Pelicans 108, Clippers 103: Return of Austin

January, 30, 2015
Jan 30
7:42
PM PT
videoNEW ORLEANS -- Austin Rivers smiled as he sat down on the opposing bench of the Smoothie King Center for the first time in his NBA career.

Rivers was drafted by New Orleans with the 10th pick in the 2012 NBA draft and was supposed to be one-half of the franchise's future 1-2 punch with their first overall pick that year, Anthony Davis.

While Davis has developed into an All-Star, Rivers was traded twice two weeks ago, ending up in Los Angeles with the Clippers where his father, Doc Rivers, is the coach.

"I'm not really going to have any emotions," Austin Rivers said before the game. "They're not going to have a tribute video for me."

He was right. In fact, the public-address announcer didn't even mention Austin Rivers' name when he first initially came into the game and he didn't elicit much of a response from the crowd as he finished with 10 points in 14 minutes off the bench. It was his first back-to-back, double-digit scoring performances since December when he was in New Orleans.

It wouldn't be enough, however, to beat New Orleans as the Pelicans beat the Clippers 108-103. The Clippers came back from 14 points down in the fourth quarter to pull to within two in the final minutes but couldn't finish it off as their six-game winning streak was snapped.

While Rivers didn't have the kind of career in New Orleans he would have liked, he doesn't hold any grudges against the organization that refused to pick up the option on his deal before the season and traded him by midseason.

"It didn't work out in the grand scheme of things, but a lot of things came away from this," he said. "They had a group of good guys on this team and I've been fortunate to play for two teams with a good group of guys."

Although Rivers didn't live up to his expectations in New Orleans, Pelicans coach Monty Williams puts that on himself more than Rivers.

"We did everything we could to help Austin progress in his career," Williams said. "The thing that didn't happen, I take full responsibility for that, nobody else. Not the coaches or anybody else. That's on me. What he wasn't able to do, that falls on my lap and that's not something I take lightly. If there were any failures or anything that didn’t happen or progress in his career, that was my fault.”

Williams says he believes playing with Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford and for Doc Rivers may finally allow Austin Rivers, who turned 22 this summer, an opportunity to fulfill his potential.

"You go to a different team and leave everything behind you and it's a clean slate," Williams said. "Obviously Austin is with Chris every day and he's going to learn a lot from him. Jamal is a guy who can help. They have a veteran team so you can't help but get better in that situation and his dad's a championship coach. Right away he's married up leaving me. That's a benefit in itself, I'm happy for him and I heard he's happy there and he feels a lot better about his situation and that's good for him."

Return of the night: After missing the last game because of back spasms, J.J. Redick returned and had 12 points but struggled from beyond the arc, missing all five of his 3-point attempts.

Return of the night (Part II): Paul, who played his first six seasons in New Orleans, returned and had 24 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. He was also selected to his eighth straight All-Star Game and will be joining Blake Griffin in New York next month.

"It's great. There's nothing like it," Paul said. "Me and Blake talk about it all the time. Obviously it's all competition, but sometimes there's guys in the All-Star Game you don't really have a relationship with and you don't really care to. It's always cool to have a teammate of your own there that you can talk to and enjoy the weekend with."

Players of the night: In addition to Paul's efforts, Griffin had 19 points and 6 assists and DeAndre Jordan had 12 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocks. Crawford had 15 points off the bench.
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NEW ORLEANS -- Eric Gordon scored 28 points and the New Orleans Pelicans snapped the Los Angeles Clippers' six-game winning streak, 108-103 on Friday night.

With power forward Anthony Davis sitting out because of his sore left groin, the Pelicans benefited from exceptional shooting from behind the 3-point line, hitting 13 of 25, and at the foul line, where they made 23 of 26 free throws, including their last 17.

Ryan Anderson, starting for Davis, scored 24. He and Gordon each hit five 3s to help New Orleans win for the fifth time in six games.

Alexis Ajinca, getting more minutes with Davis out, had 17 points and nine rebounds. Tyreke Evans had 11 points and tied his season high of 12 assists for the third time in four games.

Chris Paul had 24 points for Los Angeles, while Blake Griffin added 19 and DeAndre Jordan grabbed 15 rebounds.


