Tag:George Hill
Posted on: January 31, 2012 11:33 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 11:37 pm
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Pacers' Hill suffers 'chip fracture' in ankle

By Matt Moore


Pacers guard George Hill suffered a chip fracture in his ankle Tuesday night against the New Jersey Nets, the team announced following the game. He is listed as out indefinitely.

The injury occurred in the third quarter Tuesday night when George shot a pull-up jumper from inside the key and Nets center Johan Petro undercut him coming down.  

Hill has had an up and down season for the Pacers, and hasn't kept up with the level of production he showed in San Antonio. Still, it's a loss of a veteran to help calm the Pacers' waters with fidgety Darren Collison alternating between brilliant and confusing. The Pacers will have to turn to terribly inconsistent Lance Stephenson with some spot minutes from A.J. Price to fill in the gap, but at least Paul George is having an incredible season. 

We'll keep you updated on Hill's prognosis and estimated recovery time.
Posted on: January 21, 2012 4:24 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2012 4:27 pm
 

NBA admits refs blew crucial kick ball no-call

Posted by Ben Golliver 

Everyone saw it happen except the three guys in the striped shirts, and now the NBA has admitted that its referees blew a crucial kick ball no-call that helped decide a Friday night game between the Indiana Pacers and the Golden State Warriors.

With less than 10 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of a tied game, Warriors guard Monta Ellis attempted a cross over move on Pacers guard George Hill outside the 3-point arc. Ellis' right-to-left dribble move resulted in the ball bouncing off Hill's right foot, which was raised off the ground. The ball ricocheted into Hill's arms and he took off the other direction, finishing a lay-up while being fouled by Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who tried in vain to foul him to prevent the lay-up. Hill made his free throw, Curry missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer and the Pacers escaped with a 94-91 road victory at Oracle Arena.

The NBA announced on Saturday that the refereeing crew of Mike Callahan, Courtney Kirkland and Tony Brown should have whistled Hill for a kick ball violation, which would have returned possession to the Warriors with the score tied and roughly five seconds remaining on the clock. 

Here's the league's official explanation. 
With 5.4 seconds remaining in the Indiana-Golden State game on Jan. 20, Pacers guard George Hill intentionally kicked the ball away from Warriors guard Monta Ellis during his cross over dribble. According to rule no. 10, Section IV.b, kicking the ball or striking it with any part of the leg is a violation when it is an intentional act. The officials missed the kicked ball violation which should have resulted in a deadball situation and Golden State inbounding the ball on the sideline nearest the spot of the violation.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson and his team were furious, and he vigorously argued the call with officials after the ensuing play.

With the win, the Pacers improved to 10-4. The Warriors fell to 5-10.

The NBA also recently admitted that their referees blew a late no-call on a traveling violation by Miami Heat All-Star forward LeBron James.

Here's vide of the obvious blown call via YouTube user NBA.



Hat tip: IAmAGM.com
Posted on: August 29, 2011 12:44 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 12:50 pm
 

Players advised to keep money trouble talk down

Posted by Royce Young



With a vital meeting taking place soon between the owners and players, the NBA's labor situation is about to get tense. Not just tense in terms of actual negotiating. It's already there and has been there for months.

But in terms of public relations, that battle's just about to get started. Nobody looks good in a lockout to fans, media and casual onlookers. It's billonaires and millionaires arguing over who gets what. We don't care. We just want the game to be played. But keeping the public on your side is pretty critical because if you have them, it puts a lot more pressure on the other side. A valuable negotiating tool.
And the players union is looking to stay on top of this. Kind of remarkable really that nothing has come out to make the players look all that bad, especially when you consider all the Twitter accounts littered throughout the league. At least one slip-up surely will happen, right?

“It was a huge emphasis,” Derek Fisher told the New York Times. “The reality is, we’re in a great position, where guys have worked to put themselves in this place where they can potentially earn millions of dollars.”

