Kurt Helin

Another day, another Blake Griffin to DeAndre Jordan alley-oop reverse slam

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This play is just a bread and butter part of the Clipper offense at this point, but it works because Blake Griffin is such a great passer and it’s hard to defend all the options.

Griffin sets a screen out high for Jamal Crawford (in this case, Chris Paul and others fill that role as well) then while the ball-handler probes and draws defenders Griffin half-rolls to the free throw line, where Griffin gets an easy bounce pass back. DeAndre Jordan is lurking around on the baseline and when his big man rotates over to take away the lane so Griffin can’t throw down his own monster dunk (and the help has to come way out because Griffin can knock down that jumper, too), Jordan makes a cut to the rim, takes the alley-oop pass and throws it down.  Today they did it with a reverse jam, just to add to the degree of difficulty.

Everyone knows it’s coming, but stopping this play is just not simple. Orlando couldn’t come close on this play, but they came close in the game falling to the Clippers 103-101.

Paul George scores 48, but Jazz beat Pacers 122-119 in OT

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Derrick Favors scored a career-high 35 points, and the Utah Jazz rallied for a 122-119 overtime win against Paul George and the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.

Favors converted a three-point play to help send the game to overtime, and then added six more points in the extra period. Favors had a layup off a pick-and-roll with Trey Burke with 17.1 seconds left, and George Hill missed a potential tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Indiana wasted career-high 48 points from George, who carried the offensive load for much of the night. But two missed jumpers down the stretch of regulation helped Utah come back.

Favors also grabbed 13 rebounds, and Gordon Hayward had 22 points, five rebounds and five assists. Burke added 19 points and seven assists.

The Jazz jumped to a 24-12 lead in the first quarter thanks to a 10-0 run and some cold shooting from the Pacers. They started the game shooting 27 percent from the field and 1 for 6 from behind the arc.

Indiana chipped away thanks to 20 first-half points from George, but a turnover and a Burke layup seconds before halftime lifted the Jazz to a 57-52 lead at the break.

The Jazz started the third quarter with a 14-2 run, but George continued to hit shot after shot. The teams were tied at 84 heading into the fourth quarter.

TIP-INS

Pacers: Monta Ellis started despite being questionable with a right shoulder contusion. … C.J. Miles scored 12 points on 2-for-10 shooting from the field. … Indiana was outrebounded 54-44.

Jazz: Utah fouled a 3-point shooter four times in the first half. … Rookie Trey Lyles made his third start of the season and played just under 20 minutes. … Rodney Hood fouled out in the fourth quarter with six points.

 

Donatas Motiejunas returns to Rockets Saturday night

Donatas Motiejunas, Kenneth Faried
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The Rockets have won four-of-five, and their next seven games are against teams below .500. — they have a chance to get above .500 and go on a little run.

It helps that they are getting healthy — Donatas Motiejunas returns to the Rockets lineup Saturday night.

The backup big man had been out since April due to back surgery, a long recovery that had seen multiple setbacks. But they could use him off the bench behind Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones (Motiejunas was more successful last season at the four, but can play the five).

Motiejunas took a big step forward from last season. He has the ability to score inside with hook shots, or he can knock down threes (and the Rockets could use the floor-spacing shooting). He’s not a great defender, but when paired with Howard last season the Rockets were a lock-down team.

Things are setting up well for the Rockets, we’ll see if they can take advantage of it.

Dirk Nowitzki’s favorite Pau Gasol play? One Gasol may want to forget.

Pau Gasol
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Tonight at the United Center, when Pau Gasol takes the court with the Bulls against the Hornets, it will be Gasol’s 1,00th NBA game.

The two-time NBA champion tweeted out to his fans to send him their favorite Gasol moments from his career.

Dirk Nowitzki‘s answer wasn’t what Gasol was expecting. But it was funny.

That is Nikola Vucevic, in case you were curious.

(Hat tip jaimep25 at NBA reddit)

Steve Nash calls Stephen Curry the next evolution of the NBA

Stephen Curry
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There has been a lot of talk about the small-ball revolution in the NBA. The seeds were planted by Mike D’Antoni (and Don Nelson before him) but have fully blossomed with Stephen Curry and Golden State. The NBA can be a copycat league and every team now thinks about small ball lineups (if not starting them).

Steve Nash doesn’t see it as a revolution. It’s an evolution. That’s what he told Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star.

“It looks easy, but the shots he takes are insane,” says Nash. “The speed, range, dexterity, going left, going right, leaning, fading. It feels like the possibilities are limitless. I feel like I could shoot the ball in as wide an array of ways as anybody, but he’s been able to do it with more range and more speed. It’s remarkable. It’s the evolution of the game. I don’t think we’ve ever seen anybody be able to do this….

“It’s a leap,” says Nash. “When you take all factors in, even without the accuracy, just to be able to take those shots at an acceptable rate is itself an evolution. We’ve had a lot of gunslingers, a lot of volume shooters. but to take the shots he takes, even without the accuracy, is a revolution. And then, the accuracy: it’s remarkable.”

It is an evolution. Curry is the at the top of that food chain right now, a guy in the right place with the right skills at the right time.

What the Warriors do on offense has roots going back to the early 2000s decision by the NBA to allow zone defenses and remove hand checking on the perimeter — the Gary Payton physical brand of defense went away. That gave advantages to isolation/pick-and-roll players driving from the wings, and the league adjusted with Tom Thibodeau’s overload defense (something that couldn’t be done pre-zone rules). The zone also made it easier to keep post players in check because you could front and back them, making entry passes hard. NBA offenses responded to that evolution with tempo — get up shots before the defense sets — and using the three to create space and pull defenders away from the paint. Going smaller helps those things. (That’s a very simplistic outline, but you get the idea.)

Stephen Curry and the Warriors are the current peak of that evolution. Curry’s ability to shoot off the catch or the dribble, and the spacing he creates opens up looks inside, his passing skills, all of that is perfect for a modern offense. As Nash said, he makes it look easy but it is not. The Warriors are also an anomaly because of the high-IQ players they have everywhere, plus the ability of Draymond Green to keep the Warriors playing elite defense despite going small separates them.

Curry is the next evolution, and if you want to call it a revolution go ahead.

It will last until the next one.