Five Things We Learned in NBA Tuesday: Golden State exposed Clippers’ defense

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If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while…

1) In a game the Clippers needed more they couldn’t hold off Warriors, and it’s not a good sign. The showcase game on Tuesday started out kind of how we expected  — the Clippers were playing with the desperation of a team fighting for its playoff seeding, the Warriors (without Draymond Greed) were playing like a team that wrapped up the top seed and really didn’t want to get hurt. The Clippers led by as many as 17 in the second quarter. Los Angeles had won seven in a row, and it looked like it would become eight.

However, the Clippers have a couple troubling flaws, and those were exposed in this game — and they are why the Clippers ended up losing 108-104. First is their often discussed lack of depth — Doc Rivers has to lean heavily on his starters, and they need Jamal Crawford back. You can say “come the playoffs that won’t matter much because of the time off” and you’re right in one sense. But that lack of depth limits the team’s flexibility — Golden State can attack you a lot of ways. The Clippers can’t.

But the bigger issue is this: The Clippers are not a great defensive team. They have been much better during the recent run of wins, but if you look at their last 10 games they are allowing 103,1 points per 100 possessions, 13th in the NBA. They are not in the Top 10 for the season. They are average or a little above. In this game the Warriors had an offensive rating of 111 (points per 100), and while Golden State has one of the top couple offenses in the league — and Klay Thompson went off in the second half — the Clippers could not get needed stops. The Warriors, on the other hand, could — Los Angeles shot 3-of-13 in the fourth quarter. If the Clippers get the Spurs in the first round, a real possibility, the depth and defense could be big trouble.

2) Are you going to guard Stephen Curry? Good luck. He’s a walking video game. Chris Paul is the best defensive point guard in the NBA and CP3 got dropped.

3) Blake Griffin had a monster game for Clippers. Blake Griffin could win an MVP one year, he is that good, that complete. Tuesday night he dropped 40 points on 16-of-25 shooting, plus had 12 boards. The Warriors were without Draymond Green, who usually gives Griffin trouble, and Griffin took advantage of the space.

4) We may have to watch the Nets in the playoffs. Lord help us all. The Nets have won four in a row, eight of 10, and now have moved back into the eight seed in the East. Tuesday night Brook Lopez went off for 24 points, and grabbed 11 rebounds, to help the Nets hold on for a 111-106 win over Indiana. The Nets led by 17 early in the second quarter, gave it all back, and had to scrap for the victory. Joe Johnson made key plays in the fourth quarter when they needed it. The Nets look like a team that will make the postseason. Somehow.

5) Kawhi Leonard is a stud, and the Spurs are rolling. It’s not so much that San Antonio flipped the switch as they just got healthy, but they look like the Spurs everyone should fear again. They manhandled Miami 91-75, and Leonard had 22 points on 13 shots, plus nine boards and a few assists. But what he really did is lock down the red-hot Dwyane Wade, who shot just 6-of-20 on the night. Fear this team come the playoffs.

Lakers, 76ers reportedly interested in trade for Derrick Rose

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Derrick Rose‘s renaissance has come to the point this season he is in the running for Sixth Man of the Year, averaging 18.3 points, 5.9 assists, and 2.4 rebounds per game (before Monday’s game against the Wizards).

The Pistons are in the mix for a playoff spot in the East — three games back of the eighth-seed Nets, who are finally getting healthy — but with Blake Griffin out for the season they are expected to be sellers at the deadline. That means Rose, a guy who could help a number of contending teams.

The Lakers and 76ers are among those interested, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

The Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers and multiple teams with championship aspirations have expressed interest in trading for Detroit Pistons guard Derrick Rose, league sources told Yahoo Sports…

The Lakers and Sixers are in search of point guard assistance for the stretch run, sources said.

The Lakers need a second playmaker as their offense falls by 9.8 points per 100 possessions when LeBron James is off the court. To make the deal work, the Lakers would have to dangle Kyle Kuzma plus someone to fill the salary (Avery Bradley would work but that would cost Los Angeles another starter; DeMarcus Cousins and Quinn Cook works, too, but why would the Pistons want them?). The Lakers are limited in picks they can send out after the haul they sent to New Orleans in the Anthony Davis deal.

The 76ers need a playmaking point guard to go next to Ben Simmons at points, ideally one who can stretch the floor (Rose is shooting just 31.8 percent from three). The Sixers would likely dangle Zhaire Smith and maybe Mike Scott to make the salaries work.

