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#pounditSaturday, August 8, 2020

Basketball

Referee Marc Davis explains controversial backcourt call that cost Celtics

The Boston Celtics were victims of a controversial call down the stretch in Sunday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, with a backcourt violation costing them an important possession late in the game.

Leading by three with about 20 seconds left, the Celtics were called for the violation when Jayson Tatum threw the ball to Gordon Hayward while crossing the timeline. Many felt that Hayward caught the pass in the frontcourt, which should not have been a violation.

Crew chief Marc Davis told ESPN pool reporter Andrew Lopez that the call was correct, as the ball broke the plane of the frontcourt while being passed by Tatum and was caught by Hayward with his back foot in the backcourt.

The major point is that it matters where the ball is when Tatum is passing it, not the player. In this instance, though Tatum began the jump pass in the backcourt, the ball was adjudged to have crossed the line, and Hayward caught the pass with his foot behind it.

In the end, it didn’t impact the final outcome, as the Celtics held on to win 128-124.

Oklahoma politician threatens action against Thunder for kneeling

The vast majority of NBA players have chosen to kneel during the national anthem before games, and one Oklahoma politician is warning the Thunder that they will face financial consequences if their players continue to take part in the demonstrations.

Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Hominy) issued a statement on Friday night threatening to reexamine the Thunder’s tax benefits in the state of Oklahoma if players continue to kneel during the national anthem. He called the protests “anti-patriotic.” Roberts also criticized the Black Lives Matter movement for having “ties to Marxism.”

“By kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, the NBA and its players are showing disrespect to the American flag and all it stands for,” Roberts wrote in the statement, via Hicam Raache of KFOR. This anti-patriotic act makes clear the NBA’s support of the Black Lives Matter group and its goal of defunding our nation’s police, its ties to Marxism and its efforts to destroy nuclear families.

“If the Oklahoma City Thunder leadership and players follow the current trend of the NBA by kneeling during the national anthem prior to Saturday’s game, perhaps we need to reexamine the significant tax benefits the State of Oklahoma granted the Oklahoma City Thunder organization when they came to Oklahoma. Through the Quality Jobs Act, the Thunder is still under contract to receive these tax breaks from our state until 2024.”

Roberts said the funds that go toward helping the Thunder may be better served supporting the police department than organizations that are trying to defund the police. The Thunder did not respond when Raache sought comment from the team.

Most NBA players have taken a knee during the anthem since the season resumed, though a few have chosen to stand and explained their rationale.

Lou Williams paid for dances from women at strip club

Lou Williams

Lou Williams insists the only reason he stopped off at the Magic City strip club in Atlanta over a week ago was to pick up one of his favorite meals, but the Los Angeles Clippers star seems to have taken part in some standard gentleman’s club activity while waiting for his order to be prepared.

Jenny Jarvie, the Atlanta Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times, visited Magic City this week to get a feel for the club’s operations during the coronavirus pandemic. Jarvie spoke with a dancer named Aries who confirmed that she danced for Williams when he stopped off for some “Louwill Lemon Pepper BBQ wings,” which is the dish Magic City named after Williams. Aries said Williams walked around the club and had several dancers perform for him, though she claims he kept a six-foot distance.

“He tipped very well,” Aries said.

Magic City reopened in late June after initially closing due to the pandemic. Jarvie observed a security staffer taking forehead temperatures of patrons before they entered the club, but there has still be physical contact between dancers and customers. A sign near the entrance said masks are required, though it does not sound like that rule is being enforced. Williams was wearing a mask in the photo of him at Magic City that led to the NBA’s investigation.

Williams has faced heavy criticism and been the punchline of a number of jokes over his decision, and the fact that he supposedly paid for some dances while at the strip club isn’t going to help his case. After serving his NBA-mandated 10-day quarantine, Williams will be eligible to return to the Clippers’ lineup on Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns.

Montrezl Harrell struggling after death of his grandmother

Montrezl Harrell

Montrezl Harrell has been away from the Los Angeles Clippers for two weeks, and the big man is having a hard time since the death of his grandmother.

Harrell left the NBA Bubble in Orlando, Fla. for a personal matter, we learned on July 17. Harrell has been posting messages on his Instagram account indicating that he was looking after his grandmother, who died.

On Friday, Harrell wrote a personal message on Instagram about the death of his grandmother. His note expressed his love for her and how difficult it was coping with her death.

“I don’t know when I will stop crying prolly (sic) never every day I wake up I’m talk to you every day till (sic) I see you again,” he wrote.

“I don’t know how to feel right now I feel lost empty you are my queen, my best friend, my light in all darkness. I never had you leaving my side.

“I don’t know how I’m do it but I got to find some way but losing you today isn’t going to make any day I wake up easy.”

The 26-year-old big man is obviously going through a hard time. He has missed two games so far and would likely miss more even upon returning to the bubble due to the quarantine rules.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers is being patient with Harrell, understanding the situation.

“You can’t play if you’re not right mentally and because of the emotional part of it…His grandmother is very tight with him so all I told him is I love him and take your time.”

Harrell is averaging 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game this season.

Video: Joel Embiid, Shake Milton have to be separated

Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid and Shake Milton got into it during Saturday night’s Philadelphia 76ers-Indiana Pacers game.

At the end of the first quarter, the Sixers were walking towards their bench. Embiid began pointing his finger at Milton, who did not respond well. Milton had to be restrained by a teammate.

Embiid appeared to be upset with Milton over a sequence before the end of the quarter. First, Milton and Embiid got mixed up defensively. Then, after giving up a bucket, Milton got the ball stolen away from him when trying to bring the ball up the court, leading to another Pacers basket.

The game was a high-scoring affair that Indiana won 127-121. Embiid had 41 points and 21 rebounds, while Milton had no points in 19 minutes.

It was a poor first game back for Milton, who is part of the starting lineup while Al Horford is coming off the bench. Between the poor effort and the skirmish with Embiid, Milton needs to improve.

Did Kevin Durant take a shot at WNBA player with tweet?

Kevin Durant

Did Kevin Durant take a shot at a WNBA player with a tweet he sent during the week? Some thought so.

Durant sent a tweet while presumably watching the New Orleans Pelicans-Utah Jazz game on Thursday and complimented Brandon Ingram’s playing ability.

Durant’s tweet did not reference Ingram by name, but instead by his jersey number.

While that is a fairly common way for sports fans to communicate about players whose games they are watching, Durant’s tweet came a day after a WNBA player objected to Andre Iguodala complimenting her by referencing her jersey number instead of her name.

So was Durant merely complimenting Ingram and nothing more was intended, or was he also trying to rub it in to Aerial Powers a day later? That’s up to you to decide.

Video: Kawhi Leonard got bunny ears from Marcus Morris and was not amused

Kawhi Leonard

Do not mess with Kawhi Leonard when he has his gameface on.

Marcus Morris messed with Leonard late in the Los Angeles Clippers’ 126-103 win over the New Orleans Pelicans in Orlando, Fla. on Saturday. Morris gave Leonard the classic bunny ears, and Kawhi was not amused.

When it’s game time for Kawhi, it’s game time.

Leonard was the second-leading scorer for the Clippers in the win, putting up 24 points, six rebounds and five assists. Paul George led the team with 28 points, most of which came on his eight three-pointers. Morris had nine points.

The Clippers got out to such a big lead in the game early on that none of their starters played more than 27 minutes, leaving plenty of time for laughs on the bench — or serious faces, if you’re Kawhi.