Paul out tonight, questionable Game 3

HOUSTON — After scratching point guard Chris Paul from the lineup for a second straight game with a strained left hamstring, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he still believes the All-Star will playing the Western Conference semifinals series against the Rockets.

“Yeah, I just don’t know when,” Rivers said. “I don’t know if I’m discouraged or encouraged about Game 3 (Friday night in Los Angeles). We’re just gonna have to take it day by day.”

Paul suffered the injury in the first half of the Clippers’ Game 7 win over the Spurs on Saturday. Paul tried to go through a light workout early Wednesday and did some running in a pool.

“It wasn’t that hard a decision.” Rivers said. “He’s just shooting free throws and moving. It’s more just talking to him and J.P. (athletic trainer Jasen Powell). It wasn’t that hard to assess.”

The Clippers got a leg up on the Rockets in the series with a 117-101 win on Monday night with Paul watching from the bench. But Rivers said having the 1-0 lead and taking home court advantage away from Houston with a chance to get Paul more healing time did not factor into the decision.

“That had nothing to do with it,” Rivers said. “You’ve got to win four. So if he could play, he would play. Yeah, I’m concerned.”

Did MVP excitement hurt the Warriors?

OAKLAND — There was the game Sunday afternoon, the announcement Monday morning that Stephen Curry won the MVP race, the press inference Monday afternoon with every Warriors player and coach in attendance, more MVP questions at shootaround Tuesday afternoon and again pre-game Tuesday night and a repeat trophy presentation just before tipoff, this time with commissioner Adam Silver.

And then the Warriors had to be ready for a playoff game.

They lost to the Grizzlies 97-90 while not only being outplayed but while looking disjointed with 20 turnovers. Curry made just seven of 19 shots, including two of 11 three-pointers. Some coincidence.

“It was weird,” Curry said. “That is the best way I can put it. It’s obviously my first time experiencing (it), as well as for my teammates. You want to stay in the moment and kind of stay focused on what the task is during the game. But obviously with the extracurricular stuff with the MVP and all of that, the celebration, and just change of routine to lead up to a game, it’s different. I don’t know if that’s a huge reason why we lost or not. But I think when we started the game, we felt like, oh, we’re ready to go. But it has been a long 48 hours. A lot of words, a lot of pictures, a lot of celebrating the accomplishment. Obviously, we didn’t get it done tonight, but we’ll be able to bounce back. I think the rest of the next three days will be huge to kind of rejuvenate ourselves and understand what we need to do to get a win in Memphis and try to make it happen.”

Coach Steve Kerr wasn’t buying it — “I don’t think so,” he replied when asked whether the MVP celebrations were a factor. “It shouldn’t be. But historically in this league you see this kind of stuff once in a while. But it shouldn’t matter.  You can’t do anything about it. You just have to go play. And I didn’t think it affected us, but, I mean, what affected us really was Memphis outplaying us.” His players, though, or at least the player at the center of attention, were clearly feeling the distraction.

Coincidence or not, the Warriors looked unusually out of sync in losing Game 2, beyond being outplayed by an opponent that handled the emotions of the playoffs much better. Memphis was looking at the possibility of an 0-2 deficit that almost certainly would have spelled eventual elimination considering the opponent, got a surge with the return of Mike Conley, and yet it was the Grizzlies who played with control.

“Yeah, I thought we lost our poise tonight,” Kerr said after the Warriors lost at home for the first time since Jan. 27 and only the third time all season. “That was the biggest issue. We were in such a rush. It’s a 48‑minute game. It takes an eternity to win an NBA game. I felt like we were in the middle of the second quarter, and it felt like desperation out there. We were too emotional.  We were too quick with our intention to score. Instead of just moving the ball and setting good screens, everyone was trying to do everything frantically on their own. I thought there was actually a pretty good stretch the middle of the second quarter where we seemed to get our bearings.

