Associated Press

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

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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.

 

Watch Damian Lillard put up 51 on shorthanded 76ers

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Everything is back to normal for Damian Lillard.

The All-Star point guard scored 51 points after a frustrating finish a night earlier, and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Philadelphia 76ers 124-121 on Sunday.

On Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers, Lillard missed a pair of free throws with 18.6 seconds to go and a 3-pointer with 9.5 seconds left in a 122-117 loss. Clippers players Paul George and Patrick Beverley were seen laughing at Lillard’s misfortune.

Lillard got the last laugh Sunday by scoring 18 points in the fourth quarter.

“It wasn’t really so much my performance yesterday and I wanted to perform a certain way today,” he said. “It was like, we let one slip that we should have had yesterday, and I’m a big part of why it got away from us. So tonight, I was like ‘That’s not going to happen.’”

Portland bounced back and pulled within a half-game of Memphis for eighth place in the Western Conference. The Trail Blazers increased their chances of qualifying for the play-in series, which will start Saturday.

The 76ers lost much more than the game. All-Star center Joel Embiid left in the first quarter with what the team called a left ankle injury, and he did not return. He contested a shot, then backed up and stepped awkwardly into the stanchion. He had been averaging 30 points per game since the restart.

76ers coach Brett Brown wouldn’t say whether Embiid would miss time.

“I’m going to learn more physically,” Brown said. “I don’t know enough to comment on it.”

It was more bad injury news for the 76ers. All-Star point guard Ben Simmons is out indefinitely with an injured left knee.

Josh Richardson scored a season-high 34 points and Alec Burks added 20 for Philadelphia. The 76ers would have moved into a tie with the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat for fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings with a win.

Without their stars, the 76ers fell behind by 17 in the second quarter and trailed 67-58 at halftime.

The game tightened up late. Philadelphia’s Al Horford hit a 3-pointer to trim Portland’s lead to 122-121. Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic made two free throws with 10.2 seconds remaining to put his team up three. Richardson missed a 3-pointer for Philadelphia, and the 76ers couldn’t get another shot off after a scramble for the rebound.

“I thought our guys fought,” Brown said. “I really thought the spirit of the group was fantastic. We called upon many different players that I think played with a spirit and a passion that you’re proud of.”

Zion Williamson, New Orleans eliminated from playoff chase; Kings, too

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There was no team hyped like the New Orleans Pelicans heading into the NBA’s restart in Orlando. They had Zion Williamson healthy (or so they thought), and they had been playing the best of any of the teams in the playoff chase just before the coronavirus shut the league (and nation) down. A basketball-starved nation dreamed of a LeBron James vs. Zion showdown in the first round.

The reality of the bubble was not so kind to those dreams or New Orleans.

The Pelicans lost to the Spurs on Sunday, 122-113, despite 25 points from Williamson. Combined with the Trail Blazers beating the 76ers 124-121, the Pelicans became mathematically eliminated from reaching the nine seed and getting into a play-in series in the West.

The Pelicans are out of the playoffs. New Orleans will go through the motions of two more games in the bubble, but don’t be surprised if key players rest. The Pelicans went 2-4 in the bubble with offensive struggles holding the team back.

The Sacramento Kings also have been eliminated, extending the franchise’s playoff drought to 14 years. The last time the Kings were in the playoffs was 2006.

The Memphis Grizzlies sit as the eighth seed in the West, with Portland the ninth seed and just half-a-game back. San Antonio (one game back of Memphis) and Phoenix (1.5 games back) are both alive in the playoff chase still.

New Orleans getting eliminated ends J.J. Redick‘s playoff streak at 13 seasons, the longest of any active player and tied for seventh-longest all-time (the record is a tie at 19 between Karl Malone and John Stockton, who did it together). Getting eliminated is what leads to a 1000-mile stare meme.

 

 

 

 

Joel Embiid will not return to 76ers game due to left ankle injury

Joel Embiid injury
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
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Philadelphia’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad bubble continues.

Joel Embiid went back to the locker room during the first quarter of the 76ers game against the Trail Blazers and will not return to the court due to a left ankle injury, the team announced, via Serena Winters of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

There are no other details yet on Embiid’s condition. He has been far-and-away the best player on a Philadelphia team that has struggled through the NBA’s restart in Orlando.

The 76ers have already lost Ben Simmons, likely for the rest of this season, due to knee surgery.

Despite the injuries and rough play, Philly was 3-1 entering Sunday. However, the one loss was to red-hot T.J. Warren and Indiana, which essentially locked the 76ers into the six seed (and a likely first-round meeting with Boston).

Embiid is averaging 30 points a game in Orlando and put up a ridiculous 41 points, 21 rebounds line against Indiana.

If Embiid misses much time, the Sixers’ chances against any team near the top of the East are slim. At best.

Play-in series guaranteed in West after Toronto beats Memphis

NBA play-in
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — It’s now official: There will be a play-in series to determine the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Memphis’ 108-99 loss to Toronto on Sunday means that it’s no longer possible for more than a four-game difference in the standings between the eighth- and ninth-place finishers in the West when the seeding game schedule ends later this week.

By the rules the NBA set for this season’s restart, there had to be more than a four-game cushion for the No. 8 team to get the final playoff spot outright. The league decided to add the play-in series option in an abundance of fairness, since about 14% of the regular season schedule was eliminated because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Memphis remains alone in eighth place, even after Sunday’s loss. Portland is one game behind and is in the nine seed (with a Philadelphia Sunday night). San Antonio (who beat New Orleans Sunday) and red-hot Phoenix are 1.5 games back of the Grizzlies. New Orleans is now two games back and with a difficult road to the postseason.

No team has clinched a spot in the play-in series; the Grizzlies could have assured themselves of no worse than that had they beaten the Raptors on Sunday.

Game 1 of the play-in series will be Saturday, with Game 2 — if necessary — the following day, Aug. 16. To advance and face the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, the eighth-place team will have to win one of the two games and the ninth-place finisher would have to go 2-0.

ABC will air Game 1 of the play-in series on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. EDT. Game 2, if necessary, would be Aug. 16 at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN.

There will be no play-in series in the Eastern Conference; Brooklyn and Orlando have secured what were the last two available spots on that bracket, with Washington — the only other team that came to Disney with a chance of qualifying in the East — already eliminated.

The playoffs begin Monday, Aug. 17.

“Obviously, that’s what everybody’s goal is,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said Sunday.

The matchup for the play-in will be known no later than Thursday. There are four seeding games on Friday, the last day of the regular season, though none of them will have any bearing on the West matchup.