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Anthony Davis scores 48 points, grabs 17 rebounds as Pelicans beat Knicks in OT

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NEW YORK (AP) Anthony Davis‘ fullcourt heave after the third quarter was too late to give him points, though it gave him that unstoppable feeling great players get.

“I kind of saw it, but I mean you never really make those,” Davis said of the shot he launched from just inside the opposite baseline . “So when it in I just kind of felt like tonight was definitely my night.”

And thanks to his monster effort, it became the Pelicans’, too.

Davis scored a season-high 48 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, leading New Orleans back from 19 points down late in the third quarter to a 123-118 overtime victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday.

Jrue Holiday added 31 points, and DeMarcus Cousins had 15 points, 16 rebounds, seven steals and five assists and for the Pelicans. They were down 16 after one, even further back late in the third and still down nine with 4 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

But they kept coming and Holiday had three baskets and a couple free throws in OT to help them finish it off.

“I thought we did a great job in the overtime,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “AD was just huge for us, and when you get into those zones like that he’s really good.”

Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. each scored 25 points for the Knicks, who lost their third straight and 10th in their last 12 games. Jarrett Jack had a season-high 22 points, and Enes Kanter finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Five days after a double-overtime loss to Chicago in a game they led by 11, the Knicks coughed up another big lead in a miserable way to finish a rare January home game before they begin a seven-game, coast-to-coast trip Monday in Brooklyn that has them away for two weeks.

“I think we’ve just got to do a better job of when we’re up 12, 15 points, we’ve got to take it to another level, another notch,” Hardaway said. “We haven’t been doing that these last couple of games.”

The Knicks seemed in control late in a high-scoring third quarter, when they outscored the Pelicans 39-34. Hardaway’s jumper gave New York a 96-77 lead with 1:22 remaining in the period, but New Orleans then went on a 17-4 run to cut it 100-94 midway through the fourth.

The Pelicans then finished regulation with a 13-4 charge, tying the game on Davis’ basket with 3.5 seconds remaining. New Orleans then nearly won it, as E'Twaun Moore stole an inbounds pass and launched a 3-pointer that rimmed out at the buzzer.

Holiday put New Orleans ahead for good with 1:52 to play in OT and Davis had the next basket, making it 120-117.

The Knicks, playing the first of back-to-back afternoon starts, jumped to a 29-13 lead after one quarter.

TIP-INS

Pelicans: Davis has scored at least 35 points in each of his last three games at Madison Square Garden. … PG Jameer Nelson missed the game for personal reasons. … The Pelicans signed guard Mike James, who played for Phoenix earlier this season, to a two-way contract. He didn’t play.

Knicks: The Knicks signed former lottery pick Trey Burke, who had been playing for their G League affiliate and was second in the league with 26.6 points per game. The No. 9 selection in the 2013 draft has averaged 10.6 points and 3.6 assists in 267 career games with Utah and Washington.

BURKE’S BACK

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said during the summer Burke told the Knicks he was interested in playing for their G League team and learning their system, rather than signing a deal with another NBA team. Hornacek speculated that may have been because the Knicks’ point guard situation was unsettled at the time and maybe Burke saw an opportunity, but Burke explained otherwise.

“I think I wanted to just start from scratch, kind of recreate my brand, recreate and show what I can do on a night in and night out basis with consistent minutes,” Burke said. “I think going down there, a lot of people look at it as a knock, but for me, I went down there, it was more so like a growing period for me. I kind of wanted to start over.”

BIG MEN ON CAMPUS

The game featured three straight winners of the AP college basketball Player of the Year award. Davis won in 2012 for NCAA champion Kentucky, Burke won the next year when Michigan was the runner-up, and the Knicks’ Doug McDermott won in 2014 at Creighton.

UP NEXT

Pelicans: At Boston on Tuesday night.

Knicks: At Brooklyn on Monday.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

PBT Podcast: NBA Finals preview, Los Angeles Lakers vs. Miami Heat

NBA Finals Preview
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It’s happening in October, not June. And rather than cross-country flights, everyone will be camped out in a bubble in Orlando.

But the NBA Finals are finally here: The Los Angeles Lakers vs. the Miami Heat. Which means it’s time for an NBA Finals Preview.

The Lakers are the heavy favorites but Miami posses some matchup challenges, starting with Bam Adebayo on Anthony Davis. Add in Jimmy Butler checking LeBron James for stretches, and the Heat shooters such as Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson, and this is not going to be a cakewalk for Los Angeles.

Mark Medina of the USA today joins Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports for this NBA Finals Preview. They break down the matchups, talk about what it would take for Miami to pull off the upset, and discuss how this matchup could influence how other teams build out their rosters in the future.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

With Doc Rivers out, three names to watch as next Clippers coach

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Point to the blown 3-1 series lead against Denver, pick apart his tactical decisions in the playoffs this season if you want, but know this: Doc Rivers is a natural leader of men. Players respect him and want to play for him, and they win for him (he has a ring from Boston and is the winningest coach in Clippers history). He was a key reason Kawhi Leonard came to the Clippers.

Which is why it caught everyone off-guard that Rivers is out as the Clippers coach. Even after the blown opportunity.

If Rivers is out, then who is next? Whoever takes the job gets a team that should contend on paper — two elite stars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, plenty of depth and quality role players, and an owner willing to spend what it takes to win — but also a lot of pressure. The Clippers gave up a lot to get Leonard and George, and each can be a free agent after next season — the Clippers are the ultimate win-now team.

Here are three names to watch.

1. Tyronn Lue

His is the name you hear most around the league, and is the most reported. He has been the right-hand man for Rivers this season, the Clippers’ lead assistant who has won a ring as a head coach in Cleveland, and he’s used to working with big-name stars. He is respected and liked by the Clippers players and the transition of power would be easy. Lue can have the job, but he also has options — Houston, Philadephia, and New Orleans also are in line to speak with him.