“Then the last few minutes of that second quarter we sort of lost control again, and that was the key point of the game to me. We had some open shots. We had a weird fast break that should have been a lay‑up that I think would have tied the game. Turned into a traveling call on Shaun (Livingston), which was a weird call, but that shouldn’t have mattered. We would have had a lay‑up at that point. We missed a couple of shots, and we didn’t handle our business in the last few minutes of the second quarter, and then now all of a sudden we’re scrambling again. They deserve to win. They kicked our butts.  They controlled the whole game, and we have to learn from this. We were not poised and we did not play well.”

How much of that was because of the Golden State mindset and how much was because Memphis played with greater intensity than in Game 1?

“It was both,” Kerr said. “They played a great game. Draymond (Green) picked up the two quick fouls early, which hurt us.  They scored inside. Zach (Randolph) got going, and so it was a combination. Mike Conley coming back, obviously made a big impact. (He) had a great game.  Like I said, this is the playoffs, so this is how it works, and we didn’t play well enough to win.”

Paul likely out again for Game 2

HOUSTON — If Chris Paul has a wish for his 30th birthday, it’s to celebrate it with a return to the court with his teammates for Game 2 against the Rockets tonight. But Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he’s not expecting that to happen.

“I’m going to see how it feels this morning at walk-through and get with the training staff and we’ll see,” Paul told reporters at Wednesday’s shootaround at Toyota Center about his strained left hamstring. “It’s really tough, really tough, especially with the way that I play. There’s only one way that I know how to play. You don’t want to make it worse than it already is.

“Every day is better. Hopefully, we’ll see if it’s ready by tonight. One thing about me is if I can play, I’m going to play.”

Rivers had been saying that the Clippers’ 117-101 win over Houston in the opener of the series would not be a factor in deciding Paul’s use in Game 2. He maintained that if Paul was ready to play, he would play and be held out for two more days of rest at home in L.A. on Friday.

“I’m not even thinking about Game 3, so we will find that out today and right now I don’t think so,” Rivers said.

“We are going to see. I pretty much doubt it to be honest just from talking to him but he is going to shootaround and we will go from there.”

If he doesn’t play tonight, Paul will be back in street clothes on the Clippers bench, stalking and urging on his teammates in a role that he did not exactly like.

“I told them if I was going to miss tonight, I would have to take some anxiety pills. It’s a lot more nerve-wracking being on the bench than it is being in the game.  This is probably a reason I never coach, not that this level, maybe my AAU kids. This is too stressful.

“I told the guys after last game, ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.’ Blake (Griffin) said that he needed me. I’ll see how it feels.”

Cavs turn to Thompson, Bulls prepared


VIDEO: Tristan Thompson won’t confirm he is starting Game 2

CLEVELAND – Tristan Thompson, who finished fifth in balloting for the NBA’s Kia Sixth Man Award as Cleveland’s first big man off the bench, will move into Cavaliers’ starting lineup for Game 2 against Chicago Wednesday, according to multiple reports.

The No. 1 problem facing the Cavaliers and coach David Blatt in their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Bulls is plugging the lineup hole opened by Kevin Love‘s postseason-ending shoulder injury. Thompson is a logical choice – he ranked fourth on the team in minutes logged this season and played 37 minutes off the bench in Game 1 Monday.

Blatt started veteran wing player Mike Miller in that one, but Miller took only two shots, hit one, scored three points with five rebounds and was a minus-19 in 16 minutes. The other two veterans Blatt used in that rotation, James Jones and Shawn Marion, went scoreless in a combined 14-plus minutes.

At 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, Thompson gives Cleveland a more traditional look up front, while freeing LeBron James from having to guard one of Chicago’s bigs. James prefers more freedom and less banging at that end, and the move meshes with what many expect to see a more offensively assertive Cavs superstar.

“The thing is, [Thompson] played 37 minutes in the last game, so we have an idea of who he is and how he fits in,” Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. “They can play him at the five, play him at the four. And because of all the things LeBron can do, that gives them great flexibility. Obviously the biggest concern will be the rebounding aggression.”

With 274 offensive rebounds in 2014-15, Thompson ranked fifth in the NBA, and he was fourth in offensive rebound percentage (14.5). In four games against Chicago, he averaged 9.0 points – his 36 points were only seven fewer than Love scored against the Bulls – and 8.4 rebounds.

Cleveland was 5-10 in the games Thompson started this season.

