Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon lead Rockets past Kings, 105-83 (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Rockets could not have been happier to be home.

After a 2-3 trip and 10 of their last 14 games on the road, the Rockets were revved up again back at Toyota Center.

Ryan Anderson had 25 points and 11 rebounds, Eric Gordon added 17 points and Houston used a big second-quarter run to beat the Sacramento Kings 105-83 on Tuesday night.

“It just felt good to be back at home,” James Harden said. “It felt like we were on the road for so long, that we are home, we are comfortable. We got to sleep in our own bed. Tonight, we came out and played hard. We had energy at the beginning of the game and carried that through all four quarters.”

Anderson shot 6 of 12 from 3-point range and Houston went 14 of 45 from behind the arc as a team.

Harden, who banged knees early in the first quarter, finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. He said he would be ready to go Thursday against Atlanta.

Clint Capella had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Rockets.

“We have a lot of weapons on our team,” forward Trevor Ariza said. “On any given night, anyone can step up and be our leading scorer. Tonight with Ryan he shot the ball extremely well like we know he can. We just rode that.”

Houston used an 18-3 run over the first nine minutes of the second quarter to extend its lead to 47-27 on Nene’s dunk. Gordon had eight points in the run, and Nene added six.

The Kings shot 3 for 16 from the field, committed six turnovers and were outscored 25-11 in the second quarter as Houston opened up a 54-35 halftime lead.

“They defensively played real well,” coach Mike D’Antoni said of his Rockets. “Now, we played good the first quarter, but that second quarter was excellent, and that kind of set the tone.”

DeMarcus Cousins had 16 points and seven rebounds for the Kings, who shot 35 percent. Kosta Koufos added 12 points.

“We ran out of gas there in the last game against (Philadelphia), but I thought we really ran out of legs tonight,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “We didn’t shoot it well; they are obviously very offensively potent.”

Sacramento got no closer than 19 in the second half.

TIP-INS

Kings: Garrett Temple exited with 9:29 left in the third quarter with an apparent left hamstring injury. Temple fell to the ground and immediately grabbed his left hamstring after a steal. He limped off the court and straight to the locker room. Temple said he is going to have an MRI to see the severity of the injury. He finished with three points. … Willie Cauley-Stein had 10 points and six rebounds.

Rockets: Nene finished with 11 points. …The Rockets outrebounded Sacramento 60-45. … Houston wore its Lunar New Year uniforms Tuesday for the first time this season.

EIGHT IS ENOUGH

Sacramento finished its eight-game road trip 3-5 after losing its third out of the last four games. The trip featured three back-to-backs in which the Kings went 1-2 in the second game, including Tuesday’s loss. The road trip included an awkward Philadelphia to Houston back-to-back after the game against the 76ers, originally scheduled for Nov. 29, was rescheduled for Monday due to wet floor conditions.

“I think we progressed as a team,” Cousins said. “It’s been a tough road trip with a lot of unfortunate things happened. A lot of things didn’t go our way, but through it, I think we got better as a team.”

HALL OF FAMERS IN THE HOUSE

Houston honored Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo during the second quarter of Tuesday’s game as part of the team’s 50th season celebration. Mutombo played parts of five seasons with Houston at the end of his career. Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon was also at the game, sitting courtside next to Mutombo.

UP NEXT

Kings: Return home to start a six-game homestand against Phoenix on Friday.

Rockets: Will continue their four-game homestand and welcome former Rockets center Dwight Howard on Thursday when they host Atlanta.

J.J. Redick: Clippers lost joy

Harry How/Getty Images
Leave a comment

J.J. Redick and the Clippers seemed done with each other before free agency even began.

Redick – who signed a one-year, $23 million contract with the 76ers – gave Uninterrupted a behind-the-scenes look into his free agency. In the above video, he revealed plenty about his situation in L.A.:

It’s s—y to say this, but I think I’ve had a loss of joy. I look at our team and how we play, and it’s just there’s no joy in it. That bothers me.

On June 29th at about 10 p.m., I got a call from Lawrence Frank from the Clippers. I jokingly call it my breakup call. He just told me they weren’t going to offer me a contract. I wasn’t going to be back.

There’s plenty of blame to go around.

