Tag:Los Angeles Clippers
Posted on: February 1, 2012 1:37 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2012 1:28 pm
 

Who's contending and who's pretending?

Posted by Royce Young

Are the Lakers and Celtics challengers for a championship, or for just a postseason appearance? (Getty Images)

Almost every team has played 20 games so far this season, which is a pretty nice sample size to make a semi-educated judgment on just how good some are. We know there are a lot of competitive teams in each conference. Teams that have a quality roster, a decent record and a chance at the postseason.

But what's coming into focus more and more is who is for real and who is for fake. Not in the sense of who is actually good and who is fool's gold, but what teams should we be really watching for to make a push at a championship?

In the same way there's no reason to waste time saying the Wizards and Hornets are not contenders, I don't need to tell you that the Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls are obvious contenders. They aren't just contenders, they're the title favorites as of now. Those three teams have clearly separated themselves a bit from the pack, but that doesn't mean that there isn't another team lingering as a potential title threat. This time last season nobody was really looking at the Mavericks as a team poised to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy.

So let's break down the current field of playoff contending teams and separate the contenders from the pretenders.

Orlando Magic

After an 11-4 start, a good number of people kind of came around from "They have to trade Dwight Howard right now" to "Maybe they should keep him and make a run at it." Now, after a week of complete stinkage, maybe it's time to take another good look at blowing the hinges off the organization and starting over. If you're consistently having trouble getting out of the 60s, you're not going to win a seven-game series against a good team.

Verdict: PRETENDER

Philadelphia 76ers

A 15-6 record and the best point differential in the league is not something to be ignored. A 4-4 road record indicates that maybe the Sixers aren't quite ready to step into the conversation of competing for the East. I'm going to choose to ignore that. The Bulls and Heat are clearly the class of the East, but it's not hard for me to picture the Sixers taking down one in a seven-game series. Their depth, defense and determination will have them right in any game they play.

Verdict: CONTENDER

Utah Jazz

Rewind to last season. Jerry Sloan had resigned and Deron Williams was traded. It was understandable that the Jazz would finish out the season in the lottery. That was the plan. Get younger, find some cap flexibility and plan for the future. Except that didn't work out. The Jazz aren't a franchise that deal with losing much so this season wasn't just going to be one of tanking. But they're overachieving. They have some nice wins on the resume, but a core of Paul Millsap, Al Jefferon and Gordon Hayward aren't making a title push.

Verdict: PRETENDER

Indiana Pacers

I want to believe. I really do. The Pacers are a fun team and their resurgence over the past two seasons has been something else. David West was a nice addition and Roy Hibbert is playing really well. They've built up their resume with some good wins over the past couple weeks, but I don't see how they improved in the area that killed them last postseason -- fourth quarter execution. Danny Granger is a good player but can't shoulder the load of getting tough, key baskets in crunchtime. I can't see them beating the Bulls, Heat or even 76ers.

Verdict: PRETENDER

New York Knicks

I almost didn't even include them in this list. And not for the reason the Bulls, Heat and Thunder aren't in it. Unless Baron Davis has a superpower in that beard, the Knicks aren't getting out of the first round, and that's if they even get there. Serious obstacles are going to have to be overcome before this team actually competes for a championship.

Verdict: PRETENDER

Dallas Mavericks

It appears the championship hangover is finally wearing off. But for a while there, the defending champs had us concerned. They looked flat, uninterested and worst of all, not as good after losing J.J. Barea, Tyson Chandler and DeShawn Stevenson. But the Mavs are finding their form a bit and if Lamar Odom can ever finally wake up, Dallas goes eight deep with a nice rotation. And as long as that tall German guy is on the roster, they're a tough matchup for anyone.

Verdict CONTENDER

Houston Rockets

As I was writing down the teams I needed to mention for this, I didn't have the Rockets. And then I looked at the West standings and their record and said, "Whoa, the Rockets are 12-9? When did that happen?" I think they're going to be players at the trade deadline, but as the team stands now, they're position in the West's top eight will probably be short lived.

