Posts Tagged ‘Clippers’

Small market powers rule NBA final four

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com


VIDEO: Fans from five NBA cities, four of them medium or small markets, form a flash mob to support their squads

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — New York … who needs you?

Los Angeles … maybe next time.

Chicago and Houston … not since Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon, respectively.

The NBA playoffs thrive no matter which cities are represented. But with this year’s final four, we’re going to have something of a small-market extravaganza come Finals time.

San Antonio is perhaps the most successful small-market team ever.

With San Antonio up 2-0 on the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers tied at 1 heading into this weekend’s Game 3 matchups, the only thing we know for sure is that the 2014 NBA champion will hail from outside of Nielsen’s Top 10 media markets. (The Heat rank highest of the remaining teams at 16th, while Indianapolis comes in at 26th, San Antonio 36th and Oklahoma City 41st.)

The biggest headlines off the court are being generated by the teams ranking at the top of the Nielsen list. Phil Jackson and the Knicks are still looking for a coach in New York, the No. 1 media market. Kobe Bryant and the Lakers are doing the same in Los Angeles (No. 2). And that’s not to mention the Clippers and the Donald Sterling affair, which has engulfed Dallas (No. 5) Mavericks owner Mark Cuban as well.

On the court, however, the small(er) markets continue to dominate the landscape, to the delight of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who touted the game’s “renaissance” in all places, big, small and in between, before Tuesday’s NBA Draft lottery. The three best regular-season records in the league this season belonged to the Spurs (62 wins), Thunder (59) and Pacers (56).

The Heat, winners of 54 games during the regular season, have won the last two Larry O’Brien trophies and are attempting to complete a coveted three-peat. They beat the Spurs in The Finals last season and the Thunder the year before that. The Pacers, who fell to the Heat in seven games in the 2013 East finals, are looking to crash that three-team party this season and plant their own flag in this small-market surge.

If that’s not medium-to-small-market domination, someone needs to tell the rest of us what is. (more…)

24–Second thoughts — May 20

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com


VIDEO: Dwyane Wade has LeBron’s back at crunch time … they’re not done yet, folks

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Born Ready?

Not yet.

Not Lance Stephenson and the Indiana Pacers, who made it interesting until the very end of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.

Born Ready?

Not ready. Not yet.

Not when LeBron James (12 points) and Dwyane Wade (10) own the floor at crunch time in the fourth quarter.

The Heat have never trailed 2-0 in a series since they joined forces. They still haven’t. James and Wade 22 in the fourth quarter, Pacers 20!

Game 3 is Saturday in Miami.

The Heat are taking their talents and that always crucial 1-1 series split back to South Beach!

:1

LeBron and Wade either scored or assisted on every single basket in the fourth quarter for the two-time defending champs. Real Champs wore black!

:2

LeBron with the sick bounce pass to Wade for the reverse baseline jam and essentially the game!

(more…)

CP3 witch hunt needs to stop!

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com


VIDEO: Chris Paul endured some tough moments during the Clippers-Thunder conference semifinal

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The grumblings started long before the fall, long before Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers fell in the Western Conference semifinals to the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

They’ve been rumbling around the basketball world for years now, the questioning of Paul’s place among the game’s current greats. Where does he fit in a landscape where he’s generally considered one of, if not the best point guard in the game? And yet there is still that glaring hole on his resume.

Paul has never been to the conference finals and has therefore only been a spectator when the NBA’s champion has been crowned.

He’s won multiple gold medals in international competition, including the Olympics in 2008 and 2012, and is a staple in the talent-laden USA Basketball pipeline. And still, there are folks that want to chip away at his armor after years of excellence from him.

It doesn’t help that his contemporaries have hardware he lacks. LeBron James has championships rings and MVPs trophies to spare. Kevin Durant joined the elite club with his first MVP this season. Tony Parker has a Finals MVP and plenty of rings. Derrick Rose has his MVP. Rajon Rondo a ring and multiple trips to the conference finals and The Finals. Even the oft-maligned Russell Westbrook has been to The Finals.

Paul is in that weird superstar purgatory where everyone knows he belongs in any conversation of the best of the very best, until they start weeding guys out based on their accomplishments. The same superstar purgatory that veteran All-Stars like Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love have taken up permanent residence in the past few seasons (Anthony has been to the conference finals but still gets panned for not winning it all. Love is still waiting to make the postseason.)

