NBA playoffs 2019: Draymond Green trying to argue less with officials

’33 pts in the 2nd half’s not going to do it’ Trailblazers go 3-0 down to Warriors in playoffs

Warriors star Draymond Green has made changes to his on-court demeanor because he believes it had become “disgusting” to watch him play.

Green put on a phenomenal display as the Warriors took a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference finals with a 110-99 victory over the Trail Blazers, who had an 18-point lead in the second quarter, on Saturday.

The fiery 2017 NBA Defensive Player of the Year had 20 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists and four steals for his seventh playoff triple-double and third this postseason.

Green has a history of arguing with officials and was involved in a public argument with teammate Kevin Durant during an overtime loss to the Clippers in November, but the three-time All-Star took a more measured approach with Jordan Bell after the center missed a dunk with the Warriors trailing by eight in the third quarter.

 

Golden State coach Steve Kerr referred to Green as a “wrecking ball” following his exciting performance and said he is not letting anything bother him, something the Warriors forward has been working on.

“I think it [avoiding confrontation with the officials] definitely helps the energy of guys. I still like to pick and choose my spots. Sometimes I may take a tech, but that’s more mindful than just getting a tech. Sometimes I know I need an energy burst; maybe I’ll take one,” Green said.

“But sometimes I’m not mindful, and I’ll get a tech and that will just kill the energy of our team. I’ve really been focused and locked in on that and I realized I got to a point where I was doing more crying than playing.

“I’m sure it was disgusting to watch because I felt disgusting playing that way, and I just wanted to lock back in on the game.”

“I understand that officials aren’t perfect and I still have conversations with them now, when they miss a call, but it’s a completely different conversation.”

“My mom has been really big. My fiancee has been really big, just talking to me about that and just telling me to stay locked in on the game.

“I also have some little ones at the house that are enjoying watching me play. I don’t necessarily want them to see that. So [I] just try to be more mindful of it.”

 

Green, who was in double digits for rebounds for the eighth game in succession, was key as he consistently pushed the ball in transition, but he is willing to take a back seat when Durant and DeMarcus Cousins return from their respective calf and thigh injuries.

“I feel great, and just trying to bring whatever I’ve got to bring to the table to help this team win, to help DeMarcus [Cousins] and Kevin get back out there on the floor,” he said.

“When we have Steph [Stephen Curry], Klay [Thompson], KD, DeMarcus, I don’t need to play like that. As crazy as it sounds, somebody has to give up something when you have that many guys who are capable of doing what they are doing.

“I take it upon myself to be the guy to give that up. I think I’m playing great right now but I’m not the scorer that those four guys are.”

“If I’m wide open and Klay is half open, I think it’s still a better shot if I give the ball to Klay. That’s just my mindset where we got all our guys on the floor but when they are not, I have to have a different mindset to step up for the team, as everyone has stepped up their game a notch.”

 

 

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Damian Lillard injury update: Trail Blazers star playing with separated ribs

’33 pts in the 2nd half’s not going to do it’ Trailblazers go 3-0 down to Warriors in playoffs

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has been playing with separated ribs, according to a report Sunday (Monday in Manila) by The Athletic.

According to the report, Lillard suffered the injury in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.

Lillard hit only five of 18 shots from the field and scored 19 while playing 40 minutes in the Trail Blazers’ 110-99 loss to the Warriors Saturday night in Game 3.

Lillard averaged 33 points per game in Portland’s first-round series against the Thunder and 25.1 ppg in the second round against the Nuggets. But the Warriors have done a good job of limiting him.

The All-Star is averaging 20.3 points on 15-of-46 shooting (32.9 percent) in this series. Klay Thompson has been all over Lillard, forcing him to shoot further away from the basket, while other Warriors have stepped in to stop Lillard’s moves to the basket on pick-and-roll plays.

The Warriors lead the series, 3-0. The Trail Blazers will look to avoid a sweep in Game 4 Monday (Tuesday in Manila) in Portland at 9 p.m. ET.

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Andre Iguodala injury update: Warriors forward (lower leg soreness) will undergo MRI on Sunday

’33 pts in the 2nd half’s not going to do it’ Trailblazers go 3-0 down to Warriors in playoffs

The 2015 NBA Finals MVP came into Game 3 averaging 10.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists in this year’s playoffs.

Andre Iguodala will undergo an MRI on Sunday.

The Warriors forward is dealing with some “lower leg soreness” according to Steve Kerr. He left initially left Game 3 in the first quarter to be evaluated and was gone for good in the third.

