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Raptors Fan

Slam Funk Scratch Card posted by Raptors Fan

Lovers of the NBA will be spending their Christmas holidays enthralled by the games being played over the festive season, given that less than 30 games have been played so far.  If you’re following the Eastern Conference your money will be on the Knicks or Miami Heat, although if you’re following the western conference you’ll be backing the Clippers or Oklahoma City Thunder.
But there is now more than one way to make a few bucks from basketball. The Slam Funk scratch card is an electronic version of many people’s weekly gamble. Combining disco and basketball in one smooth move, this instant win scratch card will be a hit with basketball-lovers and gamblers alike.  Click here to give some slots a try first, just to warm up, and then continue to the basketball goodness.
The 9 panels of the card hide groovy characters – 5 players and 1 cheerleader, and like any other scratch card three in a row means you’ve won a prize. The rainbow colour scheme matches their logo with a different colour background for every character. One groovy player is even spinning a disco ball!
Stakes on the card can range from $0.01 to $10 depending on how lucky you’re feeling. The payouts can range from 1x to 250x your wager meaning you can win up to $2500! To start the game just click ‘new card’, after which you can scratch each panel individually by clicking on each one, or by selecting ‘reveal all’ to show the characters automatically.
Given the disco and basketball mix when playing this game, you&rsContinue reading "Slam Funk Scratch Card"


Richard Kagan

Bulls looking Bullish over Toronto posted by Richard Kagan

The Chicago Bulls went to 16-8 with a win over the Toronto Raptors tonight.  Carlos Boozer scored a season high 34 points as the Bulls won 110-93.  Every starter contributed With Luol Deng and Derrick Rose playing strong games.  Joakim Noah had another double-double. 

Kyle Korver scored in double figures once again.  Chicago has a solid starting five and 2 or 3 solid guys coming off the bench.  Boozer gives the Bulls a low post presence and an active rebounder and takes some pressure off Noah grabbing every loose ball.  This team has some flexibililty and versatility and will win some games.  It is starting to look like not if the Bulls will make the playoffs which was a question the past few years, but how high a seed they will receive.

This teams looks like the most complete team since the hey-dey years of Jordan and Pippen.   There are other great teams in the East, The Celtics, the Magic, and the Heat.  They are loaded with great players.  The Bulls are a tough team and will give any team a good showing.  Considering how bad the Bulls were after the zenith of Michael, that is saying something.  Derrick Rose is a budding superstar.  He is fearless, commands the ball, is dangerous with it, and can score.

Rose is very quick and has great court sense.  He creates off the dribble.  One of the best players at doing that since Michael or Scottie.  He is a driver, a slasher and can shoot from 18 feet out.  Heck, he can shoot from 22 feet out. 

This is Boozer's 7th or 8th game since returning to the lineup.  He is is game shape and now we are seeing how talented he is.  A great addition to the team.

Continue reading "Bulls looking Bullish over Toronto"


john howard

NBA Playoffs Eastern conference posted by john howard

It's the All-Star break and time to asses where the season is at.  There are roughly 30 games left and the trading deadline is looming.  Here is a look at the playoffs if they were today.

1 Cleveland vs.  8 Chicago

2 Orlando vs   7 Miami

3 Atlanta vs 6 Charlotte

4 Boston vs 5 Toronto

Chicago looks like they have regressed overall from last year. But lately, they have started getting into the groove. Derrick Rose is unreal and they might win a game but they won't beat Cleveland.

Miami has one of the top 3 players in the game in Dwayne Wade.  This team could look different by playoff time. No matter how the team looks, it would take an incredible performance for even Wade to beat out Orlando.

Charlotte is a great story of over achieving.  They might be able to push Atlanta to a game 6, but that would be the best they could do.

The quietest success has been Toronto.  They are the 5th seed and no one is talking about them.  They have a shot to beat the Celtics if Boston is plagued with injuries.  But this has been a good year so far for the Raptors.

Boston has fallen from favorite to the 4th seed.  They still have the experience and firepower to go all the way. But, to do that everyone is going to have to get healthy and be at peak level which hasn't happened this year. Time is running out on the Celtics.

3 Atlanta has the best team in years.  They could be the underdog favorite after the first round.  A matchup with Orlando in round 2 is going to be fun.  Should they get past the Magic, they will be convinced they can beat anybody. 

