Tony Brown

Turner, Pacers clinch playoff spot with 129-105 win vs Nets

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The message was clear Sunday night – the Indiana Pacers belong in the postseason.

Myles Turner had 28 points and 10 rebounds and the Pacers beat the Brooklyn Nets 129-105 to clinch a playoff berth.

Indiana controlled its fate and knocked the Chicago Bulls out of postseason contention.

The Pacers have been plagued by uncertainty and inconsistency this season, but in the final week, Indiana made it count when it mattered. Five minutes into this one, the Pacers used an 11-0 run for a 17-5 lead and led by double digits the rest of the way.

“It was our passion tonight to win. We were dominant. We took it to this team,” Pacers All-Star forward Paul George said. He finished with 15 points, six assists and five rebounds.

Solomon Hill had 13 points and 12 rebounds for Indiana while George Hill had 18 points and Ian Mahinmi had 16. The Pacers led by as many as 42 points.

The Pacers could have clinched a playoff berth in Toronto on Friday night but lost by 13. That result left Indiana determined to take care of business Sunday.

“All year we felt we had a team that could do damage in the playoffs,” coach Frank Vogel said. “(Tonight) was about getting it done to get there. I think our guys were motivated after the Toronto game.”

Indiana went into halftime up 69-41. The Pacers starters remained in the game for much of the third quarter but were pulled when the Pacers extended the lead to 40 points.

Turner was bumped from the starting lineup during a stretch when Indiana lost five of eight in March. In this one, he helped the bench account for 70 points.

“Pride-wise, I want to start. You have to put your pride aside do your job, your role,” Turner said. “I’m completely fine with the role I am in right now. I am looking forward to the playoffs. I’ll have a big role (during) the playoffs.”

Sean Kilpatrick had 26 points for the Nets, who lost their seventh consecutive game and 12th straight on the road. Markel Brown had 18 points and 11 rebounds.

“I didn’t see a lot of fight with our starting group,” Nets coach Tony Brown said. “I wish they were prepared. I don’t know what to tell you. (Indiana) made shots, they played great.”

The Pacers have two games left and can still finish as high as seventh in the Eastern Conference if they end up with the same record as the Detroit Pistons. Indiana is back in the postseason for the first time since 2013-14, when it was the No. 1 seed and lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat in six games.

BACK TO THE PLAYOFFS

C.J. Miles is back in the postseason for the first time since 2010, and Rodney Stuckey will make his first playoff appearance since 2009.

TIP-INS

Pacers: Indiana set a season high for points in a game and in the first quarter and also tied its season high for points scored in the third quarter with 35. … The Pacers’ 42-point lead was their biggest of the season.

Nets: Brooklyn lost its regular season road finale for the ninth straight season.

UP NEXT

Indiana will host the Knicks on Tuesday night.

Brooklyn will host the Wizards on Monday night.

Nets blow by LeBron, Cavs in 4th, win 104-95

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NEW YORK (AP) Brook Lopez scored 22 points and the Brooklyn Nets blew by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the fourth quarter for a 104-95 victory Thursday night.

James was scoreless and missed both shots in the fourth quarter after he scored 30 points on 13-for-14 shooting through three. Lopez had the final five points in a 14-0 run down the stretch as the Nets surged past the Eastern Conference leaders.

Shane Larkin added 16 points and seven assists for the Nets in his return to the starting lineup. Bojan Bogdanovic had 12 points.

The Cavaliers finished 10 of 38 on 3-pointers, needing a make by Jordan McRae after the Nets had taken control to extend their franchise-record streak to 10 games with 10 or more makes. But they misfired way too often, with Kyrie Irving finishing 6 for 22 from the field and Kevin Love going 5 for 14.

It looked as if James would rescue his teammates when he scored 15 points in a dominant third quarter. He started 10 for 10 and his first miss came when it appeared teammate Timofey Mozgov knocked him off balance on a tip-in attempt.

But James started the fourth quarter on the bench and the Nets took advantage. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored six quick points, and the Cavs’ lead was 92-90 before the Nets hit them with the decisive spurt.

