Jeff Hornacek blames illegal screen on Dellavedova, who was on bench

ByDave McMenamin ESPN logo
Wednesday, December 30, 2015

DENVER -- Following thePhoenix Suns' 101-97 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, embattled Suns coach Jeff Hornacek criticized Cavs guard Matthew Dellavedova for provoking officials into calling an offensive foul on Tyson Chandler late in the game.

Only there was one major problem with Hornacek's criticism: Dellavedova was on the bench during the play, in which Chandler was called for setting an illegal screen on Iman Shumpert. The foul nullified a 3-pointer by Brandon Knight that would have turned Phoenix's one-point deficit into a two-point lead with 46 seconds remaining.

"You see picks all game long that are illegal, and then all of a sudden they're going to call that one, so that was a tough one right there," Hornacek said during his opening remarks after the game. "I'm sure whether it was legal, illegal, I can guarantee Dellavedova probably pulled Tyson. It's the trick. You watch these games on tape, he does it all the time. So I guess that's a smart play. He suckered the guy into calling it."

Cleveland coach David Blatt was asked about Hornacek's erroneous statement before his team's game against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday.

"If he's calling out a guy that wasn't on the court, I guess that sort of says it all, doesn't it?" Blatt said. "I don't think I need to respond to that. That says everything in and of itself."

Dellavedova's reaction to Hornacek's quote was similarly deadpan.

"I mean, I guess me and Shump look pretty similar," Dellavedova said.

Asked about Hornacek's claim that he is trying to deceive officials when he plays, Dellavedova barely dignified it with a response.

"I mean, I don't really know what to say to that," he said. "Yeah, I mean, yeah. That's interesting but, um, yeah. No real comment on it, I guess."

During the playoffs last spring, Dellavedova had run-ins with several opposing players throughout the Cavs' journey to the Finals. During their series withAtlanta, LeBron James was asked about Dellavedova's "dirty reputation" and staunchly defended him, saying Dellavedovagets a "bad rap" and "he doesn't deserve it."

Asked whether it bothers him that the reputation still follows him, Dellavedova somewhat eluded the question while also pointing out an apparent hypocrisy in Hornacek's criticism.

"No, I mean, Tyson Chandler sets good screens, but they're not always perfectly still, but they're still a good screen," he said. "So it's hard to get around. It was obviously a huge play in the game. A one-point game, and they made the 3 after it. But yeah, a moving screen was called [against Chandler] on Shump."

Dellavedova is having a career year, averaging 9.0 points, 5.3 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game and shooting 44.9 percent from 3-point range. He said he has too many responsibilities during the course of a game to focus on the referees.

"I think as a point guard you got a lot of other things to worry about," he said. "Making sure we run our right stuff, trying to protect our defense. That's usually the first line of defense. So that's the furthest thing from my mind."