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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Blog

Watch: Marc Gasol throws the ball away on ridiculous pass

Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol has a reputation for being a good passing big man, but he did not showcase that skill during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday.

The Toronto Raptors big man took a pass down the lane in transition during the third quarter and was going to the hoop. He decided to attempt a pass as he went up and then ended up throwing the ball away in a discus-like move:

That was ugly. It wasn’t his only ugly play of the quarter.

Earlier in the third, Gasol was backing down Milwaukee Bucks forward Nikola Mirotic and embellished some contact he initiated in the post.

Gasol’s reaction was so violent that the officials reviewed the play to determine whether a flagrant foul was in order. They realized he was flopping and only called a common foul.

At least Gasol put these plays aside and was shooting the ball well. He was 4-for-7 with three 3-pointers, seven rebounds and five assists at the time of his blunder.

Report: Bulls interested in trading for Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball

A surprising destination may be emerging for Lonzo Ball if he is ultimately traded by the Los Angeles Lakers.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported on Sunday that the Chicago Bulls are “intrigue[d]” by the possibility of trading for the 21-year-old point guard. Johnson also notes that the Bulls may be in position to help facilitate a three-team deal that would send disgruntled New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis to the Lakers.

For Ball, who missed 35 games to injury last season and struggled to adapt to LeBron James’ arrival, his playmaking and defensive savvy would make an ideal addition to Chicago’s young core. Fellow UCLA Bruin Zach LaVine is naturally more of a shooting guard, and big men Wendell Carter Jr and Lauri Markkanen can serve as quality pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop partners.

The Bulls have the No. 7 overall pick in this year’s draft plus other assets to offer, but they are not the only young team with interest in acquiring Ball.

Did Giannis Antetokounmpo travel on this basket against Raptors?

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo got the benefit from the referees on a basket during the second quarter of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday that had everyone debating whether he traveled.

The Milwaukee Bucks star streaked down the court and darted around the Toronto Raptors defense for a bucket in the paint. He did so despite only taking one dribble after crossing halfcourt, liberally making use of the Euro step.

The Raptors bench and players in the game all thought a travel should have been called, but nothing was. The TNT crew even debated at halftime whether traveling should have been called.

Giannis covered so much ground using just one dribble that one has to wonder how that could have been legal. Watching it at full speed though, he only appears to take two steps, which is probably why the refs let it go.

Plays like that are exactly why they call him the “Greek Freak.” He does things only a physical freak could do on the court.

Kyle Lowry winces after 3-pointer due to thumb injury

Kyle Lowry

Kyle Lowry is clearly playing through pain during the Eastern Conference finals.

Lowry made a big 3-pointer during the second quarter of Game 3 of the conference finals between his Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday. The shot made the score 47-38 Toronto, but Lowry cradled his left hand after the shot and was wincing, as TNT pointed out.

The Raptors point guard sprained his left thumb during the team’s Game 7 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in the conference semis. It didn’t seem to bother him during his brilliant shooting game (10-for-15) in Game 1 of the series, which Toronto lost. He shot the ball well in the first half against Milwaukee in Game 3, going 3-for-5 with a couple of threes.

Lowry is putting the injury issue aside during the series and doing his best to play through it.

Brooks Koepka was not surprised by ‘DJ’ chants in final round

Brooks Koepka

It’s fair to say that Brooks Koepka was not the crowd favorite down the stretch at the PGA Championship as he struggled through his final round, opening the door for a Dustin Johnson comeback.

Koepka shot four straight bogeys from holes 11-14, making what had previously looked like a procession quite tense, with Johnson closing the gap on him. That got the crowd at Bethpage Black into it on Johnson’s side, and Koepka was serenaded with “DJ” chants down the stretch.

Koepka ultimately won despite shooting +4 on Sunday, and didn’t seem terribly offended by the crowd’s response to his struggles.

If Koepka was as laser-focused all day as he was when he denied his girlfriend on a kiss attempt, then the chants probably didn’t register much with him. It certainly didn’t bother him enough to cost him the championship, as he managed to close things out by a two-stroke margin.

Rockets owner backs aging Chris Paul

Chris Paul Rockets

Chris Paul has been the target of criticism from many people evaluating the Rockets’ future, but the point guard still has the support of ownership.

