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Rick Carlisle brings optimistic vision back to Pacers' bench

Rick Carlisle brings optimistic vision back to Pacers' bench

Rick Carlisle is back in the Eastern Conference and hoping to lead Indiana to the playoffs.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Rick Carlisle chose the Indiana Pacers for many reasons.

He enjoyed his first two stints in Indianapolis, already had strong relationships with team owner Herb Simon and president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard and thought the roster was a good fit for his coaching style.

The Pacers appreciated something else — Carlisle’s championship resume. On Wednesday, nearly a full week after Pritchard hired him, Carlisle mapped out his vision for the Pacers.

“This is my kind of team. As I look at the roster and as I’ve talked to all these guys, I have an even greater feeling that it’s a group of guys I will have a blast working with,” he said. “I like the way they’re talking. We’re going to find a way to play better defense and we’ve got to get back to the playoffs and win in the playoffs.”

Carlisle: "Unless you've won a championship, I think there's always unfinished business. We're a small-market team, we're a humble organization, but we've got to think big."

— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers)

For the 61-year-old Carlisle, it’s essentially a homecoming.

Before spending 13 seasons with the Dallas Mavericks, going 555-478 and winning the NBA championship in 2010-11, Carlisle had already made two stops in Indiana. First, he was Larry Bird’s assistant coach during the most successful three-year run in franchise history. Then he returned in 2003 for four seasons as head coach, a tenure best remembered for a brawl during a game at Detroit and the ensuing suspensions that took the Pacers out of title contention.

Four times during those seven seasons, Carlisle helped the Pacers reach the Eastern Conference finals.

Rick Carlisle is returning to the Indiana Pacers as coach.

His new task is to finish what he started.

“We’re in a win-now mode, we’re trying to win and so we identified some traits or characteristics we wanted in a coach,” Pritchard said. “Those characteristics were first of all multi-year experience, we really wanted to have someone who had a championship pedigree and that can be challenging to find all of them in one person. What happened in this year’s search is Rick became available.”

Pritchard’s description is a stark contrast to the search he conducted after firing Nate McMillan last August. Back then, the Pacers wanted a new-age thinker who valued relationships. Nate Bjorkgren got the job in October and was fired in early June after one tumultuous season.

Carlisle is the opposite — a proven winner who does his best work with veteran teams.

So when Carlisle decided to leave Dallas earlier this month, Pritchard contacted his friend. Carlisle’s interest changed everything.

Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard introduces our new head coach, Rick Carlisle.

— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers)

Pritchard scuttled his plans to conduct a far-reaching search and instead focused on Carlisle, wrapping up the deal in less than a week.

Carlisle is expected to sign a contract Monday when he arrives after a short working vacation. He said he’s spoken with each player and sounds like he’s already making plans for next season.

Carlisle provided an impromptu scouting report Wednesday on almost every Pacers player and explained why he thinks this team, which finished 34-38 and missed the playoffs for the first time in six years, will get back into the postseason and contend for championships.

“My goal with this group is to develop it to a point where we take great joy in getting good shots on the offensive end and take great joy in playing good defense,” he said before addressing the Domantas Sabonis-Myles Turner combination. “I think there are ways we can work with their individual games and help them mesh with other guys on the floor. I’ve talked to both of them about it, and they’re open to it. Myles is such an elite rim protector and that’s such an important part of the game if you’re going to get better defensively. And Domas, as I mentioned earlier, can do so many things.”

"I'm so fortunate, so excited to be back in the great state of Indiana, where basketball is king. I look forward to the challenge." – Coach Carlisle |

— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers)

What’s hindered Indiana most recently has been injuries. The Pacers lost T.J. Warren, their top scorer in 2019-20, after just four games and Turner won the NBA blocks title despite missing 24 of the Pacers’ last 25 games.

Carlisle has a history of managing players’ workload when they’re dealing with physical issues.

“If a guy has a significant injury history and you play him the first 12 minutes of the game, that’s tough,” he said. “As a guy becomes fatigued, he becomes more susceptible to injury. So one of the things we did with Dirk Nowitzki the year we won the championship is we started playing him three stretches per half. In that scenario, playing those six or seven-minute stretches, he never gets gassed and he helps the players around him.”

