Kurt Helin

Watch Kyle Lowry’s red-hot shooting second quarter


Kyle Lowry found his shot back home in Toronto.

After a rough first couple games (actually a rough couple rounds to start the playoffs), Lowry has gotten hot back home, and that seemed to peak in the second quarter when he shot 6-of-7 overall and 3-of-4 from three. He had 15 points, 20 in the quarter, and the Raptors were up 16 at the half.

LeBron James with early dunk, flying scoop around Biyombo (VIDEO)


LeBron James was making his presence felt early in Game 4 in Toronto.

Toronto again got an early lead and was scrambling, defending, and playing with energy, but the Cavs were playing better on offense in this contest, trying to keep it close. That started with LeBron making some plays, starting 3-of-4 from the field.

The alley-oop was good, but the scoop shot where LeBron adjusted in midair was special.

NBA upgrades Draymond Green to Flagrant 2 foul, but no suspension


Draymond Green is going to be on the court Tuesday night when the Warriors visit the Thunder in a critical Game 4 — boos will rain down on him every time he touches the ball, he will be lighter in the wallet, but he will be there.

After review, the NBA league office decided to upgrade Green’s foul from when he kicked Steven Adams to a Flagrant 2, but not to suspend him a game. The story was broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports and has since been confirmed by the NBA.

“After a thorough investigation that included review of all available video angles and interviews with the players involved and the officials working the game, we have determined that Green’s foul was unnecessary and excessive and warranted the upgrade and fine,” Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations, said in a statement.

“During a game, players – at times – flail their legs in an attempt to draw a foul,” VanDeWeghe continued, “but Green’s actions in this case warranted an additional penalty.”

Green also has been fined $25,000.

It’s fair to ask why the Cavaliers’ Dahntay Jones was suspended one game when Green was not. However, the suspension was the lesser punishment for Jones — he signed just before the end of the season and make just a little more than $8,000 with the Cavaliers in salary. He was fined one game’s salary, which for him works out to $80.17 — a $25,000 fine would have been three times is salary for the season.

The league is saying that Green should have been thrown out of the game at the time, but it was a “basketball play” trying to draw the foul and not worthy of a suspension. I’m not sure the call shouldn’t have been left alone, but it didn’t warrant a suspension in my eyes.

Green has three flagrant points these playoffs, with one more Flagrant 1 he is suspended for one game, with another Flagrant 2 he would be suspended two games.

The Thunder blew out the Warriors in Game 3 and part of the reason was that Green played terribly — the guy that is the heart of Golden State lost his poise (mostly after this incident). His defense was off, he rushed bad shots on offense (1-of-9 shooting), and he turned the ball over four times. If he doesn’t play well Tuesday, the Warriors are in trouble even if he is on the court.

But he will get a chance to play. And hear it from Thunder fans.

Jonas Valanciunas will play in critical Game 4 for Raptors Monday


He’s going to be on a minutes limit, he’ll be rusty, and he may not move terribly quickly, but the Raptors will take him.

Center Jonas Valanciunas says will be back for Game 4, the team announced.

Valanciunas had gone through practice but was a game-time decision, but we knew he was close.

He is expected to come off the bench behind Bismack Biyombo and give the Raptors some needed depth and potential scoring punch along the front line. His size could be a problem for Cleveland. When healthy he is a load in the paint with a variety of scoring moves and a soft touch.

But coach Dwane Casey and the Rockets need to be careful — he likely will get matched up against the Cavaliers smaller units where Kevin Love and Channing Frye are the bigs and both can space the floor. If his presence leads to open shots for the Cavaliers and he can’t balance that out with scoring on the other end, it may be difficult to play him much.

That said, it’s at least an emotional boost for a Raptors team that needs to win Game 4 at home, if they go down 3-1 heading back to Cleveland the party will be over.

Physical intensity picks up between Cavaliers, Raptors heading into Game 4


TORONTO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan remembers the angry emotions Raptors teammate Bismack Biyombo once stirred in him as an opponent.

