Hawks win Game 5, take 3-2 series lead over Nets

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After losing two straight games in Brooklyn and looking very vulnerable against the Nets, the top-seeded Hawks largely returned to form in Game 5, and took a 3-2 lead in the series by securing a 107-97 home victory.

But it certainly wasn’t easy.

Atlanta opened the game like the desperate team that it was. The energy was there from the very start, and the Hawks got out to a first quarter lead of as many as 17 points.

Brooklyn began to chip away in the second, behind a huge 14-point quarter from Alan Anderson. Deron Williams, who destroyed the Hawks with 35 points in Game 4, returned to his ineffective ways in this one, finishing with just five points — which made Anderson’s outburst that much more critical, especially when the rest of the Nets combined to shoot just 10-of-31 from the field over the first two periods.

While Anderson kept the Nets in it, DeMarre Carroll was the one doing the damage for the Hawks. Carroll finished with 19 first-half points against Anderson’s 16, and Atlanta led comfortably by nine at the intermission.

Kyle Korver got going in the third, and hit three three-pointers as the Hawks got back up by 14 points. The Nets went small to start the fourth, however, and quickly put together an 11-0 run to get within three points with just over nine minutes to play. The game was a battle the rest of the way, with Jarrett Jack and Joe Johnson taking over the scoring for the Nets, and Jeff Teague and Al Horford making big plays for the Hawks, especially down the stretch.

The Nets were once again within two points with 2:20 to play, after Johnson hit back-to-back threes. But the Hawks closed the game on a 10-2 run, when the shots stopped falling for the Nets and they made some costly turnovers after essentially running out of gas.

The Hawks looked like the Hawks at times in this one, just as they had during the second and third quarters of their Game 4 loss. But this is the fourth consecutive game in the series where Brooklyn has been able to go on huge runs to make things competitive, and put itself in position to have a chance to win it in the final few minutes.

That’ll be something for the Hawks to think about as the scene shifts back to Brooklyn for Game 6 on Friday.

James Harden buys piece of MLS Houston Dynamo

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NBA players being minority owners in a soccer team is not new, LeBron James owns a small piece of Champions’ League winner Liverpool, for example.

James Harden is keeping it closer to home — he bought a share of the Dynamo, Houston’s MLS franchise.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to join the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash and proud to be a part of a club with tremendous history and a great future,” Harden said in a statement. “Houston is my home now, and I saw this as a way to invest in my city and expand my business interests at the same time. Soccer in general, and especially MLS, have exploded in this country throughout my lifetime. I’ve been a fan of the game for several years, and I know that Houston has a massive soccer fanbase, so it was an easy decision for me when this opportunity arose.”

Harden reportedly purchased a five percent stake in the team.

The Dynamo — a former MLS cup champion and a franchise that has consistently been strong — is primarily owned by Gabriel Brener, and it has boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya as one of its minority owners.

Harden has earned more than $141 million in NBA salary in his 10 NBA seasons and has four years left on the $228 million contract extension he signed with the team in 2017. In addition, he has a large shoe contract with Adidas and other endorsements.

Report: R.C. Buford moving on from Spurs GM role, Brian Wright taking over

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For 15 years, through championships and an unparalleled run of playoff berths and success, R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich seemed to work as one brain. Popovich was the coach but also team president, Buford the GM, and together they built an NBA powerhouse.

Buford is moving on from that role. Or, more precisely moving up into a new management role, and assistant GM Brian Wright is taking over as GM, reports Jabari Young of The Athletic.

After a little more than 15 years serving as GM, Buford is getting prepared to bequeath the role to assistant GM Brian Wright, league sources have confirmed to The Athletic. Wright will report directly to Buford, who will officially get a new title that some around the NBA believe will be a role helping to oversee Spurs Sports & Entertainment.

When the Spurs initially hired Wright in 2016, he stayed behind the scenes and focused mainly on scouting. But sources have informed The Athletic over the last year Wright has been more involved, even fielding calls and packages for the trade of Kawhi Leonard the previous summer.

Wright came to the Spurs from the Pistons a couple of years ago. That said, don’t expect a big change in how things are done in the Spurs front office. For one thing, Popovich is still there. Also, Wright has an excellent reputation around the league as being smart and a straight shooter. On top of all of that, Buford will remain his ultimate boss, although Buford’s role will change into one of more of a business manager for Spurs Sports & Entertainment.

Young hints there could be more changes coming. Obviously, the biggest would be when Popovich decides to step back in his dual roles as coach and president, but there could be shifts in the assistant GM ranks as well.

Just don’t expect the Spurs to stop being the Spurs.

Exclusive video preview: Dwyane Wade joins America’s Got Talent as guest judge

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Dwyane Wade is retired. He’s got some time on his hands.

But if he wants to spend quality time this summer with his wife, Gabrielle Union, he’s got to get on the set of America’s Got Talent, because she is a judge on the hit show. So, Wade did exactly that and steps in this week as a guest judge.

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In the video at the top of this page, you can see an exclusive of Wade and the rest of the AGT crew watching and judging an insane danger act out of India, a sneak preview of the show airing on NBC this Tuesday night (8 p.m.).

Wade knows talent on the court, but we’re going to see what talents impress him on the stage.

Kings hire WNBA’s Lindsey Harding as assistant coach

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Sacramento Kings have hired former WNBA player Lindsey Harding as an assistant and player development coach on Luke Walton’s staff.

The team also hired Stacey Augmon and Rico Hines on Friday.

Harding played nine years in the WNBA before working as a pro personnel scout and then player development coach for the Philadelphia 76ers.

She becomes the latest woman to serve as a coach in the NBA, joining others like Boston’s Kara Lawson, San Antonio’s Becky Hammon, Dallas’ Jenny Boucek and Cleveland’s Lindsay Gottlieb.

The Kings have a history of hiring female coaches, notably Nancy Lieberman and Boucek.