Posts Tagged ‘Grant Hill’

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 138) Featuring Inside Stuff Co-Host Kristen Ledlow



HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – For those of you old enough and bold enough to admit it, Inside Stuff was your gateway to the NBA growing up.

Long before NBA TV and League Pass, before mobile apps and smart phones, there was Inside Stuff on Saturday mornings to help feed your insatiable appetite for all things NBA (yes, Ahmad Rashad was the man of the hour on Saturday mornings during our formative years).

Kristen Ledlow, the new co-host of Inside Stuff with Grant Hill, is doing her best to bring that feeling back for the next generation of NBA lovers.

She drops by for her first visit to the hideout on Episode 138 of the Hang Time Podcast, where we discuss everything from  Kobe Bryant‘s return to practice with the Los Angeles Lakers, the work LeBron James is putting in without Dwyane Wade in the lineup for the Miami Heat, the simultaneous meltdowns by both the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, the players’ only team meeting in Cleveland and plenty of news, notes and observations from around the NBA.

You get all of that — not to mention the latest edition of Sounds of The Game and this week’s update of Braggin’ Rights (there is a tie at the top that does not involve Lang Whitaker) — on Episode 138 of the Hang Time Podcast featuring Inside Stuff Co-Host Kristen Ledlow:

LISTEN HERE: 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 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.


Kidd Retires As One Of The All-Time Greats



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Few players in the history of the NBA have held the distinction of being the standard bearer at their position the way Jason Kidd did during his 19-year career, which came to an end today with the announcement that veteran point guard was retiring.

He has been more than just a great player during his career. Kidd has been the prototype at point guard of his generation and arguably the greatest all-around athlete to play the position — name another point guard who graduated high school as a first team USA Today All-American in two sports (baseball).

Kidd didn’t get the chance to revolutionize the game as a “big” point guard. Magic Johnson took care of that while Kidd was still playing with toy cars. But he did continue the renaissance for the position, which is arguably the deepest its ever been right now with an assorted bunch of point guards who grew up with Kidd as the standard.

Everyone from Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, and Deron Williams to the new breed of Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, John Wall and Mike Conley have grown up with Kidd as the ideal role model of who and what a true point guard is supposed to be.

A 10-time All-Star who led the NBA in assists five times during his career, Kidd finishes his career second all-time in assists and steals behind John Stockton, another point guard Kidd will join in the Hall of Fame one day. Kidd served as a bridge between the Magic, Isiah Thomas-Stockton era at the position and the current renaissance.

At 40, Kidd joins the man he shared Rookie of the Year honors with in 1995, Grant Hill, who announced his retirement over the weekend on TNT, in leaving the NBA after nearly two decades as a staple on and off the court.

“I think it is the right time,” Kidd told ESPNNewYork.com. “When you think about 19 years, it has been a heckuva ride. Physically, I want to be able to participate in activities with my kids so it has taken a toll. It is time to move on and think about maybe coaching or doing some broadcasting.”

Jeff [Schwartz] and I and my family had been talking this past weekend,” Kidd added of his agent. “We talked a lot and we felt it was the right time to move on and so we notified the Knicks. They were kind of taken aback. We told them [earlier] that I wanted to come back and play. But this weekend was when we got a chance to relax [and really think about it]. It is the right thing to do.”

Kidd won a championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 and also two gold medals with the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team in Olympic competition (Sydney in 2000 and Beijing in 2008), as well as three other gold medals during international competition with USA Basketball.

Perhaps the most impressive accomplishment on Kidd’s resume is the back-to-back Eastern Conference titles and trips to The Finals (in 2002 and 2003) with the Nets, the first ever and only trips to that high ground for the franchise. Kidd elevated a franchise to a championship level and in my eyes never got the credit he deserved for doing so, at least not in the way that Steve Nash did while winning back-to-back MVPs in Phoenix for impacting that franchise in the same way.

