The Clippers are hot lately, winning eight of their last ten games. And power forward Blake Griffin has put up some monster games this past week. Here’s the OC Register reporting:

Blake Griffin putting up monster games lately

Before DeAndre Jordan disappeared into the night Wednesday following another Clippers victory, he passed Blake Griffin in the hall to the team’s postgame interview room.

“Yo, Beast!” Jordan exclaimed.

“That’s what we call him,” Chris Paul had said moments earlier.

It’s a moniker Griffin has lived up to over his past three games, averaging 33 points on 73 percent shooting while scoring more than 30 points in three consecutive appearances for the first time since February of 2014.

“He’s just been crazy aggressive,” Paul said. “Crazy efficient. … So we are going to keep feeding him.”

Is there a place for a veteran guard like Sergio Rodriguez on the young Sixers next season? Too soon to tell. Here’s the Philadelphia Inquirer reporting:

Sergio Rodriguez hopes to return to Sixers

Rodriguez will become a free agent on July 1. He wants to return to the Sixers. He is averaging 7.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 22.3 minutes this season. He was playing his best basketball before he got hurt.

Rodriguez had 12 points and seven assists against the Chicago Bulls on March 24. Two days later, he finished with 16 points while making 4 of 7 three-pointers against the Indiana Pacers.

“Let’s see how it goes,” he said of his future. “It’s going to take a long time, because [free agency] is in July. You are not going to know anything. I don’t want to rush myself.”

Seth Curry return date uncertain

As the season winds down, it would be nice for the Mavs to get one more dose of action from guard Seth Curry. But his return date isn’t known yet. Here’s the Dallas Morning News with the latest:

Seth Curry return date uncertain

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said he doesn’t expect guard Seth Curry to miss all of the remaining four games, but he was unsure when he might return.

Curry sat out the last three games and the hope is that another day of rest Thursday will allow him to play Friday against the Spurs.

“I don’t have a medical degree,” Carlisle said. “But it’s a bruise. The thing keeps getting hit. We want to get him some more games with all the progress he’s made this year. We want him and all our players to finish strong.”

Kevin Durant likely to return Saturday

Following multiple workout sessions in recent days – including 2-on-2, 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 scrimmages – forward Kevin Durant has been cleared by the team’s medical and athletic training staffs to return to full-team practices.

If he does not suffer any setbacks following tomorrow’s practice, it is anticipated that Durant will play in Saturday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Oracle Arena.

Durant has missed the last 19 games after suffering a Grade 2 left MCL sprain and tibial bone bruise against the Washington Wizards on February 28.

As the NBA regular season winds down, teams with championship hopes have their eye on postseason health. Here’s the Bay Area News Group with the latest on the Warriors:

Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala to sit out Wednesday

The Warriors will complete their final back-to-back of the season (playoffs included) on Wednesday night in Phoenix, taking an overnight flight there after their Tuesday night home game against the Timberwolves.

Steve Kerr is taking that opportunity to rest two of his main guys. Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala will both sit out the road game against the Suns.

“The training staff told me Draymond could really use the night off. The numbers show it. I talked to Draymond. He admits it, too. So it’ll be good.”

Here’s the OC Register reporting on some key young Lakers,who will likely participate in 2017 Summer League action:

As the Lakers’ two youngest players sat next to each other at their respective lockers before a recent game, Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac fully realized the mistake of putting too much stock in how they perform in Las Vegas this summer.

They will play on the Lakers’ Summer League team in July for the second consecutive year, but both stressed their growth hinges more on their offseason training regimen than cashing out big in Sin City.

The Lakers (22-55) enter Wednesday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs (59-17) at AT&T Center with Zubac nursing a season-ending right ankle injury and Ingram on a minutes restriction because of tendinitis in his right knee. But after showing enough growth in their rookie seasons to have the Lakers optimistic about their long-term trajectory, Ingram and Zubac offered a sneak preview that could Lakers fans believing they hit the jackpot.

Ingram boastfully predicted he will average 40 points in summer league while Zubac will average 30.

“He’ll take a couple of threes, a couple of hook shots and call it a day,” Ingram said of Zubac.

Here’s the Denver Post reporting on a very talented, important part of the Nuggets:

Nikola Jokic an offensive talent for Nuggets

Nikola Jokic makes little secret about what side of the basketball he prefers.

