The passing of Hall of Fame center Bob Lanier prompted tributes from the Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.

Eight-time All-Star Lanier died on Tuesday following a short illness, the NBA said.

Commissioner Adam Silver described the popular former player, who was 73, as "among the most talented centers in the history of the NBA" but added: "His impact on the league went far beyond what he accomplished on the court."

After retiring on the Bucks in 1984 and briefly serving as a coach at the Golden State Warriors in the 1990s, Lanier was an NBA ambassador and a special assistant to both David Stern and Silver.

"I learned so much from Bob by simply watching how he connected with people," Silver said. "He was a close friend who I will miss dearly, as will so many of his colleagues across the NBA who were inspired by his generosity."

Lanier had his number 16 jersey retired by both the Pistons, where he spent nine and a half seasons, and the Bucks, finishing his career with four and a half years in Milwaukee.

He ranks third all-time for both points (15,488) and rebounds (8,063) as a Piston.

A Pistons statement read: "The Detroit Pistons organisation is deeply saddened by the passing of Bob Lanier, a true legend who meant so much to the city of Detroit and to generations of Pistons fans.

"As fierce and as dominant as Bob was on the court, he was equally kind and impactful in the community.

"As an ambassador for both the Pistons organisation and the NBA, he represented our league, our franchise and our fans with great passion and integrity."

The Bucks said: "Bob Lanier was an all-time great Milwaukee Buck and a Hall of Famer, whose retired number 16 hangs in the rafters at Fiserv Forum.

"In his five seasons in Milwaukee (1980-84), Bob led the Bucks to division titles each year and to two Eastern Conference Finals appearances in 1983 and 1984.

"But even more than his basketball success, which included his being an All-Star in 1982, Bob was one of the most popular players with Bucks fans and known throughout the community for his generosity and kindness.

"We send our deepest condolences to Bob's family and friends."

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra lavished praise on Jimmy Butler following his side's 120-85 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, labelling him the "ultimate competitor."

Without the injured Kyle Lowry, Butler led the Heat with 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists, while keeping turnovers to a relatively low two despite higher usage.

After scoring 33 and 40 points respectively in losses on the road, Butler had more of a supporting crew in Game 5, as six other Heat players scored in double digits.

Spoelstra singled Butler out not only for his versatility, and how that drives the Heat, but his character.

"Jimmy is just such a stable, high IQ…he's got a great feel for what the team needs, and he does it on both ends and that's what's really kind of lost on young players coming into this league," Spoelstra said post-game.

"He has orchestrated so many things for us offensively, particularly with Kyle [Lowry] out, and he's been able to toggle between those roles seamlessly, and make it look a lot easier than it is."

Shots fell for the Heat as they took a 3-2 series lead, converting on 39.4 per cent of attempts from the perimeter and finishing with 26 assists as a team.

Butler finished Game 5 with an impressive defensive rating of 87.7, and Spoelstra believes his competitive spirit is transformative in both individual and collective senses.

"In terms of being just a scoring option tonight, he was that scoring option but also facilitating for us, he was kind of initiating offense for us quite a bit," he said. "You just feel our whole team has a great sense of confidence when the ball's in Jimmy's hands and we leave the decision up to him.

"He's a great competitor in his heart and his soul. He's an ultimate competitor and when you get into competition, he understands the whole deal. You have to be able to do it on both ends.

"That's what he's been doing for us for three years, really competing for us on both ends, but he's able to compete with a ferocity and do it with an incredibly stable mind."

Joel Embiid insists he is "not mad" after missing out on the NBA's MVP award again to Nikola Jokic but continues to show contempt at the award's voting process.

The Philadelphia 76ers center was runner-up to Jokic last year and according to ESPN the Denver Nuggets' big man will edge him again for this season's gong.

Embiid enjoyed arguably a career-best season, with a league-high 30.6 points per game with 11.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists.

"I'm not mad," Embiid told reporters, when speaking after the 76ers' 120-85 loss to the Miami Heat on Tuesday.

"That's two years in a row I put myself in that position. It didn't happen. It is almost like, at this point, it is whatever. Whatever happens, happens.

