The Washington Wizards gave interim head coach Brian Keefe the permanent job on Wednesday.

“We are excited for Brian to become our next head coach. Brian is a proven motivator and connector of people,” Wizards general manager Will Dawkins said.

“As a leader in the organisation, he will continue to positively grow and invest into the development of our players.

“His wealth of experience will help move our team forward as we build for long-term sustained success.”

Keefe was promoted to head coach on January 25 after Wes Unseld Jr. left the sidelines and moved into a front office advisory role.

Washington was 7-36 at the time and went 8-31 under Keefe to finish with the second-worst record in the NBA at 15-67.

The Wizards own the No. 2 overall selection in June’s NBA Draft.

Tyronn Lue is staying with the Los Angeles Clippers after agreeing to a new long-term contract, the team announced Wednesday. 

Terms of the agreement are not yet known, though ESPN reports Lue's new deal will make him among the NBA's highest-paid coaches.

Lue, who has compiled a 184-134 record in four seasons with the Clippers, was rumoured to be a candidate for the head coaching vacancy of Los Angeles' other franchise, the Lakers. That speculated scenario would have reunited the 47-year-old with LeBron James, whom Lue previously coached during a successful run with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers' lone NBA championship came during the 2015-16 season, when Lue replaced David Blatt at mid-season and guided a team anchored by James and Kyrie Irving past the Golden State Warriors in seven games in a memorable NBA Finals.

Lue also found immediate success after replacing Doc Rivers with the Clippers prior to the 2020-21 season, as the team reached the Western Conference finals before bowing out to the Phoenix Suns in six games.

The Clippers have not won a play-off series in Lue's subsequent three seasons, though they finished fourth in the West with a 51-31 record in 2023-24. The Clippers were defeated in six games in the opening round by the Dallas Mavericks, who later advanced to the conference finals and currently own a 3-1 lead on the Minnesota Timberwolves in that series.

Lue is 312-217 during the regular season and 54-37 in play-off games over eight overall seasons as a head coach. The former NBA point guard also helped the Cavaliers reach the NBA Finals in 2017 and 2018, when they lost to the Warriors both times.

Cleveland fired Lue following an 0-6 start to the 2018-19 season, the team's first after James left the Cavaliers for a second time to sign with the Lakers.

With Lue now under contract, the Clippers can now turn their attention towards attempting to keep their star core of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and James Harden together. Harden is a free agent this offseason and George could become one by declining his $48.8 million player option, which he's widely expected to do. 

Anthony Edwards credited Karl-Anthony Towns after he halted his slump to keep the Minnesota Timberwolves alive in their Western Conference finals series against the Dallas Mavericks.

Towns scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half as Minnesota held off a late Dallas rally for a 105-100 road win, forcing a Game 5 in Minneapolis on Thursday.

That came after a difficult start to the series for the four-time All-Star, with coach Chris Finch saying it was "hard to watch" his struggles in Game 3.

Towns shot just 27.8 per cent in the series' first three games, but was 9 of 13 from the floor and made 4 of 5 from 3-point range on Tuesday.

Edwards, who narrowly missed out on a triple-double with 29 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, said Towns was the primary reason the Timberwolves retained hope of an NBA Finals berth. 

"Everything came together for him; he was super confident," Edwards said of Towns. 

"He played exceptionally well, and he came through big-time. He was the reason we won tonight."

Finch echoed Edwards' praise, saying: "KAT's a great player. His struggles were not going to last forever. He got himself going. 

"Even when he got deep in foul trouble, we left him out there, just let him roll, and he played smart, played under control, rebounded really well for us, executed defensively. We're really proud of him. Tonight was a great step for him."

While it was Towns' efforts that gave Minnesota a lead to defend, it was Edwards who made certain of the victory with a mid-range jumper after the Mavs pulled within three points just over a minute before the buzzer. 

Towns, who fouled out with one minute and 38 seconds on the clock, said of his team-mate's game-sealing shot: "I was on the bench and had a front-row seat. I feel like he was visualising that make and he got to exactly the spot he wanted to.

"I'm honoured to be playing with my brother here, seeing him every day put the work in, and I knew when he got to that shot it was a high likelihood he was going to make that."

Anthony Edwards just missed a triple-double, Karl-Anthony Towns scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half and the Minnesota Timberwolves held on to beat the Dallas Mavericks 105-100 on Tuesday to avoid being swept in the Western Conference finals.

