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Suns' Dragic honored as NBA's Most Improved Player (The Associated Press)
23 Apr 2014 at 4:10pm
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.
Knicks looking for hometown discount from Anthony (Reuters)
23 Apr 2014 at 3:31pm
Potential free agent Carmelo Anthony will be asked to give the New York Knicks a discount on his next contract in order to help build a title contender, team president Phil Jackson said on Wednesday. Anthony, who finished the 2013-14 NBA season second on the scoring list with an average of 27.4 points a game and was one of the few bright spots in New York's 37-45 campaign, could declare himself a free agent on July 1. "I'd like to appeal to his better nature about winning," Jackson told reporters at the Knicks practice center. "That's the beginning of team play." Jackson, the Hall of Fame coach who won a record 11 NBA titles in charge of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, came out of retirement last month to run the Knicks, the team he broke in with as a player.
Charles Barkley says Wizards will sweep Bulls after Game 2 OT win: 'This is O...
23 Apr 2014 at 12:20am
After trailing by 10 points with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter and by six with just under four minutes remaining in regulation, the Washington Wizards came back to beat the Chicago Bulls, 101-99 , in overtime to finish off an impressive road sweep at United Center. Randy Wittman's crew will head back to the nation's capital brimming with confidence and holding a commanding 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series. The Bulls will travel east knowing that if they don't figure out a way to scratch out some more points against the Wizards' defense, they might not be long for the postseason. At least one prominent national basketball commentator isn't banking on Tom Thibodeau and company finding that solution before Game 3 on Friday . Hall of Famer and Turner Sports analyst Charles Barkley pronounced Chicago dead on arrival during TNT's post-game discussion of the Wizards' Game 2 win. Here are Sir Charles' comments, as dutifully transcribed by Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog : [Barkley] said John Wall ?is learning to be a point guard instead of just a tornado out there.? He said Bradley Beal ?has arrived.? And then he said this. ?I will tell you this: whoever plays that team in the second round is gonna have their hands full.? ?Are you saying this one is over then?? ["Inside the NBA" studio host] Ernie Johnson asked. ?This is O-V-E-R in a 4-0 sweep,? Barkley said. ?It is flat-out over. [The Bulls] can?t beat them. They can?t score enough. Ernie, I told you all season, this was the third-best team in the Eastern Conference when they?re healthy. They?re fully healthy, Wall and Beal are terrific. Nene is the key. He?s a nightmare matchup for most guys. ?They?re gonna sweep the Bulls,? Barkley went on. ?This series is a wrap. Whoever they play in the next series, whether it?s Indiana or Atlanta, they?re gonna have their hands full, because this team, they?re deep. They?ve got veteran leadership. They went out and got Andre Miller for leadership. Trevor Ariza?s been deep in the playoffs. Their two best players are [young]. They?re the key. Wall is growing up before our eyes, Beal can flat-out just shoot with anybody. But with the guys coming off the bench, this is gonna be a sweep.? To be fair, Barkley's within his rights to crow a bit ? as he said, he's been touting Washington as the East's third-best team (when healthy) for months , and he was one of relatively few national pundits to pick Washington to beat Chicago in the East's 4-vs.-5 first-round matchup. (For the record, none of us here at BDL picked the Wiz, nor did Woj or Spears . Such haters.) And the odds of a comeback are certainly stacked against the Bulls. Only 16 teams in NBA history have come back from an 0-2 deficit to win a postseason series ? the 15 on this list and last year's Memphis Grizzlies, who came back to knock off the Los Angeles Clippers, and only three teams have come back to win a series after dropping the first two games on their home court. With all due respect to Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah and third-place finisher in Coach of the Year voting Thibodeau, this year's Bulls don't have Wilt, West and Elgin, like the 1968-69 Los Angeles Lakers did, or prime Hakeem Olajuwon, like the 1993-94 Houston Rockets did, or 26-year-old Dirk Nowitzki, like the 2004-05 Dallas Mavericks did. They're in serious trouble, and in the case of this particular emergency, they can't break open the glass and pull out a Hall of Fame offensive force to pull them out of it.
Spurs' Gregg Popovich wins 2013-14 NBA Coach of the Year Award, becomes third...