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Anthony Davis out with groin strain

January, 30, 2015
Jan 30
4:44
PM PT

NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans forward Anthony Davis missed Friday night's 108-103 win against the Los Angeles Clippers because of a groin strain.

The Clippers got J.J. Redick back after the shooting guard missed one game with back spasms. He had 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting and four assists as the Clippers' six-game winning streak was snapped.

Pelicans coach Monty Williams says Davis, who was hurt in a collision with Denver's Kenneth Faried on Wednesday night, wanted to play. Williams added his leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker was hampered by the injury during pregame workouts.

Williams says he wants Davis to focus on rehabilitation and try to return for Monday night's game against Atlanta.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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NBA Sounds of the Game

January, 30, 2015
Jan 30
10:25
AM PT


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Go inside huddles across the league in the latest edition of NBA Sounds of the Game.

Clips' Paul makes 8th straight All-Star Game

January, 29, 2015
Jan 29
4:41
PM PT
NEW ORLEANS -- Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul was selected as a Western Conference reserve for next month's NBA All-Star Game in New York.

Paul
It is Paul's eighth straight All-Star Game, and he will join teammate Blake Griffin, who was selected as a starter last week. It is the fifth straight season that Paul and Griffin will be teammates in the All-Star Game. Paul was named the MVP of the 2013 NBA All-Star Game.

"It is a true honor to be selected by the coaches to be in the All-Star Game," Paul said. "I am blessed to be able to represent the Clippers organization in New York with Blake."

Paul, who has started all 46 games for the Clippers this season, is averaging 17.5 points, 9.7 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game. He is the only player in the NBA averaging at least 17.0 points, 9.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals this season.

Paul is one of only five players all time (Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Terry Porter and Rod Strickland) to have sustained these averages over the course of an entire season. Should he maintain these totals this season, he will join Johnson as one of only two players to average these totals or higher for multiple seasons.

Klay Thompson a first-time All-Star

January, 29, 2015
Jan 29
4:24
PM PT
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Golden State's Klay Thompson, Chicago's Jimmy Butler and Atlanta's Jeff Teague ‎are first-time NBA All-Stars after being selected by coaches in their respective conferences.

The league announced Thursday night that Teague is one of three members of the 38-8 Atlanta Hawks to make the Eastern Conference squad alongside teammates Al Horford and Paul Millsap. It's the first trio of Hawks All-Stars since John Drew, Eddie Johnson and Dan Roundfield in 1980.

"We love for our players to have success and for our players to be appreciated," said Atlanta's Mike Budenholzer, who will coach the East. "Yeah, there's a sense of pride. They work really hard. They do a lot of things we appreciate. If other people are appreciating them, that's a good thing."

Sacramento Kings


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ESPN director of production analytics Ben Alamar explains why the Golden State Warriors sit atop this week's Basketball Power Index.

Austin Rivers hitting his stride for Clippers

January, 28, 2015
Jan 28
10:56
PM PT
SALT LAKE CITY -- Austin Rivers’ first game with the Los Angeles Clippers took place before his first practice or his first shootaround with the team. He was thrust onto the court two weeks ago, literally hours after taking a physical to complete a three-team trade that sent him to Los Angeles.

It was a forgettable game that saw him go 0-for-4 from the field with a turnover. Since then, Rivers has improved and gotten more comfortable with each game, and on Monday in the Clippers’ 94-89 win over the Utah Jazz, he had 12 points, accounting for all of the Clippers' scoring off the bench.

"He’s just getting comfortable and trying to figure out his spots,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “We’re trying to get him to [be more aggressive]. He’s a guard, so he’s trying to facilitate, and we need his aggression. It was funny -- C.P. [Chris Paul] grabbed him and said, 'You can get to the basket, we need you to attack.' He listened to him, which was good.”

Austin Rivers needed to be more aggressive Monday with J.J. Redick being a late scratch due to back spasms and Jamal Crawford being thrust into the starting lineup. But his biggest contributions in the Clippers' sixth straight win of the season might have come because of his aggressive defense not his aggressive offense.