Blame Chris Paul for not relenting enough in his grating perfectionism and being petty. Blame Blake Griffin for being aloof about weight of his actions. Blame Paul and Griffin for waiting too long to get serious about bonding. Blame Doc Rivers for bringing in Austin Rivers and inviting accusations of nepotism. Blame Doc Rivers for too long setting a tone of whining.

Blame a tough Western Conference and injury for keeping a team with championship aspirations from never advancing past the second round. Blame familiarity, which bred contempt over several years with the same core.

Whomever or whatever you blame, the outcome seems tough to dispute: The Clippers looked joyless by the end of their run. Redick saying it only confirms the perception.

I’m curious whether he’ll find more joy in Philadelphia. A new situation will be refreshing, and the 76ers – young and talented – are hungry. Expectations are low after years of tanking, so even modest gains will be celebrated. But they’re also worse than the Clippers were, and losing more often will be an adjustment.

To get a better idea where Redick is coming from as he begins in Philadelphia, I recommend watching the video in full. It’s quite illuminating.

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry: Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo will both start

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
2 Comments

After signing Jrue Holiday to a massive contract, the Pelicans added Rajon Rondo while putting out word that the two point guards would play together.

They won’t just play together. They’ll start together.

New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry confirmed the plan on Dunc & Holder then expanded (hat tip: Mason Ginsberg of Bourbon Street Shots):

I like Jrue off the ball to start the game as a scorer. I like Rondo being on the floor as a leader. Now, obviously, Jrue is going to play some where he’s the primary ball-handler. I spoke to Jrue at length about this, and I think it’s something that can really help us.

Holiday’s value is maximized at point guard. He’s better than Rondo, and it’s generally better to give the ball more often to the better point guard.

But Holiday can defend multiple positions and work off the ball. Rondo can’t. New Orleans is short on wings, so shifting Holiday there is a reasonable option.

Rondo is a minus shooter for his position, but Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins have improved their range immensely. This won’t necessarily be a prohibitively cluttered starting lineup. Paying a starter just $3.3 million is a bargain – one the Pelicans needed considering their self-inflicted constraints. They couldn’t afford someone who’d create no complications. I just think the difficulties causes by starting Rondo are manageable.

The bigger question is what New Orleans does on the wing beyond E'Twaun Moore. Solomon Hill and Dante Cunningham (who’s unsigned but whose Bird Rights are still held by New Orleans) are better at power forward. Darius Miller is far from a proven NBA commodity. Quincy Pondexter can seemingly never get healthy.

If Quinn Cook is ready for the rotation, that could help. He could play when Rondo sits and allow Holiday to spend all his time at shooting guard. But I’m not sure Holiday is ready to cede all his minutes at point guard, the higher-profile position. (I’m also unsure Cook is ready to play regularly.)

Starting Holiday at shooting guard mitigates the wing problem, but it doesn’t solve it. There are still too many wing minutes to go around, and New Orleans is running out of money to spend – both with exceptions and below the luxury-tax line.

76ers second-rounder Jonah Bolden signs in Israel

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
3 Comments

Jonah Bolden – No. 16 on my draft board – slipped all the way to the 76ers at No. 36 in the NBA draft. An impressive summer league has raised his stock significantly.

But Philadelphia won’t reap the rewards this season.

Bolden signed a three-year contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv, the team announced. The club also said the deal contained NBA outs and the 76ers helped facilitate his move from his previous team, Red Star in Serbia.

This is a helpful arrangement for Philadelphia, which is running out of roster spots. Bolden will develop elsewhere while allowing the 76ers’ to maintain his exclusive negotiating rights.

Bolden must get stronger and more adept at handling physicality. The athletic stretch four can also continue developing his burgeoning perimeter skills.

Then, next year, maybe the 76ers will have room to sign him themselves.

Anthony Davis does #DriveByDunkChallenge (video)

Lars Niki/Getty Images for Saks Fifth Avenue
3 Comments

If you’re not up with what the kids are doing, the cool thing this summer is the #DriveByDunkChallenge – driving to random houses, running out of a still-running car, dunking on their basketball hoop, running back into the car then driving off.

It sounds like a lot of fun for those who can dunk (and don’t get accosted by startled homeowners). An example:

Pelicans star Anthony Davis took his turn: