Spurs coach Popovich savours fifth NBA title

The San Antonio Spurs.

The San Antonio Spurs.

Gregg Popovich thought he had seen it all in his 17 seasons as a coach in the National Basketball Association.

 That is until his San Antonio Spurs exploded in the opening half of game three of the NBA finals, shooting a finals record 76 per cent.

 “I don’t think we’ll shoot 76 per cent in a half ever again. That’s crazy,” Popovich said.

 For a coach who often rebuffs interviewers with surly one-word answers, Popovich’s impromptu answer was refreshingly out of character.

 But make no mistake, behind that gruff exterior is a coach who knows how to motivate and cares immensely about his players. The 65-year-old Popovich is a great decision maker who led the Spurs to the fifth title in franchise history Sunday as San Antonio wrapped up a five-game victory over the Miami Heat.

 The Spurs stomped the two-time defending NBA champion Heat in the 2014 finals, shooting a finals record 52.7 percent from the field overall.

 They put together two straight blowout wins in games three and four on the road before returning home to clinch the series with another lopsided 104-87 win.

 This season Popovich has been able to mould the raw talent of Kawhi Leonard into the MVP of the finals. He also took Charlotte Bobcats castoff Boris Diaw and fit him perfectly into the Spurs’ system.


 “As time evolves and you get older in the business you figure out what’s really important, and you don’t waste time trying to make people what they’re not going to be,” Popovich said.

 “You’ve just got to figure out who people are and what they can give you and take advantage of their positives.

 “You learn that you can’t make everything the way you think you might. You can’t make somebody great, so you don’t waste your time. You make a trade. You get rid of somebody.

 “You make sure you’re bringing people in who fit in all the areas you want. Competitiveness and team play.”

 Popovich likes to tell the story of when Manu Ginobili first arrived in San Antonio.

 “I’ve learned to shut up more, and that probably is due to Manu Ginobili,” he said. “When he first came I was going to make him a heck of a player.

 “And after 20 minutes I realized that he didn’t need me to do that. He was already a heck of a player.

 “Sometimes being quiet and letting the player play is much more important than trying to be Mr. Coach and teach him this or teach him that.

 “I didn’t make him a competitor and there is no way I could make him a non-competitor.”

 Popovich believes communication is the key to any good relationship between coach and player.

 “You take somebody like Danny Green, who we’ve worked with for a long time and actually cut him twice,” Popovich said. “When you see somebody develop and come into his own, you feel like you did something worthwhile.

 “So it’s one of the sources of satisfaction in the business, if you can see a young player grow and become confident.”

 This year Popovich led the Spurs to a NBA best 62-20 record, extending their streak of winning at least 50 games to a record 15-straight seasons.

 Popovich had guided the Spurs to six NBA finals appearances.


Popovich was named the NBA’s coach of the year in April. It is the third time he has earned the award, joining Pat Riley and Don Nelson as the only coaches to receive the Red Auerbach Trophy three times. He also won the award in the 2002-03 and 2011-12 seasons.

 Popovich is the longest tenured active coach in the NBA, but in 1999 there were calls for his ouster after the Spurs got off to a rocky start to the lockout-shortened season.

 San Antonio had lost five of seven including back-to-back double digit losses to Utah and Seattle.

 The Spurs eventually turned it around, going on a 15-2 run in the playoffs. They topped it off by beating the New York Knicks in five games for their first NBA title.

 Popovich says NBA owners are often too quick to pull the trigger on coaches when teams get off to poor starts or don’t live up high expectations.

 “Guys get fired every year who are good coaches and it has got nothing to do with what they know or don’t know,” Popovich said.


June 19, 2014 By : Category : English NBA Tournament 0 Comment

NBA – Pacers too good for Celtics

NBA - Pacers too good for Celtics

Indiana Pacers forward Paul George {24} drives baseline
against the Boston Celtics

Paul George scored 24 points and guard Lance Stephenson had a triple-double as the Indiana Pacers defeated the Boston Celtics 106-79 to improve the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Stephenson finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, his second triple-double in two games against the Celtics this season.

Pacers forward Danny Granger, playing just his second game this season after sitting out with a strained left calf, scored 12 points and made four of five three-pointers off the bench.

Indiana (22-5) won their second game in a row after losing three of five.

The blowout followed a 114-81 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday.

