Dan Feldman

Thabo Sefolosha sits with Pacers fans to watch end of Hawks’ win (video)

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The Hawks drove out most Indiana fans by the final minute of their 96-85 win over the Pacers. (If you wanted to take a cheap shot — and I never would — you could say the Hawks made it feel like Atlanta’s home arena.)

That allowed Thabo Sefolosha to enjoy the closing moments of the win while sitting and chatting with a young Pacers fan in the front row. Sefolosha even took that seat, got up to join the huddle during a timeout and returned to it.

Joel Embiid kicks at chair/76ers staffer after being told he reached minute limit (video)

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The 76ers want to cap Joel Embiid at about 24 minutes per game. He played a career-high 27 minutes against the Grizzlies tonight.

The problem: A second overtime still remained.

Before the sixth period, a Philadelphia doctor informed Embiid he was finished for the night – a reasonable conclusion for a player who missed his first two NBA seasons due to injury.

Embiid didn’t take it so well, kicking at a chair and the staffer behind it.

I doubt Embiid intended to kick a person, but the center kicked high and recklessly. If the staffer didn’t pull his hand back quickly, this could have been uglier.

As it stands, it can be spun as a testament to Embiid’s competitiveness. And it is. When the 76ers are winning – they lost 104-99 to Memphis – Embiid’s passion will be viewed more favorably. (See Draymond Green with the Warriors.) But Embiid should also find a way to more effectively harness it.

NBA denies Nuggets’ protest of loss to Grizzlies

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Marc Gasol hit the game-winner for the Grizzlies against the Nuggets on Nov. 8.

One problem: Memphis shouldn’t have had the ball for that final possession. The NBA admitted on-court referees AND THE REPLAY CENTER ruled incorrectly on whom touched the ball last before it went out of bounds.

So, Denver protested the game.

NBA release:

The National Basketball Association announced today that it has denied the Denver Nuggets’ protest of their 108-107 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Nov. 8, 2016.

The basis for the Nuggets’ protest was that the Replay Center incorrectly awarded possession of the ball to Memphis with 0.7 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter after determining that the Nuggets’ Emmanuel Mudiay last touched the ball before it went out of bounds. 

The league found that the Replay Center official confirmed the call made by the on-court officials after reviewing two angles of the play that appeared to show Mudiay touching the ball.  In light of those angles, and in order not to further delay the game, the Replay Center official did not select additional angles of the play to review.  Following the game, one of those angles made clear that Mudiay did not in fact touch the ball and that possession should have been awarded to Denver.

The league determined that while the out-of-bounds call was incorrect, it was an error in judgment by the Replay Center official and not a misapplication of the playing rules – which is required under league rules to justify the extraordinary remedy of granting a game protest and overturning the game’s result.

The league will review this matter from an operational standpoint to consider further improvements to the review process in order to reduce the likelihood of a similar error going forward.

It’s so hard to win protests, because the league allows its officials to make errors. Only misapplying a rule can cause a successful appeal.

So, the Nuggets were right about the call – and it doesn’t mean a thing. I doubt they’ll take solace in that.

This doesn’t bode well for the Raptors in their protest.

Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell out at least 2 weeks with knee injury

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 28: D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers controls the ball during their game against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena on October 28, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. 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 Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images
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D'Angelo Russell has missed two of the Lakers’ last three games and was already ruled out for their game against the Warriors tonight.

He won’t be back soon.

Lakers release:

Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell received a PRP injection in his left knee today, it was announced by the team. The procedure was performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Steve Yoon. Russell is expected to be out a minimum of two weeks, and will be re-evaluated in one week.

That timeline would sideline Russell at least eight games. With the Lakers 8-7 and in the thick of the playoff race, that absence matters far more than expected.

The Lakers have turned to Jose Calderon without Russell – with dismal results. The main starters – Russell, Nick Yong, Luol Deng, Julius Randle and Timofey Mozgov – have scored 112.1 points per 100 possessions (which would rank second in the NBA). Swap Calderon for Russell, and that offensive rating plummets to 86.2 (which would be a distant last in the league). The defense remains similar.

To be fair, that Calderon lineup has played just 36 minutes. Will its performance improve over a larger sample and as Calderon develops chemistry with the other starters?

The Lakers have no choice but to find out.

NBA: Spurs got away with key foul in win over Mavericks

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Gregg Popovich ripped his Spurs after they beat the lowly Mavericks by just five Monday, storming away from his postgame press conference and then returning just to add that Dallas should have won.

He might have been right.

With the Mavericks down one, Harrison Barnes missed with 15 seconds left. Manu Ginobili grabbed the defensive rebound – with the help of David Lee, who got away with loose-ball fouling Salah Mejri, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Lee (SAS) clamps the arm of Mejri (DAL) and affects his ability to retrieve the rebound.

The Spurs were in the penalty, so a correct call would’ve sent Mejri – who’s about a 60% free-throw shooter – to the line for two attempts.

Instead, Dallas began intentionally fouling, and San Antonio pulled away for a 96-91 win.