Grizzlies pull away in Game 4 to even series with Clippers at two games apiece

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The Grizzlies imposed their will on the the Clippers for the second straight game of the series, and as a result, we’re all tied at two games apiece. Memphis got monster performances from both Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol that allowed the team to pull away for a convincing 104-83 Game 4 win over the Clippers.

Game 5 is Tuesday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

We’d love to break down for you exactly how the first two quarters unfolded, but since we weren’t physically in the building for this one, that would be impossible. Thanks to the Bulls needing three overtimes to take care of the Nets, along with the fact that there was no contingency plan in place from TNT (which had the broadcast rights for each of these games), nobody but those inside the FedEx Forum in Memphis actually witnessed the first half.

It appeared as though Chris Paul came out with a mindset to be more aggressive from the start, after finishing with just eight points and four assists against five turnovers in L.A.’s Game 3 loss. Paul had 14 points and five assists at the intermission, with zero turnovers.

The Grizzlies had some positives in the first half as well, once again getting Zach Randolph going early to the tune of 16 first half points to go along with seven rebounds. Memphis got out to a lead of as many as 12 in the first quarter, but the Clippers had managed to come back to take a one-point lead at the break.

The game remained close throughout the third quarter, but Marc Gasol really got rolling for Memphis, scoring 14 of his 24 points in the period.

Memphis blew it open in the fourth, thanks to a 19-5 run to start the period that lasted the first six and a half minutes. L.A. couldn’t do anything offensively in the final frame, and while they created open looks from three-point distance, they knocked down just 1-8 from beyond the arc in the game’s final 12 minutes.

Paul once again struggled to produce late in the game, and managed just one point, one assists, and one turnover in just over seven minutes of fourth quarter action.

The Clippers missed some open looks, but the lack of attention to detail on the defensive end is really what killed them down the stretch. Randolph and Gasol carried the offensive load over the first three quarters, but it was Mike Conley, Quincy Pondexter, and Tony Allen who did the damage in the fourth, as L.A. allowed Memphis to shoot 10-of-16 in the final period for 62.5 percent.

The Grizzlies controlled the rebounding battle for the second straight game, grabbing eight more than the Clippers on the offensive end and 17 more in total. Memphis seemed to simply want it more on their home floor, and honestly showed more fight down the stretch than did Los Angeles.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Clippers can get back to what made them successful in the first two games of this series once things shift back home for Game 5. It wouldn’t seem to be as simple as home court advantage, but the way that L.A. fell apart in the fourth quarter while Memphis seemed to see its entire team surge, the Clippers returning to their home floor might allow them to do the same.

Edmond Sumner declares for NBA draft despite torn ACL

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Edmond Sumner has grown about five inches since high school.

That has helped turn the 6-foot-5 Xavier point guard into an intriguing NBA prospect — but also seemingly contributed to physical complications. Sumner missed nearly all of his freshman year with knee tendinitis. Then, after a promising second season and start to his third, he tore his ACL in January.

Still, he’s entering the NBA draft.

Sumner:

Rick Broering of Musketeer Report:

Like with Duke’s Harry Giles, medical testing will be huge with Sumner. But at least Giles ended the season on the court. Sumner might not be healthy at all during the pre-draft process.

Sumner looked like a borderline first-round pick before the injury. This probably pushes him into the second round.

His long strides provide impressive speed and quickness, and he’s still shifty. Add quality court vision, and his ability to drive by defenders is even more valuable.

A 6-foot-8 wingspan and good lateral mobility also help make him a quality defender.

But it’s also concerning that so much of his positives could be undermined by his knee issues, especially considering his unreliable jumper. If Sumner can’t move like he did before getting hurt, I don’t see how he sticks in the NBA.

If Sumner’s knees check out, it’s worth rolling the dice on him and hoping his jumper develops. He might even be OK without shooting range, though that’d lower his ceiling considerably.

Again, though, the first thing is examining his knees.

PBT Extra: Can Boston hang on to the No. 1 seed in East?

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In an unexpected twist as the season winds down, the Cavaliers have stumbled — 8-11 since the All-Star break — while the Celtics have just kept on winning. Suddenly the Boston Celtics are on top of the East with the best record.

Can they stay on top through the rest of the season?

Does it matter to the Cavaliers?

I cover all this ground in the latest PBT Extra.

Draymond Green on Raiders move to Las Vegas: I won’t attend another game

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The Raiders are moving from Oakland to Las Vegas, and Draymond Green — whose Warriors also play in Oakland is not pleased.

Green, via Monte Poole of CSN Bay Area:

I wouldn’t attend a game. I won’t attend a game.

“And I’m not a diehard Raiders fan, but I support the city of Oakland. It ain’t for me and I feel like all fans should feel that way. You just don’t do that. Come on man, that’s ridiculous.”

“If I were the fans, I wouldn’t attend a game for the next two years. But that’s just me. That’s ridiculous. No way I’d pay my money to attend a game.”

 

Um, does Green realize the Warriors are also moving from Oakland (to a new arena in San Francisco)?

Green:

“It’s one thing if you’re moving them from Oakland to Fremont or something,” Green said of the Raiders. “To Las Vegas?

OK, that’s Fair. I am just being pedantic. I don’t actually see moving across the bay as similar to the Raiders moving hundreds of miles away.

Green:

“That’s like moving the Dallas Cowboys or moving the Packers,” he said. “Moving the Raiders? You can move a lot of teams. Ain’t many fan bases like the Raiders fan base. That’s like moving the Boston Celtics from Boston or the Lakers from LA.

“You just don’t move certain franchises with the fan base they have.”

But seriously this time: Someone tell Green that the Raiders have already moved from Oakland to Los Angeles and back to Oakland — hundreds of miles each way and a ridiculous drive in traffic.

I get that Green — who grew up in Detroit Lions territory, roots for the Pittsburgh Steelers and is pictured above in a San Francisco 49ers jersey — just wants to connect with Oakland fans, but this argument is just intellectually dishonest.

Lonzo Ball: I’m better than Markelle Fultz

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Who should go No. 1 in the 2017 NBA draft?

A pair of Pac-12 freshmen point guards, Washington’s Markelle Fultz and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, lead the discussion.

Fultz looks like the leading contender, but Ball doesn’t buy into the conventional wisdom.

Ball, via ESPN:

“Markelle’s a great player, but I feel I’m better than him,” said Ball, who led the Bruins to a pair of blowout victories over Fultz’s Huskies this season.

“I think I can lead a team better than him,” Ball added. “Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

This will get spun into a discussion of Lonzo’s father, LaVar Ball. But, without digging deeply, D'Angelo Russell, Shabazz Muhammad and Enes Kanter each claimed to be the best player in their respective drafts. Look further, and there are many more examples.

Reaching Lonzo Ball’s level usually comes with supreme confidence. This is normal — not a cause for concern about the influence of his boastful dad.

And for what’s it’s worth, I’d favor Ball over Fultz right now, though there’s still more information to gather in the draft process.