Thursday night NBA grades: That Chris Paul guy is pretty good

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Our grades from Thursday night around the NBA, or what you missed while listening to bad British announcers call Game 7 of the Heat/Spurs Finals last year….

source:  Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers. That was the kind of performance that reminds you CP3 is the very best point guard in the NBA — 42 points, 15 assists, and 6 steals. Before 1974 the league didn’t track steals but since they have no player has put up that stat line in a game. Nobody. Not Jordan, not Magic Johnson, not John Stockton, not anybody. The steals were key — the Clippers forced turnovers, got out and ran and the easy buckets got them the win.

source:  Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls. He hit the game winner with five seconds left, and like acing your final that raises your grade. But lets not pretend he had a great game — 7-of-23 shooting and down the stretch he had some key turnovers (he has shot 11-of-38, or 28.9 percent, through two games). Rose was aggressive and showed flashes of his old self but mostly he looked rusty… he says that he’s not rusty he is just missing shots. Whatever. Define it however you wish Derrick. The question will pretty soon become how long before the shots start to fall?

source:  Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors. He is the best shooter in the game today — 38 points, 9-of-14 from three, he can knock it down off the dribble or catch and shoot. His range stretches out into the 300 level seats. He put on a shooting clinic and helped carry the Warriors Thursday night against the Clippers. So why a “B”? He’s also the team point guard and had 11 turnovers by himself (the Warriors had 24) — do that against the Clippers and the run you into the ground. That’s what happened here and the Clips won.

source:  Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks. This was the classic, divisive Carmelo Anthony game. He had a team best 22 points and hit the shot that capped the 12-0 Knicks run in the fourth quarter, giving them the lead. He made some plays. But he also needed 24 shots to get those 22 points and he was a terrible 4-of-14 from the midrange. He said again in an interview on TNT he’s not really looking to leave NYC as a free agent next summer… but can you build a contender around him?

source:  Clippers defense. For the second game in a row the Clippers allowed 109 points per 100 possessions and they let a team get hot from three (12-of-21 for Golden State). The Clippers got the win so a lot of this will be overlooked, especially since the Warriors will make a lot of defenses look bad this season, but that’s two less than stellar defensive games for the Clippers in two attempts. DeAndre Jordan is very active, but it’s not enough. This is just something to watch going forward.

Reports: Pelicans to sign Jameer Nelson with Rondo out

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With Rajon Rondo out 4-6 weeks with a sports hernia, the New Orleans Pelicans were looking for a solid backup point guard.

This week, to make room to sign Richard Jefferson, the Denver Nuggets waived veteran Jameer Nelson.

While other teams such as the Rockets were calling, the Pelicans and Nelson have reached a deal, reports both Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports added this.

Nelson, in his 14th NBA season, became the top free agent on the market and received interest from contenders such as the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder and several other franchises that hoped to add the respected and accomplished veteran. But for Nelson, the Pelicans represent an opportunity to play significant minutes and provide leadership.

The Pelicans had a full roster of 15 players, they could have waited until next Tuesday and gotten a disabled player exception to add a 16th player, but they decided to go with something more permanent.

Jrue Holiday starts at the point for the Pelicans but with Rondo out — he was supposed to start next to Holiday — there is no depth at the position. The Pelicans can have Nelson step in and get minutes from the first time he steps on the court.

Nelson is still a solid pick-and-roll point guard, but what he brings to the table the Pelicans need more is shooting — he shot 38.8 percent from three last season and is a good spot up player. He can penetrate and make plays off handoffs as well, but it’s his shooting on a team that needs it that will be most valued.

The Pelicans have started the season 0-2 with losses to Memphis and Golden State. They take on the Lakers in Los Angeles Sunday night.

DeMarcus Cousins fined $25,000 for cursing at fan

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Near the end of New Orleans’ season-opening loss in Memphis, DeMarcus Cousins started getting into a war of words with a female Grizzlies fan, an exchange where allegedly “F-bombs” were dropped in both directions.

That’s going to cost Cousins.

Saturday the league announced that the Pelicans’ center has been fined $25,000 for “directing inappropriate language towards a fan.”

Cousins got a technical foul during this exchange, and that has been rescinded.

Cousins has averaged 31 points and 10 rebounds a game through two games this season, but it hasn’t been enough as New Orleans has started the season 0-2.

It’s not about the shoes: Kevin Durant loses his, blocks two shots anyway

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Shoes? Kevin Durant don’t need no stinkin’ shoes.

Early in the second quarter of the Warriors win in New Orleans Friday, Durant came out of his shoes on a layup in the lane. He then picked up his shoe, carried it to the other end, flipped it to the bench, and played defense without it, and while he got moved out of the way allowing an offensive rebound for the Pelicans he then proceeded to block Tony Allen twice at the rim.

Durant — after deciding to play the rest of the game in shoes — had seven blocks on the night, to go with 22 points.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Celtics on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. That will work especially well against teams going small (for example, the Cavaliers with Kevin Love at the five), although Friday night Boston had big man Aron Baynes starting at center (in part because of Embiid, in part because Marcus Smart was out injured). Still, Embiid can score on Baynes.

Take a look at Embiid’s shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.