Kurt Helin

Sixers’ Jerami Grant fined $10,000 for throwing a water bottle into stands

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As a general rule of thumb, the NBA frowns on players throwing things at fans.

The Sixers’ Jerami Grant has been reminded of that the hard way — the league has fined him $10,000 for “throwing a water bottle into the spectator stands” Sunday against the Wizards at the Verizon Center.

Grant went down trying to score in transition after a hard foul, and he was frustrated. If you watch the video above, you can see the incident. The NBA just is not going to permit that.

This will hit Grant harder than most guys getting fined, as he is making just $845,059 this season (relative to the rest of the NBA, that minimum deal isn’t much). The second-year player out of Syracuse is averaging 9.2 points in 26 minutes a night, having played solid basketball most of the season.

 

Five Takeaways from NBA Wednesday: Thunder blow 22-point lead to Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, left, and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, of Congo, watch a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 2, 2016, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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It was a full night around the NBA, here’s what you need to know from around the Association:

1) LOS ANGELES —Clippers close out game on 26-5 run, come from behind to upset Thunder. OKC had been in control since the opening tip; they were up 16 with just more than seven minutes left in the game, and it looked like the Thunder were going to remind the Clippers that they do need Blake Griffin to complete with the elite teams. Then everything changed.

“I went out (of the game) to start the fourth quarter and Jamal Crawford looked at me and said ‘we are going to get us back in this thing by the time you get back in,’” Chris Paul said. “I don’t know if he’s a fortune teller, but he did it.”

“We just let up and got comfortable with the lead,” Russell Westbrook said.

The Thunder’s shot selection didn’t impress, either. (I’m not including Westbrook’s late three in that mix, although it wasn’t a great shot the Thunder, down three, expected the Clippers to foul and he was trying to draw the three shots.) OKC settled for too many contested jumpers, which became transition/early offense opportunities for the Clippers going the other way (the Thunder didn’t get back on defense). The Clipper bench took advantage of it by attacking, and then their stars sealed the deal — DeAndre Jordan hit a couple of key and-ones on his way to 20 points and 18 rebounds, and Paul added 21 points and 13 assists.

2) Another year, another Spurs trip to the playoffs (that’s 19 straight). The last time the San Antonio Spurs didn’t make the playoffs, Princess Diana was still alive. So were Biggie and Tupac.

Wednesday night the Spurs took care of business against the Pistons 97-81 and that, combined with Utah’s loss to Toronto, clinched a playoff spot for the Spurs. Again. For the 19th season in a row. Let’s acknowledge just how amazing that is as an organization. You can expect the rest of Spurs stars to begin in earnest in a couple of weeks.

3) Chicago suffers an ugly loss to Orlando. There are a lot of questions to ask about what is going on in Chicago, but we need to remind ourselves that this is a very banged-up team. Wednesday night they were without Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and Nikola Mirotic — four key rotation players. Still, losses like the one to Orlando Tuesday hurts them dearly in the playoff chase. The Bulls once again played matador defense against a lesser opponent and lost because of it (the Magic didn’t hurt them like the Heat the night before, but it wasn’t because of improved defense). Derrick Rose played well in the first half (16 points on 7-of-9 shooting), but when he was off in the third the Bulls put up just 17 points and got throttled.

The Bulls are just half a game back of eight-seed Detroit. But at 30-30 the Bulls are now tied with the Wizards, who have a much easier schedule the rest of the way. Chicago has a lot of work to do if they are going to make the postseason.

4) Vince Carter turns back the clock with reverse dunk. He’s not winning-the-dunk-contest Vince Carter anymore, but he can still throw one down occasionally.

5) James Harden‘s 39 points bails out ugly shooting night from Rockets. Houston could not throw a pea in the ocean (to borrow an old Chick Hearn line) — Houston was 3-of-34 from three. That’s 8.9 percent. The lowest percentage ever in an NBA game for a team that took 30 or more threes. But James Harden had 12 of his 39 in the fourth quarter, and the Rockets went on a late 13-2 run to beat the Pelicans 100-95, holding on to the eight seed in the West for now.

Doc Rivers says Blake Griffin close to return to Clippers

Clippers' Blake Griffin, right, jokes with his teammate during a game against the Suns at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Monday, Feb. 22, 12016. (Kyusung Gong/Orange County Register via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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LOS ANGELES — Tuesday, Blake Griffin told reporters he was very close to returning from the broken hand that has had him sidelined for five weeks.

Doc Rivers agrees.