22 Apr 2014 at 9:49am
The voters have the facts, and they've voted yes: Gregg Popovich is the best in the world at what he does. The NBA announced Tuesday that the San Antonio Spurs' inimitable sideline stalker has been named the league's 2013-14 Coach of the Year , taking home the Red Auerbach Trophy after piloting his Spurs to a 62-20 record, the best mark in the NBA, and the top seed in one of the more competitive Western Conferences in recent memory. It's the second time in the last three years that Popovich has taken home the honor, and the third time in his illustrious career. He won his first Coach of the Year after a 2002-03 season in which his Spurs went 60-22 and won the NBA championship behind league MVP Tim Duncan. He joins Don Nelson (1982-83 and 1984-85 with the Milwaukee Bucks, 1991-92 with the Golden State Warriors) and Pat Riley (1989-90 with the Los Angeles Lakers, 1992-93 with the New York Knicks, 1996-97 with the Miami Heat) as the only three-time winners in the history of the award, which dates back to the 1962-63 season. Popovich, 65, received 59 of a possible 124 first-place votes from sportswriters and broadcasters, and earned 380 total points ? you get five points for a first-place vote, three points for second place and one point for third place ? to top the ballot in a year in which there were a slew of very deserving candidates. You sure can make a strong case for Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek, who finished second. The former ace shooting guard and ex-Utah Jazz assistant received 37 first-place votes, a ballot-leading 44 second-place nods and 339 total points after leading a young and rebuilding Suns squad that many predicted to rank among the league's very worst teams to a remarkable 48-34 record. The Suns were in playoff contention until the second-to-last game of the season in his first year running the show in the desert. Ditto for Tom Thibodeau, who won the award after the 2010-11 season and came in third this season. The eternally hoarse and hard-charging Thibodeau received 12 first-place votes and 159 total points for his work alongside newly minted Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah in leading the Chicago Bulls to a tie for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference despite losing former MVP and expected offensive centerpiece Derrick Rose just 10 games into the season. He also watched his front office ship out two-way linchpin Luol Deng in a midseason money-saving deal that did nothing to augment this year's club. Without two of his three best players, Thibs still coaxed the league's second-best defense out of this year's Bulls and made scrap-heap pickup D.J. Augustin into a legitimate game-changing scorer off the bench. And then there's Steve Clifford, who finished fourth (eight first-place votes, 127 points) after building the sixth-stingiest defense in the NBA around noted sieve Al Jefferson. He turned the Charlotte Bobcats from a league-wide laughingstock into a team that doesn't beat itself, and they intend to make the Miami Heat work for every last bucket in their first-round playoff series. And Dwane Casey, who finished fifth (five first-place votes, 70 points) after engineering a 14-game turnaround in the standings to lead the Toronto Raptors to a franchise-record 48 wins, the second Atlantic Division title in team history, and top-10 finishes in points scored and allowed per possession. Any of those top five finishers would've been very worthy selections, making Coach of the Year, as always, one of the more difficult annual award calls to make. For what it's worth, two Yahoo Sports NBA writers ? Kelly Dwyer and I ? had Pop as our top choice in our 2013-14 postseason/awards predictions . Yahoo Sports NBA columnists Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears preferred Clifford and Hornacek, respectively, while BDL writer Eric Freeman went with Thibodeau. Also receiving first-place votes: Terry Stotts of the Portland Trail Blazers, whose free-flowing offensive system unleashed All-Stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard en route to 54 wins, the West's No. 5 seed and a sixth-place finish; and Doc Rivers, who came in seventh after not only leading the Los Angeles Clippers to a franchise-record 57 wins and a second straight Pacific Division title, but also freeing up Blake Griffin to become the unquestioned focal point of L.A.'s meat-grinder offense while Chris Paul recuperated from a midseason shoulder strain. Scott Brooks of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Mark Jackson of the Golden State Warriors and Jason Kidd of the Brooklyn Nets each received a third-place vote to round out the top 10. (The full media voting results have been made available online, if you'd like to check them out. Transparency!) But while there were many fine choices, there was only one right choice, and the voters made it. The 2013-14 season saw Pop not only continue his franchise's unparalleled run of consistent excellence ? 50-plus wins for the 15th straight season, and for the 16th time in 17 seasons (they only played 50 games in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, and the Spurs won 74 percent of them, equivalent to 61 wins over an 82-game campaign, en route to an NBA championship ), and 17 consecutive playoff berths, the fifth-longest postseason streak in NBA history ? but he did so on the heels of the Spurs' losses to the Miami Heat in Games 6 and 7 of the 2013 NBA finals, one of the most crushing conclusions to a season imaginable. Pop recently said he was "really impressed" with how his players bounced back from that "devastating loss." We're really impressed with how their coach did, too. There were plenty of times when the train could have run off the tracks, most notably during a six-week-long stretch where major contributors kept dropping like flies: big man Tiago Splitter hurting his shoulder , shooting guard Danny Green and swingman Kawhi Leonard suffering busted hands , sixth-man extraordinaire Manu Ginobili straining his left hamstring , and Tony Parker sustaining