Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon lead Rockets past Kings, 105-83 (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Rockets could not have been happier to be home.

After a 2-3 trip and 10 of their last 14 games on the road, the Rockets were revved up again back at Toyota Center.

Ryan Anderson had 25 points and 11 rebounds, Eric Gordon added 17 points and Houston used a big second-quarter run to beat the Sacramento Kings 105-83 on Tuesday night.

“It just felt good to be back at home,” James Harden said. “It felt like we were on the road for so long, that we are home, we are comfortable. We got to sleep in our own bed. Tonight, we came out and played hard. We had energy at the beginning of the game and carried that through all four quarters.”

Anderson shot 6 of 12 from 3-point range and Houston went 14 of 45 from behind the arc as a team.

Harden, who banged knees early in the first quarter, finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. He said he would be ready to go Thursday against Atlanta.

Clint Capella had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Rockets.

“We have a lot of weapons on our team,” forward Trevor Ariza said. “On any given night, anyone can step up and be our leading scorer. Tonight with Ryan he shot the ball extremely well like we know he can. We just rode that.”

Houston used an 18-3 run over the first nine minutes of the second quarter to extend its lead to 47-27 on Nene’s dunk. Gordon had eight points in the run, and Nene added six.

The Kings shot 3 for 16 from the field, committed six turnovers and were outscored 25-11 in the second quarter as Houston opened up a 54-35 halftime lead.

“They defensively played real well,” coach Mike D’Antoni said of his Rockets. “Now, we played good the first quarter, but that second quarter was excellent, and that kind of set the tone.”

DeMarcus Cousins had 16 points and seven rebounds for the Kings, who shot 35 percent. Kosta Koufos added 12 points.

“We ran out of gas there in the last game against (Philadelphia), but I thought we really ran out of legs tonight,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “We didn’t shoot it well; they are obviously very offensively potent.”

Sacramento got no closer than 19 in the second half.

TIP-INS

Kings: Garrett Temple exited with 9:29 left in the third quarter with an apparent left hamstring injury. Temple fell to the ground and immediately grabbed his left hamstring after a steal. He limped off the court and straight to the locker room. Temple said he is going to have an MRI to see the severity of the injury. He finished with three points. … Willie Cauley-Stein had 10 points and six rebounds.

Rockets: Nene finished with 11 points. …The Rockets outrebounded Sacramento 60-45. … Houston wore its Lunar New Year uniforms Tuesday for the first time this season.

EIGHT IS ENOUGH

Sacramento finished its eight-game road trip 3-5 after losing its third out of the last four games. The trip featured three back-to-backs in which the Kings went 1-2 in the second game, including Tuesday’s loss. The road trip included an awkward Philadelphia to Houston back-to-back after the game against the 76ers, originally scheduled for Nov. 29, was rescheduled for Monday due to wet floor conditions.

“I think we progressed as a team,” Cousins said. “It’s been a tough road trip with a lot of unfortunate things happened. A lot of things didn’t go our way, but through it, I think we got better as a team.”

HALL OF FAMERS IN THE HOUSE

Houston honored Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo during the second quarter of Tuesday’s game as part of the team’s 50th season celebration. Mutombo played parts of five seasons with Houston at the end of his career. Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon was also at the game, sitting courtside next to Mutombo.

UP NEXT

Kings: Return home to start a six-game homestand against Phoenix on Friday.

Rockets: Will continue their four-game homestand and welcome former Rockets center Dwight Howard on Thursday when they host Atlanta.

Report: Doc Rivers was surprised to learn Clippers were ousting him

Former Clippers coach Doc Rivers
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Clippers framed the conclusion of Doc Rivers’ coaching tenure as, “Doc Rivers Departs LA Clippers” and “Chairman Steve Ballmer and Doc Rivers have reached a mutual decision that Rivers will step down as head coach of the LA Clippers.”

What really happened?

Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

people with knowledge of the situation said Rivers was surprised to learn the Clippers wanted to move on.

Internally, Rivers enjoyed support even after the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals. But ultimately, the sting from yet another disappointing end to a season prompted the change.

The Clippers suffered a historic upset by blowing a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets. In a season with legitimate championship aspirations, the Clippers fell short of even the conference finals for a record 50th straight year.

Of course, the coach was going to face scrutiny for that collapse. And Rivers deserved plenty.

But once the smoke cleared, Rivers appeared safe.

What changed?

Despite the Clippers’ initial spin, it’s becoming increasingly clear Rivers got fired. Still, many questions remain about the shocking move.

LaMelo Ball not worried about where he gets drafted, “Anywhere is a great fit”

Leave a comment

Lavar Ball has his opinion. Always. When the patriarch of the Ball family went on the “Road Trippin'” podcast a couple of months ago, he said he didn’t want his youngest son, LaMelo Ball, drafted by the Warriors because he would have to come off the bench behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. “Michael Jordan didn’t come off the bench,” was his logic.

LaMelo Ball is about as interested in his father’s opinions as most 19-year-olds.

“I’m my own man. He’s his own man. He has his opinions, I have mine,” the younger Ball said of his father on Monday while speaking to reporters via Zoom as part of the NBA’s pre-draft process.

“I feel I could play on any team and do good anywhere I go,” Ball said. “Anything that happens, I’m positive.”

Ball is projected to be a top-five pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, scheduled for Nov. 18. Rumors have bounced around the league that if the Timberwolves keep the No. 1 pick they will select Ball to pair with D'Angelo Russell in the backcourt. The Warriors have the No. 2 pick, the Charlotte Hornets select third, followed by Chicago then Cleveland.

