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Jazz’s 3-point shooting does in Spurs, 106-91

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Utah point guard George Hill used the lessons he learned in three seasons with San Antonio to hand his former team a rare home loss.

Hill had 22 points and the Jazz made a season-high 15 3-pointers, handing the Spurs their first loss of the season 106-91 on Tuesday night.

“He had a great game,” San Antonio veteran Manu Ginobili said. “For three quarters they played good solid basketball and in the fourth he just took over. Made some big shots, good plays off the pick-and-roll. He’s a great player, we know he can do it.”

Utah handed San Antonio only its second home loss since March 2015. The Spurs didn’t lose their first home game last season until April 10 and finished 40-1 at the AT&T Center.

“Every loss is disappointing to me,” said Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who had a game-high 30 points. “Just disappointed in our defensive effort. Our energy wasn’t there in the first quarter. They were knocking down shots in the fourth quarter. They scored 33 in the fourth and that’s not good either.”

Hill made four straight baskets starting with about 6 minutes left in the fourth, scoring 10 points to give the Jazz a 96-88 lead with 4 minutes remaining.

The Spurs rallied from an anemic first quarter to capture the lead, but Hill helped steady the young Jazz with a court presence he learned under San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich.

“Play like you’ve been there before,” Hill said. “Coach Pop always instilled that into me my first three years here. Don’t show really that much emotion, unless it’s part of the game, but act like you’ve been there before. That’s what I try to instill in the guys, move onto the next play every time.”

Utah needed that serenity after nearly blowing a dominant first quarter.

“We definitely allowed them to play too comfortable and get into a rhythm early on,” San Antonio center Pau Gasol said. “They were executing well, give them credit, but we didn’t put enough pressure on their offense to force them to take tougher shots.”

The Jazz built a 12-point lead in the opening quarter by shooting 72 percent from the field and 88 percent on 3s. Utah made seven 3-pointers in the first quarter, one more than their previous season high for a game.

“Some of it’s just basketball gods,” Jazz coach Snyder said. “There are nights like that and then there are nights like tonight. The biggest thing for our guys is that they don’t get discouraged when they miss and keep shooting.”

Rodney Hood finished with 19 points, Trey Lyles 15 and Shelvin Mack 14 for Utah, which finished 15 for 31 from 3-point range.

It didn’t matter if the Spurs contested the shots or not, Utah’s shots were falling in the first quarter. San Antonio didn’t panic, sticking to their rotations and sets.

The Spurs erased a 47-31 deficit, going on a 15-0 run over a 6-minute span. Leonard’s 16-foot jumper pulled San Antonio within 47-46 and LaMarcus Aldridge‘s 18-footer tied the game at 48.

Aldridge finished with 21 points on 8-for-16 shooting.

But Lyles revived Utah’s offense, scoring all but two points during a 10-0 run in the third quarter that gave the Jazz a 70-63 lead they would never relinquish.

Lyles finished 2 for 7 on 3-pointers and Hood was 4 for 8.

TIP-INS

Jazz: Mack was 0 for 4 on 3-pointers this season before making his only two attempts against the Spurs. . F Boris Diaw missed his first game of the season, sitting out against his former team with a bruised right leg. Diaw, who played with San Antonio from 2012-2016, received a loud ovation when his image was shown on the video boards. Hill, who played three seasons in San Antonio, also received a loud ovation. … Utah was winless in its two road games this season, losing by an average of 11 points.

Spurs: San Antonio has a winning record in the regular season for all but 48 days since 1997. … Jonathan Simmons made his first start of the season. Filling in for Danny Green, Simmons had two points in 29 minutes. Green is sidelined by a strained left quadriceps. … Tony Parker is 73rd in league history with 1,084 games played, breaking a tie he had with Antawn Jamison and Dell Curry.

FAVORS RETURNS

Derrick Favors started for the first time this season after being limited due to a sore knee.

Favors had six points and three rebounds in 16 minutes for the Jazz. He did not play in the second half as a precaution.

“He’s on a minutes restriction,” Snyder said. “We’re being smart with Fav and making sure that we bring him back the right way. I think he was ready to play. I think he got a little cold when we put him back in. He wasn’t quite the same, but that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

STILL A FAVORITE

Hill remains one of Popovich’s favorite players ever, even after he helped Utah hand San Antonio a double-digit loss.

“He played great, especially down the stretch,” Popovich said. “He was very controlled, ran the show, obviously made shots. He was great.”

Hill made sure to hug Popovich after the game and let the veteran coach know how much he still means to him.

“Pop is one of the best people that came into my life,” Hill said. “I just asked him how his wife is doing, how he’s doing and to tell him I love him.”

Kawhi Leonard to give away 1 million backpacks to kids in Southern California

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Kawhi Leonard is back in his home area of Southern California, and now that he’s a member of the Los Angeles Clippers he’s decided to get into the swing of charitable giving.

Leonard recently decided to team up with the Clippers organization to give out one million backpacks to children in need as a way to relieve some of the pressure from low-income families as students head back to school in the fall.

