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Westlake Legal Group > fox-news/sports/nba (Page 10)

Suns fire Igor Kokoskov after 1 losing season

Westlake Legal Group suns-fire-igor-kokoskov-after-1-losing-season Suns fire Igor Kokoskov after 1 losing season fox-news/sports/nba/phoenix-suns fox-news/sports/nba fnc/sports fnc ee70d99f-cad1-553d-9fb4-53e874144333 Associated Press article

One season was not enough for Igor Kokoskov to convince the Phoenix Suns that he was the man to lead the franchise into the future.

The Suns fired Kokoskov Monday night, ending the tenure of the NBA’s first European-born coach after one disappointing season.

LUKE WALTON, THE EX-LAKERS COACH, ACCUSED OF SEXUAL ASSAULT BY FORMER SPORTSNET HOST: REPORT

“After extensive evaluation, I determined it is best to move in a different direction with our head coaching position,” Suns GM James Jones said in a statement. “I want to thank Igor for his work this past season and wish him the best with his future endeavors.”

Kokoskov arrived in the desert with hopes of rebuilding a franchise coming off its second-worst record at 21-61. He was hired to replace Jay Triano, named interim coach after Earl Watson was fired last season.

The Suns entered the 2018-19 season with one of the NBA’s most dynamic scorers in Devin Booker and added the No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 draft, big man Deandre Ayton.

Instead of a revitalizing season, the Suns continued to mire in mediocrity, missing the playoffs for the ninth straight season.

Phoenix had a franchise-worst 17-game losing streak in 2018-19 and became the first team in the shot-clock era (1954-55) to be held under 10 points in the first quarter of consecutive games.

The Suns finished 19-63 in Kokoskov’s only season in the desert, worst in the Western Conference.

Jones became the full-time GM after the Suns removed the interim tag earlier this month and his first big move was to fire Kokoskov, an assistant with the franchise from 2008-13.

Now, Phoenix is in limbo again, searching for its fifth coach in five seasons.

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The Serbian Kokoskov spent 18 seasons as an NBA assistant before becoming a head coach, including stints with Utah, Orlando Cleveland, Detroit and the Los Angeles Clippers. He also was the head coach of the Georgia national team from 2008-15 and led Slovenia to its first EuroBasket title in 2017.

Westlake Legal Group NBA-Igor-Kokoskov Suns fire Igor Kokoskov after 1 losing season fox-news/sports/nba/phoenix-suns fox-news/sports/nba fnc/sports fnc ee70d99f-cad1-553d-9fb4-53e874144333 Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group NBA-Igor-Kokoskov Suns fire Igor Kokoskov after 1 losing season fox-news/sports/nba/phoenix-suns fox-news/sports/nba fnc/sports fnc ee70d99f-cad1-553d-9fb4-53e874144333 Associated Press article

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Jazz stave off elimination with 107-91 win over Rockets

Donovan Mitchell turned a rough start into a fantastic finish.

Mitchell dominated in the fourth quarter, rallying the Utah Jazz to a 107-91 victory over the Houston Rockets in Game 4 of their Western Conference series on Monday night.

Mitchell scored 19 of his 31 points in the final quarter to help the Jazz pull away for their first win in the series.

Utah staved off elimination and forced a Game 5 on Wednesday.

Mitchell’s late-game performance helped the second-year guard make up for struggles earlier. He turned the ball over twice in the first two minutes and shot just 36 percent from the field in the first three quarters before going 6 of 12 in the fourth.

Mitchell never lost confidence that he could turn it around.

“My teammates have had my back with every mistake, everything I’ve done well,” Mitchell said. “When you have that support system in the locker room every day, it makes it easier when you start the game with two straight turnovers.”

Jae Crowder scored 23 points. Ricky Rubio chipped in 18 points and 11 assists and Derrick Favors finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

James Harden scored 30 points to lead Houston. Chris Paul added 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Eric Gordon chipped in 16 points.

Utah’s offense got a major boost from Crowder and Rubio in the first quarter. The duo combined for 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting in the period to help the Jazz carve out a double-digit lead.

Then the Jazz opened the fourth quarter with a 15-1 run and outscored the Rockets 31-12 during the period.

“Of course, we wanted to end it tonight,” Harden said. “We had plenty of opportunities. They made some plays in that fourth quarter and we didn’t.”

Mitchell scored 13 points in three minutes to fuel the run after totaling just 12 points in the first three quarters. He capped off the surge with back-to-back 3-pointers, giving the Jazz a 91-80 lead with 9:02 remaining.

Mitchell provided his biggest highlight later in the quarter when he threw down an incredible alley-oop dunk after catching an errant pass from Royce O’Neale.

“We’ve had our backs against the wall plenty of times the past two years we’ve been together as a team,” Mitchell said. “This is familiar ground with us. Everybody responded the way we expect them to, but the biggest thing for us is take what we did today and multiply it.”

Crowder got things going by scoring five of Utah’s first six baskets. Rubio built on the momentum by fueling a 14-1 run with four baskets and a pair of free throws. It helped the Jazz build a 30-16 lead with 3:03 left in the quarter.

“Both of them attacked,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “Jae got downhill and attacked the rim. Ricky did the same thing.”

