Once 19 games below .500, the Heat are on verge of playoffs

Goran Dragic blew up like his eye in Wednesday’s return to action against the Pelicans.

Stephenson, who has seen action in 12 games in 2016-17, appearing in a half-dozen contests apiece for the Pelicans and Timberwolves, gives an Indiana team which has given up 100 or more points in five of its last six while going 2-4 during the span another sizable, athletic defender who isn’t afraid to get into ballhandlers on the perimeter. It remains to be seen how much playing time he’ll command on a squad that includes not only George (22.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.2 apg) but serviceable wings Thaddeus Young and C.J. Miles, both of whom are averaging double-digits in scoring, to give a late-season boost to the league’s 19th-ranked offense. Stephenson’s 9.0 player efficiency rating this season will be the lowest on the Pacers’ roster.

The signing wreaks of a team, reaching to hold onto a playoff spot it knows could be slipping away. It’s a position the Pacers likely never thought they’d be, heading into the season with a healthy George, a blossoming big man in Myles Turner (14.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.1 bpg) and big-time Cheap Goalkeeper Jerseys Cheap Hockey Jerseys Canada free agent signee point guard Jeff Teague (15.4 ppg, 7.8 apg), but here they are.

There’s no telling where they’ll be come next offseason when George could exercise his player option and test the market as a restricted free agent. Adding Stephenson could be far too little, far too late.

Cavaliers (46-23) at Nuggets (33-37), 9 p.m. ET — Denver has won four of its last six games and could push the defending champs to the final buzzer. While the Cavaliers have clinched a playoff spot, the Nuggets are fighting for the final spot in the West. After causing a stir for resting their Big Three, the Cavs’ stars are expected to be at full strength Wednesday.

Kings’ reported interest in ex-Sixers GM Sam Hinkie sign franchise knows change needed

The Kings have received permission from the 76ers to speak with former general manager and president of basketball operations Sam Hinkie, ESPN’s Marc Stein reported Monday. Permission is required because of a non-compete clause for the 2016-17 season that took effect after Hinkie left the Sixers last April.

There has been pressure from the NBA and the team’s minority owners on Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive to put together a more “professional” front office, according to the Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski. It is not yet clear how interested Hinkie is in taking a job in Sacramento.

Though Durant did mention he understood why fans are upset, he believes NBA players need “mental breaks” throughout a season.

“Players, if anything, need a mental break sometimes. And sorry, they’re human,” Durant told ESPN. “They go through so much every single day. There are so many obligations off the court that you don’t know about … family. … It might not be a physical break, it might just be a reset mentally, and I get that.

“It’s hard for you to just craft a rule out for the top players,” he said. “I’ve seen guys that’s not even in the playoffs resting, sitting out for the rest of the season. And it’s nothing Cheap Full Dye Softball Jerseys against those guys. I’m not trying to bash them or anything. [Phoenix Suns center] Tyson Chandler is out. They got him sitting out for the rest of the year. I’m sure he wants to play, but they’re not saying anything about Tyson Chandler, so it’s hard for me to really talk about this. It’s not a league-wide rule. It’s not a league-wide concern.

That’s not true. Tanking has been a big concern for NBA fans and executives for Cheap Flag Football Jerseys some time now — just ask the 76ers.

It doesn’t appear as though the resting problem will find a solution any time soon, but the NBA, at least, does seem interested to fixing the fad.

NBA free agency: Derrick Rose shares mutual interest with Bucks

Could Derrick Rose be on his way to Milwaukee?

The free-agent point guard shares a mutual interest with the Bucks and has discussed scheduling a meeting with team officials as soon as this weekend, ESPN reported.

According to the report, the former league MVP is expected to meet the Bucks in Los Angeles once a date is determined.

Described by the Wichita Eagle as “the greatest Shocker,” Stallworth, a 6-7 forward, earned the nickname “Dave the Rave” as an All-American who led Wichita State to the 1965 Final Four.

The Knicks, who drafted him in the first round (third overall) in 1965, darkened the lights at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night in memory of the Rookie of the Year runner-up to Rick Barry.

After his second NBA season, Stallworth suffered a heart attack at age 26 in 1967 and missed the next two seasons.

He returned to the Knicks in time for one of the great title runs in NBA history.

Though he averaged only 7.8 points per game, playing in all 82 games in the 1969-70 season, he and Dave DeBusschere stepped in when captain Willis Reed was injured in Game 5 of the Cheap Knock Off Jerseys NBA Finals and the two held Lakers star Wilt Chamberlain to four points in the second half of a 107-100 victory.

“I think (the No. 1 seed) is a goal, it’s important, but it’s not the goal,” Korver told Sporting News. “I’ve been the one seed three times going into the playoffs, and I’ve never won a championship. It’s a thing that’s nice to have home court. When you get to a Game 7 and get to play it at home, that’s obviously a big deal. But I think everyone’s prioritizing health and playing our best Cheap Kids Jerseys NBA basketball.”

