Mateo’s Hoop Diary: The Indiana Fever failed to get stops in the fourth quarter of Caitlin Clark’s record-setting night

The Indiana Fever faltered, getting beat in a late shootout after being down double-digits in the first half. Caitlin Clark registered a career-high and WNBA record with 19 helpings and scored easily. Aliyah Boston was dominant early. But the depleted Wings were the nastier team in the fourth quarter, connecting on three triples and only allowing the opponent one trip to the charity line.

 

“We took their punches, and we punched back, and we ended up with a W,” Arise Ogunbowale said at her mid-court, postgame interview. 

 

The visitors were stuck in quicksand on defense through two quarters, giving up 36 paint points on 16 of 22 baskets. Additionally, Ogunbowale swished jumpers off the dribble and catch. Plus Odyssey Sims made two 3-pointers, put back her missed layup, scored twice on the break, cut on the left side for a bucket, dribbled by NaLyssa Smith for a basket and defended Clark. 

 

But Clark and Boston sliced a 16-point deficit in half, scoring the last 22 points of their club in the first half. They logged 13 of 20 attempts. The rest of the squad’s accuracy was 33%.

 

The Fever was down 46-54 at intermission but had lost the ball 10 times. Additionally, the group had 30 paint points, five on the break, 13 off turnovers, six via second chances and four from the bench.

 

The Wings had 36 interior points, 14 on the break, 20 off turnovers, five on extra tries and seven from the reserves.

 

Next, the Fever was down 11 points a few minutes into the third quarter.

 

Subsequently, Clark canned a right corner triple behind Boston’s pindown, dribbled left from the top of the key to the hoop for a one-foot shot, and had five assists to Katie Lou Samuelson, Kelsey Mitchell, NaLyssa Smith and Boston. Her prettiest feed was a behind-the-back pass to Smith for a layup.

 

Smith added a transition score, a putback and seven boards. And defensively, the Fever held the Wings to six of 18 baskets in the third quarter by closing out to snipers on time and pressuring the ball entry.

 

The fourth quarter began with the Fever down 70-72. Clark already had 20 points and 13 rebounds, making it her third game in a week with a double-double. She followed up with assists to Damiris Dantas and Boston on pick-and-roll sets, dished to Lexie Hull in the corner on the break, found Boston ahead on two transition seals and hit Kelsey Mitchell on left wing for a 3-pointer. Furthermore, Clark caught the rock behind a flare screen on the left side and dribbled down the baseline for a deuce and produced on a quick post up on Sims.

 

Boston supplied three baskets at close range plus Mitchell made both of her shots at close and long distance.

 

But the fourth-quarter defense was horrendous. The Fever gave up the corner after blitzing Ogunbowale then allowed Jacy Sheldon to take an uncontested right-wing banger because Mitchell overplayed Sims’ entry dribble. And with fewer than three minutes left, Sims dropped in one of those of course shots from 26 feet away that bounced off the back iron and straight down the nylon.

 

Afterward, Ogunbowale tossed up a wild, successful turnaround shot with Hull covering cleanly to put the Wings ahead four points in the last 45 seconds. Clark responded futilely, dribbling down the court, but got her pocket picked by Howard, and Sims slid to the ground for it.

 

The Fever lost 93-101.

 

The Fever had 62 paint points, 14 on the break, 17 off turnovers, 11 via second chances and 12 from the bench.

 

Clark logged 24 points on 10 of 19 attempts, with 19 dimes, six rebounds and six turnovers. Boston put up 28 digits on 78.6% accuracy, with eight boards, three assists and four blocks. Mitchell scored 16 points on six of 10 tries and picked up two rebounds, one assist and two turnovers.  And Smith had 12 points on 41.7% shooting, with 12 rebounds and four turnovers.

 

The Wings had 50 interior marks, 22 on the break, 28 off turnovers, 11 via extra tries and 15 from the reserves.

 

Ogunbowale tallied 24 points on eight of 21 shots, with seven rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two turnovers. Sims contributed 24 marks on 58.8% shooting, with three rebounds, nine assists, one steal, one block and a turnover. The other double-digit scorers were Natasha Howard (17), Kalani Brown (13), Sheldon (11) and Teaira McCowan (10).

 

The match had eight lead changes and 11 ties.

 

At the postgame presser, Boston said the Wings got “easy buckets they didn’t need.”

 

Clark downplayed her record and said, “The late turnover definitely kills, for sure. They were up pressuring me, so then I kind of got behind them to attack, but I tried to pull [the ball] out and lost my handle while getting poked from behind…”

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Mateo’s Hoop Diary: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope signing pushes the Magic over the Heat

The Orlando Magic have surpassed the Miami Heat as the top team in Florida with the addition of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the sharpshooting, defensive ace. He leaves the Denver Nuggets after two seasons, registering 313 trifectas, 253 steals and 95 blocks combined between the regular campaign and Playoffs.

