tony allen

Baseline to Baseline recaps: The Grizzlies are some big, tough bears

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What you missed while running the Iditarod

Grizzlies 107, Thunder 101: You can add the Oklahoma City Thunder to list of teams that would like to avoid the Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs.

This was the kind of game the Thunder really could have used Kendrick Perkins because the Grizzlies had 15 offensive boards and controlled the play in the paint. Still this game was tied midway through the fourth, but for the second night in a row Mike Conley and Zach Randolph were the ones making the plays down the stretch. Shane Battier had a good game at both ends and did a solid job on Kevin Durant, and Tony Allen is just making plays for Memphis.

Trail Blazers 89, Magic 85: Dwight Howard was sitting out for a night because he’d been a bad, bad boy. Talking back the to those nice, kind refs who just don’t notice as guys take whacks at Howard all game long. But we digress.

The Magic put up a fight without their best player, clawing all the way back from 14 down in the third quarter. But it wasn’t just the lack of Howard that was the problem. For one it was the 18 turnovers, 21.4 percent of their possessions (Gilbert Arenas led the way with six). Then some ugly late-game possessions — they had chance at a transition three down four with 8 seconds to go and Hedo Turkoglu passed up a good look to throw it to Earl Clark for some inexplicable reasons, and from there their slim chances faded to black.

Clippers 92, Bobcats 87: Bobcats just cannot generate offense right now (with Stephen Jackson injured and Gerald Wallace traded). An offensive rating of  96.5 (points per 100 possessions) is not going to do it. They did a good defensive job on the Clippers — who had a balanced attack — but when they needed buckets late they were hoping D.J. Augustin would create something. Nice game from Boris Diaw — 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting, eight rebounds, eight assists, and a steal in 41 minutes on Monday — if he did that consistently it would be a big help. But he will not.

Knicks 131, Jazz 109: Al Jefferson said after the game the game:  “We don’t look like a team trying to make the playoffs.” You expected the offense to struggle with Deron Williams gone, but the Jazz played terrible defense in this one. Terrible. Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire combined for 65 points on 31 shots.

Bulls 85, Hornets 77: Credit the Hornets for putting up a fight — no Chris Paul, on the road on the second night of a back-to-back. Aside that, this was a pretty ugly game to watch — the winning team shot 38.3 percent. The Bulls won by closing the game out on an 8-0 rum

Mavericks 108, Timberwolves 105: Wolves were up 11 in the first half but by early in the second half the Mavericks had fought all the way back and were up two so you expected them to pull away and… not so fast. The Wolves made a real fight to the end, they were up a point with 2:15 left. But Dirk Nowitzki knocked down some free throws, Jason Kidd came with a steal, there was a Jason Terry three, followed by a Kevin Love miss and so on and so on….

Rockets 123, Kings 101: This fast became a route in the second half. Rick Adelman won what may be his last game in ARCO, er, Power Balance Arena. He won a lot of games there back in the day.

Draymond Green: Warriors laughed at Jazz coach Quin Snyder for late timeouts

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After trailing the Warriors by 25 last night, the Jazz cut the deficit to five early in the fourth quarter. Golden State re-inserted starters and pushed lead back to double digits.

Still, Utah coach Quin Snyder called three timeouts in final 1:05 with Utah never closer than seven – a strategy that earned scorn from Draymond Green.

Green, via CSN Bay Area:

“We were laughing at Quinn Snyder who kept calling timeouts,” Draymond told reporters after the game. “Like bro, you’re down 10 with six seconds left, it’s kinda over my man.”

“Just let us go to the restaurant and have a good dinner; just chill,” Draymond added. “That’s what we were laughing at.

The Warriors travelled hundreds of miles to Utah, and the teams battled for hours. What was a few more minutes for the Jazz to maximize their miniscule chance of a comeback? Honestly, I’m surprised how often teams throw in the towel in those situations.

Besides, it was actually an eight-point difference with nine seconds left for Snyder’s final timeout. The Jazz were down just two four-point plays. There was plenty of time for that.

Nine-year veteran Eric Gordon finally chose his team, and he’s clicking with Rockets

AUBURN HILLS, MI - NOVEMBER 21: Eric Gordon #10 of the Houston Rockets tires to get a shot off against the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills on November 21, 2016 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
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A New Orleans restricted free agent in 2012, Eric Gordon signed a max offer sheet with the Suns and infamously declared his heart to be in Phoenix.

New Orleans matched anyway.

“I knew it wasn’t going to happen,” Gordon said. “I knew they were going to bring me back all along.”

So why make those statements? Why alienate New Orleans fans?

“You just never know what a team might do or not,” Gordon said.

Gordon been around long enough now to know you never know, even when you’re certain you do. But this much he clearly believes: In his ninth NBA season and on the first team he picked, he’s happy with the Rockets.

