Jordan Clarkson becomes first Lakers player to win Rookie of the Month


The Lakers have been one of the most storied franchises in NBA history, but have fallen on hard times over the past few seasons.

When you’re winning championships at an historic rate and competing for them on a seemingly annual basis, not only will your draft position not allow for high quality rookies to enter the fold, but even if they were to somehow find their way onto the roster, there would be very few minutes available for them to play behind the veteran talent that has traditionally led L.A. on a consistent title chase.

Jordan Clarkson has been perhaps the lone bright spot during this current dismal Lakers campaign, a rookie who was drafted in the middle of the second round by the Washington Wizards and was acquired by the Lakers for nothing more than cash considerations. He was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for March, which marked the first time any Lakers player has ever come away with that honor.

From the official release:

Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson has been named Kia NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month for games played in March, it was announced today, becoming the first ever Laker to be honored with the award (first presented in 1981-82).

In 16 games in March, Clarkson averaged a team-leading 15.8 points on 45.2% shooting, in addition to 5.2 assists, and 4.8 rebounds. The 46th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft (acquired from Washington) also scored the winning points in overtime in the final second of two games with a layup March 30 at Philadelphia, and the clinching free throws in a tied game March 25 at Minnesota.

In the March 30 contest, Clarkson joined Stephen Curry, John Wall, and Russell Westbrook as the only players in the NBA this season to record a game of at least 26 points, 11 assists, six rebounds, and three steals. On the road in Oklahoma City March 24, Clarkson set career-highs with 30 points and three blocks, becoming the first Laker rookie since Eddie Jones (2/4/95) to score 30 points in a game.

Since being named a starter 31 games ago, the 22-year-old is averaging a team-leading 15.0 points per game to go with 4.7 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 0.87 steals.

The Lakers have Clarkson under contract for next season, on a non-guaranteed deal that will pay him less than $900K. While the team is going to do its best to load up with star talent in free agency, expect Clarkson to be back, as he’s one of the few young and talented players L.A. has in place on the roster.

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue sits out second half Saturday with illness

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CHICAGO (AP) Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue remained in the locker room to start the second half of their game against the Chicago Bulls because of an illness.

Lue was on the sideline as the Cavaliers used a strong second quarter to build a 17-point halftime lead. He did not come out for the start of the third Saturday night, and he did not return to the game.

Lue has missed one other game this season due to illness. He is expected back on Monday when the Cavs host the struggling Bucks.

The Cavaliers went on to get the win over the Bulls Saturday, 114-109.

Grizzlies snap 19-game skid with 101-94 win vs Nuggets

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Dillon Brooks scored 24 points, Tyreke Evans added 20 and the Memphis Grizzlies snapped a 19-game losing streak with a 101-94 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.

Wayne Selden scored 16 points for Memphis by hitting 6 of 7 shots, including 4 of 5 from outside the arc. Marc Gasol added 14 points as Memphis won for the first time since Jan. 29.

Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Jamal Murray finished with 16 points on 5-of-18 shooting. Denver shot just 37 percent overall and 27 percent from 3-point range.

Denver entered the night in ninth place in the Western Conference, a game out of the playoff race. Denver played without leading scorer Gary Harris, who is expected to miss the next few games with a right knee sprain suffered against Detroit on Thursday.

The Nuggets struggled through a miserable first half of shooting, connecting on 22 percent in the first quarter. Memphis stretched its lead to 21 early in the second quarter before Denver cut it to 53-48 at halftime.

Brooks hit four 3-pointers to start the second half and keep Memphis ahead.

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LaMarcus Aldridge’s 39 points lead Spurs past Wolves, 117-101

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) – LaMarcus Aldridge had 39 points and 10 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a sluggish start to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 117-101 on Saturday night.

San Antonio won its third straight to move into fifth in the Western Conference five days after dropping to 10th and out of playoff position.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 points and nine rebounds for Minnesota, which dropped to sixth in the West.

The Spurs had lost three straight and nine of 11 but are now unbeaten halfway through a six-game homestand.

San Antonio shot 84 percent in the second quarter, their best shooting quarter since 2010.

Two nights after battling New Orleans’ Anthony Davis on both ends, Aldridge had to take on another All-Star in Towns. Aldridge responded by leading the Spurs in scoring for the 49th time this season while helping keep Towns in check.

Aldridge scored 18 of 21 points during a five-minute stretch in the second quarter, including 12 straight. He capped the run by coming from the weak side to swat Towns’ floater deep into the seats.

Minnesota started quickly, shooting 78 percent from the floor in the first 5 1/2 minutes while San Antonio floundered at 17 percent. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called timeout, only to watch the Timberwolves’ Jeff Teague steal the ball once play resumed.

The Spurs responded behind veteran reserves Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol and Rudy Gay. San Antonio went on a 16-4 run bridging the first and second quarters to take a 29-26 lead.

Andrew Wiggins scored 21 points for Minnesota and Teague had 16.


Stan Van Gundy goes off on officials: “We got absolutely screwed all night”

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The Pistons were likely to lose to the red-hot Trail Blazers on the road, and that came to be Saturday night 100-87, Portland 12th straight win. The Pistons shot 38.8 percent for the game and had a dreadful offensive rating of 93.8 (points per 100 possessions).

Portland is one the top five defensive teams in the NBA this season, but that’s not what Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy thought was the problem — he laid the blame on the officiating.

That’s going to be a fine.

Van Gundy is frustrated — with this game and with this season. So are Pistons fans, and seemingly so is Detroit owner Tom Gores after his lukewarm vote of confidence in Van Gundy recently. They should be, this team is a disappointment and the Blake Griffin trade was a big swing that has yet to work out. The Pistons are going to miss the playoffs. Around the league, the sense is that Van Gundy will lose his GM job to former super agent Arn Tellem, who was brought in to guide the Pistons into their new building but now whose talents would better serve the basketball side of the operation. The only question is will Van Gundy still be coaching in Detroit next season — just coaching, like Doc Rivers with the Clippers — or of the change will be more sweeping than that.