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.

Gordon Hayward’s agent says return this season unlikely

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Wednesday night in Boston Gordon Hayward underwent surgery to repair his dislocated ankle and fractured tibia suffered just five minutes into the season-opening game, a gruesome injury that put a pall over the rest of the night.

There had been hope from some Celtics fans that Hayward could return this season, likely for the playoffs, but now that the surgery is complete Hayward’s agent told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN not to expect him back until next season.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who saw the injury. Hayward is in the first year of a four-year deal with the Celtics, they were always going to choose a cautious path rather than rush him back. Under Danny Ainge Boston has always taken the long view, even with all their moves this summer — specifically bringing in Hayward and Kyrie Irving — the target was to be the team set up for next as LeBron James and the Cavaliers faded. That plan does not change now.

Earlier in the day, Hayward had sent a video message out to Celtics fans thanking them for their support in the past 24 hours.

Without Hayward, the Celtics now will focus more on smaller lineups, rookie Jayson Tatum will get more run, as will Marcus Smart in his contract year. Jaylen Brown will be thrust into a more significant role. Also, Kyrie Irving will be asked to do more as the team’s second-best playmaker is now out for the season.

The Celtics will take a step back this season without Hayward, who was going to be crucial for them on both ends of the floor. That’s evidenced by their 0-2 start, falling to the Cavaliers and Bucks on the first couple nights of the season. Boston should still be a team well above .500 and in the playoffs, but they will not be quite the same this season.

Trail Blazers beat Suns by 48, biggest season-opening rout in NBA history

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Any controversy over C.J. McCollum‘s suspension for the season-opener should be put to rest. The Trail Blazers fared fine without him.

More than fine.

Portland beat the Suns, 124-76, Wednesday. The 48-point margin is the largest ever in a season opener, even as the Trail Blazers let a 58-point fourth-quarter lead dwindle.

Here are the most lopsided season-openers in NBA history (openers for both teams appearing twice):

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The 48-point defeat is also the Suns’ worst lost in franchise history, topping a 44-point loss to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1988. It could be a long year in Phoenix.

Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova scrap (video)

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Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova thrive on aggravating opponents, so when matched up, of course they aggravated each other.

Deduct points from Smart for pulling the hold-me-back charade behind a referee. Plus, Dellavedova’s Bucks beat Smart’s Celtics, 108-100.

Report: ‘Tremendous concern’ for Jeremy Lin’s knee injury

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The Nets’ projected record this season came under greater scrutiny when the Celtics traded Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick to the Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving trade. After finishing third-to-last and last the previous two years, were the Nets poised to take a step forward, or would they convey a very high pick to the Cavs?

Jeremy Lin, who missed 46 games last season, getting healthy was a reason for optimism in Brooklyn and pessimism in Cleveland. But it appears the veteran guard could be out a while.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Billy Reinhardt of Nets Daily:

If the injury is as bad as feared, what a bummer for Lin. He came to Brooklyn expecting to play a leading role on a developing team, and he just can’t stay healthy.

The Nets were probably more focused on developing their younger players, but – especially without their own draft picks – there was no harm in shooting for the playoffs. This appears to a blow to that (already unlikely) dream.

It’s a boon to the Cavaliers, though. And whenever something significantly affects LeBron James‘ team, it has ramifications into the entire power dynamic of the Eastern Conference. For an injury to a player on a team most expect to be bad, the medical developments here will be tracked closely around the league.