Houston had three straight turnovers to open the door for Utah to seize a double-digit lead. The Jazz scored 10 points off six Rockets turnovers in the quarter.

“We did things that are uncharacteristic of a team that wants to win,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said.

An 8-0 run, capped by Austin Rivers’ dunk off a steal by Paul, helped Houston trim the deficit to 30-24 before quarter’s end.

The Rockets continued to cut into the lead during the second quarter, but could not overtake Utah until the third. Houston opened the quarter on a 10-2 run, sparked by back-to-back 3-pointers from Gordon. Harden capped it off with three free throws to give the Rockets a 57-55 lead.

Houston led for much of the third quarter after going 8 of 12 from 3-point range in the quarter. The Rockets never built more than a five-point advantage, however, before Mitchell’s fourth quarter performance.

“I felt like they’d thrown their haymaker, trying to knock us out,” Crowder said. “We stood tall and took those punches and came out ready to play in the fourth quarter. “

LIMITED STRENGTH

Clint Capela had a limited impact after battling a virus. Capela finished with just four points on 1-of-6 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and zero blocks.

“He didn’t have the force he usually does,” D’Antoni said.

It opened the door for the Jazz to dominate around the basket. Utah finished with a 52-35 edge on rebounds and outscored Houston 52-22 in the paint. The Jazz almost doubled up the Rockets on the offensive glass with a 16-9 advantage.

“It’s just draining when you play great defense and give up offensive rebounds,” Harden said.

FINISHING STRONG

Snyder inserted Favors in the lineup in place of Rudy Gobert for the final 4 ½ minutes of the fourth quarter. The move paid off.

Favors totaled six points and six rebounds in 10 minutes in the quarter. All but one rebound came during the final three minutes to prevent Houston from making a late rally, like in Game 3.

Gobert totaled four points, nine rebounds, and three blocks in 24 minutes. He admitted to being surprised by the decision, but took it in stride.

When he’s on the floor and I’m on the bench, of course I want to be out there, but if he has a great game and the team is winning — that’s the most important thing,” Gobert said. “That’s all that matters.”

TIP INS

Rockets: Harden and Gordon each shot 50 percent from 3-point range. … Houston committed 16 turnovers leading to 21 points for the Jazz. … The Rockets finished with just five bench points.

Jazz: After starting 4-of-6 from 3-point range, Utah missed 13 of its next 14 shots from long distance. … Royce O’Neale grabbed a playoff career high 11 rebounds. O’Neale also finished with 11 points. The Jazz outscored Houston 52-22 in the paint and 17-3 in second chance points.

UP NEXT

Game 5 is in Houston on Wednesday.

Westlake Legal Group NBA-Donovan-Mitchell Jazz stave off elimination with 107-91 win over Rockets fox-news/sports/nba/utah-jazz fox-news/sports/nba/houston-rockets fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fnc/sports fnc Associated Press article 7e5179d2-7545-50fd-998d-a60aca483bb4   Westlake Legal Group NBA-Donovan-Mitchell Jazz stave off elimination with 107-91 win over Rockets fox-news/sports/nba/utah-jazz fox-news/sports/nba/houston-rockets fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fnc/sports fnc Associated Press article 7e5179d2-7545-50fd-998d-a60aca483bb4

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Luke Walton, the ex-Lakers coach, accused of sexual assault by former SportsNet host: report

Westlake Legal Group luke-walton-the-ex-lakers-coach-accused-of-sexual-assault-by-former-sportsnet-host-report Luke Walton, the ex-Lakers coach, accused of sexual assault by former SportsNet host: report fox-news/us/crime fox-news/sports/nba fox news fnc/sports fnc Edmund DeMarche b8b5d792-b132-528c-bc90-af06c4edce90 article

Luke Walton, who was released earlier this month from his job as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, has been accused of sexual assault by a former host on Spectrum’s SportsNet, reports Monday said.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Kelli Tennant alleges that the coach assaulted her inside the Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica while he was a coach with the Golden State Warriors. He was a coach there until 2016.

The paper said it reached out to Walton, his new team the Sacramento Kings and Spectrum SportsNet and did not get an immediate response.

LEBRON SHOCKED BY MAGIC DEPARTURE

The Times reported that the lawsuit alleges that Walton pinned Tennant to a bed in his hotel room and “began forcing kisses on her neck, face and chest.”  TMZ reported that the suit alleges that she screamed for him to stop but he held her down and groped her. She claimed that when she left the room, he said, “Good  to see you.”

Walton, a former Lakers forward, went 98-148 after getting his first permanent head coaching job with the 16-time NBA champions. The former Golden State top assistant never led the Lakers to the playoffs, not even after the arrival of LeBron James last summer.

