NBA News and Notes: Clippers' Griffin starts suspension, Raptors aim for franchise record

March 28, 2016

In the DSH's latest NBA News and Notes report, we take a look at the return of Blake Griffin, and examine the Warriors' most recent accomplishments:

LA Clippers' Blake Griffin finally healthy, will now serve suspension

The L.A. Clippers announced that forward Blake Griffin has been medically cleared for all basketball activities and will begin serving his four-game, team-imposed suspension on Sunday, March 27, when the Clippers play the Denver Nuggets.

Griffin has missed the last 41 games with a partially torn left quad tendon and right hand fracture, and will return to action on Sunday, April 3 against the Washington Wizards.  The hand fracture was caused during a scuffle with a team staff member, ultimately leading to the disciplinary suspension.

With the regular season coming to an end, the Clippers will need to get Griffin back on the floor as soon as possible.  Griffin has been out for months, and the team will need to adjust to having him back in the lineup.

Since his absence, the Clippers' roster has undergone changes, as new trade acquisition Jeff Green has yet to play with the team's star power forward.  Establishing chemistry and familiarity will be vital once the Clippers enter the postseason in a loaded Western Conference.

In his 30 games this season, Griffin is averaging 23.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 34.9 minutes.

Warriors equal Bulls' feat

With Sunday’s win over Philadelphia, the Warriors joined the 1995-96 and 1996-97 Bulls as the only teams to win at least 66 games in consecutive seasons. Golden State became the 15th team ever to win 66 games and joined the Celtics, Lakers, and Bulls as the only franchises with multiple 66-win seasons.

The Warriors must go 7-2 to break the 1995-96 Bulls' record for wins in a season (72). Six of their final nine games are at home, where Golden State has won a record 53 straight regular-season games over two seasons. The Warriors won 18 straight home games to end their 2014-15 campaign.

Raptors look for first 50-win season

After dropping consecutive games to the Celtics and Rockets, the Raptors got back in the win column on Saturday against the Pelicans. Toronto’s 49th victory tied the franchise record for wins in a season, set in 2014-15. The first crack at 50 comes tonight when the Raptors host the streaking Thunder, which has won seven straight, including Saturday’s 111-92 win over the Spurs.

Toronto (49-23) trails Cleveland (52-21) by 2.5 games for the top spot in the East, and has a six-game lead over the Hawks (44-30) for third place. The Raptors are one road victory shy of matching the franchise record (22), set in 2013-14 and matched last season. They play five of their remaining 10 games on the road.

LeBron James and Klay Thompson named NBA Players of the Week

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James and the Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson today were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, March 21 through Sunday, March 27.

James helped the Cavaliers to a 3-1 week with averages of 29.0 points (first in the Eastern Conference), 8.8 assists (second in the conference), and 8.5 rebounds.  James bookended the week with triple-doubles in wins over the Denver Nuggets on March 21 and New York Knicks on March 26.

In all four of Cleveland’s games, James scored 25-plus points, grabbed five or more rebounds and handed out five or more assists.  James’ Cavaliers sit atop the Eastern Conference with a 52-21 record.

Thompson led the Warriors to a 4-0 week behind an NBA-best 32.3 points.  He shot a scorching 62.2 percent (28-of-45) from distance, and made at least five three-pointers in each of Golden State’s four games.

Thompson closed the week with back-to-back 40-point games in wins over the Dallas Mavericks on March 25 and Philadelphia 76ers on March 27.  Thompson’s Warriors own the league’s best record at 66-7.

Other nominees for the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Atlanta’s Paul Millsap, Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, Charlotte’s Nicolas Batum, Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki, Detroit’s Andre Drummond, Indiana’s Ian Mahinmi, the Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, Miami’s Hassan Whiteside, New York’s Carmelo Anthony, and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

LeBron climbs the charts

The Cavaliers’ LeBron James notched his third triple-double of the season in Saturday’s 107-93 win over the Knicks. It was the 42nd triple-double of James’ career, moving him one ahead of Fat Lever and into third place on the list for most triple-doubles over the last 30 years, behind Jason Kidd (107) and Magic Johnson (65).