Verdict: PRETENDER

San Antonio Spurs

Could the Los Angeles Clippers -- the Clippers -- really be contenders? (Getty Images)
You just wait. Gregg Popovich knows what he's doing. Manu Ginobili will be healthy soon and the Spurs are going to go on a run of games in late February or March where they win like 14 of 16 and rocket up to third in the West. It's coming. I know it is.

Verdict: CONTENDER

Los Angeles Clippers

I picked the Clippers to finish second in the West but also wrote that they weren't a contender. I'm confused about the Clippers. But they definitely showed a little something this past week with a win in Denver and a win against the Thunder. Part of the reason many doubted that the Clips were ready to contend was it looked like they needed another piece for some depth. But they may already have it as Mo Williams is making a strong case for Sixth Man of the Year. Two top 15 players, a monster rim protector inside, a solid identity and veteran leadership -- the Clips kind of have it all. Only two things are holding them back -- Vinny Del Negro and a 35-year history filled with miserable failure.

Verdict: CONTENDER

Atlanta Hawks

I'll put it simply: The Hawks made no dramatic improvements to a team that's basically been the definition of pretender and then their best player was injured for pretty much the rest of the season. Their winning record without Al Horford has been a bit of a mirage as they've fortunately found a soft spot in the schedule at the worst time. Playoff team, yes. Title contender? Nah.

Verdict: PRETENDER

Portland Trail Blazers

For about five minutes, the Blazers had everyone talking about them as the prime contender to challenge Oklahoma City in the West. And then they lost their next five of eight and have slipped out of the top eight in the West. There's really not that much distinguishing this Blazer team from the one the was eliminated in last season's opening round. Is Ray Felton an upgrade over Andre Miller? Jamal Crawford an upgrade over Brandon Roy? LaMarcus Aldridge has become a legit superstar, but I don't see him carrying this roster to the Western Finals.

Verdict: PRETENDER

Memphis Grizzlies

I fear the Grizzlies were that classic chic preseason pick that everyone kind of likes that ends up going down in flames. Some would call that the "Houston Texans Disease." But Memphis didn't stumble into the second round of the postseason by accident. They upended the Spurs and then were a seventh game on the road away from advancing to the Western Finals. They're an enigma right now without Zach Randolph, but if he comes back healthy, the Grizzlies could be a nightmare matchup for teams in the playoffs.

Verdict: CONTENDER

Boston Celtics

After all of that, the Celtics are back to .500. They're 10-10 and have eased some of the fears that they might miss the playoffs. But they haven't been able to restore confidence that they're a team that's dangerous in the postseason. Kevin Garnett can't jump, which is a problem. Their offense completely fizzles for long stretches. They're actually relying on key production from guys like Mickael Pietrus and Chris Wilcox. The Celtics aren't bad, but I think ubuntu is on life support.

Verdict: PRETENDER

Denver Nuggets

Can team ball really win? Well, it's winning now and looking pretty darn good doing it. The Nuggets ran into a bad matchup last postseason and the Thunder took care of them in five games. I wouldn't say they necessarily improved this offseason after losing Wilson Chandler, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith while adding Rudy Fernandez, Corey Brewer and Andre Miller, but Al Harrington is playing wonderful basketball, Ty Lawson is blossoming and Danilo Gallinari shows flashes of being a star. Winning this way isn't easy, but I wouldn't rule the Nuggets out.

Verdict: CONTENDER

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers are 2-7 on the road. They've only scored 100 points three times this season. For any other team, we'd say that's a major red flashing sign that they aren't for real. For any other team, we'd look at their offensive struggles, their chemistry issues and the fact they're looking older than ever and easily write them off. But this is the Lakers, the home of Kobe Bryant and you don't do that. But I'm going to. Point guard is a massive issue, they have no depth inside and I still have absolutely no idea why they traded Lamar Odom for nothing. This team subtracted a key piece from a group that got swept out of the playoffs by the Mavericks and they expect that adding Josh McRoberts and a new coach is going to push them over the top? Unless the Lakers have a big trade coming down the pipe, the Lakers as currently constructed aren't going anywhere.

