James Harden,Jon Leuer,Zach Randolph,Tony Allen

Zach Randolph: Rockets played Grizzles ‘eight against five’

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The Houston Rockets shot 40 free throws to the Memphis Grizzlies’ 20 in a Houston win Thursday, and Zach Randolph is not happy about it.

Randolph, via ClutchFans.net:

“It’s obvious. It was the refs tonight,” Randolph said. “I mean, eight against five. I mean, the game was, in the second half, the man is shooting a free throw every time. We out there playing hard. They dictating the game. It can’t be like that, man. We’re out here playing, too.  It was a horrible game they reffed tonight, awful. They dictated the game – plain, point, simple. They dictated the game. We out here working as hard as them. C’mon, man.”

“The man” Randolph is referring to is James Harden, who made 22 of a stunning 25 free throws himself.

This is what the Rockets, and especially Harden, do. They attack and get to the free-throw line. The disparity in foul shots, in itself, doesn’t prove anything.

But did the referees send Houston to the line too often in this specific game?

Using NBA.com/stats, I reviewed all 26 defensive fouls called on the Grizzlies.

Into the early fourth quarter, the referees didn’t really harm Memphis. I counted two questionable calls and one bad call that sent Houston to the line, but on all three plays, a non-shooting foul probably should have been called before the shooting foul that was whistled. On three other plays in that span, the foul might have been assessed to a player who wasn’t fouling, but another player was regardless.

The Grizzlies were clearly setting a physical tone.

That doesn’t excuse what came next, but it might explain it.

Of Memphis’s  final six fouls before intentionally fouling late,* two were bad calls and another was questionable.

On one bad call, Harden pulled a move he’s fond of – grabbing his defender’s arm to draw foul.

james harden draws foul

Yes, that was a foul on James Johnson.

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So, Randolph has a point. But he’s also been in the league long enough to know the Grizzlies’ early physicality could lose them the benefit of the doubt later. It shouldn’t work that way, but it does.

Randolph should also know he’ll be fined, because he definitely will be.

*Houston supporters should use those four intentional fouls in their defense. They certainly affected the foul and free-throw disparities Randolph is complaining about.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

Minnesota Timberwolves Zach LaVine slam dunks the ball during the NBA all-star skills competition in Toronto on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Associated Press
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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect. Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates:

Splash Brothers showtime: Klay Thompson beats Stephen Curry to win Three-Point Contest

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TORONTO — It came down to the Splash Brothers. Because of course it did. Just like last season.

In the final round of the NBA All-Star Saturday Three-Point Shootout, defending champ Stephen Curry hit his first eight shots and set the bar high with 23 points — the best score of the night.

His backcourt teammate Klay Thompson responded by draining his last seven shots, which included the entire money rack, and put up 27 points — tying the event record.

That gave Thompson the upset win and the Three-Point Contest title.

Although, is it an upset if the second best shooter in the game beats the best?

“It was like déjà vu last year,” Thompson said. “Not gonna lie, I got nervous when he hit his first eight, and I didn’t think he was going to miss. But it was exciting, just coming back to Oakland [with the title], you know. Back-to-back years for Splash Brothers, it’s pretty cool.”

So does Thompson have bragging rights?

“(For) about 364 days, and then — but that’s a daily thing we do,” Thompson said. “We love to shoot against each other. You know, I’ve never been on a team with someone who shoots it better than me, so it’s a privilege to work with him every day. He makes me that much better.”

The Final round was two you expected — the Splash Brothers — plus one few did, Suns rookie Devin Booker.

Getting there was not simple. In the first round, Thompson set a high bar going first and putting up 22. Curry got hot in the middle, then hit the last two money balls to reach 21. James Harden and J.J. Redick ( who stayed behind the line this year) scored very solid 20s. Later 19-year-old rookie Booker put up a 20 to tie those two veterans. Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton (13 points) Portland’s C.J. McCollum (14) and home-town crowd favorite Raptor Kyle Lowry (15) got bounced. .

That left Harden, Redick, and McCollum in a tiebreaker, and the rookie calmly put up a 12 in 30 seconds to advance.

Booker took a step back in the final round with a 16.

Not that it mattered with the Splash Brothers in the building.