NBA AM: Clippers Not Sacrificing Enough
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Lamar Odom Says Clippers Need To Learn About Sacrifice
The Los Angeles Clippers are heading into Game 6 of their first-round series versus the Memphis Grizzlies down 3-2 and could be without the services of All-Star forward Blake Griffin, who suffered a high ankle sprain in Game 5.
Veteran forward Lamar Odom says the Clippers must learn the true meaning of the word sacrifice if the squad hopes to regain control of the series and force a Game 7.
“I don’t know if it’s just about [lack of] intensity,” Odom said of his team’s recent struggles. “It might be more about paying attention to detail and understanding what sacrifice is and how to sacrifice yourself for the team. You’ve got to be willing to do anything when you’re in battle to win, to fight, to scrap. So when we look at the tape, it’s embarrassing because it seems like they’re fighting a little harder and that’s how they’re winning games.”
Odom, who won two championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers, says he’s been trying to provide veteran leadership since the beginning of the season but some of his advice has fallen on deaf ears in the process.
“I’ve been trying to do that all year,” Odom said about providing leadership. “Some people listen and some choose not to. But this team is young and this is a perfect time to have not only your eyes, but your ears open. It only gets harder, game by game.”
The Grizzlies have scored over 100 points in the series’ last two games, both double-digit victories, which has prompted the Clippers to shift more energy to improving their team defense.
“The focus for our team has to be defense because the majority of their shots are shot by their bigs,” Odom said. “At least that’s how they put pressure on you. This game is going to be won in the trenches. We talked about it from the first game we played in this series. You talk about the rebound deficit and how the games are played, the physicality of the games.”
Griffin will be a game-time decision while he nurses his injured ankle. All-Star guard Chris Paul is listed as probable with a bruised hand.
Regardless of the injuries, Odom says they shouldn’t be used as a crutch for the team’s recent struggles.
“At the end of the day we have to win the game,” Odom said. “Anybody can get hurt. Anything can happen. So we’ve got to win the game. Sometimes when you’re in a situation like this, either do or die, you don’t have a choice but to respond. Obviously this is an elimination game.”
Game six is Friday in Memphis. The injuries will be a factor, but the Clippers have had solid success playing the Grizzlies in their building as of late. In last year’s playoffs, the Clippers took Game 1 and Game 7 in Memphis to advance to the second round of the postseason. The Clippers also won both games in Memphis during the regular season to secure home court advantage.
If Griffin isn’t able to go, Odom will get the start in his place.
Phil Jackson Finds Work With Detroit Pistons
The summer of 2013 will be an intriguing one as it relates to the head coaching profession. Solid sideline generals such as Nate McMillan, Stan Van Gundy, Alvin Gentry, Scott Skiles and Jerry Sloan are all standing in the unemployment line. Hot coaching prospects such as former player and Indiana Pacers associate head coach Brian Shaw and Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Malone will also get their share of looks.
One team in the market for a new coach will be the Detroit Pistons who fired Lawrence Frank after two seasons at the helm. Frank compiled a 54-94 mark with the club and battled personal issues at times during the season. The Pistons have had seven different head coaches since the 2000 season and the team is looking for more stability on the sidelines.
In a surprise move, the Pistons announced on Thursday that 11-time NBA championship coach and Hall of Famer Phil Jackson will join the organization as a special adviser to assist in the head coach hiring process.
“Phil Jackson is a friend and one of the best minds in the business,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said in a statement. “We are thrilled to have him as an adviser as we make some very important decisions for this franchise.”
Jackson has been rumored to want back into the league. But the veteran coach likely won’t be returning to the sidelines. Jackson is reportedly seeking a higher profile role in a team’s front office to make the transition to executive.
Pistons president Joe Dumars has come under fire in the past for the constant head coaching carousel in Detroit and the team’s inability to reach the playoffs since the 2009 campaign. Dumars says he views Jackson as an asset to have in the coach hiring process.
“Tom and I discussed using a consultant as part of our decision-making process in our search for a head coach and we feel that Phil Jackson is a great resource to use,” Dumars said. “I look forward to talking with Phil next week.”
The Pistons have roughly $35 million in salaries on the books for next season, which means the club can be active on the free agency and trade fronts this summer. Veterans Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva both hold $8.5 million player options for next season. If any of those guys opt out of the final year of their deals, the Pistons will be in an even stronger position to strengthen their supporting cast around emerging center Greg Monroe.
Knicks Players Regretting Confident Gesture Before Game 5
The New York Knicks are just one win away from their first playoff series victory since 2000, but they are also only one loss away from being pushed to Game 7 of their first round match-up versus the aging but still dangerous Boston Celtics.
The Knicks raced out to a commanding 3-0 series lead and the Celtics appeared to be dead in the water, but were able to rebound to pull out the last two games.
In a show of solidarity, Knicks players wore “all black” before the last game to signify a funeral – a funeral for Boston’s playoff hopes. But the gesture backfired as the Knicks were defeated 92-86 at home.
Knicks guard Raymond Felton says he believed the exercise was meant for team bonding, but now says he wouldn’t have taken part in it if he had a chance to do it all over again.
“If I would have known that it was all of that, I would have said let’s not do that, let’s just come like normal and let’s just play basketball,” Felton said on the “The Michael Kay Show.” “We shouldn’t have done it, it’s over with. Now it’s time to go play basketball.”
The series is headed to Boston for Game 6. No NBA team has ever lost a playoff series after rolling to a 3-0 lead, but for the time being the momentum has swung in Boston’s favor.
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