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Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) to miss Game 5 vs. Hawks

Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) to miss Game 5 vs. Hawks

Giannis Antetokounmpo hyperextended his left knee in the 3rd quarter of Game 4 after colliding with Clint Capela at the rim.

MILWAUKEE  — Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo will not play in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday because of his hyperextended left knee, the team announced Thursday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is out (hyperextended left knee) for Game 5 tonight.

— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks)

The Bucks announced on Wednesday that Antetokounmpo, a former two-time Kia MVP winner, hyperextended his left knee in the third quarter of a to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night. The Bucks announced Wednesday that an MRI confirmed that diagnosis and said he’d be listed as doubtful for Thursday’s game.

“We’ll just take it day by day and see how he’s doing,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.

“When you talk about the range of possibilities, I think where this has landed has to be looked at as a positive,” Budenholzer added. “It’s still a really difficult fall.”

The Hawks have their own injury issues.

Star guard Trae Young missed Game 4 with a bone bruise in his right foot, and center Clint Capela has inflammation in his right eye after taking an elbow in the face late in the game. Both players are as of the 1:30 p.m. NBA injury report.

Antetokounmpo was attempting to block a dunk attempt by Atlanta’s Clint Capela when he landed awkwardly. He clutched his knee in obvious pain and remained down for several minutes before walking slowly to the locker room.

Giannis Antetokounmpo sustained a hyperextended left knee and will be listed as doubtful for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals tomorrow night at Fiserv Forum.

— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks)

He briefly went back to the Bucks’ bench and then returned to the locker room shortly afterward.

The Bucks and Hawks are tied at two games apiece in the Eastern Conference finals heading into Game 5 on Thursday in Milwaukee.

Antetokounmpo has been averaging 28.2 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists in the postseason. Milwaukee went 6-5 in the 11 regular-season games Antetokounmpo missed, including a stretch of six straight games in April when he also was dealing with an injured left knee.

“Guys get a chance to step up,” Bucks guard Jrue Holiday said after Game 4. “Guys get a chance to make big plays and on the biggest stage. I feel like us playing without him has given us some rhythm and just knowing what it’s like, making some adjustment that will be made. But at the end of the day, we’d rather play with him.”

  • Thursday on TNT:

This is the second straight year that Antetokounmpo has dealt with an injury during the postseason.

In 2020, the Bucks already trailed Miami 3-0 in the Eastern Conference semifinals when Antetokounmpo sprained his ankle in Game 4, knocking him out for the rest of that series. The Bucks won Game 4 in overtime, but a Game 5 loss eliminated them.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Zero players tested pass in latest COVID-19 result

NEW YORK – Of the 94 players tested for COVID-19 since June 23, zero new players have returned a confirmed positive test.

Anyone who has returned a confirmed positive test, or has been identified as having been in close contact to an infected person, is isolated or quarantined until they are cleared under the rules established by the NBA and the Players Association in accordance with CDC guidance.

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Charles Oakley's memoir set to be published in 2022

Charles Oakley's memoir set to be published in 2022

Charles Oakley was a rugged defender and rebounder who played 19 NBA seasons.

NEW YORK (AP) — Charles Oakley has a memoir coming out next year that includes a brief assist from former Chicago Bulls teammate Michael Jordan.

Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, announced Wednesday that it will publish Oakley’s “The Last Enforcer” on Feb. 1, 2022. The book will be co-written by longtime NBA writer Frank Isola. Jordan is contributing a foreword.

“I want people to know that on and off the court, I always tried to do the right thing and protect those that I care about,” Oakley said in a statement Wednesday. “Throughout the years I’ve told my B and C stories. With this book, I brought my A stories.”

Oakley, a power forward known for his rebounding skills and confrontational ways, played for 19 years in the NBA, the first three with Jordan. According to Gallery Books, Oakley will bring “his signature, unfiltered style to stories about dustups on the court and controversies off it.”

