AP

Kilpatrick, Nets rally for double-OT victory over Clippers

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NEW YORK (AP) ��� Sean Kilpatrick scored 31 of his career-high 38 points after the third quarter and the Brooklyn Nets stopped a seven-game losing streak with a 127-122 double-overtime victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.

The Clippers started the game without Blake Griffin, ended it without the ejected coach Doc Rivers and dropped their third straight game by blowing an 18-point lead.

Chris Paul had 26 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds for the Clippers, but the best guard on the floor in crunch time was Kilpatrick, who also had a career-best 14 rebounds.

Brook Lopez added 27 points for the Nets.

DeAndre Jordan had 21 points and 23 rebounds for the Clippers, who rested Griffin, their leading scorer.

The Clippers started 39-year-old Paul Pierce, who had played in just two games, in place of Griffin. Pierce had played just 17 minutes all season but logged 29 minutes in this one, such an increase in workload that Paul mimicked giving him CPR on the court at one point.

They Clippers were serious by the end.

Rivers was tossed late in the first OT, becoming enraged and having to be held back by Clippers assistants as he tried to get at referee Ken Mauer. Rivers appeared upset about a call on the other end of the floor, walking out of the coaching box and almost all the way to the Nets bench.

He missed Kilpatrick’s masterful finish, which he capped with a three-point play with 13.5 seconds left.

The Nets, still playing without point guard Jeremy Lin, ended a skid that started with a 127-95 loss at the Clippers on Nov. 14.

Los Angeles had lost in Detroit and Indiana in its last two games, managing just 70 points Sunday against the Pacers in its lowest-scoring game in 13 years. Rivers pointed to some defensive lapses as the bigger concern, and they certainly struggled to stay in front of Kilpatrick, who was just 3 for 14 after three quarters.

TIP-INS

Clippers: Rookie Brice Johnson, who has missed all season with a herniated disk in his lower back, did some pregame shooting, but Rivers said he didn’t know if the forward was anywhere near returning.

Nets: Coach Kenny Atkinson still couldn’t give a timetable on Lin, saying the point guard who missed his 12th straight game with a strained left hamstring was working hard and “progressing as planned.”

DOC IS JUST A NICKNAME

The Clippers have increased their spending on biometrics this season, and Rivers – first name Glenn – was asked if he relied on that to determine Griffin would sit.

“I clearly didn’t, I’m not smart enough to use biometrics,” Rivers said. “But the people we hired did, and they told me biometrically that this would be a good day for him to rest.”

UP NEXT

Clippers: Visit Cleveland on Thursday night. The Clippers have lost the last four meetings.

Nets: Host Milwaukee on Thursday night, opening a home-and-home series against former Nets star and coach Jason Kidd’s Bucks, who have won the last five meetings

Lonzo Ball will never be as good as this fan-made video of him destroying people in 2K17

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Ultimately, nobody has any idea how good Lonzo Ball will be as an NBA player. Franchise cornerstone? All-Star? Above average starter? Rotation player? He will fall somewhere on the scale, but even for NBA teams it’s a guess as to where. (His dad apparently thinks he will end his career compared to Jordan, I seriously doubt that.)

However good he ends up being, he may never be as good as he looks in this 2K17 fan video made by Shady00018. The Lakers should pray he does: Dropping Stephen Curry on a crossover, dunking over Rudy Gobert, throwing no-look passes like beads at Mardi Gras? It’s impressive, if unrealistic.

Then again, reality Lakers fans don’t always intersect.

 

LeBron James on the Finals: “I feel good about our chances. Very good.”

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If there is one team in the NBA that can knock off the Warriors in a seven-game series, it’s the Cavaliers. They are the best team in the NBA at creating mismatches and isolating them, and in Kyrie Irving and LeBron James they have two of the best isolation scorers in the game. Cleveland is strong on the boards and is capable of impressive defense. Also, they have the best player on the planet.

If nobody else is confident in the Cavaliers chances, he is.

Here is what LeBron James said his confidence level facing the Warriors in a Finals trilogy.

What else is he going to say?

And if anyone should be confident, it’s LeBron. He can change a series.

