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Bucks, Kings collaborate to address social injustice

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Nearly a year after police fatally shot an unarmed black man in Sacramento and a series of protests ensued in California’s capital, the Kings and Milwaukee Bucks collaborated on a daylong summit Wednesday to address social injustice and encourage engagement and thoughtful discussions to try to bring about change.

The event held ahead of a Bucks-Kings game came nearly a year after the March 18, 2018, fatal shooting of 22-year-old Stephon Clark. Clark’s death ignited a series of protests that included protesters joining hands and blocking entrances to the Kings’ downtown arena as owner Vivek Ranadive pledged his support and vowed to do his part to address the issue.

“I made a commitment that we would work hard to have an impact and do better and bring people together,” Ranadive said Wednesday.

Ranadive was joined by Milwaukee co-owner Marc Lasry for a panel discussion along with Mark Thomsen, the attorney for Bucks guard Sterling Brown.

The Bucks were rocked last year when Brown, then a rookie, was Tased by police. He later filed a lawsuit saying the officers’ use of a stun gun during his arrest for a parking violation constituted excessive force and that they targeted him because he is black.

Both owners hope further awareness might encourage more teams and communities to get on board to have a dialogue about issues and create positive change.

“I hope this concept goes viral,” Ranadive said.

Brown said he appreciated the efforts by both organizations.

“Whenever the team can do something as big as this for the community, it’s important,” Brown said after the Bucks’ morning shootaround. “It definitely lets some of the community members know that it is a push to make change, especially for myself, I’m pretty big on that where I stand and my situation and the platform I have. I’m looking to make significant changes in the community to help the urban, the black community progress.”

Brown had been talking with officers while waiting for a citation for illegally parking in a disabled spot outside a Walgreens at about 2 a.m. on Jan. 26, 2018, when officers took him down because he didn’t immediately remove his hands from his pockets as ordered. An officer yelled: “Taser! Taser! Taser!”

Brown later received a formal apology from the city’s police chief.

“I knew Sterling and it didn’t sound like him,” Lasry said. “Sterling, in my opinion, was just a great kid. And it didn’t make sense, it didn’t sound like him. … As we got more information we sort of came to a crossroads, which is there’s Sterling’s side and there was the other side. For us an organization we ended up coming down on Sterling’s side simply because we knew him as a person.”

Thomsen credited the Bucks for backing his client from the very start. He said he is pushing for Milwaukee’s police department to use this case as training. “You can’t heal until there is accountability,” Thomsen said.

After Clark’s death in California, Ranadive made an impassioned pledge of support for the protesters and the community at large following the first round of demonstrations on March 22 after first consulting with his players.

Ranadive, the first person of Indian descent to own an NBA franchise, said after a game last year, “We stand here before you, old, young, black, white, brown, and we are all united in our commitment.”

Ranadive said the efforts remain a work in progress and he is striving for every kid in the community “to have a voice.”

“I’ve always felt this is bigger than basketball,” Ranadive reiterated Wednesday. “… At the end of the day we have to take actions, and actions speak louder than words.”

Clippers stun Warriors by forcing rare Game 6

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The Warriors feel inevitable.

So, when the Clippers let a 15-point second-half lead dwindle away in the final minutes, the game and series appeared over.

Instead, Lou Williams responded with a personal 8-0 – including a four-point play – run that sparked L.A. to a 129-121 Game 5 win Wednesday. The last two teams to lose a home Game 5 while leading a series 3-1:

  • 2019 Warriors vs. Clippers
  • 2016 Warriors vs. Cavaliers

Golden State will try to avoid any more comparisons to those 2016 NBA Finals in Game 6 Friday. The Warriors have won both their games in L.A. in this series, but have dropped two in Oakland – more home losses than they had the previous two postseasons combined.

The Rockets took care of business earlier in the night, but Golden State didn’t clinch its place in the anticipated rematch. The Clippers just aren’t making it easy.

