Doc Rivers hopeful he can convince son Austin to return to Clippers’ nest

 

Austin Rivers

Austin Rivers/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Clippers guard Austin Rivers had his share of good games in the playoffs, and he had some where he did not play well. All told, he averaged 8.4 points and 1.1 assists in 14 games. He was terrific in a Game 4 victory at San Antonio in the first round, when he scored 16 points on 7 of 8 from the field. He also played key roles in two of the three victories over the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference semifinals won in seven games by the Rockets. He scored 17 points in a Game 1 victory at Houston and came through with a whopping 25 points on 10 of 13 shooting in a Game 3 victory at Staples Center, during which he had the fans there chanting, “Austin Rivers, Austin Rivers.”

His father, Clippers coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers, said Tuesday he’d love to re-sign his son for next season. He knows it won’t be easy because the Clippers can’t offer him as much money as other teams.

But he does want him back, regardless of some of the heat the younger Rivers took when he did not play well. It’s during those times that perhaps people don’t remember that he’s just 22 and won’t be 23 until August 1.

“Yeah, people who want to criticize him don’t,” the elder Rivers said. “That’s the way I always look at them. He’s young and he clearly helped us, I think we all have to agree with that. And I think he loved it here.

“I even think he liked the coach at times. You know, it’ll be interesting. I really want him back and I think it would be great to have him back and I think he’s a great fit for this team. But business is business and it’ll be an interesting thing this summer.”

Austin Rivers averaged 7.1 points and 1.7 assists during 41 regular-season games with the Clippers after being traded to the team in mid-January. After the 25-point performance in Game 3 against the Rockets, Rivers scored 12, eight, five and two points over the last four games of the series and shot a combined 11 of 32 (34.3 percent).

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Contrary to report, DeAndre Jordan practiced free-throw shooting a lot

Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan hug it out.

Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan share a hug/Photo by USATSI

 

I have read with great interest about the alleged discord between Clippers point guard Chris Paul and center DeAndre Jordan. No sooner were the Clippers eliminated by the Rockets in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals Sunday, than did a story surface about how perturbed Paul has been about Jordan not working enough on his free-throw shooting during the season.

The rumor, according to this report that by the way did not quote anyone by name but went with the old “source” thing, is that Jordan may not re-sign with the Clippers, in part because of this.

I won’t mention the reporter or publication by name here because I don’t think one reporter should publicly argue with another. But I can tell you that the reporter who broke the story was not at Clippers practices on any kind of a regular basis this season. So while I’m not doubting that this reporter was told what was reported, said reporter wasn’t present enough to have seen for himself.

As someone who was at virtually every Clippers home practice and shootaround this season, I can say with conviction that no other Clippers player practiced his free-throw shooting as much as Jordan. He was often at a corner basket shooting one after another and usually a coach was with him.

That’s why any time coach Doc Rivers mentioned to us that no one shoots more practice free throws on the team than Jordan, it was easy to believe.

Now, we’re not naive. It is possible that Paul has indeed become fed up with having a starter on the team that has difficulty making more than 4 out of every 10 free throws – Jordan shot 39.7 percent this season and has a 41.7-percent career average.

But Paul, who is ultra-competitive, never expressed anything but support this season for Jordan in this regard. There never seemed to be any body language on his part that would indicate he’s mad as heck and can’t take it anymore.

Speaking of Paul’s competitiveness, the report also included an inference that Jordan does not like Paul’s “edginess” and that it wore on Jordan’s nerves. I didn’t see anything obvious in that regard, either, but sometimes professional athletes do a good job of keeping stuff like that under wraps.

More than anything, I wanted to shoot down the notion that Jordan did not practice his free throws enough. The view from here is that he practiced them more than enough. He made a lot more during practice than he did in the games, too.

I remember at one practice he asked reporters if we noticed how many of them he was making that day. He then admitted that it gets into his head during games.

I inquired about this today. I hate using the “source” thing, so I won’t go into all the details of what I found out about why this rumor has circulated. All I can say is I was told that this is all a bunch of bull and that if Jordan does leave, it won’t have anything to do with Paul.

Again, we’re not naive. That itself could be hogwash.

We’ll see what else comes up in this regard. Stay tuned.

 

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Magic Johnson says Clippers’ loss to Rockets will haunt them forever

Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson/Associated Press file photo by Reed Saxon

 

Magic Johnson helped play host to a Los Angeles news conference Monday to announce the intention to build a 22,000-seat stadium that would house the expansion Los Angeles Football Club that will play in the MLS. Johnson is one of several in the ownership group.

During his time with reporters, Johnson was asked about the Clippers falling in seven games to the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference semifinals. Never shy to speak his mind, Johnson said quite a bit.

