Matt Barnes: Spencer Hawes gives team another hard-nosed player

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Spencer Hawes

Spencer Hawes/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

 

Matt Barnes is a hard-nosed player. Dirty, perhaps, at times. Apparently, that’s one of the things he likes about his new teammate – 7-foot post Spencer Hawes.

Hawes had 12 technical fouls, two flagrants and one ejection last season with Philadelphia and Cleveland.

“I think the biggest (addition) is going to be Spencer,” Barnes said. “Someone 7-foot who can shoot the ball, pass the ball, playmaker,  a dirty guy, a tough guy, probably one of the biggest free-agent pickups of the summer that people really aren’t talking about as much as they should.”

Barnes was speaking at Clippers Media Day on Monday. When it was time for Hawes to take the dais, he was told of Barnes’ comments about his style of play and agreed they were on the money.

“I think so,” Hawes said. “I think as I’ve gotten a little older I’ve been able to contain a little more. But I think that’s just kind of my personality and I think with a guy like Matt, there are some similarities there. And I think that’s what kind of makes me good and sometimes what draws me back, so there’s a fine line there.”

Hawes has career scoring and rebounding averages of 9.7 and 6.4, respectively. He has seven seasons under his belt even though he is just 26 because he was in the league at age 19.

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DeAndre Jordan made solid strides, but still has lots of work to do

Photo by Associated Press

Center DeAndre Jordan made terrific strides this past season. He became one of the most feared defenders in the league, as well as its best rebounder. For his efforts,
Jordan finished third in voting for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, fifth for Most Improved.

But his season-long troubles from the free-throw line – which at times had opposing coaches ordering him fouled on purpose – as well as his random disappearing acts in
the playoffs demonstrated he still has lots of work to do.

Jordan shot just 42.8 percent from the free-throw line in 2013-14. Sure, that was up from 38.6 percent a season earlier in 2012-13. Then again, he shot a career-best 52.5 percent in 2011-12. Sometimes, he’s not even close to making his free throws. Air balls are not uncommon.

It’s not that he doesn’t take them seriously. Jordan is obviously a player who cares very much about everything he does on the basketball court. The pained expressions
he wears after a bad trip to the line bear that out. Go to a Clippers practice or shoot-around, and there is Jordan working with a coach on his free throws.

Perhaps he should think about using Rick Barry’s granny-style free-throw shot. And we’re not saying that to be sarcastic. Barry shot 89.3 percent from the line over a
14-year career; he shot over 90 percent seven times, including the last six seasons of his career. All due respect, Jordan probably couldn’t get much worse. So why not give it a shot?

As for Jordan’s 13-game playoff run that saw the Clippers lose 4-2 to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference semifinals, it’s interesting to note Jordan’s statistical lines in the four defeats to the Thunder. Keep in mind that during the regular season he averaged 10.4 points, 13.6 rebounds and 2.48 blocks. In a Game 2 loss to the Thunder he had seven points, eight rebounds and zero blocks. In a Game 3 loss he had 10 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. In a Game 5 loss he had zero points, just four rebounds and no blocks. In Game 6 he had nine points and 15 rebounds, but again no blocks.

Some of this was due to foul trouble, which just adds to the negativity. But these off games were not the result of poor free-throw shooting getting into his head. He shot a combined four free throws in those four losses, making two.

The thing about Jordan is he wants very much to become a star in this league (as evidenced by his emotion in the above Associated Press photo). If anyone can improve upon some of these things, it’s got to be him. He must start with his free throws because being the second-worst in the league in that department – Detroit’s Andre Drummond shot 41.8 percent – is just not acceptable. He must do whatever it takes to turn this around.

Here’s something else: Jordan next season will be in the final year of his four-year contract; he’ll get $11,440,124 in 2014-15. Currently just 25, Jordan will be 26 after the season. Not saying the Clippers won’t re-sign him if he doesn’t get better from the line, but Jordan might be hard-pressed to get what he believes he deserves if he shoots under 50 percent yet again, and/or doesn’t have a better overall post-season performance.
He was 33 of 76 from the line this post-season. That equates to 43.4 percent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sources: Assistant coach Alvin Gentry to interview for Lakers’ coaching vacancy

Assistant coach Alvin Gentry, who was in charge of the Clippers’ league-leading scoring offense, will interview for the vacant job of head coach of the Lakers, Mark Medina – our Lakers beat writer – reported, citing league sources.

