Posts Tagged ‘Chris Paul’

Paul’s hamstring continues to improve


VIDEO: Chris Paul talks after the Clippers’ Game 4 win

LOS ANGELES — In non-foul news, sort of, Chris Paul said he continues to recover from the strained left hamstring that sidelined him the first two games of the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets amid the possibility he could reach a full workload Tuesday night as the Clippers try to advance to their first-ever Western Conference finals.

In Game 3 Friday at Staples Center, Paul played without much burst in his return from the leg injury suffered in Game 7 of the first-round series against the San Antonio Spurs. In Sunday’s Game 4, he was clearly moving better while contributing 15 points and 12 assists (against one turnover) while, at times, pushing the ball in a very encouraging development for the Clippers.

He only inched from 23 minutes in Game 3 to 26 in Game 4, but that barometer is misleading because he only played 10 minutes in the second half and three in the fourth quarter because he was not needed as L.A. cruised to a 128-95 win. Paul looked healthy enough to have logged more time, possibly much more, if needed.

Getting blown out would have been help enough, but the Rockets also did their part with the failed game plan of constantly intentionally fouling Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. That tactic slowed Game 4 down so much that Paul rarely had the kind of extended stretches of constant movement that could have severely tested his hamstring. There was little need to take Paul out of the game until there was little need to keep him in.

Said coach Doc Rivers, asked after the win how he thought the All-Star point guard and whether Paul’s minutes would be increased Tuesday as the Clippers took their 3-1 lead to Houston: “I have no idea. Today it was funny because that’s where the Hack-a-Whatever-You-Want-to-Call-it — I still think we should call it the Haq-a-Shaq in honor of him — that’s where the Hack-a-Shaq help is. We were going to take CP out and I turned to (trainer Jasen Powell) and I said, ‘He’s just walking down the floor every time.’ Even though the minutes were ticking, there was no basketball going on so he could stay in, and JP agreed with that. But moving forward, I just don’t know, Again, every step he takes makes the coach nervous.”

Paul averaged 34.8 minutes in the regular season and 39.3 in the first round, big minutes as the Clippers and Spurs played several close games that allowed little rest. The pace in Game 4 — an approach that could continue Tuesday — plus Rivers being able to conserve the minutes plus a day off Monday likely leads to continued health improvement.

“I’m sure they’re not fouling to make sure my hamstring feels good, you know what I mean?” Paul said. “If so, I appreciate it, I guess. I don’t know. I’m feeling better. I think that’s all that matters. We’ve just got to stay hungry for the game on Tuesday.”

Meanwhile, Paul’s backup, Austin Rivers, followed up his starring role with 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting off the bench in Game 3 with another good showing. He had 12 points in 24 minutes while going 5-for-9 overall and 2-for-3 on 3-pointers.

 

Morning Shootaround — May 11




VIDEO: Highlights from games played May 10

NEWS OF THE MORNING
Kyrie dealing with more than he’s letting on | Clippers hack their way to cusp of history | Wall unlikely to play in Game 4 | Vultures circling Warriors

No. 1: Kyrie dealing with more than he’s letting on — Cleveland’s Big 3 of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love has been reduced to a injury unit Big 1.5. Even LeBron is hobbled right now with a sore ankle he turned in Sunday’s buzzer-beating win over the Chicago Bulls. Love is gone for the postseason after shoulder surgery. But Irving is dealing with more than just a sore left ankle. He’s dealing with more than he’s letting on, a gusty but dangerous move for the young point guard in the midst of his first ever playoff experience. Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group explains:

Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving is hurting more than he is letting on.

He’s dealing with more than just the right foot strain that was made public by coach David Blatt on Friday, even though the injury occurred almost three weeks ago in Game 2 of the first-round series against the Boston Celtics.

After the huge Game 4 victory over the Chicago Bulls to even the series, I asked him directly in the media scrum to address if there’s anything wrong with his left leg, and he paused briefly, before responding “Nah. Nah, there’s nothing wrong.”

As soon as the media contingent dissipated, Irving said, “Chris, you’re very observant.”

Irving’s left leg has been wrapped in dynamic taping, which is elastic that helps support the structure of the body. The pain is believed to be caused due to overcompensating. Upon exiting the arena last night with a grimacing expression plastered to his face, Irving walked gingerly and limped extremely noticeably.

