Blake Griffin speaks on arrest, apologizes for “distraction”


Blake Griffin was charged with one count of misdemeanor battery on Wednesday, stemming from an incident at a nightclub in Las Vegas in October. Griffin and his Clippers teammates addressed the situation at practice on Thursday, not elaborating on the circumstances but apologizing for the distraction it has caused.

From’s Arash Markazi:

“I’m really not allowed to speak on that,” Griffin said before practice Thursday. “But I’m very confident in the situation so once I can [speak on it], I will.”

Griffin said being charged wasn’t scary, but instead wished it wasn’t hanging over the team.

“I definitely wouldn’t say scary. I feel more badly just for the fact that it’s a distraction,” Griffin said. “I really don’t know how big of a distraction it really is, but it is. So that’s what I feel mostly bad about.”

Clippers point guard Chris Paul also addressed the matter, throwing his support behind his teammate:

“We don’t really talk about it,” Paul said. “He’s a teammate, he’s a brother and we’re always going to be there for him.”

Head coach Doc Rivers downplayed the potential for distraction.

“I love Blake and support Blake, and this will work out,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “Blake was more upset that he thought it was any distraction for the team, and he didn’t want that. I think that’s great that he feels that way. I’m always more concerned with the individual involved. It will play itself out.”

The incident occurred during Clippers training camp, when the team was in Las Vegas for a preseason game. Griffin is scheduled for an arraignment hearing in Las Vegas on December 8. The Clippers play the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center that night.

Doc Rivers admits Clippers lack a solid wing defender, but it’s not something he’ll ‘lose sleep over’


The Clippers lost a tough one to the Spurs on Monday, and the play of Kawhi Leonard was a huge reason why.

Leonard finished with a game-high 26 points to go along with 10 rebounds, and even managed to lock up Chris Paul defensively on a few possessions down the stretch.

It was just the latest example of teams exploiting the one major weakness on this Clippers team, which is the lack of an athletic perimeter defender that can slow players like Leonard down. Doc Rivers admitted as much afterward, but said the team needs to find other ways to cover for what he knew would be an issue heading into the season.

From Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles:

Like the Portland Trail Blazers did with Nicolas Batum and like the Golden State Warriors did with Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson, the Spurs were able to put an athletic wing on Paul to effectively neutralize him. That’s a luxury the Clippers simply do not have.

“I don’t worry about it because we don’t have it,” Rivers said. “It’s not anything I’m going to lose sleep over. It would be great. I would be a lot smarter coaching-wise if we had something like that, but we don’t. We have what we have. I think every team has some flaws. The key is to cover up for them.” …

“We don’t have that one guy,” Rivers said. “I’m not going to tell Matt, ‘I need you to go stop LeBron.’ I’m not going to tell Chris that or J.J. or Jamal or Reggie [Bullock]. It’s going to have to be a team effort, and we knew that coming into the season.”

Matt Barnes began the season in the starting lineup, and he was serviceable on the defensive end of the floor. The problem was the offense with that lineup, which plummeted significantly with Barnes on the floor. That led to Rivers inserting Crawford to play with the starters as a way to fix things, at the expense of the defense that Barnes provided.

There are no easy answers for L.A. here, and short of a trade to acquire the missing skill set, it’s going to take a team effort defensively to slow the opposing team’s star players. The way things have looked in the early part of the season, it may take some time to develop the required level of cohesiveness.

Popovich says Spurs play in Finals best they can do, just wants to return to that level


LOS ANGELES — For Gregg Popovich, the goal is clear.

“We’ll never play better than we did the last three games against Miami (in the NBA Finals) Won’t happen,” Popovich said Monday night before his team beat the Clippers. “We can’t play any better than that at both ends of the floor. If we got to that level I would be thrilled.”

Clear. But it’s not that simple.

From the start of training camp Popovich talked about the long road to get back to that level of play that won San Antonio an NBA title. Sure, the Spurs brought back the entire team who played that beautiful, selfless brand of basketball, but you don’t just walk back in the gym and pick up where you left off. Basketball doesn’t work that way. This is not a video game.