“The thing with Thompson,” Thibodeau said, “the second shots can really hurt you. And then they don’t play conventional after that. We could see the second lineup with all guards.”

Blogtable: Your advice for LaMarcus Aldridge?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: How many MVPs for Curry? | Best bench in playoffs? | Aldridge’s next move?



VIDEOLaMarcus Aldridge says he loves being in Portland

> You’re LaMarcus Aldridge’s closest friend, his confidant. When he asks you what he should do this summer as an unrestricted free agent, what do you tell him?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comI tell him the same thing I tell all my friends who are contemplating big life decisions (job changes, marriage, etc.): Make a list of pros and cons, rank them in importance to you and, once you make your decision, don’t second-guess it. Yeah, I try to stay above the fray so I’m still their friend and confidant after they mess up the decision. Not specific enough for blogtable? Fine. I tell Aldridge, if he wants to win, win soon and possibly win multiple times, he heeds what the Spurs have to say when they woo him. But if he wants winning to mean the most, he stays right where he is in Portland, hitches up his big-boy pants and gets ‘er done there.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Buy a ticket to S-A-N A-N-T-O-N-I-O. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker aren’t done. Kawhi Leonard is the real deal as a viable elite level partner for years. You can be playing in The 2016 Finals.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: That friendship doesn’t come cheap. I could use a really nice vacation or a new car. After that, I tell him not to move just for the sake of moving. “It has run it’s course” is not a good reason to leave a team and a city that has treated him well and still has the chance to win big in the future. If getting back home to Texas is a priority, that’s one thing. If he sees another situation that will definitely be better, fine. But it is hard to see many places that would top the one he has now.

Shaun Powell, NBA.com: I’d tell him to follow his happiness, not the paycheck. He’s already banked roughly $90 million for his career and unless he’s a fool, he still has a good chunk of that. At this point his priorities should be chasing a title, making money and living where he feels comfortable, in that order. I’d end our conversation with this: Tim Duncan thinks you’d be a good successor in San Antonio.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: It’s his decision and I’m not going to try to change his mind, but I’d remind him that he’s got a pretty good thing going in Portland. Most importantly, the Blazers are a stable organization with a good owner. Terry Stotts is a very good coach and at the time of Wesley Matthews‘ injury, Portland was one of only three teams that ranked in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. If they can keep the band together and Matthews is healthy by next March, they can be a contender again. Of course, the change to play for the Spurs and alongside Kawhi Leonard for the next four years is probably tempting. And while I have LaMarcus’ ear, I’d tell him to cut down on the mid-range jumpers and get to the basket more often.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Play the field to your advantage big fella. Entertain all legitimate opportunities to chase a championship, wherever that might lead. I understand you have an allegiance to the organization and the fans in Portland. They’ve been great to you and you have emerged as one of the elite players in the league during your time there. And as your best friend, I love it there as well. But you owe it yourself, particularly at this stage of your career, to explore all of your options and decide what’s best for you, and only you, at this juncture. Don’t worry about anyone else’s feelings or wishes. For once, this is all about you and what you want out of the rest of your career.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.com: I’m reminding him that he’ll never be appreciated by any other city as much as he will be adored by Portland if he chooses to stay. I’m also urging him to exercise marketplace wisdom: The TV money of 2016 is going to create a huge flurry of player movement and a lot of bad decisions – which will leave the stable franchises standing stronger than ever.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I don’t tell him anything in particular, so much as I ask him some questions. What is he looking for? Does he want to be more famous? Is he looking to make themost money that’s available to him, or is he OK with taking a little less? Does he have to be the best player on the team he plays for, or could he take a secondary role? Is winning a title the most important thing at this stage in his career? Has he talked to the Blazers and have they explained to him their plans going forward in terms of continuing to strengthen the roster? Does he want to play his entire career in the same city? LaMarcus Aldridge has to decide what he wants to do next. The answers to all these questions should lead him closer to making a decision about his future.

Blogtable: Best bench in playoffs?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: How many MVPs for Curry? | Best bench in playoffs? | Aldridge’s next move?