Lonzo Ball’s Summer League passing highlight reel will make any Lakers fan swoon

There’s little to no room for moderate, measured responses when it comes to evaluating Lonzo Ball.

In the minds of many, the Lakers rookie point guard and son of Big Baller Brand head honcho LaVar is destined to become the next Magic Johnson or at least Jason Kidd — or the biggest bust since Greg Oden. There’s simply no gray area.

Of course, Lakers Nation is already on the bandwagon. An estimated 2.6 million viewed the Instagram video of his introduction prior to his NBA Summer League debut. The NBA revealed Wednesday it was the league’s sixth-most watched post ever on the social media platform. After witnessing Lonzo tear it up in Las Vegas, even his staunchest critics might have to admit he’s going to be something special. He averaged 16.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.5 steals and threw in one block per game on the way to earning MVP honors and leading the Lakers to the championship.

“I just want to thank everyone at UCLA. The fans were amazing and made for a great year. The coaches were the best I’ve had, and I can’t thank them enough, especially Coach (Steve) Alford.

“I will always love my UCLA family so much, in particular the amazing teammates I had this past year. They are like brothers to me. This was the most fun year of basketball I’ve had in my entire life, and I will definitely miss it. But, I cannot wait to start my new journey.”

Bruins coach Steve Alford said he completely supports Leaf’s decision to pursue Wholesale NFL Jerseys Free Shipping his dream.

“I’m proud of what he was able to accomplish this season,” Alford said. “He brought so much to our team, both on and off the court, and we’re certainly going to miss him. TJ Wholesale Jerseys Free Shipping has been an absolute joy to coach, and I know that all of us at UCLA will be excited to watch him continue to grow at the next level.”

Stephen and Ayesha Curry rap ‘Hamilton’ song with Lin-Manuel Miranda

The newest edition of keeping up with the Currys involves, charity, rapping Broadway songs and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Stephen and Ayesha Curry took to Instagram with the Hamilton creator to raise money for multiple non-profits to aid immigration organizations. The catch? They had to sing The Schuyler Sisters from the blockbuster musical.

All joking aside, for those who donate $10 to the organization will be entered to join the Currys and Miranda at the Los Angeles opening of the musical.

Even better? Stephen nominated Dwayne The Rock Johnson to create a Hamilton video, while Ayesha nominated actress Olivia Munn.

Keep your eyes out for those masterpieces.

It’s tough to see Iguodala leaving the Warriors, but he reportedly plans to test the free-agent waters this summer. He has shown he’s still one of the best wing defenders in the NBA and one of the few humans ever who can make life (somewhat) difficult for LeBron James.

Iguodala’s game translates well to almost any team. Perimeter defense never goes out of style, and he doesn’t need the ball on offense in order to be effective. It helps to have shooters around him, as he remains inconsistent from the outside.

The former NBA Finals MVP is a proven veteran that would be a welcomed addition to a number of squads, but his situation with Golden State is so perfect it would still be a surprise if he chooses not to re-sign.

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Can the Cavs push this series to Game 5?

Cleveland threw everything but the kitchen sink at Golden State in Game 3 ‘ actually, the Cavs threw the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink and every sink in Bed, Bath and Beyond. It still wasn’t enough. LeBron James’ efficient 39/11/9 line and Kyrie Irving’s 38 points on 16-of-29 shooting kept it close until that deciding run shut the door on Game 3 ‘ and likely the Cavs’ season.

So, what happens next? Can the Cavs push this series to Game 5? Or will the Warriors prevail and avenge last year’s 3-1 collapse? Here are a few important factors that may decide this contest.

Maybe not, but Arthur is a respected columnist who doesn’t traffic in spurious rumors. If the I’m-outta-here sentiment did not come from Lowry himself, it likely came from some member of Lowry’s team. And it needed to be reined in, quickly.

Lowry is pragmatic, and he’s been briefed on the potential market for his services. It’s not exactly bustling. There was some hope that the Sixers would make a push toward signing Lowry this summer, bringing him home to Philadelphia. That rumor, though, did not come from the Sixers, who are not that eager to bring in a 31-year-old point guard as part of their rebuilding efforts.

Philly’s acquisition of the No. 1 pick, to be used on Markelle Fultz, has sealed that notion. Now, even those in Lowry’s camp hoping to use a potential departure to Philadelphia as free-agency leverage can’t possibly push the Sixers as a realistic destination.

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They don’t seem to be the sharpest people around

Draymond Green might not be back in Cleveland this season, not if his Warriors go back home for Monday’s Game 5 and finish off these NBA Finals.

But Green was at the center of the storm here for Cleveland’s remarkable, 137-116 Game 4 win at Quicken Loans Arena, and it would almost be a shame if he didn’t get to take the floor again here. At a handful of instances on Friday night, the locals here showered Green with chants of Dray-mond sucks! especially when he received a technical foul in the first quarter.

