Kurt Helin

Elfrid Payton, Toney Douglas

Report: Toney Douglas near deal to join Pelicans

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The Pelicans are desperate for help at the point. Jrue Holiday is on a minutes limit — just when he seems to get a flow going he has to come out — while Norris Cole (high ankle sprain) and Tyreke Evans (knee surgery) remain out. The Pelicans tried Nate Robinson, but he seems to have lost a step and isn’t looking to set up Anthony Davis anyway, so they waived him Thursday.

Immediately the buzz was Toney Douglasrecently waived by the Pacers — would be getting a call to return to New Orleans. That is going to happen sooner rather than later, reports Jeff Zillgitt at USA Today.

Douglas isn’t exactly a traditional playmaker, but his three point shooting can space the floor, he can get you some steals on defense, and he can at least move the ball and help out the Pelicans.

New Orleans started the season 0-2 and their next game is Saturday night against Golden State.

Clippers made 61 background check calls on Lance Stephenson

Clippers Lance Stephenson Press Conference
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Lance Stephenson as the Clippers’ starting small forward was not the plan back in July, but it was the reality Wednesday night when Los Angeles tipped off the season in Sacramento. Stephenson played fairly well in his 19 minutes, most importantly he played within himself on offense (seven points on 3-of-5 shooting) and seemed focused on defense.

Back in July, the Clippers were looking for an upgrade over Matt Barnes and saw Stephenson and Paul Pierce as the answer.

But after Stephenson was pushed out the door in Indiana and Charlotte, there was a locker room (and on the court) risk in bringing him in — so team president Doc Rivers and staff did their homework. A lot of it, reports Sam Amick at the USA Today.

Rivers, who did not know Stephenson previously, was the first to admit that the Clippers had to do more due diligence than normal. Whereas the normal background check would typically warrant approximately 20 phone calls to people who know the player well, Rivers and Clippers general manager Dave Wohl made 61 such inquiries during their research of Stephenson.

“I don’t think we’ve ever made more (background) calls for a player in my life,” Rivers said. “We had to make sure, but I’ve got to tell you that I’m really excited. It’s one game (in the regular season), but I think he has a chance to be really disruptive to other teams. And what I love is he gives us another ball handler, and you can see that with the first group.”

If Stephenson works out as Rivers hopes, he will be a steal. He’s getting paid $9 million this season, but when the cap spikes next summer the Clippers have a $9.4 million team option.

There’s still a long way to go, but the next step is Thursday night on TNT where Stephenson will start opposite Wesley Matthews (if the Mavericks start him on the second night of a back-to-back coming off an Achilles injury, although he looked solid in the opener). There will be plenty of people in Indiana and Charlotte watching the Clippers tonight and all season, waiting for the Stephenson chemistry issues to surface.

Doc Rivers the GM bet on Doc Rivers the coach this summer — he’s got to meld Stephenson, Josh Smith, Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers into a second unit. Those are guys who tend to do their own thing rather than meld into the whole. But if Rivers gets them on the same page, he will have shored up the hole that was the Clippers bench. And all those phone calls would have been worth it.

 

 

Ricky Rubio scored career high 28, hit jumpers against Lakers (VIDEO)

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It’s one game, I don’t want to read too much into that small a sample size but…

Ricky Rubio was knocking down jumpers and was very impressive Wednesday night against the Lakers.

He finished with a career-high 28 points plus 14 assists, but what caught everyone’s eye was he was making the Lakers pay for leaving him open and daring him to shoot. He killed them around the left elbow area. Here’s his shot chart from the game.

Rubio shotchart vs. Lakers

Hearing that Rubio has been working on his jump shot in the offseason is like hearing the new James Bond movie has a car chase. Everybody expects it.

But then you see it, and you’re caught off guard by how good it is. For one night at least, Rubio was knocking down those shots and as the defense adjusted he used the angles to set up teammates. Again, it was one night against a not-impressive Lakers’ defense, but it’s something to watch. Because if Rubio found a jumper the Timberwolves just got a lot more interesting.

Report: NBA investigating Clippers’ Austin Rivers for thrown seat cushion that hit fan

Austin Rivers, Darren Collison
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No matter how hostile the environment — and make no mistake, there was plenty of bad blood between the Clippers and Kings in Sacramento Wednesday night — the NBA league office will not tolerate players throwing things at fans.

Even a seat cushion — as Austin Rivers may find out.

Rivers allegedly threw one into the crowd during the fourth quarter Wednesday night, it hit a fan in the face, and the NBA is looking into it, reports Sam Amick at the USA Today.

The situation caused a stir among Kings fans on hand, as the woman who was hit by the cushion in the second row was clearly experiencing discomfort in her eyes for quite some time after the incident.

It appears likely that Rivers will be disciplined as a result, though a final decision has not yet been made. The 23-year-old Rivers is the son of Clippers coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers.

If Rivers did this — and it sounds like he did — he will face a fine. As he should — you’ve got to control your emotions. There is a precedent for this, Glen Davis was fined $15,000 for kicking a seat cushion into the crowd at Boston Garden when he was a Clipper. What is it with the Clippers and seat cushions?

Rivers was not impressive in his role as a backup point guard on Wednesday night. He played 16 minutes and had three points, one assist, and a couple of steals. He made a couple nice defensive plays but his offensive decision making with the ball in his hands — jumpers early in the shot clock without running the offense — were not pretty. Maybe he works better as a reserve two guard next to Pablo Prigioni.

C.J. McCollum scores 28 in first half, 37 for game in Blazers’ win

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C.J. McCollum is going to win a lot of fantasy team owners games this season.

In Portland’s opener against a weary New Orleans team on the second night of a back-to-back, McCollum dropped 28 points in the first half (you can see that above) and 37 for the game, as Portland picked up a quality win to start the season 112-94.

His jumper was falling, he was 10-of-15 outside the paint on the night and hit 6-of-9 from three. He shot 14-of-22 overall and even when defended it didn’t matter much, he was 5-of-7 on contested shots (according to NBA.com stats). Damian Lillard added 21 points on 21 shots for Portland, plus had 11 assists.