• Wizards' fast-moving John Wall makes playoff debut

    Updated: 23 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — John Wall talks as fast as he plays. That makes him entertaining to be around, even when the ball gets thrown out of bounds, or when the sentences come out a bit funky. "It was a little different Brandon Knight without being there tonight," he rattled off after a recent game. In that same interview, he dished out a rapid-fire sentence that included something that sounded like "vengtrest" — accidentally coining a new word that merges "vengeance" and "interest" and would probably make a good CD title. "I think I'm just a fast talker," Wall said. "It's slowed down a little bit, but sometimes I still get back to those stages when I go real fast.

  • Can Spurs get back at Heat? Can they survive West?

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    To get another shot at LeBron James, the San Antonio Spurs may have to go through Dirk Nowitzki, then Dwight Howard and James Harden, and finally Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Survive all that, and maybe they can avenge that NBA Finals heartbreak. "There's definitely that burning desire in the back of your mind that really wants to get back there," Spurs guard Patty Mills said. They get started on Sunday, right before James and the Heat begin what they hope is a run to a third straight championship. Miami's path seems much easier, but James' team also appears more vulnerable than the one that was an overwhelming favorite in last year's playoffs. Maybe that was boredom, though. Count on the Heat to pick it up

  • Breakout seasons abound for surprising Suns

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    PHOENIX (AP) — The plan seemed simple to outsiders when the Phoenix Suns' season began. A team loaded with castoffs would tank the year to get a top draft pick. Then this scrappy, energetic squad started playing, and winning. And the forecast of designed doom flew out the window. Behind a dynamic backcourt of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, and under the steady guidance of first-year coach Jeff Hornacek, the Suns were transformed from an ugly 25-win mess in 2012-13 to an entertaining, high-energy bunch that just missed the playoffs. They are just the second 48-win team to miss the postseason in the 16-team playoff era. And while that disappointment lingered, the Suns realized they had outperformed expectations by

  • LA Lakers wrap lousy season with uncertain future

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Although one of the worst seasons in Los Angeles Lakers history mercifully ended Wednesday night in San Antonio, the drama around the 16-time NBA champions is never finished. Everybody except Kobe Bryant and general manager Mitch Kupchak is facing the possibility of relocation after the Lakers finished 27-55, the most losses in club history and the franchise's worst winning percentage since the Minneapolis Lakers' 72-game season in 1957-58. The changes didn't begin immediately Thursday when the Lakers began packing up their gear for their longest offseason in nine years.

  • Utah's rebuilding season proves difficult

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The long, difficult season showed on the faces of Utah Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin and leading scorer Gordon Hayward. Both slogged through the second-worst record (25-57) since the team moved to Utah in 1979. Both knew the Jazz had made a firm commitment to rebuild by jettisoning their top veterans. But they didn't know exactly how tough it would be. And now that the season is over, the question is whether both will be around next season as the process continues. Corbin's contract has ended and he knows he has detractors, but he discounts the notion that a decision on his future has already been made.

  • Celtics' boss Ainge faces 2nd rebuilding offseason

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    BOSTON (AP) — The third-worst season in Boston Celtics history is over, leaving Danny Ainge with plenty of problems as he continues to rebuild the team. Rookie coach Brad Stevens isn't one of them. "I have no worries about Brad," Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, said. "Brad is maybe the only thing in this whole organization I'm not concerned about." Stevens will lead more rebuilding that began even before the season when the Celtics traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets. That and other deals brought numerous draft choices. Yet the Celtics started surprisingly strong, going 12-14.

  • 76ers look toward future after dismal season

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers opened the season with a win against Miami, and they beat the Heat again in the finale. It was the rest of the NBA that gave the Sixers fits. The Sixers entered this season in clear rebuild mode — labeled around the league as tanking — and they lived up to their preseason billing as one of the worst in the league in record fashion: Philadelphia matched an NBA record with a 26-game losing streak. Around the city, the streak was mostly met with a shrug or a few laughs. There was no real outrage because losing was part of Philadelphia's blueprint all along.

  • Knicks' season over, focus is on Anthony's future

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — Carmelo Anthony said he wants to stay in New York, and said he wants to win. It will be up to Phil Jackson to convince him that he can do both. With the Knicks' season over and Anthony missing the playoffs for the first time in his career, he can begin thinking about his future. He plans to become a free agent in July and wants to be someplace where he can compete for championships. The Knicks never came close this season, going 37-45. Anthony said it was a "failure" and an "embarrassment" that he's unwilling to go through again, which could force him to look elsewhere since New York will have trouble changing its roster next season. "I want to come back. I also want to win.

  • NBA Playoff Roundtable: How wary should the Thunder be of an early upset?

    Anthony Slater | Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    Four questions for four writers, previewing the upcoming NBA playoffs with a league-wide scope: 1.

