Kurt Helin

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Raptors’ guards DeRozan, Lowry struggle again against Pacers defense, Indiana wins to even series 2-2

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Kyle Lowry was 4-of-12 shooting and missed every attempt he took from three.

DeMar DeRozan, blanketed again by Paul George, was 4-of-15 shooting and had six turnovers.

Once again the Raptors could not get their guards going, and this time Jonas Valanciunas did not get enough post touches to bail the team out. While this game was not pretty there was enough Monta Ellis early for the Pacers and the Georges — Paul George and George Hill — the rest of the way, and the Pacers picked up a comfortable 100-83 win.

The series is now 2-2, a best of three, headed back to Toronto for Game 5.

Each game in this series has seen one side be just sloppy and mentally out of it. Maybe by Game 5 of the playoffs both sides can show up with sharp focus.

Maybe back home the Raptors can find better shooting from their guard duo, who have struggled this series against a strong Pacers’ defense. DeRozan is 16-of-52 the last three games, and while he keeps saying he’s just missing shots we all know George’s defense is at the heart of the guard’s issues. DeRozan is becoming frustrated, and it’s leading to poor shot selection and turnovers that are hurting the team.

Lowry has struggled with his shot but still been a playmaker in other games in this series, but not this one. He and the entire team were missing threes — Toronto was 8-of-30 as a team. Also, due to Lowry’s foul trouble, he was not aggressive guarding Hill, who went off for 22 Pacers points.

The question I have for the Raptors is simply why did Valanciunas — who has been fantastic in this matchup — only get seven shot attempts? He made six of them.

One of the keys for the Pacers in this series is getting players other than George to contribute — Indiana got that Saturday. Despite a sore back, Ian Mahinmi had an unexpected 22 points plus grabbed 10 rebounds. Hill had 22 points — he’s been a real barometer for this team and he was aggressive in Game 4. George had 17 points.

The Pacers got what they wanted this game — balanced scoring to go with their strong defense. What they have not been able to do is get all that consistently. Now they just need it two out of the next three games.

Boston’s Marcus Smart fined $5,000 for obvious flop; Thomas not suspended for blow to Schroder


The NBA league office got these right.

Boston’s Marcus Smart has been fined for his comical flop Friday night in Game 3 against Atlanta. However, Isaiah Thomas avoided suspension and was given just a technical for his blow to the head of the Hawks Dennis Schroder.

First the flop (which you can see above) — that’s about as fine worthy as a flop can get. Atlanta’s Kyle Korver boxed out on Smart (who has a reputation for flopping) and the Celtics’ guard acted like he was shot out of a cannon. Smart was given a $5,000 flopping fine by the league, the first such fine of these playoffs.

The questions about the Celtics’ Thomas were tied to this play.

Was that a punch to the head, which would warrant a one-game suspension?

The league said no, that it did not rise to the level of a flagrant II foul (unnecessary and excessive) and instead gave him a flagrant I foul (unnecessary contact) for the blow.

That’s the right call by the league office. The officials in that game were handing out flagrants like they were candy on Halloween, but for some fouls that didn’t deserve it. This is the playoffs, things are going to get chippy and physical. Let them, to a degree.

Steve Kerr on Stephen Curry and Game 4: I would expect him to play


Stephen Curry wanted to play in Game 3 between the Warriors and Rockets, but team doctors and the organization held him back. The Rockets won the game by a point on a James Harden game winner (on which he pushed off, but that call is never going to be made).

Curry will be back for Game 4.

Curry himself said as much Friday, and Saturday coach Steve Kerr backed him up.

We could all see this coming. The Warriors wanted to make sure Curry was 100 percent for the tougher matchups to come in the postseason, and since they didn’t pay a price for him sitting in Game 2 they extended the rest a game. Then they paid a price, so he will be back.

The Warriors were a ridiculous 22 points per 100 possessions better this season when Curry was on the court compared to off it, and through the small sample size of first three games of the playoffs that number is more than doubled. Meaning, with Curry back this series is over, Houston has won its last game of the season. Sorry Rockets fans.

Report: New Orleans’ Dell Demps “definitely coming back” as GM

Associated Press
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If there was one general manager thought to be on the hottest of seats this season, it was Dell Demps in New Orleans. They have the cornerstone piece everybody wants in Anthony Davis, but the roster put around him wasn’t good enough, wasn’t durable at all, and didn’t fit with the style of play coach Alvin Gentry would prefer. Add to that mix that Mickey Loomis, the Saints GM, was given more oversight powers over the running of the Pelicans for owner Tom Benson, and it seemed like Demps should be polishing up his resume.

Apparently not.

He will be back for a seventh season, reports John Reid at the Times-Picayune.

New Orleans Pelicans general manager Dell Demps is “definitely coming back” for his seventh season, a league source said on Friday night. There had been speculation in recent weeks that Demps was on the hot seat and the franchise could move in a different direction.

Demps is expected to meet with the media for a postmortem on the team this week.

He’s got a lot of work to do this summer (including finding a good player at No. 6 in the draft, depending on the lottery).

While the Pelicans have a cornerstone piece that everybody covets in Anthony Davis, they have not put much of a roster around him. They are on the clock to do that now. Demps has been very hit and miss, with a few expensive misses. Last summer Demps did things like re-signing Omer Asik, even though that was a questionable fit with Alvin Gentry’s up-tempo style of play. This summer there is a laundry list of things that need to get done — a three that can take pressure off Anthony Davis (many teams doubled off Dante Cunningham on Davis) and depth in the backcourt.

Injuries certainly helped derail the Pelicans last season, never letting the roster get traction, but it was not a roster that fit the coach’s style from the start. That needs to change. If you bring in Gentry, you want to run, and they need to get the athletes who can do that.

Watch Kawhi Leonard drop 32 on Memphis in latest win

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Memphis put up a fight. At home the grit and grind were in full force — well, as full as it can be considering all the injuries — and the Grizzlies made the Spurs work for this win.

But the Spurs have Kawhi Leonard, and the Grizzlies did not have anyone who could stop him. Leonard dropped 32 on Memphis leading San Antonio to a win and a 3-0 series lead.

This series will come to a merciful end on Sunday.