In year one as a Denver Nugget, the two-way guard instantly became the release valve on the perimeter, downing open trays. His screen navigation bought Nikola Jokić, a reputable weak defender before 2022, the spare moment to get into position, and the latter stopped being a liability. And the Pope also brought leadership- during the Playoff run, he wore his championship ring with the Los Angeles Lakers to inspire his teammates and keep them focused on the mission.

That quest ended with the Nuggets as champions. KCP was the sixth leading scorer (10.6) in the postseason and converted 38% of 3-point attempts. One of his finest moments of the ride was Game 4 of the Finals at Miami. He had three takeaways, blocked Bam Adebayo’s layup as a helper and rejected Jimmy Butler on a post-up with over five minutes left.

The Nuggets wanted to re-sign him, but at their end-of-the-season presser, hinted it wouldn’t be easy. President and owner Josh Kroenke said, “the core of this team was assembled under a different CBA, and we drafted and we developed, and we built this team under a different set of rules.”

Nuggets coach Michael Malone once called KCP the missing piece.

Life without him will stress the starters. The squad has no replacement that matches his defensive persistence and marksmanship.

But now he wears Magic blue and supplements a 47-win group.

In 2023-24, Orlando deployed the third-strongest defense, had Paolo Banchero break out into an All-Star and capped out at Game 7 in the first round against the Cavaliers in Cleveland. Also, the Magic’s defensive rating (100) through seven Playoff matches was the sharpest of 16 qualifying teams. On top of that, they recorded 35.2% of hoisted threes through 82 outings and 30.9% against the Cavaliers.

KCP is a perfect match for the Magic. He and Jalen Suggs’ stinginess on the perimeter would rouse medieval lords. His deep shooting will enhance his teammates, particularly Banchero, because rival defenses won’t be able to trap low off the sniper.

So how do the Magic compare and contrast with the Heat?

Orlando’s backcourt- Suggs and KCP- is mightier defensively than Miami’s Tyler Herro and Terry Rozier. The former are more accurate from deep, too.

The shot creator category slightly favors Miami. The Heat have Butler, who can get what he wants against most matchups, and Adebayo fits here because of his rim attacks, screening and handoff action. The Magic have Banchero and Franz Wagner. Both have big man size and a vast arsenal with moves off the dribble.

The backline defense edge goes to the Magic due to their mobile size. Even if the club loses Wendell Carter Jr, Jonathan Isaac can be pushed into the starting unit. Isaac would have been a serious candidate for the Defensive Player of the Year crown if he had logged seven more games to meet the requirement.

The Heat’s Adebayo is arguably the top disruptor in the NBA. His backline partners were Nikola Jović, Caleb Martin and Haywood Highsmith. Jović is a developing pupil with promise as a helper but lacks experience. Martin was effective handling switches but will likely leave in free agency. Highsmith, who is 6-foot-7, showed instances of dominating one-on-one and helping defense, yet his issue is that some matchups are too strong or too tall for him.

The bench advantage goes to the Heat. Jaime Jaquez Jr. should emerge as its primary scorer because of his advanced footwork. Duncan Robinson is a shooting stimulus, yet he is the wildcard if coach Erik Spoelstra wants to get creative. As a reserve, Robinson was decent, recording 11.1 points nightly on 36.2% accuracy from 3-point range. But as a starter, he was among the finest marksmen in the NBA, downing 42% on over seven tries. And veteran Kevin Love is coming back, providing quality board work and deep shooting.

The Magic declined Mo Wagner’s team option, making him an unrestricted free agent. Reportedly, talks of a new deal with Wagner are possible, but a new squad could and should scoop him up. He was impactful, throwing his weight around on the glass, disrupting actions, and was an irritant. And Cole Anthony is a mid-level reserve.

Coaching is even. Spoelstra overachieves with his units and is likely keeping trusted lieutenant Chris Quinn around.

In 2023-24, Magic coach Jamahl Mosley led his troops to a 13-win improvement over the previous campaign, which was the highest mark in the Eastern Conference. His 2022-23 band improved by a dozen victories after the 2021-22 season.

Key player attendance is on the side of the Magic. Banchero is a 1A who logged 80 matches last season. Suggs made Second Team All-Defense and suited up for 75 nights. The other top three starters in games played appeared in a combined 153.

The Heat’s starters fused 245 outings. Word on the street is Butler wants to have a bounce back season for a new deal next summer. That would mean raising his rim pressure frequency plus efficiency and showing up in at least 75 games. He has only hit the latter marker twice in his career since draft night.

Banchero and Butler are in the same tier, but the former gives his club a significant lead if he is playing 24% more of the season.

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Mateo’s Hoop Diary: JJ Redick is introduced as the new Lakers coach

The Los Angeles and national brigade of reporters questioned JJ Redick on his 40th birthday for 45 minutes, and nobody asked him about his ill-informed comment about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar being a “one-note wonder” that perverts NBA history.