  • No bigger playoff long shot than under-.500 Hawks

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    ATLANTA (AP) — There's no bigger long shot in the NBA playoffs than the Atlanta Hawks. Only the 15th team in the last two decades to make the postseason with a losing record, the Hawks (38-44) get started Saturday against the top seed in the East, the Indiana Pacers. Good luck with that. Then again, considering all the Hawks have been through, just making the playoffs for the seventh year in a row was quite a feat. The team has almost totally revamped its roster, broke in a rookie head coach, and lost top player Al Horford for most of the season. Atlanta went into a terrible slump at the beginning of February, losing 20 of 26. But by winning seven of their last 10, the Hawks come into the playoffs of a bit of a

  • Suns join list of 'best' teams to miss playoffs

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    PHOENIX (AP) — The Phoenix Suns are the "best team not to make the playoffs." That's the title first-year coach Jeff Hornacek bestowed on his overachieving squad after it finished a remarkable turnaround season. But despite 48 wins, the Suns are staying home when the real fun begins. They've tied a record of sorts. In the NBA's 16-team playoff era, only one other 48-win team didn't make the postseason — the 2007-08 Golden State Warriors. It's a frustrating situation because of the decidedly Western power tilt in the NBA. If Phoenix was in the Eastern Conference, it would be tied for the third-best record with Toronto and Chicago. The Suns won 10 more games than the East's No. 8 seed, Atlanta.

  • Ellis plays key role in Mavs' playoff berth

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    DALLAS (AP) — Monta Ellis had just missed a jumper that could have lifted Dallas out of a matchup with top-seeded San Antonio in the first round of the playoffs. His reaction to playing a team the Mavericks haven't beaten in more than two years was typical of the confident guard: simple, understated, defiant. "The standings is 0-0," Ellis said after Wednesday night's 106-105 overtime loss at Memphis with the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference on the line. Ellis' first season in Dallas has been all about shrugging off the skeptics. His offensive efficiency was in steady decline, so he had his best shooting season since he was a 25-point scorer for Golden State.

  • Thunder Buddies Playoff Podcast: Breaking down the Thunder-Grizzlies series

    Anthony Slater | Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    Welcome to the home of our newly created Thunder Buddies podcast, named, in part, from Universal Studio’s highly-acclaimed comedy ‘Ted’, but inspired by our continued hope for wall-to-wall coverage of OKC’s only professional team.

  • Pacers coach rules out Bynum for Hawks series

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Top-seeded Indiana won't have Andrew Bynum for its first-round series against Atlanta. Coach Frank Vogel said Thursday that he believes the Pacers' oft-injured center could still work his way back for the playoffs. But he won't be available for the first round, which opens Saturday in Indianapolis. The Pacers signed the free agent in early February with hope he would add depth behind All-Star center Roy Hibbert. Bynum looked good in his Pacers debut, finishing with eight points and 10 rebounds. But he hasn't played since March 15 because of a sore right knee.

  • The boring part of the year is over for the Heat

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James was standing at his locker and chatting a few days ago when the conversation turned to which teams out there the Miami Heat might fear entering these playoffs. James quickly gave his answer. "We respect all," James said, "but fear none." With those words it became obvious: Even after a regular season that seemed boring at times, and was reduced to a sputter at the finish, the Heat have no lack of confidence as they head to the playoffs. They're bidding for a third straight title, something only three franchises have done. And they're seeking a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals, something only the Celtics and Lakers have accomplished. The 54-28 mark, No. 2 seed in the East, 11-14 re

  • Media: TNT's Reggie Miller says key to Memphis series is Russell Westbrook's matchup against Mike Conley

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    Miller says Westbrook must dominate Conley for Thunder to win series

  • Disappointed Wolves enter offseason of uncertainty

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kevin Love sat in front of his locker after the Minnesota Timberwolves' season came to a close, his sixth year in the NBA and his sixth without a trip to the playoffs. Love hung his head and stared at the floor while reporters asked questions about this particularly disappointing season. His body language is more a personality quirk than a referendum on Love's happiness or unhappiness with the only team he's played for, but nevertheless it projects a dour image that makes Timberwolves fans very nervous. Asked if he expected to be in a Timberwolves uniform next season, Love gave a long pause and kept staring at the floor, offering no answer before the interview was cut short. And with that, an offseason of

  • Bobcats need to solve LeBron for first playoff win

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Charlotte Bobcats will have to find a way to stop LeBron James if they hope to win their first playoff game in franchise history. That's something they've yet to figure out. Miami is 15-0 against the Bobcats since James signed with the Heat as a free agent in 2010. Charlotte, the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference, will play the second-seeded Heat in a best-of-seven series that begins Sunday in Miami. James is averaging a whopping 37.7 points per game in four outings against the Bobcats this season, buoyed by a career-high 61-point effort on March 3. Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker called James "one of the best players in the world" and said it will take a total team effort to shut

  • Bucks pack up, await future with new owners

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    ST. FRANCIS, Wis. (AP) — One by one, the Milwaukee Bucks met with their coach one last time before packing up their belongings. With new ownership on the horizon, it is uncertain just how many of these guys will be back after a dreary 67-loss season. More change could be coming to Milwaukee. "There (are) definitely pieces here that we can build around, young talent," guard Brandon Knight said Wednesday at the team training facility just outside the city. "But like I said, the decisions that are made are out of our hands. We have little to no control over what is said in those rooms up here." Knight gestured toward the bank of windows overlooking the practice court, where coach Larry Drew and general manager John

  • Blazers survive adversity to surge into playoffs

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — After starting off as one of the hottest teams in the NBA, the Portland Trail Blazers wilted a bit after the All-Star break. The low point came on March 25 when the Blazers fell 95-85 at Orlando. The loss capped a 4-9 stretch for Portland. But since then, the Blazers have won nine of their final 10 games and wrapped up the regular season with a five-game winning streak. It's that rebound that gives coach Terry Stotts confidence for the playoffs. "In this league, you're going to have rough patches," he said. "It's how you get through them. I was proud of the way we've fought through rough times ... I thought that it showed our mettle and you need that going into the playoffs.