<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>

Blake Griffin, Tim Duncan

Spurs get a little lucky, are plenty good, get road win in Game 5 over Clippers


LOS ANGELES — In a close, evenly-played game like this, it comes down to a thousand little things.

For the Clippers, it was death by a thousand cuts: a Chris Paul technical; the team going 1-of-14 from three; letting the Spurs grab a late offensive rebound; calls not going their way; and a tired Blake Griffin having a fantastic game then going 1-of-9 in the fourth quarter due in part to fatigue.

And it was DeAndre Jordan tipping in a ball over the cylinder that was going in on its own.

“It was a dumb ass play… can’t blame anybody for that but me,” Jordan said.

The Spurs just kept executing and making plays: Tim Duncan hitting Boris Diaw for the corner three; Duncan blocking Blake Griffin in the paint (then stripping the ball from him); Manu Ginobili beating out Matt Barnes to get a rebound with the game on the line. And even when the Spurs didn’t execute well, Diaw hit a bail-out 18-foot fadeaway he even described as “lucky.”

It all added up to a 111-107 Spurs win in Staples Center Tuesday night. With the win the Spurs take a 3-2 lead home and will try to close it out in games six Thursday in San Antonio.

It’s tempting to describe the game as just the kind the Spurs find a way to win, but coach Gregg Popovich was not buying that.

“One would assume that experience would help you, but not as much as players making plays,” Popovich said.

Popovich made one key adjustment, putting Duncan on Griffin for key stretches of the game, including the fourth quarter. Most of the season, the Spurs prefered to use Tiago Splitter on Griffin, but with Splitter injured and playing limited minutes it wasn’t working. So Popovich turned to the future Hall of Famer.

Griffin put up numbers — 30 points, 14 rebounds — but he struggled down the stretch. That included a key block then strip by Duncan of Griffin in the paint.

“His timing is just impeccable,” Popovich said. “He has a hard time jumping over the proverbial piece of paper, and he gets in position. He knows where to be. He’s played long enough, he’s got a great basketball IQ, and he has excellent timing, so he reads things well….

“It might have been the play of the game when he blocked that shot.”

That was one. The other was a Griffin basket with :07 seconds left that would have put the Clippers up by one, but was waived off when Jordan touched it over the cylinder.

“I was just trying to make a play on the ball, but it ended up being a dumb play,” said Jordan, who admitted touching the ball.

Early on it seemed this could be a good night for Los Angeles. The Spurs opened the game 4-of-14 shooting, the misses allowing the Clippers to get out and run — and that means high-flying dunks that got the crowd going. Add some bad rotations on defense and things got so weird Popovich called for some zone defense. It was pretty much the dream start for the Clippers, who led by as many as 14… then Doc Rivers went to his bench. That zone and the Clipper bench meant by the end of the quarter it was 27-22 Clippers and felt like a game again.

When the Clippers starters returned, the team went on a run, but this time the Spurs were not going to let the game get away. A seesaw second quarter ended with a 54-53 Clippers lead at the half. Blake Griffin already had 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting, plus eight rebounds.

The Spurs had a vintage Spurs night — Ducan had 21, Kawhi Leonard 18, but the Spurs had eight guys with at least 8 points. Their balance makes them hard to defend.

The Clippers are more top-heavy in their scoring, and in the end Griffin was clearly tired and not making plays. Not that it was his fault the Clippers lost. It was just another of a thousand little cuts.

DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin were dunking on Spurs early (VIDEOS)

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Five

The first eight minutes of Game 5 Tuesday night was pretty much the Clippers’ dream scenario — the Spurs were missing shots, the Clippers were getting out and running, and it was a dunkfest. The fans at Staples Center loved it.

Above was DeAndre Jordan finishing the alley-oop from Chris Paul. Then there was Blake Griffin — who had 21 points in the first half — doing his thing.

The Clippers were up by 14 early, but the Spurs battled back — not so coincidentally when Doc Rivers went to the Clipper bench — and by the middle of the second quarter this was a game. As we have come to expect from this series.

