Kurt Helin

Really? NBA says Hornets did not foul Dwyane Wade on final shot


I need to put this disclaimer at the top: The referees did not cost Miami Game 5. It was more than one play: Goran Dragic shooting 5-of-15, Luol Deng shooting 4-of-12, the bench surrendering the start of a 15-5 Hornets run in the middle of the fourth that gave Charlotte the lead, or a lack of a key box out, and we could go on. And if you want, we can find bad calls the other way as well.

That said, I disagree with the league on this one.

The NBA’s referee report on the final two minutes of Charlotte beating Miami in Game 5 has come out and said Dwyane Wade was not fouled on his shot in the paint with five seconds to go. On Cody Zeller the league said:

Zeller (CHA) comes towards Wade (MIA) from across the restricted area, planting his foot and jumping vertically to defend Wade’s shot. Zeller absorbs contact when it occurs and, while his arms are not completely vertical, multiple angles confirm they do not make contact with Wade. Therefore, Zeller maintains a legal guarding position as he attempts to defend the shot.

This is where I think the league is wrong — Zeller did not jump vertically, he aggressively came across the lane and leaped forward making contact with Wade. I’m not alone here, this is from former NBA head of officials Stu Jackson.

As for Courtney Lee‘s contact with Wade on the same shot, here is the league’s response:

Lee (CHA) makes contact with the ball during Wade’s (MIA) upward shooting motion, which makes his subsequent, minor arm contact with Wade incidental. Lee then makes contact with Wade’s arm again at about 00:04.9, however, Wade has already lost possession of the ball.

The point is moot. Even if the league office had admitted the call was wrong, nothing would have changed the outcome.

If the Heat want to win Game 6 on the road they can’t count on a call at the end of the game, they need to get all the things right earlier in the game that made it close in the first place.

Cavaliers’ coach Lue believes David Blatt deserves another chance

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue would like to see his former boss, David Blatt, get another NBA job.

Blatt was fired in January despite a 30-11 record and replaced by Lue, who guided Cleveland to the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

On Wednesday, Blatt interviewed with the New York Knicks, a person with knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press.

“He definitely deserves another chance,” Lue said. “I thought Coach Blatt did a great and phenomenal job here. He taught me a lot. Just being friends with him and getting a chance to understand him was great for me. I know a lot of guys around here, we talked about it the other day, they miss him and his presence.

“Hopefully, he gets another job in this league because he deserves it.”

Blatt led the Cavs to the finals in his first season.

Austin Rivers says his father Doc’s mother passing was toughest thing he ever saw him deal with


LOS ANGELES — It was a very unexpected moment in the Doc Rivers’ pregame press conference.

He’d been asked about what he had to do to keep the spirits up of a young team that had just lost its two best players for the remainder of the playoffs and looked destined for quick elimination. The follow up question was who he leaned on to keep his spirits up? The usually loquacious and joking Rivers kind of stammered around an answer for 30 seconds, ending by saying “I don’t know.”

Then as an unrelated next question came, Rivers’ eyes filled up with tears. Rivers apologized, and said that the question about who he leaned on got him thinking about his late mother. “That would have been the person.” Rivers’ mother Bettye passed away almost a year ago, last June.

After the Clippers’ loss, Austin Rivers was asked about Bettye and his father’s relationship by Arash Markazi of ESPN.

“He doesn’t really share his life outside of basketball with me,” Austin said. “He and I don’t know each other like that. We know each other as strictly basketball. A lot of people on the outside don’t understand that because people think we have a relationship like every other father and son. We just don’t. That’s because he’s been gone my whole life, and that’s fine.

“It’s worked out for the both of us. But the one person he could always really be with was his mom. That’s the toughest thing I’ve ever seen him go through; more than the Sterling stuff and even when his dad passed away. His mom was everything to him. I’ve never seen him like that.”

Powerful stuff. And it gives you an insight into the sacrifices of NBA coaches.


Carmelo Anthony says he hasn’t spoken to Phil Jackson, wants a full-blown coaching search

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Phil Jackson reportedly sat down with David Blatt and interviewed him for the New York Knicks coaching job. But that felt like Jackson going through the motions so he could say “see, we had a coaching search.” Jackson has said he wants a coach that he has a relationship with and who is committed to running the triangle offense. Blatt is neither of those things.

All reports are that Jackson is pushing for the hiring of Kurt Rambis, who was the interim coach the second half of last season, and who is Jackson’s good friend.