One thing the players' union has done, via the New York Times, is distribute a handy lockout handbook. Included in that: Don't go around telling people how poor you are now.
At Fisher’s direction, the union last fall distributed a 56-page lockout handbook to its 400-plus players. Tucked between tabs on “budgeting” and “player services” is a section devoted to “media,” with talking points on everything from the N.B.A.’s financial losses (“vastly overstated”) to franchise values (“Warriors just sold for $450M”).

But the key point, perhaps, is this simple reminder: “Please be sensitive about interviews or other media displays of a luxurious lifestyle.”

As the Times' story mentions, back during the 1998 lockout, this was kind of an issue.
On the first day of that lockout, the union president Patrick Ewing declared that players were “fighting for our rights” — a modest overstatement that invited ridicule and presaged the public-relations nightmare to come.

In October, Kenny Anderson, a star guard with a $49 million contract, laid out his finances for The New York Times. Among his expenses: $75,000 for insurance and maintenance on his eight cars. Anderson joked that he might have to sell one.

“You know, just get rid of the Mercedes,” he said.

The low point for players came two months later, when agents organized a charity game, with some of the proceeds earmarked for out-of-work players. As Ewing explained then, professional athletes “make a lot of money, but they also spend a lot of money.”

Whatever sympathy the players might have enjoyed surely vanished with those 13 words. The statement stands among the biggest gaffes in sports labor history.

We all know how much players make. It's right there on the Internet in about 20 different places if you want to see how much Samuel Dalembert made last year. And even players on the low end -- guys with the veteran minimum -- still probably make a lot more money than you and I. It's a fortunate life and because of it, can afford to spend a lot of it on cars, houses, boats, parties and whatever else.

But Fisher and the union and taking a smart step because they know that we don't care. We don't care if a player had to get a 2011 Maybach instead of a 2012. We don't care if he had to buy a cheaper bottle of champagne at dinner. We don't care if instead of vacationing in Rome, he had to go to Mexico. When real people are out of real jobs trying to feed families, it's kind of hard to have any sympathy for a millionaire that's trying to "rough" it right now.

Not to say some players have already went into that territory. Dwyane Wade joked on Twitter "Any1 hiring" the day after the lockout started. George Hill pondered if he could file for unemployment. As the Times mentions, Landry Fields joked about going "dutch" with his date during dinner and Anthony Tolliver tweeted about shopping wisely at the mall. Delonte West on the other hand, appears to actually be applying for jobs.

And it's no secret why players are signing up to play overseas: money. They want to maintain that bank account. That's how the owners are trying to hurt them by altering their otherwise lavish lifestyles.

Joking on Twitter about being unemployed is almost crossing a boundary. Hill's tweet about filing for unemployment definitely irked some people. But it's not quite the issue the players had in 1998. Just think if there was Twitter then. Would've taken a whole lot more than a handbook.

Here's a pro tip though: You want to win this PR battle? Come to an agreement and play ball. We'll definitely be on your side then.

Posted on: July 9, 2011 3:43 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2011 1:39 pm
 

What teams risk in a lockout: Central Division

A look at what is at stake for the NBA's Central Division if a whole season was lost due to the lockout. Posted by Ben Golliver.

derrick-rose-dunk

Talk of losing an entire NBA season is a bit ridiculous. But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect each and every NBA franchise.

Earlier this week, we took a look at the Southeast Division and the Atlantic Division. Let's continue this series with the Central Division.  

CHICAGO Bulls


The Bulls won the Central by a preposterous margin in 2010-2011, stacking up a league-high 62 wins and burying their division mates by a ridiculous 25 games, by far the biggest margin of any division winner. Nothing has happened yet this offseason which suggests next year's results will be any different. Even if the Milwaukee Bucks return to full health or the Indiana Pacers make a key free agent addition or the Detroit Pistons finally emerge from their slog or the Cleveland Cavaliers successfully start the Kyrie Irving era, the only thing stopping the Bulls from running away from the competition again is an injury to Derrick Rose. The Bulls are, by far, the most talented and deepest team in the division. They have the reigning MVP, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year. They're poised to be championship title contenders for the next five years.

