Tag Archives: Houston Rockets

Clippers Begin Training Camp Reloaded

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. –The Clippers began training camp after an intriguing summer, which included salvaging the services of DeAndre Jordan, while adding those of key free agents Lance Stephenson and Paul Pierce. After suffering a disappointing second-round exit from the 2015 playoffs at the hands of the Houston Rockets, Head Coach Doc Rivers believes this installment of the Clippers may be his best.

“I thought we made a push last year, we just didn’t get there,” explained Rivers to Jim Hill of CBS in Los Angeles. “This is clearly the most talent we’ve had since I’ve been here and it’s not even close. We’re deep at multiple positions, and that was our goal this summer, getting players who can play at different positions out on the floor.”

Gone is the erratic and inconsistent Matt Barnes, replaced by the less mercurial and more productive Lance Stephenson. Rivers noted that Stephenson’s multifaceted game coincided with his vision of a roster filled with players who aren’t limited to one specialty. 

“I put in a lot of work this summer by working on my condition and my jump-shot,” Stephenson said. “Just focussing on how I can be a better player, and what I can do to come in and help this team.”

Doc Rivers also convinced 18-year veteran and Inglewood native Paul Pierce to rejoin his former coach to make another title run. 

“I honestly thought the Clippers would win it all last year,” admitted Pierce. After helping a young Washington Wizards team experience playoff success, Pierce is ready to lend his championship pedigree to the Clippers.

“I believe I can bring an attitude,” said Pierce.”I think to win in this league you have to have a certain nastiness to you, a certain kind of attitude. I can really help in that department.” 

With the additions of forward Josh Smith and guard Pablo Prigioni, the Clippers bring in two players that contributed to their ousting last season. Smith, who has averaged 12 points and six rebounds over his career is an upgrade over Glen Davis and Hedo Turkoglu, despite criticisms of his defense and shot selection.  

But Doc Rivers isn’t yet ready to assess what he’s assembled.

“I don’t know what type of team we are, I’ll let them show me that,” he concluded. “We’ll see how these guys play and then I can tell you what our identity is.”

Jordan Clarkson should make NBA All-Rookie Team

Most coups occur in the middle of the night when regime change by force is unexpected. The Los Angeles Lakers executed one in plain sight during the 2014 NBA Draft with their selection of Jordan Clarkson.

Clarkson was the 46th pick in the second-round.  His 10 ppg average is more than the point-guards selected ahead of him, most notably lottery picks Dante Exum (4), and Marcus Smart (7), and LeBron James recruit, Miami’s Shabazz Napier (5). Milwaukee’s Tyler Ennis is averaging 3 ppg after being selected 18th, Detroit Piston Spencer Dinwiddie (4), and Houston Rocket Nick Johnson (2) were both selected ahead of Clarkson.  

Despite the Lakers’ forgettable season, Jordan Clarkson has taken it upon himself to remind everyone why teams had him as a first-round selection on many draft boards.

Clarkson recently scored a career-high 30 points against MVP candidate Russell Westbrook, drawing faint comparisons by Lakers Head Coach Byron Scott to the athletic scoring OKC Thunder point-guard.

Clarkson’s steal and furious slam dunk on Exum in a 100-97 Lakers win over the Jazz was evidence that he is further along in his game than the 19-year-old Aussie. Some may still believe Exum has a higher ceiling, but Clarkson’s college experience at Missouri is evident in his polished game.

After beginning the season in the shadows of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash,  and  Jeremy Lin, Clarkson is poised to finish at the controls. His dynamic play has earned trust from his coaches and teammates.

His statistical averages of 10 points 2 rebounds and 2 assists alone garner All-Rookie recognition. But Jordan Clarkson is providing Lakers’ fans with realistic hope for next year.  For that seemingly insurmountable task alone, he should be rewarded.

Nick Young not happy with Swaggy DNP

Nick Young spent the second-half of the Lakers 99-87 loss to the Houston Rockets on the bench after a lackluster effort over two quarters. He went scoreless for the first time in his Lakers’ career, putting up 2 shots in nine mercurial minutes.

With Kobe Bryant out, along with injuries to Steve Nash, Julius Randal, and Xavier Henry, Young certainly has the green-light to put up shots. But Head Coach Byron Scott is known for his old school style of leadership, and accountability on the defensive end of the floor is just as important as scoring points. Scott alluded to Young’s disinterest as the catalyst to him being benched after halftime.

“It looked to me that he didn’t want to be here,” explained Scott.

“At halftime, we showed stuff on the tape where he was guarding Corey Brewer in the corner. I asked ‘What were you thinking on his play?’ The answer he gave me, I couldn’t figure it out. So I just felt with his body language that he didn’t want to play tonight, so I chose not to play him.”

“He’s the coach.  He’s seen what he’s seen.  It’s not my place to get into that really,” said Young a day after not speaking with the media following the loss.  “I’m not in a situation to go back and forth with the coach because I would never play.

“There ain’t a day that goes by that I don’t want to be out on the court,”he continued.  “I love being here.  I love playing basketball.  I get a joy out of playing and seeing the fans, hearing them chant ‘Swaggy P.’ That’s what drives me.”

Young has had trouble adjusting to receiving more attention from opposing defenses since Bryant’s absence.

“Last night the Rockets double-teamed me every time I came off pick and rolls,” said Young.  “It’s tough but we’ve got to go out there and still fight, still gotta give fans a show.  It’s a chance for other people to step up now.”

