Kurt Helin

Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Five

After review, NBA assigns Cavaliers’ Matthew Dellavedova technical foul for leg lock on Gibson


This is the right call. It’s what the officials at the game should have done.

We can debate the Flagrant 2 foul and ejection given to Chicago’s Taj Gibson — I thought it should have been a foul plus a Flagrant 1, not an ejection; however Brett from PBT disagrees, as does J.R. Smith — but the fact is the Cavaliers’ Matthew Dellavedova got away with a leg lock that helped escalate what happened.

The NBA didn’t let him get away with it and assessed a technical foul on Wednesday.

This comes well after the fact and doesn’t change the outcome of the game (nor likely would it had it been assessed at the time). Still, it’s good to have the NBA come in and admit that things should have been handled differently. Transparency is a good first step in improving the trust of NBA officiating.

Who’s next? Five coaches who may replace Monty Williams in New Orleans.

Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game One

It came as a bit of a surprise, but Monty Williams has been fired as the head coach in New Orleans.

This is now the best open coaching job in the NBA, and you only need two words to know why: Anthony Davis. This is a team with one of the top three players in the NBA (top five at worst). While there is work to be done. no other team with a coaching vacancy has that foundation.

But with that opportunity will come a lot of pressure on the coach — you have to get this team winning to keep Davis long term. There is pressure on the organization to make the right hire (and add talent to the roster). Next season the Pelican’s roster likely looks similar to this season’s, so a lot of the improvement will need to be internal, and that falls on the coach.

Also, this is a team that should have been better defensively than it was — 22nd in the NBA in defensive efficiency — so expect GM Dell Demps to look for a defense-first guy.

1) Tom Thibodeau. Yes, he currently has a job, and despite the flood of rumors around the league that he is done there when the season ends, we don’t know how it will shake out. Thibodeau’s name is the first that came up as a potential replacement around the league — and Thibodeau and his people reportedly would consider it if he is let go. Under him, the Pelican defense will get better instantly. There’s no way the Pelicans would find a better, harder-working coach — and one that has a relationship with Davis through USA Basketball. That said, owner Tom Benson would have to open up the checkbook to get him. Also, would the Pelicans be willing to give up a future first rounder to get Thibs out of Chicago?

2) Mike Malone. He was an assistant under Monty Williams for a couple years (not sure if that helps his cause). Malone’s .368 winning percentage in just more than a season in Sacramento wasn’t impressive, but he also didn’t have a roster that was going to do any better. What was impressive is how he was brought in after the Maloof brothers had virtually torched the place and from those ashes built up a real culture for the team. Those Kings had shown real promise before DeMarcus Cousins was hurt (then Malone was fired because the owner wanted to play more up-tempo). He’s a defense-first guy, and he got through to Cousins in a way no other coach has yet. He deserves another chance and would do a good job here, but the hire may not be high profile enough for some.

3) Scott Brooks. He certainly showed he could develop talent and bond with the stars as the coach in Oklahoma City. He’s taken a team all the way to the NBA finals. This is simply a guy who has proven he can do the job. (And if you want to live in a fantasy world where New Orleans has a shot at landing Kevin Durant in 2016, he helps there, too.) He checks off a lot of boxes for Demps. But the reasons he was let go in Oklahoma City — concerns about his conventional offense, and if he was the guy who could coach a team to a title — should give New Orleans a little pause.

4) Mark Jackson. His name will come up. It will come up for every opening. His players in Golden State loved him, and they won. He built the foundation that the Warriors grew off of this season. That said, even more than Brooks, he ran a conventional, predictable offense that was defendable. The bigger concern, he created an “us vs. the world” mentality in the locker room where the world included team management. There was a lot of friction. Do the Pelicans want to bring that into the organization? Or would they be better off looking at someone who wants another chance like Alvin Gentry?

5) Kevin Ollie. If Demps decides to go the college coach route, he could do a lot worse than the UConn coach. Ollie is a high IQ guy who comes with 13 years of NBA background as a player. Also, if you think you have a shot at Durant as a free agent (and I’m not sure that New Orleans does) he can help there, Durant is a big fan. The bigger question: does Ollie really want to give up one of the best gigs in college hoops?




