Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Clippers

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: Knicks grumbling about Jeff Hornacek’s lineups and rotations

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 17: Head coach Jeff Hornacek of the New York Knicks watches as his team plays the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on December 17, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. 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.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek has seemingly steered clear of the Phil Jackson-Carmelo Anthony feud. Hornacek has even avoided Jackson, one of the greatest coaches of all time, overly interfering.

But Hornacek hasn’t sidestepped every fissure in New York.

Veteran Knicks are reportedly frustrated with the defensive scheme, though some of that resentment could be pinned on assistant coach Kurt Rambis. Derrick Rose has reportedly been increasingly frustrated with Hornacek. And apparently he’s not the only one.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

Privately, players have been grumbling about lineups and rotations during the recent losing skid, according to sources. Brandon Jennings hinted at this after Monday’s loss when he spoke with frustration about the inconsistent nature of the Knicks’ recent lineups.

“Every day is something new. So just got to be ready I guess. You never know when you’re going to play,” he said.

Jennings was asked if the inconsistent rotations make things difficult for players.

“Yeah, when you come in here you don’t really know what’s going to happen, so it’s kind of no consistency and it’s really tough right now,” he said. “Right now, you come in here you don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m struggling. It’s difficult for me, because I don’t really know what’s going on. Just take it one day at a time.”

Jennings isn’t the only player expressing dissatisfaction beyond anonymous leaks.

According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Rose and Hornacek yelled at each other after Rose – who called on Hornacek to coach defense harder – got beat by Dennis Schroder on this play:

Berman reports Kyle O'Quinn also glared at Hornacek after being subbed out during the Knicks’ loss to the Hawks.

After the game, Courtney Lee – whom Hornacek removed the starting lineup – posted and deleted photos of Dumb & Dumber on Instagram. Lee then followed with this caption:

I posted a pic of dumb n dumber cuz that was my mood, no jab at no1. It’s dumb that we have a talented team and we’re in position to win games n keep losing by 1 possession. We’ll figure it out collectively as a team but that was my mood after the game. Has nothing to with any change, rotation, system, players, coaches, so let that be clear.

Are we reading too much into vague social media postings and distant body language? That is a real risk.

But Hornacek still appears to have issues with these Knicks. The debate should be a matter of the depth of the problems, not whether they exist.

This is what happens when teams lose 11 of 13. Players get frustrated and grumble.

The coach also often adjusts the rotation, which Hornacek has done, including starting Ron Baker. Jennings and co. haven’t earned stability in their roles. When they had that, they were losing.

The question now: Can Hornacek reclaim the players’ trust, which would help the team break its skid? Or does the griping – and, partially as a result, the losing – continue in a season-destroying snowball?

PBT Extra: Carmelo Anthony/Phil Jackson rift just adds to Knicks stagnation

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Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson had a chilly talk, and Anthony told Jackson the star forward wants to stay in New York. Which, based on the mind games we’re seeing, is not what Jackson wants — although you get the feeling Jackson wants to move Anthony to bring in more stop-gap, win now pieces rather than try to build a future around Kristaps Porzingis.

Which all speaks to why the Knicks have made the playoffs just three times in 13 years. What is the Knicks long-term plan?

I discuss it all in this latest PBT Extra. Well, except the long-term plan because nobody knows what that is.

Rajon Rondo strangely runs behind Rick Carlisle during play (video)

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This would be ignored – still odd, but ignored – if it weren’t for their history.

But Rajon Rondo running behind Rick Carlisle during the Mavericks’ win over the Bulls raised a couple eyebrows in curiosity and drew a few chuckles. What was Rondo doing?

At least Carlisle explained why he didn’t call timeout before Wesley Matthewsgame-winning 3-pointer. The Dallas coach had Rondo in mind.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

Mike D’Antoni: “James Harden was the perfect superstar for how I would like to coach”

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 07: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets looks on against the Washington Wizards during the first half at Verizon Center on November 7, 2016 in Washington, DC. 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. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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It’s not exactly Seven Seconds or Less Part 2 in Houston, but it may be closer to Mike D’Antoni’s ultimate vision.

The Rockets are 32-12 with the third-best offense in the NBA (Toronto and Golden State), and it’s an analytics wet dream of threes and shots at the rim. It’s all come together because James Harden bought in. Steve Nash ran the offense brilliantly but differently — Harden is as good or better with his style (which gets him to the line more often).

The brilliant Howard Beck at Bleacher Report got everyone to talk about the Rockets rapid rise and how it all came together. It’s must read. Plus there are some brilliant quotes, starting with Harden about D’Antoni pitching the move to point guard:

“I thought he was crazy,” says Harden, who earned his stardom at shooting guard….

Or as D’Antoni put it, “James Harden was the perfect superstar for how I would like to coach.”

“People always ask, ‘You traded for him; did you know he was this good?'” (Rockets GM Daryl) Morey says. “I’m like, ‘F–k no!’ I mean, we thought he was extremely good and better than other teams probably did.”

But not top-five good or, say, top-three, which Morey would make the case for today.

Harden is MVP-level good. What’s more, the Rockets are knocking on the door of contender good. The pedestrian defense isn’t there yet (18th in the NBA for the season, 15th for the month of January), questions about depth and if young key cogs like Clint Capela can grow into the roles the Rockets need them to, and there are the health concerns considering the histories of Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson.

But the Rockets are dangerous right now and could reach the Western Conference Finals this season if healthy and things break right (their style and athleticism would be a tough test for the Spurs).  And the story of how it all came together is fascinating.