Gentry has also interviewed for the same opening at Utah and is expected to interview with Cleveland as well, Medina reported.

Gentry has formerly been head coach for the Miami Heat (1994), Detroit Pistons (1998-2000), Clippers (2001-2003) and Phoenix Suns (2009-2013).

 

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Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and Blake Griffin defend Chris Paul after Game 5 loss

Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul, Hedo Turkoglu (8), Jamal Crawford (11) and Blake Griffin (32) walk back to their bench in the closing minutes of a 118-97 loss to the Golden State Warriors during the second half in Game 4 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series on Sunday, April 27, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul, Hedo Turkoglu (8), Jamal Crawford (11) and Blake Griffin (32) walk back to their bench in the closing minutes of a 118-97 loss to the Golden State Warriors during the second half in Game 4 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series on Sunday, April 27, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

After the Clippers’ emotional 105-104 Game 5 collapse to the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road, where Los Angeles squandered a 13-point lead in the final four minutes of play, point-gaurd Chris Paul took the blame.

Paul’s stretch of play in the waning moments would make no highlight reel. Paul turned the ball over with 17.8 seconds left that led to the controversial out-of-bounds call involving Reggie Jackson and the Clippers’ Matt Barnes call with 11.6 seconds left.

After the review kept the ball with the Thunder, Paul fouled Russell Westbrook on the elbow as he attempted a three-point shot with 6.4 ticks left. Westbrook sunk all three for the 105-104 lead.

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Blake Griffin on Game 4 comeback victory: ‘We just kept fighting’

When the Clippers were down by 22 points in the first quarter of their 101-99 Game 4 comeback victory over Oklahoma City on Sunday at Staples Center, the mood on the bench was probably not as dim as one might think, according to forward Blake Griffin.

“It starts with our whole bench,” Griffin said, when asked what it said about his team that it was able to come back and win with the season on the line. “Even when we were down 20-whatever in the first quarter, everybody kept telling each other, ‘Chip away, chip away. We’re not going to do it in two minutes, four minutes, just keep chipping away.’ That was kind of our mentality for the rest of the game. We just kept fighting.”

The result: a Western Conference semifinals series that is tied 2-2 instead of OKC being up 3-1 heading into Game 5 Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.

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Scott Brooks: Serge Ibaka has put in the work to improve perimeter shooting

Serge Ibaka made 9 of 10 from  the field and scored 20 points for Oklahoma City in the Thunder’s 118-112 victory Friday over the Clippers in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinals series at Staples Center. Ibaka was often left wide open from 16 to 17 feet.

OKC coach Scott Brooks was asked prior to Sunday’s tip-off for Game 4 why Ibaka’s perimeter shooting has improved.

“I think he deserves the credit for putting a lot of work in,” Brooks said. “He works with our staff. Serge, as every player, you have to put the time in. You have to come back every day and do the work. You can’t be a sometimes workout guy. You can’t only work out even days of the week.”

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The Oklahoman redeems itself with some terrific headlines

Founded in 1889, The Oklahoman is the largest daily newspaper in Oklahoma. But it took a lot of heat for its headline after Game 5 of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round Western Conference playoff series against Memphis when it came with this headline: “Mr. Unreliable.” It was in reference to Kevin Durant, who, of course, was named league MVP on Tuesday. In a 100-99 Game 5 loss to Memphis that gave the Grizzlies a 3-2 series lead, Durant scored 26 points, but shot just 10 of 24 from the field. An 88.2-percent career free-throw shooter, he made just 3 of 6 from the line.

The newspaper apologized for the headline, and it has redeemed itself the past two days with some real catchy ones. After Chris Paul made 8 of 9 3-pointers in the Clippers’ 122-105 Game 1 rout of OKC at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City on Monday in the Western Conference semifinals, the headline in the next day’s paper – “CPTHREE’D” – was awesome.

