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Clippers say refs’ decision cost them chance at win in OT



BOSTON — For a brief moment, Lou Williams and the LA Clippers thought they might be able to escape Boston with what they thought could have been a four-point play.

But after saying they saw one official count what they thought was a Williams 3-point shot with the foul with 23.6 seconds left in the first overtime Thursday night, the Clippers watched the officiating crew quickly rule that Williams was fouled by Gordon Hayward before the shot with the Boston Celtics holding a 127-124 lead. The Clippers would eventually force a second overtime before Boston went on to win, 141-133, at the TD Garden.

“I thought the one call was huge, the no four-point play,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I don’t know what you have to do — that’s a shot. The officials are telling us that they had a foul to give so they were trying to foul. When you see the film, they clearly were not trying to foul. You can see Hayward bring his hands back up as the guy is going up. But you can anticipate that they’re going to commit a foul. … That was a big no-call.”

The Clippers (37-18) lost their second straight road game feeling that the home team got the big calls. Paul George was fined $35,000 earlier Thursday for saying he felt there was “home cooking” by officials in a 110-103 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night. The Clippers were called for 19 personal fouls, eight more than the Sixers, that night in Philadelphia.

In Boston, the Clippers said they saw official Dedric Taylor not just signal a foul on Hayward after Williams’ shot but that Taylor also signaled that the shot counted with the foul.

“That’s a bad call, man,” said forward Montrezl Harrell, who had 24 points and 13 rebounds. “That’s not trying to say anything to get fined or anything like that, but we was in the huddle and we said they had a foul to give and if you get the ball in the shooting motion, go straight up, and that’s what Lou did. Tried to trap him at first and he started shooting the motion, [Hayward] stuck his hand out, that’s a four-point play, man, all day long.”

Rivers said: “I just didn’t like the fact that the guy on the call called it good. The guy that was right on the call called it good. The two other officials, Scott [Foster] from the other side comes running over. I think the guy on the call should have the say. It is what it is.

“The guy the closest [to the ball], you can see him, and he actually does the and-1 [signal].”

Williams had 35 points, eight assists, six rebounds and two blocks, including scoring 11 straight points in the fourth quarter at one point. However, he thought he could have had four more points.

“He said they had a foul to give, and I said duh, I know that, too,” Williams said of what he was told on the call. “That’s why I went into my shooting motion. Sometimes in this league you understand the rules and so you try to beat the rules. I think we’re taking away some of that in our game with anticipating the calls or anticipating the scenarios where they’re up three points and we know they’re going to take a foul.

“I’m watching Brad Stevens tell them that they have a foul to give, so once I saw that I looked over at everybody that I thought was going to shoot the ball and said, ‘Once you catch the ball, go into your shooting motion before they foul you,'” Williams added. “That’s a heads-up play. It wasn’t a swing-through, it wasn’t any of the things that they’ve banned, so I don’t understand why it wasn’t a good bucket.”

As Rivers told the media what he thought about the no-call, Hayward walked out of the Celtics locker room and Rivers joked that the Celtics’ guard knew he fouled Williams.

“It was close,” Hayward said to Rivers.

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Thunder’s Schroder leaves bubble for birth of child



LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder left the NBA bubble Monday morning to be with his wife for the birth of their second child, Thunder coach Billy Donovan said.

“Dennis is away from the team right now with his family,” Donovan said before the Thunder played the Denver Nuggets.

Considered a leading candidate for the league’s Sixth Man of the Year Award with averages of 18.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists, the Thunder were anticipating his absence at some point and worked on how that would look during training camp.

They also got an unexpected preview of coping without their star backup when he was limited to just 22 minutes in the Thunder’s 110-94 win over the Utah Jazz on Saturday, as Schroder was saddled with foul trouble.

“It happened this morning so he’s with his family at this point and time,” Donovan said. “I’ll have a chance to probably talk to him and find out a little bit more, if it’s not later today, tomorrow. But right now for at least this game, he’ll be out. We’ll probably be able to gather some more information once we get a chance to spend a little bit more time with his over the phone.”

The 26-year-old Schroder and his wife, Ellen, welcomed their first child in February 2019.

“I’m not going to leave my wife by herself while she’s having the second baby,” he told reporters last month. “I’m for sure going to go there and support her and try as much as I can to be there for my family.

“I love my teammates. I love basketball. But family comes first all the time.”

Donovan also said forward Terrance Ferguson will miss the Denver game because of a leg contusion.

Oklahoma City, the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference, entered Monday’s game 1 ½ games behind Denver for the No. 3 spot.

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Bucks’ Mike Budenholzer, Thunder’s Billy Donovan tie for NBCA coaching award



The Milwaukee Bucks‘ Mike Budenholzer and Oklahoma City Thunder‘s Billy Donovan were voted the National Basketball Coaches Association co-coaches of the year, the organization announced Monday.

“I am honored and humbled to be recognized by the Coaches, they are a great group of people that I admire and respect,” Donovan said in a statement.

In his statement, Budenholzer congratulated Donovan and thanked his coaching peers for their votes and support.

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse finished third in the race — and just one vote away from creating a three-way tie, sources said.

“Those guys obviously did a great job,” Nurse said of Budenholzer and Donovan on Monday during a video conference call. “You can’t argue with the Bucks’ record and how great OKC did after everybody expected lower expectations for them, so those guys are very deserving.”

The award, named in honor of longtime NBCA executive director Michael Goldberg, is voted on by the NBA’s 30 head coaches, with each coach voting for a single winner. This year’s voting was based on games played through March 11, when the season was paused because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Among those who also received votes: Memphis‘ Taylor Jenkins, Indiana‘s Nate McMillan, Miami‘s Erik Spoelstra, Boston‘s Brad Stevens and the Lakers‘ Frank Vogel.

Budenholzer, the NBCA’s 2019 winner, has led the Bucks to the league’s best overall record at 54-13 and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Donovan has the Thunder sixth in the Western Conference at 41-24 in a season when some wondered whether they could reach the playoffs.

“Mike led the Bucks to the best record in the league for a second straight season and Billy became just the fourth active Head Coach to lead his team to the playoffs in each of his first five seasons,” Dallas Mavericks coach and NBCA president Rick Carlisle said in a statement. “To win the vote of our peers makes the Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award one of the most meaningful in all of pro sports.”

This is the second time the NBCA has had a tie, along with 2017 with Houston‘s Mike D’Antoni and Miami’s Spoelstra.

The NBA also gives a coach of the year award — the Red Auerbach Trophy — based on a vote of the league’s media. That will be released at a later date.

ESPN’s Nick Friedell contributed to this report.

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NBA campus intel – Schedule and live updates for Day 5 of seeding games



It has been a rough start in the bubble for the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies, both sitting on 0-2 records in seeding games.

Weeks ago, when the schedule was announced, this had the chance to be a marquee matchup with serious playoff implications featuring two of the league’s brightest young stars, rookies Zion Williamson and Ja Morant.

But now, after back-to-back losses, New Orleans could be barreling out of the playoff race altogether with another defeat. Memphis looks to bounce back to hold off a charging San Antonio Spurs squad that started off with two wins, and a Portland team that already defeated the Grizzlies in Florida.

This will be the third matchup between the squads this season, with the Pelicans scoring victories in the first two — a 126-116 win in Memphis on Jan. 20 and a 139-111 win in New Orleans on Jan. 31.

In the first matchup, New Orleans shooting guard Jrue Holiday had one of his best offensive performances of the season with 36 points and a career-best seven 3-pointers. He was also key in keeping Morant quiet for most of the game (16 points on 5-of-14 shooting).

When the teams tangled in New Orleans 11 days later, Williamson was available, and Memphis was missing Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke. Williamson had a game-high 24 points on the way to a blowout win.

Williamson has been limited to a combined 29 minutes in the first two seeding games. Those minutes have not gone well, with the Pelicans getting outscored by 33 points with Williamson on the floor. The Pelicans are watching Williamson’s minutes since he missed all three scrimmages and a total of 13 days because of a family emergency that took him away from the campus.

It’s unclear how much Williamson will be able to ramp it up Monday. The Pelicans’ medical team will meet and make that decision prior to the game.

To get by New Orleans this time, Memphis will rely on Morant and Jackson. Morant is averaging 23.5 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in two games in Florida, and Jackson followed up a 33-point performance in Memphis’ first game with a 21-point effort against San Antonio — complete with a ridiculous shot from the corner late in that one to tie the score.

It’s a tough spot for the Grizzlies, who played Sunday while New Orleans rested following a Saturday blowout loss to the LA Clippers. It’s as much of a logistical disadvantage as you can have without travel playing a role. But this would be the absolute worst time for the Pelicans to drop their first game to their Southeast Division rival. Something won’t hold up by the end of Monday night. — Andrew Lopez

Here’s the latest on the standings, the games to watch Monday and Tuesday, plus everything you need to know. Check back here for highlights and updates throughout the day.