PBT Extra: What has the Chicago Bulls slipping?

Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls - Game Five

The Chicago Bulls were in command of their first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks — Chicago was up 3-0. But a funny thing happened on the way to that sweep.

The Bucks kept gaining confidence and playing better, the Bulls stopped getting easy buckets, the Bucks started scoring a few of their own — Michael Carter-Williams completely outplayed Derrick Rose in Game 5 — and suddenly we have a series. It’s 3-2, and Game 6 is in Milwaukee.

What do Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls have to change to swing this series and finish off the Bucks? That’s the topic for this PBT Extra. Maybe not playing Jimmy Butler 46 minutes so he has nothing left at the end of the game would be a start.

Full list of NBA draft-eligible underclassmen, international players released

2014 NBA Draft

There are the names you know — the one-and-done players, the guys who will go high in this June’s NBA Draft. Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and the like. But then there are the countless guys whose names you don’t know, players who likely never set foot on an NBA court.

All in all, there are 91 college underclassmen and international players eligible for the NBA Draft, their names formally released by the NBA on Tuesday. Below you can see all of them.

You would be correct to note that only 60 players will get drafted (and college seniors, not listed here because they are all eligible, will take up some of those slots). Some of these players took poor advice and are about to be wildly disappointed as they go through the draft process. Others understood the NBA was a longshot but they are ready to start earning money to play basketball overseas, so they put their name out there.

Wherever a particular player may fall on that scale, their names are below. First are the college underclassmen, followed by the international players who will enter the draft this season.

Early Entry players (name (college) height)

Cliff Alexander (Kansas) 6’8” Freshman
Justin Anderson (Virginia) 6’6” Junior
Brandon Ashley (Arizona) 6’9” Junior
Devin Booker (Kentucky) 6’6” Freshman
Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky) 7-0 Junior
Sam Dekker (Wisconsin) 6’9” Junior
Michael Frazier II (Florida) 6’4 Junior
Olivier Hanlan (Boston College) 6’4” Junior
Montrezl Harrell (Louisvillep) 6’8” Junior
Aaron Harrison (Kentucky) 6’6” Sophomore
Andrew Harrison (Kentucky) 6’6” Sophomore
Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington) 6’4” Sophomore
Jerome Hill (Gardner-Webb) 6’5” Junior
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona) 6’7” Sophomore
R.J. Hunter (Georgia State) 6’5” Junior
Vince Hunter (UTEP) 6’8” Sophomore
Charles Jackson (Tennessee Tech) 6’10” Junior
Dakari Johnson (Kentucky) 7’0” Sophomore
Stanley Johnson (Arizona) 6’7” Freshman
Tyus Jones (Duke) 6’1” Freshman
Trevor Lacey (North Carolina State) 6’3” Junior
Kevon Looney (UCLA) 6’9” Freshman
Trey Lyles (Kentucky) 6’10” Freshman
Jarell Martin (LSU) 6’10” Sophomore
Chris McCullough (Syracuse) 6’10” Freshman
Jordan Mickey (LSU) 6’8” Sophomore
Jahlil Okafor (Duke) 6’11” Freshman
Kelly Oubre (Kansas) 6’7” Freshman
Ashton Pankey (Manhattan) 6’10” Junior
Cameron Payne (Murray State) 6’2” Sophomore
Terran Petteway (Nebraska) 6’6” Junior
Walter Pitchford (Nebraska) 6’10” Junior
Bobby Portis (Arkansas) 6’11” Sophomore
Michael Qualls (Arkansas) 6’6”Junior
Terry Rozier (Louisville) 6’1” Sophomore
D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State) 6’5” Freshman
Satnam Singh (IMG Academy) 7’1” Post-Graduate
Jherrod Stiggers (Houston) 6’5” Junior
Deonta Stocks (West Georgia) 6-1” Sophomore
Aaron Thomas (Florida State) 6’5” Junior
J.P. Tokoto (North Carolina) 6’6” Junior
Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky) 6’11” Freshman
Myles Turner (Texas) 6’11” Freshman
Robert Upshaw (Washington) 7’0” Sophomore
Rashad Vaughn (UNLV) 6’6” Freshman
Chris Walker (Florida) 6’10” Sophomore
Justise Winslow (Duke) 6’6” Freshman
Christian Wood (UNLV) 6’11” Sophomore