Avery Bradley scored 13 points and Jeff Green and Courtney Lee scored 11 points apiece for the Celtics (12-17), who entered the game tied for the Atlantic Division lead.

December 24, 2013 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight NBA 0 Comment

San Antonio Spurs rebound with convincing win over Orlando Magic

m_San Antonio Spurs rebound with convincing win over Orlando Magic

Tim Duncan.jpg

The San Antonio Spurs bounced back from their first NBA defeat in nearly a month with a convincing 109-91 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday.

With San Antonio’s All-Star point guard Tony Parker resting a sore ankle, Tim Duncan and reserve shooting guard Marco Belinelli led a balanced Spurs attack with 19 points apiece.

Duncan connected on 8-of-13 shots from the floor and added a game-high nine rebounds, while Italy’s Belinelli shot 4-of-4 from three-point range.

Duncan scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half, when the reigning Western Conference champion Spurs took control of the contest with a run of 17 straight points in the second quarter.

Their comfortable cushion allowed the 37-year-old Duncan to sit out much of the second half — a useful rest with the Spurs due to host the Houston Rockets in San Antonio on Saturday.

Cory Joseph started in place of France’s Parker and contributed 13 points for a Spurs team who had suffered just their second defeat of the season on Wednesday at Oklahoma City.

That defeat by the Thunder snapped the Spurs’ 11-game winning streak.

The Magic were also without their starting point guard as Jameer Nelson was sidelined by a sprained foot.

In his absence Victor Oladipo delivered 15 points and three blocked shots, and Arron Afflalo led the Magic with 17 points.

December 1, 2013 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight NBA 0 Comment

NBA – 76ers fall to first loss of season

 NBA - 76ers fall to first loss of season

The Golden State Warriors rolled to a 110-90 victory over the previously unbeaten Philadelphia 76ers.

Shooting guard Andre Iguodala scored 32 points against his former team, and point guard Stephen Curry had a triple-double as the Golden State Warriors rolled to a victory over the previously unbeaten Philadelphia 76ers.

Iguodala, who spent his first eight seasons with the 76ers (3-1), notched 27 in the first half alone and made a career-high seven 3-pointers.

Curry had 18 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for the Warriors (3-1), who built a 39-point lead in the third quarter and rested their starters in the final period.

- – -

Cavaliers 93, Timberwolves 92

Shooting guard C.J. Miles had 19 points and five rebounds to help the Cavaliers hand the Minnesota Timberwolves their first loss of the season.

Free-agent acquisition Kevin Martin led all scorers with 23 points for the Timberwolves (3-1), who fought back from a 23-point deficit before Kevin Love missed a potential game-winning three-pointer as time expired.

- – -

Memphis 95, Celtics 88

Grizzlies reserve guard Jerryd Bayless scored all 15 of his points in the fourth quarter, hitting one jumper after another in rhythm and carrying Memphis to a victory over the win-less Celtics.

Boston power forward Jeff Green had a game-high 22 points and power forward Jared Sullinger scored 16 off the bench for Boston (0-4) who led by seven entering the fourth quarter but faltered.

- – -

Clippers 137, Rockets 118

Center Dwight Howard endured an unsuccessful return to Los Angeles as the Clippers had an explosive, 78-point first half and beat the Rockets while getting Howard into early foul trouble.

Shooting guard J.J. Redick led the Clippers with a game-high 26 points. Point guard Chris Paul added 23 points and 17 assists.

Howard, who left the Lakers to sign with the Rockets in the off-season, picked up three fouls in the first quarter and finished with just 13 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes.




November 6, 2013 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight NBA Tags:
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NBA – Toronto selected as host of 2016 All-Star Game

2016_allstar_gameToronto was selected as the host of the NBA 2016 All-Star Game, marking the first time the showcase event will be held outside of the United States.


Top players representing the NBA’s Eastern and Western Conferences will tip off at the Air Canada Centre, home of the Toronto Raptors, on Feb. 14, capping a weekend that includes the popular slam dunk contest and other events.


“We are thrilled that Toronto is hosting our first NBA All-Star Game outside the United States,” NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.


“As the site of the first game ever in the NBA, Toronto is an ideal location for this global basketball celebration.”


The Raptors, who together with the since-relocated Vancouver Grizzlies were part of the NBA’s expansion plans into Canada in 1995, are a long-struggling team that has not made the playoffs since 2008.


