Popovich Named Coach of the Year; Hornacek 2nd

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Gregg PopovichNEW YORK – The San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich is the recipient of the Red Auerbach Trophy as the 2013-14 NBA Coach of the Year, the NBA announced today. Popovich’s Spurs posted the league’s best record at 62-20 (.756), which provides them with homecourt advantage throughout the postseason.

DraftStreet Fantasy Spin, April 22, 2014

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Click on this banner to sign up for DraftStreet’s two-day NBA playoff fantasy leagues

The difference between winning big and winning small in daily fantasy is painful to experience.

I won $9 last night in the $2 two-day league that I referenced in yesterday’s fantasy column, and I would have done better — maybe even earned the $300 first prize — if Harrison Barnes had made more of his garbage time in Golden State’s 40-point loss to the Clippers.

Barnes played 30 minutes — second on the team behind Stephen Curry’s 31 — but scored only eight points on a night when Mark Jackson emptied his bench early.

That lack of production left me with a final total of 251.75 points on a night when 275 would have meant some serious cheddar.

As it was, I finished 34th out of 1,100. Not bad.

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My big play in Monday-Tuesday leagues was an $11 wager, and I also put two entries into $2 leagues and loaded up on players from the Warriors-Clippers series because the over/under was set so high.

A stunning 40 percent of the entrants selected Blake Griffin, and he did not disappoint with a 35-point night that produced 42.5 DS points. I also have Russell Westbrook on that team, but it appears I will be undone by two of my other picks — Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala. Hey, when you go hard on one team or one game, you run this risk.

Today, I will be keying on the players in the Rockets-Blazers series with the over/under having been set at 214 1/2. It is the only over/under over the next two nights that is higher than 200.

For the uninitiated, here’s how DraftStreet’s two-day playoff fantasy leagues work.

You pick three guards, three forwards, one center and one utility player using a salary cap of $100,000, and then you root for them to fill up the box score. You can sign up here, or by clicking the banner at the top of this post.

For tonight, I debated putting three or four teams in the $5 leagues, but instead went for the gusto with a $22 league chasing the $1,200 first prize. Here are the studs and duds:

DraftStreet Mar. 210
Stars Over $15,000
LeBron James $20,929
James Harden $19,426
Al Jefferson $19,023
Joakim Noah $18,962
LaMarcus Aldridge $18,240
Value Plays Under $9,000
George Hill $8,448
Brandan Wright $8,242
Kirk Hinrich $8,105
Kyle Korver $7,932
Roy Hibbert $7,774

I want no part of Al Jefferson and his plantar fasciitis, and though I like LeBron James at that price — it is about $2500 less than he usually costs, I am worried that the Heat are due for a letdown. Hey, they had a ton of them during the regular season, so better safe than sorry. There are plenty of value picks who can produce 20-plus points.

My team WILL include both James Harden and LaMarcus Aldridge, but I am sure I will not be alone — especially after the monster game Aldridge produced in Game 1.

As for my value picks? Hey, I am trying to win this thing.

I am listing five of them, but prudence dictates that I not divulge which ones I am taking. But I will say this … I like playing players who are expected to be involved in high-scoring games.

Hill’s price is up from where it was listed yesterday, and Hibbert … well, as I mentioned yesterday, he needs to break out of his slump sometime, right?

There will come a time when Luis Scola breaks out his his doldrums, too, and the trick will be to have those guys in your lineup when they figure things out. It would seem to me that Game 2, trailing 0-1, would be the proper time for the Pacers’ funk to end.

So I will use at least one Indiana guy.

But that piece of advice is as far as I will go without tipping my hand.

So good luck to all of you tonight, and as the playoffs continue. Also, DraftStreet offers daily action on baseball, too. And for golf fans, you can enter four-day PGA Tour tournaments. There are a pair this weekend with $10,000 prize pools. Again, this is your link for signing up.

Noah Wins Defensive Player of the Year; Hibbert 2nd; Jordan 3rd

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Joakim NoahNEW YORK  - Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, the centerpiece of a defense which held opponents to a league-low 91.8 ppg, is the recipient of the 2013-14 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, the NBA announced today.

Noah becomes the first Bulls player since Michael Jordan in 1987-88 to earn the honor.

Noah received 555 of a possible 1,125 points, including 100 first-place votes, from a panel of 125 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada.  Indiana’s Roy Hibbert (166 points, eight first-place votes) and the Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan (121 points, eight first-place votes) finished second and third, respectively.  Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote received.

I cast my first-place vote for Jordan because of his superior rebounding and blocked shot numbers. I had Noah second on my ballot, and Anthony Davis third.

NBA Admits Another Officiating Error, This One on Dwight Howard’s 6th Foul

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RocksnipIf you were watching the Houston-Portland game late Sunday night, you may have thrown something at your television set in disgust when Dwight Howard’s sixth foul was called. Yes, even if you are a Trail Blazers fan.

The call was so egregiously wrong, it was heinous.

Well, today, the NBA has owned up to the mistake — marking the second time in as many days that the league office has issued a statement acknowledging a grievous error.

VIDEO: Will the Referees Let the Clippers and Warriors play?

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whistleThrough two days of NBA playoff games, we have seen some horrendous officiating.

Blake Griffin basically got benched by the refs in Game 1 of the Warriors-Clippers series. Dwight Howard picked up his 6th foul late in last night’s Blazers-Rockets game on an egregiously bad call. Four players ended up with DQs in that game, which lasted a ghastly 3:21, featured 65 fouls and made quite a few East Coast viewers a little less productive today at their jobs.

Is this what we should expect for the remainder of the playoffs? Or will tonight, with Thunder-Grizzlies and Clippers-Warriors making up the postseason doubleheader, auger in a new level of tolerance?

Of the eight games played over the weekend, five featured at least 49 fouls called. And in the Clippers-Warriors game, there was no foul called on Draymond Green when he raked Chris Paul across the arms with 18.9 seconds left, causing a turnover that denied the Clippers a chance to go for the lead. That non-call was so unsettling that the NBA issued a statement Sunday admitting its error.

The hope here is that the refs calm down and let the players decide the game. Now that we are in the era of video replay, and with the refs heavily reliant on going to the videotape in the final 2 minutes of games, there is a severe lack of flow that I find highly problematic.

That was one topic of discussion in this interview with Noah Coslov of CineSport.