Clippers end wild game on 11-0 run to come back, beat Mavericks

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LOS ANGELES — If the ball hadn’t been orange with David Stern’s signature on it rather than red, white and blue I would have sworn this was an old ABA game.

It was fast paced with all kinds of offense, questionable defense, a ton of threes, some chippy play, and huge runs — the Los Angeles Clippers got the last of those runs. Down 17 in the fourth quarter they scrapped back, ended the night on an 11-0 run (capped off by some Jamal Crawford free throws on a questionable call) and got the win 129-127.

“Yeah, what a defensive struggle,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers joked after the game.

The Clippers will take it — they are now 4-1 without Chris Paul and about to head out on a rough seven game road trip as the Grammys kick them (and the Lakers) out of Staples Center for two weeks.

Really this was J.J Redick’s night — he came out from the start knocking down threes as Monta Ellis struggled to chase him off screens, and after a few fell everything fell. Redick had 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the first half, and finished the night with 33 points for the game on 14 shots.

“I’ve not seen a lot of guys that missed the amount of games that he’s missed and come back this sharp,” Rivers said. “When you think about it he had a broken wrist, so it’s not like he’s been hurt shooting, he’s not been able to shoot through this time and yet he comes back and… he’s a tough dude.”

The Clippers put up 72 points in the first half and it seemed like their night because they couldn’t miss.

But they couldn’t get stops either (Dallas had 62 first half points) and late in the second and into the third Dallas started to move the ball and get good looks — Dallas went on a 30-6 run from late in the third into the fourth quarter. Dirk Nowitzki had 10 of his 27 in the third, Samuel Dalembert also had 10 points in the third because the Clippers were helping off him and he got the ball back on a pass moving toward the rim.

“The thing I like is that our guys were so messed up about their scoring, that they were scoring on us, that we lost our composure,” Rivers said. “That’s a great sign of a team that wants to be a great defensive team. And as crazy as that sounds, it hurts us. You could see it, we got dispirited every time they scored.”

This had gone from a game with the Clippers up 9 late in the third and in control into a game where the Clippers were down 17 points in the fourth. They were in trouble.

Then the game got chippy — Dallas fouled Blake Griffin hard, he got under the skin of Vince Carter and Dalmebert. That seemed to fire up the Clippers, who found their offense again.

The Clippers also would like to tell you they got stops, but the reality is the Mavs just started missing good looks — twice in the fourth Nowitzki got Redick switched on him and took Dirk went to his patented one-legged fade away and the shots rimmed out. Nowitzki was an uncharacteristic 0-6 in the fourth quarter.

“We couldn’t get a stop and that’s the reason we lost,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. “If you’re going to pin all your hopes on shot making in this league you’re not going to win nearly as many games as you can if you have the ability to get stops.”

Dallas had been playing better defense the past few weeks, but in a game Doug Moe would love nobody played defense in Staples Center Wednesday night.

The Clippers ended the game on a 24-3 run, capped off by another Redick three and Jamal Crawford getting a foul call in the paint when defender Shawn Marion didn’t touch his body and got all ball. (Dallas got the breaks of some calls lately, but those things even out.)

Dallas got a clean look at a Jose Calderon three to win it late, but it clanked off the iron and that was pretty much the ballgame.

For a Clippers team trying to hold off Golden State without Chris Paul, they will take the wins anyway they come. “It’s not the game you plan, but it’s the game you won” Rivers said he told his team after the win.

They won an ABA throwback game. Still counts the same in the standings.

Report: Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer no longer considering Suns job

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There’s been a lot of talk as the coaching carousel ramps up, long before the NBA season is even over. Now, we know one coach won’t be heading to the Phoenix Suns: Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer.

Budenholzer was reportedly among one of the candidates for the Suns job, but according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi the Hawks coach has decided not to pursue the position after being given the opportunity to do so.

The Suns coaching search still includes current interim coach Jay Triano and former Memphis Grizzlies head man David Fizdale.

Via ESPN:

Budenholzer met with Suns general manager Ryan McDonough and owner Robert Sarver early this week, but there was never traction on reaching a contract agreement as the week wore on, league sources said.

As the Suns kept interviewing candidates — including David Fizdale and interim coach Jay Triano — Budenholzer informed the Suns on Thursday that he would no longer be a candidate for the job, sources said.

Phoenix fired Earl Watson just three games into the season. Budenholzer had a hefty resume to consider — he won 60 games in Atlanta in 2014-15, heading to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Suns need someone to guide their young star in Devin Booker. Who they choose will influence the direction of their franchise for longer than the next coach may even be around.

Warriors beat Spurs in glum Game 3

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The Spurs were playing with heavy hearts following the death of Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin. Kevin Durant and Shaun Livingston appeared to injure their left ankles on back-to-back plays late.

Everyone seemed ready for the Warriors’ 110-97 Game 3 win Thursday to end well before it did.

Soon enough, the first-round series will. Golden State is up 3-0, and all 127 teams to win the first three games of a best-of-seven series won it – most of them via sweep. Game 4 is Saturday in San Antonio.

