Chris Paul: Everyone loves Blake Griffin except those he dunked on

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Not everyone loves Blake Griffin anymore.

They did last year, when he burst on the scene and was throwing down monster dunks for an entertaining but ultimately harmless Clippers team. Then he went during the lockout and interned at Funny or Die and you realized the guy has a great sense of humor.

But this year the Clippers are a threat and Griffin is both acting and being perceived differently. He plays what ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz accurately described as a “confrontational” style of basketball — he is very physical, he complains about every call, he talks a lot of smack, he glares and stalks around the court. He tries to intimidate. And of course, he dunks on people.

It’s getting under some opponents skin, and some fans have started to grow disenfranchised with him.

Chris Paul doesn’t get that, he told the Oklahoman.

“What’s not to like about him?” he said. “He’s fun. He’s funny. He laughs, jokes, smiles. He’s a great guy off the court….

“Shoot, everybody loves him,” Paul said, getting fired up as he talked. “Shoot, don’t nobody love him more than my son. I don’t know nobody that don’t like Blake.”

He paused.

“Except for the guys he dunks on.”

It’s more than that. Griffin does at time come off as a bully at times, and on a team that is up and coming it rubs people wrong. Like all bullies, a day is coming when someone will stand up to him on the court.

But Griffin is like most athletes in that the guy they are on the court and off are two different guys. Off the court, Griffin is no doubt a good guy. Griffin the guy with the dry sense of humor and the funny commercials is a guy we want to see more of.

But the universal, unconditional love for Griffin is gone. No matter what Chris Paul sees.

LeBron James blows wide-open dunk (video)

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J.R. Smith (slightly out of context): “We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break.”

Report: Raptors’ Delon Wright out a month

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Raptors guard Delon Wright dislocated his shoulder, but at least he won’t need surgery.

Raptors media relations:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Raptors (11-5), off to a surprisingly strong start, are second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve bought themselves margin for error. All in all, a month-long absence for Wright isn’t so bad.

Wright had been a key part of an excellent all-bench unit that included Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Jakob Poeltl. Two-way player Lorenzo Brown has assumed Wright’s role, and Norman Powell – returning from his own injury – will provide a boost. Toronto can also stagger Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan more.

The chemistry of the bench mob was something to behold, but the Raptors should withstand this.

Report: Clippers PG Patrick Beverley out rest of season

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Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley underwent knee surgery – never a great sign.

The prognosis is about as bad as could be expected.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This injury isn’t just a setback for this season. It could derail the Clippers’ long-term plan.

They’ve already lost nine straight, and Danilo Gallinari and Milos Teodosic are injured. If they fall further out of playoff position, they could become sellers before the trade deadline, especially with DeAndre Jordan ($24,119,025 player option for next season) and Lou Williams ($7 million salary on expiring contract).

Health was always the major question with this team, and it won’t soften as Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari age through lucrative contracts.

The final year of Beverley’s contract is guaranteed for just $5,027,028 next season, and the 29-year-old will spend most of the summer recovering from this injury. That salary is probably low enough that the Clippers will keep him without hesitation.

Until then, down a couple point guards, the Clippers have no choice but to continue leaning more on Austin Rivers. That also means greater roles for second-round rookies Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell. That’s just too many players facing outsized responsibility.

The Pelicans, Grizzlies, Jazz and any other team competing for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference ought to feel better about their chances. They’re still competing with each other, and it’s doubtful all three make it. But Beverley’s injury helps clear the way.

The Clippers, who didn’t want to take a major step back after Chris Paul‘s departure, must confront an even more uneasy reality.

Giannis Antetokounmpo out for Bucks-Suns Eric Bledsoe revenge game

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Giannis Antetokounmpoone of the NBA’s best players – won’t help new Bucks teammate Eric Bledsoe in a revenge game against the Suns tonight.

Not only is Milwaukee missing Mirza Teletovic and John Henson (and Matthew Dellavedova and Jabari Parker), Antetokounmpo is out.

Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Antetokounmpo will miss Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns due to right knee soreness.

Antetokounmpo says his knee soreness is the same injury he dealt with in the off-season, which caused him to withdraw from the Greek national team.

“It feels good,” Antetokounmpo said after sitting out shootaround. “I’m just trying to be careful with it and not make any damage. That’s it, because it’s a long season and I’m trying to be careful.”

The Bucks have been outscored by 18.6 points per 100 possessions without Antetokounmpo this season (and are +2.3 without him). Phoenix isn’t good, but neither is Milwaukee without Antetokounmpo.

I don’t think Bledsoe will mind a chance to get more aggressive tonight, though.