“It’s a little mix of arrogance and just hard work,” said Williams, who scored 33 points and dished 10 assists. “We have a lot of young guys. We have a lot of veterans, guys that want to prove their names. We were wrote off early on in the year, people saying we weren’t a good team. We take all of those things. We digest it, and we try to make as much as we can out of it. So, it’s shown in this series.”

These Clippers have such an awesome identity.

They easily could have cherished their 31-point comeback in Game 2 as their moment of the series. But they kept fighting.

Patrick Beverley (17 points, 14 rebounds and four assists) was everywhere. Montrezl Harrell (24 points on 11-of-14 shooting with a clutch block) controlled the paint. Danilo Gallinari (26 points) got rolling after a couple off games.

L.A. has already won more games (two) than anyone except Houston (which won three in last year’s Western conference finals) in a series against the Warriors since they added Kevin Durant.

Durant scored 45 tonight, but Golden State turned up its defensive intensity too late.

“Build from this game? This game sucked. We lost,” Klay Thompson said. “Let’s go win Friday. Let’s win big. Let’s freaking win by 30 like we’re capable of.”

Rockets set up rematch with Warriors

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Bring on the Warriors.

The Rockets did their part to set up a highly anticipated rematch by dispatching the Jazz 100-93 in Game 5 Wednesday. With a 4-1 series victory over Utah, Houston enters the second round to face the winner of Warriors-Clippers. Golden State leads 3-1 entering its own Game 5 tonight.

Houston pushed these Warriors harder than anyone has, falling just short in last year’s seven-game Western Conference finals. James Harden said he thinks about losing Games 6 and 7 every day.

Will the Rockets supplant Golden State this year?

Harden is better. Chris Paul is healthy. The Warriors – their veterans a year older, Kevin Durant‘s impending free agency causing more drama – look somewhat vulnerable.

But Golden State is still favored in the second-round series before even winning its first-round series. The Warriors have historic top-end talent, and that usually wins out in the playoffs.

It did for the Rockets against the Jazz.

Harden (26 points, six rebounds, six assists, four blocks and three steals) and Paul (15 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals) weren’t great tonight. But they gave Houston enough considering Utah’s best player was Royce O'Neale (18 points on 8-of-13 shooting).

Donovan Mitchell (12 points on 4-of-22 shooting, including 0-for-9 on 3-pointers, with only one assist and five turnovers) had an awful game I doubt he’ll forget. His competitiveness and self-awareness are so impressive. I bet this only fuels him.

The Rockets are ready now.

They’ve won 24 of their last 29 games, going back to the regular season. They like to play a high-scoring style, but they’re versatile enough to adjust. P.J. Tucker and Clint Capela keyed a strong defensive performance tonight.

Houston probably won’t beat Golden State. But the Rockets have the opportunity they’ve desired for the last 332 days.

PBT Podcast: Looking ahead at the NBA playoffs second round

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Boston vs. Milwaukee. Philadelphia vs. Toronto. Houston vs. Golden State.

The first round of the NBA playoffs had plenty of emotion — just ask Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook — but it was short, with very possibly only one series going at least six games.

The second round? That’s not going to be so quick, and it is filled with even matchups that present a lot of questions.

Is this the Rockets’ year? They have the formula, can they execute it? The Bucks were the best team in the regular season, but can they carry that elite level into the second round against Boston? Is Toronto the team to beat?

Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports/Real GM/Celticsblog to look ahead at the second round, and even talk a little about what is next for Oklahoma City.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Sebastian Telfair convicted on gun charge, faces up to 15 years in prison

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Sebastian Telfair – a high school phenom from Coney Island, N.Y. – was the No. 13 pick in the 2004 NBA draft. He never lived up to the hype, but he still stuck in the NBA for 10 seasons, with the Trail Blazers, Timberwolves, Suns, Celtics, Clippers, Thunder, Raptors and Cavaliers.

He got arrested in 2017 for gun crimes and just his lost his trial.

TMZ:

Sebastian Telfair has been convicted of possessing a firearm … and could be sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Don’t assume Telfair will get the maximum sentence, but this is a serious conviction and will likely carry a serious sentence.