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Injuries Again Playing Prominent Role in NBA Playoffs

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Portland Trail Blazers' Arron Afflalo, left, has his shot blocked by Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, April 9, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Portland Trail Blazers’ Arron Afflalo, left, has his shot blocked by Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, April 9, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

JON KRAWCZYNSKI, AP Basketball Writer

The NBA playoffs have picked up right where the regular season left off — with key players fighting to stay healthy when they are needed most.

Injuries threaten to play a pivotal role in several first-round series, including all three Game 2s tonight — Spurs at Clippers, Nets at Hawks and Trail Blazers at Grizzlies.

The defending champions are missing big man Tiago Splitter, and his replacement Aron Baynes was exploited by the Clippers in their Game 1 victory. Tony Parker is also ailing, and the Spurs were hoping to take advantage of an extra day between Games 1 and 2 to get them both on the mend.

The Hawks lost defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha just before the playoffs after a confrontation with police in New York City and Al Horford dislocated the pinky finger on his right hand in Game 1, but plans to play through it.

And the banged-up Blazers hope to get Arron Afflalo back from a strained right shoulder that kept him out for the previous six games while LaMarcus Aldridge continues to play through a torn ligament in his left thumb for the last three months.

“The intent and purpose for me being on this team this season with all the injuries we’ve had was to help us win and win big,” Afflalo said. “So I wasn’t brought here to watch. I wasn’t brought here just to play a small role, and obviously I felt I could’ve helped the team … I’m doing what I can to get healthy.”

The Grizzlies are on the other side — at least somewhat.

Memphis got Tony Allen (hamstring) back in the lineup and Mike Conley is playing with a sprained right foot. Both played well in their dominating Game 1 win.

“Hopefully they keep getting better and the time in between is nice and that should help,” coach David Joerger said.

In other series, Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic is hoping to play in Game 3 in Milwaukee on Thursday despite a strained left quadriceps and swollen left knee; Dallas forward Chandler Parsons tweaked a knee injury that bothered him at the end of the regular season and in Game 1 against Houston.

Here’s a look at the three NBA playoff games Wednesday (all times EDT):

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Spurs at Clippers, Clippers lead 1-0, Game 2, 10:30 p.m. TNT

Blake Griffin and Chris Paul led the way for the Clippers in Game 1, but Jamal Crawford’s efficient play off the bench was huge to help balance things out for Los Angeles.

Crawford scored 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting, including 3 of 4 on 3-pointers to provide the all-important scoring bridge the Clippers needed when Paul went to the bench for a rest. The Clippers’ second unit has been a weakness for much of the season, especially at point guard behind Paul. But if Crawford, one of the league’s slickest ball-handlers at combo guard, can provide that type of lift on a regular basis, the champs could be in trouble.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Tiago Splitter could see more than the 10 minutes he played in Game 1, which would be a huge help to the overmatched Aron Baynes, who was dunked on twice by Griffin in an explosive performance.

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Nets at Hawks, Hawks lead 1-0, Game 2, 7 p.m. NBATV

The Nets could get an emotional boost from the return of Mirza Teletovic. He was ruled out for the season on Jan. 23 with blood clots in his lungs, but coach Lionel Hollins said on Tuesday that he would be listed as probable for Game 2.

Teletovic averaged 8.5 points and 4.4 rebounds for the Nets in 44 games this season, but Hollins said his upgrade did not mean that he would play for certain.

Any little bit could help a Brooklyn team that appeared overmatched by the top-seeded Hawks for much of Game 1. Veteran Alan Anderson figures to get more playing time over youngster Markel Brown in Game 2 as the Nets try to keep up with Atlanta’s superior ball movement.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer figures to get a warm welcome from the home crowd in his first game since being named NBA coach of the year. Budenholzer spent 16 years as Gregg Popovich’s assistant in San Antonio, and he got emotional while talking about Popovich’s influence as he accepted the award.

“This award has a permanent spot on his desk in San Antonio,” Budenholzer said. “He just shares it around the league every couple of years.”

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Trail Blazers at Grizzlies, Grizzlies lead 1-0, Game 2, 8 p.m. TNT

This is the eighth postseason trip for Memphis, and the Grizzlies never have taken a 2-0 lead in a series. It’s also a detail they insisted Tuesday they hadn’t heard about before.

