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Bobcats need to solve LeBron for first playoff win (Yahoo Sports)

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 18:26

Miami Heat's LeBron James, left, goes up to shoot as Indiana Pacers' Roy Hibbert (55) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, April 11, 2014, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Pacers 98-86. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

- The Charlotte Bobcats will have to find a way to stop LeBron James if they hope to win their first playoff game in franchise history. Miami is 15-0 against the Bobcats since James signed with the Heat as a free agent in 2010. Charlotte, the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference, will play the second-seeded Heat in a best-of-seven series that begins Sunday in Miami. James is averaging a whopping 37.7 points per game in four outings against the Bobcats this season, buoyed by a career-high 61-point effort on March 3.

Disappointed Wolves enter offseason of uncertainty (Yahoo Sports)

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 18:26

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Kevin Martin (23), guard Ricky Rubio (9), of Spain, and forward Kevin Love (42) head downcourt during a timeout in overtime of an NBA basketball game as the Utah Jazz take the lead in Minneapolis, Wednesday, April 16, 2014. The Jazz won 136-130 in double overtime. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Kevin Love sat in front of his locker after the Minnesota Timberwolves' season came to a close, his sixth year in the NBA and his sixth without a trip to the playoffs. His body language is more a personality quirk than a referendum on Love's happiness or unhappiness with the only team he's played for, but nevertheless it projects a dour image that makes Timberwolves fans very nervous. Asked if he expected to be in a Timberwolves uniform next season, Love gave a long pause and kept staring at the floor, offering no answer before the interview was cut short. And with that, an offseason of uncertainty in Minnesota began.

Bucks pack up, await future with new owners (Yahoo Sports)

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:39

Milwaukee Bucks mascot Bango, left, high-fives fans during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Wednesday, April 16, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

ST. FRANCIS, Wis. (AP) -- One by one, the Milwaukee Bucks met with their coach one last time before packing up their belongings. More change could be coming to Milwaukee. ''There (are) definitely pieces here that we can build around, young talent,'' guard Brandon Knight said Wednesday at the team training facility just outside the city. We have little to no control over what is said in those rooms up here.'' Knight gestured toward the bank of windows overlooking the practice court, where coach Larry Drew and general manager John Hammond conducted player exit interviews.

Blazers survive adversity to surge into playoffs (Yahoo Sports)

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:04

Portland Trail Blazers' head coach Terry Stotts shouts with his team in the second half during an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz Friday, April 11, 2014, in Salt Lake City. The Trail Blazers won 111-99. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

After starting off as one of the hottest teams in the NBA, the Portland Trail Blazers wilted a bit after the All-Star break. The low point came on March 25 when the Blazers fell 95-85 at Orlando. The loss capped a 4-9 stretch for Portland. But since then, the Blazers have won nine of their final 10 games and wrapped up the regular season with a five-game winning streak.

Cavaliers enter an interesting offseason (Yahoo Sports)

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 16:56

Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving, left, shakes hands with Cleveland Cavaliers fan Brandon Armstrong after giving Armstrong his game shoes for Fan Appreciation Night after an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Wednesday, April 16, 2014, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers defeated the Nets 114-85. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Kyrie Irving was already wearing his jacket and a Louis Vuitton backpack as he conducted his final postgame interview. Once Irving finished answering questions, Cleveland's All-Star point guard quickly left the locker room. The postseason remained out of reach for Irving and the Cavs, who had a turbulent six months together. With coach Mike Brown's future in question and owner Dan Gilbert faced with difficult decisions on his front office, roster and whether to offer Irving a maximum, five-year contract extension, the Cavs are in flux.

Bulls ready to start playoff push against Wizards (Yahoo Sports)

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 16:50
It's not the way the Chicago Bulls mapped it out at the start of the season. But here they are, holding the fourth seed and hosting John Wall and the Washington Wizards in Game 1 of their first-round series Sunday after going 48-34. They lead the Eastern Conference with 36 wins since Jan. 1 even though they don't have a player averaging 15 points, and they came together right when they looked as though they might be ripe for a meltdown. That's not bad considering Derrick Rose's derailed comeback and the trade of Luol Deng to Cleveland.

Magic officials enter offseason with confidence (Yahoo Sports)

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 16:37

Orlando Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn calls out a play to his team during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls, Monday, April 14, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jeff Haynes)

It's been two seasons since the Orlando Magic went through near-wholesale changes that included a franchise player's exit and bringing in a new general manager and coaching staff. Strides in the right direction,'' Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said Thursday. That spirit, combined with solid seasons from No. 2 overall draft pick Victor Oladipo and third-year center Nik Vucevic, gives team officials even more confidence as they head into a summer highlighted by two lottery picks in June's draft, and lots of roster flexibility to potentially bring in veteran pieces as well.