Acknowledging his contribution, Nets GM Billy King released this statement: “Jason Kidd was the captain of the Nets during their most successful period in the NBA, and is considered the greatest player in the Nets’ NBA history. On behalf of the entire Brooklyn Nets organization, we congratulate him on his Hall of Fame career.”

Kidd was a first or second-team All-NBA pick 10 times in his career, five each, and will go down as not only one of the best NBA point guards of all time but one of the all-time greats in high school (Bay Area legend at St. Joe-Notre Dame), college (Cal, where his No. 5 is retired) and in the NBA (the Suns, Nets, Knicks and two stints with the Mavs).

A liability as a shooter early in his career, Kidd refined his stroke in his later years and reinvented himself as a clutch 3-point shooter, draining shot after big shot during the Mavericks’ title march in 2011.

An acknowledgement of Kidd’s greatness is in order. We’re saying goodbye to not only one of the great players of his generation, but one of the greatest players the NBA has seen in any generation.

The Real Grant Hill Legacy





HANG TIME WEST – Nineteen official seasons in the league, though 18 of actually playing and one of those barely playing, five at 20 points a game and two other times coming very close, seven All-Star invitations, another 44 games in the playoffs over eight years with four teams…and that does not begin to define what should be the lasting impression of Grant Hill.

The real stats that measure Hill’s legacy as he heads into retirement?

Infinity. The number of people – we counted to the very end – who said his career was done in the early-2000s as the Magic small forward played musical ankle injuries and chop-stepped from one frustrating season to the next.

Six. The number of healthy seasons after that, with the Magic and Suns, before the seventh, 2012-13 with the Clippers, was derailed by knee problems. (And, by the way, four healthy seasons as a Piston at the start of his career.)

Ninety-one. The percentage of games played in those six seasons, after fans tried to shout him into retirement, the media routinely mentioned how much Hill was making to wear suits on the bench and he became the poster child of bad free-agent decisions.

For all the memories of a gifted player who could score and defend and initiate an offense from small forward, for all the leadership while carrying himself with an uncommon dignity through parts of three decades in the NBA, Hill should be remembered for his toughness. He refused to agree with popular opinion to just go away already.

“I think the thing I’m most proud of is that back in 2003, I had multiple doctors tell me that I was done,” Hill said in making the retirement announcement Saturday during the TNT pre-game show before Heat-Pacers. “And I was able to play another 10 years. I played with the big fella (Shaquille O’Neal) for a couple years. I wasn’t the same player. But I still had a lot of fun in the game and got the most out of it.”

Contrary to the reputation, this was not a man trying to sneak a career in among the injuries. Ten healthy seasons says so. Refusing to go away says so.

Hill was still getting first-place votes for the All-Defense team from coaches in 2011-12 at age 39. A couple months later, he was still an in-demand free agent, before choosing the Clippers in what depreciated into a disappointing personal and individual season. Even as age was taking over, teams around the league appreciated his mindset.

When Hill did go away, it was on his own terms. Even while going through the strains of returns and setbacks, he recovered to become a dependable cog in Phoenix, starting 81 regular season games on a team that reached the conference finals.

This season with the Clippers is something that happens to a lot of players in their early- or mid-30s, and Hill made it to 40. He had the final word on the way out the door. He had become durable.

Players React To Grant Hill’s Retirement

HANG TIME, N.J. – Grant Hill, 19-year veteran and seven-time All-Star, announced his retirement on the Inside the NBA set on TNT Saturday night before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.

When healthy, Hill was one of the best all-around players in the game. And he was always one of the league’s best citizens. He endured quite a bit of misfortune when he was in his prime, but came back and ended his career on his terms.

“The thing that I’m most proud of,” Hill said, “In 2003 I had multiple doctors tell me I’m done, and I went on to play 10 more years.”

There was plenty of reaction around the league once Hill made his announcement…

Morning Shootaround — April 4

Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.

