Tag: Chris Paul

Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford

CP3 who? Clippers come from behind to take Game 1 from Rockets on road.


The Rockets learned the hard way the Clippers — even without Chris Paul — are not the Dallas Mavericks.

It was announced before the game that Paul — the “point god” and quarterback of the Clippers’ offense — would not play Game 1 due to his strained hamstring. With that news, the Rockets did not respect the Clippers. Houston played like all they had to do is show up and they win.


Blake Griffin had a triple-double — 26 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists — and the Clippers hit 11-of-16 three-pointers in the second half while the Rockets turned the ball over 23 times on the night. The result was a 117-101 Los Angeles win.

The Clippers are up 1-0 with a road win heading into Game 2 Wednesday night — when the Clippers might have the best point guard in the game back in the rotation.

“That first half could have gotten away from us and the fact we kinda were able to keep our composure, turn the ball over and only be down four I think,” Clippers’ Doc Rivers said, correctly. “That was the turning point.”

Austin Rivers got the start at the point for the Clippers but the Rockets showed no respect for his shot — he started slow but finished with 17 points and hit 4-of-6 from three. Then Jordan Crawford came in and was making plays. A little while later, Doc went to Lester Hudson for minutes at the point. That’s not good, but the Clippers hung around. It was ugly early as the Clippers shot just 32 percent in the first quarter and were 1-of-10 from three (Rivers making the lone bucket).

But the Rockets didn’t take advantage. Trevor Ariza started out 4-of-4 and scored 11 of the first 15 Houston points, but nobody else could knock down a shot. It was a six-point Rockets lead after one and as Clippers got into their bench Rockets went on 19-5 run to take a 13-point lead. Meanwhile, the Clippers looked out of sync — Griffin, J.J. Redick, and Matt Barnes are rhythm shooters who missed Paul setting them up.

The turnovers made it an ugly game, and it was 50-46 Rockets at the half. The Rockets had their chance and didn’t take advantage. As the game got tight late the Rockets seemed to panic, going away from their offense and what worked.

In the second half the Clippers went on runs — a 12-0 and a 10-0, both in the fourth quarter — as they started to run the offense through Griffin. The All-Star power forward showed off how far his game has developed from his rookie year when he could just dunk — Griffin is a very good passer, reads the game well, and has great ball handling skills. The Rockets didn’t have an answer.

As the game got tight late the Rockets seemed to panic, going away from their offense and what worked.

“They had more of an edge; we did not play very well,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale understated. “I didn’t believe our effort was, huh, for a second round game trying to hold home court…. they had more energy than we did…

“There are no excuses, they played better than we did.”

The Clippers loaded up on James Harden, and he had 20 points on 6-of-13 shooting — not a horrible night but he has a history of struggling against quality playoff defenses, and that is still a legitimate concern. Dwight Howard had 22 points on 13 shots (and five blocked shots) but had to work for all of it against DeAndre Jordan. Trevor Ariza added 17 points.

With the Clippers loading up on Harden the Rockets needed to knock down their threes or find baseline cutters, but they did not. Houston was an okay 11-of-33 from three, but it wasn’t enough. In addition, some guys just missed looks: Corey Brewer was 0-0f-4 on uncontested looks. Plus they didn’t take advantage of the Clipper turnovers (21 of them): The Clippers had 34 points off turnovers, the Rockets 21.

The Clippers just made plays — and the Houston defense was not good enough. Griffin hit 8-of-14 contested shots while Matt Barnes hit 6-of-8 uncontested looks. Los Angeles had six players in double figures: Griffin with 26, Jamal Crawford with 21, Matt Barnes with 20, J.J. Redick and Austin Rivers with 17, and DeAndre Jordan with 10 points (and 13 rebounds).

“It looked like we were being reactive to what they were doing all night, it didn’t look like we were proactive,” McHale said.

