1. Remodel Franchises Embrace The Overhaul
How do you renovate a franchise?
When rehabilitating a house, the dressings aren't as crucial as the bones; window treatment and wallpaper are merely eyesores, knob-and-tube wiring and dry rot give pause to consider a complete teardown.
It's not quite as easy as throwing a sledgehammer through drywall for an NBA team, though. Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie is in mid-teardown, eliminating excess and exchanging the existing foundation and studs for materials that suit his aesthetic. But where the real transition occurs isn't on the roster or salary-cap sheet. The Sixers are looking to build a knowledge base from scratch; "corporate knowledge," as the San Antonio Spurs would call it.
For the Spurs, corporate knowledge is the institutional memory that resides in their core players and coach, Gregg Popovich. It's the accumulation and access of information that has developed over the comfort of a decade's worth of continuity. In the case of the Sixers, competing consistently is the first step. When asked about winning versus tanking, Clippers coach Doc Rivers offered some insight prior to the Monday-night meeting with the 76ers:
"Upstairs is worried about pingpong balls. Downstairs is worried about basketballs. That's what you see when you see [Philadelphia] play. Those kids are playing hard. Coach [Brett] Brown is coaching hard. They don't care about anything else but that game."
Developing young players, teaching them how to compete and how to win is the seed the entire organization has planted. And it lays the groundwork for next season and the expectation for players entering that structure, with the long view of sustained corporate knowledge being the focus.
The Clippers leave Monday night's 94-83 victory with a different track in mind. After two seasons of newfound regular-season success curtailed by playoff disappointment, the question residing for Los Angeles is: Can corporate knowledge be imported? A championship pedigree arrived with Rivers just as much as his strongside pressure defensive scheme.
The early results looked promising. The ball movement thrived in associate head coach Alvin Gentry's motion offense. And while the bench has struggled with the tenets of Doc's defense, the starters have acquitted themselves quite nicely, functioning at what would be at worst a league-average defense by efficiency.
Yet the plethora of injuries to the Clippers' wings has disrupted their already accelerated gestation. Indefinite return timetables for injured players J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes and Reggie Bullock have left Los Angeles with just three wing players. And despite the persistent need for a backup big man, circumstances have forced them to look to Stephen Jackson to salve the wound; an aged veteran who is capable of contributing but chafed in his role last season before being released by the Spurs.
With so much uncertainty surrounding them, do Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Rivers forge the innate understanding and trust that typically requires pressure and time? There is no smugness in the Clippers' demeanor; they'll take every win they can get. But for them, the regular season is about developing that telepathy, acquiring that corporate knowledge that will withstand the rigors of the postseason.
In that regard, the Clippers have largely prefabbed their renovations, slotting optimal players into a roster to create a harmonious and logical lineup. And while the Sixers are learning how to compete, Los Angeles is more intent on building its knowledge portfolio on the fly: learning how to win, learning how to win through injuries, and on a night when the Clippers shot 5-for-27 from 3-point range, learning how to win through a poor performance.
Andrew Han's work appears on ClipperBlog, part of the TrueHoop Network. Follow him @andrewthehan
2. Around The Association
MVP: LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 24 points and propelled the early third-quarter run that gave Portland the advantage for good. He even garnered four assists and zero turnovers out of the post.
Defining moment: With the Jazz within 5 and just over a minute left in the game, Nicholas Batum made a 30-foot 3-pointer to beat the shot clock, sealing the game for Portland.
That was ... sloppy: Both teams were terrible in transition. Portland shot just 3-for-8 in transition with one turnover, while Utah was even worse, going only 2-for-9 with three turnovers in great fast-break opportunities.
MVP: This game was largely over by the end of the third, by which time DeMarcus Cousins had 30 points and 17 rebounds (he finished with 32 and 19). He was dominant, using his size, quickness and power to manhandle Dallas inside.
X factor: Derrick Williams looks comfortable as a King. Against Dallas he caught fire, shooting 12-of-16 from the field (3-for-5 from deep) for 31 points. He also added five rebounds and five steals in the blowout.
