Wholesale Indiana Pacers Jerseys

INDIANAPOLIS – They’re feeling a little better in Oklahoma City, at least, after the Indiana Pacers squandered an opportunity against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference playoff series Sunday night.

Victor Oladipo, who has spent the past seven months making the Thunder look bad for trading him away – along with big man Domantas Sabonis – in the Paul George deal, had a nightmarish shooting night (5-of-20) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. That was one of several Pacers failings that thwarted their chance to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and push LeBron James and the rest of the Cavaliers to the brink of elimination.

Oladipo, motivated by the trade and the trash talked nationally about the Pacers’ end of the deal, worked himself all the way to the All-Star Game this season. He’ll likely have the Most Improved Player award on his mantle when the league’s hardware is handed out in a couple months.

But it’s hard to imagine he or his Pacers teammates will have a series victory. Not now. Not after the way they let James and Co. off the hook Sunday.

“I’m a person that learns,” Oladipo said, when asked about his ways of coping with a forgettable offensive performance. He shot 3-of-7 in the first half when Indiana fell behind by 10 points, then missed his first 10 shots of the second half. His last one, a 3-pointer late, mattered not at all in the 104-100 defeat. “I learn from it. I make sure I’m better the next game.”

What he and the Pacers learned the hard way is this: If you come at the King, you best not miss.

With all the reason in the world to play their best game so far in the series – and maybe because of that imperative, turned over a few too many times in their heads until it loomed as pressure – the Pacers didn’t come close.

They had trouble getting out of their own way in the first half. Determined to clean up bad starts in the two previous games, they instead made it three in a row – this makes it 33, 31 and 30 points allowed in the first quarters alone.

Indiana dug itself a hole again double-digits deep by intermission, and didn’t fully make the Cavs pay when they fell prey to their own bad habit of shaky third quarters. The Pacers appeared to have the defending East champions right where they wanted them midway through the fourth after James was whistled for a technical foul (he shoved pest Lance Stephenson to the floor in a move that had to be worth a point to him).

That free throw put Indiana up 92-89 … after which it unraveled completely.
I didn’t think we played the game the right way. There were some quick shots, some ‘heroic’ shots… You’re not going to win if you play the game like that.”

Pacers coach Nate McMillan

The Pacers missed their next three shots, two by Oladipo and one by Cory Joseph, so a lead that might have gone to seven or eight points only got nudged to 93-91. When the Cavaliers methodically went to their most savvy offensive options from there – a couple of Kyle Korver 3-pointers sandwiched around a driving layup from James, then one more rush-and-spin by Cleveland’s dominator – Game 4 got yanked right out from under Indiana.

Just like that, it was 101-95. From there, it was a few more bricks from the Pacers and too much Stephenson sideshow, wrestling Cleveland’s Jeff Green to the floor in yet more antics gone too far.

Indiana had been able to come back from a 17-point deficit in Game 3, but this time left its resiliency wherever it had lost its poise.

Coach Nate McMillan didn’t like what he saw, not early, not late, not in between.

“Similar start in this game as the last two games,” McMillan said. “Not getting stops. Frantic offensively throughout the game. I didn’t think we played the game the right way. There were some quick shots, some ‘heroic’ shots… You’re not going to win if you play the game like that.”

Oladipo had company, what with Darren Collison and Bojan Bogdonovic combining to shoot 9-for-27, including 3-for-13 from the arc. Thaddeus Young grabbed 16 rebounds, but looked to be wearing oven mitts early when he missed three point-blank shots.

The Pacers handed out an arena’s worth of gold towels emblazoned with the word “Together” for fans to wave. But the team itself looked more disjointed and, aside from some solid offensive execution in the third, too willing to settle.

Whether it was overconfidence or just a really bad case of pinch-me nerves trying to put out in the first round a man who gets his mail forwarded to The Finals each June, Indiana has let Cleveland back not just into this series but the postseason.

Every game the Cavs survive and advance is another chance for playoff newbies such as Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood and Larry Nance Jr. to add a little experience, feel a bit more comfortable. Each of them had his moments Sunday, mostly in the first half.

And let’s not forget how James handled a similar predicament three years ago. Chicago had a chance in the East semifinals to go up 3-1 on the Cavs in Game 4 at United Center. This was a Cleveland team missing Kevin Love after his shoulder dislocation by Boston’s Kelly Olynyk, with Kyrie Irving already limping on his way to a knee fracture.

