Kings’ owners send attorney to reporter’s home in attempt to obtain evidence of Phil Jackson’s comments

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UPDATE: May 5, 4:30 p.m.: Well, this is interesting. The original article was amended the evening of May 3, and it turns out that the attorney didn’t show up to the reporter’s home unannounced, as was originally stated. The reporter had made an appointment with the attorney to meet at her home, but left this fairly important detail out of the original story. The revised quote now reads:

Jessica Mackaness, an attorney representing Joe and Gavin Maloof, had an appointment at my house to get a tape of Jackson making a comment about the Kings’ efforts to relocate.

Obviously, that changes things quite a bit, and it’s a shame this wasn’t disclosed in the initial report.

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As the saga of the Sacramento Kings’ possible relocation to Anaheim continues, the team’s ownership is beginning to look more and more desperate in their attempts to keep that possibility alive. Their latest move was certainly that.

Janis Carr, a reporter for The Orange County Register, received an unexpected visitor at her home on Friday. It was an attorney representing the Maloofs, who hoped to recover an audio tape of Lakers head coach Phil Jackson’s comments that she had recorded prior to Game 2 of L.A.’s first round playoff series versus the Hornets.

Jessica Mackaness, an attorney representing Joe and Gavin Maloof, showed up at my house to try to persuade me to give her a tape of Jackson making a comment about the Kings’ efforts to relocate.

Mackaness said the Kings’ owners planned to turn over the tape to the NBA and Lakers in an effort to stop Jackson from making further comments.

However, the Register declined to turn over the tape. As a matter of policy, the Register does not release unpublished material gathered in the reporting of stories.

There’s a lot wrong, here. Let’s start with the fact that it’s completely ridiculous to send an attorney to a reporter’s home looking for audio from a pregame media session with an NBA head coach. I’m not positive, but it’s highly likely that a low-key phone call from someone on the Kings’ PR staff to any of the large number of reporters who cover Lakers games could have gotten the Maloofs that audio clip, and done so much more discretely.

But sending an attorney to someone’s home, unannounced? That basically guarantees you’re not getting what you’re looking for without a search warrant. It’s unnecessarily intimidating, and anyone put in that situation would obviously contact their employer (and possibly their own attorney) to make sure they follow every policy and procedure exactly.

Then there’s the issue of Jackson’s comments. All the league could do is warn him that if he speaks on the issue in the future that they will fine him. But let’s be clear: there’s no way to actually stop Jackson from speaking on this, or any other league-wide issue of his choosing. If he wants to pay the fines, he can say just about anything he likes.

It’s quite possible that the Maloofs knew that this tactic wouldn’t get them a copy of that recording, and maybe they were just looking for some press to let the league know they don’t appreciate Jackson’s siding with the city of Sacramento on this issue. If that’s the case, mission accomplished, guys. But you’ve also completely embarrassed yourselves in the process.

Report: CJ McCollum has been playing through fractured lower back

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CJ McCollum hit two critical free throws late Tuesday to put Portland up three late on Dallas and secure the win.

But he had a rough night overall, shooting 2-of-14 overall. His shooting numbers are down across the board through this restart, not terrible but down from the level the world has seen from one of the games most feared scorers.

Now we know why: A fractured lower back. Dwight Jaynes of NBC Sports Northwest broke the news.

Sources told NBC Sports Northwest prior to the game that McCollum has been playing with a L3 vertebral transverse process fracture (non-displaced) since last Thursday. In layman’s terms, he has a fracture in his lower back. He has played three games since the injury.

While this injury is not as bad as “a fractured back” sounds, it has slowed other players who had it, including Utah’s Mike Conley.

Portland has had success despite a slowed McCollum, in part because Gary Trent Jr. has stepped up and taken on a larger role on both ends of the court (including drawing a charge on Kristaps Porzingis that sealed the Blazers win over the Mavericks).