VIDEOThe close-knit Warriors have perhaps the NBA’s best bench

> Of the eight playoff teams still standing, who has the best bench? And who’s the most important player off that bench?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Golden State has the best bench of the teams still playing and Andre Iguodala is the most important guy coming off it. Iguodala is battle-tested as a veteran and he’s the right combination of size and quickness to help out in multiple ways, making him more than a situational guy.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Warriors. The best team in the league has the best bench and plenty of depth that can hit you from so many different direction. But if I’m singling one player out it’s Andre Iguodala, who can do damage at both ends of the floor.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: The Warriors. Andre Iguodala and David Lee would start at forward for a lot of teams. And if Leandro Barbosa is making a few baskets a game, that’s a lift for the backcourt. Iguodala is the most important of the reserves. If he’s not hitting shots, and he definitely is not these days, he is still the guy able to defend multiple positions and provide the versatility for Golden State to play big or small, a component of their success. If Iguodala does start connecting, the Warriors are even better.

Shaun Powell, NBA.com: My choice is the Warriors, who can put five reserves on the floor for extended minutes and really not suffer much. Andre Iguodala would appear to be the logical “most important” reserve, because he gets the most minutes and started last season and is valued for his defense against high-scoring wing players. But I might hedge and suggest Marreese Speights, not because he’s the best player coming off the bench, but brings the level of toughness the Warriors lack overall in their starting lineup.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: I dug into the numbers, because that’s what I do. I looked at who’s been coming off the bench for all eight teams in the playoffs, and calculated the team’s NetRtg (point differential per 100 possessions), in the regular season and playoffs, when at least two of those guys have been on the floor. Here they are, from best to worst…

  1. Houston: +7.6
  2. Golden State: +5.0
  3. Chicago: +4.2
  4. Cleveland: +1.7
  5. Washington: -0.7
  6. Atlanta: -0.9
  7. Memphis: -1.1
  8. L.A. Clippers: -4.2

I was a little surprised to see Houston at the top, but they’ve been great with Corey Brewer, Pablo Prigioni and Josh Smith on the floor. Brewer’s relentless pursuit of easy baskets on the break is important, but Smith is the most important of that group, because of his size and versatility. All that being said, Andre Iguodala is the best and most important reserve left in the playoffs.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: The Warriors have the kind of bench that you see on championship teams. They haven’t needed them to save the day or anything yet, but you figure they will at some point throughout the process. I’m going with co-MIPs off that bench: Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa will have moments, and perhaps an entire half or even a game, where they are needed to help change the situation for the Warriors. I’m not sure when or where, but I feel it deep down. At some point, the backcups to the best backcourt in the game will be called upon to help save the day.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.com: The Bulls have the best bench in the East, but I’m giving the league-wide advantage to the Warriors because of Andre Iguodala – an Olympic and World champion, NBA All-Star and All-Defensive teamer with more big-game potential than anyone at both ends of the floor.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: Golden State, by a mile. if I had to pick a runner-up I might go with Cleveland, where they’ve got a lot of experience and options accumulated, but I don’t think any team remaining can compete with the Warriors’ bench. Actually, I think Golden State’s second team could have won a first-round series in the Eastern Conference, that’s how strong they are. And for me their MIP is Andre Iguodala, a guy who can play multiple positions, can defend multiple positions, and is a leader even without being in the starting lineup.

NBA-Blogtable-Playoffs-Best-Bench-Team-BannerFor more debates, go to #AmexNBA or www.nba.com/homecourtadvantage.

Blogtable: How many more MVPs will Stephen Curry win?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: How many MVPs for Curry? | Best bench in playoffs? | Aldridge’s next move?



VIDEOHow many more MVPs can Stephen Curry win?

> Stephen Curry hoisted the Kia NBA MVP trophy on Monday. He just turned 27, so how many more of these will he collect?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: I say one more in sort of an homage to Steve Nash and Steve/Steph’s everywhere. But my hunch is Anthony Davis, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Andrew Wiggins and several others — including LeBron James — say none.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Curry could and likely will continue to perform at this MVP level for another handful of years, but this could well be his only time to hold the trophy. There are just so many other contenders. I don’t think LeBron James is done adding to his collection. A healthy Kevin Durant will return with something to prove. James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul are all solid contenders.  But most of all, we are entering the Era of Anthony Davis and he’s going to fill up a shelf.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Maybe one. That’s not a knock on Curry — he will be at an MVP level for many years. But the field of other realistic possibilities is so deep. Look at who else finished near the top of the 2015 vote. LeBron James is the only one past halftime of his career. Curry’s problem with adding to the collection isn’t Curry. It’s everyone else.

