Blake Griffin was out for the Clippers just six minutes into the game (back spasms have him day-to-day), and that set them on their heels — the Rockets led by 15 at one point in the early in the second quarter.
Then Chris Paul took over.
The best point guard in the game scored 30 points — 17 of them in the second quarter when the Clippers put up 38 points to lead by 3 at the half — and dished out 12 assists to lead the Clippers to a season sweep of the Rockets, 118-107. Without Patrick Beverley or Dwight Howard to slow him, Paul was able to do what he wanted but he was also knocking down shots, hitting 5-of-9 from three.
CP3 got help — Houston native DeAndre Jordan had 20 points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots. The Clippers earlier this season showed they could win without Paul, on Saturday night they showed they can beat a good team with him but without Blake Griffin.
A new Collective Bargaining Agreement is expected to be finished soon, but with months until the current deal expires, both the owners and players can afford to take their time and get the details right.
Both sides reportedly agreed to keep the age minimum – which requires players to be 19 and one year removed from their high school class’ graduation – in place.
David Aldridge of NBA.com:
Other issues, like the age limit for players entering the league, are still on the table. The league has long sought to increase the age limit from its current 19, and at least one year removed from one’s high school class, to at least 20 years of age. The union has talked about a “zero and two” setup, similar to that used by baseball — players can enter the Draft out of high school, but if they choose to go to college, they have to stay in college at least two years (in baseball, it’s three years) before declaring for the Draft.
The union wants to lower the age minimum. Adam Silver wants to raise it.
Most likely, the current one-and-done rule remains in place.
But a zero-or-two setup could be an interesting compromise. That would allow players certain they’re ready for the pros out of high school to declare for the NBA draft. In all other cases, Silver would get his wish.
Again, the status quo likely remains in tact. But it’s good both sides are discussing the issue to see whether there’s a better solution.
Take comfort, chairs and staffers.
The 76ers have raised Joel Embiid‘s minute limit from 24 to 28.
Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly:
This was never a hard limit. Embiid played more than 24 minutes in five of his 12 games with a high of 27 in an overtime contest. Presumably, the new “limit” will also allow for Embiid to sometimes it.
Embiid’s numbers per 36 minutes are eye-popping: 28.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 3.8 blocks and 6.4 turnovers. A small workload likely factors into his per-minute dominance, and he’s still a long way from typical starter minutes. But I’m interested to see how his production translates over a larger sample.
The 76ers, in their mission to be less bad this season, will also appreciate a few more minutes of Embiid. They defend like the NBA’s second-best defense with him on the floor and the league’s second-worst defense without him. They also score a little better with him. Overall, they get outscored by just 2.2 points per 100 possessions with him and a whopping 14.2 points per 100 possessions without him.
This could give Philadelphia a couple extra wins over the rest of the season. At minimum, it’ll make the 76ers more enjoyable to watch for a few more minutes each game.
Opponents shoot just 41.8% at the rim with Rudy Gobert defending it – which is now second to Hassan Whiteside among the 50 players who defend the most shots at the rim per game.
But James Johnson went up with no fear, scoring two of his 24 points in the Heat’s 111-110 win over the Jazz last night.
The Hornets didn’t just beat the Mavericks, 97-87, last night.
Nicolas Batum got Charlotte style points with this pass through Dwight Powell‘s legs, assisting Cody Zeller.