Dan Feldman

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James reacts in the first half in Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Detroit Pistons, Wednesday, April 20, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
AP Photo/Tony Dejak

Cavaliers get hot from outside, eventually cool off Pistons in Game 2 win

4 Comments

LeBron James rebounded the Pistons’ airball, tore through the defense and made a layup while fouled. He high-fived his teammates and grinned – one of multiple smiles he’d flash during the fourth quarter.

Though LeBron failed to convert the old-fashioned three-point play, the Cavaliers nailed plenty of the new kind.

Cleveland made an NBA-playoff-record 20 3-pointers in a 107-90 win over Detroit on Wednesday. The Cavaliers lead the first-round series 2-0 – a reason to beam after Detroit pushed them so hard in Game 1 and into the second half tonight.

Teams leading a best-of-seven series 2-0 after two home games have won 94% of the time. No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds – like the top-seeded Cavs – are 48-0 in the first round.

The Cavaliers trailed by 10 in the first quarter and five in the third. But once they got going, Detroit couldn’t keep up.

J.R. Smith (7-for-11), Kyrie Irving (4-for-7), Kevin Love (3-for-7) and LeBron (2-for-4) led Cleveland’s 3-point onslaught. The Cavaliers’ 20 3s – on 38 attempts (53%) – tied the 2015 Warriors, 2011 Mavericks and 1996 Sonics for most in a postseason game.

Cleveland also made hay when the teams went to their bench, especially behind Matthew Dellavedova (eight points and nine assists).

And of course, LeBron was LeBron. While his teammates were bombing from outside, LeBron (27 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals) bullied the Pistons inside.

Detroit did better offensively with Love at center, Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond attacking the lack of rim protection. The Pistons scored 35 points in the 12 minutes Love played center. But Cleveland continued to take advantage of Love pulling Drummond from the rim on the other end, scoring 29 points of its own.

Still, outscoring the Cavs by six with Love at center is a big swing from Game 1, when that lineup gave Cleveland a 13-point advantage. But there were just too many times the Pistons had no answer – like when Drummond was at the free-throw line (4-for-16) or Steve Blake was in the game (-20 in 10 minutes with no points, one assist and two turnovers).

Stan Van Gundy will keep tinkering, and maybe Detroit will still notch its first playoff win since 2008. But the Cavaliers continue to show why they’re overwhelming favorites to advance.

Report: Kings’ Quincy Acy opting out

Dallas Mavericks' David Lee (42) and Sacramento Kings' Quincy Acy, bottom, dive after the ball in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
1 Comment

Young, minimum-salary players like Quincy Acy don’t typically get player options.

But Vlade Divac, y’all.

So, Acy – who signed with the Kings last summer – is taking advantage.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Acy would’ve made the minimum by opting in, and he still might end up with that. But that’s probably close to his floor. At best, he’ll get a higher salary and/or more years. At worst, he’s likely right back where he started – maybe even right down to returning to Sacramento.

Still mostly an energy player, Acy showed more polish on his jumper this season. He averaged 5.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game and even made 19-of-49 3-pointers (38.8%). I value him mostly for hustle plays, but it’s comforting to know he can now make a shot if the ball ends up in his hands outside late in the shot clock. This might even be a step in the 25-year-old Acy developing more of an all-around game, though that’s unlikely.

Even if Acy is who he is, that’s someone most teams should want on their bench. Maybe one team will even value him at more than a one-year minimum contract.

Report: Jeff Van Gundy, Scott Brooks co-favorites for Rockets job

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 01:  Head coach Scott Brooks of the Oklahoma City Thunder gives instructions during the game withthe Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on March 1, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  The Thunder won 108-101.   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 Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jeff Van Gundy reportedly tops the Rockets’ list of coaching candidates, but he has company:

Scott Brooks, who’s reportedly also leading the Wizards’ search.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Brooks should probably wait. The Rockets have a better track record team-building, and he has experience with James Harden from their time with the Thunder. If Brooks can motivate Harden, that could be a better job. It’s at least worth finding out. What’s the worst that happens? Washington hires someone else?

If the Wizards truly believe Brooks is their optimal choice, they should wait on him. The Kings and Knicks are the only other lottery teams searching for coaches. New York is in its own world, and Sacramento will have a tough time pitching other candidates. It’s unlikely Washington misses on its second choice if Houston gets Brooks.

The Rockets are on track to lose quickly in the first round, and that should get the coaching cycle churning faster.

Report: Kings especially intrigued by Ettore Messina and Luke Walton, who’s expected to interview

Luke Walton, the interim head coach of the Golden State Warriors, questions official Matt Boland about a call during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015. The Warriors won 103-94. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
5 Comments

The Kings are probably pulling for the Warriors in Game 3 against the Rockets on Thursday.

That’s because Sacramento wants to interview Luke Walton, who will be free to talk if Golden State wraps up its series quickly enough.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

Luke Walton is young, ambitious and bright, and the Kings are just down the road. So, sure, when the time is right – probably after the Golden State Warriors-Houston Rockets playoff series – the Warriors’ lead assistant and former interim head coach is expected to meet with Kings general manager Vlade Divac to discuss his team’s coaching vacancy.

But then there’s everyone else. Though Divac is particularly intrigued by a small group of potential candidates – Walton; San Antonio Spurs assistant Ettore Messina; and former head coaches Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks – as he begins his search, he planned to reach out to several other prospects in an expansive process.

Thibodeau just took the Timberwolves job, and Brooks reportedly isn’t interested. So, scratch them off the list. Ditto Jeff Van Gundy, another coach who interests the Kings according to Voisin but without it being mutual.

In addition to other known candidates – Mike Woodson, Mark Jackson, Vinny Del Negro and Sam Mitchell – Voisin lists several others on Sacramento’s list:

  • David Blatt
  • Monty Williams
  • Kevin McHale
  • Nate McMillan
  • Jeff Hornacek
  • Ime Udoka
  • “at least two college coaches”

That’s a wide-ranging search, which the Kings should run. These people, not necessarily ideal NBA coaches, still know plenty about basketball. There’s value in hearing their ideas for the floundering franchise. Then, Divac can make a more informed choice while using all he heard going forward.

Divac’s early favorites include just two potentially viable choices: Walton and Messina, and I’m not sure how viable either is.

Walton looks happy in his current job, which will allow him to be selective. Plus, after his success as acting head coach this season, he’ll draw plenty of offers. The Kings – with a difficult DeMarcus Cousins, unqualified Divac and reckless Vivek Ranadive – don’t look appealing. But at least they’re in California, where Walton probably prefers to stay.

Messina makes more sense with Gregg Popovich signing a contract extension two years ago. If Messina wants to become a head coach any time soon, he’ll probably have to leave San Antonio. But Sacramento? The same concerns still apply.

The Kings are wise to cast a wide net. They’ll have to lure someone worth keeping.

Former first-round pick Pearl Washington, who starred at Syracuse, dies at 52

FILE - In this Aug. 20, 1986 file photo, Dwayne "Pearl" Washington, the first draft pick by the New Jersey Nets, holds up his new uniform during a press luncheon at the Meadowlands Arena in East Rutherford, N.J.  Washington, who went from New York City playground wonder to Big East star for Jim Boeheim at Syracuse, has died. He was 52. Washington died Wednesday, April 20, 2015 of cancer, the university said.  (AP Photo/Ron Frehm, File)
AP Photo/Ron Frehm
1 Comment

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Dwayne “Pearl” Washington, who went from New York City playground wonder to Big East star for Jim Boeheim at Syracuse, has died. He was 52.

Washington died Wednesday of cancer, the university said.

Washington was not particularly fast, nor could he jump particularly high. Neither mattered – he simply excited fans with his amazing ball-handling skills, an uncanny court sense, elusiveness, and the ability to pull off unbelievable plays at the right time.

His signature move was the crossover dribble – the “shake-and-bake” – that froze defenders, then a drive to the hoop for an easy layup past the defense’s big men. His play was instrumental in helping create the aura of greatness the Big East Conference had during its heyday in the 1980s and 1990s.

He had been coping with medical problems since a brain tumor was first diagnosed in 1995 and recently required around-the-clock medical coverage and a wheelchair to move around.

Washington had surgery last August to address the recurrence of a brain tumor. The first tumor was benign.

Current and former players, as well as others associated with the program, rallied in support of Washington during his illness. A GoFundMe page was set up, (hash)PrayersforPearl became the slogan for Syracuse basketball, and ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas gave the movement some national exposure. During a broadcast, Bilas wore the all-orange “Pearl” warm-up shirt that Syracuse players wore on the bench in games starting in late January to pay tribute to Washington.

“My heart goes out to the family, friends and many adoring fans of Brooklyn native and Syracuse basketball legend, Pearl Washington,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted Wednesday morning.

Dwayne Alonzo Washington was born in Jan. 24, 1964, and grew up in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, acquiring his nickname as an 8-year-old when he was compared to former NBA star Earl “the Pearl” Monroe.

Washington made his mark in a nationally televised game on Jan. 24, 1984, against Boston College.

When Martin Clark missed a free throw for the Eagles in a tie game with only seconds on the clock, Washington took an outlet pass, raced up court and swished the winning shot from beyond half court as time expired.

Exhibiting his flair for the dramatic, the 6-foot-2 Washington never stopped running after he took the shot until he made it to the locker room.

The Orange entered the top 20 the week after that memorable shot and remained there for the rest of Washington’s college career. Later that winter, he set a Syracuse record with 18 assists against Connecticut.

A New York City playground legend who starred at Boys and Girls High School and on playgrounds throughout the city, Washington was the most highly recruited basketball player in the country after averaging 35 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists as a senior. He committed to Syracuse in 1983 determined to make the Carrier Dome his home, left an indelible mark on Orange basketball, and ranks as one of Boeheim’s most important recruits.

“I can’t underscore how big a moment that was for our program,” Boeheim wrote in his recent book “Color Him Orange: The Jim Boeheim Story.” “I believe at that point we officially went from being an Eastern program to a national program. Everybody knew who the Pearl was.”

As a freshman, Washington led the Orange to the conference tournament finals against nemesis Georgetown, but a controversial call late in the title game allowed the Hoyas to tie the game in regulation and they won in overtime.

Washington had some of his best moments in an arena he cherished – Madison Square Garden. As a junior, he had a pair of 35-point games against St. John’s and again led the Orange to the Big East finals in 1986 after a dramatic 75-73 overtime win over Georgetown in the semifinals. In the championship game against St. John’s, Washington had 20 points and 14 assists but was denied a game-winner when Walter Berry blocked his layup after a court-long dash.

After losing 97-85 to Navy and David Robinson in the second round of the 1986 NCAA Tournament, Washington announced he would forgo his senior year and enter the NBA draft, the first player under Boeheim to leave school early.

Washington left an impressive trail in his wake: Big East rookie of the year, first-team Big East all three years of college, and first team All-American his junior year. He averaged 15.6 points, 6.7 assists and 2.7 rebounds and led the Orange in assists and steals in each of his three years at the school. He finished his college career as the school’s all-time leader in assists and still ranks third despite playing just three years.

Washington was the 13th pick in the first round of the NBA draft and went to the New Jersey Nets. He played two seasons with New Jersey and played his final NBA season with the Miami Heat in 1988-89 after the Heat selected him in the 1988 expansion draft.

Washington’s size and lack of speed were not well-suited to the fast pace of the NBA. He averaged 7.6 points and 4.2 assists for the Heat and finished his brief career with 256 steals and 733 assists in 194 games.

Syracuse retired his No. 31 jersey in 1996 and his high school followed suit earlier this month in a final tribute.