Sunday, February 26, 2017

Clippers Escape Sting of Hornets in Overtime

Courtesy of Zyaire Porter/T.G.Sportstv1
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers get their first win after the all-star break with a 124-121 overtime defeat of the Charlotte Hornets on Oscar night in La La Land.

In Hollywood, as the 89th Academy Awards ceremony was taking place and the trophy for best picture was incorrectly given to “La La Land” then swiftly taken away as they began celebrating, the same result almost befit the Clippers a few miles away when they blew a 17-point lead.

“I thought we played a really good offensive first half, a really good offensive third quarter to start,” said Clippers guard J.J. “But they have shot makers on their team, and [Nicholas] Batum and [Kemba] Walker were awesome tonight.”

After the game, Hornets head coach Steve Clifford was visibly upset at a controversial non-foul call with his team in possession, down by one with six seconds left. Trapped on the sideline, Walker appeared to be bumped by Chris Paul and was forced to throw an errant pass as he was falling out of bounds. No whistle was blown on the play and the turnover resulted in Blake Griffin layup to put the Clippers up by three with under four seconds.

“Kemba had the ball at half court and he thought he got fouled,” said Clippers assistant Mike Woodson. “I think he was falling behind the line and he had to get rid of it and we came up with it. It was a big defensive effort coming down the stretch.”

With the Hornets facing a five-point deficit with under a minute remaining in regulation, Walker drained a three then followed up with two free throws to tie with 11.9 seconds on the clock after his team made a defensive stop.

“We just wanted to continue to fight hard, which we did,” said Walker, who led the Hornets with 34 points. “We wanted to make plays and try to make the plays necessary to win the basketball game. Once we got down, we came together and we made a push.”

 The game would go into overtime after Paul missed a jumper at the buzzer.  That’s when Blake Griffin decided enough was enough and scored seven of his game and season-high 43 points.

“Blake and I talked before the game about being aggressive and he could have had more [points],” said Paul. “He could have had 50 points, he is a guy that is capable of that every night, but he is so unselfish, which is why he is the player he is.”

Griffin was on a mission to get buckets any way he could. He dazzled with his usual array of powerful dunks, pull-ups and drives from midrange, and he put on a couple of dribbling exhibitions. Griffin also hit his mark from behind the arc, where he made three of his four attempts.

“He is a monster,” said Clifford. “He’s so skilled and smart and he’s the perfect player.”

CP3 was also impressive for the Clippers in the win as he recorded 17 assists without committing a single turnover. Redick scored 22 for Los Angles and all-star DeAndre Jordan added 20 points plus 19 rebounds.

The Clippers next opponent will be the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.

This was Charlotte’s fifth overtime loss of the season. Batum scored 31 points while making eight from downtown. Jeremy Lamb scored 19 off the bench.

The Hornets will play the Lakers on Tuesday night.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Ducks get Home Cooking on the Road to Beat Trojans

Jordan Bell looks to drive

William Johnson/T.G.Sportstv1/

LOS ANGELES -- The Oregon Ducks (22-4), with the help of two local players, stymied a comeback from the USC Trojans (21-5) to win 81-70 Saturday night. It was the Ducks' 14th consecutive win over the Trojans.

Looking to rebound after blowing a 19-point lead to UCLA and losing in its previous game, the Oregon Ducks almost wasted another double-digit lead in Los Angeles. Down by 10 with just under six minutes to play, USC cut the deficit to three when Bennie Boatwright sank a pair of free throws following Oregon's All-American candidate Dillon Brooks' fifth foul of the game with just over three minutes remaining.

Los Angles native, Tyler Dorsey, then took over the game for the Ducks by nailing two threes within a two-minute span. The first came as the shot clock ticked to zero after a controversial out of bounds call that kept possession with the visitors. USC's Elijah Stewart, who scored 15 for the Trojans, answered with a deep shot to cut it back to three. Oregon's other Southern California player, Jordan Bell, made a layup then USC called a timeout.

After an empty USC possession, the Ducks found Dorsey in transition, which he pulled up from deep and essentially put the Trojans away.

"When Dillon fouled out, we still had the confidence that we would find a way to win," said Dorsey. "We had a next-man-up mentality."

Both teams started this game off cold from the field. Oregon was 5 for 19 and USC was 3 for 15 with 10:36 left in the 1st half. Then the Ducks proceeded to make seven consecutive shots to give them the largest lead of the game, 26-15, at the 6 minute mark. However, the Trojans closed the half strong and trailed 35-33 at the break.

