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May 7, 12:32 PM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (3:03 PM)

Greetings everyone. Can't imagine what you'd want to talk about today, but just in case I'm here anyway.

Joon Austin, TX

Do you think Joey crawford blew the call when he ejected Ron Artest?

John Hollinger
  (3:04 PM)

I think he thought Artest was making a throat-slashing gesture, because clearly he didn't see the play that got Artest so upset in the first place.

Josh (Irvine, CA)

John, in your PER Diem article today you mention that it's unlikely to expect Kobe to keep up his great percentage on contested midrange jumpers (which is a fair point), but then later note that the Rockets were able to score at a high enough level to win. I find it pretty inconsistent to omit the fact that Artest & Brooks have both been hitting VERY tough shots at a much higher percentage than they have this season. Wouldn't those 2 players coming back down to Earth be more likely than Kobe?

John Hollinger
  (3:05 PM)

Artest has been shooting above his norm, that is definitely true. Brooks shot poorly in Game 2, so that part isn't. Difference here is that Houston had two straight games like that, which makes you think of it as more like a "pattern" than an "outlier."

Kenny (Columbus)

Will Kobe be suspended for game 3?

John Hollinger
  (3:07 PM)

Amazingly, I got an agenda-free question on this topic -- as opposed to all the conspiracy theories that I've been subjected to before the league even makes a ruling. It appears to me that Kobe's elbow hit below the neck, and if that's the case he'll be charged a Flagrant 1 and allowed to play in Game 3.

Eric (North Hollywood, CA)

Are you as surprised as I am that D-Fish would take such an obvious hard foul on Scola? Fisher's been nothing but the class of the league since his rookie year. Just curious what your take is. Thanks!

John Hollinger
  (3:10 PM)

Shocked. One of the most out-of-character plays I've ever seen. Let me first reiterate your point that Fish is one of the classiest people I've ever dealt with. But that play last night was ridiculous because it was so premeditated ... a total cheap shot. I think he's in more danger of getting a one-game ban than Kobe, just because of the premeditated nature of the offense. Kobe was in the process of making a basketball play; Fisher was trying to get a 15-yard penalty for spearing.

Alec (LA, CA)

You mentioned that Kobe will get a Flagrant 1 for the elbow, but did you see Artest's actions prior to the elbow. Is that over the line or just rebounding positioning? It seemed a little excessive to me.

John Hollinger
  (3:11 PM)

Happens all the time. Guy underneath tries to get low and bends over, which results in the other guys forearm being in his upper back or neck. Which is probably why they called the foul on Artest. But that's all it is.

Zach ( Mpls, MN)

John, since Dennis Lindsey has withdrawn, isn't Simmons the most qualified GM candidate? I mean, not in the "traditional" sense, but he'd be at least more interesting then Kahn, Hoiberg or anyone else, right?

John Hollinger
  (3:12 PM)

This is an excellent point, plus there's the whole "reverse KG journey" aspect of sending the Boston guy to Minnesota. I'm surprised he's not campaigning harder for this.

Jonathan (Houston, TX)

Assuming Kobe gets a flagrant foul 1, what are the ramifications of that?

John Hollinger
  (3:13 PM)

Flagrant foul points that count toward a suspension if he gets a few more, and a fine that I'm sure amounts to about 4 minutes of work for him.

Jonathan (Houston)

Hey Hollinger, from your perspective was Scola setting harder than normal screens on Fish, or what? Or, was Fish just getting Lamar Odom'd back???

John Hollinger
  (3:15 PM)

I didn't see anything unusual, to be honest, but I also wasn't there -- sometimes that type of stuff is a lot more apparent courtside. I think it was just a continuation of the Odom play given that it happened right afterward. By the way, the Lakers gave up three points in a close game just to show Scola how tough they were ... could have been hugely costly.

Kirk Jackson Wyoming

Fish Class ha! Nothing like using your daughter to a screw a team and get back to LA. Fish would make a great Politician. Any truth to the AK for Magette talk?

John Hollinger
  (3:16 PM)

Fisher saved the Jazz from having to hold a fire sale by backing out of that contract. I can't believe people in Utah are upset about this -- he helped them! He was making over $6 mil and would have been coming off the bench!

Ry Cali

Was Fishers actions any more "premeditated" then Rondos?