Paul’s been a subject of a witch hunt, of sorts, this season in particular, with pundits and Hall of Famers questioning the validity of his superstar status. It’s a witch hunt that needs to stop!

Paul’s a seven-time All-Star, a five-time All-NBA pick (three times on the first team), a five-time All-Defensive team selection and has led the league in assists three times and in steals six times. He knows better than anyone that the shortcomings in the playoffs are the one dark mark on his ledger right now, that’s why he takes the losses as hard as he does. That’s why this latest failure stings the way it does and will until he gets a chance to make it right.


VIDEO: A quick recap of the spectacular six-game series between the Clippers and Thunder

Those of us who chronicle the league have been tossed into the fire as well. We’ve been accused of giving Paul a pass because he’s always been good to us, always been as cooperative as possible and is a drama-free superstar in a world that boasts few of those.

That’s garbage. I don’t hold Paul to any different standard than anyone else. He and Deron Williams came into the league and promptly bum-rushed the point guard hierarchy. Paul played his way into the elite mix, held his own all the way up and fended off challenges year after year.

He doesn’t have to defend his position to me, you or anyone else.

He is not the fist superstar to fall down at a big moment in the playoffs, the way he did in Game 5 of the conference semifinals against Westbrook and Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder. That final and disastrous 13.9 seconds will not define Paul’s season or career. And to hear people suggest that it would or even should is a testament to the prisoner-of-the-moment syndrome that permeates every fiber of our current sports culture.

“I just feel awful for him, point-blank I do,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said after his team bowed out to the Thunder in Game 6. “He’s the spirit of our team and right now his spirit is broken.”

You’d expect nothing less of a man who holds himself to the standard Paul does. But if we start running down the list of Hall of Famers who came up short in big moments, who didn’t win it all, we’d be here all day … and night.

This notion that Paul’s incapable of leading a team to championship heights is preposterous. No one took the Clippers serious as a contender before his arrival. For him to power them through the turmoil of the ongoing Donald Sterling saga the way he did goes down as another of his standout performances.

That in no way lets him off his own hook. Paul’s not looking to be patronized by me or anyone else for doing and saying the right thing, or coming close but not breaking through to the conference final threshold after a decade in the league. He wants more, he needs more. And that’s the way we all like our superstars, our champions to be built.

Paul believes he has championship DNA. And he knows that the only way to validate his own belief in himself is to make sure he and Rivers, Blake Griffin and the Clippers find their way to that next level in the near future.

If that means going back to the grind for yet another summer with the rumblings surrounding him and the questions lingering about whether or not he’s going to be a true superstar or a superstar with an asterisk, bring it on.

“I prepare for every offseason like I always do,” a clearly agitated Paul said after that Game 6 loss to the Thunder. “It’s nothing just to get out of the second round. It’s to win a championship. I don’t know anybody in our league that plays for the Western Conference finals. That’s not enough.”


VIDEO: Chris Paul and Blake Griffin address the media after losing Game 6 to the Thunder

Hang time podcast (episode 160) featuring Stu Jackson and the ‘call’

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com


VIDEO: Stu Jackson joins the Hang Time Podcast crew to discuss “the call” from Game 5 of Clippers-Thunder

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Will the “call” from Game 5 really be one of the “definding moments” of the Clippers-Thunder Western Conference semifinals?

Clippers coach Doc Rivers certainly think so.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks certainly hopes so.

The players on both sides better not let it be so, because they’ve got another game to play, maybe two, including Game 6 tonight in Los Angeles. And any lingering issues from that wild finish in Game 5 could be detrimental to the cause.

But before we dive into Game 6, we go back and examine the call with former NBA Executive VP of Basketball Operations Stu Jackson, aka the “Dean of Discipline.”

If anyone can explain what happened, it’s Stu!

We also talk about the crazy ride that is the 2014 playoffs, postgame presser Fact or Fiction, Stan Van Gundy to Detroit as its new boss, the coaching carousel and much more on Episode 160 of the Hang Time Podcast featuring Stu Jackson and the “call.”

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,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– 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.

