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Clippers Austin Rivers bumps referee, gets ejected; angry Doc Rivers quickly follows

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Midway through the second quarter of a game where his team was getting blown out, the Clippers’ Austin Rivers drove the lane, got bumped while in the air, missed the shot but kind of stumbled over toward the baseline referee, J.T. Orr.

Then Rivers seems to turn and push Orr — not hard, but he made contact, and to me it appears intentional (at least from the one camera angle). Intentional contact is an automatic double technical and ejection — which is exactly what Rivers got. Orr saw the contact as initiated by Rivers, and not because he was stumbling from the play. Rivers was hot, and security had to guide him off the court and to the locker room.

Father/coach Doc Rivers didn’t like that, and promptly got himself ejected for arguing the call.

It’s the holidays, it’s nice that the Rivers family got to spend a little quality time together in the locker room. Just hanging out.

Without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin for the night, the Clippers were getting run out of the building by the Rockets.

John Wall with spinning assist to Otto Porter, later breaks out behind-the-back crossover

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John Wall was putting on a show for the folks at the Verizon Center Friday night.

Above he throws a spinning assist to Otto Porter in transition.

Later in the first quarter, he broke out the behind-the-back crossover move. Throw in a screen from Marcin Gortat, and there was nothing Isaiah Whitehead was going to be able to do to stop this.

Wall was hot shooting to start the game, but when he did miss Gortat was there to clean it up.

Sounds like Rajon Rondo may lose starting point guard spot in Chicago

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Rajon Rondo was bad Friday afternoon against Indiana — he was minus-20 showing in 10 minutes in the first half, with no points and three fouls. So Fred Hoiberg benched him in the second half. And the Bulls made a comeback (one which ultimately fell short of a win because the Pacers closed the game on a 14-4 run). That wasn’t the first time this has happened. Monday (also against Indiana) Rondo started the second half but played about the first four minutes before going to the bench never to get off it.

It looks like Rondo on the bench could be a trend.

Hoiberg said he would re-evaluate the starting lineup before the Bulls face the Bucks on Saturday. From Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com, and K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, here is the post-game fallout from the Rondo benching. (There’s a typo in the first tweet, it should be “sat” not say.)

Rondo handled that well, but he can’t be happy with a potential demotion.

Friday, Hoiberg leaned on Michael Carter-Williams in the second half, and he seems the logical player to step into the starting rotation for the Bulls.

Rondo is averaging 7.5 points and 7.3 assists per game, but he’s not been efficient with a True Shooting percentage of 41.6 this season (the league average is closer to 52 percent). He has a PER of 11.5, which would be a career low. He’s hurt the offense, and not been great on defense. The Bulls basically have played opponents even when he is on the court.

With the loss the Bulls fell below .500 for the season, at 16-17. This roster isn’t working — and it’s not Hoiberg’s fault, it was poorly constructed. This summer, everyone from fans to scouts looked at that roster and realized it doesn’t have enough shooting, and in December the Bulls shot 28.6 percent from three as a team (and went 6-10 so far).

It’s fair to question how much Carter-Williams helps the shooting with the first unit (not that Jerian Grant would be a significant upgrade), but the Bulls may need to shake things up. The Eastern Conference is a tight group from 3 through 12, and a losing streak can cause big damage to playoff dreams.

PBT Extra: Bulls’ Fred Hoiberg is on hot seat? Really?

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Is Chicago’s Fred Hoiberg a quality NBA coach?

The book is still being written on that, because in his season-and-a-third at the helm of the Chicago Bulls he has not been given a roster that fits the style he wants to play, nor one that has better than .500 talent.

But the latest reports are that Hoiberg’s seat is getting warm after the Bulls fell to 6-10 in December (after a Friday afternoon loss to the Pacers, this video was taped before that game ended). But how is the fact this team has no shooters — they are shooting 26.8 percent from three in December — on Hoiberg? He wants some pace and space, and he got a roster with guys who prefer to attack the rim.

In this PBT Extra, I talk about how the blame for this Bulls team being at .500 and fighting for its playoff lives should fall farther up the Bulls’ food chain, not on Hoiberg.

Russell Westbrook: “I feel like I don’t get the benefit of the doubt” from referees

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Russell Westbrook is going to be writing a check to the league for this.

Westbrook was ejected from the Thunder’s Thursday night loss to Memphis when he argued a call and wouldn’t let it go. It what should be a surprise to nobody, Westbrook wasn’t going to let it go after the game either — he said he didn’t understand this ejection, and that the referees have it in for him anyway.

“Honestly, I don’t know, man. Honestly, it’s crazy to be ejected like that, especially when I didn’t do nothing. It’s just crazy, man. Especially for me, because I feel like I don’t get the benefit of the doubt most of the time, especially throughout the game with refs.

“I get so many techs just for talking. I can’t even say nothing when I’m getting hammered every time I go to the damn basket throughout the games and previous games. Not tonight, but every night. I just don’t get ref’d the same way as other people, and I don’t appreciate it.”

Someday, I would love a superstar to say “The refs are really fair with me, I get a lot of borderline calls to go my way, especially late in games.” But alas, they all feel persecuted.

Westbrook is averaging 10.8 free throw attempts per game, with the highest free throw rate (free throws attempts to shot attempts) of his career. None of that should be surprising considering the offensive load on him, and how much he attacks the rim. And in the NBA, the calls usually go to the aggressor.

Against the grit and grind of Memphis, maybe Westbrook was not getting the calls he wanted, but the reality is he’s a superstar and with that comes more attention from defenses. He gets fouled a lot on the attacks, he gets a lot of calls, but not as many as he’d like. Welcome to being a superstar. From Shaquille O’Neal through LeBron James, Kobe Bryant probably stretching all the way back to George Mikan, good luck finding an elite player who things they get the calls they should. Westbrook is going to have to learn to live with it.

And pay the fine when he complains like this.