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By rule Adam Vinatieri Jersey , any substitute checking into an NBA game must first report his intentions to the scorer’s table. Denver’s Jamal Murray was on his way there during a game last month, then got derailed when an errant pass came flying his way.

 

That’s when referee Jason Phillips intervened.

Phillips could have easily been a stickler for rules and told Murray – who never made it to the table – that he had to wait until the next stoppage of play. But Phillips knew Murray was on his way to checking in long before the play was dead and allowed him to enter the game.

”Thank you,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said, and Phillips nodded.

There were moments of civility like this between referees, players and coaches this season. They just were overshadowed way too often. Now everyone is watching to see how things unfold in the playoffs.

The league wants to avoid more headline-grabbing confrontation with the playoffs starting Saturday and stakes and emotion becoming even higher, so officials met with all 30 teams , the last of those on Monday.

”We all make mistakes,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. ”It’s a game. We’re all a part of it. We’re all in the NBA. The officials are part of the NBA. So we have to understand that we’re all under the same corporation.”

There have been instances where they have looked more like combatants.

Referee Courtney Kirkland was taken off the floor for a week for getting too aggressive with Golden State’s Shaun Livingston. Warriors star Kevin Durant – who’d been ejected once in his first nine seasons – got kicked out of five games. Even LeBron James got tossed for the first time in his 15-year career.

It all led the NBA to announce in late January its plan to improve how players and referees get along. Former referee Monty McCutchen, now an NBA vice president overseeing referee development and training, and NBA senior vice president Michelle Johnson met with clubs to listen to their perspective.

McCutchen’s biggest hope is finding a way to make communication better, on all sides. He stressed to teams that he wasn’t meeting with them solely to defend and protect officials.

”Our league needs strong officials Ryan Suter Jersey ,” McCutchen said. ”What we’re trying to shoot for is this idea that you can have strength without arrogance and you can show humility without having to give into weakness. And that sort of Goldilocks moment, where the porridge is just right, is the balance in which we can start to disagree about the play without being demeaning or condescending or arrogant to one another.”

That hasn’t been the case at times this season.

It’s rare that a call will truly decide a game, and the NBA is sticking to its pledge of transparency by continuing to release reports about calls made in the final two minutes of close games. The Last 2 Minute Reports have been widely panned by players and coaches, especially when those reports show that a big call didn’t go their way in a close loss.

For the 400-plus games that have met the criteria for such a report being publicly issued this season, the NBA has said 97.4 percent of the calls made – in other words, 39 out of every 40 – are correct. When factoring in no-calls, what the NBA defines as ”event accuracy” drops to 93.9 percent.

But there have also been some difficult moments.

Livingston and Kirkland butted heads in a game at Miami, earning the Warriors guard a one-game suspension and Kirkland’s discipline after the league determined they were both in the wrong in their argument over a non-call. Through Sunday, there were 79 ejections this season – up considerably from the 61 last season. The NBA said 902 technicals were called last season; that figure has also been topped this season, albeit only by about 30.

Draymond Green Bobby Ryan Jersey , who isn’t shy about getting technicals, has complained. So has Chris Paul, the president of the National Basketball Players Association.

”To be honest, we need to kind of just go out there and play, and not worry about anything but that,” Toronto guard Kyle Lowry said. ”We can’t worry about what happened, even legitimately. We have to just go play and not say anything and just do our jobs. I think that’ll be a focus for the rest of the season for our team.”

But Lowry knows, starting Saturday, everything gets magnified.

”You can’t get distracted or obsess on the officials or things that happen during the game that you can’t necessarily control,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”You can’t cross the line consistently and expect to develop the right mental toughness that you need to win.”

The Buffalo Bills put themselves in a better position to fill a big need at quarterback in the draft. The Cincinnati Bengals added much-needed protection for their own franchise quarterback, Andy Dalton.

The Bills moved up nine spots in the draft by swapping first-round picks with the Bengals Authentic Carl Gunnarsson Jersey , who also acquired high-priced left tackle Cordy Glenn in a trade Monday, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to The AP on the condition of anonymity because teams are not allowed to announce trades until the NFL's new business year opens Wednesday. Buffalo moved up to the No. 12 spot in the draft by trading the first of its two opening-round selections, 21st overall. The Bills also have the No. 22 pick.

Buffalo also traded its fifth-round pick (158th overall) for the Bengals' sixth-round selection (187th) as part of the Bills' second major trade in three days. On Friday, Buffalo traded starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland for a third-round pick.

The moves helped place the Bills in a position to use one of their first-round picks to draft a quarterback. The Bills have the assets to move up even higher in the draft order by having two picks in each of the first three rounds.

Nathan Peterman, a fifth-round pick last year, is the only quarterback on the roster.

General manager Brandon Beane has said he intends to land a franchise quarterback through either the draft, a trade or in free agency.

Beane has paid close attention to what is considered a top-heavy draft class of quarterbacks. He has said he planned to meet with all the draft-eligible quarterback prospects.

The offensive line is Cincinnati's biggest focus in the offseason. The offense finished last in the league in large measure because its line couldn't protect Dalton or open holes for the running backs.

The Bengals ranked 20th in allowing 40 sacks and 31st in yards rushing last year.

Cedric Ogbuehi took over at left tackle after Andrew Whitworth was allowed to leave as a free agent a year ago. Andre Smith was signed from Minnesota to play right tackle, which was Ogbuehi's spot. The arrangement didn't work.

Offensive line coach Paul Alexander was fired after the season, indicating an overhaul was coming on the line.

Glenn has been a Bills starter since being selected in the second round of the 2012 draft. He was limited to six games last year due to a left-foot injury that eventually required surgery. He also hurt his right ankle.

When healthy, Glenn has been dominant in both pass protection and run blocking. He was part of a Bills team that led the NFL in yards rushing in both 2015 and '16.

Dion Dawkins is in position to replace Glenn as the starter after filling in as a rookie last season. The Bills still have a need at center after Eric Wood was diagnosed with a career-ending neck injury in January.

Trading Glenn also solves yet another salary-cap related issue Beane inherited upon replacing Doug Whaley, who was fired a day after last year's draft concluded.

Glenn has three years left on a $65 million contract he signed in 2016 Rickard Rakell Jersey , and is due to make a $9.25 million base salary this season. Despite being traded, a portion of Glenn's bonus money will count against the Bills' salary cap this season.

Beane has taken a bold approach to reshaping the Bills through trades.

On the same day in August, he traded starting receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams and starting cornerback Ronald Darby to Philadelphia. In October, the Bills traded their highest-paid player, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, to Jacksonville for a sixth-round pick.

The depletion of talent didn't hamper the Bills from finishing 9-7 and making the playoffs to end a 17-year drought, which had been the longest active streak in North America's four major professional sports.

AP sports writer Joe Kay contributed to this report.

 

 http://www.officialusafootballs.com/atlanta-falcons 

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