Morning Shootaround — April 23



VIDEO: Daily Zap for games played April 22

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Report: Stephenson, Turner had fight in practice | Asik wants to slow Aldridge | Report: Dolan, Jackson clashing over moves | Pierce calls Nets ‘soft’ after Game 2 loss

No. 1: Report: Stephenson, Turner had fistfight at practice — In Game 2 of the Pacers-Hawks first-round series, Indiana (for one night, at least) looked like the team that dominated the Eastern Conference at times this season. The Pacers’ win evens the series 1-1, but shortly after that victory, a report from  Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski surfaced about just how tenuous the Indiana locker room chemistry may be. According to Wojnarowski, Pacers swingmen Lance Stephenson and Even Turner got into a pretty heated scuffle during the team’s practice before their Game 1 opener against Atlanta:

On the eve of this Eastern Conference series, the wobbling No. 1 seed punctuated its final playoff preparations in a most self-destructive way: Two Indiana Pacers dragged a cursing, cut Evan Turner out of the Bankers Life Fieldhouse court, untangling him from a practice-floor fistfight with teammate Lance Stephenson.

Turner hadn’t been the first Pacer to lose his temper with Stephenson these tumultuous several weeks, and Stephenson’s relentlessly irritable nature suggests Turner won’t be the last. These scrapes aren’t uncommon in the NBA, but this confrontation had been weeks in the making and that reflected in the ferocity of the encounter, sources told Yahoo Sports.

“This stuff happens, but the timing wasn’t ideal,” one witness told Yahoo Sports.

These two guards have struggled together since the deadline deal brought Turner from Philadelphia to Indiana. Suddenly, Turner is learning to play without the ball in his hands, and Stephenson is relearning the balance of passing and shooting. Truth be told, there were probably Pacers willing to let Stephenson and Turner beat the dribble out of each other. Still, Luis Scola and David West finally grabbed an enraged Turner and separated Stephenson.

“We know that Larry [Bird] and Donnie [Walsh] and [Kevin Pritchard] put a team together to try and win a championship this year,” Hibbert told Yahoo Sports. “We know that’s the goal, and we know that’s the kind of talent we have here. It’s up to us now to do it, to get it done.”

Bird made two significant deals to fortify this title run – Turner for Danny Granger, and the signing of Andrew Bynum – and those haven’t worked for him. Bynum could be done for the season with his knee problems, and perhaps everyone underestimated how much Granger had left in him, and how awkwardly Turner would fit into the Pacers.

Yes, Turner’s finding his way with these Pacers, and maybe that started on the eve of these NBA playoffs with a challenge of the Brooklyn kid who calls himself Born Ready. These things happen in the NBA, and eventually someone else will make a run at Lance Stephenson.


VIDEO: Go inside the Pacers’ huddle during the Game 2 victory

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No. 2: Asik wants chance to slow AldridgeThe Houston Rockets and their fans likely still have nightmares from their Game 1 loss at home in which Portland Trailblazers All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge burned them for a Portland playoff record 46 points. Coach Kevin McHale remains coy about what adjustments he’ll be making for Game 2 tonight, but one player who wants more of an opportunity to stop (or at least try to slow down) Aldridge is backup center Omer Asik, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

“We are going to do some stuff differently,” McHale said. “You watch the game and find out what it is.”

Asik, however, said defending Aldridge is the top priority and that if he is back on him the plan will be to battle him better before Aldridge catches the ball, rather than after he is going up for his shot.

“The first thing is to stop LaMarcus Aldridge,” Asik said. “He killed us almost last game and going into this game, we have to do our best to help him stop a little bit more.

“I wasn’t able to do much because I wasn’t able to play much. I always try to make it hard on him before he catches the ball, to make him maybe tired before he gets the ball. He is one of the best power forwards in the league. It’s hard to guard him but we will try our best.”


VIDEO: TNT’s crew looks ahead to Game 2 of the Blazers-Rockets series

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No. 3: Report: Jackson, Dolan clashing over moves?New Knicks GM Phil Jackson has already made one personnel move since taking over in New York a month ago — the firing of coach Mike Woodson and his staff on Monday. According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News in a lengthy story, Jackson has other personnel moves in mind … and he’s finding himself clashing with team owner James Dolan on some of those moves already:

Just one month into his role as Knicks president, Jackson has already clashed with Dolan, the chairman of Madison Square Garden, over personnel decisions, the Daily News has learned. According to a team source, Jackson is looking to remove several staff members, which is commonplace when a new administration takes over, but Dolan opposes removing certain employees.

According to the source, Dolan’s reaction to Jackson’s request was to tell the 11-time NBA championship coach to simply focus his attention on building a winning team. To say that “minor friction,” as one Garden source called it, can be classified as Jackson’s honeymoon with Dolan being over may be stretching it a bit.

But at the very least it proves that Dolan — surprise, surprise wasn’t being entirely truthful last month when he claimed he was “willingly and gratefully” giving up control of the basketball decisions to Jackson, the Hall of Fame coach.