However, it wasn’t his right foot that he was favoring. He was very cautious with each step not to place weight on his left leg. The Cavaliers are calling it a “sore left leg,” for the time being.

Irving is guarded when it comes to not revealing injuries and their extent, not wanting to give the opponent any sort of an advantage. He said “that’s Basketball 101.”

He’s laboring out there. The speed, the acceleration, the first step isn’t there. He’s giving it all he has, and has no plans of letting his team down. He’s in it until the very end.

“I’d rather will it out and give it a chance, than sitting back and watching my brothers compete without me,” Irving said.


VIDEO: Kyrie Irving talks after the Cavs’ Game 4 win

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Paul out tonight, questionable Game 3

HOUSTON — After scratching point guard Chris Paul from the lineup for a second straight game with a strained left hamstring, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he still believes the All-Star will playing the Western Conference semifinals series against the Rockets.

“Yeah, I just don’t know when,” Rivers said. “I don’t know if I’m discouraged or encouraged about Game 3 (Friday night in Los Angeles). We’re just gonna have to take it day by day.”

Paul suffered the injury in the first half of the Clippers’ Game 7 win over the Spurs on Saturday. Paul tried to go through a light workout early Wednesday and did some running in a pool.

“It wasn’t that hard a decision.” Rivers said. “He’s just shooting free throws and moving. It’s more just talking to him and J.P. (athletic trainer Jasen Powell). It wasn’t that hard to assess.”

The Clippers got a leg up on the Rockets in the series with a 117-101 win on Monday night with Paul watching from the bench. But Rivers said having the 1-0 lead and taking home court advantage away from Houston with a chance to get Paul more healing time did not factor into the decision.

“That had nothing to do with it,” Rivers said. “You’ve got to win four. So if he could play, he would play. Yeah, I’m concerned.”

Paul likely out again for Game 2

HOUSTON — If Chris Paul has a wish for his 30th birthday, it’s to celebrate it with a return to the court with his teammates for Game 2 against the Rockets tonight. But Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he’s not expecting that to happen.

“I’m going to see how it feels this morning at walk-through and get with the training staff and we’ll see,” Paul told reporters at Wednesday’s shootaround at Toyota Center about his strained left hamstring. “It’s really tough, really tough, especially with the way that I play. There’s only one way that I know how to play. You don’t want to make it worse than it already is.

“Every day is better. Hopefully, we’ll see if it’s ready by tonight. One thing about me is if I can play, I’m going to play.”

Rivers had been saying that the Clippers’ 117-101 win over Houston in the opener of the series would not be a factor in deciding Paul’s use in Game 2. He maintained that if Paul was ready to play, he would play and be held out for two more days of rest at home in L.A. on Friday.

“I’m not even thinking about Game 3, so we will find that out today and right now I don’t think so,” Rivers said.

“We are going to see. I pretty much doubt it to be honest just from talking to him but he is going to shootaround and we will go from there.”

If he doesn’t play tonight, Paul will be back in street clothes on the Clippers bench, stalking and urging on his teammates in a role that he did not exactly like.

“I told them if I was going to miss tonight, I would have to take some anxiety pills. It’s a lot more nerve-wracking being on the bench than it is being in the game.  This is probably a reason I never coach, not that this level, maybe my AAU kids. This is too stressful.

“I told the guys after last game, ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.’ Blake (Griffin) said that he needed me. I’ll see how it feels.”

Blogtable: How many more MVPs will Stephen Curry win?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: How many MVPs for Curry? | Best bench in playoffs? | Aldridge’s next move?



VIDEOHow many more MVPs can Stephen Curry win?

> Stephen Curry hoisted the Kia NBA MVP trophy on Monday. He just turned 27, so how many more of these will he collect?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: I say one more in sort of an homage to Steve Nash and Steve/Steph’s everywhere. But my hunch is Anthony Davis, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Andrew Wiggins and several others — including LeBron James — say none.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Curry could and likely will continue to perform at this MVP level for another handful of years, but this could well be his only time to hold the trophy. There are just so many other contenders. I don’t think LeBron James is done adding to his collection. A healthy Kevin Durant will return with something to prove. James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul are all solid contenders.  But most of all, we are entering the Era of Anthony Davis and he’s going to fill up a shelf.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Maybe one. That’s not a knock on Curry — he will be at an MVP level for many years. But the field of other realistic possibilities is so deep. Look at who else finished near the top of the 2015 vote. LeBron James is the only one past halftime of his career. Curry’s problem with adding to the collection isn’t Curry. It’s everyone else.