Both teams decided to push the tempo and run at the outset of the second half. Oregon struck first with a three by Brooks. The tide turned for USC when McLaughlin threw an incredible lob from half court to Stewart, who caught it, stuffed it, and threw the crowd into a frenzy. Back-to-back threes from Stewart and McLaughlin gave the Trojans a lead they would have for a short while.

Bell scored 10 points in the second half for the Ducks, doing what he can to prevent his team's first losing streak of the season as he finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds.

"It was very important to get a win," said Bell. "We took an 'L' against UCLA so we wanted to bounce back. We didn't want to leave with a two-game road trip loss."

Brooks led the Ducks in scoring with 21 points. Dorsey scored 19, including four makes from downtown. Oregon trails Arizona by one game in the race for the Pac-12 regular season title, they host Utah on Thursday.

Chimezie Metu led the way for the Trojans with 16 points, Boatwright and Stewart both chipped in with 15 each. USC is in the midst of its toughest stretch of the season. They go on the road for the next two games to play UCLA and Arizona, respectively.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Zags Remain Undefeated With Win over LMU

Zags frosh Zach Collins goes up for hoop

Courtesy of Zyaire Porter/T.G.Sportstv1/

LOS ANGELES -- College basketball’s top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs (25-0) defeated the Loyola Marymount Lions (11-13) 90-60 on Thursday night to remain the only undefeated team in division I. The difference was clear on the box score as Gonzaga made 30 more free throws than LMU.

It was the first time ever that the top ranked team in the nation played in Gersten Pavilion. The home crowd filled the gym known as Hank’s House with energy as they were hoping to see an upset.

After two easy buckets inside by Przemek Karnowski opened the game for Gonzaga and they jumped out to a 7-2 lead, the adrenaline filled Lions went on an 8-0 run. A Trevor Manuel layup and back-to-back threes by Brandon Brown and Steven Haney gave LMU a 10-7 lead at the first timeout.

“I think we gave up one three that was a little out of character for us, especially with our attention to detail in the scouting reports,” said Gonzaga Head Coach Mark Few. “We talked about that, and just had one turnover that we talked about. Just take care of the ball and settling in.”

As expected, Gonzaga wouldn't be down for long, as they immediately responded with a 9-0 run of their own out of the break to go up 16-10. They never looked back as they continued to attack the basket. That aggressiveness earned the top ranked team 21 free throw attempts in the first half.

“Our turnovers led to a lot of fouls in transition,” said LMU Head coach Mike Dunlap. “Turnovers led to easy baskets. The disparity in free throws was huge as far as what gave them that bump at halftime.”

The Bulldogs ended the first half on a 19-6 run and held a 50-28 lead at halftime. The visitors made 17 free throws and shot 58 percent from the field in the first stanza. Gonzaga’s French freshman Killian Tillie led the scoring at the half with 11 points while Bob Cousy Award Finalist Nigel Williams-Goss had 10 points and nine rebounds.

In the second half, the Bulldogs kept the Lions at bay with the margin never getting lower than 17 points. Gonzaga freshman big man Zach Collins, who finished with 11 points, flashed some nice footwork in the post and altered shots on the defensive end. Native Angelino Jordan Mathews also scored 11 points and was the vocal leader on the floor for the Bulldogs.

“Our Freshman are very good,” said Few. “It's crazy the youthful enthusiasm we draw off our freshman is almost as important as the calmness and steadiness we get from Nigel or Jordan.”

Goss-Williams finished with an efficient 19 points and added 11 rebounds; he shot 5-8 from the field and made nine of 10 from the charity stripe. Johnathan Williams was the second leading scorer for Gonzaga with 13 points, including seven makes from the free throw line.

Gonzaga attempted 44 free throws in the game compared to just eight for Loyola Marymount.

For the Lions, Haney scored 12 points and Brown had 11. After the game coach Dunlap pointed to Petr Herman’s efforts on the defensive end with five blocks as something his team can build on. LMU will look to right the ship versus Portland on Saturday.

Gonzaga will travel north to the Bay Area for a nationally televised prime time matchup against conference-rival Saint Mary’s College (22-2).  The Gaels will be looking to avenge their 23-point loss to the Bulldogs on January 14.