“But we like to be the first here in Memphis to try to do something different here, that hadn’t been done since I’ve been here,” Grizzlies guard Mike Conley said. “To go up 2-0 would be great for us, and it’s going to be tough with the way that they’re going to adjust.”

The biggest adjustment Portland can make is trying to hit shots. LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard combined to shoot 18 of 55 in losing Game 1 100-86. The Trail Blazers had their worst shooting performance of the season as Memphis set a postseason mark for holding Portland to 33.7 percent. Lillard was 5 of 21, missing all six of his 3-point attempts.

“Four out of the first five misses were halfway down, so they felt good,” Lillard said. “I felt good out there. I think it was just a game where we got outplayed and we weren’t good enough offensively or defensively to win the game.”

Memphis has won 10 of the last 11 overall against Portland.

___

AP Sports Writers Teresa M. Walker in Memphis, Tennessee, and Paul Newberry in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Grizzlies make Niele Ivey NBA’s 9th female assistant coach

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — The Memphis Grizzlies have hired former Notre Dame women’s associate head coach Niele (knee-L) Ivey among the new assistants on Taylor Jenkins’ staff. There are now nine women coaches in the NBA.

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Niele Ivey is now an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies. Photo: Notre Dame Athletics)

By Los Angeles Sentinel

The Memphis Grizzlies have hired former Notre Dame women’s associate head coach Niele (knee-L) Ivey among the new assistants on Taylor Jenkins’ staff.

There are now nine women coaches in the NBA.

The Grizzlies also announced Monday the hiring of Brad Jones, David McClure, James “Scoonie” Penn, Vitaly Potapenko and Neven Spahija.

Jenkins says he’s thrilled to work with an experienced group of coaches with success at all levels as both players and coaches.

Ivey spent the past 12 seasons at her alma mater with the last four as Notre Dame’s associate head coach and recruiting coordinator. She helped the Fighting Irish go 385-55 with seven Final Four berths, six appearances in the NCAA title game and the 2018 national championship.

Notre Dame congratulated Ivey on Twitter, saying the Grizzlies hired a good one.

Ivey played in two Final Fours with Notre Dame, including winning the 2001 national championship. She played five seasons in the WNBA before starting her coaching career as an administrative assistant at Xavier in 2005.

Jenkins kept Potapenko (po-TAH-pen-ko) who was an assistant with the Grizzlies last season. He also has worked for Cleveland and Indiana in the NBA and in the G League. Jones was head coach of Memphis’ G League team last season and also spent four seasons as an assistant coach with the Utah Jazz.

McClure, who played at Duke, spent the past three seasons as assistant coach with the Indiana Pacers and started his coaching career in 2014 as a player development quality assurance assistant for the Spurs. Penn spent the past two seasons as director of player development at Ohio State. Spahija was an assistant with Jenkins in Atlanta between 2014 and 2017.

The Grizzlies also named Jason March head coach of their G League team.

This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Sentinel.

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Clippers Owner Celebrates Future While Forum Owner Cries “Foul!”

BLACK VOICE NEWS — The Clippers recently unveiled additional details and renderings of its privately financed sports and entertainment center anchored by the team’s new basketball arena in the City of Inglewood.

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Cross section of model for proposed new Clippers arena (Photo by: blackvoicenews.com)
Cross section of model for proposed new Clippers arena (Photo by: blackvoicenews.com)

S.E. Williams | Contributors

The Clippers recently unveiled additional details and renderings of its privately financed sports and entertainment center anchored by the team’s new basketball arena in the City of Inglewood.

“My goal is simple,” explained Clippers Chairman Steve Ballmer. “I want the Clippers to have the best home in all of sports. “What that means to me is an unparalleled environment for players, for fans, for sponsors and for the community of Inglewood”

He expounded, “Our goal is to build a facility that re-sets fans’ expectations while having a transformative impact on the city we will call home.”

The Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center is expected to revitalize mostly vacant land under the flight path of the Los Angeles International Airport and transform it into what will hopefully be a vibrant campus. In addition to the arena, the campus will include team’s business offices, basketball offices and training facility, as well as both community and retail spaces.

