Kurt Helin

San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker shoots past Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick (4) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 115-107. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Spurs hold off Clippers, improve to 15-0 at home

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and 13 rebounds, Tony Parker scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, and the San Antonio Spurs held off the Los Angeles Clippers 115-107 on Friday night to remain undefeated at home.

San Antonio leads the league in several defensive categories, but offense dominated the first matchup between the teams since the Clippers eliminated the then-defending champions in the first round of last season’s playoffs.

Kawhi Leonard had 19 points, Tim Duncan added 14 and Danny Green had 10 for the Spurs, who are 15-0 at home this season.

Chris Paul had 27 points and 10 assists for the Clippers. Blake Griffin added 25 points and DeAndre Jordan had 16 points and 17 rebounds.

San Antonio opened the final quarter on an 11-0 run, beginning with Patty Mills‘ layup on the fifth pass of the possession after the Spurs passed up three 3-pointers. Parker’s 3-pointer closed the run and gave San Antonio a 96-88 lead with 9:17 remaining.

The Spurs then resumed intentionally fouling Jordan, and it disrupted their offense as much as it limited the Clippers.

San Antonio would not score until Parker hit another 3-pointer with 6:08 remaining, but the Spurs were able to maintain a 99-93 advantage. Parker also drained a 15-footer with 1:19 remaining and ran down a long rebound off Manu Ginobili‘s miss with 53.9 seconds.

San Antonio entered the game holding opponents to 88.2 points, but the Clippers matched that in taking an 88-85 lead entering the fourth.

The Clippers continually used screens to put a smaller defender on Griffin, and the 6-foot-10 forward took advantage by shooting over Parker, Ginobili, Green and other wings. Griffin was 10-for-19 shooting, including going 4 for 6 in scoring 10 points in the opening quarter.

The Clippers were physical defensively, throwing the Spurs’ multi-pass offense off rhythm early.

The Spurs matched the aggression in the second quarter, crashing the boards. Mills missed a 3-pointer, Boris Diaw soared over Jamal Crawford for the rebound, tip-toed near the baseline and flung a pass to Green, who drained a 3-pointer. On the next possession, Duncan charged down the center of the lane to tip in a miss and earn a three-point play.

TIP-INS

Clippers: Griffin had 13 points in the first half. It was the 22nd time he has scored in double figures in the first half, which leads the league. … The Clippers will play just four games at home this month, which is the least in a single month in franchise history since playing three games in January 1992.

Spurs: The Spurs have won nine games by 20-plus points, which is the most in the league this season. Oklahoma City is second with five wins of 20-plus. … Parker became incensed early in the third quarter when he was knocked to the court on a drive and no foul was called by official Ed Malloy. After driving into the lane and drawing a foul by Jordan on the next possession, he rose and flung an arm in anger. He then spoke to Malloy for about 15 seconds before taking his free throws.

 

Report: Raptors’ Carroll, Valanciunas could be cleared for practice soon

Toronto Raptors' DeMarre Carroll left, and Patrick Patterson, right, walk down court in the closing moments of the Raptors 107-101 loss to the Sacramento Kings in an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
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The Toronto Raptors could use DeMarre Carroll‘s defense on the perimeter shooting. The Raptors miss Jonas Valanciunas in the paint — they are nine points per 100 possessions better when he plays than when he sits. When Carroll and Valanciunas are on the court together this season, the Raptors have outscored their opponents by 4.4 points per 100 possessions.

They could get them both back soon. Valanciunas has been out with a broken hand. Carroll has officially been out with a bruised knee, but he had been playing through foot issues and could use the time off. Both are nearing a return, reports Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun.

The Raptors at 16-11 are right in the middle of the crowded second tier in the East, where 2.5 games separate the second seed Bulls and the 10-seed Celtics going into Friday night’s action. That the Raptors have hung in there with two key starters out is impressive.

With them back, maybe the Raptors can start to separate themselves from the pack.

Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad all dunking on Kings

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The Minnesota Timberwolves have a long way to go to be good, but they sure are fun to watch.

Against the Sacramento Kings Friday night Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, and Shabazz Muhammad all got in the act with impressive dunks. They were hurting the rim, and it was certainly entertaining.

In a few years, this team could well be elite. Until then they are still a great show.

Hoiberg still optimistic Dunleavy Jr. will play for Bulls this season

Mike Dunleavy, Luol Deng
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CHICAGO (AP) — Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg says he still thinks forward Mike Dunleavy Jr. will play this season.

Dunleavy is away from the team working with a specialist as he recovers from a back injury.

Hoiberg said Friday he is “optimistic” the veteran sharpshooter will suit up after being sidelined all season. He also understands the skepticism that Dunleavy will return, saying it’s “fair to question that, talk about it.”

The veteran sharpshooter was expected to be out eight to 10 weeks after having surgery in late September, but he experienced a setback in his recovery.

The 35-year-old Dunleavy re-signed with Chicago in July after he averaged 9.4 points and shot 40.7 percent from 3-point range in 63 games last season.

Kobe’s 10-year-old daughter already mimics his pull-up jumper

Kobe Bryant
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Kobe Bryant‘s pull-up jumper is a work of art. While the consistency of it falling has dropped off in recent years (although in his last five games his outside shot has been on target again), his fundamentals in keeping his balance while throwing his defender off is something to be studied by young wings.

Or, Kobe’s daughter.

Baxter Holmes of ESPN had this great note in a story on Kobe dunking for the first time this season (hat tip Eye on Basketball and Complex).

Bryant lined up for free throws and stared across the court to his smiling wife and two elated daughters, the youngest of whom, 10-year-old Gianna, was especially excited.

“We were shooting not too long ago and she was shooting one-dribble pullups,” Bryant recalled. “I asked her where does she get that from? She said, ‘From watching you.'”

“I didn’t know she was paying attention that much,” Bryant continued. “I watch her play and she has the same mannerisms. She’ll sit there and bite her jersey and all this other stuff. That’s a beautiful thing.”

Her coaches may not love her taking pull-up jumpers quite yet, but nature over nurture. And every league is a make-or-miss league, if she’s knocking them down nobody will care.