J.J. Redick’s career-high 40 help Clippers beat Rockets in OT

Associated Press
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — J.J. Redick was getting tired of the Los Angeles Clippers losing to the Houston Rockets, so he finally took matters into his own sharp-shooting hands – with plenty of help from Chris Paul, of course.

Redick scored a career-high 40 points and the Clippers made a franchise-record 22 3-pointers in a 140-132 overtime win against the Houston Rockets on Monday night.

The Rockets eliminated the Clippers from the playoffs last year, winning in seven games after trailing three games to one in the second round. They also won the first two meetings this season.

“I think I take most losses personally, not just to the Rockets,” Redick said. “But going back to last year, we had lost five in a row. C.P. and I talked earlier today just about how frustrating it’s been. They’re a team that thinks they’re better than us, and rightfully so given the results over the past season and a half. So it was important tonight for us to hit them first and be more aggressive from the start.”

Redick connected on his first five attempts behind the arc and finished 9 for 12 on 3-pointers, tying Caron Butler‘s club record for 3s and coming within three makes of the NBA single-game record shared by Kobe Bryant and Donyell Marshall.

“It was one of those games where neither team could get a stop, and there were several players that were the beneficiary of that – myself included,” Redick said.

Redick set a franchise single-season record for 3-pointers in 2014-15 with 200. He has 103 at the midway point of this season.

Paul had 28 points and 12 assists for the Clippers, whose season-best 10-game winning streak ended Saturday night with a 110-103 home loss to Sacramento. Paul, Redick and Jamal Crawford each made 3-pointers while the Clippers opened overtime on a 9-2 run.

Dwight Howard had 36 points and tied a career high with 26 rebounds en route to his 10th straight double-double, the league’s longest active streak, and his longest since a 14-game run three seasons ago. He secured it before halftime with 13 points and 15 boards.

Houston native DeAndre Jordan was back in the lineup for Los Angeles and had 16 points and 15 rebounds in 41 minutes for his ninth straight double-double. He missed two games with pneumonia that ended his consecutive game streak at 360.

Howard, a career 57.1 percent free-throw shooter coming in, delighted the sellout crowd by throwing up an air ball from the line in the second quarter, but he finished an uncharacteristic 14 for 18. James Harden, the league’s No. 2 scorer, had 20 points and Marcus Thornton had 23 points and five 3-pointers.

After Redick converted two free throws with 16.4 seconds left in regulation for a 118-114 lead, Marcus Thornton made a 3-pointer at the other end with 14.4 seconds remaining to make it a one-point game.

Redick made two more free throws, but Thornton came back with a 3-pointer with 7.4 seconds left to tie it. Paul missed a 3 at the buzzer.

“We knew we were going to find our rhythm. It was just about making it happen,” Harden said. “I think if we would have found it a little bit earlier, we would have been in a better situation. I’m just proud of our guys and the way they fought back. Marcus made some big shots.”

Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers sat all of his starters at the beginning of the fourth quarter with a 94-80 lead, and the Rockets sliced the margin to 102-96 with 7:13 to play. Thornton capped the rally with a 3-pointer, forcing Redick and Jordan to join Paul back on the floor.

“Our execution on the last couple of plays that let them have 3s was poor,” Rivers said. “But what I liked was that everyone was furious going into overtime. We got our composure back and played well.”

TIP-INS

Rockets: Houston led the league in 3-point defense last year at 32.2 percent and was limiting opponents to 34.9 percent this season. The Clippers were 15 of 60 from behind the arc in two previous meetings with the Rockets this season. … The Rockets had won their previous 11 overtime games since losing at Golden State on Feb. 20, 2014. … Point guard Patrick Beverley was back in the starting lineup for Houston and played 16 scoreless minutes after missing a 112-95 victory Sunday night over the Lakers because of a sprained left ankle.

Clippers: Paul got a technical foul with 3:10 left in the second quarter after he was called for an offensive foul while attempting a 3-pointer that missed. The Clippers lead the league with 24 technicals, not counting defensive 3-second violations. … Jordan and Howard are among three players in NBA history to lead the league in rebounding average and field goal percentage in the same season. The other is Wilt Chamberlain.

 

Hawks trade Harkless, second-round pick to Thunder for Vit Krejci

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The Atlanta Hawks just saved some money, getting under the luxury tax line. The Oklahoma City Thunder picked up a second-round pick for their trouble of taking on a contract.

The Hawks have traded Moe Harkless and a second-round pick to the Thunder for Vit Krejci the teams announced (Shams Charania of The Athletic was first).

This saves Atlanta a little over $3 million, which moves them from above the luxury tax line to $1.3 million below it. While the almighty dollar was the primary motivation in the ATL, the Hawks also pick up a development project. Krejci showed a little promise in his rookie season, appearing in 30 games and averaging 6.2 points plus 3.4 rebounds a night, before having his knee scoped in April.

Krejci was on the bubble of making the team in Oklahoma City, now the Thunder pick up a second-round pick for a guy they might have waived anyway.

Harkless, 29, is on an expiring $4.6 million contract, which fits nicely into the Disabled Player Exception the Thunder were granted for Chet Holmgren’s season-ending foot injury.