“We didn’t want to risk anything and put him pack in the game,” Kerr said. “So when we took him out mid third (quarter), the trainer said ‘that’ll be it for him.’ So we’ll know more tomorrow.”

Iguodala posted just two points in the contest on just 1-of-5 shooting in 18 minutes. The 2015 NBA Finals MVP came into Game 3 averaging 10.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists in this year’s playoffs. He tallied just 5.7 points per game during the regular season.

According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Iguodala’s pain could be from a lingering Achilles injury. It is unclear if he will play in Game 4 on Monday.

NBA playoffs 2019: Three takeaways from Golden State’s comeback win over Portland

’33 pts in the 2nd half’s not going to do it’ Trailblazers go 3-0 down to Warriors in playoffs

Golden State is approaching a conference final sweep.

The Warriors topped Portland 110-99 in a Game 3 win Saturday (Sunday in Manila), extending their lead in the series to 3-0.

Here are three takeaways from Golden State’s comeback win.

The Trail Blazers can’t hold a lead

Portland led by double-digits at the half for the second consecutive game, but blew its lead to the defending champs again.

Last time the Trail Blazers’ blunder was at Oracle Arena, but home court advantage made no difference.

Golden State has been the best third-quarter team in the NBA season, and now Portland has its back against the wall.

Golden State is owning the break

The Warriors have been very fluid in transition against the Trail Blazers, as it has outscored Portland 53-23 in the series.

Golden State only allowed Portland eight fast break points on the night, but recorded 21 of its own. The Warriors held Portland to a measly two fast break points in Game 1.

The Trail Blazers aren’t getting any freebies, and that probably won’t change.

Draymond Green has his fingerprints on everything

Green is simply a difference maker in every area for the Warriors. The 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year has seen an uptick in usage in the absence of Kevin Durant, and Golden State seems to have returned to the days of old because of it.

Green stuffed that stat sheet with 20 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists, four steals and a block against Portland. Although he committed three fouls, he helped set the tone with his usual physicality. He also provided valuable leadership qualities to keep his team in the hunt.

The Trail Blazers will attempt to get their first win of the series on Monday in Portland.

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Wilder asks for patience over Joshua fight

‘My right hand is Hammer of Thor’ Wilder after Breazele KO

Deontay Wilder promised a highly anticipated fight against Anthony Joshua would happen, but he called for fans to remain patient.

Wilder needed just 137 seconds to knock out Dominic Breazeale and retain his WBC heavyweight title on Saturday, improving his record to 41-0-1.

The American drew with Tyson Fury in December and there were calls for a rematch with the Brit or bout against WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion Joshua.

Wilder – whose knockout of Breazeale was the 40th of his career – said a fight with Joshua would happen, but he remains unsure when.

“The great thing about this is all these fights are in discussion, no doors are closed, all teams, all parties that are involved are talking and that’s the great thing about it,” he told Showtime.

“We know when the big fights happen everything is going to be silenced. There’s too many people involved, too many opinions involved right now.”

 

“It’s going to take my team and his team, maybe me and him as well, to sit down and hammer this and squash everything and get this fight done for the fans.”

Wilder added: “This fight will happen. The big fight will happen, I promise you that, with patience, come time, and I just want you guys to have patience and give us a little time to make this thing happen so we all benefit from it, not only just you fans.

“We risk our lives in here so we want to make sure we get the best and the most money that’s possible.”

“We’re risking our lives. The head is not meant to be hit in the first place so let us get our time to iron out all the differences and you guys will know when that happens.”

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Wilder retains title with first-round knockout of Breazeale

‘My right hand is Hammer of Thor’ Wilder after Breazele KO

Deontay Wilder retained his WBC heavyweight title in impressive fashion, knocking Dominic Breazeale out in the first round on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).

Wilder recorded the 40th knockout of his career just two minutes, 17 seconds into the fight at Barclays Center in New York.

Wilder (41-0-1) started well and capitalised, landing the decisive blow quickly against his rival and fellow American.

After a war of words in the build-up, Wilder showed his class in his first fight since drawing with Tyson Fury in December, his performance set to again lead to calls for a rematch with the Brit or fight with fellow heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.

 

“Everything just came out of me,” he told Showtime.

“I know it’s been a big build-up to this fight, there was a lot of animosity, a lot of chaos, a lot of hatred against each other.”

“There were a lot of words that were said and it just came out.”

Wilder made a fast start and he had Breazeale in trouble early after a big left hand, only for the latter to steady – albeit very briefly.

Just seconds later, the fight was over.

