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Sunday, May 26, 2019

Basketball

Watch: Kawhi Leonard got up so high for his dunk on Giannis

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard threw down a monster dunk in the fourth quarter of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night in Toronto and did so on Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Kyle Lowry got a steal with just under seven minutes to go in the game and charged down court. He decided to stop in the paint and then give the ball to Leonard, who was his trailer. Kawhi then jammed on Giannis:

The huge jam had everyone in Scotiabank Arena fired up and put the Raptors up 87-79 on the Milwaukee Bucks. Keep in mind that Toronto was rallying back from being down by 14 points in the third quarter.

Toronto trailed for much of the game as they looked to close out the series and advance to their first ever NBA Finals. Coming back to take the lead in the fourth quarter gave them momentum, and the big dunk helped get the crowd even more into it.

Daughter of Bucks owner takes subtle dig at Drake with Pusha T shirt

Mallory Edens Bucks pin

Mallory Edens is the latest Milwaukee Bucks representative to wade into the Drake matter.

Edens, the daughter of Bucks co-owner Wed Edens, was sitting courtside of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Bucks and Toronto Raptors on Thursday night. She was seen wearing a T-shirt featuring rapper Pusha T’s face on it.

What does this have to do with Drake and the series?

Drake and Pusha T have a long-standing beef that has included the two trading jabs over their music the past several years. Pusha T has even gotten personal in calling out Drake, accusing him of using a ghostwriter and more.

By wearing the Pusha T shirt, Edens is showing where she stands, and that is against Drake, the Raptors superfan/ambassador who has become a major storyline for his antics during the series. This is not the first time she’s shown her savvy side in basketball arguments.

Fred VanVleet had hilarious explanation for huge Game 5 performance

Toronto Raptors

Fred VanVleet dropped seven three-pointers on the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, making several huge second half shots to help the Toronto Raptors to a 3-2 lead in the series. The circumstances surrounding his big game, however, have been anything but normal.

VanVleet’s son, Fred Jr., was born between Games 3 and 4 of the series, and the guard was able to spend time with his newborn after Game 4 due to Milwaukee’s relative proximity to his hometown of Rockford, Ill. It ensured that VanVleet would get family time — but also not a lot of sleep. Clearly, the guard made the best of it when asked the key to his performance.

“I guess, zero sleep, have a lot of babies, and go out there and let loose,” VanVleet said, via Michael Lee of The Athletic. “It’s been a frantic week, but that’s what makes all this stuff worth it.”

It hasn’t been an easy series for VanVleet in other ways physically, either. Ultimately, though, he came up big when his team needed him.

Mavericks reportedly will not discipline Kristaps Porzingis over fight in Latvia

Kristaps Porzingis

Kristaps Porzingis was involved in a physical altercation in his home country of Latvia earlier this month that left him bleeding from the head, but the Dallas Mavericks are confident the star big man was not at fault.

Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Mavericks have investigated the incident and are confident Porzingis was simply “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” The team said in a statement after the video surfaced that Porzingis was “jumped and assaulted,” so their investigation likely confirmed that.

A video that surfaced on social media showed a seemingly irate Porzingis with blood on his face, and TMZ reported that the 23-year-old was attacked by a group of fans who were angry that he was traded from the New York Knicks to Dallas.

Porzingis has now made headlines for off-court reasons multiple times since the Mavs acquired him, though his attorney insists the allegations that surfaced against him over a month ago are completely baseless. Porzingis has yet to play in a game for Dallas, as he was recovering from a torn ACL all of last year.

Warriors send appropriate tweet during Eastern Conference Finals

Warriors logo

The Golden State Warriors were just as entertained by Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals as you were.

The Warriors clinched their spot in the NBA Finals with a win in Game 4 over Portland on Monday. They had the week off and got to watch Game 6 between the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors to see whom they’d end up facing. They apparently enjoyed themselves watching the competition:

Game 6 between Milwaukee and Toronto was close throughout the fourth quarter and included a comeback by the Raptors, who had been down by 14 in the third quarter. Kawhi Leonard was having another big game, which included a dunk on Giannis Antetokounmpo. The fans at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto were fired up at the possibility of the Raptors reaching the Finals for the first time ever. There was a lot to enjoy.

Game 1 of the NBA Finals will be on Thursday, May 30, giving the Warriors a week and a half between games.

Chris Paul, James Harden reportedly had tense back-and-forth after Game 6 loss

Chris Paul Rockets

The Houston Rockets endured a disappointing end to their season this year, one that left their star players in a verbal back-and-forth, according to a report.

Houston feel to the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs for the second year in a row. The difference is they lost a round and game earlier than last year, and they went down in Games 5 and 6 despite Golden State not having Kevin Durant.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania wrote about the team’s status entering the offseason and noted the tension between Chris Paul and James Harden during and after the Game 6 loss.

From Charania’s article:

“But Harden and Paul had tense moments with one another throughout Game 6, culminating in a verbal back-and-forth postgame that went into the locker room, sources with knowledge of the situation told The Athletic. Sources said the verbal exchange between Harden and Paul was regarding the ball distribution throughout Game 6. By the time the remainder of the locker room was ready to talk, Paul and Harden had gone their separate ways, with Paul swiftly making his way to the postgame podium.”

None of this should be surprising. Two teammates were arguing/in disagreement about sharing the ball following a season-ending loss in the playoffs against the Warriors? This probably happens in every locker room.

This wouldn’t concern me if I were Houston. The Game 6 loss hurt them as we know. The questions about how they run their offense moving forward are somewhat valid, but the Rockets don’t need to make big-sweeping changes. They seem to know that, evidenced by their plans to extend Mike D’Antoni.

H/T CBS Sports

Rockets parting ways with second prominent assistant coach

Houston Rockets

The Houston Rockets continue to shake up their coaching staff after a second straight season of being eliminated by the Golden State Warriors.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN reported on Friday that the Rockets have mutually agreed to part ways with assistant Roy Rogers. This news comes just days after the team let go of associate head coach and defensive guru Jeff Bzdelik.

Rogers had been an assistant coach for the Rockets for the last three years, a span over which the team averaged 58 wins per season. That success has been marred however by an inability to topple the Warriors as kings of the West.

With yet another disheartening end to the year to stomach, it appears not only to be affecting Houston’s players but their personnel now as well.