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  1. NBA Draft: Fultz is No, 1, Ball is No. 2

    After acquiring four days earlier the No. 1 overall selection in this year?s National Basketball Association college/international draft from the Boston Celtics in exchange for their own No. 3 pick and another future first-rounder (2018 or 2019), the Philadelphia 76ers expectedly corralled University of Washington?s much-coveted freshman Markelle Fultz with the first pick during the annual college/international grag-bag at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York last June 22.

    It was only the fourth time in franchise history that the 76ers got to make the first dance in the draft party, having also picked No. 1 in 1973 (Illinois State?s Doug Collins, a member of the ill-fated U.S. national team that dropped a controversial 51-50 verdict to the old Soviet Union in the gold-medal game of the 1972 Munich Olympics for the Americans? first ever Olympic defeat), 1996 (Georgetown?s Allen Iverson) and 2016 (Louisiana State?s Melbourne-born Ben Simmons).

    The Sixers, who now have drafted first overall in the last two years, is the first team in NBA history to own a pair of rookie No. 1 overall picks on the same team as Simmons, last year?s selection, was sidelined for the entire 2016-17 wars due to a broken bone in his right foot he sustained in training camp. (In April 2017, it was reported that the 6-10 Simmons, who turns 21 on July 20, had grown two inches taller since being drafted to stand at 7 feet.)

    Fultz, an athletic, high-scoring 6-4 playmaker, averaged a Pacific-12 Conference-best 23.2 points ? which was tops among freshmen and sixth highest among NCAA Division I players ? in his lone seasons with the woeful Huskies. A third-team All-America selection by the Associated Press, the 19-year-old Maryland-born Fultz also averaged 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds and shot 41.3 percent from three-point range.

    Fultz?s selection marked the first time ever that both the top choices in the NBA and Women?s National Basketball Association (WNBA) drafts have come from the same school in the same academic year. The San Antonio Stars tabbed former Huskies standout, Kelsey Plum, a 5-8 guard who is the all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division I women?s basketball history, with the No. 1 overall choice in the 2017 WNBA draft. A 5-8 guard, the 22-year-old Plum is the all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division I women?s basketball history, with the No. 1 overall choice in the 2017 WNBA draft.

    The Los Angeles Lakers, in the midst of a four losing and non-playoff seasons (27, 21, 17 and 26 victories), did secure much-publicized Lonzo Ball out of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) with the No. 2 overall choice after speculations that the Hollywood City outfit would jettison the first-rounder in return for a veteran player such as the Indiana Pacers? Paul George, a native of Southern California who plans to exercise his early-termination option in 2018 and become an unrestricted free agent.

    New Lakers president of basketball operations Earvin (Magic) Johnson was convinced that Ball was the right guy for the team following a second four hours-plus pre-draft workout in his dad LaVar?s palatial Chino Hills, California home on June 16, an individual workout that was witnessed by Johnson and new LA general manager Rob Pelinka on the Lakers? side and LaVar, trainer Darren Moore and agent Harrison Gaines on Ball?s side and included running hills (near their home), weightlifting and on-court drills.

    Magic was impressed with Lonzo?s work ethic leadership skills. He believes the 6-6 point guard?s competitive fire fits the young Lakers team and that he is likely to flourish in Lakers coach Luke Walton?s up-tempo style.

    Ball, who turns 20 in late October, topped the NCAA Division I in assists at 7.6 a game (breaking the Bruins? all-time record for most assists in a single season) and registered averages of 14.6 points (on shooting clips of .551 from the field and .412 from beyond the arc), 6.0 boards and 1.8 steals every time out in his lone season at Westwood.

    Ball was named the Pac-12 Conference Freshman of the Year (over Fultz) and earned first-team AP All-America honors.

    The Boston Celtics grabbed Duke frosh Jayson Tatum with the No. 3 draft pick. The 6-8 small forward normed 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.1 shot blocks per game with the Blue Devils.

    At No. 4, the Phoenix Suns snared Kansas freshman Josh Jackson, a 6-8 small forward who made it to the AP All-America Third Team after contributing 16.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals for the Jayhawks.

