No. 1: Ginobili on Parker: ‘Not going to see him anytime soon’ — Last night’s victory against the Houston Rockets allowed the San Antonio Spurs to knot their Western Conference semifinal series up at 1-1. That’s the good news. The bad news? Spurs star guard Tony Parker suffered a left leg injury late in that game and had to be carried off the court. As the Spurs await his MRI results today, they’re gearing up for the worst. Melissa Rohlin of the San Antonio Express-News has more:
Tony Parker sustained what the Spurs are calling a left leg injury in the fourth quarter of the team’s 121-96 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday in Game 2 of their second-round playoff series, which is now tied 1-1.
Parker will have an MRI on Thursday.
The Spurs’ starting point guard collapsed to the floor clutching his left leg with 8 minutes and 43 seconds left in the game. Parker put his arms around Dejounte Murray and Dewayne Dedmon, and attempted to limp off of the court, but he could not put any weight on the leg.
Murray and Dedmon ended up carrying him to the locker room as the crowd gave him a standing ovation and chanted, “Tony, Tony.”
Manu Ginobili said saw Parker after after the game and said he was still in pain. He said Parker remained unable to put any weight on his left leg.
“It’s hard to see him limping and hurting now and you kind of know we’re not going to see him any time soon,” Ginobili said. “So, that’s a tough blow.”
Ginobili said at first he didn’t think that the injury was severe.
“I thought it was just like a Charley horse because he got hit in the quad,” Ginobili said. “He was grabbing his quad in the beginning. But, then when he wasn’t moving and he couldn’t put weight on it to come back to the locker room, that’s when we all got worried. So, yeah, we’ve got to be patient and see tomorrow what happens, but it didn’t look good.”
Patty Mills said he gave Parker a hug after the game, adding that nothing else needed to be said.
“He has that presence just like [Tim Duncan] has that presence,” Mills said. “And he was rolling the last month, going back to his old self. But he has that presence on the floor, especially when he’s on the break, when the ball is in his hands he makes big time plays and big time shots and big time moves.”
Mills said that he’s ready to fill in for Parker if need be.
“To be honest, I have no idea what the plan is, moving forward,” Mills said. “The big dog makes the hard decisions. Luckily, we don’t. But I can tell you one thing, we are all ready to step up and make an impact. We are all clear on the game plan and our roles, so whatever decision is made we are ready.”
Pau Gasol, who has previously fought through injuries and adversity in the playoffs, tried to remain optimistic about losing Parker.
“It’s unfortunate, but you can’t dwell on the downside or the negatives,” Gasol said. “You’ve got to take advantage if you can of those type of hits to bring your group even more together and fight through it.
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No. 2: Brooks trying to find answers in Game 3 — Through his off-the-court storylines and on-court play, Boston Celtics star Isaiah Thomas has captivated the NBA world in the 2017 playoffs. His 53-point masterpiece in Game 2 not only gave Boston a 2-0 series edge, but gave Washington Wizards coach Scott Brooks a new round of problems as his defense tries to slow Thomas. Candace Buckner of The Washington Post details how Brooks and Co. are trying to get on track defensively for Game 3 tonight (8 ET, ESPN):
The Wizards have plenty more to improve upon ahead of Thursday’s Game 3 — holding on to early leads, defending at the same intensity with which they’re scoring, executing the little things. However, the biggest problem comes packaged in a 5-foot-9 frame.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas dedicated his 53-point Game 2 to his younger sister, who was killed in a car crash last month. On the day his sister was to have turned 23, Thomas was unstoppable, regardless of who the Wizards deployed to defend him. Thomas was exceptionally productive when Washington made a switch. He danced and dribbled on the perimeter against a larger player, like Markieff Morris, and dominated the one-on-one battle by splashing jumpers, especially in the fourth quarter and overtime, when he scored 29 points.
“We’ve tried a lot of different things. The only thing we haven’t tried is a triple team,” Brooks said, half joking. “We tried to put two on him. We’ve switched, multiple defenders. He’s one of the best players in the game.