"Last year, I campaigned about it. This year, I answered questions when I was asked, and in the next few years until I retire, it's almost like ... like I said, I wonder what else I have to do to win it, and to me, at this point, it's whatever.

"It's all about focusing, not that I wasn't focused on the bigger picture. It's really time to really put all my energy into the bigger picture, which is to win the whole thing."

Embiid's comments come with the 76ers on the brink of elimination after Tuesday's loss which leaves them 3-2 down in the Conference semi-finals to the Heat.

The 28-year-old Cameroonian added that there was no "right or wrong" answer for the MVP but continued to show derision towards the voting process, insisting he knew weeks ago he would not win.

"This is something that I knew weeks ago, even probably two weeks before the season ended, after those games against whether it was Denver and Milwaukee, and when [ESPN did its] straw poll or whatever. I just knew it wasn't gonna happen," Embiid said.

"Obviously, congrats to Nikola. He deserved it. He had an amazing season. There's no right or wrong. There was a lot of candidates.

"It could have gone either way. Giannis [Antetokounmpo], Devin Booker, being on the best team in the league, by far. I guess, every year is all about whatever you guys decide, whatever fits the narrative as far as who's gonna win."

The Miami Heat moved a step closer to progressing to the Eastern Conference Finals, rolling past the Philadelphia 76ers in a 120-85 win on Tuesday.

The Heat comfortably took a 3-2 series lead as the Sixers collapsed in the third quarter, going three-of-12 from the floor for the period aside from Joel Embiid.

While the Heat started strong, Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey were taken out with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Jimmy Butler was able to get to his spots on the floor, going nine-of-15 shooting on the way to 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the night.

As a team, Miami had a 20-point advantage (56-36) for points in the paint while seven players scored in double figures in the 35-point win, the joint largest margin of victory in the playoffs this season.

Suns surge in second-half to Game 5 win

The Phoenix Suns also claimed an important Game 5 victory on Tuesday, defeating the Dallas Mavericks 110-80.

Similar to the Philadelphia 76ers in the earlier game, the Mavericks started out ice cold and turned the ball over following the main break, giving up a double-digit lead to start the third quarter.

What was a one-point margin lead for the Suns at half-time quickly blew out to 17 by the middle of the third, when Deandre Ayton scored to make it 67-50.

The Western Conference's first seed did not look back from there, as Devin Booker finished the game with 28 points, seven rebounds and two steals.

Dribble penetration and offensive rebounding created good looks for the Suns, who shot 37.5 per cent from beyond the arc, while the Mavs conversely shot at 25 per cent.

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers criticised his side for their toughness and playing too slow in Tuesday's blowout 120-85 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 5.

The defeat leaves the 76ers down 3-2 in the Conference semi-finals series with games in both Philadelphia and, if required, Miami to come.

The 76ers were never a threat in Game 5, trailing by 12 points at quarter time, with Miami eventually winning by 35 points; the equal biggest margin in the 2021-22 playoffs so far.

"They were just more physical. We didn't run our stuff very well," Rivers told reporters after the game.

"We played at a snail's pace. We had 85 shots, turned the ball over, everything they did tonight was harder and better.

"Their stuff was better than what we ran, their energy was better, their toughness was better, I haven't said that very often about us, and that's on all of us.

"That's on me to make sure they're ready and that's on them to be ready. Tonight, we were not."

The 76ers had squared up the series after being down 2-0 but Rivers was left bemused by their lack of effort in Game 5.

"Obviously, they just were so much more engaged, more physical, took us out of stuff, there was a lot of disappointment from all of us tonight," Rivers said.

Embiid had played in both Games 3 and 4 after a concussion and a fractured orbital bone, but struggled for impact in Game 5, managing only 17 points, five rebounds and two assists.

"We didn’t play defense," Embiid said. "We weren’t physical enough, we weren't locked in from the beginning, and they took advantage of it."

James Harden was kept to 14 points, six rebounds and four assists for Philadelphia.

"They got off to a good start," Harden said. "Being down 12 in the first quarter on the road against a really good team is difficult.

"We cannot allow that to happen. Especially, Game 5 and the two games where we just came off our home court playing well. It is difficult to come back and fight your way back and we just never got our pop."

Ja Morant is doubtful for the rest of the 2021-22 NBA playoffs in a huge blow to the Memphis Grizzlies.

