Paul George and Roy Hibbert score Pacers’ first 29 points in loss to Heat

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Chris Andersen’s shoulder/stare down/shove of Tyler Hansbrough early in the second quarter of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals distracted from another interesting development that followed. Once the dust settled, Hansbrough made one of two free throws granted due to Andersen’s flagrant 1.

Those were the Pacers’ first points scored by someone other than Paul George or Roy Hibbert.

George and Hibbert scored Indiana’s first 29 points in its 90-79 loss to Miami, and though they slowed as the game progressed, both turned in overall impressive performances that will unfortunately be forgotten in the wake of LeBron James’ dominance. George finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, and Hibbert had 22 points and six rebounds.

George and Hibbert have now scored scored at least 22 points three times each against the Heat in the playoffs. That gives them more postseason 22-point games again Miami’s typically sterling defense than everyone else combined (Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Carlos Boozer, Nate Robinson and David West each have one.)

And Indiana doesn’t seem shy about continuing to feed its only All-Stars in the last four years.

They share the ball well, but in an effort to paint them as a foil to the superstar-driven Heat, the Pacers have been inappropriately hailed as a beacon of offensive balance. George and Hibbert accounted for 49 of the Pacers’ 79 points in Game 3 – 62 percent – a share of total points Miami’s top scorers haven’t hit since LeBron James scored 39 and Wade scored 27 of the Heat’s 99 points during a January win over the Lakers.

While Indiana was building a 29-25 lead on points from only George and Hibbert, George shot 6-for-8 and Hibbert shot 6-for-9. George Hill assisted three baskets, and George assisted another, but for a team that assisted 58 percent of its field goals during the regular season, four assists on 12 makes isn’t many. George and Hibbert were really creating a lot of their offense on their own.

Of course, some of it was fluky. George made 3-of-4 3-pointers in that span, and Hibbert made jumpers from 16, 10 and 12 feet. Indiana can’t count on that in the long run.

But Miami hasn’t shown sustained success in guarding either. Udonis Haslem got his chance on Hibbert, and he didn’t fare any better than Chris Bosh and Andersen before him. Nobody has shown the devotion to expending the energy necessary to defend George for long stretches.

Still, the Heat started double-teaming Hibbert and then double-teaming him effectively. They also made George put the ball on the floor more, and that can make him turnover prone.

The Pacers should feed George and Hibbert gain in Game 6 and make the Heat prove they can defend them. Miami showed glimpses of defending those two better, but George and Hibbert are still capable of producing at levels no other Heat opponent has shown this postseason.

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

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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
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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:

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

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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.

Report: Teams are calling Clippers about DeAndre Jordan trades

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Injuries have ravaged the Clippers. They started the season 4-0 have been without three starters from opening night: Milos Teodosic (plantar fascia injury, he is still in a walking boot), Danilo Gallinari (strained left glute), and now point guard Patrick Beverley is out for the season after microfracture surgery on his knee.

All this has led to the Clippers losing nine in a row before beating the Hawks Friday night. All the weight of the offense has fallen on Blake Griffin‘s shoulders, and while he’s been good most of the game in the fourth quarter his numbers have plummeted, and the Clippers have stumbled.

It’s left the Clippers with a couple of hard questions.

Do they need a coaching change? There was a sense from sources around the league that Rivers is already on his way out — he was stripped of GM/president powers over the summer — and what kept him around was the couple of seasons at $10 million a year on his contract. That’s a lot of money for an owner to eat, even Steve Ballmer, but the time may be coming as a way to shake up the team.

The other, what to do with DeAndre Jordan? They could not work out a contract extension with him (Jordan was acting as his own agent), and one of the league’s top traditional centers is a free agent next summer, but new head basketball guy Lawrence Frank said they want Jordan to be a “Clipper for life.” Does Jordan want to be a Clipper for life? Do the Clippers really want him back, and if so at what price? Does a Clipper franchise trying to get approvals for a new arena in Inglewood want to rebuild now, because it does not help that process? If it’s time to move on and rebuild, do they need to trade him now?

Teams are calling about Jordan, reports Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post.

DeAndre Jordan, who can become a free agent after the season, has been coming up in trade conversations, with multiple teams talking potential trades. Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank said last month that Jordan will be a “Clipper for life,” muddled matters, as does the limited number of teams who need a center and the size of Jordan’s contract ($22.6 million).

Jordan is an All-NBA center, a defensive force in the paint who sets a strong pick, rolls hard to the rim, can finish with the best of them, and is averaging 10.4 points (scoring and attempts are down without Chris Paul feeding him) and 13.4 rebounds a game. Jordan knows who he is and plays within himself.

It’s not hard to imagine how he could help teams such as Cleveland, Washington, Milwaukee, and a host of others. The question is what would teams be willing to give up to get him — they have to send back salary to match, but will not want to give up assets that help them win now. The Clippers will be looking for good young players and picks back in the package, which makes it hard for a team such as Cleveland to put together a package.

But before they discuss trade scenarios, the Clippers need to figure out what they want to do. Life has come at them fast this season and led to a lot of big-picture questions that Frank and Ballmer need to answer.