With so much going for them, the Bulls clearly have the most to lose in a lockout. If a season is lost, that's a title chase that evaporates. Perhaps most important, the Bulls would lose that visceral desire for redemption that comes with the ugly end to their season. It was a disappointing, frustrating loss to their new archrivals, the Miami Heat, in the Eastern Conference Finals. The pain of that loss subsides with time. It's ability to serve as unifying inspiration will fade too. The Bulls want revenge and they want rings. The pieces are in place. Besides aging teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, who face the possibility of their championship window closing, the Bulls don't want to sit around and wait. They created some amazing chemistry last season, built strong trust bonds. Losing a season risks all of that.

INDIANA PACERS

The upstart Pacers are up to something: they finally committed to Frank Vogel as their coach, they brought on former Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard to serve as Director of Player Personnel, they made a solid draft day trade to acquire point guard George Hill and they sit on a mound of cap space ready to make a splash in free agency. The Pacers risk two things if a season is lost. First, a critical development year to see how their young pieces are able to gel together. Second, A feeling of certainty in terms of team expectations.

Indiana has assembled some nice, young talent: Roy Hibbert, Darren Collison, Paul George, Tyler Hansbrough and Hill are all 25 or younger. Depending on how they use their cap space and whether they decide to move Danny Granger, that has all the makings of a promising core that could reliably make playoff runs for the foreseeable future. But the group needs time to spend together, reps to get things right and an evaluation period to see whether all four belong long-term. They look great on paper but more data -- playing together -- is needed. A lost season risks that and potentially stalls the development of those younger guys.

The real risk is free agency. Indiana has just $36 million committed in salary next season, meaning they have one of the smallest payrolls in the league. They also have an expiring contract in James Posey to move and potentially could move Granter if they were looking to make a major splash. Their combination of flexibility and talent on-hand is near the tops in the league when it comes to rebuilding teams. A delayed season pushes that promise back and while teams with space are definitely sitting in a better position than teams without space, it's unclear what additional rules might be in place that inhibit free agent movement. If you're the Pacers you'd prefer to be able to chase a guy like David West now without any messy collective bargaining negotiations getting in the way. Put simply, the Pacers are a team on the rise, but a lot has to go right for young teams to reach their potential. Even minor things can throw a team off course. The less variables, the better. Unfortunately, the CBA is a major, major variable.

MILWAUKEE BUCKS

lockoutThis team is just confusing. The Stephen Jackson trade made a bit of sense, given that the Bucks needed a serviceable alternative to Brandon Jennings at point guard and got one in Beno Udrih, but this group isn't going anywhere meaningful, not even if Jennings and center Andrew Bogut are fully healthy. 

About the only thing lost in a lockout for the Bucks is another year for Jennings to bloom. His sophomore years was sidetracked by injuries and poor outside shooting, and he questioned his teammates' desire to win at the end of the regular season. Other than Jennings, Larry Sanders and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute could use more developmental minutes but the rest of the roster is essentially veterans who have reached their potential. 

From a cynical standpoint, Bucks ownership could be cheering a lost season because it would mean cash savings on ugly deals for Jackson and big man Drew Gooden. Is it worth saving the combined $15 million that will go to Jackson and Gooden in 2011-2012 to lose a year of floor leadership training for Jennings? 

DETROIT PISTONS

The Pistons are another confounding mess, but at least it feels like they've turned a corner thanks to the sale of the team, the departure of reviled coach John Kuester and the drafting of point guard Brandon Knight and wing Kyle Singler. Last year was one, long, ugly grind. 2011-2012 figures to be a step in the right direction.