The one recap to watch: When a player has 90 points over his last two games, it’s a sure bet his game is the must-watch recap of the morning. That being said, what Carmelo Anthony did against the Hawks last night in Atlanta was a thing of beauty (unless, of course, you’re a Hawks fan). ‘Melo systematically picked apart the Hawks’ defense with some nice passes and since Atlanta opted to not double team one of the NBA’s best scorers (and a man on a hot streak of late), he torched them for 40 points for good measure. The Hang Time Podcast crew gets into a good debate/discussion about what all this regular-season scoring means for a player who has yet to have more than one deep playoff run. It’s a worthy discussion to listen to, but if you don’t have time, just watch the Knicks’ No. 1 option go to work on the Hawks.

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News of the morning

D-Will not planning on more cortisone shots | Clips’ Hill leaning toward retirement? | Different kind of beard pact in Oakland | Garcia feels for Kings fans

Report: Williams plans to forsake more cortisone shotsDeron Williams‘ season can basically be broken into two categories: the pre-platelet-rich plasma injections portion and the post-PRP portion. The former occurred up until mid-February, which is when Williams decided to have the PRP treatment done on his bothersome ankles and since then has looked more and more like the All-Star/superstar guard he has been throughout his career. While there was a notion that Williams would need cortisone shots for his ankles just before the playoffs begin, D-Will is scrapping those plans, writes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:

When the playoffs roll around, Deron Williams says he won’t need the high dosage pain killers that helped salvage his season.

The point guard plans to ride this out cortisone-free.

Having braced himself for continued ankle pain and a fourth round of shots just before the playoffs started, Deron Williams told the Daily News on Wednesday that his treatments in February were so successful that injections aren’t necessary prior to the postseason in late April.

It’s a welcome development for Williams, who is aware of the longterm dangers of injecting too much cortisone – a hormone steroid which, used liberally as an anti-inflammatory, can weaken cartilage in the joints, leaving it susceptible to damage or ruptured tendons.

Doctors typically recommend athletes don’t take more than four injections per year, and Williams is happy he doesn’t have to test the limits with a fourth round.

“That’s a good thing,” said Williams, who indicated in February that he “probably” will receive injections before the playoffs.

Williams originally injured his left ankle during training camp for the Olympics, just after signing a five-year, $98 million contract with the Nets. At some point he injured his other ankle, and underwent his first round of cortisone shots in October.

By the time he received his third round in February, Williams was hobbling around the court and undergoing his worst season as a professional. His last cortisone shots were preceded by PRP injections to both ankles about a week prior.

Not coincidentally, Williams’ season turned around after the All-Star break. He’s also 20 pounds lighter, quicker, averaging more points, more assists, less turnovers and shooting at a better percentage.

Williams has said his latest cortisone injections were “finally in the right spot.”

Clippers’ Hill might retire after seasonWhen the Suns decided to embark on their (somewhat puzzling) rebuilding plan, it meant bringing back Grant Hill for a sixth season in Phoenix was a long-shot-at-best proposition. Hill didn’t sit on the summer’s free-agent market for long once he and Phoenix couldn’t reach a deal, as he signed a two-year deal with the Clippers and looked like a piece that would bolster an up-and-coming squad. However, a bone bruise on his right knee kept Hill off the court until Jan. 12 and, since finally playing, he’s averaging career lows across the board. With the injury problems in mind and given Hill’s age (40), the former Rookie of the Year winner tells Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic he might hang it up after this season:

Hill expected to return to Phoenix for a sixth Suns season when he stayed in the Valley to train last summer. The Suns made a one-year, minimum-salary offer of $1.35 million and the Clippers came with a two-year, $4 million one while Oklahoma City and Chicago also pursued him.

Hill, 40, joined the Clippers, began the season on the inactive list after suffering a bone bruise to his right knee, the one which underwent two arthroscopies since 2011 in Phoenix, and did not play until Jan. 12. Hill likely will not make it to that second contract year and opt to retire this summer.

