Associated Press

Clippers beat Mavs 98-91 for 5th straight victory

Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Blake Griffin shot 2 of 11 in the first half, when the Clippers were in a struggle with the Dallas Mavericks.

In the locker room, his teammates urged him to keep shooting and while Griffin appreciated the encouragement, he knew he had to do more than settle for jumpers.

Griffin sparked the Clippers in a dominant third quarter, and they went on to win 98-91 on Sunday, snapping the Mavs’ six-game winning streak and preventing them from clinching a playoff berth.

“I tried to put a little more aggression into defense and try to let that get me going,” said Griffin, who had 17 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in his best game since returning a week ago from a three-month absence.

Jamal Crawford scored 22 points, J.J. Redick added 20 and DeAndre Jordan had 14 points and 10 rebounds in the playoff-bound Clippers’ fifth straight win.

Raymond Felton led Dallas with 21 points – two off his season high – off the bench. Deron Williams added 15 points and Dirk Nowitzki 14.

“The third quarter was a bit of a killer,” Nowitzki said. “We were missing good looks.”

The loss kept the Mavs (41-39) in seventh place in the Western Conference, a game behind Memphis with two games to play. Dallas needs either a victory or a Houston loss to clinch a playoff berth for the 15th time in 16 years. The Rockets beat the Lakers 130-110 on Sunday.

The Mavs rallied to close within five in the final 3:45 but Griffin asserted himself down the stretch, scoring and assisting on an alley-oop dunk by DeAndre Jordan, and the Clippers eventually restored their lead to 10.

“Blake just got into the defense,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “He just turned into this guy who started playing with amazing force and intensity. He started rolling (to the basket) and putting pressure on their defense.”

The teams played nearly even in the first half, with the Clippers leading 49-47 at the break. Los Angeles got its first double-digit lead of the game in the third, when Dallas shot 3 of 18 from the floor.

Leading by three, the Clippers closed on a 20-6 run to lead 76-59 going into the fourth. Griffin scored six points and grabbed the offensive rebound after Jordan missed a free throw, feeding Redick for a 3-pointer in the spurt.

“Just his presence was big for us,” Chris Paul said about Griffin. “Down the stretch, that was the Blake that we know. He was aggressive.”

The Mavs tried to slow down the Clippers by fouling Jordan, but it didn’t work entirely. He finished 6 of 23 from the line, but made two foul shots that contributed to his team’s dominance in the third quarter.

Dallas got to 83-74 in the fourth, forcing the Clippers to bring Redick and Paul back in. Williams promptly banked in a jumper to cut the Mavs’ deficit to seven. They closed to 85-79 on a 3-pointer by Charlie Villanueva.

Paul finished with five points, seven rebounds and 11 assists.

TIP-INS

Mavericks: Their six-game winning streak tied for the team’s longest this season. … No team had scored over 93 points during their streak. … G J.J. Barea sat out with a right groin strain. … Nowitzki averaged 23.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in his first three games against the Clippers this season.

Clippers: F Paul Pierce sat out to rest. … The Clippers won the season series 3-1 for the fifth year in a row. … They’ve won 11 of their last 15 regular-season games against the Mavs.

WILLIAMS RETURNS

Williams returned to the Mavs’ starting lineup after missing a couple weeks because of a left abdominal strain. He shot 6 of 11, had four rebounds and three assists to go with four fouls in 28 minutes.

“He was aggressive, especially in the first half,” Nowitzki said. “I liked how he pushed it on the break and tried to get into the lane and collapse the defense. When a guy comes back from injury you look how he moves, and I thought he looked great.”

CRITIQUING HIS FORM

Jordan got another taste of getting hacked by an opponent, a familiar tactic sure to be employed against him in the playoffs.

“It was more of a rest period for me and the rest of the guys,” he joked about his 23 trips to the line. “They looked great, except for a couple that were line drives. My teammates have confidence in me when I am up there, and that is all that matters. I’m going to be continue to be confident and shoot the basketball. It will happen in the playoffs.”

 

Report: Kawhi Leonard focusing on Clippers in free agency

AP
1 Comment

Kawhi Leonard might not be with the Toronto Raptors next season. That much has been apparent ever since the Raptors traded for Leonard last year, but the team did just win the 2019 NBA Finals. You know what they say: winning fixes everything.

But we are now into the thick of the NBA offseason, and that means crazy rumors and a wild game of Free agency musical chairs. Leonard could end up in many places, including Toronto. But the talk all along has been how Leonard prefers to land in Los Angeles.

The only problem for fans in L.A. county? His landing spot is unlikely to be the Los Angeles Lakers.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Leonard’s focused on Los Angeles but only with the Clippers. In Wojnarowski’s opinion, Leonard is not interested in joining LeBron James and Anthony Davis as a third wheel on a superstar, big three type of Team. Instead, Leonard wants to have his own team match the way he does in Toronto. That could easily be the case with the Clippers.

