Associated Press

Pistons hand Clippers first road loss with 108-97 win

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Stan Van Gundy has been waiting all season for his Detroit Pistons to show the kind of determination that got them into the playoffs. Stan Van Gundy has been waiting all season for his Detroit Pistons to show the kind of determination that got them into the playoffs.

Friday night, he got a glimpse.

The Pistons blew an 18-point lead in the third quarter, but rallied down the stretch to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 108-97.

Detroit had lost 11 straight to the Clippers, including a 114-82 rout at the Staples Center on Nov. 7.

“We got embarrassed the last time we played that team, and I knew these guys didn’t want that to happen again,” Van Gundy said. “But beating that team is going to take 48 minutes of effort and we haven’t been able to do that many times this season.”

Detroit won its second straight and improved to 7-2 at home, as opposed to 1-7 on the road.

“I’m very happy with the way we played tonight, but we have to be able to take this level of effort on the road,” Van Gundy said. “We’ve got four road games in the next seven days against really good teams. We can’t keep giving those games away.”

The Clippers lost for just the second time in 13 games, falling to 7-1 on the road.

“Give the Pistons credit; Stan really had them ready to play,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “They came out with so much more energy that we did in the first 10 minutes, and it is tough to dig yourselves out of a big hole on the road.”

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 16 points and a career-high 10 assists for Detroit and Andre Drummond had 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Pistons got at least 15 points from all five starters and Jon Leuer added 11 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.

“We are really starting to come together,” Drummond said. “We are more in sync defensively, and the offensive is starting to come around.”

J.J. Redick and Blake Griffith each had 24 points for the Clippers, while Chris Paul had eight points to go with 15 assists.

“This wasn’t a lack of effort,” Paul said. “We were energized, but they made shots.”

The Pistons trailed by as many as 43 earlier this month in Los Angeles, but jumped out to a 31-14 lead in Friday’s first quarter. However, with Drummond limited to 8:19 in the first half by foul trouble and Morris playing just 3:42, the Clippers were able to pull within 57-48 at halftime.

The Pistons built the margin to as many as 18 early in the third, with Caldwell-Pope finding Drummond for several alley-oops. However, Redick took over the game, scoring 10 points in the final 1:27 of the quarter. His back-to-back 3-pointers pulled the Clippers within 82-80 at period’s end.

“We cut into their lead at the end of the third quarter, but we were still making mistakes,” Rivers said. “When you are that far behind, you have to play perfect basketball or you use up everything getting it close.”

Redick finished with 18 in the quarter.

“He did all that against a really good defender in KCP,” Van Gundy said. “I was sitting on the bench wondering how I didn’t win 65 games a year when I was coaching him in Orlando.”

Los Angeles scored the first four points of the fourth to take the lead, but stopped hitting shots. That let the Pistons respond with a 15-2 run, capped off by Caldwell-Pope’s 3-pointer to make it 97-86 with 5:14 to play.

“We didn’t panic,” Caldwell-Pope said. “We just kept doing what we had been doing all game, and kept trying to make J.J. work.”

TIP-INS

Clippers: Paul didn’t score in the second half, but put up 10 assists. … With the Pistons moving to Little Caesars Arena for the 2017-18 season, this was the Clippers’ final regular-season visit to the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Pistons: Guard Stanley Johnson was suspended for one game after an unspecified violation of team rules. That left the Pistons without three rotation guards, as both Reggie Jackson and Reggie Bullock missed the game with left knee injuries.

PLAY MAKER

With Jackson not expected to play his first game until next week, Caldwell-Pope was the first Detroit player to reach double figures in assists in a game.

VISITING CELEBRITY

During a timeout, the Palace scoreboard showed Darius Slay’s interception of Sam Bradford’s pass that helped the Detroit Lions beat the Minnesota Vikings 16-13 on Thanksgiving. Slay, one of several Lions in attendance, then autographed a football and tossed it to the crowd.

 

Report: Brooklyn near deal with Lance Thomas for restart

Lance Thomas Brooklyn
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Still rounding out their roster for the NBA restart in Orlando, the Brooklyn Nets have reached out to bring back veteran forward Lance Thomas.

Thomas, who went through training camp with Brooklyn but was cut right before the season, will sign as a substitute player for Brooklyn, reports Alex Smith with SNY.TV.

Thomas is an eight-year NBA veteran who spent the last four of that with the Knicks. He can play the three or a floor-spacing small four, with New York using him more as a power forward in recent years. He’s averaged 5.2 points per game in his career and is known more as a good player to have in the locker room and guy who can soak up 15-20 minutes a night and not hurt a team. Brooklyn had Thomas in at training camp and liked his fit, but they didn’t have a roster spot for him.

They do now. Three Nets players — Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, and Taurean Prince — tested positive for the coronavirus and will not be at the Orlando restart. Wilson Chandler opted out of playing. All four of them can be replaced by substitute players for the remainder of this season, so the Nets signed Jamal Crawford, Michael Beasley, and Donta Hall. Thomas rounds becomes the fourth member of that group. (Note: The Nets cannot sign players to substitute for Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant because they are out due to injury; substitute players are only for players missing due to coronavirus issues.)

