Austin Rivers

Matt Barnes details – and I mean details – his multi-day argument with Doc Rivers on Clippers

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The Lob City Clippers had plenty of chemistry issues.

Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan seemed to dislike each other at different points. Doc Rivers acquiring and giving a big contract to his son, Austin Rivers, created complications – particularly with Jamal Crawford.

But tension spread beyond those mainstays.

What went wrong between Doc Rivers and Matt Barnes?

Barnes on All The Smoke:

We had just lost to Golden State in Golden State. They beat our ass. And Blake and D.J. didn’t have the best games.

But for some reason, just that day, he wanted to go at me in the film room.

And I’m someone, you can coach me, you can yell at me. You can do whatever you want. You’re just not going to disrespect me as a man. That’s where I don’t give a f— who you are. That’s where I draw the line.

So, he got mad at the two shots I took. I took two shots in the game. He complained off both. Like, I had a corner 3 that I shot that I should have passed to Blake when he was cutting down the middle. And then I had another 3-pointer that I should have gave to Jamal. I’m just looking at this like, “Motherf—er, I took two shots, and we lost by 30. What the f— are you talking about?” You know what I mean? So, it was just a situation. It was kind of weird. And then he came at me for something.

I’m just like, “Yo, man. F— this.” So, I got up, and everyone in the room is like, [gasp]. Because I remember, D.J. was sitting next to me. He like patted me on the leg like a little dog to keep me calm or something.

Lou Williams:

Which is funny, because D.J. is a f—ing maniac in film sessions.

Barnes:

It came from us, though. Because D.J. didn’t used to be that way.

I got up, and everyone is like, “Oh, s—.” They’re like, “Chill, chill.” So, I walked, you know, out of the film room. I’m in the corner, and you’ve got to walk past the coaches to get out. So, I just – man, I just got up, and I was heated. So, I walked out of the room.

And then I went in the back, and I was like, f— it, I’m just going to go home. I’m just like, nah, I can’t. I can’t let my team down like that. So, I saw on the TV that we were done with film, and they’re out on the court stretching.

So, I went back out on the court, start stretching, mad as f—, not saying nothing to nobody. And this motherf—er comes over to me and tells me to flip my jersey over and he’s going to put Jamal with the starters and put me on the second team. So, I look at him, and I took my jersey off, and I threw it. He’s like, “Put your jersey back on.” I’m like, “These motherf—ers know what team I’m on.” So, I didn’t have no jersey the whole practice. Went out hard, killed in practice.

I was on one. See, I think Doc was on one, too.

Lou Williams:

Doc, he like that s—.

Barnes:

He didn’t like what almost happened to him.

So, then, went hard in practice. Some of the coaches came up and talked to me. You know, “Sorry.” It was this, this and that. Trying to diffuse the situation.

Doc is a players’ coach. He understands that, because he’s a former player.

Williams:

You on edge, so I’m on edge too.

Barnes:

Right.

So, I go home. We play Portland early the next day. And I can’t sleep the whole night. And I had stopped smoking, too, for a little bit. So, that night, I started chain smoking. Probably smoked like three or four joints that night. Mad as f—. Couldn’t sleep.

Got to the gym early as f—. Started shooting. We went to shootaround, and right when we brought it in, and I just told Doc, I was like, “You can coach me. You can yell at me. You can do whatever. Just don’t disrespect me as a man.” And then he said his part, and it kind of started getting heated. He’s like, “You think you’re tough, huh?” I’m like, “What?” So, it go super – he almost was trying to poke me.

So, it chilled out. We went through shootaround, and then we went back in the locker room to watch film after shootaround, and Mike Woodson tried to say something slick. And I was like, “Mike, don’t start. You can get it, too.” You know what I mean?

So, everyone calmed down, and then Doc said some more s— to me and then stormed off to his office. So, I stormed after him in his office, and everyone tried to pull me back. And we sat down and had a little conversation. But it was just a little heated back-and-forth.

Looking back, I f— with Doc. You know what I mean? I was going through a divorce at the time. So, I was kind of on edge. He was going through whatever he was going through. So, he was kind of on edge. So, we talked, obviously talked, and made amends. But, like you said, he is someone that you can go back back at, and you’ve got to respect that. Because a lot of coaches you yell at, you cuss at, and that’s it.

A few things:

  • Barnes appears to be talking about this Nov. 5, 2014 game. He shot 1-for-4, including 0-for-2 on 3-pointers. Griffin and Jordan were unremarkable, though Jordan (17 points on 7-of-10 shooting with 13 rebounds, two blocks, two steals, starter-best -8 plus-minus) didn’t have too bad of a box score. The Clippers lost by 17 to the Warriors and beat the Trail Blazers in their next game, though three days later. I’m not sweating those details, though.
  • All The Smoke clearly has the best stories.
  • My favorite part of this story: Then-Clippers assistant coach Mike Woodson butting in and immediately getting told off.

Watch James Harden score 60 as Rockets rout Hawks 158-111

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HOUSTON — James Harden’s performance on Saturday night was enough to make even those who see him put up gaudy numbers night after night step back and marvel at his work.