    The Sacramento Kings (following a swap of first-rounders with Philadelphia after the draft lottery) got Kentucky?s De?Aaron Fox with the No. 5 selection. A 6-4 point guard, Fox averaged 16.7 points with the wildcats and topped the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in assists ...
  2. NBA Draft: Fultz is No, 1, Ball is No. 2

    After acquiring four days earlier the No. 1 overall selection in this year’s National Basketball Association college/international

    Updated 07-08-2017 at 11:11 PM by Henry Liao

  3. NBA Finals Trivia 5

    In past National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals, Shaquille O?Neal and Kobe Bryant massively punctured the hoops during their glorious Los Angeles Lakers days, and do-everything strongman LeBron James put together dominant performances with the Miami Heat and now with the league titlist Cleveland Cavaliers

    For all their scoring feats, no single player has come close to the offensive wizardry of the legendary Michael Jordan during his prime and in the biggest stage.

    Until now, Jordan holds the all-time NBA record for the highest scoring average in a single NBA Finals series.

    His Airness gained the distinction after he averaged 41 points per game (on .508 field shooting) for the Chicago Bulls in their 4-2 victory over the Phoenix Suns during the 1993 title playoffs. Additionally, Jordan collected 8.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.7 steals every time out as he romped away with his third straight Finals Most Valuable Player hardware (known as the Bill Russell Trophy since 2009). It was the first of two ?three-peats? in his collection of an NBA-record six Finals MVP trophies during a storied NBA career (having also won the award in 1996, 1997 and 1998 with the Bulls).

    Jordan?s record-setting offensive explosion came in the year that he was beaten by his close friend, Charles Barkley of the Suns, in the league?s regular-season MVP derby.

    The humbling experience served as the 6-6 guard?s motivation.

    In addition to Jordan, who?s now the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets (formerly Bobcats), two other Hall of Famers averaged at least 40 points during an NBA Finals.

    They are Rick Barry and Elgin Baylor.

    A prolific scorer for the San Francisco (now Golden State) Warriors whose trademark was his unorthodox underhanded free throw stance, Barry chalked up 40.8 ppg during the 1967 Finals. The 6-7 forward?s efforts, however, went for naught as mammoth center Wilt Chamberlain and the Philadelphia 76ers crushed the Warriors in six games.

    Los Angeles Lakers frontliner Elgin Baylor?s 40.6-point norm during the seven-game 1962 NBA Finals likewise was put to waste as Bill Russell, the winningest player in league annals with 11 title rings, and the Boston Celtics came through with a 4-3 win.

    During the epic series, Baylor also registered the highest individual score for a championship-series contest when he drilled in 61 points during the Lakers? 126-121 Game Five triumph at the now-demolished Boston Garden on April 14, 1962 that temporarily gave LA a 3-2 lead.
    In contrast, when he was virtually a one-man wrecking crew for the Cavaliers in the 2015 Finals against the eventual champion Warriors ? no thanks to injuries to All-Star teammates Kevin Love (out for the entire series) and Kyrie Irving (out after Game One) ? James ?only? averaged 35.8 points along with 13.3 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 1.33 steals in 45.8 minutes a game as Cleveland dropped a 4-2 decision to Golden State after leading, 2-1, in the series.

    LeBron?s 123 points after three games in the series set an NBA Finals record. This surpassed Barry?s 122 with the San Francisco Warriors in the first three games of the 1967 NBA Finals vs. the 76ers. Barry did not benefit from the three-point shot rule as the latter was only introduced during the 1979-80 wars.

    James? six-game totals of 215 points, 80 rebounds and 53 assists in the 2015 Finals paced all players from both Cleveland and Golden State. He became the first player ever to lead a championship series in points, rebounds and assists.

    A year later (2016), The King was even more phenomenal, this time in a winning act. In making the Cavaliers the first team in Finals history to capture the NBA crown after trailing 3-1 in the series, the muscle-bound 6-8 forward secured another record as the first player ever to lead all players in a Finals series in total points (208, 29.7 ppg), rebounds (79, 11.3 rpg), assists (62, 8.9 apg), steals (18, 2.57 spg) and blocked shots (16, 2.29 bpg).

    James grabbed his third Finals MVP award ? the fifth player to own as many if not more ? in his third title finish after reaching the mountain top with the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013. He, Jordan, Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are the only players to snare at least three championships and four regular-season MVP awards.

    In the winner-take-all Game 7 on the Warriors? home floor (Oracle Arena), James registered a triple-double with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists along with three blocks and a pair of steals in 47 minutes to power the Cavs to a 93-89 win over the Dubs. Only two other players in league history had accomplished a T-D in a Finals Game 7 ? Jerry West (Lakers vs. Boston in 1969) and James Worthy (Lakers vs. Detroit in 198.

