Kurt Helin

Associated Press

Blake Griffin returns to court for Clippers Sunday, says quad still not 100 percent

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The Clippers get Blake Griffin back Sunday.

But not an entirely healthy, 100 percent Blake Griffin.

The Clippers’ star forward is a guy they will need in the playoffs if they are going to challenge Golden State in the second round. But while everyone was focused on his broken hand — suffered while punching a Clipper employee — and the four-game suspension that followed, his lower left quadriceps injury remains a real issue. He had sat out already for the thigh injury when the punch happened, but now months later it is the quad that is still a problem and not 100 percent. Here is what Griffin said Saturday, via Dan Woike of the Orange County Register.

“I don’t want to say ‘misdiagnosed’ but (it) wasn’t doing the right things, I guess,” Griffin said. “We weren’t addressing the initial problem, the main problem. Everything I was doing was just putting more stress on my knee. The small tear became a three-month thing because I wasn’t doing the right things until we figured it out.

“… It just wasn’t being allowed to heal. The tear is still there. It’s just about managing the pain and getting through this. It’s not a new tear. I wasn’t re-tearing my knee in different places. I wasn’t allowing the initial injury to completely heal.”

The tear, which is on the lower part of his left quad just above the kneecap, had been causing knee pain.

Doc Rivers said they are going to take it slow with Griffin’s return over the next seven games and manage his minutes. From the Clippers’ official site.

“You just have to watch,” Rivers said. “I don’t care if you’re healthy and 100 percent and you haven’t played, you’ve just got to be careful. You don’t want to throw a guy out there and him get injured because you’re overplaying him. So, we just have to be very careful….

“When you have an injury to your body, especially your lower body, it’s always a pain issue,” Rivers said. “Then what we’re going to have to find out from him is how many minutes creates more pain, or less. We’ll figure that all out.”

The Clippers are locked into the four seed in the West, having gone 30-15 without Griffin, but they struggled against elite teams without him. The four seed means either Portland or Memphis in the first round, then if the Clippers advance very likely Golden State in the second round.

Jimmy Butler records first career triple-double in loss to Pistons

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Playing through a sore back that should probably have him resting, Chicago’s Jimmy Butler recorded his first career triple-double Saturday against Detroit — 28 points, 17 rebounds, 12 assists, plus he threw in three steals and two blocks. Not a bad night’s work. He wasn’t terribly efficient (25 shots, 1-of-7 from three) but no Bull was (outside Aaron Brooks off the bench).

Butler’s best wasn’t enough, and may not be enough to save the Bulls’ playoff chances. With the loss, the Bulls are the nine seed two games back of Indiana and the final playoff berth with just six games to play. Not impossible, but fivethirtyeight.com gives the Bulls just a five percent chance of making the playoffs now.

Myles Turner blocked Nik Stauskas once, but Stauskas got revenge with poster dunk

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Indiana’s Myles Turner and Philadelphia’s Nik Stauskas had a private little duel at the rim Saturday night.

Round one went to Turner.

But Stauskas got his revenge in a big way.

Damn, Daniel. I didn’t know Stauskas had that in him.

Pero Antic sues NYPD, Thabo Sefolosha reportedly to follow regarding incident from last year

Associated Press
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We knew these were coming — Thabo Sefolosha himself said as much. Now the lawsuits are arriving.

Last April, Hawks’ swingman Sefolosha had a late-night run-in with the New York Police Department outside a Chelsea Club on the night Chris Copeland was stabbed outside said club. Sefolosha was arrested for misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest — but in the process of the arrest suffered a broken leg that kept him out of the playoffs last season. At that same time and place, former Hawks center Pero Antic had a confrontation with police and arrested, but he was not charged.

Rather than accept a “let’s just make this go away” plea deal Sefolosha fought the charges in court and won.

Now Antic has filed a civil lawsuit against the NYPD and Sefolosha is expected to have his filed in the coming days, reports Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.

False arrest, unlawful imprisonment, assault, battery, negligence, civil rights violations and malicious prosecution were listed as the claims in Antic’s complaint. Under Antic’s notice of claim, filed last year, $25 million was set as the maximum Antic can recover.

“The NYPD has all but conceded that they falsely and improperly arrested Pero Antic,” Alex Spiro, Antic’s attorney, said. “They will now be held responsible.”

Sefolosha’s suit, which will name the NYPD and other city agencies, will likely include charges of unlawful force, unlawful arrest and malicious prosecution, the source said. Sefolosha’s notice of claim, also filed last year, set $50 million as the ceiling he can be compensated for damages.

