Associated Press

Jrue Holiday’s 22 points leads Pelicans past Clippers, 109-105

Leave a comment

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jrue Holiday scored 22 points and the injury-riddled New Orleans Pelicans beat the Los Angeles Clippers 109-105 on Sunday night.

Omer Asik scored a season-high 15 points and tied his season best with 14 rebounds for New Orleans, while Dante Cunningham scored a season-high 19 points. Reserve guard Tim Frazier added a season-high 17 points.

Chris Paul and J.J. Redick each scored 24 points, and Paul also had 13 assists for the Clippers, who lost in Memphis on Saturday night and were playing their second game in less than 24 hours. Los Angeles missed 19 3-point attempts and 13 free throws.

Still, despite trailing by 11 with 1:23 left, the Clippers could have tied it when DeAndre Jordan dunked as he was fouled. But Jordan missed his free throw with 27 seconds left. Former Pelican Austin Rivers also missed a 3-point shot that would have tied it in the final seconds.

The Pelicans tipped off shortly after announcing All-Star forward Anthony Davis, who hurt his left knee on Friday night, would miss the rest of the season to treat that injury as well as a torn labrum in his left shoulder that played with for much of the season.

Davis’ knee injury was not believed to be serious, but with the Pelicans virtually eliminated from playoff contention, coach Alvin Gentry said it seemed prudent to shut down the club’s franchise player during the final few weeks of the regular season.

Yet New Orleans found plenty of ways to score, thanks to several players either surpassing or approaching season highs in scoring. Luke Babbitt scored 14 points, including two free throws with 14 seconds left that gave the Pelicans a 108-105 lead. After Rivers’ missed 3, Toney Douglas capped his 15-point night with a free throw that sealed it with 1.5 seconds left.

Jamal Crawford had 14 points, and the Clippers wanted him to shoot the potential tying 3, but Holiday’s defense led Crawford to give the ball up and Rivers wound up having to put it up as time wound down.

Jordan finished with 12 points, but missed five of 11 free-throw attempts.

New Orleans’ lead got as large as 14 when Holiday’s driving layup made it 102-88 with 2:18 left.

TIP-INS

Clippers: The Clippers rested starting forward Jeff Green, who was elbowed in the head during Saturday night’s loss at Memphis. Paul Pierce started in Green’s place. … When fans heckled Clippers coach Doc Rivers for complaining about a foul called against his team, he turned to the crowd and shouted, “You really think that was a foul?” When several spectators answered in the affirmative, Rivers responded, “You better be honest. It’s a Sunday.”

Pelicans: The Pelicans’ announcement that Davis would miss the rest of the season meant New Orleans would be without four starters for its final 14 games, including small forward Quincy Pondexter (who never played this season), and guards Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon. … Two of the Pelicans five starters against the Clippers still have fewer than 10 starts apiece this season. Douglas made his sixth start and Babbitt his seventh.

 

Kobe Bryant said he traveled by helicopter to spend more time with kids

Leave a comment

Kobe Bryant was such a superstar, his method of transportation to and from practice – helicopter – became a sensation.

Bryant died in a helicopter crash Sunday. In an old interview, he described why he traveled by helicopter.

Kobe Bryant on The Corp:

Traffic started getting really, really bad. Right? And I was sitting in traffic, and I wound up missing a school play, because I was sitting in traffic. And these things just kept mounting. I had to figure out a way where I could still train and focus on the craft, but still not compromise family time. And so that’s when I looked into helicopters and being able to get down and back in 15 minutes. And that’s when it started. So, my routine was always the same. Weights early in the morning, kids to school, fly down, practice like crazy, do my extra work, media, everything I needed to do, fly back, get back in the carpool line, pick the kids up. And my wife was like, “Listen, I can pick them up.” I’m like, “No, no, no. I want to do that.” Because you have road trips and times where you’re not – you don’t see your kids, you know? So, every chance I get to see them and spend time with them, even if it’s 20 minutes in the car, I want that.

The irony and tragedy of Bryant and his daughter dying in a helicopter crash is just gut-wrenching.

Grizzlies call up Josh Jackson from minor league

Josh Jackson
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

A few months ago, the Grizzlies thought so little of Josh Jackson, they didn’t even bring him to training camp. He remained on an NBA contract. Memphis gained no roster or salary-cap flexibility. The Grizzlies planned to send him to their minor-league affiliate, but the Hustle hadn’t yet opened their training camp. There was nowhere else for Jackson to be. The Grizzlies just didn’t want him around.

Now, Jackson will get his chance on the parent club.

Grizzlies:

The No. 4 pick in the 2017 NBA draft, Jackson still has a lot to prove with his maturity, professionalism and production.

But this is an opportunity – for Memphis to showcase him before next week’s trade deadline and for Jackson to showcase himself before unrestricted free agency next summer.

