Associated Press

Wolves beat Clippers 108-102, snapping 14-game skid

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Andrew Wiggins scored 31 points, Zach LaVine added 17 and the Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the Clippers 108-102 on Wednesday night, snapping a 14-game skid with their first win over Los Angeles at Staples Center in nearly four years.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Gorgui Dieng had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolves, who also ended two other streaks: five straight losses and 12 in a row on the road.

Chris Paul scored 22 points and Jamal Crawford added 21 off the bench for the Clippers. Their four-game winning streak ended and they fell to 15-4 without injured Blake Griffin. Their streak against the Wolves was the Clippers’ longest active winning streak against any opponent.

The teams traded runs in the fourth, when the Wolves led by nine points before the Clippers briefly regained a one-point lead. Twice the Clippers tied the game in the final two minutes, but the Wolves scored to regain the lead.

Trailing 102-100, Paul hit Ricky Rubio on the head and knocked him down while trying desperately for a foul, resulting in a technical. Rubio hit the free throw and the Wolves scored four in a row for a 106-100 lead to put the game out of reach.

The Clippers closed within one early in the fourth before Minnesota went on an 8-0 run to extend its lead, 85-76. Dieng and Andre Miller each had 3-point plays and Shabazz Muhammad added a pair of free throws.

Los Angeles answered with a 12-2 spurt, including six by Crawford, for its first lead since early in the third, 88-87.

DeAndre Jordan had 18 points and 15 rebounds for the Clippers. Crawford made all 10 of his free throws.

Minnesota ran off 14 unanswered points for its largest lead of the game, 69-59, in the third. Towns had 11 points in the period after missing his first six shots of the game.

The Clippers rallied from 3-point range, hitting four treys, as part of a 15-7 run to trail 76-74 heading into the fourth. They started the quarter with 1 of 12 shooting.

The teams were nearly even in the first half, when the Clippers led 55-53 at the break. Both shot 53 percent, had 19 rebounds apiece and five turnovers each, and the Clippers’ reserves outscored the Wolves’ bench 21-20.

TIP-INS

Timberwolves: They improved to 1-2 against the Clippers this season. … F Kevin Garnett missed his sixth straight game with a sore right knee. … G Kevin Martin sat out his sixth in a row with a sore right wrist. … C Nikola Pekovic was out for the second game in a row with a sore right foot.

Clippers: Jordan had three blocks to reach 1,000 for his career. … G Austin Rivers was ejected after receiving back-to-back technicals in the second quarter. … With still no word from the NBA on its investigation of Griffin punching a team staff member, the forward remained away from the team. Coach Doc Rivers said Griffin won’t be on the upcoming four-game trip because of his broken hand from the punch-out and a partially torn tendon he already had. Rivers wasn’t sure whether assistant equipment manager Matias Testi would re-join the team pending the outcome of the league’s inquiry. … Paul’s young son, Chris Jr., presented his dad with his All-Star jersey before the game.

 

Report: NBA sets dates for draft (Oct. 15), free agency (Oct. 18), next season (Dec. 1)

NBA key dates
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NBA owners have decided to finish the season by holding games between July 31 and Oct. 12.

Now, the surrounding key dates are filling in.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The NBA’s reported tentative plan to open next season on Christmas? It was apparently pretty tentative.

A Dec. 1 start to next season would mean an incredibly short break for teams that advance deep in the playoffs. But the NBA is already spending a lot of time not playing games and making money. There’s an urgency to getting revenue flowing.

There will also be a massive disparity in time off between the eight done teams and continuing teams. Who knows how that will affect next season? This is an unprecedented situation.

Which is a good reminder: Coronavirus can disrupt the best-laid plans.

