Grizzlies coach backs off CP3 flopping charge, Clippers defend it

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On national television Monday night, Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said, “Chris (Paul) does a good job of flopping.” After the game when I asked a couple Grizzlies players about it, there was a nod of acknowledgment followed by a refusal to discuss the topic. It felt like they were under orders (and frustrated after an overtime loss).

Wednesday, Hollins has backed off his comments, speaking to Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com.

“Flopping was the wrong word to use,” Hollins said. “At that moment, I couldn’t think of a better word. It was a first-quarter interview on national TV, but I retract that word. But he’s good at drawing fouls and putting you in a position where he’ll get you behind him and see you. He’ll stop and make you run into him. Chris is just a great player.”

Personally, I would go with flopping. Paul is an elite player who is great at drawing fouls, he does put defenders in awkward positions. He also flops.

O.J. Mayo was willing to discuss it with ESPN.

“Both teams are trying to play physical, but one team is a little better at acting than the other team,” Mayo said. “Those guys do flop. They’re great players. It’s working. They’re getting to the free-throw line. They’re able to put their opponent in foul trouble. If that’s what it takes to get the job done, I guess we all need to start doing it.”

And the Clippers are not denying they sell calls.

“I think so,” Griffin said. “It’s one of those things where every play means a lot. You never know what one play can do, so you’re making sure you’re getting every possession you can.”

Griffin, Paul and a lot of the Clippers get fouled a lot and get fouled hard. It’s a byproduct of their aggressive style. But they also sell those fouls to draw calls. You can see it during game replays. And you can also bet the NBA referees — a savvier bunch that most fans realize — know who embellishes.

All of this by the way is moot for Game 5 — the Clippers are not up 3-1 because Chris Paul flops, they are up 3-1 because he has been the best player in this series and by far the best in the fourth quarter. This has been a close, hard-fought series where Paul and the Clippers have executed better at the end.

If Memphis does not change that around Wednesday, they will be watching the Clippers in a flop-fest against San Antonio very soon.

Heat snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

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The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.

After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.

Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.

The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.

Serge Ibaka gets dunked on by Enes Kanter, hit in face by ball (video)

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Is Enes Kanter mad Serge Ibaka rifted with his family?

(No, not this family. That family.)

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.