Chris Paul threw a ridiculous bounce pass to Blake Griffin for a bucket

Leave a comment

I guess technically this came off the pick-and-roll between Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

But only Chris Paul (and maybe a couple of others in the league) could have made that pass — one handed, from the hip, off the dribble, bounce pass that threads a nonexistent needle to find Griffin for the bucket. This is as great a pass as you are going to see all season long.

The Clippers went on to get the win, 121-115. Griffin had 29 points in the game, Paul 12 assists.

No moral victory, but Lakers show Spurs they will not roll over

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — In the end, the Spurs were the Spurs.

They executed, they played smart, they moved the ball and found the open man/mismatch, they were disciplined, and when the defense made things difficult LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard (23 points a piece) hit the shot anyway. That’s what they do.

But the Lakers did not make it easy Friday night.

Los Angeles, the biggest surprise team in the NBA this season, started off a brutal stretch of their schedule showing the kind of fight any coach can respect.

“Luke’s (Walton) done a great job of making them believe and playing aggressively, and you can really see it,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “They came back and stuck it to us… We got after it and executed better, but I am just so impressed with what he has done with this group.”

“I thought we did a good job of fighting,” said Lakers’ forward Julius Randle. “A decent job of executing. It’s just any mistake that you make on the defensive end, they’re going to make you pay.”

In each half, the Spurs starters would pull away to a comfortable double-digit lead in the first 10 minutes, and in each half the Lakers bench sparked a comeback that made things interesting Friday night at Staples Center. Los Angeles got 57 points from its bench on the night, the Spurs 28.

“We just compete,” Jordan Clarkson said of the Laker bench. “You know we get some stops during those times. We’re pushing the ball and getting easy buckets in transition.”

When it was getting tight late the Spurs did the things they always do — they destroy opponents’ runs by just making shots — and San Antonio got the 116-107 win. There may be no moral victories, but a season ago the Lakers would have rolled over in a game like this. No more. These Lakers are learning and they are gaining respect along the way.

“They’re talented, they’re playing hard — it looks like they want to play hard for Luke, and they play with a lot of energy and they have great pieces…” said Spurs point guard Tony Parker. “I give them credit. In the first half we had a good lead, they came back. They played physical, they got into us, they created turnovers, and in the second half we had to play a lot better, a lot smarter, and cut our turnovers to win the game.”

Los Angeles has a rough stretch coming up the next couple weeks — including a home-and-home with the Warriors — but they looked like a team that can compete through that stretch (and they need to if they are serious about their playoff dreams).

The Lakers’ core needs to step up like it did on Friday. Julius Randle bullied former Laker Pau Gasol at times, going right at him in transition (that got harder when the Spurs moved Aldridge onto Randle, people underestimate how big and strong Aldridge is and Randle could not push him around).

“It was good for him, going against Pau and Aldridge, two of the best in the game,” Luke Walton said of Randle. “I thought he did a good job, he still needs to do better doing his work early, especially against players that talented. Julius has the belief and strength to fight and defend bigger players.”

Los Angeles played without point guard D’Angelo Russell who was out with left knee soreness and will be re-evaluated Sunday. That meant this was a duel of older European point guards — Tony Parker vs. Jose Calderon.

Los Angeles missed Russell’s shot creation and attacking the rim in the half court. Combine that with the always-executing Spurs defense and the Lakers were just 6-of-22 shooting in the first quarter, had just two points in the paint, turned the ball over five times, and trailed 26-16. And the game didn’t feel that close.

Then in the second quarter, the Laker bench picks up the energy, gets a few stops, goes on an 8-0 run and cuts the lead to five, forcing Popovich to call a couple of timeouts. And get David Lee out of the game. But the Lakers had gained some confidence and the shots were falling — particularly for Nick Young, who had 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the first half alone (22 for the game). The Lakers were pushing the pace and attacking in the half court, getting buckets in the paint.

