Posted on: March 8, 2012 9:12 am
Edited on: March 8, 2012 2:12 pm
By Matt Moore and Ben Golliver
Wednesday night was one of those nights in the NBA. Multiple game winners, so many that we decided we need to break them down, power rankings style.
1. Rose does MJ: Derrick Rose's game winner had to be the best of the night for pure elegance. It had everything we look for from a winner: at the buzzer, walk off, isolation, high degree of difficulty, total calm, nothing but net. So much was going on in this one. He read the defense patiently, unleashed some crippling dribble moves, created and took the exact shot he wanted and even had large swaths of a road crowd cheering for him. Watch that thing and try not to think Michael Jordan.
2. Kyrie Irving's end-to-end. Irving's dash to the rim for what would be the game winner wasn't 94 feet of basketball brilliance, but it was as close as you want it to be. The fact that Byron Scott had the confidence in Irving to navigate all that space and the tactical knowledge to know the Nuggets wouldn't expect Irving to just get a running start and barrel to the basket deserves some points, while Irving's approach to switch hands on approach shows off his handle. That kid is something special.
3. Isaiah Thomas read-and-react. Thomas, at his best, is the type of undersized guard that just makes you marvel. That he was the 2011 NBA Draft's "Mr. Irrelevant" just makes the story that much better. Thomas was at his best on Wednesday night, intercepting an idiotic entry pass at full stretch and with perfect timing. Thomas' game is all action/reaction/action and he made an incredibly heady play to move the ball forward to a streaking John Salmons, hitting him in stride. No second-guessing, no covering the ball to allow the defense to react. Just pure open court instinct in a very unusual game situation. The only downside is that it wasn't a walk off winner, or the Power Balance Pavilion might have stormed the court. Thomas' growing reputation for putting smiles on faces continues to grow.
4. DWill trusts Farmar. What? Why aren't people flipping out over Deron Williams passing up the crucial shot in the Nets' win over the Clippers like they did with LeBron James? Regardless, Williams made a great play and Farmar didn't get too excited or go hero-mode. He just lined up and knocked down the open jumper. You know, the right basketball play. On the opposite end of the spectrum,CP3 was never going to take that pass, and gambling on it meant he couldn't run Farmar off. Big mistake as Farmar's been en fuego from the outside this year.
5. Nick Young has daggers on daggers. If this was later in the game, it would be a top-three candidate. After all, Young did rise and fear to knock off the master of rise and fire. But alas, we had more free throws and missed Kobe Bryant threes to get through before it was said and done. But make no mistake, Nick Young's dagger to punch the Lakers' comeback attempt was the game winner in the Wizards' stunner over L.A..
Posted on: March 6, 2012 2:15 am
Edited on: March 6, 2012 2:22 am
By Matt Moore
Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was.
Posted on: February 29, 2012 5:12 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 5:23 pm
You probably have no idea who Darrell Bailey is. But Clipper Darrell? You know exactly who that is.
He's the most visible, most loyal, most supportive Los Angeles Clipper fan there is. He's been a fixture at home games for the last 15 seasons. Through all the bad, very bad, and super bad, Darrell has stuck with them staying positive and upbeat.
So wouldn't it be the most Clipper thing ever that when they finally get relevant and have a bunch of bandwagon fans jumping on board, that they'd pick on what of their most loyal and vocal fans?
Unfortunately, that's exactly what they've done. Clipper Darrell is losing his first name. Now, he'll just be "Darrell." Via Clipper Darrell's blog, in a post titled "I AM DEVASTATED!!!":
It is with great sadness that I must report to all those in NBA NATION that I have been told by Clipper management they no longer want me to be Clipper Darrell, a name that was given to me by the media because of my unwavering support and team spirit. I am devastated!!!!So to recap, the Clippers have never had a problem with this over the last 15 years, but now that they're good and relevant, they do? Yep, all that talk about the Clippers organization moving forward from the past -- all crap. That free publicity Darrell gave and all that support in the past doesn't count, I guess.
From the organization's point of view, with the rise of the Clippers as a more visible franchise, Darrell is trying to capitalize on it too. He's selling Clipper Darrell merchandize such as wristbands and shirts. With the brand building, the Clippers weren't willing to just let Darrell keep on with it.
Media Bistro has some more details:
According to Bailey, the Clippers offered him an additional free season ticket if he dropped the Clipper nickname.The backlash has been fierce already, with support piling in for Darrell. Blake Griffin tweeted, "Bring back #ClipperDarrell." DeAndre Jordan tweeted: "I love Clipper Darrell....#ClipperDarrell." Chris Paul tweeted at Darrell, "WE GOT YOU!!!"
Not entirely sure what CP3 and others can do other than make their voices heard, but it's not a good look for the Clippers. For an organization trying to move past the stereotypes of being incompetant and sad, they are taking two steps backward.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 9:26 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 9:57 pm
By Matt Moore
Kevin Durant called for Russell Westbrook, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Derrick Rose to participate in the All-Star Dunk Contest. But after this one from CP3 off the glass, we're not sure he shouldn't give it a go. Then again, everyone looks awesome getting passes from CP3.
