Warriors point guard Stephen Curry just completed the best 3-point shooting season of all time (3.6 3-pointers made per game, 45.3 3-point percentage), and Golden State shooting guard Klay Thompson had a pretty good year outside the arc, too (2.6, 40.1).
“I’ve watched the history of the game and as player, as a fan, as an announcer, as a young kid and I’ve not ever seen two guys in the same backcourt shoot as well as these two guys,” Jackson said.
Let’s look a little deeper.
Curry and Thompson comprise one 11 backcourts all with two players averaging at least 2.0 3-pointers per game.
2012-13 Golden State Warriors:
Stephen Curry (3.6, 45.3)
Klay Thompson (2.6, 40.1)
2012-13 Brooklyn Nets:
Deron Williams (2.2, 37.8)
Joe Johnson (2.1, 37.5)
2012-13 Portland Trail Blazers:
Damian Lillard (2.3, 36.8)
Wesley Mathews (2.4, 39.8)
2009-10 Denver Nuggets:
Chauncey Billups (2.2, 38.6)
J.R. Smith (2.1, 33.8)*
2008-09 Denver Nuggets:
Chauncey Billups (2.1)
J.R. Smith (2.2)*
2007-08 Phoenix Suns:
Steve Nash (2.2, 47.0)
Raja Bell (2.3, 40.1)
2006-07 Phoenix Suns:
Steve Nash (2.1, 45.5)
Raja Bell (2.6, 41.3)
1999-00 Seattle SuperSonics:
Gary Payton (2.2, 34.0)
Brent Barry (2.1, 41.1)
1996-97 Detroit Pistons
Lindsey Hunter (2.0, 35.5)
Joe Dumars (2.1, 43.2)
1996-97 Miami Heat:
Tim Hardaway (2.5, 34.4)
Voshon Leonard (2.5, 41.4)
1994-95 Philadelphia 76ers
Dana Barros (2.4, 46.4)
Willie Burton (2.0, 38.5)**
*Smith didn’t start either season – coming off the bench for Afflalo in 2009-10 and Dahntay Jones in 2008-09 – but he played more minutes per game than the starting shooting guard in both cases.
**Burton started just 31 games, but that was most of any 76ers shooting guard that season.
Not only did Curry and Thompson make more 3-pointers this season than any teammate duo in NBA history, they shot a combined 42.9 from beyond the arc (fourth among the above teams, behind the 07-08 Suns, 94-95 76ers and 06-07 Suns),
“Well, I humbling submit to you that I’ve seen Jerry West and Gail Goodrich and it’s no disrespect to them,” Jackson said. “I was a guy that’s not guessing. Those were two good shooters. I’m dealing with two great shooters. I’m talking about great.”
I never saw West and Goodrich, but considering how much better 3-point shooting has become since the arc was instituted, I find it difficult to believe they were the best. For a long time, players struggle to make jumpers when the incentive was three points. If you notice, no backcourts made the above list until 15 years after the NBA adopted the 3-pointer. Perhaps, in a different environment, West and Goodrich could have become the best shooting backcourt of all time, but there just wasn’t enough of a premium on outside shots when they played.
So back to Curry and Thompson. They lead by volume, but Nash and Bell lead by efficiency. Plus, Nash and Bell did it for multiple seasons.
Curry and Thompson are more likely than not to become “the greatest shooting backcourt in the history of the game,” but Nash and Bell still hold the title for now.
Chauncey Billups with between legs assist to Blake Griffin (VIDEO)
After missing 11 of the last 12 games with a groin injury, Billups was back on the floor trying to get some rhythm back before the playoffs. It sure looked like he had is mojo back on this play, where he makes the nifty between-the-legs pass to Blake Griffin. And Griffin knows how to finish those.
A healthy Billups gives the Clippers some useful depth for the postseason. A few more plays like this one would help, too.
Chauncey Billups out with groin strain, status for remainder of the season in doubt
The Clippers could certainly use the veteran and capable presence of Chauncey Billups as they finish the regular season, while heading into a postseason battle that could be extremely difficult if the team should end up as part of the 4-5 first round matchup.
Billups has played just 20 games for the Clippers all season, however, and is now sidelined due to injury once again.
“He’s going to be out a little bit,” Del Negro said. “I don’t know how much. I’ll know more [Friday], probably. But I don’t expect him around for a while.
“I’m not sure if Chauncey will be out a game, two games, two weeks. I don’t know yet. It depends on how he reacts working out.”
“We can just never get him healthy, so it’s been tough,” Del Negro said. “I feel bad for him. We’re trying to get some continuity, but it’s hard to when he’s in one or two games and out with the groin or the back or whatever.”
There’s no timetable for Billups to return, and it may turn out that he’s back sooner than expected. But playing as little as he has this season, the Clippers need him to be either in or out as they prepare for the playoffs.
The rotation needs to be solidified as much as possible before then, and the situation surrounding Billups will only make things that much more difficult for Vinny De Negro, who seems to already have his hands full.
