Kurt Helin

DeAndre Jordan was either dunking on or blocking Nuggets all game long


Count me in the camp that thought Doc Rivers went over the top the past couple seasons in pumping up DeAndre Jordan. I get why he did it, after Vinny Del Negro had torn Jordan down Rivers built him back up to being an elite center and confidence was at the heart of it. However, the past couple seasons Rivers was pushing Jordan for Defensive Player of the Year when the Clippers defense was just as good when he sat (last season the Clipper defense was 0.3 points per 100 possessions better with him on the court). Watch him closely and you saw Jordan struggle with the finer points of defense.

This season, Jordan has improved his consistency, timing, and doing those little things on defense — and he continues to be a force on offense as the most dangerous roll man in the game.

The Denver Nuggets saw all of that Sunday. Above you can see one of Jordan’s ferocious dunks. Below, check out his six blocked shots, three of them on Emmanuel Mudiay. He had 16 points and 16 rebounds to key to Los Angeles’ 105-90 win.

Klay Thompson scores 40, Draymond Green with triple-double in another home Warriors win


OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Klay Thompson scored 40 points in consecutive games for the first time in his career, Draymond Green posted his franchise-best 12th triple-double and the Golden State Warriors beat the Philadelphia 76ers 117-105 on Sunday night.

Stephen Curry had 20 points and eight assists and Green contributed 13 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists as Golden State (66-7) stayed a game ahead of the pace set by the 1995-96 Bulls’ during their record 72-win season. Chicago was 65-8 through 73 games.

Backup big man Marreese Speights added 17 points and seven rebounds in the Warriors’ 53rd straight regular-season victory at Oracle Arena and 35th consecutive at home this season.

Carl Landry scored 22 points for the lowly Sixers, who lost their ninth in a row and 22nd in 23 while playing a back-to-back.

When coach Steve Kerr took the Golden State job before last season, he challenged Speights to extend his range by a foot. It was a slow process that didn’t happen during the championship run, but the 6-foot-10 center has done it this season all right.

The Splash Brothers set the example for a guy they’re considering giving “Splash Cousin” status.

Curry (350) and Thompson (253) have 603 combined 3s, the most by a pair of teammates in a season. Reigning NBA MVP Curry, already the first player in NBA history with 300 3s in a season, has nine games left to chase 400.

Thompson shot 15 for 27 and had his fourth 40-point game this season and eighth of his career, all coming at home. Speights hit his first six field-goal tries, including a pair of 3-pointers, and finished 7 for 10.

Ish Smith added 20 points on 9-for-14 shooting and 10 assists for the 76ers, who rallied from 24 points down and 19 in the fourth quarter before losing 108-105 to Golden State in the first meeting Jan. 30 on Harrison Barnes‘ game-winning 3 with .2 seconds left.

On Sunday, Curry started 1 for 6 and missed his initial four 3-point tries before connecting 4 minutes before halftime – running his NBA record to 143 straight games with at least one 3.


With 20 games remaining, Kerr challenged the Warriors to clean up the turnovers and take it up a notch defensively. The first task has been far better down the stretch, but Golden State’s coach is still calling for more on the defensive end.

After Friday’s win against Dallas, he called the defense “horrific.”

“We have been paying close attention to our defensive numbers the last 10 games,” Kerr said. “What we are really trying to reinforce with our players is the idea that come playoff time that we better be sharp and we have to start building those habits now in order to be sharp in the postseason.”


76ers: Coach Brett Brown is unsure whether F Richaun Holmes will return from a right Achilles tendon strain before season’s end after he re-injured it Saturday at Portland. “I worry. You don’t want to mess around with Achilles injuries,” Brown said. “You go overboard with your conservative approach.” Brown is not as concerned with F/C Nerlens Noel‘s status as he nurses a bone bruise on his right knee. He missed his third straight game. … The Sixers called up F Christian Wood from the Delaware 87ers and signed him to a 10-day contract. … Philadelphia hasn’t beaten Golden State since a 104-97 win on March 2, 2013.

Warriors: Speights hit his 20th and 21st 3s this season in the second, topping the 19 total he had his first seven seasons. … Shaun Livingston got a night off to rest. … If C Festus Ezeli does fine scrimmaging 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 in the coming days, he could return from left knee surgery later next week – but not in Tuesday’s or Wednesday’s games, Kerr said. G Andre Iguodala (sprained left ankle) is further behind. … Golden State swept the season series 2-0 for the third straight year. … The Warriors are 8-7 on Easter Sunday, including 5-1 at home. They hosted on Easter for the first time since 2004.


Paul George scores 25 points, Pacers beat Rockets 104-101

Associated Press
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Paul George did the bulk of his work for the Indiana Pacers early on, and then Monta Ellis and Ian Mahinmi came through at the end.

George scored 16 of his 25 points in the second quarter and the Pacers overcame 34 points from James Harden to beat the Houston Rockets 104-101 on Sunday night

“This was exactly the kind of game we expected,” Mahinmi said. “We knew we had to have this one tonight. A big thing right now is that we are still learning to play with each other, and we are getting better.”

The trio worked well together to put the game away and keep the Pacers rolling on a playoff push.

Ellis scored 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting, including the go-ahead basket with 4:46 remaining to give the Pacers a 96-95 lead. Mahinmi, who tied his career high with 19 points, followed up with back-to-back baskets to give the Pacers a 104-101 lead.

Harden added eight rebounds and Trevor Ariza added 14 points for the Rockets, who have lost two straight.

The Pacers took a 16-point lead in the third quarter and appeared to have the game put away before the Rockets went on a run and took a lead early in the fourth quarter with a dunk by Ariza.

