It took a few games, but now we’re getting some real playoff passion and disgust for the other team going.
For three straight games Danny Granger has gotten in the face of either LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, in an effort to show he and the Pacers were not going to back down from the Heat. In three straight games Granger has picked up a technical for it. It was part of the Pacers overall style to be more physical and to be pesky in this series and get under the Heat’s skin.
“Whatever he’s trying, it is not working,” James said Tuesday before Game 5. “He’s said he’s not scared of LeBron, I want to let (James) know. I guess he’s doing it for his own psyche. It’s stupid.”
Granger played the “we’re not respected” card.
“That’s a product of the chip on my shoulder and we have on our shoulder as a team of not being respected. That goes not just for this series, but all year. We had the fourth or fifth best record in the NBA and I think we only had one televised game. Three or four teams that didn’t make the playoffs had more televised games than us. It was just a matter of being disrespected nationally.”
This will not be settled like it would be in the NHL playoffs, James said.
“Nobody is fighting on the basketball court. C’mon,” he said. “I’m not going to fight because I mean too much to our team and I can’t afford to be suspended for a game or do something stupid to get thrown out of a playoff game.”
Expect more posturing in Game 5. But LeBron is right in that it’s more for show and self motivation than anything else.
James Harden has now had a 30+ point game vs. every other team this season
James Harden had a streak of 32 games in a row where he scored at least 30 points a night, the second longest streak in NBA history. It was a run of games that propelled the Rockets from being a below .500 team sitting 13th in the West into a solid playoff team in the conference, and it shot Harden into serious MVP consideration.
However, streak did not include all 29 other NBA teams.
Going into Tuesday night Harden had dropped 30+ on 28 teams, but the Atlanta Hawks — the team that broke the streak back in February — were not on the list. That changed Tuesday night when Harden scored 31 on Atlanta in a Rockets’ win.
Brook Lopez is a tall man. That comes in handy in the NBA, from time to time.
Of course Lopez has been a tough cover his entire career as a legitimate 7-footer, but on Tuesday night as his Milwaukee Bucks took on the Los Angeles Lakers, his height helped in another, different way.
Early in the second quarter, a ball got stuck on top of the backboard where a swiveling camera sits to record the game action. Officials couldn’t start the clock until the ball was unstuck, so Lopez sprung into action.
Usually Lou Williams is the closer for the Clippers. Occasionally Danilo Gallinari will stick the dagger in a team with a three ball. Patrick Beverley? He’s the defensive stopper and emotional leader, not the closer out of the pen.
Except against the Pacers.
Down three and needing a stop late in the fourth, Indiana followed the scouting report beautifully and doubled Williams as he came off the high screen. Gallinari’s man never left him. So Williams passed back to Patrick Beverley, and when Bojan Bogdanovic tried to recover Beverley dropped him, drove the lane, and nailed the floater to end the Pacers chances.
Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) D’Angelo Russell’s 27 in fourth sparks, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s circus shot completes Nets’ 25-point comeback on Kings. Heroes in the NBA can come from the most unlikely places.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had fallen out of Brooklyn’s rotation. He got a DNP-CD four of the last six games, and the two games he got on the court it was only in garbage time. He had become an afterthought.
However, on Tuesday, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson was frustrated. His Brooklyn team was getting outworked and outhustled by the Kings in a game the Nets needed — lose this and just two games (one in the loss column) would have separated Brooklyn and missing the playoffs. Yet the Nets were flat and down 24 with 4:53 left in the third quarter when Atkinson turned to the bench and put Hollis-Jefferson in looking for a spark. He didn’t get it immediately (Hollis-Jefferson’s first play was a turnover), the Nets were down 25 points at the start of the fourth.
That’s when D’Angelo Russell took over — he scored 27 points in the fourth (of his career-high 44), much of it in transition as the Nets pushed off misses right back at the fast-paced Kings. Russell attacked — he was 6-of-7 inside 8 feet of the rim in the fourth — but also was 4-of-7 from three.
It was an epic comeback that saw a Jared Dudley three put the Nets in the lead for the first time.
But it ultimately took a circus shot from Hollis-Jefferson to get the win. The play was designed for Russell (as it should have been) but De’Aaron Fox did a good job of ball denial, so with time running down Russell yelled “go!” and Hollis-Jefferson went at Marvin Bagley III, then got the circus shot to fall.
This loss was essentially the final dagger in the Kings’ already dying playoff dreams, and you could hear that in the voice of the Kings’ announcers on that final shot.
Brooklyn is going to make the playoffs and be a tough out for somebody in the first round.
Russell is a restricted free agent who is going to get PAID this summer.
2) James Harden has now had a 30+ point game on every other team in NBA this season. Which is the more impressive feat from James Harden:
That he has now scored 30 points on all 29 other teams in the NBA this season, a feat he capped off by dropping 31 on the Hawks’ Tuesday in a win.
Or that he has now has taken more threes in a season than any player in NBA history. Stephen Curry had the record at 886 during the 2015-16 season, but with his 11 on Tuesday Harden is now up to 890 attempts. And counting. He’s shooting 35.5 percent on them, by the way.
Or maybe his best play of the night is what Harden did to Kent Bazemore.
We’re going to go with the 30-points on all 29 teams as being the more impressive. The last guy to drop 30+ on every team was Michael Jordan, but that was “just” 27 teams because the league expanded in 2004.
Either way, it’s been an MVP-level season (whether he wins the award or not he played well enough to get it).
3) Doc Rivers is not going to coach the Lakers, signs extension with Clippers. Luke Walton is going to be the fall guy for a disappointing — or if you prefer, disastrous — Lakers’ season. He’s not blameless, but he’s also not the primary reason the Lakers have fallen so far short of expectations. Still, someone’s head has to roll, and the conventional wisdom around the league says it will be Walton.
If/when the Lakers fire Walton, who are they going to get that’s better? What coach can they bring in that LeBron James will instantly respect and trust? What coach will they find who the players want to play for and who puts them in positions to succeed?
That guy is already at Staples Center — Doc Rivers of the Clippers. Which has led to rumors and speculation the Lakers would target him this summer.
Rivers shot that all down Tuesday night, saying he signed an extension to stay with the Clippers.
“I’m going nowhere” – Doc on Lakers “rumors. “Let me end this right now…”
Doc Rivers’ deal is different from the one he signed this past May, which apparently had an opt out this summer. Rivers said he met with Ballmer earlier this season and the two agreed to make the dealer a longer-term one.
To be clear, Doc River signed an extension with the Clippers last May, but both sides had an opt-out after this season. Rivers and Ballmer talked, got rid of the opt-out, and extended the deal even further.
Rivers knows the Clippers are in a good spot — they start three guys age 21 or younger, they are going to be in the mix for major free agents, and they have an owner who both helped turn the franchise culture around and is willing to pay for the best to win. Rivers knows a good situation when he sees one and he’s not leaving it.
It’s going to be interesting to see what direction the Lakers go next summer when getting their new coach.