Drew League Week 9 Recap: Game of The Year MVP James Harden Season Debut

And it all came crashing down. The 26-0 Birdie’s Revenge, who needed only one more victory for the all-time Drew League record win, came up short.

“It took the Houston Rockets,” as Coach Tracey Mills said, to figure out how to take the Birdie’s Revenge empire down.

The game of the year was undoubtedly a matchup everyone had been anticipating all season, with circulating rumors that the reigning NBA MVP, James Harden, would make his Drew League season debut.

Spectators made it a priority to come early to secure a spot on the bleachers to survey the long-awaited matchup between Franklin “Nitty” Session and James Harden. A line wrapped around the corner of 120th Street outside King Drew High School showed the fanfare behind the dueling MVP’s.

Harden suited up for LAUNFD alongside his Rockets’ teammate PJ Tucker. The two joined forces with newly resigned Clippers’ center Montrezl Harrell and former Rocket, Bobby Brown.

All season long, Birdie’s has made the King Drew hardwoods their playground, and their opponents as toys to be played with, with week 8’s highlights of Franklin Session vs. Denzel Valentine attesting to that.


However, Birdie’s Revenge did not go down without a fight against LAUNFD. The first quarter of the match started off on a close run, as both teams exchanged equal energy. It was only a teaser of what to expect in the playoffs. However, Birdie’s found themselves in a second-quarter predicament as Marcus Bell got himself ejected from the game for the second time this season after things got heated up between him and PJ Tucker.

LAUNFD led 45-32 at the half, which had been the biggest deficit Birdie’s experienced all season.
Birdie’s Mike James and “Nitty” put in work, as they attempted to carry the team on their backs devoid of their big man. James ended the game with 32 points and was 7 for 10 from 3-point attempts. “Nitty” added 23 points, 6 assists, and 9 rebounds, but this wasn’t sufficient to stop Harden and Harrell.

With minutes remaining in the final quarter, Harden lobbed one to Harrell for the slam. It set the dynamism for the remaining minutes. Harrell’s showcase of dunks, Harden’s 26 points, and LAUNFD’s energy were unmatched. Undoubtedly, Harden was the X-factor in dethroning Birdie’s Revenge’s 26 game winning streak.

Sixteen teams remain, but only one will take home the coveted trophy. There will be no room for any slip-ups and excuses. Teams from here on out will have to produce to earn their respect.

 

The first round of playoffs tip-off Friday, 6:30 pm at Los Angeles Southwest College.

 

LoJo’s Top Five NBA Summer League Players

The NBA Summer League 2018 is heating up with the start of all 30 teams playing in Las Vegas on Friday (July 6). The summer league is usually a combination of new draftees and first or second year NBA players from each team. Most summer league rosters feature some G-League players as well. All with one common denominator, something to prove on the court for an opportunity to play in the NBA. The games are pretty consistent with the NBA with the exception of it being four 10-minute quarters and some other minor differences. Here are LoJo’s top five prospects who are projected to lead the charge in this year’s NBA summer league.

  1. Deandre Ayton(Phoenix Suns, C)The number one draft pick’s height, size, and strength has competition, fans, and coaches eager to see what is to come in the future for not only the summer league, but the Suns as an organization as well. Ayton has already been speculated to be the toughest competitor to maintain in the summer league. We suspect he will be a strong threat to his opponent’s defense with his shooting ability and pick and roll offense.
  2. Marvin Bagley III(Sacramento Kings, PF/C) The 6’11, 235-pound prospect is expected to light things up offensively in the summer league. His size and offensive grittiness makes him a top contender and threat to his competitors this summer. Bagley made his debut Monday against the LA Lakers with 18 points, six rebounds, and three blocks, finalizing the game 98-93. The hot commodity’s offensive style is projecting him to make a strong impact.