The Clippers and the NBA star worked with Baby2Baby, an organization that provides for low-income children from ages 0 to 12 for basic necessities. This week, Leonard started giving away backpacks to the Moreno Valley Unified, Los Angeles Unified, Inglewood Unified school districts. Leonard went to school in the Moreno Valley system as a kid.

Via the OC Register and Twitter:

“Going to the NBA, this is what I wanted to do; I wanted to give back to my community,” said Leonard, who started his day in Moreno Valley, where he brought backpacks to Cloverdale Elementary, his old school. “That’s why I’m so happy to be back home.”

“With the Clippers, just want you to know we got you guys’ back, as long as you work hard and have a goal set,” said Leonard, who Tuesday was working to fulfill one of his own.

“That’s a goal of mine for this year, being great on and off the court,” he said. “And I felt like this was a great way to start.”

This is an extremely cool and directly effective way to give back to the community. Helping disadvantaged kids in need directly has a ripple effect on their lives, and anything players like Leonard can do to help is a huge win for the children in these districts.

Clippers reportedly add Tyronn Lue to coaching staff

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Tyronn Lue will be coaching in Los Angeles this upcoming season, but it won’t be for the Lakers.

News broke on Tuesday that Lue had accepted a job on Doc Rivers’ staff with the Los Angeles Clippers. Lue is yet another big-name addition to a squad that already added players Kawhi Leonard and Paul George this offseason.

Lue was a championship-winning coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, and he has an innate understanding about how to deal with star players in the NBA.

Via Twitter:

It’s also important to understand what kind of culture Rivers, Steve Ballmer, and the rest of the Clippers front office is trying to build in Los Angeles. In addition to their proposed new stadium in Inglewood, the Clippers are trying to take over L.A. one big-name at a time. That includes everyone from players to coaches, even ones who won championships as the head honcho.

There’s no doubt that Los Angeles is striving for the Finals this season, and adding a guy like Lue to the bench is yet another reiteration of that fact.

Rumor: Stephen A. Smith is coming to ESPN’s NBA broadcasts

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National NBA broadcasts are about to get a little bit different this upcoming season.

We already got word that Michelle Beadle would not be on NBA Countdown on ESPN for the 2019-20 NBA calendar year. In her place will be Rachel Nichols, a favorite of most thanks to her work on The Jump, and Maria Taylor. And apparently ESPN’s studio show is about to get an analyst boost as well.

According to the big lead, Stephen A. Smith will be added to the analyst panel for ESPN studio show, likely on Wednesday nights. The bombastic First Take host will give his NBA takes either to the delight or dismay of fans nationwide.

Via The Big Lead:

Stephen A. Smith is in ESPN’s plans for NBA studio coverage this upcoming season, The Big Lead has learned from multiple people with knowledge of the situation. An ESPN spokesperson declined to comment on the news.

Our sources indicate that Wednesday night is the most likely time for him to be involved, but cautioned that plans are not yet set in stone.

People lost their collective minds on Twitter this summer when it was announced that ESPN had given another huge contract to Stephen A. to continue to do… whatever Stephen A. does. Namely, yell and act incredulous in a way so insincere it’s hard to believe anyone is entertained by it, much less could take it at face value.

No doubt Smith will fill the role, aesthetically, that Charles Barkley does for TNT. He’ll talk in big, wild soundbites that get Twitter all riled up, thereby allowing some VP at the network to pitch his superiors about “leverage” and “engagement” from Smith’s appearances.

Good luck to everyone watching the NBA on national TV this year. Maybe locate where the mute button is on your remote now so you know where it is come autumn.

Gordon Hayward says he’s feeling confident in his ankle for next season

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Gordon Hayward still wasn’t particularly good last season. He never really looked all that comfortable playing with the Boston Celtics, and Brad Stevens’ insistence on playing him led to some reported rifts in the Boston locker room.

But Hayward is expected to come back at full strength this year, and it could be just in time for him to shine in light of Kyrie Irving‘s departure to the Brooklyn Nets.

His severely dislocated left ankle is now long behind him, and it appears that Hayward has been putting in the work necessary this summer. Speaking to Mass Live, Hayward said that he is starting to get more confident in his game.

Via Mass Live:

“Reps is what gives you confidence, so being able to do things over and over and over and not worry about how my ankle’s feeling, or having to be cautious with it, has been really good, especially for my confidence,” Hayward said. “I think last year was a lot of hoping and not really knowing what was going to happen just because I didn’t have the reps… going into a summer training as hard as I want to, it’s a lot better for my confidence this year and expectations-wise as well.”

A healthy Hayward would really change the dynamic of the Celtics in the Eastern Conference this year. Losing Irving is huge, but Boston is going to have a real depth of talent on its hands if it can add Hayward to other wing talent Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart.

It seems cliche to point out at this point, but people have slept on how good Hayward was on both sides of the ball during his time with the Utah Jazz. He’s a complete player at the small forward position when healthy, and bringing back his superstar firepower could ease the pain of losing Irving to Brooklyn.