NBA owners approve 22-team format for resuming season with only Trail Blazers opposing

Trail Blazers owner Jody Allen
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We already knew many key details of the NBA’s plan for resuming the season:

  • Only the top 22 teams will continue.
  • Games will be held at Disney World in Orlando.
  • Each team will play eight more games (maybe with this schedule).
  • If the ninth-place team is within four games of the eighth-place team after those eight games, there will be a play-in series between the eighth- and ninth-place teams. To advance, the ninth-place team must win two games before the eighth-place team wins one.

Now, that plan is one step closer to becoming reality.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

It’s shocking the Trail Blazers, owned by Jody Allen, cast the protest vote. Portland – currently outside playoff position – will resume with a real chance to make the playoffs. What more did the Trail Blazers want?

Players must still approve the plan. National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts said they wouldn’t necessarily vote on it. Union leadership has worked closely with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, certainly agreeing on the system before having owners vote on it.

However, given the NBPA’s haphazard methods for polling the larger membership, I’m not sure how widespread support is. There is room for significant disagreement on how players – continuing vs. non-continuing – will have their salaries affected.

Still, I expect players approve the plan, maybe tomorrow.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Everything is just too far down the road to turn back now. The financial incentives are too high not to keep trying to play. Silver has successfully rallied nearly everyone toward uniting.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Most of the remaining issues are minor details… like codifying a plan for health and safety.

Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:

Report: Knicks to interview former Knicks coach Mike Woodson

Former Knicks coach Mike Woodson
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The Knicks appear set on both hiring Tom Thibodeau and conducting a coaching search.

Mike Woodson, who coached New York from 2012-2014, will be part of the process.

Ian Begley of SNY:

New York also interviewed Woodson in 2018 before hiring David Fizdale. I understand why the Knicks can’t make up their mind on whether they want him as their coach.

Woodson won 58% of his games with New York, the third-best mark in franchise history (behind Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy). In 2012-13, Woodson did some really creative things with Carmelo Anthony at power forward and two-point guard lineups.

But by the end of that season, Woodson went away from what worked. His views became increasingly suspect the next season. When the Knicks fired him, it appeared to be time to move one.

Will New York return to Woodson? Probably not. The expectation remains Thibodeau will get this job. But Woodson will at least have an opportunity to make his case for a very-strange return.

When Charles Barkley tried to recruit Dirk Nowitzki to Auburn

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Dirk Nowitzki was not headed to an American college before the NBA. Like most of the best European players — Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, even going back to Tony Kukoc and others — he was taking a straight trip from his European team to the NBA.

That didn’t stop Charles Barkley from trying to get him to go to Auburn.

It wasn’t meant to be, but Saad Yousuf at the Athletic tells the story of Barkley trying.

The Auburn alum reflected on his first meeting with Nowitzki, in 1997 at a Nike exhibition game in Germany, in which the Big German put on an offensive clinic against a team featuring Barkley, Pippen, Michael Jordan and other NBA talents…

Barkley called Nike and made a strong push to get to Nowitzki through any channel, legal or not. “Just tell him, anything he wants, we’ll get it done,” Barkley recalled in 2012. “Just give him anything he wants; he’s got to go to Auburn.”

Barkley didn’t stop there, though. Nowitzki left such an impression on Auburn’s greatest hoops export that Barkley even talked to Cliff Ellis, Auburn’s coach at the time, to encourage the program to make a run at this relatively unknown teenager in Europe.

Ellis notes that in 1997 he couldn’t just jump on YouTube and find clips of a player, there wasn’t much film of European players. Still, the coach was willing to go on Barkley’s word and reached out.

Turns out Kentucky, Stanford and other colleges did as well, but to no avail. Nowitzki went straight into the 1988 NBA Draft, where the Bucks took him ninth overall then executed a draft-night trade sending the big German to Dallas for Robert “Tractor” Traylor. The rest is Hall of Fame history.

For Barkley, Ellis, and Auburn fans, it’s quite the “what if.” That was a 29-4 Auburn team in 1997-98 that was an NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed led by a couple of future NBA players (Mamadou N’Diaye and Chris Porter). Add Nowitzki into that mix and… we will never know. But it could have been glorius.