The second-seeded Grizzlies were already facing a huge uphill battle to make the Western Conference Finals after falling 3-1 behind to the Golden State Warriors in their semi-final series.

Morant missed the Game 4 defeat to the Warriors due to a knee injury that he and the Grizzlies say was sustained in an incident involving Golden State guard Jordan Poole.

Poole grabbed Morant's knee in Game 3, before the league's Most Improved Player left the court in the fourth quarter of another defeat.

Now, the Grizzlies will likely have to win three consecutive games against the Warriors without Morant – who has a bruised knee bone – in order to advance.

A team statement on Tuesday read: "Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant exited during the fourth quarter of Game 3 of the Western Conference semi-finals on May 7 at Golden State with right knee soreness.

"Morant underwent an MRI, and subsequent evaluation has revealed a bone bruise in his right knee.

"Morant is doubtful for the remainder of the postseason but is expected to make a full recovery."

The Grizzlies performed well in the absence of the former second overall pick during the regular season, going 20-5 during the 25 games he missed.

But Memphis were held to under 100 points (98) for the first time in this postseason in Game 4, with Jaren Jackson's 21 points leading the team.

Morant had been averaging 38.3 points per game in this series, including tying his playoff career high with 47 in Game 2 – the Grizzlies' sole win so far.

The San Antonio Spurs will not be moving, says owner Peter J. Holt, staying in the city "por vida".

The Spurs moved from Dallas to San Antonio in 1973 and have remained there ever since, winning five NBA titles during Gregg Popovich's hugely successful tenure as coach.

However, fans have grown concerned by the latest rumours of potential relocation, ignited by the team's application to play two home games a season in Austin.

The Spurs reportedly defended the move, saying they want to expand their brand by hosting games at the Moody Center. Their G League team already play in Austin.

Holt sought to set the record straight on Tuesday, when the Spurs posted a statement from their owner on Twitter.

"Dear San Antonio," Holt wrote. "I love you. I love this city. A big city with a casual small-town feel and a great basketball team.

"I want to reassure you that the Spurs are in San Antonio to stay."

He added: "There are no Spurs without the city and the people of San Antonio. Your team, our team, together we are the silver and black.

"Spurs fans – we are here to stay. Por vida [for life]."

The Portland Trail Blazers are making interim general manager Joe Cronin their permanent appointment, according to reports.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski says Cronin, who has been in the role since December, is being given a four-year contract.

Cronin replaced Neil Olshey, who was fired following an investigation into complaints around the Blazers' "workplace environment".

Although Portland finished 13th in the West this season, missing out on the playoffs, Cronin has already had to make key decisions.

The Blazers traded guard CJ McCollum – a first-round pick in 2013 and key man thereafter – to the New Orleans Pelicans.

But Cronin plans to build around injured superstar Damian Lillard, McCollum's long-term team-mate.

Stephen Curry hailed Mike Brown's input after the Golden State Warriors moved 3-1 ahead in their Western Conference semi-final series duel with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Brown, who has agreed to become the Sacramento Kings' next head coach, is seeing out his final weeks as assistant with the Warriors and stepped up on Monday when Steve Kerr tested positive for COVID-19 and was ruled out of Game 4 duties.

Curry joked Brown was setting trends, after being made head coach of two teams in such quick succession.

The Warriors were held to just 38 points in the first half, but Curry stepped up, scoring 18 of his 32 points in the final quarter, including eight consecutive clutch free throws in the final minute as his team edged ahead and clung on to a narrow lead.

"It's been a wild day all round. You just had to figure it out on the fly," Curry said after the 101-98 win.

"We've been through this before. In '16-17 the coach had his back problems back in the day when he was out of the line-up but still had an influence, and Mike B stepped up.

"We didn't have a lot of time to react. We went out and tried to execute. We obviously didn't for three quarters. Defensively we were solid, but offensively we couldn't get anything going, and we gutted it out."

Curry became the first player to reach 500 three-pointers in NBA playoffs during the narrow win.

Brown's move to Sacramento was only agreed on Sunday and will take effect once the playoffs are over. With Warriors head coach Kerr sidelined, Brown kept the team moving closer to the Western Conference Finals.