Redick blurted that nonsense about the NBA’s six-time MVP during the 2022-23 season, impersonating the obnoxious gimmick of his then-colleague, Stephen A. Smith. Without question, Redick failed to do any real homework. Had he made the effort, he would’ve identified how regular hooks, floaters and jumpers were a part of Abdul-Jabbar’s arsenal. Hopefully, he will spend more time identifying the team’s weaknesses in the film room.

Then 16 months later, the host of the Old Man and the Three podcast and co-host to Mind the Game with LeBron James, ascended to become the Lakers’ coach with no experience other than instructing fourth-grade hoops. Imagine if commoners could move up the ladder like that. One can only ponder what assistant coaches like Sam Cassell and Chris Quinn think when frat boy wonder cuts the line because he’s friends with the right peeps.

Rest assured, Redick confirmed he doesn’t give an F what the outside noise thinks, which still didn’t win him the press conference and made him look like a muppet.

Hopefully the Lakers had some sense and told Abdul-Jabbar that Redick was wrong about him and please come to next season’s debut.

Yet at the presser sat Redick, the sloppy seconds at centerstage, next to Rob Pelinka, who has clipped the last three coaches and somehow avoids accountability like a politician evading the public’s ire.

Redick said he didn’t take the Dan Hurley drama personally. Hurley was the Lakers’ first choice, rejecting them after getting a preposterous, below-market offer. If the Lakers were still a serious organization, UConn’s back-to-back championship coach- the guy James tweeted is “so damn good”- would probably have handled Monday’s introduction. And Redick could have still been doing ESPN’s weekly shows and game analysis when the season resumes.

Nonetheless, Pelinka said James was supportive but not involved during the hiring process.

At one point, the Purple and Mold’s new coach said the media is the engagement farming industry. Conveniently, he didn’t elaborate on how he lucratively profited from that and will go back to it once he fails.

“I take this responsibility very seriously,” Redick said. So did Luke Walton, Frank Vogel, who won a championship in 2020 and Darvin Ham. The first and last should get Pelinka more heat because that’s two misses.

Pelinka broke up the title squad’s key role players- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma- for Russell Westbrook, which many, including this scribe, thought would work. Time revealed Westbrook didn’t fit Vogel’s system, and he was misused, spending too much time in the corners after averaging a triple-double the previous season for the Washington Wizards. Then Frankie Vogel was sacked.

When Pelinka was asked what he liked about Redick and James’ podcast, he said he liked how his new coach communicates, as if James’ handlers would ever allow him to be compromised by a sincere, tense exchange on tape, even more so with someone far from his equal on the court.

Notably, what appealed to Redick about coaching was the fulfillment of helping others max out, which he credits to Rick Carlisle for helping flesh out. He also said he will use Anthony Davis as a hub and wants him shooting threes and going hard in transition. The plan is for Rui Hachimura to take more 3-pointers and become a better offensive rebounder, too. And winning a championship in the short term is a reasonable expectation. “I don’t look at the current roster as being far off from a championship-caliber team,” Redick said.

He doesn’t have his coaching staff filled yet but will have the the final decision. Pelinka will collaborate by offering ideas about every position.

Mateo’s Hoop Diary: Chris Quinn is ready to lead or fill any need

Three hours before Miami Heat games tip-off, assistant coach Chris Quinn is one of the team’s personnel, located on the hardwood, working out with a player or reviewing material on an iPad. On special occasions, Quinn will break out his old moves and challenge a player.

On Feb. 28, 2022, before the then FTX Arena was filled for the match against the Chicago Bulls, Quinn showed Heat forward Duncan Robinson a bit of his handle as Bam Adebayo diligently worked on his free throws. And when Dwyane Wade was on the team during the 2015-16 season, Quinn would warm up with him prior to game time.

Quinn is coach Erik Spoelstra’s trusted lieutenant- a liaison between the head and the players when a message needs to be understood and an advisor with whom to consult ideas. Given Quinn’s calm, cordial, public demeanor, he is Spoelstra’s Tom Hagen. Yet, he still jokes with his boss and friend about how he traded him in 2010 before the Big Three era. Spo’s counter is that he “didn’t have much pull” in the organization.

Quinn is a married, family man with three children. Professionally, he has been Spoelstra’s assistant since the 2014-15 campaign, the first following LeBron James’ departure to Cleveland. He’s developed players and his skills as a coach for seven Playoff trips, including two visits to the NBA Finals. When the Heat beat the Celtics in the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals, Quinn and the other Heat assistants congratulated Spoelstra on not being the first NBA coach to give up a 3-0 lead and lose a series.

In the past, former Heat captain Udonis Haslem said that whenever Quinn speaks, Spoelstra’s words fall from his lips. This is the same as back in the day with Pat Riley and his star center, Alonzo Mourning.

