Kurt Helin

LeBron James with monster dunk, but Cavs struggle to score inside in first half (VIDEO)


OAKLAND — LeBron James had 14 of the Cavaliers 23 second quarter points, and he got them attacking the rim. And throwing down massive dunks, like the one above.

Or like this crossover and finish.

However, the Cavaliers still have not adjusted to the physicality of the series, nor the length and shot challenging of the Warriors in the paint — the Cavaliers were 11-of-30 in the paint in the first half. And that is holding back their offense, which is why they trailed 52-44 at the half (and needed a 7-0 run at the end of the quarter to get that close). Check out Cleveland’s first-half shot chart.

Cavs first half shot chart

Warriors’ Festus Ezeli with putback dunk (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

OAKLAND — This is mostly how Golden State stayed in the game in the first quarter.

The Warriors stars were cold again — Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined to shoot 1-of-5 from three, 2-of-7 overall in the first quarter — but Golden State had seven offensive rebounds, leading to six second chance points. This putback dunk by Festus Ezeli was the best of the group.

The Cavaliers led after one 21-19, but the game wasn’t pretty — both teams shot under 40 percent — and didn’t find a groove until the second quarter.

Report: Thibodeau, Timberwolves to pursue Joakim Noah in free agency

Getty Images

Because one aging, defensive-focused forward in the form of Kevin Garnett is not enough.

Tom Thibodeau is looking to bring one of his favorites from Chicago — Joakim Noah — to Minnesota, reports Mitch Lawrence of The Sporting News.

League sources tell Sporting News that Thibodeau has targeted Joakim Noah, who is an unrestricted free agent and has interest in leaving Chicago and re-joining Thibodeau. When they were together in Chicago, Noah developed and thrived under Thibodeau, finishing fourth in the MVP voting in 2013-14.

Besides offering tenacious defense and his gung-ho, team-first attitude, Noah fills the role of veteran leader. “I think when you see what happened in Chicago, the Bulls really missed Jo’s leadership this season, first and foremost,” Thibodeau said, referring to the Bulls’ failure to make the playoffs, as Noah had his season end in mid-January due to a shoulder injury.

This is about as surprising as an 8-year-old girl liking unicorns.

Thibodeau is a big Noah fan, and understandably he would like to have another hard-working, good influence around Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and the rest of the young Timberwolves.

Noah has battled a variety of injuries for years and needs to have his minutes kept in check now (maybe he should come off the bench), but he still can provide defense and rebounds. His offensive game has fallen dramatically, but he can get a few points for a team.

There are two big questions for Noah. First, does he want to play for Thibodeau again? A lot of Bulls were burned out on Thibodeau’s grinding, hard-driven style by the end — at this stage of his career is that what Noah wants to subject himself to? Second, who pays him the most money? A number of teams will come calling, and there are some interesting potential fits — Dallas and Portland spring to mind — and Noah will have options.

More than playing faster, Tyronn Lue says Cavaliers need to adjust to physicality of Finals

Getty Images

OAKLAND — There were a number of areas in Game 1 of the NBA Finals that the Eastern Conference did not prepare Cleveland to handle: The speed of the Warriors, the need to be focused on defense for the full 24 seconds, how to attack a team that is good at switching on defense.

And the physicality.

This is the NBA Finals, not a January Tuesday in Milwaukee, and the referees are letting the players play, something the Cavs didn’t handle as well as coach Tyronn Lue would have liked in Game 1.

“(The officials) allowed a lot of physicality, and we’ve got to be physical. They’re being physical,” Lue said. “All their switches with Steph on LeBron, he’s trying to be physical, bumping LeBron, and we have to take the same approach. I think they’re letting the game be played, and we’ve got to pick up our physicality as well.”

The referee crew for Game 2 is Scott Foster, Tony Brothers, and James Capers — not a trio the Warriors is especially fond of. Foster, in particular, has a quick trigger for handing out technical fouls, something Draymond Green — and all the players on both teams — need to be aware of Sunday night.

For the Warriors, Steve Kerr said he expects a bounce back game from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson after they combined to shoot 8-of-27 in Game 1. Kerr was not worried about their shot selection.

“Those guys are allowed to take any shots they want,” Kerr said. “That’s the rule. Steph and Klay are, nobody else is. I trust their judgment. But the minute I start complaining about bad shots, all I have to do is: Oh, yeah, in Oklahoma City, Game 6, Klay took five bad shots that helped us win.”

Lue emphasized the same things he did since the end of Game 1 — his team needs to play faster and move the ball better in the half court. In that game, the Warriors’ switched everything and the Cavs didn’t handle it well.

“They switch out on all pin-downs, they switch the pick-and-rolls, so they make you play a lot of one-on-one,” Lue said. “So the best thing you can do is try to expose the mismatch with Kevin Love posting up on smaller guys or LeBron, but then they send the double team. So with that being said, we have to play faster and get out in transition to get early, easy baskets. It also opens things up for J.R. Smith and Channing Frye to get shots.”

We’ll find out soon if the Cavaliers actually can play fast with the Warriors.

Report: Knicks’ Kyle O’Quinn being sued over alleged assualt

Getty Images

A New York woman is suing Knicks’ center Kyle O’Quinnand his girlfriend over an alleged assault outside a party on May 22.

The New York Daily News has the story, which is based on the lawsuit and a conversation with the attorney representing the plaintiff. The New York Police Department is reportedly still investigating the incident.

Here are the details from the Daily News:

Shakaira Elaine Elie, 22, was enjoying a day party with her friends at Trinity Place Bar and Restaurant on May 22 when they noticed a very tall man staring at her, according to a lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

That man was O’Quinn, who was at the party with his girlfriend. Elie was outside the restaurant waiting for her ride when O’Quinn left and his group left as well, which is when the Knicks’ center tried to talk to Elie but she told him she was not interested, according to the report.

Nonetheless, his companion allegedly attacked her, the lawsuit says. O’Quinn allegedly jumped in and grabbed Elie by the neck, according to the court documents….

Meanwhile, Elie went to the hospital and was treated for bruises to her face, head, neck, ribs and elbow.

Representatives of O’Quinn and the restaurant did not comment for the story.

O’Quinn, a 6’10” reserve center for the Knicks, is about to enter the second year of a four-year, $16 million deal with the team.