Shaun Powell, NBA.com: I wouldn’t be surprised if he won another MVP or he doesn’t. It’s just too unpredictable right now, especially with James Harden and Russell Westbrook waiting “their turn” and the ever-imposing presence of LeBron James. Plus, there’s always the issue of health. But hey, if Steve Nash can win a pair, why not Curry?

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: It’s certainly possible that he can win one or two more, but if I had to guess, the answer would be zero. Curry is ridiculous and the Warriors will be a great team for at least a few more years, but it was a crowded MVP field this year. LeBron James and Chris Paul each have one or two more MVP-esque years in them (and Paul will be more appreciated by the voters after this postseason). Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook each have a few more great seasons left in them. Kawhi Leonard is only 23 years old and Anthony Davis is only 22. It’s not about Curry, but about how many other options there will be every season.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: He’s got at least one more in him and maybe a third, overall. Curry’s young enough and the Warriors should remain in the elite mix long enough for him to contend for more. There are no guarantees, of course (we would have said the same thing about Derrick Rose after he won his MVP and the same thing about Kevin Durant last season, and neither one of them was in the mix this season). Being in the MVP discussion requires so many moving parts to fall into place in a given season. Curry has all of them on his side now and going forward. Only time will tell.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.comSteve Nash won two of them, even though his teammates lacked the defensive mentality of Curry’s Warriors. I’m going to give Curry another MVP – and he could contend for more pending his ability to win championships.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I’ll say two more, and that’s being conservative. Winning an MVP almost requires a perfect storm, and this season everything has been clicking for Curry and the Warriors, from Curry staying healthy to the team around him being championship caliber. It’s almost felt like a downhill trip at times for the Warriors and for Curry’s MVP candidacy. How many more times will the chips all fall perfectly, or at least perfectly enough to make Curry the front-runner in the MVP voting? It requires skill, for sure, but a little luck never hurt anyone, either.

Morning shootaround — May 6


VIDEO: Highlights from games played May 5

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Warriors lose ‘poise’ in Game 2 | Thibodeau: Latest front office rumblings just ‘noise’ | Report: Thompson to start Game 2 | McHale blasts Rockets’ effort

No. 1: Warriors ‘poise’ fails them in Game 2 vs. Grizzlies — The scene at Oracle Arena last night was perfectly set for Golden State to snag a 2-0 series lead on the Memphis Grizzlies in their Western Conference semifinals. Warriors star Stephen Curry got his MVP from Commissioner Adam Silver before the game, Golden State was fresh off a Game 1 romp over Memphis and had every reason to believe it could win again Tuesday. But the Grizzlies — thanks to the inspired play of Mike Conley — claimed a 97-90 series-tying win. Afterward, writes Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN.com, the Warriors said they were perhaps a little too pumped up for Game 2:

The last time the Golden State Warriors lost at home was back in January, against the Chicago Bulls. The last time they lost in regulation at Oracle was back in November, against the San Antonio Spurs. This 97-90 home loss in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals to the Memphis Grizzlies just wasn’t part of the plan, certainly not on the day of Stephen Curry’s MVP presentation.

In pregame, as Curry took hold of his trophy, Tony Allen was on the other side of the court, pacing like a madman. He had his own plans. He was ready to dash everyone’s expectations with a dose of chaos.

It took some inspired defense from Allen, combined with an inspirational performance from Mike Conley, who played magnificently despite a fractured face and foggy mask. Conley hit his first four shots and the Grizzlies never looked back. After Memphis went ahead 5-4, they led the rest of the way. Golden State had runs here and there, but they were never sustained. The game was always just out of reach, and the Warriors never got organized enough to tug it back.

“I thought we lost our poise tonight,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr assessed. “That was the biggest issue.