“Strong chance,” Hill said. “I’m leaning toward it. I want to get to the end of the year and off-season and think about it but I’m pretty confident that’s where my mind is right now. I’ve enjoyed it.”

Except for a brief 2008 experiment under then-Suns coach Terry Porter, Hill always had started in his career until this season, when he often is not in the 10-man rotation.

“That knee injury (bone bruise) set me back a bit in terms of staying healthy and getting in the rotation so that hasn’t been good,” Hill said. “But I wouldn’t change it one bit other than to be hurt early in the year. I like the situation. I like my teammates. We’ve had an up-and-down season. We’ve experienced every emotion you can. We’re still battling for that third spot. We haven’t played well of late but we still have a chance to correct it. We have the ability and the talent to beat anybody. I have no regrets. It’s been a great experience.”

Much like with friend Steve Nash’s summer departure from Phoenix to Los Angeles, Hill did not receive the interest he expected or wanted from Phoenix and chose Los Angeles to stay competitive and close to his kids in the Valley. Hill takes trips home on off-days and will return to the Valley when the season is over.

There have long been hopes by many in the Suns organization that Hill would return in a front-office role when he retires.

“I’ve really just focused on enjoying the last year, if this is the last year, and not focusing on the future,” Hill said. “We’ll get to the end and once the end’s over, I’ll start worrying about what I’m going to do from there.”

Warriors make their own beard pactIn case you’ve been living on another planet for a few months, you might have been oblivious to the much-reported fact the Dallas Mavericks started growing beards as a show of unity that they pledged to keep until they reached .500. The Warriors, who are well above .500 and headed for their first playoff berth since 2007, are also growing beards themselves — even if everyone isn’t on board with the plan. Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune has the details:

The Warriors have made a pact that everyone will grow beards until they clinch a playoff spot. No shaving. No trimming.

“The worse it looks, the better it is for the team,” David Lee said.

From the looks of it, though, Andris Biedrins isn’t on board. He looked cleanly shaven Wednesday. And the patch on rookie Harrison Barnes‘ chin looked well groomed.

Coach Mark Jackson is even in on it. His shadow was turning into some rough real estate at practice, highlighted by some gray strands. But he had his facial mane neatened.

There was talk about extended the beard pact through the playoffs. But Stephen Curry wasn’t a fan of that idea.

“This thing,” he said at Wednesday’s shootaround, scratching his grizzled neck. “I’ve already got lint all in it.”

Garcia has empathy for Kings’ supportersRockets swingman Francisco Garcia has played 473 games over eight seasons in the NBA, with 462 of those games played coming as a member of the Sacramento Kings. As a rookie, he was a member of the last Sacramento squad to make the postseason and spent the bulk of his younger years in the NBA in California’s capital city as the Kings trudged through losing season after losing season. He also hasn’t been oblivious to the potential sale of the Kings to a Chris Hansen and a Seattle-based group that wants to buy the team and rebrand them as the Seattle SuperSonics. Yesterday, groups from both Sacramento and Seattle presented their proposed bids to Commissioner David Stern and other league officials and although no decision on the Kings’ future is expected for a while (our own David Aldridge has the full details), Garcia is watching and feels for Kings fans, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

He could have anticipated he would return to Sacramento for the first time with another team. He never could have imagined the possibility it could be his last time as well.

“My first years were great,” Garcia said. “There was a sellout every game. There’s not a lot of cities that were like we were when I first got there.”

While Garcia and the Rockets prepared to go against the Kings on Wednesday night, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson was in New York to present the offer of a local group to purchase the Kings from the Maloof family and prevent the sale to a group that would move the team to Seattle.

After spending most of the last two seasons in the heart of the battle, from the near move to Anaheim through the handshake deal to remain in Sacramento and finally the Seattle-Sacramento tug of war to be decided by the Board of Governors meeting April 18 and 19, Garcia can’t begin to handicap how the competition will end.

