NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Warriors find way to keep Durant under wraps — In Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant finished with 26 points on 10-for-30 shooting. His shooting woes were more about him just plain missing shots than anything the Golden State Warriors threw at him defensively. In Game 2 of the series last night, Durant got his points (29) and had a solid shooting night in terms of raw numbers (11-for-18), but a third quarter stretch cut off OKC’s hopes of a win. Erik Horne of The Oklahoma has more on Durant’s Game 2:
Coming off a scorching 23-point first half, Kevin Durant hoisted his first shot attempt of the third quarter. The fadeaway jumper fell, a textbook Durant stroke.
It came halfway through the quarter. The Thunder trailed by double digits. It was far too late on a night when the turnover issues of Durant vs. Warriors past came back in full force in Golden State’s 118-91 win.
Still, it was Durant’s only made shot from the field in the third: a pull-up jumper at 6:22 that was sandwiched in between Stephen Curry’spersonal 14-point barrage. Durant had only two shot attempts in the entire third quarter in which the Thunder was outscored 31-19.
“They were sending three guys and I was trying to make the right pass,” Durant said. “I was turning the ball over, playing in a crowd.”
Durant finished with eight turnovers, upping his season average against the Warriors to 6.4 per game – his most against any opponent.
Thunder coach Billy Donovan said it wasn’t anything new. Durant’s seen the double and triple teams the Warriors threw at him. The swarming. The sneak attacks from a help defender as his back is turned.
Donovan wants Durant to be a willing passer, but he also wants better decisions from his star … and those around him. On Durant’s pass attempt to Roberson, Durant held the ball for seconds, probing and waiting for movement before trying to laser a pass between three players.
“… so maybe I’ve just gotta shoot over three people,” Durant said in postgame.
No, but Donovan wants better decisions from not just Durant, but the players around him.
“He’s got to do a better job, and we’ve got to do a better job creating open avenues and gaps for him to either pass it or drive it when teams elect to kind of send somebody at him,” Donovan said. “When he’s up there playmaking and they’re coming at him, obviously you’ve got to make those decisions very quickly.
“So I think Kevin watching the film will have a chance to get better from it.”
No. 2: LeBron: ‘I have no idea’ what flagrant is for me — As the NBA playoffs roll on and draw closer to the NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves up 1-0 on the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals. Their star, LeBron James, barreled through the Raptors over and over again in Game 1. But as Game 2 nears, James was asked about some of the hard fouls he takes and whether or not they’re of the flagrant variety. James had no answer on that as the Cavs tried to detail James’ viewpoint on that, writes our Steve Aschburner:
James sardonically absolved the game officials from ever reviewing plays in which he gets hit to determine whether the blow was a common foul, a Flagrant 1 or a Flagrant 2.
“I pretty much have chalked it up to common fouls with me,” James said, dismissing the topic for how seldom — in his view — the contact he suffers ever is judged to be of the “flagrant” variety. It was in play because, in Cleveland’s 115-84 victory Tuesday in the opener of the Eastern Conference finals against Toronto, the play turned noticeably more physical as the Raptors’ deficit and apparent frustration grew.
Such things can linger and even intensify as playoff series continue, so how the fouls were assessed could spill over to Game 2 on Thursday and beyond.
Specifically, James had been asked, in light of the multiple reviews of hard fouls in Game 1, if he was more clear or less clear on what constituted a flagrant.
“I have no idea what it is,” the Cavaliers star said. “I know what it is when it happens to someone else but I don’t know when it involves me. I have no idea what a common foul is.”
We don’t want to flop and flail all around,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said about the tendency for some players to “sell” contact. “Nowadays, to get a flagrant foul, you’ve got to fall down and grab your head and roll on the ground. LeBron, being so strong, guys bounce off of him. He’s not going to hit the ground as hard as other guys do. But still, a lot of times it’s still a flagrant foul.
“If someone else gets hit they’ll fall on the ground. Grabbing their head, taking 30 or 40 seconds to get up, and that just automatically triggers the referees to go to the scorers’ table to review it and come up with a flagrant foul.”
DeMarre Carroll, interestingly, seemed to suggest the opposite. A lot of folks, especially fans in arenas when James and the Cavaliers are on the road, feel the Cleveland MVP gets more than his share of referee protection and is something of a drama king in his reactions to calls and non-calls.
Carroll made it sound as if the refs push back against James’ complaints or appeals, making them reluctant to dole out flagrant fouls on his behalf.
Asked about any disparity, Carroll said: “Maybe because we don’t act. Maybe. Acting is a little part of it. So maybe we don’t act. Think about that.”
No. 3: Report: Magic confident they can get Vogel — Former Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel remains one of the top names on the market available for the NBA’s coaching gigs. The Orlando Magic and Memphis Grizzlies are both in the hunt for a new coach and Vogel is high on both team’s wish lists, but which one (if either of them) will land him? According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Chris Broussard, the Magic believe they have the upper hand on landing Vogel:
Sources told ESPN.com on Wednesday night that the Magic believe they have emerged as Vogel’s preferred destination and are positioned to quickly complete a deal with him if their coaching search continues to progress in its current direction.
Orlando officials, sources say, have spent the bulk of the week trying to decide between Vogel and highly rated Magic assistant Adrian Griffin but know they have to move quickly if they want Vogel, given the strong interest he has received from the Grizzlies.
Vogel, sources say, had already established himself as the Grizzlies’ top choice by the time the Magic joined the bidding this week.
Sources say the Grizzlies have made it clear to Vogel that the Memphis job is his if he chooses, with the promise of a three-year guaranteed deal at a much higher rate than the $2 million annual salary commanded by the recently fired Dave Joerger. But sources say the Grizzlies are bracing for the increasingly likely prospect of Vogel choosing instead to take the Magic job, in the wake of last week’s unexpected resignation of Scott Skiles after just one season on the Orlando bench.
Sources say Magic management, fond as it is of Griffin, is drawn to Vogel’s impressive résumé and enticed by the idea of moving on from Skiles’ abrupt exit with the opportunity to hire an established coach.
Sources say the Grizzlies, meanwhile, have been most impressed by San Antonio Spurs assistant coach James Borrego and Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale, among the other interviews they have completed while waiting out Vogel’s talks this week with the Magic. In addition to Vogel, Borrego and Fizdale, Memphis is known to have interviewed Charlotte Hornets assistant Patrick Ewing, Portland Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts and Borrego’s fellow Spurs assistant Ettore Messina.
No. 4: Ginobili to meet with Popovich, Duncan a few weeks — The Spurs’ season ended a little more than a week ago today. Their franchise-record 67-win season didn’t end how any Spurs follower had hoped and after the loss, questions began to emerge about whether retirement was on the horizon for franchise stalwarts Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. To date, the future of these aging Spurs legends remains unknown, but Ginobili will meet with both coach Gregg Popovich and Duncan to discuss what may be next in his career. RealGM.com has more on Ginobili’s future :
Manu Ginobili will take his time in deciding his future and whether or not he will continue his NBA career.
Ginobili plans on meeting with Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan and others to discuss where things stand.
“I guess in a couple of weeks I’ll think more about my future,” wrote Ginobili at La Nacion. “Surely, I will sit down with Pop, Tim and some of my colleagues to chat. Then, we will see what the objectives are and whether something will change or not. It is still early to see it.
“It will not depend on my determination of what my colleagues do, or anything. But I want to know what the plan is.”
Ginobili is also looking forward to participating in the Olympics with Argentina.