Ball spent a chunk of his time with reporters denying having had contact with many teams at the top of the draft, although he said he didn’t know about Minnesota. He did say he had contact with the Knicks, who pick eighth, adding they just wanted to get to know him as a person (outside the online persona). Ball will not be on the board when New York makes its pick (the Knicks could trade up to get him, all the teams at the top of the draft are listening to offers).

Ball’s consistent point was he could fit in with any team.

“Anywhere is a great fit,” Ball said. “It’s the NBA. You put me with good players, I feel like it’s even gonna be better.”

Ball said he has adapted to the unprecedented pre-draft process, in part because his path to the NBA is untraditional. He said he realized back when his father had him playing in Lithuania at 16 he was not going to have the more traditional route to the NBA that his brother Lonzo Ball had, but LaMelo embraced it. LaMelo spent last season playing in Australia before returning to the states to prepare for the draft.

“I feel like I am dealing with it well,” Ball said. “I kinda like it, that nobody has been through something like this, it’s kinda unique, like me… I’m one-of-one.”

For now, Ball is in the Detroit area working out, preparing for the draft. He said some of that Detroit toughness is rubbing off on him.

But he’s happy to bring that with him wherever he gets drafted.

NBA playoffs, Finals schedule 2020: Date, time, matchup for every game

2020 NBA Finals schedule
Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Leave a comment

It may be five months after they were originally planned, but the NBA playoff schedule has reached the point the 2020 Finals are here.

It is down to the final two. There is LeBron James leading the Lakers against the team where he first won his ring. And then there is the gritty Miami team that nobody expected to be here — except themselves.

Here are a few notes on the NBA playoffs schedule 2020:

• The NBA is continuing to push the pace with games every other day — except for one two-day break between Game 4 and Game 5
Even more members of families for the players, coaches, and team staff are in the bubble for the Finals.

Here is the NBA playoffs schedule 2020 (all times are Eastern):

NBA FINALS

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Miami Heat

Game 1: Sept. 30, 9 p.m. (ABC)
Game 2: Oct. 2, 9 p.m. (ABC)
Game 3: Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m. (ABC)
Game 4: Oct. 6, 9 p.m. (ABC)
Game 5: Oct. 9, 9 p.m. (ABC)*
Game 6: Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m. (ABC)*
Game 7: Oct. 13, 9 p.m. (ABC)*
*If necessary.

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Conference Finals

Eastern Conference Finals

No. 5 Miami beat No. 3 Boston 4-2

Western Conference Finals

No. 1 L.A. Lakers beat No. 3 Denver 4-1

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Second Round results

Eastern Conference

No. 3 Boston beat No. 2 Toronto 4-3

No. 5 Miami beat No. 1 Milwaukee 4-1

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat Houston 4-1

No. 3 Denver beat No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers 4-3

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: First Round results

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat No. 8 Portland 4-1

No. 2 L.A. Clippers beat No. 7 Dallas 4-2

No. 3 Denver beat No. 6 Utah 4-3

No. 4 Houston beat No. 5 Oklahoma City 4-3

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Milwaukee beat No. 8 Orlando 4-1

No. 2 Toronto beat No. 7 Brooklyn 4-0

No. 3 Boston beat No. 6 Philadelphia 4-0

No. 5 Miami beat No. 4 Indiana 4-0

Evolving plan for next NBA season has USA Basketball, Tokyo Olympics in limbo

Tokyo Olympics
Etsuo Hara/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Will NBA players be available to represent their countries when the Tokyo Olympics begin next July 23?

Nobody knows. As the NBA pushes back its start date for next season — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently said it likely would be after the first of the year, but sources around the league tell NBC Sports to expect more like February or March — it leaves USA Basketball and the participation of NBA players in the Olympics in limbo. Here’s what USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo told Chris Sherridan of Basketball News.

“I was told the NBA season would start in December, and then it was Christmas, and then after Jan. 1, and that keeps pushing the schedule for me. The NBA season typically takes 170 or 171 days to complete, so that creates a conflict on paper,” said Colangelo, adding that a suspension of the NBA season in order to clear time for the Olympics also has been discussed…

“If the [NBA] season conflicts with the Olympics, I might have 14 non-playoff teams to choose from, but then other players will become available as the NBA playoffs progress,” Colangelo said. “The problem is that the IOC has a rule mandating an early submission of a 12-man roster. But with a pandemic, the hope would be that you’ve got to set aside outdated rules. I assume people will be reasonable and come up with some kind of a program that works.”

Right now, there is no answer for Colangelo and USA Basketball because there is no answer on next season. The only thing owners seem set on is playing a full 82-game schedule — after taking a financial hit this season, owners want to start making money again — with fans in the building for as many of those games as possible.

If the NBA season starts in February and was condensed slightly, the regular season could be done before the Tokyo Olympics. A Team USA made up of guys who missed the playoffs would still be formidable (this past season that would have included Stephen Curry, Trae Young, Bradley Beal, and others). However, other countries don’t have the luxury of that kind of depth.

Also being discussed is an NHL-style break in the NBA season to allow players to compete in the Olympics, then return to finish the season.

Team USA, despite its struggles at the World Cup last year, still qualified for the Olympics. That was a team depleted of NBA star power because of both injuries and guys not wanting to play the World Cup then Olympics in back-to-back years (nobody knew the coronavirus would blow up those plans).  What players USA Basketball will send to Tokyo remains up in the air.

And there’s little Colangelo can do but wait.