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Chris Paul game-winner for Rockets breaks 17-0 Trail Blazers run (video)

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The Rockets surrendered a 17-0 run within the final four minutes against the Trail Blazers tonight. Houston shot 0-for-5 and committed four turnovers. James Harden missed a pair of late free throws that could have iced the game.

Playing without an injured Damian Lillard, Portland didn’t do anything fancy. The Trail Blazers shot 8-for-8 inside the arc and added a free throw against a lax defense during the run.

For a team that wants to stay sharp rather than rest, the Rockets sure looked unfocused.

But Chris Paul salvaged a 96-94 Houston win with this layup with 0.8 seconds left.

The good news for Trail Blazers: They’ve already clinched a playoff spot and are probably headed for the No. 3 seed regardless.

Pelicans sign Jordan Crawford for playoff push

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — The New Orleans Pelicans have brought back guard Jordan Crawford as the club tries to hang on to one of the final playoffs spots in the Western Conference.

The Pelicans announced the move on Thursday, but terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Ian Clark is out with an ankle injury.

The 6-foot-4 Crawford has played in 21 games for the Pelicans during parts of the past two seasons and has been a productive scorer in those outings, averaging 13.6 points.

Crawford played in only two games early this season with New Orleans, averaging 9.0 points before being waived on October 21.

Crawford has been in the NBA since 2010, also playing for with Atlanta, Washington, Boston and Golden State.

He is expected to be available to play in New Orleans’ next game Friday at Phoenix.

 

Jazz’s campaign for Donovan Mitchell as Rookie of the Year: ‘Donovan Mitchell is no rookie’

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Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and 76ers guard Ben Simmons are in a heated race for Rookie of the Year.

Simmons is actually in his second professional season. But because he didn’t play last year (due to injury), the NBA still considers him a rookie for this award. Maybe the league should. Maybe it shouldn’t. There are reasonable arguments to be made for both sides – when changing the policy wouldn’t fit such a clear agenda. Obviously, Simmons should be eligible this year.

And maybe it’s Mitchell who’s not the true rookie?

Andy Larsen of KSL:

Lots of rookies have done those things. I get that the Jazz are going for hyperbole, but this just comes across oddly.

“A rookie doesn’t join Michael Jordan has the only other in a stat.” /flips page. Here is a stat accomplished only by Mitchell and Jordan DURING THEIR ROOKIE YEARS.

“A rookie doesn’t lead 19-28 into a 42-32 record.” Mitchell’s early inefficiency contributed to Utah’s slow start. That’s a demerit on his résumé, and it still counts as part of his case. It factors into why I’d pick Simmons.

I won’t nitpick all of these. Sending these kits to voters ranges from silly to gaudy. Mitchell, like all award candidates, shouldn’t be credited or punished for these PR campaigns.

He is having a special rookie season – emphasis on “rookie.” His production wouldn’t be nearly as notable if he were a veteran. That’s fine, because he is a rookie. We should just celebrate that.

Doc Rivers keeps turning off opposing coaches’ microphones while talking to them (video)

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Doc Rivers has done a great job with the Clippers this season. He deserves strong consideration for Coach of the Year.

But there have been questions about his future in L.A. Would he leave for another job? Would the Clippers change coaches as they move onto a new era?

It seems Rivers enjoys living in L.A. So, maybe if he’s not coaching the Clippers, he’ll return to television.

He clearly understands the medium.

Rob Perez:

This is fantastic.

Tyronn Lue: Jeff Green will start for Cavaliers through playoffs, pushing Kevin Love to center

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Tyronn Lue is back coaching the Cavaliers, and he’s wasting no time altering the lineup.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Cavaliers:

It seems the healthy Cavs will start George Hill at point guard, Rodney Hood at shooting guard, LeBron James and Jeff Green at forward and Kevin Love at center

Love at center will help maximize Cleveland’s offense, but he’s a liability as a rim-protector. The Cavs’ defense is already bad enough, and this will present another challenge.

As Lue said, Green is versatile. But that doesn’t make Green good. For someone comfortable beyond the arc, he’s a poor 3-point shooter. He can passably guard multiple positions, but none of them well. At least that defensive versatility could allow LeBron to play more of a free-safety role on defense – where he excels and creates highly valuable transition opportunities.

This means Larry Nance Jr. and Tristan Thompson will come off the bench, and there might not be room for both bigs in the playoff rotation. The way Thompson has played this season, it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s the odd man out.

We should avoid overreacting to a starting lineup. Sometimes, reserves play more. But starters – who spread their minutes over 48 game minutes rather than scrunching them into a shorter window – are better-equipped for big roles. It matters that this is how Lue is setting up the Cavs for a high-stakes playoff run.