Baseline-to-Baseline recaps: Denver fans savor blowout of Knicks
Heat 98, 76ers 94: There was a time this season when the Heat were coasting and this was the kind of game where they just didn’t bring any heart. But now they have something to play for with the win streak, which reached 20 games with this victory. But the Heat had to earn this one as the Sixers would not just roll over. We went into more detail on the Heat pulling this one out.
Nuggets 117, Knicks 94: This was pretty much exactly what Nuggets fans ordered up. It started with a 21-9 Nuggets run in the first quarter, then they had a bunch of other runs over the course of the game as he Nuggets just ran away and hid. Carmelo Antony was a non-factor (9 points on 3-of-12 shooting, and you can throw in three turnovers) and after the game said he was going back to New York to get his knee drained — but not until the crowd booed him then chanted “Where Is ‘Melo?” after he left the court.
The Nuggets are for real — they play good defense and use that to fuel their offense. Top to bottom the Nuggets are committed to running, to their aggressive style, and there is no reason they can’t to it effectively in the playoffs (there is no rule saying you must player slower and more cautiously, though that tends to happen). With this roster Denver is young but can’t keep selling “we’re young, give us time.” They need some postseason wins, they need to get to the second round. And that’s certainly possible.
Hawks 96, Lakers 92: If you were looking for a well played basketball game, you were out of luck if you watched this game. While the Hawks were a bit better than the Lakers in terms of shot making, both teams struggled to find their groove from anywhere outside the paint. The Lakers only made 36 of their 92 shots with that mark greatly influenced by their 8 for 27 from behind the arc. Meanwhile the Hawks made 37 of their 79 shots, but only hit 18 of 48 shots from outside the paint (though they did hit a respectable 8 of their 22 three point attempts).
Where the Hawks won this game was on the strength of their ability to get to and score in the paint while limiting the Lakers’ ability to do the same. With a balanced attack that featured 6 players in double figures, the Hawks took advantage their match up advantages and some lax Laker defense to get timely baskets. Devin Harris led the team in scoring with 17 points while chipping in 7 assists, but it was the dirty work done by Al Horford that was difference. Horford scored 14 points on 7-12 shooting and helped control the glass by grabbing 14 big rebounds.
On the Lakers side, Kobe Bryant led them with 31 points but needed 33 shots to reach that tally before severely spraining his left ankle. The only prolonged stretch where Kobe looked even remotely in rhythm was the 3rd quarter where he scored 20 points on 8-16 shooting, but that was an outlier for him in this game. As for the other Lakers, Dwight Howard was impressive with 16 rebounds but was limited to only 10 points on 9 shots as the Hawks clogged the lane and made the Lakers shooters make shots to beat them. Those shooters failed, however, and with them missing, the Hawks got a much needed win while shorthanded. —Darius Soriano
Grizzlies 96, Clippers 85: Another game where you are left wondering if the Clippers just can’t beat the top teams in the West in a seven game series. The reason is defense — the Grizzlies shot 54.4 percent on the night. Marc Gasol had 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting as he once again just had his way with DeAndre Jordan. Defense and Jordan have always been the key to any Clippers playoff run and both were exposed in this game Tayshaun Prince added 18, but the Grizzlies got other contributions. When Chauncey Billups got hot and closed the gap to three in the fourth quarter the Grizzlies got a three from Quincy Pondexter and a tip in from Tony Allen and soon squashed the comeback. It was like that all night, the Grizzlies were just better and the questions about the Clippers remain.
With the win, Memphis moves into the No. 3 seed slot in the West, the Clippers slip to 4.
Thunder 110, Jazz 87: The Thunder are hot and playing like a contender. The Jazz are falling apart and playing like a team that doesn’t deserve to make the playoffs. Combine that and you get a blowout. The Thunder took control of the game in the first quarter and shot 53.6 percent on the night. Kevin Durant had 23 points and Russell Westbrook 19, and both could have had monster nights if they weren’t rested down the stretch because the game got out of hand.
Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 20 points off the bench but for long stretches he was covered by Derek Fisher and the Jazz didn’t get him the ball and let him attack. Utah made a lot of similarly odd choices in the game.
Wizards 106, Bucks 93: The Wizards showed some fight to hang on and get this win. Washington led by 20 points early in the third quarter, mostly behind the play of John Wall, who was attacking and finished with 23 points and 10 assists. But the Bucks came back with a 32-9 run that gave them a lead and the playoff-bound team seemed to have all the momentum. Until Wall and Trevor Booker (nine points in the fourth) stemmed the tide.
The Bucks got 26 points from Monta Ellis, 17 from Larry Sanders and 16 from J.J. Redick. But take those three out of the equation and the rest of the Bucks shot 33.3 percent on the night. It wasn’t enough.
Celtics 112, Raptors 88: This game was fairly close for the first half and even the start of the third quarter, but a 21-6 run late in the third quarter put everything out of reach. That run came because the Celtics were attacking the rim and drawing fouls — there were 19 Boston free throws in the third quarter and 35 for the game.
It was a milestone game in Boston where Kevin Garnett moved past Jerry West for 15th on the All-Time scoring list and Paul Pierce moved past Charles Barkley for 20th.
