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Updated: 16 weeks 6 days ago
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Atlanta Hawks celebrated and their fans serenaded the Indiana Pacers with chants of ''Overrated!'' Game 3 did nothing to change that perception. The top-seeded Pacers are on the ropes again at the hands of the eighth-seeded Hawks, who finished six games below .500 during the regular season but truly believe they can pull off a major upset in the opening round of the playoffs. Atlanta is playing with confidence and swagger - and even got a crucial call to go its way. Jeff Teague flung in a wild 3-pointer after the officials missed him stepping out of bounds, and Kyle Korver finished off Indiana from beyond the arc to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 98-85 victory Thursday night and another lead in the series.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday he has ''no expectation'' that players will opt out of the collective bargaining agreement in 2017, potentially leading to another lockout. But Silver told a gathering of Associated Press Sports Editors that it was too soon to consider that.
If Dwane Casey has any concerns coming to Brooklyn, they aren't about his players. The Toronto Raptors have already proven they can handle the road just fine. As for his boss, general manager Masai Ujiri, who figures to hear an earful Friday night? He's seen a lot, so he's going to be OK.'' Casey is confident his young Raptors will be as well when they face the Nets in Game 3 of their first-round series, which is tied at one game apiece.
If empty seats are any indication, the Washington Wizards are just as big of a surprise in their own city as they are to the rest of the NBA. After winning their first two games on the road in one of the most intimidating arenas in the league - the United Center - the Wizards are curious to see what it'll be like when they host their first playoff game in six years. Usually it's the crowd that spurs on the players in the postseason, but in this case there's hope that the team's performance will generate a spirited turnout Friday night for Game 3 against the Chicago Bulls. Be ready to join the show and get in at tip-off or before,'' owner Ted Leonsis wrote Thursday on his blog.
Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks are coming home after showing they won't go quietly in a first-round series with top-seeded San Antonio. Part of the big German wants to stay in South Texas after the Mavericks squandered a strong game in the playoff opener by going cold late before dominating most of the way in Game 2 and squaring the best-of-seven series. Dallas had the worst home record among the eight playoff qualifiers in the Western Conference, including a late-season loss to the Spurs. The eighth-seeded Mavericks have been weak enough in their building that Nowitzki even said it was ''a little dangerous'' going back for Game 3 on Saturday after playing so well in San Antonio.
Marshall hired Los Angeles Lakers assistant Dan D'Antoni as its men's basketball coach Thursday. The 66-year-old D'Antoni is scheduled to be introduced at a news conference on Friday. He replaces Tom Herrion, who resigned last month after an 11-22 season. D'Antoni is the older brother of Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni.
Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson sat on the scorer's table at Oracle Arena on Wednesday morning. He gazed around the building and tried to envision what it will look and sound like when the Warriors host the Los Angeles Clippers for Game 3 of their first-round playoff series Thursday night. We've got to do our part.'' The Warriors will indeed need to regain more than their homecourt prowess if they want to pull off another upset in the first round of the playoffs. Blake Griffin and the Clippers crushed Golden State 138-98 in Los Angeles on Monday night to even the best-of-seven series at a game apiece.
Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger calls guard Mike Conley the kind of man a father would want to marry his daughter. Conley's peers certainly think highly enough to award him the NBA's Joe Dumars Trophy for sportsmanship. He was followed by Boston's Jeff Green, Phoenix's Channing Frye, Washington's Bradley Beal, Portland's Damian Lillard and Chicago's Mike Dunleavy.
In Miami, it's called the Big Three for a reason. LeBron James was stellar for the Heat in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first-round series against Charlotte, and Dwyane Wade helped save the game with a steal to deny the Bobcats a chance at tying the game in the final seconds. And perhaps best for Miami, Chris Bosh might have found his offensive groove again. It's a simple formula: When Bosh - the oft-overlooked member in Miami's trio of stars - is scoring at playoff time, the Heat are usually winning.
