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Morning Shootaround: Searching for defense

Clippers defense is pretty bad
Clippers vs. Magic, 7 p.m.

The NBA world was still buzzing a bit over the Clippers performance against the Rockets on Monday night.

There was Chris Paul in all his splendid glory dishing out nine first-quarter assists on his way to 17. There was Blake Griffin flying to the basket at ease and Los Angeles' offense perfectly spacing the floor for their drivers and shooters. In scoring 137 points, the Clippers looked as good as any team when they have the ball.

Doc Rivers though won his championship in Boston based on the defensive principles he and Tom Thibodeau helped instill. Even in Orlando, Rivers coached strong defensive teams.

So what to make of the Clippers who have a horrid defensive rating of 110.1 points per 100 possessions? If Los Angeles is serious about winning a championship, it will have to come on the defensive end.

Chris Paul is not so worried at this point of the year. He said following the win against Houston that there is still plenty of time for L.A. to bring it all together. They are still learning how to play with each other and play together. This East Coast swing could help the Clippers discover themselves.

They get a surprisingly difficult Magic team to start with.

Nets bounce back, blast Jazz
Nets 104, Jazz 88

The Nets had a lot of reasons to be upset after a blowout loss to Orlando on Sunday. They took that anger out on the Jazz in a 104-88 blowout at Barclays Center on Tuesday. It was unofficially Jason Kidd's first win as a head coach and it could not have come in a more inspired performance. Brooklyn shot 51.3 percent with Brook Lopez scoring 27 points to lead the way in the easy victory.

Wolves fans might still regret leaving Curry on board
Warriors vs. Timberwolves, 8 p.m.

The Wolves had back-to-back picks in the top five during the 2009 Draft. It was a transformative moment for the franchise, which had a young Kevin Love in tow. Minnesota was already familiar to draft day controvery — trading Brandon Roy for Kyle Lowry and then O.J. Mayo for Love. That day the Wolves picked Ricky Rubio with their first pick and then shocked the league by taking Jonny Flynn. Stephen Curry was left on the board. The Warriors are thankful for that, even if Wolves fans might still regret it.

Pacers remain legue's only unbeaten
Pacers 99, Pistons 91

The Pacers remained the league's only unbeaten team with a 99-91 win over the Pistons on Tuesday. Paul George looked every bit the All Star with 31 points on 12-for-18 shooting. George continues to blossom even with the spotlight on him. His play down the stretch was absolutely key as the Pacers out-executed the Pistons and pulled away at the end. Brandon Jennings had 17 points, but needed 20 shots to get there as Detroit failed to capitalize on Indiana turnovers.

Rockets bounce back in Portland
Rockets 116, Trail Blazers 101

A night after foul troubles and defense led to the Rockets giving up an avalanche of points to the Clippers they largely rebounded nicely. Dwight Howard used the extra energy from sitting out with foul trouble Monday by making nine of his 12 free throws on his way to 29 points and 13 rebounds. James Harden had 33 points and seven rebounds. It looked like the Rockets were finally themselves… or who they are going to be.

Kings rally falls short
Hawks 105, Kings 100

DeMarcus Cousins was caught pouting again on his way to a disappointing 11-point performance. Sacramento had to rally to make the score respectable too. The Kings trailed by 17 points entering the final 12 minutes. The Hawks got 27 points from Al Horford and 25 points from Paul Millsap. Both Horford and Jeff Teague recorded double double as the Hawks got back to .500.

Michael Redd announces retirement
Cavaliers vs. Bucks, 8 p.m.

Former Bucks guard Michael Redd is set to announce his retirement before Wednesday's game between teh Bucks and the Cavaliers. Redd was a second round pick who developed into one of the best shooters in the NBA. He was an NBA All Star and a gold medalist with the U.S.A. in 2008 in Beijing. Knee injuries cut his effectiveness short 

Mavs smash Lakers
Mavericks 123, Lakers 104

The Mavericks have struggled to beat the Lakers in the regular season since that Playoff sweep two years ago. There were no problems as the Mavericks had another explosive offensive perofrmance. Monta Ellis scored 30 points and dished out nine assists. Jae Crowder had 18 points off the bench and all five starters scored in double figures.

Bosh-less Heat beat Raptors
Heat 104, Raptors 95

Heat center Chris Bosh stayed back in Miami to be present for the birth of his child. So the Raptors fans did not get to boo their former star (congrats, Chris, by the way). That largely does not matter when you have LeBron James sometimes. James scored 35 poitns, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out eight assists as James scored 10 points or more for the 500th consecutive game. 

Bobcats outlast Knicks
Bobcats 102, Knicks 97

The Knicks lost Tuesday, but it was not for a lack of Tyson Chandler's trying. Chandler left the game late in the fourth quarter after it appeared he landed on a player's foot. He was flying around trying to keep the Knicks in the game. Charlotte could not quite put New York away in the late stages. However, the Bobcats' lead stood up thanks to a 25-point night from Kemba Walker.

Suns keep Pelicans reeling
Suns 104, Pelicans 98

Those Playoff dreams for the New Orleans Pelicans . . . they are still attainable. It is only four games into the season. The Phoenix Suns though put some more questions into the Pelicans thinking. Phoenix continued its hot start with a win at New Orleans Arena. Eric Bledsoe had 25 points and Gerald Green added 18 points.

Spurs 4th quarter finishes Nuggets
Spurs 102, Nuggets 94

The Spurs eventually broke down the Nuggets in the fourth quarter, outscroing them 30-16 in the final 12 minutes. San Antonio got 24 points from Tony Parker and a typical 18-point, 8-rebound, 8-assist effort from Tim Duncan. The real question is when will the Nuggets right their ship. Denver is 0-3 now with two of those losses coming at Pepsi Center, historically a very difficult place for opposing teams. Denver 42.2 percent from the floor as the team struggled to finish the game.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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