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Rodney Hood finally gets chance in Finals, scores 15 for Cavaliers

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“Where has Rodney Hood been?”

It’s the question a lot of Cavaliers’ fans were asking after Game 3 — and one a lot of analysts were asking since Game 1.

A desperate Tyronn Lue let Hood out of the dog house Wednesday night and Hood took advantage of the situation, scoring 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting. He was the second playmaker shot creator the Cavaliers often have been looking for.

“I’m very happy for Rodney,” Lue said after another Cavaliers’ loss. “Played a good game. He was aggressive. Attacking the basket, and he gives you a guy who can shoot the basketball from three and also put the ball on the floor. I thought he did a good job attacking tonight. Gave us a lot of momentum throughout the course of the game.”

Hood had earned his seat on the bench — he had refused to enter the final minutes of a game against Boston, he had admitted he struggled to adjust to the scrutiny that comes with playing with LeBron James, and he and LeBron did not have much chemistry on the court (looking at the NBA’s Second Spectrum numbers, LeBron passed less to him than any other teammate).

Yet with Cleveland’s struggles to create shots and get enough points this series, a lot of analysts and Cavaliers fans had been calling for Hood to get some run since during Game 1. Lue tends to stick with his dogma and he was slow to come around on Hood in this series. He finally did.

Just from watching the five-on-five games those guys play every day, and just seeing him get his work in and playing those games and being aggressive, getting his offensive scoring and stuff back, he’s been great in those games,” Lue said of Hood and why he finally got a real chance in Game 3. “Just thought we’d give him a shot, and he made the most of it, and just happy for him.”

Hood was not gloating about playing well and proving he deserved the chance.

It would have been a lot more satisfying if we won,” Hood said. “We’re one game away from elimination. It feels good to play well, but at the same time we need to get the one game two days from now.”

Still, Hood impressed his teammates.

“I thought Rodney Hood was Rodney Hood tonight. That was Rodney Hood, man,” LeBron said. “He was just aggressive from the beginning when he got in the game, even though he missed his first three. He had a wide-open shot, but he just continued to push and push.

“His athleticism and his length and his touch around the rim, you know, it was more than just what he did for the team, I think for himself, that was just a huge moment for himself. That was good to see. That was great to see, actually.”

Hood was a microcosm of the Cavaliers in some ways in Game 3 — he got them some points and had a strong offensive night, but he also as part of the numerous defensive breakdowns that led to the Warriors getting 37 shots at the rim in the game, many of them dunks and uncontested layups.

It’s tough because they really run the ball up the court and you always have to have your head on a swivel guarding the shooters,” Hood said of defending the Warriors. “And if you’re not being on the help side, make sure you communicate. It’s a tough thing to do.”

Hood is going to get his chance again in Game 4, the win-or-the-season-is-over game for the Cavaliers. With the way J.R. Smith is playing, Hood should get a lot of run in that one.

The season is on the line. Leave it all out there on the court,” Hood said of the coming game Friday night. “Regardless of what happened, we come out and compete and get a win. The series isn’t over, and these guys [some Cavaliers teammates] have been in this position before. Us younger guys, new guys, we just have to follow their lead.”

Zach LaVine reacts to Chicago hiring Billy Donovan: ‘Wow, that’ll be good’

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Zach LaVine learned about the Chicago Bulls hiring Billy Donovan as their head coach while playing Call of Duty.

Which means there is a recording of his real-time reaction to the news.

“Damn, we just got Billy Donovan as our next head coach… wow, that’ll be good.”

LaVine also Tweeted about the hire.

He wasn’t the only Bulls’ player excited about the hire.

Bradley Beal, a former Donovan player at Florida, loved the hire.

Donovan takes over a Chicago team that seems on the cusp of something. How big a something remains up for debate. The roster has young talent: Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Coby White, Wendell Carter, and the No. 4 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Donovan is an upgrade over Boylen, both in terms of player relations and tactics, making the Bulls better.

Even with Donovan, what is the ceiling for these Bulls? Next season they are not going to be better than the Celtics, Bucks, Heat, or Nets, and likely not the 76ers or Raptors either (unless Toronto tears down the roster). That’s six. And a lot of people would put the Indiana Pacers on a level above the Bulls as well. Bottom line: Even with a coaching upgrade and player improvement, the Bulls are likely scrambling for a bottom playoff spot in the East.

The Bulls are looking beyond next year. Expect Chicago head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas to spend the next season deciding who fits and who doesn’t, and shake up the roster accordingly. By then the Bulls may be in a better place to be a threat in the East.

Whatever happens, the Bulls got better with this hire, and their biggest star likes it.

Vanessa Bryant sues sheriff over Kobe Bryant helicopter-crash photos

Kobe Bryant crash site
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LOS ANGELES — Vanessa Bryant, the widow of basketball star Kobe Bryant, has filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County sheriff claiming deputies shared unauthorized photos of the crash that killed her husband, their 13-year-old daughter and seven others.