The arena as proposed will have a three-dimensional oval design with a unique exterior of diamond-shaped metal panels inspired by the concept of a basketball swishing through a net. In addition to the aesthetics, the panels are designed to provide solar benefit for maximum energy efficiency as part of the facility’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Desire (LEED) design. LEED is an internationally recognized third party building certification system focused on improving the environment through sustainability.

The Clippers campus is designed to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions through a combination of carbon offset credits and sustainable design features.

 Clippers Chairman Steve Ballmer.

Clippers Chairman Steve Ballmer (Photo by blackvoicenews.com.)

When Clippers’ officials unveiled the renderings and other details of the project, they highlighted what was identified as the facility’s “most striking” feature intended to highlight the temperate climate of Southern California—the integration of indoor/outdoor sky gardens for food and beverages. The sky gardens will be accessible from every concourse level.

The Clippers’ Complex also envisions a multi-purpose plaza that will include a concert stage, community basketball courts and space for the community to gather and watch everything from Clippers Playoff Games and movie premiers on a supersized LED screen.

The same day the Clipper organization unveiled renderings and plans for the arena and its new campus it also welcomed new highly acclaimed players Paul George and Kawhi Leonard to the team. And in that regard, no one during their introduction appeared more genuinely excited than Ballmer. “I’m just delighted and so proud right now…,” he exclaimed. I’m pumped to say hello as Clippers to Paul and Kawhi.”

While Ballmer, the Clippers organization, their fans and the City of Inglewood celebrate what looks to be a very bright and mutually-beneficial future, New York billionaire and Jim Dolan CEO of the Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) , who own’s the NBA Knicks, the Forum in Inglewood and several other high profile holdings, is continuing to be pilloried in the media for his ongoing attempts to block the development of the new Clippers’ arena in Inglewood and in the process stymie the economic potential of the city itself because he fears the competition it presents to his multi-million dollar investment in the Forum.

Reports and court documents have detailed the obstruction efforts of Dolan and his partner(s) at MSG. The allegations range from funding an opposition candidate against Inglewood’s longtime mayor, James T. Butts Jr.; funding community groups to oppose the project; seeking to attract the Lakers back to the Forum as their home court and the list goes on.

One of what is purportedly one of his most spurious and outrageous accusations is his claim that—as alleged in Vanity Fair—’Ballmer and Butts double-crossed him after MSG spent a lot of money in Inglewood when few others were willing to do so.’

Although Dolan has continued to claim the contract with the city of Inglewood was exclusive and prevented similar venues from being established in the city it appears there was nothing in the MSG contract with the city that spoke to an exclusive arrangement.

Dolan continues to claim he was tricked, bamboozled and taken advantage of regarding the Forum contract even though evidence clearly states otherwise. “My position is that we invested $140 million and were the first ones to do so in Inglewood and that we had an agreement with the city, both in paper and in spirit, that the city would help us with that investment to make it successful,”

It appears rather than taking ownership for his failure and the failure of MSG to exercise judicious business acumen when negotiating the Forum contract with the City of Inglewood, Dolan has resorted to bullying tactics. In addition to some of his efforts detailed above he has sued not only the city of Inglewood but also Mayor Butts, personally—a personal suit prevents the city from paying for Butts’ defense.

While Dolan continues to fight against the mayor, Ballmer, the development of the Clippers arena, and by proxy—the city of Inglewood itself—plans for the new arena and its campus continue.

“Inglewood is a diverse, dynamic community blessed with a skilled workforce, emerging infrastructure and a bold economic blueprint for the future,” said Gillian Zucker, President of Business Operations for the Clippers organization.

Speaking directly to the Clippers proposed arena he continued. “In addition to the thousands of jobs this facility will create for the local community, we are equally committed to working with our new neighbors in the continuing renaissance developing in the City of Inglewood.”

The proposed Clippers arena complex will be located on West Century Boulevard between South Prairie and South Yukon Avenues.

This article originally appeared in Black Voice News

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Celebrities Play Kickball Game For Mental Health Awareness

THE AFRO — Leigh Bodden promised the Black team would win, but Santana Moss wasn’t having any of it. Moss delivered a three-run kickball home run in the bottom of the first inning, which proved to be the difference in the game as the white team won the inaugural Barry’s Game at Bowie Baysox Stadium.