Wilder landed a left-handed jab before a huge right sent Breazeale to the canvas, ending the fight and marking a ninth successful title defence.

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NBA Draft 2019: Knicks prefer Ja Morant over RJ Barrett, report says

’33 pts in the 2nd half’s not going to do it’ Trailblazers go 3-0 down to Warriors in playoffs

The Knicks are ranking their favorite prospects in this year’s NBA Draft.

New York has the No. 3 pick and prefers Murray State’s Ja Morant over Duke’s RJ Barrett at the moment, according to a report from the New York Post, which cites unidentified league sources. It met with both players Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) following the draft lottery.

Knicks team president Steve Mills doesn’t appear to have ruled out trading their top pick, as he dodged a question about the option Friday.

“We’re here to evaluate the players that are here and we’ll keep moving along in our process,’’ Mills said.

Memphis is reportedly leaning toward selecting Morant with the No. 2 pick though, so the Knicks are making sure they evaluate and interview top talent thoroughly.

“It’s been a good week for us,’’ Mills told reporters. “As a group, we have a lot of guys here meeting the young players. We probably have interviewed 30 different guys over the course of time here. So it’s been a good productive week for us.”

“We want to build this team the right way. We’ve always said we’re going to continue to work hard during the draft process. We believe we’re a team that can draft well and this is all part of our plan and growing our team.’’

New York was rumored to be interested in trading for Pelicans star Anthony Davis had it gotten the first pick, but New Orleans won the draft lottery and will pick first so that scenario may be done at this point.

The Knicks also have the 55th pick in the draft and are rumored to be seeking trade offers for Frank Ntilikina, who they drafted with the eighth pick in 2017.

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NBA playoffs 2019: Seth Curry explains how he tried to jinx his brother Stephen

’33 pts in the 2nd half’s not going to do it’ Trailblazers go 3-0 down to Warriors in playoffs

Trail Blazer Seth Curry and brother Stephen Curry of the Warriors were seen on the court exchanging a few words during the final minutes of Game 2 of the Western Conference finals Thursday, though it wasn’t immediately clear what message was exchanged between the two.

Seth later set the record straight, revealing he tried to jinx his older brother when Stephen went to the free throw line to shoot three free throws with the Blazers leading 108-107 with 2:01 to play. Stephen made the first one, which prompted Seth to walk over and talk some trash in an effort to make his brother miss the second one.

“I told him he made the first one, I told him that’s like 70 in a row. I tried to jinx him a little bit,” Seth said with a laugh (via sfgate.com). “He’s like, ‘All right, it’s going to be 72.’ He made ’em both, so he wasn’t fazed.”

Stephen, however, wasn’t willing to feed into his younger brother’s antics.

“He tried to distract me at the free throw line in the fourth quarter,” Stephen said, “and I knew how to kind of go back at him to stay focused on what I needed to do.”

The Warriors ended up winning, 114-111, to take a 2-0 series lead.

 

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Lakers will not hire president of basketball operations to replace Magic Johnson, report says

’33 pts in the 2nd half’s not going to do it’ Trailblazers go 3-0 down to Warriors in playoffs

The Lakers are not hiring a new president of basketball operations to replace Magic Johnson.

Los Angeles has decided to allow general manager Rob Pelinka to take over Johnson’s role, according to an ESPN report.

Pelinka, longtime agent of Kobe Bryant, was hired as the general manager alongside Johnson in 2017. He signed a five-year deal with the team.

Johnson, a former Lakers star, called an impromptu meeting at the Staples Center in April to announce he was stepping down from his front office position. He cited maintaining a strong relationship with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss as a major factor in his decision.

“I think that with (Jeanie) and I, I want to always preserve my relationship with her,” Johnson said. “And I think I had more fun when I was able to be the big brother and ambassador.”

The Lakers have the No. 4 pick in the 2019 draft, and they will look to rebound from a 37-45 season where they missed the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season.

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Jimmy Butler free agency rumors: Nets have a ‘real shot at landing’ forward

’33 pts in the 2nd half’s not going to do it’ Trailblazers go 3-0 down to Warriors in playoffs

Could Jimmy Butler sign with the Nets when free agency begins this offseason?

According to the New York Post, which cited unidentified league sources, Brooklyn has “a real shot at landing” the forward and prying him away from the 76ers. The Nets have been connected to speculation around pursuing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and the report notes the Nets finally have enough cash to get looks from some of the league’s top free agents.

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson expressed optimism about the future of his program earlier this week, reiterating Brooklyn has “great options” heading into free agency.