PAST BUBBLE INTEL: July 30 | July 31 | Aug. 1| Aug. 2

Monday’s must-see games

Memphis Grizzlies vs. New Orleans Pelicans | 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

It’s a must-win situation for the Pelicans, who dropped their first two games. After Saturday night’s loss to the Clippers, Pelicans small forward Brandon Ingram said, “We probably can’t lose any more games” if they want to make their playoff push. New Orleans has a 2-0 advantage on Memphis this season, so the Grizzlies will be looking for a bit of payback.

Monday’s matchup will be the second contest of the season between South Carolina natives Williamson and Morant. Williamson (24 points) had the upper hand on Morant (16 points) in the first meeting, although the Grizzlies were missing Jackson and Clarke in that game. — Lopez

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Utah Jazz | 9 p.m. ET on ESPN

This will be the third game for each team and both will be hoping for better performances than they had in their second games. Each team opened up play in Florida with a win Thursday but stumbled Saturday — Utah losing to Oklahoma City 110-94, and Los Angeles falling to Toronto 107-92.

A win against Utah will clinch the best record in the Western Conference for the Lakers with five games to go before the playoffs. Meanwhile, Utah is in fourth place in the West, a game back of Denver for No. 3. Both teams will be looking to fix their offenses and get back on the right track. — Lopez

Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access.

Additional games

Full scoreboard for Monday

Play-in watch

The Grizzlies aren’t the only team playing the first back-to-backs of the seeding games. The Wizards have to come back from their 0-2 start as well and try to get a crucial victory against the Pacers. The Wizards lost to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, so they need a lot of things to go their way to force a play-in weekend.

The Spurs, unlike the Grizzlies and Wizards, enter their no-rest game day with a 2-0 record in seeding games. They face the 76ers for a chance to stay ahead of the bubble pack.

Eastern Conference

7. Orlando Magic | 31-35 (.470) |
8. Brooklyn Nets | 31-35 (.470) |
9. Washington Wizards | 24-42 (.364) | 7.0 GB

Western Conference

8. Memphis Grizzlies | 32-35 (.478) | —
9. San Antonio Spurs | 29-36 (.446) | 2.0 GB
10. Portland Trail Blazers | 30-38 (.441) | 2.5 GB
11. Sacramento Kings | 28-37 (.431) | 3.0 GB
12. New Orleans Pelicans | 28-38 (.424) | 3.5 GB
13. Phoenix Suns | 28-39 (.418) | 4.0 GB

Full standings | Playoff matchups

Tuesday’s must-see games

Dallas Mavericks vs. Sacramento Kings | 2:30 p.m. ET

Two teams badly in need of a win in Florida. The Kings come into this game on the heels of two straight losses that probably cost them any chance at the postseason — so it will be interesting to see how motivated they are to play in a game against a Mavericks team that has let two winnable games slide right through their fingertips. For the Kings to get back on track, they need more from Buddy Hield. He comes into Tuesday’s game shooting just 7-for-26 over his first two games. The Mavs could use more from Tim Hardaway Jr. who was just 1-for-12 in Sunday’s loss to the Suns. — Nick Friedell

Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat | 6:30 p.m. ET

This sets up to be one of the most intense matchups on the campus. The Celtics got a much-needed win over a rejuvenated Trail Blazers team Sunday, and the Heat have looked both hungry and deep over their first two games. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 64 points against the Blazers, but expect Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler to help slow down Boston’s perimeter movement early on Tuesday if he is available. — Friedell

Houston Rockets vs. Portland Trail Blazers | 9 p.m. ET

There will be plenty of points — lots of points — in what figures to be one of the highest-scoring affairs of the month. These two top-five offenses score at will, but a main key will be how well Portland can use center Jusuf Nurkic and his height advantage against the Houston microball lineup. — Friedell

Additional games

  • Brooklyn Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks | 1:30 p.m. ET

  • Phoenix Suns vs. LA Clippers | 4 p.m. ET

  • Orlando Magic vs. Indiana Pacers| 6 p.m. ET

Full scoreboard for Tuesday

Analysis and intel

Real or not: Memphis’ playoff chances, Tatum’s trajectory and big restart questions

Our NBA experts weigh in on the biggest trends after the first weekend of basketball.

NBA Power Rankings: Lakers and Bucks both lose close games

The Raptors and Rockets both upset top teams, while the Spurs and Blazers fight for the No. 8 seed in the West.

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