"He had a lot of good words tonight," said Curry. "I don't know in history if anyone's been named head coach of two teams in 24 hours, so he's continued to set some trends.

"He's been through it all, been with us for this last six years, been interim coach for a little bit and made his presence felt, especially defensively."

Al Horford's career-best playoff haul of 30 points drew acclaim as the Boston Celtics secured Game 4 with a superb fourth quarter in a 116-108 road win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

The 35-year-old veteran and five-time NBA All-Star delivered 11-of-14 shooting with eight rebounds and three assists as Boston levelled the NBA Eastern Conference semi-final series at 2-2.

Horford rose to the occasion after a third-quarter dunk from Giannis Antetokounmpo left him smarting, and steered the visitors to a crucial win at the Fiserv Forum in Wisconsin.

The center returned the favour on his opponent in the final act, with both handed technical fouls, but it was the sheer energy of the Dominican that captured the attention.

"That was a hell of a play," team-mate Jayson Tatum said. "Especially anytime Al turns back the clock and he looks like his old self, it gets everybody off the bench.

"Al plays with so much passion. When Al is playing with passion like that, everybody else has to follow."

Marcus Smart also hailed Horford, in particular for his dunk, adding: "It's a big-time play in a big-time moment.

"It's a physical game. We were on the other end a couple of times, so it felt kind of good to have that one."

Horford himself admitted the Celtics were driven to victory by a desire to close out the game after the Bucks held on for a 103-101 win on Saturday in Game 3.

"We felt that at the end of Game 3 that we were in a position to win the game, and we didn't," he added. "I was just really locked in.

"I understood the moment and what we needed to do as a group. Just come out and we were gonna do whatever it took tonight. It was one of those types of nights."

The two sides return to Massachusetts now, and will contest Game 5 at the TD Garden on Wednesday.

The Boston Celtics produced an incredible fourth quarter to take Game 4 116-108 on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks, tying the NBA Eastern Conference semi-final series at 2-2.

A strong start for home side Milwaukee saw them hold the Celtics to just 18 points in the first quarter, but the tough play of Al Horford, Derrick White and Jaylen Brown helped the visitors back into the game, trailing 48-47 at half-time.

Performances went up a gear in the second half, as a massive Giannis Antetokounmpo dunk on Horford was then reciprocated, with both players receiving technical fouls after their respective dunks.

After a quiet start, Jayson Tatum began to find his footing, eventually taking over to score 20 of his 30 points in the second half, going 11-of-24 from the field overall with 13 rebounds and five assists.

Tatum was vital to the Celtics, but Horford was their best player, with 30 points on 11-of-14 shooting with eight rebounds and three assists, while also being their primary source of interior defence.

There were times when it appeared Antetokounmpo simply would not be denied, going on to post game-highs in points with 34 (14-of-32 shooting) and rebounds with 18, but he needed far more offensive help from Jrue Holiday, who shot just five-of-22 from the field for his 16 points to go with his nine assists and seven rebounds.

Antetokounmpo's 13 points in the third quarter guided the Bucks to a 80-73 lead at three-quarter time, but there would be nothing they could do about the offensive onslaught that was to come.

In the final frame, the Celtics shot 16-of-19 from the field (84 per cent), four-of-five from three-point range and seven-of-seven from the free-throw line, winning the quarter 43-28 and pulling away down the stretch.

Game 5 will head back to Boston, with Game 6 scheduled to return to Milwaukee. Game 7, if needed, will be played in Boston.

Chef Curry cooks up late comeback

The Memphis Grizzlies lacked the firepower to match the Golden State Warriors down the stretch, going down 101-98 as the Warriors established a 3-1 series lead in their Western Conference semi-final.

Without Ja Morant, who missed the game after suffering a knee injury in Game 3, the Grizzlies fought gallantly, leading at quarter-time, half-time and three-quarter time as their defense rose to the occasion and turned it into a scrap.

With Jaren Jackson Jr dominating around the rim – blocking five shots and snatching two steals – the Warriors were held to just 38 points in the first half, but poor shooting from Jackson (seven-of-21) and Dillon Brooks (five-of-19) bogged down the Grizzlies offense.