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Walton’s departure came three days after the Lakers finished with a loss Tuesday to the Trail Blazers and the abrupt resignation of team president Magic Johnson.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Westlake Legal Group Luke-Walton-THUMB Luke Walton, the ex-Lakers coach, accused of sexual assault by former SportsNet host: report fox-news/us/crime fox-news/sports/nba fox news fnc/sports fnc Edmund DeMarche b8b5d792-b132-528c-bc90-af06c4edce90 article   Westlake Legal Group Luke-Walton-THUMB Luke Walton, the ex-Lakers coach, accused of sexual assault by former SportsNet host: report fox-news/us/crime fox-news/sports/nba fox news fnc/sports fnc Edmund DeMarche b8b5d792-b132-528c-bc90-af06c4edce90 article

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Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson reveals what sparked clutch 32-point performance in Game 4 win

Westlake Legal Group golden-state-warriors-guard-klay-thompson-reveals-what-sparked-clutch-32-point-performance-in-game-4-win Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson reveals what sparked clutch 32-point performance in Game 4 win Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nba/golden-state-warriors fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fox news fnc/sports fnc article 8418eb1b-eab4-5f83-a3ac-150fa96f46f2

For his team’s first three games in the first round of the NBA playoffs, Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson had been merely mediocre — but after an unscheduled dip in the ocean, Thompson made a splash on the court.

Thompson scored 32 points, including nailing six three-pointers in the Warriors’ 113-105 win Sunday over the Los Angeles Clippers in the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs. He hadn’t scored more than 20 points in any of the team’s previous eight games before the pivotal postseason performance, which gave the Warriors a 3-1 series lead.

He explained to reporters after the game how an impromptu plunge helped his breakthrough performance.

WARRIORS BEAT LA 113-105, TAKE 3-1 SERIES LEAD TO BAY AREA

“I told Jonas [Jerebko] — we went to the beach and played some volleyball — I’m like, ‘Yo, I’m just going to jump in the ocean, and I just know that will reset my mind.’ And it worked,” Thompson told ESPN. “I don’t know if I’m going to jump up north because it’s freezing, but it’s something I’ll definitely contemplate if I don’t shoot the ball that well the rest of the year. But hopefully that doesn’t happen.”

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Thompson started the game by hitting his first seven shots, helping the Warriors take charge

Westlake Legal Group NBA-Klay-Thompson Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson reveals what sparked clutch 32-point performance in Game 4 win Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nba/golden-state-warriors fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fox news fnc/sports fnc article 8418eb1b-eab4-5f83-a3ac-150fa96f46f2   Westlake Legal Group NBA-Klay-Thompson Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson reveals what sparked clutch 32-point performance in Game 4 win Ryan Gaydos fox-news/sports/nba/golden-state-warriors fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fox news fnc/sports fnc article 8418eb1b-eab4-5f83-a3ac-150fa96f46f2

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Lillard sparks Portland past Oklahoma City for 3-1 lead

Westlake Legal Group lillard-sparks-portland-past-oklahoma-city-for-3-1-lead Lillard sparks Portland past Oklahoma City for 3-1 lead fox-news/sports/nba/portland-trail-blazers fox-news/sports/nba/oklahoma-city-thunder fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fnc/sports fnc Associated Press article 6d60a2ce-51f6-5a70-b792-356d584d8ac4

Russell Westbrook went cold just when Dame Time hit in the third quarter again.

Now time’s almost up for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Damian Lillard scored 15 of his 24 points in the third quarter, and the Portland Trail Blazers held Westbrook without a basket in the second half in beating the Thunder 111-98 on Sunday night to take a 3-1 lead in their series.

Lillard had another big third quarter after scoring 25 points in the period in a Game 3 loss Friday. In this game, the All-Star point guard was 5 of 7 in the third to help Portland take control for good.

“I didn’t feel the need to get overly aggressive in the first half, once I saw how the game was going,” he said. “But then in the third, I felt like that was the time when we needed to hit the gas.”

Lillard made his first basket with 1:14 left in the first half after missing his first six shots, but he had seven assists before the break.

“We’ve kind of come to expect it,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “He manages the game. He senses the moment when we need him to do different things. He’s an ultimate competitor. He is going to give it his all.”

C.J. McCollum scored 27 points, Al-Farouq Aminu had 19 points and nine rebounds, and Maurice Harkless added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Trail Blazers.

Portland can close out the series Tuesday at home.

Paul George had 32 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City. Dennis Schroder added 17 points.

Westbrook scored 14 points on 5-for-21 shooting. He missed his final 10 shots and was 0 for 7 with one point in the second half.

“Sometimes you have nights like that,” he said. “That happens sometimes. But it just wasn’t good enough for us to get the win.”

George missed most of the second quarter with three fouls, but the Thunder hung tough and led for much of the period. Lillard hit a 3-pointer in the final minute to give Portland the lead, then Aminu hit a 3 with 3.9 seconds left as the Trail Blazers took a 50-46 edge into the break.

Lillard hit deep back-to-back 3s 27 seconds apart to give Portland a 66-54 lead. The Trail Blazers stretched the lead to 19 in the third before the Thunder closed the gap. George hit a 3-pointer from the corner in the closing seconds to cut Portland’s lead to 79-68.

A 3-pointer by Schroder pulled Oklahoma City within 97-87 with 3:35 remaining, but the Trail Blazers maintained control.

Now, the Thunder will try to fight off elimination.

“Honestly, regardless of what the series is, it’s always one game at a time,” George said. “You play one game. You leave everything in one game and go to the next one. It makes no difference when you’re down 3-1 — you’ve got to take it one game at a time, regardless.”

TIP-INS

Trail Blazers: Lillard was just 2 of 8 in the first half and scored seven points. … Made 22 of 23 free throws. … Outrebounded the Thunder 41-38.

