Dan Feldman

Detroit Pistons’ Andre Drummond (0) celebrates with teammates, from left, Tobias Harris (34), Stanley Johnson and Marcus Morris after scoring the winning basket to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 92-91 during an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 21, 2016, in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
AP Photo/Duane Burleson

NBA: Pistons’ got away with two violations before Andre Drummond’s game-winning tip-in

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Andre Drummond converted the game-winning tip-in against the Bucks on Monday, helping the Pistons keep pace on a night the Hornets, Pacers, Celtics, Wizards and Bulls also won.

Just three problems with Drummond’s basket:

1. Tobias Harris got away with an inbound violation on the play.

2. Drummond got away with an offensive foul on the play.

3. Reggie Jackson got away with three other key fouls in the last two minutes just to be in position for Drummond to win the game.

On the decisive play, Harris did more than pivot before throwing the inbound. That should’ve been a turnover, per the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Harris (DET) leaves his designated throw-in position.

Not only did Harris move his feet to get the inbound pass to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Drummond got away with an illegal screen on Giannis Antetokounmpo to free Caldwell-Pope. NBA:

Drummond (DET) delivers contact to Antetokounmpo (MIL) on the screen without giving him room to avoid the contact.

Again, that should’ve been a turnover.

Go back further, and the Pistons used other incorrect no-calls to set up the final possession.

With 1:04 left, officials called an offensive foul on Khris Middleton that the NBA ruled Middleton committed. The problem: Jackson fouled Middleton first. NBA:

Middleton (MIL) hooks Jackson (DET) as he drives to the rim.

Jackson (DET) makes contact with Middleton (MIL) that affects his RSBQ before the hook by Middleton

A correct call on Jackson for affecting Middleton’s Rhythm, Speed, Balance, Quickness would’ve sent Middleton to the line for two free throws. Instead, the Pistons got the ball – only to get away with another foul on the other end.

Jackson got away with another foul – this one on Jabari Parker – on an inbound. NBA:

Jackson (DET) continues to move into Parker (MIL) on screen

Instead of the Pistons turning the ball over, Harris got to the free-throw line, where he made both attempts.

A couple possessions later, Jackson got away with yet another foul as the Bucks attempted to inbound the ball. NBA:

Jackson (DET) grabs and holds Middleton (MIL) affecting his FOM on the inbounds play.

A correctly called foul, affecting Middleton’s Freedom of Movement, would’ve given Milwaukee one free throw and the ball. Any Buck on the court could’ve taken the shot, and Middleton – who’s making 88% of his free throws this season – would’ve been a prime candidate.

The Two Minute Report featured one other missed call: Caldwell-Pope not being whistled for fouling Jerryd Bayless with 12.5 seconds left. But by that point, the Pistons were trying to foul, and they complained no foul was called for another 2.9 seconds.

It was just that type of night for Detroit (and Milwaukee and the other teams’ the Pistons are battling for playoff position).

Kemba Walker slices Nets’ defense to beat halftime buzzer

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The Nets had a sixth defender on this play — the clock. Knowing the Hornets’ deadline to release the ball is a major advantage, and Brooklyn could play to it.

It still wasn’t enough against Kemba Walker.

Doc Rivers not certain Blake Griffin will play in regular season, but ‘confident’ Clippers forward will

Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin cheers after Cole Aldrich dunked against Miami Heat's Justise Winslow during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
AP Photo/Danny Moloshok
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Blake Griffin – who must get healthy and then serve a four-game suspension for punching a Clippers equipment manager – will reportedly be out until April.

But when in April?

The Clippers have just 13 games before the postseason, and again, Griffin is due to miss four once he’s ready to play.

Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

Rivers said he was “confident” Griffin would play before the playoffs start around the weekend of April 16.

“I can’t say that with 100% certainty, but I do feel like he’ll be back,” Rivers said. “Just not sure when.”

The Clippers, who are 3-6 in their last nine games, have reminded everyone why they need Griffin. Whatever floor-spacing issues he brings, he’s an excellent mid-range player (as a scorer and distributor), fantastic finisher and helpful rebounder.

There’s a reason teams are usually better with their stars on the court.

But the Clippers found a comfortable style with Griffin sidelined. This slump might cause them to welcome him back with more open arms, but there will still be an adjustment period as their spacing changes.

The biggest question is whether Griffin will be back for the playoffs. (Related: If he’s not ready to play with four regular-season games remaining, would his suspension carry into the playoffs?) It’ll also be important for the Clippers to optimize their play with him in the postseason.

The sooner he returns, the better they can prepare to do that.