Shaun Powell, NBA.com: I wouldn’t be surprised if he won another MVP or he doesn’t. It’s just too unpredictable right now, especially with James Harden and Russell Westbrook waiting “their turn” and the ever-imposing presence of LeBron James. Plus, there’s always the issue of health. But hey, if Steve Nash can win a pair, why not Curry?

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: It’s certainly possible that he can win one or two more, but if I had to guess, the answer would be zero. Curry is ridiculous and the Warriors will be a great team for at least a few more years, but it was a crowded MVP field this year. LeBron James and Chris Paul each have one or two more MVP-esque years in them (and Paul will be more appreciated by the voters after this postseason). Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook each have a few more great seasons left in them. Kawhi Leonard is only 23 years old and Anthony Davis is only 22. It’s not about Curry, but about how many other options there will be every season.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: He’s got at least one more in him and maybe a third, overall. Curry’s young enough and the Warriors should remain in the elite mix long enough for him to contend for more. There are no guarantees, of course (we would have said the same thing about Derrick Rose after he won his MVP and the same thing about Kevin Durant last season, and neither one of them was in the mix this season). Being in the MVP discussion requires so many moving parts to fall into place in a given season. Curry has all of them on his side now and going forward. Only time will tell.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.comSteve Nash won two of them, even though his teammates lacked the defensive mentality of Curry’s Warriors. I’m going to give Curry another MVP – and he could contend for more pending his ability to win championships.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I’ll say two more, and that’s being conservative. Winning an MVP almost requires a perfect storm, and this season everything has been clicking for Curry and the Warriors, from Curry staying healthy to the team around him being championship caliber. It’s almost felt like a downhill trip at times for the Warriors and for Curry’s MVP candidacy. How many more times will the chips all fall perfectly, or at least perfectly enough to make Curry the front-runner in the MVP voting? It requires skill, for sure, but a little luck never hurt anyone, either.

Angry McHale just wants an effort


VIDEO: The Starters point out some of the Rockets’ lackadaisical play

HOUSTON — There was no alternate ending on the video. No final scene where the Rockets finally stopped making careless turnovers, forcing up bad shots and using all the bad judgment of teen-agers at an abandoned campground in a horror movie.

“Observations are the same from looking at it on tape as looking at it live,” said coach Kevin McHale, the day after his team laid a 117-101 egg against a Clippers team playing without All-Star point guard Chris Paul. “We didn’t play very well. They played a lot harder than we did. They had second and third effort. They got after the ball. They shot better than we did. The game was there. We turned it over left and right, had I think six offensive rebounds with a million different misses. We didn’t play well enough to win.”

There had been so much talk about a lack of energy in the postgame locker room that one might have thought somebody pulled out a plug at Toyota Center.

But McHale, who spent a long stretch after Tuesday’s practice sitting and talking with team owner Leslie Alexander, was in no mood to speculate why a team that had nearly a full week of rest after eliminating Dallas in the first round would have less energy or less of anything in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals.

Word is that McHale tore into his team following Game 1 more than any other time this season.

“I think our attitude and effort has to change,” he said. “We have to be ready to come out and go to work and be ready to be physical and be ready to play at whatever level it takes to win the game. That also includes taking care of the ball. That includes getting second shots, attacking the offensive board, attacking their defenders, putting them in compromising positions and then making the right play.”

When it came to defending Clippers power forward Blake Griffin, who had his third triple-double of the playoffs with 26 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists, the dismissive McHale had an idea.

“Try to possibly do the things we asked them to do in our preparation work,” he said. “We did not play Blake the way we practiced at all. We played him in an unknown way for most of them to watch.

“I’m trying to get our guys to play. We did not play well. They did not have a lot of juice. They had vacant eyes. They just looked like they were running in mud. If I knew what (would) get them out of it, you don’t think I would have given them the elixir?