“He gives us speed, but more importantly tonight, and it was the first thing Lawrence [Frank] said, C.P. and Austin on the ball defensively were fantastic,” Doc Rivers said. “When they can guard the ball like that, it puts a lot of pressure on that team’s offense. I thought they were both sensational.”

Through the first half of the season Doc Rivers and many players on the team talked about how much they missed Darren Collison, who was Paul’s backup last season but signed a three-year, $16 million deal to be the starting point guard for the Sacramento Kings. The Clippers couldn’t afford to match the deal or playing time and settled on signing Jordan Farmar to a two-year, $4.2 million deal.

[+] EnlargeAustin Rivers
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE/Getty ImagesAustin Rivers had his best game in his short tenure as a Clipper, providing 12 points off the bench.
It was a signing that seemed good at the time but never quite worked. Farmar was unhappy with his role on the team, and the coaching staff wasn’t happy with Farmar’s play. In addition to trading Reggie Bullock and Chris Douglas-Roberts for Austin Rivers, the Clippers also waived Farmar. While Austin isn’t quite Collison, he does give the Clippers a guard who can play alongside Paul and pick up some of the slack defensively, which Farmar could never do.

“He doesn’t do the pick-up [like Collison], but where he’s better is once the ball crosses half court,” Doc Rivers said. “He’s 6-5, so he gives us length and speed and that’s been good for us.”

Austin Rivers shook his head when he thought back to his first game with the Clippers, when he didn’t know the plays let alone his teammates, and thought about how far he’s come in two weeks.

“It just keeps getting better and better,” Austin said. “I feel like now I’m there. Now you just go out and play. I felt like that even after the last game. I was 2-for-4, but I was efficient and consistent, and after that game my teammates were saying, ‘We need you to be more aggressive. You’re a scorer.’ You just go out there and shoot it, and that’s the way I’ve been my whole life.”

Paul has constantly talked to Austin about being more aggressive and believes his presence has helped the second unit play more uptempo than they did before.

“He’s still finding his way but we keep telling him to be aggressive,” Paul said. “The biggest thing he did tonight was defensively he was all over the place. His energy is something that we need, and it’s great because it’s a change of pace. I’m nowhere near as fast as Austin, so it’s cool when I come out, it changes the game up.”

There was some question as to how the coach’s son would fit into the Clippers’ locker room, but he has been embraced by his teammates since he came to the team. Before the game, Paul was teasing Austin for eating chicken fingers and fries, and after the game, Blake Griffin was teasing him for his upbringing. If anything, Clippers players say the addition of Austin and Dahntay Jones has improved team chemistry

“I just love his aggression on offense and his willingness to attack the basket,” Griffin said of Austin. “And defensively, on the ball, he’s a dog on the ball. It’s tough to get around him. He’s guarding multiple guys very, very closely and very tough. He’s been huge for us, and you got to think, he still doesn’t really have his rhythm with our team. Those are all extremely promising things, and I expect more out of him. He’s doing a great job, but he can do more, he’s capable of doing more -- but once he gets that rhythm.”

It’s a rhythm Austin thinks he’ll get soon enough playing in an offense that allows him to do what he’s comfortable, which hasn’t always been the case since he was drafted by New Orleans with the 10th pick in the 2012 draft with the lottery pick the Clippers traded to acquire Paul.

“I haven’t been used to playing this free,” Austin said. “I haven’t been this free since I was playing at Duke or in high school, and people know what I did there. It’s one of those things, when I got here, it felt nice. I’m back and just playing basketball.”

Austin’s next game will be Friday at New Orleans against the team that not only drafted him, but also refused to pick up his fourth year option before the season and traded him by midseason. He smiled when asked what it will be like to play his old team.

“Whenever anybody plays their old team, there’s obviously something there,” Austin said. “I parted ways in a positive way. This is just a better situation. I felt like there, I wasn’t able to play like me. I felt I could be better, and here I can play free. I’m in a good position to be in now.”

Clippers Playing As A Team

January, 28, 2015
Jan 28
9:07
PM PT


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After a win over the Jazz, guard Chris Paul said the Clippers are playing team basketball.
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SALT LAKE CITY -- Jamal Crawford scored 21 points and the Los Angeles Clippers used a fourth-quarter rally to beat the Utah Jazz on the road Wednesday.