“Offense will always beat defense,” Jokic said back in January, a couple weeks before he arrived in New Orleans during all-star weekend to showcase a skill set with more varied components than a bowl of gumbo.

Jokic will never be known for his defensive prowess the way he is for his passing and playmaking ability, but Nuggets coach Michael Malone pointed to several ways the 22-year-old big man can make improvements as a defender.

“Getting stronger is one,” Malone said before Tuesday’s game against the Pelicans. “Obviously he’s never going to be Karl Malone. We don’t want him to be that. But he can work on his body and get it as strong as possible.”

Here’s the Palm Beach Post reporting on a talented Nuggets forward who may be an option for the Heat this offseason:

Danilo Gallinari may become free agent this summer

Did Heat fans get a glimpse of the future on Sunday?

Denver’s 6-foot-10 wing man, Danilo Gallinari, who dropped 29 on Miami in the Nuggets’ win, is expected to decline his $16.1 million player option this summer and become a free agent. He likely will be second best player at his position behind Utah’s Gordon Hayward.

But is he a viable option if the Heat cannot sign Hayward?

Gallinari, 28, is having his second best scoring season, averaging 17.7 points, a bit under the 19.5 points he averaged in 2015-16. Both years he averaged a little more than five rebounds and two assists per game.

Nets sign Archie Goodwin to multi-year contract

The Brooklyn Nets have signed Archie Goodwin to a multi-year contract.

Goodwin was originally signed to a 10-day contract by the Nets on March 15 and signed a second 10-day contract on March 25. In seven games with Brooklyn, Goodwin has averaged 6.6 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 12.4 minutes per game while shooting 57.1 percent (16-of-28) from the field.

In 160 games in four NBA seasons with Brooklyn, New Orleans and Phoenix, Goodwin has recorded averages of 6.2 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 14.4 minutes per game.

Goodwin was selected with the 29th overall pick in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder before being traded to the Suns via Golden State on draft night. He spent one year at the University of Kentucky, earning SEC All-Freshman team honors.

John Wall fined for criticism of refs

Washington Wizards guard John Wall has been fined $15,000 for public criticism of the officiating, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

Wall made his comments to the media postgame following the Wizards’ 95-88 loss to the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 31.

The Knicks’ season will end without a playoff berth, and without a healthy Derrick Rose, who may be wearing another team’s jersey next season. Here’s ESPN NY reporting:

New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose will miss the remainder of the season after tearing the meniscus in his left knee, the team announced Sunday.

Those close to Rose expect him to be at full health two months after the surgery, which will be scheduled shortly. Rose, 28, had played in 64 of the Knicks’ 76 games this season…

Rose and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, have both said publicly that Rose, who becomes a free agent this coming offseason, would like to return to New York.

Here’s the Bay Area News Group reporting on the Warriors, who could have Kevin Durant back in action by next weekend:

The Kevin Durant Return Watch will continue for at least two more games after Sunday’s game at Oracle Arena against the Washington Wizards, as coach Steve Kerr ruled the All-Star forward out of the Tuesday’s home game against Minnesota and Wednesday’s road contest at Phoenix.

That puts Saturday’s home game against the New Orleans Pelicans as the most likely date of Durant’s long-awaited return. That would give him a three-game regular-season tuneup for the NBA playoffs. Then again, Kerr joked Sunday that could be up in the air as well.

Bucks sign Gary Payton II

The Milwaukee Bucks have signed guard Gary Payton II to a multi-year contract, General Manager John Hammond announced today.

Payton, 24, appeared in 49 games (all starts) with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA D-League this season, and averaged 14.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.0 steals in 32.7 minutes per game while shooting 49.8 percent from the field.

A 6-3 guard, Payton went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft after playing two seasons at Oregon State. Payton averaged 14.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.8 steals in 63 games with the Beavers and became the first player to be voted Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year two times. He was also an All-Pac-12 First Team selection during both of his seasons at Oregon State.

Payton is the son of NBA All-Star Gary Payton who played 28 games for the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2002-03 season. Payton will wear uniform number 0. Milwaukee’s roster now stands at 15 players.

Sixers sign Alex Poythress

The Philadelphia 76ers today signed forward Alex Poythress from the Ft. Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League. Pursuant to the NBA’s roster hardship exception, the Sixers roster now stands at 16.