John Hollinger
  (3:17 PM)

Absolutely. No comparison at all.

Billups

How J.R. Smith got one ALL-DEFENSIVE FIRST TEAM vote over me? and, Is Kobe and CP3 really deserved the 1st team over DWade???

John Hollinger
  (3:18 PM)

The All-Defense votes were ridiculous this year. Either they need to make sure that the actual coaches are doing the voting, or they need to go to a different system. Travis Outlaw? David Lee? Sam Dalembert? I don't believe for one second that actual NBA coaches filled out those ballots.

Craig (Dallas)

Do you think Kobe is a dirty player?

John Hollinger
  (3:19 PM)

No, but he hasn't helped his case these first two games with the shot on Battier and the elbow on Artest. He's had a history of letting his arms get away from him and hitting guys, and that may be the one thing that really works against him here -- the league cracks down harder on players with a history of violations, and Kobe has a record.

Atlanta Hawks

The Cavs can't do that to us again, can they?

John Hollinger
  (3:20 PM)

The Hawks have played eight playoff road games in the last two years and been blown out in seven of them. So yes, I think there's a pretty good chance the Cavs can do that again.

Mike (Boston)

I'm sorry I can't tell if you can hear me over all the Kobe comments.... Rondo? What is his ceiling? It seems every game his ceiling gets higher.. through 9 games he is a hair away from a triple double and he is a point guard. Hello?

John Hollinger
  (3:21 PM)

I took his first round with a grain of salt because Rose's defensive stats were so poor, but last night he went up against the league's best defensive team and just tore them apart. That definitely got my attention. Wondering if Orlando might consider a zone to keep him under control.

J (LA, CA)

How about the slap heard round the world. What in the world was Skip thinking?

John Hollinger
  (3:23 PM)

It's so funny because he's so calm and collected when you talk to him in the locker room ... but he loses his head sometimes. BTW, he and Rondo have a history too -- for instance, they get double techs in the first minute of the Boston-Houston game last year. As far as a suspension, that's a pretty weak play to get suspended over, but I'm not sure what the league's alternative is.

Chris (Hacienda Heights, CA)

Do you think the CP3 over Wade pick was good on the Defensive First Team? I don't see how you can justify this point when Paul gets abused by bigger PGs.

John Hollinger
  (3:24 PM)

CP3 over Wade isn't how I'd go either, but the real travesty was CP3 over Rondo. Rondo is the best defensive point guard in the league, by far.

Mike: (Houston, TX)

Why is Joey Crawford still considered a top notch referee? It seems like he makes a lot of controvercial calls.

John Hollinger
  (3:26 PM)

Disagree. His only problems as a ref have been his temper and his apparent bias against the Spurs (the Barry call last year being the most egregious example). But as far as calls go, he's usually money.

J (Milwaukee)

You write that Artest doing it over 2 games may be a "pattern". How about the 1000 FG over the entire season shooting at 40% or the 90 FG in the first series at 44%. That seems more like a pattern than 2 games at 55%, right?

John Hollinger
  (3:27 PM)

The "pattern" I'm referring to is Houston scoring on the Lakers. Artest may cool off, but Scola may heat up, so the point remains -- L.A. hasn't defended up to its usual standard.

Andrew Bynum

Phil knows I'm available right?

John Hollinger
  (3:28 PM)

Bynum was awful last night, and when he's in they play behind Yao, which is less than ideal. I think they need to manage his minutes so that he only plays when Yao is out of the game.

Andrew Houston

Do you think the tech on Kobe for taunting Battier a call to make up for the questionable call before Artest's deserved ejection, or to try and keep things under control and avoid heavy intentional blows in a game getting out of hand? Maybe a bit of both?

John Hollinger
  (3:29 PM)

Total game management move by the zebras since they saw things spiraling out of control.

Kobe Bryant

How could you accuse me of having a reputation? I'm as clean as they come John!

John Hollinger
  (3:30 PM)

Sorry, I wrote that before watching the no-holds-barred Spike Lee documentary.

Carter (Stuarts Draft, Va)

I think Farmar is a talented guy, but he's been terrible this year, is this season a fluke, or would a trade to a different team help him?