That win put Portland in as the eighth seed in the West, a spot they can hold with a win against Brooklyn on Thursday. That would put them in a play-in series — where if they won the reward would be LeBron James and the Lakers. To reach that point and threaten Los Angeles, Portland is going to need a lot out of McCollum. The question is how much does he have to give with this injury?

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo ejected after headbutting Moe Wagner

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The Milwaukee Bucks are lucky they have another seeding game remaining because there is a good chance Giannis Antetokounmpo gets suspended a game for this.

The reigning (and soon-to-be two time) MVP let Washington’s Moe Wagner get under his skin. After Wagner took a charge from Antetokounmpo the two had to be separated. They kept jawing, and when they came together again, Antetokounmpo headbutted Wagner.

Wagner may have sold that a little, but that is unquestionably a headbutt. Antetokounmpo deserved the Flagrant II and ejection that came with it.

The one-game suspension that is coming will not cost the Bucks anything, they have the No. 1 seed in the East locked up. However, that one game is aginst the Grizzlies and if Memphis wins it gets the nine seed in the West at worst (eighth of Portland were to lose Thursday).

Wagner has a gift for getting under an opponent’s skin. Antetokounmpo has to do better keeping his emotions in check, because come the playoffs they will get tested like never before.

 

Damian Lillard scores 61 points, win vaults Portland to eight seed

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The Portland Trail Blazers control their own postseason destiny — and they can thank Damian Lillard for that.

Lillard got all the respect he wanted when he tied his career-high of 61 points Tuesday, and the Portland Trail Blazers needed every one of them to beat the Dallas Mavericks 134-131.

Lillard was 9-of-17 from three, plus got to the line 18 times and hit every free throw.

Portland’s win combined with Memphis’ loss to Boston puts the Trail Blazers into the eighth seed in the West — win on Thursday against Brooklyn and Portland is the eighth seed. That is a massive advantage heading into the two-game play-in series, the eighth seed just needs to win one of those two games to advance to the playoffs (and a first-round date with LeBron James). The ninth-seeded team needs to sweep the two games to advance.

Memphis can maintain the nine seed with a win Thursday. Should the Grizzlies lose again (to the Bucks, who have nothing to play for) it opens the door for the Suns or the Spurs to get the nine seed. Or maybe higher.

Portland is not safe just because of the win Tuesday: If it loses to Brooklyn on Thursday and two of Memphis, Phoenix, and San Antonio win, the Trail Blazers will be watching the first round of the playoffs on television like the rest of us. The race in the West is that tight.

It’s hard to imagine Portland losing a critical game, however, with the way Lillard is playing. He said he wants some respect on his f ****** name – and he’s more than earned it.

Watch Devin Booker score 35, keep Phoenix perfect 7-0 and in play-in hunt

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Devin Booker scored 35 points and the Phoenix Suns protected their playoff hopes by beating the Philadelphia 76ers 130-117 on Tuesday to remain undefeated in the NBA restart.

Booker became the Suns’ career leader with his 91st 30-point game, breaking a tie with Walter Davis.

Mikal Bridges added 24 points and Ricky Rubio had 16 points with 10 assists for the Suns, who began the day only one game behind eighth-place Memphis in the Western Conference playoff race.

Phoenix is 7-0 as the only undefeated team in the restart and an unlikely factor in the tight race for a spot in this weekend’s play-in for the final playoff spot.

Phoenix pulled away late after leading only 105-102 following back-to-back baskets by Alec Burks, who led the 76ers with 23 points.

A dunk by Cameron Johnson capped a 10-3 run that stretched the lead to 115-105.

The Suns continued their high-scoring play in the bubble after averaging 120 points in the first six games.

Philadelphia, No. 6 in the East and already assured of a playoff spot, is attempting to prepare for the postseason after losing Ben Simmons to a knee injury.

Shake Milton was Philadelphia’s only healthy starter against the Suns. The 76ers also were without Joel Embiid (left ankle), Tobias Harris (sore right ankle) and Al Horford (sore left knee). Josh Richardson was rested.