Tag: Grant Hill

Rudy Gay

Rudy Gay scores 20 points in debut with Raptors (VIDEO)


Rudy Gay played his first game with the Raptors on Friday, after being the main piece in a three-team trade that sent him out of Memphis due to the team’s finances more than anything else.

Gay came off the bench in his Toronto debut, and finished with a team-high 20 points in 33 minutes as his team put together a complete dismantling of the Clippers.

The three-pointer over Grant Hill to end the third was my favorite of his shots on the night, but there were plenty of highlights to choose from. Gay scored inside and out, and shot 8-of-16 from the field, including 3-of-6 from three-point distance.

The Clippers were without Chris Paul due to injury, and Matt Barnes due to his serving a one-game suspension. But even with those guys missing, the game shouldn’t have been this lopsided. Thanks to the spark that Gay provided, however, the Raptors seemed unusually energized by their recent acquisition — at least for a single night.

Clippers Matt Barnes suspended game for foul on Stiemsma

L.A. Clippers' forward Matt Barnes pushes Minnesota Timberwolves' center Greg Stiemsma during the first half of their NBA basketball game in the Target Center in Minneapolis

Yes, that deserved a suspension — you go at a guy’s neck, you get ejected and suspended for a game.

The league officially suspended the Clippers Matt Barnes one game for his flagrant foul II on Gregg Stiemsma of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday. Barnes will sit out the Clippers game Friday night against Toronto.

The incident happened with 8:26 left in the second quarter. Barnes ran into a screen set by Stiemsma and took offense at… I don’t know what. That looked like a pretty standard NBA high screen. But Barnes went at his neck and the second he did you knew he would get suspended.

For my money, Stiemsma should have been ejected and should be suspended for the blatant mid-air push he gave Grant Hill later that game. Stiemsma only got a flagrant I on that call, I have no real idea why.

Friday night will see a couple shorthanded teams in Toronto — the Clippers will again be without Chris Paul and now Barnes. The Raptors traded away point guard Jose Calderon but will not have Rudy Gay suited up for this game yet.

Matt Barnes ejected for flagrant-two foul on Greg Stiemsma (VIDEO)

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Clippers

Matt Barnes was ejected in the second quarter of Wednesday night’s game between the Clippers and the Timberwolves, after violently grabbing the neck of Greg Stiemsma.

Barnes apparently didn’t like the screen Stiemsma set, and initially shoved him while trying to fight through, before delivering the far more violent shot the second time around.

It was the second ejection of the season for Barnes, and no one would be surprised if his team was without him for its next game or two. A suspension from the league seems more than likely to be handed down following this ridiculous act.

Not much later, Stiemsma picked up a Flagrant 1 foul for a vicious shove of Grant Hill going for an offensive rebound, a play that sent Hill to the floor hard.

Tuesday And-1 links: Set your DVRs, next week is “NBA Week” on Wheel of Fortune

Grant Hill_WOF

Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points like Bobby Flay loves a chipotle pepper.

• Finally, something NBA related you can do with your grandmother — “Wheel of Fortune” has teamed up with the NBA for “NBA Week,” which air all next week  (Feb. 4 – 8). Who is involved? Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, and Grant Hill as well as Lakers legend and Hall of Famer James Worthy. And of course Pat Sajak and Vanna White, which is why you are really watching (admit it). Plus players such as Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Kevin Durant will do pre-taped segments and introduce custom NBA prizes.

• Chris Bosh, photobombing at the White House. Well, I’m calling it that, maybe he planned to make that lame face.

• Here is another great look at life for the Celtics without Rajon Rondo, via Zach Lowe of Grantland. I’m not sure any of his Paul Pierce trade ideas will go over well with Celtics faithful.

• In the wake of a report that raised all sorts of ethical red flags around Billy Hunter and the NBA players union, he has let go of all his family members working for the union. That was not enough to stop agent Arn Tellem from sending a letter to his clients urging them to vote Hunter out of power.

• The Washington Post caught up with Yao Ming, and he seems settled and happy. Good for him.

Great interview in GQ with Mike Conley, conducted by the legend that is Lang Whittaker. Oh, and don’t tell Conley he’s no good at Halo.

• Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and San Antonio’s Tony Parker today were named Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week for last week. Irving led the Cavaliers to a 3-0 record averaging 35.7 points per game. Paker led the Spurs to a 4-0 week averaging 24.5 points and 9.5 assists a game.

• Speaking of Kyrie Irving, he is questionable for Tuesday night’s game due to an illness.

• A change in coaches can make a difference for a player — since Jim Boylan took over the Bucks Ersan Ilyasova has averaged 15.4 points on 47 percent shooting plus 8.4 rebounds a game. He looks like the guy from last season again.

• As people around the team expected, the Pacers have brought back Sam Young as he gets closer to playing following a severe ankle sprain.

The Timberwolves inked Mickael Gelabale and Chris Johnson to second 10-day contracts. At the end of these 10 days Minnesota has to sign them (or one of them) for the rest of the season or let the player go.

• Loul Deng wants the British government to restore funding to the national basketball program.

• Lorenzen Wright’s ex-wife got a $1 million payout following his 2010 murder. She’s burned through almost all of it within 10 months.