“From indelible experiences fighting for rebounds and respect during the golden era of physical play to relationships and run-ins with Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, James Dolan, Donald Trump, and many others, Oakley shares behind-the-scenes details that will solidify his status as a hard-nosed fan favorite who left it all on the court — and now puts it all on the page,” Gallery Books said.

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Kawhi Leonard (knee) ruled out for Game 6

Kawhi Leonard (knee) ruled out for Game 6

Kawhi Leonard has been dealing with a right knee injury since the conference semifinals.

The LA Clippers will continue to battle the Phoenix Suns in the without All-Star Kawhi Leonard.

The team announced on Tuesday that Leonard will remain sidelined for Game 6 with a right knee sprain.

The two-time Finals MVP has been out since suffering the injury during the closing minutes of Game 4 against the Utah Jazz in the West semifinals.

Despite Leonard’s absence, the Clippers on Monday to keep their season alive. The Suns lead the series 3-2 before Game 6 in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Paul George leads LA to an impressive Game 5 win in Phoenix to stay alive.

Leonard was averaging 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 2.1 steals while shooting 57.3% over 11 playoff games prior to the injury.

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Tune-In Tidbits: Western Conference Finals, Game 6

Tune-In Tidbits: Western Conference Finals, Game 6

The Clippers’ lineup of Nicolas Batum, Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Marcus Morris Sr. and Reggie Jackson outscored the Suns by 18 points in 13 minutes on court together in Game 5.

Game 6: Suns at Clippers

|

• Paul George had a historic performance (, 15-20 FG, 3-6 3-point FG, 8-8 FT) in LA’s Game 5 win, becoming the first player in NBA history to record 40+ points on in a playoff game. He scored nearly half (48.8%) of those points in the paint, including (an extremely efficient drive ratio). For reference, George typically only scores with . De’Aaron Fox, who led the league in points off of drives during the regular season, only averaged and Trae Young typically scores 10.5 ppg off of 20.1 drives.

• George, who has logged in this year’s playoffs, has scored at least he’s played in this postseason. The only other players in NBA history to score at least 20 in their first 18 games of a single playoffs are Michael Jordan (, , ), Kobe Bryant () and Kevin Durant (, ). Each of those players went on to make The Finals that same postseason.

• Clippers coach Tyronn Lue — who improved to 10-2 in elimination games with LA’s Game 5 win — has been praised throughout the postseason for his game-to-game and in-game adjustments. The has been the Clippers’ best quarter in this series as LA has in the first five games after the halftime break. The Clippers are now 10-2 in Games 3-7 in the playoffs this season, compared to 0-6 in Games 1-2.

Stats Games 1-2 Games 3-7
W-L 0-6 10-2
+/- -32 136
PPG 110.2 113.0
RPG 39.2 42.9
SPG 5.3 7.7
FG% 46.2% 49.0%
3P% 37.2% 39.2%
OPP PPG 115.5 101.7
OPP FG% 51.4 42.6
OPP 3P% 41.9 36.6

• The Suns get a second chance to close out the series and advance to The Finals for the first time since 1993. With he Game 5 loss, the Suns are now 2-1 in close-out games this postseason, with on 50.7%-58.3%-90.3% shooting splits, 8.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 43.7 minutes per game. Booker’s 112 total points through three close-out games is the sixth-most ever by a player through the first three close-out chances in a single postseason, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The only players with more points than Booker are Jordan (4x, most recently in 1992) as well as Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor (both in 1962).

• In Game 5, the Clippers got 60 combined points from Reggie Jackson (23), Marcus Morris Sr. (22) and DeMarcus Cousins (15). Jackson has been a to George in this series without Kawhi Leonard. Morris, who has been limited due to a sore knee, had scored of the series. Cousins had scored in the series before going for 15 points in 11 minutes in Game 5 with Ivica Zubac out. Morris was also the primary defender on Deandre Ayton for a team-high 5:04 (43.7% of Ayton’s matchup time) and held Ayton to four points. Ayton finished with 10 points (his ) and 11 rebounds (half of his total from a dominant Game 4). The Suns entered Game 5 with a (winning by an average of 14.5 ppg); the Clippers outscored the Suns 58-32 in the paint in Game 5.

