Did Russell Westbrook try to exact some revenge on Draymond Green during Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday? It appears so.
During the second quarter of the game, Westbrook noticed the shot clock running out and decided to heave a three. Realizing the ball wasn’t going in, Westbrook flailed his legs to try drawing a foul call. He didn’t get the call, but he did trip Green:
— ⓂarcusD (@_MarcusD_) May 25, 2016
There’s no way that trip from Westbrook was not intentional. He already said he felt Green hitting Steven Adams in the groin was on purpose, while Green responded by saying Westbrook started the whole trend.
There’s bad blood between them, and this was Russ’ response.
The outpouring of support Craig Sager has received during his battle with leukemia has been heartwarming, to say the least. It continued prior to and during Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.
During Sager’s fight, “Sager Strong” has become a rallying cry of sorts, a way of encouraging the popular reporter to not give up. On Tuesday, Chris Webber and members of the TNT crew wore special socks with the phrase and Sager’s likeness on them during the Thunder-Warriors game.
— Chris Webber (@realchriswebber) May 24, 2016
— Michael Kinney (@EyeAmTruth) May 24, 2016
After initially announcing his leukemia was in remission, Sager revealed late in March it had returned. He has continued to work games for TNT and during the NCAA Tournament Sager received signed boxing gloves from George Foreman with the words “We fight till the bell rings” on one of them. We know Sager will do just that.
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- Craig Sager
Craig Sager will be receiving an awesome and very well deserved honor.
The ESPYS announced Tuesday that Sager will be this year’s recipient of the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance:
— ESPYS (@ESPYS) May 25, 2016
Sager, 64, is a reporter for TNT/TBS, best known for the wacky outfits he wears while conducting sideline reports during NBA games.
Sager is battling leukemia and missed the 2014 NBA playoffs to receive treatment. After the leukemia was in remission, it returned in March. Undeterred, Sager has continued to work the playoffs while undergoing chemotherapy, sometimes traveling back-and-forth between his treatment facility and playoff games in the same day.
The Jimmy V Award has been given out since 2007. Last year’s winners were Leah and Devon Still, while 2014’s recipient was the late Stuart Scott.
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- Craig Sager
Is there anything more frustrating than scoring a goal in front of your home crowd to put your team up 1-0 in the playoffs and seeing it wiped off the board due to an offsides call? That’s what happened with Jonathan Drouin and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.
During Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Drouin scored for what would have been the first goal of the game. With his team up 3-2 in the series, taking a 1-0 lead would have had the Lightning well on its way to reaching the Stanley Cup Finals. But the goal was erased after the Penguins challenged and the officials determined Drouin was offsides.
— NBCSN (@NBCSN) May 25, 2016
Yes, Drouin was offsides on the play, but you hate to see a goal erased due to a matter of inches on something seemingly so innocent and having so little to do with the actual goal.
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After losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Raptors have fought back to tie the series 2-2. Among the reasons for Toronto’s improved play has been outstanding performances by Bismack Biyombo.
Biyombo has been a dominating force in the paint, seemingly grabbing every rebound in sight and protecting the rim. In the Raptors’ two wins against the Cavaliers, Biyombo has averaged 20 rebounds and over three blocks per game.
After swatting a shot, the 23-year-old big man has seen wagging his finger, reminiscent of Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo. Biyombo has reportedly said Mutombo gave his approval for Toronto’s center to use it. Mutombo, however, laughed and said not so fast when caught by TMZ cameras.
Basically, Mutombo wagged his finger at Biyombo with the “I don’t know when did that conversation took place. Him and I need to talk this summer.”
With Jonas Valanciunas getting injured during the Raptors’ series with the heat, and having not played in eight consecutive games, Biyombo has made the most of increased playing time. In fact, he’s put up some Mutombo-like stat lines. Biyombo might want to hold off on the finger wags though, atleast for now.
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The Indiana Pacers are working to assemble the staff of newly-promoted head coach Nate McMillan, and one of the names they are considering is one that you probably haven’t heard in awhile: Nick Van Exel.
According to a report by Marc Stein of ESPN on Tuesday, the Pacers are interested in hiring Van Exel as an assistant to McMillan.
Interesting twist in the coaching game: Sources say Indiana has expressed interest in hiring Nick Van Exel to join Nate McMillan's staff.
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 24, 2016
Van Exel, 44, is best known for his 13-year playing career in the NBA where he earned a reputation as a spunky score-and-dish point guard with a smooth lefty jumper. He made one All-Star team in 1998 and is remembered as one of the more underrated talents of his generation.
The post-playing days have been good to Van Exel as well as he is currently the head coach of the Texas Legends, the NBA D-League affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks. He previously served as an assistant coach for the Bucks in the 2012-13 season, and, prior to that, worked in player development for the Atlanta Hawks.
By selecting a figure who has been around the sport in a number of different capacities over the years, the Pacers could be making a Van Excellent hire.
Image via Texas Legends on YouTube
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- Nick Van Exel
The luck of the Irish definitely does not appear to be with Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert right now.
According to a report by Jim Owczarski of The Enquirer on Tuesday, Eifert needs surgery on his left ankle and could miss the next three months.