With Jackson, Dolan has not tried to meddle in player moves. At least not yet. Instead, Dolan’s interest is to retain several staff members in their current positions, which raises an obvious question: Why?

It is unclear which employees Jackson wants to remove, but with the entire coaching staff fired on Monday, it is most likely personnel with the medical staff, front office and/or the media relations staff. Bleacher Report reported that Steve Mills, Allan Houston and Mark Warkentien could all be reassigned or possibly dismissed.

Among the coaches fired on Monday was long-time assistant Herb Williams, who is well-liked in the organization. Within one hour, there was a report that the organization would “encourage” the next head coach to keep Williams. It was an odd story, which read like it was planted by someone other than Jackson, because why would Jackson fire Williams and then encourage the next coach to rehire him?

Dolan’s interest in keeping certain employees could be something as innocent as wanting to remain loyal to workers with whom he has grown close. The more plausible theory is that Dolan doesn’t want to fully cede control of the team and that certain employees who serve as pseudo organizational spies are too valuable to lose.

Last month, Jackson admitted that he would not have taken the job without the guarantee that he had complete control of the basketball operations. But in less than six weeks, it appears that Dolan has shattered his own world record for meddling.

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No. 4: Pierce calls Nets ‘soft’ after Game 2 loss — Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce was the decided hero of Game 1 against the Toronto Raptors, nailing big shot after big shot to salt away the victory. In Game 2, as our John Schuhmann wisely pointed out, Pierce played a lot like Raptors star DeMar DeRozan did in Game 1 … and vice versa. Following Toronto’s 95-90 win, Pierce and Co. felt like they left a win North of the border and Pierce wasn’t shy about faulting Brooklyn’s play down the stretch. Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com has more:

A frustrated Paul Pierce felt the Brooklyn Nets were “a soft team” on defense and in the paint during a 100-95 Game 2 loss at Toronto.

But Kevin Garnett believes there will be nothing soft about the Brooklyn home crowd when the Nets return to Barclays for Games 3 and 4 of this best-of-seven series.

“We know it’s going to be a rowdy environment, like it should be,” Garnett said. “I don’t know if you can say ‘F Brooklyn’ and then come into Brooklyn. So we’re about to see what it’s like.”

Garnett’s comment is in reference to Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri shouting “F— Brooklyn!” at a Raptors pep rally before Game 1 outside Air Canada Centre on Saturday. Ujiri was fined $25,000 by the NBA for the expletive.

Jason Kidd’s team was up 69-64 with 11:20 remaining before allowing Toronto to score 36 points and make 12-of-16 shots (75 percent) in the fourth quarter. The Nets were also battered on the glass, outrebounded 52-30 by the younger and more athletic Raptors.

The Nets also couldn’t contain DeMar DeRozan, who exploded for 30 points, 17 coming in the fourth.

“I thought guys stuck to their man individually for the most part and didn’t help one another and that is the big part of our defense,” Pierce said. “Sink and shrinking the floor, locking down the paint, tonight too many touches for them in the paint, too many paint points, and we didn’t rebound.

“We gave them everything they wanted, 50 points in the paint, and [19] offensive rebounds,” Pierce added. “We were a soft team tonight.”


VIDEO: DeMar DeRozan talks about the Raptors’ big Game 2 victory

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Hey, Bulls center Joakim Noah — what’s your view on losing in the playoffs? … For the Kings fans out there, GM Pete D’Alessandro talked about what he hopes to do next in Sacramento … Could former Wolves coach and current team GM Flip Saunders end up being the team’s coach again? … Legendary Italian league coach Ettore Messina could be high on the Utah Jazz’s prospective coaches listHakeem Olajuwon was at Rockets practice Tuesday, working with Dwight Howard … Hawks guard Jeff Teague cooled off drastically in Game 2 against the Pacers …

ICYMI(s) OF THE NIGHT: DeMar DeRozan showed off his All-Star skills in Toronto’s Game 2 win over Brooklyn, and this monster dunk on the Nets was one that we (and a lot of Raptors fans) enjoyed …


VIDEO: DeMar DeRozan skies in for the power jam on the Nets


VIDEO: Raptors fans at Maple Leaf Square react to DeRozan’s big jam

55 Comments

  1. Vatkov says:

    that win was doope and u kno it

  2. RTV says:

    Indians are one of da sickest ballers, I predict the next LeBron will hail from India

  3. RTV says:

    if DeRozan was Asian he would calculate the trajectory of his shot everytime and take down the Nets brotha

  4. Vatkov says:

    Raptors in 7 , mark my words i got da rappin goin

  5. Danny Miran Chauhan says:

    Happy Diwali !!!!!

  6. Howard Wong says:

    We believe the Raptors will win this series

  7. Mienk says:

    Raptors in 6

  8. Toshko says:

    If only US teams of NBA had such enthusiastic fan base. It is such a delight to see all those Toronto Raptor fans. Some of the Western Conference teams should move to Canada if they can get in Eastern. That’ll balance the power ranks among the conferences as well as provide great fan base! Not a fan of either team (OKC all the way), but man I love that atmosphere Raptors got there!