On Wednesday, the groups vying for the Kings — Steve Ballmer and Chris Hansen are seeking to buy them and move them to Seattle; Ron Burkle, Mark Mastrov and Vivek Ranadive are bidding to buy them and keep them in Sacramento — made the presentation to a Board of Governors sub-committee, which later will make its recommendation.

Garcia could not help but feel empathy for the fans who supported the Kings so faithfully through much of his career.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “One guy is saying this; another guy is saying that. I don’t know. I’d be sad (if the Kings leave Sacramento). It’s such a great city. They’re great fans. They’ve been supporting the team for a long time.

“It’s great. It’s a great city. I have nothing but good things to say about Sacramento. I had a great eight years there.”

ICYMI of the night: Trevor Ariza shows the kids at home why the pivot foot is important … and that having a little luck is important, too:

What’s Wrong With The Clippers?





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – That rant Vinny Del Negro unleashed on his team after Saturday night’s blowout loss to the Houston Rockets (sans James Harden) was not an elaborate pre-April Fool’s Day ruse. It was real.

“They played harder than we did,” Del Negro said. “We were terrible. Our effort was terrible, our attitude was terrible, our urgency was terrible. Very disappointed. I didn’t see the fight in us tonight, and we need guys to step up.”

“We’re fighting for a spot, and we come out with that second-half — pretty much the whole game — effort. It was poor.” Del Negro said. “I know it’s the fourth game in five nights, but that’s no excuse. We’ve got plenty of depth. No excuses. I don’t believe in that.”

The vitriol … the disappointment … all of it was real.

With seemingly everything to play for — a top-three seed in the Western Conference playoffs, home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, simple professional pride — the Clippers cannot find the energy to finish the season the way they started (with a bang).

The Clippers have fallen off the mark in the second half of the season, squandering a league-best 32-9 start by stumbling their way to a .500 finish (17-17) with seven games remaining in the season. Chris Paul‘s MVP turn during All-Star weekend might very well serve as the lone highlight for the Clippers during the season’s stretch run if they can’t shake out of their funk.

They managed a 7-7 record in March and didn’t exactly get off to a rousing start to this final month of the regular season with Monday night’s home loss to the Indiana Pacers, a game that saw the Clippers trail by as many as 24 points before closing the gap late in a 109-106 loss.

Deciphering exactly what’s wrong with the Clippers from a schematic standpoint is basically a waste of time. They have certain deficiencies that cannot be cured this season unless both Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan magically locate reliable post moves overnight. That’s not meant as a slight to either of the talented young big men, it’s just a fact.

The Clippers are not capable of playing inside-out for long enough stretches to make other high-level teams uncomfortable. Kicking off a crucial, four-game home stand with a deflating loss to the Pacers is no way to inspire confidence. And when Paul, Jamal Crawford and the rest of the Clippers’ perimeter stars are taking turns struggling as well, it confirms all of the fears we’ve been expressing about this team since their second-half struggles began.

This is code red time for the Clippers. They’ve lost four of their last five games and the finger-pointing (direct and otherwise) has already begun. The effort and energy from the players seems to be lacking, suggesting an underlying issue between the players and the coach that is undefeated in terms of the final results (the coach always has to go).

Del Negro has taken a rather aggressive approach, tinkering with his rotations and even benching starters in an effort to jumpstart his team.

“It’s up to them,” Del Negro said of his players to ESPN.com‘s J.A. Adande after the loss to the Pacers. “All I can do is take them in and out of the games.”

For any of this to be said on a team with some of the best locker room leadership in the league (Paul, Caron Butler, Grant Hill and Chauncey Billups) is a bit startling.

