Without Kawhi Leonard, Spurs blast James Harden and the Rockets in Game 6

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I don’t know what’s wrong with the Houston Rockets, but it’s probably not good.

The San Antonio Spurs demolished Houston in Game 6 on Thursday, 114-75, all without Kawhi Leonard, who sat out with an ankle injury. LaMarcus Aldridge finally looked alive, scoring 34 points to go along with 12 rebounds. James Harden, a game removed from notching a triple-double, had just 10 points while adding seven assists and a whopping six turnovers.

Houston looked lacking all game, with a real separation occurring in the second quarter. The Rockets scored just 18 points in the second period, unable to score from 3-point range.

In fact, the Rockets made just 13 of the 40 3-pointers they took, a stark contrast to their 22-of-50 explosion from Game 1.

Perhaps most perplexing was Harden’s effort, who at times seemed active but unable to judge timing and distance on his drives and passes. The Rockets star led the game in turnovers — he had just one less than San Antonio had as a team — and many of them came on odd decisions and ill-timed passes.

Harden’s example seemed to lead the way for the Rockets, who in a line failed to produce an active offensive night. Trevor Ariza led the way in scoring for Houston with 20 points, and Patrick Beverley, Eric Gordon, and Ryan Anderson were all held to single-digit scoring totals.

Getting the nod in place for Leonard for San Antonio was Jonathon Simmons, who scored 18 points in his first-ever NBA playoff start. Simmons dropped 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting, adding four assists. Dejounte Murray was a standout off the bench with 11 points for the Spurs.

The game was never really close, and the way Houston ended their season had to be disappointing for Rockets fans considering how incredible they were to watch over the course of the year. The Spurs, meanwhile, appear to be the Spurs.

San Antonio heads to yet another Western Conference Finals — this time to take on the Golden State Warriors — in the most Spurs way possible, beating an MVP candidate by 39 points without their best player on the floor.

Meanwhile, Houston will have to regroup and figure out why their world class offense stalled against a team without Leonard even on the floor.

Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals is on Sunday in Oakland.

Report: NBA not headed toward 1-16 playoff seeding

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league would continue look at 1-16 playoff seeding.

Ken Berger of Bleacher Report:

Silver is well-intentioned on this issue, and open-minded, too—as he is on most agenda items that could, in theory, make the league better. But despite his willingness to discuss postseason reformatting, multiple people familiar with league discussions say it’s not anywhere near the top of the agenda.

After its analysis of the issue in ’15, the league concluded that, for a variety of reasons, it wasn’t sensible to change the playoff format. The two key factors, according to league sources, were 1) travel; and 2) a belief among league officials that conference imbalance was a temporary trend that would correct itself, as it typically has in the past.

For playoff qualification to truly be fair, teams would have to play a balanced schedule. As is, teams play teams in their own conference 52 times and teams from the other conference 30 times.

More 10 p.m. starts on the East Coast and 4 p.m. starts on the West Coast would hurt TV ratings.

Plus, as relative conference strength exists now and has existed for several years, 1-16 playoff seeding would make it harder for bigger Eastern Conference markets and easier for smaller Western Conference markets to qualify for the postseason.

Quality of competition matters, and there would be value in the NBA building a playoff field of its 16 best teams. But follow the money. There isn’t nearly enough urgency with this issue to overcome the direct financial setbacks reform would cause.

Draymond Green’s MRI comes back negative

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The Warriors can exhale. Their status as overwhelming championship favorites remains intact.

Draymond Green injured his knee in Golden State’s season-opening loss to the Rockets, but it appears he didn’t suffer major damage.

Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area:

Even if Green misses a little time, the Warriors should be fine. They can cruise until playoffs – maybe even a round or two into the playoffs.

Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry are Golden State’s best players, but Green’s defense is so important, especially in small-ball lineups with him at center. The Warriors led Houston by 13 when Green left the game and then couldn’t get enough fourth-quarter stops in a one-point loss.

Golden State values rest and built a supporting cast around its stars to follow through. If Green misses tomorrow’s game against the Pelicans or any beyond, Jordan Bell, David West, Kevon Looney and Omri Casspi could all see bigger roles.

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.