Khris Middleton: Andre Drummond dislikes contact

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MILWAUKEE (AP) —Greg Monroe put together a big night against his former team. His new teammates also had a lot of fun.

Monroe had 20 points and 13 rebounds, leading the Milwaukee Bucks to a 109-88 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Monday.

“I am trying to win every game,” Monroe said. “They just happen to be my former team. No matter who comes in here, I going to come in with the same focus. That is do what I need to do to help my team win on that night. They just happen to be the only other team I have played for.”

Milwaukee had seven players score in double figures, including each of its starters. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 17 points, Khris Middleton scored 16 and Jerryd Bayless had 14 points.

The Bucks had lost three straight and five of six.

Monroe was selected by Detroit with the seventh pick in the 2010 draft and played his first five NBA seasons with the Pistons. But he signed a free-agent deal with Milwaukee in July.

Monroe played a key role as the Bucks grabbed control by outscoring the Pistons 33-22 in the second quarter and 30-14 in the third period. Monroe’s putback lifted Milwaukee to an 88-62 lead heading into the fourth.

It was so bad that Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy ripped into his team before opening the locker room doors.

“Look, we didn’t match up to their intensity and energy,” he said. “If you play like that, you deserve to get blown out.”

Andre Drummond had 15 points and 15 rebounds for Detroit, but appeared to hurt himself late in the second quarter. He walked slowly up the court holding his left side after trying to defend Monroe.

Drummond started the third quarter, but the NBA’s leading rebounder wasn’t the same in the second half. He went 6 for 11 from the field in the first half and 0 for 3 in the second.

“We just tried to be physical,” Middleton said of the Bucks’ plan for Drummond. “We know he doesn’t like contact. Once he misses a couple, he is going to get down on himself and start forcing tough shots. Greg did a great job of just making him shot tough shots and not letting him get to his right hand.”

Van Gundy downplayed any idea of an injury to Drummond.

“Nah, he just got hit,” Van Gundy said. “He’s fine.”

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 17 points for the Pistons, who have dropped six of eight. Stanley Johnson had 16 points and Anthony Tolliver scored a season-high 13.

TIP-INS

Pistons: Darrun Hilliard, the 38th overall pick in the 2015 draft, made his Pistons debut at the start of the second quarter. … The Pistons were 3 of 13 from 3-point range in the first half.

Bucks: Michael Carter-Williams and Jabari Parker scored 12 points apiece, and Greivis Vasquez had 10. … The Bucks beat Detroit for the fourth consecutive game.

UP NEXT

Pistons: Host Miami on Wednesday night.

Bucks: Host Sacramento on Wednesday night.

SEVEN STITCHES

Milwaukee guard O.J. Mayo needed seven stitches to close a cut above his right eye.

“Caught an elbow,” he said. “Not a bad play. Things happen. It is all good. I don’t mind getting stitches if we get a W.”

ASSIST BATTLE

Milwaukee had 30 assists, including eight from Carter-Williams, while Reggie Jackson had seven of Detroit’s 19.

UGLY SHOOTING

Detroit was 31 of 91 (34.1 percent) from the floor, including a 6-for-28 performance from 3-point range.

Frank Vogel not worried Jason Kidd will undermine him as coach

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What else was he going to say?

In a “welcome to the Lakers” press conference that was hijacked by the sideshow of Magic Johnson torching the organization — is there better prep for what a Laker coach deals with than that? — Frank Vogel was relentlessly optimistic. He had nothing but praise for the organization, the people, the players, heck he probably would have said he loved the Game of Thrones ending.

And when asked about having Jason Kidd pushed on him as an assistant coach — one of the reasons Tyronn Lue walked away from the table, he didn’t want a guy who could replace him and had lobbied for the Lakers job before in the seat next to him — Vogel said he was not worried about that, either. Via Ohm Youngmisuk and Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“I have been around this business a long time. I really don’t give that a second thought. You can say that about every coach in the league about their assistant coaches. It happens from time to time. I believe if you treat people with the right respect and do the job at the highest level, build an environment of positivity and collaboration, you can’t worry about that stuff.

“You can’t worry about looking over your shoulder. You got to worry about getting good damn coaches, and that is how I feel about this hire.”

Vogel also said he sat down with Kidd and they are on the same page in terms of coaching philosophy.

“I had a great, lengthy interview process with Jason where we talked about every topic you can imagine, and came away thinking he’s going to be an incredible asset to our program.”

Again, what else was he going to say?

Kidd has a history of angling for the Lakers job, even when it was filled, and Vogel knows it. But Vogel accepted the terms of a three-year contract (lining up with LeBron James‘ deal) and Kidd as his assistant, things that a coach with options would not have taken. Lue didn’t. Vogel has to make the best of the situation, and whatever he may think privately, he has to be optimistic and positive in public. Especially on his first day.