Gordon was drafted onto the Donald Sterling, pre-Blake Griffin Clippers, who had made the playoffs just four times in the previous 32 years and had developed a reputation for cheapness and disarray. They went 19-63, 29-53 and 32-50 in Gordon’s three years in Los Angeles. Yet he says, “I enjoyed my time there.”

He was traded to New Orleans as the centerpiece of the Clippers’ package for Chris Paul, and he doesn’t look back on his time with the Hornets/Pelicans quite so fondly. “Nobody was on the same page over there,” Gordon said. “It was just different. We had the talent there, and things just didn’t work out.”

Gordon admits he sometimes wonders what would’ve happened if he had gone to the Suns. But they haven’t made the playoffs and are on their fourth coach since his offer sheet. “After looking back on it now, they had a lot of chaos and turmoil there, too,” Gordon said.

So, Houston is a welcome reprieve.

Gordon’s first unrestricted free agency yielded a four-year contract worth more than $52 million. He’s averaging 17.0 points per game, his highest mark in five years. He has been healthy after after missing 173 games in five years with New Orleans. And the Rockets are 15-7, on pace for what would easily be Gordon’s most successful season.

Playing with James Harden and for Mike D’Antoni – whose fondness for Gordon dates back to their gold-medal run with Team USA in the 2010 World Championship – has treated Gordon well. Houston is focused on offense, Gordon’s specialty, and its system accentuates his strengths.

Gordon leads the NBA with seven open 3-pointers per game, which he’s converting at 41.3% clip:

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Notice the other Rockets on that list: Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza. Benefitting from playing alongside Harden – an attention-tracker and willing passer – is not unique.

But Gordon does more than just rely on Harden to get him open shots. Since moving to the bench with Patrick Beverley healthy, Gordon has proven particularly valuable when Harden sits.

Houston scores 118.7 points per 100 possessions with Harden on the floor, per NBAwowy!. That mark obviously plummets without Harden, one of the NBA’s best offensive players.

Gordon has prevented it from falling too far, though.

He scores more points per 36 minutes (15.5 to 28.5) and does so with a higher true shooting percentage (56.0 to 62.5) from with Harden to without. He also handles more playmaking, increasing his assists per 36 minutes (2.4 to 4.1), though also, disproportionally, his turnovers per 36 minutes (1.5 to 3.6).

Still, Gordon’s effect on the Rockets’ offense without Harden is tremendously positive.

  • Houston’s offensive rating without Harden – with Gordon: 107.7
  • Houston’s offensive rating without Harden – without Gordon: 86.7

Propping up the Rockets’ Harden-less offense has made Gordon an early contender for Sixth Man of the Year. Here are the win-share leaders among eligible players:

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Given voting history, ranking eligible players by points per game is probably more predictive. It’s at least even more flattering to Gordon:

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Lakers guard Lou Williams deserves to be the early favorite for the award. I’m also quite high on Spurs guard Patty Mills.

But Gordon belongs solidly in the mix.

It might not be the stardom the Clippers predicted when they drafted him No. 7 or New Orleans envisioned when it twice acquired him, but at least Gordon is happily contributing to a winner. After so much controversy – both invited (his Suns saga) and uninvited (being part of the Chris Paul trade) – he sounds happy in Houston.

“You just try to stride it out with whatever team you’re on. So, you know, it’s been a unique situation,” Gordon said. “But here, it’s been good.”

Kyle Lowry to critical DeMar DeRozan: ‘Every shot you shoot is a bad shot, analytic-wise’ (video)

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Your reminder that Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are the best together.

DeRozan was asked about Lowry’s long 3-pointers after the Raptors’ win over the Timberwolves last night.

  • DeRozan: “”Them shots be lucky. … To me, it’s a bad shot.”
  • Lowry (off camera): “Every shot you shoot is a bad shot, analytic-wise.”

That’s not quite what the analytics say, but I won’t let the facts get in the way of a superb diss.

Gregg Popovich pins Spurs’ effort problems on players: ‘I don’t remember playing tonight’ (video)

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gives instructions against the Detroit Pistons in the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich., Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Spurs fell behind by 18 and eventually lost to the Bulls, 95-91, last night – which begged the question:

Does San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich bear any responsibility for his team’s lack of early intensity?

Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:

Popovich:

I don’t remember playing tonight. I didn’t play. Guys get a lot of money to be ready to play. No Knute Rockne speeches. It’s your job. If you’re a plumber and you don’t do your job, you don’t get any work. I don’t think a plumber needs a pep talk. If a doctor botches operations, he’s not a doctor anymore. If you’re a basketball player, you come ready. It’s called maturity. It’s your job.

Like it or not, motivation is part of an NBA coach’s job.

But that’s also precisely what Popovich is doing.

His credentials dwarf any other coach’s. He can play to his own ego and absolve himself of responsibility – and players will seek to please him. His years of success have earned him the ability to motivate this way, a method no other coach could use without alienating his team.