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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Basketball

Steve Kerr accuses Patrick Beverley of flopping in Game 5

Patrick Beverley remains so good at agitating his opponents that he’s even found his way onto Steve Kerr’s nerves.

The Los Angeles Clippers guard was accused of flopping on a play that led to Golden State’s Draymond Green drawing a technical foul in Wednesday night’s Game 5. That accusation went all the way up to Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who was surprised he didn’t get whiplash as he fell — though he did admit Beverley is good at it.

Beverley has been a quality agitator for the Clippers in the series. He already got Kevin Durant heated at the start of the series, and he managed to tick off Green enough to goad him into a technical. He’s been a big factor behind why the Clippers have taken this to six games.

Damian Lillard criticizes Paul George for ‘bad defense’ on game-winning shot

Damian Lillard wave

Paul George had no problem with the game-winning shot Damian Lillard hit over him to send the Portland Trail Blazers to the second round of the playoffs, as the Oklahoma City Thunder star felt he did all he could do to defend a “bad shot.” Lillard, however, views it much, much differently.

Lillard discussed his deep three-pointer during an appearance on the “Pull Up” podcast this week, and he said he has made a conscious effort to add those long-range shots to his arsenal so defenders have something else to think about. Not only is he “comfortable” with the shot, but he feels George should have defended him differently since there were only two seconds left on the clock.

“To me, it’s a solid shot. For him to say it’s a bad shot, that’s just kind of being a poor sport,” Lillard said. “It was bad defense, because I had the ball in my hand with two seconds. I wasn’t gonna drive, so maybe he should have just bodied me up.”

George obviously didn’t want to risk putting Lillard at the free throw line, and it didn’t look like there was much more he could have done to prevent the 36-foot shot. That said, calling it a “bad shot” might be a stretch, because Lillard actually converted on 8-of-12 shots from 30 feet and beyond during the series.

Lillard had a much more subtle response initially when George criticized his shot selection, but he has every right to call out his opponent after making a play like that.

Magic Johnson seemingly responds to Pelinka-Buss email report

Magic Johnson

On Wednesday, Ric Bucher went on the Colin Cowherd show and offered an explanation for Magic Johnson’s sudden resignation as Lakers president. According to Bucher (as recounted by Complex), Lakers GM Rob Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss exchanged e-mails about Johnson and what he was and was not doing in his role as president, and Buss inadvertently blind carbon copied Magic on some of those emails.

“So when he talked about the backstabbing, to me, my understanding that’s what started it,” Bucher said.

On Thursday morning, Magic Johnson took to Twitter to send this cryptic message:

Now, he went on to also talk about his anticipation of the NFL Draft and other topics shortly after, but in the NBA world, these kind of comments do not come by accident. Maybe Magic was talking about the world and life in general, but the timing sure seems to be related to Bucher’s revelation, as there has not been much activity on the Lakers/Magic backstory in two weeks since his surprise announcement.

If Bucher’s account is accurate, it would explain why Magic gave an impromptu surprise press conference to announce his decision to step down, and acknowledged not talking to Buss first about his decision.

Donovan Mitchell vows to be in better shape next season

Donovan Mitchell

Donovan Mitchell has identified one area he can approve in prior to the start of next season.

The Utah Jazz saw their season come to an end on Wednesday after losing to the Houston Rockets in Game 5 of their first round series. Following the game, Mitchell mentioned being in better shape as something he can work on during the summer that will be a benefit to him next season.

Mitchell struggled with his shot against the Rockets. Perhaps it did have something to do with the physicality Gordon exerted on him throughout the series.

Mitchell’s offseason program was delayed last year due to a foot injury he suffered during last year’s playoffs. He wasn’t cleared to resume basketball activities until the middle of June. This year, Mitchell should be able to get to work on his plan sooner, which would bode well for he and the Jazz.

Mike D’Antoni predicts ‘great’ series against Warriors

Mike D'Antoni

Mike D’Antoni has high expectations for a potential second-round playoff series against the defending champions.

The Houston Rockets punched their ticket to the second round on Wednesday by defeating the Utah Jazz 100-93 to close out their first-round series. The Warriors would be their opponent in the second round should they eliminate the Los Angeles Clippers.

The potential high-octane matchup would represent a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals, which the Warriors won in seven games. It’s a series many basketball fans want to see, and one D’Antoni said should be “great.”

There are more than a few Rockets fans who feel their team could have beaten the Warriors last season had Chris Paul not injured his hamstring in Game 5. Houston won that game to go up 3-2 in the series. However, the Warriors won the next two games, both of which Paul missed.

Barring injury to any of the important players from each team, a Warriors-Rockets series should indeed be one worth watching. It’s the matchup one Rockets player wants.

Rockets’ Clint Capela: I want the Warriors

Clint Capela Rockets

Clint Capela is not shy about his feelings regarding the Golden State Warriors.

Capela’s Houston Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 100-93 in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series on Wednesday night to win the series. They will face the winner of the Warriors-LA Clippers series, which the Warriors had a shot of ending with a Game 5 win later in the evening.

In his postgame press conference, Capela said he wanted to face the Warriors.

Chris Paul, who was sitting next to Capela, knew immediately that the quote was going to make headlines, and he was right. But here’s the thing: there’s nothing wrong with it.

The Warriors are used to being targeted as the back-to-back champions. Moreover, the Rockets pushed the Warriors to seven games last year in the conference finals and are believed to be Golden State’s toughest test in the West.

Houston felt they had Golden State last year if CP3 hadn’t gotten hurt. For now, an injury shouldn’t bother the point guard.

Report: Former Big Baller Brand business manager being investigated by FBI

LaVar Ball Lakers

Gregory Alan Foster, the former business manager for Big Baller Brand, is being investigated by the FBI for potentially defrauding the Ball family, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.

Foster, who had known the Ball family since Lonzo was in middle school, was described by Lonzo as being “like my second dad.” Foster was removed from his position back in March, amid rumors that Big Baller Brand would be folding. Lavar Ball denied those rumors, while also referring to Foster as a “snake up in the thing.”

As it turns out, Foster had previously served prison time for running a fraudulent stock scheme that included telling potential clients that NBA stars David Robinson, Robert Horry, and Avery Johnson were investors. He ended up serving five years and met Lavar Ball and his family a decade ago, after getting out of prison.

The FBI investigation is focused on Foster’s behavior with Big Baller Brand, where he is alleged to have taken $1.5 million out of company accounts. In a lawsuit brought against Foster, it is alleged that he influenced Lonzo Ball not to sign with another apparel company but rather help grow Big Baller Brand, and also alleges that Foster drove Lonzo Ball not to try out for any other team besides the Lakers.