  9. Vytas says:

    The only guy who can stop Aldridge from geting the ball is D-Mo, I do’t get what McHale plan is, but with D-Mo on the bench Rockets gonna get swept by Blazers.

  10. okc2014 says:

    Wait until Dolan has to swallow the fact that Carmello Anthony will not be returning to the Knicks. And frankly, I think Phil Jackson is already anticipating that Carmello will not be part of the rebuilding equation. Maybe Phil Jackson will be fired before it’s all said and done. New York Knicks and Company are very impatient people.

  11. Ben says:

    Denying Phil Jackson the ability to fire/hire anyone he wants to is not just wrong because Phil is the head man, but it’s wrong on a completely different level because he’s won more titles than you can fit on both your hands! That has to mean something. Loyal or not, Dolan promised Phil that he can do as he pleases with personnel. So Dolan, let Phil make his moves.

  12. vinnie b says:

    Jackson is master of coaching only! no cap space or choice of players to complement Carmelo (slim pickings) he’s a lame duck!His triangle concept ain’t foolproof with mediocre players. KEER,from his current job as court announcer, is inept,! BY virture of having a champ ring doesn’t make one a good coach-Walt Frazer’s commentaries during announcing Knicks;s games for years was to me the best audition for th job.

  13. Ken says:

    I just hope the next round for the PACERS would not be that refreshing vacation. Bird’s legend? well he doesn’t know how to handle YOUNG stars (to be) EGOs. Matured stars Pierce, KG & Allen getting together is not a problem.. Matured stars King James, Bosh & Wade getting together is not a problem at all.. Young, desiring to be stars, Stephenson & Turner getting together will need an expert in behavioral science to handle, otherwise it is chaos. Bird’s famous “SISSY” challenge would be useless for these 2.

  14. genstrinx says:

    Nets in 5

  15. jimbo says:

    Indiana has some hidden issues there, things we fans don’t know about. I can tell you this, Lance Stephensen has matured this year and plays like someone lit him on fire. Evan Turner has shown nothing yet with his new team. I hope they get their issues straightened out before this series is over so they can move to the next round !

  16. This is what happens when you tinker TOO much with a team this late in the season. This is Larry Bird’s responsibility though I think that if the Pacers don’t want to self destruct they will get it together. But putting the Andrew Bynum signing aside, letting Danny Granger go for Evan Turnover may prove to be Larry Legend’s worst move in managing the Pacers.

  17. Jerry Lynch says:

    I think Pierce was ‘soft’ on offense in the 4th Q. This from a Jason Kidd fan.

  18. dd def says:

    headline says “asik ready to guard aldridge” the truth is, no he ain’t

  19. William says:

    Great win for the Raptors.

    Ironically, Brooklyn has more dinosaurs for players.

  20. qq says:

    Here we go again with Dolan, why cant he just stay away? and let the guys who acutally knows basketball work.

  21. Danny says:

    Last time I checked Brooklyn didn’t have any fans and the arena is half empty.

    Good chance for Raptors fan to troll the nets on their home court ;)

  22. Navid says:

    No Nets can hold Dinos. Raptors show them why are you the division champions. The Nets actors can not fool any one by pretending to be fouled be a man and just play instead of acting.

  23. Correction says:

    Under “SOME RANDOM HEADLINES” you said “Hawks guard Jeff Teague cooled off drastically in Game 2 against the Raptors …”

    Probably should correct that to the Pacers.

  24. Johnny Kilroy says:

    This turn of events in regard 2 Indiana chemistry implosion should surprise no1 – 2 many ego’s 2 pander 2. With soo much talent, everything going 4 them cept a common bond. #Spurs. Omer ur not gonna stop LA period. “If” ya given the chance, b content 2 distract or maybe irritate him (but a smiley sticker 4 enthusiasm). Phil please bring Kerr along or anybody u choose but take the helm of this waning organisation alongside the players as coach with ur zen wizardry. Perhaps the greatest coach of all time wasted in some pretentious skybox…..hmmmph. NBA

  25. No_lpogs says:

    Haha… Wish you luck Brooklyn… T Ross will have a breakout game next…

  26. Najeero says:

    At the end of the day, Phil Jackson is an 11 time champion. How many rings has Dolan got; none! I can understand that he has a great relationship with his employees and doesn’t want to let them go, but he hired Phil with a promise, so he shoulda known that this would happen. Get out the way and let Phil do his job. Enough said.

  27. Nets & Pacers are not done at all. They can still win it in 5 or 6, especially the Pacers.

    But the Bulls…….I’m not so sure anymore about them after last night’s game.

    Oh & PJax….maaaan I hope your plan works out. It’s already looking horrible. Give Lionel Hollins a call.

  28. ghut says:

    BKN will win the series! all they have to do is to be more active in paint and get rebounds. the next games are in barclays! raptors, get ready to be squashed by their fans and players!

  29. Romeo Aguirre says:

    LA is a beast one of my favorite players he’s hungry I see it MVP kinda year
    Pierce good move calling out your team I would’ve done the same

    • RTV says:

      You would’ve done the same YOU??? REALLY??? you should get the coach of the tear award or the moron of the year