Thunder: Thunder coach Billy Donovan was called for a technical in the first quarter for arguing a no-call against Steven Adams. … Shot 37.5 percent from the field. … Westbrook had nine rebounds and seven assists.

HE SAID IT

Lillard, on Portland’s effort to avoid the trash talking and distractions from Game 3: “We’re not going to go out there and get in any shouting matches, back and forth and all that stuff. We’re going to focus on the stuff that we need to focus on that’s going to give us a chance to win the game. I was proud of how our team stuck to that.”

STAT LINES

Westbrook has made just 29 of 80 shots in the series (36.3 percent).

HOT SHOOTING

McCollum made 5 of 9 3-pointers on Sunday. He has made 16 of 31 3s in the series.

Westlake Legal Group NBA-Damian-Lillard4 Lillard sparks Portland past Oklahoma City for 3-1 lead fox-news/sports/nba/portland-trail-blazers fox-news/sports/nba/oklahoma-city-thunder fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fnc/sports fnc Associated Press article 6d60a2ce-51f6-5a70-b792-356d584d8ac4   Westlake Legal Group NBA-Damian-Lillard4 Lillard sparks Portland past Oklahoma City for 3-1 lead fox-news/sports/nba/portland-trail-blazers fox-news/sports/nba/oklahoma-city-thunder fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fnc/sports fnc Associated Press article 6d60a2ce-51f6-5a70-b792-356d584d8ac4

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Leonard scores 34, Raptors top Magic 107-85 for 3-1 lead

Westlake Legal Group leonard-scores-34-raptors-top-magic-107-85-for-3-1-lead Leonard scores 34, Raptors top Magic 107-85 for 3-1 lead fox-news/sports/nba/toronto-raptors fox-news/sports/nba/orlando-magic fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fnc/sports fnc f34d4f88-d07e-581c-9987-9a344de8e41a Associated Press article

Kawhi Leonard missed the NBA playoffs last season, in multiple ways.

He wasn’t playing the games.

He wasn’t feeling the games, either.

That’s not a problem this season for the 2014 NBA Finals MVP. Healthy and happy, Leonard has the Toronto Raptors one win away from the second round. He scored 34 points and the Raptors beat the Orlando Magic 107-85 on Sunday night to take a 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

“You just want to be out there on the floor, with your teammates and just feel that team spirit and chemistry, just trying to focus on one goal,” said Leonard, who was out for almost all of last season, his last with San Antonio before an offseason trade to Toronto. “That’s something I was missing, just being out, sitting out. That’s why it’s a blessing this year just to be able to play and be on the floor, regardless of what the outcome is.”

Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell each scored 16 for the Raptors, who can advance with a home win in Game 5 on Tuesday. Toronto has now won three consecutive postseason games, only the third time that’s happened in franchise history.

Aaron Gordon scored 25 for the Magic, making his first seven shots of the second half. Evan Fournier scored 19 and Nikola Vucevic added 11 for the Magic, who committed 17 turnovers that became 21 Toronto points.

“We’re better than what we’ve shown,” Gordon said.

And now the Magic’s season is squarely on the brink. There have been 11 teams to successfully rally from a 3-1 series deficit in a best-of-seven NBA series, and of those, only three pulled it off by winning a Game 7 on the road.

So it’s not impossible — just highly improbable.

“Our guys have fought hard all year,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said.

He liked the fight on Sunday, too.

Leonard just always had the better counterpunch.

He made 12 of 20 shots, added six rebounds and scored his 34 points in 35 minutes. He was in total control on both ends, and the Raptors shot 53 percent — a franchise record for a road playoff game. Serge Ibaka scored 13 and Kyle Lowry had nine assists for the Raptors.

“Road wins are the best, especially in the playoffs,” Leonard said. “And obviously, we all know the job isn’t done yet.”

A flurry at the end of the first half, led by Leonard and Siakam, put Toronto up by double digits and the margin stayed there the rest of the way.

Vucevic missed from close range — the Magic argued that Leonard was guilty of goaltending, the referees disagreed — with about 2:45 left in the half, a disputed play that could have gotten Orlando within seven.

Instead, the Magic went into the break down by 16.

Toronto closed the half on an 11-1 run, with Leonard scoring the first five and Siakam hitting a pair of 3s for the final six. The last of those 3s by Siakam came with 4.5 seconds left, and the Raptors headed into intermission with a 58-42 cushion.

“These series, and the games in the series, are a lot about imposing your will on a team,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.

Whenever Orlando flashed some hope in the third quarter, Leonard immediately snuffed it out.

A dunk by Gordon cut the lead to 13? Leonard made a 3.

A 3-pointer by Fournier to get within 12? Leonard made a pullup.

A stepback by Gordon to get within 12 again? Leonard split defenders, absorbed contact and laid the ball in to start a three-point play.”

“He’s a Finals MVP,” Gordon said. “He’s doing what he’s supposed to do. That’s what they pay the man for, to come down here and be Kawhi Leonard.”

And before long, there was no more doubt about the outcome. Magic fans started leaving midway through the fourth quarter. The team’s dancers gathered for a group photo at midcourt not long after the final buzzer, as if they knew the last home game of the season had just ended.