Then in Wednesday’s editions, the day after Durant gave a very warm speech thanking the organization, his teammates, coaches and especially his loved ones upon accepting his MVP award, the headline – “All in the family,” also was outstanding.

 

 

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Kevin Durant’s MVP speech one to remember; will it motivate the Thunder?

Kevin Durant on Tuesday received the MVP award for his terrific play during the regular NBA season. He gave a speech that will never be forgotten here in Oklahoma City, where Wednesday night Durant’s Thunder will host the Clippers in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinals series.

Durant talked about all of his teammates. One by one, he let them and the rest of the world know how he feels about them. He was as classy as classy can be.

He shared the love he has for his family. When he got to his mother, Wanda, he told her that she was “the real MVP” because of all she had done for him and his brother during some real rough times growing up, when she would go to bed hungry so her two sons wouldn’t have to.

During much of this heartfelt expression, Durant was moved to tears. In a day and age when such demonstrations are looked upon as maudlin because much of society has become hard and would rather hate than love, it was an absolute breath of fresh air.

Kudos to Durant.

By the time his address was over, one had to figure that Durant had pumped some adrenaline into his teammates, even if that wasn’t what he set out to do. It will be interesting to see if it will play a role in Wednesday’s game. The Thunder were routed by the Clippers in Game 1 Monday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. A loss in Game 2 would be devastating to OKC.

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Doc Rivers concerned about Mark Jackson’s firing, vulnerability of NBA coaches

When coach Doc Rivers met with reporters about 1:15 Pacific time on Tuesday in Oklahoma City, he had yet to hear that Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson had been fired.

The Warriors took the Clippers to seven games in their recently concluded first-round Western Conference playoff series. It marked the first time the Warriors had made the post-season in consecutive seasons since the 1990-91 and 1991-92 campaigns. Rivers was stunned.

“That means things are crazy,” Rivers said. “George Karl was the Coach of the Year last year and got fired. Mark Jackson gets a team to multiple playoffs for the first time in a thousand years, and gets fired. It’s our job. We have a tough job and I think everyone knows it now more than ever.”

Rivers was asked if something has changed over the years regarding coaches and their vulnerability.

“Yeah, clearly, but I don’t know what IT is,” he said. “But something has absolutely changed. And I don’t know what it is, but clearly the patience has changed. But I don’t know why that would be impatience because they’ve done pretty well for the last couple of years. So, I don’t know, but there definitely is a change in thinking about us, and it’s hurting us.”

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Lakers great Magic Johnson talks briefly on sale of Clippers and Donald Sterling

On Monday evening, Lakers great Magic Johnson spoke to students at Long Beach State University at a closed to the public event. Students were allowed to ask Johnson questions during the Q/A portion and the question on everyone’s mind was finally asked: Is Magic interested in buying the Clippers?

“I don’t know what me and my group are going to do,” said Johnson when asked about his interest in the Clippers. “But I will say this, 20 people have already called me interested in partnering up with me, so money will not be an option”

When the initial question was asked, many cheered, but there were some boos (presumably from Lakers fans). But Johnson also admitted that if he actually did try to purchase the Clippers that it would be a “battle for him personally,” due to his allegiance to the Lakers franchise.

“I really truly love the Lakers,” said Johnson. “I am a Laker. So that will be interesting.”

Johnson has been rumored to be eyeing the Clippers, hoping to be add to his Southern California empire that includes the Dodgers and the L.A. Sparks in the wake of Sterling’s ban from the NBA for his racist comments, which mentioned Johnson.

“It’s a sad day. Racism. Discrimination. It’s why do we still have to go through that, here we are in 2014,” said Johnson. “While I was upset, I feel sorry for him, living in the past. It’s just uncalled for.”

The Lakers great reminded the audience that the Clippers are not actually for sale as of yet, with the NBA owners still needing to vote Sterling out. Johnson figured that sale would not happen for another eight months to a year.

“There is no way that man walks away without a battle,” said Johnson.

The Clippers question was also brought up earlier in the talk, when a student asked Johnson what did he want to accomplish in his life that he had not already. When Johnson paused, a student yelled out “buy the Clippers,” at which point Johnson and the room burst into laughter.

“Buying the Clippers,” said Johnson jokingly. “That would be it.”

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