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Erik Spoelstra once tried to follow unwritten rules of garbage time, and Hassan Whiteside got hurt

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MIAMI (AP) — The NBA has seen plenty of Garbage Time drama lately.

Often, Garbage Time – the final minutes of a blowout – is either forgettable, unwatchable or both. But it’s been noteworthy lately, with Phoenix extending a loss at Boston last month with fouls and time-outs so Devin Booker could score 70 points, JaVale McGee‘s late 3-point try earlier this week with Golden State drubbing the Wizards and Lance Stephenson‘s late layup in a Pacers blowout of the Raptors.

 

Shots aren’t always the issue. Miami’s Erik Spoelstra learned that during his first season as Heat coach, and the memory of what occurred on Dec. 26, 2008, has stayed with him.

The Heat were beating Chicago 90-77 with 31 seconds remaining. Spoelstra called a 20-second time-out just to get starters Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem out of the game. And on the other bench, Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro, assistant coach Del Harris and some Chicago players were more than a little annoyed.

Spoelstra thought about calling time in a similar situation earlier this season to get center Hassan Whiteside out of the game. He didn’t, and seconds later Whiteside cut his right hand on a freak play and needed 13 stitches.

“Damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” Spoelstra said.

The latest episode came Tuesday, with Stephenson making an uncontested layup with 4 seconds left in Indiana’s 108-90 win over Toronto instead of running out the clock. The Raptors, predictably, were not happy and got in Stephenson’s face to let him know. Some on-court arguing ensued.

“Bush league,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.

“Tasteless, classless,” added Toronto’s P.J. Tucker.

Countered Stephenson, who apologized: “I didn’t mean no harm.”

Intent can be in the eye of the beholder.

Just ask Brooks, the Wizards coach knows all about the etiquette of Garbage Time. He will not use that term, for a very simple reason.

“I was in there a lot,” Brooks said.

Brooks, a reserve for all but seven games in his 10-year playing career, got an unwanted refresher course of sorts in Garbage Time when McGee jacked up a 3-pointer in the final seconds of a game that the Warriors were leading the Wizards by 22 points.

McGee took a shove to the chest from an annoyed Brandon Jennings, who felt it wasn’t in accordance with what’s proper in Garbage Time.

“Kind of disrespectful,” Jennings said of McGee’s shot.

If Garbage Time had an official set of rules, atop the list would be something about not disrespecting opponents. These days, not everyone is adhering.

“If you’re ahead in the game, there is no reason to shoot the ball,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “We just sort of hold the ball. No use angering people or trying to show somebody up. … You should do whatever is sportsmanlike and courteous. No reason not to.”

 

Cleveland veteran forward Richard Jefferson was among many players who said everyone knows there’s a code for how to handle Garbage Time. And he’s been on both sides of that code.

There was a game in 2006 against Houston when Jason Kidd, now the Milwaukee coach, was one assist shy of a triple-double in the final moments of a decided game. New Jersey was up by 10, and the shot clock was off.

Jefferson volunteered to help Kidd out. He made a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left. Assist No. 10 was delivered, triple double wrapped.

“We’re just kind of standing around and he tosses it to me and I shot it and it goes in and the Houston Rockets were” angry, Jefferson said. “And J. Kidd was like, `Don’t worry, I’ll take the heat for it’ and walked off. It was a low-blow move, but I’ll tell you what, if my point guard asked me to do that, I’ll do it again.”

Heat point guard Goran Dragic has no problem with that.

He was taught to play the game the same way, start to finish.

“Back in Europe, there are different rules,” said Dragic, a native of Slovenia. “If there’s time on the clock, we play, we shoot it. In the States, there’s a different culture.”

The Warriors offered the Wizards apologies for McGee’s 3-point try, with coach Steve Kerr reaching out to Brooks by text. The Suns took a decidedly different tact after Booker’s 70-point outburst, which some players found a bit distasteful.

“So what? Do something about it,” Suns coach Earl Watson said that night in Boston. “Simple as that.”

There’s no perfect answer.

Sometimes, in Garbage Time, the only plays that get noticed are the questionable ones.

“Play the right way,” Memphis coach David Fizdale said. “If you’re always coaching guys to do that, you can always look at yourself in the mirror and get the respect of your opponents.”

AP Sports Writers Stephen Whyno in Washington, Michael Marot in Indianapolis, Tom Withers in Cleveland and Associated Press Writer Raul Dominguez in San Antonio contributed to this report.