John Hollinger
  (3:31 PM)

A trade would certainly help him, but I doubt they'll move him now since his value is so low. Actually I wouldn't rule out Farmar having a breakout year next season ... point guards don't always progress in neat increments, but he's just as talented as he was a year ago.

Showbe Bryant (LA, CA)

I am so happy that the NBA rules dont apply to me. I can get away with everything hahah! I elbow, knee and taunt people and I dont even barely get a warning. Aaah, I own the ref's, right?

John Hollinger
  (3:32 PM)

Stop, stop, stop with the conspiracy theories people. Yes, David Stern called him before the game and told him personally to do whatever he wants. Please. Bryant has been suspended multiple times, and for all we know he may be suspended again.

Luke Walton

John did you see me get that tech last night? I wanted to contribute something to the team.

Bobby, Houston Texas

If Yao does not get in foul trouble early is this game a different story do the rockets go up 2-0?

John Hollinger
  (3:34 PM)

Let me recite a stat from today's Per Diem -- Yao's first shot that wasn't a put-back came with 6:46 left in the game. Way to involve the big fella, guys. So if he had stayed on the court for an extra few minutes in the first quarter, I doubt anything would have changed.

Damon (Socorro, NM)

John, take a real question please. Can the Lakers win Game 3 if they don't have Kobe and/or Fisher?

John Hollinger
  (3:36 PM)

They can definitely win Game 3 without Fisher -- in fact they way he's been going it might be a blessing in disguise. As for Kobe, that's far more difficult proposition. Basically you're looking at heavy doses of Vujacic and Brown at the 2 (if he isn't needed at the 1) and that's a pretty substantial downgrade. It's possible, just because in a one-game situation almost anything is possible, but they'd be facing some long, long odds in that scenario.

Levi (Stevens Point, WI)

Hey, John, I have a very interesting question for you today. If Derek Fisher is suspended for Game 3, who's going to be a starter at the point guard position, Shannon Brown or Jordan Farmar?

John Hollinger
  (3:37 PM)

I think they'd start Farmar and bring Brown off the bench, since Farmar appears to be the better match-up to defend Brooks. One other possibility -- they could play Kobe at the point and start Vujacic.

Sal (San Antonio)

Does the Hornets' intention of keeping Scott for next year signal to you that he's just a lame duck, or does it tell you that they plan on making significant roster moves this summer to shake up the team chemistry?

John Hollinger
  (3:38 PM)

I think the lame-duck coach thing is overrated - we've seen a lot of lame-duck coaches put together pretty strong seasons the past few years. Sam Mitchell won COY as a lame duck. So for Scott and Lawrence Frank to go in as lame ducks, I don't put as much stock in that as a lot of people do.

Riaz, Philly

John, A non playoff question. What do you think of Tony Dileo? Should the 76ers go with a more hardnosed coach like Doug Collins or Eddie Jordan?

John Hollinger
  (3:40 PM)

The fact that his players went out of their way to throw him under the bus after the season isn't a real good omen. I think Jordan is a strong possibility there; Collins less so because he doesn't like to play up-tempo and that's the style Philly's personnel has to employ.

Mo (detroit, MI)

Wow, I didnt know this chat was Lakers only. Wonder if you might answer a question about the Magic's dismemberment last night. Do they still have a shot? Was last night an aberration or does it portend of a new series with the Celts in control?

John Hollinger
  (3:41 PM)

Of course they still have a shot. They've won three of their last four games against Boston, even though three of them were in Beantown, and have three of the next four at home. So I'm presuming it was an aberration until proven differently.

Patty (LA)

John, I actually thought the Lakers played much better WITH Yao on the court last night. He can't handle Pau's quickness and when he gets fronted, Houston can't seem to find a solution.

John Hollinger
  (3:42 PM)

I agree -- in fact I believe Chuck Hayes was something like +15. It just amazes me that it took both Portland and LA so long to realize maybe they should try stuff that had worked against Yao all season.

Ryan(Denver)

John pay attention to someone other than laker fans troll

John Hollinger
  (3:43 PM)

Stop winning so easily and we'll talk about your series a lot more. Right now there's not that much interesting to say about Nuggets-Mavs.

Jay, Newark, NJ

John, Do you see Elton Brand fitting into that up tempo Philly offense no matter who the coach is? I don't.

