Paul Pierce Ejection Video – Referee Ed Malloy Going too Far?

Easily the most controversial call of the second round of the NBA Playoffs came in Game 1 of the Heat-Celtics series. Paul Pierce already had one technical foul when he set a screen on Dwyane Wade in the fourth quarter. They exchanged words, and Pierce may have said something to referee Ed Malloy who gave him his second technical. The second technical resulted in an automatic ejection that had Doc Rivers livid and all fans screaming about the call. Here’s a video of the Paul Pierce ejection for you to judge:

Jeff Van Gundy was going nuts as a commentator about the call, saying referee Ed Malloy had gone too far. Fans were screaming the same thing. That may be the case, but we can’t fairly judge the situation until we know what Pierce said to Malloy. The NBA instituted a rule before the season saying players were being watched more closely for overt reactions to calls and that their reactions could result in technicals. I’m guessing that’s the reason Pierce got his second technical that resulted in his ejection.

Under these guidelines, it’s quite possible that Pierce’s words (or actions) warranted a tech. Whether the rule should be in place is a debatable issue, but what isn’t questionable is receiving a technical for overt reactions to calls under these rules. Sadly this isn’t the first controversial call we’ve had during the playoffs.

Chest bump to Ben Golliver for the video

Lionel Hollins References Black Hole Kevin McHale Talking about Zach Randolph

The Memphis Grizzlies pulled off a stunner by beating the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the NBA playoffs. It was only the fourth time in history that an eight seed knocked off a one, and only the second time since the first round expanded to a best of seven. The undeniable star for Memphis was Zach Randolph who scored 17 of his game-high 31 points in the fourth quarter Friday night.

Randolph has taken his game to a new level with Memphis and even become a player who shares the ball. Throughout his career he was known as a player who could put up big numbers but couldn’t win. He was also considered a selfish player who never passed. After the Game 6 win over San Antonio, Memphis coach Lionel Hollins addressed Randolph’s development.

“Zach has grown since he’s been here,” Hollins said. “I’ve known Zach since before he got here and I’ve always admired how hard he played. He’s gotten a bad rap for as everybody says ‘a blackhole’ but I don’t think anybody could be more of a black hole than Kevin McHale when he played. But he’s learned how to play with his teammates, he’s made some awesome passes, teams just can’t go and double him and think he won’t pass the ball.”

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Orlando Columnist Mike Bianchi Motivated Birdbrain Atlanta Hawks, Josh Smith

The Atlanta Hawks polished off the Orlando Magic 4-2 in their first-round series of the NBA Playoffs. The Hawks were leading the series 3-1 but lost Game 5 to Orlando, prompting the series to go to a sixth game. It was then that Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi crushed the Hawks in his column and declared the Magic would win.

Some of the highlights from the column:

The Magic are going to win this series and the Birdbrains are going to fold up and collapse like a $5 lawn chair. You know it, I know it and deep down in the lonely recesses of their fragile minds, the Birdbrains know it, too.

No matter how much talent they have, the Hawks are still the Hawks. They are still Team Dummy. They will always do stupid things and take stupid shots. They will always lose their focus and their composure

Apparently some of those quotes were distributed to the Hawks players prior to Game 6, and afterwards forward Josh Smith admitted Bianchi’s criticism served as a motivating factor for Atlanta:

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Gary Neal and Manu Ginobili Shots Are as Incredible as it Gets (Video)

The Spurs miraculously came back to beat the Grizzlies in Game 5 of the NBA Playoffs Wednesday evening in what had to have been the best game of the postseason thus far. The Spurs were down by three with under 10 seconds left and staring elimination in the face. This is the same San Antonio team that earned the top spot in the Western Conference, has won three titles with their core three, and whose window was closing. But for at least a day, the basketball gods ensured the Spurs legend would live on.