    Additionally, it marked only the fourth time ...
  4. 2015 NBA Finals: Warriors Win After Forty Years

    After four decades of infamy and futility and three ownership changes, the Golden State Warriors finally sit atop the National Basketball Association landscape.

    The high-energy Warriors whipped the short-handed and fatigued Cleveland Cavaliers, 105-97, yesterday in Game Six of the 2015 NBA Finals for a 4-2 series victory and their first NBA championship since Rick Barry led Golden State to the Promised Land with a 4-0 sweep of the Washington Bullets in the 1975 Finals.

    It was Golden State’s third victory in a row in the Finals after falling behind, 2-1, in the best-of-seven series.

    For all the Warriors players on their playoff roster, it was also their first NBA title ring ever. Curry’s ring was much sweeter since it came against four other members of this year’s All-NBA First Team – Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Marc Gasol (Memphis), James Harden (Houston) and LeBron James (Cleveland).

    Golden State’s Steve Kerr also became the first NBA rookie coach to win the NBA crown since Pat Riley accomplished the feat with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1982.

    Golden State, probably the first jump-shooting team to snare the NBA title, produced a barrage of three-pointers from league Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry, multi-dimensional Andre Iguodala and Curry’s Splash Brother Klay Thompson in the fourth quarter to take the fight out of a Cleveland team that probably even overachieved with its injury-depleted playoff cast that had been without two of its Big Three – Kevin Love after the first round (vs. Boston) and guard Kyrie Irving in the last five games of the NBA finals – and played with a short seven- or eight-man rotation utilized by rookie Cavs mentor David Blatt in the championship series despite the availability of championship veterans like Kendrick Perkins, Shawn Marion and Mike Miller that Blatt nonetheless opted to keep on the bench.

    In the series-clinching Game Six, Curry chalked up 25 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals for the Warriors, who also were NBA titlists in 1947 and 1956 when it was located in Philadelphia.

    Iguodala also tallied 25 points and had five rebounds and five assists and became the first non-starter to earn Finals Most MVP honors since the award was introduced in 1969. The 6-6 swingman, who was relegated to a reserve role nearly all season in favor of the young Harrison Barnes, got the starter’s nod only in the final three games of the Finals – all victories – as Kerr also switched 6-7 Draymond Green to center and benched 7-foot Australian center Andrew Bogut in the last two games to implement his “small ball” game plan starting Game Four.
    Iguodala got the nod of the media panel that voted for the MVP for he performed consistently on both ends of the floor in the entire six-game series. Aside from giving James fits on defense, he averaged 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.

    Perhaps the media voters also wanted to avoid controversy or polarization on the issue whether a dominant player from a losing team such as James or an outstanding player from a winning team like Curry deserved the honor.

    In the series closeout, Nigerian center Festus Ezeli came off the pines to punch in eight of his 10 points in the pace-changing third quarter that broke the game in favor of the Warriors. Another Golden State sub Shaun Livingston also scored 10 markers.

    For the Cavs, who have yet to win their first NBA crown since joining the league in 1970-71, a visibly fatigued LeBron James logged 32 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists in 47 minutes. Inconsistent guard J.R. Smith came off the bench to tally 19 points but most of them came in the fourth period when Cleveland had to climb out of a big hole that the Wine City subsequently was unable to overcome. Russian center Timofey Mozgov came up with 17 points and 12 boards and power forward Tristan Thompson also posted his third straight double-double with 15 points and 13 reebies.

    Cleveland outrebounded Golden State, 56-39, but for a third straight contest, the Warriors had more assists, 28-14. The Dubs also had more steals, 11-3, and committed fewer turnovers, 16-9.

    Fatigue finally took its toll on James in Game Six and generally appeared disinterested and lethargic as his supporting cast, with the exception of power forward Tristan Thompson and Russian center Timofey Mozgov, were unable to provide adequate help.

    Golden State got off to a strong start, taking the first quarter, 28-15, with some crisp passing and impeccable field shooting. The Warriors shot 11-for-22 from the field, including 4-for-9 from three-point range, coming up with the extra pass that resulted in assist for each made basket.
    However, Cleveland, which again employed a slowball offensive scheme, came within two points, 45-43, at halftime as ...
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  5. 2015 NBA Finals: Dubs One W Away From 1st Title in 4 Decades

    One more victory is all it takes for the Golden State Warriors to end four decades of infamy and futility in the National Basketball Association and hoist the Larry O’Brien championship trophy.