Facing a 3-0 series deficit on the road, the Wolves conjured their best defensive game of the series to force a Game 5 on Thursday night in Minneapolis.

Dallas' Luka Doncic finished with 28 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists but was held to 7-for-21 shooting. Kyrie Irving shot 6 of 18 from the field to finish with 16 points.

"That game's on me. Just didn't give enough energy," Doncic told reporters after the game. "They won one game. We've just got to focus on the next one."

Towns, who shot 27.8 per cent in the series' first three games, was 9 of 13 from the floor and made 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Despite his redemptive performance on offense, Towns fouled out with 1:38 remaining after falling for a Doncic pump fake at the 3-point line.

Edwards was assertive from the opening tip, scoring 14 points in the first quarter, and finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

The Mavs pulled to within 100-97 with just over a minute remaining before Edwards hit a mid-range jumper to extend the Minnesota lead. On Dallas' following possession, Kyle Anderson stole the ball from Irving to extinguish the threat.

The Mavericks played without standout rookie center Dereck Lively II due to a neck sprain after taking a rough fall in Game 3.

No team has ever come back from a 3-0 series lead, but the Wolves will hope to keep the pressure on Dallas in Game 5.

 

Anthony Edwards just missed a triple-double, Karl-Anthony Towns scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half and the Minnesota Timberwolves held on to beat the Dallas Mavericks 105-100 on Tuesday to avoid being swept in the Western Conference finals.

Facing a 3-0 series deficit on the road, the Wolves conjured their best defensive game of the series to force a Game 5 on Thursday night in Minneapolis.

Dallas’ Luka Dončić finished with 28 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists but was held to 7-for-21 shooting. Kyrie Irving shot 6 of 18 from the field to finish with 16 points.

“That game's on me. Just didn't give enough energy,” Dončić told reporters after the game. “They won one game. We've just got to focus on the next one.”

Towns, who shot 27.8 percent in the series’ first three games, was 9 of 13 from the floor and made 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Despite his redemptive performance on offence, Towns fouled out with 1:38 remaining after falling for a Dončić pump fake at the 3-point line.

Edwards was assertive from the opening tip, scoring 14 points in the first quarter, and finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

The Mavs pulled to within 100-97 with just over a minute remaining before Edwards hit a mid-range jumper to extend the Minnesota lead. On Dallas’ following possession, Kyle Anderson stole the ball from Irving to extinguish the threat.

The Mavericks played without standout rookie center Dereck Lively II due to a neck sprain after taking a rough fall in Game 3.

No team has ever come back from a 3-0 series lead, but the Wolves will hope to keep the pressure on Dallas in Game 5.

 

The Boston Celtics return to the NBA Finals as a different team to that beaten by the Golden State Warriors two years ago, says their Eastern Conference finals hero Jaylen Brown.

Brown won the Larry Bird Trophy as Eastern Conference finals MVP on Monday, having helped the top-seeded Celtics complete a 4-0 series sweep of the Indiana Pacers.

In Game 4, Brown sank 10 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics recovered from a nine-point deficit with under nine minutes left for a 105-102 victory.

The Celtics have reached the Eastern Conference finals six times in the last eight years but this is just the second time they have progressed to the NBA Finals in that run. They last did so in 2021-22, only to be beaten 4-2 by the Warriors.

Brown believes they have become a better team for that experience, however.

"We feel like we're a different team than we were last year and the year before that," Brown said. 

"I know everybody wants to continue to pigeonhole us with what was happening in the past but we've had a different team every single year, different coaches, we've had like three coaches in the last five years. 

"Still people want to make it seem like it's the same, it's the same, it's the same.

"Time has gone by, experience has been gained and I think we are ready to put our best foot forward."

Jayson Tatum supported Brown with 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists on Monday, while Jrue Holiday had 17 points and Derrick White tacked on 16.

"It's special," Tatum said. "Even though we've been there before, most of us have, you don't take it for granted. We were excited.

"It was a hell of a team we just played, they made us earn every single game and we're extremely grateful to move on to the Finals."

Derrick White's tie-breaking 3-pointer with 45 seconds left sent the Boston Celtics into the NBA Finals for the second time in three years with a 105-102 win over the Indiana Pacers in Monday's Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.

The top-seeded Celtics, who were ousted in seven games by the Miami Heat in last year's East finals, completed a sweep of this best-of-seven series by rallying from a nine-point deficit with under nine minutes left.