Just as startling is Del Negro’s pointed criticism at his biggest stars, particularly his benching of Paul and Griffin recently, moves that are sure to erode the coach-player dynamic on a team that has always had issues in that regard under Del Negro. This madness is going on with a team that needs just one more win to clinch the franchise’s first 50-win season in history.

This puts the entire operation on alert for the postseason. If the Clippers slide in and then slide out just as quickly, then it’s anyone’s guess as to where the Clippers go from there in the offseason.

Start the playoffs on the road and suffer the fate then that you did during your recent tour through the Southwest Division, a 1-3 plank walk, and whatever is wrong with the Clippers will be someone else’s problem.

Del Negro won’t have to worry about it anymore!

1,000 Reasons For Grant Hill To Smile

HOUSTON – One thousand games.

There was a time when it seemed more likely he might undergo 1,000 surgeries.

“I’m still here,” said Grant Hill, his feet soaking in a tub of ice that seemed to be melting from the smile on his face.

The fact that he’s still anywhere near an NBA court, let alone running up and down one, is an act of love and stubbornness.

Players like Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant have been fortunate to be free of major injuries and blew through their first 1,000 games like they were in the EZ-Pass lane on a highway.

For Hill, it’s been the long, bumpy road that could have made him want to pull over and get off so many times.

“Not when you can do this,” Hill said on Monday night after a 117-109 win over the Rockets gave his Clippers their 30th win of the season and kept them just behind the Thunder for the best record in the league.

This was just one layup early in the second quarter. This was just 16 minutes off the bench. This was just his third game of the season after a bruised bone in his right knee forced him out for the first three months of the schedule.

But this was also chasing that passion that’s driven Hill for as long as he can remember.

Fact is, he probably wouldn’t still have been sitting there in the visitors’ locker room inside the Toyota Center three months past his 40th birthday if everything had gone according to plan as the Duke All-American, the 1995 co-Rookie of the Year, the seven-time NBA All-Star.

Here he is trying to work himself back into game shape for an 18th season because he had so many of them (in what should have been the prime of his career) taken away by ankle and knee surgeries, by a staph infection that could have taken away his life.

“At a time like this, on a night like this, I think about the relationships, the lessons learned,” Hill said. “All the little things become more significant and those are the things I take away.”

The surgeons who kept repairing his body and the trainers and the therapists and the ballboys who did all of the things that let him continue to get back out onto the court time after time. All of the coaches, who gave him space and all of the players who gave him their embrace.

From 2000 through 2006, Hill missed 356 of a possible 492 games. That’s what makes nights like this one still special.

“It goes by so fast,” said veteran teammate Lamar Odom. “One minute you’re coming into the league as a kid ready to take on the world. Then look over there at (Grant) and you can see what it feels like to have this life slipping through your hands. You don’t ever want to let it go. It’s special.”

How fitting then that this might be a very special Clippers team, the kind that could take Hill to the one place he’s never been in the NBA from Detroit to Orlando to Phoenix — reaching out for a real shot at a championship.

“When we lost to the Lakers in the conference finals (2010) and Amar’e (Stoudemire) left, I kinda went, ‘Well, maybe it wasn’t in the cards,’ ” he said. “But Phoenix trying to rebuild might have been the best thing for me personally. I got a chance to come here.

“A lot goes into the winning. There are variables. You need the organization to assemble the talent. You need the coaching. You need the talent to recognize the opportunity that’s there and to give up a little bit of themselves as individuals, and you need lots of things to go right. You’ve got to stay healthy, you know.”

Who knows that better than Hill? He looks at the empty locker stalls a few feet away where 36-year-old Chauncey Billups is still recovering from Achilles’ tendon surgery and tendinitis in his foot, where All-Star and MVP candidate Chris Paul sat out his second straight game with a sore right knee. Hill is the second-oldest player in the league and hasn’t forgotten a year or a month or a day that it took to get here.

“I feel like after all the things that I’ve been through, it’s a reward to be on this team,” he said. “So I’ve been champing at the bit the last three months to get back out there. I’m excited, but also mad at myself for not being where I want to be. I think this team has a chance to be special.”

