Associated Press

Chris Webber, Ben Wallace headline Hall of Fame finalists announcement

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CHARLOTTE — Chris Webber — a four-time All-NBA player, five-time All-Star, and part of the Fab Five at Michigan who helped change the game of college basketball — is back on the doorstep of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

This time he is joined by the defensive force that was Ben Wallace, as well as Bucks and UCLA legend Marques Johnson.

The finalists for the Basketball Hall of Fame were announced Friday at a ceremony in Charlotte, home of the 2019 NBA All-Star Game. Who gets in will be announced in Minneapolis at the NCAA Men’s Final Four.

Here are this year’s list of Finalists with NBA ties:

CHRIS WEBBER — It’s his turn to get in. Webber has the resume: Four-time All-NBA player, five-time NBA All-Star, 1994 NBA Rookie of the Year, he averaged more than 20 points per game for nine seasons, and he led the NBA in rebounds per game in the 1998-1999 season. And that’s just in the NBA — remember this is the “Basketball Hall of Fame” so being a key part of the “Fab Five” at Michigan that went to two Final Fours, and more importantly revolutionized the college game, counts as well. He deserves to make the cut, hopefully, this time the voters put him in.

BEN WALLACE — A rock on the defensive end, he is a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, doing so in a five-year span — and the one year he didn’t win it he helped lead the Pistons to an NBA title (2004). He made the NBA All-Defensive team eight times (five times first team), three times made the All-NBA team, and was a four-time NBA All-Star. He also led the league in rebounding twice. If we’re going to talk about defense being half the game, then Wallas has to be considered.

MARQUES JOHNSON — The Milwaukee Bucks legend is a first-time nominee. He averaged 20.1 points and 7 rebounds per game in his 11-year career and was five-time NBA All-Star plus made the All-NBA team once. In college, he helped legendary coach John Wooden win his final NCAA title at UCLA, and in 1977 was named the National Collegiate Player of the Year.

BOBBY JONES — A legend in Philadelphia who helped the Sixers to their last NBA title back in 1983. Jones was a lock-down defender who was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team eight straight years, plus he was a four-time All-Star and in 1983 won the Sixth Man of the Year award. Jones started his career in Denver when the Nuggets were in the ABA and he made the ABA All-Star team, All-Rookie Team,  and two times was on the league’s All-Defensive Team. He also has a silver medal from the disputed 1972 Olympics.

SIDNEY MONCRIEF — Playing for the Bucks and Hawks, Moncrief was a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, made an All-NBA team, is a five-time All-Star and four times made the All-Defensive Team.

JACK SIKMA — An icon of the Seattle Supersonics, he helped lead that team to a title in 1979. Sikma is a seven-time All-Star is the only center in NBA history to lead the league in single-season free throw percentage at .922 (1987-88).

PAUL WESTPHAL — Westphal won a ring with the Boston Celtics in 1974, and in his career was a three-time All-NBA player and a five-time All-Star. He is a member of the Phoenix Suns Ring of Honor.

HUGH EVANS — A legendary referee, Evans officiated nearly 2,000 regular season NBA games, 170 NBA Playoff games, 35 NBA Finals games and four NBA All-Star games.

BILL FITCH [Coach] – Fitch coached in the NBA for 25 seasons, twice being named Coach of the Year. He led the Boston Celtics to a title in 1981 and still holds the highest winning percentage of any coach in Celtics history (.738).

Also nominated for the Hall of Fame.

• College coaching legend Eddie Sutton.

• Leta Andrews coached high school basketball for over fifty years and is the all-time winningest high school coach, male or female.

• Barbara Stevens is the fifth coach in NCAA women’s basketball history to reach 1,000 career wins, doing so over a 40-year career at the Division II level.

• Teresa Weatherspoon is a WNBA legend: Five-time WNBA All-Star and two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year. She was the first player to rack up 1,000 points and 1,000 assists in the WNBA. She also has an Olympic gold medal.

• Longtime NBA reporter Marc Stein and legendary Los Angeles Clippers announcer Ralph Lawler are the 2019 Curt Gowdy Media Award recipients.

• Del Harris, who has spent 50 years coaching and teaching the game, and Harry Glickman — the “father” of professional sports in Oregon — will be honored with lifetime achievement awards.

Anthony Davis drains game-winner at buzzer to put Lakers up 2-0

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It looked like Nikola Jokic, the All-NBA Second Team center, was going to be the star of the game — he scored Denver’s last 11 points and had them up with 2.7 seconds to go.

Then Anthony Davis — the All-NBA First Team center — drained this game-winner, a three over Jokic at the buzzer to win the game.

This is why the Lakers got Anthony Davis (and gave up a lot to get him).

That shot gave the Lakers the 105-103 win to put them up 2-0 in the series. Game 3 is Tuesday night.

Davis carried the Lakers at the end of the game, hitting a couple of clutch threes, and finished with 31 points and nine rebounds. He has been the best Laker in this series, with 68 points and 19 rebounds through two games.

For the Lakers, it was a dramatic win in a game where they were sloppy with 23 turnovers, and where their defense came apart for stretches of the game. Good teams win ugly games, that’s how the Lakers have to view it.

Denver supporters may want to spin this as “look how much better we played” — and they did, slowing the pace down (97 possessions, via NBA.com) and getting inside more, taking advantage of switches — but the reality is the Lakers are only going to have bad outings once or twice a series and the Nuggets needed to take advantage. They didn’t, and this loss stings.

“This is the Western Conference Finals. No moral victories, no silver linings,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone said postgame.

