NBA News & Notes: Clippers suspend Griffin 4 games, Knicks fire Fisher

February 9, 2016

In the DSH's latest NBA News and Notes report, the Los Angeles Clippers take action after star Blake Griffin's off-the-court altercation, but also sustain a second hand injury to another key rotation player:

 Clippers Suspend Griffin Four Games

Blake Griffin's broken hand arising from an altercation with a fellow company employee will cost him more than just several weeks of inaction, as the Clippers have decided to suspend their star power forward.

The Clippers issued the following joint statement from L.A. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Doc Rivers:
"The L.A. Clippers announced today that forward Blake Griffin has been suspended without pay for four games for striking a team employee on Jan. 23 and his wages will be withheld for one additional game for injuries he sustained. The NBA has assisted us in this process.
The Clippers will donate the salary from the five games to charities focused on disadvantaged youth in Los Angeles. At his request, Blake will support this activity with his time.
We have made it clear that this conduct has no place in the Clippers organization. Blake is remorseful and has apologized for his actions. He is a valued member of our Clippers family and we support him as he rejoins the team. He understands his actions have consequences, and is eager to get back to work with his teammates, the organization and Clipper Nation which starts immediately with rehab, appearances and attendance at games.
For our team and organization, it is time to move forward which begins today and ultimately concludes when we have Blake back on the court."

Some might contend that four games is a mere slap on the wrist, but for the Clippers, the move serves its purpose of sending at least some message to its employees -- and the alleged victim -- that such actions are not tolerated.  Moreover, it also defuses any further action from the league, as the team reportedly worked with the NBA during the entire process.

Considering the lengthy 68-game suspension Latrell Sprewell served for his altercation with coach P.J. Carlesimo, the Clippers' relatively lenient move will boost the team's hopes for a deep postseason run.

Knicks Fire Coach Derek Fisher

New York Knicks Coach Derek Fisher's season got off to a rocky start after he became involved in an embarrassing off-the-court altercation over a woman with Grizzlies forward Matt Barnes.

He seemingly recovered from that incident and had the Knicks headed in the right direction when rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis and star Carmelo Anthony produced some early wins.

Lately, however, the Knicks lost 9 of their last 10 games, and that eventually became too much for General Manager Phil Jackson to tolerate, as he fired Fisher this week, and named ex-Laker Kurt Rambis interim head coach.

Rambis is expected to install a more authentic version of the Triangle Offense, as Jackson has long favored this system during his tremendously successful coaching days.

Fisher had no coaching experience prior to receiving the Knicks job.

Warriors' Ezeli Out Six Weeks Minimum

The Golden State Warriors lost one of their few active bigs this week, as center Festus Ezeli underwent successful arthroscopic surgery to clean out debris from his left knee, the team announced. The procedure was performed by Dr. Arthur Ting at the Fremont Surgery Center.

Ezeli, who is expected to return this season, will be re-evaluated in six weeks. The 6’11” center last appeared in a game on January 25 versus San Antonio and has missed the last five games due to a sore left knee. In 40 games this season (11 starts), Ezeli is averaging 7.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.23 blocks in 17.8 minutes per contest.

Clippers Lose Austin Rivers To Hand Injury

The Los Angeles Clippers announced that guard Austin Rivers suffered a left hand fracture in the second quarter of the Clippers loss to Minnesota on Feb. 3. Rivers did not play in the Clippers game Feb. 5 in Orlando and underwent an MRI Feb. 6 in Miami that revealed the fracture.

This season, Rivers has appeared in 46 games (5 starts) and is averaging a career-high 8.1 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 21.6 minutes per game.

Jazz On The Rise

Last season, Utah went 19-10 after the All-Star break behind what was easily the NBA’s stingiest defense during that stretch. The Jazz has struggled to replicate that success for much of this season, though, after losing Dante Exum to a knee injury and playing without big men Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert for long stretches.

But as the All-Star break approaches, Utah is finding its stride. With swingmen Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood fueling the offense and a healthy Favors and Gobert anchoring the defense, coach Quin Snyder’s team has won a season-high six consecutive games to move back to .500 (25-25). Utah sits eighth in the Western Conference and trails sixth-place Dallas by only two games. The Jazz is 18-12 when Gobert plays and 12-6 when the Frenchman and Favors are in the starting lineup together.

Celtics Improving 

On Jan. 12, the Celtics surrendered 120 points to New York and lost their fourth game in a row to fall to 19-19. Less than a month later, Boston is surging. The Celtics are 12-3 since that loss in New York, including a dramatic victory at Cleveland on Friday. Boston is showing strength on both ends of the court, leading the East in scoring (105.0 ppg) and ranking second in the NBA in defensive rating (98.9). The latter figure is up from a tie for 12th last season and a No. 20 standing in 2013-14, coach Brad Stevens’ first year.

