“I was just like whatever,” Mazzulla said. “I was at dinner with my wife and a few friends, so I had more important things going on at the time.” But Marcus Smart knows that’s not true. Mazzulla loves to play coy in front of the cameras, but he flips the switch behind closed doors. “Bulls—. Bulls—,” Smart said of Mazzulla’s attempt to play it off. “It says a lot, it’s just the humble mentality that we have. We got a lot of great guys, from coaches and players, that could sit here and boast about themselves about everything they’ve accomplished and things like that, but that’s not us. We love each other, and we let all the outside noise do the talking for us. But it definitely means something to Joe, and it means a lot to us for him to do it.”
March 21, 2023 | 9:20 pm EDT Update
Thunder 'open-minded' to SGA playing in back-to-backs?
Joe Mussatto: Mark Daigneault said the Thunder is “open-minded” to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander playing on back-to-backs moving forward (like the upcoming one Thursday/Friday.) Daigneault said SGA has responded well from abdominal strain: “The back to backs are more on the table now when they were then.”
Neither Ayton nor Durant made the trip to Los Angeles. Durant is scheduled for a re-evaluation later this month.
“We have some things to clean up,” Suns All-Star guard Devin Booker said. “We know roles are going to change when KD comes back, but polishing everything up before he comes back is important, too.”
Scott Agness: #Pacers Tyrese Haliburton (right ankle sprain) has been upgraded to questionable. Chris Duarte (sore left ankle) is also questionable for Wednesday at Toronto.
March 21, 2023 | 7:58 pm EDT Update
Damian Lillard not interested in rebuilding with Portland
NBACentral: Damian Lillard says he’s not interested in rebuilding “That’s not what I’m interested in. That’s what the frustrating part of it is. Talking about what’s gonna happen next season. And us ‘building’. That’s not what I’m here to do especially at this stage of my career”
Coach Darvin Ham said this extended push hasn’t left his team mentally fatigued in any noticeable ways. He’s mostly seen the opposite. “It’s caused them to come to the game on high alert and high awareness,” he said. “Just having something to play for. You’d be surprised how comfortable guys are with that as opposed to having to play a meaningless game. The fact that these games carry so much weight, I think, is causing our guys to lock in more. I don’t see any stress. I just see guys figuring it out because they want to be a part of this team getting into the postseason and making a run. “So the stress, the anxiety, I don’t see that. My coaching staff and I, we talked about that this morning, they don’t see that from our players. I see a bit of hunger.”