Associated Press

Spurs beat Pelicans, set NBA record with 38-0 start at home

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Manu Ginobili scored 20 points and the San Antonio Spurs beat the injury-depleted New Orleans Pelicans 100-92 on Wednesday night for their NBA-record 38th straight home victory to open a season.

San Antonio topped the 37-0 start by the Chicago Bulls during their record 72-victory season in 1995-96. Golden State (67-7) has an existing 36-game home winning streak to open the season, giving the Warriors a chance to end up with the record.

San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard had 16 points in his return from a three-game absence, showing no discomfort after bruising his right quadriceps on March 23. The 6-foot-7 forward hit three long jumpers to open the game, including his only 3-pointer in five attempts.

Alexis Ajinca had 18 points for New Orleans, which was without nine players due to injury. Jordan Hamilton added 14 points in his first start in his third game with the team.

Leonard also had a pair of assists to Danny Green in the first 6 minutes of the first quarter. The first came on a fast-break layup after Leonard corralled a turnover and the second came after he spun into the lane and tossed out a pass to Green for a 3-pointer.

Green finished with 16 points, going 4 for 6 on 3-pointers on a hot-shooting night behind the arc for San Antonio. The Spurs were 12 for 24 on 3s.

Data curated by PointAfter

New Orleans remained within seven points throughout the first half, but San Antonio wore down the short-handed Pelicans in the second half. The Spurs had 13 players log at least six minutes against the Pelicans’ nine-player bench.

San Antonio outscored New Orleans 27-16 in the third quarter, picking up assists on eight of its 12 field goals.

LaMarcus Aldridge dunked off a bounce pass in the lane from Boris Diaw to give the Spurs a 66-49 lead with 3:31 remaining in the third quarter. The large lead did not keep San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich from hastily calling a timeout a minute later when Hamilton’s fast-break layup cut the lead to 66-55.

Aldridge finished with 11 points.

TIP-INS

Pelicans: The Pelicans signed James Ennis to a 10-day contract on Wednesday after receiving a hardship exemption from the NBA. The 6-foot-7 forward was averaging 18.8 points and 6.0 rebounds for Iowa in the Development League. . New Orleans was without six of the 10 players who participated in its last game against San Antonio on March 3. Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon and Norris Cole, who accounted for 51 points in the Pelicans’ 94-86 loss, were among those missing Wednesday’s game. . New Orleans has used 36 different starting lineups this season.

Spurs: Popovich sat David West for rest, marking the first time all season the 35-year-old veteran has taken a scheduled night off. The 6-foot-9 forward was in uniform but did not play Jan. 12 at Detroit and March 28 at Memphis due to a coach’s decision. . Entering Wednesday’s game, Aldridge was averaging 23.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game through 13 games in March. . Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Ginobili played their 775th career game together. . San Antonio’s previous best after 75 games was 59-16 in 2013-14.

 

Damian Lillard on shot to beat Thunder: ‘That was for Seattle’

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Damian Lillard is a legend in Portland. He’s a legend in Oakland.

And now he’ll be a legend in Seattle.

The Trail Blazers star’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer wave goodbye ended the season for the Thunder, who moved to Oklahoma City from Seattle 12 years ago.

Lillard on Sports Business Radio Podcast:

What can I say? That was for Seattle.

Just when I thought Lillard’s shot and celebration were as cold as could be.

Clippers executive Jerry West: ‘I’ve never been around any organization that is better than this one’

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Jerry West played 14 years for the Lakers, making the All-Star game every year and winning a championship in a Hall of Fame career. He coached the Lakers to a few playoff seasons. Then, he ran the Lakers’ front office for 18 years, winning five titles and setting the stage for several more by acquiring Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

Now, West works for Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.

West on The Dan Patrick Show:

Steve Ballmer has really put together an unbelievably terrific organization. He’s spared no expense. It’s a really fun place to be. There’s not ego-driven at all. It’s just a fun place to be, and he’s got an awful lot of basketball people over there.

He’s just a great owner and one of the nicest men I’ve ever been around in my life. I’ve never seen a person like this with his success. It’s just remarkable how even-keeled he is. If people knew how philanthropic he was. He keeps all that stuff quiet. I guess he’ll get mad at me for mentioning it. But he’s just a remarkable man himself.

People always ask me what he’s like. And I say he’s just like you and I, normal. I’ve never seen – he’s willing to spend on players. He’s willing to spend on personnel within the front office. And as I mentioned before, I’ve never been around any organization that is better than this one. That’s for sure.

Maybe West is bitter at the Lakers. Maybe West is just gushing about his current boss, because that’s who pays him now.

But the wider respect held for the Clippers is evident in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George picking them without the team first getting an incumbent star. That says a lot about the organization, one that Ballmer has put his stamp on.

This also feels like a shot at the Lakers, whether or not West intended it. Many consider them to be the NBA’s golden franchise.

But their operations have had no shortage of problems lately.

The Lakers would have a stronger relative case further back, when West worked for them. However, organizations generally run better now. The league is more advanced. Maybe West is considering that.

Biases aside, his endorsement of the Clippers might be accurate.

West also worked for the Grizzlies.

Spencer Dinwiddie: Kyrie Irving tipped me off on his Nets interest in December

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In early December, Spencer Dinwiddie had yet to sign a contract extension with the Nets. Kyrie Irving had recently pledged to re-sign with the Celtics.

But groundwork was already being laid for those two to team up in Brooklyn.

Dinwiddie signed a three-year, $34 million extension later in December. Irving and Kevin Durant joined the Nets this summer.

How did it all come together?

Dinwiddie revealed details of his recruitment of Irving.

Dinwiddie, via The Athletic:

The first time he reached out was probably maybe like December, in terms of just loosely talking about it. Because he’s still obviously super focused on his season and everything. But you could just tell from his conversation that it was a little bit different. It was on his mind. Obviously, free agency was coming up. So, that’s kind of what it was. Just asking a friend about his current situation and what he thought.

Actually, no. It definitely was December. Because he made a comment to me. He was like, “New York might be real fun next year.” Because I hadn’t signed yet. And I was like, “Brother, I don’t know if they’re going to extend me or not.” He was like, “I think New York might be real fun next year.”

At the time, I was like, “You all going to the Knicks. That’s what’s happening. Are you and the monster going to the Knicks?”

That’s when I was first tipped off to the whole thing.

When he made the comment, that’s when I was like, “OK, things have changed.” Obviously at that point in time, it’s too early to be like he’s for sure leaving or he’s this, that or the third. But it’s just like, OK, something happened.

What happened in Boston? That’s the big question Irving has yet to answer.

Irving seemed checked out with the Celtics long before their season ended. It’s fair to question whether he was fully committed to winning with them.

There’s nothing wrong with Irving talking to Dinwiddie about New York as early as December. Irving faced a life-changing choice in free agency. Of course he was going to consider it throughout the season.

But in context of everything else that happened with Irving in Boston, this is more evidence he was pretty set on leaving for a long time.