2. Jeff Van Gundy

It feels like an obligation to bring his name up for every coaching opening in the NBA (and probably high school and college), but in this case there is a legitimate reason: Clippers’ president Lawrence Frank is a huge fan. The former Rockets and Knicks coach has the gravitas to get players to listen, even though he has been in the ABC broadcast booth for years. Both the Rockets and now the Clippers want to talk to him. For the next couple of weeks, Van Gundy will be talking about that other Los Angeles team as he broadcasts the NBA Finals.

3. Sam Cassell

After the top two names on this list, things get speculative. Would the Clippers have interest in Mike D’Antoni (who is the favorite for the Philadelphia job)? If not Van Gundy, how about his broadcast partner Mark Jackson? If the Clippers are looking at a former player who is a lead assistant, how about Jason Kidd (still in the bubble with the Lakers)?

We’ll throw current Clippers’ assistant Sam Cassell in there, too. He’s a longtime NBA assistant who has interviewed for some top jobs and deserves a shot somewhere. Again the transition would be easy, and he would bring some swagger to the locker room.

Another question worth asking:

What is next for Doc Rivers?

Whatever Rivers wants. If he wants to jump back into coaching, the Pelicans and 76ers reportedly are interested.

If Rivers wants to take a year off and golf more, he could quickly get a job working in studio or on the broadcasts with ABC or Turner/NBATV — he is phenomenal on camera.

Report: Timberwolves expected to draft LaMelo Ball if not trading No. 1 pick

LaMelo Ball Timberwolves
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The Timberwolves traded for ball-dominant, defense-deficient point guard D'Angelo Russell then landed the No. 1 pick… in a year the top prospect is ball-dominant, defense-deficient point guard LaMelo Ball. Even the other prospect often atop draft boards, Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards, wouldn’t be a simple fit with Russell and Malik Beasley already in the backcourt.

That’s why Minnesota is open to trading the top pick.

Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report:

If the Wolves stick at No. 1, multiple sources say they’d bet on LaMelo Ball having the edge over Anthony Edwards.

Do these sources have actually insight into Minnesota’s thinking? The possibility makes this interesting.

However, they could just be supposing. Though the pre-draft process is far from complete, I tend to think Ball is the top prospect. I definitely think the Timberwolves should draft the top prospect available. But Minnesota’s view might not match my own – or Wasserman’s sources’.

Doc Rivers out as Los Angeles Clippers coach

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When the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets and never got out of the second round of the NBA playoffs, changes were going to be coming to Los Angeles. A team with lofty aspirations — and that gave up a lot of their future to contend now — can’t fall on its face like that without consequences.

But nobody saw Doc Rivers being out as the Clippers head coach.

That’s just what happened, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Both Rivers and the Clippers have since confirmed the decision.

“Doc has been a terrific coach for the Clippers, an incredible ambassador, and a pillar of strength during tumultuous times,” Clippers owner Steve Ballmer said in a statement. “He won a heck of a lot of games and laid a foundation for this franchise.”

Rivers helped lead the Clippers through the disastrous end of the Donald Sterling era and into the Ballmer era. In the bubble, Rivers also was a loud voice in support of social justice.

Kawhi Leonard came to the Clippers as a free agent in part to play for Rivers, and the coach was instrumental in recruiting Leonard to Los Angeles. That was the reason most around the league thought Rivers’ job was safe despite some questionable coaching rotation moves against the Nuggets (staying small and trusting Montrezl Harrell against Nikola Jokic when that clearly was not working).

There is no way Doc Rivers is out without Leonard giving his okay to the move.

Rivers signed an extension a year ago and Woj said he had two years remaining on his contract. That suggests a firing, but the Clippers called it a mutual parting of the ways.

Both the Pelicans and 76ers have already reached out to Rivers about their open coaching positions, reports Marc Spears of ESPN.

As for who is next in L.A., Tyronn Lue has been the Rivers’ lead assistant and makes a logical choice to step in and take over. He is popular with the team’s players and has won a ring as a coach before.

However, it’s possible the Clippers look elsewhere. Jeff Van Gundy was suggested by Wojnarowski. Mike D’Antoni is out there if the Clippers want to make a radical move.

“I am also extremely confident in our front office and our players,” Ballmer said. “We will find the right coach to lead us forward and help us reach our ultimate goals. We will begin the search and interview process immediately.”

The new coach will take over the ultimate win-now team. Los Angeles has elite talent in Leonard and Paul George, the Sixth Man of the Year depth (Harrell, a free agent, and Lou Williams), and quality perimeter defenders. In the clutch, they could turn to the two-time Finals MVP. 

Except all that talent really never meshed together, in part due to injuries and other things keeping the team’s core from playing much together. Yet there was a sense of entitlement around this team — the Clippers acted like they could flip the switch and win.

“I think a lot of the issues that we ran into, talent bailed us out; chemistry it didn’t,” Williams said after the Clippers were eliminated. “In this series, it failed us. We know this is our first year together. We are a highly talented group and we came up short. Chemistry is something that you’ve got to build. You build it over time.”

The Clippers are all in with this roster. To get George (and with him, Leonard as a free agent), Los Angeles traded Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, their own first-round picks in 2022, 2024, and 2026, two other first-round picks belonging to Miami (2021 and 2023), and agreed to pick-swaps with Oklahoma City 2023 and 2025. 

The Clippers pushed all their chips into the middle of the table to get two years, two playoff runs with those stars. They wasted the first one of them.

The new coach, whoever it is, will have a lot of pressure not to let another season slip away.