Photo by Associated Press
Matt Barnes just completed his 11th season in the NBA, and he put up some of his better numbers. He averaged 9.9 points – his career-best is 10.3 – while pulling down 4.6 rebounds and doling out 2.0 assists. He also shot 43.8 percent from the field, 34.3 percent (97 of 283) from 3-point range.
One of the things about Barnes, he is one tough hombre. He doesn’t shy away from contact, he is not afraid to take a crucial shot with the game in the balance. If he is
having a good game, the energy with which he plays seems to pump up his teammates.
Barnes also took some positive strides when it comes to technical fouls and such. In 2012-13, he had 10 technical fouls, four flagrant and two ejections during the regular season. In this just-concluded 2013-14 campaign under first-year coach Doc Rivers, Barnes had just four technical fouls, three flagrant, two ejections.
This was an issue that both Rivers and Barnes discussed with reporters many times during the season. Rivers said he tried to impress upon Barnes that playing hard and committing needless technical and flagrant fouls are not the same thing. One can play very hard without creating unnecessary hardship for his team, the thinking was.
Barnes also had some very bright moments on defense, making him an important part of the Clippers’ lineup.
That doesn’t mean Barnes should rest on his laurels. After all, there were some games where he contributed very little. Invisibility is the type of thing that every player wants to avoid.
Barnes should be in the fold again next season as he is signed for 2014-15 for $3,396,250, with a club option for 2015-16 for $3,542,500.
Coach Doc Rivers on Thursday was fined $25,000 by the NBA for his sharp criticism of officials that worked Game 5 of his team’s Western Conference semifinals series at Oklahoma City on Tuesday.
Rivers lashed out in the post-game news conference after his team blew a 13-point lead with 4:11 to play, losing 105-104 to fall behind 3-2 in the series. The play in question was an out-of-bounds play where the ball certainly appeared to go off the hand of OKC’s Reggie Jackson with 11.3 seconds to play. Officials said the replay was inconclusive and the call made on the court stood, the Thunder retaining possession of the ball.
That led to Chris Paul’s 3-point area foul on Russell Westbrook with 6.4 seconds left, and Westbrook made all three free throws for the winning points.
Afterward, Rivers referred to the call as “brutal” and “horrendous” and suggested officials were making up for not having called a foul on Matt Barnes on said play; it did appear Barnes fouled Jackson.
Barnes had Rivers’ back at the morning shootaround ahead of Game 6 Thursday night at Staples Center.
“I think it was needed,” Barnes said. “He’s done a great job all year of being a shield for this team with all the unfortunate stuff that’s come up during the playoffs.”
Forward Matt Barnes – known as somewhat of a bad boy in the NBA – told reporters at practice Friday that he longed for the days when the game was more physical and players could get away with being that way more than they can today..
This was the result of Barnes on Thursday watching ESPN’s “Bad Boys” on 30 for 30, a documentary centering on the rough Detroit Pistons of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Their reputation for hard-nosed, dirty play earned them that moniker.
Barnes was asked what would happen if he was fouling that way in this day and age.
“If I did some of those fouls they had last night that I saw, I’d probably have to find a new job,” Barnes said. “Take my kids out of private school, cut my wife’s allowance.”
Reporters were laughing out-loud.
As of now the Golden State Warriors are saying that center Andrew Bogut will not play against the Clippers when the first-round Western Conference playoff series opens Saturday afternoon at Staples Center, and because he has a fractured rib he could miss the entire series.
Although Bogut could materialize at some point if for no other reason than he’s apparently tough and this is the postseason, it will be interesting to see if the Clippers can take advantage of his absence for the time being.
“He’s the anchor of their defense,” Clippers forward Matt Barnes said. “Tremendous rebounder, help-side defender, blocks shots, and it’s going to help us. But they have J.O. (back center Jermaine O’Neal) and (forward) Draymond Green – they’ll probably play small – so that poses other problems, too.”
Bogut, who is 7-foot and 245 pounds, leads the Warriors in rebounding with a 10.0 average. He also averages 1.8 blocks and 7.3 points.
- Look for the Goran Dragic-led Suns to give an inspiring effort. As of right now they are tied with Memphis for the seventh spot in the Western Conference standings. Ninth-place Dallas is only a half-game behind those two. Phoenix and Memphis are both 44-30 and have eight games left each. Dallas is 44-31 with seven games remaining.
- Look for Chris Paul to continue his terrific play. The Clippers are 3-1 on this road trip. In the game they lost – March 26 at New Orleans – Paul was 0 of 12 from the field and scored just two points. In successive victories over Dallas, Houston and Minnesota, he has scored 31, 30 and 22 points with 30 assists.
- Expect another heavy rebounding night from DeAndre Jordan, who seems to be getting stronger and even more dynamic as the regular season nears an end. Not only is he leading the NBA in rebounding with a 13.9 average, check this out: he has 67 rebounds on the road trip. That’s a 16.7 average. He had 24 Monday at Minnesota.
- If Blake Griffin is out again because of his back, expect Jared Dudley to again be a capable replacement. Keep in mind that even though he did not play Monday, Griffin did dress, meaning he wasn’t that far from being able to go. If Jamal Crawford (calf) also misses his second consecutive game, that could be a lot to deal with against a team fighting for it’s playoff life.
- If Griffin and Crawford play and are at least close to being reasonably healthy, the Clippers win this game going away because they are rolling right now. Even without those two they could win because along with Paul and Jordan, Matt Barnes and Darren Collison have been heavy contributors.
