PHW d. STB, 4-3 58-60, 65-64, 84-56, 51-56, 62-69, 84-61, 85-46
2013 first round: SAS d. LAL, 4-0 91-79, 102-91, 120-89, 103-82
1978 conference semifinals: PHI d. NYK, 4-0 130-90, 119-100, 137-126, 112-107
2015 first round: CHI d. MIL, 4-2 103-91, 91-82, 113-106, 90-92, 88-94, 120-66
1980 conference semifinals: BOS d. HOU, 4-0 119-101, 95-75, 100-81, 138-121
2009 conference semifinals: CLE d. ATL, 4-0 99-72, 105-85, 97-82, 84-74
1984 conference semifinals: LAL d. DAL, 4-1 134-91, 117-101, 115-125, 122-115, 115-99
1973 conference finals: LAL d. GSW, 4-1 101-99, 104-93, 126-70, 109-117, 128-118
2014 NBA Finals: SAS d. MIA, 4-1 110-95, 96-98, 111-92, 107-86, 104-87
2012 first round: MIA d. NYK, 4-1 100-67, 104-94, 87-70, 87-89, 106-94
1996 conference semifinals: UTA d. SAS, 4-2 95-75, 77-88, 105-75, 101-86, 87-98, 108-81

The Grizzlies’ injuries obviously contributed to the Spurs’ success. San Antonio probably would’ve won the series regardless, but it’s far less likely three of the games would’ve been cakewalks. Perhaps, the Mavericks could’ve put up more of a fight against the Grizzlies with more Chandler Parsons, Deron Williams and J.J. Barea.

Of course, injury also affected the Warriors. Imagine how badly they would’ve beaten Houston if Stephen Curry were healthy the whole series.

In the end, the Rockets played like a team ready for vacation, and Golden State was good enough to take – big – advantage.

(This post was updated to include Oklahoma City’s win over Dallas.)

DeAndre Jordan (!) drives from 3-point arc to dunk on Mason Plumlee (video)

Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, right, goes in for a dunk over Portland Trail Blazers center Mason Plumlee during the second half in Game 5 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Wednesday, April 27, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Trail Blazers won 108-98. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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DeAndre Jordan drove just three times for a basket all regular season, according to the NBA.

But if Mason Plumlee is going to give him all that space and turn his head… This turned into Jordan’s ball-handling vs. Jordan’s dunking, and Jordan’s dunking won – all over Plumlee.

Even in a Clippers loss, this was pretty spectacular.

Courtney Lee hits big 3 to help Hornets pull out win over Heat

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For Courtney Lee, massages apparently double as bible studies, and his dual session yesterday proved useful.

Lee scored the final points – a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left after looking limber while extending the possession with an offensive rebound – in the Hornets’ 90-88 Game 5 win over the Heat on Wednesday.

“She was explaining faith, and it was like just believe in something that you can’t see,” said Lee, who was who was 1-for-8 before his final attempt. “And like you said, it’s not my best shooting performance. I felt like I couldn’t make a shot. But the biggest one went in.”

You couldn’t see it when Miami started 4-for-4 with every basket coming at a rim protected by Al Jefferson and Frank Kaminsky. You couldn’t see it when Dwyane Wade (25 points) scored repeatedly against tough Lee defense down the stretch. You couldn’t see it when Lee missed a fastbreak layup – that Wade might have gotten away with goaltending – with just over a minute left.

Yet, Charlotte – which entered the league as an expansion franchise in 1988, moved to New Orleans in 2002, reemerged as the Bobcats in 2004 and changed its nickname back to the Hornets in 2014 – leads Miami 3-2 and is one win from its first-ever best-of-seven series victory. The Hornets, who hadn’t won a single playoff game until Saturday since reentering the NBA as the Bobcats, can close the series at home in Game 6 Friday.

The team leading a best-of-seven series 3-2 has won 85% of the time.

How Charlotte earn this advantageous position? Shooting below 40%, barely offensively rebounding (by design) and attempting a series-low (for either team) 15 free throws.

But the Hornets bombed away from outside, making 12-of-24 3-pointers, and made the key plays. Marvin Williams (17 points, eight rebounds, two assists and three steals) came up big, especially defensively. Nicolas Batum, who’s playing hurt and looked it, missed his first four shots then hit two big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. And Lee – as he did in Game 4 – grabbed a clutch offensive rebound.