Expect the Pistons to listen to offers up to the deadline, playing teams off each other to get the best possible deal. But Rose may well be on the move before Feb. 6.

Chris Paul scores 28, leads Thunder rally to hand Rockets fourth straight loss

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HOUSTON (AP) — Chris Paul scored 28 points and Danilo Gallinari added 25 as the Oklahoma City Thunder rallied from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat cold-shooting James Harden and the Houston Rockets 112-107 on Monday.

Paul scored 27 of his 28 points in the first half against his former team. Gallinari and Dennis Schroder, who scored 17 of his 23 points after halftime, carried the Thunder after the break.

Former Thunder player Russell Westbrook had 32 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds for Houston. Harden had 29 points but was astonishingly inefficient, making 1 of 17 3-point attempts, as the Rockets’ losing streak stretched to a season-high four games.

Oklahoma City used a 6-0 run, highlighted by a dunk from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander after he stole the ball from Harden, to put the Thunder up 108-105 with about a minute left.

Harden made a layup for Houston to cut the lead to one, but Schroder made a jump shot with 28 seconds remaining to make it 110-107. Russell Westbrook missed a 3-pointer on the other end and Gilgeous-Alexander added two free throws to secure the victory.

Houston had a 15-point lead before the Thunder scored 13 straight points to get within 100-98 with 4 1/2 minutes to go. Gallinari led the way for Oklahoma City in that stretch, making two 3-pointers and adding three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt.

Harden made one of two free throws after that but Gallinari struck again seconds later with another 3 that tied it at 101-all. Gilgeous-Alexander then made one of two free throws to give the Thunder their first lead since the first quarter.

Westbrook made Houston’s first field goal in more than four minutes with a layup with just more than three minutes left. He then added another layup after a steal seconds later to give the Rockets a 105-102 lead with about two minutes to go.

The Thunder trailed by 16 points after three quarters, but a 9-2 run, with five points from Schroder, got them within 91-82 with about 9 1/2 minutes left.

Houston trailed by as many as 10 in the first half but led by seven at halftime and used a 9-3 run to open the third quarter and push it to 73-60. P.J. Tucker had a 3-pointer in that stretch and Westbrook added four points.

Houston scored the last four points in a third quarter where Oklahoma City scored just 14 points to make it 87-71 entering the fourth.

 

J.J. Redick: Players more concerned with Instagram than winning

J.J. Redick
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J.J. Redick transformed himself from bust to NBA success.

He changed his habits and outlook. He worked hard and learned how to optimize his fit. That partially explains why the Pelicans signed the veteran last summer.

Why aren’t more players so diligent in their work?

Redick on “The JJ Redick Podcast With Tommy Alter“:

There’s just too much stuff going on. There’s too many people in your ear. There’s not enough time in the day, probably, for some guys. They’ve got Fortnight to go to. They’ve got to worry about getting a fit off for pregame. This is an issue. I really believe this. I think there’s more guys concerned with getting a pregame fit on Instagram than they are worrying about the win and loss of a basketball game. I stand by that statement.

Maybe some players are more concerned with Instagram than winning. That’s tough to evaluate from afar. I’m not sure Redick – who’s obviously not in anyone’s mind but his own – is close enough to make that evaluation, though he obviously has more access to see how NBA players act.

But players have always held interests outside basketball. They always will. Redick doesn’t need to look far to consider that. This quote comes from his podcast.

That Redick gripes about this modern technology – Fortnight, Instagram – makes him sound like an old grump. Why not rail against players who party too much? There are surely players who indulge in that classic distraction.

Not every player is obsessed primarily with winning. Yet, I’m unconvinced that’s any more or less true now than with a prior generation.

Anthony Davis returning for Lakers-Celtics

Anthony Davis
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Anthony Davis‘ father said he didn’t want his son playing for the Celtics, given how they treated Isaiah Thomas. Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, tried to dissuade Boston from trading for the star big.

For someone who neither played for the Celtics nor in a playoff series against them, Davis has generated plenty of animosity in Boston.

But nobody can accuse Davis of ducking the Celtics.

After missing the last five games due to a butt injury, Davis will return for the Lakers’ game in Boston today.

Mike Trudell of the Lakers:

Davis has jumped headfirst into playing playing for the Lakers and everything that comes with it. Playing in Boston – given Los Angeles’ rivalry with the Celtics, given his personal history with them – is entering the eye of the storm.

Should be fun.

Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown will also return for the Celtics.

Abby Chin of NBC Sports Boston: