Kevin McHale/Photo courtesy of NBA.com
The firing of Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale on Wednesday after a 4-7 start seems to have been a stunner. All McHale did this past season was lead the Rockets to the Western Conference finals, a place the team had not been since the 1996-97 season.
In getting that far, McHale led his team back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Clippers in the conference semifinals, to advance.
Count Doc Rivers among those left shaking his head.
“Yeah, very,” he said, when asked if he was astonished by the news. “I think it’s surprising for everyone. They only made it to the Western (Conference) finals last year. But that’s our league. And I think I’ve given this speech now my last 11 years a lot – nothing surprises me anymore.”
Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers
Chris Paul scored 18 of his 23 first-half points in the first quarter and the Clippers took a 68-54 lead over the Golden State Warriors into the locker room at halftime.
The Clippers twice led by as many as 23 points.
Paul made his first seven shots from the field, including three 3-pointers.
Blake Griffin contributed 18 points and Austin Rivers scored seven.
Klay Thompson had 18 points for Golden State and Steph Curry scored 17 after having just three points in the first quarter.
Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers
If Chris Paul and J.J. Redick don’t play Thursday when the Clippers host the defending-champion Golden State Warriors, the Clippers will have little chance of winning.
Prior to practice Wednesday, coach Doc Rivers was asked for an update. It wasn’t great news for Clippers fans. Not the worst, either.
“We’re going to put them both out there (to practice) and if we like what we see … but my guess right now is 50-50,” Rivers said.
Paul and Redick both have missed the past two games – Paul with a groin strain, Redick with back spasms.
The Clippers are 6-4. The Warriors are 12-0, with their smallest margin of victory coming Nov. 4 when they beat the Clippers 112-108 at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
Paul scored 24 points in that one and first tweaked his groin there in the final seconds.
Steph Curry/Photo courtesy of Golden State Warriors
Steph Curry scored 37 points to lead the defending-champion Golden State Warriors to a 115-110 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday at Golden State. The Warriors, now 12-0, will play the Clippers on Thursday at Staples Center, to try and extend that unbeaten streak at the outset of the season.
The NBA record for consecutive victories to start a season is 15, so if the Warriors win four more without losing, they will have set a record. Curry says the team is not concerning itself with that.
“We don’t talk about it that much, we’re just happy to get a win,” Curry said post-game. “We feel pretty loose out there, so even in close games we feel and get the sense that everyone is composed and loose. Definitely confident we pulled that out. We have to go out and execute, you can’t just think that you’ve got to do something about it. There’s no pressure on us, no cloud hanging over the locker room, no 16-0 number, just staying in the moment.”
Paul Pierce/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers were defeated by the Golden State Warriors 112-108 on Nov. 4 at Golden State. It was the smallest margin of victory so far for the 12-0 Warriors, who came from 10 down with 7:56 to play to emerge victorious.
Clippers small forward Paul Pierce on Wednesday before practice was asked if knowing that the Clippers almost beat Golden State on its home court gives them a certain level of confidence heading into Thursday’s rematch at Staples Center.
“I’m not sure, but we can use some things that we did well versus them,” Pierce said. “You know, each game is always played out different. You come with different strategies, you rotate different players, so just because you play them close one day doesn’t mean you;’re going to win or play them close the next day.
“That’s the thing about the game of basketball, it’s never scripted. It could turn out to be a completely different ballgame. But I know some of the things we did well, we can kind of go over that today in practice and see what we can do to strategize to play better.”
Pierce is expected to get his second consecutive start in this one after coming off the bench the first nine games.
The defending-champion Warriors are 12-0, the Clippers are 6-4.
Doc Rivers/AP photo by Mark J. Terrill
The Clippers need to find better consistency in rebounding and all-around defense. Coach Doc Rivers has conceded that much. But it’s more than that, he said Tuesday when asked what else his team needs to improve upon.
“Yeah, everything,” he said before practice in Playa Vista. “No, I’m serious. We have to be better in literally every area; we have to improve.”
The Clippers play host to the defending-champion Golden State Warriors on Thursday at Staples Center. The Warriors took a record of 11-0 into their game Tuesday against the Toronto Raptors at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
“The amazing thing is, whatever their record is, they’re saying the same thing,” Rivers said of the Warriors. “They’re not sitting there thinking they’re as good as they’re going to be. And neither is Memphis or Oklahoma City. It’s just a hell of a process you go through and if we were 10-0, I would have given you the exact same answer, and that’s just the way it is.”
The Clippers are 6-4 after starting 4-0.