Young is shooting 37% from the field, the same as fallen teammate Kobe Bryant who had been ridiculed for his inaccuracy. Still Young is confident he can carrying the offensive load.

“Just give me the ball and get out of the way.”

P.A.G.E. 24 – The Lakers Fight For Elbow Room

The Los Angeles Lakers were defeated 108-90 in the opening night of the 2014-2015 NBA season.

James Harden scored a game high 32 points, while Kobe Bryant led his squad with 19 points in 29 minutes. Dwight Howard cleared the air before the game about not leaving for Houston because of Kobe Bryant, only to let a third-quarter elbow to his former teammates jaw spark up new intrigue in the rivalry.

Inside The Numbers

Houston only shot 42% from the field, the problem is the Lakers shot an abysmal 35%.

The Rockets outscored them 36 to 9 from the arc, and James Harden scored 15 points at the charity stripe.

Don’t think the Lakers are missing Nick Young? They only attempted a total of 10 three-point shots. Young is not bashful, and will surely increase the number of attempts from downtown upon his return.

Jordan Hill cannot go 2-7 as the Lakers starting center. Most of those misses were at point blank range, and although he had a double-digit rebounding game, his inefficiency on the offensive end didn’t keep Terrence Jones and Dwight Howard busy long enough on defense.

Ed Davis had an economical 11 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes of play. With rookie Julius Randle out, look for Davis to fulfill the first big man off the bench role.

NBA’s Game Plan Is Straight Outta Compton

It wasn’t just the numerous Campbell’s Chunky Soup commercials featuring NFL champion, All-Pro, and Stanford graduate Richard Sherman. You have to also credit the return of Tyson Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks, restoring their title hopes.

He may have only been dressed in civvies, but Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard was very much a part of the conversation regarding the San Antonio Spurs after reports that he wants a maximum contract. After playing noteworthy defense against LeBron James on his way to winning a championship and getting a personal design logo for his Jordan brand shoes, Leonard has the leverage to demand to be paid as a star.

Just in time for F. Gary Gray’s upcoming biographic on the trendsetting rap group N.W.A., the City of Compton is experiencing a renaissance through its native sons.

James Harden of Compton returned to Los Angeles ranked as the top shooting guard in the NBA to play against Kobe Bryant and in his triumphant return to the Staples Center. Harden’s response? 32 points on 17 shots and 15 made free-throws, a game high in front of the dozens of family and friends in attendance.

And who did the NBA call to provide the OFFICIAL anthem of the 2014-2015 season? Compton emcee Kendrick Lamar and his track “i.”

From Arron Afflalo of the Denver Nuggets to the Toronto Raptors All-Star DeMar DeRozan, Compton’s boys from the hood have collectively led the mainstream back to the C.P.T.

What’s Beef? Kobe Tried To Squash Dwight/Shaq Fued

The last days of Shaquille O’Neal included some classic public quarreling that The Big Aristotle was known for. Most of the drama was simply Shaq being a shameless self-promoter mixed with the media salivating for a story.

Enter Dwight Howard, who was now parading around the Orlando calling himself Superman. Not only was Howard copying Shaq’s nickname, but he seemed to be emulating his ‘Maybe I’m Too Big For The Orlando Maigc’ style prior to his pending free agency. Shaq set the record straight in a Sports Illustrated interview:

Doesn’t bother me. I can’t be impressed by something I invented in ’92. I mean, you look at what he is doing, I’ve been there and done that. Every street he is driving down in Orlando, I have been on that street. Every nightclub, every restaurant. … I have been there and done that. Until he wins three, four championships, then we can talk about him. But right now, he is just like every other big guy: ‘You can run and jump, but you haven’t won yet.

A recent story quoting numerous anonymous sources painted Kobe Bryant as a pariah who has ex-communicated the Lakers organization due to his nefarious reputation. Dwight Howard has since come out and denied that Bryant was a deterrent in him returning to Los Angeles.

During the 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend, Kobe and Shaq were set to meet for dinner. Dwight Howard caught up with Bryant and was sure to explain to him that he had no beef with Shaq. Bryant, widely thought as an O’Neal nemesis, assured Howard that he’d talk to O’Neal on his behalf.

That’s right- Kobe played peacemaker between Dwight Howard and Shaquille O’Neal.

Bowen Says Kobe Didn’t Settle For Less Like Vince, T-Mac

In a recent interview with Slam Magazine, 5x NBA All-Defensive Team member Bruce Bowen discussed who he enjoyed battling the most on the defensive end. He revealed that at times Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady were top competitors, but believed they lacked the desire of Kobe Bryant.

The “Who is better, Biggie, Jay-Z, or Nas” discussions are popular in hip-hop culture, and equivalent to “Kobe, Vince, or T-Mac” in the post Michael Jordan era of basketball.

Many have deemed the San Antonio Spurs as the class of the NBA. If this is true, then one must take seriously the words and opinions of their defensive stalwart.

Championships, wins, personal accolades, and statistics are most often used to determine separation between players. But what could be more credible than a report from the players themselves?

Maybe it’s his 1-3 playoff record against him, but Bruce Bowen obviously believes the desire of Kobe Bryant is something that separates him from his contemporaries.

“Tracy might have been one of the most talented but he’d settle. He wouldn’t necessarily bring it the whole time. Vince, if he was more competitive, if he had the desire of Kobe, he could have been one of the all-time greats. But…he settled to a point where you accomplish a few things and that’s that. – Bruce Bowen