Chris Paul wants Pau Gasol to know he’s not his kid

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There is starting to be a real rivalry is Los Angeles.

It showed up in a little end of game sequence from the Lakers win over the Clippers Wednesday night between Chris Paul and Pau Gasol.

Chris Paul was walking near Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant and all were talking a little when Gasol reached out and rubbed Paul’s head in what is the kind of gesture you can do to friends but did not sit well with Paul at all.

“He touched the top of my head, and I didn’t like that,” said Paul, who nearly landed with the Lakers last month before the NBA squelched the deal. “You know what I mean. I don’t know if Pau’s got kids, but don’t touch my head like I’m one of your kids. I don’t know what his intentions were, like, ‘I’ll treat him like little Chris.’ I don’t know if he’s got kids, but I’m not one of them.”

Gasol, who has no kids, insisted he was misunderstood.

“I’m sorry he felt that way,” the Spanish 7-footer said. “I do that all the time with my teammates. Nothing mean about it.”

Walking off the court Paul and Gasol shared a few words we can’t repeat here.

Real rivalries are born out of real tensions, like the playoffs. This one isn’t there yet. But it’s getting serious.

For years the Clippers thought there was a rivalry but the Lakers looked at the Clippers like their annoying college dorm roommate, not a rival. They shared the same space, but that was about it. The Lakers and Clippers had little in common.

Now, with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the Clippers are treading on equal footing on the court with the Lakers. They are tied in the standings atop the Pacific Division after the Lakers win Wednesday night. Which is why things matter — in the West right now 1.5 games separates the three seed Spurs and the 10 seed Rockets. Good teams are going to miss the playoffs out West and seeding is going to matter and go down to the wire. Win the division and you are at least a four seed.

That’s legitimate reason for some passion. Plus after three losses the Lakers were desperate for a win and played like it. Which made the game chippy and fun — there were five technical and an ejection (Josh McRoberts). This felt like a playoff game and it was entertaining. The Lakers want to win another ring this year, but as the teams are built right now the Clippers will be the better team within 12 months. If they are not already.

What we really need is a Hallway Series in these playoffs. That would be fun. That would be the start of a real rivalry.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.