“He scored 53 on our team,” Brooks recalled. “We all had cracks at him but our team defense needs to do a better job, including myself.”
“He has the heart of a champion. What he has gone through and what he’s been able to do, you really can’t explain. I wouldn’t do it any justice to put it into words but what you’re seeing is pretty incredible. I hate the fact that it’s against us the last two games,” Brooks said, “but the challenge for us and the thing I really enjoy about my job and coaching our team is that we get to find a solution. Whether we do or not, we still have got to keep searching and keep exploring and keep challenging and keep figuring out ways to stop that guy.”
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No. 3: Jazz gear up for Warriors’ speed in Game 2 — The Utah Jazz at times gave the No. 1-seeded Golden State Warriors some fits in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series. Ultimately, though, the Warriors’ ball control and offensive firepower overwhelmed the Jazz in the win. As Game 2 nears (10:30 ET, ESPN), Utah is trying to figure out how to just keep the Warriors from running away — literally — too much. Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune has more:
The Warriors scored 29 points in transition, had 32 assists and turned Game 1 into a track meet.
Utah knows what happened on Tuesday cannot turn into a trend heading into Game 2 on Thursday night. If it does, the Jazz know they will be in trouble.
“We have to limit the live ball turnovers,” Jazz guard Rodney Hood said. “That’s what really hurt us. They are a great team in transition, so when they allowed to do that they become very difficult to beat. We have to limit that and make them play against our set defense.”
The Jazz were startled by Golden State’s speed, which is quite the contrast from the first round against the Los Angeles Clippers. There were several times the Jazz took long jumpers, and those misses turned into transition points.
Golden State is unique because power forward Draymond Green is capable of grabbing a rebound and pushing the ball in transition. Most teams need an extra second to get the ball to one of their guards, and that second is enough time for Utah to get back on defense. The Warriors have no such issues.
“We all have to sprint back on defense,” Jazz center Rudy Gobert said. “Sometimes it just means getting back and finding the closest guy, no matter who it is.”
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No. 4: DeRozan open to all suggestions on stopping LeBron — “Playoff LeBron” is a real thing and if you have doubts, just ask the Toronto Raptors. They are in a 2-0 Eastern Conference semifinal series hole thanks to LeBron James otherworldly efforts. After last night’s Game 2 loss, Raptors star DeMar DeRozan sounded ready to for an and all suggestions on how to slow James, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:
Toronto Raptors star DeMar DeRozan was frustrated in the wake of the worst postseason scoring performance of his career in his team’s 125-103 Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
DeRozan scored just five points on 2 of 11 shooting, putting up only one point in the first three quarters, when the game was decided. That point came on a free throw after a technical foul.
“It sucks. It sucks. To lose like we did and play like I did sucks. It’s frustrating,” DeRozan said. “Now just have the idle time of having to wait until Friday night [Game 3] to redeem yourself.”
DeRozan said he would take suggestions on how to deal with LeBron James, who is averaging 34.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 2.7 steals for Cleveland in the playoffs thus far. James scored 39 points on just 14 shots in Game 2 against Toronto.
“If you can find somebody to stop LeBron in these moments,” DeRozan said, “I’ll give you $100.”
DeRozan didn’t say whether the offer was in U.S currency or Canadian.
In last season’s conference finals, DeRozan led the Raptors by averaging 23 points and shooting 50 percent against the Cavs.
The Cavs clearly made slowing him a priority coming into this series, putting James on the back line of the defense to attempt to limit the options when DeRozan passes out of the doubles.
“With LeBron back there, playing like a free safety, you have to make the right pass,” DeRozan said. “He does a great job of taking the paint and also getting to our shooters at the same time.”
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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Toronto Raptors may be in a much worse spot than the series ledger indicates … Clint Capela continues to improve his free throw shooting in the postseason … Brad Stevens might just be a pretty good NBA coach after all … Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder doesn’t want to hear from his players that they are tired … Inside look at how the Golden State Warriors’ bench stays so tight-knit … Los Angeles Lakers forward Luol Deng had successful surgery on his pectoral muscle … Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson says he and his teammates want James Johnson to re-sign as a free agent …