Knight slipped out of the top five of the 2011 NBA Draft because of questions about his position. Is he a pure point guard? Can he run an NBA offense? Will he be able to execute something besides the pick-and-roll game? His future is incredibly bright but as a one-and-done player he absolutely needs as much playing time as possible to get a feel for the NBA style and to get comfortable with the ball in his hands and a team of professionals that look to him first. There's no other way to learn the point guard position than by on-the-job training, and recent success stories like Rose and Russell Westbrook only reinforce that idea. A year away from the game at this stage would be a critical loss for Knight and the Pistons, and that's a major risk.

The same is true, to a lesser degree, for big man Greg Monroe, who came on strong in the second half of his rookie season and appears to be a potential core piece going forward. 2011-2012 is all about letting Knight and Monroe build up a chemistry together 

A lost season would certainly be welcomed by ownership here too because Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva all failed to live up to their big-dollar contract figures last season. Hamilton and Villanueva, in particular, seem like lost causes. Weighing the savings from these deals versus the lost development of Knight, the Pistons should probably be pretty close to indifferent when it comes to losing a season. They need work, they know they need work and the rebuild can only come as these big contracts get closer to their conclusion and become more tradeable. Still, it would seem to be better to continue that journey with Knight getting more familiar and comfortable day-by-day, month-by-month than it would having him workout solo in a gym somewhere. If you've committed to a rebuild, start it immediately.
 
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Last but not least, we have the Cavaliers, the NBA's second-worst team from last season, who endured an embarrasing 26 game losing streak to set an NBA record for consecutive futility. There's significant light at the end of the tunnel for the Cavaliers, as they have an owner committed to spending money to win, the 2011 NBA Draft's No. 1 overall pick, Kyrie Irving, and Tristan Thompson, who was taken No. 4 overall. 

Cleveland is in much the same position as the Pistons: the biggest risk from losing a season is the lost reps that Irving won't get running the show. There are always some bumps and bruises for a young point guard transitioning from college to the NBA, and the potential for struggles is even more pronounced in Irving's case because he missed much of last season, his freshman year at Duke University, with a foot injury. Time away from the game is not good. The shorter, the better. Irving was clearly the most NBA-ready point guard in this year's draft crop and the Cavaliers would be smart to turn the keys over to him from Day 1, even with veterans Baron Davis, Daniel Gibson and Ramon Sessions on the roster as well. 

That raises a secondary risk of the lockout season for the Cavaliers: losing positional clarity. Cleveland clearly needs to move one, if not two, of their point guards to clear the deck for Irving and surround him with some solid complementary pieces. A lost season just delays that process. Saving the money from Davis' contract is tempting, but it's a non-factor for owner Dan Gilbert who would just as soon pay that tax to watch his young team start the rebuild. Along those same lines, an entire season lost could mean the Cavaliers aren't able to move Antawn Jamison's $15 million expiring contract, a nice trade asset that could potentially bring a rotation player in return.

Posted on: June 23, 2011 9:07 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 1:02 am
 

Report: Spurs trade George Hill for Kawhi Leonard

Posted by Matt Moore

Update 12:45 a.m.: Terms of the deal announced also include the rights to Davis Bertans, the 42nd pick, and the rights to a pick from 2005 unlikely to ever head to the NBA, both headed to the Spurs. The Spurs essentially received two draft picks and a foreign prospect for George Hill. Not bad. 

Original report:

CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman reports that the Spurs have acquired the 15th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Kawhi Leonard, for George Hill.

The Spurs had been actively trying to trade into the lottery, and wound up with a lottery-quality pick without even needing it to be in the lottery. Leonard is an athletic three that allows them to move Richard Jefferson for quarters on the dollar, and reload with an athletic forward who can rebound, score, and defend and who is ready to contribute now. He's got polish, ability, and resolve. He was underrated coming into the season, underrated coming into the draft, and fell all the way to the Pacers at 15. 

The Pacers get a legit combo guard to play the two in George Hill. Brandon Rush has not shown that he can play consistently at that spot. Paul George can operate at the small forward position, and provide defense in relief of Danny Granger, who is also rumored to be on the trade block. Hill can handle point guard duties if called on (though with Darren Collison and A.J. Price the Pacers aren't hurting for that) and will get to focus on offense for once after being asked to do supplementary things in San Antonio. 