“That surely caught me by surprise after having time off, getting our rest. The rest had nothing to do with our play last night. We’ve had those things off and on. I did not expect it in the opening game of the second round when you worked hard all year long to get home-court advantage.”

What remained in the air was why something as fundamental as effort would ever be lacking in the playoffs.

“You’re asking me these questions,” McHale said. “You got to go out and play. I saw the same game you did. You have to go out and play. If I had all the answers, I’ve said it a million times, I’d go to Wall Street and not have to talk to you chumps.”

 

 

Rivers calls Paul ’50-50′ for Game 2


VIDEO: Doc Rivers says Chris Paul is ’50-50′ for Game 2

HOUSTON — The Clippers know now that they can beat the Rockets without Chris Paul in the lineup. What they don’t know yet is if they’ll have to try to do it again in Game 2.

“Fifty/fifty,” said coach Doc Rivers on Tuesday before L.A. went through a light practice at Toyota Center. “I just don’t really know. He looked good walking today but I really don’t have a clue right now.

“That’s just a difficult decision. It’s a tough call. That injury, I’ve had it. It’s a hard injury for your trainer because he, at some point, is going to give you the thumbs up and he will be sweating that whole night because that’s an injury you just don’t know and it’s an injury you can’t do an x-ray and say that you’re all right.

“You have to trust your player, which is the worst guy to trust in this situation. At some point he is going to play and when he does, we are going to be sweating because we won’t know until he gets out there.”

Paul, of course, will be champing at the bit to get back in the lineup, even though the Clippers pulled away in the fourth quarter Monday night for a 117-101 victory.

Game 2 will be played on his 30th birthday and conventional wisdom says that having gotten a leg up in the series with the road win in the opener, Rivers could buy added time for Paul’s left hamstring to heal and put him back in the lineup Friday night in L.A. for Game 3. But the coach said the 1-0 lead in the series is not a consideration.

“I didn’t ask (how Paul felt) because we didn’t do anything,” Rivers said. “I know he is going to  try to get some shots up or something but we will find out more (Wednesday). I have no idea. I honestly don’t.

“If he can play, he will play. We just want to make sure he is healthy. I really did not ask.”

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 200): Cinco De Playoffs!

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — It’s a holiday.

Pick one.

Cinco De Mayo … Taco Tuesday … the NBA’s conference semifinals on both sides of the playoff conference divide are upon us.

Whatever you do tonight and for the foreseeable future, you’ve got the playoffs to enjoy. And so far, there have been no disappointments.

The newly minted KIA MVP, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors, are making sure of it. Same goes for LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and (soon to show up) J.R. Smith of the Cleveland Cavaliers; Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol and Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls; John Wall, Bradley Beal and Paul Pierce of the Washington Wizards; Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul (as soon as he returns from resting that hamstring) of the Los Angeles Clippers; Al Horford, Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap of the Atlanta Hawks, James Harden, Dwight Howard and … ah, you get the point.

Instead of focusing on who is not coming to our Cinco De Playoffs party, we’re focusing on those who are present on Episode 200 of The Hang Time Podcast. And despite a tremendous marketing campaign to the contrary, there are plenty of guys interested in playing hero this time of year. In fact, it’s a right of passage.

So whoever you root for, wherever you are, pull up a seat and join us for Episode 200 of The Hang Time Podcast: Cinco De Playoffs?

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best sound designer/engineer in the business, Andrew Merriman.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.


VIDEO: Stephen Curry is your new KIA MVP

Bad hamstring sidelines Paul for Game 1


VIDEO: Get a slow-motion view of Chris Paul’s Game 7 winner

HOUSTON — Chris Paul was able to play through a hamstring injury and hit the winning shot in Game 7 against the Spurs, but it kept him out of Game 1 against the Rockets on Monday night.

“I just don’t think he was healthy enough to play,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “Obviously, I guess in a Game 7 he could have played. I’m not even sure with that. I just don’t think the risk is worth it.

“Honestly, I pretty much knew all day. I had to still wait for J.P. (head athletic trainer Jasen Powell) to tell me for sure. But I honestly had made my mind up. They were going to have to change my mind to tell me he was healthy.

“I’ve had the injury. I just don’t like playing with it. It’s not worth it, because if you re-injure that, then you’re done. To me it wasn’t worth the risk.