Jaylen Brown led Boston's comeback by scoring 10 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter and coming up with a key late block that preceded White's winning shot. The Celtics also received 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists from Jayson Tatum, as well as another strong performance from their backcourt duo of White and Jrue Holiday.

Holiday totalled 17 points and nine rebounds while White had 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting along with a game-high five steals.

The sixth-seeded Pacers were unable to extend the series while playing a second straight game without All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton, who injured his hamstring in Thursday's Game 2.

Andrew Nembhard led Indiana with 24 points and 10 assists, while Pascal Siakam posted 19 points and 10 rebounds.

The Celtics will face the winner of the Western Conference finals between the Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves, and will host Game 1 on Thursday, June 6. The Mavericks lead that series 3-0 and can advance at home in Tuesday's Game 4. 

A tightly contested game saw neither side lead by more than eight points until the Pacers put forth a 5-0 run, capped by Nembhard's 3-point play with 8:57 left to play, to take a 94-85 advantage.

Indiana led 98-90 with under six minutes to go before the Celtics began catching fire. After Brown hit two free throws and Tatum knocked down a 3-pointer, Holiday drove the lane and was fouled while getting a layup to go down following a made basket by Nembhard. Boston's veteran guard calmly hit the ensuing free throw to bring the Celtics within 100-98 with 3:54 left.

It remained a two-point game until Brown knocked down a floater with 2:40 left to tie the score at 102-102. Shortly thereafter, the All-Star forward rejected Nembhard in the lane as Boston's Al Horford grabbed the rebound with the contest headed towards the final minute of play.

Brown then found an open White in the right corner, and the valued guard drained a 23-footer to send the Celtics ahead.

Indiana had one final chance to force overtime, but Nembhard's 3-point try missed the mark and the Pacers failed to get another shot off. 

 

 

 

Basketball legend Bill Walton died Monday at the age of 71.

The NBA announced he passed away following a prolonged battle with cancer.

During a 10-year professional career, Walton won a pair of NBA titles and was named the 1977-78 league MVP. He was also included on the NBA's 50th anniversary and 75th anniversary teams.

He was the No. 1 overall pick of the 1974-75 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers following a brilliant collegiate career that saw him win a pair of national titles at UCLA and earn three national player of the year awards.

"Bill Walton was truly one of a kind," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

He helped redefine the centre position, but his career was cut short by foot injuries.

After averaging 17.1 points and 13.5 rebounds in his first four seasons with the Trail Blazers, he averaged 10.2 points and 8.1 boards in his final six seasons with the Clippers and Celtics.

He led Portland to the 1976-77 NBA title, while being named Finals MVP, and later won a championship with Boston in 1985-86.

He retired after playing just 10 games in the 1986-87 season, and was inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

Following his playing career, Walton became a star broadcaster for decades. He became known for his colourful broadcasting style, where he enthusiastically offered high praise and also blunt criticism.

"What I will remember most about him was his zest for life," Silver said. "He was a regular presence at league events – always upbeat, smiling ear to ear and looking to share his wisdom and warmth. "

 

Luka Doncic says Kyrie Irving was "born for the clutch situations" as the Dallas Mavericks produced another late show to deny the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Mavs, who overcame a late two-point deficit, prevailed 116-107 in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals series, becoming the first NBA side in history to take a 3-0 series lead despite trailing in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter in each game.

Dallas had the second-best clutch record (23-9) and best clutch offence (127.1 points per 100 possessions) during the regular season, and have continued that momentum into the playoffs.

Indeed, they also came from behind late on in Game 6 of their conference semi-final series victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Irving scored 14 points in the fourth quarter in Game 3, and now has 31 such points this series; the most by any player in this year's conference finals.

"Unbelievable. That's why some people call him Mr Fourth Quarter, right?" Doncic said of his team-mate. "Just amazing. He's born for these situations. He's born for the clutch situations, so we just get the ball to him."

"Down the stretch, that's where we make our money," Irving added. "I think we have that poise now, and we're just showcasing our skill sets out there that a lot of teams have to guard, the depth that we have. A lot of teams have to guard each one of us, and you got to pick your poison."

Irving and Doncic scored 33 points apiece to become the first starting backcourt to each register at least 30 points in three playoff games over the past 50 seasons.