After the Jan. 26 crash, reports surfaced that graphic photos of the victims were being shared. Vanessa Bryant was “shocked and devastated” by the reports, the lawsuit states.

The suit seeks damages for negligence, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The victims died when the helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, northwest of Los Angeles, during cloudy weather. They were traveling to a youth basketball tournament at Bryant’s sports facility in Thousand Oaks. The National Transportation Safety Board has not concluded what caused the crash on the outskirts of Los Angeles County but said there was no sign of mechanical failure in the Sikorsky S-76. helicopter.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva previously told news media that eight deputies took or shared graphic photos of the scene and he ordered the images deleted. The sheriff said the department has a policy against taking and sharing crime scene photos, but it does not apply to accident scenes.

“That was my No. 1 priority, was to make sure those photos no longer exist,” Villanueva previously told NBC News. “We identified the deputies involved, they came to the station on their own and had admitted they had taken them and they had deleted them. And we’re content that those involved did that.”

Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit alleges the sheriff’s actions constituted a “cover-up” of the misconduct. The suit claims the photos could still exist.

“Mrs. Bryant feels ill at the thought of strangers gawking at images of her deceased husband and child and she lives in fear that she or her children will one day confront horrific images of their loved ones online,” the lawsuit states.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has not yet signed a bill that would make it a misdemeanor for first responders to take unauthorized photos of deceased people at the scene of an accident or crime. The legislation was prompted by the crash photos.

A statement from the sheriff’s department Tuesday incorrectly said such actions are now criminal. The bill has not yet been signed into law.

“Shortly following this tragic crash, Sheriff Villanueva sponsored legislation which now makes it a crime for public safety personnel to take and share non-official pictures of this nature,” the statement said. “Due to the pending litigation, we are unable to offer further comment.”

Vanessa Bryant’s attorney, Gary C. Robb, declined to comment.

The Los Angeles Times first reported the allegations that the graphic photos had been taken and disseminated in February.

Bryant previously filed a claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, in May. The suit was filed Thursday.

Separately, Vanessa Bryant has also filed a lawsuit alleging the helicopter’s pilot, Ara Zobayan, was careless and negligent to fly in the fog and should have aborted the flight.

The brother of the pilot has said in a court filing that Bryant knew the risks of helicopter flying and his survivors aren’t entitled to damages from the pilot’s estate, while the helicopter company, Island Express, says it is not responsible for damages, calling the crash, among other things, “an act of God” and “an unavoidable accident” that was beyond its control.

Chicago Bulls hire Billy Donovan as coach

Billy Donovan coaches Thunder-Bulls
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Billy Donovan left the Thunder despite them offering a new contract. Maybe it wasn’t as much money as he desired to coach a team that could be entering rebuilding. But active head coaches rarely turn down an NBA job unless they know they’ll land on their feet.

Donovan will land on his feet – with the Bulls.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN first broke the story, the Bulls confirmed it soon after.

“We are very pleased to welcome Billy and his family to the Chicago Bulls. The success that he has sustained over the course of his coaching career puts him on a different level,” Chicago head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said in a statement. “We feel his ability to help his players reach their potential, both individually and collectively, will mesh well with our roster. Whether as a player or as a coach, he has won everywhere his career has taken him, and we hope that will continue here in Chicago.”

This is a major credibility upgrade for Chicago, which fired Jim Boylen. Donovan is a solid NBA head coach who adapts to his players rather than putting them through extreme measures.

Considering they just hired Arturas Karnisovas as president, the Bulls might have the patience for a rebuild. Donovan will be tasked with overseeing the development of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Coby White, Wendell Carter Jr. and the No. 4 pick in the upcoming draft. Donovan’s time as a college coach at Florida shows he can help players progress.

But Chicago also frequently faces pressure, especially internally, to win sooner than later. Donovan inherits veterans like LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky. Donovan showed at Oklahoma City he could manage a team with immediate expectations.

Is this group’s long-term future inspiring? No. Is this group’s present inspiring? No.

But Donovan provides a little boost in both areas.

Celtics: Romeo Langford out rest of playoffs after wrist surgery

Celtics guard Romeo Langford
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The Celtics don’t have quite enough dependable players to fill a playoff rotation. So, beyond its core, Boston has juggled deep-bench minutes throughout the postseason.

One of those options – Romeo Langford – will no longer be available.

Celtics release:

Celtics guard Romeo Langford this morning underwent successful surgery to repair the scapholunate ligament in his right wrist. He will miss the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA season.

A rookie, Langford also suffered a right-hand injury last season at Indiana. A pattern? Probably not. But it’s another interruption in the 20-year-old’s development.

For Boston’s playoff hopes, this is a minor setback – one made even smaller by Gordon Hayward returning (and staying). Though more of a forward, Hayward clears the way for Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart to handle more guard minutes, a few of which could have gone to Langford.