Landing an NBA All-Star Weekend, essentially a mix of skills competitions and exhibitions featuring the game’s biggest names, offers big business benefits to the host city.


The 2013 event was held in Houston, which estimated a direct economic impact of $60 million, and an overall economic impact of slightly below $100 million.


The 2014 All-Star Game is set for New Orleans, while the 2015 event will be co-hosted by Manhattan and Brooklyn.




October 2, 2013 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight NBA 0 Comment

Bulls’ Derrick Rose wants to play for USA Basketball at 2014 FIBA World Cup


After spending more than a year taking the cautious approach as he recovered from a serious knee injury, Bulls guard Derrick Rose is ready to jump back into the swing of things with USA Basketball.

Speaking in the Philippines, where he is on a promotional tour with Adidas, the 2011 MVP said he would like to play for his country at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.

“If they select me on the team, it will be an honor,” Rose said, according to “I definitely will be on the team if [Coach Mike Krzyzewski] wants me.”

Rose, who won a gold medal at the 2010 World Championships in Turkey, recently stated that he thinks he is “100 percent” healthy after missing the entire 2012-13 season following ACL surgery on his left knee. That injury also kept him out of the 2012 London Olympics.

USA Basketball faces a stiff challenge in 2014, traveling to the home of its chief rival in recent years. Spain won silver at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

Thunder forward Kevin Durant and Timberwolves forward Kevin Love told reporters in July that they will play in 2014 after winning gold in Turkey and London.

USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo hinted that Durant and Love would “probably” act as magnets to persuade other stars, like Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and Rockets guard James Harden, to compete again.

Colangelo explained to the Chicago Tribune in July that Rose “could factor very well” into USA Basketball’s plans for 2014.

“It’s really up to him,” Colangelo said. “We’re waiting for him to come back physically and emotionally and see how he does this year. But we very much consider him a candidate.”

USA Basketball has placed a high value on the continuity of its rosters under Colangelo, who assumed his post in 2005. Players are said to receive “equity” for their previous participation in international competitions and summer camps. Rose started all nine games in Turkey in 2010, averaging 7.2 points, 3.2 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals.

“[Rose] qualifies in a lot of ways,” Colangelo said in July, according to USA Today Sports. “He knows our system. He’s been part of USA Basketball. He’s a terrific guy. He’s a great competitor. Now we have to wait and see what he looks like. How quickly does he get back to that level, and then it’s going to be up to him as to whether he wants to be with us next summer.”

If Rose and Westbrook play in 2014, USA Basketball would be facing a roster squeeze in the backcourt, as Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving is also considered a lock to make the roster.

That would leave a whole host of talented point guard candidates — including 2013 summer minicamp participants Mike Conley, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Damian Lillard and John Wall — to fight for whatever spots remain. It’s worth noting that Krzyzewski and Colangelo have highlighted the importance of versatility from their guards, regularly moving point guards like Westbrook off the ball. Perhaps that philosophy will help ease the logjam to a degree.

Rose tore his ACL during Game 1 of a first-round playoff series against the 76ers in April 2012.

His recovery hung over Chicago’s season last year, as he returned to practice in January but never made it back for game action. He was reportedly cleared to play in March and said he was “open” to a return as late as April, but that never materialized, not even when Chicago advanced to the conference semifinals without him.

“I think I am 100 percent,” Rose said, in a video posted to earlier this week. “I think the training, I’m doing almost everything. Squatting, running, lifting, almost every other day. Just being back on the court after you have the ACL, you’re kind of hesitant at first about how you step, what way you should step. Learning how to run, accelerate, accelerating while you run, while you’re slowing down. For me, I’m reacting right now, where I don’t have to think about anything. If I want to get to a spot, I’m going to get there, no matter what. It kind of feels good, having that feeling again.”

The No. 1 pick in the 2008 draft, Rose, 24, holds career averages of 21 points, 6.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau joined Krzyzewski’s staff as an assistant coach this summer.

September 19, 2013 By : Category : featured inthespotlight NBA Teams 0 Comment

Trades, new contracts become official around NBA

Trades, new contracts become official around NBA

Only the Houston Rockets could get him, and on Wednesday a couple of his other suitors announced their backup plans — while one lost out on another big target.

