Backcourt blues: Cavaliers left to ponder another shakeup after guards JR Smith, George Hill have horrible Game 2 - Canadanewsmedia
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Backcourt blues: Cavaliers left to ponder another shakeup after guards JR Smith, George Hill have horrible Game 2

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J.R. Smith of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts during Game 2 against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday.

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

J.R. Smith reached out, placed his hands on Al Horford’s back and shoved Boston’s big man out of bounds.

It was the only time Smith was on target.

Smith’s shoddy performance in Game 2 – he missed all seven shots and committed a flagrant foul in 27 forgettable minutes – underscored a startling disparity between Cleveland’s and Boston’s starting backcourts that allowed the fearless Celtics to withstand a brilliant, 42-point effort by LeBron James and take a 2-0 series lead.

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Smith and point guard George Hill were outscored 41-3 by Boston’s Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier, who were faster, hungrier and maybe tougher.

“I don’t think tougher,” Smith said afterward, showing better defensive instincts than during the game. “They made shots, we missed shots at the end of the day. We had some good looks, they didn’t fall. For them playing on their home court, they fell. It’s a matter for us to bounce back, go home, try and get [win] two, even the series up and come back here.”

Thanks to the NBA’s odd scheduling, Game 3 is not until Saturday, giving Cavs coach Tyronn Lue plenty of time to consider tweaks to his starting lineup and rotations. After a 25-point lambasting in the opener, Lue altered his frontcourt by putting Tristan Thompson with the first five and bringing Kyle Korver off the bench.

The moves worked as Thompson provided needed energy and Korver knocked down four 3-pointers and had Boston’s defence focused on more than James.

Now, Lue has to ponder another shake-up.

One option is to reinsert Korver at small forward, sit Hill and slide James to the point, where he typically plays anyway but where he’ll be more susceptible to double teams and will have to work harder than he is already.

Another possibility is to drop Smith, who is 2 of 16 from the field and missed all seven 3-pointers, from the starting lineup, but that would be risky because of his mercurial nature. Sit him and risk never getting him back.

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Lue is willing to live with Smith’s streakiness – he went 6 for 6 in Game 4 against the Raptors – but what he can’t afford are the defensive lapses that led to slow rotations and gave Rozier and others wide-open looks in Game 2. Smith has been locked in defensively throughout the postseason, so Lue is assuming he’ll get it together.

Lue’s decision not to play guard Jordan Clarkson for a single minute in Game 2 was curious, mostly because Clarkson is quick enough to handle Rozier and he scored 10 points in Game 1.

Veteran Jose Calderon appears to be out of consideration despite his steadiness and experience. Lue may fear the 36-year-old will be targeted and exposed defensively.

Of course, there’s irony in Cleveland having backcourt issues in this series.

A year ago, Kyrie Irving averaged 25.8 points in the Cavs’ five-game rampage over the Celtics in the conference finals. Now, an injured Irving sits on Boston’s bench in street clothes unable to help his new teammates while his presence teases the Cavaliers, who have not adequately replaced the all-star since trading him.

They are finding life in the playoffs is more difficult without Irving, who at times carried Cleveland’s offence, giving James a break and Lue a dependable second scoring option.

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It’s easy to second-guess the decisions now, but it feels as if the Cavs’ trades of Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade at the deadline were hasty. Cleveland lacks enough playmakers capable of creating their own shot or opportunities for others.

Hill has been unusually passive in the first two games, and the Cavs need to get him going.

And they certainly need more from Smith, whose frustration surfaced at the worst possible time when his hard foul on Horford riled up the Celtics and their rowdy crowd.

As the referees reviewed the play, Boston fans chanted profanely at Smith, who smirked and later said the taunts didn’t bother him.

“I love it,” he said. “I don’t want the opposing fans to like me. That’s not why I’m here. They can chant and scream all they want. It actually makes me feel better about myself. They know me.”

The Cavs know him better, and they need Smith to be himself.

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UFC star Nick Diaz is arrested after 'strangling a woman and breaking her hip' while 'coked up' in Las Vegas

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  • Nick Diaz has been arrested after a domestic abuse incident in Las Vegas 
  • The 34-year-old was charged with felony domestic battery by strangulation
  • He was reportedly aggressive toward police and his bail is set at $18,000
  • His alleged victim, a woman, was taken to hospital after the incident 

Hannah Moore For Dailymail.com

UFC Star Nick Diaz has been arrested on domestic abuse charges after allegedly strangling a woman and breaking her hip. 