“Well, I was disappointed because Chris Paul is my good friend, Doc Rivers is a good friend and I want them to win and get the monkey off their backs,” Johnson said.

He then talked about Game 6, when the Clippers blew a 19-point lead late in the third quarter. Not only did they lose that one 119-107 at home at  Staples Center, they missed their best chance to close out the series and advance to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history. The Clippers lost Game 7 by a 113-100 count Sunday in Houston.

“I thought they missed the opportunity in Game 6,” Johnson said. “You gotta close out at home. You can’t allow it to go to a Game 7. If you think about all the Lakers heydays, when we had closeout games and we had them in the Forum or Staples Center with Kobe (Bryant) and Shaq (O’Neal) or with my Showtime Lakers, we closed out. So when you have your opportunity, you gotta close out.

“I remember when we didn’t, in terms of we had the Celtics in seven games and we lost there, that will haunt us forever and this loss will haunt the Clippers forever because they had their opportunity up 20 in the third quarter. You gotta win that game in the Staples Center. So we’ll see what happens.”

Johnson intimated he’s hopeful the Clippers can get over the hump.

“I wish them well because I want so bad for Chris Paul to have his opportunity to play in the championship,” he said. “I want that for him. He’s meant a lot to the league, but also to the fans here in Los Angeles because this is a Lakers town, but we like Chris Paul. We do. We love the way he plays, his leadership.

Blake (Griffin) has really grown. You saw him grow up this season and really do some wonderful things. But at the same time, it’s going to be tough for them to swallow this.”

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Clippers could use better shooting from beyond the arc in Game 7

Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan don’t look too happy here during the second half of Game 6, a 119-107 loss to the Rockets on Thursday that resulted in a Game 7 for Sunday back in Houston/Photo by Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

 

The Clippers shot 37.6 percent from 3-point range during the regular season, third-best in the NBA. They have shot just 25.7 percent and 23.3 percent from beyond the arc in the past two games of the Western Conference semifinals against the Rockets – both Clippers losses.

Coach Doc Rivers on Saturday was asked specifically how hopeful he is that will improve in Game 7 on Sunday at 12:30 at Toyota Center in Houston. He then touched on the fourth quarter of Thursday’s Game 6, when the Clippers shot just 4 of 22 from the field – 2 of 9 from 3-point range – in their 119-107 defeat.

“I mean, we’ve had open shots,” he said. “You look at that fourth-quarter debacle, I mean, we had a lot of open looks. It’s funny, live I thought we did. And on film, it was even better than I thought.

“Not only did we have open looks, for the most part, we had them by the guys that we wanted to and they just didn’t go in. The one thing that will never change is it’s a make-miss league. If you make them, you’re better.”

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Doc Rivers doesn’t think Clippers will play Game 7 with Game 6 hangover

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers walks off the court with Chris Paul after their 119-107 loss to the Rockets. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)

Doc Rivers and Chris Paul get ready to exit the court at Staples Center after the Clippers fell apart in Game 6 and lost 119-107 to the Houston Rockets/Staff photo by Michael Owen Baker, Los Angeles Daily News

Doc Rivers met with reporters before practice Saturday at Toyota Center in Houston ahead of Game 7 against the Rockets on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

Not surprisingly, he was asked about the proverbial hangover his team might be feeling after falling apart in Game 6, when the Rockets outscored the Clippers 51-20 over the final 15 minutes to emerge with a 119-107 victory to force Game 7.

“Whether we have a hangover or not, I don’t think so,” Rivers said. “That’s all I can say. I mean, I don’t know, obviously. But I don’t think so. I think the guys, yesterday, they were still beat up a little bit. Then we got through the film and, you know, if you looked at it rationally and that’s what I try to do, if you look at it for three quarters, we were fantastic. And so you go through the bad stuff and then you move on to the good stuff and I think that gives them some kind of comfort.”

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Trevor Ariza predicted before 4th quarter his team will win NBA title

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers walks off the court with Chris Paul after their 119-107 loss to the Rockets. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)

Doc Rivers and Chris Paul start to walk off the court after Thursday’s meltdown that resulted in a 119-107 victory for the Houston Rockets in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals/Photo by Michael Owen Baker, Los Angeles Daily News

 

The Houston Rockets apparently felt good entering the fourth quarter of their 119-107 victory over the Clippers in Game 6 on Thursday at Staples Center.

Once the Rockets cut their 19-point deficit to 13 after three, at least one of them knew they had the Clippers where they wanted them.