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Leigh Bodden’s LBFoundation.org and Lauryn’s Law teamed up at the Bowie Baysox Stadium for baseball and celebrity kickball games in honor of mental health and suicide awareness. (Courtesy Photo)
Leigh Bodden’s LBFoundation.org and Lauryn’s Law teamed up at the Bowie Baysox Stadium for baseball and celebrity kickball games in honor of mental health and suicide awareness. (Courtesy Photo)
By Mark F. Gray

Leigh Bodden promised the Black team would win, but Santana Moss wasn’t having any of it. Moss delivered a three-run kickball home run in the bottom of the first inning, which proved to be the difference in the game as the white team won the inaugural Barry’s Game at Bowie Baysox Stadium.

“We’re keeping our mouth shut and will let our play do the talking,” Moss said. “We’ll see what happens at the end of the game.”

On a day where there were no losers, Bodden’s LBFoundation.org brought together local celebrities and former pro athletes by galvanizing the community to begin learning more about a silent killer amongst minorities.  However, thanks to Moss’s heroics the white team withstood a late inning comeback attempt to hold on for a 5-3 victory.

Despite the game, mental health awareness and suicide prevention were the focus of the Baltimore Orioles class AA affiliate Bowie Baysox in conjunction with Bodden’s Foundation and Lauryn’s Law. The charity organizations collaborated to play the game in honor of two people who tragically lost their lives due to their undiagnosed mental health issues.

Linda Diaz and Bodden carry the pain of their respective losses daily, as both carry memories of loved ones who took their lives.  Diaz, who shared the day with her granddaughter, started the push for Lauryn’s Law after her daughter took her life after battling the effects of bullying that led to undiagnosed depression.  Her efforts led to a state law requiring in school counseling and intervention for students who are displaying those symptoms.

Bodden’s friend Barry, who also took his life, is to whom the game was dedicated.  Before the first “pitch” it was clear this was more than a celebrity good time. In addition to the passion for the competition there was a palpable sense of commitment to the cause that was conveyed by Bodden himself, as he addressed the fans who stayed and watched with an emotional appreciation to those in attendance.

“There is not a day that doesn’t go by where I don’t think about him,” Bodden said with his voice cracking as he tried to hold back tears. “Hopefully, you’ve been able to speak with the representatives of the organizations that can help you be there for someone who may not realize the help they need and you can be there to support them.”

The crowd who attended the baseball game was able to attend the kickball game afterward for the price of the game ticket.  During the game itself, various mental health organizations were stationed throughout the concourse distributing information and sharing basic knowledge about the warning signs of what could lead to suicidal behavior.

“It’s so important to have an opportunity to share this kind of information with the public,” Diaz said.  “When someone like Leigh adds his name too and genuinely cares because he knows the pain that friends and families go through, it only helps create greater awareness in the community.”

Approximately 1,000 fans stayed after the Baysox Eastern League 10-4 victory over the Portland Sea Dogs for the kickball game. During the long afternoon, they also had an opportunity to receive information from a series of mental health organizations who lined the concourse with a message of intervention and therapy. The celebrities who attended also recognize the role they play in pushing the message.

“It’s something that we can now have open conversations when we’re on the air,” said Sunni [in the City] from WPGC-FM. “Artists like Wale use their twitter accounts to talk about his therapist all the time. It’s a disease that’s out of the closet right now and people are beginning to realize they don’t have to feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about mental health issues anymore.”

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

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TSDRadio: New Grizz assistant Niele Ivey: “I’m always up for a challenge”

NEW TRI STATE DEFENDER — Niele Ivey knew that becoming the first woman coach in Memphis Grizzlies history was a big deal. Still, she underestimated it a bit.

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Niele Ivey is now an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies. Photo: Notre Dame Athletics)
Niele Ivey is now an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies. Photo: Notre Dame Athletics)

By Lee Eric Smith

Niele Ivey knew that becoming the first woman coach in Memphis Grizzlies history was a big deal. Still, she underestimated it a bit.

“I know now,” she told me during a recent exclusive interview. “It’s a lot bigger than I even expected.”

Check out this clip of my conversation with Ivey, in which she talks about being an inspiration to other women, and what she expects from her first time coaching men (Hint: “Basketball is basketball,” she says) and what she hopes to bring to Memphis. Enjoy!

