Associated Press

Clippers win 10th straight, beat Heat 104-90 without DeAndre Jordan

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Backup center Cole Aldrich had 19 points and seven rebounds in place of ailing DeAndre Jordan, and the Los Angeles Clippers used a thunderous third-quarter surge to beat the Miami Heat 104-90 Wednesday night for their 10th straight victory.

Jordan was sidelined because of pneumonia, ending the NBA’s longest active consecutive games played streak at 360.

The eight-year veteran, who led the league in rebounding the past two seasons, had the second-longest streak in franchise history behind Randy Smith’s 595 straight games with the Buffalo Braves.

Chris Paul had 15 points and 12 assists for Los Angeles. Aldrich, a five-year veteran making his first start in 17 games with the Clippers, made seven of 14 shots while playing a season-high 24 minutes.

The winning streak is the Clippers’ third of 10 or more games during the past four seasons. They also had an 11-game run in 2013-14 and won a franchise-record 17 straight in 2012-13 – going 16-0 in December.

Miami (22-17) is the only team the Clippers have faced during their streak that currently has a record of .500 or better.

Reserve guard Gerald Green led the Heat with 19 points and Dwyane Wade added 16 points and eight assists. Miami’s third straight loss equaled its longest skid of the season and kept the Heat a game behind first-place Atlanta in the Southeast Division.

Hassan Whiteside, who had 23 points and 16 rebounds against the Clippers the last time the Heat faced them, came off the bench for the first time this season and had 10 points and 11 boards after sitting out Monday’s loss at Golden State because of pain in his right knee.

Miami point guard Goran Dragic was sent home from the team’s road trip to get an MRI on his lingering left calf strain and is expected to miss at least three games.

Paul Pierce hit a pair of 3-pointers to help the Clippers end the first half on a 14-5 run and slice a 16-point deficit to 52-45. They opened the third quarter with 13 unanswered points and extended that run to 24-5 for a 69-57 lead with 6:11 left in the period.

Miami got as close as 74-68 on two free throws by Whiteside with 2:32 left in the third, but the Clippers’ bench controlled the fourth quarter and built the margin to 94-75 on Jamal Crawford‘s 3-pointer with 5:46 to play.

Jordan missed a game for the first time since March 23, 2001. On that occasion, the Clippers beat Washington 127-119 in double overtime at Los Angeles after Jordan was diagnosed with a mild case of pneumonia.

Los Angeles is 9-0 since leading scorer Blake Griffin went down with a partially torn tendon in his left quad. Overall, the Clippers are 21-8 when the five-time All-Star has sat out due to injury or suspension – including a 9-6 mark last season.

TIP-INS

Heat: Miami committed a season-high 24 turnovers, compared to eight for the Clippers. . Wade, who turns 34 on Sunday, has not recorded a double-double in his last 71 games since Jan. 11, 2015, when he had 17 points and 10 assists against the Clippers. . No player on the team has had a double-digit assist game this season. . Chris Bosh, whose career-best streak of 13 straight games with a 3-point basket ended in Monday’s loss at Golden State (0 for 5), was 0 for 4 from behind the arc against the Clippers and finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Clippers: Now that Jordan’s streak is over, Cleveland F Tristan Thompson has the NBA’s longest active consecutive games streak at 324. . All 18 of Aldrich’s previous starts in the NBA came with the New York Knicks. . Paul has been on the winning side in 10 of his 16 career head-to-head matchups against Wade. . Reserve guard Pablo Prigioni had a career-high eight steals, one shy of the franchise record held by coach Doc Rivers. . Crawford scored 15 points on 4-for-15 shooting. He set career highs with 52 points, 20 field goals and eight 3-pointers against Miami on Jan. 26, 2007, while playing for the Knicks. . The Clippers are 17-2 when allowing fewer than 100 points.

 

LeBron James finishes left-handed alley-oop with head behind backboard

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We have reached the point with LeBron James and his legendary career that the incredible almost seems ordinary — he has made our jaws drop so many times it’s hard for him to clear the bar of amazing anymore.

He did Saturday night against Utah.

