In Game 4 the Clippers were clearly distracted. They looked drained.
In Game 5 Tuesday night they played like a team unchained.
With a bounce back in their step and a supportive home crowd giving them a standing ovation when they ran out for warm ups in the wake of the fiasco with owner Donald Sterling, the Clippers played with a renewed energy. That meant they raced out to an early lead, that the Clipper front line finally dominated the undersized Warriors up front, and when they needed an answer they had for all the Warriors runs to challenge.
The result was a 113-103 Clippers win and Los Angeles now leads the series 3-2. Game 6 is Thursday night in Golden State.
DeAndre Jordan finally made the Warriors pay for going small — Jordan had 25 points on 8-of-10 shooting, pulled won 18 rebounds blocked four shots, and when the Warriors tried to go to “hack-the-DJ” (sung to The Smith’s “Panic”) he knocked down his shots and they had to go away from it.
Chris Paul added 20 points and 7 assists, Blake Griffin had 18 points (included some ridiculous fade-away jumpers).
The focused Clippers were also back to the “don’t let Stephen Curry” beat us mode that served them well in the early games of the series — defenders forced him to give up the ball and Curry finished with 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting. The Warriors responded with balance — Klay Thompson had 20 points, David Lee and Andre Iguodala each had 18.
Early in the game the Clippers rode the wave of emotion from a great crowd to an 11 point lead, then for the rest of the game it seemed like the Warriors would make a little run and the Clippers would answer.
One of those third quarter runs actually got the Warriors a one-point lead. But this was going to be the Clippers’ night. Los Angeles made a 12-6 run late in the third to take a comfortable lead and Golden State never got within three the rest of the way.
All this sets up what should be a fascinating Game 6 Thursday night. About all we can predict out of this series is Donald Sterling will not be in attendance.
The list of traditional ball-handling point guards who liked and thrived in Phil Jackson’s triangle offense is a short one. While guys who could initiate the offense then play off the ball did well (Derek Fisher, for example), traditional points used to controlling the flow of the game chaffed in the system. Ask Gary Payton about it.
So how are things going with Derrick Rose as he adjusts to the triangle in New York?
If Phil Jackson were going to be any of the seven dwarfs, it would be Grumpy.
The Knicks are going to run a hybrid version of the triangle that will incorporate coach Jeff Hornacek’s preferred up-tempo style and the offense Jackson wants in the halfcourt.
Slotting in a number of new players — Rose, Joakim Noah, Brandon Jennings, etc. — with a new system likely means some early-season struggles on offense for the Knicks. The team’s offense should smooth out as the season stretches out — so long as they can stay healthy. But that’s a different discussion.
Three all-time greats retired from the NBA this year.
What’s next for Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett?
Kobe is making movies and babies. Duncan is hanging around Spurs practice and is expected to join the franchise full-time.
Garnett? Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, who was an assistant coach for the Celtics when Garnett played in Boston, wants him to join his staff.
Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
“I talked to him about it,” Lue said Thursday, following the Cavs’ practice. “I know his wife is pushing for it a lot. Brandi is pushing for it, trying to get him to come and coach. He says he’s not ready yet. He goes back, ‘I might do it,’ but he’s back and forth. We’ll see.
“But I’d definitely make a spot for him if he wanted to come back and coach.”
Lue said Garnett would be in Cleveland for the Cavs’ opening night ceremonies, which will include the raising of the franchise’s first championship banner.
I’d be surprised if Garnett joins Cleveland’s staff, but I’m also surprised Garnett is joining the Cavs to celebrate a title he played no part in winning. So, maybe ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
More importantly, has Lue checked with LeBron James about this idea? LeBron might not like it.
The ProBasketballTalk Podcast at NBC Sports is done with its summer hiatus, and there will be a couple of podcasts a week now running through the NBA season, trade deadline, playoffs, and eventually free agency. We’ll talk about it all.
We start with NBA season previews, going division by division, and we start that tour on the West Coast. Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News joins Kurt Helin of NBC to talk about the Lakers and their rebuild. From there the conversation goes to questions such as can anyone beat the Warriors? Are the Clippers contenders? Plus we talk about the building processes going on in Sacramento and Phoenix.
As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (check there to see all the NBC Sports podcasts), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.
The Rockets created a little roster confusion by giving Gary Payton II a fully guaranteed deal, bringing Houston to 15 players (the regular-season roster limit) with guaranteed salaries plus restricted free agent Donatas Motiejunas.
This won’t clarify the situation, but P.J. Hairston will give the Rockets another intriguing piece.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Hairston was a first-round pick just two years ago, and at age 23, he still presents upside. He has at least stopped producing negative headline after negative headline after negative…
Now, we can focus on just Hairston’s major on-court flaws. He misses a lot of shots and does little else. But he has some raw tools, even if they barely showed with the Hornets and Grizzlies.
If the Rockets make a roster-clearing move, they could take a chance on keeping the talented/troubled wing around. More likely, he heads to the D-League, where Houston can develop him in its system.