Once again, the Spurs come out looking shrewd and in command. Leonard's a great pick-up for a great price, but you have to think the Spurs will go guard later in the draft to replace their depth. 


Posted on: June 22, 2011 9:07 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 9:08 pm
 

George Hill being shopped?

Posted by Royce Young

Nevermind that Spurs general manager R.C. Buford just said they aren't shopping any players around, only "answering calls." Well, I guess he's answered a few regarding George Hill recently.

According to Draft Express, Hill is being shopped around for a late lottery pick to Milwaukee (10), Golden State (11) and Utah (12). All three teams likely would have interest, but the intriguing part is that supposedly, the Spurs are also dangling Tony Parker out for a high lottery pick. If either were to be moved, the one that remained would definitely become the starter. In Parker's case, he'd remain obviously.

It has always made some sense for San Antonio to try and move Hill along, seeing as he's probably too good of a backup to Parker. You have a top tier point man in Parker and a backup in Hill that would be starting for most teams. Understandable that the Spurs would finally look to move Hill and get as much value as they can.

A lot of teams are talking though right now and just because this rumor got floated out doesn't mean something is happening. But you already know that. At some point I'd imagine the Spurs would either part ways with Hill or make him the starter, but that doesn't mean now. Hill has a ton of value and somewhere in the late lottery makes sense for him.

However, with it being a seemingly weak draft, you'd wonder if that makes the Spurs balk a bit. They obviously have their eye on a player -- some think that's Donetas Montiejunas -- and I'm sure the Spurs are trying to target exactly where and what it's going to take to get him. Whether it's Parker or Hill, they're at least shopping.

Er, I mean, listening.
Posted on: April 30, 2011 3:12 am
 

San Antonio Spurs: The end of an empire

The Spurs were ousted in the first round and everyone's begun the funeral song. But why does this feel so different than previous Spurs failures? 
Posted by Matt Moore




Maybe they'll come back. After all, they did win the most games in the West this season. They still feature three Hall of Famer players and a Hall of Fame coach. Maybe it was just lightning striking four times out of six in the same place. Maybe it was just Manu's elbow, or Duncan's knee, or fate or the Basketball Gods, or whatever. 

But it doesn't feel like it. 

There will be many, many eulogies for the Duncan-era Spurs in light of the Grizzlies' stunning first-round series win over San Antonio. Spurs fans will balk and guffaw at these claims, because heroes never die to their fans, or because they've already accepted that the championship-era Spurs are over. They'll point to the fact that the Spurs haven't won a title since 2007 as reasons why all this talk of the end of an empire is silly and overdramatic. But that's because they're in it. They're living it, every day, reliving series against the Lakers and Mavericks and Suns while approaching each season with faith. It's different for those of us outside of the palace walls, because this series respresented something different. It wasn't that the Spurs lost. Most expected that in these playoffs. It was the realization they couldn't win. 

The Spurs have lost in previous years but because the other teams had matchup advantages or a few things fell their way or the Spurs couldn't make the necessary adjustments. The losses didn't serve as judgment on the identity of the Spurs. To put it simply, the Spurs failed to win a championship because of other teams' ability to beat them, not fundamental flaws in the city walls that held the kingdom.  This loss?  To an upstart eighth seed without its highest paid player who tanked to play them, then took them out in the first game on their home floor and closed at every opportunity? Yes, the Grizzlies were better, and yes, they had matchup advantages. But there were moments where you expected the Spurs to do what the Spurs do and for that to be the difference. It wasn't. 

Tony Parker struggled with Mike Conley attaching his dribble. Manu Ginobili suffered when the Grizzlies responded to Ginobili's quickness by backing him down in the post. And Tim Duncan just plain struggled. The greatest power forward of all time found himself overwhelmed by a 26-year-old quick-footed center who is most commonly known as "Pau's little brother." Marc Gasol is a really great player, a future star in this league, maybe one now, after this series. But the Duncan that defined those teams would have tore him to pieces from mid-range with the bank-shot-straight-up. The Manu Ginobili who defined the mid-oo's run for the Spurs would have called timeout to reset the offense with the final possession of Game 3. The Tony Parker who won Finals MVP would not have had his play so thoroughly undercut by an attack on his handle. 