"I feel like we're both born for this if you ask me, but it's just basketball. You've got to give the game what it needs at times," said Irving, who called for focus in his franchise's quest for a second NBA title.

"It doesn't mean anything if we don't win a ring together. Right now, I want to show a lot of respect to the guys that have come before us and have actually done it. And our time will come."

Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving each scored 33 points to send the Dallas Mavericks a win away from reaching the NBA Finals with Sunday's 116-107 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals. 

WIth its star guard tandem leading the way, the fifth-seeded Mavericks dominated the game's final five minutes to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Dallas can eliminate the third-seeded Timberwolves and earn its first trip to the Finals since 2011 when it hosts Game 4 on Tuesday.

No team in NBA history has come back to win a best-of-seven play-off series after losing the first three games.

That's the challenge now facing Minnesota, which clung to a 104-102 lead with five minutes left before the Mavericks seized control for good with a 14-1 run.

Anthony Edwards finished with 26 points for the Timberwolves, but just four of those came in the pivotal fourth quarter. Minnesota's other All-Star, Karl-Anthony Towns, was held scoreless in the final period after recording 14 points over the first three quarters.

Irving had 14 fourth-quarter points and six during the deciding spurt, which he began with a driving layup that tied the game at 104-104 with 4:35 left. P.J. Washington then sent Dallas ahead by knocking down a 3-pointer on its next possession, and the Mavericks held Minnesota without a field goal until Edwards scored the game's final points on a layup with 15.3 seconds left.

Dallas built a lead as large as 12 points in the first half and went into the break with a 60-52 advantage behind Doncic's 15 points and 14 from Irving. The Mavericks were up by 10 near the midway stage of the third quarter before Minnesota reversed momentum with an 13-1 run.

Edwards had eight straight points during the flurry, along with an assist on Naz Reid's layup that gave the Timberwolves a 79-77 edge with 3:54 left in the third. 

Three-point shooting also played a part in Dallas' victory, as the Mavs finished 14 of 28 from beyond the arc. The Timberwolves were 9 of 30 from 3-point range, with Towns missing all eight of his attempts. 

 

The Boston Celtics were indebted to Jrue Holiday after they moved one win away from reaching the NBA Finals with Saturday's victory against the Indiana Pacers.

Holiday converted a three-point play with 38 seconds remaining, then made a game-saving steal as the Celtics overcame an 18-point deficit to beat the Pacers 114-111 for a 3-0 Eastern Conference finals lead.

Indiana's Andrew Nembhard seemed set to claw the Pacers back into Game 3 late on, yet Holiday stepped across for a "trademark steal" to guide his side over the line.

"That's a trademark steal that he always gets with the inside hand," Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said of Holiday.

"He gets that a lot usually when a guy is coming down the sideline, but he got it in transition. He made a big-time play."

As Nembhard looked to cut inside the court, Holiday suggested he always knew what was coming.

"He's a right-hand driver," the Celtics hero said after the game, "and he'd been very, very aggressive all night."

Nembhard managed 32 points and nine assists but even that brilliance was not enough to outsmart one of NBA's best defensive players.

"I was trying to get a shot up," said Nembhard. "He got in front of me. I lost the ball, slipped. Turnover."

Jayson Tatum impressed for Boston with 36 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists and no turnovers in 44 minutes, yet he put all the focus on the match-winning Holiday.

"I mean, can't speak highly enough about Jrue," said Tatum. "The ultimate teammate competitor, obviously a champion, wasn't at shootaround today, he was sick.

"Dealing with chills and stuff like that. And we've all been there, how tough that is, to fight through it, and for him to come out there and lay it all on the line for us, make the game-winning play essentially, especially on the defensive end.

"Jrue is just a big-time player, and he made a tremendous play."

The Celtics can clinch their second NBA Finals appearance in three seasons with a win in Game 4 on Monday in Indianapolis.

Jrue Holiday converted a three-point play with 38 seconds remaining, then made a game-saving steal as the Boston Celtics overcame an 18-point deficit to beat the Indiana Pacers 114-111 for a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday night.

The Celtics can clinch their second NBA Finals appearance in three seasons with a win in Game 4 on Monday in Indianapolis.

Jayson Tatum matched his playoff career high with 36 points to go with 10 rebounds and eight assists. Jaylen Brown added 24 points and Al Horford had 23 points with seven 3-pointers to help Boston win its sixth straight playoff game and improve to 5-0 on the road.