Paul Millsap is headed to Atlanta. The Golden State Warriors acquired Andre Iguodala. But the Dallas Mavericks missed out on another center when Andrew Bynum agreed to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Los Angeles Clippers never had to look beyond their top target, with Chris Paul committing to stay on the first day of free agency.

They also added Darren Collison, Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick to a team that won the Pacific Division last season, surpassing the Lakers as the best team in Los Angeles.

‘‘We’re loaded at every position,’’ said Matt Barnes, who re-signed with the Clippers. ‘‘Who doesn’t want to play with Chris? He’s arguably the best point guard in the game.

It just shows this organization has come a long way. They’re making the right moves.’’

It’s hard to see anything changing in Los Angeles next season after Howard passed on re-signing with the Lakers and instead opted for the Rockets in a deal that still hadn’t become official as of Wednesday night.

That was the first day transactions could be completed and contacts signed following the completion of the NBA’s moratorium period. The Rockets couldn’t wait to talk about their All-Star center, getting fined $150,000 by the league on Tuesday for premature comments about Howard on TV and in social media.

The rest of the league waited until rules allowed Wednesday. The Clippers held a press conference for Paul, the three new players and the re-signed Barnes and Ryan Hollins on what Paul called ‘‘one of the biggest days in franchise history.’’

While they were celebrating, Bynum was meeting with Dallas, another team that wanted Howard. But he went with a previous two-year offer from the Cavs, according to a person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet announced.

Bynum was part of the four-team trade that sent Howard from Orlando to Los Angeles last summer, but never played a game for Philadelphia because of knee problems.

Charlotte got bigger by adding Utah center Al Jefferson, while his former Jazz teammate Millsap is also bound for the Southeast Division with the Hawks.

Atlanta missed out on Howard, and forward Josh Smith left for a $54 million, four-year deal with Detroit, but the Hawks bounced back by giving Millsap a two-year, $19 million contract.

‘‘We’ve been following Paul for a year, hoping for the opportunity to have him on our team,’’ general manager Danny Ferry said. ‘‘His competitiveness, night in and night out, is unique. He’s not like most players.’’

The Jazz also got involved in the deal that landed Iguodala with the Warriors, who gave him a four-year, $48 million deal last week. Golden State cleared more than $24 million by sending Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush to the Jazz along with four draft picks and cash. Denver received guard Randy Foye from the Jazz.

Chris Andersen signed a $1.7 million, one-year deal to stay with the Miami Heat, who will have to hold off some stronger challengers next season in the Eastern Conference.

Indiana re-signed power forward David West and added C.J. Watson as a backup point

guard, while the Chicago Bulls improved their outside shooting by signing Mike Dunleavy.

The New York Knicks hope they did, too, with the acquisition of Andrea Bargnani.

However, the former No. 1 overall pick from Italy struggled during an injury-plagued 2012-13 season for the Toronto Raptors, who shipped him to New York for Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson, Marcus Camby and three future draft picks.

The NBA’s other big deal of the offseason, the trade sending Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from Boston to Brooklyn, will be completed Friday. The Nets could pay more than $70 million in taxes in the first season of the NBA’s harsher penalties for teams who exceed the limit.

July 12, 2013 By : Category : English featured NBA 0 Comment

Greek federation condemns slur of NBA draft pick

Greece’s basketball federation has strongly condemned remarks by the leader of an extreme right Greek political party who likened recent NBA draft pick Giannis Antetokounmpo to a “chimpanzee.”


The federation on Thursday described the remarks as “unacceptable and racist.”


Giannis Antetokounmpo, an 18-year-old Greek shooting guard and the Athens-born son of Nigerian immigrants, was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks. He was received this week in Athens by conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.


Leader of the far-right Golden Dawn party, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, likened the 2.06-meter (6-foot-9) player to a “chimpanzee” in a television interview on Tuesday.


Antetokounmpo was selected in 15th place in this year’s 60-player NBA draft, announced in New York on June 27. He was seen celebrating the news at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, crossing himself in the Orthodox Christian fashion, waving a Greek flag, and hugging family members who were also present.


Golden Dawn has seen a recent surge in support as Greece endures a sixth year of recession, mounting an aggressive campaign against illegal immigration and the austerity measures imposed under the country’s bailout program.


In elections last year, the party won 18 seats in the 300-member parliament, and is currently the third-strongest in opinion polls which suggest its popularity has increased further to about 10 percent.