LVP: Someone had to be on the receiving end of Cousins' punishment. DeJuan Blair (four points, two rebounds) and Samuel Dalembert (three points, six rebounds) looked positively useless against the entire Sacramento front line.
MVP: Steph Curry. The MVP only comes from the losing team under special circumstances, and Curry's homecoming certainly applies. The Charlotte native scored 32 of his game-high 43 points in a virtuoso second-half performance, nearly leading the Warriors to a dramatic comeback victory.
X factor: Points. Charlotte registered just seven turnovers -- exactly half its season average. The Bobcats, meanwhile, turned 15 Golden State miscues into 21 points of their own, helping to keep the Warriors at bay even as Curry and Klay Thompson got hot late.
That was ... a fun second half: This looked like a convincing Bobcats victory midway through the third quarter, but the Warriors kept throwing haymakers. Curry's incredible late-game play was nearly matched by Kemba Walker, who scored 27 points of his own in the second half.
MVP: There's a short list of players who can make a 25/13 line look as routine as a morning commute. Chris Paul is on it. While CP3 wasn't at his best on Monday -- the Clippers' offense stagnated for long stretches against Philly's league-worst D -- he was plenty good enough. North of Miami, there might not be anyone in the sport more casually dominant.
LVP: Spencer Hawes, in the midst of a career year, struggled mightily against Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The 25-year-old scored a season-low 2 points on 1-of-6 shooting and missed both of the 3-pointers he attempted, snapping at 20 his streak of games with at least one triple.
X factor: Philadelphia attempted 68 of its 92 shots from either beyond the arc or in the paint, which is intelligent and commendable. It just didn't hit them. The Sixers were 3-of-21 from 3, missed oodles of close looks, and finished with a season-low 83 points.
MVP: Nate Robinson scored 16 points off the bench and did his pestering thing on defense for most of the night, chipping in four steals. When asked if he fouled John Wall on the game's final possession, Robinson quipped, "You wanna write what you want to write, go ahead and do it."
X factor: Washington's Trevor Booker filled in admirably for the missing Nene with 12 points and 12 rebounds. He even made two free throws -- his usual crutch -- late in the contest. Counterpart Kenneth Faried missed two free throws with 4 seconds left, giving the Wizards a chance to win, but ...
Defining moment: As many chances as the Nuggets were willing to provide was the number of chances the Wizards blew. But there Washington was, the ball in its star's hands, down one point, and an opportunity to win. Wall appeared to simply lose the ball as he went up, but after the game he insisted that Robinson grabbed his arm.
MVP: Zach Randolph (19 points and 12 rebounds) and Andrew Nicholson (19 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks) both played well for their respective teams. It was fun watching the two power forwards try to out-craft each other.
X factor: The Grizzlies' bench played well, outscoring the Magic's second unit by a wide margin (38-4). Jon Leuer did the most damage for Memphis, finishing with his first career double-double (16 points and 12 rebounds).
That was ... another loss: Orlando is currently in the middle of a six-game roadie and has yet to win a game. The Magic's last chance for a victory on their road trip comes Wednesday against the Bobcats.
3. Monday's Best
The Sacramento Kings: As if to welcome Rudy Gay to town, DeMarcus Cousins (32 points, 19 rebounds) and newcomer Derrick Williams (season-high 31 points) helped lead a 112-97 rout of the Dallas Mavericks.
4. Monday's Worst
Spencer Hawes, 76ers:
Averaging 15.7 points and 10 rebounds per game, Hawes had a season-low 2 points in the 94-83 loss to the Clippers. Hawes sank only 1 of 6 shots and collected 4 rebounds in 23 minutes.
5. NBA Video Channel
6. Tweet Of The Night
7. Quote Of The Night
"I'm the coach of this [13-letter word] team."
-- Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd, who, according to NBA.com, allegedly used "a 13-letter word" against assistant Lawrence Frank during a blow-up at some point following the team's loss in Orlando on Nov. 3.
8. Disbelieving Mavericks
9. Stat Check
Chris Paul recorded 13 assists in the Clippers' win in Philadelphia on Monday, leaving him with 252 assists in 21 games this season. Paul has reached 250 assists in so few games in only one other season: 2008-09, when he also got to that number in his 21st game.
10. TrueHoop TV