“We’ll see. It could be two games. It could be one. We don’t know that. I haven’t thought that far ahead, to be honest. But pretty much right away I had made up my mind that he wasn’t going to play tonight.”

Paul had to leave the game Saturday and go to the locker room for treatment. But he returned to the floor and wound up playing 37 minutes, scored 27 points, dealt six assists and capped it all off by hitting a running bank shot with one second left to give L.A. a 111-109 win.

This was the first time in Paul’s 10-year NBA career that he played in all 82 regular season games.

Paul’s spot will be filled by a combination of Austin Rivers, Lester Hudson and Jamal Crawford.

During the regular season, the Clippers outscored their opponents by 12.2 points per 100 possessions with Paul on the floor, and were outscored by 7.6 with him off the floor. That differential of 19.8 was, by far, the largest for players who played at least 1,000 minutes. Next on the list was Stephen Curry (17.1).

When asked if Paul would return at some point in the series, River replied: “Oh yeah, for sure.”

Rivers said that Paul had spoken to him earlier in the day about playing in the opener against the Rockets.

“He did, but it didn’t matter,” Rivers said. “It just didn’t matter. There’s certain things, a knee or something, you say, ‘OK, we’ll see what you’ve got.’ This is one of those, I don’t want to see what you have. Because if you’re wrong, then you’re wrong for the series. It’s just not worth the risk.”

Rivers said he understood the severity of the injury as soon as he saw Paul up and grab at his left hamstring on Saturday.

“I was playing him on adrenaline right when he did it,” Rivers said. “It was funny, I actually turned to Woody (assistant coach Mike Woodson) and said, ‘Oh, he’s not playing Game 1.’ That was during the game. That was the way I felt at the time.”

Only the fact that it was Game 7 kept Paul on the floor against the Spurs.

“No doubt. No doubt. No doubt,” Rivers said. “At that point I was thinking he’s already injured, so let’s see what we can get out of him. He’s not a horse, so he can come back.”

CP3 insurance? How about ‘Bob Griffin’

With point guard Chris Paul and his sore left hamstring likely to be a pending decision right up until the opening tip for tonight’s Game 1 against the Houston Rockets, the Los Angeles Clippers are in the market for insurance in their offense.

While it might be tempting to suit up the bespectacled “Cliff Paul,” alter-ego in State Farm TV commercials, Clippers coach Doc Rivers could turn to a different source for his playmaking needs.

Let’s call him Blake Griffin’s less-well-known brother “Bob Griffin,” the point forward.

After ringing up his second triple-double of the series in the close-out Game 7, the power forward Griffin averaged 24 points and 13 rebounds, but also handed out 7.4 assists against the Spurs.

“That’s unheard of from the power forward spot,” Rivers told reporters upon the team’s arrival in Houston. “It’s a crazy number. He’s that good.

“Blake’s a facilitator. If Chris is unable to go, Blake’s our best passer. It’s just like when Chris was out last year. We had (Darren Collison), but Blake was the guy who was facilitating our offense.”

Though the Clippers can function by relying more on Griffin’s passing, the hope remains they won’t need to.

Paul is officially listed as “questionable” on the Clippers’ injury report for Game 1 tonight at the Toyota Center.

Paul strained his left hamstring in the first quarter of Saturday’s game leaving the court briefly to go to the trainer’s room before coming back to lead the Clippers past the Spurs.

“We did a MRI and that came out pretty well, but I don’t know,” Rivers said Sunday. “We’ll wait until (Monday) and find out.

“… I’m going to be careful. If there’s any risk, he won’t play. I can tell you that right now. I just don’t know yet.”

For the first time in his career, Paul played in all 82 games this season, averaging 22.7 points, 7.9 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 steals in the Clippers’ hotly-contested first-round win over the defending champion Spurs, where L.A. had trailed 3-2 in the series before winning the final two games to advance.

If Paul is unable to play, the Clippers point guard duties will be shared by Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford.

But don’t count out insurance coverage by Griffin.

“We’re just going to trust the system like we did (in Game 7 against the Spurs),” Griffin said. “When he was in the back, we said, ‘Come on, we can’t feel sorry for ourselves, we’ve got to strap up and go.’ We’re going to trust our system just like any other game. Nobody is going to do it alone, but we need everybody.”