Grayson Allen is injured. Jae Crowder is also banged up. Jackson could actually receive playing time.

Kobe Bryant’s death a unique tragedy

Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Magic Johnson – one of the NBA’s brightest stars – stood behind a podium, smiled and shook the world. Johnson had HIV and was retiring from the Lakers, he announced. Confusion, speculation and, most prominently, grief followed. Everyone thought he’d die. Charles Barkley said, “It’s kind of like somewhat of a death of a brother.” Larry Bird called it “probably the toughest day I’ve had since my father passed away, and I’ve been very depressed and sort of been out of it.” Pat Riley called for a moment of silence before a game.

More than 28 years later, Johnson mourned Kobe Bryant.

Bryant’s death yesterday was the tragedy everyone believed Johnson’s diagnosis to be. Sudden. Crushing. Unbelievable. All the same emotions came pouring out. Except this time there was no mistaking the finality.

Johnson has continued living, thriving, inspiring. He’s a renowned businessman, beloved celebrity and fantastic ambassador for basketball. It’s the type of retirement expected for Bryant, because why wouldn’t it be?

The NBA has grown accustomed to its titans aging gracefully. Unlike baseball, the NBA hasn’t existed long enough for multiple generations of old-timers to pass away. Unlike football, the NBA doesn’t subject its players to such traumatic physical tolls.

Just two MVPs in all of NBA history had died, Wilt Chamberlain (age 63 in 1999) and Moses Malone (age 60 in 2015), and those deaths felt far too soon.

Bryant was only 41.

Just four All-Stars died younger. Don Sunderlage was in a car crash at age 31 in 1961. Maurice Stokes suffered a head injury during a game, became paralyzed then – after teammate Jack Twyman cared for him for 12 years – died at age 36 in 1970. Pete Maravich had a heart issue while playing pickup basketball at age 40 in 1988. Reggie Lewis suffered a heart attack during what should have been the midst of his career at age 27 in 1993.

Lewis – like Len Bias (who died of a cocaine overdose at age 22 in 1986) and Drazen Petrovic (who died in a car crash at age 28 in 1993) – never got to fulfill their potentials. That creates its own kind of anguish.

There is no analogue to Bryant’s death.

Bryant’s accomplishments – one MVP, five championships, two NBA Finals MVPs, 11 All-NBA first teams, two All-NBA second teams, two All-NBA third teams and 18 All-Star appearances – place him among the very greatest of all-time greats. No player anywhere near that stature had ever died anywhere near this young.

Bryant could be charming and ruthless, sometimes simultaneously. His play and conduct earned him loyal fans and harsh critics. The never-ending Kobe debates seemed only to inflame the passion of his supporters.

Few adored him like fellow NBA players. They admired his skill and determination. He responded by mentoring many. It’s difficult to overstate just how cherished Bryant was in this league.

Few understand the cold realities of the NBA like Austin Rivers. He grew up with his father, Doc Rivers, frequently gone playing and coaching. As a result, they aren’t particularly close. Now an NBA player himself, Austin speaks of their distant relationship with far more acceptance than wistfulness. He’s too focused on competing to do much else.

Yesterday, Austin cried on the court:

Then, explained how little he cared about the Rockets losing a basketball game:

Others shed tears in arenas around the country. The NBA could have cancelled yesterday’s games. Playing while grieving proved difficult for many.

There was just no good way to handle the loss. Mere moments of silence felt insufficient.

The Spurs and Raptors began their game yesterday with shot-clock violations in honor of his No. 24. Other teams exchanged a shot-clock violation and eight-second violation in honor of his other number. Trae Young wore No. 8.

Other tributes popped up around the world. Bryant was a global icon.

He was also a loving father. As incredibly wide as this tragedy lands, it also cuts unimaginably deep. Bryant’s daughter, 13-year-old Gianna, also died in the helicopter crash.

Appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2018, Bryant just lit up when discussing her:

Bryant’s death is devastating – for those touched closely and, because of its unparalleled nature, even those not. Nobody was ready for this.

It’s a punch in the gut. The basketball world – which expanded far larger than imaginable in 1991, when Johnson made his announcement, because of people like Bryant – remains in a daze.

In wake of Kobe Bryant’s death, Kendrick Perkins seeks forgiveness from Kevin Durant

Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Kendrick Perkins
Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kevin Durant once called Kendrick Perkins his favorite teammate of all-time.

A couple weeks ago, they were beefing on Twitter,exchanging barbs that didn’t look as friendly as previously.

Kobe Bryant’s tragic death has Perkins reflecting.

Perkins:

Good for Perkins. Amid all the sorrow, Bryant’s death creates an opportunity for people to re-assess their priorities. Grudges almost always aren’t worth it.