Chris Paul is really good, which makes Clippers better than Warriors

4 Comments

For three-plus quarters, the Clippers did not look like the Golden Child, the team anointed to take over Los Angles, lob city, Western Conference contenders. Their half court offensive execution was unimpressive and Chauncey Billups suddenly had the shot selection of a rookie.

Then Chris Paul took over the game. In the final 6:07 of the game he was 4-of-4 shooting for eight points, plus he had four assists and he was +16.

The Clippers cruised to a 105-86 win that sounds like a much bigger blowout than it really was. But they are 1-0 to start the season.

This game showed how far the Clippers need to go to live up to their potential. In the preseason against the Lakers Blake Griffin was slipping every-other screen he set for Paul, who was attacking aggressively off it. In this game any chemistry they seemed to be building was gone. As a team the Clippers lacked energy on the road (save for DeAndre Jordan, who was blocking shots like an All-Star and finished with eight). Golden State owned the Clippers on the glass for three quarters (Jordan’s eagerness for blocks was part of that) and it nearly cost them.

But in the end they did what top teams do — they can be ugly for 40 minutes, own the last eight because the have the superior talent, and win going away. And make no mistake, CP3 was the superior talent late.

Golden State looked sloppy as well — Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis combined to shoot 8-for-31 on the night. With nine turnovers. Curry’s play made you wonder if his ankle bothered him, Ellis made you wonder where his head is.

Really, the whole game was ugly. Particularly at the end of the third quarter when rookie coach Mark Jackson decided to go with the “hack-a-Jordan” philosophy and keep sending DeAndre to the line. Let us thank the basketball gods that Vinny Del Negro did not counter with the hack-a-Andris Biedrins system. (By the way, Biedrins had a pretty solid game. He’s back, baby! Maybe.) Blake Griffin had 22 points but needed 18 shots to get there, which is still better than Billups 21 points on 19 shots.

It wasn’t pretty. We can thank the lockout for that. But in the end the best player on the court took over the game, which is what happens in the NBA and. It why you pay a steep price to go get a guy like Chris Paul. He’s that good. And he gets you wins with about six minutes of good play.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
1 Comment

CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
1 Comment

Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

1 Comment

LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

4 Comments

For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.