Continue reading "NBA Playoffs Eastern conference"


Brad Hurt

Grizzlies 115, Raptors 107 posted by Brad Hurt

This just in : Zach Randolph is a beast.  Everyone who has said he would be a cancer and wouldn't play hard and is the same thug he was in Portland isn't looking very smart right now.  Randolph can single-handedly dominate the post for the Grizzlies this season.  He proved as much last night against the Toronto Raptors as the Grizz earned their first win of the season 115-107 on Friday.  Randolph led the Grizzlies with 30 points and seven rebounds.

Chris Bosh led all scorers with 37 points.  Sure, that is a high number, but the Grizzlies forced him to try to beat them single-handedly, focusing their defense on Hedo Turkoglu, who burned them in the past as a member of the Sacramento Kings.  Turkoglu managed only 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting.

The Grizzlies showed some of their youth with an inability to close the Raptors out when they built a double-digit lead in the first half, and lost the third quarter scoring battle as usual, but they outscored the visitors 39-28 in the fourth quarter to snuff out any hope of a comeback.

Along with Randolph, the Grizzlies got double figures from the other four starters, as well as 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench from rookie Demarre Carroll, who looks like he could be a stud.  Who needs DeJuan Blair when you can get a guy who will sacrifice his body for a loose ball, snatch rebounds out of nowhere and knock down a shot in the clutch?  Carroll earned a reputation as a scorer at Missouri, but he has shown there is little he can't do on the professional level, and he doesn't appear rattled yet in his first two appearances.  I'm sure his day will come, though.  It's a long season, and it drags down every rookie sooner or later.

Continue reading "Grizzlies 115, Raptors 107"


john howard

Toronto Raptors preseason posted by john howard

I have always enjoyed the Toronto Raptors. There is something about them that catches my eye.  They always have a knack for finding talent.  They just have a hard time keeping it.  This year they managed to bring one in: Hedo Turkoglu.

This year will be a year of gelling and growing.  How long will it take for Turkoglu, Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, and Jarrett Jack to gel?  The sooner the better.  This team should be one that improves throughout the year.

A lot of how much they improves relies on the progress of youngsters, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, and Marco Belinelli.   Toronto has a thin bench and one of these guys will start.  But, the other 2 will see plenty of time.  They are a shooting guard away from making the play offs and a year away from acquiring more bench help or having it develop.

This team is doing a nice job.

Continue reading "Toronto Raptors preseason"


Colin Linneweber

The NBA Draft's Five Best Second Overall Picks Since 1984 & Sammy Sosa Is a Joke and He Does Not Deserve Induction into the HOF posted by Colin Linneweber

The NBA Draft's Five Best Second Overall Picks Since 1984

The Los Angeles Clippers are expected to pick former Oklahoma Sooners star Blake Griffin Thursday with the first overall selection in the 2009 NBA Draft at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

However, there is not a consensus projection for the No. 2 pick and basketball analysts remain largely uncertain who the Memphis Grizzlies will choose tomorrow in Gotham.

In recognition of the NBA Draft, I have decided to rank the five most accomplished players selected second overall in the past quarter century.

1) Jason Kidd

Kidd, 36, attended the University of California and helped resurrect the Golden Bears dormant basketball program with his stellar play at the point guard position.

After being honored as a First Team All-American as a sophomore, Kidd declared for the NBA Draft and was selected 2nd overall by the Dallas Mavericks in 1994.

Unfortunately, the Bay Area native’s initial stint with the Mavericks didn’t materialize as most anticipated it would.

According to legend, singer Toni Braxton went to the Mavs team hotel to meet Kidd after a game.

However, instead of rendezvousing with Kidd, Braxton instead left with his Dallas teammate Jimmy Jackson and the two purportedly fornicated until the wee hours.

Subsequently, Kidd loathed Jackson and he demanded an escape from “Big D.”

Kidd, a 9-time All-Star and 6-time All-NBA nomination, was traded to the Phoenix Suns at the conclusion of the 1996 season and his career began to truly ascend in the desert.

Continue reading "The NBA Draft's Five Best Second ..."


Colin Linneweber

The 5 Best Second Overall Selections in the NBA Draft Since 1984 posted by Colin Linneweber

The Los Angeles Clippers are expected to pick former Oklahoma Sooners star Blake Griffin Thursday with the first overall selection in the 2009 NBA Draft at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. 

However, there is not a consensus projection for the No. 2 pick and basketball analysts remain largely uncertain who the Memphis Grizzlies will choose tomorrow in Gotham.

In recognition of the NBA Draft, I have decided to rank the five most accomplished players selected second overall in the past quarter century.


1)  Jason Kidd 

Kidd, 36, attended the University of California and helped resurrect the Golden Bears dormant basketball program with his stellar play at the point guard position. 