TIP-INS

Raptors: Toronto is 28-2 this season (and 16-0 on the road) when leading by at least 10 points at the half. … Leonard’s teams are 60-31 when he plays in the postseason. Among players in this year’s playoffs with at least 60 postseason wins, only Draymond Green, Shaun Livingston, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry — all Golden State Warriors — have a better winning percentage.

Magic: Orlando, which fell behind 11-0 in Game 2 and 10-0 in Game 3, started Game 4 on a 7-0 run. The Magic started 6 for 6 from the field, and then missed 26 of their next 38 shots — going 1 for 13 from 3-point range during that drought. … Terrence Ross beat the buzzer for the second straight game; it was a midcourt shot to close the first half of Game 2, and this time it was a 35-footer to end the third quarter.

VIRAL MOMENT

Nurse was trending on social media for much of the game, after a fairly nondescript 3-second call on Fred VanVleet with 2:12 left in the opening quarter elicited quite the reaction from him. Nurse stood almost perfectly still on the sideline after the call, his mouth agape for about 15 seconds in some sort of disbelief. “Is that a good thing?” Nurse asked afterward, when told he was a social-media phenomenon.

UNTIMELY

Orlando has dropped three straight, its longest slide since losing four in a row from Jan. 23-29. The Magic have also been held under 100 points in three straight games for the first time since Jan. 6-9.

UP NEXT

Game 5 is Tuesday in Toronto.

Westlake Legal Group NBA-Kawhi-Leonard3 Leonard scores 34, Raptors top Magic 107-85 for 3-1 lead fox-news/sports/nba/toronto-raptors fox-news/sports/nba/orlando-magic fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fnc/sports fnc f34d4f88-d07e-581c-9987-9a344de8e41a Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group NBA-Kawhi-Leonard3 Leonard scores 34, Raptors top Magic 107-85 for 3-1 lead fox-news/sports/nba/toronto-raptors fox-news/sports/nba/orlando-magic fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fnc/sports fnc f34d4f88-d07e-581c-9987-9a344de8e41a Associated Press article

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Celtics complete rare sweep by beating Pacers 110-106

Westlake Legal Group celtics-complete-rare-sweep-by-beating-pacers-110-106 Celtics complete rare sweep by beating Pacers 110-106 fox-news/sports/nba/indiana-pacers fox-news/sports/nba/boston-celtics fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fnc/sports fnc Associated Press article a8ff360a-8389-5adf-95cd-3bb9fbca2b47

Gordon Hayward and Marcus Morris took care of some housecleaning Sunday.

They dusted off their 3-point shooting touch in time to help the Boston Celtics complete a clean sweep.

Hayward scored 20 points, Morris added 18 and the duo combined for five 3s over the final 5½ minutes to give Boston a 110-106 victory and its first 4-0 series victory in eight years.

“I knew there was going to be a spark off the bench. (On Sunday) and that person was Gordon Hayward,” All-Star guard Kyrie Irving said. “This is his city. I’m glad he had a chance to put on a performance like that in a closeout game.”

Just how rare is a sweep for a franchise with a league-record 17 titles?

Since 1986-87, the Celtics had done it just once — in the first round against the New York Knicks. And between the Celtics’ title-clinching sweep over the Minneapolis Lakers in 1958-59 and their perfect run through the 1985-86 Eastern Conference finals against Milwaukee, the Celtics achieved it just twice — in 1979 against Houston and in 1980 against Chicago.

So when coach Brad Stevens was asked Saturday about how he’d react if his players earned some time off, Stevens said he wasn’t sure.

Now, last year’s Eastern Conference runner-ups can start a new to-do list with a potential matchup looming against the top-seeded Bucks.

“It’s going to take everything we have,” Hayward said. “That’s why it’s good we finished this series. We can rest up, prepare, and have some extra time.”

Clearly, the Celtics played better than a No. 4 seed in this series.

They won the first three games on the strength of a suffocating second-half defense that twice limited the Pacers 12-point quarters and once to eight. This time, they finished the job by grinding it out behind a group of polished veterans.

The game swung when Indiana guard Cory Joseph was called for a Flagrant 1 foul with 6:45 left. Jayson Tatum made both free throws to give Boston an 83-82 lead. After Al Horford made 1 of 2 free throws on Boston’s next possession and then Morris knocked down a 3 and Hayward completed a three-point play to give the Celtics a 90-83 advantage with 4:15 to go.

Hayward and Morris were just getting started. Over the next three-plus minutes, they made three more 3s to give Boston a 102-90 lead with 1:04 to go.

Even a final flurry of 3s couldn’t bail out Indiana. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 22 points and Tyreke Evans scored a playoff career-high 21 as the Pacers got swept for the second time in three years — the only two times it has happened in franchise history.

“They got hot,” Pacers forward Thaddeus Young said. “They started making shots and we stopped making shots. That’s one of the biggest thing that’s haunted us through this whole series.”

TIP-INS

Celtics: Closed out the series with their seventh straight win against Indiana this season. … Irving had 14 points and seven assists. Tatum had 18 points and eight rebounds and Morris also had eight rebounds. … Al Horford had 14 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. … Jaylen Brown added 13 points and Terry Rozier added 11 off the bench. … Boston was 11 of 28 on 3s, 5 of 7 in the fourth.

