There was a point at the start of the summer, way back in June, when you could picture the Clippers being better than the Lakers this season. The Lakers were what they were, the Clippers had young pieces like Blake Griffin that should be improving.
Then Steve Nash and Dwight Howard happened. And now in Los Angeles once again are an afterthought (at least if you read the papers or listen to sports talk radio).
Blake Griffin, he doesn’t care. He’s pumped about the Clippers — who added Jamal Crawford and Lamar Odom — and is not sold on the Lakers, as he told the Oklahoman while back at his alma mater.
Griffin said he’s “very excited” about where the additions have placed the Clippers but added that Howard’s arrival in Los Angeles have overshadowed those and others around the league.
“There’s a lot of great teams and a lot of good talent as well,” Griffin said. “It’s funny because the Heat have managed to somehow fly under the radar this summer and they added Ray Allen. So we can’t forget about all these other teams. We can’t worry about just the Lakers.”
The Lakers are getting all the buzz because that’s what the new teams get, and when it’s a superteam in a major market it is moreso. But Griffin’s point about the West is valid and he also used the common “on paper” comment about the Lakers.
“On paper it looks great,” Griffin said during a recent visit to Norman. “People said the same thing when we got C.P., Chris Paul. But they still got to go out there and play…
“I think there’s a lot of tough teams in the Western Conference. There’s one right here (in Oklahoma City) that the Lakers have to get over,” Griffin said. “The Spurs have been a good team for the past 500 years. And I think we’re preparing for that. So that’s kind of what you expect people to do. You expect them to hand out the trophy in the middle of the summer. So we’re not worried about that. We’re not worried about just the Lakers.”
The NBA acknowledged the attention-grabbing officiating error late in the Bulls’ win over the Kings on Saturday: DeMarcus Cousins shouldn’t have been called for fouling Dwyane Wade, who hit the go-ahead free throw with 14 seconds left.
But before Sacramento claims the referees cost it a win, the Last Two Minute Report reveals a more significant missed call that favored the Kings.
Cousins should have been called for travelling with 56.3 left as he drove for a basket, according to the league:
Cousins (SAC) moves his pivot foot. The official is looking for any illegal contact and does not pick up the pivot foot.
The non-call directly allowed Cousins to score two points. Wade made only one free throw.
The officiating errors in the final two minutes helped the Kings more than the Bulls.
(Sacramento center Kosta Koufos also got away with a shooting foul on Jimmy Butler with 37.8 seconds left, according to the league, but Robin Lopez tipped in Butler’s miss, anyway. The Bulls weren’t shorted any points on that possession.)
The Trail Blazers beat the Celtics on Saturday in an overtime thriller. The game provided so much action, there was little objection when what would’ve been one of the most exciting plays was waived off.
But it should have counted.
With Boston down one one and 11 seconds left, Marcus Smart stripped Damian Lillard under Portland’s own basket and immediately hit a go-ahead layup. Except officials called a foul on Smart – in error, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:
Smart (BOS) makes clean contact with the ball.
Lillard went to the line and made both free throws, and Terry Rozier made a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime, where the Trail Blazers emerged with a 127-123 win.
Portland still would’ve had a chance to answer, but with a correct call, Boston would have held the lead a much better chance of winning in regulation.
Jeremy Lin has been in and out of the Nets’ lineup due to a lingering hamstring injury. He has already missed 31 games, including the last 11.
The point guard hoped to return around now, but that’s not happening.
The following statement has been released by Brooklyn Nets General Manager Sean Marks:
“During the course of his rehab, Jeremy re-aggravated his strained left hamstring and will be out approximately three to five weeks as he continues to work towards a full recovery. We understand and appreciate Jeremy’s competitive desire to get back on the court with his teammates, however, we are going to be cautious with his rehab in order to ensure that he is at full strength once he returns.”
Of course, this improves the fortunes of the Celtics,who own the Nets’ 2017 first-round pick. Brooklyn, 9-34 and 4.5 games worse than anyone else in the NBA, appears even more certain to secure the No. 1 seed in the lottery.
The Nets have been bad with Lin this season and a little worse without him. With no first-rounder, the difference is negligible to them.
Isaiah Whitehead, Sean Kilpatrick and Spencer Dinwiddie will get more opportunities to develop. But Brooklyn is probably overburdening those young guards. Even with Lin, there was plenty of playing time available.
Robert Covington hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the 76ers’ 93-92 win over the Trail Blazers on Friday, but that wasn’t Covington’s only triple as Philadelphia overcame a four-point deficit in the final 40 seconds. He also buried a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left.
The catch: That shot came after Philadelphia should have turned the ball over, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.
Gerald Henderson missed a 3-pointer, and Dario Saric prevented the rebound from going out of bounds, saving the ball with a pass to Covington. Except Saric got away with stepping out of bounds with the ball with 42.1 seconds left, per the league:
Saric’s (PHI) left foot is out of bounds when he makes contact with the loose ball.
That would’ve given Portland the ball up four.
The 76ers overcome the odds to win this game. But a correct call might have produced too steep of a hill for Philadelphia to climb.