Wizards pull away from Hawks in high-fouling Game 2

2 Comments

The Wizards glared. They talked trash. They flexed. They skipped. They pumped their arms. They high-fived fans. They popped jerseys.

This wasn’t MMA, double or otherwise. The refs wouldn’t let it be.

This was showmanship of professional wrestling – and a very real win.

Washington preened at every opportunity – not many between a seemingly unending cascade of foul calls – in a 109-101 Game 2 victory over the Hawks on Wednesday. John Wall (32 points and nine assists) matched a career playoff scoring high, set in Game 1, and unofficially led his team in swagger outbursts.

The Wizards capitalized on their first home-court advantage since 1979, winning twice in Washington before heading to Atlanta for Game 3 Saturday. Teams up 2-0 with two home wins in a best-of-seven series have won 94% of the time.

The Wizards and Hawks grinded through eight ties, 14 lead changes and 55 fouls – a foul every 52 seconds. For perspective, refs called a foul every 2:26 during the regular season.

Paul Millsap (27 points on 14-of-15 free-throw shooting) needed no adjusting to the style he sought and hunted fouls relentlessly. For a while, it seemed it’d work, with the Hawks turning a 10-point deficit into a seven-point lead in the third quarter.

But Brandon Jennings (10 points on 4-of-5 shooting with four rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes) got hot at the right time, and Bradley Beal (31 points) finally warmed up in the fourth quarter.

There will be moments Atlanta wishes it had back. Kent Bazemore committed a two costly turnovers when the Hawks tried to play just a couple minutes without a traditional point guard. Dwight Howard (six points, seven rebounds, three turnovers and four fouls) looked ineffective, and he played fewer than 20 minutes, none in the fourth quarter. Dennis Schroder (23 points) kept attacking the rim, faring better with Ersan Ilyasova and Mike Muscala spacing the floor. Will Atlanta deemphasize the paint-clogging Howard in Game 3?

And will the Hawks stop drawing so many fouls? After taking 39 free throws in Game 1 (to Washington’s 17), they attempted 38 (to Washington’s 33) in Game 2.

No team has taken so many free throws (77) in the first two games of a series and lost both since the 2008 Mavericks, who eventually lost to the New Orleans Hornets in five games in the first round.

If you don’t win like this, when will you?

Knicks reportedly promote assistant Mike Miller to head coach

Dennis Slagle/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

David Fizdale is out as the Knicks head coach after an ugly 4-18 start to the season.

Who will coach the Knicks next season depends on the answer to another question: Are team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry safe, or are they on their way out, too?

In the short term, New York will promote Mike Miller into the big chair, and bring up Keith Bogans from the G-League coaching staff to round out the roster, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Miller spent four years as the head coach of the Westchester Knicks, the franchise’s G-League affiliate, and was the G-League Coach of the Year for the 2017-18 season. He was eventually promoted to the Knicks bench.

Don’t expect a major shake-up in the Knicks’ offensive and defensive systems, or with the rotations, at least in the short term. There just are not a lot of practice days built into the NBA schedule to allow a mid-season replacement to overhaul everything. Plus, with this roster, there’s only so much a human being can do.

 

As was expected, Stephen Curry reportedly has second wrist surgery to remove pins

Daniel Shirey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

This was both expected and right on schedule.

Stephen Curry said almost a month ago that he was going to need a second surgery to remove pins that were inserted during the first procedure back on Nov. 1. Curry suffered a fractured hand back on Oct. 30 when Suns’ center Aron Baynes fell on him, and in the first surgery pins were inserted to stabilize the bone through the healing process.

That second surgery has taken place, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Curry has said he fully expects to play this season, although it wouldn’t be until the end of what is a lost cause campaign for Golden State. For now, Curry is focused on recovery.

“[Managing the]swelling is something that’s going to be of the utmost priority early in the rehab process to get me a chance to come back and get my range of motion back pretty quickly,” Curry said last time he spoke to the media.

Without Curry or Klay Thompson yet this season (plus, of course, Kevin Durant on crutches in Brooklyn), and D'Angelo Russell missing a chunk of time as well due to injury, the Warriors have struggled to a 4-19 record with a bottom-five offense and defense.

The hope for the Warriors is to get Curry and Thompson back by next summer and working out, they get a high draft pick, make a couple other moves around the edges, get Draymond Green healthy, and this team is a threat again. This season it’s more like the Warriors are taking a season off to find themselves and travel the world.

Report: Knicks fire David Fizdale

Mike Stobe/Getty Images
3 Comments

The Knicks started 2-8.

Then, it got worse.

Knicks owner James Dolan ordered president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry to address the media after a loss. Mills and Perry spoke before coach David Fizdale, a break in decorum that ignited speculation about Fizdale getting fired.

Then, it got worse.

New York lost six straight.

Then, it got worse.

After a 44-point loss to the Bucks, Fizdale said the Knicks entered the game not believing they even could win. They followed that with a 37-point home loss to the Nuggets yesterday that Fizdale called “sickening.”

Finally, with New York 4-18 and on an eight-game losing streak, the Knicks are making a major change.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This was inevitable. Mills wanted Fizdale gone and knows how to navigate Madison Square Garden politics.

The season was already a lost cause, and it’s likely to remain a mess. Keith Smart, who previously coached the Warriors and Kings, was the only other member of the staff with NBA non-interim head-coaching experience.

The big question: Will Mills and Perry survive?

They gave Fizdale a lacking roster and outsized expectations. Nearly any coach would have been doomed to fail in this situation.

To be fair, Fizdale provided no evidence he deserved to be an exception. The Knicks lacked identity under his guidance, and development of younger players was uneven.

But the problems go way above Fizdale, starting with Dolan.

At least we’ll always have this Fizdale quote comparing the Knicks to slipping in ice, dog poop and pee.

The best song you’ll hear about Jimmy Butler bullying Andrew Wiggins into being good (video)

Leave a comment

Jimmy Butler was hard on Andrew Wiggins. That appeared to be the way then-Timberwolves president-coach Tom Thibodeau wanted it. Wiggins had the talent. He just needed a more productive mindset.

Thibodeau got fired. Butler is with the Heat.

But Wiggins is still in Minnesota and playing better than ever – specifically citing wanting to shut up the critics.

Do Butler and Thibodeau deserve any credit?

Wordsplayed explored that in rap form on “Off The Dribble.” He also dropped bars on the 76ers’ ceiling, James Harden‘s scoring and Carmelo Anthony‘s resurgence with the Trail Blazers.