Quinn has a 2-0 record when put in charge of the team in Spoelstra’s absence for COVID protocols in 2022. After one of the games, Spo said, “He has the full trust of everybody… This is something that he has been developing for several years.”

Before that game, Quinn had a few hours to prepare.

When Quinn took over for the Heat’s match, hosting the Charlotte Hornets on April 5, 2022, the crew set a franchise record for made 3-pointers and points scored. “It’s 2022,” Quinn said jokingly. “You pass up the layups to get the threes.”

On another occasion Spoelstra missed because of personal matters, the Heat were beaten by the Brooklyn Nets in Miami by 15 points. At the postgame presser, Quinn somberly talked about giving up 40 marks in the second quarter, but his message was clear: there were no excuses to be made.

Before that, he was a four-year collegiate athlete at Notre Dame, playing point guard under coach Mike Brey. At school, he was named to the All-Big EastFirst Team and finished sixth in true shooting percentage (58.9), sixth in Fighting Irish history in steals (155), eighth in steals per game average (1.3), and ninth in made 3-point field goals (239). In his freshman year, the team made it as far as the West regional semifinal, losing to Arizona.

He advanced to the NBA, playing for the Heat as one of their undrafted gems in a year they had no picks. In fact, he earned his gig by performing well in the summer league. He later worked for the San Antonio Spurs, New Jersey Nets, and Cleveland Cavaliers over six seasons. Quinn also had a stint in Russia during the lockout season and then played in Spain the following year.

As a former pro, Quinn has credibility with players because he understands the business and the anxieties that come with it, making him relatable.

Given the type of player he was as an off-ball shooter, he must see the game through the lens of a marksman. Lots of misdirection and off-ball movement would likely be an emphasis of his half-court offense.

“A lot of us in the Heat culture have in common [that] we are super competitive,” Quinn said during a summer league interview with ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez. “For better or worse, if things aren’t going the way we all think they should be going, we have a level of accountability. We talk to each other…”

In the summer of 2024, Quinn’s name surfaced for potential head coaching vacancies. The Heat gave permission to the Lakers and Cavaliers to interview him. The former post went to ESPN broadcaster, podcaster, and former NBA sharpshooter JJ Redick. Redick’s only coaching prior experience is instructing youth basketball. The latter spot went to Kenny Atkinson.

Last year, the Milwaukee Bucks were granted permission to interview him for their spot after Mike Budenholzer’s dismissal, but they chose Adrian Griffin, who lasted 43 games as head coach.

When an organization takes a chance on Quinn, they’ll have someone with credible coaching insight who has paid his dues. He is ready to lead or fill any need.

Mateo’s Hoop Diary: The Celtics won Game 5 of the Finals, claiming the 2024 NBA title

The Celtics whooped the Mavericks in Game 5 to win the NBA championship at TD Garden. Jayson Tatum was the bus driver. And Jaylen Brown guarded Luka Dončić, staying in front of the ball and contesting on time. Brown was also crowned Finals MVP in front of thousands of cheering supporters after the match.

With his trophy in hand, Brown said at the winner’s stage, “I share this with my brothers.”

The contest was close until the Celtics thwacked the Mavericks with an 11-3 run to close the first quarter. The damage was done by Jayson Tatum, dribbling past Josh Green on the right side for a layup and finishing on the break, as well as Brown scoring in the open court plus producing from a slot cut and Sam Houser canning a right-side triple.

Then Houser uncorked the offense in the second quarter, making a left-wing tray after setting a ghost screen for Tatum, giving Gang Green an 11-point advantage. Tatum added four field goals with no misses. Brown downed two corner 3-pointers, assisted by Tatum, when the defense sagged off the perimeter to clog the lane. The Celtics forced four Maverick turnovers by pressuring the ball handler and entry pass. And Payton Pritchard connected on a half-court shot to end the half.

On the other side, the Mavericks registered 12 of 19 baskets in the frame. Derrick Jones Jr. scored, dribbling to the basket on a broken play, swished a corner triple and tallied an acrobatic layup on the break. Daniel Gafford put in two dunks. And Kyrie Irving and Dončić combined for four of nine shots.

The Celtics led at halftime 67-46 on the scoreboard. Additionally, the group had 30 paint points, 10 on the break, seven via second chances, 11 off turnovers and 12 from the bench.

The Mavericks had 24 interior marks, two in the open court, four on extra tries, two off turnovers and 14 from the reserves.

Next, the Celtics opened the third quarter making four of five baskets by Tatum, Derrick White, Al Horford and Jrue Holiday, giving the hosts a 26-point edge, the largest of the evening.

The Mavericks answered with Irving’s turnaround jumper on the left side, Green’s transition corner 3-pointer, a freebie by Dante Exum and two shots by Dončić, slicing their deficit to 17, the closest they got the rest of the night.

The fourth quarter started with the Celtics up 86-67.