“We have a great young core that we have that are coming back,” Atkinson told ESPN on Thursday (via the Post). “And then obviously Sean has done a fantastic job creating cap space. We have our own picks this year, which I’m so psyched.

 

“I’m so psyched to be here watching these young guys play. I always say I’m a player-advocate; I just want all of them. But it’s a real fantastic opportunity. We’re going to have options. A, I think we all know what A is. There’s some great players out there. But we also feel comfortable with B, C and D that if it doesn’t go our way in free agency.”

Butler addressed his impending free agency earlier this week, indicating he’s hoping to join a franchise that wants to win.

“Hopefully I’ll get a max contract anywhere I choose to go,” Butler told reporters (via NBC Sports Philadelphia). “You always want to be able to win, I think that’s key for sure. You’re looking at coaches, you’re looking at the city. There’s a lot that goes into it.

“For me, as long as I got my people with me, they’re happy, they’re smiling and we’re waking up knowing we’re getting to work in an environment where we’re having fun … but I’m a long way away from that,” Butler said. “I’m not too focused on that right now.”

The 76ers acquired Butler from the Timberwolves in mid-November in exchange for a package centered around Dario Saric and Robert Covington. Butler averaged 18.2 points in 55 regular-season appearances for Philadelphia. He averaged 19.4 points per game during the playoffs before the 76ers were eliminated by the Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

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Three reasons the Nuggets can be more dangerous next year

’33 pts in the 2nd half’s not going to do it’ Trailblazers go 3-0 down to Warriors in playoffs

Denver surprisingly finished second in the Western Conference this year but fell to Portland in the second round of the playoffs.

The young team accomplished more than what most expected them to, and there’s still room for growth.

Here are three reasons the Nuggets can be even more dangerous in 2019:

They still have Michael Porter Jr. in their back pocket

Denver selected Michael Porter Jr. with the 14th pick in the 2018 NBA draft, and he might have been the steal of the night.

The 6-10 forward was considered to be the consensus No. 1 pick in the draft by many out of high school, but an unfortunate back injury kept him sidelined for most of his freshman season at Missouri. Concerns over his health likely caused him to drop, and while the Nuggets held him out for all of 2018-19, a healthy return this year could take them to the next level.

Porter has all the tools necessary to be a difference maker. He’s long, can score from all three levels, handles the ball, has quick feet for his size and can create opportunities for his teammates.

The Nuggets got the least production from the small forward spot this year. In fact, Denver only had one player even listed at the position. Porter will likely spend the bulk of his minutes there, and he could genuinely make the team better in almost every aspect of the game. This year’s summer league will show how much he’s progressed in a year of training.

Denver’s stars haven’t peaked

It’s safe to say this year’s Nuggets could only go as far as Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic could take them. These two were Denver’s most vital pieces in 2018-19, and they likely aren’t finished products just yet.

Murray, 22, averaged 18.2 points and 4.8 assists. Both of these stats are only second to those of Jokic. The big man led Denver in points per game (20), rebounds per game (10.8), assists per game (7.2) and steals per game (1.4).

Denver entered the season as the second-youngest team in the NBA and had the second-least experience, according to NBA.com. But it won 54 games and only trailed the defending champion Warriors in the league’s most competitive conference.

The Nuggets were tested in not one, but two seven-game series in the playoffs. If given time to develop their skills and mindsets, the Nuggets could be more lethal moving forward.

The Nuggets’ roster has flexibility

Some coveted talent is hitting the market this summer and Denver could take advantage of that. Its bench point production ranked in the middle of the pack last season, and while that could use some improvement, the Nuggets could scour the free-agent waters for a big catch.

Trey Lyles, Isaiah Thomas, and Tyler Lydon’s contracts have expired and Denver has a team option on the final year of Paul Millsap’s 3-year, $90 million deal. Should the Nuggets part ways with Millsap, who posted his lowest scoring numbers since the 2007-08 season, they have a ton of options that could replace him.

Tobias Harris, Julius Randle, and Nikola Mirotic come to mind as possible fill-ins, but guards could also prove to be valuable. Regardless, the Nuggets have proven they can win a lot of games and many could consider joining a team that appears like it will be competitive for years to come.

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Anthony Davis trade rumors: Pelicans star to the Lakers? ‘Over my dead body,’ owner Gayle Benson says

’33 pts in the 2nd half’s not going to do it’ Trailblazers go 3-0 down to Warriors in playoffs

Pelicans owner Gayle Benson is strongly opposed to sending their star player to the Lakers to play alongside LeBron James.