“We were too emotional. We were too quick with our intention to score,” he said. “Instead of just moving the ball and setting good screens, everyone was trying to do everything frantically on their own.”

After the game, Curry preached calm, saying, “We’re not going to shoot 6-for-26 many times over this series, so we’re not going to overreact to one bad shooting night, as long as we get quality shots the next game.”

Draymond Green had a similar message, saying, “Nobody expects us to lose a game at home. Now the whole world has collapsed, the Bay Area’s just been hit by an earthquake. Everything’s going wrong.” He then downshifted into a reassuring tone, saying, “We’ll be just fine.”

That’s probably the right approach for the playoffs finally arriving at Oracle. The Warriors made it look so easy, for so long, that one could be deceived into thinking they could skate to a title sans stretches of doubt. It just isn’t happening that smoothly for a young team experiencing life as the favorite for the first time. Massive expectation doesn’t obviate pressure, it amplifies it.


VIDEO: Go inside the huddles with the Warriors and Grizzlies in Game 2

***  

Angry McHale just wants an effort


VIDEO: The Starters point out some of the Rockets’ lackadaisical play

HOUSTON — There was no alternate ending on the video. No final scene where the Rockets finally stopped making careless turnovers, forcing up bad shots and using all the bad judgment of teen-agers at an abandoned campground in a horror movie.

“Observations are the same from looking at it on tape as looking at it live,” said coach Kevin McHale, the day after his team laid a 117-101 egg against a Clippers team playing without All-Star point guard Chris Paul. “We didn’t play very well. They played a lot harder than we did. They had second and third effort. They got after the ball. They shot better than we did. The game was there. We turned it over left and right, had I think six offensive rebounds with a million different misses. We didn’t play well enough to win.”

There had been so much talk about a lack of energy in the postgame locker room that one might have thought somebody pulled out a plug at Toyota Center.

But McHale, who spent a long stretch after Tuesday’s practice sitting and talking with team owner Leslie Alexander, was in no mood to speculate why a team that had nearly a full week of rest after eliminating Dallas in the first round would have less energy or less of anything in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals.

Word is that McHale tore into his team following Game 1 more than any other time this season.

“I think our attitude and effort has to change,” he said. “We have to be ready to come out and go to work and be ready to be physical and be ready to play at whatever level it takes to win the game. That also includes taking care of the ball. That includes getting second shots, attacking the offensive board, attacking their defenders, putting them in compromising positions and then making the right play.”

When it came to defending Clippers power forward Blake Griffin, who had his third triple-double of the playoffs with 26 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists, the dismissive McHale had an idea.

“Try to possibly do the things we asked them to do in our preparation work,” he said. “We did not play Blake the way we practiced at all. We played him in an unknown way for most of them to watch.

“I’m trying to get our guys to play. We did not play well. They did not have a lot of juice. They had vacant eyes. They just looked like they were running in mud. If I knew what (would) get them out of it, you don’t think I would have given them the elixir?

“That surely caught me by surprise after having time off, getting our rest. The rest had nothing to do with our play last night. We’ve had those things off and on. I did not expect it in the opening game of the second round when you worked hard all year long to get home-court advantage.”

What remained in the air was why something as fundamental as effort would ever be lacking in the playoffs.

“You’re asking me these questions,” McHale said. “You got to go out and play. I saw the same game you did. You have to go out and play. If I had all the answers, I’ve said it a million times, I’d go to Wall Street and not have to talk to you chumps.”

 

 

Wall out for Game 2

 

ATLANTA — For almost 48 hours the left wrist of John Wall had him fooled into thinking it would be pain-free and flexible in time for Game 2.

Well, that’s not the case.

In a last minute about-face, Wall was ruled out of Tuesday’s game against the Hawks because of the wrist he injured Sunday. The wrist was still swollen a day later but Wall and Wizards coach Randy Wittman both expressed optimism about Wall’s ability to play. Just an hour prior to Game 2, Wall warmed up with his wrist heavily wrapped, but the decision about his status was made shortly after that.

The Wizards will play Ramon Sessions in Wall’s place and hope for the best. Wall’s status for the remainder of the series is unclear.