Kurt Helin

TORONTO, ON - MAY 05:  DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Toronto Raptors high-fives Jonas Valanciunas #17 in the second half of Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Miami Heat during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on May 5, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  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 Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas out for rest of East semifinal series


MIAMI (AP) — Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas will miss the rest of his team’s Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat with a sprained right ankle.

Valanciunas was injured in the third quarter of Toronto’s win in Game 3.

X-rays did not show any fractures, but the team ruled him out for the rest of the series after more evaluation Sunday.

Valanciunas has averaged 15 points and 12.1 rebounds in these playoffs. He had a double-double in all three games against the Heat.

Toronto outscored Miami by 41 points when Valanciunas was on the floor in the first three games. The Heat have outscored the Raptors by 39 when he hasn’t been on the court.

The announcement came shortly after Miami announced center Hassan Whiteside is day-to-day with a sprained knee ligament.

Reports: Sacramento nearing deal to hire Dave Joerger as coach

Dave Joerger
Associated Press

After interviewing virtually every available coach West of the Mississippi River, the Sacramento Kings may be close to getting their man — someone surprisingly jettisoned by a team just east of the Mississippi.

The minute Dave Joerger was let go by the Memphis Grizzlies — reportedly because he asked if he could speak to the Kings about their open coaching job — he leapt to the front of the line in Sacramento. The two sides met on Sunday, and while the first reports were that Sacramento decision maker Vlade Divac wanted to step back and not rush a decision, it sounds like the two sides are very close to a deal.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Sacramento Kings are progressing rapidly in discussions with Dave Joerger, with a Monday meeting that will include owner Vivek Ranadive being the final hurdle to Joerger’s hiring as head coach, league sources told The Vertical….

Joerger will have the autonomy to hire his own assistant coaching staff, and there’s doubt about his commitment to bringing members of his Grizzlies staff with him to the Kings, league sources said. Elston Turner is expected to join him, and another candidate – veteran NBA and college coach Bill Bayno – is likely to join Joerger on the bench as well, sources said.

Bayno has worked individually with Kings All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins.

Ranadive should not be an impediment to this deal. As the owner he has every right to meet with his new coach, but hopefully he’s learned to stay out of basketball decision making and leave that to the basketball people.

Marc Stein of ESPN added this.

Don’t be shocked if the last year of that is a team option.

For Joerger, that would be a doubling of the below-market salary he got in Memphis.

The Sacramento job comes with a lot of opportunities — moving into an amazing new building, for one — and challenges. DeMarcus Cousins falls into both categories. Joerger did a great job in Memphis installing a system that took advantage of Marc Gasol‘s traditional talents as a big man, if he can do that in Sacramento and establish a real bond with Cousins it will be a big step in the right direction for a team that hasn’t seen the playoffs in a decade.

Kevin Durant’s monster second half earns Thunder win, evens series with Spurs 2-2

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 8: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder shoots a free throw against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half of Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 8, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 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 J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
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For the first 24 minutes Sunday night, the San Antonio Spurs had bottled up Kevin Durant. He had 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting and the Thunder were struggling.

The second half the Kevin Durant the rest of the NBA fears — and wants to recruit this summer — showed up: 29 points on 10-of-13 shooting for the half, 17 of those points in the fourth quarter when he shot 6-of-6. And some of those were ridiculously contested.

“You gotta give him credit, he was great. He was great,” Gregg Popovich said after the game. “I don’t know how else to say it. He was fantastic.”

Durant’s 41 points on the night — with some big help from Dion Waiters and Steven Adams — helped the Thunder pull away late for a 111-97 Game 4 win. That ties the series at 2-2 and makes it a best-of-three heading back to San Antonio for Game 5 Tuesday night.

Durant was connecting with teammates and connecting with the crowd. He didn’t look like a guy with one foot out the door. We know he will play at least one more game.