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd called a timeout early into the period as Kristaps Porziņģis’ baseline cut and dunk put the Celtics back up by 21 points. His next stoppage came as Tatum maneuvered by P.J. Washington from the top to the cup for a layup, bringing the lead to 24 marks. Inexplicably, Kidd kept Dončić and Irving in until there were two-and-a-half minutes remaining.

The Celtics won 106-88. On top of that, the crew had 42 paint points, 16 on the break, 11 via second chances, 17 off turnovers and 16 from the bench.

Boston’s double-digit scorers were Tatum (31), Brown (21), Holiday (15) and White (14).

The Mavericks had 42 interior marks, nine in the open court, six on extra tries, six off turnovers and 25 from the reserves.

Dallas’ double-digit scorers were Dončić (28), Irving (15), Green (14) and Jones (10).

At the postgame presser, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said, “It feels good” to be a champion.

 

 

Mateo’s Hoop Diary: The WNBA is filled with special players

The WNBA players chosen to represent the United States in Olympic competition are a supergroup that can decimate any squad in their way and should leave Paris with another gold medal.

Yet Caitlin Clark’s absence has upset people. Their ire should not be directed at the decision-makers who excluded her but rather at the league’s TV partners and editors/producers who decided what got covered throughout the years.

Clark did not attend Team USA camp because she played in the NCAA tournament. Still, had she gone, it would have been difficult to snag a spot from any top-shelf players with experience in Olympic competition or the first-timers because of her slight frame, which could allow opponents to take advantage of her on defense and her high turnover rate.

To Clark’s credit, she is the most schemed player in the league, ensuring one of her teammates is open. But because the Indiana Fever is a rebuilding outfit, its depth is weak, and many of Clark’s passes aren’t converted into baskets. If her squad didn’t have so many scoring liabilities or suspect coaching, Clark would shine brighter in the assist and field goal percentage department while already having a notable rookie campaign.

But when news of the roster dropped, it was like a grenade burst. The pundits on ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith and Shannon Sharpe, probably mean well, but they are so misguided that they gaslighted their expert panelist, Andraya Carter, and the WNBA with comments, “Do they want to grow the game?”

I’m glad they went there, even after Monica McNutt told SAS on his show that he could have done more to highlight the WNBA.

The problem with “Do they want to grow the game?” is that it indicates the coverage is a failure. Clark is not the W’s first superstar, nor its best currently, yet she’s treated like it by people with a large platform. If those like Smith, Sharpe and others were sincerely interested in championing women’s basketball, where were they when A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart were rookies? They were better at the time than what Clark is currently.

So how do great players like Wilson and Stewart remain behind Clark in popularity? Clark finished her collegiate career as one of the best players ever and the all-time leader in NCAA Division 1 scoring, surpassing “Pistol” Pete Maravich. Still, this is about partners and the media not understanding how sweet the product is.

I contacted First Take’s producer, Mike Foss, and ESPN’s public relations multiple times, asking on how many occasions was the WNBA or its subjects discussed on the show in 2022, 2023, and 2024. No answer was returned.

Wilson is the top player in the league; Alyssa Thomas is a quarterbacking big who has led her team to the top record in the WNBA; Stewart is the reigning MVP, and she came back from an Achilles tear in 2019; Sabrina Ionescu is a historical sniper with excellent playmaking skills; Arike Ogunbowale is a fierce scorer; Diana Taurasi is still blasting; And Brittney Griner remains a force.

Imagine how ahead the WNBA would be if a league partner or regular media highlighted those women’s professional activities correctly.

Wising up now would go a long way because growing a league takes a lot of years. For example, when the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers won the 1977 championship over the Philadelphia 76ers, TV coverage didn’t follow to the locker room for the party. The broadcast cut to a live feed of golf’s Kemper Open, per David Halberstam’s The Breaks of the Game. The NBA was 28 years old at the time.

The WNBA is in its 28th season, growing slowly but surely. Hopefully, people like Smith and Sharpe cover the W’s ladies competing in the Olympics no differently than if Clark had made the team.

Mateo’s Hoop Diary: The Mavericks avoided getting swept with a Game 4 win in Dallas versus the Celtics

The Dallas Mavericks lapped the Boston Celtics in Game 4, preventing a sweep in the Finals. Luka Dončić was relentless on offense, cared to defend and yapped considerably less to the referees. Kyrie Irving consumed inside protections. And the hosts outrebounded the Celtics by 21.

Early, the Mavericks’ defense permitted two of nine 3-pointers. But Jayson Tatum got loose, making a 3-pointer against drop coverage and scoring on three rim attacks.

For the Mavs, Dončić was unrestrainable, dribbling to his spots in the middle for jumpers plus floaters and going low for layups while also making three freebies. Irving maneuvered into the lane for two shots and a layup, swished a triple in Jaylen Brown’s face and finished at the rim on a transition pick-and-roll set with Daniel Gafford. And Dereck Lively’s impact was like a sledgehammer to rotting wood, slamming a lob, canning his first-ever tray (in the corner), and blocking Xavier Tillman’s shot under the rim.