LaMarcus Aldridge's son JJ, who turned 5 on Wednesday, texted him after the Portland Trail Blazers' playoff win and told him he looked like Spider-Man on one of his dunks. To the Houston Rockets the Portland star probably looked like a superhero on more than just that one play. Aldridge continued his dominance against the Rockets, scoring 43 points to lift the Trail Blazers to a 112-105 victory and a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series. Aldridge has made the most of the return to his home state and put the Trail Blazers in control heading home for Game 3 in Portland on Friday.
Blowing their playoff opener turned out to be great therapy for the Dallas Mavericks. Eighth-seeded Dallas rolled to a 113-92 victory over San Antonio on Wednesday night, snapping a 10-game skid against the Spurs and evening their first-round series at a game apiece. Dallas didn't relent in Game 2 after watching a 10-point lead evaporate in the final eight minutes of the series opener Sunday. ''Game 1 actually helped a lot more than today,'' Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki said.
LeBron James drove to the rim as time was winding down, got clobbered by Josh McRoberts and sat on the hardwood gathering himself for a few seconds afterward. Miami took Charlotte's best shot, and survived. James scored 32 points and added eight assists, Chris Bosh scored 20 points and the Heat wasted two big leads before hanging on to beat the Bobcats 101-97 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series. ''We haven't played our best basketball.'' Dwyane Wade scored 15 points, and had a steal in the final seconds to seal the win for Miami.
Saying they reaffirm the team's commitment to the city, the Miami Heat announced Wednesday night that they have agreed to extend their partnership with Miami-Dade County another 10 years through 2040. Heat managing partner Micky Arison, whose team plays in the county-owned AmericanAirlines Arena in downtown Miami, said the team struck the deal with Mayor Carlos Gimenez and that the pact includes an inflation-adjusted operating subsidy of $147 million from the county's Convention Development Tax fund, money he said will be reinvested into the building. ''By any measure, the partnership between the Miami Heat and Miami-Dade County has been a hugely successful one,'' Arison wrote in a statement released by the team shortly before Game 2 of its Eastern Conference first-round series against the Charlotte Bobcats got underway. ''Today, we are committing to keep that success going.'' Terms of the arena deal have been the source of much debate in South Florida for years, and not long after the Heat released their statement, Gimenez told The Miami Herald that the subsidy issue remains a major concern.
Of course, the NBA's most improved team would have its most improved player. Goran Dragic, whose breakout season helped the Phoenix Suns make a remarkable transformation, was presented the most improved award at a ceremony Wednesday at US Airways Center. The 6-foot-3 Slovenian, who turns 28 in two weeks, flourished under first-year coach Jeff Hornacek's double-point guard system, teaming with Eric Bledsoe to form a dynamic backcourt. ''We're looking for players who can go out there every night and lay it all out there,'' Hornacek said, ''play through injuries, do everything the coaches ask, play with confidence.
Lance Stephenson and Evan Turner were unified on three points Wednesday. Yes, they scrapped during a practice before Game 1 of their first-round series against Atlanta. Pacers players and coaches all described the physical confrontation between Stephenson and Turner through their own prisms, but nobody - including Stephenson and Turner - called it a fight.
The Indiana Pacers headed south Wednesday, finally carrying themselves with a swagger befitting the No. 1 seed. The Pacers evened the series against the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks with a dominating third-quarter performance in Game 2, stifling some of the incessant criticism the supposed best team in the East had endured after sleepwalking through the final seven weeks of the regular season and turning in a dismal performance in the playoff opener. Of course, the condemnation will start up all over again if the Pacers falter in Game 3 on Thursday night. ''That was my point to them,'' coach Frank Vogel said after a practice in Indianapolis, before the team hopped on a 90-minute flight to Atlanta.
Jason Kidd never appears worries about anything, certainly not about someone like Paul Pierce. Even if Pierce's matchup was completely one-sided in Toronto's favor in Game 2. He couldn't get his shot to fall, couldn't keep his man off the boards, and the Raptors targeted the Pierce matchup as one they could exploit. Yet Kidd is not concerned as his Brooklyn Nets prepare to host the Raptors in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference first-round series Friday night.