Nuggets staying home for first time in decade (Yahoo Sports)

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 14:59

Denver Nuggets guard Randy Foye shoots as Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, April 15, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Denver Nuggets aren't accustomed to cleaning out their lockers in April. The Nuggets are headed to the NBA draft lottery instead of the postseason party for the first time since 2002-03, when their 65-loss season landed them Carmelo Anthony and ushered in a decade of annual playoff appearances. Of course, only once in that span did Denver advance out of the first round, one reason coach George Karl was fired last summer after a franchise-record 57-win campaign and an NBA Coach of the Year award and was replaced by Brian Shaw, whose rookie season was beset by injuries and unrest. After finishing 36-46, Denver will have either its own pick in the draft in June or the New York Knicks' selection, whichever is better.

Sacramento Kings' 'new era' off to slow start (Yahoo Sports)

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 13:39

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins tears at his jersey after drawing a technical foul against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., on Sunday, April 13, 2014. The Kings won 106-103.(AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

This season was supposed to be the start of a ''new era'' for the Sacramento Kings, as owner Vivek Ranadive proclaimed over and over again when he took over last year. Sacramento (28-54) stumbled to the same record as a year ago to wrap up an eighth straight losing season. DeMarcus Cousins drew two suspensions and 16 technical fouls, even after signing a four-year, $62 million contract extension before training camp and promising to change his behavior. And first-year coach Michael Malone never showed signs of turning the Kings into a defensive-minded team as he had hoped, though the constant roster changes didn't help.

LeBron still No. 1 with NBA's most-popular jersey (Yahoo Sports)

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 12:26

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant gestures following a basket in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

LeBron James' jersey remains the most popular in the NBA. The league announced Thursday that the Miami Heat star topped the list of jersey sales in the NBA for the sixth time. With teammate Dwyane Wade - whose jersey number hasn't changed in 11 years - at No. 7, the Heat also had the top spot on the team-merchandise sales list. ''Thanks so much to all that 'Strive for Greatness.''' Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City is No. 2 on the list, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, Chicago's Derrick Rose, Golden State's Stephen Curry and New York's Carmelo Anthony.

Crawford's 41 points leads Warriors over Nuggets (Yahoo Sports)

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 02:16

Golden State Warriors guard Steve Blake, right, prepares to pass around Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Denver on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Jordan Crawford scored a career-high 41 points and Harrison Barnes added 30 as a squad of Golden State backups beat the short-handed Denver Nuggets 116-112 Wednesday night. He surpassed it with a runner that put the Warriors ahead for good at 110-108. The Nuggets thought they tied it up at 115 with seven seconds left when Draymond Green was whistled for goaltending on Randy Foye's 3-pointer, but the call was overturned upon review. Anthony Randolph added 19 points for the Nuggets, who are missing the playoff party for the first time since 2002-03, the year before Carmelo Anthony's arrival.

Blazers defeat Clippers 110-102 (Yahoo Sports)

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 01:23

Los Angeles Clippers forward Glen Davis, left, and Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez battle for a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Will Barton had a career-high 23 points and 10 rebounds and the Portland Trail Blazers downed the Los Angeles Clippers 110-104 in the regular-season finale Wednesday night, with both teams resting key players in advance of the playoffs. Portland, which sat starting forward LaMarcus Aldridge, ends the regular season on a five-game winning streak. Seeded fifth in the Western Conference, Portland will face the Rockets in a first-round series starting Sunday in Houston. Jamal Crawford had 34 points for the Clippers, who didn't play Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

Durant has 42, Thunder beat Pistons 112-111 (Yahoo Sports)

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 00:21

 Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder drives against the Detroit Pistons on April 16, 2014 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Detroit Pistons had Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The Oklahoma City Thunder had Kevin Durant. Durant scored 42 points, including 21 in the fourth quarter, and the Thunder secured the No. 2 playoff seed in the Western Conference, rallying from 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Pistons 112-111 Wednesday night. Oklahoma City (59-23) had lost two straight to put itself in the must-win situation in the regular-season finale to earn the No. 2 seed.