Report: Teams are calling Clippers about DeAndre Jordan trades

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Injuries have ravaged the Clippers. They started the season 4-0 have been without three starters from opening night: Milos Teodosic (plantar fascia injury, he is still in a walking boot), Danilo Gallinari (strained left glute), and now point guard Patrick Beverley is out for the season after microfracture surgery on his knee.

All this has led to the Clippers losing nine in a row before beating the Hawks Friday night. All the weight of the offense has fallen on Blake Griffin‘s shoulders, and while he’s been good most of the game in the fourth quarter his numbers have plummeted, and the Clippers have stumbled.

It’s left the Clippers with a couple of hard questions.

Do they need a coaching change? There was a sense from sources around the league that Rivers is already on his way out — he was stripped of GM/president powers over the summer — and what kept him around was the couple of seasons at $10 million a year on his contract. That’s a lot of money for an owner to eat, even Steve Ballmer, but the time may be coming as a way to shake up the team.

The other, what to do with DeAndre Jordan? They could not work out a contract extension with him (Jordan was acting as his own agent), and one of the league’s top traditional centers is a free agent next summer, but new head basketball guy Lawrence Frank said they want Jordan to be a “Clipper for life.” Does Jordan want to be a Clipper for life? Do the Clippers really want him back, and if so at what price? Does a Clipper franchise trying to get approvals for a new arena in Inglewood want to rebuild now, because it does not help that process? If it’s time to move on and rebuild, do they need to trade him now?

Teams are calling about Jordan, reports Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post.

DeAndre Jordan, who can become a free agent after the season, has been coming up in trade conversations, with multiple teams talking potential trades. Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank said last month that Jordan will be a “Clipper for life,” muddled matters, as does the limited number of teams who need a center and the size of Jordan’s contract ($22.6 million).

Jordan is an All-NBA center, a defensive force in the paint who sets a strong pick, rolls hard to the rim, can finish with the best of them, and is averaging 10.4 points (scoring and attempts are down without Chris Paul feeding him) and 13.4 rebounds a game. Jordan knows who he is and plays within himself.

It’s not hard to imagine how he could help teams such as Cleveland, Washington, Milwaukee, and a host of others. The question is what would teams be willing to give up to get him — they have to send back salary to match, but will not want to give up assets that help them win now. The Clippers will be looking for good young players and picks back in the package, which makes it hard for a team such as Cleveland to put together a package.

But before they discuss trade scenarios, the Clippers need to figure out what they want to do. Life has come at them fast this season and led to a lot of big-picture questions that Frank and Ballmer need to answer.

Lonzo Ball finishes one-handed alley-oop on Willie Cauley-Stein (video)

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So much attention is paid to Lonzo Ball‘s father, jumper and passes. Those are the major storylines for the Lakers rookie.

But he has such a diverse skill set, and this is absolutely part of it. Ball is a savvy off-ball cutter in the halfcourt with the athleticism to get above the rim and finish alley-oops.

But finish them over 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein, who was tracking the play (though slightly late)? That’s an eye-opener, even in the Kings’ 113-102 win.

Marc Gasol makes 3/4-court shot just after buzzer (video)

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When Marc Gasol‘s 3/4-court attempt went through the net, it seemed to barely matter the ball left his hands just after the first-quarter buzzer. After all, the Grizzlies led the Mavericks by 15, anyway.

Turns out, Memphis really needed that basket.

Watch Knicks string together 28-0 run against Raptors

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Toronto has been the second best team in the East this young season. Not that anyone is really convinced they will be called that by the time we get to the playoffs (or even the All-Star break, or even Christmas), but for the first 16-18 games of the season their new move-the-ball offense had them at 11-5 and looking solid.

Wednesday night the Knicks dismantled the Raptors.

Especially in the third quarter when the Knicks went on a 28-0 run to blow the doors off the Raptors (video above). The Knicks dominated the third 41-10, when Toronto shot just 1-of-16 from the floor.

New York is gaining confidence with each win this season, they are a fun team to watch that is starting to find an identity (now that a certain three-sided shaped one is not being forced upon them). Kristaps Porzingis is a monster, and while the Knicks overpaid the market for Tim Hardaway Jr. he has lived up to his contract this season. With rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina showing some nice defense and playmaking skills as a rookie (although he is undoubtedly still a work in progress), you can see a path to a strong future unfolding. There are real reasons for hope in New York. Someone just keep James Dolan distracted and away from the basketball operations side of the building.