Leading by three after one, the Nets opened a 13-point lead in the second as the Cavs misfired on 11 of their 13 3-point attempts. Brooklyn took a 59-49 lead into the break, with the Cavs going 3 for 18 beyond the arc.

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: Coach Tyronn Lue didn’t want to discuss what he talked about with James following the Cavs’ blowout loss in Miami on Saturday. Cleveland.com reported Thursday that Lue spoke to him after the game after feeling James spent too much time talking to Dwyane Wade at halftime instead of warming up. “LeBron’s the leader of this team, we had a great talk and that’s it,” Lue said.

Nets: Shane Larkin and Sergey Karasev got the start in the backcourt and Larkin will get the job the rest of the season as the Nets focus on seeing who they want to keep on the roster going forward. Interim coach Tony Brown said the evaluation process could even mean veterans Lopez and Thaddeus Young could get certain games off so younger players could get more time.

NEW TEAM, OLD LOOK

The Nets unveiled the logo and uniforms for the Long Island Nets, their NBA Development League affiliate that will debut next season. The red, white and blue color scheme is a nod to the franchise’s past, as the New York Nets wore those colors when they played in the ABA from 1972-76. The team will play its first season at Barclays Center before moving to the renovated Nassau Coliseum in 2017-18.

UP NEXT

Cavaliers: Visit New York on Saturday.

Nets: Host Indiana on Saturday.

Spurs win 8th straight in Nets’ first game since shake-up

Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and 11 rebounds as the San Antonio Spurs extended their winning streak to eight with a 106-79 victory Monday night over Brooklyn in the Nets’ first game since an organizational shake-up.

A day after coach Lionel Hollins was fired and general manager Billy King reassigned, the Nets dropped their 10th straight at home and fifth in a row overall.

Kawhi Leonard added 17 points for the Spurs, who go to Detroit on Tuesday before putting their 31-game home winning streak on the line Thursday in a showdown with Cleveland.

The Spurs (33-6) were up seven at halftime before dominating the second half, just as they did in their 102-75 victory over the Nets on Oct. 30. Those are two of their 14 wins by 20 or more points this season.

Brook Lopez scored 18 points and Joe Johnson had 16 in the Nets’ first game under interim coach Tony Brown. Brown moved guards Wayne Ellington and Donald Sloan into the starting lineup, but they combined for just 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

The Nets fell to 10-28, hours after owner Mikhail Prokhorov said the team needed a “reset” and that deciding to start it in the middle of the season was an easy decision. But no change could change things against the Spurs, the latest visiting team to win the crowd and the game in Brooklyn.

Fans cheered loudest for 7-foot-3 Serbian Boban Marjanovic, who finished 13 points and was on the floor in the final seconds when a “Go Spurs Go!” chant broke out.

TIP-INS

Spurs: Aldridge made his first five shots and finished 12 for 17 from the field. … The Spurs outscored the Nets 60-28 in the second half of the first meeting and 61-41 in this one.

Nets: Sloan made his first start since Jan. 4, 2015, for Indiana against the Lakers. … Brown had won all three games when he previously stepped in to coach, filling in for Doc Rivers once in Boston, Larry Krystkowiak in Milwaukee and Mike Dunleavy with the Clippers.

 

PBT’s NBA Power Rankings: Clippers climb with win streak, Knicks rising too

Associated Press
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I’ve used this annalogy before: To me the Clippers feel like the Cincinnati Bengals (minus the mental meltdowns, I hope). They can have a fantastic regular season — they have won nine in a row as of this writing – but their success this season will be completely judged in the postseason. Can they get out of the second round? I’m not sold, but they have climbed to fourth in these power rankings. As for the other end, the bottom teams remain the same, but Charlotte is suddenly trying to join them.

 
source:  1. Warriors (35-2, last week No. 1). They have won six in a row and their offense continues to hum along (110.4 points per 100 in their last 10 games). This is how Stephen Curry described the Warriors’ ball-sharing offense to me this week: “For the most part we don’t call many plays. That flow is, we have a pretty good high IQ for whatever lineup is out there, and usually the ball finds the right spot and the right person and we trust them to make it.”

 
source:  2. Spurs (32-6, LW 2). Winners of seven in a row and besting teams by 17 points per 100 possessions in their last 10 (tops in the league). The Spurs have had the easiest schedule in the NBA so far this season, having not had games against other top contenders, but that starts to change this week when they face the Cavaliers Thursday in a must-watch game.

 
source:  3. Cavaliers (26-9, LW 4). One guy who has benefitted from the return of Kyrie Irving is J.R. Smith, who is getting more and better looks from three and shooting 41.9 percent from there since Irving’s return. Great test this week against the three Texas teams, highlighted by the Spurs on Thursday night.

 
source:  4. Clippers (25-13, LW 5). Winners of nine in a row, eight of those without Blake Griffin, and in their last 10 they are scoring 110.4 points per 100 possessions (tied for third best in the NBA with Golden State). Without Griffin, the Clippers are doing it with more of a spread pick-and-roll in which Chris Paul (and J.J. Redick) are thriving.

 
source:  5. Thunder (26-12 LW 3). OKC has been fun to watch the past couple weeks because their games become shootouts — they are scoring a league-best 113.5 points per 100 possessions in their last 10, but are allowing 106.2, 22nd in the league. For example, see Damian Lillard going off for 17 points in the final 3:07 to beat OKC Sunday. The OKC bench in particular has struggled defensively. That said, they are still 7-3 in their last 10.

 
source:  6. Bulls (22-13, LW 6). Joakim Noah is healthy and returns Monday night, but that poses some challenges for coach Fred Holberg. First, statistically this team is best with Nikola Mitotic at the four, so you don’t want to chop his minutes at that spot. Second, Bobby Portis has been fantastic with Noah out, you don’t want to have him barely seeing the court either. It’s not going to be simple.

 
source:  7. Raptors (24-15, LW 9). Every team would like some mid-season rest, some days off right now, and the Raptors get it — they have just one game this week. It’s against Orlando in London (the light week is needed otherwise jet lag would cost them games). Toronto has won three in a row. And Raptor fans, stop freaking out about DeMarr DeRozan, he’s going to stay in Toronto (so long as they pay him the going rate).

 
source:  8. Mavericks (22-16, LW 11). When we’re talking about the things Dallas did right to build this surprisingly good team, make sure to put “got a lot of high IQ players” way up on the list. Then ignore the JaVale McGee signing. Brutal schedule this week: Cleveland, at Oklahoma City, at Chicago, at San Antonio.

 
source:  9. Hawks (23-15, LW 8). Impressive win over the Bulls last week, but like its starting lineup the Hawks are inconsistent night to night. The Hawks are getting good guard play out of Kent Bazemore (47.1 percent from three this season) and of late from Tim Hardaway Jr. off the bench.

 
source:  10. Pacers (21-16, LW 10). Holding on to leads has become a bit of an issue — the Pacers had double-digit leads over Miami and Houston last week and blew both. The return of George Hill didn’t change that. And as good as he has played, Dan Feldman and I don’t think Paul George is in the MVP conversation, as discussed in our latest podcast.

 
source:  11. Heat (22-15, LW 7). Chris Bosh has been phenomenal of late — 23.6 points per game in his last 10 and shooting 46.3 percent from three in that time (plus grabbing 7.7 rebounds a game). Challenging week ahead on the road (where the Heat have been a .500 team): At the Warriors, Clippers and Thunder (and Nuggets, too).

 
source:  12. Grizzlies (21-18, LW 15). They were so shorthanded last week that Tony Allen had to play some point guard — the fact they got some wins despite that is impressive. Zach Randolph has accepted his role off the bench and started to dominate some second units out there, giving the Grizzlies a boost.

