Reaction from ‘Melo, Lakers players to D’Antoni hiring

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And the reactions are pouring in to the Lakers hiring of Mike D’Antoni… except from Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. You know, the two guys you most want to hear from.

Neither of them spoke to the media today. Nash because he got treatment on his injured leg and left the Lakers facilities before media was let into team practice.

But Kobe had a way better excuse — he was using his private helicopter to take Steve Blake to a specialist in Orange County to get an ultrasound on Blake’s strained abdomen. Seriously. Blake was riding shotgun in Kobe’s copter.

So how about some other guys…

Carmelo Anthony — the Knick that was the thorn in D’Antoni’s side — said all the politically correct things about D’Antoni to ESPNNewYork.com.

“I knew he was trying to take some time off and get healthy and things like that,” he said. “I was with him this summer. He didn’t really know what was going to happen as far as getting a job this year or next year.

“Obviously it worked out this summer with him and Kobe. Maybe they had something under the table, I don’t know. But it’ll be fun. I know Kobe’s excited about that, so we’ll see what happens.”

As for the Lakers who did speak to the media it was all puppy dogs and rainbows. Everybody was happy. Not sure what else you expect — if you want minutes you don’t slam the coach on the way in the door.

Dwight Howard addressed the defensive concerns. (via the Lakers twitter account):

“You’ve got guys on this team that love to play D & he’s an offensive coach. We’ll find a balance… it’ll be great.”

Antawn Jamison spoke on the Phil vs. D’Antoni talk.

“You can’t go wrong either way. The fans wanted Phil. But Mike has a good resume, a great offense and he will let us play freely,”

Metta World Peace talked three-pointers (after going 4-of-8 from deep Sunday against the Kings. He also said he’d lock down the defense with Howard.

“I think it’s a great system. Lotta open 3s.”

Finally, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak also released another statement on how the team came to its decision.

“After speaking with several excellent and well-respected coaching candidates, Dr. Buss, Jim and I all agreed that Mike (D’Antoni) was the right person at this time to lead the Lakers forward. Knowing his style of play and given the current make-up of our roster, we feel Mike is a great fit, are excited to have him as our next head coach.”

Marcus Smart on Game 7: ‘It’s not going to be pretty’

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Game 7s are not pretty basketball. Everyone is tight, shots clank off the front of the rim, and players tend to think rather than just react, sucking the flow out of the game. It’s a game for grinders.

Marcus Smart is good with that, and he told Chris Forsberg of ESPN the team is preparing for this style.

“It’s not going to be pretty. You got to be able to get down and get dirty. You can’t go out and try to look pretty. You have to be ready for a dogfight. We got to be ready to come up with our nose bloodied. We got to be ready to come out with our mouth bloodied. We have to come out ready to fight.”

If Boston is going to win this game, they will do so with the physical, smart, and unrelenting defense that carried them all season. That’s their grit. Without Kevin Love (out with a concussion) the Celtics have one less scorer to worry about, but things do not necessarily get dramatically easier — LeBron James is going to get his buckets, but can the Celtics keep George Hill, Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith and the rest of the role players from helping out with big nights of their own.

Which one of these teams is better positioned to win a grinding, sloppy game? Who is willing to dive on the floor and give that little extra effort? A case can be made either way, but Sunday night will decide it.

Report: Warriors’ Patrick McCaw cleared, will be available for Game 6

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We haven’t seen Golden State’s Patrick McCaw on an NBA court since March 31, when he was undercut by Sacramento’s Vince Carter and took an ugly, nasty spill.

McCaw is finally cleared by the team doctors and will be active on Saturday night for Game 6 against Houston, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Golden State Warriors are planning to activate swingman Patrick McCaw for Game 6 of the Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets on Saturday night, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

McCaw, on paper, would help the Warriors — he’s a 6’5″ switchable defender who can provide some offense in transition. That’s especially true if Andre Iguodala is out for Game 6 (his status is a game-time decision). McCaw played about 17 minutes a night for the Warriors during the regular season.

However, the idea of taking a second-year player who has not been on a court in six weeks and throwing him into Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals — a win-or-go-fishing game for Golden State — is risky, at best. Don’t expect him to get on the court unless this is a blowout.

Kevin Love in concussion protocol, listed as out for Game 7

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As if winning a Game 7 on the road against a younger, more athletic team that has not lost on its home court all playoffs was not difficult enough, things just got harder for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Kevin Love has a concussion and is not expected to play in Game 7 on Sunday.

While it is technically possible for Love to clear out of the concussion protocol in 24 hours, it is highly unlikely. He would have to pass a rigorous physical test and have no concussion-related symptoms, something cleared by both the team doctor and a league-approved neurologist. This is something that tends to take days if not weeks to get over.

Love was injured just five minutes into Game 6. Love had set up position in the midpost and was setting a screen for George Hill, who was curling out to the arc. Jayson Tatum was trailing Hill and he banged heads with Love. It wasn’t pretty.

Love spent a few minutes on the ground, went straight to the locker room, and did not return to the game.

LeBron James is going to have to carry even more load in Game 7, and now more pressure falls on George Hill (the bellwether for this Cavs team), J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson and others to step up without Love there to space the floor and get buckets.

Report: Raptors interview Spurs’ assistants Ettore Messina, Ime Udoka for coaching job

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It’s not officially a coaching search until some Spurs’ assistants are interviewed.

So it looks like the Toronto Raptors’ search is underway.

Raptors’ president Masai Ujiri fired Dwane Casey right after Casey’s peers voted him Coach of the Year for leading the Raptors to 59 wins and the No. 1 seed in the East. That said, after several frustrating years of running into the brick wall that is LeBron James in the East, maybe the Raptors did need a new voice and some changes to try to take the next step (especially with Boston and Philadelphia coming on fast in the East hierarchy).

But if you’re going to fire a 59-win Coach of the Year kind of guy, you better have an impressive replacement in hand or at least a clear plan.

Ujiri reportedly wanted Mike Budenholzer, but the former Hawks’ head coach took the job in Milwaukee after meeting with Toronto.

The leading candidate for the job is still considered to be Nick Nurse, the Raptors’ assistant who was in charge of their changed and improved offense last season. The Raptors also interviewed two other internal candidates, assistant coach Rex Kalamian and G-League coach Jerry Stackhouse.

Casey, by the way, is the target of the Detroit Pistons.