But beyond the Big 3? The Spurs of old would never have relied on the 3-pointer this way, would never have had to cover for a gigantic flaming neon defensive red target like Matt Bonner just to space the floor, would never have had to rely on Gary Neal and George Hill's mid-range jumpers to fall. They would have fallen back on clutch plays and defense, always defense. The Spurs' empire isn't over because their players got old, that's been happening for a long time and in reality, the team is pretty young. The Spurs' empire is crumbling because what made them the team you couldn't count out, now has become the very thing that makes you not that shocked at this shocker. A mediocre defensive club falls to a better one, a team that relies on an aging Tim Duncan is toppled by younger, more spritely bigs, the squad that allows Matt Bonner on the floor defensively is beset by easy scores and foul trouble when Matt Bonner can't contain his man in the post. There's nothing shocking here, not if you've been paying attention.

Afterwards, Gregg Popovich was his usual self. Congratulatory to Memphis, classy in defeat, dismissive of dramatics like the question of the end of the Spurs' run. If they go out, they go out on their own terms. The franchise that defined class, humilty, and above all, excellence, would not go out in a pitiful blow-up of egos or blame. They simply hugged their worthy opponent, packed their things, and headed home. 

Spurs fans may have already come to terms with the end of an era, or rationalized that there will be no end, only a transition. But for the rest of us, the Grizzlies' shock of the world serves as a reminder of the mortality of dynasties. It's not just that the Spurs lost a first-round series to an 8th seed. They lost to a team more willing to grind, more willing to defend, more able to close. What is it about these Spurs that make them seem so far removed from what defined those great, inevitable Spurs teams? Just think back to what we saw from the upstarts, the team that simply wanted it more. That's what means the empire has reached its end. 
Posted on: April 30, 2011 2:22 am
 

Grizzlies defeat Spurs: Grading the series

Memphis Grizzlies do the unbelievable, knock off the 1 Seed Spurs in Game 6. Here are grades for the series. 
Posted by Matt Moore




Memphis Grizzlies:
Zach Randolph: Sometimes your guy is just better than the other guys' guy. Zach Randolph has been the model of consistency his entire career in terms of statistical production. But never has the change he underwent when he became part of Memphis been on showcase like it was in Game 6. 17 fourth-quarter points, and clutch basket after clutch basket. His decision making has been phenomenally better in terms of understanding when to take his man off the dribble or in the post and when to reset or repost. He was simply unstoppable when the Grizzlies needed him most. The toughest shots in the biggest moments. That's what you rely on your guy for. And when Memphis needed a hero, it was Zach Randolph who stepped up. 

Grade: A+

Lionel Hollins: Hollins is the ultimate players' coach. He's a guy who's been there, who's tried to get that contract you need so badly, who's tried to fight through adversity in the face of perception, who's dealt with the media's criticism. When he says he knows what they're going through, they can believe him. But Hollins showed in the first-round a stunning understanding of adjustments, counter-adjustments, and rotations. He managed to play Tony Allen in spots and lineups where he could be effective without trying to do too much. He consistently relied on post-play from his two strongest players. He helped turn Mike Conley into a wash vs. Parker. He did things like say "Okay, Manu Ginobili, you're going to do your crazy Euro-step stuff and blow past Shane Battier? That's fine. We're going to post you and see how you like life in the block." He also constantly attacked Matt Bonner as the defensive weakpoint, exposing the soft underbelly of the team's inside play. Hollins out-coached Gregg Popovich. Who saw that coming? Oh, yeah, and a game after they fell in the most gut-wrenching way possible, his team responded in the biggest game in franchise history with confidence and swagger. 