The Mavericks led 34-21 through 12 minutes.

The hosts followed up in the second quarter, contesting the Celtics’ jumpers and rim attacks on time, holding them to three of 16 field goals.

On the attack, Dante Exum provided a jolt off the bench, dribbling into the square for a layup and making a right-wing trifecta, set up by Dončić’s drive-and-kick on the left side. And Dončić scored four more times at close range and downed a step-back jumper from 17 feet out.

The Mavericks were on top 61-35 at halftime and ahead on the glass by 16. Additionally, the team had 34 paint points, three on the break, 10 via second chances, nine off turnovers and 19 from the bench.

The Celtics had 12 interior marks, two in the open court, none on extra tries, six off turnovers and six from the reserves.

Subsequently, Gafford was like a mobile stick of dynamite in the third quarter. He blocked Tatum’s jumper on the wing, rejected Brown’s baseline attack at the rim and slammed a lob on the break, assisted by Dončić at mid-court. Irving also got involved, recording five of six attempts in the frame.

The Mavericks were up 32 at the start of the fourth quarter.

The rest of the match was no contest- not one Maverick and Celtic starter played a minute of the fourth quarter. Still, the hosts reached a 48-point lead with six minutes left.

The Mavericks won 122-84. On top of that, the group had 60 paint points, 11 on the break, 16 via second chances, 17 off turnovers and 54 from the bench.

Dallas’ double-digit scorers were Dončić (29), Irving (21), Tim Hardaway Jr. (15), Lively (11) and Exum (10),

The Celtics tallied 26 interior marks, six in the open court, two on extra tries, nine off turnovers and 40 from the reserves.

Boston’s double-digit scorers were Tatum (15), Sam Hauser (14), Payton Pritchard (11), Jrue Holiday (10) and Brown (10).

Dončić handled the on-court interview. When asked about carrying momentum to Boston, he said, “We got to play the same way. We know how tough it is to play there…”

At the postgame presser, Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said, “It was this or we go on vacation… our role players stepped up and made some threes and that’s what we needed tonight.”

Mateo’s Hoop Diary: Around the WNBA on Thursday, June 13

Pity those who missed out on Thursday’s Commissioner’s Cup action.

The Indiana Fever got their fourth win (4-10). Jackie Young went ballistic in the second quarter of the Aces’ dub over the Mercury. And the Storm countered Arike Ogunbowale’s production with six triples and 13 points on the break in their victory.

Let’s review what happened…

Aliyah Boston returns to form + Kelsey Mitchell’s big night in the Fever’s win:

First-quarter foul trouble sat Boston down for a few minutes, but she was confident and hungry, leading her team to a victory against the Atlanta Dream. She threw her weight around setting on plus off-ball screens, powered through the post, recovered five extra possessions and protected the lane well.

Her best spurts came in the second and fourth quarter. During the former sequence, Boston nailed two free throws, made a putback, and scored on Tina Charles twice at close range on post and face-up plays. In the latter interval, she bailed out the squad after the offense fell apart, bludgeoning the square on drives and a putback to outduel Rhyne Howard.

After the game, Fever coach Christie Sides said Boston was undeniable. “She played extremely well, really physical, didn’t back down and finished great, great shots at the rim tonight.”

Boston finished with 27 points on 12 of 21 tries, with 13 rebounds, two assists, one steal, and a turnover. Ten of her points came in the fourth quarter.

And Mitchell detonated for 24 points on seven of 14 shots. She was explosive off the dribble and connected on a mid-range shot plus three trays, including fumbling up one from the left corner to end the first half. Subsequently, Mitchell scored on a broken play at close range with 45 seconds left and earned multiple trips to the line, burying six freebies.

The Las Vegas Aces go on tour, beating the Phoenix Mercury:

A’ja Wilson carried her group to start, scoring 10 of their first 12 first-quarter points by converting two mid-range and two turnaround jumpers in the paint and scoring a putback. The rest of the Aces registered zero of 11 buckets partly because Brittney Griner was causing havoc as a low help defender. Kelsey Plum logged the team’s other two points at the line, yet the squad fell behind by 16 points to end the frame.

On the other side, Diana Taurasi hit a baseline jumper in transition, flared into the lane for a layup, scored against drop coverage at the cup and canned a right-wing trifecta, totaling 10 points through 10 minutes. Sophie Cunningham chipped in with seven points on three of four attempts.

Then Jackie Young dribbled into five triples between the top of the key and left side and burst into the lane in transition, making a bucket with contact. She had 21 points in the second quarter, and the Mercury tallied 23.

In the second half, Wilson and Young combined for 30 of the Aces’ 49 points on 45% accuracy. Young’s jumper in the paint over Kahleah Copper gave the Aces a four-point edge with 46 seconds left.

