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.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.

DeMarcus Cousins on Confederate statues: ‘Take all them motherf—ers down’

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DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.

So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.

Cousins, via TMZ:

“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”

These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.

Not whom I want to honor, either.

Kevin Durant: Kyrie Irving-LeBron James situation ‘just a regular NBA problem’

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Kevin Durant knows something about star teammates not always getting along.

So, the Warriors forward is not freaking out about the disconnect between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James and Irving’s subsequent trade request.

Durant, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:

“It’s just a regular NBA problem, right? A lot of teams have gone through this before,” Durant told ESPN. “They’ll figure it out. That’s a great organization, a championship organization. They’ll figure it out.”

“It’s not the end of the world,” Durant said. “Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”

Durant is definitely right in the larger sense. Teammates spat and requests trades more often than we realize. Remember, both Irving and the Cavaliers probably prefer this never became public.

But I’m not sure Cleveland will figure this out with the ease Durant suggests. David Griffin, who had proven so adept at putting out these fires, is gone. LeBron’s free agency looms. This could be extremely destructive to the Cavs.

The fact that this “regular NBA problem” became public only intensifies it – and raises it something greater.

Report: Heat signing Jordan Mickey

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Jordan Mickey – the No. 33 pick by the Celtics in 2015 – became the first second-round pick in memory to sign the year he was drafted and receive a higher initial salary than first-round picks.

He’s keeping the checks coming.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Mickey will be the Heat’s 16th player with a standard contract, though Matt Williams (unguaranteed) will likely be waived to meet the regular-season roster limit.

I’m not sure where Mickey fits on this team, which already has several bigs. Hassan Whiteside, Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk will likely play ahead of him. Miami also has A.J. Hammons (who might be just dead salary) and Udonis Haslem (who might provide nothing more than veteran leadership).

The Heat could just see Mickey as someone they can develop. At that point, how he fits into the current roster doesn’t really matter.

Mickey – 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan – is a mobile defender with nice timing for blocking shots inside. He even possesses a work-in-progress 3-pointer in his arsenal. There’s plenty for Miami to help mold.