Verdict: PRETENDER

Posted on: January 31, 2012 12:08 am
Edited on: January 31, 2012 2:24 am
 

Blake Griffin dunks on Kendrick Perkins video

Posted by Ben Golliver and Royce Young

Los Angeles Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin threw down the dunk of the 2011-2012 season by going up and over Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins during a game at the Staples Center on Monday night. The dunk was reminiscent of his famous dunk from last season, when he went up and over then New York Knicks center Timofey Mozgov.

Miami Heat All-Star forward LeBron James immediately tweeted: "Dunk of the Year!! Blake Griffin just dunked on Kendrick Perkins so hard!! Wow!! I guess I'm #2 now. Move over #6." James is referring to his dunk on Sunday night when he jumped completely over Chicago Bulls guard John Lucas III to complete an alley-oop from All-Star guard Dwyane Wade.

Griffin won the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk Contest when he jumped over a Kia and caught an alley-oop from then teammate Baron Davis.

Here's the in-game video feed from the Thunder broadcast of Blake Griffin's dunk over Kendrick Perkins.



Here's the slow motion replay with two angles of Griffin posterizing Perkins from the Clippers broadcast.



Here's the in-game full-speed video from the Clippers broadcast via YouTube user TalkHoops.



Here's one final multi-angle remix from the Clippers broadcast.



Now, just for fun, here's a mash-up with Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki's hilarious color commentary from last week's alley-oop from Jason Terry to Brandan Wright on top of the Griffin dunk.
 
Posted on: January 29, 2012 9:57 pm
Edited on: January 29, 2012 9:58 pm
 

Rudy Fernandez tip beats buzzer video

Posted by Ben Golliver

Denver Nuggets guard Rudy Fernandez hit the most creative buzzer-beater of the year, tipping in a halfcourt heave by teammate Corey Brewer over his own head to score a bucket to close the third quarter of a Sunday night game against the Los Angeles Clippers. What's more, Fernandez scored the basket with his left hand.

The score put the Nuggets up, 83-77, to enter the fourth quarter at the Pepsi Center.

Here's the video of Rudy Fernandez's incredible tip in to beat the buzzer against the Los Angeles Clippers.


Posted on: January 26, 2012 1:39 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 1:42 pm
 

Rufflegate: CP3 'incensed' over Gasol head rub

By Matt Moore

At the end of the Lakers' win over the Clippers Wednesday night, Chris Paul and Pau Gasol got into a dispute, of sorts. Paul and Gasol exchanged some words, and then some more words, and then Gasol ... how can we put this? He ruffled Paul's head. You know, like you would the paper boy, if paper boys existed if papers still existed. Paul, to put it lightly, did not take it well. Here's the incident. 



And after the game, Paul was not at all letting it slide. From the Los Angeles Times, which describes Paul as "incensed" after the game: 

 

"I don't know if (Pau) has kids, but I'm not one of them."

This rivalry is going to be so much fun.



(image via Got 'Em, Coach)
Posted on: January 26, 2012 3:29 am
Edited on: January 26, 2012 3:37 am
 

Report Card: Lakers get revenge in Battle of L.A.

Posted by Ben GolliverMatt Moore and Royce Young

Lakers' Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol proved too much for the Clippers. (Getty Images)

Your nightly report card gives you a big picture look at what happened each night in the NBA. Grades are granted based on team or individual performances, and are graded on a curve for each element. Leave your own grades in the comments.

Los Angeles Lakers

In the rematch of the Battle for L.A., the old guard finally emerged victorious over the up-and-comers. Pau Gasol set the tone for the Lakers early, Andrew Bynum made several key plays late, and the duo combined for 42 points, 16 rebounds, 5 blocks, 4 assists on 15-24 shooting while playing heavy minutes and dishing out plenty of trash talk. In a feisty, intense game filled with technicals and skirmishes, the Lakers kept their heads and executed down the stretch. Lakers coach Mike Brown will surely like the shot distribution -- 13 for Gasol, 11 for Bynum and 17 for Kobe Bryant -- and the end result, a 96-91 gutsy victory. Solid way to end a 3-game losing streak. -- BG

Blake Griffin's whirling dervish

Even in defeat, Clippers All-Star forward manages to do something jaw-dropping. Griffin was a high-energy freight train throughout, finishing with 26 points and 9 rebounds, but his most impressive play was more graceful than forceful. Sizing up Gasol in the low block, Griffin dove into the paint and rose for a spinning reverse flip shot that almost defies description.