 
source:  13. Pistons (21-16, LW 16). Andre Drummond is quietly having a very strong defensive season — he is protecting the paint, bodying up bigs, and making sure opponents possessions end after one shot. He’s not going to win DPOY, but he should get mentioned for the third spot on ballot (behind Kawhi and Draymond, who are 1-2). Tough week ahead for the Pistons with the Spurs, Grizzlies and Warriors scheduled.

 
source:  14. Celtics (19-18, LW 12). Last year’s draft pick Jordan Mickey has spent most of the season in the D-League, but he has impressed scouts down there. Wonder if he will get a chance with the big club, which has struggled of late dropping 5-of-6 and slid out of the playoffs into the ninth seed.

 
source:  15. Rockets (19-19, LW 19). Three-game winning streak (two against the Jazz, but they still count the same) and Houston is back up to .500. They get Ty Lawson back from suspension this week, but the way Trevor Ariza has played of late coach Bickerstaff may want to consider his minutes distribution.

 
source:  16. Magic (20-18, LW 13). This team’s offense doesn’t run as smoothly without Elfrid Payton and it shows with him out injured — the Magic have dropped 5-of-6. They get some rest with only one game on the schedule this week, against Toronto in London.

 
source:  17. Wizards (16-19, LW 17). Bradley Beal is getting closer to a return to the court, and they could use his playmaking, but the Wizards offense has been 6.7 points per 100 possessions worse with him on the court this season. John Wall has turned the ball over much more lately, leading to a very inconsistent team.

 
source:  18. Knicks (19-20, LW 20). Carmelo Anthony is sharing the rock and trusting teammates the past couple weeks like we haven’t seen since, well, probably the Olympics. It’s a good sign for this team. Last week New York passed last season’s win total of 17, and if they can beat Boston Monday they climb to .500 (and the playoffs are not out of reach).

 
source:  19. Jazz (17-20, LW 18). The good news is Rudy Gobert is finally back. The bad news is Derrick Favors and Rodney Hood are still out (not to mention Alec Burks and Dante Exum). Still, Gobert solidifies the defense and gives them a shot in games, such as the win against Miami Sunday.

 
source:  20. Kings (15-22, LW 22). If the price tag for bringing in John Calipari is 10-years, $120 million, you’d have to think the Kings are out of that running. But there still feels like a push and pull between the players on the roster and what coach George Karl (and presumably owner Vivek Ranadive) want from their team. So they struggle even as Cousins puts up insane numbers.

 
source:  21. Trail Blazers (16-24, LW 21). Damian Lillard went off for 17 points in the final 3:07 Sunday night to spark a win over Oklahoma City — he and C.J. McCollum make this team dangerous any given night. Portland is 2.5 games out of the playoffs in the West, but with a soft schedule coming up this is the time to make a push to join the dance.

 
source:  22. Hornets (17-20, LW 14). Losers of seven in a row, which not-so-coincidentally is when Al Jefferson went out injured. Throw in Nicolas Batum missing the last four and things get ugly in Charlotte. Steve Clifford has done a great job coaching this team, but he can’t cover this talent gap. Charlotte is now 11th in the East, 2.5 games out of the eight seed.

 
source:  23. Pelicans (11-25, LW 23). We said this last week but it’s worth repeating: The Pelicans had the league’s toughest schedule up to this point, but January gets much easier for them. I’m not sure they can make up the 5.5 games to get back in the playoff hunt, but we should start to see more wins.

 
source:  24. Nuggets (14-24, LW 27). Emmanuel Mudiay returned to the court Monday, and the Nuggets picked up a win (although the rookie looked understandably rusty after missing 14 games). It’s good he’s back because it’s time to see how he fits with the Nuggets’ other interesting young pieces— big men Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic. There is a core there to build around.

 
source:  25. Bucks (15-24, LW 24). It’s been a disappointing season, but this team still shows flashes that remind you overall they seem to be on the right track. For example, there was the win last week against Dallas. Still, no playoffs for this team this year and GM John Hammond needs to go find some shooters this summer.

