NBA notes: Portland guard Damian Lillard selected NBA Rookie of the Year

Posted Wednesday, May. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard has been unanimously chosen the NBA’s Rookie of the Year.

Lillard, the sixth overall pick in last June’s draft out of Weber State, led all rookies with a 19-point scoring average. He also averaged 6.1 assists and 3.1 rebounds, playing in all 82 games this season.

Lillard broke Stephen Curry’s rookie record for 3-pointers in a season, finishing with 185. He is the fourth player in league history to win the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy unanimously, joining Blake Griffin in 2011, David Robinson in 1990 and Ralph Sampson in 1984.

“I think the best thing for me is to take it all in,” he said. “Then tomorrow I’ve got to let it go. I’ve got my whole career in front of me.”

Lillard pretty much was a lock for the award after he swept all six Rookie of the Month awards this season. He is eighth player to win in every month of the season since the award was created in 1981-82.

“I kind of figured I was ahead,” Lillard said about the race for the honor. “But I didn’t think I had it locked up.”

Dirty play by Nuggets?

Denver Nuggets coach George Karl thought the reaction to his team’s Game 5 win over the Warriors sounded like a “different movie than I’m watching.” Golden State’s Mark Jackson defended his accusations of dirty play Wednesday, and players on both sides practically promised more physicality.

Jackson ratcheted up the rhetoric after the Nuggets roughed up point guard Stephen Curry in a 107-100 victory to send the first-round series back to the Bay Area, with Golden State leading 3-2.

Jackson said Denver sent “hit men” out on Curry during Game 5. Specifically, Jackson repeatedly mentioned forward Kenneth Faried’s foul in the first half, when the Denver forward stuck his right leg out and moved his body while Curry ran through traffic.

The second-year coach, upset Curry never shot a free throw in 42 minutes, even suggested he had “inside information” from somebody who did not “co-sign” for Denver’s more physical game plan. When pressed about the allegation, Jackson declined to say where the knowledge came from.

“I was even caught on tape and asked, `What would I do if I was playing against (Curry) and he heated up?’ I’d be physical with him,” Jackson said. “That’s understandable. It’s not hypocritical. There’s no part of me that said I’d be dirty with him. You take an attempt to kick him with your foot, with his foot, that’s not a basketball play. That’s a cheap shot.”

Curry, who sprained his left ankle in Game 2 and has had two surgeries on his right ankle, stopped short of saying Faried – or anybody – targeted his ankles. After watching replays, Curry just said: “It is interesting. I don’t know what his intentions were.”

Boylan out for Bucks

Milwaukee announced Wednesday that coach Jim Boylan won’t be offered a new contract. Though Milwaukee made the playoffs for the first time in three years under Boylan, the decision was expected after the Bucks lost 12 of their last 16 games, finishing with their third straight losing season and eighth in nine years. The Bucks were then swept by the Miami Heat, losing all four games by double digits.

“At this time we feel it’s in the best interest of the organization to seek a new coach to lead our team,” general manager John Hammond said in a statement.

A search for a new coach will begin “immediately,” Hammond said.

Should Hammond want an established coach, there are several out there including Stan Van Gundy, Byron Scott and Kelvin Sampson, a former Bucks assistant. If Hammond wants an up-and-comer, Golden State assistant Mike Malone could be a possibility.

Boylan, a longtime assistant of Scott Skiles, took over after Skiles and the Bucks parted ways Jan. 8. The Bucks won their first two games under Boylan and eight of his first 11, reaching a season-best five games above .500 on Jan. 29.

Point guard Jeremy Lin was out for the second straight game because of a bruised chest muscle. The Rockets listed Lin as questionable, but he was not in uniform and instead wearing a suit on the bench.

Randolph, Gasol helping Grizzlies dominate inside

Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are proving to be a tough tag team.

They almost seem to be taking turns scoring, whether it’s Randolph with his layups and putbacks or Gasol with his hooks and jumpers. The duo has helped Memphis dominate inside and take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series with a chance to eliminate the Los Angeles Clippers.

It’s a flashback to 2011 when Memphis upset No. 1 seed San Antonio before pushing Oklahoma City to seven games in the semifinals.

Coach Lionel Hollins says he’s been fortunate to have two premier post players able to play inside or outside, and pass as needed. Hollins says it’s a luxury not many coaches have and he’s grateful.

Game 6 is Friday night in Memphis.

Griffin hurting

The Los Angeles Clippers won Game 7 on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies to get past the opening round of the playoffs last year. This time, they’ll have to do the same thing in Game 6 just to take the rematch series back home.

And the biggest question mark Friday night will be the status of Blake Griffin.

The three-time All-Star was limited to 19 minutes in the Clippers’ 103-93 loss Tuesday night because of a high ankle sprain. The injury occurred when he was taking part in post drills during Monday’s practice and stepped on Lamar Odom’s foot.

“I kept being optimistic,” said Griffin, who finished with four points, five rebounds and five assists. “Our training staff did a great job giving me treatment. I’ve never had a high ankle sprain before.”

Griffin was late joining teammates on the floor for warmups because he was getting his right ankle worked on. No one in the organization let on after Tuesday’s workout, and coach Vinny Del Negro didn’t broach the subject during his pregame briefing with reporters.

“It’s tough. It’s tough. B.G. tried to give it a go, like we all knew he would,” said point guard Chris Paul, who tied a career playoff high with 35 points. “Right now, we’re fighting for our lives. It’s a tough blow, but what can you do? We’ve got to find a way to get through it and figure it out. That’s what the playoffs are all about.

“We’ve got to be desperate. That’s how it is,” Paul added. “I’ve said the playoffs don’t start till somebody loses at home, so I guess now they’ve started. We lost here at home. Now it’s do or die in Memphis.”

Once the game started, Griffin ignored the ankle issue and attacked the Grizzlies in the same reckless manner that has been his trademark since he came into the league. But he played only 19 minutes – six in the second half – and finished with four points, five rebounds and five assists. He also got a technical foul from referee Jason Phillips just 3 minutes into the game after scoring on a fastbreak layup and shoving center Marc Gasol’s arm.

“It’s just an unfortunate thing that happened,” Del Negro said. “It was just a freak accident. It was a pretty bad sprain. I give Blake a lot of credit. He’s got a lot of swelling in there. He had therapy all of last night and therapy today, and he battled through it. He was active, but as the game went on, it just got fatigued and sore and worse and worse. … We wanted to protect him and make sure he was all right. I know how hard he worked. It’s just unfortunate timing.”

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