Poythress has appeared in 46 games (45 starts) for Ft. Wayne this season, posting averages of 19 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block in 31 minutes per game. He is shooting 57% from the field and 40% from beyond the three-point line. Poythress, a 2017 NBA D-League All Star selection, ranks in the Top 15 in the D-League in points, field goals made and attempted, offensive rebounds and blocks per game.

Poythress appeared in 112 career games at the University of Kentucky, finishing his four-year career averaging nine points, five rebounds and one assist in 22 minutes per game, while shooting 55% from the field. He helped lead the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament National Finals in 2014.

Bucks waive Terrence Jones

Bucks waive Terrence Jones

The Milwaukee Bucks have requested waivers on forward Terrence Jones, General Manager John Hammond announced today.

Jones, 25, was signed to a contract on March 4, and appeared in three games for the Bucks.

Milwaukee’s roster now stands at 14 players.

Blazers: Jusuf Nurkic suffers broken leg

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) shows Portland center Jusuf Nurkić has a non-displaced right leg fibular fracture, it was announced today by Neil Olshey, Trail Blazers president of basketball operations.

Nurkić will be sidelined for two weeks, at which time he will be reevaluated.

In 20 games since joining Portland, Nurkic is averaging 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.25 assists in 29.2 minutes.

Here’s the OC Register reporting on the Clippers, who are currently the 5th seed in the Western conference:

Doc Rivers called the March schedule “one of the hardest months I’ve ever seen,” with 18 games, five sets of back-to-backs and four one-game trips.

For better or worse, the Clippers survived it.

Now, they get to play their final five games over 13 days, giving them ample time for rest and practice.

“That’s going to be helpful for us just to practice,” the Clippers coach said. “Even though we won’t go long, we went a whole month without a practice (before Tuesday), so it will be nice to be able to get back on the floor and just work, and try to get our continuity.”

Here’s the New York Daily News reporting Scottie Pippen’s thoughts on the job Phil Jackson has done with the Knicks:

“To be honest with you, I’m going to have to go at my old coach Phil Jackson,” Pippen said on ESPN’s “The Jump.” “I think he just hasn’t put the right pieces on the floor. I give a lot of credit to Carmelo who is being very professional in getting through these 82 game season. And now he’s being benched to some degree, they’re taking a lot of his minutes away. But this team just hasn’t had it. They haven’t had it since Phil Jackson landed there. There hasn’t been any upside.”

After saying “fans would love to see Carmelo in New York and Phil out,” Pippen was asked by host Rachel Nichols if he believes Jackson “should be out.”

“Yes,” Pippen replied emphatically.

The fact that Pippen openly criticized is surprising.

Lance Stephenson is back on the Pacers

Lance Stephenson is once again a member of the Indiana Pacers. The team signed him to a contract today.

Stephenson, a 6-5 guard/forward, was drafted by the Pacers in the Second Round of the 2010 NBA Draft as the 40th overall pick. He played four seasons with the Pacers and averaged 9.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game in the regular season. He played in 42 games in the playoffs with the Pacers, including twice in the Eastern Conference Finals, and in those 42 playoff games he averaged 10.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists.

According to the Indianapolis Star, “Stephenson, the tenacious, versatile and mercurial combo guard who once flourished in a blue and gold Indiana uniform, will make his stunning return to the Pacers later this week and be reunited with George. He signed a three-year, $12 million deal Thursday that includes a team option in the final year of the contract.”

“We’re very happy to have Lance back as part of our team,” said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird. “We always knew he wanted to come back here, and we feel now is the right time, not only for the rest of this season, but moving forward. We look forward to having a long relationship with him, because we know what he can bring to our franchise, both on and off the court.”

After the Pacers, Stephenson played for Charlotte, the L.A. Clippers, Memphis, New Orleans and most recently with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He has career averages of 8.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.

Stephenson will join the team in Cleveland for Sunday’s game.

New Orleans Pelicans center Omer Asik and forward Quincy Pondexter will miss the remainder of the season.

Asik, who was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal infection, is expected to return to basketball activities in 3-4 weeks.

Pondexter underwent left knee arthroscopic surgery on January 4, 2017. Further updates on his rehab progress will be announced appropriately.

Basketball blog