Monday NBA grades: Blake Griffin shows off his jumper (and yes, he can still dunk)

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Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while hiding from your cat that scared you so much you called 911….

source:  Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers. This was as good an offensive performance as Griffin has had in the pros — 37 points on 14-of-16 shooting. After the game Chris Paul said he felt bad he didn’t get Griffin the ball more. This wasn’t Griffin finishing alley-oops, this was him knocking down jumpers from the elbow and showing off his Tim Duncanesque 16 foot bank shot from the wing. Check out his shot chart.

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Of course, there were dunks, too.

By the way, he gets an A- because he fouled out late and without him the Clippers almost blew a late lead.

source:  Tim Hardaway Jr., New York Knicks. This is why everybody wanted him in trades at the deadline, this is why the Knicks wouldn’t give him up. After a prolonged slump (rookie wall?) Hardaway had 29 points on 9-of-13 shooting, knocking down 5-of-7 from three as he was just bombs away. Amar’e Stoudemire and Hardaway won the Knicks this game, a sentence that will never again be typed in all of human history.

source:  Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers. It was in a losing cause to the suddenly hot Knicks, but the rookie got his second career triple-double with 23 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. He was attacking the rim and aggressive from the start (as was Tony Wroten), when that happens good things follow. His coach Brett Brown said after the game MCW is “starting to figure stuff out.” By the way, he has pretty much wrapped up the ROY.

source:  Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks. The streak may be over but Korver is still making plays — it’s not that he had 26 on the night on 8-of-12 shooting and going 4-of-4 from three (well, partially it was), it was that with the game tied late he had five straight to put Atlanta up 101-96 with 1:36 to play. The Hawks held on for a much needed victory (it keeps the Knicks 3.5 back for the final playoff spot in the East).

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Draymond Green goes down, Rockets rally to spoil Warriors ring night 122-121

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Draymond Green is not the best player on the Warriors. He’s third or fourth best, depending on what you think of him vs. Klay Thompson.

But Draymond Green is the most important Warrior — what they do defensively does not work without him (and their small ball playmaking suffers as well). Without him, they are not the same.

That was on full display Tuesday night in the season opener — the night the Warriors got their 31-diamond rings and the latest banner went up at Oracle Arena. Green tweaked his knee in the third quarter and did not play in the fourth, and that’s when the Rockets outscored the Warriors 34-20 to come from behind and steal a win, 122-121.

Kevin Durant almost saved the day for Golden State with a baseline jumper as time expired — the referees called it good, but an official review showed the ball was still in his hands when the buzzer went off.

James Harden had 27 points and 10 assists to lead the Rockets. However, the real story was their revamped bench outplaying the Golden State bench — Eric Gordon looked like the sixth man of the year with 24 points, P.J. Tucker had 20 and shot 4-of-6 from three, and Luc Mbah a Moute added 14.

The Rockets made their final push in this one with Chris Paul sitting on the bench. CP3 sat the final four-and-a-half minutes of the game, and the Rockets thrived with Gordon, Harden and an old-school (meaning, like last season) offense. After the game, coach Mike D’Antoni said that Paul was out there “playing on one leg” due to his knee problem, and Paul could miss more time.

Golden State was also without Andre Iguodala, who tweaked his back lifting weights over the weekend, according to coach Steve Kerr. Not having Green or Iguodala hurt the Warriors defense, especially against an elite offensive team.

Kevin Durant’s game winner waived off, he didn’t get shot off in time

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With Draymond Green sidelined after tweaking his knee in the third quarter, the Houston Rockets were able to make a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback and upset the Golden State.

But Kevin Durant almost saved the game for the Warriors.

Down one with 10 seconds to go, the Warriors were able to get Stephen Curry a good look at a three but he missed it. The ball was volleyballed around a little, and Durant got a hold of it and took a 15-footer along the baseline that the referees on the court ruled a game-winner — but when reviewed it left his hand a fraction of a second too late.

It was the right call. And this is a big boost for the Rockets as they try to find their identity going into a long season.

 

The Warriors’ championship rings have 31 diamonds in them (VIDEO)

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Tuesday night meant the return of NBA basketball, and of course what we all wanted to see: the Golden State Warriors.

In the second game of the evening, the Warriors squared off against the Houston Rockets. Before the teams tipped, the Warriors received their championship rings in front of their hometown crowd at Oracle Arena.

Wearing special Nike hoodies with the phrase “The Champions” on the back, the Warriors received their rings to a standing ovation.

Perhaps the best part of the ceremony was finding out the official gemstone count in the rings. According to Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver, the rings have 31 diamonds in them.

Via Twitter:

Hmm. 31.

3-1.

3-1 lead.

Nope, doesn’t ring a bell.

Report: Cavaliers ditched Kyrie Irving tribute video idea vs. Celtics

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It was the first game for Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving back in Cleveland against the Cavaliers on Tuesday night. Irving spent the first six years of his career in Cleveland before being traded to the Celtics over the summer.

Of course, there was no love lost between the two teams nor between Cavaliers fans and Irving. Boston won the opening tip which Irving gathered, prompting a round of boos from the audience at The Q.

Perhaps more interesting was that the Cavaliers had a tribute video lined up for Irving but decided not to run it.

According to multiple reports, the video was set to run during a floating point in the game, but the operations folks in Cleveland never found the right time.

Another report from Cleveland.com has said that the aforementioned video had set off a few Cavaliers players.

Via Cleveland.com:

According to team spokesman Tad Carper, multiple Cavs officials, including majority owner Dan Gilbert, chose not to show the video because “we were expecting to run it at a floating opportunity based on the right moment, and we felt that moment never presented itself.”

Carper said the decision to cancel the video was not “directly” tied to the gruesome ankle injury to Celtics guard Gordon Hayward with 6:50 left in the first quarter, either.

A source with direct knowledge of Cavs’ players thinking told cleveland.com that several inside the Cleveland locker room were upset Monday upon hearing that a video was planned.

The video would have upset some inside the Cleveland locker room? I wonder which ones.