Pacers: Darren Collison had 19 points, six rebounds and five assists. Young added nine points and nine rebounds. … Domantas Sabonis scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds while Myles Turner had 13 points and seven rebounds…. The Pacers shot 40.9 percent from the field in the game and missed more than a handful of shots at the rim. …

THE BIG O

Pacers fans welcomed back All-Star guard Victor Oladipo with a standing ovation Sunday, his first public appearance at Bankers Life Fieldhouse since he suffered a season-ending injury to his right knee.

Oladipo sat safely behind Indiana’s bench, stood and waved to the crowd when he was introduced during the first stoppage in play.

While Oladipo did not talk to reporters, he did get a hug and spoke briefly with Irving after the final buzzer sounded.

THEY SAID IT

Celtics: “You have to earn it every time you play the Pacers,” Stevens said. “They just play so hard, and they play so together. If you take your foot off the gas at any point in time, you’re in trouble.”

Pacers: “A lot of people downplayed Boston as a team,” coach Nate McMillan said. “But we knew they would get it right come playoff time.

UP NEXT

Celtics: Will wait for their second-round opponent.

Pacers: Contemplate how to improve next season.

Westlake Legal Group NBA-Kyrie-Irving4 Celtics complete rare sweep by beating Pacers 110-106 fox-news/sports/nba/indiana-pacers fox-news/sports/nba/boston-celtics fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fnc/sports fnc Associated Press article a8ff360a-8389-5adf-95cd-3bb9fbca2b47   Westlake Legal Group NBA-Kyrie-Irving4 Celtics complete rare sweep by beating Pacers 110-106 fox-news/sports/nba/indiana-pacers fox-news/sports/nba/boston-celtics fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fnc/sports fnc Associated Press article a8ff360a-8389-5adf-95cd-3bb9fbca2b47

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Philadelphia 79ers star Joel Embiid calls Brooklyn Nets’ Jared Dudley ‘a nobody’ after on-court scrum

Westlake Legal Group philadelphia-79ers-star-joel-embiid-calls-brooklyn-nets-jared-dudley-a-nobody-after-on-court-scrum Philadelphia 79ers star Joel Embiid calls Brooklyn Nets' Jared Dudley 'a nobody' after on-court scrum fox-news/sports/nba/philadelphia-76ers fox-news/sports/nba/brooklyn-nets fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fox-news/sports fox news fnc/sports fnc David Aaro article 6de67439-0374-5e3b-972b-bf4a2aa0a8cd

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid called Brooklyn Nets player Jared Dudley ‘a nobody’ after both teams got into a heated scuffle during Saturday’s Game 4 of the NBA playoffs, which the Sixers won 112-108.

The two had been going back and forth all week, with Dudley calling Embiid’s teammate, Ben Simmons, an “average” player earlier in the series.

When asked about criticism towards him, Simmons responded by saying, “It’s coming from Jared Dudley, come on.”

ROCKETS BEAT JAZZ 104-101 FOR 3-0 SERIES LEAD

It escalated on Saturday when Embiid fouled Nets center, Jarrett Allen, fairly hard, causing Dudley to come to Allen’s defense by shoving Embiid and getting in his face. Jimmy Butler, Embiid’s teammate, reacted by shoving Dudley and a scrum ensued.

Dudley and Butler were ejected for taking part in the brawl, while Embiid received a flagrant 1. If he didn’t put his hands up, he could have been ejected as well.

When asked about Dudley after the game, Embiid didn’t hold back.

“First of all, he’s a nobody. And, you know, when opponents try to do stuff like that, that’s just to get us out of the game,” he told TNT after the game. “I’m too valuable for my team. That’s why I didn’t react. I did not do anything, and I didn’t think that was a flagrant foul because I played the ball too. But in that type of situation, I just gotta stay composed and be mature and let it go because my teammates, they need me more than they need him so, you know, I just gotta be mature.”

During their press conference after the game, both Embiid and Butler continued to talk in good spirits about the incident, seeing as they won the game.

CELTICS BEAT PACERS 104-96 TO TAKE 3-0 SERIES LEAD

“First of all, we knew it was coming,” Embiid said of Dudley getting in his face.

“Yeah, we definitely thought it was coming. I don’t be paying attention to him too much. I just don’t think you should run up on anybody like that.” Butler explained.

The Sixers stormed back after the ejections, outscoring the Nets 51-41 and taking a 3-1 lead in the series. They have a chance to close out the Nets on April 23 in Philadelphia.

Westlake Legal Group Joel-Embiid-RT Philadelphia 79ers star Joel Embiid calls Brooklyn Nets' Jared Dudley 'a nobody' after on-court scrum fox-news/sports/nba/philadelphia-76ers fox-news/sports/nba/brooklyn-nets fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fox-news/sports fox news fnc/sports fnc David Aaro article 6de67439-0374-5e3b-972b-bf4a2aa0a8cd   Westlake Legal Group Joel-Embiid-RT Philadelphia 79ers star Joel Embiid calls Brooklyn Nets' Jared Dudley 'a nobody' after on-court scrum fox-news/sports/nba/philadelphia-76ers fox-news/sports/nba/brooklyn-nets fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fox-news/sports fox news fnc/sports fnc David Aaro article 6de67439-0374-5e3b-972b-bf4a2aa0a8cd

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Bucks beat Pistons 119-103 to take 3-0 series lead

Westlake Legal Group bucks-beat-pistons-119-103-to-take-3-0-series-lead Bucks beat Pistons 119-103 to take 3-0 series lead fox-news/sports/nba/milwaukee-bucks fox-news/sports/nba/detroit-pistons fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fnc/sports fnc c231d218-7bd7-5c78-91b3-6f52e1d94379 Associated Press article

The Milwaukee Bucks know they are often considered a one-man team.