 

The Call: Thunder-Clippers Game 5

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com


VIDEO: Stu Jackson joins the Hang Time Podcast crew to clarify the controversial call at the end of the Thunder-Clippers Game 5 game

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Rule 8, Section II-c of the NBA rule book hasn’t gotten this much attention since it was first written.

But the text is being cited in all corners of the basketball universe as we try to make sense of what happened in the final seconds of Game 5 of the Los Angeles Clippers-Oklahoma City Thunder Western Conference semifinal Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers called it potentially a “series-defining call.” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he definitely saw a foul that wasn’t called on Matt Barnes for slapping the hand of Reggie Jackson as Jackson frantically raced toward the basket with the Thunder’s comeback on the line with 11.3 seconds to play. (Brooks admitted, though, he couldn’t tell from the replays who touched the ball last as it went out of bounds.)

Whatever the case, after Barnes of the Clippers slapped at the ball and caught OKC’s Jackson on the left hand, after the ball went out of bounds (seemingly, in many people’s eyes, off Jackson’s right hand), referee Tony Brothers signaled OKC ball.

The refs went to the video replays to see who last touched the ball, but the replays, they said, were inconclusive. So Oklahoma City retained possession and went on to win, 105-104, completing a stunning comeback from 13 points down with 3:30 left to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

And a controversy was born.

Here is the replay of the controversial call, including some of the most poignant responses from the Clippers, who (they admitted) wouldn’t have been in a position for the call to matter if they’d have taken care of business:


VIDEO: The controversial call in question from Game 5 of the Thunder-Clippers series

And here’s what Rule 8, Section II-c states:

… If a player has his hand in contact with the ball and an opponent hits the hand causing the ball to go out-of-bounds, the team whose player had his hand on the ball will retain possession.

Not long after the call, Stu Jackson, the NBA’s former Vice President for Basketball Operations, made it clear that he thought the right call was made on the floor — pointing to 8-II-c — and that the replay rule was used properly.

We couldn’t let Jackson get away with just a 140-character response. We needed more and the Hang Time Podcast crew got it from Jackson this morning.

Complicating the whole matter is the statement from Brothers after the game. A pool reporter was dispatched to get a clarification on the ruling and returned with what appears to be a simple — though certainly not satisfactory to everybody — explanation.

Please provide clarification on the out-of bounds play with 11.3 seconds remaining in regulation in which Oklahoma City was awarded possession.

Tony Brothers:

“When the ball goes out of bounds, the ball was awarded to Oklahoma City. We go review the play. We saw two replays. The two replays we saw were from the overhead camera showing down, and the one from under the basket showing the same angle but from a different view. And from those two replays, it was inconclusive as to who the ball went out of bounds off of. When it’s inconclusive, we have to go with the call that was on the floor.”

We know what Rivers thinks of that explanation. You can bet Clippers fans around the world agree wholeheartedly with their coach.

The Thunder and their fans, of course, are just glad to be on the other side of a crazy finish after surrendering a 22-point lead in Game 4 in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Whatever the case, the buildup for Game 6 Thursday night in Los Angeles — where the Clippers have to win in order to keep their season alive — couldn’t get any bigger.

24-Second thoughts — May 13

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com


VIDEO: Bradley Beal and the Wizards stayed alive

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Quick Change is my favorite halftime act at NBA games.

Has been for years.

And they will be until something or someone comes along to dethrone them …

They are also our honorary moniker for tonight’s action, because things do indeed change quickly in the conference semifinals. Just ask Roy Hibbert.

Game 5s for both the Pacers and Wizards and later on the Thunder and Clippers will show us exactly how all four teams react to the quick change that has come in their respective series.

Things changed so quickly in both the last time we saw them all on the floor, with both the Clippers and Pacers rallying back from huge deficits to win Game 4s on Sunday.

This very easily could have a been a night for closeouts. The Pacers have that chance, up 3-1 and playing on their home floor. The Thunder, of course, are deadlocked at 2-2 after the Clippers’ miraculous Game 4 comeback.

So while it’s win-or-go-home night in Indy for John Wall and his Wizards …

The Clippers and Thunder are guaranteed to go at it again, no matter what happens tonight.