a "variety of maladies," etc. But without four huge pieces of the puzzle for several weeks, and with the Spurs fighting to stay at the top of a brutal Western Conference jam-packed with dangerous opponents, Pop just kept plugging in new parts to keep the system running smoothly. Under Pop, Marco Belinelli ? a talented shooter and playmaker who'd never shot or made plays that well in his previous stops ? became lethal, putting up more than 16 points and three assists per 36 minutes of floor time on excellent shooting splits (48.5 percent from the field, 43 percent from 3-point range, 84.7 percent from the foul line) and proving a perfect complement to Ginobili in reserve groups that torched opposing second units. Under Pop, Patty Mills ? formerly a little-used, towel-waving mascot ? became a critical rotation piece capable of roasting defenses from long range and blazing his way to the rim when Parker sat down. Under Pop, Boris Diaw became a jack-of-all-trades type capable of holding together and augmenting myriad frontcourt units on both ends of the floor. Under Pop, unheralded players like Jeff Ayres, Aron Baynes, Cory Joseph and Austin Daye all stepped forth and made contributions that kept the Spurs on course for bigger things, keeping the big guns rested and ready. No Spur averaged more than 30 minutes per game during the regular season, which is the first time any team has done that in NBA history and is a pretty big deal given all those minutes and miles on the legs of Duncan, Ginobili and Parker. And amid all that juggling, Pop's Spurs won a franchise-record and NBA-leading 30 road games, won 11 straight games in November and 19 straight games from mid-February through early April. He also led his team to top-four finishes in offensive and defensive efficiency, and earned home-court advantage throughout the NBA playoffs. Taken all together, this might be, as 48 Minutes of Hell's Trevor Zickgraf argues , "the most impressive coaching performance of Pop?s career." Considering all that career has seen ? the ninth-most regular-season wins and third-most postseason wins in NBA history, five NBA finals trips and four NBA championships ? that's saying an awful lot. And considering Pop won't ever take that bow himself, eternally reminding us that it's a player's league, we'll take a moment to take it for him. The best in the business works in San Antonio, and his work's not over yet. More NBA coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.
Spurs' Popovich named Coach of the Year (The SportsXchange)
22 Apr 2014 at 9:38am
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich credits his players for rebounding in resilient fashion from what he considers the most devastating defeat in his coaching tenure with the franchise -- Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals -- to post the best record in the league a year later.
Woodson, Corbin fired: Adelman decides to retire (The Associated Press)
21 Apr 2014 at 5:29pm
Mike Woodson and Tyrone Corbin lost their jobs, and Rick Adelman decided it was time to walk away from his.
Knicks fire coach Mike Woodson (The Associated Press)
21 Apr 2014 at 2:24pm
Mike Woodson had the Knicks on top of their division and in the second round of the playoffs, destinations that had become unreachable and practically unimaginable in New York. Phil Jackson fired Woodson and the entire coaching staff on Monday, making his first big move since becoming team president in March and saying in a statement that ''the time has come for change throughout the franchise.'' The dismissal comes shortly after the Knicks completed a 37-45 season that began with their belief they were a serious contender. It was a stunningly swift fall for Woodson, whose .580 winning percentage with the Knicks ranks behind only Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy, and who finished third in the NBA's Coach of the Year voting after going 54-28 last season. He and the staff were informed of the decision Monday morning by Jackson, the man the Knicks originally wanted to replace Woodson as coach but preferred to run the team's front office.
Knicks fire coaching staff after 'difficult' season (Reuters)
21 Apr 2014 at 10:42am
The New York Knicks fired head coach Mike Woodson on Monday as new president Phil Jackson made the first big move to put his stamp on the National Basketball Association team. Jackson, hired last month to turn around the struggling franchise, said in a statement that the entire coaching staff had been relieved of their duties. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mike Woodson and his entire staff," said Jackson, who won a record 11 NBA titles as head coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers in the previous two decades. "But the time has come for change throughout the franchise as we start the journey to assess and build this team for next season and beyond." Despite a late surge in which the Knicks won 16 of their last 21 games, New York finished the season with a 37-45 record and missed the playoffs by one game after winning the division title last year and reaching the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
For Rockets to rise from rubble of Game 1 collapse, Dwight Howard will have t...
21 Apr 2014 at 2:27am
Dwight Howard came to the Rockets as their franchise superstar. They're now looking to him for help after their stunning OT loss to the Blazers.
Reigning NBA champs Miami open playoffs with win (AFP)
20 Apr 2014 at 8:39pm
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 50 points to lead two-time defending NBA champions Miami to a 99-88 victory over Charlotte in their post-season opener. James on Sunday made four of the Heat's 11 three-pointers and finished with 27 points and nine rebounds as the Heat seized the advantage in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series. Wade added 23 points and five assists for the Heat, who are trying to become the first club to win three straight NBA titles since the Los Angeles Lakers did it 2000, 2001 and 2002.

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