After being honored as a First Team All-American as a sophomore, Kidd declared for the NBA Draft and was selected second overall by the Dallas Mavericks in 1994. 

Unfortunately, the Bay Area native’s initial stint with the Mavericks didn’t materialize as most anticipated it would. 

According to legend, singer Toni Braxton went to the Mavs team hotel to meet Kidd for a date after a game. 

 However, instead of rendezvousing with Kidd, Braxton instead left with his Dallas teammate Jimmy Jackson and the two purportedly fornicated until the wee hours. 

Subsequently, Kidd loathed Jackson and he demanded an escape from “Big D.” 

Kidd, a 9-time All-Star and 6-time All-NBA nomination, was traded to the Phoenix Suns at the conclusion of the 1996 season and his career began to truly ascend in the desert. 

Continue reading "The 5 Best Second Overall Selections ..."


john howard

Toronto Raptors and the draft. posted by john howard

The Raptors had a horrible season finishing third from the bottom in the East.  Anthony Parker, Shawn Marion, and Jake Voskhul are all free agents.  That is 2 starters and a top bench player.  That leaves a shaky starting lineup:

PG--JOSE CALERSON  SG--JASON KOPONO  SF--JEOY GRAHAM  PF---CHRIS BOSH  C--ANDREA BARNANI

And a very weak bench.  Things may get worse before they get better.  I don't know of any trades, but perhaps a splash in free agency. It's not a big market this year.  And next year, Bosh is a free agent.  So the draft is the best bet for now.  The Raptors have the 9th pick in the draft.  There is bad news and great news with the 9th pick.  Of the past 14 drafts 7 have produced startes, 5 bench players and 3 flops.  The bad news is out of the top 10 picks, the 9 spot produces the least amount of startes and the most number of busts.  The great news is that the 7 starters are all-starts.  Picking first or third also produced 7 all-starts in that same span.  The 9th pick has yielded just as many all-starts as the 2nd, 6th, 7th, and 8th combined! So, the 9th spot is truly a hit or miss.  There isn't much in between.

The top 2 choices on mock boards appear to be either Gerald Henderson from Duke or Tyreke Evans from Memphis.  Both are sf/sg type guys who are athletic.  An all-star to go along side Bosh would be great.  This team is definately retooling.

Continue reading "Toronto Raptors and the draft."


Ryan Greyslak

Catching up with the Phoenix Suns rumors this off season and who should be kept around for next year? posted by Ryan Greyslak

There have been many rumors surrounding the Phoenix Suns since they missed the playoffs this season. Some of these rumored trades would actually help the team, but some of the options are only opportunities to cut payroll for the oncoming season and further destroy the team. Some of the biggest names involved in these rumors for the team have been Amare Stoudemire, Shaquille O’Neal, Steve Nash, Leandro Barbosa, and Jason Richardson.

 Shaq Rumors 

Shaquille O’Neal has not been shy about the fact that he would not mind playing for another team other then the Phoenix Suns and is interested in a contract to extend him for one to two more years. Some of the rumored teams to be interested in Shaq are Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, and New Orleans Hornets.

 

Cleveland has reportedly offered Ben Wallace (who might request a buyout or retire) and Sasha Pavlovich who has a non guaranteed contract. The Suns could potentially get out of both players and save money off payroll this year. This is a bad deal for the Suns and I would not expect it to happen for these players. They would get nothing for Shaq.

 

Another of the rumored teams interested in Shaq are the Dallas Mavericks. One of the rumored packages would send Jerry Stackhouse expiring contract and Erick Dampier. Dampier is guaranteed for the next two years at over 23 million. This again would be a horrible trade for the team and they would essentially be giving Shaq up for a smaller expiring contract and a slower less effective center. If the Suns have any talks with Dallas they should absolutely involve Josh Howard but it is rumored Sarver does not want to do business with Cuban.

Continue reading "Catching up with the Phoenix Suns ..."


Jason M. Williams

Relieved Post-Deadline Knicks Beat Down The Toronto Raptors By Thirty! posted by Jason M. Williams

One day after the NBA Trade Deadline passed, many Knicks played like they had a world of pressure taken off their shoulders.  With much speculation swirling around whether or not the Knicks would deal away enigmatic guard Nate Robinson and workhorse David Lee, both were able to breath easier last night knowing that they'd be playing in New York for the remainder of the season.

The team came out strong against the Toronto Raptors, scoring the game's first nine points and never looking back.  At one point the Knicks led by a season-best 38 points, and finished the rout with a 127-97 victory in front of the loyal Garden faithful on Italian Heritage Night.