- First and foremost, coach Doc Rivers is in control of this team. When Glen “Big Baby” Davis went too far in voicing his displeasure over being taken out of the game early in the second quarter, Rivers sent him to the locker room to stay for the rest of the game. Rivers said this in an Associated Press story: “I thought ‘Baby’ was just too emotional and for me if you’re too emotional I just always send you back to the locker room and keep you back there until the next game. But I love ‘Baby.’ I just didn’t think emotionally he was ready to play tonight.”
- The Clippers are really starting to show the mettle it will take them to make a long run in the post-season. When Blake Griffin went down with back spasms after just six minutes of playing time, and then Davis was sent to the locker room early in the second quarter, they were down 13 points. But the Clippers ended up outscoring the Rockets 38-25 in that second quarter on their way to their second consecutive victory on this road trip that still has stops Monday in Minnesota and Wednesday at Phoenix.
- Chris Paul, like a superstar should, is really elevating his game as the playoffs near. As good as he’s been all year, he has shown the past two games what a leader and a great player do when adversity strikes. Paul was 0 of 12 from the field in a loss at New Orleans on Wednesday. He came back with 31 points in a win Thursday at Dallas and 30 more Saturday, when he also came through with 12 assists, five rebounds and three steals. Oh, and he had just one turnover in 39 minutes. Other than that, he didn’t do a thing.
- Really like what Matt Barnes did in this one. Fifteen points and 10 rebounds, including a big 3-pointer late in the game that helped sealed Houston’s fate. Barnes is a hard-nosed guy who plays with lots of emotion. If he’s playing well, it’s such a boost to the team. One thing, his 10 3-point attempts seem a little much. He made three.
- It’s true that center Dwight Howard (ankle) and point guard Patrick Beverley (knee) were out for the Rockets. But Houston was still at home, and the Clippers were still without Griffin – the best player on either team – and reserve Danny Granger (hamstring). This was a solid victory. Keep in mind that’s three road games in three cities in four days for the Clippers.
The 50-21 Clippers trail the 30-40 New Orleans Pelicans 55-52 at halftime in New Orleans.
Jamal Crawford has 19 points and Matt Barnes has 11 Los Angeles. But Blake Griffin has scored only eight and Chris Paul is scoreless after missing all six of his shots; Paul does have seven assists.
The game is being televised on Prime Ticket
This is the first game of a five-game road trip.
- The Clippers had 13 turnovers against the worst team in the league, leading to this reaction from coach Doc Rivers: “I wasn’t really happy with us offensively tonight. I didn’t think we moved the ball a lot. And then I thought we were careless with the ball at times as well. But you know, I’ll take the win.” To be fair, the Clippers average 13.9 turnovers per game, so they came in under that. But again, this was against a Bucks team that came in 44 games under .500 at 13-57.
- It was the second game in succession where the Clippers had trouble putting away a far inferior team. It was the same way Saturday when the Pistons hung around until they were defeated 112-103 after trailing by just a point at halftime. Perhaps this is not a good thing. Then again, Chris Paul realizes not every can be wonderful: “I mean, you always want to play well, but you want to win well. It’s not going to be pretty every night. Tonight it was, do whatever you have to do to win.”
- The victory was the Clippers’ 50th of the season. It’s the second consecutive year in which they have reached that plateau. But it won’t mean a thing if they don’t get a chance to play for that ring, said Matt Barnes: “It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t advance in the playoffs. This team has come a long way, but we’re not into moral victories, we’re not taking winning-streak victories, we want to advance and we know we have a good enough team to win a championship.”
- Darren Collison, in his second game back after missing back-to-back games with a stomach virus, had a terrific overall game. He scored 15 points, made 5 of 9 from the field, 3 of 4 from 3-point range. In addition, he had six assists and zero turnovers and even blocked a shot.
- As uncool as it might have been for the Clippers to have struggled so mightily to beat the lowly Bucks, it could have been much worse. Had they lost that game, and that was a real possibility as they led by just four points with 3:24 to play, that could have been disastrous heading out for a five-game road trip. The psyche is a delicate thing. At least they won.
Matt Barnes was all smiles Monday. Other than a “bad thumb,” he proclaimed himself otherwise very healthy. But it was more than that.
Barnes’ Alma mater, UCLA, has made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament and on Thursday will play Florida, the No. 1 seed in the South Region.
“I’m excited for them,” Barnes said at the shoot-around ahead of a 7:30 p.m. start against the visiting Milwaukee Bucks. “They’ve got a big-time offense. Defense is a little suspect.”
Barnes is aware that Florida is not only the top seed in the South, but the overall No. 1 seed.
“But the one thing about the tournament, you have to be hot at the right time,” he said.
Matt Barnes has a reputation as being a hard-nosed player and a live wire, and sometimes it gets him in trouble with officials. Though he is not the league leader, he does have three flagrant fouls this year and two ejections. His coach, Doc Rivers, is not bemoaning that one bit.
“Well, I think half of that’s earned, half of that’s misunderstood,” Rivers said of Barnes’ stature. “But I don’t think you’re given a reputation, I think you earn one, for the most part. And sometimes if it’s not true, you have to live your life or whatever and try to dispell it.
“I like what Matt brings and I like his reputation. He’s on the edge, and that’s good. He’s keeping it clean, and that’s good.”
Well, somewhat clean, anyway.
Jared Sullinger of Boston leads the NBA with six flagrant fouls.