That frustrates Carmelo Anthony, who was on Sirus XM NBA radio and reiterated that he wants to see a full-blown, wide-ranging coaching search — and that he thought Tom Thibodeau would have taken the job if offered. Anthony was interviewed on that show by Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.

“I’ve said this and I’ll continue to say it, there needs to be a process,” Anthony said. “As long as there’s a process and you go through the proper channels to figure out exactly what you need to do, I don’t have no problem with that. But if you don’t go through that process and at least look to see what’s out there, then we have a problem with that.”

Two coaches fell off the market in the last week when Washington hired Scott Brooks and Minnesota landed Tom Thibodeau. Jackson wasn’t interested in interviewing either candidate. The News reported that Anthony was privately endorsing Thibodeau, the former Knicks assistant and Coach of the Year in Chicago.

Would Thibodeau have taken the job? Difficult to say. He and Jackson would have been oil and water. Thibodeau got the dual GM and coach chairs in Minnesota, but there are conflicting sources on how much power he was seeking. It seems in places where he trusted ownership/management and felt he could work with them, he’d take less power. How he felt about Jackson is that situation, you can take your own guess.

When asked if he believed in what Jackson was doing, Anthony wondered if he had much of a choice.

“I have to. My fate is in his hands,” Anthony said. “I have to believe in him. If I believe that I’m going to be here, I don’t have anybody else to kind of put my fate in.”

The other option is for him not to be in New York.

Which may ultimately be where this is headed (and may ultimately be what Jackson wants), although Anthony holds a no-trade clause so he can leverage his departure to a team where he feels he can contend for a ring. The Knicks (or, Anthony’s agent) are going to have to find a team willing to take on his max contract with a 15 percent trade kicker — even in a market flooded with cash that will not be easy. Especially when you consider the volume and quality of players that would need to go back to New York to make that deal work under the cap.

It’s hard to imagine a scenario where the slow decline in Anthony’s game with age, and the fast rise of Kristaps Porzingis‘ game, intersect in a place that brings New York anywhere close to a ring. It may be time for both sides to move on, and this coaching search could be the catalyst to make that happen. Then again, Anthony loves New York, wants to win there, and has the ultimate hammer.

Three Things to Watch in NBA Thursday: Can Boston Garden ghosts help force Game 7?

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Only one game on the docket tonight but it’s from probably the best series of the first round — can the Atlanta Hawks close out the Boston Celtics on the road? Atlanta is up 3-2, and here are three things to watch:

1) How well is Isaiah Thomas moving? Thomas tweaked his ankle during the ugliness that was Game 5 for Boston, and the Celtics need him for Game 6 if they are going to extend this series. He has always said he was going to play, the question is how well he can play — Boston needs near 100 percent Thomas.

He’s the one Celtic who can create his own shots and set up others. In Game 5 the Hawks did a good job trapping and swarming Thomas off every pick-and-roll, taking it out of his hands and daring anyone else to beat them. Nobody did. In Game 6 look for Brad Stevens to do something Terry Stotts started doing for Portland vs. a swarming L.A. Clippers defense on Damian Lillard — isolations. It’s a break from what the Celtics did during the season, but Thomas himself mentioned the idea after the last game. Why bring another defender up into the play? If Thomas’ ankle is healthy enough for him to blow by guys in isolation, the Celtics offense is more likely bounce back.

2) Can Atlanta knock down its jump shots? The Xs and Os of this series are more complex, but in a lot of ways it comes down to this: Boston is daring Atlanta players not named Kyle Korver to shoot jumpers and beat them. In their Game 5 blowout win, the Hawks shot nearly 50 percent and had 13 three pointers total from seven different players. When those shots fall, when there is offensive balance like that, they are going to win. Can they do that on the road under pressure?

3) Can these Celtics summon the Garden magic? Closeout games are hard. Closeout games on the road are harder. But there is something about the Garden — the crowds, the ghosts, whatever it is this will be a tough one for the Hawks to win. That said, they have the right tools — including the Mike Scott/Paul Millsap lineups up front that have been very successful this series. Expect Scott to be the first big off the bench, subbing out Al Horford, again in this game. But can Boston get a huge game from Marcus Smart and Evan Turner, can Amir Johnson own the paint for a night, can Jae Crowder get back to doing his thing.

Historically, a series where the home team wins the first five games (as has happened in this series) sees the road team win Game 6 57 percent of the time. Boston needs everything in its bag of tricks to force a Game 7.