On the bench in his new number-nine jersey was Chris Wilcox, who was brought over from the Oklahoma City Thunder at the deadline.  Next to him on the bench in street clothes was Larry Hughes, brought in from the Chicago Bulls.  Both were interviewed by the MSG Network and both seemed excited to get integrated into Mike D'Antoni's system. 

But most noticeable of all was the loose, relaxed, and somewhat relieved play from Lee and Robinson.  Both had big nights - Lee with 24 points and 15 rebounds, while Robinson added 26 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and one sick block of Chris Bosh that he sent into the tenth row to ignite the crowd.

With only 28 games remaining on the season, the Knicks currently find themselves two games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth seed.  Remember, however, that the Knicks have been atrocious against the Bucks this season (0-3), so they'd have to leapfrog them if they want to get past them into the postseason. 

Continue reading "Relieved Post-Deadline Knicks Beat ..."

Toronto Raptors News

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Nets-Raptors Preview (Yahoo Sports)

The Toronto Raptors won the Atlantic Division and set a franchise record with 48 wins. The Nets may think so. Brooklyn dropped four of its last five games, with coach Jason Kidd resting his regulars in a 29-point loss to Cleveland on the final night of the season, as the Nets slid from fifth to sixth in the East, earning a first-round meeting with the Raptors and avoiding fourth-seeded Chicago. The Nets may be happy, but the third-seeded Raptors aren't too pleased at the portrayal. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Nets-Raptors Preview

TORONTO (AP) The Toronto Raptors won the Atlantic Division and set a franchise record with 48 wins. They've still been labeled the weakest of the top four playoff teams in the Eastern Conference. [read full article]

From FOX Sports Digital


NBA playoff picture update: Blazers' home-court hopes still alive, Mavs and Hawks are in, Pa