Thomas will be a free agent this offseason.

Lance Thomas and Brooklyn enter the bubble in Orlando as the seven seed in the East.

Like LeBron, Anthony Davis also to wear own last name on jersey in Orlando

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anthony Davis will wear his own name on the back of his jersey when the Los Angeles Lakers return to action.

Davis confirmed his decision Sunday in a conference call from Orlando, where the Western Conference-leading Lakers are beginning team workouts.

Davis and LeBron James both declined to choose a social justice message to replace their names on the back of their jerseys during the NBA restart.

Davis, a seven-time NBA All-Star, said he was “torn between” choosing from among the 29 approved messages and sticking with his name.

“For me, I think the name ‘Davis’ is something I try to represent every time I step on the floor,” he said. “I just think my last name is something that’s very important to me, and also social justice as well. But (I’m) just holding my family name and representing the name on the back to go through this process … and people who have been with me through my entire career to help me get to this point, while still kind of bringing up things that we can do for social injustice.”

James said he decided to forgo a social justice message because the available options didn’t “resonate” for him or his particular feelings about the movement. James would have liked to choose his own slogan, but wasn’t angry that it wasn’t allowed.

Both James and Davis have been outspoken about social justice causes in the past, although the younger Davis is less vocal than James.

The Lakers open play in Orlando on July 30 against the Clippers.

 

Lakers’ Rajon Rondo fractures thumb, out 6-8 weeks

Rajon Rondo injury
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The Lakers guard depth is getting hit hard. First, Avery Bradley chose to stay home from the NBA restart in Orlando for family reasons. Now this:

Rajon Rondo fractured his thumb during practice on Saturday and will need surgery that will sideline him 6-8 weeks, the team announced.

On the optimistic side, that timeline should have Rondo back for most or all of the conference finals and NBA Finals. Rondo has a history of hand injuries.

The Lakers cannot sign a substitute player to replace Rondo (that is only for players with COVID-19 related absences, or who opted out, but not injuries).

Rondo came off the bench for the Lakers this season, averaging 7.1 points and five assists a game. More importantly, he was the guy running the offense when LeBron James was off the court, something that will be difficult to replace. He is not the defender and player he once was, but he fit with the Lakers.

Alex Caruso and Quinn Cook will get some extra run, plus it opens up room for veterans Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith.

The Rondo injury is not going to put the Lakers in danger in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but if he is not back and 100% in the conference finals (very possibly against a deep Clippers team) and the Finals, this will be a blow to L.A.

Stephen Curry, Charles Barkley join “Race and Sports in America: Conversations” on NBC family

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In the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, and the protests that followed, citizens of the United States have started to have a long-overdue and challenging discussion of race and systemic racism in America. Black celebrities — guys such as Stephen Curry and Charles Barkley, plus other NBA stars — have stepped into the middle of that conversation and are using their voices.

That discussion, along with Barkley and Curry, comes to the NBC Sports family of networks Monday in “Race and Sports in America: Conversations.” The roundtable discussion show airs at 8 p.m. ET simultaneously on NBCSN, the Golf Channel, the Olympic Channel, and every member of the NBC Sports regional broadcast network.

The wide-ranging conversation (recorded in Lake Tahoe) included discussion both of the recent protests that swept the nation and the calls for police reform — Barkley said he wants to see that.

“The first thing we need, listen, we need police reform.  We need to, listen, I got in trouble for defending cops.  And I’m always going to defend cops.  I don’t want them out there killing unarmed Black men, but we need cops…” Barkley said. “But we need good cops.  We need to hold cops accountable.  If they do something wrong — the way the system is set up now, if cops do something wrong, other cops judge them.  That’s not fair in any aspect of life.  If you are a cop and you saw what happened to Mr. Floyd and you think that was all right, you shouldn’t be a cop.”

Curry spun the discussion of police reform into the need for people to vote for change — particularly at the local and state level.

“Same concept around reforming police, getting the bad ones out, is in every form of leadership in government in terms of how important voting is.  Not just at the national presidential level, but in our local, city, state elections…” Curry said.

“That’s where the real change happens.  So when it comes to voter suppression which we’ve seen since George Floyd’s passing in Georgia, we’ve seen long lines; people have been standing there for 12, 13 hours trying to vote.

“And that’s where a local election, as we look forward from a year from now and beyond, every single cycle, how do we continue to let our voices be heard, not just what we’re saying and crying for and asking for help, but how can we actually use our given right to go vote, to go put people in positions of power that they’re going to look out for us in a very meaningful way that’s going to make a true difference.”

Beyond the two NBA stars, Kyle Rudolph, Anthony Lynn, Troy Mullins, James Blake, Jimmy Rollins, and Ozzie Smith take part in the discussion.

Tune in Monday night across the NBC Sports family of networks for a can’t miss discussion of race and sports in America.