Dan Feldman

Report: Stephen Curry wins MVP

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Stephen Curry didn’t just have the best season in the NBA this year.

He had one of the best seasons ever.

So, of course, the reigning Most Valuable Player turned Most Improved Player candidate will repeat as MVP.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

This was a forgone conclusion, and Curry absolutely deserves the honor. His outside shooting is unprecedented, and he contributes  in so many other underrated ways – scoring at the rim, passing, screening, defending. He’s the best player in the NBA.

The news leaking now strongly indicates the league will announce full results later today, and that will answer the remaining big questions:

NBA: David West got away with key travel in Spurs’ Game 3 win over Thunder

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The Thunder took matters into their own hands in their Game 4 win over the Spurs, closing the game on a 10-0 run.

But Oklahoma City wasn’t in such complete control of its own fate in Game 3 – and outside forces might have made the difference in the result, a 100-96 San Antonio victory.

Spurs forward David West got away with travelling before his basket with 1:19 left, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

West (SAS) moves his pivot foot at the start of his drive.

That basket proved instrumental. San Antonio led by just two when the Thunder started intentionally fouling.

Obviously, it’s impossible to know how the rest of the game would’ve played out without that missed call – the only one in the Last Two Minute Report – but those two points were big.

Hot-shooting Cavaliers continue playoff dominance in Game 3 win over Hawks

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 2: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers fights for a loose ball against Al Horford #15 and Kyle Korver #26 of the Atlanta Hawks during the second half of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals at Quicken Loans Arena on May 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Hawks 104-93. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images
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The Hawks hugged Cleveland’s bigs, Channing Frye and Kevin Love, in the corners. LeBron James droves straight through the lane for a dunk.

Two Hawks lunged at J.R. Smith beyond the arc. He kicked to LeBron, who made an open 3-pointer.

The Cavaliers continued their 3-point onslaught, sending Atlanta into a tizzy, in their 121-109 Game 3 win Friday. Those LeBron baskets on consecutive possessions highlighted a 20-3 Cleveland run in the fourth quarter after the Hawks led most of this game.

The Cavs’ 14th straight win in Eastern Conference playoff games puts them up 3-0 on Atlanta. One more win would give LeBron victories 17 straight Eastern Conference playoff series. Closing this series in Game 4 Sunday would guarantee Cleveland three to seven days more rest than the Heat-Raptors winner in the conference finals.

Nowhere is the Cavaliers’ dominance more impressive than beyond the arc.

Led by Kyle Korver (who made 5-of-9 3-pointers off the bench), the Hawks set a franchise playoff record with 16 3-pointers. Cleveland still made more – 21 on 39 attempts, 54%.

The Cavs have now set a record for 3-pointers through 10 playoff games. This was their seventh game of postseason.

Here’s the running total for 3-pointers though each playoff game, Cleveland in wine and the record entering this year in gold:

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The Hawks relentlessly attacked Kevin Love (21 points, 15 rebounds and three assists) and got him in foul trouble. They repeatedly intentionally fouled Tristan Thompson, who grabbed nine offensive rebounds in 28 minutes but made just 5-of-12 free throws.

No problem for the Cavs.

They just turned to Channing Frye, who delivered the playoff game of his life with 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including 7-of-9 on 3-pointers, and seven rebounds.

Kyrie Irving (24 points) scored when the Cavaliers’ offense was stalling otherwise, and LeBron (24 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists and two steals) was LeBron.

No team has ever blown a 3-0 lead. The way the Cavs have played throughout this series and the level they reached in the fourth quarter tonight, there’s no good reason to believe they’ll become the first.

The only question now is whether they’ll reach the conference finals 8-0 in the playoffs.

Byron Scott: D’Angelo Russell acted ‘entitled’

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 1:  Head coach Byron Scott of the Los Angeles Lakers and D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers talk during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers on January 1, 2016 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
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D'Angelo Russell‘s leaked video of Nick Young redeemed Byron Scott.

Of all the silly things Scott said – and continues to say – labeling Russell immature turned out somewhat valid.

But in taking a victory lap on that assessment, the former Lakers coach exposed a huge problem with his player-development and communication skills.

Scott, via The Dan Patrick Show:

Some of these guys, when they come into the league, they think they’re entitled. And I thought that’s how he felt when he first got with us. He almost tried to act like he was a veteran, and I tried to make sure that he knew that he wasn’t a veteran. You have to earn your stripes. So, yeah, there were times where I was a little tough on him just to bring him back down to earth, to let him know that this is not an easy task when you’re in the NBA. That’s the easy part is getting there. The hardest part is staying there, getting better and better and better. So, yeah, I had some tough love for the young man. But just like I told him, “When I stop talking to you, that’s going to be a problem.”

Like the time Scott didn’t talk to Russell about losing his starting job? Or the time Scott didn’t talk to Russell about putting him back into the starting lineup? Or the time Scott didn’t talk to Russell about the Young video?

Report: Lakers want to trade first-round pick, more for Paul George

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The Lakers just don’t want to trade the No. 1 pick if they get it.

They reportedly have a specific target in mind: Paul George.

Bill Simmons of The Ringer:

First, the Lakers would have to get a top-three pick. They keep their first-rounder only if it lands in the top three, and there’s just a 56% chance of that. It’d also help to get the No. 1 pick, where the Pacers could choose between Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram. There’s a big drop to the prospects available at No. 3, so which pick the Lakers get matters a great deal.

The Lakers might also have to add a valuable young player like D'Angelo Russell or Julius Randle.

And then they’d have to convince Indiana to accept the deal.

While announcing Frank Vogel’s ouster, Pacers president Larry Bird said:

Somebody asked me the question, ‘Do you expect to be in the playoffs?’ And I thought he was kidding. I expect to be in the playoffs and make it through a few rounds and then see how good our players really are. Because the first round is always nice, but you don’t start really getting into the playoffs and know what the playoffs are about until you get to the Eastern Conference finals and the Finals. That’s when the basketball really starts.

Does that sound like someone who’d trade his star veteran for a rookie?

With a top-two pick, the Lakers might have assets commensurate with George’s value, but they’re all assets that will bloom a few years from now. If the Pacers aren’t interested in that timeline, none of this matters.

The Lakers’ plan makes sense – even beyond Jim Buss needing a quick turnaround to keep his job. The Lakers cap space would become much more valuable with a veteran star like George, who’d sway free agents. A patient rebuild makes less sense in Los Angeles than other places.

Getting a star is hard, but the Lakers should try. Succeeding could quickly lead to a second and maybe even third star joining.

They just have to be careful not to dump a valuable draft pick for someone with star status but not star production. George is a true star, but if they can’t get him, who’s Plan B and C and…? At a certain point, it makes sense just to draft someone and build slowly around a young core.