Harden scored a season-high 60 points in 31 minutes and the Houston Rockets sent the struggling Atlanta Hawks to their 10th straight loss with a 158-111 romp.

“It’s like everything else he does – unbelievable,” coach Mike D’Antoni said.

Harden came one point shy of matching his career high and franchise record on a night he made eight 3-pointers and 20 free throws. He watched the entire fourth quarter from the bench with Houston up 127-73 at the end of three.

“What he’s doing has not been seen,” teammate Austin Rivers said. “My man had 60 and didn’t play the fourth quarter. Name another player who could do that right now.”

It was Harden’s fourth career 60-point game, tying him with Michael Jordan for third-most in NBA history, trailing only Kobe Bryant (six) and Wilt Chamberlain (32). Harden is the only active player who has scored 60 points more than once.

But as usual he wasn’t interested in talking about reaching 60 points while spending an entire quarter on the bench.

“Nope,” he said before walking off and repeating the word two more times.

The Rockets were missing starters Clint Capela and Danuel House because of illnesses, but still had no trouble handling an Atlanta team that hasn’t won since Nov. 12 thanks to Harden’s huge night.

“We try to do what we have to do against James, which is throw a lot of bodies at him,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “Try and put him under duress. He just didn’t feel us.”

Atlanta was never really in this one and was down by 20 points or more for most of the game. The flat effort came a night after the Hawks fell by one point in overtime to the Pacers in a game where Trae Young tied career highs with 49 points and eight 3-pointers.

Young led the Hawks with 37 points and had five 3-pointers, but it wasn’t nearly enough to offset Harden’s game.

The Rockets raced out to a 14-5 lead and had stretched their advantage to 81-52 by halftime behind 31 points from Harden for their third 80-point first half in franchise history.

As good as Harden was in the first two quarters, it was nothing compared to how he dominated in the third. Houston was up 83-56 early in the period before he scored all of the team’s points in an 18-3 run that made it 101-59 with 7 minutes left in the period.

Harden made three 3-pointers and was fouled on 3-point attempts three other times in that stretch. He had eight assists, three rebounds, three steals and blocked a shot to go along with his 60-point effort.

After the third quarter, Harden was sitting on the bench with a towel draped over his shoulders when he was shown on the video board with a note that said he was two points shy of setting his career high. Harden looked at the screen, read the note and pointed at it while opening his mouth wide in fake shock as if to say: “I was so close,” before smiling broadly.

“Yeah I was playing with the fans a little, but honestly I didn’t know,” he said. “But we played a really good game those first three quarters so it was an opportunity for other guys to play minutes that they’ve earned.”

There were a few half-hearted chants of: “Harden! Harden!” midway through the fourth quarter from a few fans who hoped to see Harden come back in to make Rockets history. But D’Antoni kept the bearded superstar on the bench with the game well in hand.

Watch James Harden scores 49 points, lead Rockets past Timberwolves

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MINNEAPOLIS — Undermanned and playing for the second consecutive night, the Houston Rockets still had plenty of reason to be confident.

“I would think it would give you confidence,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “You’re playing with a bazooka out there.”

A bazooka named James Harden.

Harden unloaded Saturday night, scoring 49 points on a whopping 41 shots from the field to lead the short-handed Rockets to their seventh straight victory, 125-105 over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

With Russell Westbrook resting and several key contributors injured, the Rockets needed Harden to shoulder an even bigger scoring load than usual. The 41 attempts are the most in his career, and the most in the NBA this season, surpassing the 37 Golden State’s D'Angelo Russell took in an overtime loss Nov. 8 in the same building in Minnesota.

“It was a collective effort,” Harden said. “We’ve got six, seven guys out. So it could have been an easy game, where we just chalked it up and got ready for next game. We wanted to come here and win this game, and we showed it.”

Harden made 16 of the 41 shots, going 8 for 22 from 3-point range. He was 9 of 11 on free throws.

“He scored (49) on 41 shots,” Timberwolves forward Robert Covington said. “That’s what we want. But it’s just the other guys hurt us. We followed the game plan with him.”

Ben McLemore scored 20 points. Undrafted rookie Chris Clemons scored a career-high 19 off the bench for the Rockets, who broke open the game with a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter. Austin Rivers also scored 19 points.

 

Three Things to Know: Trash-talking Rockets get 47 from James Harden, beat Clippers

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Trash-talking Rockets get 47 from James Harden, beat Clippers. Dear basketball gods: Can you please arrange a Clippers vs. Rockets playoff series? We’d all appreciate that down here. Thanks.

There are no statement games in November, but after the Rockets 102-93 win against the Clippers Wednesday a lot of statements were being made. An intense, emotional game led to a lot of trash talk on the court that spilled over into the locker rooms afterward. These teams do not like each other — and that makes it fun. The basketball gods need to give us more of this.

Everyone was getting in on the act.

Russell Westbrook trash-talked Patrick Beverley’s defense.