From the outside, we saw a series last year where everything needed to go right for Cleveland to win — LeBron playing the best ball of his career for the final three games, Kyrie Irving hitting big shots, Draymond Green getting suspended, Andrew Bogut getting injured, Stephen Curry being off (due to injury or fatigue or just a slump). And even then took the Cavaliers seven games and heroics at the last minute. Now the Warriors add Kevin Durant, and it’s hard not to see this ending differently.

However, LeBron James is the one guy who can alter that vision. And he’s confident he can do it, he’s done it before.

Steve Alford: LaVar Ball never meddled with UCLA Basketball

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Is LaVar Ball just a harmless loudmouth, or will he actually undermine the team that drafts his son, highly touted guard Lonzo Ball?

The Lakers, who hold the No. 2 pick, are the most likely team to find out.

President Magic Johnson said LaVar won’t affect whether they draft Lonzo, but coach Luke Walton wants the team to ask UCLA coach Steve Alford about LaVar’s involvement.

Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times did just that:

Was LaVar Ball around the team much?

“Zero,” Alford said.

Was he ever at practice?

“Never at practice,” Alford said. “Never at practice; never called me.”

Did he ever try to meddle in your coaching?

“Never,” Alford said.

LaVar has said his other sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, will play for UCLA. So, Alford has incentive to maintain a productive working relationship with LaVar. The players’ high school coach had a much worse experience dealing with LaVar.

Alford vouching for LaVar means something, but the total picture is more complex.

Still, LaVar would hardly be the first difficult parent of an NBA player. He’s just the most public. Even if he’d try to meddle into the Lakers, they might be willing to handle that to get his talented son.

John Wall: Bench was Wizards’ ‘downfall’

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John Wall left the Wizards’ season-ending loss to the Celtics talking about how badly Washington’s bench got outscored.

Now that he has time to reflect and isn’t just speaking with raw emotion shortly after a devastating loss, how does he feel?

Wall, via CSN Mid-Atlantic

“We need to help our bench,” Wall told CSN’s Chris Miller. “Just to be honest, that was our downfall in each series that we had in the [Eastern Conference] semifinals, our bench got out played.”

It starts from upstairs – just building the right bench guys and building the chemistry. That’s all it is.

I think that’s where they won the game at. I heard Marcus Smart say after the game that I had no legs. He’s basically right. I don’t make excuses. I’m going to play. If I miss shots or make shots, I’ll live with it. I know people will say he finished oh for 11, but I play – I took everything I had in me to keep fighting.

It’s just that their bench guys came in and played well. I think Kelly Oubre could’ve played a little bit more. I wish he would’ve played a little more and Jason. But coach makes the decision, and we stick behind him 100 percent. I feel like those two guys could have really helped us.

Wall – eligible for a designated-veteran-player extension but reportedly unsure about signing one – is clearly telling the Wizards what he wants. Marcin Gortat similarly criticized Washington’s bench earlier in the season, and he apologized. Wall has the leverage not to stand by his assessment.

Both Wall and Gortat were right. The Wizards’ bench was the source of much of their problems.

Washington’s starting lineup outscored opponents by 4.7 points per 100 possessions in the playoffs. Its bench (all other lineups) got outscored 15.5 points per 100 possessions.

Only the Thunder had a similar split in net rating:

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The Wizards knew their flaw and tried to hide it. Washington’s starters played 34.2 minutes per game together in the postseason – second only to the Pacers (34.5). Wall’s heavy workload contributed to him running out of gas late in Game 7 against Boston, which Marcus Smart noted.

What can the Wizards do to upgrade their bench? Spend.

They sound committed to keeping Otto Porter, a restricted free agent this summer. But that would push them near the luxury tax – so they could scrimp on the bench in a variety of ways:

  • Don’t re-sign Bojan Bogdanovic, another restricted free agent. He’s in line for a raise.
  • Trade Marcin Gortat, elevating Ian Mahinmi into the starting lineup and therefore weakening the bench.
  • Trade Jason Smith, who might be expendable at his salary but at least still provides depth.
  • Don’t use the mid-level exception. That’s Washington’s best mechanism for adding outside help, but it’d be costly.

Will the Wizards take any of those cost-saving measures? Wall is certainly watching.