Pacers 107, Timberwolves 91: Indiana raced out to a 10-0 lead and they were hot in the first quarter, but they never pulled away by much more than that. In fact Minnesota fought back to tie the game, but Indiana closed the first half on an 8-0 run and pulled away in the third quarter for the win. The really good news out of all this for Indiana was a big showing from Roy Hibbert — 27 points on 10-for-15 shooting, plus 12 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. If Indiana is going to make any kind of playoff run they are going to need these kind of nights from Hibbert and he seems to be finding his stride again.
Rockets 111, Suns 81: After about 18 minutes of coasting through the game the Rockets got serious about defense, went on a 20-2 run and pulled away from the Suns for an easy win. Donatas Motiejunas scored 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting to lead Houston, James Harden added 18 points, while Jeremy Lin had 13 points and 6 assists.
The Rockets have won seven of their last eight at home — and now have eight of their next nine in Houston. Keep winning near that pace and they will solidify their playoff standing.
Kings 121, Bulls 79: The Bulls were just a mess from the opening tip. Sacramento won the first quarter 34-20 on 65 percent shooting — the vaunted Bulls defense took another night off. So did the offense, which shot 35 percent in the first quarter and 38.6 percent for the game. It was 65-36 Kings at the half. Tyreke Evans had 26 points on 13 shots to lead the Kings.
Warriors 105, Pistons 97: When Stephen Curry and David Lee are both on, Golden State can outscore a lot of teams. That’s what happened here, Curry had 31 points and was raining threes again, Lee had 20 points and 15 boards. The Warriors shot 56.9 percent from the field and only missed one shot in the game’s final seven minutes. Rodney Stuckey had 22 points, but Greg Monroe shot just 4-of-16 on the night.
Clippers try to jump-start defense for playoff run. Hapless Pistons help out.
LOS ANGELES — Since the start of the season there have been two questions that seem to define just how far the Clippers can go:
1) How good is DeAndre Jordan playing at the five?
2) How good is the Clippers defense?
The answer to both of those questions of late was “not good.” Which is why a lot of people have crossed the Clippers off their contenders list. Teams like the Thunder, Spurs and Nuggets have made them look bad recently.
Vinny Del Negro admitted his team was not playing well heading into Sunday night, then said the usual coach speak about it being all effort and focus. What he really needed was a nice easy blowout win with some good defense.
It’s a start. Now they need to carry it over to a bigger test against Memphis Wednesday.
“I thought defensively we were really tuned in, trying to take away some things, our energy level was up,” Clipper veteran Chauncey Billups told PBT after the game. “It wasn’t about who we was playing, it was about kind of us and our mindset and what we was going to do.”
The Clippers can defend. On the season, the Clippers have given up 100.2 points per 100 possessions, eighth best in the NBA. They have defended the pick-and-roll well (both the ball handler and roller, top five in the NBA according to Synergy Sports) by mixing up coverages.
But in the last five games that is up to 107.3 points per 100 possessions, 27th in the NBA during that stretch. In those games teams are shooting 47.8 percent overall and a very good 39.5 percent from three. Go back 10 games and the Clippers are giving up 104.3 points per 100 (20th in the league).
“We have to start playing better, I don’t think we’ve played well in a while…” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said before the game. “I think we just got to get our intensity up. Deny one pass away, be more physical, execute the plan better, talking, communicating, sprinting back in transition, loading up on the ball, running three point shooters off the line, boxing out, just all the fundamentals.”
Oh, well, if that’s all that’s wrong….
The Clippers did that in the first quarter. The Pistons pregame goal was to draw the Clipper big men out in the pick-and-roll, to get them in space, but the Clippers dropped off a lot. Why? Well, they were playing the Pistons. This was not a team that could make the Clippers pay for that strategy. Even when it worked and Jose Calderon made a nice pass to Greg Monroe, who had rolled inside to good position, he couldn’t finish when contested (he started the game 1-of-5). And the Clippers didn’t fear Jason Maxiell. Rightly.
As the game wore on the Clippers were more aggressive against the Pistons guards, trapping and challenging. And everybody not named Calderon struggled against that challenge.
It’s hard to take any defensive stats from this game after the first half too seriously because it became such a blowout. The Pistons had no answer for the Clippers on the offensive end. The Pistons defense could not keep stop Blake Griffin early — he hit on post moves, dunks in transition, cuts through the lane and, of course, a transition alley-oop. Throw in some vintage Chris Paul cross over and step backs and the Clippers were up 12 in the first quarter. Griffin finished with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting.
And this was a Clippers team that was without Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe off the bench.
To a man the Clippers all talked about defensive intensity and focus, to getting back to the kind of defense they were playing when they won 17 in a row. The Clippers are the current three seed in the West however both the Nuggets and Grizzlies are playing great ball and either of those teams — or sides like the Warriors or Rockets or Lakers — could expose the defense if the Clippers are not focused and not building good habits heading to the playoffs.
If not, the Clippers playoff stay could be shockingly short. There is no margin for error in a deep West.