There’s hope neither Durant’s nor Livingston’s injury is serious. Durant walked off on his own, though gingerly. Livingston shot his free throws before exiting.

Durant (26 points) and Klay Thompson (19 points) have carried the Warriors’ offense with Stephen Curry sidelined by his own injury. If Durant isn’t at full strength for Game 4, Golden State could really struggle to score.

But it still might not matter, as the Spurs are overmatched against the Warriors’ dialed-in defense. Draymond Green (10 points, seven assists, six rebounds, four blocks and two steals) led tonight’s effort.

After two losses in Oakland to start the series, returning to San Antonio didn’t do much for the Spurs, who were 33-8 at home and 14-27 on the road this season – the NBA’s largest home-road disparity in a half decade. It’s just had to see San Antonio – whether Popovich returns or Ettore Messina remains acting coach – finding enough sources of offense.

Pelicans move one game away from sweep after bashing Blazers in Game 3

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But for a moment, the Portland Trail Blazers felt as though they could turn the series. For half a quarter, the Blazers had hope. Then, Nikola Mirotic dropped a career-high 30 points, Anthony Davis added a double-double of 28 points and 11 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans moved one game away from completing a sweep of the third seed after a big win on Thursday night, 119-102.

Under the guidance of Mirotic, the Pelicans unleashed a barrage of 3-pointers starting midway through the first quarter. The game was close to being a contest, but Jrue Holiday and Mirotic started to pour it in after being uncorked, with New Orleans taking a 16-point lead going into the second period.

Running up and down the court in a panic, Portland looked nervous in the spotlight. The Blazers racked up 12 turnovers by halftime, all while rattling 3-pointers off the back iron. Portland rushed its offense in the face of unlikely success by the Pelicans, who continued to rain down from deep. New Orleans hit four big shots in the final 1:47 of the half, including three from beyond-the-arc.

Never one to back down, Blazers star Damian Lillard tried to force the issue. He would finish with 20 points on 5-of-14 shooting, but most evidentiary of his night was Lillard lobbing up a wild 28-footer with 24 seconds left in the half as he tried to answer a gutshot 3-pointer from E'Twaun Moore from a moment before. It didn’t work, and the Pelicans took commanding 64-45 lead to start the third quarter.

So went the story of the rest of the game, as Portland couldn’t fully tamp down the New Orleans offensive attack for longer than a few minutes at a time. Even after one 10-0 run for the Blazers in the third, the Pelicans ended it in the most deflating way possible — a wide open dunk for Mirotic on a cut after Portland’s defense fell asleep.

It was an electric atmosphere at Smoothie King, and the sellout crowd that gave us a glimpse of what kind of homecourt advantage the Pelicans could have in the second round. The New Orleans fans were in a back-and-forth with the players, with Smoothie King working to such a fever pitch it felt as though every shot hoisted by the team in red and gold was destined for the nylon.

Demoralized, Portland battled — flailed, really — but the Blazers couldn’t make up any ground as the momentum continued for New Orleans. Finally Blazers coach Terry Stotts relented and waived the white flag for Portland with 7:55 left in the fourth quarter as he subbed in his bench.

Even with a 49-win season under its belt, the questions surrounding the Blazers become more serious. The team that had a 13-game win streak this season now will face rumblings about whether Stotts will remain with the team. An exit for Stotts would be unwise for Portland — he did wonders with a team that didn’t play up to its potential most of the year — but it’s not out of the ordinary for a team looking to break through to look elsewhere, especially after Lillard’s meeting with owner Paul Allen.

Although their work isn’t done yet, New Orleans looks as though it’s a team to be feared in the playoffs. What it needs to do is concentrate on sweeping the Blazers, not only to give themselves confidence heading into the second round but to show their second-round opponent (likely the Warriors) that they aren’t to be taken lightly.

How Porltand can counter in the deciding Game 4 isn’t clear. The Pelicans have looked like the better team for nearly every quarter of the series, and the Blazers clearly don’t have an answer for them on either side of the ball.

Happy New Orleans fans will pack Smoothie King on Saturday for Game 4 at 2:00 PM PST in Louisiana. Davis will look to win his first playoff series, and Portland will try to avoid their most embarrassing sweep since they lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the 1999 Western Conference Finals.

Steve Kerr, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili celebrate the life of Erin Popovich (VIDEO)

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The NBA community has been effuse in their thoughts and condolences to San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich over the past 24 hours. Erin Popovich, 67, passed away on April 18, leaving behind her husband, Gregg.

Many were taken aback at the news, including players like LeBron James and Kevin Durant, both of whom were emotional when they first heard the news of Erin’s passing.

Gregg Popovich was not with the team to coach them in their Thursday night matchup against the Golden State Warriors, as Ettore Messina took the reins for Game 3.

Meanwhile, those close to the Popoviches spoke about Erin, her influence on Gregg, and how much both mean to them. Steve Kerr, who played for Popovich in San Antonio for four seasons, told reporters that Erin was, “The sort of balance that Pop needed.”

Current Spurs Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker also voiced their support for the Popovich family.

Via Twitter:

Here’s hoping Popovich finds some solace in the support he’s received over the past day.