NBA Sounds of the Game

January, 30, 2015
Jan 30
10:19
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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Matt Barnes: Don't run and tell

January, 28, 2015
Jan 28
10:31
AM PT
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SALT LAKE CITY -- An NBA spokesman told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that the league's review of the incident "confirmed that it was not an interaction with Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver" that led to Matt Barnes' fine.

The Los Angeles Clippers forward was assessed a $25,000 punishment for directing inappropriate language toward a fan, the league announced Tuesday. The incident occurred with 4:28 remaining in the second quarter of the Clippers' 120-100 win over the Suns at US Airways Center.

Barnes reacted to the fine later Tuesday, implicating Sarver as the instigator. He expanded on those tweets at Clippers shootaround Wednesday ahead of their game against the Utah Jazz.

"As players we're obviously held to a higher standard, I've had to watch myself on that, but I think if we're held to high standards, owners should be held to even higher standards," Barnes said. "When an elder says something derogatory toward me and I respond, I thought it would stay there. It's one grown man saying something to another grown man. I'm not going to run and tell, but the fact that he or someone around him told [the league] it's crazy."

Barnes contends the fine came as a result of his interaction with Sarver, but admitted he was engaging with other fans near the Clippers' bench, as well.


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Barnes fined $25K, implicates Sarver

January, 27, 2015
Jan 27
1:54
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NEW YORK -- Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes has been fined $25,000 for directing inappropriate language toward a fan.

The NBA made the announcement on Tuesday. The incident occurred with 4:28 remaining in the second quarter of the Clippers' 120-100 win over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday at US Airways Center.

Barnes finished with four points, going 1-for-9 from the field.

Barnes reacted to the fine on Twitter, unleashing a series of tweets in which he implicated Suns owner Robert Sarver as the instigator of the incident:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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The All-Star case for DeAndre Jordan

January, 27, 2015
Jan 27
12:42
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DeAndre JordanAP Photo/Danny MoloshokWhy should DeAndre Jordan be voted in as a Western Conference All-Star reserve? Listen up ...
LOS ANGELES -- It’s hard to properly make the case for DeAndre Jordan to be named an All-Star.

There’s no box-score stat for causing an opponent to change his shot or one for refusing to even attempt one.

“It’s easy to quantify points,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “A guy averages 30 points a night; it’s easy to quantify that. It’s harder when you don’t see that guy.”

In the final 60 seconds of the second quarter of the Clippers’ comeback win over Denver on Monday, Jordan blocked three shots, grabbed a rebound and finished an alley-oop pass from Blake Griffin that put the Clippers ahead by three.

“That was the postcard to all the coaches,” Rivers said. “He just changes the game. I know there are offensive guys that change the game, they do. Klay Thompson had 37 in a quarter, that changes the game, but what D.J. did in that second quarter changed the game. It’s the same thing but when the ball goes in people talk about it more. We don’t talk about the D.J.s or the Dennis Rodmans or the Ben Wallaces enough and the effect that they had on teams. It’s a winning effect. Those are the guys that help you win titles. I hope he makes it.”

Rivers has gone as far as personally calling other coaches in the Western Conference. The Clippers even printed out and distributed flyers this week with Jordan’s statistics, which include leading the league in field goal percentage (73.1) and rebounds per game (13.4) and ranking second in blocks per game (2.42). He also ranks 23rd among all players in real plus-minus, 11 spots ahead of center Marc Gasol, who was voted in as a Western Conference starter by fans last week.

Jordan, though, seems to have come to terms with the fact that he won't make the West's roster.

“Making the All-Star team would be great but if not, whatever,” Jordan said. “It would just be another year.”

Jordan has been asked to participate in the slam-dunk contest the past three years but has declined, choosing to wait to go to his first All-Star Weekend as a member of Sunday's main event. He did, however, say he would participate in the dunk contest if he were to be named an All-Star.

“It’s just a pride thing for me,” Jordan said. “No disrespect to the dunk contest, I love it. It’s something I’ve watched since I was a little kid. I just told myself I wasn’t going to do it unless I got the opportunity to be an All-Star first. It’s a great event but it’s a personal thing.”

Rivers said he doesn’t fault Jordan for choosing to spend his All-Star break elsewhere if he isn't chosen to play in the game.

“I know I wouldn’t,” Rivers said. “Dunk contest or Cabo, I’m going Cabo. That would be me, and I think D.J. too. I think some players like it. They really do enjoy the environment. Would it help him, maybe next year people view him different? It may or may not, who knows? For D.J., he’s not going to win a fan vote, so it’s always going to be from the coaches. I don’t think him being in the dunk contest is going to sway a coaches’ vote, if you look at it that way.”

Some coaches may be on Jordan's side. On Sunday, Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Horncek tried to the Hack-a-Jordan method in the fourth quarter when they were within striking distance and watched Jordan hit 8 of 15 free throws and the Clippers win by 20 points. After the game, Hornacek noted how Jordan’s defense made a big impact.

“When we got back in the game I know Deandre Jordan came back in and blocked shots,” Hornacek said. “I don’t know, the stats say he had four. That can’t be right, it seemed like he had 14. So, you know, he’s a big influence down there and again, we got to be aware of where he’s at. He does such a great job of coming from a distance, where you think you have a layup, but he’s so long that he still gets it. So it’s trying to drive in there, bring him to you and then try to make extra passes.”

Jordan smiled when asked to make his case for being an All-Star as he stands in front of an empty locker room with the rest of the media in the adjacent press conference room talking to Chris Paul, Griffin and Jamal Crawford.

“I should have made some YouTube videos or something,” Jordan said. “But in the famous words from the wise man, Marshawn Lynch, ‘I’m just about that action, boss.”

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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