Davis’ good look to win the game came on the kind of defensive breakdown Denver has at times that other teams have not exploited these playoffs. Mason Plumlee was inserted for his size and defense, and he was on Davis, who simply runs across the top of the arc. Plumlee doesn’t stick with him, instead running over by LeBron James, who is just hanging out at the elbow (but Denver fears), and acts like there should be a switch. Torrey Craig can’t switch, if he does that LeBron has a free lane to the rim and an easy two. If it was an X-out style switch then Plumlee needed to trail Davis all the way to Jokic, he didn’t, leaving Jokic a ridiculously long closeout. Plumlee blew it. Jokic read the play and got there to contest, but Davis had gotten a clean look.

Jokic had 30 points and nine rebounds for Denver, taking over the game when it mattered most and looking like an elite playoff performer. Jamal Murray had 25 points on 8-of-19 shooting and (as The Athletic’s John Hollinger noted on Twitter) was +16 in 44:14 minutes, meaning Denver was -18 in the 3:46 he was on the bench getting some rest. Denver got 15 points from Michael Porter Jr. and good minutes out of P.J. Dozier (although his five missed free throws in six attempts came back to bite the team).

Los Angeles got 26 points and 11 boards from LeBron and 11 points each from Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

The Lakers came out flat in this game except for LeBron, who had the team’s first 12 points. It looked like a close game until the Lakers went on an 18-3 run in the second quarter, with 8-0 of that coming with LeBron on the bench. The highlight of that was an Alex Caruso dunk that had the Lakers bench up and yelling.

Los Angeles stretched the lead out to as many as 16, but the Nuggets never quit.

Anthony Davis had to shut the door on them.

Watch Alex Caruso monster dunk, LeBron and Laker bench reaction

Alex Caruso dunk
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
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Alex Caruso has sneaky hops. Fans relate to him because he doesn’t look like an NBA player — he doesn’t really give off the vibe of one when you see him hanging out in the Lakers’ locker room either — but watch him on the court and he is more athletic than people realize. Alex Caruso can sky and throw down a dunk.

Just ask the Denver Nuggets.

The best part of this? The reaction of LeBron James and the Lakers bench.

The Alex Caruso dunk was part of an 8-0 Laker run right as LeBron went to get some rest. Denver had done a good job early being right with the Lakers by controlling the pace and limiting the Lakers in transition. That fell apart in the second quarter, fueled by Denver’s seven second-quarter turnovers (13 for the half), which allowed the Lakers to get out and run.

And Caruso to dunk, firing up the team.

Kevin Durant: ‘Knick fans, those Knicks media, they bothered me the whole year’

Kevin Durant Knicks
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No, I never planned on it — going to the Knicks. That was just the media putting that out there… So around February, as I was thinking, I didn’t want to be the savior of the Knicks or New York. I didn’t care about being the King of New York, that never really moved me. I didn’t care about being on Broadway or that s***.”

“I’ve seen the Knicks in the Finals, but kids coming up after me didn’t see that. So that whole brand of the Knicks is not as cool as let’s say the Golden State Warriors, or even the Lakers or the Nets now. You know what I’m saying; the cool thing now is not the Knicks.”

Kevin Durant has not held back from taking shots at the Knicks since signing with Brooklyn. Saturday, Durant turned his attention to Knicks fans and media.

Durant appeared on rapper Joe Budden’s podcast Saturday and, among other things, fired shots when asked if he could “leave the Knicks alone.” (Hat tip Nets Daily.)

“What you mean? They bothered me for a whole year! I was just trying to chill and just play and worry about my season. All the Knick fans, those Knicks media. They bothered me the whole year. But when it’s my time to talk about it, I gotta shut up now? I’ve been wanting to ask these questions for a year. Now that I’m available, it’s a problem?”

Before his free agency, the conventional wisdom around the league was that Durant was headed to the Knicks, possibly along with Irving or another star (there was a lot of smoke on the topic). Durant denied that after the fact. Either way, there certainly was anticipation in Manhattan, which means Durant was reading about it in the media and seeing it on social media. Durant pays attention to all that, and it doesn’t motivate him (it seems to have the opposite effect, actually).

Durant made his choice, and he went to the more stable organization right now, the one with the better foundation of players. Now he and Irving have to win, which will not be that easy with Durant coming off a torn Achilles.

That doesn’t mean he’s done taking shots at that team just over the bridge.

Steve Nash on Kevin Durant: ‘I plan to use him in all five positions’

Kevin Durant
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What makes the Brooklyn Nets potentially dangerous next season is not just the elite talent on the roster — talent coming off injuries, but championship talent nonetheless — but the versatility of it. Kyrie Irving has handles as good as anyone in the league, won the Three-Point Shooting Contest seven years ago, and can create looks with the best of them, but he also is dangerous off the ball. Caris LeVert can play anywhere on the wing and even some small-ball four in a pinch. Spencer Dinwiddie can play on- or off-ball.

And then there is Kevin Durant, as versatile a player as the league has seen.

New Nets coach Steve Kerr has plans for him, as JJ Reddick’s The Old Man and the Three podcast (hat tip to SNY).

“Kevin, with his length, is a matchup problem for everyone,” Nash said. “Kevin can play all five positions, and I plan to use him in all five positions.”

That’s smart — and that’s what the regular season is for. Coaches need to experiment with lineups and test ideas during the season, even if it costs them games, to be better prepared for the playoffs.

With Durant, Irving, LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and a roster filled with whatever other offseason moves the Nets make, the Brooklyn roster will have talent and versatility. Will the key players be healthy enough — and will they stay healthy — will be the bigger question facing Nash and his team.