Saturday night, they took some major steps toward changing that perception.

On a night where Giannis Antetokounmpo was limited by foul trouble, the Bucks had seven players score in double figures and beat the Detroit Pistons 119-103 to take a 3-0 lead in the first-round series.

“That’s something we’ve been working on all year,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We play together and take what the opponent gives us. It isn’t all about Giannis, as great and amazing as he is. We have a lot of guys who can make plays and Giannis knows when to step back and let them carry the load.”

The Bucks can finish off the Eastern Conference series Monday night in Detroit after winning the first three games by an average of 24 points.

The Bucks overcame 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists from Blake Griffin in his return from a right knee injury. He missed the first two games of the series after sitting out four of the final six in the regular season.

“That young man is giving us everything his body will give, and we need every bit of it,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “He has a presence that no one else on our team can provide.”

Griffin had an immediate defensive impact, forcing two turnovers on Milwaukee’s first three possessions, but struggled to keep up in transition.

“I don’t know what percentage I’m at. I don’t really worry about things like that,” he said. “If I can play, I’m going to play

Antetokounmpo had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 20, Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez each had 19, and Lopez added seven rebounds and five blocks. Ersan Ilysaova (15), Nikola Mirotic (12) and George Hill (11) all reached double figures as part of the second unit.

“They came out strong in the first quarter and then Ersan came in and hit three straight threes to give us a lead,” Middleton said. “That let us relax and play our own game.”

Andre Drummond had 12 points and 12 rebounds, struggling with his own foul trouble. He missed eight of his first nine field-goal attempts.

“I think Andre missed some bunnies and it bothered him,” Casey said. “He took that to the other end of the floor and missed some assignments on defense. He’s still learning how everything is magnified in the pressure of the playoffs.”

Drummond picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter, but Antetokounmpo left a minute later with his fourth.

Middleton, playing against the team that drafted him in 2012, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Milwaukee an 85-66 lead with 4:47 left in the third quarter. Drummond returned late in the quarter, but picked up his fifth foul after just 41 seconds.

“I thought they guys were amazing, especially after I got my fourth foul,” Antetokounmpo said. “Khris did a great job of guiding the team and making the right plays. It’s good to see us winning a playoff game on the road when I’m not having my best game.”

The margin was 100-78 at quarter’s end and the Pistons never put together a serious run in the fourth.

“I think we definitely need some rest after Game 4, but we’re trying not to think about that,” Antetokounmpo said. “We’re going to come in, be hungry and try to win that game. It’s going to be a nice feeling — I’ve never won a playoff series.”

TIP INS

Bucks: The Bucks hadn’t won the first three games of a playoff series since a three-game sweep of the New Jersey Nets in the 1986 first round. … Milwaukee was a plus-23 in the 10:48 that George Hill played in the first half.

Pistons: The game was the first postseason game in Little Caesars Arena history. The Pistons and Red Wings both missed the playoffs in 2017-18 and the Red Wings missed again this season. The most recent NBA playoff game in the city of Detroit was April 27, 1985, when the Pistons lost 127-123 to the New York Knicks at Joe Louis Arena after damage to the Pontiac Silverdome’s roof.

MATCHING AN UNPLEASANT MARK

The loss was Detroit’s 13th straight in the playoffs, tying the NBA record set by the New York Knicks between 2001-12. The Pistons lost the last two games of the 2008 Eastern Conference finals to the Boston Celtics, were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round in 2009 and again in 2016 and have now lost three in a row to Milwaukee. Their last postseason win came over Boston on May 26, 2008.

UP NEXT

Game 4 is Monday night at Detroit.

Westlake Legal Group NBA-Giannis2 Bucks beat Pistons 119-103 to take 3-0 series lead fox-news/sports/nba/milwaukee-bucks fox-news/sports/nba/detroit-pistons fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fnc/sports fnc c231d218-7bd7-5c78-91b3-6f52e1d94379 Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group NBA-Giannis2 Bucks beat Pistons 119-103 to take 3-0 series lead fox-news/sports/nba/milwaukee-bucks fox-news/sports/nba/detroit-pistons fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fnc/sports fnc c231d218-7bd7-5c78-91b3-6f52e1d94379 Associated Press article

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Rockets beat Jazz 104-101 for 3-0 series lead

James Harden never worried. In fact, he didn’t know he had missed his first 15 shots.

Through it all, he never changed the attacking style that made him the NBA’s leading scorer.

Harden overcame a poor shooting performance and scored 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, leading the Houston Rockets to a 104-101 win Saturday over the Utah Jazz for a commanding 3-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.