Let’s put aside the irony of Westbrook calling out another players’ defensive effort for a second, he’s just wrong. It’s just not factually accurate. Beverley is a good defender and ESPN’s stats guys have the proof

The best trash-talking of the night came from Austin Rivers.

The younger Rivers should forever be grateful to his Dad for that oversized three-year, $35 million contract, but when Doc Rivers got into it with the officials, the younger Rivers urged quick-trigger Tony Brothers to go over and toss his dad out. And Brothers did. That’s when Austin waved off his dad and made the call-me gesture

(Just for the record, Doc had a point. After a failed attempt to call a challenge — Rivers took longer than 30 seconds to do so — he said two referees told him the Clippers had two timeouts. After he used one, Rivers was told that was his last one. If the officials indeed screwed up his timeouts, he should have been pissed.)

There was basketball, too — and James Harden was better at it than anybody.

Harden’s 47 pushed his per-game average over his last five to 41.6 per game. More importantly, he got his buckets when his teams needed them — he scored 17 points in the final six minutes (and did it against Kawhi Leonard and Beverley). Even with elite defenders to match up the Clippers started throwing double-teams at Harden, it just didn’t matter.

Thanks to Harden, the Rockets executed down the stretch. The Clippers did not. Los Angeles’ first half was sloppy and listless, their worst half of the season. They missed bunnies and open threes all night. Los Angeles climbed back with a good third and led at 83-80, but the Clippers offensive execution and shot selection down the stretch was poor.

Leonard finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists, but P.J. Tucker did an excellent job keeping him in check — Leonard 4-of-10 for 10 points with Tucker as the primary defender, according to the NBA.com matchup data.

If these teams meet in the playoffs next spring, this November meeting will be ancient history. Both teams will have evolved and be different by then (the Clippers will be different on Thursday night in New Orleans when they get Paul George back). However, the tone was set. And we want more of it.

2) Ja Morant does not play like a rookie, hits game-winner against Hornets. Sure, Ja Morant brings some freakish athleticism to the point guard position in Memphis. But what is really impressive is the poise he brings — he does not look like a rookie coming out of a small college.

He looks like a beast who can hit game-winners – which he did against Charlotte.

Morant finished with 23 points and 11 assists.

He did all that in 30 minutes — the Grizzlies wisely continue to manage his workload this season, limiting him to 30 minutes a game (with some nights off). This is absolutely the right thing to do. When we talk about the science of “load management” what we’re talking about is the cumulative impacts of numerous seasons of running up and down a hardwood floor — starting in AAU/High School and running up to the NBA — and how that wears a body down and leads to injury.

Ja Morant is getting plenty of minutes, plenty of chances to learn and make mistakes, and he is closing out games (obviously). But he’s still thin and his body’s still adapting to the grind of the NBA. If you have a franchise cornerstone player — and the Grizzlies believe they have one in Morant — why wouldn’t you take steps early to lengthen his career and effectiveness? Why would you ramp up the miles on his odometer during a 24-win season? The Grizzlies are making the right long-term play (especially after watching their prized rookie from a season ago, Jaren Jackson Jr., have to miss the end of the season with an injury).

3) Is Orlando interested in DeMar DeRozan? Makes sense. Are the Spurs going to trade him is another question. An interesting early-season trade rumor popped up via our friend Kevin O’Conner of The Ringer:

The Orlando Magic have interest in trading for the Spurs’ DeMar DeRozan.

For Orlando, this makes a lot of sense. The Magic’s offense has been dreadful this season, scoring less than a point per possession so far. They need a guy who can get buckets, and DeRozan can do that. From the midrange, sure, but the guy scores efficiently and raises the floor of your team —get DeRozan the rock and your team will have a respectable offense. Orlando needs that.

The question becomes, what do the Spurs want to do? Good luck with that one. DeRozan can opt out of the $27.7 million he is owed next season and become a free agent next July, and the Spurs talks with DeRozan about an extension went nowhere. Conventional wisdom in that kind of situation is to trade the player and at least get something for him before he walks. The Spurs, however, do not follow conventional wisdom. The Spurs are going to be a fringe playoff team in the West and may want to keep the band together and make a push for the postseason. Maybe they want to start rebuilding around a young backcourt of Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes, and Derrick White, but would they really trade DeRozan to jump start that? Maybe. Maybe not.

Just consider this the start of what will be a lot of trade rumors this season — with a very down free agent class next summer, teams will be turning to trades to upgrade their rosters.

Austin Rivers calls for Doc Rivers to get technical foul (video)

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When Doc Rivers coached Austin Rivers on the Clippers, accusations of favoritism ran rampant. Playing with the Rockets against the Clippers tonight, Austin showed where his loyalties lie.

Not with his father.

The Clippers were letting the game (an eventual 102-93 Houston win) get away from them when Doc argued a call. Austin stood nearby and urged the referee to call a technical foul. The official eventually obliged and ejected Doc.

That’s when Austin really hammed it up – waving off Doc then making the call-me gesture. The disrespect!