If you're anything like me and Detroit Pistons rookie Peyton Siva, when it gets this late in the season, you come out of the weekend like: So let's get caught up on how the weekend that just passed reshaped the playoff picture, which is mere days away from being officially finalized, starting with an instant classic in Rip City. Well, that was awesome. The Sunday night matchup between the playoff-bound Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors was just too good to be limited to 48 minutes. Get caught up quickly on the late-game craziness and overtime back-and-forth here: (If you'd like a longer, more context-rich recap that stretches back to the start of the fourth quarter, Gmo's Rockets' Highlights has you covered.) Despite a season-high 47 points on 16 for 29 shooting from irrepressible flamethrower Stephen Curry, and a combined 72 points from Curry and Klay Thompson on 13 for 27 shooting from 3-point land, the Blazers held off the Warriors, 119-117 , in a celebration of shot-making and scoring-as-liberating-performance-art that would've made Toni and Candace proud. LaMarcus Aldridge's pick-and-pop 20-footer with 39 seconds remaining capped a 26-point, seven-rebound night for him and stood up as the game-winner. Nicolas Batum (18 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block in 44 minutes) did a little bit of everything, and while Damian Lillard was off (13 points on 3 for 13 shooting and some shaky decision-making that has led to post-game grumbling ), reserve guard Mo Williams was there to pick up the slack with 18 points on 8 for 10 shooting, three rebounds, three assists and no turnovers in 22 minutes off the pine. He was pretty psyched about it, which makes sense: This was one of the best games of the yr 2nite. #ripcity —Mo Williams (@mowilliams) April 14, 2014 The win improved Portland to 53-28, securing no worse than the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference and bringing them within a half-game of the Houston Rockets for the No. 4 spot. The Blazers and Rockets are now officially locked into playing one another in the first round, but which squad will have home-court advantage remains to be seen —one more Houston win (either Monday night over the San Antonio Spurs or Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans) will give the Rockets the honors, while Portland can still open the playoffs at home if Houston loses out and the Blazers beat the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday . The Warriors are still assured of a postseason berth, having clinched with their Friday night win over the Los Angeles Lakers. But the loss to the Blazers means they can't finish higher than sixth, ensuring that they're going to get either the Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder or Clippers in the first round. It also opens the door for a Warriors team that has scuffled a bit of late (5-5 in their last 10 games) and could be without center Andrew Bogut (who left Sunday's game early with an apparent rib injury ) sliding even further down the Western bracket, where they're now just a half-game ahead of the No. 7 seed, which belongs to ... DDoS: Dallas denial of service. Eric Bledsoe is very quick, very fast and very good at getting to the basket, which makes him a pretty good late-game option when the Phoenix Suns desperately need a basket to tie the Dallas Mavericks in a game between two of the three teams scrapping for the last playoff spots in the brutally competitive Western Conference. Unfortunately for Bledsoe and the orange-and-purple-loving folks of the Valley of the Sun, though, Brandan Wright appears to be Cloak : Wright's third block of the game (to go with 12 points and 11 rebounds off the bench) sealed a 101-98 win that locked up a playoff berth for the Mavericks, who could finish as high as sixth in the West depending upon how the next three days shake out for the Warriors; Dallas now sits at 49-32, a half-game behind the Dubs for the No. 6 spot, and a half-game clear of the eighth seed currently held by ... Just keep grinding. The Memphis Grizzlies closed Sunday strong with a 102-90 win over the Lakers, their third straight victory, thanks in large part to monster games from center Marc Gasol (18 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and three steals in 36 minutes) and point guard Mike Conley (24 points on 9 for 12 shooting, eight assists, two steals and just one turnover in 34 1/2 minutes). So, naturally, the play we're going to show you was made by Zach Randolph, who picked a pretty good time to become a passing wizard: Let's see that from a different angle and at a more Z-Bo appropriate rate of speed, please: I've thought a lot about which new Zach nickname I like best after this, and I've come to the conclusion that it's "Ricky RuZ-Bo." You may feel free to try to sway my opinion in the comments, but it's probably going to be pretty hard. (Also, way to finish the layup, Nick Calathes, thus turning this into an official highlight.) Thanks to Phoenix's Saturday loss, the Grizzlies now hold a one-game lead over the Suns for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Memphis and Phoenix play on Monday night ; if Memphis wins, they're in, and the Suns will see their shockingly successful season come to a disappointing end on Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings. It's kind of a big game out in the desert. Top billin' . The Indiana Pacers are once again atop the Eastern Conference, thanks to an impressive 102-97 victory over the Thunder in ABC's Sunday matinee fueled by Lance Stephenson's NBA-leading and Pacers franchise record fifth triple-double of the season (17 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds), strong play up front from Paul George and David West (a combined 41 points and 18 rebounds), and —will wonders never cease! —legitimate contributions from the Pacer bench, led by recently returned point guard C.J. Watson, who had 20 points in 25 minutes off the bench and steadied Indy's ship on a day where George Hill didn't quite have his fastball. After Friday's loss to the Miami Heat, the Pacers had once again dipped down to the No. 2 spot; now, Indy's