  3. Jaren Jackson Jr. (Memphis Grizzlies, PF) – The former Spartan displayed what his full skillset on Tuesday against the Atlanta Hawks. Jackson shot eight three pointers with a total of 29 points proving he’s a hot contender in the summer league. In his NBA debut, he garnered a tremendous amount of attention from coaches, critics, and fans; the question now is what will he do next?
  4. Trae Young(ATL Hawks, PG) – Although the 19-year-old prospect had a slow start in his first game Monday, he began to pick up the pace and gain the momentum of his shots Tuesday against the Spurs in the second half. Young went 4-for-8 from the field and scored eight of his 12 points. The number five pick makes it clear his focus is to make the right plays and lead his team to increasing their made shots. His leadership mentality puts him in a position to take the Hawks to a new level this summer and we’re excited to see where the young hawk takes them.

    (Courtesy Photo NBA)
  5. Kevin Knox (NY Knicks, F) – The 6’9 ninth overall pick has been proving he’s hungry for greatness with the recent criticism faced in regards to his work ethic and fitness. The young prospect has been putting in the extra work for conditioning, training, and being able to sustain his energy. In addition to Knox consistently conditioning at the Knicks training facility, he participated in his first formal summer league practice Tuesday and was let it be known he was determined and focused on what he needed to do win. We project Knox’s new physical and mental attitude will drive his hunger to win, leading him to be a threat in the summer league.
  6. Bonus Aaron Holiday (IND Pacers, G) – Selected at number 23, Aaron Holiday dropped 23 points in his NBA Summer League debut and has the potential to go down as the sleeper of this year’s draft class.  The 6’1 point guard out of UCLA led the Bruins to an NCAA Tournament appearance after a controversial start to the team’s season. With the dismissal of three of his teammates, Holiday stepped up in a major way emerging as a leader for the Bruins’ young squad. Last season he averaged 20.3 points, 5.8 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game to earn All-Pac-12 First Team honors. Both his older brothers, Jrue Holiday (Pelicans) and Justin Holiday (Bulls) are actively playing in the NBA.

2018 NBA Draft Recap

The 2018 NBA Draft took place June 21 at the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets, in Brooklyn, New York. As predicted, University of Arizona phenom Deandre Ayton was selected first in the draft by the Phoenix Suns. The seven-foot, 250 pound center was drafted to his hometown team after spending one season with the Arizona Wildcats and earning Pac-12 Player of the Year honors. Ayton was the University of Arizona’s first ever first pick in the NBA draft.

Continue reading “2018 NBA Draft Recap”

Blake Griffin Traded, Clippers Fall to Trail Blazers 104-96

In the Los Angeles Clippers’ first showing without freshly traded star forward Blake Griffin, the shorthanded Clippers lost 104-96 to the Portland Trail Blazers.  

“I thought we played hard, we made a run at the end, it was a tough night,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers.

News broke that the Clippers traded former number one NBA draft pick (2009) Griffin to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for forward Tobias Harris, guard Avery Bradley, center Boban Marjanovic and a 2018 first round draft pick.

“”It was definitely tough to see him go,” said DeAndre Jordan.

Griffin, a five-time All-Star who spent the past seven seasons with the Clippers resigned a five-year contract with the Clippers this past offseason valued at $171 million. With the curtain closed on Griffin, the show went on inside Staples Center Tuesday night as the Clippers were defeated by the Trail Blazers.

“I know how that can be disruptive for the team,” said Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “For us it was a player missing a game.”

Trail Blazers came out to a 6-0 run broken up by a pair of free throws by Danilo Gallinari, who returned to the Clippers’ starting lineup after having missed the previous 25 games. The Clippers managed to keep it close as the Trail Blazers led 30-27 to end the first quarter with a 14 point effort by Damian Lillard.

Through the second quarter the Clippers made defensive adjustments on Lillard, started to trap him and held the All-Star point guard to just two points. Meanwhile, Lou Williams racked up 11 second quarter points for the Clippers.

“We needed Lou [Williams] to be like Superman today and he had one of those nights where he couldn’t make shots.”

Williams was five for 26 from field goal range, yet still contributed 20 points off the bench. At halftime, the Clippers trailed 56-51 as the Trail Blazers shot just 37 percent.

