LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — In a pool report issued after the game, referee David Guthrie said he had reassessed his decision during the game to give Miami Heat forward Kelly Olynyk a flagrant foul after he fouled Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry in the fourth quarter of Toronto’s 107-103 win on Monday afternoon.
“So on that play, at replay, Olynyk, we judged that he took an aggressive swipe and he made some contact into the facial area of Kyle Lowry,” Guthrie said in the pool report. “At replay, in my judgement, I felt like that did meet the criteria for a flagrant foul. After reviewing that more postgame, and thinking about it a little bit more, to me, it now is more of a natural basketball play going for the ball and that the contact really did not rise to the criteria of a flagrant foul. In both of these instances and cases, though, as always, I know that the league office will review them as they always do all flagrant fouls and they’ll make their determinations at the end of the day on what they think they ended up, in their judgement, that it was. But we had our judgments in the live game.”
The foul in question came after Lowry corralled a defensive rebound in the backcourt with 6:56 remaining in the fourth quarter and the game tied at 92. After the foul was upgraded to a flagrant foul 1, Lowry made both free throws, and then made a nice move into the lane to hit Serge Ibaka for a layup to give the Raptors a 96-92 lead with 6:37 remaining.
Toronto would never relinquish its lead the rest of the way — though Miami had a chance to tie the game when Goran Dragic missed a free throw with 41.4 seconds remaining (the only foul shot Miami missed all game, as the Heat went 15-for-16 from the free throw line) and then failed to get a single shot attempt off on either of its ensuing two possessions with chances to either tie or win the game.
Celtics’ Gordon Hayward, wife Robyn welcome fourth child
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Celtics forward Gordon Hayward and his wife, Robyn, are parents for a fourth time.
Robyn Hayward announced the birth of the couple’s first son — Gordon Theodore Hayward — on Wednesday, a couple of hours before the Celtics would face the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Hayward had originally planned to leave the bubble for the birth, but he remained with the Celtics. He got some unplanned time off earlier in Boston’s postseason run because of a sprained ankle, and spent some of that with his wife and daughters before returning to the NBA campus.
“I think his ankle’s fine right now,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Wednesday after the birth was announced. “I don’t think he’s thought about it all afternoon obviously. … Very, very happy to hear the news.”
Robyn Hayward said the baby — who was already wearing Celtics apparel Wednesday with his father’s name and number on the back — will go by Theo, despite his father’s preference that he go by GT.
“Our little man is finally here!” she wrote.
Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets players say Breonna Taylor ruling by grand jury ‘wasn’t enough’
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — In the Los Angeles Lakers meal room — located down the hall from the court the team was practicing Wednesday — the television had been left on. The news anchor was dissecting a Kentucky grand jury decision not to prosecute any of the officers for the the death of Breonna Taylor.
In the ballroom-turned-practice facility around the corner, the Lakers were finishing up the day’s workout. LeBron James, sitting off to the side of the court eating a sandwich, discussed the decision with longtime friend Randy Mims and shook his head.
Lakers players, planning for a light practice after dropping Game 3 of the Western Conference finals to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night, had their phones pinged by James earlier that afternoon, prepping them for the news.
“Bron texted the group chat that there might be an announcement made,” Lakers guard Danny Green said. “Nobody was really happy about it. It was disappointing. In a sense, something was done, but it wasn’t enough. Most guys felt it was definitely not enough. … It’s a tough one. It’s a tough one.”
On Wednesday, a grand jury in Louisville indicted one police officer — Brett Hankison — for shooting into neighboring apartments. Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in connection to the police raid that resulted in the death of Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, on the night of March 13.
Like many Americans, NBA players had been anticipating a decision in this case for months. Calling for justice for Taylor — and for the police officers involved in her death to be held accountable in court — has been a constant message from players in the bubble in Orlando.
NBA teams also began to advocate for victims of police brutality in their own cities. Nearly a month ago, games in the bubble came to a halt after the Milwaukee Bucks decided not to play their first-round game against the Orlando Magic as the team reeled from the shooting of Jacob Blake — a Black man — by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Green, who has talked about Taylor’s case to begin every one of his media sessions since July, lamented the fact that the league’s players haven’t come together since an “all hands on deck” meeting in August in response to the Bucks’ decision.