Get your popcorn ready …

24 – Unbelievably sloppy start for the Pacers and especially the Wizards (seven turnovers in the first quarter), and yet they still lead after the first. It helps when your big man, Marcin Gortat, is working harder than anyone else on the floor during that span (11 points, six rebounds, one steal, one block and 12 hustle plays).

23 – Wait a minute, Luis Scola time! A 10-0 Indiana run gives the home team 27-25 lead …

22 – The Wizards are not playing like a team in the midst of their defining moment. So careless with the rock. Playing like it’s a preseason game …

21 – Hey, guess who’s on his way bizzzack to the bench (and more)?

#CantWait

20 – Wizards outworking the Pacers big time in the second quarter and pushed their lead to 10 (45-35). Hard to figure these Pacers out. No killer instinct on close-out night is a strange sign. Wizards fighting for their playoff lives, however, is what you love to see …

19 – Gortat and Co. destroying the Pacers on the glass!

18 – QUICK CHANGE!!!!!!!!!!!!

17 – BBQ Pierogi Alert … it’s a dumpling Shaq, not a sausage. Underdog, put that on a T-shirt!

16 – It’s a make or miss league and right now, John Wall is making ‘em. Seventeen and counting for the Wizards’ All-Star PG …

Meanwhile, the Pacers are doing it again …

Or better yet, Gortat is doing it to them …

15 – Freud couldn’t figure these Pacers out …

14 – Marcin The Machine!

13 – Welp!


VIDEO: Magic Johnson responds to Donald Sterling with Anderson Cooper

12 – Looks like the winner of the Early Game 4 Hangover Sweepstakes goes to …

11 – Stan Van Gundy coaching the Pistons makes plenty of sense. His front-office credentials, however …

10 – No hometown love for Blake Griffin, not five games into this series …

9 – Thunder rolling right now, with CP3 out of the mix with the two fouls …

8 – But BG stayed hot and J.J. Redick kept the Clippers in front at the half. Impressive stuff from the road warriors in this series once again …

7 – Amen!

6 – Officials in this night-cap are taking a bigger beating in the social media universe than even the Pacers …

5 – @JCrossover  is the master of the and-1

4 – KD needs to go ahead and join that kid’s framily, anything to escape this shooting nightmare tonight  …

3 – Oof!

2 – Huge box out and rebound of a BG miss on the second of two free throws leads to a CP3 dagger with 49.2 seconds left. Clippers hanging on to a 104-97 lead. Serge Ibaka failed to box Big Baby out properly. Crucial mistake in a game filled with them for the home team … if only KD and Russ weren’t there to rescue your bacon in the final minute. #giventhawaygame4takethawaygame5

1 – Good luck trying to make sense of this finish … CRAZY!


VIDEO: The wild Game 5 finish sees the Thunder serve up revenge for Game 4

24-Second thoughts — May 12

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com


VIDEO: LeBron talks about his crazy, 49-point night in a win over the Brooklyn Nets

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — LeBron James. Paul Pierce.

Their careers have been intertwined for years. They’ve been at this, the sniping and swiping on and off the floor, for years now.

So, there’s no better way to dive into Game 4 of the Miami Heat-Brooklyn Nets Eastern Conference semifinal than through the eyes, hearts and minds of the main two combatants in a series filled with feisty competitors and at-times, larger-than-life personalities.

“What I try to do in this locker room and with my teammates is just try to give them belief — that we can beat this team,” Pierce said after the Nets’ Game 3 win that included 15 makes from beyond the 3-point line for the home team at the Barclays Center. “They’re not unbeatable. You’ve got to have that mental [approach] if you’re trying to get over that mountain that you’re trying to climb.”

LeBron’s response was what you’d expect from a man who has had to go through Pierce and his Boston Celtics while starring in both Cleveland and later Miami, to reach the top of the heap in the conference and the league.

“Words don’t win the game, you’ve got to go out and play,” LeBron said. “Why should there be a fear factor, it’s just basketball? We’re not trying to win a war here, it’s just basketball. We’re all grown men, who cares about who is fearing who? We’ve never been a team that talks, we don’t get into that. We’ve never been a bulletin board team. We just want to play the right way and give ourselves a chance to win.”