The Pacers are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The Rockets dropped to eighth in the West and are trying to stay in the chase for the playoffs.

It was a solid effort in the second half for Houston, though.

The basket by Ariza in the fourth quarter came while the Pacers turned it over three straight possessions and the Rockets scored three straight baskets to take an 85-81 lead.

The Pacers extended a 10-point halftime lead at the start of the second half when George Hill made a 3-pointer and Ellis drove to the basket to put Indiana ahead 67-51.

But then Houston went on a 19-3 run. Trevor Ariza made a 3 and Harden made three more, including one to tie the game at 70 with 3:37 left in the third quarter.

Before that, the opportunities were few and far between.

“They’re a very good defensive team,” Houston coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “They do a great job protecting the paint and they’re running you off the 3-point line and sending you to more people.”

Houston recorded its second-lowest 3-point percentage in a game this season and was held to 21.2 percent from behind the arc.

“They missed some open 3-pointers, but overall, I thought our 3-point defense was good,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “They hurt us and got back in the game in the third quarter when they went small, and James Harden really got going.”

The Pacers used strong ball movement to take a 57-47 halftime lead.

Ellis and Miles each made 3-pointers during a 10-2 spurt late in the second quarter and Mahinmi scored to cap off the run to make it 55-42 with 1:41 left in the first half.


Rockets: Dwight Howard had 11 points and 10 rebounds. … Houston was 2 of 18 from 3-point range in the first half and finished 7 of 33. … Forward Sam Dekker was out with lower-back soreness.

Pacers: George and Mahinmi each had 11 rebounds. … The Pacers were 9 of 26 from 3-point range. … Indiana shot 50 percent from the field in the first half.


Report: UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman to declare for draft

Associated Press

Late in the first round, if teams select a big man they are looking at a project they hope can develop into a quality rotation player down the line.

Meet UNLV’s seven-foot center Stephen Zimmerman.

He fits that category, and he is entering the draft, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Zimmerman, 19, plans to sign with an agent and eliminate the opportunity to withdraw and return to college basketball before the NCAA’s May 25 deadline, sources said.

A formal announcement is expected early this week….

NBA executives told The Vertical that Zimmerman, mobile, skilled and a good shot-blocker, has the potential to move into the top half of the draft with some strong performances in predraft workouts.

One of our college basketball experts, Rob Dauster of College Basketball Talk, agrees that workouts are going to matter, because he is a raw player but one who may fit better in the NBA than college.

Zimmerman is an intriguing prospect in the sense that he is a mystery man for those that don’t follow high school hoops. A consensus top ten recruit, Zimm opted to stay home and play for UNLV, a team that was so bad their head coach was fired three games into league play. His numbers (10.5 points, 8.7 boards, 2.0 blocks) are decent enough, if not overly impressive, but he was a bad fit at UNLV. He’s not a dominant one-on-one scorer at this point in his development, but the 7-footer is a very capable passer out of the post that should be able to thrive in pick-and-pop and pick-and-roll NBA actions. There are tools there to build on. I think once teams get him in workouts — and out of UNLV — he’ll end up being selected higher than the late first round, which is where he’s currently projected.

Big men always climb in the draft. Don’t be surprised if he is picked just after the lottery.

Clippers beat Nuggets 105-90, clinch playoff spot

Associated Press
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — DeAndre Jordan had 16 points and 16 rebounds and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Denver Nuggets 105-90 on Sunday to become the fourth Western Conference team to clinch a playoff spot.

Chris Paul added 14 points, six rebounds and nine assists, Jamal Crawford also had 14 points, Jeff Green and Wesley Johnson each added 13, and J.J. Redick had 12. The Clippers had a 25-8 edge in fast-break points.

Jusuf Nurkic had 19 points, and D.J. Augustin added 18 for Denver. Gary Harris finished with 11 points, Joffrey Lauvergne had 10, and Darrell Arthur grabbed 12 rebounds.

The Nuggets, 10th in the West with eight games remaining, fell 5 1/2 games behind the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets in the race for the conference’s eighth and final playoff berth.

The Clippers never trailed and broke it open in the third quarter, outscoring Denver 25-12 to take a 77-60 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Nuggets made just 6 of 25 shots in the period, were outrebounded 15-9, while committing five turnovers.

Leading 56-52, the Clippers scored 15 of the game’s next 19 points, taking a 71-56 lead on Johnson’s layup with 3:03 left in the third quarter.


Jordan brought out the loudest roar out of the Staples Center crowd in the third quarter, blocking a shot at the defensive end, then running the floor, taking a fast-break, over-the-shoulder, alley-oop pass from Paul and slamming it home with 9:14 left.


Jeff Green, playing with the first unit in the second quarter, scored seven consecutive points for the Clippers, and grabbed three rebounds, including two offensive, over a 2:36 span. Green was acquired from Memphis for Lance Stephenson on Feb. 18.


The game’s 12:30 p.m. start time apparently did not appeal to the Nuggets, who missed their first six shots, with a pair of turnovers thrown in, needed 3:47 seconds to get on the scoreboard.


Denver: Six of Denver’s 10 first-quarter baskets were 3-pointers. Kenneth Faried, who missed four games with lower back stiffness, and did not play Friday night against the Lakers (coach’s decision) was a game-time decision, according to Nuggets Coach Michael Malone. Faried did not play. The Nuggets defeated the Clippers 87-81 in their previous trip to Staples Center, a game that saw the Clippers shoot a season-high 46 3-pointers.

Los Angeles: The Clippers activated Blake Griffin prior to the game, and he began serving a four-game, team-imposed suspension for punching an assistant equipment manager in January.