That's a bad man.
KD on pace for All-Star MVP honors.
Posted on: February 23, 2012 5:15 pm
By Matt Moore
When Chris Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, it was done under the condition that Paul would exercise his option for 2012-2013 to give the Clippers at least two years to build a team around him. Still, there was still a feeling from skeptics that this could all go wrong. That since it was Paul's decision, if things didn't work with the Clippers, he could opt-out and test restricted free agency. Because that was part of the back-room deal in place, there has been little discussion of his option for next season.
But in an interview with Jim Rome this week, Paul was asked if he'd decided to exercise that option and stay with the Clippers through next summer instead of becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer and seeing all his options. Paul said that the decision has already been made, and outlines why.
So Paul says the decision is made. He could back out of it, but you have to doubt that's going to happen with the Clippers in third place in the West, leading their division with signature wins over the Lakers and Heat. The Clippers aren't perfect, but in a short time they surrounded Paul with a quality cast of veterans (the kind stars like Paul want to play with), alongside Blake Griffin, and have changed a lot of the culture.
Based off of how Paul talks about the quality guys they brought into the locker room, and the result so far, don't you have to consider Clippers Neil Oshey the Executive of the Year? He didn't just bring in player after player to fit in with a Chris Paul team, then pulled off the trade, but he managed to do so while building a locker room that Paul wants to be part of.
Even if things don't finish well for Paul in L.A. this year, they have a whole other year to build a championship team around the best pure point guard in the league and the most powerful power forward under 25. Everything's good news this year for Clippers fans.
When's the last time you could say that?
("ROME with Jim Rome" debuts on CBS Sports Network April 3rd. You can follow him on Twitter @JimRome.)
Posted on: February 17, 2012 2:57 am
Edited on: February 17, 2012 4:07 am
Posted by Ben Golliver
PORTLAND, Ore. -- An anticipated four quarter battle for power forward supremacy was replaced by one quarter of point guard brilliance.
The Los Angeles Clippers faced the Portland Trail Blazers for the third time this season, the teams having split the first two match-ups. Instead of the latest installment of LaMarcus Aldridge vs. Blake Griffin -- All-Star vs. All-Star -- the Rose Garden crowd was treated one of the ugliest "lockout" games of the season, as Aldridge was forced to sit for the second straight game with a sprained left ankle he suffered on Tuesday night.
The Clippers pulled it out, 74-71, with the flat, ugly game being broken open in the fourth by Chris Paul, who managed to find a way to turn a manure night into gold down the stretch.
Through three quarters, Paul was 0-for-7 with three turnovers. An 85 percent career free throw shooter, he even missed a technical foul during the first minute of the second half. In the final quarter, though, Paul shot 5-for-8 to finish with 13 points. He had two of his four steals in the fourth, nailed a three-pointer with roughly three minutes remaning and then sank a jumper with just over a minute left to send large swaths of the crowd th the exits early.
"It's just a matter of time before Chris starts taking over the game," said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. "When it gets close he wants the ball in his hands, not only to score but to make the easy plays… Having Chris out there to control things is a great weapon."
"All the shots I missed are shots I can make with my eyes closed," Paul said. "I pride myself on the last two or three minutes of the game. If we're up two, or down one, I pride myself on managing situations, [forcing] turnovers, getting good shots. I'm used to it."
Turnovers were in abundance and good shots were not fort both sides. The Blazers scored more than 17 points in just one of the four quarters: 27 in the first. The Clippers never broke 22 in a quarter. The teams combined for 34 turnovers, the Clippers shot 2-for-17 from deep and the Blazers, not including Nicolas Batum, combined to shoot 19-for-55 (34.5 percent). Griffin worked hard for 21 points and 14 rebounds, dealing with all sorts of defensive looks along the way, but no one else, not even Paul, left this game with a complete night.
Blazers guard Raymond Felton probably captured the flavor of the evening better than anyone, failing to make a basket in seven attempts while throwing a ball into the stands, stepping on the sideline, and chucking a pass off of Kurt Thomas's ankles while he was standing 25 feet from the basket. He wound up sitting during crunch time, as fellow guard Jamal Crawford was only able to do slightly better.
"We didn't execute, of course, down the stretch," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "We basically got stagnant and it became a one on one basketball game."
The extenuating circumstances that led to that type of game were clear. Portland was on the third night of a back-to-back-to-back, made worse by the middle game being at Golden State. The Clippers were on the second night of a back-to-back themselves. L.A. managed to have the legs when it mattered, taking the final quarter, 22-11, to win their first game in Portland since Dec. 11, 2008.
"I've been in this situation time and time again," Paul said, amid shrieks of laughter from his teammates in the showers. "When you're in games like this it comes down to certain plays, teams tighten up. It all comes down to who makes the big plays."