“Blake’s close. He’s looking good,” Rivers said without much hesitation before his team took on the Oklahoma City Thunder. “Honestly, watching him today (at shootaround), I was like, in my mind I was thinking ‘we could use some of that tonight.’ I don’t get involved in (the injury) part of it, I know there’s a reason he’s not activated. Honestly, today, watching him I said ‘Can he play tonight?’”

He can’t. For one, he hasn’t yet been cleared by doctors for contact.

“Watching him today I thought that had to be the only reason, that they’re worried it’s not healed properly yet,” Rivers said.

The other reason is that once cleared Griffin will have to serve a four-game suspension for the league from the incident where he broke his hand punching a Clipper employee during a dinner in Toronto. That broken hand required surgery. Griffin has since apologized.

Doc Rivers said that both for chemistry reasons and that the Clippers have a tough schedule down the stretch, he would like to get his starting power forward back in the rotation (and his 23.2 points and 8.7 rebounds a night). The Clippers have done well with a small ball, spread pick-and-roll style offense in Griffin’s absence, but while that has worked in the regular season, it will not be as effective in the playoffs when teams could drill down on it defensively. Rivers knows for his team to have a chance at even getting out of the second round, he needs Griffin.

And he could have him fairly soon.

Kevin Durant after blown lead to Clippers: “We want to be a great team, we’re fooling ourselves”

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LOS ANGELES — There’s an identity crisis in Oklahoma City.

“If we want to be a great team, we’re fooling ourselves,” Kevin Durant, arms resting on his thighs and looking at the ground after his team blew a 22-point lead and lost to the Clippers Wednesday. “If we want to be a great team the way we’re playing, we’re fooling ourselves. We want to win a bunch of games in the regular season, that’s cool, but we’re fooling ourselves with the way we’re playing.”

There was a lot of soul searching after the game as the Thunder kept the locker room closed after the game for longer than normal; and then their stars took their time to gather themselves before addressing the media. It’s to be expected in what is the latest in the line of “worst loss of the season” games for the Thunder — all with Golden State looming on Thursday. Not to mention Durant’s free agency looming this summer.

“What kind of team do we want to be?” Thunder coach Billy Donovan asked. “Because to (win) is going to require a level of sacrifice from every player. I think this is something where you see in the first half what a team like this is capable of, and then can you sustain it? Can you keep playing that way? They do it for long stretches, but then we have these lapses.”

The Thunder were in total control from the opening tip Wednesday night in Los Angeles. Where other teams had struggled with the spread offense the Clippers have run since Blake Griffin went out, the Thunder defense was sharp. Their ball movement was good enough. The Thunder raced out to an early lead and were up by 20 at the half. They kept that lead at double digits through the third.

Then in the fourth quarter, the Thunder’s identity crisis returned with a vengeance — they blew a 17-point lead to start the fourth to lose to the Clippers 103-98.

In that pivotal fourth quarter, too much isolation/hero ball led to bad shot selections, which in turn led to missed shots for the Thunder. Then they didn’t get back in transition which allowed the Clippers to get shots and match-ups they wanted — especially with their second unit. It was the Clipper bench that sparked the 35-13 fourth quarter and the win. Chris Paul had 21 points and 13 assists in the game, DeAndre Jordan had 20 points (including some key fourth-quarter plays at the rim) and 18 rebounds.

The Thunder have lost five-of-seven since the All-Star break, including a couple of heartbreaking come-from-ahead losses. Don’t sell this to Durant as a wake-up call for the team.

“We’ve already lost too many games we’re supposed to win. We can’t just keep talking about wake-up calls,” said Durant, who had 30 points on 27 shots in the game. “We’ve got 20 games left or whatever it is. We can’t have no wake-up calls at the end of the season. We’re supposed to had those. We’ve got to be locked in from the beginning, from shootaround.”

“I’ve said this before, the best thing for this team is adversity,” Donovan said. “We need adversity. It doesn’t need to be easy, in my opinion…. Now here is an adverse situation, what do we do with this in terms of going forward? When we get leads like this, can we sustain playing the right way on offense and defense?”

The adversity keeps coming as the Thunder must take on the Warriors in the Bay Area on Thursday — where the Warriors have yet to drop a game this season.

 

 

Kevin Durant dunks over top of J.J. Redick (VIDEO)

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Poor J.J. Redick didn’t stand a chance.

He was in the right place, back on defense, when Kevin Durant corralled the tap out and started on a fast break. But Redick was back peddling and KD had a full head of steam with every intent of throwing it down. The outcome was decided long before Durant took off.

We’ll see what Redick says about this on his podcast.