"The guy's shooting a 360 jump hook," said Bryant, according to ESPNLA.com. "You have to enjoy and admire his stuff. It's pretty sensational stuff." Take a look at the video below. -- BG




The Fired-Coach Effect


It never fails. Worked for Sacramento earlier this season. Worked for Washington on Wednesday night in a romp of the Bobcats who all of a sudden are the worst team in the league. The Wizards made a point Wednesday. For a night, anyway. -- MM



New Jersey Nets

Every bad team (except Charlotte) gets a good grade! A great win of the Sixers that was all about beating up on what is usually a very good perimeter defense for Philadelphia. Their burst in overtime was particularly impressive with Jordan Farmar and Deron Williams leading the way. -- MM



Dirk Nowitzki's color commentary

Dallas Mavericks All-Star forward has been sidelined this week as he attempts to work himself back into shape, but one thing that doesn't need any boot-camp training would be his vocal chords. Nowitzki filled in as a color commentator during Dallas' home loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves and reacted hilariously to a Jason Terry to Brandan Wright alley-oop. "Oh my God!" Nowitzki screetched. "Shut it down! Let's go home! That is a wrap." Watch, listen and love.



Indiana Pacers


This was one of those "I watch the game, then look at the score, then my brain shuts down because the two element are incongruous. It seemed the Bulls were all over the Pacers, but the Pacers were incredibly patient and never got rattled by the Bulls' pressure in Chicago. Roy Hibbert essentially had his way with Joakim Noah. Danny Granger was bothered by Ronnie Brewer, all the way to 22 points and on 16 shots and nine rebounds. Really, this could have been a more convincing win had Darren Collison and Joakim Noah not played wretched in all things related to point guard game management. Paul George was efficient and the Pacers' defense on Derrick Rose deserves an award all its own. Even without Luol Deng and Taj Gibson, a huge win for the Pacers on the road as they start to build their resume with wins over L.A. and Chicago in the past week. -- MM
 
Detroit Pistons

They pass! They lost, yes, but the improvement shown in their close loss to the Heat on so many levels is enough to warrant a passing grade for this downtrodden team. With Tayshaun Prince out due to personal reasons, Austin Daye flourished, filling up the scoreboard while Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe both contributed. There's a young core in Detroit worth watching, if they can just scrap and claw their way to the front of the rotation. -- MM


Dallas Mavericks


Really? You lost on banner night to the Heat and rings night to the Timberwolves? Really? Maybe no more celebrations on game nights, Mavs. -- MM




Russell Westbrook

The Thunder's second star has picked up his game lately but took a step back Wednesday against the Hornets. Westbrook started the game 1-10 from the floor and finished just 4-14 for 14 points. And he also turned it over seven times. It was one of those Westbrook games where he made some crucial plays, but for the most part, was a touch out of control and didn't make great decisions. Twice he went for highlight reel jams only to be denied at the rim by a Hornet big man. OKC won, but Westbrook wasn't great. -- RY

Posted on: January 25, 2012 4:53 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 5:04 pm
 

Report: Vin Baker sues adviser over $86 M losses

Vin Baker is reportedly suing a financial adviser over millions in losses. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver

Vin Baker's nickname might as well be "cautionary tale."

After making four All-Star games and earning more than $97 million during a 13-year NBA career, it's been nothing but financial hardship since his retirement in 2006.

Baker has owed more than a million dollars in back taxes to Connecticut, according to NBCConnecticut.com, he's had foreclosures on multiple properties, according to CNBC.com, and now he's reportedly suing his long-time financial adviser for allegedly squandering his fortune.

