Chris Paul had a meeting today with representatives from just about every important aspect of the Hornets’ operations, with the intent to iron out exactly why Paul wants to be traded and what he wants the Hornets to do about it. The meeting could easily be seen as a formality while Paul takes strides towards the door, but the meeting appears to be surprisingly positive for New Orleans.
“The meeting went well. It was great to get an opportunity to sit down
with Coach Williams, President Weber and our new General Manager Dell
Demps. I expressed my desire to win and I like what they said about the
direction that they want to take the team. I have been a Hornet my
entire career and I hope to represent the city of New Orleans and state
of Louisiana for many years to come.”
This could be perceived as something vaguely resembling progress for the Hornets, who aren’t going to give up the league’s top point guard without a fight. Even if today’s events are only delaying the inevitable, New Orleans has possibly bought themselves some time as they attempt to smooth things over with Paul.
Then again, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, nothing has changed. So we don’t really know anything now that we didn’t know before: Paul seems interested in a trade, the Hornets want to keep him, and the two will continue to play this game until things are decided one way or another.
Ben Simmons on feud with Jared Dudley: ‘I don’t really have energy for it. It’s done’
Simmons responded: “It’s coming from Jared Dudley. C’mon.”
In the 76ers’ Game 3 win over the Nets last night, Simmons did what he frequently does – create high-efficiency transition and semi-transition opportunities for himself and teammates. He was also good in the halfcourt, though one game doesn’t establish Simmons in that facet.
“I don’t really have energy for it,” Simmons said. “It’s done. People are going to say what they want to say. Just gotta play.”
As I wrote earlier, this beef will be only as big as Simmons makes it. Dudley’s scouting report was largely accurate. He didn’t really say anything inflammatory, except to people in Philadelphia looking for a slight.
Apparently, after one dismissive comment and one excellent game, that’s no longer Simmons.
Playoff Edition Three Things to Know: Ben Simmons drives right into Nets, earns 76ers win
The NBA playoffs are underway and there can be a lot to unpack in a series of intense games, to help out we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) Ben Simmons drives right to basket, into the heart of Brooklyn, leads Sixers to a road win.Jared Dudley has become enemy No. 1 in Philadelphia for saying out loud what has been in every scouting report on the 76ers all season:
Jared Dudley dropping gems at media availability: "Ben Simmons is a great player in transition. And once you get him into halfcourt, he's average."
Ben Simmons answered that with his best game of the playoffs Thursday night, driving to get to his right hand at the rim all night long, and the Nets could do nothing to stop him. Simmons was 9-of-10 from inside eight feet of the rim, took just one shot outside the paint all night (an 11-foot hook shot he banked in), scored 31 points and led Philadelphia to a 131-115 win in a game Joel Embiid sat out to rest his knee.
Simmons made his statement and won the argument with Dudley…
Whatever it took to get this aggressive Simmons, this is the guy Philadelphia needed. He did have help — Tobias Harris was 6-of-6 from three and had 29 points, while J.J. Redick added 26 — but with Embiid out Simmons has to be the catalyst.
D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert each had 26 to lead Brooklyn.
With the win the Sixers are now up 2-1 and in control of the series, making Saturday’s Game 4 basically must-win for the Nets.
Brooklyn could use to be a little more efficient on offense — 8-of-39 from three, as they did Thursday, is not good enough — but the more significant issue is defensive. Brooklyn has to find a way to slow the Sixers, and that starts with keeping Simmons from getting the shots he wants going to his right hand. If Simmons is still attacking and getting his shots, this series will be over soon.
2) Kevin Durant reminds everyone exactly who he is, scores 38 in Warriors blowout win. Doc Rivers was prophetic before his Clippers took on the Warriors in Game 3 Thursday night. Just not in a way he wanted.
“If we get down 31 again, it’s not going to turn out well,” Rivers said.
They did and it didn’t.
Golden State went up by 31 with 7:10 in the third quarter Thursday night. That score and game time was very similar to when the Clippers came back from that record deficit to even the series on Tuesday. However, this time the Warriors did not lose focus, they did not take their foot off the gas and let the Clippers back in the game. Golden State held on to win 132-105, and it wasn’t that close.
The Warriors now lead the series 2-1, with Game 4 on Easter in Los Angeles.
Through 12 quarters of play, the Warriors have completely dominated 10 of them so far. They have been much the better side in this series.
Thursday was Kevin Durant’s turn to dominate as he finished with 38 points. The Warriors made some adjustments on how they attacked the Clippers’ “top lock” defense, leading to a lot of shots at the rim. Durant got more touches where he could isolate and shoot over the smaller Patrick Beverley, although though when Clippers switched up to a taller defender Durant torched them, too. It was just his night.
The Clippers also need to find some offensive outlets. The Warriors did a good job making life hard for Lou Williams (4-of-11 shooting) and Los Angeles struggled to get consistent buckets, shooting 37.2 percent as a team for the game, including going 7-of-32 from three.