In transition, LeBron gave up the ball to Jeff Green, who returned the favor with an alley-oop pass. Just not a particularly good one, it was behind James.

So he reaches back with his left hand and throws it down as he ducks his head under the backboard. Then LeBron stops and stares at his left hand, like he can’t believe what he just did.

We can’t either.

Carmelo Anthony standing ovation in return to Madison Square Garden

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Knicks fans may have had their frustrations with Carmelo Anthony, but they know how much he has meant to the franchise over the years. He pushed to be a Knick and chose to stay, he carried the franchise for years.

Saturday night he returned to Madison Square Garden in an Oklahoma City Thunder uniform after a trade this summer, and he was welcomed with a retrospective video followed by a standing ovation from the crowd (you can see all of it above).

Well done Knicks fans. Well done.

Lakers’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will not travel with team for 25 days due to legal issue

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The Lakers’Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed his new team’s first two games this season due to a suspension for a DUI case in Michigan.

But that was not all. Caldwell-Pope’s came with probation, and to get out of it early the Lakers’ forward has to go through an intensive rehab program — one that does not allow him to leave California with the team for 25 days. He did not play against the Cavaliers and that is just the first of multiple games he will miss, a story broken by Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Caldwell-Pope was originally cited for operating a vehicle while intoxicated but pleaded guilty in May to the lesser charge of allowing someone to operate his vehicle while under the influence, which carried a 12-month probation.

On Thursday, Caldwell-Pope had to return to California to begin an intensive program over the next 25 days that will result in some travel restrictions and could cause him to miss additional games but will end his probation early.

The Lakers are in a home heavy part of their schedule, and by my calculations KCP would only miss one or two games (for sure against Houston Dec. 20, then maybe against Golden State Dec. 22, but that is in California). The Lakers next road game after that is Dec. 31 in Houston again.

Caldwell-Pope signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Lakers last offseason, and he has gone on to become one of the few reliable three-point shooters on the team, hitting 36.1 percent from beyond the arc, taking 6.1 shots from there a game. He’s been solid on defense and a player the Lakers’ need, although his overall efficiency is closer to average.

If the Lakers are successful with their big game hunting during free agency next summer, Caldwell-Pope will not return to the team. In a tight free agent market, he may once again not see offers near what he sees himself worth next summer. That said, his play in Los Angeles has been good. And now he will not have this legal issue hanging over his head during free agency.

LeBron James is good with televising All-Star team selections

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From the moment the NBA announced changes to the All-Star Game team selection format for this season, most NBA fans — as well as most media members I know — have wanted a live team selection show.

As a reminder, this year (as in past years) fans will vote for their favorite All-Stars, and those votes will be combined with media and player votes to name the five starters from each conference. Then the coaches will vote to select the teams.

What’s different is the top vote-getters from each conference — let’s be honest, it will be LeBron James in the East and Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant in the West — will be named captains and they will then pick their teams from the pool of other selected players. No East vs. West. If LeBron gets to choose first and he picks James Harden, then Harden is on that team. Curry can go second and select Giannis Antetokounmpo or whoever he wants from the starters pool, then the captains move into the reserves pool. Old-school playground style team picking.

Who wouldn’t tune it to watch that selection show?

The NBA officially has not decided yet if the selection process will be broadcast, but it probably won’t be. The reason is some player is not going to like being picked last (or next to last) and his agent will like it less. It gets political (would Curry have to choose Durant or Draymond Green first to keep his teammates happy?).

LeBron basically said Saturday why not televise it? From Nick Friedell of ESPN, when LeBron was asked if it would bother him to go against teammates in the All-Star Game:

“I hope not,” James said after Saturday’s shootaround. “We’re all grown men. It doesn’t stop their paycheck from coming. It won’t stop you from playing time once the season starts.”

And is he good with the pick order being made public or done live.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” James said. “It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, if I’m rewarded to be a part of the All-Star Game again, that’s cool for me. It doesn’t matter. All that other stuff is extracurricular.”

That’s the right attitude, and whoever got picked last would say that publicly. But privately… who knows? Depends on the guy.

That selection show would be must-watch television. The NBA needs to broadcast this. But it won’t. Politics will win out.