Chris Paul scores 34 points, Clippers win Game 4 to even series with Spurs


The Clippers were in desperation mode entering Sunday’s Game 4 against the Spurs, and after the previous game where they never led and trailed by as many as 37 points, you knew things would be different for them from the opening tip.

L.A. brought the energy from the very start, got superstar performances from Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and was able to pull away for the 114-105 win in San Antonio to even the best-of-seven series.

Paul was magnificent, and finished with 34 points on 11-of-19 shooting, to go along with seven assists. He really took over in the fourth, scoring 10 of his points in the final period — a feat even more impressive when considering the fact that he picked up his fifth personal foul with 8:25 to play, yet was able to remain aggressive the rest of the way.

Griffin, meanwhile, finished with 20 points, but his work on the glass in hauling down 19 rebounds was even more critical to his team’s success.

The Clippers got a huge boost off the bench from Austin Rivers, who finished with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting in 17 minutes of action. A reserve unit which usually only features Jamal Crawford as a capable scorer benefited greatly from Rivers’ shifts, as he was aggressive and attacking on the offensive end of the floor where he was seemingly (and uncharacteristically) unable to be stopped.

On the Spurs’ side, San Antonio was competitive for most of it, as expected. Kawhi Leonard had another solid overall performance in finishing with 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists, but he wasn’t nearly as impactful as he’d been in the last two contests. Danny Green missed all six of his attempts from three-point distance, and Patty Mills provided an early spark, but then seemed to get too many minutes later on when Tony Parker might have been more under control, and better able to guide the San Antonio ship.

It was as close to a must-win as possible for the Clippers, who would have faced the daunting task of trying to beat the Spurs three straight times just to keep their season alive had they fallen in this one. But Paul and Griffin made sure that the series would be headed back to Los Angeles all tied up at two games apiece.

Report: Pelicans to be “aggressive” about Anthony Davis extension offer


Fresh off the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2011 (when they were known as the Hornets), the Pelicans will soon be faced with the prospect of locking up Anthony Davis long-term. To the surprise of absolutely no one, they plan on offering Davis the most money and years possible at the earliest moment they can: just past midnight on July 1.

From’s Marc Stein:

With star forward Anthony Davis eligible for a contract extension this summer, Pelicans officials plan to be aggressive as possible in presenting him with a maximum five-year deal that could approach $140 million, according to league sources.

The exact figures will depend on how much the NBA salary cap deal actually rises, but sources told that the Pelicans indeed intend to present Davis with the biggest offer they can once the window for negotiations opens July 1.

The Pelicans would then have until Oct. 31 to convince Davis to sign a five-year deal that makes him their Designated Player.

Offering Davis this extension is a no-brainer. He’s 22 and already an MVP candidate and arguably one of the five best players in the world. And with the salary cap jumping as much as it is in 2016, Davis would be hard-pressed to turn down this much guaranteed money. Some rookie-scale extensions go down to the October 31 deadline, but the most high-profile ones, maximum extensions for face-of-the-franchise type guys, tend to get done quickly. Kyrie Irving committed to a maximum extension on the first night of free agency last year, and deals for Kevin Durant (2010), Blake Griffin (2012) and John Wall (2013) were done early on in free agency. Don’t be surprised to see the Blazers lock Damian Lillard up to a similar extension as early as possible.

Kawhi Leonard puts up 32 spot on Clippers (VIDEO)


The Spurs still have Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, all three someday destined for the Hall of Fame.

But this is Kawhi Leonard’s team now. We’ve seen the transition take place.

Friday night Leonard tore apart the Clippers’ Matt Barnes — and Doc Rivers had no other options to turn to — on his way to a personal playoff high 32 point night. That was the backbone of a comfortable Spurs win and a 2-1 series lead.

Behind 32 points from Kawhi Leonard, Spurs rout Clippers to take 2-1 series lead


For two games, the Clippers and Spurs had played each other tight, with the little things swinging games. Yet at the end of Game 2, it felt like the Spurs were starting to figure things out. They had seen this Clippers defense a lot in recent years — it’s basically what LeBron’s Heat played — and were beginning to make the plays to beat it.