just one more win (in Wednesday's finale against the Orlando Magic) or one more Miami Heat loss away from securing home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, thanks in part to ... Birds of war . Shouts out to the Atlanta Hawks, who became the eighth and final team to earn a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference on Saturday by beating the Heat, 98-85 , behind 18 fourth-quarter points from Lou Williams and another strong outing (25 points, four rebounds, four steals, three assists and no turnovers in 36 minutes) from point guard Jeff Teague, who's averaging 20 points and 5.5 assists per game on 50.7/37.8/90.7 shooting splits over his last 10 games . The Hawks can't get any higher than the eighth seed, but they've made the playoffs for the seventh straight season despite losing expected centerpiece Al Horford less than two months into head coach Mike Budenholzer's first year in charge, which is commendable, if not necessarily the great big goal for general manager Danny Ferry and company. Weep not for the memories. The Hawks locking up the eighth seed means the New York Knicks —who earned wins over the playoff-bound Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls this weekend —are officially eliminated from postseason contention. New York's 14-5 run over the last five weeks has been nice enough, but it wound up being too little and too late —this is what happens when you lose 40 of your first 61 games, even in a historically poor Eastern Conference —and now Carmelo Anthony will miss the playoffs for the first time in his 11-year NBA career. Perhaps this apparently taped-and-edited-off-TV (which feels thematically appropriate) highlight reel celebrating the 2013-14 Knicks set to "One Shining Moment" will make you feel better, Melo: The cherry on top of the Knicks' season-long sundae of absurdity? This, from Amar'e Stoudemire after Sunday's win over the Bulls, as noted by Steve Popper of the Bergen Record : "On paper we might be the best team in the league. We’ve got great players on this team who accomplished so much. We just couldn’t put it together." Best of luck to the Knicks in the on-paper playoffs, which begin on the 12th of never. (By the way, the Knicks have to win their final two games —against cross-borough rivals the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday and the Raptors on Wednesday —just to meet the projected record produced by ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton that set so many Knicks fans and players to raging before the start of this season. It's funny how things work out.) Walk the dinosaur. The Raptors clinched the Atlantic Division title on Friday despite losing to the Knicks thanks to the Hawks knocking off the Nets. They tied a franchise record Sunday with their 47th win of the season, besting the circling-the-drain Pistons, 116-107 , in a game that saw DeMar DeRozan score 14 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter and punctuate the proceedings with a very loud, very forceful flush atop the dome of Pistons forward Kyle Singler: The combination of the Raptors' win and the Bulls' Sunday loss to the Knicks means both teams enter Monday at 47-33, with Toronto re-taking the No. 3 seed in the East by virtue of being a division winner. The Raptors conclude their regular-season slate with a home game against the worst-in-the-NBA Milwaukee Bucks on Monday and one last meeting with the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, while the Bulls welcome the 23-57 Magic tonight before finishing things off in North Carolina against the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday. Seed toss. Superchunk . Quickly: EASTERN CONFERENCE •If Miami loses to the Wizards on Monday , Indy's No. 1 in the East and the Heat are No. 2. •If the Raptors beat the Bucks and the Bulls lose to the Magic , Toronto locks up No. 3 seed and puts Chicago at No. 4. •The Nets ensured that they can't finish any worse than No. 6 in the East by beating the Magic on Sunday. If the Wizards lose to the Heat, Brooklyn's No. 5. •If the Wizards beat the Heat and the Bobcats lose to the Hawks , Charlotte's locked into No. 7. (Lots of stuff can still happen for the Wizards. Bullets Forever's Mike Prada runs through the various postseason possibilities.) WESTERN CONFERENCE •The Spurs beat the Suns on Friday, clinching the NBA's best regular-season record and securing home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. They're one win away from tying the 2005-06 squad (63-19) for the most wins in franchise history; if they beat the Rockets on Monday and the Lakers in the season finale on Wednesday , they'll finish at 64-18, the best mark of any Spurs team of all time. This is where we remind you that Tim Duncan is 11 days shy of his 38th birthday, and that the Spurs are ridiculous. •The Thunder's Sunday loss to the Pacers gives the Clippers an outside shot of securing the West's No. 2 seed. If OKC beats the Pelicans on Monday, they lock up No. 2 and put the Clippers in third place. But if, by some stroke of unpredictable magic, Oklahoma City loses to a Pelicans team without Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday and Jason Smith (and possibly Tyreke Evans and Brian Roberts, too), the door's still open just a bit for L.A. to take over No. 2 —basically, they need to win their last two games and they need the Thunder to lose their last two games. •If the Rockets beat the Spurs , Houston's the No. 4 seed and Portland's the No. 5 seed. •If Golden State beats the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Warriors lock up the No. 6 seed. •If the Grizzlies beat the Suns , Memphis clinches the No. 8 seed and eliminates Phoenix. •if the Suns beat the Grizzlies, they stay alive; if Phoenix and Golden State both win, Dallas locks up the No. 7 seed. Got all that? Of course you do. Now, to cleanse your palate, here's Russell Westbrook not exactly sticking the landing on his attempt to play after-the-whistle troll. - - - - - - - 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. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Knicks' season over, focus is on Anthony's future (Yahoo Sports)

