We have to start with this disclaimer — it was a preseason game. Which means about as much as an autographed Derek Jeter baseball. Actually, less.
That said, Chris Paul had 17 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and five steals and was a +24 against the Lakers in his first game as a Clipper. He was everything advertised and then some — silky smooth and smart.
The Lakers had big men like Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol hedge out hard on him on the pick-and-roll, yet Paul seemed unfazed and just picked apart the Lakers defense. The Lakers turned the ball over 21 times so the Clippers had plenty of transition opportunities, and you knew Paul and his running mates would be good there.
The Clippers were putting on the show, they were fun to watch. The Lakers looked like a team with 10 days of practice with a new coach.
It should be noted that the Lakers interior defense was solid but they were terrible on the perimeter (Mike Brown even called out Kobe Bryant after the game). Paul and the Clipper guards exploited this mercilessly (13 of 28 from three). Chauncey Billups had a game high 23 points and looked comfortable as the two guard. (The Lakers played defense with the intensity of the team that was swept out of the playoffs by Dallas.)
Again, one meaningless preseason game — even Brian Cook looked good for the Clips, you know that is not going to last — but this Chris Paul thing could work out very, very well in Los Angeles.
Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.
Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.
Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.
That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?
It just won’t die.
Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.
Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.
76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.
It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.
The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.
Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).
Norman Powell – get out of here.
Jared Sullinger – get out of here.
Dario Saric blocked consecutive dunk attempts in the 76ers’ 94-89 win over the Raptors. Philadelphia has won seven of nine and looks suddenly revitalized.
The best part of all this? Saric’s teammates’ reactions – though the actual blocks were pretty great themselves.