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Updated: 15 min 33 sec ago
Carmelo Anthony said he wants to stay in New York, and said he wants to win. It will be up to Phil Jackson to convince him that he can do both. With the Knicks' season over and Anthony missing the playoffs for the first time in his career, he can begin thinking about his future. The Knicks never came close this season, going 37-45.
There's no bigger long shot in the NBA playoffs than the Atlanta Hawks. Only the 15th team in the last two decades to make the postseason with a losing record, the Hawks (38-44) get started Saturday against the top seed in the East, the Indiana Pacers. Then again, considering all the Hawks have been through, just making the playoffs for the seventh year in a row was quite a feat. The team has almost totally revamped its roster, broke in a rookie head coach, and lost top player Al Horford for most of the season.
The Phoenix Suns are the ''best team not to make the playoffs.'' That's the title first-year coach Jeff Hornacek bestowed on his overachieving squad after it finished a remarkable turnaround season. But despite 48 wins, the Suns are staying home when the real fun begins. In the NBA's 16-team playoff era, only one other 48-win team didn't make the postseason - the 2007-08 Golden State Warriors. It's a frustrating situation because of the decidedly Western power tilt in the NBA.
Monta Ellis had just missed a jumper that could have lifted Dallas out of a matchup with top-seeded San Antonio in the first round of the playoffs. His reaction to playing a team the Mavericks haven't beaten in more than two years was typical of the confident guard: simple, understated, defiant. Ellis' first season in Dallas has been all about shrugging off the skeptics. He couldn't play nice with others, so he settled for being Dirk Nowitzki's sidekick except for games that he simply took over in the fourth quarter.
LeBron James was standing at his locker and chatting a few days ago when the conversation turned to which teams out there the Miami Heat might fear entering these playoffs. ''We respect all,'' James said, ''but fear none.'' With those words it became obvious: Even after a regular season that seemed boring at times, and was reduced to a sputter at the finish, the Heat have no lack of confidence as they head to the playoffs. And they're seeking a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals, something only the Celtics and Lakers have accomplished. ''We'll be tested,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.