PBT Extra: Will Doc Rivers sit Chris Paul in Game 2?

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After a surprising Game 1 win, it feels like the Clippers are playing with house money. Los Angeles earned at least a split on the road to start its second round series against Houston; the Clippers showed the toughness from the Spurs series that the Rockets were unprepared for (the Clippers are not the Mavericks).

So should Doc Rivers sit Chris Paul in Game 2? Should he give CP3’s strained hamstring more time to heal, as those are tricky injuries that can be easy to aggravate?

That’s what Jenna Corrado and I discuss in this latest PBT Extra. Personally, if he’s not 100 percent I would rest him again — make the Rockets prove they can stop the offense going through Blake Griffin first.

More than 24 hours before the game, CP3’s status remains a coin flip.

Blake Griffin put up historically-great numbers in Clippers’ last two victories over Rockets and Spurs


Blake Griffin was outstanding during the Clippers’ series-clinching Game 7 win over the Spurs, but thanks to Chris Paul’s otherworldly performance, Griffin’s effort went largely unnoticed.

Against the Rockets in Game 1 of the second round, however, with Paul unable to go due to a hamstring injury, the spotlight was there for Griffin, and he had no trouble taking center stage.

Griffin helped to finish off the Spurs by posting a triple-double line of 24 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. He was even better in Houston, finishing with 26 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists to put the Clippers up 1-o in the best-of-seven series. And the back-to-back triple-doubles put him in some historically-great company.

From ESPN Stats & Information:

He’s the first player with back-to-back triple-doubles in a postseason game since Jason Kidd accomplished the feat in 2002.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Griffin is the third non-guard in NBA history with back-to-back postseason triple-doubles. The other two are NBA legends Wilt Chamberlain (who did it twice) and John Havlicek.

Elias also notes that Griffin is the fourth player in NBA history with back-to-back 20-point triple-doubles in the postseason, joining Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson and Baron Davis.

It’s worth remembering, as NBA.com’s John Scuhmann pointed out, that the Clippers suffered the biggest loss in terms of on-off net rating when Chris Paul missed time during the regular season. When you look at the lack of a bench that L.A. has struggled to deal with all year long, that makes perfect sense — and also makes you realize just how special Griffin has been in his last two performances, but especially during a road win in Houston when his team needed him the most.

Blake Griffin puts up triple-double, keys Clipper offense in win (VIDEO)

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Blake Griffin had a triple-double in Game 7 against Spurs, it’s just that few noticed because of Chris Paul’s heroics.

People noticed Monday.

Griffin, playing a some point forward in the second half, had 26 points, 14 rebounds, and 13 assists and led the Clippers to a surprise Game 1 victory on the road without CP3. The Clippers ran their offense through Griffin in the second half, and the Clippers won the half by 20. The Rockets did not have an answer for him.


CP3 who? Clippers come from behind to take Game 1 from Rockets on road.


The Rockets learned the hard way the Clippers — even without Chris Paul — are not the Dallas Mavericks.

It was announced before the game that Paul — the “point god” and quarterback of the Clippers’ offense — would not play Game 1 due to his strained hamstring. With that news, the Rockets did not respect the Clippers. Houston played like all they had to do is show up and they win.


Blake Griffin had a triple-double — 26 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists — and the Clippers hit 11-of-16 three-pointers in the second half while the Rockets turned the ball over 23 times on the night. The result was a 117-101 Los Angeles win.

The Clippers are up 1-0 with a road win heading into Game 2 Wednesday night — when the Clippers might have the best point guard in the game back in the rotation.

“That first half could have gotten away from us and the fact we kinda were able to keep our composure, turn the ball over and only be down four I think,” Clippers’ Doc Rivers said, correctly. “That was the turning point.”

Austin Rivers got the start at the point for the Clippers but the Rockets showed no respect for his shot — he started slow but finished with 17 points and hit 4-of-6 from three. Then Jordan Crawford came in and was making plays. A little while later, Doc went to Lester Hudson for minutes at the point. That’s not good, but the Clippers hung around. It was ugly early as the Clippers shot just 32 percent in the first quarter and were 1-of-10 from three (Rivers making the lone bucket).