Diaz, 34, was arrested by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department after an incident on Thursday evening, MMAJunkie reported.

He has been charged with felony domestic battery by strangulation, as well as misdemeanor domestic battery.

Police were called to the home about 7.20pm local time and a source with knowledge of the case says 12 units in total were sent out. 

Diaz was reportedly hostile to the arresting officers and his bail has been set at $18,000 – the majority of which comes from his strangulation charge. The fighter must face court on Saturday morning before he can be released.

His alleged victim was taken to hospital after the incident.  

Social media personality Front Row Brian said sources at Las Vegas Police had told him the woman suffered a broken hip and Diaz had fought officers inside Clark Country Detention Center.

UFC fighter Nick Diaz was arrested on domestic violence charges in Las Vegas on Thursday

UFC fighter Nick Diaz was arrested on domestic violence charges in Las Vegas on Thursday

Pictured: Details of Nick Diaz's arrest. His bail is $18,000 and he must face court on Saturday before he can be released

Pictured: Details of Nick Diaz's arrest. His bail is $18,000 and he must face court on Saturday before he can be released

Pictured: Details of Nick Diaz’s arrest. His bail is $18,000 and he must face court on Saturday before he can be released

A representative for Diaz says the fighter is not a violent person, and would not hurt someone else even if he was provoked. 

Matt Staudt Jr said there was ‘no scenario where Nick would put his hands on anyone unless it was necessary self-defense, and then watch the f*** out’.

In a lengthy statement posted to social media, Staudt said Diaz’s alleged victim is ‘the most deranged and insane I’ve met to date’.

‘She has been obsessed with and stalked Nick for maybe two years now. Suicide attempts, calls to his family from fake numbers, thousand of calls a day – yes thousands, showing up everywhere he goes following his story,’ he wrote.

‘He changed his number to get away but Vegas is small and they crossed paths again. She left their interaction feeling some type of way yesterday and put in a fake report to get even and have him arrested which she’s threatened to do many times before as well. 

‘I can’t even fully digest this whole thing because of how insane and wrong it is.’  

But multiple sources told TMZ police were told the woman had been in an ‘on again – off again sexual relationship’ with Diaz for years, and things had blown out of proportion because of his alleged cocaine use. 

The alleged victim claimed to police she had been slammed to the ground and choked around the neck.

When police arrived, sources said she had red marks around her neck and her eyes. 

Social media personality Front Row Brian said sources at Las Vegas Police had told him the woman suffered a broken hip and Diaz had fought officers inside Clark Country Detention Center.

Diaz has not been able to comment on his own behalf, and the woman in the situation has not been identified. 

Matt Staudt Jr (left) posted a passionate defence of Diaz to social media, calling his alleged victim 'deranged and insane' 

Matt Staudt Jr (left) posted a passionate defence of Diaz to social media, calling his alleged victim 'deranged and insane' 

Matt Staudt Jr (left) posted a passionate defence of Diaz to social media, calling his alleged victim ‘deranged and insane’ 

 

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Rockets' Chris Paul will miss Game 6 with hamstring injury

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HOUSTON – The Houston Rockets are one win away from the NBA Finals. But they won’t have the services of Chris Paul, at least during their first attempt to get there.

While Houston was jubilant in the wake of a 98-94 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of this best-of-seven series, the celebrations inside Houston’s locker room were muted after Paul suffered a right hamstring injury in the game’s final minute. Friday morning, the Rockets announced that Paul will miss Saturday’s game at Golden State with a right hamstring strain. He will be re-evaluated when the Rockets return to Houston, according to the team. Houston leads the series, 3-2.

“I hope he’s healthy,” Trevor Ariza said Thursday night, before the Rockets had ruled Paul out. “I hope he gets better and, if not, somebody else has to step up and do what we’ve been doing all year, step in and try to help this team win.”

The injury was so bad that immediately after Paul suffered it after taking a shot in the lane that missed, he remained on the ground as Golden State stormed back the other way on a 5-on-4 advantage. Houston got bailed out, however, when Quinn Cook – who didn’t exactly look confident in such a big moment – missed a wide open 3-pointer on the right wing while Paul stood and watched helplessly from 50 feet away.

Paul eventually checked out of the game with 22.7 seconds remaining, watching the game in a slumped position on the bench and only getting up once to huddle with his teammates during a stoppage in play.

When Houston won the game, Paul limped – very slowly – back to Houston’s locker room, where he didn’t speak to reporters after the game because he was receiving getting treatment.

“Was he hurt?” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni joked after the game. “I didn’t see that.”