James, who is averaging 28.4 points over his last five games, is poised to make a big move on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. He’s currently in 13th place with 26,665 points, three shy of Dominique Wilkins (26,668). Next up for James is Oscar Robertson (26,710). The Cavaliers host the Rockets on Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader on TNT (8 p.m. ET).

Talkin' Smack

  • Bethlehem Shoals, SB Nation: “As much as been made of the rise of the three-pointer -- a trend driven almost entirely by analytic consideration -- the increase in triple-doubles tells a parallel story. Rather than being an effort to shift the direction of the sport, they are a reflection on where it's naturally headed -- and yet another reason to get excited about the current state of the NBA.”

  • Nate Taylor, Indianapolis Star: “The group [of breast cancer survivors], ambassadors of Susan G. Komen Central Indiana, was invited to the Pacers’ game by [Jordan] Hill. … But Hill knew the most important part would be after the game, when he entered the practice court to meet and connect with the women. … For about 30 minutes, Hill listened to the women’s stories, their struggles, their triumphs and their hope for researchers to find a cure for breast cancer. He also shared his story. When he was 3 years old, his mother, Carol, died from breast cancer. His stepmother was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. His older sister discovered lumps when Hill was in college. Both women defeated the disease.”

  • Luol Deng, Heat forward: “It’s a big difference between just being teammates and playing, getting the job done, and being friends and looking out for each other without taking it personal. And I think that’s what great teams have. We're getting to that level.”

What to Watch

Monday, March 28: The Celtics have won four straight heading into their matchup with the Clippers at 10:30 p.m. on NBA TV.

Tuesday, March 29: The Warriors put their home winning streak on the line against the Wizards in the second game (10:30 p.m.) of a doubleheader on TNT.

Wednesday, March 30: Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant meet for the final time when the Heat visits the Lakers at 10:30 p.m. on NBA TV.

Thursday, March 31: TNT has a doubleheader of Bulls-Rockets (7 p.m.) and Clippers-Thunder (9:30).

Friday, April 1: ESPN has a doubleheader of Cavaliers-Hawks (8 p.m.) and Celtics-Warriors (10:30).

Saturday, April 2: The Pistons (39-35) have won five of six to move two games ahead of the Bulls (36-36) for the final playoff spot in the East. Detroit visits Chicago at 8 p.m. on NBA TV.

Sunday, April 3: The Rockets, locked in a battle for the eighth playoff spot in the West, host the Thunder at 3:30 p.m. on ABC.

The Numbers

  • The NBA has produced 66 triple-doubles in 2015-16, the second most for a season in league history. The record is 78 set in the 1988-89 season.

  • In their 72nd game, the Warriors broke the single-season record for three-pointers made. They shattered the mark of 933 set by Houston last season.

  • Wizards guard John Wall has recorded 10 or more assists in a franchise-record nine consecutive games.

  • Hawks forward Paul Millsap is averaging 18.0 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.3 blocks in his last three games.

  • The Spurs have outscored their opponents by an average of 11.7 points per game this season, while the Warriors have a +11.1 points differential. The highest points differential in NBA history belongs to the 1971-72 Lakers (+12.3), who finished at 69-13 and won the NBA championship.

  • Clippers guard Chris Paul is on pace to average at least 7.0 assists for the 11th time in as many seasons. Only three other players have done this in their first 11 seasons: Jason Kidd, Oscar Robertson and Isiah Thomas.

  • Over the past 41 games, Portland is 23-1 when leading at the half and 2-15 when trailing after two quarters.

  • Utah has held seven of its last eight opponents under 100 points. The Jazz is 30-11 when holding opponents under 100 points.

  • Mike Conley has led the Grizzlies in assists per game in all nine seasons with the team since he was drafted fourth overall in the 2007 NBA Draft. The only other player to lead the same NBA franchise in the category in each of the last nine seasons is San Antonio’s Tony Parker.

  • Heat center Hassan Whiteside has blocked an NBA-best 236 shots this season, 76 more than the next highest player in the league, the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan (160).

By Staff of and news services

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