James vetoed a David Blatt play-call near the end, hit a dagger fadeaway from the left corner to slay the Bulls and, at the end of his back-to-Cleveland season, propelled a rag tag Cavs crew all the way to six games in the Finals.

Any potential parallels, then and now?

“I don’t know. It’s to be seen,” James said. “I mean, 3-1 is a huge deficit and you don’t ever want to go down 3-1 versus anybody, no matter if it’s first round or if you’re fortunate to get to The Finals. It’s just too difficult.”

Going up 3-1 proved to be too hard for the Pacers, who have only themselves to blame.

Wholesale Los Angeles Clippers Jerseys

Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Clippers

LOS ANGELES — Following the conclusion of the 2017-18 season, despite missing the playoffs, the Clippers organization was filled with positivity as the team reflected on their accomplishments over the past year.

“I challenge any team to lose three or four starters for most of the year and finish with the record we did,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers.

Ending the season with a record of 42-40, the Clippers fought tooth and nail, game after game, overcoming a myriad of injuries which forced different lineups and rotations to form regularly. It took 79 games before LA was officially eliminated from playoff contention. In total, the Clippers used 37 different starting lineups, a league-high. The next closest teams were the Suns, Kings and Grizzlies, all of whom ended the season near the bottom of the league’s standings.

“Chemistry is one of those things that is hard to define, but you know when you have it and you know when you don’t,” said Clippers President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank. “I think the fact that this group showed so much resolve, they kept fighting back even when we would dig some holes, it’s because they truly cared about each other.”

To begin the season, the Clippers roster included nine new players, after representing one of the NBA’s most consistent rosters over the previous few seasons. By midseason, three new players arrived after LA traded Blake Griffin to the Pistons, making it 12 new guys. Then, there’s the three two-way players who frequently flew to join the team on game days only, creating nearly an unrecognizable roster.

“I don’t know if those guys know any of y’all’s names,” Clippers guard Lou Williams once said in a team huddle during the middle of a game. “I’m not sure they know who you are.”

Still, the Clippers persevered, anchored by Williams and center DeAndre Jordan. In his 13th season, “Sweet Lou” averaged 22.6 points and 5.3 assists – both career-highs – becoming the first player in league history to hit those marks as a reserve. In January, Williams set the basketball world ablaze, scoring 50 points at Golden State on Jan. 10, recording 31 points and 10 steals in Utah on Jan. 20, and adding a 40-point, 10-assist game at Memphis on Jan. 26, only the third player in history to do so off the bench. Williams’ play and leadership was rewarded with a multi-year contract, providing the Sixth Man of the Year favorite with the stability he’s been longing for.

“It was nice for this organization to commit to me the same way I’ve committed to these guys this year,” Williams said. “In years past, these scenarios don’t usually go my way. So it was nice for one to go my way and be somewhere I wanted to be.”

Jordan, in his 10th year with the Clippers, climbed to the top of the franchise record books for games played, passing Randy Smith as the most tenured Clipper ever. He finished the season with a career-high 15.2 rebounds per game, ranking second in the NBA. Recording 46 double-doubles on the season, Jordan sits one behind Elton Brand for most in Clippers history, a mark he’s sure to pass next season if he returns. But Jordan headlines some of the questions regarding the team’s future.

Jordan has a player-option on his contract, meaning he can either opt-in for another year, or he could decide to become a free agent and test the open market. The same is true for guards Austin Rivers and Milos Teodosic, and forward Wesley Johnson. Guard Avery Bradley and forward Montrezl Harrell are both free agents. The Clippers, most likely, will also have two top-15 draft picks in this year’s draft.

“When you look at the draft and you look at our two picks, obviously we’ll be in position to get two very good players,” Frank said. “We’ll also potentially be in a position where we can package both of those picks and move up, and we may be in a position where we can take one of those picks and move down to get a future asset. We just have more chips and when you look at our roster and trying to build a championship roster, we just know we’re a little bit short-handed on young, emerging talent, and this gives us a great runway to start that process.”

Whatever happens going forward, the Clippers are looking back on the past season with pride, defying expectations while playing with passion and energy that will surely create a lasting memory within Clipper Nation.

“We won a lot of games against teams that are better than us and I thought as a group, I don’t think I have been more proud of a group, maybe ever, than I have been of this group,” Rivers said. “We have asked a lot of guys to do a lot of stuff that they should not have had to do and yet they did it.”

Wholesale Los Angeles Lakers Jerseys

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hornets owner Michael Jordan has turned to a fellow former North Carolina Tar Heel with a strong NBA track record to help turn around his struggling franchise.

Charlotte hired Mitch Kupchak as president of basketball operations and general manager Sunday, giving him full control of day-to-day operations. Jordan called Kupchak a “proven winner” in a statement.

As a player and executive, Kupchak has been a part of 10 NBA championship teams. He won three as a player — one with the Washington Wizards and two with in Los Angeles Lakers — and seven as a Lakers executive.

“In every role and in every stop during his tenure in the NBA, Mitch Kupchak has brought the highest levels of success to his teams,” Jordan said. “… Having won championships as both a player and an executive, we have confidence that Mitch is the right person to lead our basketball operations, build a winning culture and bring sustained success to our organization, for our fans and for the city of Charlotte.”

The 63-year-old Kupchak replaces Rich Cho, who was fired earlier this season. Charlotte has failed to make the playoffs in three of its last four seasons.

One of Kupchak’s first decisions will be whether or not to bring back coach Steve Clifford, whose contract expires after the 2019 season.

Kupchak brings more than 30 years of NBA front office experience to Charlotte, including 17 seasons as a general manager with the Lakers.

“I’m excited to join the Hornets organization and I want to thank Michael for this opportunity,” said Kupchak. “I am well aware of the passion for basketball in Charlotte and throughout the entire state of North Carolina, and I am confident that we can build the Hornets into a successful team that our great fans can be proud of.”

Kupchak inherits a roster that includes two-time All-Star point guard Kemba Walker, aging center Dwight Howard and Nic Batum, but not much else to build around for the future and with few assets available to trade other than Walker.

But Jordan thinks Kupchak is the man who can turn things around.

Kupchak began working in the Lakers’ front office in 1986 under Hall of Famers Jerry West and Bill Sharman, who was the first person to win a championship as a player, coach and executive. Kupchak took over as general manager in 2000, serving in that capacity until being fired in 2017.

The Lakers won four NBA titles and six Western Conference Championships during that 17-year run, posting a 747-607 (.552) regular-season record and winning 63 percent (111-66) of their postseason contests. During that span Kupchak was responsible for the day-to-day management of the team, including personnel decisions, contract negotiations, salary cap strategy and scouting collegiate and international players.

Kupchak played at North Carolina and was the 13th overall pick in the first round of the 1976 NBA draft.

He played nine NBA seasons in Washington and Los Angeles and averaged 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in 510 games.

At North Carolina, Kupchak was named 1975-76 ACC Player of the Year as a senior. He is one of 49 UNC standouts to have his jersey (No. 21) honored and raised to the rafters of the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Wholesale Memphis Grizzlies Jerseys

The Memphis Grizzlies travel to Portland to face the Trail Blazers in an Easter showdown. Can the Grizz beat them for the second time in a week?

The Memphis Grizzlies straight fooled the Trail Blazers last Wednesday. The whole game was an early Aprils Fools joke.

Wade Baldwin played a great game for Portland. After about four years away from the NBA, MarShon Brooks balled out and won the game for the Grizzlies. Memphis actually won their second game in a row.

What a crazy night.

Could it be even crazier as the Grizzlies look to fool the Blazers again?
Dame Time

Last time out, the Blazers were without their floor general, and you could tell. They faltered in the fourth quarter — a time known as “Dame Time.” CJ McCollum was tasked with a heavy load, as you can tell when he dropped 36 points.

This game, the Grizzlies will be tasked with stopping Damian Lillard, which isn’t an easy feat. With Mike Conley, Tyreke Evans and Andrew Harrison out, it’ll be extremely difficult to slow him down. Maybe — just maybe — Kobi Simmons and Marquis Teague could have the games of their lives.

Dame might go for 50 though, so you might want to tune in if you like him.
The Trifecta

MarShon Brooks has been a walking bucket since making his return to the NBA.

Though he’s been out of the league for four years, it’s like he never left. In his two games back in the league, Brooks has scored 21 and 24 points, respectively.

Right now, he’s listed as questionable right now for an ankle injury. It probably has to do with this video:

Anyways, MarShon Brooks is going to be a fascinating storyline for the next two weeks. Will he receive a longer deal? Will the Grizzlies even look to retain him?

If they could nab him for the roster next season, they’ll have more wing depth, as Brooks is proving himself as a shooter, shot creator and a bucket-getter.