“We’re still trying to make the proper steps,” Green said. “We haven’t even gotten the chance to reconvene. We need more time as a group, not just as our team, but as everyone in the bubble and outside the bubble to figure out how we can continue to get progress in these certain aspects, in these certain categories, in these certain communities — specifically with what happened today wasn’t enough, we felt, and I’m sure most people around the country felt the same.”
Caruso, a white player who chose to wear the message “Black Lives Matter” on the back of his uniform, pointed out that for as much attention the Taylor case is receiving, racial inequity remains pervasive.
“This one case I think is the focal point right now, but even since then there’s been more Black innocent people that have been killed,” Caruso said. “You know, it’s just going to be a long journey. Steps like this are hopefully small steps in the right direction, but there’s still such a long way to go.”
Like the Lakers, the timing of Nuggets practice coincided with the grand jury decision becoming public. Denver coach Michael Malone offered the floor to Grant to address the team, which Grant declined as the news was so fresh.
“He chose not to, which I truly understood,” Malone said. “I at least wanted to give him, before we got into basketball, the option to do so because I know it’s something that he’s been carrying in his heart throughout this process.”
Malone has consistently worn a black T-shirt with the words “Justice for Elijah McClain” printed in white, block letters on the front of it to news conferences in Orlando. McClain, a Black man, was just 23 years old and walking home from a convenience store last summer when police officers in Aurora, Colorado put him in a chokehold, causing him to become nonresponsive. McClain was injected with ketamine when paramedics arrived, which eventually caused him to go into cardiac arrest and he died a few days later.
“I know we’ve been using our platform down here to try to bring about education and a voice in a lot of players on our team, especially also spoken out on justice for Breonna Taylor,” Malone said. “We have not gotten that justice. That’s a shame. Hopefully that will change at some point.”
ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk contributed to this report.
New Sacramento Kings GM Monte McNair commits to Luke Walton as coach
New Sacramento Kings general manager Monte McNair said he is looking forward to working with coach Luke Walton to revive a franchise that has the longest current playoff drought in the NBA.
McNair was hired last week to replace Vlade Divac after a long tenure as an executive in Houston. He backed Walton publicly during his introductory news conference Wednesday.
“I’ve got to know him the last few days; we’ve had some good conversations,” McNair said. “I’ve heard great things. So far I think we’ve had a great rapport. Luke’s going to be our coach next year. I’m really excited to work with him. I think we’re aligned with our vision and we’re gonna start implementing it.”
Walton is the team’s 10th coach since the Kings last made the playoffs in Rick Adelman’s final season in 2005-06. Sacramento went 31-41 in Walton’s first season at the helm.
McNair and Walton will work together to end the 14-year playoff drought that is one year off the longest one in NBA history.
“I understand the frustrations of all the loyal Kings fans,” McNair said. “I’ve already seen and heard about their passion. I think we’re aligned on that goal. I was fortunate enough to spend the last 13 years at an organization where we were able to build those winning habits, that culture, where year in and year out we expected to be in the playoffs and compete for championships. My goal is to recreate that here. We’re going to be flexible and just be ready whenever that opportunity arises to really improve the team and get us back into that consistent playoff hunt.”
McNair inherits a roster that has some intriguing young pieces but has not been good enough to contend in the Western Conference.
Point guard De’Aaron Fox is one of the better young players in the league. Marvin Bagley III, the No. 2 overall pick in 2018, showed flashes as a rookie but struggled with injuries this past season that limited him to 13 games.
McNair is a Southern California native who spent 13 years working for the Rockets. He has been the assistant general manager since 2018 and also was integral in the team’s analytics department, working closely with the coaching staff on strategy.
The Rockets made the playoffs for eight straight seasons with two trips to the Western Conference final and seven 50-win campaigns thanks to a playing style that relied heavily on 3-point shots.
“In Houston, obviously we pushed some things to the extreme,” McNair said. “That was partly due to our personnel there. There are some tenets that we’ll apply here. We’re definitely going to play fast and space the floor. There’s a lot of versatility and talent on this roster. I think that’ll dictate how we build the team.”
Divac was initially hired by the Kings in March 2013 as vice president of basketball operations and franchise operations. He became general manager in August 2015 but was unable to get the Kings back into the playoffs.
He traded DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans in 2017 and made the decision to draft Bagley second overall in 2018, one spot ahead of Luka Doncic.
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