Cavaliers explode for historic offensive night in overwhelming Warriors

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“Tonight was who we are.”

That’s how Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue saw a historic offensive explosion from his Cavaliers team in route to a Game 4 win.

We will see if that level of offense is sustainable, but it was a joy to watch Friday night. Cleveland’s offense looked more like the side that dominated the Eastern Conference playoffs. The numbers were just stunning:

• 49 first quarter points, an NBA record for most points in a quarter.

• 86 points at halftime, also an NBA record.

• 24 made three pointers, also an NBA record (they did that on 54 attempts).

• An offensive rating of 137.1 points per 100 possessions (for comparison the Warriors’ league-best rating for the regular season was 113.2).

LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love combined for 94 points.

• Plus the Cavaliers were making plays like this:

It was the kind of night where even Deron Williams, who had no points in 44 minutes through the first three games had a couple of buckets in this one.

Cleveland had shot 29 percent from three through the first three games of this series, and they can’t win that way — certainly not against the high-powered Warriors (who also had a good offensive night Friday, it was just overwhelmed). Cleveland was more aggressive and more physical to start this game, but the biggest difference was just that their looks were going in — particularly from role players.

“We made shots,” Lue said in an understatement. “We have been getting these shots all series. We haven’t shot the ball very well, but defensively we got stops early and were able to get out in transition and score some easy baskets. And Kevin (Love) shot the ball well. Draymond (Green), he’s one of the best help defenders in the league, and tonight when he was helping, we made him pay. Kevin made shots. When we’re making shots and we’re playing with pace, we’re a tough team to beat. This is who we are. We’re a tough, resilient team.”

“I give them a ton of credit, they made some tough shots,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “They made 24 threes, and we knew that we weren’t going to keep them quiet from the three-point line the whole series. They made some tough shots, but we were not sharp defensively, so always a combination. It’s never one thing.”

In a sky full of stars Kyrie Irving was the brightest light in the Cleveland offense Friday, dropping 40 on Golden State. More than leading the team in scoring, he was seemingly the guy who always came up with the big bucket that stopped a Warriors run and kept the Cavaliers in charge.

“Shot some tough ones, and happily they went in,” Irving said. “But other guys just came in, and Kev and J.R., Bron, as well as Shump and Deron and Kyle. I mean, when we’re hitting threes, we’re a different team. And we understand that. But when we take the threes that are in rhythm and we’re getting guys to their spots and we’re unselfish as we were tonight, then our three-pointers are a little bit different, and it makes the difference.”

Will that difference carry over to Game 5 is a question for another day. For now, we should enjoy — you’re not going to see another offesnsive night like this.

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.

 

Wizards reportedly to finally remove interim tag from GM Tommy Sheppard

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Tommy Sheppard has been doing the work as the Wizards GM since April when Wizards owner Ted Leonsis finally ended Ernie Grunfeld’s run as team GM.

Sheppard was the GM through the draft. Through free agency. All the time with the “interim” tag on his job title. In Las Vegas for Summer League, plenty of other executives wondered why that tag was still on Sheppard’s title.

It’s finally coming off, reports Candace Buckner of the Washington Post.

The Washington Wizards removed the interim tag from Tommy Sheppard’s title Friday, promoting him to be the 12th general manager in franchise history, according to a person with knowledge of the situation…

The promotion of Sheppard, who will be entering his 17th season with the Wizards, mirrors the internal hiring decision Leonsis made with his hockey team. In 2014, Leonsis elevated Brian MacLellan as the Washington Capitals senior vice president and general manager after firing George McPhee. Before the promotion, MacLellan had spent the previous seven years under McPhee as an assistant general manager.

This likely will be made official in the next 48-72 hours.

Part of the delay may have been that a couple of prominent names were linked to the Wizards job at different times. There were reportedly talks with Tim Conley, who built Denver into a real threat, but he decided to stay in the Rockies. There were rumors of Masai Ujiri coming to the District, but he has chosen to stay in Toronto after winning a title.

Making Sheppard the full-time GM provides some stability just as the Wizards reach their most important moment of the summer.

On July 26 the Wizards can offer star two guard Bradley Beal a three-year, $111 million extension. The Wizards have been talking to Beal’s people and the offer will be made.

What Beal decides will decide the Wizards future for years. If Beal doesn’t sign that offer, the Wizards have to look at trading him. If he signs it, they need to build more around him.

Beal has spoken numerous times in the past about wanting to stay with the Wizards. However, there was plenty of informed speculation at Summer League that he is frustrated with the franchise and could choose to not sign it and essentially force his way out.

Either way, Beal’s decision will define the next steps for Sheppard for years.

 

Child tries to call out James Harden for step-back travels, he says it’s no travel

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If you tried this move in a high-school game 10 years ago, you would have been called for traveling.

In today’s NBA, as the rules are interpreted, James Harden‘s step back is not a travel.

At an event on Friday, a young fan tried to call Harden out on the travel and he defended himself. Via Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Harden’s stepback is not a travel (when he executes it properly). Even if it looks like it is.

Here is the play in question.

The official response — meaning from officials:

I know when you played Junior High basketball in 2002 that was a travel, but the NBA hasn’t called it that way in years.

The NBA rule here (Rule 10, Section XIII) simplified is a “gather and two steps.” Meaning one step while Harden is gathering the ball, plus two more. Nobody pushes the boundary of the gather step like Harden, he has mastered the grey area. But when he executes it properly — and he doesn’t every time — it’s not a travel.

No matter what that young boy’s father tells him.

Justin Holiday reportedly reaches deal with Pacers, will join forces with brother

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The Pacers just added the wing depth and some defense at the position they have been looking for.

It’s through someone they have long had their eye on, Justin Holiday, the six-year NBA veteran who split time last season between Chicago and Memphis. He has reached an agreement to join the Pacers — and his brother, Aaron Holiday — for a season in Indiana. Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news.

The Pacers have been in touch with Holiday for a while, reports J. Michael of the Indy Star.

Holiday averaged 10.5 points a game last season, shot 34.7 percent from three, and played solid wing defense.

Victor Oladipo is the team’s best wing player, once he returns from injury (the Pacers are hoping around Christmas or a little after). Beyond him there is Jeremy Lamb, C.J. Wilcox, T.J. Warren, Doug McDermott, and Brian Bowen. Holiday can find minutes in that group.

This also sparks the dream of an all T.J./Holiday lineup. The Pacers have two Holidays, Justin and Aaron, as well as three un-related players named T.J. — T.J. McConnell, T.J. Warren, and T.J. Leaf. We need to see those five on the court together next season, if only for a few minutes.