International players (name, team (country), height)

Alberto Abalde, Joventut (Spain) 6’7”
Dimitrios Agravanis, Olympiacos (Greece) 6’10”
Wael Arakji, Al Riyadi (Lebanon) 6’4”
Eleftherios Bochoridis, Panathinaikos (Greece) 6’5”
Beka Burjanadze, Coruna (Spain) 6’8”
Nedim Buza, Spars Sarajevo (Bosnia) 6’8”
Alexandre Chassang, ASVEL (France) 6’9”
George de Paula, Pinheiros (Brazil) 6’6” 
Andrey Desyatnikov, Zenit St. Petersburg (Russia), 7’3”
Moussa Diagne, Fuenlabrada (Spain), 6’11”
Lucas Dias Silva, Pinheiros (Brazil) 6’9”
Ognjen Dobric, FMP Beograd (Serbia) 6’6”
Simone Fontecchio, Granarolo (Italy) 6’7”
Danilo Fuzaro, Minas (Brazil) 6’4”
Marc Garcia, Manresa (Spain) 6’6”
Humberto Gomes, Pinheiros (Brazil) 6’5”
Kevin Harley, Poitiers (France) 6’6”
Guillermo Hernangomez, Sevilla (Spain) 6’11”
Juan Alberto Hernangomez, Estudiantes (Spain) 6’7”
Mario Hezonja, Barcelona (Spain) 6’8”
Mouhammadou Jaiteh, Nanterre (France) 6’11”
Alpha Kaba, Pau Orthez (France) 6’10”
Vladislav Korenyuk, Dnipro (Ukraine) 6’11”
Dusan Kutlesic, Metalac (Serbia), 6’6”
Jonghyun Lee, Korea University (Korea) 6’9”
Timothe Luwawu, Antibes (France) 6’7”
Nikola Milutinov, Partizan (Serbia) 7’0”
Aleksej Nikolic, Spars Sarajevo (Bosnia) 6’3”
Cedi Osman, Anadolu Efes (Turkey) 6’8”
Miroslav Pasajlic, Uzice (Serbia) 6’1”
Anzejs Pasecniks, VEF Riga (Latvia) 7’1”
Oriol Pauli, Gran Canaria (Spain) 6’7”
Kristaps Porzingis, Sevilla (Spain) 7’1”
Nikola Radicevic, Sevilla (Spain) 6’5”
Djoko Salic, Spars Sarajevo (Bosnia) 6’11”
Marko Tejic, Crvena Zvezda (Serbia) 6’10”
Juan Pablo Vaulet, Bahia Basket (Argentina) 6’6”
Aleksandar Vezenkov, Aris (Greece) 6’9”
Adin Vrabac, Trier (Germany) 6’8”
Rade Zagorac, Mega Leks (Serbia) 6’7”
Sergiy Zagreba, Dnipro (Ukraine) 7’0”
Alexandr Zhigulin, Penas Huesca (Spain) 6’8”

PBT Extra: What does Kevin Love’s injury mean for his summer plans?

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Three

Kevin Love is out for the rest of these playoffs.

What does that mean for the Cavaliers short term? Some spacing issues (and likely a lot of LeBron James at the four) and some vulnerabilities.

What does it mean for Kevin Love’s summer free agency plans? That’s the more interesting topic in this latest PBT Extra. I think it means he’s more likely to stay for at least one more year, but nothing is a lock.

(The second part of this really seems to bother some Cavs fans on Twitter: Yes, he’s going to listen to the Lakers if they call. I know he said mid-season he wasn’t going to LA, but what do you think he used to tell the people in Minnesota? Don’t buy what players say in season when they don’t like the question. Again, I’ve always said I expected Love to stay for a year or two, but he hasn’t been entirely comfortable, there is some appeal to the Lakers, and he will consider his options.)