“It’s hard because players change even though you have your same team. That’s what I found,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers when asked about repeating as champs, which he tried to do with the Celtics after 2008. “I did a lot of research going into (2008-09 season), talked to a lot of NFL coaches, baseball… I thought Michael Jordan told me the most, the best. He said ‘You’re going to be shocked how different your same players are. It’s going to take half the year to get them back into their roles and all that.’ Because they have high character guys in San Antonio it’s probably easier, but it’s still hard.”

Human nature after a great success is to relax, to rest on your laurels and savor the spoils of winning. Popovich knew from the start that was the challenge for this season — the year before a hard Finals loss lit a fire under the team. That fire is not there this season. Not yet, anyway.

“I don’t let (guys coming back without hunger) worry me because I know it’s true,” Popovich said. “Some guys might even be enjoying the championship today. And I think that’s totally reasonable and totally logical because they are human beings. To try to fight that is a waste of time, it will take care of itself as we move along.”

It hasn’t taken care of itself yet.

The Spurs entered Monday night with a bottom five offense in the league, one that saw a lot more of guys trying to beat opponents off the dribble and in isolation than with the crisp passing that carved up Miami (and everyone else) last playoffs. In addition the Spurs are battling injuries — Kawhi Leonard missed time with an eye infection that isn’t yet totally healed (although the Clippers might beg to differ) and Tiago Splitter being out with a calf injury really weakens their interior defense (Blake Griffin scored at the rim all night Monday night without much challenge). They simply have not looked like themselves.

Asked about any of this, Popovich almost fell into coach-speak and talked process. Don’t skip steps.

And the Spurs players to a man echoed that.

“Our goal is to get back to how we were playing in that Miami series,” said Matt Bonner, who started for the Spurs Monday night in Los Angeles with Splitter out. “We know what we’re capable of, and tonight was another day to work toward achieving that goal… It’s a long process. It’s a process of training camp and preseason and 82 regular season games and practices in between that, it’s journey and we’re at the very beginning of it.”

But the Spurs took some steps forward Monday night.

Popovich looked past his team’s 5-of-22 shooting in the first quarter, the 2-of-19 shooting from three for the game, the 9-of-36 shooting (25 percent) on uncontested looks to see a team that did the right things to get those looks in the first place. Popovich called the win over the Clippers clearly the best game the Spurs had played so far this young season.

“We didn’t turn it over…” Popovich said. “We took care of the ball better, our pick-and-roll defense was really good, and although we didn’t make shots in the first half the ball moved really well. We were just more consistent tonight than we have been.”

Then in the final 5:30 of a close game where San Antonio was down 7, they started to look like the Spurs.

Leonard got put on Chris Paul and made his life difficult, including stripping him clean on a key possession late. Players moving off the ball and some crisp passing got Manu Ginobili and Boris Diaw good looks within eight feet that they both knocked down on key possessions. The Spurs forced turnovers with smart play. The Spurs found the best level of execution we had seen from them all season, which was more than the Clippers could match. San Antonio went on a 12-0 run then held on for a quality win on the road.

To a man the Spurs saw it as a step. One that was still filled with all kinds of sloppy, un-Spurs like play. Still, it was a step.

“It was the best win (they had this season),” Tim Duncan said. “I don’t know if it’s the best game we played so far. It was a grind. Tony (Parker) didn’t play well. I didn’t play well. Kawhi really carried us for a while there.”

It was a step, one they couldn’t skip.

They also know they are at mile three of the marathon right now and there are a lot of steps ahead of them.

A look inside Jordan’s new private basketball venue, situated in an airplane hangar in West Los Angeles




Jordan Brand unveiled its new private basketball space in West Los Angeles last week, and anytime you build something inside of an 80,000 square foot airplane hangar, the results are going to be extremely impressive.

The invitation-only space is intended to be a home for Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, similar to the way the Terminal 23 space in New York City is a place for Carmelo Anthony to call home, just steps away from Madison Square Garden.

