That’s the Clippers who look like a contender, win by 40 in rout of Warriors

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After dropping Game 1, the feeling around the Clippers was more “that wasn’t us out there” than thinking they were in trouble and Game 2 was a must win. Even though it pretty much was.

Those Clippers that showed up on Monday night certainly were better than the ones from over the weekend — they had all their players on the court (no silly foul trouble), exploited mismatches, shared the ball and generally just looked dominant.

Los Angeles raced out to 15-4 lead, Golden State started the game shooting 2-of-11… and it pretty much continued like that for three-and-a-half more quarters. The Clippers reached Lawler’s Law — first team to 100 wins — before the end of the third quarter. The Clippers as a team shot 56.6 percent on the night. Look at it this way: Stephen Curry scored 20 third quarter points and the Clippers still expanded their lead by six. The fourth quarter was garbage time.

By the time it mercifully ended the Clippers on by 40, 138-98.

That evens the series at 1-1 heading up to Golden State for the next two. The only good news for the Warriors that it’s mentally easier to flush and move on from this kind of loss than it is a heartbreaking close one.

Clippers fans, don’t think this is a statement — playoff history is littered with teams that won in a blowout one game then lost the next one. If the Clippers want to make a statement they need to win Game 3 on the road in convincing fashion.

Tuesday night the Clippers stuck with many of their plans from Game 1 — defensively that meant get ball out of Curry’s hands. Smart plan. But in Game 1 Clippers did a terrible job of rotating after Curry’s pass, allowing Klay Thompson good looks from the outside and a host of backdoor cut layups. In Game 2 the Clippers kept up the pressure on Curry but made vastly better rotations that pressured the Warriors into turnovers — 26 turnovers. Also DeAndre Jordan had a much better game protecting the paint.

Offensively, Blake Griffin ate David Lee’s lunch. He was the bully. He was aggressive going to the rim (9-of-11 shooting inside 8 feet) and when the defense focused on him and doubled he moved the ball to the open man. Griffin had a career playoff high of 35 points, and he did it in 30 minutes of play, getting to rest the fourth.

Chris Paul had 12 points and 10 assists. Danny Granger had 15, Matt Barnes 13. The only Clipper not to score on the night was Ryan Hollins.

Golden State has to feel better that they are not going to shoot 4-of-19 from three again next game.

Stephen Curry, who finished with 24 points, was frustrated with the contact he absorbed and the lack of calls that he picked up a third quarter technical for throwing his mouthpiece at the scorers’ table. Jermaine O’Neal picked up a technical, too, as did Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers, when Rivers started jawing at O’Neal over his defensive tactics.

The Warriors still got a split, they go home with a chance in this series, Andrew Bogut or no (and it’s still no). That’s a good start, now they just need to find their game by Thursday night.

The Clippers just need more of the same, and more Blake Griffin.

Cavaliers have three choices with Kyrie Irving. And no rush decide on one.

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There were a lot of questions around Kyrie Irving‘s unexpected decision to tell Cleveland he wanted to be traded.

The first was why? He reportedly wants out of LeBron James‘ massive shadow, to “be the man” with another team. It also strikes me as a preemptive move — LeBron could leave next summer and Irving wanted to be in control of his own destiny rather than deal with the “is LeBron leaving roller coaster” for a season.

Next was “why now?” This is harder to find a good explanation for. Back in June, Irving talked about staying with LeBron and finding ways to beat the Warriors, a month later he wants out. It has to be frustrating for the Cavaliers front office, if Irving had told them this back at the start of free agency Cleveland might have been able to land Paul George or Chris Paul.

Finally, the question settled on Cleveland and what will they do?

They have three legitimate options.

1. Do nothing and keep Irving. The Cavaliers do not have to trade him — Irving has two years left on his contract, and the Cavaliers have leverage. Cleveland could take notes from the Lakers after Kobe Bryant’s trade me demand circa 2007 — Los Angeles told him they were looking but not move him, and eventually smoothed things over (and won a couple more rings).