Prime Minister Samaras has frequently described Golden Dawn as “neo-Nazis” — a label which the party rejects, though leading members of Golden Dawn have in the past openly expressed admiration for Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and denied that the Holocaust occurred.


Samaras said he felt “great emotion” at his meeting this week with the towering teenager and his parents.


“I thank you for honoring our national colors,” he said. “I hope you drive them crazy with your slam-dunks … All of Greece is so excited for you.”


July 6, 2013 By : Category : English NBA Tags:
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Basketball – Miami vow not to have any repeats of “horror movie”

There were no smiles on the faces of the Miami Heat players on Wednesday as the defending champions discussed their listless performance in the third game of the NBA Finals.

The Heat suffered one of the most lopsided losses in NBA Finals history on Tuesday when they fell 113-77 to a San Antonio Spurs team that took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Miami entered the playoffs as the top seed after cruising through the regular season with a franchise-record 66 wins, but were a pale imitation of that team as they shot a lousy 40.8 percent from the field.

“We watched the film and it was worse than a horror movie to be honest with you,” Miami forward Chris Bosh told reporters.

“We didn’t give the effort we needed to give and it was embarrassing to be a part of that.”

Miami’s Big Three of Bosh, four-time league most valuable player LeBron James and nine-time All-Star Dwyane Wade were outscored 51-43 by the largely unheralded Spurs duo of Danny Green and Gary Neal.

With the next two games scheduled for Thursday and Sunday in San Antonio, the Heat need to discover their form quickly if they want to repeat as NBA champions.

Much of the blame for Miami’s recent struggles is being placed squarely on the shoulders of James, who averaged 26.8 points a game in the regular season but has yet to crack 20 points in the first three games of the Finals.

But James’s teammates were not interested in pointing any fingers, preferring to focus on making the adjustments in time to salvage a season they began as overwhelming favorites.

“We can’t concern ourselves with that. In the books Miami Heat lost the ballgame,” said Wade.

“We win together, we lose together as a team. We all played bad and the Spurs played great.

“So everyone has an opinion, and everybody uses their opinion. But we can’t control what we can’t control.”

Miami won their only regular season visit to San Antonio this past regular season but are 3-23 here all-time, a record they will need to improve on quickly with the next two games of the Finals being in the Alamo City.

James said his 15 points on 7-of-21 shooting was unacceptable and he accepts full responsibility for the loss and vowed to be better when the series resumes.

“I’m just confident in my ability. And my teammates are going to put me in positions to succeed. And the coaching staff will put us in positions to succeed,” said James.

“I’m a positive guy. I love the game. I have fun with the game. As dark as it was last night, can’t get no darker than that, especially for me.

“So I guarantee I’ll be better tomorrow for sure.”

June 14, 2013 By : Category : NBA 0 Comment

Basketball – Pacers beat Knicks to join Heat in NBA Eastern Finals

Basketball - Pacers beat Knicks to join Heat in NBA Eastern Finals

The Indiana Pacers will meet the Miami Heat in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals after they closed out their semi-final series against the New York Knicks in six games with a 106-99 victory.

The Pacers thrilled their home crowd with the win to take the seven game series 4-2 and advance to the finals for the first time in nine years to take on the NBA champion Heat side.

Lance Stephenson led the way for the Pacers with 25 points and 10 rebounds but was well backed up by fellow starters Paul George (23 points), Roy Hibbert (21 points, 12 rebounds) and David West (17 points).

The Knicks, who trailed by as many as 10 points, fought back with a big third quarter to tie things up and make a game of it.

Despite leading early in the final quarter and riding Carmelo Anthony’s game high 39 points the Knicks could not find the final gear to keep the series alive.

“We knew they were going to come out and really give us their shot (in the fourth quarter),” Indiana’s George said.

“We did a good job of taking that hit and really rallied back. Big credit to our guys for staying strong and staying aggressive throughout that run.

“We stuck to our defence, that’s our principle. Everyone is playing for one another.
“It was a gutsy win on our behalf.”

While excited with the series win George said his team-mates were not done yet.
“We are still proving (ourselves to others),” he said.

“There are so many doors we need to knock down, and this was one … but we are down for another challenge.

“It’s going to take this effort times two (against Miami).”

May 22, 2013 By : Category : English NBA Tags:, ,
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