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.

Watch Stephen Curry make fun of Klay Thompson’s 360 dunk fail in China

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By now we have all seen Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson brick that dunk attempt in China, right?

Here is the link to the video if you haven’t seen it.

Well, teammate Stephen Curry was also in China this week and decided to do a little mocking of Thompson’s missed dunk for the crowd.

It was all in good fun, and of course we all know about the Warriors team culture. Glad that Curry and Thompson can jab at each other like this.

Pistons sign Luis Montero to two-way contract

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) The Detroit Pistons have signed Luis Montero to a two-way contract.

The team announced the deal Monday. The 6-foot-7 Montero played 49 games last season for the Sioux Falls Skyforce and Reno Bighorns of the NBA G League. He played in 12 NBA games with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2015-16, averaging 1.2 points, 0.3 rebounds and 0.1 assists.

NBA teams are allowed two two-way players on their roster at any time, in addition to the 15-man, regular-season roster.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

LeBron James reportedly so frustrated with Kyrie Irving he is “tempted to beat his ass”

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Anyone else getting weary of the spin wars between the Kyrie Irving and LeBron James camps?

Irving thinks LeBron and his camp leaked the trade report and are trying to drag his good name through the mud. LeBron  — the man who led the way in teaching other players they should take control of their destiny and where they play — is angry that a player took control of his how destiny and is about to leave him high and dry. Right now both sides are trying to control the story — does Irving really envy Damian Lillard and John Wall‘s roles over his own, or is that spin? —  while fans come up with trade proposals. (No, a Kyrie for Carmelo Anthony trade is not happening.)

About the only thing that is clear is that this relationship is beyond repair. As evidence, we bring you the latest bit of spin, this from Stephen A. Smith’s “sources” as he spelled out on his radio show, (those sources are almost certainly are in the LeBron camp).

The full quote was: “If Kyrie Irving was in front of LeBron James right now, LeBron James would be tempted to beat his ass.”

I imagine if they were face-to-face right now it would look like every other NBA “fight” — they would push each other then make sure other guys jumped between them and held them apart so they could jaw but not actually have to throw a punch.

And yes, I know it’s Smith and we should take what he says with a full box of Morton’s Kosher Salt, but he illustrates a point:

Right now, the fight between Kyrie and LeBron is the sides trying to control the narrative.

No doubt LeBron is frustrated, he is in the legacy building part of his career and the Cavaliers were the consensus best team in the East with a shot at a ring next season. No Kyrie — almost no matter who Cleveland gets back in a trade — means the Cavs take a step back (while the Warriors and every other team in contention got better).  LeBron feels hurt and a little betrayed and is spinning that.

Irving is within his rights to ask out. There are certainly a variety of reasons he wants out, but at the top of the list is he wanted to control his own destiny before LeBron left next summer (probably) and Kyrie was left as the star on a team built to go around LeBron. Not that Cleveland did anything wrong, that is exactly the kind of team the Cavaliers should have built, LeBron will go down as an All-Time top 5 player, and this team brought Cleveland its first ring in 54 years. That doesn’t mean Irving can’t read the writing on the wall and want out.

For now, the drama will not stop between these two — nor will the spinning.

Timberwolves put out “0 for 30” video featuring Dave Chappelle missing a lot of jumpers

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The Minnesota Timberwolves are doing some work on their home arena, the Target Center, and it just so happens they had a special brick layer that got them started in 2013.

That extra helper was none other than comedian Dave Chappelle.

The team released a video on their social media platforms this week featuring Chappelle taking a bunch of jumpers on their floor in 2013. With a shot form somewhere between Shawn Marion and Stephen Curry, Chappelle wasn’t exactly a long range gunner.

Via Twitter:

I mean, it seems a little ridiculous to put up a video of the guy from four years ago hitting bricks and equating that to helping you remodel your home arena, but I feel like Chappelle can probably take it.

Either way, good work by the social team over in Minnesota.