How opposed? ESPN reported Friday that “Benson has basically told Davis, ‘To the Lakers, over my dead body.’”

Los Angeles reportedly emerged as one of Davis’ preferred trade destinations after he requested to be moved at the end of January. The Lakers pursed a deal for the six-time All-Star before the trade deadline and reportedly made multiple offers, but those negotiations fell a part without a deal in place.

Davis has been adamant he doesn’t want to re-sign with New Orleans when he could opt out of his contract in the 2020 offseason. Several thought Davis would change his mind after the Pelicans surprisingly jumped up in the lottery earlier this week to secure the No. 1 pick.

The universal belief is that the Pelicans will select former Duke standout Zion Williamson with that top pick in June’s draft, but that’s not enough to make Davis want to stay, according to The Athletic.

The Celtics and the Knicks are among the others that reportedly will explore trading for Davis this summer, and New Orleans is expected to once again consider moving him.

But new Pelicans VP of basketball operations David Griffin, who is in charge of managing Davis trade talks after the franchise fired general manager Dell Demps, expressed optimism in keeping Davis in New Orleans.

“There are a lot reasons for him to believe that this will be different,” Griffin said earlier this week (via NBA.com). “What it starts with is just us doing what we say we’re going to do, one step at a time. Over time, I think he’s going to see there is a trust level that he should have in us.

 

“I believe strongly he has always wanted to be part of the market, but, understandably, the kid wants to win.”

Davis, who averaged 25.9 points and 12 rebounds in 56 games during the regular season, led the Pelicans to a 33-49 record. New Orleans missed the playoffs for the third time in four seasons.

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John Isner to miss French Open as foot injury continues to heal

Nadal delighted with improvement on clay from Madrid to Rome during Tsitsipas win

John Isner will miss the French Open after failing to recover from a foot injury in time for Roland Garros.

The American has opted to sit out in Paris as he continues to be plagued by an issue incurred during the Miami Open final.

Isner posted on Twitter to say that a reported stress fracture “has not fully healed and there’s just no way I could possibly compete on the clay in Paris.”

He added: “While missing Grand Slams is not something I’m accustomed to, I’ve been fortunate to have such a clean bill of health my whole career.

 

“This is a bump in the road and I’m certain I will fully recover. Hope to see everyone at Wimbledon!”

 

The 34-year-old has not played since falling 6-1 6-4 to Roger Federer in Miami, skipping Masters 1000 events on clay in Monte Carlo, Madrid, and Rome.

Isner has played in 37 of the previous 38 majors dating back to the 2009 US Open, sitting out only at 2013 Australian Open due to a nagging knee injury.

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Draymond Green says it’s ‘very idiotic’ to think Warriors are better without Kevin Durant

’33 pts in the 2nd half’s not going to do it’ Trailblazers go 3-0 down to Warriors in playoffs

Draymond Green wants to shut down discussion that the Warriors are playing better without injured Kevin Durant.

Durant has missed Golden State’s past three games with a strained right calf he sustained during Golden State’s Game 5 win over the Rockets last week. He won’t travel with the team for Games 3 and 4 of the conference finals in Portland, though he has “shown good progress” since beginning his rehab program.

Durant’s absence has led some to question whether the Warriors, who have won their past four games, are better without Durant on the court. Green, however, called those claims “very idiotic” as he hopes to change the narrative around his teammate.

“That’s idiotic,” Green said while shaking his head (via The Athletic). “It’s very idiotic. I don’t think there’s one person in this locker room, one person in this organization that thinks that. And I know for damn sure that any idiot that does possibly (say) it don’t believe it.”

Green continued to defend Durant by pointing to how much of an impact the 10-time All-Star makes when he’s healthy and on the court.

“When you have Kevin, he covers up so many things on both sides of the ball,” Green added. “‘Oh sh—, we haven’t scored in four possessions in a row?’ Get the ball to Kevin, get out of the way. On the defensive side, you mess up a pick-and-roll coverage, he’s right there to cover it up. He covers up so much for us.

“We don’t necessarily have to be perfect (when Durant’s out). But we’ve gotta be damn close to it.”

Andre Iguodala agreed with Green, saying: “We’ve gotta play really well, damn near perfect” without Durant.

Before Durant’s injury, he averaged 34.2 points while shooting 51.3% from the floor and 41.6 from 3-point range through 11 games this postseason.

The Warriors, up 2-0 in the series, will continue to play without Durant as they face the Trail Blazers in Game 3 of the conference finals Saturday with tipoff set for 9 p.m. ET (ESPN).

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