Grant Hill wiggles his toes in the ice.

One thousand games never felt so good.

Real Clippers Starting To Take Shape

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Grant Hill finally made his Clippers debut Saturday, entering, strangely, at the start of the fourth quarter of a close game and playing six minutes. That was the encouraging news from the otherwise disappointing development of the 104-101 loss to the Magic in Los Angeles.

Now the Clippers wait on the return of Chauncey Billups. That will potentially be the big news.

Hill is an important boost for the defense, with the ability to guard multiple positions once he builds to full speed after being sidelined since exhibition play by a bruised right knee. He won’t be a huge difference maker by the numbers because the Clips are tracking to a top-five finish in opponent shooting, but the versatility is invaluable and gives a deep team more lineup options.

There is no timetable for Billups rejoining the lineup after battling tendinitis in the left foot. There is, however, Chris Paul in anticipation.

As much as Paul was excited about finally getting small forward Hill in uniform, he is especially anxious for the chance to play alongside Billups in the backcourt again and the accompanying opportunity to play off the ball more. CP3, a threat with the shot as well as the pass, has been imagining the possibilities for weeks.

Bad news for the rest of the league, in other words. Paul is already playing at an MVP level and still sees the chance for a bigger impact than he made the first 37 games.

“It gets the ball out of my hands,” Paul said recently. “Willie (Green, the current starter) is unbelievable, but Willie’s a shooting guard…. When we get out there and it’s me and Chauncey, he can bring the ball up the court. Now I’m on the wing and everybody’s not just looking at me.”

Hill’s first non-exhibition action since April 24 with the Suns resulted in a standing ovation from the Staples Center crowd when he checked in, followed by two points (two free throws, three missed field goals) and two rebounds while playing with a cap on minutes. But the 40-year-old who rebuffed several others offers to join the Clippers as a free agent in the summer reported no pain around the right knee.

Nash Set To Reach 10,000-Assist Mark

 

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Steve Nash is just five assists from being the fifth player in NBA history to reach the 10,000-assist mark. He’ll likely reach the milestone when his Lakers visit the Houston Rockets on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET, NBA TV).

Most assists, NBA history

Player GP AST AST/G
John Stockton 1,504 15,806 10.5
Jason Kidd 1,345 11,969 8.9
Mark Jackson 1,296 10,334 8.0
Magic Johnson 906 10,141 11.2
Steve Nash 1,161 9,995 8.6
Oscar Robertson 1,040 9,887 9.5
Isiah Thomas 979 9,061 9.3
Gary Payton 1,335 8,966 6.7
Rod Strickland 1,094 7,987 7.3
Andre Miller 1,080 7,683 7.1

In his 17-year career, Nash has assisted 123 different teammates, none more than Amar’e Stoudemire. And most of those assists to Stoudemire were on buckets in the paint. Most of his 797 assists to Dirk Nowitzki, however, were on buckets from outside the paint.

Most assists from Steve Nash, with shot location

Player AST Paint Mid-range 3PT
Amar’e Stoudemire 1,155 80% 19% 0%
Shawn Marion 823 69% 12% 18%
Dirk Nowitzki 797 30% 42% 28%
Michael Finley 626 37% 31% 33%
Grant Hill 593 56% 34% 10%

There are nine different players who have received exactly one assist from Nash. Among them: Avery Johnson, Sam Cassell and Dennis Rodman.