“You have to find way to win the game when you’re not shooting the ball well,” said Stotts.

The Trail Blazers won the game through their defensive performance. Jusuf Nurkic had 14 points and 18 rebounds for the Blazers. With Nurkic’s performance the team was able to notch 18 offensive rebounds.  

“I tried to impact the game in a different way,” said Nurkic who had 7 of those offensive boards.

“This has been like a two-year thing with Portland,” Rivers said. “When they win the offensive rebound battle, they win the game.

It was in the third quarter that Trail Blazers pulled away outscoring the Clippers 30-16. Lillard had 10 points in the third quarter.

“They were trying to trap me,” said Lillard, who scored 28 points, 7 assists and 3 steals. “From that point, I just started trying to manipulate that and just trusting the right guy to make the shot.”

CJ McCollum added 16 points to the Trail Blazers win.

A three-point play by Williams put the Clippers within six points with two minutes of the fourth quarter, 100-94.  The Clippers were restricted to just one field goal in the last two minutes of the contest.

 

Clippers Outlast Nuggets to Keep Winning Streak Alive

The Los Angeles Clippers were still reeling from the extracurricular events that took place inside Staples Center on Monday night against the Houston Rockets. Following that game, Rockets players’ Chris Paul, James Harden, Gerald Green and Trevor Ariza allegedly made their way to the back entrance of the Clippers locker room after a less than amicable exchange during the game.

“Everyone talks, you have to just choose not to react,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “To me it’s just white noise.”

In spite of the media frenzy surrounding the team, the Clippers came out to a sluggish start against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night at Staples Center. By the end of the first quarter, the Clippers starters looked near exhaustion but led the Nuggets 29-27.

By the end of the second quarter, the Clippers had committed 13 turnovers that were converted to 23 points for the Nuggets.

“We know we made a lot of defensive errors and gave them a lot of easy points,” said Clippers  Montrezl Harrell, who anchors the team’s second unit better known as the Goon Squad.

The Los Angeles basketball team was outscored 32-21 in the second quarter. Clippers had a nine point deficit at halftime, 59-50.  

“We talked about it at halftime, just playing harder than them for the next 20 minutes and I thought we did that,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin said.

The halftime talk was exactly what the Goon Squad needed to spark a 12 point scoring run at the start of the third quarter.

“We rely on them heavily at times,” Griffin said of the Clippers’ second unit. “We were down 10 and they just came in the game and chipped away at it. They were huge.”

“I thought that was the biggest difference in the game,” added Rivers.  

A three-pointer by Lou Williams tied the Clippers up at 79 all in the third quarter. Williams, who is considered a perennial All-Star this season is averaging 23.3 points per game. He had a relatively quiet 17-point night.

Mudiay hit a step-back jumpshot to close out the third quarter. The Nuggets maintained a one point lead, 81-80.

In the fourth quarter, Harrell completed a three-point play to give the Clippers a 90-87 boost. Harrell, who struggled mightily from the free throw line, 6-13 including an airball and bank shot, made up for it with his defensive contributions.

“When they started doing the little hack-a-Shaq thing, I went to the line took a deep breath and shot the ball,” said Harrell. “It happened to roll in because I wasn’t thinking about it I just moved onto the next play. ”  

Down the stretch MIlos Teodosic sunk two free throws to give the Clippers back the lead, 96-94. Harrell had a chase down block on Nuggets’ Mason Plumlee which lead to Wesley Johnson scoring on the other end. It was the Clippers’ biggest lead of the night 105-98 with 1:58 left in the fourth quarter.

Plumlee had 16 points and 14 rebounds. While Gary Harris scored a team high 19 points with 4 assists and 4 steals. The Nuggets had 21 turnovers.

For the Clipper, Griffin had 20 points and 12 rebounds. Harrell added 18 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals on the night.

“Our team in a lot of ways makes no sense, but it does to us if you know what I’m saying,” said Rivers.

The 109-104 win over the Nuggets was the Clippers sixth consecutive victory. Los Angeles is 12-3 in its last 15 games.