The Warriors are in control of this series, they have been all along when they didn’t get bored. These Clippers do not quit, they will be feisty again on Sunday, but that alone will not be enough. Los Angeles needs to find some offense and a way to slow down Kevin Durant. Good luck with that.
3) Derrick White puts Spurs in control of series with Nuggets. Derrick White is a vintage Spurs story. What received zero Division I scholarship offers out of high school, so he played three years of Division II ball, but impressed enough that he transferred to Colorado for his senior season. After impressing there, the Spurs picked him 27th in the 2017 NBA draft in one of those “that could be a good fit,” picks San Antonio always seems to make.
Two years later, White “came out of nowhere” to score 36 points, be +30, outplay Kentucky product Jamal Murray, and lead the Spurs to a Game 3 win. Even Denver coach Mike Malone was impressed.
Denver’s defensive strategy the first couple of games this series was, basically, to not cover White — he was the guy they helped off of, and they dared him to shoot from the outside. On Thursday the Spurs and White attacked that strategy having him cut to the basket or, when the ball swung to him, drive into that space and get buckets. The Spurs also used White as a pick-and-roll ball handler to get the switch because Nikola Jokic isn’t quick enough to stop White in space. It all worked brilliantly.
Now the adjustments fall to Malone and the Denver staff, who already have to scheme for LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan and their midrange games. What it also means is Murray is going to have to step up his game and start winning the battles with White. Denver’s starters need to do better, they cannot get outplayed like they did in Game 3.
If they do, or if White goes off again, the Nuggets will be in too big a hole to climb out of it. A first round exit for the No. 2 seed would be a disappointment.
Mavericks guard Hardaway has surgery for stress fracture
DALLAS (AP) Dallas Mavericks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. has undergone surgery for a stress fracture in his lower left leg and is expected to resume basketball activities before the start of training camp in September.
The procedure announced Thursday came after Hardaway missed the last 11 games of the regular season. The sixth-year player averaged 15.5 points in 19 games after the Mavericks acquired in him a blockbuster seven-player deal with the New York Knicks headlined by Dallas getting Kristaps Porzingis.
The 27-year-old Hardaway could start alongside 20-year-old star Luka Doncic in the backcourt next season depending on what happens in free agency, and possibly the draft. Hardaway has career averages of 15.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists.
The Mavericks missed the playoffs for the third straight season, finishing 33-49 for the second time in those three years.
“He’s right. But I already knew who Kevin Durant was,” Doc Rivers joked before Game 3 Thursday night.
Durant reminded Rivers — and everyone else — anyway.
Bouncing back from an off game a couple of nights before, Durant had 38 points on 23 shots, added 7 assists, played good defense, and none of that does credit to how much he dominated early and never let up as the Warriors cruised to a 132-105 win at Staples Center. Golden State is up 2-1 in its first-round series against the Clippers, with a chance Sunday to take complete control of the matchup.
“He said it yesterday, he’s Kevin Durant. He showed everybody who Kevin Durant is,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. Was this was Kerr expected out of his star following a rough outing in Game 2? “Ya. He’s a two-time Finals MVP coming off a poor performance, this is what happens.”
It is what happens, and we have seen this movie a lot over the past five years. Some team comes out and challenges the Warriors, knicking them off for a game with a comeback or maybe just a straight punch to the gut kind of win. Then the Warriors respond with a monster game.
Durant stared in this film, but he wasn’t the only one. Stephen Curry was 3-of-3 from beyond the arc in the first quarter, scoring 13 points. Curry and Durant outscored the Clippers 25-24 in the first quarter, and when the other Warriors jumped in, the Warriors scored 41 in the first quarter, 72 for the first half, and 132 on the night.
“[Durant] came out super aggressive, in kill mode,” Draymond Green said of Durant. “That was all the difference for us. We took control of the game right there in the first quarter and never lost control of it.”
A lot of that control stemmed from the fact the Warriors were more dialed in on defense, holding the Clippers to 33.3 percent shooting and 24 points in the first quarter. Los Angeles shot just 35 percent for the game.
That control meant Golden State went up by 31 with 7:10 in the third quarter, a score and time very reminiscent of Game 2, when the Clippers came back from that record deficit to even the series. This time the Warriors did not lose focus, they never let up on defense.
It wasn’t all focus, Kerr and company made smart adjustments, too. For the first two games, the Clippers had success with a “top lock” defense (meaning the defender isn’t between his man and the basket, instead he stands between his man and the three-point line to cut off his popping out and getting the Warriors’ favorite shot). In Game 3, Golden State started cutting back door more, taking advantage of a weakness of top lock defense. The Warriors got the ball to their cutters in creative ways, at times throwing passes from near halfcourt before the defender was really prepared. Or, the Warriors posted up Andrew Bogut or Durant, then had the top locked guys cut to the rim with their defenders trailing by so much the buckets came easily.
Now it’s on Doc Rivers and the Clippers to adjust. But if Durant is going to make another statement, it will not matter.
Even in KD didn’t see it as a statement.
“I’ve been here for 12 years. I’m 30,” Durant said after the win. “I don’t need to show nobody nothing.”