Morning shootaround — Nov. 8


VIDEO: Highlights from games played Nov. 7

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Clippers struggling to live up to the hype | Rockets will be short-handed in battle of unbeatens | The “dark side” of the triangle

No. 1: Clippers struggling to live up to the hype — Don’t believe the hype, especially when it’s self-generated. The Los Angeles Clippers are finding that out the hard way this season, struggling early on to play up to expectations (both internally and externally) that had many folks picking them as the favorite to win the Western Conference and perhaps the NBA title. We’re barely two weeks into this NBA season, but it’s clear they are not playing at a level that was expected of them. Ben Bolch of The Los Angeles Times breaks it down in advance of the Clippers’ afternoon tussle with the Portland Trail Blazers:

Everyone, it seems, is playing pop psychologist, diagnosing the problems of a team widely expected to contend for the Western Conference title that has gotten off to an underwhelming start.

With the Lakers winless through the season’s first five games, the Clippers could color Los Angeles red and blue beyond their “BE RELENTLESS” ads adorning buildings and billboards. It hasn’t happened.

“This is a chance for the Clippers to take over the city and they don’t want it,” Hall of Fame shooting guard and TNT analyst Reggie Miller said Friday in a phone interview. “You should have people in the barber shop buzzing about the Clippers. As opposed to talking about their effort, they should be saying, ‘Did you see that play?'”

A more common refrain after the season’s first week: Oy vey.

The Clippers are 3-2 but were blown out by Golden State and lost at home to a Sacramento team that won only 28 games last season. They have been outrebounded in every game and couldn’t hold double-digit leads in four games.

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers called his players “soft” after their 17-point loss to the Warriors and didn’t seem impressed by a team meeting afterward.

“When I read about team meetings in the league, I’m thinking, ‘I hope we play them next,'” Rivers said Friday. “We all know we didn’t play hard. I don’t think I need a team meeting for that.”

One observer who watched the Warriors’ demolition of the Clippers has remained Zen about the team’s prospects.

“I think everybody in Clipperland has to do the Aaron Rodgers thing right now,” ESPN analyst and former New York Knicks and Houston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said, referring to the Green Bay Packers quarterback who told fans to loosen up amid a slow start. “Relax. Let it play out. If at 20 games, you get to a quarter of the year and there’s issues, that’s when I think you start evaluating more so than after five games.”

Van Gundy said what’s more important than the Clippers’ spotty play is what they do next. They play the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday afternoon at Staples Center.

It’s a chance to start resembling the team the Clippers want to be. Of course, even a blowout victory wouldn’t end their concerns.

“It’s not like we go out against Portland, have a good game and we’re like, ‘Well, thank God that’s over,'” Griffin said. “We’ve just got to stay with it and keep working on the things we have to work on.”


VIDEO: Hornets guard Lance Stephenson sinks the game winner against the Hawks

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No. 2: Rockets will be short-handed against Warriors in battle of unbeatens — If the Houston Rockets are still undefeated Sunday morning, they’ll have done it the hard way. They face the undefeated Golden State Warriors tonight short-handed with starters Patrick Beverley and Terrence Jones out with injuries. That means the Warriors, led by scoring stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, get the same benefit the Rockets did in Thursday night’s win over San Antonio when they played without a full cast. It should get interesting. Jenny Dial-Creech 

Jones is out with a peroneal nerve contusion and Beverley has a strained left hamstring. Both will be out for at least a week be reevaluated at that time.

That means neither will play when the Rockets play Minnesota in Mexico City on Wednesday.

Both missed Thursday night’s game against the Spurs and Beverley missed two before that. Jones missed one other game.
Donatas Motiejunas is expected to start for Jones at power forward and Isaiah Canaan for Beverley at point guard.

“You are going to get banged and bruised as the season goes along, and I think guys have already been doing a good job coming off the bench in these early games,” center Dwight Howard said. “I think we really have a good group this year full of guys who are ready when their name is called.”

While Golden State has its share of some of the best guards in the league, starting with point guard Stephen Curry, Canaan has faced his share of tough point guards already this season.

With starts against Boston and San Antonio, Canaan went head to head with two of the league’s best in Rajon Rondo and Tony Parker. Neither point guard had a great game against the Rockets.

Canaan said the experience of playing top level point guards is making him more comfortable in his role.

“It’s a challenge every time I get out there,” he said. “But I am learning more about the speed of the game and about the opponents. I just want to be ready no matter who it is.”


VIDEO: Smitty’s (must see) Top 5 plays under the rim 

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No. 3: The triangle’s dark side exposed by the Knicks — The “Bermuda triangle” jokes and headlines were a given for a New York Knicks team that anyone with any basketball sense knew would struggle with the installation of this new system. But are we seeing something more than just the usual struggles? Maybe a fatal flaw in the design of this system when the wrong pieces are in place? There’s no doubt about it,  writes Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News:

The doubts are starting to creep into their heads, the cracks visible in the triangle. When Carmelo Anthony can’t hit a jumper, when he’s shooting 18-for-64 over three games, there must be something wrong somewhere. The personnel? The injuries? The system? A lack of energy?