This article originally appeared in the New Tri-State Defender

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Palm Coast church to host Football Sunday

DAYTONA TIMES — Palm Coast United Methodist Church will hold its eighth annual Football Sunday services on Aug. 18 at 5200 Belle Terre Parkway, Palm Coast,   Members of the Flagler Palm Coast and Matanzas High School football teams, coaches, cheerleaders, and band members will attend the contemporary worship service at 9:30 a.m.  

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Photo by: Jean-Daniel Francoeur | pexels.com
Photo by: Jean-Daniel Francoeur | pexels.com

By The Daytona Times

Palm Coast United Methodist Church will hold its eighth annual Football Sunday services on Aug. 18 at 5200 Belle Terre Parkway, Palm Coast,

Members of the Flagler Palm Coast and Matanzas High School football teams, coaches, cheerleaders, and band members will attend the contemporary worship service at 9:30 a.m.

Members of the Bethune-Cookman University football team and coaches will attend the traditional worship service 11 a.m.

Parishioners and guests are encouraged to wear a football jersey representing their favorite high school, college or professional teams. The public is invited to attend.

For more information, call 386-4451600.

This article originally appeared in the Daytona Times.

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Sparks Defeat Mercury on Pat Summitt Night

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — The Los Angeles Sparks stretch their winning streak to four after routing a shorthanded Phoenix Mercury. Five Phoenix players were sidelined by injury. The Sparks franchise honored the late iconic Tennessee Lady Vols basketball head coach Pat Summitt, who won 1,098 wins during her tenure.

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Sparks forward Chiney Ogwumike returned to the hardwood against the Phoenix Mercury (Photo by: Emarie Marie | T.G.Sportstv1)

By Amanda Scurlock

The Los Angeles Sparks stretch their winning streak to four after routing a shorthanded Phoenix Mercury. Five Phoenix players were sidelined by injury.

The Sparks franchise honored the late iconic Tennessee Lady Vols basketball head coach Pat Summitt, who won 1,098 wins during her tenure.

“When I played at Stanford, we’d play Tennessee every year,” Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike said. “She would encourage me even when we were playing against them. I found that very odd because I was playing against such a force of nature in a coach and a team.”

Sparks forward  Candace Parker lauded her former coach as the hardest worker she ever met in her life. She wanted Sparks fans to understand who Summitt was.

“I remember she was on me for not working hard and so I was like ‘I’m gonna beat her to the gym.’ … Practice was at six and I got there at four-thirty and she was in her office,” Parker said about Summitt. “That’s what I want people to know and remember and understand that she was able to inspire people even though she’s gone.”

Ogwumike scored 24 points and Parker secured a double-double with 11 rebounds and 12 points. Mercury center Brittney Griner scored 27 points and forward Brianna Turner grabbed 14 rebounds.

The Sparks started the game with a 9-2 run. After five regulated minutes, Nneka scored 10 points. Phoenix shoot well at the free throw line, landing all eight charity shots they were given.

The Sparks initiated aggression to a team known for their physicality, frustrating the team so much so that Mercury icon Diana Taurasi and head coach Sandy Brondello earned a technical foul each. Sparks head coach Derek Fisher mentioned how guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt defending Mercury guard Leilani Mitchell disrupted their offense.

“I just was working on my full-court defense tonight,” Ruffin-Pratt said. “Alana (Beard) told me that was the next step in being great on defense.”

Fisher matched up guard Chelsea Gray with Phoenix forward DeWanna Bonner, who was ultimately held to four points.

“Bonner’s like a guard with forward height and we felt like having a guard on her would also allow us to be really active,” Fisher said. “[Gray] fought her hard and kept her from getting into position.”

The Mercury struggled with scoring after the half, they would not score until four minutes into the third quarter. Sparks guard Sydney Wiese knocked down two three-point shots in that time. Phoenix continued to rely on free-throws, going eight-of-nine in the third.

Turnovers also plagued the Mercury, who gave away 20 points from 13 turnovers after three quarters. The Sparks only gave up eight points from 12 turnovers in that time.

Griner and Mitchell was the core of the Mercury’s offensive surge during the final minutes of the game. They reduced a 19-point deficit to eight points. Parker and Gray would not allow Phoenix a lead as the clock ran down.

“[the Sparks are] a great defensive team, just trying to battle it out,” Bonner said. “We’ve got to go home and learn from it. It was physical, and we’ve got to find a way to beat that.”

This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Sentinel.

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