source:  26. Timberwolves (12-26,LW 25). It seems hard to talk about the promising young core of a team that has dropped 10-of-11, but as Dan Feldman and I discussed in the latest PBT Podcast Karl-Anthony Towns is the clear leader for Rookie of the Year, just like Andrew Wiggins the season before. This team desperately needs shooting to give Towns and Wiggins some space to operate.

 
source:  27. Nets (10-27, LW 26). The Nets have fired Lionel Hollins and Billy King, which leaves a lot of challenging long-term questions in the air, but in the short term Tony Brown will be tasked with getting the Nets to suck less. It will be interesting to see who gets shopped at the deadline (besides Joe Johnson, no other team will bite on that contract). Can the Nets get quality in return for Thaddeus Young?

 
<source:  28. Suns (13-26, LW 29). They picked up a win over plumeting Charlotte, and Brooklyn kindly took over the title of “most dysfunctional franchise” from them, so things seem a little quieter. The Suns’ perimeter defense is a mess without Eric Bledsoe, and Tyson Chandler isn’t young and healthy enough to clean up that mess anymore in the paint — teams are putting up numbers on the Suns.

 
source:  29. Lakers (8-31, LW 28). I’ll have whatever Lou Williams is having, he’s had a couple huge games including dropping a career-high 44 last week. The better news is that coach Byron Scott has been letting the young Lakers in need of development play more in the fourth quarter.

 
source:  30. 76ers (4-36, LW 30). Stat of the week: In nine games, Ish Smith had garnered 22 assists to Jahlil Okafor, which is more than any other Sixers guard has done all season. We’re even starting to see signs of Okafor and Nerlens Noel playing better together. Consider that your silver lining for the day.

Shakeup in Brooklyn: Coach Lionel Hollins fired, Billy King out as GM

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It was assumed around the league that this coming offseason there would be a shakeup in Brooklyn, changes to the coaching staff for sure and likely the front office.

That shakeup came early, with the new year.

The Nets announced Sunday that coach Lionel Hollins has been fired, and GM Billy King has been “re-assigned” from his position.

Nets’ assistant coach Tony Brown takes over as interim head coach. The GM chair will be vacant for now, an interesting choice six weeks out from the trade deadline.

“After careful consideration, I’ve concluded that it’s time for a fresh start and a new vision for the direction of the team,” Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov said in a released statement. “By making this decision now, it enables our organization to use the rest of the season to diligently evaluate candidates with proven track records. It’s clear from our current state of affairs that we need new leadership. With the right basketball management and coach in place, we are going to create a winning culture and identity and give Brooklyn a team that it can be proud of and enjoy watching. We have learned a great deal during the past six years and our experiences will guide us for the future.”

The Nets are 10-27 this season, well out of the race for the playoffs in the East. Worse yet, the Nets don’t control their own first round draft pick until 2019, meaning their prospects for improvement in future seasons hinge on luring free agents to play with Brook Lopez, who the organization re-signed this summer, and rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

Blame for this dumpster fire in Brooklyn starts with Prokhorov. He tried to treat the NBA like a European soccer league where a rich guy can just buy a team and wins. When the Nets were set to open the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, he instructed King to do whatever it took — including trading future picks and prospects — to put together an immediate title contender and become the dominant force in New York. Payroll be damned. What the Nets got was a team that paid $100 million in luxury tax — for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams and so on — and still only could make the second round of the playoffs. Prokhorov didn’t understand the market; it’s going to take something far more than that over a much longer stretch of time to win over New York from the Knicks, if it can be done at all. The Knicks have been at the heart of the New York sports scene for generations, you can’t sweep that aside with money.

There have been rumors Prokhorov wants to bring in the president of CSKA Moscow for the GM position.

Both King and Hollins deserve blame for some of their decisions, and there was a need for a fresh start, but the problem with the Nets stemmed directly from ownership and the direction it set. It’s just that owners do not fire themselves — in fact, Prokhorov just bought 100 percent control of the Nets and Barclays Center.

It’s his show, and this is what he’s doing with it. And apparently not very well.