But the Rockets didn’t take advantage. Trevor Ariza started out 4-of-4 and scored 11 of the first 15 Houston points, but nobody else could knock down a shot. It was a six-point Rockets lead after one and as Clippers got into their bench Rockets went on 19-5 run to take a 13-point lead. Meanwhile, the Clippers looked out of sync — Griffin, J.J. Redick, and Matt Barnes are rhythm shooters who missed Paul setting them up.

The turnovers made it an ugly game, and it was 50-46 Rockets at the half. The Rockets had their chance and didn’t take advantage. As the game got tight late the Rockets seemed to panic, going away from their offense and what worked.

In the second half the Clippers went on runs — a 12-0 and a 10-0, both in the fourth quarter — as they started to run the offense through Griffin. The All-Star power forward showed off how far his game has developed from his rookie year when he could just dunk — Griffin is a very good passer, reads the game well, and has great ball handling skills. The Rockets didn’t have an answer.

As the game got tight late the Rockets seemed to panic, going away from their offense and what worked.

“They had more of an edge; we did not play very well,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale understated. “I didn’t believe our effort was, huh, for a second round game trying to hold home court…. they had more energy than we did…

“There are no excuses, they played better than we did.”

The Clippers loaded up on James Harden, and he had 20 points on 6-of-13 shooting — not a horrible night but he has a history of struggling against quality playoff defenses, and that is still a legitimate concern. Dwight Howard had 22 points on 13 shots (and five blocked shots) but had to work for all of it against DeAndre Jordan. Trevor Ariza added 17 points.

With the Clippers loading up on Harden the Rockets needed to knock down their threes or find baseline cutters, but they did not. Houston was an okay 11-of-33 from three, but it wasn’t enough. In addition, some guys just missed looks: Corey Brewer was 0-0f-4 on uncontested looks. Plus they didn’t take advantage of the Clipper turnovers (21 of them): The Clippers had 34 points off turnovers, the Rockets 21.

The Clippers just made plays — and the Houston defense was not good enough. Griffin hit 8-of-14 contested shots while Matt Barnes hit 6-of-8 uncontested looks. Los Angeles had six players in double figures: Griffin with 26, Jamal Crawford with 21, Matt Barnes with 20, J.J. Redick and Austin Rivers with 17, and DeAndre Jordan with 10 points (and 13 rebounds).

“It looked like we were being reactive to what they were doing all night, it didn’t look like we were proactive,” McHale said.

The Clippers are now in control of the series. They could consider resting Chris Paul for Game 2, knowing that even if the series is tied they will be coming back home for two with the chance to own the series.

Houston had a chance in Game 1 to take control of the series, and they didn’t play with the focus needed to take care of business. Their road back in this series is now a long and winding one.

Stephen Curry wins MVP with 100 of 130 first-place votes, but James Harden closest second place in four years


We knew Stephen Curry would win NBA MVP, but we didn’t know how close the race would be.

The Warriors guard bested James Harden by more than one ballot.

Curry took 100 of 130 first-place votes. Second-place James Harden had 25, and third-place LeBron James took the other five. Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and Chris Paul rounded out the final six major candidates.

Harden showed on 129 of 130 ballots, which allowed the Rockets guard to be the closest second-place finisher in points since LeBron James topped Kevin Durant in 2012.

Here’s the full voting with player, team (first-place votes, second-place votes, third-place votes, fourth-place votes, fifth-place votes, points):

  • Stephen Curry, Golden State (100-26-3-0-1-1,198)
  • James Harden, Houston (25-87-13-4-0-936)
  • LeBron James, Cleveland (5-12-62-32-12-552)
  • Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City (0-5-33-41-29-352)
  • Anthony Davis, New Orleans (0-0-9-35-53-203)
  • Chris Paul, L.A. (0-0-10-15-29-124)
  • LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland (0-0-0-1-3-6)
  • Marc Gasol, Memphis (0-0-0-1-0-3)
  • Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers (0-0-0-1-0-3)
  • Tim Duncan, San Antonio (0-0-0-0-1-1)
  • Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio (0-0-0-0-1-1)
  • Klay Thompson, Golden State (0-0-0-0-1-1)