Grizzlies grab 7th seed, beat Dallas 106-105 in OT (Yahoo Sports)

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 00:20

Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33), of Spain, goes to the basket against Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis (11) and forward Dirk Nowitzki, of Germany, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Lance Murphey)

The Memphis Grizzlies had every reason to ease up in the regular season finale after pushing hard the past three months to reach the postseason. Mike Conley hit two free throws with 1.1 seconds left in overtime, and the Memphis Grizzlies moved up from the eighth seed by edging the Dallas Mavericks 106-105 on Wednesday night. The Grizzlies, who set a franchise record with a 14th straight home win in a single season, will open the postseason Saturday night at Oklahoma City. ''Playing Grizzlies' basketball going into the postseason was key, and we wanted to try to keep that momentum going,'' Grizzlies guard Tony Allen said.

Knicks beat Raptors, who get No. 3 seed anyway (Yahoo Sports)

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 23:49

Toronto Raptors' Jonas Valanciunas (17) and Amir Johnson (15) defend New York Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The Knicks lingered on the court, soaking in the cheers from the fans wearing those giveaway orange shirts that were probably meant for the playoffs. Hard as it still is for them to believe, there is no more basketball for the Knicks this season. New York finished its disappointing season with a 95-92 victory Wednesday night over the Toronto Raptors, who blew a 21-point lead but still landed the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. ''We just take that on the chin and use that for preparation for next year.'' Toronto moves on to host the Brooklyn Nets, who fell to the No. 6 seed, in its playoff opener Saturday.

Wizards head to playoffs with win (Yahoo Sports)

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 23:44

Washington Wizards forward Nene Hilario, right, drives against Boston Celtics center Joel Anthony during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Bradley Beal stood at his locker near the middle of a noisy Washington locker room and expressed a thought that Wizards' players haven't felt for a few years. ''I was sitting here after the game and talking to Glen (Rice) saying, 'It's a great feeling knowing you're going to keep playing,''' Beal said after scoring 27 points to help the Wizards grab the Eastern Conference's No. 5 seed with a 118-102 win over Boston on Wednesday night. For me being my second year, a lot of guys haven't been through it.'' The Wizards, who closed the regular season by winning seven of their last 10 games, will be facing Chicago in their first playoff appearance since 2008. ''I just thought the way we ended it, that's what we talked about,'' Wizards coach Randy Wittman said.

Nets rest starters, lose 114-85 to Cavaliers (Yahoo Sports)

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 23:32

Cleveland Cavaliers' Alonzo Gee, right, knocks the ball loose from Brooklyn Nets' Andray Blatche during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

The Nets lounged their way into the NBA playoffs. Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd sat his starters for the season finale and the Nets wound up with the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs following a 114-85 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night. Although the Nets could have clinched the No. 5 spot with a win, Kidd elected to rest Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston, who spent the night on the bench as the world's highest-paid cheerleading squad.

Walker leads Bobcats over Bulls in OT, 91-86 (Yahoo Sports)

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 23:24

Charlotte Bobcats' Al Jefferson, left, shoots past Charlotte Bobcats' Jannero Pargo, right, and Taj Gibson, second from right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Al Jefferson knows few people will be giving the Charlotte Bobcats a chance to upset the Miami Heat in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. ''They didn't give us a chance in October, if you remember,'' Jefferson said. So we don't worry about what is said outside of these walls right here.'' The Bobcats defeated the Chicago Bulls 91-86 in overtime on Wednesday night to finish the season 43-39 and as the seventh seed in the East. But now there is the monumental task of beating the two-time defending NBA champions, something the Bobcats haven't done in the LeBron James era.

Hawks wrap up regular season, beat Bucks 111-103 (Yahoo Sports)

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 23:17

Milwaukee Bucks' Khris Middleton, right, and Atlanta Hawks' Kyle Korver go after a loose ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Mike Scott scored 17 points and the Atlanta Hawks ended the regular season with a 111-103 win Wednesday over the Bucks, hours after Milwaukee owner Herb Kohl announced he was selling his team. Mike Muscala added 15 for the Hawks, who rallied from a 12-point deficit in the first half. Atlanta is locked into the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and a first-round date with the Indiana Pacers. Scott started for forward Paul Millsap, who was rested to get ready for the postseason.

Pacers rest 3 starters, cruise past Magic 101-86 (Yahoo Sports)

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 21:35

Indiana Pacers' Evan Turner (12) takes a shot over Orlando Magic's E'Twaun Moore, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Rasual Butler and Chris Copeland each scored 19 points as the Indiana Pacers rested their key players and cruised to a 101-86 victory over the Orlando Magic in the regular-season finale for both teams. The Eastern Conference's top seed ended the season winning three of four to shake off a nasty late-season slump. The Pacers will open the playoffs against eighth-seed Atlanta. Indiana held out Paul George, Lance Stephenson and David West against the Magic.