Kurt Helin

AP: Timberwolves talking with Mark Jackson about head coaching job

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A person with knowledge of the search tells The Associated Press that the Minnesota Timberwolves plan to interview Mark Jackson for their coaching vacancy.

The person says Jackson will interview with the team Wednesday, days after the Wolves completed interviews with former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and Jeff Van Gundy, a former Knicks coach who is now with ESPN. The person spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the team has not publicly disclosed specifics of its search.

Jackson has not coached in the NBA since he was fired by the Golden State Warriors in 2014 after three seasons and a 121-109 record that included two trips to the playoffs.

Minnesota chose not to retain interim coach Sam Mitchell, who filled in last season after the death of Flip Saunders in October.

Jamal Crawford named NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year for record third time

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Jamal Crawford is the quintessential gunner off the bench — he comes in firing away. He puts up numbers — 14.2 points per game this season — and doesn’t worry about efficiency (52.9 percent true shooting percentage, right about the league average) or defense. He is there to change the tempo and flow of the game by firing away — and when he is hitting the Clippers tend to win.

That’s what the media voters apparently want in their Sixth Man of the Year.

Crawford has been named the Sixth Man for a record third time in his career. At age 36 he is also the oldest player ever to win the award — breaking his own record of two seasons ago.

“It’s remarkable because (Crawford) is still an elite scorer, he basically beat us last game,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said before his team tipped off against the L.A. Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. “He does not look like he’s slowing down at all, and you forget that he’s 36. He’s got a live body, makes clutch shots, and wins games for (the Clippers).”

Andre Iguodala of the Golden State Warriors came in second, Enes Kanter of the Oklahoma City Thunder finished third. Iguodala and Manu Ginobili of the Spurs had seemed the frontrunners for the award midway through the season but both suffered injuries that kept them out for extended periods, and that hurt their candidacies.

Crawford got 51 of the 130 first-place votes from a panel of media members (the ballots for this award are three deep and the players get points for where they finished on the ballot). Here is the final complete order of finish (with first place votes in parenthesis).

Jamal Crawford, L.A. Clippers (51)
Andre Iguodala, Golden State (33)
Enes Kanter, Oklahoma City (19)
Will Barton, Denver (15)
Evan Turner, Boston (3)
Ryan Anderson, New Orleans (4)
Jeremy Lin, Charlotte (1)
Ed Davis, Portland (1)
Dennis Schröder, Atlanta (1)
Tristan Thompson, Cleveland (2)
Shaun Livingston, Golden State
J.J. Barea, Dallas
Boris Diaw, San Antonio
Zach LaVine, Minnesota
Darren Collison, Sacramento
Allen Crabbe, Portland
Jrue Holiday, New Orleans
Patrick Patterson, Toronto
Mirza Teletovic, Phoenix

Phil Jackson to host “triangle camp” review for players, with Kurt Rambis

Associated Press
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The Knicks players have summer school. Basically.

Phil Jackson is going to run the triangle in New York, and whatever it was they ran as an offense last season at Madison Square Garden was more Jackson Pollock painting than recognizable shape. So now that the season is over Jackson — with his preferred head coaching candidate Kurt Rambis by his side — is running essentially a summer school camp on the triangle offense for players. From Ian Begley of ESPN.

Phil Jackson will meet with a few New York Knicks players to go over the club’s triangle offense this week, and interim head coach Kurt Rambis will join him, league sources confirmed.

In addition to being further evidence of Jackson’s commitment to the triangle offense, the workouts are significant because Rambis, a strong candidate for the Knicks’ head-coaching vacancy, will be in attendance.

The obvious takeaways here are the things mentioned and things we already knew — the triangle offense isn’t going anywhere in New York, and he wants Kurt Rambis to be the coach.

Jackson said the day of Knicks exit interviews that he felt the team didn’t really start to play the structure of the triangle until Rambis took over.

The only question is, how many of the players in this little day camp are going to be with the team next season? New York could see fairly significant player turnover.

Kevin Durant ties Jordan for playoff record you don’t want, shrugs it off

Associated Press
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If a player is mentioned in the same sentence with Michael Jordan, that’s a good thing. An honor.

Except in this case for Kevin Durant.

Matt Moore at CBS did the research and KD tied Jordan for most missed shots in a postseason game in 30 plus years at 26.

After the tight Dallas win, Durant largely shrugged off his ice-cold night because, well, what else is he going to do? It happens. Does anyone expect this to carry over to Game 3? Durant is one of the best shooters in the game, he’ll be just fine.

Three things to watch in playoffs Tuesday: Who steps up for Boston with Bradley out?

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Some playoff series are starting to get interesting in the first round after we moved out of a one-sided opening weekend. Will we get a game worth watching on Tuesday? Here are three things to look for.

1) How will the Celtics adjust to the loss of Avery Bradley? Boston is going to miss Bradley. A lot. He is out for the rest of the series against Atlanta with a hamstring injury, and in a series seen as a coin toss, this could be the difference. During the season, the Celtics were 3.1 points per 100 possessions better when Bradley was on the court rather than sitting, but that stat underestimates his value. Particularly defensively — Bradley was sixth this season in Defensive Player of the Year voting, and he was the highest ranked guard. Boston’s defense pressures and forces turnovers (second most per game in the league) and Bradley was at the heart of that, averaging 2.2 steals per game. Offensively, Bradley was inconsistent, but he made smart cuts off the ball, created space with that off-the-ball movement, knew how to use curls/pin down screens to get open, and hit his midrange jumpers fairly well. All things Boston needs this series.

Brad Stevens’ creativity and Boston’s trademark depth will be tested with this injury (maybe Stevens slides to bigger lineups). Marcus Smart likely will get the start and be asked to slow down Jeff Teague, who had 23 points and 12 assists in Game 1 and feasted once Bradley left the game. Smart isn’t the pick-and-roll defender Bradley is, and you can expect that to get tested early. Terry Rozier will get minutes for Boston, as will R.J. Hunter. Don’t be shocked if Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer adds to the defensive pressure in the backcourt by playing Teague and backup point guard Dennis Schroeder together.

2) Can Atlanta replicate their first half of Game 1 for 48 minutes?
Atlanta took a 1-0 series lead over Boston with a tight 102-101 win, but people forget this was a 17-point game at the half, and the Hawks were locking down the Celtics (who shot 23 percent in the first half). It was a balanced attack in that half (isn’t it always for the Hawks?) with Kent Bazemore scoring 11 while both Al Horford and Paul Millsap scored nine. The easy way to do this for the Hawks would be to hit their threes — they were 5-of-27 in Game 1, well below their season average.

The other thing we could see from Atlanta — angry and motivated Al Horford. On the Celtics’ broadcast, Boston color commentator and general Celtics homer Tommy Heinsohn said Horford was “not a great player.” Horford shrugged it off as Heinsohn’s opinion and he didn’t care — but it’s motivation for the All-Star forward. Horford is just good at everything — maybe not A+ elite at any one thing, but he’s A-/B+ at everything, and if he finds a Celtics weakness he can exploit it. If that happens in Game 2, the Hawks will win handily.

3) Maybe Memphis can keep it close for a half? That’s about the best I can do for you this series. Memphis is going to struggle to score (37 points in the first half of Game 1), and the Spurs will get their buckets and just grind Memphis down. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge will get theirs; the Spurs bench will feast in particular against an injury-riddled Grizzlies roster.

This column is about things to watch — I would recommend binging season four of “House of Cards” or “Mozart in the Jungle” over this game. We’ll watch the Spurs go up 2-0 for you and put up a quality recap. Promise.