The two most efficient shots are shots from the restricted area (1.18 points per shot over the course of Nash’s career) and corner 3-pointers (1.15 points per shot). And over his career, 51 percent of Nash’s assists have come from those two areas. That’s a higher percentage than most other All-Star point guards…

Percentage of career assists to high-efficiency areas

Player Restricted Corner 3 Total
Andre Miller 49% 5% 54%
LeBron James 39% 14% 53%
Steve Nash 44% 8% 51%
Rajon Rondo 39% 9% 48%
Deron Williams 43% 5% 48%
Tony Parker 32% 16% 48%
Chris Paul 38% 9% 47%
Jason Kidd* 42% 5% 47%

* Does not include first two seasons of Kidd’s career

Having spent his entire career in the Western Conference, Nash has racked up at least 500 assists against four different teams in the West.

Steve Nash – Most assists by opponent

Opponent GP AST AST/G
Sacramento 57 541 9.5
Golden State 59 528 8.9
L.A. Clippers 60 522 8.7
Minnesota 53 500 9.4
Vancouver/Memphis 55 494 9.0

Nash tends to be more of a distributor early in the game. His highest assist ratio (percentage of his possessions in which he records an assist) is highest in the first quarter and lowest in the fourth.

Steve Nash – Assists by quarter

Period MIN AST ASTRatio
1st quarter 10,284 3,208 40.2
2nd quarter 7,914 2,171 36.9
3rd quarter 10,167 2,753 37.2
4th quarter 7,760 1,798 31.9
Overtime 340 65 25.0

Nash has recorded his most assists on Wednesdays, but tends to be more giving on Sundays…

Steve Nash – Assists by day of the week

Day GP AST ASTRatio AST/G
Monday 124 1,094 37.7 8.8
Tuesday 196 1,643 35.9 8.4
Wednesday 203 1,842 38.0 9.1
Thursday 137 1,140 36.4 8.3
Friday 190 1,592 36.8 8.4
Saturday 168 1,266 33.2 7.5
Sunday 143 1,418 39.8 9.9

 

Clippers Make An Early Stand

 

The original plan was to wait for the Clippers to end this challenging stretch of the schedule and take stock of whatever remained of their spirits before declaring redemption. But then came Monday night in San Antonio, after several other nights in other places, and the original plan went out the window.

The Clippers beat the Spurs for the second time in 12 days. And the Heat. And, on the second night of a back-to-back, the Trail Blazers. Plus the Hawks. In the six games since doubts were raised about their focus, they produced six wins.

So, taking stock: The Clippers are more of a legitimate threat in the West than ever because they responded as a title contender should.

Being placed in the top tier of the West as the regular season opened, as the Clippers should have been by all, is one thing. Actually digging deep to earn the status is quite another … and they just broke out the big shovels. That makes this is no ordinary win streak.

They were inconsistent very early in a way that had nothing to do with missing the injured Chauncey Billups or Grant Hill, nothing to do with working in several key newcomers, or nothing to do with the schedule. They’d beat the Grizzlies and beat the Lakers … and then lose to the Warriors and Cavaliers.

The Clippers had a veteran team and the kind of leadership other teams dream of, and yet they couldn’t sustain the energy at the start of the season, when routines were being established. What would that say for their focus in February and March?

Players clearly understood this and answered. Pushing back began with a home win against the Spurs, which would have been response enough — except that the Clippers pushing. After the bookend win Monday night at San Antonio, they had improved to 8-2, not to mention 5-0 against the Heat, Grizzlies, Lakers and Spurs.

These are still treacherous times on the schedule – the Thunder, Nets and Hawks are up next, all on the road (with Atlanta as the second night of a back-to-back). It is also still very early on the calendar. After an undependable first week, the last six games are an important barometer … as long as the Clippers don’t completely go in the tank the next three.

It is particularly early on the calendar in their case, given what so far has been the season-long absence of Billups (torn Achilles’ tendon) and Hill (bruised knee), with no target date for a return. The Clippers’ bench has a clear advantage over most teams, Chris Paul is playing at a high level and Jamal Crawford provides instant offense as sixth man. The defense is going good, too. But there is still no way of knowing how good the Clippers can be, not until they return to full strength.

Their response after that slow start is a good indication, though, of their talent and, more importantly, their mindset.