Kurt Helin

Report: Orlando Magic “optimistic” they are front runners for Frank Vogel

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Frank Vogel is in demand.

Well, not in Indiana, where Larry Bird let him go as coach because he’d been around too long, but in every other place with a coaching vacancy. Vogel has options, particularly between Memphis and Orlando.

But Orlando is confident they have the upper hand, reports Marc Stein and Chris Broussard of ESPN. Well, if Orlando wants Vogel.

Sources told ESPN.com on Wednesday night that the Magic believe they have emerged as Vogel’s preferred destination and are positioned to quickly complete a deal with him if their coaching search continues to progress in its current direction.

Orlando officials, sources say, have spent the bulk of the week trying to decide between Vogel and highly rated ‎Magic assistant Adrian Griffin but know they have to move quickly if they want Vogel, given the strong interest he has received from the Grizzlies.

There is buzz around the league that Griffin may be the real frontrunner for the Magic job, but the front office seems torn (or divided). However, the fact Memphis wants Vogel puts a timeline on Orlando to make up its mind.

Vogel us understandably intrigued by a young Magic roster with Nikola Vucevic, Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, Mario Hezonja, and whoever the team picks at No. 11 this NBA Draft. That young, talented roster is what drew Scott Skiles to the job, but he became less fond of the talent when it went from on paper to the court. His disagreements with management over players — with Payton being the most prominent — led to his resignation.

If the Magic choose Vogel, what will Memphis do?

Sources say that the Grizzlies, meanwhile, have been most impressed by San Antonio Spurs assistant coach James Borrego and Miami Heat assistant coach David ‎Fizdale, among the other interviews they’ve completed while waiting out Vogel’s talks this week with the Magic.

NBA draft returning to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center

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NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA says next month’s draft will return to Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the fourth straight year.

The draft will be held June 23 at the home of the Nets, who don’t have a first-round pick. They previously traded it to the Boston Celtics, who have the No. 3 selection.

The Philadelphia 76ers won the draft lottery Tuesday and have the No. 1 selection, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers.

Tickets will be available beginning Monday at http://www.nbatickets.com

Breaking down Warriors, Stephen Curry’s third quarter run

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“Business as usual. This is what he does.”

That was how Warriors coach Steve Kerr described Stephen Curry‘s play during a 15-2 run in the third quarter that blew the game open and evened the Western Conference Finals at one game a piece.

While Curry was grabbing everyone’s attention with a classic “Curry Flurry” of shots, this run was more than that — it was the Warriors defense cutting off the passing lanes of Oklahoma City, it was sloppy Thunder defense, and it was Draymond Green making smart plays. It was everything the Warriors did right to earn the win encapsulated in 133 seconds.

Here’s how it went down. Andre Roberson cut Golden State’s lead to 64-57 with a driving layup with 7:23 left. That’s when the Curry Flurry started.

• The first bucket is pretty simple: Curry pops out off an Andrew Bogut down screen (at the mid-post) and Bogut makes sure Serge Ibaka didn’t get to Curry by keeping that screen moving. Steven Adams stayed back as if he wasn’t coming out to that thin air, so Curry got as clean a look as he would all night. Three ball. 67-57 with 7:09 left.

Russell Westbrook lazily brings the ball up and with 12 seconds on the shot clock passes to Kevin Durant out top. Westbrook can’t get open coming off an Andre Roberson screen, then there is a lot of standing around. Durant tries to make a risky pass to Roberson on the baseline, Curry tipped it and Draymond Green intercepted it. It was one of several turnovers that made the Warriors’ run possible, but this one was more about a stagnant Thunder offense than good Warriors play.

With the turnover Golden State was off to the races — Green made a 40-foot pass ahead to a streaking Curry, who was met at the basket by Durant, and Curry could not score around KD’s length (there was a lot of contact, but the refs were letting them play, so no call). Harrison Barnes grabbed the loose ball and passed out top to Green. While that happened Curry got up off the ground, sprinted to the right corner, Durant lost him for a second and had to close out fast after Green made the pass, and KD fouled Curry. Then Durant picked up a technical. Curry proceeded to hit the technical and all three free throws, 71-57 with 6:33 left.

While Curry has the hot hand and is drawing the attention, it is Green who is often the catalyst and was in this case.

“I thought (Green) made some big defensive plays in the third quarter, deflections, and that allowed us to get out and run,” Kerr said after the game. “And often times he becomes the ball handler in transition with Steph and Klay running the wings. There were some plays there where we broke free and Steph was able to get some looks and get going.”

• While Westbrook walks the ball up, Durant went down by the baseline then popped back up to the elbow off an Adams down screen — that was enough space for one of Durant’s favorite shots, that fade-away jumper. This is the only points the Thunder score during the Curry Flurry. It’s 71-59 with 6:22 left.

• Curry brings the ball up and both Westbrook and Adams are there to meet him 30 feet from the basket — they are going to get it out of his hands. Curry steps back from the double and passes to Andrew Bogut rolling down the lane — and this is where the ball movement lacking from Golden State consistently in Game 1 shows up. Bogut sees help defenders come to him, so he passes to Andre Iguodala in the corner — and now the Thunder are scrambling, Adams has dropped into the paint and Westbrook has taken his eyes off Curry and started ball watching. Iguodala throws it to Green in the post, Curry slides down the arc and Green hits him with a pass, Ibaka closes out hard so Curry pump fakes, waits for the Ibaka flyby, steps up and shoots the three — then while the ball is still in the air stares down Ibaka. Net. 74-59 with 6:07 left.

• Again Westbrook has the ball out top and again Durant comes off the down screen to the elbow — but this time Bogut and the Warriors anticipate it, arrive when the pass does and steal it. It is what the Warriors do when they crank up their defense, they start to jump passing lanes and take risks to force turnovers and transition opportunities. It worked here.

On the break Bogut throws it ahead to Iguodala, who throws it back to Curry at the top of the arc — he hits it but steps on the line, so just two points. 76-59 with 5:47 left.

Thunder coach Billy Donovan calls a timeout. It’s not enough.

• The Warriors have a fantastic defensive stand out of the timeout — Klay Thompson bodies up Durant at the top of the key and takes away any easy shot, he passes Westbrook who drives around an Adams screen at the elbow but first Green then Iguodala seamlessly handle the switch and cut off the drive, Westbrook passes to Enes Kanter and he goes to the basket but both Bogut and Green are there. Green is credited with the block.

Iguodala brings the ball up, passes to Green at the three-point line on the left wing, Curry comes out and gets the handoff from Green, then quickly reverses field to use Green as a screen, Durant can’t get over the pick and Adams again is too far away. Three again. Now it’s 79-59.

And it’s all over. There are 17 minutes to play but everyone realizes this game is done.

Andre Iguodala drains circus shot with plenty of English (VIDEO)

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That is pool cue English.

Late in the first half Andre Iguodala stole a Warriors pass, ran the court and got a lucky bounce that gave him the ball driving the lane, and he hit the most ridiculous shot of the game.

Russell Westbrook was called for a foul here, but if you look at the video he made no contact. Ball don’t lie — Iguodala missed the free throw.

Stephen Curry doing Stephen Curry things early vs. Thunder

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In Game 1, Stephen Curry was good and had some highlight moments, but he wasn’t the consistently incandescent Curry that takes the Warriors to unstoppable. Maybe it was still the knee, maybe it was the Thunder defense, maybe it was a lot of things.

Game 2 has seen more of the MVP Curry. He drove the lane for a great bucket above.

Below, see what happens when Curry gets isolated on the slow-footed Enes Kanter out high.