• Rajon Rondo’s injury has Keyon Dooling thinking about coming out of retirement.

• Kendrick Perkins’ wife got in an argument at a nail salon and there is video, Perkins allegedly threw a Gatorade bottle outside the store. Warning: It’s not that exciting.

• Finally, this Russian league coach knows how to make a swing pass to the open man.

The Extra Pass: How the Clippers Grew Up

Los Angeles Clippers' Paul puts his arm around teammate Griffin during NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies in Los Angeles

The Extra Pass is a new daily column that’s designed to give you a better look at a theme, team, player or scheme. Today, we look at the maturation of the Los Angeles Clippers.

For years and years, the Los Angeles Clippers were a failure on a systemic level. The on-court talent was faced with the permanent uphill battle of overcoming the ineptness of the franchise’s negligent caretaker and owner, Donald Sterling.

Very rarely did the whole overcoming thing actually happen. It happened so infrequently, actually, that calling the Clippers the worst franchise in professional sports wasn’t mud slinging, but rather an accurate moniker.

When the Clippers acquired Chris Paul last year, he understood the gravity of his decision to adopt the abused franchise as his own. Being great on the court simply wouldn’t be enough — he would have to be the new caretaker, the franchise’s new parent. After all, Sterling sure as hell wasn’t doing it, and for as great as Blake Griffin was, he was still just a kid trying to figure out his own game. The responsibility was squarely on Paul’s shoulders.

Like most new parents, Paul accepted that responsibility with a type of fervor that could be considered, at times, a little overbearing. The Clippers were now an extension of Paul, so everything was watched and controlled with an overly careful eye that only a great point guard can possess.

During their inaugural season together, the Clippers would often stumble through three quarters to teams with less talent, only to hope, or know, that Paul would bail them out in the last few minutes. And more often than not, Paul would play the role of both hero and enabler and come through.

The Clippers had managed to become a very good team throughout that process, but all their hopes stayed completely dependent on Paul’s performance. The rest of the team was generally incapable of any real success without Paul holding their hand, and in some ways, Paul was at least partially responsible for allowing the team to establish such a heavy dependence on his late game offensive heroics.

The playoff sweep at the hands of the Spurs was a reflection of this. With Paul banged up and limited by a defense hellbent on stopping him, the Clippers had little else to fall back on in terms of both experience and scheme. While they had ultimately changed for the better with Paul as a parent during that first season, the Clippers as a whole still had yet to mature.

With the guidance of Paul, the Clippers went into the offseason looking to speed up that maturation process. Their youngest substantial free agent signing was 32-year-old Jamal Crawford. They brought in traveled players like Grant Hill, Lamar Odom and Matt Barnes, and secured Chauncey Billups as the first act of business.

Those signings obviously matured the team on paper, but it was Paul who did the actual advancing. Instead of conserving energy for when his heroics would be needed in the fourth quarter like the prior season, Paul changed his approach this year by using his energy right away so the team wouldn’t need him at all — a real “teach a man to fish” move.

Behind Paul’s inspired first quarter play, the Clippers have had a much improved defense (18th in defensive efficiency last year to 4th this season), thanks to the example he’s established. If you flip to a telecast of a Clippers game in the fourth quarter this year, there’s a decent chance Paul will be seated on the bench, watching a suffocating second unit put the bow on another blowout win because Paul did his damage so early.

Playing that hard defensively early on accomplished a few different things for the Clippers. It made them the league’s most dominant defense against opposing point guards, something they can really hang their hat on. It sent the message that he trusted the depth behind him. It emphasized the importance of no player taking possessions off. The Clippers aren’t accomplishing what they are defensively with a scheme like Chicago’s or Boston’s — it’s almost all driven by effort.

A test for the Clippers’ progress defensively came about rather recently when they traveled to Memphis for another game in a long line of slugfests. This time, however, they’d be without their biggest puncher in Paul, who was sidelined with a knee injury.

How did they respond? Well, the Clippers held the Grizzlies to 30 percent shooting and destroyed them in their own house, 99-73. True to form, the game was essentially over in the third quarter.

On the very next night, the Clippers headed to Houston. All the excuses were readily available — they were on a back-to-back, on the road, without Chris Paul, against the league’s fastest team. But they won big again, going up by as much as 20 early in the fourth quarter before cruising the rest of the way.

An interesting narrative popped up after the impressive victories. How could Chris Paul be considered a real MVP candidate if his team was great — maybe even better — without him in the lineup for a few games? It’s a direct hit to the “valuable” part of the equation, isn’t it?

When considering that, I can’t help but be reminded of the conclusion of J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher In The Rye.” The “little brother” of Los Angeles is reaching for that ring, and while Paul is still responsible for the Clippers, he’s mature enough to know that his teammates won’t learn anything if he does everything himself. He’s mature enough to know that repeatedly gearing up and saving them in the moment last year didn’t actually save the Clippers from anything at all.

It’s true, the Clippers don’t need Chris Paul in every waking moment anymore. It’s clear that they’ve grown out of that.

And if that’s not a reflection on Paul’s value, I don’t know what it is.