Game 4 @ Barclays, bring it on …

24 – No one gets it in like the venerable Ray Allen!

Deron Williams, however, has his own designs on how to prepare for the biggest game of the Nets’ season …

Good to know Shaq and the TNT crew are already warmed up as well …

23 — Alan Anderson gets tangled up with LeBron and the real playoff MVP (double technical fouls) makes an early appearance tonight …

22 – This is as much a mind game for both sides as it is a basketball game …

21 – These two have rolled together before a time or two …

20 – Just turn to TNT and watch playoff hoops!

19 – “AK-47 is the tool!”

– BREAKING NEWS –

NO Mo (Williams) again in Portland …

18 – “Watch what I do to these jokers in the last six minutes.”

LeBrooklyn James is getting whatever he wants out here. Going hard in the paint. Killing it in transition. Facilitating. He’s giving us the whole experience right now. Had 13 points in the final six minutes of the second quarter. Uh, Ballin’ … in #AttackMode …

BTW, Paul Pierce can’t handle the truth tonight …

–Another dispatch from Portland — 

Oh, and Extra Big Ups to Craig Sager!!!!!!!!!!!

17 – Sooner rather than later …

https://twitter.com/HerringWSJ/status/466027919634993152

And yet the Nets are right where they want to be, down 65-63 with 7:01 to play in the third and KG acting like it’s 2004 or something. Rebound on one end, tip dunk on the other to cap a 7-0 Nets run! #weaintdoneyet

16 – “Six minutes, six minutes” …

This LeBron and the Miracles thing is not going to work the deeper the Heat go into these playoffs. #justsayin

15 – Pierce with the dunk for the Nets lead right on cue …

And D. Will with the steal on Birdman and the put back …

14 – The #Truth has shown up for the Nets at crunch time. Now the battle with LeBron is really on …

– Just so we’re clear: 22 of LeBron’s 48 points have come in the paint …


VIDEO: Welcome to the drama that is the Sterlings and the Los Angeles Clippers Dick Parsons

– Sterling foolishness on CNN elicits a prompt response from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver …

13 – Third time’s the charm for Bosh. After two misses from deep he nails the one that matters. #corner3 for 97-94 Heat lead. The Nets’ comeback play …

LeBron finishes his ridiculous night with a playoff career-high tying 49 points …

12 – Thanks for taking the high road Magic!

11 – Another head-scratcher to ponder while we enjoy the Spurs’ reserves go toe-to-toe with the Trail Blazers early in the night cap …

10  Still nothing official from New York and the coaching search …

9 – Raise your hand if you love watching Will “Buckets” Barton crank it up, Patty Mills style, when he tears those Rip City warm ups off. He’s got 22 points in 31 minutes in this series through halftime of Game 4 …

8 – Damien Lillard will not go down without a fight (and a few highlights) …

https://twitter.com/ChrisBHaynes/status/466063147665600512


VIDEO: Damian Lillard throws it down over The Big Fundamental!

7 – They won the game, and then raided the New Jack Swing closet for this #NBAStyle pic after it was over …

6 – LaMarcus Aldridge worked the Houston Rockets over. Dwight Howard. Omer Asik, Terrence Jones and whoever else was unlucky enough to draw the assignment of guarding him in that series. But the LA that dominated that series has vanished against the Spurs. Tiago Splitter, that’s right Tiago Splitter, has done the job defensively …

His partner in low-post crime has been, as the kids say, on one tonight. Robin Lopez = ballin’ …

5 – It’s Batum Time! He’s shoving his countrymen Tony Parker and Boris Diaw aside as he tries to keep the Trail Blazers’ season alive with 4-point plays and anything else he can muster …

4 – #putthebroomsaway?

3 — Good to see Lillard bounce back like this. A sweep and individual struggles would have disrupted his wicked rise …

#RipCityReserves doing their part to make sure this season doesn’t end tonight. Buckets Barton and T-Rob playing wtih crazy energy on both ends …

2 – Spurs,

Put the brooms away please.

Sincerely,

Buckets Barton

1 – Another double-header Wednesday, courtesy Nic and friends …


VIDEO: Will Bartton goes coast-to-coast and finishes with the layup

Clippers not planning to stick with CP3 on Durant

By Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com


VIDEO: The Inside crew discusses L.A.’s decision to use CP3 on Kevin Durant

LOS ANGELES – A man walks into a bar.

