Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose learning physical price of stardom

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Derrick Rose vented after Charlie Villanueva bloodied his nose that he was sick of the cheap shots and hard fouls.

Monday afternoon, Blake Griffin echoed he same thing, via the Orange County Register (hat tip to SLAM).

“I’m definitely sick of taking hard hits,” Griffin said after the Clippers’ shootaround Monday. “…There’s a point, I can’t remember what game it was, in my mind where I thought this is kind of ridiculous. I’m sick of it, but it’s going to keep on happening…

“It’s affected me this year a lot, especially with the referees,” he said. “I’m just getting frustrated and getting my self in trouble with officials.”

Griffin and Rose have joined an illustrious club with a long history in the NBA — star players other teams foul hard.

These are two guys who get to the rim and don’t shy away from contact doing so. They are two guys who are strong — if your goal is to wrap them up and make them earn it from the line you had better come hard or they will power through and get the and-1. Fouls are part of the defense against stars and you get hit hard. Sometimes without a call.

You’re going to get more of those fouls if you are Griffin and shooting 52 percent from the free throw line. Fouling you is a smart strategy.

Griffin and Rose are responding with another age-old NBA move — trying to reach the referees through the media. Working the officials is as much a part of the game as dribbling. You do it at the games — although Griffin has pushed that a little too far this year at points, something it sounds like he recognizes.

Griffin and Rose also both seem to realize this isn’t going to stop.

Whether it is LeBron James or Kobe Bryant now, Michael Jordan before them, and a long string of stars extending to before George Mikan laced up his Converse — stars get treated physically. It doesn’t mean the league should tolerate what Jason Smith did (it shouldn’t) but if you are a star now you pay a physical price.

It’s part of it. You just have to deal with it.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.