Wilson had 32 points on 10 of 17 attempts, with 15 rebounds (six on offense), two assists, one steal, two blocks and three turnovers. And Young notched 34 marks on 47.8% accuracy, with eight rebounds (four on offense), four assists, one steal and three turnovers.

Seattle Storm shoot down the Wings in Dallas:

For the Wings, Arike Ogunbowale made a left-corner banger, banked in a half-court heave, and dribbled past Jewell Loyd to the cup for a left-handed layup. And Teaira McCowan and Maddy Siegrist kept the understaffed Wings in the first half, scoring off-ball and recording four fastbreak points.

But the Storm were up 48-40 at halftime, led by Loyd’s 15 points and Skylar Diggins-Smith’s dozen. Additionally, the visitors had 16 points off turnovers and two via an extra try.

Next, Ogunbowale scored 14 second-half points, making one freebie plus two mid-range shots and recording three trifectas. Kalani Brown added four of five baskets. And McCowan made three offerings at close range.

But it wasn’t enough.

Defensively, the Storm forced seven turnovers in the second half. On offense, the group supplied seven points on the break between Sami Whitcomb, Jordan Horston and Diggins-Smith. Diggins-Smith hit a floater on the baseline and another in the paint on a pick-and-roll set with Ezi Magbegor as well. And Nneka Ogwumike connected on a 3-pointer, putback, two layups and two free throws. Ogwumike’s freebies came with under two minutes left, putting the Storm ahead by nine points.

Mateo’s Hoop Diary: The Celtics go up 3-0 in the Finals with Game 3 win

The visiting Celtics took control and nearly gave away the match in the second half, snatching a 3-0 lead in the NBA Finals minus their backline protector, Kristaps Porziņģis. Jaylen Brown dispensed 30 points and a career-high eight Playoff helpings plus outplayed Luka Dončić, who was also disqualified with six fouls in the last four minutes. Jayson Tatum sliced the interior. And the Mavericks failed to protect the three-point line again.

Jaylen Brown handled the on-court interview. He said, “We (the Celtics) kept our poise… we found a way to win.”

The Mavericks pounced on the Celtics, taking a 9-2 edge in the first two minutes behind Kyrie Irving and Dončić’s drive-bys, plus the latter’s pull-up triple in Tatum’s face.

Tatum responded for Gang Green with 13 points, including a fastbreak dunk to end the interval. Brown supplied four marks and set up three teammates with four dimes. And the guests struck gold with Sam Houser’s two trays, one coming as Dončić was late to tag him in transition because he was complaining to a ref.

Then both squads tightened their defense in the second quarter. Yet Irving made three of Dallas’ four second-quarter threes without missing and maneuvered into the paint for a floater. And Boston’s Tatum swished a top-of-the-key triple, dribbled past Tim Hardaway Jr. into the paint for a layup and scored on the break.

At halftime, the Celtics were behind 50-51 and down on the glass by six. Additionally, the squad had 16 paint points, 10 on the break, two via second chances, four off turnovers and nine from the bench (Hauser).

The Mavericks had 30 interior marks, seven in the open court, six on extra tries, five off turnovers and seven from the bench.

Subsequently, the Celtics started the third quarter by making seven consecutive baskets by Brown, Tatum, and Jrue Holiday. Next, Brown continued, burying a corner triple, nailing a step-back mid-range shot over Maxi Kleber and dunking powerfully off a pick-and-roll set to end the frame to lead by 15 points.

For the Mavericks, Dončić broke into the box, finishing thrice, and Irving made three shots at mid to long-range. The rest of the group converted two of seven ventures.

The fourth quarter began with the Celtics up 85-70.

Dončić then committed a turnover/offensive foul 13 seconds into the period by illegally dribbling into Brown at the post, pushing with the off arm. Yet the Celtics climbed to a 21-point lead a minute in. Mavericks coach Jason Kidd followed up with a timeout.

A 19-3 Maverick stampede ensued, sparked by the defense contesting shots on time and staying in front of the ball. Afterward, Irving’s three straight freebies cut Dallas’ deficit to three points. But Dončić made one of five baskets and had three more fouls, reaching six and disqualifying him with four minutes left.

The Celtics answered with Brown’s tip-in and mid-range jumper over Hardaway, Derrick White’s 3-pointer and Tatum’s dunk through the center.

The Celtics won 106-99 but were outrebounded by seven. On top of that, the squad had 36 paint points, 12 on the break, six via second chances, 13 off turnovers and 12 from the bench.

Brown had 30 points on 12 of 22 shots, with eight rebounds, eight career-high Playoff dimes, one block and three turnovers. Tatum had 31 points on 42.3% accuracy, with six rebounds, six assists, one steal, and two turnovers. And White logged 16 points, making four of 10 attempts, with five rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a turnover.