Grade: A+

Mike Conley: Conley was limited by foul trouble in Game 6 and never got in a rhythm. That does not take away from the unbelievable work he did on Parker throughout this series. Conley, who couldn't hang with Parker's penetration, instead attacked his dribble, forcing turnovers. Conley rarely forced his offense too much and trusted his teammates. He was the perfect cog and showed why Chris Wallace looks like a genius all of a sudden for giving him that extension.

Grade: B

Tony Allen: The "Tony Allen ISO Project" is a house band that starts to play when Allen gets the ball on the perimeter, as Allen believes he can create off the dribble. And it often results in terrible shots and wasted possessions. But without that desperate hero-play, you wouldn't get what makes it all worth it, his stellar defense. Allen is the most active defender in the league, and the pressure he applied on the Spurs' passing lanes was a huge part in creating the turnovers the Grizzlies capitalized on in this series. He fell for Manu's pump-fake time and time again, and still made his presence felt.

Grade: B

Bench: Darrell Arthur, Greivis Vasquez, Shane Battier, O.J. Mayo. Where did these guys come from? The bench stepped up in a big way for Memphis and what was their weakest element has become strong. Arthur in particular made a huge difference in this series. 

Grade: A-

Memphis, TN: Once again showing that if you give small-market fans a chance, they'll respond like nothing in sports. 

Grade: A

San Antonio Spurs

Gregg Popovich: Relying on Matt Bonner. Trusting Richard Jefferson early. Not bringing enough help on Marc Gasol or Zach Randolph. Failing to attack players in foul trouble. Seriously, letting Matt Bonner on the floor actually happened a lot. Gregg Poppovich is one of the greatest coaches in NBA history. But he was out-coached in this series. He was partially unable to adjust because of the roster he and R.C. Buford helped put together, but he also couldn't get back to the kind of defense that won them four championships. He was just another coach with a great offense undone by better defense. 

Grade: D

Manu Ginobili: Ginobili hit some good luck shots. He made some big plays. But he didn't have the extra gear he needed, and when it came down to it, twice in four games he made crucial poor decisions which ended his team's comeback chances. His lack of poise in calling a timeout in Game 3 and a panicked cross-court jump-pass turnover in Game 6 sealed Memphis' fate. Whether his elbow injury was legitimate or not, Ginobili was not the Manu of old. Had he been, the Spurs may not be headed home.

Grade: C+

Matt Bonner:  If you have a player on the floor who the offense specifically attacks on nearly every possession and nearly every possession results in either points or a desperation foul to avoid points? Maybe, just maybe, that guy's offense isn't worth keeping him on the floor. Matt Bonner is used to wide-open catch-and-shoot 3-pointers. Instead the Grizzlies constantly ran him off and disrupted the passing lanes to interupt the pass and catch. Then on defense, the Grizzlies posted Bonner every time. Bonner is too much of a defensive liability to remain on the floor. Darrel Arthur's athletic plays? Bonner'd. Arthur's mid-range jumpers? Bonner'd. Randolph with easy slip-ins? Bonner'd. Marc Gasol drawing foul after foul to put Memphis in the bonus early? Bonner'd. The Spurs Bonner'd themselves. The Spurs used to rely on veteran tough guys like Michael Finley, Bruce Bowen, and Robert Horry. Now they rely on Matt Bonner. 

Grade: D

Gary Neal: Showed a lot of promise and huge onions as a rookie, including a game-saving 3 to force it to a sixth game. Neal showed an impressive poise and clutch shooting the Spurs lacked. 

Grade: B

Antonio McDyess: Injured. Overmatched. Desperate. Antonio McDyess kept fighting. The saddest part of the fall of the Spurs is this classy, reliable veteran won't get the ring he's worked so hard for. He did everything he could against Randolph. There wasn't anything anyone could do. 

Grade: A-

Tim Duncan: Let's just ignore what happened so we don't have to deal with our own mortality, shall we?

Grade: Incomplete
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com