Friday night they looked like they figured it all out.

The Spurs held the Clippers to 34.1 percent shooting and got 32 points from Kawhi Leonard to pull away in the second half and win handily, 100-73.

The Spurs now have a 2-1 series lead, with Game 4 Sunday in San Antonio.

“I just think it was one of those nights,” Gregg Popovich said after the game. “We had a great night shooting; they had a real difficult night shooting, and that’s a bad combination. They get a loss. We’re not that good, and they’re not what you saw tonight, without a doubt. We had a heck of a night.”

Leonard had a heck of a night at both ends for the Spurs. On defense, the just named defensive player of the year took J.J. Redick out of the game at points, then made plays on anyone he switched on to. On offense, he exposed the Clippers long-standing issues about wing defense, Matt Barnes had no answers for him.

The problem for Doc Rivers and the Clippers is they don’t have the depth to try much else if option No. 1 doesn’t work. The Clippers bench remained an issue, shooting just 11-of-41 on the night (and that looks better thanks to some garbage time buckets).

The Spurs depth was on display all game — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined for 12 points. This was about everyone else, such as Leonard (32) and Boris Diaw, who added 15.

The Spurs led from the start, racing out to a 25-13 lead early and keeping a comfortable lead through the first half, then they blew it open in the third quarter. The Clippers scored just 11 points in the third quarter as the Spurs defense was simply fantastic. Duncan may be turning 39 this weekend, but he can still quarterback a defense with the best of them.

We can break down the details of the game, but Popovich may be right, this may just be a one-off in a tight series where the Clippers were cold on a night the Spurs were hot. Certainly Sunday’s Game 4 should see a much more desperate Clippers squad and a closer game. More like the first couple in the series.

But it feels like San Antonio has figured Los Angeles out, and we see which way the series is trending.

Defensive Player of the Year voter admits he just forgot about Draymond Green


Draymond Green received the most first-place votes but lost a very close Defensive Player of the Year race to Kawhi Leonard.

This would not have changed the winner, but…

Jabari Young of CSN Northwest:

First off, an apology is needed to Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green.

On this ballot, a Defensive Player of the Year award was one of the selections, and Green was completely ignored. He deserves consideration, and may just win the award though he wasn’t picked on my ballot.

When thinking of the candidates, Green’s name just slipped my mind, as Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, Memphis center Marc Gasol, and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard were the selections made. Once it was discovered Green was forgotten, a change was sought but after selections are submitted, all votes are final.

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I guess kudos to Young for admitting his mistake. It obviously would have been better not to make it in the first place, but once he did, he didn’t have to reveal it. His ballot – in order: Jordan, Leonard, Gasol – was reasonable enough. Two other voters selected the same three players (though in a different order).

Young certainly isn’t the first voter to make a mistake. Not everyone admits it, though.

But how does this happen?

When we picked awards, I made long lists of candidates and pared them down so I wouldn’t forget anyone. I ordered players, revised and re-revised. And those were fake votes that don’t count toward anything.

Players have contract incentives tied to awards like Defensive Player of the Year, and those honors sway legacies.

Since ballots became public last year, we’ve learned more about voting practices – and it’s not all pretty. Though most voters do a good job, there’s a definite bias toward teams they cover – especially among team-employed media. And many of the choices raise the question of how serious voters take the process.

I want to believe Young’s gaffe was an isolated incident, but it seems increasingly seems unlikely. A lot of blame will get pinned on him, but he’s the rare voter who not only admitted his mistake, but recognized it in the first place. Do the three voters who put LeBron James on their Defensive Player of the Year ballot even realize how little he cared about that end of the floor for most of this season?

Saying the NBA-awards process is broken is an overstatement, but it has major flaws. Young’s ballot is only one small example.

Maybe the players are onto something, even if John Wall doesn’t think so.