The New York Knicks, once thought of as the top threat in the East to defeat the mighty Miami Heat, are out of the playoffs. And they have one of their own to blame, following Saturday’s 106-99 Indiana Pacers win and series conquest in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Lance Stephenson grew up in Brooklyn hating the Indiana Pacers. After a rough start to NBA career , though, he grew into loving working for his adopted hometown and Pacer team, and he was likely more than cognizant of the criticism that arose from his time spent as Indiana’s top backcourt penetrator during the team’s Game 5 loss against the New York Knicks on Thursday. With George Hill out, the Pacers needed someone to step up on the perimeter , and Stephenson (13 points on 13 shots) could not step up. Game 6, however, was about as “up” as steps come. Even with George Hill in the Pacer starting lineup , Stephenson put up a career-high 25 points in the contest, topping his previous playoff-high in points by halftime by dropping 16 on the Knicks. Working between New York’s smallish lineup, the former University of Cincinnati guard also weaved his way toward 10 rebounds in just 34 minutes, his fourth double-digit rebounding game of the postseason. And though the Knicks reverted to their old, winning ways – a small rotation, plenty of three-point attempts – the team just could not keep in front of the younger Indiana Pacers.
For the second consecutive summer, the Dallas Mavericks could have significant salary cap space on hand if they choose to pass on re-signing some of their free agents. And, for the second straight year, this is in spite of Dirk Nowitzki’s much-deserved but massive individual contract, something that paid him nearly $21 million this season and nearly $23 million in 2013-14 . After being passed over by Deron Williams and left wanting in Dwight Howard trade negotiations, he Mavericks did well last year to put together what felt like a good enough roster to make the playoffs. The team acquisitions (O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison, Chris Kamen) all came through with up and down seasons, though, while Elton Brand sadly was a bit of a non-factor. The biggest problem above all was the loss of Nowitzki to a knee injury to start the season. Dallas competed for a playoff berth towards the end of the campaign, but with Nowitzki taking to nearly the season’s midpoint to start playing like the superstar he is, the Mavs just didn’t have a chance. Now Dirk is talking up the future. He wants Dwight Howard. He wants Chris Paul. He wants to part of the draft decision-making process. And he wants some pizza, dammit.
If you wanted to say that the Indiana Pacers lost Thursday's Game 5 more than the New York Knicks won it, I wouldn't fight you in a public square. While the Knicks did seem more willing to attack and press the action in taking a 10-point decision, the Pacers frequently seemed unable to get out of their own way, coughing the ball up time and again, failing to take advantage of their trips to the foul line and allowing a Knicks team that still couldn't shoot straight (just 41 percent from the floor in the win) to capitalize on their sloppy play. Roy Hibbert knew he and his teammates had let a golden opportunity to finish things off and advance to the Eastern Conference finals slip through their fingers. After the game, the 7-foot-2 center — no doubt frustrated by his own pedestrian nine-point, seven-rebound performance in 31 foul-filled minutes — called the Pacers on the carpet and questioned their masculinity, according to Fred Kerber of the New York Post : “Excuse all the women in here, but we played like p---ies tonight, to tell you the truth,” foul-plagued center Roy Hibbert said. “We didn’t deserve to win this one. I’ll probably get fined for that. I don’t care.” If you're not sure which letters belong in place of those dashes, Kerber helpfully spelled the NSFW language out on Twitter . Be aware, though: It's the kind of blue talk that'll shock the monocle right out of your eye.
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