— Jim Owczarski (@JimOwczarski) May 24, 2016
While that timetable would put a return sometime in late August, Adam Schefter of ESPN adds that the procedure may throw Eifert’s status for the start of the 2016 season in doubt.
Bengals' Tyler Eifert will have ankle surgery this week, as @JimOwczarski reported. Start of 2016 season for Eifert in jeopardy, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 24, 2016
Eifert, 25, was phenomenal last year, his third in the league, racking up 52 catches for 615 yards. He was also a grizzly bear in the red zone all season, recording 13 touchdowns, tops amongst tight ends. Eifert’s performance was good enough to get him selected as a Pro Bowler, but in a cruel twist of fate, he suffered the aforementioned ankle injury during the Pro Bowl game itself.
The Bengals open the season on the road against the New York Jets on September 11, and could thrust second-year tight end Tyler Kroft into a bigger role if Eifert is not yet ready by then.
Image Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
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- Tyler Eifert
The Minnesota Twins are on pace for their worst 162-game season in franchise history. Not much has gone right thus far for the 11-33 Twins, and that has made it difficult for broadcasters and people who are covering the team to stay positive about what fans are seeing.
Just ask Dick Bremer.
Bremer, the Twins’ play-by-play announcer for FOX Sports North, recently told Mike McFeely of WDAY AM 970 that he was “confronted” by a Twins player who was unhappy over something Bremer and his partner, Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven, said on the air.
“I make it a practice to go in the clubhouse every day and go down on the field, so if a player has a complaint about something I’ve said on television they have that opportunity,” Bremer explained. “I was confronted in the clubhouse in the last homestand. I didn’t say what I wanted to say, which was, ‘Well, play better and the commentary will be more positive.’ You can’t mask the fact this team is a quarter of the way through the season with 10 wins.”
Bremer did not specify which player or players confronted him, nor did he say if the exchange was heated or in jest. It’s hard to imagine a player having the stones to seriously complain about something negative being said about the worst team in baseball.
“You know you have to draw the line between placating your audience who wants to see the Twins win, but still when somebody makes a bad play … when (Eddie) Rosario overshoots the cutoff man and airmails the ball to home plate, everybody knows that’s unacceptable and shouldn’t be seen in a Major League ballgame,” Bremer added. “So you have to point that out.”
The only team that has been close to as embarrassing as the Twins this season is the one that let its manager know of his firing via a flight confirmation email. There’s nothing good you can say about being on pace for less than 50 wins. Players should do something about that on the field if they don’t want to hear it.
H/T The Big Lead
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- Minnesota Twins
Tiger Woods is still working to return from multiple back procedures, and there has been no indication that he is close to resuming PGA tournament play. If you ask David Feherty, Tiger may not come back at all.
Feherty, who works for the Golf Channel, was speaking at the launch of GolfNow’s “Golf for Life” campaign this week when the subject of Woods’ injury rehab came up. He said that Tiger appears to be in great physical shape, but that might not be enough for the 40-year-old.
“I am not sure that Tiger will come back because it is a nerve in his back,” Feherty said, via the Irish Golf Desk. “It’s not muscular or skeletal. It’s not something you can deal with in a physical way.
“He is in phenomenal shape – just ripped as usual. But he is not able to make a full pass at it. I saw him a few weeks ago in Houston and he hadn’t played in five months and he hit some good shots and some awful skanky looking things.”
Anyone else probably would have called it quits by now, but Tiger has always been obsessed with the game of golf. That’s why he’s a 14-time major champion.
“I think he has a feeling that if he doesn’t make it back this time, he might be done from a physical standpoint,” Feherty added. “But he is too stubborn and too good and too physically gifted to be able to just give it up. He loves it too much.”
Tiger swung for cameras for the first time about a week ago, and the results were not pretty. He said he is “progressing nicely” with his rehab and then proceeded to hit three very easy shots into the water. You can see the videos here.
Even if Tiger does make it back, the odds of him winning four more majors to tie Jack Nicklaus’ 18 are incredibly slim.
Le’Veon Bell was lost for the season last year in Week 8 when he suffered a torn MCL against the Cincinnati Bengals. If you remember, several Pittsburgh Steelers players took exception to the way Vontaze Burfict reacted when Bell went down. While Bell clearly feels there was some intent from Burfict, he says the Bengals linebacker is not the only one who plays that way.
Taking part in team drills on Tuesday for the first time since injuring his knee, Bell spoke to reporters about Bengals defenders targeting him.
“I don’t think it was just (Burfict); it was like the whole team was really out there trying to like twist my ankles and do little dirty stuff in between the piles,” the running back said, via Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I feel like there’s a lot of teams that do that, try to take me out of the game.”
When asked which teams aside from the Bengals do “dirty stuff,” as he said, Bell chose not to point any direct fingers.
“Umm, a couple, but obviously a lot of teams in our division really play that same way, so obviously I know that,” he said. “I just was kind of ignorant to that at first because I didn’t think people played like that.”
Burfict has a reputation for playing dirty. Ben Roethlisberger said last season that he believed Burfict intentionally dove at his knees on this play, and no one would be surprised if Big Ben was right.
The bottom line is Bell is a true difference-maker when he’s on the field. The Steelers have to find a way to keep him healthy, even if opponents are targeting him. We saw how good they can be without him last season. We know they are even better with him.