PBT Extra: Warriors handle first taste of adversity these playoffs, more to come

Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Four
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Golden State returned to form Monday and looked like the team that rolled everyobody during the regular season — and they did it just in time. Down 2-1 in the series to the Grizzlies entering the game, the Warriors seemed to take control of the series again.

Is Golden State overcoming its first adversity of these playoffs a key step in their title run? That’s what Julie Donaldson and I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.

It was a good sign how Golden State responded, and it’s important because you can be sure there is more adversity on the road to a title. Starting with Game 5.

James Harden, Rockets attack paint, beat Clippers to force Game 6

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The Clippers looked like they wanted a break. They have played every other day since April 22 — while other teams have had some healthy rests during the playoffs — and Los Angeles was counting on some time off. All they had to do was close out their series against the Rockets Tuesday, and they would have almost a week off to rest Chris Paul’s hamstring.

Instead, the Clippers started their vacation early, playing like a team that expected their opponent to roll over.

Meanwhile, the Rockets came out and played with desperation and passion. From the start, the Rockets were pounding the ball inside and defending with energy. James Harden was playing like an MVP candidate again.

“We attacked,” Rockets’ coach Kevin McHale said after the game. “We finally, we got to the basket, we got our points in the paint, we tried to attack. We finally played more like we tried to play throughout the year. We finally played downhill.”

The result was a 124-103 Houston win. That makes the series 3-2 Clippers, heading back to Los Angeles for Game 6 Thursday night.

The changes the Clippers need to make are less about Xs and Os and more about attitude, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.

“They just played harder, they were more focused,” Rivers said. “They played like they were the desperate team, we didn’t play very desperate tonight. So give them credit. I thought they took us out of all our stuff offensively.”

Harden was central to Houston’s attack, putting up 26 points (on 9-of-20 shooting), 11 rebounds, and 10 assists — a playoff triple-double. The Clippers tried to force the ball out of his hands, but he made the right read and hit passes to open guys all night.

All the Rockets were moving the ball and getting it inside, they shot 24-of-30 at the rim on the night and had 32 made shots in the paint on 68 percent shooting. They did a good job of getting the ball inside via the pass, not just dribble penetration. They also got DeAndre Jordan in early foul trouble, which helped open up the paint.

“We’re better when we play inside out, when we play downhill and attack,” McHale said. “We’re one of the better teams in the league at points in the paint and we just weren’t doing it.”

The Rockets came out as you’d expect from a team facing elimination, with the best energy and offense we had seen all series. Josh Smith was moved into the starting lineup in an effort to improve ball movement, and it worked. That said Clippers started 4-of-18 shooting and still were hanging around. The Rockets did a good job of getting the ball inside, they had 20 points in the paint in the first quarter, and Houston closed the quarter on 12-4 run. It was 27-22 Rockets after one.

In the second quarter the Clippers made their run and tied the game up at one point, and you started to wonder if this would turn out like the last couple games. However, the Rockets went on a 9-0 run to take a comfortable lead again before the half. The Rockets grabbed half of their missed shots as an offensive rebounds in the first half, and with the attacking style the Rockets were up 63-48.

This time around the Clippers were the team that could not get stops. Part of that was Jordan getting in foul trouble. With no Jordan to check him, Howard had 20 points and 15 rebounds on the night.

Houston had a much more balanced attack — Trevor Ariza had 22 points, Corey Brewer added 15. It seemed everyone was making plays.

Meanwhile, the Clippers were the two man show. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin combined for 52 points on 56.8 percent shooting. The rest of the Clippers shot 31.8 percent. Part of that was good defense, part of that was Los Angeles just missing shots.

The Rockets played their best game of the series. The question is can they do it on the road in Game 6. Or will we see a more focused Clipper team looking to end the series and get a little rest.

Rockets’ Clint Capela dunks all over Spencer Hawes (VIDEO)

Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game Five

That play pretty much sums up the Clippers and the Rockets Game 5.

The Rockets came out with a sense of desperation and were attacking the rim. The Clippers were a step late and not playing with the passion needed to close out a quality team.

So you get things like Clint Capela dunking on the late-rotating Spencer Hawes. But this was just one of a lot of smart passing plays and finishes by the Rockets. Houston earned the right to extend this series.