The Clippers have won a franchise-record 13 straight games against the Jazz.

Crawford knocked down four 3-point baskets in the win, and Chris Paul scored 21 points and dished out six assists. Crawford scored 14 in the first half after scoring 23 against the Nuggets on Monday.

The Jazz led 83-81 late in the fourth quarter, but the Clippers went on a 9-2 run highlighted by Blake Griffin's tip-in and a 17-foot jumper from Paul to pull away. Griffin finished with 17 points.

Enes Kanter scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the loss, while Derrick Favors added 18 points and nine rebounds.


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Clippers 94, Jazz 89: Streak rolls on

January, 28, 2015
Jan 28
8:36
PM PT
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SALT LAKE CITY -- When Chris Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers a little over three years ago, he wasn't completely familiar with the team's losing history. He knew it was bad, but he didn't realize how historically bad.

Before Paul's first game against the Utah Jazz as a Clipper, the team's longtime play-by-play announcer Ralph Lawer casually mentioned that the Clippers hadn't beaten the Jazz in Utah since 2003. They had lost 16 straight.

Paul was dumbfounded. He told Lawler to tell him about every losing streak the Clippers had in every building they went into that season. One by one, the losing streaks -- Denver and Orlando (nine games each), San Antonio (17) and Dallas (10) -- turned into Clippers winning streaks.

Before Wednesday's game against the Jazz, Paul once again saw Lawler and asked him if he remembered their conversation when he first came to the team. Lawler smiled. He did. And this time he had some more positive news as the Clippers had won 12 straight against the Jazz. They hadn't lost since that conversation.

That streak was extended to 13 on Wednesday as the Clippers beat the Jazz 94-89. The win also extended the Clippers' current winning streak to six games, their second longest of the season, and gives them the third-best record in the Western Conference.

Injury of the night: J.J. Redick was a late scratch due to back spasms after participating in the team's morning shootaround and dressing for the game. He is officially listed as day-to-day and questionable for the Clippers' next game on Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Controversy of the night: Despite the NBA's claim that Matt Barnes was fined $25,000 for directing inappropriate language toward a fan and not Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver, Barnes continued to stick by his story that it was his interaction with Sarver that led to the fine.

"You can ask him what he said," said Barnes, who played in Phoenix during the 2008-09 season. "He said enough to make me respond. We don't like each other. He didn't like me when I was there, and I didn't like him when I was there, so it is what it is."

Sub of the night: With Redick's injury, reigning Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford, who is once again leading NBA reserves in scoring, was forced to start. That put the bench scoring load on Austin Rivers' shoulders. He scored 12 points in 22 minutes and was the only Clippers reserve to score.

Players of the night: Paul had 21 points, six assists and five rebounds and Crawford added 21 points. Blake Griffin came on strong late after struggling through the first three quarters and had 17 points and seven rebounds. Barnes added 14 points and five rebounds.

J.J. Redick out with back spasms

January, 28, 2015
Jan 28
6:14
PM PT

SALT LAKE CITY -- Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick was sidelined for Wednesday's 94-89 win over the Utah Jazz with back spasms.

Redick went through shootaround with the team before the game but was a late scratch and is listed as day to day, with the Clippers' next game Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Redick did not talk to reporters after the game. Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he didn't know Redick was out until he was finishing his play sheet less than an hour before tipoff.

"I was unprepared for that one," Rivers said. "I kind of saw it but I didn't want to see it. I saw him moving today and I should have saw it. I should have picked up on it, but it honestly caught me off guard. I had just finished doing my play sheet, and then they took him out, so half of [the plays] were out."

The Clippers have Thursday off in New Orleans, and Rivers is hoping Redick will be fine to start Friday.

"I'm hoping," Rivers said when asked whether Redick would be back for the Clippers' next game. "Watching him move, no, but I'm thinking yes."

Redick had started all 45 previous games this season, and was averaging 14.9 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. He also was selected to participate in the 3-point shooting contest during next month's NBA All-Star Weekend.


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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Blake Griffin
PTS AST STL MIN
22.7 5.0 1.0 35.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsD. Jordan 13.3
AssistsC. Paul 9.7
StealsC. Paul 1.9
BlocksD. Jordan 2.4