Kurt Helin

Thabo Sefolosha

Sefolosha: Lawsuit against NYPD right move, hopes for change

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NEW YORK (AP) — Atlanta Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha says he thinks about the confrontation with New York police that left him with a broken leg “almost daily” and is filing a civil suit because “they have to be held accountable and be smart about how to interact with people.”

Sefolosha still isn’t fully recovered from the injuries in April that ended his season. He sat out Thursday night against the New York Knicks after playing in Atlanta’s season opener on Tuesday.

He was acquitted earlier this month of charges stemming from the arrest outside a nightclub and says he understands police have a difficult job. He calls the lawsuit the “right move” and hopes it will lead to further discussion and changes.

Sefolosha was in New York for the trial when tennis player James Blake was taken to the ground by an NYPD officer and wrongly arrested after he was mistaken for a fraud suspect. Sefolosha says it’s “terrible that something like this happened and keeps happening.”

Pacers’ Paul George fined $10,000 for criticizing referees

Paul George
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“We felt like there were a lot of bad calls. Close games like that, let us play. You’ve got a guy like (Kyle) Lowry who’s down on one end doing what he wants and then on the other end, he gets touched and the whistle’s getting blown. We (were) frustrated. We (were) very frustrated.”

Paul George has been around long enough to know a fine was coming after he said that following the Pacers’ 106-99 opening night loss in Toronto opening night. George was fined $10,000 for these comments, the league announced Thursday.

In its review of calls, the NBA admitted that there were two calls in the final two minutes that were wrong — but both were wrong in favor of Indiana. There was a bad no-call on a three second violation that should have gone against DeMarre Carroll, but that didn’t swing the game.

The bottom line is simple, if you criticize officials you get fined. The NBA is consistent on this. Welcome back to the NBA Paul George.

Austin Rivers fined $25,000 for throwing seat cushion that hit fan

Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game Seven
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During a raucous fourth quarter in Sacramento Wednesday — where there was no love lost between the Clippers and KingsAustin Rivers threw a seat cushion into the crowd during a fourth quarter timeout. Apparently he was frustrated.

That cushion caught a fan in the face and it’s going to cost Rivers some cash.

The NBA has come down Rivers with a $25,000, the league announced Thursday.

You had to know this is coming. For one thing, Players have control your emotions no matter what a fans says. For another, there is already is a precedent for this — “Big Baby” Glen Davis was fined $15,000 for kicking a seat cushion into the crowd at Boston Garden when he was a Clipper.

Rivers played 16 minutes and had three points, one assist, and a couple of steals against the Kings. While he made some nice defensive plays, including a key late steal, his offensive decision making was not pretty.

Report: Toney Douglas near deal to join Pelicans

Elfrid Payton, Toney Douglas
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The Pelicans are desperate for help at the point. Jrue Holiday is on a minutes limit — just when he seems to get a flow going he has to come out — while Norris Cole (high ankle sprain) and Tyreke Evans (knee surgery) remain out. The Pelicans tried Nate Robinson, but he seems to have lost a step and isn’t looking to set up Anthony Davis anyway, so they waived him Thursday.

Immediately the buzz was Toney Douglasrecently waived by the Pacers — would be getting a call to return to New Orleans. That is going to happen sooner rather than later, reports Jeff Zillgitt at USA Today.

Douglas isn’t exactly a traditional playmaker, but his three point shooting can space the floor, he can get you some steals on defense, and he can at least move the ball and help out the Pelicans.

New Orleans started the season 0-2 and their next game is Saturday night against Golden State.

Clippers made 61 background check calls on Lance Stephenson

Clippers Lance Stephenson Press Conference
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Lance Stephenson as the Clippers’ starting small forward was not the plan back in July, but it was the reality Wednesday night when Los Angeles tipped off the season in Sacramento. Stephenson played fairly well in his 19 minutes, most importantly he played within himself on offense (seven points on 3-of-5 shooting) and seemed focused on defense.

Back in July, the Clippers were looking for an upgrade over Matt Barnes and saw Stephenson and Paul Pierce as the answer.

But after Stephenson was pushed out the door in Indiana and Charlotte, there was a locker room (and on the court) risk in bringing him in — so team president Doc Rivers and staff did their homework. A lot of it, reports Sam Amick at the USA Today.

Rivers, who did not know Stephenson previously, was the first to admit that the Clippers had to do more due diligence than normal. Whereas the normal background check would typically warrant approximately 20 phone calls to people who know the player well, Rivers and Clippers general manager Dave Wohl made 61 such inquiries during their research of Stephenson.

“I don’t think we’ve ever made more (background) calls for a player in my life,” Rivers said. “We had to make sure, but I’ve got to tell you that I’m really excited. It’s one game (in the regular season), but I think he has a chance to be really disruptive to other teams. And what I love is he gives us another ball handler, and you can see that with the first group.”

If Stephenson works out as Rivers hopes, he will be a steal. He’s getting paid $9 million this season, but when the cap spikes next summer the Clippers have a $9.4 million team option.

There’s still a long way to go, but the next step is Thursday night on TNT where Stephenson will start opposite Wesley Matthews (if the Mavericks start him on the second night of a back-to-back coming off an Achilles injury, although he looked solid in the opener). There will be plenty of people in Indiana and Charlotte watching the Clippers tonight and all season, waiting for the Stephenson chemistry issues to surface.

Doc Rivers the GM bet on Doc Rivers the coach this summer — he’s got to meld Stephenson, Josh Smith, Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers into a second unit. Those are guys who tend to do their own thing rather than meld into the whole. But if Rivers gets them on the same page, he will have shored up the hole that was the Clippers bench. And all those phone calls would have been worth it.