[read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


NBA playoff picture update: Blazers' home-court hopes still alive, Mavs and Hawks are in, Pa

If you're anything like me and Detroit Pistons rookie Peyton Siva, when it gets this late in the season, you come out of the weekend like: So let's get caught up on how the weekend that just passed reshaped the playoff picture, which is mere days away from being officially finalized, starting with an instant classic in Rip City. Well, that was awesome. The Sunday night matchup between the playoff-bound Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors was just too good to be limited to 48 minutes. Get caught up quickly on the late-game craziness and overtime back-and-forth here: (If you'd like a longer, more context-rich recap that stretches back to the start of the fourth quarter, Gmo's Rockets' Highlights has you covered.) Despite a season-high 47 points on 16 for 29 shooting from irrepressible flamethrower Stephen Curry, and a combined 72 points from Curry and Klay Thompson on 13 for 27 shooting from 3-point land, the Blazers held off the Warriors, 119-117 , in a celebration of shot-making and scoring-as-liberating-performance-art that would've made Toni and Candace proud. LaMarcus Aldridge's pick-and-pop 20-footer with 39 seconds remaining capped a 26-point, seven-rebound night for him and stood up as the game-winner. Nicolas Batum (18 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block in 44 minutes) did a little bit of everything, and while Damian Lillard was off (13 points on 3 for 13 shooting and some shaky decision-making that has led to post-game grumbling ), reserve guard Mo Williams was there to pick up the slack with 18 points on 8 for 10 shooting, three rebounds, three assists and no turnovers in 22 minutes off the pine. He was pretty psyched about it, which makes sense: This was one of the best games of the yr 2nite. #ripcity —Mo Williams (@mowilliams) April 14, 2014 The win improved Portland to 53-28, securing no worse than the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference and bringing them within a half-game of the Houston Rockets for the No. 4 spot. The Blazers and Rockets are now officially locked into playing one another in the first round, but which squad will have home-court advantage remains to be seen —one more Houston win (either Monday night over the San Antonio Spurs or Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans) will give the Rockets the honors, while Portland can still open the playoffs at home if Houston loses out and the Blazers beat the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday . The Warriors are still assured of a postseason berth, having clinched with their Friday night win over the Los Angeles Lakers. But the loss to the Blazers means they can't finish higher than sixth, ensuring that they're going to get either the Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder or Clippers in the first round. It also opens the door for a Warriors team that has scuffled a bit of late (5-5 in their last 10 games) and could be without center Andrew Bogut (who left Sunday's game early with an apparent rib injury ) sliding even further down the Western bracket, where they're now just a half-game ahead of the No. 7 seed, which belongs to ... DDoS: Dallas denial of service. Eric Bledsoe is very quick, very fast and very good at getting to the basket, which makes him a pretty good late-game option when the Phoenix Suns desperately need a basket to tie the Dallas Mavericks in a game between two of the three teams scrapping for the last playoff spots in the brutally competitive Western Conference. Unfortunately for Bledsoe and the orange-and-purple-loving folks of the Valley of the Sun, though, Brandan Wright appears to be Cloak : Wright's third block of the game (to go with 12 points and 11 rebounds off the bench) sealed a 101-98 win that locked up a playoff berth for the Mavericks, who could finish as high as sixth in the West depending upon how the next three days shake out for the Warriors; Dallas now sits at 49-32, a half-game behind the Dubs for the No. 6 spot, and a half-game clear of the eighth seed currently held by ... Just keep grinding. The Memphis Grizzlies closed Sunday strong with a 102-90 win over the Lakers, their third straight victory, thanks in large part to monster games from center Marc Gasol (18 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and three steals in 36 minutes) and point guard Mike Conley (24 points on 9 for 12 shooting, eight assists, two steals and just one turnover in 34 1/2 minutes). So, naturally, the play we're going to show you was made by Zach Randolph, who picked a pretty good time to become a passing wizard: Let's see that from a different angle and at a more Z-Bo appropriate rate of speed, please: I've thought a lot about which new Zach nickname I like best after this, and I've come to the conclusion that it's "Ricky RuZ-Bo." You may feel free to try to sway my opinion in the comments, but it's probably going to be pretty hard. (Also, way to finish the layup, Nick Calathes, thus turning this into an official highlight.) Thanks to Phoenix's Saturday loss, the Grizzlies now hold a one-game lead over the Suns for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Memphis and Phoenix play on Monday night ; if Memphis wins, they're in, and the Suns will see their shockingly successful season come to a disappointing end on Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings. It's kind of a big game out in the desert. Top billin' . The Indiana Pacers are once again atop the Eastern Conference, thanks to an impressive 102-97 victory over the Thunder in ABC's Sunday matinee fueled by Lance Stephenson's NBA-leading and Pacers franchise record fifth triple-double of the season (17 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds), strong play up front from Paul George and David West (a combined 41 points and 18 rebounds), and —will wonders never cease! —legitimate contributions from the Pacer bench, led by recently returned point guard C.J. Watson, who had 20 points in 25 minutes off the bench and steadied Indy's ship on a day where George Hill didn't quite have his fastball. After