It may be a lot harder for the Cavaliers to do that. How deep is Irving’s dissatisfaction run? Can LeBron and Irving mend fences? Or is the discord in Cleveland too great right now to smooth things over? Usually winning can cure all ills, and the Cavaliers should win plenty again. Then again, star players in the NBA usually get their way so if Irving really wants out…

2. Trade Irving for players to help them chase a title next year. My guess is this is the direction the Cavaliers will go. Why? Because Dan Gilbert looks at his franchise valuation since LeBron’s return and wants to keep him, and if the Cavaliers can get another ring (or at least look like a more serious threat to the Warriors) he’s far more likely to stay.

Because Irving does not possess a no-trade clause, the Cavaliers are not forced to send him where he wants to go (unlike Carmelo Anthony). Irving wants to go to San Antonio, but the Spurs would want to send LaMarcus Aldridge back, a guy who is also older and starting to decline, can be exposed defensively, and it leads to questions about a second ball handler for the Cavaliers. A Carmelo Anthony trade with the Knicks creates the same questions — ‘Melo wants to be a Cavalier, but would he and a young player (Frank Ntilikina or Willy Hernangomez) going to make the Cavaliers better. Or even keep them in front of Boston.

That said, there may be deals with other teams not on Irving’s list that better fit the Cavaliers’ needs. What if Phoenix offers Eric Bledsoe, a young player (Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, T.J. Warren) plus a pick? Cleveland gets a good point guard (not as good as Irving overall, but a better defender), a young athletic player, and they can stay near at the top of the East. There will be options like this that come on the table.

3. Trade Irving for young players and picks to jump start a rebuild. This is also known as the “we believe LeBron leaves next summer so let’s just be proactive and get all we can” plan. It should include trading LeBron as well before the deadline and just going into full on rebuild mode.

If the Cavaliers managed this path well — a legitimate question after Dan Gilbert decided he didn’t need one of the league’s best GMs right before the start of free agency — they could stockpile players and picks. It might not be the full Boston stockpile post Garnett/Pierce trade, but it puts the Cavaliers on that road (then it would come down to drafting well and developing players). All of this would require shrewd moves now and patience down the line, but it’s a legitimate course of action.

Regardless of which option the Cavaliers choose, what matters is not to rush into a decision. If they decide to trade Irving, do not trade out of frustration or anger — it needs to be devoid of emotion. It has to be about getting the best possible return. This summer is obviously a huge turning point for the organization, and they need to make a smart decision.

You know, the kind David Griffin would have made.

John Wall agrees to four-year $170 million contract extension

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John Wall had a designated player super max contract sitting in front of him (figuratively) since July 1, but he wanted to wait and see what the Wizards would do this summer, and talk to his family about a decision that could lock him in Washington for six years.

He saw the Wizards spend — they matched a max offer sheet for Otto Porter. He also looked around the East and decided this is where he wanted to be. He agreed to the extension on Friday, a story broken by David Aldridge of TNT/NBA TV.

This is a four-year, $170 million extension that kicks in after the two-years, $37.1 million left on Wall’s current deal.

Wall has developed into one of the top five point guards in the NBA, averaging 23.1 points per game last season while making his first All-NBA team (the third team, which he thought was a let down). He is a strong defensive point guard and still arguably the fastest guy in the league with the ball in his hands. He and Bradley Beal have formed one of the more formidable backcourts in the NBA.

Wall is now getting paid like an elite point guard, and he is just entering his prime.

Check out Boston’s Jayson Tatum’s 10 best plays from Summer League (VIDEO)

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Jayson Tatum was one of the standouts at Summer League.

The No. 3 pick of the Boston Celtics, Tatum came into the draft considered the most NBA-ready player of the class. He showed that at Summer League — he is a fluid athlete who knows how to knock down mid-range shots (and gets to his spots), he has great footwork for a young player, and can attack the rim. He tends to take and make difficult shots, but that will get harder against NBA-level defenders, and he didn’t often play-make for others. That said, he averaged 17.7 points and 8 rebounds per game.

Check out his best plays from Summer League, and if you’re a Celtics fan try not to drool too much.

Memphis Grizzlies sign former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks

Associated Press
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies have signed former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, a second-round pick in last month’s NBA draft.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Brooks was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 45th overall pick. The Grizzlies acquired him in exchange for a future second-round pick.

Brooks, 21, averaged 16.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a junior at Oregon last season. He was named the Pac-12 player of the year and helped Oregon earn its first Final Four berth since 1939.