“I hated him,” DeRozan said Sunday.

The Cavaliers likely feel a little anger toward Biyombo after his pivotal performance Saturday, when he helped stop Cleveland’s 10-0 start to the playoffs in Toronto’s 99-84 victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. Game 4 is Monday night at Air Canada Centre.

Biyombo hauled down a Raptors’ playoff-record 26 rebounds, blocked four shots, and scored six of his seven points in a quick fourth-quarter spurt that helped seal Toronto’s win.

That wasn’t all. Biyombo was involved in a first-half skirmish that saw LeBron James take a tumble after catching an accidental elbow from his own teammate, Tristan Thompson. Late in the fourth, Biyombo drew a flagrant foul after he collared a driving James, sending the Cavs’ star sprawling again.

DeRozan hasn’t forgotten what all that feels like.

“I hated Biz,” Toronto’s All-Star guard said. “He was a fouler, always blocking shots. He always went for the pump fake, though, but I hated Biz. Now by far he’s one of my favorite teammates of all-time.”

Raptors coach Dwane Casey understands Biyombo can be both a “nightmare” and a “nuisance” to play against, whether it’s the center’s habit of finger-wagging after blocks, or flexing his muscles after big dunks.

To Biyombo, being a nuisance is no big deal. It’s the way it’s got to be.

“Until you really get to know the real side of me, then you know who I am,” he said. “But on the floor I don’t have friends.”

At the final buzzer Saturday, Biyombo lay crumpled in pain in Cleveland’s paint after being struck below the belt while battling Dahntay Jones for a loose ball. Biyombo took the hit while tapping the ball to a teammate, his eighth offensive rebound of the night.

Casey was upset at the referees after the game, complaining that Biyombo wasn’t getting calls and citing Cleveland’s 86-51 edge in free throw attempts in the series. On Sunday, Casey declined to say whether those comments had drawn league discipline.

“I’m not trying to get anybody,” Casey said. “It’s over with. I said what I had to say last night. I’m not trying to send a message. It was a comment about the game last night and it’s over with.”

Jones was suspended for Game 4 by the NBA on Sunday, while Casey was fined $25,000 for his comments.

After a testy, physical Game 3, the Cavaliers were also wondering whether they were getting a fair shake from the referees. Asked whether James and the Cavs had to sell calls, coach Tyronn Lue said it’s tough for his star because defenders “tend to bounce off” a driving James.

“If you don’t foul him hard, he’s going to get an and-one and a three-point play,” Lue said. “You’ve got to try to be physical with him so he can’t take the contact and finish at the rim. When you get around the neck, like Biyombo did last night, that’s different. But when teams hard-foul, you’re supposed to get hard-fouled when you’re going to the basket, especially being that strong and that powerful.”

Speaking before the Cavs held a film session at their Toronto hotel Sunday, James didn’t want to say whether he’s getting the whistles he deserves.

“I really don’t get involved in it too much,” James said. “I just play the game and let the referees decide what the call may be and move on. I can’t have my focus go somewhere else. That allows my energy to be somewhere it shouldn’t be.”

With Cleveland’s run over, Richard Jefferson said the mood was a little down when several Cavs gathered for a postgame meal Saturday night.

“That’s the first time in a month the dinner conversation wasn’t joyous and excited and having fun,” Jefferson said. “We were just kind of talking about the things that we needed to do. We were trying to keep our minds off of it, but you could see that everybody was a little off.”

Shooting-wise, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were more than a little off in Game 3, going a combined 4 for 28. Lue said Irving, who got the worst of a collision with Toronto’s Cory Joseph late in Saturday’s game, was feeling fine after having the wind knocked out of him.

Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas, out since Game 3 of the Miami series after spraining his right ankle, is listed as doubtful for Game 4. Valanciunas is progressing slowly and will be re-evaluated Monday, Casey said.