Spurs control pace, get 26 from LaMarcus Aldridge, beat Rockets to take 2-1 series lead

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Going home to Houston, with Tony Parker out for the series, there was pressure and expectations on the Rockets to take control of their series against the Spurs on Friday night.

Instead, it was the Spurs who seemed in control.

The game was slower than the Rockets need (100 possessions total, it was 105 in Game 1), they shot 12-of-39 from three (30.8 percent), the role players that killed the Spurs in Game 1 were again quiet, and Houston has yet to find a good adjustment for dealing with Pau Gasol hanging back in the paint on defense. The Rockets scored just 92 points, a season low.

Meanwhile, the Spurs did Spurs-like things. They were patient on offense, and that led to LaMarcus Aldridge getting 26 points, matching Kawhi Leonard’s number. Defensively, Leonard and the scheme made life hard on James Harden, but more importantly, the Spurs stayed home on shooters and made it difficult for him to get others involved. Then, of course, the Spurs executed brilliantly down the stretch.

The result was a 103-92 win by the Spurs in Houston, giving the Spurs a 2-1 lead in the series. Game 4 is Sunday in Houston.

“I don’t know what they’ve done any different, they haven’t done anything different,” Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni said after the game. “They beat us three times in the regular season that way…

“Nothing they did should have bothered us, we just didn’t play good.”

James Harden put up 43 points, but he needs help getting buckets. If the Rockets are going to bounce back and even the series Sunday, they need their shooters to step up — Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, and Nene combined to shoot 6-of-36. As a team, non-Harden Rockets shot 18-of-60.

On top of all that, the Rockets started to lose their composure and just bark at officials. Both Harden and Patrick Beverley picked up technicals for complaining about calls.

The Spurs have been able to get away with Gasol and Aldridge on the floor, two bigs against Houston, and you wonder if D’Antoni will double down on his strategy and go smaller with Ryan Anderson at the five for stretches. That’s not to say Clint Capella has played poorly, he had 12 points and 16 rebounds, but the Rockets need to shake something up.

And they need to respond to pressure.

Game 5 becomes almost must-win for Houston — go down 3-1 and this series is over. Houston has to get back to playing fast and free, and they’ve just got to knock down their threes.

Report: Grizzlies starting power forward JaMychal Green out several weeks

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The Grizzlies are undefeated, having topped another playoff hopeful (Pelicans) in their season-opener.

But things seem tenuous in Memphis.

Not only is Chandler Parsons feuding with Grizzlies fans, JaMychal Green is hurt.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The supporting cast looks rickety around Mike Conley and Marc Gasol unless second-rounder Dillon Brooks (19 points on 7-of-13 shooting +17 against New Orleans) keeps humming. And maybe even still then.

Green’s injury opens the door for bigger roles for Jarell Martin and maybe Parsons (gulp).

At least Green locked in his guaranteed money. This shows why he couldn’t afford to risk taking the qualifying offer.

Booed by Grizzlies fans, Chandler Parsons says he’ll treat home games like road games

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Chandler Parsons‘ great sin? Signing a four-year, $94 million contract and failing to justify it due to injuries. He missed 48 games last season and struggled mightily while on the court.

His more recent transgression? Missing a couple free throws.

The Grizzlies forward missed a pair from the line in yesterday’s season-opening win over the Pelicans, and Memphis fans booed him:

Later, Parsons drew a three-shot foul, and Marc Gasol tried to rally the crowd behind Parsons:

Plenty of fans cheered, but as Parsons went 1-for-3, others still booed.

Parsons, via Geoff Calkins of The Commercial Appeal:

“I’ll just go into every game with the mentality that it’s a road game, if that’s how it’s going to be,” he said.

Finally, Parsons stuck up for himself, saying, “They can boo me, they can sarcastically cheer me, they can do whatever they want. … It’s tasteless , man, it makes no sense. We’re athletes, we’re human beings. I don’t know them personally, so, it’s just a little strange to me, but that’s sports.”

If Parsons didn’t understand Mavericks fans booing him after he left Dallas, he sure isn’t going to understand Grizzlies fans booing him while he’s still in Memphis.

Fans largely see Parsons as a character in the drama that is the Grizzlies – something removed from their everyday reality. Of course, Parsons is taking it personally. He’s a person, and it’s his everyday reality.

It’s unclear what portion of Memphis fans booed him. Grizzlies fans probably aren’t excited about cheering him right now, but many did – as a direct response to the boos. Even if they would’ve preferred no reaction a vacuum, those cheering fans didn’t want the boo birds speaking for them.

Parsons ought to remember those supportive fans before painting the entire home crowd as the enemy, or else he’ll turn everyone against him. None of this is fair to Parsons, who has surely been frustrated with his injuries, but he can control how he reacts to the fans.

Magic rookie Jonathan Isaac forgot to put on jersey for debut

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In the above video, Magic rookie Jonathan Isaac can be seen sitting on Orlando’s bench wearing his warmups midway through the first quarter. After a timeout, his seat was empty.

Where did he go?

Isaac, via Chris Barnewall of CBS Sports:

“I didn’t even put my jersey on. I was on the bench and I completely forgot my jersey. I didn’t even put it on,” Isaac said.

When asked when he retrieved his white, pinstriped Magic jersey, he said: “five minutes left in the first quarter. [I left it] sitting right there.”

Isaac checked in a few minutes later – with his jersey on – and quickly scored.

Good thing the Magic’s rotation didn’t call for him to enter the game sooner. And this was obviously easier to laugh off after Orlando beat the Heat.

Nets’ Jeremy Lin out for season

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The fears for Nets point guard Jeremy Lin have been realized.

Nets release:

Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin has been diagnosed with a ruptured patella tendon of the right knee.  The injury occurred during the fourth quarter of last night’s game at Indiana. Lin is expected to miss the entire 2017-18 season.

This is obviously a devastating setback for Lin, who missed 46 games last season in his first year with Brooklyn. The Nets’ already-slim playoff chances fade further with the loss of arguably their best player, though fellow point guard D'Angelo Russell shined in his Brooklyn debut with 30 points.

The trickle-down effects of this injury are perhaps more intriguing.

This makes the Nets’ first-round pick – owned by the Cavaliers – more valuable. Does that make LeBron James more likely to re-sign with Cleveland next summer (either because the Cavs add a top-flight rookie or trade the selection for a valuable veteran)? Does that alter long-term plans in Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia and elsewhere?

Lin’s injury doesn’t just sting in Brooklyn. It could alter the entire landscape of the NBA.