Florida State’s Malik Beasley entering 2016 NBA draft

SYRACUSE, NY - FEBRUARY 11:  Malik Beasley #5 of the Florida State Seminoles shoots the ball against the Syracuse Orange during the first half at the Carrier Dome on February 11, 2016 in Syracuse, New York.  (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
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No Florida State player has entered the NBA draft after only one season of college basketball.

Until now.

Florida State release:

Florida State freshman Malik Beasley will enter the 2016 NBA Draft, head coach Leonard Hamilton said Monday.

“Malik is a wonderful young man and we are very happy for him and his family,” said Hamilton.  “He enjoyed a great freshman year and we are looking forward to watching him as he realizes his dreams.  He was an outstanding player for our basketball team, is a young man of tremendous character and is an extremely hard worker.  We are behind Malik and know he will be successful in everything he does because he is such a quality person both on and off the basketball court.”

“Florida State University, Coach Hamilton and his staff were absolutely the best choices I could have made when I was deciding which college I would attend,” Beasley said.  “The friendships I have formed with my teammates will last my entire lifetime.  The things I have learned and the growth I have realized this season as both a person and player have made me confident that I can take the next step in realizing my dreams to play at the next level.”

Beasley could return to Florida State if he doesn’t hire an agent, but the wording of this statement sure sounds as if he’s intent on turning pro.

Beasley projects as a borderline first-round pick.

He’s a solid outside shooter with a nice first step. He works hard to get to his spots to take efficient shots.

Just don’t ask him to create for himself or others. Not only is he a suspect  ball-handler and distributor, he lacks agility on his drives.

Those agility limitations also translate to defense, where Beasley’s 6-foot-5 frame could provide additional problems.

The NBA features so many point guards who excel dominating the ball, Beasley should find a role next to one. He can get open, spot-up and attack when the defense is vulnerable to his first step. A complementary role could suit him well offensively, though the pesky defensive questions remain.

Once teams pick all the players who show potential for primary roles, I’d take a chance on Beasley.

LeBron James changes pregame music routine, trying to get into playoff mode

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 29:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers warms up prior to facing the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on December 29, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. 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 Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron’s locked in already. Now he’s got to get the Cavs to, ahem, follow him.

Following a personal rite of spring he began several years ago, LeBron James has begun preparing for the upcoming NBA playoffs by limiting his access to social media in order to avoid outside distractions as he and the Cavaliers make another run at an NBA title.

James, who has coined his social media blackout “Zero Dark 23,” took some early steps toward sharpening his focus by unfollowing the Cavaliers’ account – and those of some media members – on Twitter. That click, which coincided with the 10-year anniversary of the online social networking giant’s launch, caused a seismic wave on the Internet at nearly the same time James and the Cavs were clinching their second straight Central Division title.

James recorded his 41st career triple-double in Cleveland’s 124-91 victory over Denver, and then fueled more speculation afterward by refusing to comment on the reason he unfollowed (at)cavs.

And while the four-time league MVP didn’t offer any specifics Wednesday, he did acknowledge that he’s shifted into playoff mode with several weeks still left in the season.

“I have, a little bit sooner than normal,” he said following practice. “But you know I understand that it’s right around the corner and I want to start mentally preparing myself for the distance. So mentally I’m just being a little more sharper minded as of late, just gearing toward it.”

James’ social media habits have come under greater scrutiny during his second season back in Cleveland after he posted several mysterious messages, some of which seemed aimed at teammates. His Twitter cleansing also came on the same day he declined to speak to reporters following the team’s morning shootaround, and James was also more subdued before the game.

James usually plays music while he dresses at his corner locker, barking out lyrics along with some of his hip-hop favorites. He’s the Cavs’ in-house DJ.

But before Monday’s game, James kept his headphones on, prompting teammate Channing Frye to ask him why he was “hogging” the tunes.

In his 13th season, James, who has been to the Finals in each of the past five years, knows how to motivate himself and his teammates. And although the Cavs have the best record in the Eastern Conference, they’ve been inconsistent.

Cleveland was beaten at Utah last week and blown out Saturday night in Miami.

James, though, feels the team is beginning to hit its stride at the perfect time.

“At the end of the day, we’re 9-3 in our last 12, so, I mean, we’re playing some good ball,” he said. “We just didn’t play how we want to play in the Utah game and in Miami, but we’re playing some good ball.”

James’ dream is to bring Cleveland its first pro sports championship since 1964. He and the Cavs took the first step by winning their division, the eighth straight for James, who sandwiched two straight around the four he won with Miami.

“I wish it was like baseball and we pop some champagne or some beers or something in the locker room after we win,” he joked. “But to be a part of eight straight, it’s an honor. It’s pretty cool. Obviously I know what my main goal is, my ultimate goal, but along the journey you have things like that, accomplishments like that, it’s pretty cool. It’s not given every year.”