The Blazers certainly tightened up, giving away an 18-point third quarter lead and dropped to 2-10 in games decided by five points or less. Portland has handled late-game situations uneasily even with Aldridge, their No. 1 scorer. Without him their possessions often amounted to hopeless prayers.
"I'll call it a self-destruction," McMillan said.
That self-destruction included Felton's follies and an inability to engage Batum, who scored 15 first quarter points but finished with 19, missing his only fourth quarter attempt. With Portland coming up empty play after play, the door opened wide for Paul.
"I don't now if he was playing possum or if he found the energy in the fourth quarter to keep going, but he definitely took over the game," Crawford said.
Posted on: February 14, 2012 2:16 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 2:33 pm
The Los Angeles Clippers added Chris Paul and became an instant contender; the New Orleans Hornets traded away Chris Paul and have the worst record in the Western Conference, by far.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wants the world to know that the league-owned Hornets, with NBA commissioner David Stern calling the shots as de-facto owner, screwed up in making that trade.
ESPNDallas.com provides Cuban's trade analysis, in which he argues the Hornets should have simply held on to Paul for the duration of his current contract rather than trade him away to the Clippers after previously discussing a 3-way deal with the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets.
"You're better off just taking the cap room, or whatever," Cuban said.
It's impossible to believe that Cuban actually believes his own cap room argument but it's an absolute certainty that he enjoys reading the "Cuban blasts Stern over management decision" headline on every NBA website. That's probably endless amusement for him.
Posted on: February 2, 2012 7:16 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2012 7:16 pm
Posted by Royce Young
The starting fives for the Eastern and Western Conference were announced Thursday night and while there weren't any surprises from the fan vote, the question is, should there have been?
By default this season, the fans weren't afforded the opportunity to really mess this up as Yao Ming retired and wasn't on the ballot. But I'm sure he's still somehow going to be named the Western reserves anyway. It wouldn't be a proper All-Star Game without him.
But let's figure it out: Did the fans get it right?
Obviously Derrick Rose is the right choice at point guard. The alternative option would be Deron Williams I suppose. Or Rajon Rondo, who finished second. Or if you wanted to get clever, maybe Jrue Holiday or Kyrie Irving. But Rose is the obvious correct choice despite him missing a handful of games with an injury. You don't snub the reigning MVP.
But at shooting guard, there's a case to be made for someone else here. Wade is the obvious top 2 in the East, but he's only played in 13 of Miami's 22 games this season. His numbers are good and he's as much a superstar as you can be, but if you want to give it to a deserving player, you could point to Joe Johnson who is leading the Hawks to the top of the East despite Atlanta having lost Al Horford. Still, Wade's the choice. Just the way it is.
Dwight Howard, check. Moving on.
The two forward spots is where I'd point to a mistake by the fans. LeBron James is obviously the right pick, but Carmelo Anthony is not. Not only has he missed a good chunk of New York's season, but he's not even playing that well. His team stinks and Melo's putting up near career-low numbers. You know who deserves that spot? Chris Bosh, believe it or not. Bosh has quietly had a terrific season for Miami. A 21.0 PER, 20.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Bosh deserves to start. Melo absolutely does not. Quite honestly, I'm not even sure if he's a reserve at this point.
If I wanted to have things thrown at me, I'd say Russell Westbrook deserves to start ahead of Chris Paul. CP3 missed a number of the Clippers' games and Westbrook has followed up last season's breakout with another terrific start. But I won't go there. CP3 showed Wednesday in Utah why he's not just the best point guard in the West, but the entire league.
Kobe Bryant, not going to argue with that. Honestly the only player that you could even recommend right now with Manu Ginobili being hurt is James Harden. And that's not at all reasonable.
Kevin Durant, check. He's not just scoring the ball well again this year while averaging career-highs in rebounding and assists, but his team sits atop the West and he's a solid MVP candidate.
Andrew Bynum gets the starters nod almost by default of being the best center in the West, but you could try and make something for Marc Gasol or Nene. Clipper fans want to point out DeAndre Jordan's defense, but come on. Bynum is averaging career-highs with 16.5 points and 12.1 rebounds per game. Bynum is the right selection, but not by too much.
Where the fans whiffed was at the 4 again. Yes, that means I'm going to tell you why Blake Griffin, even with his detonation of the Internet by posterizing Kendrick Perkins, is not the choice. Griffin's had a terrific season thus far, but I don't see how you deny Kevin Love. He doesn't have the highlight resume and doesn't have an arena oohing over a good offensive rebound, but Love leads the West in rebounding, is actually third in the West in scoring and has a PER of 25.87.
Griffin's numbers are great and you could even try and say LaMarcus Aldridge or Pau Gasol are deserving of mentions. So there they are. But that spot is owed to Love. His numbers are just too good to deny and there's not the excuse that his team is terrible anymore. The Wolves are nipping at that eight spot and are playing good basketball.
Plus, Love did this to Griffin, which should count for something, right?