Wait.

Here’s a better one:

Chris Paul defends Kevin Durant.

That’s it. No punch line. No laugh track. Just a 6-foot, 185-pound point guard sent to check a 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward who, in his spare time when he’s not busy being bigger than Paul, is the reigning scoring champion. Even people Durant’s own size are handed a cigarette and blindfold when they are given the assignment, and Paul gets word Sunday afternoon in a playoff game with his Clippers already trailing the Thunder 2-1 and 3-1 coming fast.

And CP3 was still upright Sunday night. Not just that, Paul on Durant, with a lot of double-team rescue missions, was part of the small lineup in the fourth quarter that keyed the improbable L.A. turnaround from 22 points down in the first period and 16 down with a little more than nine minutes remaining to the 101-99 victory at Staples Center.

“That’s called desperate coaching,” said the most desperate of coaches at Staples Center, the Clippers’ Doc Rivers.

Durant scored 10 of his game-high 40 points in the fourth, but didn’t truly step on Paul. The MVP took only five shots, half as many as Russell Westbrook and only two more than Reggie Jackson. Durant committed three turnovers and didn’t help the Thunder beat the double teams, with no assists in the 12 minutes.

The Clippers staff talked Saturday about how Durant had been beating them with his dribble, either getting to the basket himself or forcing the defense to collapse and creating openings for Thunder shooters, and decided a guard on him in Game 4 could be a counter. Plus, the coaches had nothing to lose by that point. The Clips were getting pushed out of their own building, a 3-1 hole with the Western Conference semifinals about to head back to Oklahoma City would have been close to insurmountable, and so, sure, why not.

Rivers put Paul, one of the best backcourt defenders in the league, on Durant some late in Game 3, but nothing like this. This was sticking with it. This was sending at least one extra body at KD every post catch and forcing him to either score from there, an acceptable alternative considering he wouldn’t be at the rim or threatening to put L.A.’s season on the clock with 3-pointers.

Durant was asked about the challenge Paul presents and said, “He doesn’t. It’s not a one-on-one. When I catch the ball, they sent a double-team. They did a good job of crowding me, making me get rid of the ball. When it’s one-on-one, I got the advantage.”

For all the Oklahoma City delight over Durant’s growth as a distributor the last couple years, the Clippers will obviously consider it a success anytime he has to pass out of the double-team rather than get a shot. Five shots in the fourth quarter of a close playoff game is somewhere around the success of winning the lottery.

“I really can’t answer that,” Jackson, the Thunder’s backup point guard, said of Durant being muted down the stretch. “We’ve just got to find ways to get (Durant) open shots. We’ve got to punish them for doing that, for making a call such as putting Chris Paul on KD. We’ve got to punish them for it. Size difference. Everybody sees it. We’ve got to find ways to get him the ball easier and if they double just make them pay.”

Said OKC coach Scott Brooks: “That’s something we’ll look at in the film. Kevin was having trouble getting the catches…. But it was physical out there. I’ll just say that. It was physical. But we have to do a better job of getting him open, freeing him up.”

Plotting the counter comes with the Clippers saying — saying — they won’t go Paul on Durant much when the 2-2 series resumes Tuesday night in Oklahoma City. Rivers calls it a “situational” maneuver, not a regular strategy that will be deployed moving forward. The physical toll on CP3 is too much.

“It’s tough,” Paul said. “He was the MVP for a reason, you know what I mean. Early in the game, when things weren’t going right, I went to Doc and said, ‘Might be 48 minutes tonight.’ KD is a great scorer. I don’t know. It’s tough at times because you try and defend him as well as trying to stay aggressive offensively. Same thing I went through last series (against the Warriors). At the end of the day, you’ve just got to do whatever it takes to win.”

It turned out that Paul had a slow day in Game 4. Only 45 minutes.

There’s the punch line. Cue the laugh track.

24-Second thoughts — May 11

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com


VIDEO: The final frantic seconds of the Clippers’ epic Game 4 comeback win over the Thunder

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Greatest playoff comeback ever?