John Hollinger
  (3:44 PM)

I absolutely do, but here's the twist -- he'll be the center, not the power forward. No reason to keep playing Sulking Sammy in the middle when they could go to a Brand-Speights combo.

Suri (VA)

Do you think officiating will be different today, based on what happened last night? Also, when will we hear about the suspensions, so that teams can prepare accordingly? Thanks

John Hollinger
  (3:46 PM)

I doubt it will change much today, because I doubt things will get that heated. But for the Game 3s, I'd look for a tight whistle as they try to keep the game under control.

Joe (Dallas)

Here's something interesting...Dallas wins both games at home by double digit. This series is going to be just like the Heat-Hawks.

John Hollinger
  (3:47 PM)

It would be fun if that happened, but I've yet to see any evidence to make me think it would. Mavs seem totally outclassed athletically, even a huge game from Dirk on Tuesday couldn't get them near a win.

Jason, Brunswick, OH

John, do you think the Hawks are going to take even one game from the Cavs in the entire series?

John Hollinger
  (3:48 PM)

I said Cavs in five when it started -- Atlanta has been so good at home this year that I do think they'll take one of the two games in Philips.

Don (LA)

Orlando has no shot at beating the Celtics, please stop being an idiot.

John Hollinger
  (3:49 PM)

So why do they keep beating them?

Kevin, Memphis TN

John, I need your help. Why wasn't Dwight Howard thrown out of the game against Philly? He was suspended later but doesnt a F2 mean an automatic ejection? Is something wrong here or is it just me?

John Hollinger
  (3:49 PM)

He didn't get an F2 at the time -- he received only a technical foul, because the officials didn't think he made contact. it was only after replays showed that he did make contact that the league changed the call.

Los Angeles Lakers

John, did our win sway your prediction for the outcome of the series? Were you unimpressed?

John Hollinger
  (3:50 PM)

I said Lakers in six at the start. Now I suspect they may need the full seven.

Noam (Israel)

Why is a Cleveland-Denver finals so underhyped? Has the media just given up on trying to make Lebron vs. Melo a rivalry?

John Hollinger
  (3:51 PM)

Because nobody thought it was possible until a couple of days ago. I know the league will be disappointed not to have LeBron vs. Kobe, but the consolation prizes -- either LeBron vs. Melo, or having the entire population of China tune in -- aren't bad ones.

Matt (Champaign, IL)

If Chuck Hayes is a few inches taller, is he a Ben Wallace (in his prime) type defender?

John Hollinger
  (3:52 PM)

No, because he's not a shot-blocker all. He's just really difficult to post up against because that's where his lack of height becomes an asset -- he uses leverage to get under guys and push them out.

Drew (Sac)

Any chance Byron Scott ends up coaching the Kings next year?

John Hollinger
  (3:54 PM)

None -- Hornets said they're bringing him back. But I don't like Scott with Sacto anyway -- he loses patience with young guys too quickly, and that's not a good formula for rebuilding.

Mike (East Coast)

If Fisher ran into Rondo head on would it be like that Gadorade commercial?

Dave (LA, CA)

The Nuggets wouldn't stand a chance against the Lakers...How could you even think that a Nugget - Cavs Finals would be possible?

John Hollinger
  (3:56 PM)

You mean because of how mighty L.A. has looked in the first two playoff rounds? Denver is 20-3 in its last 23 meaningful games, nobody in the league is playing better right now. Doesn't mean they'll keep it up, but we should at least acknowledge the possibility.

Arjun (CA)

Aside from all the chaos in the Lakers Rockets game..what do you think of kobe shooting a blistering 16 for 27 in a must win game? Any thoughts?

John Hollinger
  (3:57 PM)

Lots of thoughts, many of which I covered in today's Per Diem. The lowdown -- if Kobe takes the same shots every game the rest of the series, the Rockets will be really happy.

Nathan (Houston)

It seemed to me that the refs allowed the Lakers to go over Yao's back all game yesterday. Thoughts?

John Hollinger
  (3:58 PM)

i wasn't aware that was even possible. The Rockets didn't lose because of the refs, they lost because L.A. played better.

T (Columbus)

That's a sprite commercial. I'm am sure their marketig people are thrilled...