Both men had previously filed those claims against the city as the necessary first step in a civil lawsuit. That gives the city a chance to respond and potentially pay up, although at those prices that was never going to happen.

These cases are not slam dunks for the players. First, the New York review board that looked into the case said the officers abused their authority and should not have arrested the players for allegedly interfering with the crime scene, but that same board said the officers did not use excessive force. What’s more, for Sefolosha to get the damages he is asking he has to show permanent damage, and he is back playing in the NBA this season. Antic played this season in Turkey.

One thing the players have in their favor is the video of the incident, which is not the entire picture but doesn’t look good for the police.

This likely will go to trial — in fighting his arrest Sefolosha said he wanted to make a point about the NYPD’s abuse of power. He could have taken a slap on the wrist plea deal with his criminal charges and had the whole thing go away, but he chose to fight. And he won.

Now, he and Antic are not likely to settle — they don’t need the money. They can afford to fight on principle.

C.J. McCollum has 24 points, Blazers beat Heat 110-93

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — C.J. McCollum said the Portland Trail Blazers are in a position to surprise people.

After a big roster turnover in the offseason, many did not think the Blazers would be in the playoff conversation.

Damian Lillard said that from the outside, some might be surprised because the Blazers don’t have players “labeled as shooters.” And still, they are making noise and are in throwing distance of a playoff berth.

“We’re going to compete,” McCollum said. “That’s my mindset. I can’t speak for other people but we’re doing what we’re supposed to. We’re winning at home.

“(We’re) beating teams we are supposed to beat.”

McCollum had 24 points and made all six of his 3-point attempts to help the Blazers beat the Heat 110-93 Saturday night for their seventh straight home win. They are in sixth place in the Western Conference but have not clinched a playoff spot yet.

Despite the loss, the Heat still clinched a postseason berth after the Chicago Bulls fell 94-90 to Detroit earlier in the evening. Miami came into the game tied for the third seed in the East but dropped to sixth with the loss.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said that clinching that playoff spot is not something his team takes for granted.

“With this organization, we always have big expectations, that doesn’t change from year to year,” Spoelstra said. “So, getting over that hurdle does mean something to us, but we still have more that we’re working on for right now and that’s really what we’re focused on. It was a disappointing game. They outplayed us, they played very well and we did not bring a great game that would have been necessary to get this road win.”

The Blazers made 10 3-pointers to break a franchise record for 3-pointers in a season with 808.

Lillard did not play in the fourth quarter and finished with 18 points for the Blazers. Gerald Henderson came off the bench to score 17 points.

Data curated by PointAfter

Hassan Whiteside led the Heat with 21 points and 13 assists.

Guard Dwyane Wade missed his second straight game because of back and neck injuries sustained Wednesday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Portland built a 23-point lead early in the third quarter and did not let up. Their largest lead of the night was 28 points.

Portland shot 62 percent from beyond the arc while the Heat made only 31 percent. The Blazers edged the Heat out in fast-break points 18-4. Miami’s bench outscored Portland 42-29.

Miami’s Luol Deng chalked the loss up to not playing as hard as Portland did.

“We had spurts where we played hard and got it going, but they were more consistent than we were for most of the game,” Deng said. “Coming out of the third quarter, they really blew their lead and we didn’t have enough to get it back.”

Saturday’s game was the second of back-to-back games for Miami. Last night, the Heat beat the Sacramento Kings 112-106.

McCollum is the second NBA player to make six 3-pointers in a game without a miss this season, joining Matt Barnes.

“I knew I’m a good shooter,” McCollum said. “I’ve gotten a lot of reps over the course of my career and I pride myself on mechanics and getting in and getting my reps and trusting the process.”

HENDERSON’S HELP:

Henderson’s offensive output was nearly double his average. It was the 10th time in the past 13 games that he has been in double figures.

Portland is 9-1 when he scores 15 or more.

“He’s really provided a spark off the bench, quality scoring,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “He makes some energy plays, some dynamic plays.”

TIP INS:

Heat: This is the seventh time Miami has made the playoffs in eight seasons under Spoelstra. … Miami traded Brian Roberts to Portland on Feb. 18 along with a future second-round pick in exchange for cash considerations. Roberts never played a game as a member of the Heat, spending just one day after being traded from Charlotte.

Trail Blazers: Kris Kaman was listed as active on Saturday night after being inactive for two games with upper-respiratory issues. He came into the game with less than 4 minutes remaining. … Former Trail Blazer Terry Porter, who was at the game, was named coach of the University of Portland’s men’s basketball team on Friday.