“I’m still trying to find that comfort zone,” Anthony said, after the Knicks were thumped, 110-99, by the Nets in Brooklyn on Friday night. “When you don’t have the flow on offense, it trickles down to the defense.”

This is probably no time to panic, but you should know that the Knicks now need to win the next game in Atlanta if they are to equal their ragged start of last season.

There is no instant cure for what ails the Knicks, it turns out; no miracle director of basketball operations, no magic triangle. An offensive basketball system is just that, a system. The triangle doesn’t stop Deron Williams, or see the court. It doesn’t bury the open shot. It doesn’t provide a quality point guard or center.

No matter how flexible, the triangle can befuddle the unenlightened. It can be prescribed for the wrong players, same as any other system. It can be as alien to gunners such as Tim Hardaway Jr. and J.R. Smith, as Mike D’Antoni’s system was to a post-up, isolations guy such as Anthony

“He’s just trying to figure things out,” Shane Larkin said about Anthony. “That’s something everybody’s doing. He’s just thinking too much.” Or, as Williams said before taking apart Iman Shumpert, “Everybody can’t run every system.”

The Knicks eventually may learn the intricacies of this thing and start looking like a real basketball team. More likely, the well-laid plans of Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson will continue to cause confusion for some time. The tactics will require tweaking, and perhaps a substantial roster makeover next summer by Jackson.

“It’s more difficult now, because there’s a lot of systems catering to certain men, and you get Derek, who wants to play a five-man system,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. “It’s an adjustment. The Knicks are just a team that’s trying to learn a new system.”

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The always classy Steve Nash pens an open letter to Lakers fans … Another rookie, this time it’s Boston’s Marcus Smart, is carted off the floor … The Minnesota Timberwolves lost the game and Ricky Rubio … The Sacramento Kings are 5-0 and partying like it’s 1999(-2000), thanks to the steady calm of DeMarcus Cousins … What’s the rush on Derrick Rose‘s return … this time? … David Blatt gets it folks; the Cavs played through LeBron and they win … Don’t sleep on Brook Lopez and Brooklyn

ICYMI OF THE NIGHT: Lance Stephenson, explains his celebration after his first game-winner (and made 3-pointer of this season) to the GameTime crew. It was just Lance Being Lance  … 


VIDEO: Lance Stephenson talks game winners and 3-pointers

 

11 Comments

  1. r0cketz says:

    Dwight is also out for the game against the warriors

  2. Bojeezy says:

    The Clippers have never been a defensive team or considered a gritty team. Just highlights and alley opps. Doc Rivers can do so much with this roster but he is charge of player personnel so he created this team. I think that Blake needs to post up more and stop taking long jumpers if they are to get out of the first round. They have great players but they are streaky. If they had the defense of the Celtics but they don’t have a person like KG. We will just have see how their season goes and if they can pull it together but I thought they had a great chance of beating Golden State Warriors and didn’t have it in them to gut it out. Being a Laker fan I am still upset we didn’t get CP3. It would be way different if that trade went through.

  3. loam moody says:

    boozer

  4. Kenneth Williams says:

    I’m more scared of playing against the coach doc rivers than any of the clippers players without doc they would be nothing.

  5. Kenneth Williams says:

    Its a shame! There are so much good things going on in the league and you wouldn’t even hear about it cause all’s you want to do is talk about the sticky clippers and sorry Cleveland cavs. Cant wait to see them get dealt with again in Sactown! Go Kings!and still no love for Boogie but that’s fine cause we love him here Sac! We don’t bandwagon in Sactown never had never will! 30 years of faithful fans from day 1 win or lose

  6. Berlima says:

    I am really disapointed by the clippers permance all in the hype but no real chemistry ,all of them have no title and seems to me it ‘s only a fashion team ,but what potential they have it ‘s sad

  7. verysadokcfan says:

    Nobody expected the Knicks to win a lot of games this year, not Camello, or the Zen Master, who made his plea to Carmello to “hang in their with us, to rebuild”, remember that last summer. I think NY has some bad contracts they are waiting to expire and unload, then they will eventually be able to attract better players. Who knows, maybe Kobe?

  8. ExilD says:

    The most underrated star struggle..oh I c

  9. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    It’s going to be a year or two before you see the Knicks become a winner again, they just don’t have the right players to win now. Houston is a isolation offense thrid in the league in the stat, that’s because of Harden and that will be there down fall in the playoff’s, Harden has struggled in the playoff’s with Houston, shooting under 30%, not going to get it done. The Clipper’s are not playing to there potential, they play no defense and don’t control the boards, Griffin and Paul have not been playing like all stars and potential league MVP’S, this team will be out of the first round playing this way, Doc Rivers is a better coach then this.