With three straight wins, Charlotte has seized loose control of this series. The Hornets have faith.

One more win, and everyone will have no choice but to believe.

Draymond Green: Warriors’ confidence ‘still at the roof’ without Stephen Curry

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) argues a call next to teammate Draymond Green (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics on Friday, April 1, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Draymond Green is going to tell it like it is, and he insists these Golden State Warriors have few issues when it comes to confidence.

Even playing without injured superstar Stephen Curry.

“We’re still very confident. If I sat here and told you our confidence level is the same without Steph, that’s a lie,” Green said after Tuesday’s practice. “I think our confidence level with Steph is through the roof. It’s beyond high. Without Steph, it’s still at the roof. We’re not losing much confidence. We still believe in ourselves. We still think it’s very possible for us to make a run. We’re going to hold it down `til he gets back.”

Sure, losing Curry for likely two weeks or more is a significant blow to the defending champions. It stings to see the NBA’s MVP go down in the middle of the playoffs after a record-setting regular season in which he became the first player to make 400 3-pointers.

“The great thing with Steph is I think he’s got perspective built in just from his family,” newly crowned NBA Coach of the Year Steve Kerr said. “He knows what’s important. His health is extremely important but in the grand scheme of things, he’s healthy, he’s happy, he’s got a great wife and kids and family. He’s probably going to be back playing basketball in a few weeks. It’s just a little bump in the road.”

An MRI exam on Curry’s injured right knee Monday showed a Grade 1 sprain of the MCL. Warriors general manager Bob Myers is estimating at least two weeks for the recovery period, but that’s merely a guess at this stage.

“His spirits are high. He’s good,” Green said of Curry. “It seems like he’s moving a little better than he was yesterday.”

Kerr reminded his team during film study Tuesday that “there’s no guarantee of anything,” using injuries to the Clippers’ Chris Paul and Blake Griffin as examples.

At a minimum, Golden State would likely be without Curry – and his 30.1 scoring average – for the initial four games of the second round if the Warriors advance. They play Game 5 of their best-of-seven series with Houston on Wednesday night at Oracle Arena leading 3-1.

“I just feel bad for Steph more than anything,” Kerr said. “He’s worked so hard and now all of a sudden after really several years of being injury-free, back-to-back injuries. But in a lot of ways, he’s lucky. He’s lucky it’s not worse and if we can take care of business while he’s getting better, there’s a chance he can come back and be part of this playoff run and help us go deep. We’ll try to hold down the fort while he’s out. … He’s obviously not playing any time soon.”

The Warriors won Sunday’s Game 4 at Houston after Curry injured his knee when he slipped awkwardly on the final play of the first half and his legs split apart. Golden State hit eight 3-pointers in the third quarter alone to turn a tie game into a 21-point lead on the way to a 121-94 victory.

“It was alarm,” center Marreese Speights said of his reaction. “All the guys saw how emotional Steph was. We’ve never seen that before. It was like, `There’s no way we’re losing this game. We’re going to go out and play the best we can play for him.”‘

Shaun Livingston already started in Curry’s place for Games 2 and 3, and will be called upon again to carry a bigger load until Curry can play again.

“That’s where it comes to me being assertive and aggressive, exposing mismatches, making them make adjustments. Then also, too, when I’m able to do that, and score and be aggressive, then it opens the floor up a little bit for our shooters and for other guys,” Livingston said. “We’re more locked into attention to detail.”

That moment seeing Curry go down shook Speights. He had never seen his superstar teammate emotionally break or come close to tears, so Curry’s display of dejection immediately after the knee injury Sunday was hard to see.

“It’s a feeling that everybody has in their heart, to see how emotional he was,” Speights said. “He’s a great guy. You never want to see a guy like that go down like that. … Things happen for a reason. He’s going to be all right. We’re going to be good, too.”

In fact, watching Curry go down fueled his teammates. They weren’t going to see him like that and not fight to win it in Curry’s honor.

And just as Golden State has shown all season when someone goes down, this group believes in depth as one of its biggest strengths.

“We feel good because we’ve had this experience before. We’ve had it during the regular season, we’ve had it in this series and in the second half of the last game,” small forward Harrison Barnes said. “We want to continue to build on that momentum and get off to a good start.”