Friday's loss to the Miami Heat, the Pacers had once again dipped down to the No. 2 spot; now, Indy's just one more win (in Wednesday's finale against the Orlando Magic) or one more Miami Heat loss away from securing home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, thanks in part to ... Birds of war . Shouts out to the Atlanta Hawks, who became the eighth and final team to earn a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference on Saturday by beating the Heat, 98-85 , behind 18 fourth-quarter points from Lou Williams and another strong outing (25 points, four rebounds, four steals, three assists and no turnovers in 36 minutes) from point guard Jeff Teague, who's averaging 20 points and 5.5 assists per game on 50.7/37.8/90.7 shooting splits over his last 10 games . The Hawks can't get any higher than the eighth seed, but they've made the playoffs for the seventh straight season despite losing expected centerpiece Al Horford less than two months into head coach Mike Budenholzer's first year in charge, which is commendable, if not necessarily the great big goal for general manager Danny Ferry and company. Weep not for the memories. The Hawks locking up the eighth seed means the New York Knicks —who earned wins over the playoff-bound Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls this weekend —are officially eliminated from postseason contention. New York's 14-5 run over the last five weeks has been nice enough, but it wound up being too little and too late —this is what happens when you lose 40 of your first 61 games, even in a historically poor Eastern Conference —and now Carmelo Anthony will miss the playoffs for the first time in his 11-year NBA career. Perhaps this apparently taped-and-edited-off-TV (which feels thematically appropriate) highlight reel celebrating the 2013-14 Knicks set to "One Shining Moment" will make you feel better, Melo: The cherry on top of the Knicks' season-long sundae of absurdity? This, from Amar'e Stoudemire after Sunday's win over the Bulls, as noted by Steve Popper of the Bergen Record : "On paper we might be the best team in the league. We’ve got great players on this team who accomplished so much. We just couldn’t put it together." Best of luck to the Knicks in the on-paper playoffs, which begin on the 12th of never. (By the way, the Knicks have to win their final two games —against cross-borough rivals the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday and the Raptors on Wednesday —just to meet the projected record produced by ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton that set so many Knicks fans and players to raging before the start of this season. It's funny how things work out.) Walk the dinosaur. The Raptors clinched the Atlantic Division title on Friday despite losing to the Knicks thanks to the Hawks knocking off the Nets. They tied a franchise record Sunday with their 47th win of the season, besting the circling-the-drain Pistons, 116-107 , in a game that saw DeMar DeRozan score 14 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter and punctuate the proceedings with a very loud, very forceful flush atop the dome of Pistons forward Kyle Singler: The combination of the Raptors' win and the Bulls' Sunday loss to the Knicks means both teams enter Monday at 47-33, with Toronto re-taking the No. 3 seed in the East by virtue of being a division winner. The Raptors conclude their regular-season slate with a home game against the worst-in-the-NBA Milwaukee Bucks on Monday and one last meeting with the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, while the Bulls welcome the 23-57 Magic tonight before finishing things off in North Carolina against the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday. Seed toss. Superchunk . Quickly: EASTERN CONFERENCE •If Miami loses to the Wizards on Monday , Indy's No. 1 in the East and the Heat are No. 2. •If the Raptors beat the Bucks and the Bulls lose to the Magic , Toronto locks up No. 3 seed and puts Chicago at No. 4. •The Nets ensured that they can't finish any worse than No. 6 in the East by beating the Magic on Sunday. If the Wizards lose to the Heat, Brooklyn's No. 5. •If the Wizards beat the Heat and the Bobcats lose to the Hawks , Charlotte's locked into No. 7. (Lots of stuff can still happen for the Wizards. Bullets Forever's Mike Prada runs through the various postseason possibilities.) WESTERN CONFERENCE •The Spurs beat the Suns on Friday, clinching the NBA's best regular-season record and securing home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. They're one win away from tying the 2005-06 squad (63-19) for the most wins in franchise history; if they beat the Rockets on Monday and the Lakers in the season finale on Wednesday , they'll finish at 64-18, the best mark of any Spurs team of all time. This is where we remind you that Tim Duncan is 11 days shy of his 38th birthday, and that the Spurs are ridiculous. •The Thunder's Sunday loss to the Pacers gives the Clippers an outside shot of securing the West's No. 2 seed. If OKC beats the Pelicans on Monday, they lock up No. 2 and put the Clippers in third place. But if, by some stroke of unpredictable magic, Oklahoma City loses to a Pelicans team without Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday and Jason Smith (and possibly Tyreke Evans and Brian Roberts, too), the door's still open just a bit for L.A. to take over No. 2 —basically, they need to win their last two games and they need the Thunder to lose their last two games. •If the Rockets beat the Spurs , Houston's the No. 4 seed and Portland's the No. 5 seed. •If Golden State beats the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Warriors lock up the No. 6 seed. •If the Grizzlies beat the Suns , Memphis clinches the No. 8 seed and eliminates Phoenix. •if the Suns beat the Grizzlies, they stay alive; if Phoenix and Golden State both win, Dallas locks up the No. 7 seed. Got all that? Of course you do. Now, to cleanse your palate, here's Russell Westbrook not exactly sticking the landing on his attempt to play after-the-whistle troll. - - - - - - - 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. [read full article]

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