He also got some help. This was by far Dion Waiters’ best game of the series scoring 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Steven Adams had 16 points, rolling to the rim after setting pin-down picks for Durant — the Spurs were so focused on the hot KD that Adams got clean looks. Enes Kanter had 11 points off the bench, and his defense wasn’t as bad as normal. Overall, it was the best performance by the Thunder role players we have seen all season, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

“They were more physical, I think it was easy to tell today,” Manu Ginobili said postgame. “They got way more loose balls, offensive rebounds, down the stretch especially. They were way more physical defensively, that’s who they are… it worked for them, we were not comfortable all game.”

Russell Westbrook added 14 points and 15 assists. But it was Durant who starred. In the fourth he was hitting contested shots over Kawhi Leonard, and the Spurs switched picks that too often left David West on Durant and KD either shot over or drove around him. You can expect the Spurs to adjust their defense accordingly.

Tony Parker had 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting, as the Thunder oddly decided to chase him over the top on picks all night. Parker is not a great threat from three but let him get going downhill into the midrange and he will hit shots and find teammates. There was some of that in the first quarter, as Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge were doing their thing and the Spurs defense was clicking. It was a 10-point, 27-17 lead for the Spurs after one and they were executing their game plan.

Then in the second the Thunder got some stops, got out in transition off the misses and put together a 10-0 run that evened the game up again.

The scariest part of the night for the Spurs was when Kanter accidentally rolled up on Leonard’s knee. Leonard stayed in the game, but he was not as effective after that. Part of it likely was the Thunder put Durant on Leonard and KD’s length bothered Leonard.

What the Thunder defense kept the Spurs from doing was moving the ball, or when they did finishing the shot. The Spurs had just 12 assists on the night, as opposed to 19 and 39 in their wins. The Spurs also had 12 turnovers.

Tim Duncan went scoreless for the first time in a playoff game. Danny Green struggled as well for the Spurs.

This series is exactly what we’d expected and hoped for — a close one between two evenly matched teams. It’s been the best series of the second round, easily. And now it’s a best of three.

Steve Kerr calls Stephen Curry “doubtful” for game Monday

PORTLAND, OR - MAY 7: Stephen Curry and Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors look on from the bench as time winds down in the fourth quarter of Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center on May 7, 2016 in Portland, Oregon. The Blazers won 120-108. 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 Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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After the Trail Blazers put on an offensive explosion in Game 3 and made this a 2-1 series, it seemed like it was time for Golden State to counter with their own offensive explosion — the return of Stephen Curry.

Except his knee is not quite up to it.

After practice Sunday, here is what Warriors coach Steve Kerr said about Curry’s availability for Game 4 Monday in Portland, via Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com.

“He looked pretty good, looked about like he did yesterday in terms of movement,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Conditioning is going to be an issue. But, hopefully, he can get more and more work and we’ll see how he comes up tomorrow, in terms of a night of sleep coming off the workout.

“I would just say he’s doubtful for tomorrow. But he’s slowly but surely making progress.”

If we don’t see Curry in Game 4, expect him for sure in Game 5 Wednesday back in Oakland. Even if the Warriors win Game 4 and are up 3-1, they will want Curry to get in a game and shake off some rust against the Blazers, not have to do it in the first game against the Spurs or Thunder (either way a series where the Warriors will need Curry from Game 1).

Expect a much better defensive effort from Golden State in Game 4 Sunday, Curry or no. We will see if that is enough.

Watch LeBron James hit dagger jumper to lift Cavaliers past Hawks


The Cleveland Cavaliers have earned their week off. With their close-out win to sweep the Atlanta Hawks out of the playoffs (again), the Cavaliers are off until next Sunday at the earliest before the Eastern Conference playoffs start (longer if the Miami/Toronto series goes to a seven games).

LeBron James helped secure that rest with some good defense and then hitting this dagger jumper to seal the Cavs victory. He’s matched up on Paul Millsap in isolation on the right wing, and LeBron just nails the shot over the Hawks’ best defender.

The all but ended the game and the series.