Vogel may have been the Lakers third or fourth option as a coach, but they backed into a good one — if they give him the talent to win and don’t undercut him. Vogel has coached the Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals, where he always lost to LeBron (there are a lot of coaches in the East who had that problem). He’s a strong defensive coach. Vogel has a lot of fans in the coaching ranks, and a lot of those people think the Lakers have set Vogel up to fail. We’ll see, that’s more about the Lakers’ offseason.

But at the start, Vogel is saying all the right things. Even if that was the only thing to say.

John Beilein ready to undertake “renaissance” with Cavaliers

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — John Beilein has coached at every level in college but says the Cleveland Cavaliers are his dream job.

The 66-year-old Beilein, who turned Michigan into a perennial power during a 12-year run, was introduced Tuesday by the Cavaliers. Even before taking the podium, Beilein got to work with one of his new players, peeling off his suit jacket to rebound shots for forward Larry Nance Jr.

Beilein doesn’t view Cleveland’s situation as a rebuild but rather a renaissance. At one point during his remarks, Beilein pointed to the 2016 NBA championship banner and others hanging along one wall at the Cavs’ facility and said, “it’s been done before, it can be done again.”

Beilein drew a large laugh when he was reminded he has never been fired by saying, “That’s right.”

Beilein knows he has work to do with the Cavaliers, who went 19-63 last season.

 

Coach Terry Stotts signs multi-year extension to stay with Portland

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The buzz around the league had been that Terry Stotts was unhappy he had not gotten a contract extension last summer for GM Neil Olshey and the Portland Trail Blazers. Stotts still had two seasons on his contract at that time, but after this season — with a run to the conference finals that just ended — he was about to head into a lame duck year. Chris Haynes reported at Yahoo Sports that if Stotts didn’t get an extension this summer he might not be back.

The extension is done, Olshey announced on Tuesday.

This is well deserved.

The Trail Blazers won 53 games this season and for the second year in a row were the No. 3 seed in the West. This season they advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since Rasheed Wallace and Scottie Pippen were leading the team back in 2000. This year’s Blazers found a third option in Jusuf Nurkic (who was injured for the playoffs and the team made the run without him).

Stotts tied all that together with smart play designs that fit the personnel.

“It’s a disappointing loss, but for me it was an outstanding season,” Stotts said after his team was eliminated Monday. “The guys in the locker room are special. It’s been a special season. Always tough to lose the last game of the year, but I couldn’t be more proud of the group that we’ve had.”

It’s a season they can build upon, locking up the coach was part of that.

Steve Kerr: “[Kevon] Looney has become one of our foundational pieces”

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Last summer, any team could have snapped up Kevon Looney and had him for just a little over the minimum. The Warriors had not picked up his fourth-year option. Part of that was financial, but he hadn’t blown the doors off anybody — he was averaging just 4 points a game for the Warriors — but he was healthy and had become part of the Warriors rotation. The Warriors saw the potential, but nobody else stepped up. Looney returned to the Warriors on a $1.6 million, one year contract.

He’s going to make a lot more this July as an unrestricted free agent after a strong season — establishing himself before DeMarcus Cousins got healthy — and stronger playoffs. The Warriors’ goal is to keep him.

“Looney has become one of our foundational pieces. He does this every single night,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after his team eliminated Portland from the playoffs, a game where Looney had 12 points and 14 rebounds off the bench. “I think one thing that we’ve seen in almost every series, is as the game goes on and players get tired, Loon gets more and more rebounds. He just has a knack for the ball. Really long arms. Great feel for the game. And so his rebounding, I think he had 14 tonight, a bunch of offensive boards [four]. Really a big key for us.”

Looney was taken aback by those comments, talking to Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

“To be called a foundational piece, I never would’ve believed that,” Looney said, when relayed the Kerr comment. “Even when I was playing pretty good last season, I never would’ve taken it that far.”

The question becomes, can the Warriors afford to keep him?

Golden State undoubtedly wants to, team president Bob Myers called him a priority, but then admitted the Warriors have a lot of priorities this summer. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson will get max offers (Thompson will sign his, Durant is another story), plus there is DeMarcus Cousins, the possibility Shaun Livingston retires, and more. The Warriors are going to be a tax paying team, but how much tax will they pay to keep Looney as their starting center?

Unlike last summer, Looney’s phone will ring with offers from other teams, an athletic big man who is active on the glass is in demand. However, with the way the game is shifting, demand for centers also is down, which could favor Golden State because the market for Looney may not be crazy.

Looney, who has never made more than $1.6 million, is going to take the most money, as he should — this is his kick at the can. This is his chance to set himself and his family up for life.

Looney could be one of those guys on the board for a while this summer as he and others wait for the first big dominoes to fall, then the other big-name centers to be snapped up — Nikola Vucevic, DeAndre Jordan, Cousins, etc. But Looney is going to have options. The Warriors will be one of them, but another team may try to come in over the top.

It’s hard to predict what happens to Looney this summer. All we know is he has won the Warriors over.