What the results showed was the more physical style of play from the Bulls was difficult for the Warriors to match. Going in, the question was which team would have to adjust, and it looks like that fell on the Warriors. While Golden State was more athletic and versatile, Chicago was effective with their defensive intensity and size advantage down low.

Statistically, Chicago generally had the advantage in rebounds, points in the paint and bench points thanks to Toni Kukoc and, ironically, Steve Kerr. The Warriors were better from 3-point range as expected, but it wasn’t enough to compensate for the efficiency and second-chance points from the Bulls

Bryan Wiedey posts sports gaming news and analysis daily at Pastapadre.com, is co-founder of the sports gaming site HitThePass.com, hosts the Press Row Podcast and can be reached on Twitter @Pastapadre.

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NBA Finals: This 3-1 lead isn’t same game, and Warriors can prove it in Game 5

We’ll grab ahold of explanation as to how we got there and what comes next. Hours before Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday, pockets of midges, the bugs that once chewed up Joba Chamberlain’s neck in the 2007 ALDS, hovered in the alley leading into Quicken Loans Arena. The Kardashians showed up before tipoff. You could even point to Dwyane Wade’s getup. Anything could be an omen, but we’re back in a familiar place.

That’s the best answer. Golden State isn’t in trouble of any kind unless they whiff in Game 5. That’d put the series at 3-2, and Cleveland would be every bit as much as a tough out at home as they were in 2016. At that point, the momentum is flipped, and you’re still dealing with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Doesn’t that feel like last year?

How would the two teams fare when matched up against each other? We turned to the incredibly popular video game NBA 2K17 to find out.

The NBA 2K series has a great track record with its simulation engine. Last year, when rumors began to swirl that Kevin Durant might consider joining the Warriors, it showed that doing so would lead to an NBA title by beating the Cavs and an MVP award. This season, it predicted Warriors over Cavs at the start of the year and determined the most likely NBA Finals result would be a 4-1 series victory with Durant winning Finals MVP. Can’t get more accurate than that.

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La La Anthony: Carmelo wants to stay in New York for son

Despite the continuing contention going on with Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks, estranged wife La La Anthony revealed he does not want to leave New York.

Speaking on the Wendy Williams Show on Tuesday, La La said Carmelo’s main motivation for wanting to stay in the Big Apple is to be near to their son, Kiyan.

The most important thing with that is just to stay close to Kiyan, La La Anthony said when asked about Carmelo being traded. That’s my priority, that’s his priority. So wherever he ends up, of course we want him to be happy.

Once offered only to Marlins season-ticket holders, the tickets recently have been pitched to the team’s entire mailing list, but now the Marlins have opened to the public the opportunity to get tickets to All-Star Week, comprising All-Star Sunday (the Futures Game and celebrity softball game), Monday’s workout day and Home Run Derby and Tuesday’s All-Star Game, running July 9-11.

Tickets to the entire All-Star experience also are now available on MLB.com.

Carmelo has been the talk of trade rumors for months after Knicks president Phil Jackson said he wanted the veteran traded during the offseason. However, Jackson recently revealed Carmelo told the team he wants to stay.

Cueto guided the Giants to the playoffs last season after going 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 219.2 innings, though he’s struggled to stay consistent this year. His battle with blisters has caused his numbers to drop to a 4.42 ERA in 15 starts with 90 strikeouts in 93.2 innings.

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The Spurs have missed their last six shots

The Warriors lead 21-9 at the timeout. Golden State is 9 of 18 from the field. The Spurs are 4 of 20.

LaMarcus Aldridge misses two free throws, followed by a 3-pointer from the Warriors’ Patrick McShaw. Kind of indicative of how the game’s going as a whole.

Kevin Durant hits his own 3-pointer, giving him 8 points on 3-for-3 shooting.

The Spurs have missed their last six shots not exactly a winning formula. Golden State has the early 8-4 lead off a 6-0 run.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that Manu Ginobili is in the Spurs’ starting lineup (he’s 1 for 3 shooting after making the game’s opening shot). His last start was March 24, 2014. Is Gregg Popovich making a statement with the lineup?

Manu Ginobili’s last start was March 24, 2014 against the Pelicans. He scored 9 points in 26 minutes.

Draymond Green still hasn’t learned his lesson This may never happen, but people still seem inclined to believe Green will someday learn his lesson and keep his demonstrative reactions to himself. Every time he gets called for a foul he runs the risk of getting a technical because he acts like in this case hitting another player in the head is an outlandish thing to get called for.

The refs really screwed up the game. Green was handed what appeared to be his second technical foul in the third quarter, but the refs, after a long delay, decided that Green’s first technical as actually on Steve Kerr.

Either way, Green needs to learn that he’s not perfect out there. Sometimes he fouls guys and the refs notice. It’s not the end of the world. Just hand them the ball and regroup.

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