CourthouseNews.com reports that the 1993 lottery pick has taken legal action against Brodeur & Co. Certified Public Accountants because he believes the company mismanaged his finances between 1997 and 2009.
Retired NBA All-Star Vincent Baker claims his financial adviser lost nearly all of his $86 million nest egg through negligent investments.

Baker says: "During the time that Brodeur and B&C acted as Baker's manager, virtually all of Baker's earnings were spent and/or his investments lost all or nearly all of their value, such that Baker's home was foreclosed and he was forced to liquidate substantial assets for little or no value, leaving him without resources to meet his financial obligations and living expenses."

Baker claims that Brodeur and his firm breached their duties to him "through inadequate oversight and/or failure to implement systems to track sources of money and discourage fraud ... inadequate accounting ... inadequate reporting ... mismanaging Baker's assets, upon information and belief, through commingling of funds and the use of personal credit cards ... by mismanaging Baker's assets, upon information and belief, through transactions with Brodeur and B&C's manager's friends and family; and ... through transactions with Brodeur and B&C's managers, affiliates, business associated, and like entities."
Courant.com reports that Baker admitted to problems with alcohol abuse in a 2010 interview. He was arrested on DUI charges in 2007.

Baker, now 40, averaged 15.0 points and 7.4 rebounds per game during a career that included stops with the Milwaukee Bucks, Seattle SuperSonics, Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers.

Hat tip: ProBasketballTalk
Posted on: January 24, 2012 4:53 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 5:00 pm
 

NBA Power Rankings: Breakdown, Takedown Vol. 6

Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver

memphis-grizzlies

The 2011-2012 NBA season continues. Here's the sixth weekly installment of CBSSports.com's NBA Power Rankings by Eye On Basketball's Matt Moore.

What did he get right? What did he get wrong? We're here to break it down and take it down.

1. Too High: Memphis Grizzlies at No. 6. I was as impressed as anyone by the Grizzlies comeback over the Warriors. But not by Memphis. I was impressed at the complete unraveling the Warriors pulled off. Playing that terrible and blowing a 20-point fourth quarter lead isn't easy to do. The Grizzlies have endured injury and have stayed afloat in the West winning seven straight, but without Zach Randolph, that team is not six material. Their toughness is nice and it's a good story that they're fighting, but six of those seven wins are against sub .500 teams and the Bulls without Derrick Rose. So let's pump those brakes. -- RY

2. Too Low: Orlando Magic at No. 10. Look up the term "recency bias" in an encyclopedia and you will find this headshot of Matt Moore accompanying the explanation. Yes, the Magic were historically awful on Monday night but if we've learned one lesson over the last month, it's that there will be the occasional super-ugly shooting night where great teams look terrible. This team has posted exceptional offensive efficiency numbers through the first month of the season; their body of work on that end is beyond reproach. They clocked the Lakers, dumped the Knicks and handled the Bobcats last week too. There's no way there are nine teams in the NBA better than the Magic. -- BG

3. Most Overrated: Toronto Raptors at No. 27. OK, so they're 27th in the rankings. But that's too high. See, that's the challenge of power rankings. There has to be a hierarchy, when in reality, it might just be better to have five teams tied at 29. Because right now, the Wizards are the clear worst team with about five others stacked up right together for the honor of second worst. The Raptors have lost eight straight and look rather hopeless. To give them the credit of saying they are any better than 29, or even 28, is giving them far too much reward. -- RY

4. Most Overlooked: Los Angeles Clippers at No. 11. The No. 3 seed in the league's premier conference ranks No. 11 out of 30 teams here. That definitely makes sense. Come on, the Clippers are still benefitting from having a home-loaded schedule and a slow ramp up to the season but they were above .500 last week and within a buzzerbeater of going 4-1. They have premier wins over the likes of Los Angeles and Miami and have weathered an extended Chris Paul injury better than anyone could have reasonably expected. They could slip as the 10 home games vs. four road games disparity tightens up, but give them some credit now. -- BG