Los Angeles tried to carry that over to the third quarter, but then a 7-0 Tony Parker run had the Spurs starters back in a groove. The Spurs ran more pick-and-rolls to go at specific mismatches in the second half, and pretty quickly the Spurs were up a dozen. San Antonio hit 11 shots in a row, and put up 39 points on 74 percent shooting in the third, and by the end of the quarter it was 91-76 Spurs.

Tell me if you’ve heard this before, but in the fourth David Lee came in and the Spurs couldn’t get a stop — the Lakers got hot again and the lead got all the way down to five. The Spurs countered going small — Aldridge at the five — and it worked when he picked up a couple of quick buckets. But still there was no quit in these Lakers, and they cut the lead down to five when Nick Young and Jordan Clarkson hit threes while Spurs miss wide open ones on the other end.

However, in the end, the Spurs executed. Like they always do.

The Lakers can learn from that.

DeMar DeRozan scores 30 again, Raptors beat Nuggets 113-111 in OT


DENVER (AP) — DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points, including four in overtime, and the Toronto Raptors held off the Denver Nuggets for a 113-111 victory Friday night.

It was the 10th time in 12 games this season that DeRozan, the NBA’s leading scorer, has reached 30 points.

Terrence Ross hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 37.6 seconds left in the extra period, putting Toronto up by two. Denver’s Emmanuel Mudiay was short with a desperation heave from halfcourt at the final buzzer.

Kyle Lowry added 18 points and 13 assists for Toronto, which swept the two-game season series.

Mudiay and Wilson Chandler each scored 25 points to lead the Nuggets, who have lost five of six.

After trailing by five going into the fourth quarter, Toronto took an 87-86 lead on a 3-pointer by Ross with 7:57 left.

No more than three points separated the teams during the remainder of regulation.

DeRozan hit a jumper to put Toronto up 99-98, and Jonas Valanciunas added one of two free throws moments later. Jameer Nelson answered with a 3 to put Denver back up by a point, but DeRozan hit a jumper with 15 seconds left as the Raptors regained the lead.

Chandler was fouled on a drive to the basket and made one of two free throws to tie it. DeRozan’s baseline jumper at the end of regulation went in and out, sending the game to overtime tied at 102.

Behind a 38-point second quarter, their second-highest output in any period this season, the Nuggets took a 57-52 lead at halftime after trailing by as many as a dozen points.

Chandler fueled the outburst, scoring 12 points in the quarter.


Raptors: C Lucas Nogueira did not travel with the team to Denver to remain at home with his wife, who gave birth to their baby girl on Thursday. Nogueira is expected to rejoin the team in Sacramento, where the Raptors play the Kings on Sunday. … F Jared Sullinger and G Delon Wright remain inactive while continuing to recover from left foot surgery and right shoulder surgery, respectively.

Nuggets: The highest-scoring quarter by Denver this season was 42 points in the first against Boston on Nov. 6. … F Mike Miller was excused from the team to tend to a personal matter. … G Gary Harris missed his third consecutive game with a right foot injury. … F Will Barton remains sidelined with a left ankle sprain. He has missed the last nine games.ess


Watch Russell Westbrook drop triple-double on Nets in Thunder win


Russell Westbrook has now four triple-doubles in 13 games, which puts him on pace for 25 this season.

Westbrook had 30 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds in the Thunder’s comfortable 124-101 win over the Nets Friday night. He did it attacking the rim — nine of his 21 shot attempts on the night were in the restricted area. Check out his shot chart, and marvel at what Angry Russ can do.



Zaza Pachulia hits midrange jumper, celebrates with pony dance


Nobody celebrates a wide-open midrange jumper in the middle of a blowout game like Zaza Pachulia.

It is the strangest and least expected celebration of the season. In the third quarter, Pachulia was left wide open at the elbow, took his time, and drained the jumper. Then he broke out the pony and danced like he was Stephen Curry hitting a game-winning three.

I still think Marc Gasol has the best big man celebration dance.

The Warriors went on to win 124-105 behind 28 from Klay Thompson.