Dan Feldman

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

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

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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.”

Heat, Hornets accuse each other of flopping

Charlotte Hornets' Jeremy Lin, center, passes the ball as Miami Heat's Hassan Whiteside, right, and Josh Richardson, left, defend during the first half in Game 4 of an NBA basketball playoffs first-round series in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, April 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Hassan Whiteside accused Cody Zeller of flopping, and the Heat center said it wasn’t an isolated incident by the Hornets.

Whiteside, via Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post:

“The flop-offs, man,” he said. “I thought the playoffs was physical. This ain’t physical, man.”

Heat guard Goran Dragic also complained about officiating, referencing Jeremy Lin.

Will Manso of Fox Sports Florida:

What does Charlotte say about that?

Hornets coach Steve Clifford, via Shandel Richardson of the SunSentinel:

“I didn’t see [Whiteside’s quotes], but I’d be surprised at that,” Clifford said. “I, mean, listen, I watch the films really closely. There hasn’t been…I mean, I don’t want…if you want to get into career flopping between the two rosters, it wouldn’t be close. So, I don’t…we don’t have anybody that flops. We haven’t had a flopping issue all year. I didn’t see those quotes. Actually, the NBA comes out with reports, they have them, officiating reports and I wouldn’t say that if you read those reports that they could have any complaints with the officials. Neither do we, by the way. But they certainly shouldn’t.”

Clifford dances around the issue. Of course, the Heat have more flopping experience. They have more of every type of experience. That doesn’t mean much about how often they’ve flopped in this series.

I see two teams trying to find the line between playing physically and getting an advantageous whistle, maybe concentrating a little too hard on that rather than just playing. That could improve as the series progresses.

There are two or three games remaining, and these teams are clearly already tired of each other. That won’t improve as the series progresses.

NBA retroactively gives Justin Anderson flagrant 2 for elbowing Russell Westbrook’s face

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Justin Anderson played a central role in the testiness between the Thunder and Mavericks during their first-round series – both as the aggressor and the aggrieved.

In Game 4, Anderson was on the receiving end of a Kevin Durant flagrant 2 that got Durant ejected. Then late in the closeout Game 5, Anderson elbowed Russell Westbrook in the face under the guise of diving for a loose ball.

Anderson initially received just a technical foul for that, but the NBA reviewed and assigned him a flagrant 2.

Though it’s a relatively superficial distinction, at least the league showed how unacceptable that behavior is. But did this correction go far enough? The NBA fined Durant $15,000 for his flagrant 2. Will Anderson receive any additional penalty?