Ah, we’ll argue about it later. (And for the record, there is a huge difference between the “biggest” and “greatest” anything, so keep that in mind. More on this later …)

Greatest comeback in the Los Angeles Clippers’ franchise history?

No diggity, no doubt!

Down 16 in the fourth quarter, the Clippers unleashed the Mother’s Day comeback of the century. After watching them take punch after punch from the Thunder with their season on the line I offered up a simple question via Twitter …

The rest, as they say in Hollywood, is history!

24 – Oh, Metta. You’re going to miss an epic finish fella!

And give them a few minutes, Sir!

23 – No way the Thunder let up. No way. Not when they were crushing the Clippers for so long …

22 – Darren Collison has officially morphed into #newschool Vinnie Johnson and taken over the game on possession after possession. Competitive fire is coming out of his ears as he stages a one-on-one game within the game with his former UCLA teammates Russell Westbrook

21 – Clips back in this for one reason and really one reason only, D-E-F-E-N-S-E-! Doc Rivers switches Chris Paul on the MVP Kevin Durant (with plenty of double-team help) and it actually works …

20 – I believe this about any team, in any sport, at any level …

19 – Now, about this comeback from 22 points down in the game. It was the Clippers’ fourth-largest comeback in the past five seasons, per Elias. So no, it wasn’t a franchise record. They came back from 27 down in the 2012 playoffs to beat the Memphis Grizzlies, 24 down that same postseason to defeat the San Antonio Spurs and from a 23-point hole in the 2011 playoffs to beat the Portland Trail Blazers.

18 – Fine choice of words Mr. Green!


VIDEO: Darren Collison can go ahead and say it, “Im’ the man, I’m the man, I’m the man”

17 – “Madness, I say. Madness!”

… Haha!

16 – Fitting image for an epic finish!

15 – Some folks, CJ Paul, had much better seats than others for the epic comeback …

14 – Doug Collins nailed the one issue that many of us have with the two-faced nature of the KD-Russ dynamic and how it impacts the Thunder, negatively, sometimes (and particularly at critical times) …

13 – Interesting, might be Steve Kerr to the Knicks after all …


VIDEO: CP3 and Lil’ Chris at the podium

12 – No pressure or anything Pacers and Wizards. No big deal. You’re just following one of the best games of the entire #NBAPlayOffs.

No pressure …

11 – Don’t we have to be concerned about the big fella no matter what?

10 – Is anyone ready to forgive yet?

And a quick piece of wisdom from the Basketball Whisperer

9 – My main man #BigThirst Al Harrington with an appearance tonight for the Wizards. one of my favorite cats of all time. Good to see him out there …

… #MOTHER’SDAYSHOUTOUTS

8 – What he said …

7 – Wizards running circles around the Pacers at halftime and they’re the team with all the “old heads” … and that Wall fella!

6 – We’ve been burned once today with a hot start. It would be foolish to assume this one is over, but the Asch Man makes it hard to think this one is heading anywhere but over …

5 – Jeff Teague is not a man of many words. But the Hawks’ point guard is usually spot on with his observations …

More Sterling drama (sorry, but unfortunately it’s news) overshadowing the work of the Clippers on the floor. NBA response to Shelly Sterling‘s desire to retain her ownership stake of the Los Angeles Clippers:

In response to statements made by Shelly Sterling, wife of Donald Sterling, NBA spokesman Mike Bass stated:  
 
“Under the NBA Constitution, if a controlling owner’s interest is terminated by a 3/4 vote, all other team owners’ interests are automatically terminated as well.  It doesn’t matter whether the owners are related as is the case here.  These are the rules to which all NBA owners agreed to as a condition of owning their team.”

4 – Drew Gooden, Harrington and Andre Miller are ballin’ again … let that sink in for a second. They are the old man superhero brigade in D.C. It’s as crazy as it is entertaining watching the “Old” Wizards go to work …

Meanwhile, the Pacers come all the way back and tie the game up and then promptly get outscored 6-0 … and trail by six again 80-74 with 8:36 to play. #SMH #realpacerspleasestandup

https://twitter.com/JCameratoNBA/status/465672561884692481

3 – Win or lose, Wiz Bench and Paul George are exempt from the blame game tonight. Couldn’t have asked for from any of them …

2 – Dancin’ Roy Hibbert with a huge turnaround jumper for a 94-91 Pacers lead in the final 90 seconds. (Yeah, he traveled but it wasn’t called. What can you do?) If this holds, Hibbert will go from the scapegoat to hero in just days. Such is the roller coaster of life in the #NBAPlayoffs …

1 – Emotional crusher for the Wizards. Down 3-1 after losing the 19-point third quarter lead and dropping Game 4 to the Pacers with the late-game stumbles. Maybe they weren’t as ready for prime time as it seemed after Game 1?