    With a 104-91 decision over the Cleveland Cavaliers in yesterday’s Game Five at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California that gave them a 3-2 lead, the Warriors go for the jugular on Wednesday, June 17 (Manila time, 9:00 p.m.), in Game Six of the best-of-seven NBA Finals at the Quicken Loans Arena.

    Should the series to stretch a maximum seventh game, it would go back to Oakland, California on Saturday, June 20 (Manila time, 9:00 a.m.).

    Only eight teams in NBA Finals history have secured a best-of-seven titular showdown after being down, 3-2. These are the 1955 Syracuse Nationals (vs. the Fort Wayne Pistons), 1962 Boston Celtics (vs. the Los Angeles Lakers), 1969 Boston Celtics (vs. the LA Lakers), 1978 Washington Bullets (vs. the Seattle SuperSonics, now the Oklahoma City Thunder), 1988 Los Angeles Lakers (vs. Detroit Pistons), 1994 Houston Rockets (vs. the New York Knicks), 2010 LA Lakers (vs. the Boston Celtics) and 2013 Miami Heat (vs. the San Antonio Spurs).

    The 1955 Nats (the predecessors of the Philadelphia 76ers), 1988 Lakers, 1994 Rockets, 2010 Lakers and 2013 Heat all emerged victorious in the final two contests to snare the NBA crown.

    The 1962 Celtics took Game Seven at the old Boston Garden while the 1969 Celtics and 1978 Bullets (now known as the Wizards) won on the road in the series-deciding seventh game.

    In Game Five, the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player and the Warriors’ meal ticket Stephen Curry exploded for seven triples (out of 13 attempts) and 37 points (on a 13-of-23 field clip), seven rebounds and four assists and the multi-dimensional Andre Iguodala added 14 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals in a second straight start.

    A former All-Star (2012) with the Philadelphia 7ers, the 6-6 Iguodala has performed consistently in the Finals, playing excellent defense on Cavaliers cornerstone LeBron James all series in and averaging 14.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists after five games that he could be challenging Curry for Finals MVP honors.

    Golden State extended a slim 85-84 edge midway at the 4:52 mark of the fourth quarter to 10, 96-86, on five straight points each by Iguodala (including his second of two triples) with 2:44 left.

    Cleveland subsequently went to a Hack-a-Iguodala strategy and Iguodala missed 9-of-10 from the charity stripes (including the first nine – he wound up 2-of-11 overall) but another triple by Curry – his third for the quarter – pushed the Warriors’ lead to double digits, 100-89, for the first time with 1:22 remaining.

    Golden State took its largest lead, 104-89, on a pair of free throws by Curry with 36 seconds left. Curry had 17 points in the payoff canto and the Warriors outscored the Cavs, 19-7, in the final 4:52 of the hard-fought contest.

    Golden State, which last won the NBA title in its Bay Area history in 1975, is 57-0 this season when it takes a 15-point lead during a game.

    Cleveland matched Golden State’s “small ball” matchup and opted to keep its starting center Timofey Mozgov for all but nine minutes as the Russian, after notching a playoff career-high 28 points, finished with no points (on 0-for-1 field shooting) and rebounds. His GS counterpart, 7-foot Australian Andrew Bogut, was entirely benched by Kerr.

    LeBron James produced his second triple-double performance in the Finals with 40 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in a game-high 45 minutes and went 15-for-34 from the field, including 3-of-8 from the three-ball territory.

    It was LeBron’s third Finals game with 40 points or more, having also collected 44 in the series opener (loss) and 40 in Game Three (a win).
    Power forward Tristan Thompson registered his third consecutive double-double in the Finals with 19 scores and 10 boards for the Wine City squad and reserve guard J.R. Smith struggled offensively for a second straight time, going 5-for-15 from the field (including 4-for-14 from the three-point area), although he managed to tally 14 points.

    Game Three hero Matthew Dellavedova was a non-factor as he scored only five points in 42 minutes and was could not keep up with Curry on the defensive end (as if anyone could have really stopped Steph).

    Golden State outrebounded Cleveland, 43-37, and had more assists, 25-17.

    The Dubs had trailed, 2-1, in the series but equalized with an emphatic 103-82 triumph in Game Four at the QLA to regain homecourt advantage. Warriors bench boss Steve Kerr made several adjustments to speed up the game and not allow Cleveland to dictate the flow and pace with its grinding halfcourt ...
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