“Keep shooting. Keep being aggressive,” Harden said of his only thoughts. “My job is to go out there and produce. Be aggressive and in attack mode. Nothing changes.”

Not much has worked against Harden for the Jazz, and even when they thought they had him trapped, they weren’t able to control The Beard for a full game.

“You’re going to give something up. The best thing you can do with him is just try to make it hard on him. Even when you do that, there’s times where he’s going to make plays,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said.

The Jazz didn’t take it easy on Harden, and took every opportunity to knock him down, even when it sent him to the line. For one of the rare times this season, Harden passed up some shots. But he did take them — and make them — when they counted most.

Though the victory was hardly a thing of beauty, Houston coach Mike D’Antoni was grateful for the way it went down.

“Sooner or later we have to win games on defense. We did this time,” D’Antoni said of his team which is known for Harden’s lethal 3-point attack but has drastically improved on the defensive end since mid-season.

Harden made a 3-pointer and added two free throws with 42.4 seconds left to give the Rockets a 101-97 lead. After Donovan Mitchell made two free throws, Harden missed another 3-point attempt, but P.J. Tucker, who finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, grabbed the rebound, was fouled, making one of two free throws.

Chris Paul said: “You trust (Tucker) to make those plays. … He’s going to do anything and everything to help the team win.”

Mitchell had a wide-open look at a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, but like so many of his shots in the hard-fought contest, it was off the mark.

Game 4 of the best-of-seven Western Conference series is Monday night in Utah.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well and we still won. That just gives us more confidence,” said Harden, who was 3-for-20 shooting with 10 assists. He was 14 for 16 from the line.

Paul scored 18 points and Clint Capela had 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Rockets, who shot 38.4 percent from the field and 67.6 percent from the line.

Mitchell scored 34 points, but struggled shooting, too, making just 9 of his 27 attempts. Derrick Favors had 13 for the Jazz.

Royce O’Neale, who played tenacious defense on Harden, made a 3-pointer for Utah’s last lead at 89-88. In fact, the Jazz led most of the game, but never by more than eight.

The Rockets made their move in the fourth quarter.

Gerald Green made back-to-back 3-pointers and Harden added a pair of free throws with 8:33 remaining put the Rockets up 84-80.

After two slow starts in Houston, the Jazz came out energized with a deafening crowd hanging on every basket. Utah led 11-3 and Harden picked up two fouls in the first 94 seconds, but stayed on the court. He couldn’t find his rhythm until the stretch run.

The Rockets have made no secret they are keying on Mitchell and Ingles to take away their playmaking and make other Utah players beat them. So far, no one else has made them pay.

Mitchell vowed to be more aggressive and apologized for being a “no show” early in the series. He re-introduced himself to the series in an exuberant show of shot-making and open emotion after big plays. But it didn’t last.

“I just started missing shots,” Mitchell said. “I can’t miss 16 shots (after the first quarter). That’s my role and I can’t miss makeable shots.”

Prior to Saturday’s big game, Mitchell was shooting 32.6% and had more turnovers (nine) than assists (six). After his hot start, Mitchell missed 11 straight field goal attempts but never stopped attacking.

Harden was missing 3-pointers and floaters, including two that were rejected by Rudy Gobert early in the game, and didn’t convert one until his emphatic fast-break dunk with 7:34 to play. But then he made a step-back 3-pointer to give Houston its largest lead at 89-83.

The leading MVP candidate did get to the line — something the Jazz have tried desperately to avoid.

Gobert had 10 points, eight rebounds and seven blocked shots.

LET’S GET PHYSICAL

The teams combined for 72 free throws and at least one player hit the hardwood on almost every call.

“It was a lot of emotion, a lot of physicality out there,” Harden said. “It was playoff basketball.”

Gobert said the Rockets finally got a taste of the Jazz defense that propelled them to 50 wins this season.

“The way we started the game, we were tough and they felt us. I don’t think they felt us the first two games,” Gobert said.

TIP-INS

Rockets: Rivers and Ingles got double technicals in the second quarter for tossing the ball at each other. … In the third quarter, Harden was wrapped up by Royce O’Neale on a fast break and landed awkwardly with O’Neale on top of him in the row of cameras beyond the baseline. … When Harden shot free throws, the crowd often chanted “Flopper! Flopper!”

Jazz: Gobert had five blocks in the first half. … Jae Crowder started in place of Favors for the first time in the series. … Jazz missed six free throws in the first four minutes of the second half. … Utah was 12 of 41 from beyond the arc.

UP NEXT

Game 4 is Monday night in Utah.

Westlake Legal Group NBA-James-Harden3 Rockets beat Jazz 104-101 for 3-0 series lead fox-news/sports/nba/utah-jazz fox-news/sports/nba/houston-rockets fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fnc/sports fnc b368eb3d-7b79-5fab-b8f9-ec82fa6cbd5f Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group NBA-James-Harden3 Rockets beat Jazz 104-101 for 3-0 series lead fox-news/sports/nba/utah-jazz fox-news/sports/nba/houston-rockets fox-news/sports/nba-playoffs fox-news/sports/nba fnc/sports fnc b368eb3d-7b79-5fab-b8f9-ec82fa6cbd5f Associated Press article

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