5. Sure Thing: Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 2. Catastrophic injury or apathy seems to be the only ways OKC will drop from the top-3 spots in the Power Rankings all season. They've won at home and on the road, they've beaten good teams and bad, and they've dominated in conference play. Russell Westbrook's contract status is settled. All that's left to do is nitpick the play of the lower rotation players until the playoffs finally arrive. A postseason rematch versus Denver at some point sounds like a mighty appetizing idea, doesn't it? -- BG 

6. Wild Card: Houston Rockets at No. 14. I hate it when people do this, but if the playoffs started today (why would they, it's January?) the Rockets would be the eight-seed. That's right, the Rockets, who everyone thought was terrible and underachieving to start the year. Now that they've moved past a killer start to their schedule, they've won games they should and are two games up on .500. It's hard to know if they're good or if this is just a product of beating teams you should, but the Rockets likely will figure into the Western playoff race down the stretch in some regard. -- RY
Posted on: January 21, 2012 2:00 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2012 2:29 pm
 

Eric Gordon: Contract talks to get 'very serious'

Posted by Ben Golliver eric-gordon-noh

Eric Gordon didn't look particularly thrilled when he got traded to the Hornets in December, but he says he's open to the idea of staying in New Orleans long-term.

The Times-Picayune reports that Gordon, a 2008 lottery pick who is eligible to receive an extension until a Jan. 25 deadline, is open to a multi-year commitment to the Hornets, thinks the interest is mutual, and expects negotiations to pick up in advance of Wednesday's deadline.
“I’m very open to a long-term extension,” said Gordon, the seventh pick in the 2008 draft. “It’s all about having enough security to where I’m able to be here.”

“You know they’ve told me they want me here, they want an extension,” Gordon said. “But it’s all about what they think is the worth in me. They see that I’m capable of helping this team win, capable of playing hard every night offensively and defensively. Now it’s all about dealing with what I’m worth.”

“I’d say starting next week (talks aimed at an extension) would be very serious and maybe have something down the line. And whatever happens, happens. I think both sides may be able to come to an agreement. But right now, we’re both comfortable.”
Gordon, 23, has been one of the top performers from the 2008 draft class when he's been healthy. Last season, he averaged 22.3 points, 4.4 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game for the Los Angeles Clippers, who included him in a blockbuster trade for All-Star point guard Chris Paul during the December free agency period. Although he's a bit undersized, Gordon can shoot, create his own shot and can score the ball in a variety of ways. Last season, he was one of the most consistent scorers game-to-game in the NBA, thanks in part to his ability to get to the free throw line.

His ceiling is likely that of a good team's No. 2 player and a bad team's No. 1 player. With the Clippers, he was an excellent outside complement to the inside force of All-Star forward Blake Griffin. In New Orleans, once he's healthy, he will be asked to step into the role of being "The Man."

There's no question Gordon is a cut below the Max contract performers in his class, which include Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love. He's in the second-tier, though, but that still means a handsome pay day. Second-tier guys from the 2007 Draft included Atlanta Hawks big man Al Horford (5 years, $60 million) and Joakim Noah (5 years, $60 million).

Gordon is currently nursing a knee injury that's kept him out for 13 games this esason and he missed 20+ games in each of the last two seasons. That missed games number is certainly going to impact his price when it comes time to negotiate. Another wild card: the fact that the Hornets are still owned by the league and in the process of being sold. No extension for Gordon would mean maximum flexibility and minimal allocated payroll for a new owner. On the other hand, an extension for Gordon would at least ensure one star-type player in place for the future rather than a barren pantry.

Despite the injuries, Gordon has a fair bit of leverage here. He would command interest and major offers if he hits the market as a restricted free agent next summer, and, let's face it, the Hornets need him a lot more than he needs them now that Paul is gone and the rebuild is just getting started. His representation should therefore be able to drive a hard bargain and, ultimately, could deliver Gordon a deal slightly larger than his performance and health to date has warranted.

One thing is certain: if the Hornets aren't able to get this done before Wednesday, it will be very interesting to hear how they spin it to their beleaguered fanbase.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com