Stevens is guiding a starting lineup that features three second-round draft picks (Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson and first-time All-Star Isaiah Thomas), a No. 19 pick (Avery Bradley) and a No. 21 pick (Jared Sullinger).

Rookie Towns Shines

Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns is showing no signs of slowing down as his rookie season progresses. If anything, the No. 1 overall pick of NBA Draft 2015 is gaining steam. Towns scored 26 points and matched his career high with 17 rebounds in Saturday’s victory over Chicago, giving him averages of 21.6 points (on 59.9 percent shooting) and 12.7 rebounds in his last 10 games.

For the season, the 7-footer is one of five NBA players averaging at least 16.5 points and 10 rebounds, joining five-time All-Star Pau Gasol of Chicago and 2016 All-Stars Andre Drummond of Detroit, Anthony Davis of New Orleans and DeMarcus Cousins of Sacramento.

They Said It

Doug Feinberg, Associated Press: “Over the course of her storied career, Tamika Catchings has spent many hours at the NBA and WNBA offices. Whether it was for league meetings, union business or just because she was in town, the Indiana Fever star always felt comfortable there. Last month, Catchings had a different reason to come to New York. The 10-time All-Star spent a few weeks in January as an intern at the suggestion of NBA commissioner Adam Silver.”

Kobe Bryant, Lakers forward: “There’s been times where we’ve got the best of [the Spurs]. There’s been plenty of times where they’ve got the best of us. But the beauty was in the battle and the struggle between the two and the contrasting styles and the personalities. I think that’s what makes this journey that we’ve both been on so beautiful.”

What To Watch 

Tuesday, Feb. 9: The NBA’s top two teams are in action in a TNT doubleheader as San Antonio (43-8) visits Miami in the opener (8 p.m.) and Golden State (46-4) welcomes Houston to Oracle Arena in the second game (10:30 p.m.).

Wednesday, Feb. 10: A 12-game night features an ESPN doubleheader of Lakers-Cavaliers (8 p.m.) and Rockets-Trail Blazers (10:30 p.m.), as well as Clippers-Celtics (7:30 p.m., NBA LEAGUE PASS) and Hawks-Bulls (8 p.m., NBA LP).

Thursday, Feb. 11: In the final two games before NBA All-Star 2016, the Pelicans visit the Thunder (8 p.m., TNT) and the Bucks play host to the Wizards (8 p.m., NBA LP).

Friday, Feb. 12: The on-court action at NBA All-Star 2016 in Toronto tips off with the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game presented by Mountain Dew (7 p.m., ESPN) and the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge (9 p.m., TNT/ESPN Radio).

Saturday, Feb. 13: A jam-packed day begins with the NBA Development League All-Star Game presented by Kumho Tire (2 p.m., NBA TV), followed by State Farm All-Star Saturday Night (7:30 p.m., TNT/ESPN Radio) featuring the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest and Verizon Slam Dunk.

Sunday, Feb. 14: NBA All-Star 2016 concludes with the 65th NBA All-Star Game. TNT will televise the game in the United States at 8 p.m. Sportsnet ONE and TSN will simulcast the All-Star Game in Canada. ESPN Radio will also have live coverage.

The Numbers

  • Heat center Hassan Whiteside is the first player in NBA history to record, as a reserve, multiple triple-doubles involving blocked shots.
  • Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng is averaging 17.4 points (on 66.2 percent shooting) and 9.9 rebounds in his last seven games (six starts).
  • Warriors guard Stephen Curry has made a three-pointer in 121 consecutive games, six shy of Hawks guard Kyle Korver’s NBA record of 127 games.
  • Korver needs five three-pointers made to pass Chauncey Billups (1,830) for eighth place on the NBA’s all-time list.
  • Since a five-point performance in a loss to Golden State on Jan. 25, Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge is averaging 24.0 points (on 61.6 percent shooting) in 30.5 minutes in six games.
  • Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari is tied for third in the NBA with 8.2 free throw attempts per game, well above his previous career high of 6.3 in 2010-11. He also ranks 13th in the NBA in free throw percentage (88.0), helping him average a career-high 19.7 points.
  • Clippers guard Chris Paul needs 13 assists to pass Maurice Cheeks (7,392) for 11th place on the NBA’s career list.
  • Lakers forward Kobe Bryant has scored at least 25 points in three consecutive games. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Bryant is the first player age 37 or older to accomplish the feat since Michael Jordan did it in four straight at age 40 with the Wizards in December 2003.
  • The Hornets are 3-2 since the return of forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who has averaged 12.2 points (on 53.5 percent shooting) and 7.0 rebounds in his first five games of the season.
  • Charlotte's Marvin Williams, who starts at the other forward spot alongside Kidd-Gilchrist, is averaging 17.9 points (on 57.1 percent shooting) and 7.0 rebounds in his last seven games.
  • Pacers forward Paul George has scored at least 30 points in 16 of 51 games this season. He entered this season having scored 30 or more points in 15 of 292 games.

By Staff of and news services

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