The Mavericks had 52 interior marks, 12 in the open court, 14 on extra tries, 12 off turnovers and 16 from the reserves.

Irving had 35 points on 13 of 28 tries, with three rebounds, two assists and two turnovers. Dončić produced 27 marks on 40.7% shooting, with six rebounds, six assists, one steal and three turnovers. The other double-digit scorers were P.J. Washington (13) and Dereck Lively II (11).

At the postgame presser, Mazzulla spoke on the approach for Game 4. He said. “We’re just as vulnerable, if not more vulnerable than they are.”

Tatum told the press that he told Brown he was proud of him after the game.

 

 

 

Mateo’s Hoop Diary: The Celtics outdid the Mavericks in Game 2 of the Finals

The Boston Celtics conquered the Mavericks in Game 2 of the Finals, taking a 2-0 lead. Dallas’ Luka Dončić was inexorable, and the visiting defense protected the arc. But Gang Green was overruling in the second half, and their supporters periodically chanted, “Kyrie [Irving] sucks.”

In act one, the Mavericks’ defense permitted one of nine trifectas. On offense, Dončić logged 13 digits, one assist and three turnovers. He picked on Jayson Tatum by dribbling past him to the rim and canning a turnaround jumper in his face. He also made a fader over Derrick White, swished a pull-up transition triple on the right side plus registered two freebies. His partner, Kyrie Irving, maneuvered into the square thrice and downed a long two inside the ring wing.

But Kristaps Porziņģis supplied eight points off the bench for the Celtics, backing down Maxi Kleber for a jumper, firing over Irving at mid-range, and nailing four freebies. Brown, Holiday and Horford helped him out, connecting on five of nine offerings, while Tatum was a playmaker.

The Mavericks led 28-25 through 12 minutes.

In act two, Holiday pounded the Mavericks’ interior defenses on and off the dribble. Brown got to the line, scored in transition and ripped up the baseline for a dunk.

On the Mavericks’ side, Dončić’s mid and long-range jumper produced four baskets. Derrick Jones Jr. provided seven points in the frame, cutting back door, beating the Celtics in transition and finishing the lob, set up by Dončić’ up top. The rest of the guests recorded three of 12 shots in the interval.

At halftime, the Celtics led 54-51, were up on the glass by two, and had two fewer turnovers while making 20% of hoisted 3-pointers. Furthermore, the group had 26 paint points, six on the break, two via second chances, 11 off turnovers and 12 from the bench.

The Mavericks had 26 interior marks, five in the open court, 10 on extra tries, 10 off turnovers and four from the reserves. The Mavericks missed six freebies in the first half.

In act three, Dončić lost the ball three times but tallied six points, firing from mid and long-range and setting up four teammates for six assists. Yet, Irving misfired on all three attempts because Tatum, White and Porziņģis contested his shot on time.

The hosts responded with efficient spurts from Tatum, Brown and Holiday, totaling eight of 14 baskets on drive-bys and one triple.

The fourth quarter started with the Celtics ahead 83-74.

The Celtics opened the period making seven of 15 shots. Yet in the last three-and-a-half minutes, the Mavericks sprayed nine unanswered points- Jones’ rim roll plus two freebies, Washington’s free throws and Dončić’s and-one around Horford- to cut the home lead to five points. But that was as far as they went.

In the last minute, Tatum dribbled to the cup but was rejected by Jones, with the rebound going to P.J. Washington, who took off on the break. Then White blocked Washington’s shot with 50 seconds left, two feet from the rim. Brown’s left-handed finish through the lane with Kleber on his back hip closed the curtains.

The Celtics won 105-98, snatched two more rebounds and committed five fewer turnovers. On top of that, the crew had 46 paint points, 15 on the break, 10 via second chances, 21 off turnovers and 17 from the bench.

Holiday had 26 points on eight of 14 looks, with 11 rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. Brown totaled 21 points on 53% shooting, with four rebounds, seven assists, three steals and six turnovers. The other double-digit scorers were Tatum (18), White (18) and Porziņģis (12).

The Mavericks had 54 interior marks, seven in the open court, 13 on extra tries, 12 off turnovers and nine from the reserves. The Mavericks missed eight free throws in Game 2.

Dončić logged 32 points, making 57.1% of attempts, with 11 rebounds, 11 assists, four steals and eight turnovers. Washington had 17 marks on six of 13 shots, with seven rebounds, one assist, one block and a turnover. The other double-digit scorers were Irving (16), Gafford (13) and Jones (11).

At the postgame presser, Brown spoke on Holiday’s impact. He said, “Jrue [Holiday] has been an example of excellence…He’s just a hell of a player, hell of a person, great teammate, and I credit the victory to him tonight.”

Holiday said, “I’m a utility guy. I’ll do whatever.”

On the losing side, Dončić said his turnovers and missed free throws (4) cost the Mavericks the game.