Zach Randolph’s 1st triple-double leads Grizzlies past Clippers

Associated Press
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Zach Randolph recorded his first career triple-double with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, Tony Allen added 22 points and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Los Angeles Clippers 113-102 on Saturday night.

Randolph, returning from a seven-game absence due to a sore knee, was 10 of 19 from the floor, while Allen was 7 of 10. Ray McCallum added 14 for Memphis, including seven in the fourth quarter. Lance Stephenson had 12 points and JaMychal Green finished with 11 as Memphis snapped a four-game losing streak.

Chris Paul had 25 points and six assists for the Clippers, while DeAndre Jordan added 16 points and seven rebounds. Paul Pierce contributed 12 points and Austin Rivers finished with 10.

The Clippers have lost three of four.

Randolph recorded his 10th assist while hitting Allen on a cut to the basket with 1:26 left. He left the floor with about 35 seconds remaining in the game to a standing ovation as he pumped his fist.

The win was an emotional lift for Memphis, which had lost its last two games to Minnesota and Milwaukee while dealing with an array of injuries.

The Clippers, who trailed by 11 with 8:23 left in the game, cut into the advantage at the free throw line, making six straight. Paul’s 13-footer completed an 8-0 run and Memphis’ advantage was down to 91-88 with just under 7 minutes left.

Randolph and McCallum took over at that point, combining for all but two of Memphis’ points in an 11-2 rally for a 102-90 lead, ending the Clippers’ chances.

Memphis hit its first seven shots for an early 10-point lead. The Clippers countered with 3-point shooting, including a pair from Wesley Johnson and a third from Jamal Crawford.

Midway through the second, both teams were still well above 50 percent shooting.

After a first half with eight ties and 10 lead changes, it was appropriate that they were deadlocked 58-all at the break. Randolph had 14 points and Allen 13 for Memphis, while Jordan and Pierce had 11 points each for Los Angeles, with Jordan converting all five of his shots and Pierce going 3 of 4 from outside the arc.

The teams stayed close early in the third before Memphis created a bit of a buffer behind Stephenson, who got to the rim, and a Grizzlies defense that caused a handful of Los Angeles turnovers by the 3-minute mark of the frame.

Memphis pushed the lead back to double-digits, eventually reaching 85-70 as Los Angeles’ miscues reached seven for the quarter.

The Clippers were able to score the last five points of the third, leaving Memphis with an 85-75 lead entering the fourth.

TIP-INS:

Clippers: F Jeff Green, dealt by the Grizzlies at the trade deadline, received a lukewarm reception when he was introduced. Green left the game near the midway point of the third quarter with a cut on his head and did not return. … Los Angeles is 12-6 when Pierce has multiple 3s. … Los Angeles had won the last three matchups in the overall series, including a 94-92 home victory on Nov. 9.

Grizzlies: Memphis played without F Matt Barnes, who was suspended by the league earlier Saturday for his actions at the end of Thursday’s loss at Milwaukee. … In addition to Randolph, Vince Carter returned to action after missing four games with left calf strain. … Randolph’s 10 assists were a career high, topping his previous best of eight in 2005. … Memphis’ win tied the overall series at 39.

 

Suns, Crowder agree he will sit out training camp while they seek a trade

Jae Crowder does salsa dance in Suns-Lakers Game 6
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Jae Crowder wants out of Phoenix and the Suns have been looking for a trade to accommodate that.

It hasn’t come together, so the Suns and Crowder agreed he should sit out training camp while they find one (this team does not need another distraction in camp).

We knew this was coming because Crowder himself announced it a couple of days ago. While he deleted the Tweet, nothing ever completely disappears online.

Two quick thoughts on this news.

First, it means Cameron Johnson will start at the four, something that was likely anyway as the Suns look to add shooting to help space the floor.

Second, this news does not help the Suns’ leverage in getting a trade. It’s understandable that Crowder didn’t want to be in camp and that the Suns didn’t want the distraction, but now everyone knows the pressure on the Suns to get a deal done and they will lowball their offer.

There are a few potential landing spots out there. Crowder hinted online he would welcome a return to Miami, and the Heat need help at the four after P.J. Tucker left for Philly. The Heat would base a trade around Duncan Robinson, but to make the salaries match the Suns would have to throw in another player — Dario Saric, Landry Shamet, Cameron Payne, Torey Craig or after Jan. 15  — and that seems unlikely.

Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Boston (but it’s tough to make the salaries match up), and even a team like Minnesota could work. The challenge is the Suns are a win-now team and will want a player who can help them this season and all those teams are in the same space. Right now there may not be an offer available. As camps open and teams start to understand what they do and don’t have, a deal could come together.

Crowder will be home waiting for that to happen, not with the Suns team.

Giannis Antetokounmpo says Stephen Curry is the best player in the world

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Giannis Antetokounmpo is at the top of pretty much every “best player in the world” list right now.

Except his own.

For Antetokounmpo, the best player in the world is the one that leads his team to the title, so today, it is Stephen Curry (hat tip to Lance Allen of NBC Milwaukee).

It’s easy to see where Antetokounmpo is coming from, but basketball is a team game. The best player may not be on the best team, despite his skill set, and that team may not win. Curry was spectacular in leading the Warriors to their fourth banner since he arrived, he’s near the top of the best in the world list, but it’s not all about winning.

The takeaway from what Antetokounmpo said is how much he wants to win — he wants a second ring.

The Bucks enter the season as one of the favorites to win that ring, but it’s going to take a lot of things going right for that to happen.

Including Antetokounmpo showing he is the best player in the world.

 

Is Matisse Thybulle ready for a big step forward with 76ers?

Pregame of Philadelphia 76ers vs Miami Heat
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Matisse Thybulle brings a valuable NBA skill to the table — he is an elite perimeter defender. Two-time All-Defensive Team in three years in the league.

But when the 76ers got up against Miami in the playoffs, Thybulle’s role shrank dramatically. While Doc Rivers needed his defense, Thybulle’s lack of an offensive game became a problem — the Heat largely ignored him and helped off him, allowing Miami to muck up the Philly offense (he was limited in the Toronto series because he was not vaccinated and could not play in road games). The 76ers tried to solve that problem this offseason by bringing in DeAnthony Melton, Danuel House and P.J. Tucker — solid role-playing defenders who can contribute on offense, too.

Thybulle wants to be part of the solution, too, and told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer he spent the summer focused on his offensive game.

“I’m really proud of what I did,” Thybulle said of his offseason. “I’ve worked harder than I’ve worked. And I had a meeting with [Sixers coach Doc Rivers] early this week and was telling him I feel more bought in than I’ve been before.”

No doubt Thybulle put in the work, we will find out soon if it paid off — and if that will get Thybulle paid.

Thybulle is entering a contract year — the 76ers can extend him up until Oct. 18, after which he would become a restricted free agent next summer. Thybulle said his goal is to remain in Philadelphia (and he’d like an extension).

“At this point, I would always want to stay in Philly,” he said. “And if it’s up to me, that’s always going to be my choice.

“But considering that I’ve realized the reality of how far out of my control it is, if I do get traded or something does end up happening, I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day.”

With a win-now Sixers team, Daryl Morey may be in a wait-and-see place with Thybulle, letting the market set his price next offseason. If he signs now, it will likely be on a team-friendly deal (but maybe one that still works for the 25-year-old).

If Thybulle gets on the court this season and shows an improved offensive game, one where he can make teams pay for helping off him, his price goes up and there may be multiple teams bidding for his services next summer. And Doc Rivers would be happy in the short term.

It’s up to Thybulle to prove it now.

 

Markelle Fultz will miss start of training camp, at least, with broken toe

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The basketball gods continue to turn their backs on Markelle Fultz.

A torn ACL had limited him to 26 games over the past two seasons, but he was healthy and ramping up to a larger role this season with a young and interesting Magic team. Then came the news he fractured his left big toe during a training session. As a result, he will be out for at least the start of training camp, the team announced. From the official announcement:

“He has been placed in a walking boot and his return to play will depend on how he responds to rehabilitation and treatment. Fultz suffered the injury during a preseason workout prior to returning to Orlando and imaging confirmed the fracture.

He will not need surgery, according to the team.

Fultz was set to split point guard duties with Cole Anthony, this injury means RJ Hampton could see more run at the point for now. Fultz should be able to return either during the end of the preseason or early in the season.

Fultz was the No.1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft but never found his footing with the 76ers (in part due to injury). However, since getting out of that spotlight and allowed to develop in Orlando he’s been a solid rotation point guard when healthy. Last season in 18 games he averaged 10.8 points and 5.5 assists a game, and while he’s still not an efficient shooter he can run a team.

How Anthony and, eventually, Fultz will work off the ball as rookie Paolo Banchero gets the opportunity to create more offense will be just one of the interesting things to watch with this Magic team this year. We’ll have to wait a little while to see Fultz.