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta spoke with the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen on Thursday and expressed his support for CP3 despite the criticism the point guard has received for posting his worst statistical season.

“You can’t just look at Chris’ statistics, assists and points,” Fertitta said, via Feigen. “Chris does things all through the game to disrupt the other team. Chris is smart. I think Chris has a lot in him to contribute in the next couple years. He’s got savvy and intelligence that helps the team.”

Paul’s 15.6 points and 41.9 percent field goal shooting this season were the lowest marks of his career. Outside of Game 6 against the Warriors, he didn’t look like a special player during the playoffs.

Paul is 34, has only played in 58 regular season games each of the last two seasons, has chronic hamstring/leg issues, and he is signed to make $123 million over the next three seasons. We just don’t share the same optimism about his future role with the franchise as Fertitta does.

George Springer considered day-to-day with back stiffness

George Springer has been one of baseball’s hottest hitters, but the Houston Astros outfielder could be sidelined for a day or two.

Springer left Sunday’s loss against the Boston Red Sox with lower back stiffness, prompting some worry about his health going forward. However, manager A.J. Hinch stated that Springer was only day-to-day and will be held out of Monday’s game.

Springer is hitting .313 this season. His 17 home runs lead the American League, and he trails only Christian Yelich for league-wide supremacy in that department.

Brooks Koepka’s girlfriend Jena Sims gets big kiss to make up for snub

Jena Sims

Brooks Koepka’s girlfriend Jena Sims got a big makeup kiss that she do deserved after getting snubbed earlier in the day.

Koepka shot a four-over 74 on Sunday, which was enough to win his second consecutive PGA Championship thanks to the huge lead he built up with a record first two rounds.

Prior to his tee time on Sunday, Koepka denied Sims on a kiss attempt:

Maybe Koepka was all business at the time, because once he completed the major win, he was ready for the smooches.

The 29-year-old golfer is in the middle of building his legacy. He won consecutive US Opens in 2017 and 2018 and has now won two PGA Championships in a row. He’ll have a chance to make it three US Opens in a row next month.

Mickey Callaway defends Robinson Cano for failing to run to first again

For the second time in three days, New York Mets star Robinson Cano is taking heat for failing to run out a ground ball.

On Friday, Cano blamed the scoreboard for misleading him on the number of outs, resulting in him not running out a double play ball. On Sunday, Cano gave up on a ball that looked like it was going foul. The ball came back fair, but Cano didn’t bother running to first, making him easy fodder for a double play.

Despite not running out a double play grounder for the second time in three days, manager Mickey Callaway did not remove Cano from the game. The manager defended him, saying that he couldn’t blame him for thinking the ball was foul.

There was speculation that Callaway was protecting Cano as the second baseman is a former client of Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen. Whatever the case, it will do little to alleviate the criticism of a Mets team that has lost five in a row. In Callaway’s case, things are so bad that there are already rumored replacements out there if he gets fired in the coming days.

Draymond Green explains how Kevin Durant helped him control his temper

Kevin Durant Draymond Green

The Golden State Warriors got off to a tumultuous start to the season when Kevin Durant and Draymond Green had a well-documented feud, and Green credits something Durant said to him around that time for helping him control his emotions.

Green has done a good job lately of avoiding technical fouls and confrontations with opponents, and he spoke with reporters about that on Sunday. That led to him voluntarily bringing up his issues with Durant, and he said Durant made a comment to him back in November that “kind of stuck with me.”

“It’s funny because when the stuff happened with Kevin earlier this year, he said, like, ‘Everybody is giving you this pass like, Oh, that’s just Draymond. He’s emotional,'” Green recalled, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

“But (Durant) said to me then, like, ‘You’re not emotional. I’ve seen you lock in and not say a word to the referees. I’m not giving you that pass.’ That’s kind of stuck with me.”

Green still has four technical fouls this postseason, but Slater notes that he has not picked one up for arguing with an official in eight games. While that may not sound like much, it’s a pretty lengthy streak for Draymond.

Durant and Green went at it on the court back in November when Durant was upset that Green did not pass him the ball late in an overtime game. The frustration reportedly led to a heated exchange in the locker room, and Durant made it clear he was bothered by it.

Some believe that feud will ultimately contribute to Durant leaving the Warriors as a free agent this summer, but apparently something good came out of it for Green. If that helps Golden State win a third straight title, it was probably worth it.