D’Antoni said trainers and doctors would “do whatever they can do” for Paul, and that if he’s unavailable, it will be “time for somebody else to step up.

“We’ve got plenty of guys over there that will have some fresh legs, that’s for sure,” the coach said. “So we’ll be all right.”

Whether D’Antoni is actually right about that remains to be seen. Houston was already operating on a thin margin; the Rockets have essentially employed a six-man rotation the past two games, with Gerald Green getting about 15 minutes as the seventh man.

Paul carried Houston in the second half of Game 5, scoring 18 of his 20 points. James Harden, meanwhile, has missed 20 consecutive 3-point attempts since the second quarter of Game 4, and went 5-for-21 in Game 5 overall. He’s known for declining as a series goes on; now he may have to carry the entire load for the Rockets.

Game 6 is Saturday night in Oakland; a Game 7, if necessary, would be Monday night back in Houston.

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In the NBA playoffs, injuries giveth and injuries taketh away

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The Rockets will be without star guard Chris Paul for Game 6 of the Western Conference final because of a strained hamstring, a huge blow for a team trying to close out the Warriors.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/The Associated Press

The NBA playoffs never go according to plan. The Golden State Warriors are proof of that.

Again.

They have been the league’s best team over the past four seasons, without question. But even the great teams need injury luck on their side, as has been evident in each of their playoff runs over that span.

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Enter Chris Paul and Andre Iguodala this year.

In 2015, Golden State didn’t have to face injured Cleveland stars Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love in the NBA Finals and won the title.

A year later, the Warriors blew a 3-1 final series lead against the Cavs because the series turned in Game 5 – not because Draymond Green was suspended (the often-offered and incorrect narrative), but because Andrew Bogut got clumsily taken out by J.R. Smith and the Warriors had no one left to defend the rim from LeBron James’s constant onslaughts.

Last year, when Kawhi Leonard came down on Zaza Pachulia’s foot in Game 1 of the Western Conference final, San Antonio’s big lead was gone in an instant and the Warriors steamrolled the rest of the way to another title.

Injuries taketh away. Injuries giveth.

The reigning NBA champions are on the brink of elimination, down 3-2 in the West final in large part because Iguodala’s knee has prevented him from playing in the past two games – both of them close losses to the Houston Rockets, outcomes that may have been different if he was on the floor.

But now those Rockets have lost Paul to a hamstring strain. Officially, Paul is out for Game 6 against the Warriors on Saturday. Realistically, the perennial all-star is probably out for a lot longer.

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Series lead, Houston. But advantage? It sure seems like Golden State.

“Injuries happen,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday. “And you’ve just got to play with whoever’s out there.”

It’s amazing to consider that the Warriors have four all-stars – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Green – and yet they’re one loss from summer right now because a 34-year-old Iguodala hasn’t been on the floor. Make no mistake, his absence has crushed the Warriors and especially so in late-game situations.

Golden State was awful offensively in the fourth quarter of Game 4 and lost. The Warriors then got ripped for Quinn Cook taking a wide-open three-pointer and missing with about a minute left in the Game 5 loss at Houston. Green’s many social-media critics revelled in how he dropped a pass and booted the ball off his leg in the final seconds for a turnover that cost Golden State a chance to tie or win the game.

If Iguodala had been there, he’d have been involved in those plays.

“He’s one of our keys, and we’ve missed him the last two games,” Kerr said.

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Iguodala might be able to get through it and play on Saturday night.

Paul won’t; in fact, it seems logical to fear that his season may be over regardless of how far the Rockets go.

Hamstrings don’t heal in a day or two. Playing through an ankle sprain or broken finger, that’s noble at this time of year. Hamstrings don’t allow for such displays of toughness. Running, jumping, cutting, they’re simply not possible. Paul could barely stand after getting hurt Thursday. Anyone envision him running by Monday?

This has been the NBA season of injuries. Gordon Hayward’s season was over after five minutes on opening night and the Boston Celtics had to reinvent themselves. The Celtics had to do so again when they lost Irving to knee surgery late in the regular season. It took time; the Celtics were nearly knocked out in the first round before finding their stride again.

The Warriors, they’re running out of time. The Rockets, they don’t have time to waste either. Without Paul this season, they’re an exceptional 61-12. Without him, they’re 15-9 – still good, but hardly great.

Even with a 3-2 lead, the Rockets probably need one more great game to end Golden State’s reign.

“We’ve been here before,” Kerr said.

The Warriors aren’t acting like worriers. They’ve learned how to roll with the punches at playoff time, no matter how much they hurt.

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