Needing a hero in the fourth quarter, Warriors superstar Stephen Curry stepped up, scoring 18 of his 32 points, including eight consecutive clutch free throws in the final minute, as his team edged ahead and clung on to a narrow lead.

Curry shot 10-of-25 from the field across the game, and four-of-14 from long range, with eight assists and five rebounds.

Andrew Wiggins was arguably the Warriors' strongest performer across all four quarters, shooting seven-of-13 for his 17 points, with five of his 10 rebounds coming on the offensive end, and he added two blocks and one steal to finish with a team-high plus/minus of plus 12.

Otto Porter – who is still just 28 years old and set to become an unrestricted free agent – continues to make himself money this postseason as he played a crucial 26 minutes off the bench, shooting four-of-six from long range and adding three assists with two steals.

Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant has officially been ruled out of Game 4 against the Golden State Warriors due to a knee injury he suffered in Game 3.

Morant, who was the winner of this season's Most Improved Player award, has averaged 38.3 points, 8.3 assists and 6.7 rebounds per game through the first three fixtures of the series.

It appeared Morant had a knee-on-knee clash in Game 3, but the Grizzlies highlighted a sequence where Morant got tangled up with Jordan Poole during a double-team near half-court, where Poole appeared to grab Morant's knee and pull it.

While it seemed innocuous, with the NBA announcing Poole would face no repercussions, Morant tweeted a video of the incident immediately after the game with the caption "broke the code" – before deleting the tweet.

The "code" Morant is referencing touches on a comment made by Warriors coach Steve Kerr, when he said Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks "broke the code" with his flagrant two foul on Gary Payton II that caused a fractured elbow and sidelined the defensive specialist through at least the rest of the series.

While Morant's absence will be clearly felt, the Grizzlies may be the team most equipped to survive for a game without their star, finishing the regular season with a 20-5 record in the 25 games Morant missed.

Game 4 will be played at the home of Golden State, before returning to Memphis for Game 5. 

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Game 4 against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Assistant coach Mike Brown will step in as acting head coach – a role he is familiar with.

During the Warriors' 2017 championship run, Brown went 12-0 as acting head coach in the playoffs as Kerr was sidelined for an extended period, with the Warriors ultimately finishing that postseason with a 16-1 record.

It is interesting timing for Brown, who was announced as the next Sacramento Kings head coach on Sunday.

He has been with the Warriors since 2016, after spending 10 years as a successful head coach beforehand, winning over 61 per cent of his games with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers.

Former NBA player and Michigan State star Adreian Payne has died at the age of 31 after being shot in Orlando. 

The Orange County Sheriff's Office confirmed on Monday that Payne was transported to hospital following reports of a shooting at 01:34 local time and was later pronounced dead. 

Payne was a first-round pick in the 2014 draft and played 107 NBA games, averaging 4.0 points and 2.9 rebounds across spells with the Atlanta Hawks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic. 

He played professionally with Lithuanian side Juventus Utena earlier this year and has also previously represented sides in Turkey, France, Greece and China. 

A male has been arrested for the shooting on a first-degree murder warrant. 

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams has won NBA Coach of the Year, beating fellow finalists Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat and the Memphis Grizzlies' Taylor Jenkins.

Williams narrowly missed out on 2020-21 award, with the New York Knicks' Tom Thibodeau edging the final tally by 11 votes, but he was the clear choice this season after leading the Suns to a league-best 64-18 record.

As well as winning eight more games than any other team, it also set a new franchise record for wins in a season, and legitimised last year's run to the NBA Finals as more than a fluke.

The news was first broken by Suns star Devin Booker, who tweeted: "Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams has been voted the NBA's COY, book tells sources. A formal announcement is expected later today."

Williams, a former first-round pick in his own right, spent 10 years in the league as a player, and became the youngest head coach in the NBA in 2010 when he earned the head coaching role of the New Orleans Hornets at 38 years old.

After his departure from New Orleans and five years as an assistant, Williams was hired by the Suns in 2019, guiding his team to a memorable 8-0 run in the 'bubble' during his first season.

He has followed that season with two consecutive National Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year awards, and his first official NBA Coach of the Year.

The Suns are a combined 115-39 over the past two regular seasons.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.