Kobe says this is the best Clippers team he’s ever seen

10 Comments

The Clippers are the best team in Los Angeles. Right now, it’s not all that close.

But Los Angeles is still a Lakers town. So when people want to validate how good the Clippers are they go and ask the Lakers about it. Because that’s just kind of how L.A. works.

So ESPNLA.com’s Dave McMenamin went to Kobe Bryant, who has been in Los Angeles 17 years (since the Clippers were playing in the outdated Los Angeles Sports Arena and being led by Loy Vaught and Malik Sealy) to ask Kobe if this is the best Clippers team he’s ever seen.

“I don’t think it’s a question about it. To put together win streaks that are that long, it shows a lot of focus, it shows a lot of unity and a lot of depth because they can beat you multiple ways,” Bryant continued. “If you’re going to have a winning streak that’s that extensive, you have to have guys coming in from all aspects of the game.”

Mike D’Antoni was singing the Clippers praises, too.

“They’re real good and they’re having a great streak, so we’ll have to reckon with them and they’re kind of setting the bar of where we need to get to,” D’Antoni said.

For the Lakers, it doesn’t really matter that the Clippers are just down the hall. They need to focus on themselves right now.

While some in the national media will try to say “the Clippers are taking over Los Angeles” if you walk around town or listen to sports talk radio in Los Angeles, you know the Lakers have the hearts and minds of the city. You see more Clippers gear now than you used to, and people follow them, but L.A., but it’s not really all that close.

But the better team? The team that could really prove a threat to Oklahoma City in the West? The team that has a guy who should be mentioned in MVP talk (Chris Paul)?

The Clippers have all that. And they have the respect of the Lakers and everybody else in the NBA right now.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: I’ve never seen injury like Kawhi Leonard’s

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
1 Comment

Gregg Popovich is a basketball lifer.

He’s the NBA’s most experienced active head coach. Before that, he was the Spurs’ general manager. Before that, he was an NBA assistant. Before that, he was a college head coach and assistant. Before that, he was a college player. Before that, he was a youth player.

The San Antonio coach has seen everything.

Except the right quadriceps tendinopathy suffered by Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich said more than a week would return “sooner rather than later.” Yet, Leonard still hasn’t played this season.

Popovich, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

“Never, never,” Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. “What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”

“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said jokingly. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”

The 26-year-old Leonard is one of the NBA’s biggest on-court stars. He might be the league’s best defender, and he has built himself into an offensive force. The Spurs (11-7) have fared fine without him so far, but they’ll need him to accomplish their main goals – this year and beyond.

Hopefully, Leonard’s health is better than it sounds here, because Popovich’s answer sure isn’t encouraging.

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

4 Comments

The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!

Luc Mbah a Moute sets modern record at +57 in Rockets’ win over Nuggets

AP Foto/Eric Christian Smith
1 Comment

Luc Mbah a Moute is a quietly good player.

He’s an effective and versatile defender. Offensively, he shoots 3-pointers well enough to score efficiently and spread the floor. Most of all, the 31-year-old just understands how to play and plays within himself. His teams tend to perform better when he’s on the floor.

That’s an understatement for Wednesday night.

In a 125-95 win, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 57 points in Mbah a Moute’s 26 minutes. That’s the best single-game plus-minus in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 2000-01 season. It tops Joe Smith’s +52 in a 2001 Timberwolves win over the Bulls, a 53-point game that also produced a +50 for Wally Szczerbiak and +48 for Terrell Brandon.

Mbah a Moute’s traditional stat line was impressive, though not overly so: 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, four steals and an assist. He played well, contributing to winning in all the small ways he often does, and the Rockets happened to play excellently around him.

Now, Mbah a Moute tops the leaderboard in single-game plus-minus since 2000-01:

image

Did Russell Westbrook get mad at Steven Adams for not taking potential triple-double-clinching shot? (video)

4 Comments

Russell Westbrook chases triple-doubles.

That hardly makes him unique. He’s just close enough to the feat more often than other players, so he chases them more often.

But he still chases them.

Late in the Thunder’s 108-91 win over the Warriors last night, Westbrook was heading toward his final line of 34 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. His teammates shot off his passes on three of Oklahoma City’s final four possessions before he took a seat (including one assist). The exception came when he passed to Steven Adams, who passed rather than shoot – clearly upsetting Westbrook.

Was Westbrook mad because he missed his chance at a triple-double? Maybe.

Was Westbrook mad because Adams passed as the shot clock neared expiration? Maybe.

It could be both!

Watch Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry on Golden State’s bench. They clearly found something funny.