The Clippers are now in control of the series. They could consider resting Chris Paul for Game 2, knowing that even if the series is tied they will be coming back home for two with the chance to own the series.

Houston had a chance in Game 1 to take control of the series, and they didn’t play with the focus needed to take care of business. Their road back in this series is now a long and winding one.

Chris Paul out for Game 1 of Clippers-Rockets series

Chris Paul
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Chris Paul was absolutely heroic in the Clippers’ Game 7 win over the Spurs, but suffered a left hamstring strain that he played through. Now, with their second-round series against the Rockets about to tip off, head coach Doc Rivers told reporters that Paul will not play.

With Paul out, the Rockets need to capitalize early. Given the Clippers’ lack of backcourt depth (especially if Austin Rivers starts, as his father hinted he would), this game is right there for the taking for Houston. But it’s good news that Paul’s injury isn’t so serious that he’s been ruled out for Game 2. Hopefully he’s able to play then.

Report: Damian Lillard won’t consider contract extension worth less than the max

Portland Trail Blazers v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Five

Initially left off the Western Conference All-Star roster, Damian Lillard passionately defended his credentials.

He eventually earned a nod as an injury replacement. But, eligible for a contract extension this offseason, Lillard surely hasn’t abandoned his faith in himself.

Shams Charania of RealGM:

Lillard, sources said, has no plans to consider signing an extension less than the designated max

There is no reason for him to do so, either.

Lillard is already a star, and his track record and attitude suggest he’ll continue to improve. He’s definitely worth a max contract. If the Trail Blazers don’t offer him one, teams will line up to do so.

Lillard’s salary is locked in for next season at $4,236,287. His extension would begin in 2016-17, when the new national TV contracts are in effect.

Based on projected salary caps, Lillard’s max extension would be worth about $121 million over five years. However, the Trail Blazers could agree to pay more if he meets the Derrick Rose Rule criteria. Lillard would qualify by making an All-NBA team this season or next,* and his projected max would rise to about $145 million over five years.**

*Or winning MVP, but that’s hard to do without making All-NBA.

**If Lillard makes All-NBA this season, he and Portland can negotiate an extension with full knowledge of whether Lillard is eligible for the higher max. If not, they can put a clause in the contract that specifies what happens if Lillard makes All-NBA next season – essentially declaring a salary between his upper and lower limits.

Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul are shoe-ins at guard this season. The other two spots are up for grabs between Lillard, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Jimmy Butler and Klay Thompson.

There’s one – and only one – good reason for Portland not to offer Lillard an extension.

If Lillard signs an extension, he’d count against the cap at his 2016-17 salary when 2016 free agency begins – about $25 million with the Rose Rule and about $21 million without it.

However, if he doesn’t sign an extension, he’d count only $10,590,718 against the cap when 2016 free agency begins (250 percent of his previous salary). The Trail Blazers could use that $10 million-$15 million of created cap space and then exceed the cap to re-sign Lillard because they hold his Bird Rights. Lillard would be a restricted free agent, so he couldn’t unilaterally leave that offseason.

The potential downside for Portland? Asking Lillard to delay getting his new deal signed could fracture his relationship with the franchise. Maybe he seeks a shorter deal as a restricted free agent in 2016 – or, worst case scenario, accepts the qualifying offer and becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2017. He probably doesn’t want to put off his deal and risk injury.

But the potential reward – $10 million-$15 million of cap space – is high. Maybe Lillard would take a small risk to help his team assemble talent around him. Again, barring catastrophe, he’d get the same money either way.

This is the dilemma every team with a high-end player up for a rookie extension faces, and as the salary cap skyrockets while rookie contracts remain tied to a scale set in 2011, it will remain an issue.

The Trail Blazers should try convincing Lillard to delay. He’ll get his max contract regardless. It’s just a matter of when he officially signs. The difference is bookkeeping and cap space.

If Lillard isn’t interested in that, just give him his max extension. He’s worth it.