NBA to test bigger ref crews in D-League

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The laboratory that is the NBA D-League is open for business again.The NBA will use its farm league to experiment for nine games with four- and five-person officiating crews starting later this month in an attempt to see if more eyes can create a better game.The expanded crews will be deployed in different manners over the experimental phase, which is a nine-game stretch of home games for the Long Island Nets, the farm team of the Brooklyn Nets.“I like the way our game is now and I don’t know if adding officials is going to change it or improve it but if it does, let’s go for it,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said Monday.The decision to experiment did not catch NBA coaches by surprise, adding officials was discussed at their meeting with the league and referees in September.Article Continued Below“I do know that they talked about that this summer and they experimented in Utah (summer league last July),” Casey said. “We talked about it at the coaches’ fall meetings and how that would help.”The D-League has long been where the NBA tries out rule changes to learn their impact. This season, the 24-second shot clock is being reset to 14 seconds on an offensive rebound (it’s 24 seconds in the NBA) and the D-League has allowed one coach’s challenge each game for three seasons.Casey wondered whether a coach’s challenge would work in the NBA.“Everything about our game is let’s keep the game short, not lengthen the game,” he said. “I love the reviews and all the things we’re doing with that, and I think (a challenge is) a good idea, but how you would do it and still keep the game short or in the same time frame would be the hard part.Toronto’s farm team, Raptors 905, plays the last of the nine test games with extra officials, March 19 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.LeBron of the week: The award is becoming newsworthy mostly because of the frequency with which one of the recipients keeps winning it.LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers was named the NBA’s Eastern Conference player of the week Monday after averaging 32.5 points — on 58.5 per cent shooting from the field — 8.0 assists and 7.8 rebounds in four Cleveland wins.It’s old hat, of course. The weekly honour was the 56th time in his career that James has won it and the third time this season.Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry were both finalists for the award. Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies was named Western Conference player of the week.A halftime legend: John Legend will provide the halftime entertainment at the NBA’s all-star game Feb. 19 in New Orleans, the league announced Monday.It’s the third time the 10-time Grammy winner has been part of the weekend festivities — he sang the American national anthem before the 2013 game in Houston and sang at halftime in Phoenix in 2009.

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