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Stan Van Gundy furious with Pelicans’ late-game execution vs. Knicks: ‘No excuse whatsoever’

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Stan Van Gundy furious with Pelicans' late-game execution vs. Knicks: 'No excuse whatsoever'

Stan Van Gundy was not a happy camper after the Pelicans’ loss to the Knicks on Sunday — and that’s putting it mildly.

With 7.8 seconds remaining in regulation, New Orleans held a three-point lead over New York, so Van Gundy instructed his team to foul in order to shut down any opportunity for the Knicks to tie the game. Instead, the Pelicans had a complete mental breakdown.

MORE: Nets’ Kevin Durant leaves game vs. Heat with thigh injury

Eric Bledsoe failed to foul Derrick Rose as he drove into the paint, and Lonzo Ball helped off Reggie Bullock, a career 38.8 percent 3-point shooter. Rose hit Bullock in the corner for a great look, and Bullock drained the triple.

Ball found Bledsoe on the ensuing possession for a potential buzzer-beater, but Rose partially blocked Bledsoe’s shot, sending the game to overtime. The Knicks then outscored the Pelicans 19-9 in the extra frame on their way to a 122-112 victory.

Van Gundy couldn’t hide his frustration with the poor late-game execution during his postgame media availability, saying New Orleans “deserved to lose.”

“I thought we fought hard. We were right there, and all you’ve got to do is execute for 7.8 seconds,” Van Gundy said. “You’re just supposed to come out of the timeout, do what we’re supposed to do and put the game away, and we don’t do it.”

Bledsoe admitted that he should have fouled Rose but didn’t because of a “lack of focus.” Van Gundy indicated that attention to detail has been an ongoing problem for this group.

“We’re good enough to compete with people, but we don’t do the things at the end of games it takes to win,” Van Gundy said. “Part of that’s a learning experience, but today, no excuse whatsoever today. None. None. I don’t care if you’re a senior in high school. You can execute what we were supposed to be doing with 7.8 seconds to go. So, no excuse whatsoever.”

Van Gundy added that he wanted the Pelicans to handle the situation the same way they did earlier this season against the Celtics. In that contest, New Orleans similarly held a three-point advantage with less than 10 seconds on the clock. Josh Hart fouled Jayson Tatum as soon as he dribbled the ball, and Tatum went on to miss two free throws. The Pelicans won 120-115.

“Making plays is one thing. That’s not easy to do against good defense. It’s not,” Van Gundy said. “So that’s one thing, and I take responsibility for a lot of that when I don’t think I find the right stuff for us to do. . . . Today, [it was] simple. High school guys could have executed down the stretch. The 7.8 seconds, high school guys could have done what they were supposed to do.”

The Pelicans dropped to 25-32 with the loss. They are now three games back of the Spurs for the final spot in the Western Conference play-in tournament. 

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Twitter reacts to Russell Westbrook’s NBA-record 182nd career triple-double

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Twitter reacts to Russell Westbrook's NBA-record 182nd career triple-double

Russell Westbrook made history Monday night, notching his 182nd career triple-double — and moving past Oscar Robertson for the all-time NBA record.

Robertson’s record lasted 47 years, from 1974 through Monday night when a fourth-quarter rebound in front of a reduced-capacity crowd in Atlanta gave Westbrook sole possession of the record. It took him 12 years to surpass Robertson’s record after he achieved his first triple-double (17 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds) in 2009 as a rookie with the Thunder.

MORE: Jaylen Brown injury update: Celtics star out for rest of season with torn wrist ligament

Monday’s triple-double was Westbrook’s 36th of the year. That insane output is helping him average, for the fourth time in his career, a triple-double over the course of the season. The previous such campaigns came in 2016-17 through 2018-19.

Westbrook finished with 28 points, 21 assists and 13 rebounds in the Wizards’ 125-124 loss to the Hawks; the loss dropped Washington to 32-37 on the season, but the team still ranks 10th in the Eastern Conference standings. The Wizards’ playoff hopes pale in comparison to the history Westbrook made, however.

He even made sure to get the game ball from officials so he could be certain to commemorate the historic achievement.

Here are some of the best reactions to Westbrook’s history-making feat:

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Kenny Mayne’s ESPN cover letter was perfect precursor to his incredible career

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Kenny Mayne's ESPN cover letter was perfect precursor to his incredible career

ESPN’s Kenny Mayne, one of the most recognizable talents in sports broadcasting, is leaving the network, he announced on Monday.

The 27-year ESPN anchor broke the news on Twitter, describing his exit from the worldwide leader in sports as a “salary cap casualty.” Naturally, he could only include some of the dry humor that helped him become a beloved presence in the studio and on millions of sports fans’ TVs.

MORE: ESPN anchors get emotional over laid-off co-workers: ‘We are all hurting’

The longtime “SportsCenter” host’s final day will be on May 24, bringing to an end a 27-year stint at ESPN that began in 1994. His absence will undoubtedly be noted among fans who appreciated his humor and presence in ESPN’s studios — but his Monday announcement is as good a reason as any to remember the incredible cover letter that first landed him the gig in 1994.

Mayne sent a short and sweet cover letter to ESPN’s John Walsh in 1994, offering him three checkboxes in the former’s bid to land a job with ESPN:

Unsurprisingly, Mayne made Walsh smile. Walsh wouldn’t be the last person to smile at Mayne’s humor and creativity.

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Jaylen Brown injury update: Celtics star out for rest of season with torn wrist ligament

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Jaylen Brown injury update: Celtics star out for rest of season with torn wrist ligament

The Celtics will have to fight for a playoff spot without one of their most important players.

Boston announced Monday night that All-Star forward Jaylen Brown has suffered a torn scapholunate ligament in his left wrist and will miss the rest of the 2020-21 season. He is expected to undergo surgery later this week.

MORE: Will LeBron James return vs. Knicks?

The Celtics offered no specific timetable for Brown’s return to the court, but as The Athletic’s Jared Weiss noted, Boston guard Romeo Langford suffered the same injury last year and took about six months to recover. If Brown stays roughly on that timeline, he should be available to rejoin the lineup for the start of the 2021-22 campaign.

Brown dealt with injury and COVID-19 issues throughout the season, but the 24-year-old still managed to earn his first All-Star selection with some of the best individual numbers of his career. He averaged a career-high 24.7 points per game while shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from 3-point range.

Without Brown available, Boston will rely heavily on Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker to produce offensively. The Celtics will also need more from trade deadline acquisition Evan Fournier, who most recently scored 30 points in a loss to the Heat on Sunday — his highest scoring output since joining the team.

Even if other players step up in Brown’s absence, the Celtics, currently the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference standings, are unlikely to make a deep run in the 2021 NBA playoffs. They would face an uphill battle in a potential first-round series against the 76ers, Nets or Bucks, the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference.

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