The Thunder are expected to waive Harkless and buy him out, making him a free agent. However, they could keep him and see if another trade could net them another second-round pick.

Lonzo Ball says ‘I can’t run’ or jump; Bulls’ Donovan has to plan for extended absence

Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls
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Officially, Lonzo Ball will be out 4-6 weeks after getting his knee scoped this week.

However, this is his second surgery on his left knee this year — he had meniscus surgery in January, after which he was never able to return to the court — and there are concerns Ball could miss significant time again. And coach Billy Donovan has no choice but to plan for an extended absence.

Ball did a Zoom call with reporters on Tuesday and it’s hard to come away from what he said overly optimistic. Rob Schaefer reported on the call for NBC Sports Chicago:

“Literally, I really can’t run. I can’t run or jump. There’s a range from, like, 30 to 60 degrees when my knee is bent that I have, like, no force and I can’t, like, catch myself. Until I can do those things I can’t play,” Ball said. “I did rehab, it was getting better, but it was not to a point where I could get out there and run full speed or jump. So surgery is the next step.”

The symptoms are something Ball said he has never dealt with and have left doctors, in his words, “a little surprised.”

It’s never good when doctors are surprised. Ball said the doctors don’t see anything on the MRI, but there is clearly something wrong, so they are going in and looking to find the issue and fix it.

Ball has been diligent in his recovery work from the start, the problem was pain in his knee. Something was still not right after the first surgery. Whatever it is.

The 4-6 week timeline would have Ball back in early November, but you know they will be overly cautious with him after the past year. Coach Billy Donovan was honest — he has to plan for a season without Ball.

The Bulls need Ball in a deep and challenging East. He brings defense, pushes the pace in transition, and takes care of the rock. Chicago has other players who can do those things individually — Alex Caruso can defend, Coby White pushes in transition, Goran Dragic takes care of the ball — but the Bulls lack one player who can do all those things. At least they lack one until Ball returns.

Whenever that may be.

Deandre Ayton says he hasn’t spoken to coach Williams since Game 7

Phoenix Suns v New Orleans Pelicans - Game Four
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In a Game 7 against the Mavericks last May, Suns coach Monty Williams benched center Deandre Ayton, who ended up playing just 17 minutes in an ugly, blowout loss for Phoenix. When asked about it after the game Williams said, “It’s internal.”

Ayton and Williams have not spoken since then, according to Ayton.

Yikes. Remember that includes a summer where the Suns would not offer Ayton a max contract extension so he went out and got one from the Pacers, then the Suns instantly matched it. Ayton did not sound thrilled to be back in Phoenix on Media Day, and he was rather matter-of-fact about dealing with his coach.

It’s what every fan wants to hear — “this is just my job.”

Reporters asked Williams about this and he played it off, saying he hasn’t spoken with a lot of players yet.

It’s just day one of training camp, but there are a lot of red flags around the Suns: owner Robert Sarver being suspended and selling the team, Jae Crowder not in camp waiting to be traded, and now not a lot of communication between the team’s star center and its coach.

Maybe it all amounts to nothing. Maybe the Suns get on the court, Chris Paul looks rejuvenated, Devin Booker looks like Devin Booker, and none of this matters. But what had looked like a stable situation not that long ago now has a lot of red flags flying heading into the season, and that has to concern Suns fans.

 

Report: Lakers would have traded both first-round picks for Irving, Mitchell

Utah Jazz v Brooklyn Nets
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“If you make that trade, it has to be the right one, you have one shot to do it,” Lakers GM Rob Pelinka said at media day, pulling back the curtain a little on his thinking of trading two first-round picks. “So we’re being very thoughtful around the decisions on when and how to use draft capital in a way that will improve our roster.”

That tracks with the consistent messaging out of Los Angeles all summer: The Lakers would only trade the only two first-round picks they fully control for the rest of this decade (2027 and 2029) for a deal that made them a contender.

That meant landing Kyrie Irving or Donovan Mitchell, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin said on The Hoop Collective Podcast.

“I’ve been told that had the Lakers been able to acquire, Kyrie Irving, or the Lakers been able to acquire Donovan Mitchell, either of those players, the Lakers were willing and able to move both those [first-round] picks to do it.”

The problem for the Lakers is the market price for elite talent has moved beyond two first-round picks. The Jazz got three unprotected first-round picks (2025, 2027 and 2029) plus the rights to two pick swaps (2026 and 2028) in the Mitchell trade, not to mention three players: Lauri Markkanen (who they will try to trade for another pick), Collin Sexton, and Ochair Agbaji. The price for Kyrie Irving would have been at least as high, if the Nets really wanted to trade him.

The Lakers traded all of their young players and most of their picks to land Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, except for the ones they let walk away (Alex Caruso). Before he was judicious in making trades like he was this offseason, Pelinka made deals that backed him into this corner.

The Lakers likely could use both picks to acquire Buddy Hield and Myles Turner out of Indiana (sending Westbrook back), but that doesn’t make Los Angeles a contender (a playoff team, but not a title threat) and it messes with the plan to have around $30 million in cap space next summer to chase a big name.

The Lakers you see in training camp are the Lakers you get. At least for now.