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FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament recap: June 30

FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament recap: June 30

Group B – Kaunas, Lithuania:

Game Summary

Slovenia rolled over Angola in their first game of the Olympic qualifying tournament, beating the African nation by 50 points. With the win, Slovenia have already advanced to the next round of the tournament as they try to become the one team that advances out of Lithuania. The rout started early with Slovenia going up 13-0 to start the game and it did not let up as eight players ended up in double figures for Slovenia.

NBA Player Performances

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic was one of two NBA players to take part in the game and he was able to dominate proceedings during the little time he was on the floor. Doncic had 13 points on 4-for-8 shooting along with nine assists and six rebounds. Denver Nuggets forward Vlatko Cancar poured in 13 points of his own, hitting four of his seven shots.

Luka Doncic records 13 points and 9 assists vs. Angola

Luka Doncic helps Slovenia roll over Angola

Group A – Split, Croatia:

Game Summary

After a loss to Germany on Tuesday, Mexico earned a spot in the semifinals on Wednesday, beating Russia 72-64. Mexico fell behind 36-31 at halftime but made a strong push in the third quarter, outscoring Russia 19-7 in the period. Francisco Cruz led the way for Mexico, putting up 21 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.

Group A – Kaunas, Lithuania:

Game Summary

Venezuela advanced to the semifinals of the Kaunas Olympic qualifying tournament on Wednesday, beating South Korea 94-80. Venezuela took a commanding lead in the first two quarters, scoring an impressive 56 points in the first half. The South American nation did most of their damage from the three-point line, as they hit 14 of 30 shots from behind the arc.

Group B – Split, Croatia:

Game Summary

Brazil pulled off an upset on Wednesday in Split, beating Croatia handily 94-67. Brazil led wire-to-wire as they advanced out of Group B and into the semifinals. They managed to get the win despite Croatia playing the game at home and Brazil head coach Aleksandar Petrovic coaching against his home country. Rafael Hettsheimeir led the way for the Brazilians, scoring 20 points as Brazil shot the lights out at 58%.

NBA Player Performances

Bojan Bogdanovic led the way for Croatia, scoring 16 points in front of his home fans. The Utah Jazz sharpshooter will hope to lead his team to the next round with a victory over Tunisia on Thursday.

Bojan Bogdanovic scores 16 vs. Brazil in loss

Bogdanovic drops 16 on Brazil in losing effort

Group A – Belgrade, Serbia:

Game Summary

Philippines nearly pulled off a historic upset on Wednesday, coming close to defeating a Serbia side that was playing at home in Belgrade. The game was tight throughout with Serbia pulling away late thanks to some clutch baskets from Boban Marjanovic. Serbia booked their place in the semifinals with the win, where they will face the loser of Thursday’s Italy-Puerto Rico game.

NBA Player Performances

Marjanovic was the star for Serbia, dropping 25 points and 10 rebounds on the island nation. He shot 12-for-18 from the field in the win as he proved to be too tough of a matchup for Philippines. Miami Heat forward Nemanja Bjelica did not play for Serbia.

Boban Marjanovic scores 25 vs. Philippines

Boban Marjanovic leads the way in Serbia victory over Philippines

Group A – Belgrade, Serbia:

Game Summary

Canada dominated from start to finish, jumping out to a 13-point halftime lead that grew to 23 points after a third-quarter surge. Seven players scored in double figures, led by Andrew Wiggins’ 20-point performance. With the win, Canada advanced to the tournament semifinals.

NBA Player Performances

Wiggins paced Canada with 20 points, RJ Barrett added 16 points and 5 assists, Dwight Powell finished with 12 points and 9 rebounds, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Luguentz Dort and Trey Lyles scored 11 points each.

Group B – Victoria, Canada:

Game Summary

Turkey used a 9-0 run late in the fourth quarter to pull away and secure a trip to the tournament semifinals. Philadelphia 76ers guard Furkan Korkmaz powered Turkey with a game-high 20 points.

NBA Player Performances

Furkan Korkmaz hit four 3-pointers en route to his 20-point game. Tomas Satoransky finished with 15 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds for the Czech Republic. Cedi Osman finished with 11 points and 6 assists for Turkey.