Court Vision: Clippers mock report of locker room unrest
By Ben Golliver
• Life would seem to be pretty excellent for the Clippers, who swept a four-game season series against the Lakers on Sunday and clinched their first division title in franchise history. But the Clippers’ best season still saw a Los Angeles Times report last week that questioned the team’s chemistry, with fingers pointing toward DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.
The feel-good Clippers are gone, with DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin’s immaturity dragging the team down. Jordan wants nothing to do with Coach Vinny Del Negro because he blames Del Negro for burying him on the bench.
[Griffin] wants the ball like any great player, but when it doesn’t go to him, he pouts. He’s 24. Most of the time the ball goes to Griffin, but he’s concerned only about the times when it doesn’t.
The pair have also grown tired of Chris Paul’s voice, which is understandable at times. Paul, very much like Kobe Bryant — who has turned off Dwight Howard with his out-of-this-world standards — is relentless. He never shuts up. And Jordan and Griffin have become weary of him.
• The Long Beach Press Telegram reports that the three players mocked that report a bit in the locker room on Sunday.
“I don’t like you, Chris,” Jordan yelled out. Paul didn’t flinch. “I don’t care,” Paul answered.
Meanwhile, Clippers forward Blake Griffin turned to Jordan, whose locker is near his, and snipped: “Get out of my way DeAndre. Move,” Griffin shouted.
Jordan didn’t back down. “I don’t like you, Blake Griffin,” Jordan screamed.
Finally, all three players shared a hearty laugh. Turns out it was all in fun. But it also was a message delivered to anyone who thinks the Clippers have a chemistry problem or their star players don’t get along.
• This scene has shades of Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard posing in a mock fight on Twitter back in January, doesn’t it?
• Jovan Buha of ClipperBlog on the transfer of L.A. supremacy from the Lakers to the Clippers.
Make no mistake: this is no moral victory. It’s a real victory, in every sense. The Clippers won the division on their own; nothing was handed to them. They kicked the Lakers’ butts four times spread throughout the season. They deserve all the credit, respect and praise that should be coming their way.
For the first time Sunday afternoon, it felt as if there were almost as many Clipper fans as Laker fans at Staples Center. Laker fans have traditionally dominated the crowd in the match-ups, even at Clipper home games, but that’s changing. You could hear Clipper fans booing and fighting back whenever Laker fans would cheer, and there a was a level of off-the-court animosity unbeknownst to the rivalry.
L.A. may never be a Clipper town, or even open to the idea, but if the Clippers keep winning, enough fans will flop sides. It happened at the inception of Lob City, and it can happen again. No one loves a winner quite like Los Angeles. The key, of course, is to win.
• This Houston Chronicle piece makes Rockets GM Daryl Morey sound absolutely thrilled that his team will soon officially clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2009.
“It would feel amazing,” Morey said. “You definitely appreciate making the playoffs when you’re not in for three years. It frankly doesn’t feel like three years.
“Every year has a story. One year we were waiting for Yao Ming to come back. One year he got hurt very early. And one, we frankly thought our odds were not great when we were restarting a little bit.”
• Royce Young at CBSSports.com with a great find: Spurs big man Boris Diaw made a Harlem Shake video out of Legos.
• Bucks.com made a nifty mini-website highlighting Larry Sanders’ shot-blocking prowess.
• Dan Devine at Ball Don’t Lie takes on Nets forward Gerald Wallace’s recent comments that his confidence is shot.
Before the All-Star break, Wallace was averaging 8.9 points per game on 43.2 percent shooting and connecting at a 35.1 percent clip from beyond the arc — not stellar numbers and down from his career per-minute averages (15.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per 36 minutes entering the season, 10.2 and 6 before the All-Star break), but everybody expected his scoring numbers to drop off on a team featuring Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson. But fourth option or no, his post-All-Star decline’s been just awful — he’s kicking in just 6.5 points per game, shooting 33.8 percent from the floor and 64.6 percent from the free-throw line (by far his worst performance at the line in a half-dozen years), and has made only seven of his last 47 attempts (a woeful 14.9 percent) from 3-point range.
And it’s not just that his jumper’s been janky; the misery’s been pretty well spread-out, according to NBA.com’s shot location stats. Yes, Wallace’s accuracy has dropped by nearly 10 percent on corner 3-pointers and by just under 25 percent on above-the-break triples, but his field-goal percentage is also down just under 12 percent on shots taken inside the restricted area; on top of that, he’s getting a significantly higher share of his interior tries blocked.
• Henry Abbott of TrueHoop investigates a few stars logging gigantic minutes and what it might mean for their teams’ championship hopes.
It’s not for lack of trying. About 100 times since 2004, players including James, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose and Chris Paul have played those long minutes. But every one of those years, the title has gone to a team led by someone who played less.
The going theory is that a minute of NBA play is more work than it used to be. Watch how the Bulls, Heat or Pacers play defense, with bodies flying everywhere all possession long. Once upon a time players stuck to guarding one man, which often meant catching a breather. Good defenses these days are all about loading the strong-side box, which means a hell of a lot of scrambling. That style of defense has been growing in popularity and has evidently also been limiting the number of big scorers.
• The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that Kyrie Irving is ducking questions about Byron Scott’s future.
Asked whether he supports his embattled coach and would be disappointed if he were fired, Kyrie Irving said little about the topic before Sunday’s game at The Q.
“Until that time comes I’m not really worried about it,” Irving said. “To even imagine that, I’m not going down that road.
“I’m focused on finishing the season with him and that’s all that matters right now.”
• Trey Kerby of The Basketball Jones just might have found Heat president Pat Riley’s hidden Twitter account.