Some of the more remarkable details of the space, officially dubbed the Jordan Hangar, are as follows:

– A full-size, regulation basketball court, with a stylized silver base and Jordan fractal pattern up and down the floorboards.  The brand’s social/digital handle, @jumpman23, runs along the baseline, and CP and Blake’s logos are featured in the paint between the basket and free throw line.  Sleek, light-colored, multi-tiered stands rise up beyond the far backboard; and, above the court – more than halfway to the 75-foot-high rafters – is a three-paneled jumbotron, with each panel measuring 100 square feet.  Along with featuring games between local high schools, Jordan said the court will be used by Jordan Brand players for offseason training as well as possible future product testing.

– Entering the Jordan Hangar, where the hashtag #takeflight in cement greets every high flier on the way in, guests walk down a mini Hollywood Blvd. Walk of Fame, with each Jordan Brand basketball athlete getting their own star.  On the wall in front as you turn into the open space: a white wall with artistic carvings of MJ’s accomplishments.

– Two performance measurement elements stand out in the hangar as you walk toward the court.  The first is The Cube, a 10-foot high, four-sided box, with a video screen on each side.  Players can grab a ball and test their skills while mimicking the timed, repetitive on-screen drills performed by the athlete on-screen, all moves Chris Paul himself uses in-game – including his famous jab step and the beginnings of his crossover.  During the drill, a voice from the box counts down the time the player must continue that move, as well as hints on how to improve throughout.  Moving from The Cube toward the court is a runway, launch and landing pad measuring a player’s jump, calculating the pounds of force generated on liftoff.  Through sensors on the pad, the information comes up within seconds on the screen.

– The Jordan Hangar also features two NBA-style lockerrooms with a dozen lockers each: one locker room for CP, another for Blake.  Each player has a dedicated locker, complete with golden nameplate, which are reserved solely for their use.  The locker room has a lounge with leather chairs, couches and a 75-inch flat-screen TV, set up for NBA 2K matchups.

Check out a video tour of the space by viewing the clip below.


PBT’s Monday night NBA Winners/Losers: Cleveland’s big three found their groove

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Every night the NBA can be a cold hard reality — there are winners, there are losers. It’s the nature of the game. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to bring you the best and worst of the NBA each week night. Here’s what you missed while reading the oral history of Sports Night….

source:  LeBron James and the Cavaliers big three. That was the big three everyone should fear in the second half against the Pelicans. In that second half the big three scored 61 of the Cavs 67 points — Kyrie Irving had 27, LeBron James had 22 (plus five boards and five assists), and Kevin Love had a dozen. For the game LeBron had a triple double with 32 points, 12 boards and 10 assists.By the way, the Pelicans played pretty well and had 55 points in the second half, but they couldn’t get the stops against the Cavaliers offense.

source:  Derrick Rose. Welcome back. After missing a couple games with an ankle sprain he played 32 minutes and scored 24 points while dishing out seven assists (plus three hockey assists) and looking good all night long. He was getting to the rim, in transition and the half court, with 50 percent of his shot attempts coming within eight feet of the rim. The Bulls offense has been surprisingly sharp all season (this game it was actually a little less efficient than the season average) but what really came around was the Bulls pressure on the opposing defense with Rose in the game. Also back for the night was the Bulls defense (it was pedestrian so far this young season, especially when the bench was in, but you knew that would come around).

source:  Andre Drummund. Sure, technically the Pistons big man’s name is Andre Drummond, but that’s not how the Pistons spelled it on his jersey Monday night.

source:  Kawhi Leonard. We knew he was a defensive beast, we saw him against LeBron James in the NBA Finals, but it was a sight to behold again on Monday might — he stripped Jamal Crawford and Chris Paul in the same game, two of the better ball handling guards in the league. Oh, and the Spurs used him to exploit Crawford’s “defense” to the tune of 26 points for Leonard (Gregg Popovich said after the game it was the most plays he’d ever called for Leonard in his career, but on a night San Antonio was just ice cold from the field (they were 9-of-36 on uncontested shots) it was Leonard who gutted out a win for the Spurs against the Clippers.