Trevor (Ariza) said at the beginning of the fourth quarter, ‘We are going to win the championship, but we have to win this game right now. If we win this game right now, that’s how you become a champion,’ ” said Corey Brewer, who had 15 of his 19 points in the fourth. “Then we came together and got the win.”

Houston center Dwight Howard smiled when pondering what had taken place.

“This game was, it was amazing,” he said. “I just stopped looking at the clock and the score. We all just gave up ourselves for the team. We played big minutes, we played hard, we played together and we never stopped believing.”

When James Harden went out of the game with 1:33 to play in the third, the Rockets were still down 89-73. Harden, who has been under the weather, did not play another second. He checked in with 1:01 left in the game, which by then was over, but checked right back out.

The Rockets outscored the Clippers 51-20 over the final 15 minutes of action.

Game 7 is Sunday at Houston.

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‘Big Baby’ imparts wisdom from past experiences to current teammates

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets takes the ball by Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers during Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals at the Toyota Center for the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 12, 2015 in Houston, Texas.   The Rockets won 124-103. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Blake Griffin of the Clippers guards James Harden of the Rockets in Tuesday’s 124-103 Rockets victory in Game 5 at Toyota Center in Houston/Photo by Scott Halleran, Getty Images

 

Glen “Big Baby” Davis was a rookie when coach Doc Rivers guided the Boston Celtics to the NBA title in 2008. Now, Davis is on the Rivers-coached Clippers team trying to advance to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.

The Clippers lead their Western Conference semifinals series 3-2 over the Houston Rockets, but are coming off a 21-point loss in Game 5 at Houston.

Davis on Thursday at the morning shootaround ahead of Game 6 at Staples Center was asked if he imparts any wisdom from his past to his current teammates.

“Most definitely, in ways,” he said. “We have our leaders on this team and so me, I just try to pick and choose when I feel like the moment’s right to lead from my experiences. So I just go out there and do what I can with my actions and try to help my team as much as possible.”

Davis also talked about the difficulties of winning the proverbial closeout game, which the Clippers could not do Tuesday.

“The focus level has to go to a whole other level,” he said. “You know, attention to detail, energy. It’s a whole bunch of stuff that goes in a bag in order to finish a game, so we’ve gotta make sure we put those things in a bag in order to take this series.”

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Doc Rivers unhappy about his team’s play in the paint in Game 5 loss

 

Austin Rivers, left, and Blake Griffin appear down in the dumps as they are about to lose to the Houston Rockets in Game 5 on Tuesday in Houston/Photo by David J. Phillip, Associated Press

 

 

After the Clippers were routed 124-103 by the Houston Rockets in Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinals series at Toyota Center in Houston, it was pointed out to Clippers coach Doc Rivers that the Rockets, who took full advantage of DeAndre Jordan being in game-long foul trouble, outscored the Clippers 64-46 in the paint. With a frown, he intimated that didn’t tell the whole story.

“Yeah, it would have been 80 (points in the paint) if the game was closer,” he said. “The only reason it wasn’t worse is because it was a blowout and they just started shooting jump-shots.”

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Chris Paul says his strained left hamstring is close to 100 percent

 

 

Chris Paul goes up for a shot in Game 4 with James Harden of the Rockets defending/Photo by Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

 

 

Chris Paul’s strained left hamstring is apparently getting better as each day passes. The Clippers’ point guard on Tuesday at the morning shootaround ahead of Game 5 at Toyota Center in Houston was asked about it, and he gave the injury positive reviews.

“Hamstring is OK,” said Paul, who missed the first two games of this Western Conference semifinals series before playing 23 and 26 minutes, respectively, the
past two. “It’s good. I’ll be on the court tonight.”

Paul was asked if the hamstring is close to 100 percent.

“Yeah, it’s getting there,” he said.

Coach Doc Rivers was queried as to whether he expects Paul could play more minutes in this one should the game be closer than the previous two, which were Clippers victories by 25 and 33 points.

“I haven’t talked about it yet,” Rivers said, when asked about a minutes restriction for Game 5. “My guess is, I’m sure there is some kind of limit, but probably he can play more than he played the first two games. He’s feeling a lot better.”

The Clippers lead the series 3-1. A victory in Game 5 would advance them to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.

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Chris Paul will start Game 3 against Rockets, minutes to be restricted

Chris Paul

Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Point guard Chris Paul will be in the starting lineup when the Clippers take the floor at Staples Center against the Houston Rockets on Friday night for Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinals series that is tied 1-1.

Paul did not play in the first two games because of a strained left hamstring.

“He is definitely playing,” coach Doc Rivers said during his pregame news conference. “Minutes-wise, we definitely are going to restrict his minutes. A lot of it will be visually, but we will restrict his minutes, for sure.”

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