VIDEO: Paul George was the man on the spot all night for the Pacers, who are suddenly in control again in this series

Clippers beat up, but not beaten

By Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com


VIDEO: The Clippers storm from 22 down to shock the Thunder in Game 4

LOS ANGELES – His face worn with the exhaustion of recent weeks, the top button of his white dress shirt undone and the burgundy tie splashed with silver and light blue loosened, Doc Rivers dropped into a chair at the front of the room for the post-game press conference.

He let out a big exhale.

“Would you like to make an opening statement or go right to questions?” the Clippers’ coach was asked at the start.

“No, I want a beer,” Rivers said, drawing laughter from the gathered media even if he wasn’t joking.

He was spent. All the Clippers were. It was a physical Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals, with Blake Griffin playing the final 8:44 with five fouls and being sent in by Rivers with one instruction, to play with the energy of someone with one foul. Chris Paul gave away nine inches and some 55 pounds while defending Kevin Durant and lived to tell. Griffin got a fist to the groin from Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka.

The Clippers came back to somehow beat the Thunder 101-99 on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center and tie the series 2-2 because they were scrappy, not because they were flashy. If this was Lob City, it was the working-class section.

Paul on Durant? “That’s called desperate coaching,” Rivers said. The Clippers were anxiously searching, even reaching, for something to administer CPR.

Scoring 38 points in the fourth quarter to win? The defense was the offense. L.A. went small — Darren Collison, Jamal Crawford, Paul, Danny Granger and Griffin most of the final period — and forced turnovers that became fast-break baskets.

The new energy in the final period? Rivers hoped that trapping more would generate the turnovers, but he also saw that it energized the Clippers to be more aggressive than they had been most of the game that existed before in an alternate universe, the one where the Thunder owned the arena, were coasting to a second win in a row and about to head home to close out the series Tuesday night.

“I think we just willed this one,” Paul said.

Willed it.

Forged it.

Dug deep for it.

The Clippers season was quickly — and, under the circumstances, easily — slipping away, falling into a 12-point hole with only 4:51 gone and having that turn into 22 points, at 29-7, after 9:01. There was zero atmosphere from the home crowd. A 3-1 deficit against a very good team was looming large. And when L.A. did close within 39-35 about midway through the second quarter, the Thunder seemed to slam the door with another demoralizing surge that restored order with a 15-point lead with eight minutes remaining in the third quarter. The cushion was still 12 heading into the fourth.

Rivers’ lineup to start the most important 12 minutes of the season was Glen Davis, Collison, Granger, Crawford and DeAndre Jordan. Paul replaced Davis after 53 seconds. Griffin went in for Jordan and the closest thing to a last stand, given the long odds of beating the Thunder three times in a row with two of the games in OKC, was set for the final 8:44.

“We really locked in on defense,” Crawford said. “We were down 22 at one point and we kept believing and never gave up. We refused to lose. It was a big-time win. I’m not sure that win happens on the road. Like I said, the crowd was terrific tonight and they played a huge part.”

Paul was on the court for all but 3 minutes 2 seconds. Griffin went 40 minutes, Crawford 34, or about nine more than his playoff average. Rivers was weary and he didn’t walk into a size mismatch or get told by Ibaka to turn his head and cough.

“I just thought we hung in there,” Rivers said. “We searched for combinations. We went completely unconventional. We went ultra-small. We put Danny at the four. His numbers won’t show it, but Danny Granger was huge for us. He kept guys from getting rebounds. I thought his length was a factor. Then obviously Jamal and (Collison) in that small lineup, that won the game for us. I’m not sure we ever used that lineup. But that group won the game for us tonight.”

That settles it then. Beers all around.