Via ESPN:

The Lakers are trying to open up enough cap space for a third max-level player, which Leonard obviously is. But if things stand how they are now, Rob Pelinka and the Lakers will need to go elsewhere to find a third star to play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Obviously the Lakers would be better suited by using their cap space to fill out their roster around their two superstars, but they probably won’t do that. In the end, Leonard focusing on the Clippers seems like the right choice.

Report: Lakers trying to open max salary slot with Anthony Davis trade

Getty
6 Comments

The Los Angeles Lakers have Anthony Davis, but they aren’t done tweaking the details of the deal yet. Depending on when Davis’ trade gets completed, Los Angeles will open up myriad financial options for their free agency extravaganza this summer. Now it appears the Lakers might be trying to get a third team involved to help them grab max cap space.

We’ve explained the cap ramifications as the deal stood with the New Orleans Pelicans already. On one end, Los Angeles could wait until July 30. After renouncing some free agents, this would leave L.A. with $32 million in cap space. If they complete the deal on July 6, and if Davis waives his $4 million trade kicker, they end up with somewhere between $24 — $28 million.

Now it appears the Lakers will go for the full max slot space.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers are looking to ship out some of its younger players — turning the Davis trade with New Orleans into a 3-team deal — to satisfy some CBA rules that allow them to get to that mark. The Lakers have made Mo Wagner, Jemerrio Jones, and Isaac Bonga available.

Via Twitter:

Los Angeles is also reportedly looking to grab some second round picks, which allow for cheap contracts that they can use to fill out its roster while going over the salary cap.

This is a bold endeavor.

No doubt the front office in L.A. looked at the trade the Toronto Raptors made for Kawhi Leonard this past season feel as though adding more stars to its roster cannot possibly hurt. The only problem is that the Raptors already had a team good team unit in place when they traded for Leonard. Los Angeles won’t have any players of note when they head into this season, even if they are able to sign a third star to go with LeBron James and Davis.

It’s really going to be difficult to see how Davis, James, and a third star will carry this team if there is a steep drop-off between the bench rotation. Even considering veteran minimum signings — which always happen for championship-contending teams — this team needs more role players.

This is an extremely Los Angeles thing to do, and this thing just keeps getting more complicated the farther we get into the NBA offseason. It’s not even July yet, and it’s already wild in the Association.

Report: Al Horford not returning to Boston, will sign elsewhere this summer

Getty Images
5 Comments

Boston’s disastrous season — and off-season — just keeps getting worse. Anthony Davis is a Laker, Kyrie Irving is out the door and now this.

Al Horford opted out of the $30.1 million the Celtics owed him this summer, but that was expected. A lot of people around the league also assumed he would begin negotiating with Boston to return for a longer contract, worth more money overall but a little less per year, that would give him some security.

He is going to get that security elsewhere, reports Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.

The buzz from around the league is this is more about Boston not wanting to pay him and do a retooling of their roster around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown than it is Horford wanting out. Either way, it puts an outstanding player on the market.

Horford is 33 years old and teams may be concerned about the final year of a four-year contract, but he is kind of glue big man who can do everything well that could fit a lot of places and lift teams up to the next level. Horford can play in the post, shot 36 percent from three, sets good screens, is a good defender and role player, and just seems to have no holes in his game. That versatility makes him incredibly valuable.

Horford is going to get paid this summer — not max money, but close enough to it to make him happy — and some team is going to get a lot better when they do it.

 

 

 

 

In a surprise to nobody, Hassan Whiteside will pick up $27.1 million option

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Miami Heat have been looking to trade center Hassan Whiteside for a couple of years now, but finding someone who would take on his massive contract proved impossible (at least at the level of sweeteners the Heat were willing to throw in).

Whiteside’s no fool, he is not leaving that money on the table, and in an obvious and expected move will pick up the $27.1 million on his contract. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported it, but everyone knew this was coming.

Whiteside stands to make $27.1 million next season and plans to inform the Heat in the days before the June 29 deadline. Once he formally opts in, the Heat will be about $4 million over the projected $132 million luxury tax threshold, factoring in Miami’s first-round draft pick and forward Ryan Anderson’s expected buyout.

Bam Adebayo is now the starting center in Miami, Whiteside will make that money to come off the bench. That said, Whiteside put up numbers — 12.3 points and 11.3 rebounds a game, and he does it efficiently — and he wants more minutes to prove he could do more.

Miami would be more than happy to trade him and let him have those minutes on another team. We’ll see if that massive expiring contract can entice some teams into a trade.

Miami wants to be aggressive this summer, but they are already into the luxury tax, which ties their hands.