Boston Celtics

Doc on Sullinger's All-Star snub: 'He'll make it eventually'

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Doc on Sullinger's All-Star snub: 'He'll make it eventually'

BOSTON Kevin Garnett, who was voted in as an All-Star starter, will be the lone representative for the Boston Celtics during All-Star weekend with Jared Sullinger not being named to the 18-player roster (nine rookies, nine second-year player) for the Rising Stars challenge.
"He'll make it eventually," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "Maybe not that team, but he'll be in the league a long time and I think he'll be happier with that in the long run."
The rookies chosen to the team were comprised of three big men -- New Orleans' Anthony Davis, Detroit's Andre Drummond and Ceveland's Tyler Zeller.
Sullinger said in an earlier interview that he wasn't giving too much thought to whether he made the team or not.
"That stuff is nice and everything, but I want to just keep getting better and help this team win games," he told CSNNE.com.
Indeed, Sullinger's growth as a player has been a factor in him evolving from a player off the bench into the team's starting power forward.
"He has improved as a player, but I already thought he was good when he came in," Rivers said. "I would love to say it was us, but it was him. He does all the work, all the reps and he had most of that before he got here.
"It took him some time to get comfortable with what we're doing and with himself in the league," Rivers added. "That's the biggest thing. But he's been terrific for us."
Sullinger's knack for offensive rebounding has been one of strengths thus far, along with his scoring touch around the basket.
However, Rivers also likes the fact that Sullinger is a good passer, something he recognized when Sullinger was in high school playing in AAU tournaments against Rivers' son, Austin, who plays for the New Orleans Hornets.
"Probably the college coaches who played against him realized he was a good passer," Rivers said. "But the NBA probably didn't know that. He's been trapped his entire life. He's been bigger than everybody since high school, so I've seen him trapped and figure it out and make passes through it."
But like most rookies -- especially big men -- Sullinger's defense has been a work in progress.
"He does a good job of fouling," quipped Rivers who then added, "He's been terrific. He's very, very smart and I think he learns each guy each night each time he plays someone different. He's been fooled a lot and the next time we play that same team, he's not. That tells you he's learning."

NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety

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NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety

NEW YORK - NBA referees will be able to call flagrant or technical fouls on defenders who dangerously close on jump shooters without allowing them space to land, as Zaza Pachulia did on the play that injured Spurs star Kawhi Leonard in last season's playoffs.

Officials will also make sure jump shooters are in their upward shooting motion when determining if a perimeter foul is worthy of free throws, which could cut down on James Harden's attempts after he swings his arms into contact.

The new rules interpretations are being unofficially called the "Harden Rule" and the "Zaza Rule". The Washington Wizards accused the Celtics' Al Horford of a dangerous closeout on Markieff Morris that injured Morris and knocked him out of Game 1 of their playoff series two weeks before the Pachulia-Leonard play.

Leonard sprained his ankle when Pachulia slid his foot under Leonard's in Game 1 of Golden State's victory in the Western Conference finals. After calling a foul, officials will now be able to look at a replay to determine if the defender recklessly positioned his foot in an unnatural way, which could trigger an upgrade to a flagrant, or a technical if there was no contact but an apparent attempt to injure.

"It's 100 percent for the safety of the players," NBA senior vice president of replay and referee operations Joe Borgia said Thursday.

The NBA had made the freedom to land a point of emphasis for officials a few years ago, because of the risk of injuries. 

Officials can still rule the play a common foul if they did not see a dangerous or unnatural attempt by the defender upon review. Borgia said Pachulia's foul would have been deemed a flagrant.

With the fouls on the perimeter shots - often coming when the offensive player has come off a screen and quickly attempts to launch a shot as his defender tries to catch up - officials will focus on the sequencing of the play. The player with the ball must already be in his shooting motion when contact is made, rather than gathering the ball to shoot such as on a drive to the basket.

"We saw it as a major trend in the NBA so we had to almost back up and say, `Well, wait a minute, this is going to be a trend, so let's catch up to it,"' NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell said.