Andrew Nembhard scored a career-high 32 points, but Holiday, who was questionable before the game due to an illness, stole the ball from him with 3.3 seconds remaining and Indiana down 112-111.

Indiana had a chance to tie the game but Aaron Nesmith's 3-pointer was off the mark. 

T.J. McConnell had 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists, while Myles Turner and Pascal Siakam added 22 points apiece for the Pacers, who played without All-NBA guard Tyrese Haliburton (left hamstring).

His presence was sorely missed as the Celtics closed the game on a 13-2 run to send Indiana to its first loss in seven postseason home games.

The teams combined to make six 3s in the fourth quarter, with Horford’s seventh of the night drawing Boston within 111-109 with 1:12 to play. Holiday then converted his 3-point play to give the Celtics their first lead since early in the second quarter.

The Indiana Pacers reportedly won't have star Tyrese Haliburton for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics on Saturday.

Haliburton exited in the third quarter of Thursday's 126-110 loss at Boston due to a left hamstring injury, and won't be able to play in the first game in Indianapolis, according to Shams Charania and Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

Thursday's defeat dropped the Pacers to 0-2 in the series.

Haliburton experienced pain in the same hamstring earlier this season, missing 10 games in January.

The two-time All-Star had 25 points, 10 assists and made six 3-pointers in 40 minutes in the series opener before playing only 28 minutes in Game 2. He had 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting and eight assists before departing.

With Haliburton out, the Pacers will likely again rely on Pascal Siakam for offence and need Andrew Nembhard and T.J. McConnell to step up.

 

 

 

 

Luka Doncic loves the big stage, and that's what makes him "special" to Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd.

Doncic again displayed his ability to perform in the biggest moments on Friday as he drained a 3-pointer over four-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to lead the Mavericks to a 109-108 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, one that leaves them 2-0 up in their Western Conference final.

The Mavericks came back from an 18-point deficit to tighten their grip on the series, with Doncic leading the way. The five-time All-Star ended the game with 32 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds, becoming just the fourth player in NBA history to manage four triple-doubles across a five-game postseason span.

Kidd hailed Doncic's game-winning impact, saying there was no other option but to try and get him the ball when deciding what play to run during the timeout with 13 seconds remaining

"As you've seen, he loves that stage," Kidd told reporters. "He doesn't run from it. He made a big shot. Luka is special. He loves those type of moments.

"The play was to get Luka the ball and let Luka do what he does in those moments."

Doncic believes the comeback, the Mavericks' third-biggest in their postseason history, was down to his team's mindset as he ruthlessly snatched the game away from the Timberwolves.

"Like I always say, stay together, positive energy," Doncic explained. "We believed until the end.

"I just saw some space and decided to shoot a 3. Get to my spot, step back. That's it."

Luka Dončić drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 3 seconds remaining and finished with a triple-double as the Dallas Mavericks rallied for a 109-108 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves and a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals on Friday night.

Doncic had 32 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds for his eighth triple-double in 42 career playoff games for the Mavericks, who erased a 16-point deficit midway through the third quarter.

After winning two on the road, the Mavericks look to take a commanding 3-0 lead as the series shifts to Dallas on Sunday night.

Naz Reid scored 23 points with seven 3-pointers, but his last shot at the buzzer rimmed out as the Timberwolves endured another off night from stars Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns. Edwards had 21 points on 5-of-17 shooting and Towns scored 15 on 4 of 16 from the field.

Jaden McDaniels, who had 20-plus points in each of Minnesota’s last three games, didn’t make a basket until midway through the third. He finished with two points on 1-of-6 shooting.

Kyrie Irving scored 13 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, including a 3 from the corner with 65 seconds left that drew Dallas within 108-106.

Minnesota committed two turnovers, the last one by Edwards, who recklessly threw the ball out of bounds off a drive with 13 seconds to go.

Doncic took the inbounds pass and dribbled to set up a screen for Dereck Lively II that triggered a switch by the Wolves. Rudy Gobert covered Doncic, but the Mavs superstar sank the 3 and then flexed his arms and yelled at the stunned crowd as his teammates mobbed him.

The Wolves pushed their lead to 68-52 on Mike Conley’s free throw with 9:07 left in the third quarter, but Dallas scored eight straight points and was within 79-77 on Irving’s basket with 1:22 to play in the quarter.

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