Check out these amazing shots made by both Manu Ginobili and Gary Neal that helped send the game to overtime. These two shots are every reason why it’s awesome to be a sports fan — skip ahead to the two minute mark in the video:

After such a crushing defeat in Game 5, I really wonder who has the more difficult task to conquer. San Antonio needs to win two more games to win the series while Memphis only needs one. Will they be demoralized after blowing a chance to clinch the series and advance? Will they be able to recover? Will the Spurs carry the momentum they gained from the thrilling comeback for the rest of the series? There’s only one way to find out, and that’s what makes watching these playoffs so darn exciting. I do have to tell you, I would favor the Spurs at this point. If Memphis can clinch the series, they will have accomplished a more impressive feat even though they’re ahead in the series.

Kevin Durant’s Backcourt Violation Idiotically Overturned by Refs, Rules Show

Kevin Durant had a spectacular game for Oklahoma City Wednesday night helping the Thunder close out the Nuggets for their first playoff series victory in franchise history. Durant tied a playoff career-high with 41 points on 14-for-27 shooting and he closed with 16 points in the fourth quarter. But there was one moment where Durant made a mistake and the referees bailed him out.

The Thunder were inbounding the ball in the front court with about 15 seconds left and leading 98-97. Durant caught the ball in the front court, then his back foot stepped on the midcourt line (picture on the left), he took a dribble, and then he stepped on the line again (picture on the right). He was whistled for a backcourt violation but somehow the call was overturned.

Thanks to the bailout, the Thunder got the ball back and Durant hit a runner to make it 100-97 with 12 seconds left. Instead of shooting for the lead, the Nuggets were essentially forced into taking a three to tie — a much lower percentage shot.

Now just so you don’t think this is some hating on the refs by a Nuggets homer (I actually wanted OKC to win the series), here are the applicable rules from NBA.com that show the refs completely blew the call.

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Stan Van Gundy Left Orlando Magic’s Game 5 Before it Ended (Video)

Like so many of you, I didn’t stick around to watch the ending of Game 5 between the Magic and Hawks Tuesday night. The game was a blowout from the start and there were far more interesting things to watch, such as the Bruins-Canadiens or Bulls-Pacers. But LBS contributor Arsen was watching the ending and informed us that Magic coach Stan Van Gundy pulled a Randy Moss (or Mark Cuban) and left the floor before the game ended. Here is the video:

That to me was more controversial than Van Gundy’s press conference which has received a good amount of attention. When I saw the post-game press conference in which SVG said nobody liked the media, I laughed but didn’t think much else because that’s typical behavior for him. So what do you make of Van Gundy leaving the floor early? Was it rude and disrespectful?

As much as I’m inclined to agree, the endings to games go on entirely too long. Not only that, but fouling at the end of games gets somewhat out of hand, so if that was his way of protesting, I understand. I’m not endorsing the behavior, but I don’t think it was terrible.

Thanks to Ball Don’t Lie for the video

With Kobe Playing Through Foot Injury, Are the Lakers in Trouble?

Through four games of the opening round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs, the Hornets have given the Lakers all they can handle.  Chris Paul has been outstanding and the series is currently tied, 2-2, with Game 5 Tuesday night in L.A.  What is even more concerning for the Lakers than the series being up for grabs is the fact that Kobe Bryant left the court on crutches after Game 4.  Even worse, he is refusing any MRI or X-rays on his injured left foot.

Phil Jackson told ESPN Los Angeles on Monday that while it would probably be a good idea for Bryant to undergo the appropriate scans and tests on his foot, it doesn’t matter.  At this point Kobe has no interest in knowing what could be structurally wrong with his foot/ankle and will play Tuesday night regardless.  The question now is whether or not the Lakers will suffer.

Jackson finds himself faced with a classic damned if he does, damned of he doesn’t scenario — there is no arguing that.  If Kobe were to sit out, the Hornets would have a tremendous opportunity to steal Game 5 and close the series out at home on Thursday.  If Kobe plays and lacks explosiveness, the same opportunity could be presenting itself.

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