May 8, 2018, 11:12 pm
One year ago, the Houston Rockets almost certainly would have lost Game 5. On Tuesday night, though, Chris Paul provided an ailing James Harden all the help his team needed to finish off the Utah Jazz.
Houston overcame a stunning third-quarter from Donovan Mitchell to re-take control late, winning Game 5 112-102 to become the first team in basketball to advance to the Conference Finals. Paul, brilliant from the opening tip and at his best when it mattered most, burgeoned his big-game reputation with a playoff career-high 41 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists and zero turnovers on 13-of-22 shooting and 8-of-10 from beyond the arc. Harden, battling an illness, needed 22 shots to score 18 points, but shook off those struggles late to help the Rockets come back from a blown lead in the third quarter. P.J. Tucker, with 19 points, five triples and three blocks, was huge for Houston in a decisive fourth quarter, too. Donovan Mitchell, by the way, is the only reason it mattered at all.
The rookie poured in 22 points of his own and accounted for 29 of Utah’s 32 total points during an awe-inspiring third quarter, turning his team’s eight-point deficit into a three-point lead entering the final stanza. Less than two weeks after eliminating the Oklahoma City Thunder with a 39-point outburst that showed off the breadth of his highlight-reel offensive repertoire, Mitchell tried his damndest to keep Utah’s season alive with spinning drives, scooping finishes and splashed 3-pointers.
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) May 9, 2018
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) May 9, 2018
.@spidadmitchell CAN'T BE STOPPED! 🔥 🔥 🔥
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 9, 2018
Unfortunately for the Jazz, Paul, vying for his long-awaited first trip to the Conference Finals, just refused to let the Rockets lose. He came around a baseline screen and stepped behind a dribble hand-off for three on Houston’s first possession, and found Tucker for a triple on the next trip down, prompting a timeout by Quin Snyder. Less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, Utah’s lead, once up to five, had vanished entirely. That the Jazz nearly got it back with Mitchell in the locker room is a testament to their season-long will in the face adversity.
Mitchell’s debut campaign ended prematurely when he banged knees with Harden with just over seven minutes remaining. The Jazz, at that point down 92-87, closed to within a point of the Rockets on a three by Royce O’Neale, who capped a breakthrough rookie season with 17 points, two and-a-half minutes later. That’s when Paul shut the door on Utah’s season for good. Following the lead of Mitchell, the future Hall of Famer scored 12 of Houston’s final 15 points over the final four minutes and 34 seconds of action. The remaining three points came on another triple by Tucker, courtesy of Paul, with 35 seconds left, putting a lasting end to Utah’s last-gasp comeback bid.
Chris Paul is headed to the WCF for the first time in his career🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/1j79IcBTlm
— NBA Inside Stuff (@NBAInside_Stuff) May 9, 2018
— NBA (@NBA) May 9, 2018
The PJ Tucker 3 to seal it! pic.twitter.com/uLJDvBTJoV
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) May 9, 2018
After the game, Paul and Mitchell, the latter of whom returned from the bowels of Toyota Center to catch the final moments of action, shared an on-court embrace. The future Hall of Famer and the Jazz’s new franchise player first grew close last spring, when Paul, after a workout, advised a nervous Mitchell to keep his name in the NBA draft.
“That’s like my little brother, man,” Paul said after the game. “I told him, ‘Hell of a series. Get healthy.'”
The future is bright for Utah. Mitchell is a legitimate superstar. Rudy Gobert, far better in Game 5 after being thoroughly outplayed by Capela 48 hours ago, is under contract for multiple seasons, and so is Joe Ingles. Ricky Rubio has one year left on his contract, and was playing the best basketball of his career before succumbing to a hamstring injury while closing out the Thunder. O’Neale is a keeper, and Dante Exum showed major flashes over the last seven weeks after missing the majority of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery. A tough decision looms on Derrick Favors, an unrestricted free agent.
But now is not the time to analyze the Jazz’s future, nor how the offseason will affect it. The Rockets are still alive, and all signs point to a showdown with the Golden State Warriors the basketball world has been craving since November – one Paul made certain would come as quickly as possible.
August 22, 2019, 8:23 pmRobert CovingtonSF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Robert Covington (right knee bone bruise) will reportedly be "good to go" for the start of training camp in October.
Well, this is good news that we didn't hope we would need. Covington played 35 games last year and couldn't get over the bone bruise injury that kept him out for a majority of the year. We expected him to be ready to go, and the fact that we're even discussing this is slightly less than ideal.
Source: Dane Moore on Twitter
August 22, 2019, 3:27 pmKemba WalkerPG, Boston Celtics
Team USA has named Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart and Donovan Mitchell as captains for the FIBA World Cup.
Congratulations to Mitchell, Walker and Smart on the tremendous honor of being named captains for the USA men's team. This won't have any impact on their upcoming fantasy seasons, but it is a major accomplishment nonetheless. Team USA has an exhibition rematch against Team Australia on Saturday.
August 22, 2019, 12:25 pmIsaiah CanaanPG, International
Isaiah Canaan has signed a contract with the Shangdong Heroes of the Chinese Basketball Association.
The veteran journeyman played for the Suns, Wolves and Bucks last season, appearing in 30 games total. Canaan will be looking at a more prominent role and payday overseas as he attempts to build his value back up before trying to latch on to a team towards the end of the year. Canaan is off the fantasy radar.
Source: Zhang Duo on Twitter
August 22, 2019, 11:58 amPatty MillsPG, San Antonio Spurs
Patty Mills put up 19 points, three assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers in Thursday's international exhibition between Team Australia and Team USA.
The Boomers figure to be one of the chief threats to the Americans in the World Cup and put forth a competitive effort in today's exhibition. Mills has typically been a steady, late-round fantasy option for deep-league play but that may change this season as the Spurs will need to mix in both Derrick White and Dejounte Murray in the backcourt. Chris Goulding tied for the team lead in points, also scoring 19 while hitting four 3-pointers in 22 minutes off the bench.
August 22, 2019, 11:54 amMyles TurnerC, Indiana Pacers
Myles Turner put up 15 points and 14 rebounds in Thursday's exhibition win over Team Australia, shooting 6-of-8 from the floor with a 3-pointer.
Turner didn't get any blocks but we know that last year's league-leader can rack those up in a hurry, whether he's getting them in international competition or not. Look for another early-middle round season out of the talented big man. Kemba Walker led Team USA with 23 points in the 102-86 win.
August 21, 2019, 6:26 pmTrevon BluiettPF, Utah Jazz
Trevon Bluiett and Juwan Morgan sign with the Jazz in the hopes of one day playing in an NBA game.
Bluiett was on a two-way contract with the Pelicans last season while Juwan Morgan played for the Jazz in the 2019 Summer League. They will both compete for a roster spot in training camp but neither is a guarantee to make the final roster. They both have yet to see the court in an NBA game and can be ignored from a fantasy perspective until that day comes.
Source: Tony Jones on Twitter
August 21, 2019, 5:25 pmZach CollinsC, Portland Trail Blazers
Zach Collins (ankle) began daily contact workouts on Monday and is on pace to head into training camp fully healthy.
Collins is heading into what could be a breakout season as he is likely to start at the power forward position. In the 2019 playoffs, the Gonzaga product blocked a shot in 11 of the 16 games including three games in which he blocked three, four and five respectively. Collins has averaged around 33% from distance throughout his career which is exactly what he shot in the postseason (7-21). If he is able to improve from long range and plays starters minutes, Collins is a can't-miss player. It's far from a guarantee though as the 21-year-old has never finished with standard-league value. It does seem like Collins will be ready for training camp barring a major setback.
Source: The Athletic
August 21, 2019, 10:34 amCory JosephPG, Sacramento Kings
Nick Nurse said that reports of Cory Joseph missing the FIBA World Cup are “incorrect”.
Nurse added that he spoke to Joseph on Wednesday and that the guard has his flights booked to China. Joseph was in Canada’s camp at home earlier this month, but did not make the trip to Australia and has missed the past four exhibition games. The situation has become a little bit murky but Canada Basketball keeps holding out hope that Joseph will rejoin the team before they depart for China, which doesn’t happen until Monday.
Source: John Casey on Twitter
August 20, 2019, 10:33 pmTyronn LuePG, Los Angeles Clippers
Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting former Cavs championship-winning coach Tyronn Lue has agreed to join the Clippers as their top assistant coach to Doc Rivers.
The Lakers and Clippers rivalry continues to heat up. Lue was very close to a deal with the Lakers in May to become their head coach, but the sides couldn’t reach an agreement. Lue now joins Kawhi Leonard as another person to spurn the Lakers this offseason.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
August 20, 2019, 10:28 pmPJ TuckerSF, Houston Rockets
P.J. Tucker says he is optimistic about signing a contract extension soon.
The 34-year-old 3-and-D wing hopes to extend his deal with the Rockets, but a potential extension wouldn't begin until his age-36 season. Houston has him under contract for two more seasons at this point, so they may not be motivated enough to get something done this offseason. However, a maximum Tucker extension would only have him in the $10 million per year range. Even as a 37-year-old, that could be a great deal if he can keep up his current production. Tucker remains a sneaky source of threes and steals late in fantasy drafts or off the wire.
Source: Kurt Helin on Twitter