Typical NBA fan

Nobody can beat Boston or LA, because they're Boston and LA, which means they're Boston and LA

John Hollinger
  (3:59 PM)

You left out the "Kobe rules" signoff at the end.

Chris (New York, NY)

Hey John, I know you see a lot of the Hawks and was just wondering your impression of Mike Woodson? I don't claim to be an expert, but at times he looks lost and his team looks out of control...

John Hollinger
  (4:01 PM)

I thought this was his best season in Atlanta. He's become less ridiculous about foul trouble and he's kept the guys playing hard for him even though it's year five .. that's not easy to do.

David Stern

You don't think i can suspend d-fish w/o getting the bulls fans all riled up can I? I mean Rondo did flip Hinrich into the scorers table..not to mention the 'foul' on miller.

John Hollinger
  (4:02 PM)

No. Neither of those were suspension worthy plays, although not upgrading the Miller foul to a flagrant was a terrible mistake.

JK (New England)

Are NBA players really that fearless at fighting eachother, or is it a macho act that they know will get broken up immediately? Seems like it mostly happens on national TV games.

John Hollinger
  (4:04 PM)

It "seems" that way because you don't see the ones that aren't televised. Very, very few NBA altercations go beyond loud conversation and the occasional push, maybe there's even a slap once in a while. These guys make too much money to risk breaking a hand in a real fight.

Sam (Carlsbad, CA)

I think the Hawks should keep Woody is he agrees to bring in an offensive coordinator. Speaking of which, why don't NBA teams have offensive and defensive coordinators? Seems unlikely one man could be experts in both.

John Hollinger
  (4:05 PM)

I think the league is moving in that direction actually. Mike Brown began doing it this year in Cleveland, and Doc has Thibodeau as his defensive coordinator in Boston. Since they've been so successful, I'm sure other teams will copy it.

NS (louisiana)

If Fisher isn't suspended doesn't that set the precident for hockey checking? And wouldn't that turn into a huge problem once big boys start checking PG's? Orlando could have Gorgat body check rondo

John Hollinger
  (4:06 PM)

I'm not sure I agree -- remember, they did eject the guy from the game. Surely that's a substantial penalty in its own right. That said, I wouldn't be surprised to see a one-game suspension as well.

Steve (Provo, UT)

What are your thoughts on the way Phil Jackson reasoned Fisher's flagrant? I know he needs to defend his players, but c'mon, show some class!

John Hollinger
  (4:07 PM)

In his defense, he hadn't seen a replay so he might not have realized quite how overt Fisher's move was.

Elmer (Montana)

If Kobe dodges suspension for 2 straight games where he throws an elbow, does this finally mean the NBA concedes it has 2 sets of rules...one for superstars and one for everyone else?

John Hollinger
  (4:08 PM)

No, but it does mean the NBA will have a serious perception issue on its hands, which is exactly the kind of thing it has been trying to avoid.

John Hollinger
  (4:09 PM)

BTW, I'm hearing from somebody who has seen several slo-mo replays that it's still very difficult to determine exactly where the elbow landed -- whether it hit him in the chest, or whether it started at the neck/chin and then slid down to the chest. Have a fun afternoon, Stu.

Eddie (Sacramento, CA)

Simple question: If Kobe's elbow was thrown and hit over the shoulder he SHOULD be suspended, right?

John Hollinger
  (4:10 PM)

Yes, that is correct. Determining where it landed is going to be the hard part it seems.

Alex (Ames)

Is Melo finally getting it. I.e. that scoring is not everything?

John Hollinger
  (4:12 PM)

Based on his assist totals for the last month, I'd say so. And I'd also say he's finally realized that the catch-jab-and-shoot-a-rushed-20-footer move is a low-percentage proposition.

John (Ventura CA)

Alright Hollinger, on one hand you say you believe Kobe didn't hit Artest above the shoulder, so he shouldn't be suspended.... then you say if the NBA doesn't suspend him, they have a serious perception issue on their hands... what gives?

John Hollinger
  (4:13 PM)

Both statements can be true, can't they? If Kobe isn't suspended, it will "prove" to a lot of people that the league plays favorites ... regardless of what the evidence and rules dictate.

John Hollinger
  (4:15 PM)

Folks, that's all the time I have, but thanks for all the great questions and we'll do this again next week at the same time.