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Cavaliers, Warriors eye third NBA finals showdown in a row

May 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Defending champion Cleveland and powerhouse Golden State enter Sunday’s start of the playoff semi-finals pushing toward an unprecedented third consecutive NBA Finals showdown, adding more sparks to an already historic rivalry.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Golden State entertains San Antonio in Sunday’s best-of-seven Western Conference final opener while the LeBron James-led Cavaliers await Monday’s game-seven winner between Boston and Washington in an Eastern Conference final that begins Wednesday in Cleveland.

No two teams have ever met for the title in three consecutive seasons, as the Cavs and Warriors could, and only a handful of players have made the NBA Finals seven years in a row, as James could do.

The Warriors beat Cleveland for the 2015 crown and were one win shy of capping a repeat title run last year after a record 73-win campaign only to have James spark the Cavaliers from a 3-1 deficit to the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history, taking the trophy in seven games.

So it’s no wonder that Warriors guard Stephen Curry, the two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, can ponder a matchup with the Cavs even as he admits Golden State has plenty of work ahead to oust the Spurs.

“We’ll hammer it out when we get there but we’ve got four more wins to go,” Curry said. “We’ll be keeping an eye on them.”

Both the Warriors and Cavaliers have swept through the first two playoff rounds without dropping a game. Golden State forward Draymond Green said he had hoped to see more from Cleveland’s East rivals.

“I thought teams would compete a little harder,” Green said. “When you watch Cleveland play, you only watching one side of good basketball. That’s kind of weak.”

James does not diminish Cleveland’s strong start in eliminating Indiana and Toronto, saying, “It’s rewarding when you can advance. It’s not just given to you. You have to go out and earn it.”

But even “King James” admits: “We have another level and we believe we can get there.”

In the playoffs, James is averaging 34.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 2.1 steals per game. And last year, he became the first player in NBA history to lead the finals in every major statistical category.

“I’m going to let you guys talk about that as far as if this is the most complete I’ve been in my career,” James told reporters.

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, who played on two championship teams with the Los Angeles Lakers, sees no problem with a “Three-peat” Cavs-Warriors final, comparing fan interest to the 1980s finals that often pitted the Lakers against Larry Bird-led Boston.

“I think nowadays a lot of people want to see Golden State-Cavs. It’s two of the teams playing some of the best basketball right now,” Lue said.

“Why not want to see it again? I think last year had some of the best (TV) ratings in NBA history. The way they are playing, we are playing, it can be even higher.”

The 30.8 million US viewers for last year’s final game were the most for any NBA Finals contest since Michael Jordan’s 1998 farewell game for Chicago.

And it doesn’t hurt that the Warriors added former NBA MVP Kevin Durant this season.

“You have that third player (Durant) who is definitely one of the top three players in this league, that can go get his own shot at any time,” Lue said. “And that’s what makes them more dangerous.”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said his team’s basic defensive approach to the Warriors is “Pray” and Argentine guard Manu Ginobili played up Golden State’s favored role.

“We are playing one of the best teams, like, almost ever,” Ginobili said. “They’re tough and they added to that incredible offensive talent and good, solid defense. They have the whole package. It makes complete sense for them to be the favorites.”

The Warriors won an NBA-best 67 games this season but the Spurs were next with 61.

“Anything can happen in a playoff series,” Ginobili said. “But for anything to happen, we’ve got to play our best.”

Curry leads Warriors to complete NBA Western Conference sweep

May 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Stephen Curry scored 30 points as the Golden State Warriors wrapped up a series sweep with a 121-95 rout of the Utah Jazz on Monday.

Curry

The Warriors advanced to a Western Conference finals showdown against either Houston or San Antonio after overcoming a fleeting Utah rally to take the series 4-0 at Salt Lake City’s Vivint Smart Home Arena.

It was a second consecutive 4-0 series victory for the Warriors, who also notched a sweep against Portland in the opening round of the playoffs.

“We gotta good thing going, we’re playing well,” Curry said afterward.

“Tonight we had an opportunity to seal the deal and thankfully we came out on top,” added Curry, praising the Warriors all-round offensive display.

“That’s our approach to every game. We don’t know who’s going to have a hot night. We want to keep that going,” he said.

The Warriors laid the foundation for the win with a devastating first quarter performance which saw them pour on 39 points to open up a double-digit lead against a shellshocked Utah.

“Guys really came out focused,” said Warriors forward Draymond Green, who had a triple-double. “We knew what the game plan was and executed that game plan. I think the most important thing, though, is we imposed our will on the game. We had the game at our pace.”

The Jazz battled back to reduce the deficit to eight points at half-time at 60-52.

Utah remained in touching distance throughout the third period but the Warriors always looked capable of finding an extra gear when it mattered.

The decisive period came at the end of the third period when both Curry and Andre Iguodala both hit three-pointers in quick succession to help the Dubs pull away to 93-79 heading into the fourth quarter.

That burst of scoring was a foretaste of what was to follow in the fourth quarter, with the Warriors pulling further clear to wrap up victory by a 26-point margin.

Curry was one of five Warriors players to hit double figures, with Klay Thompson adding 21 points and Kevin Durant 18. Green added 17 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists for a triple-double.

For Utah, Gordon Hayward top scored with 25 points while Shelvin Mack had 18 and Dante Exum 15.

Curry meanwhile played down the suggestion that the Warriors may suffer deeper into the playoffs after romping through the first two rounds without dropping a game.

“Every team that we’ve played had a lot of pride,” Curry said. “We haven’t lost but within these games we’ve really had to check ourselves.

“You can learn lessons through winning and that’s what we’ve done.”

Jazz star Hayward, who may have played his last game for the team as he prepares for free agency, said Utah had been defeated by a “historically great team.”

“They make you pay for your mistakes,” Hayward told reporters. “You have to be almost perfect every possession, or else they turn it into a 9-0 run or 10-0 run.

“You can’t have one mental lapse against them. This was a great learning experience for us. They showed why they are who they are, and we’re not quite there yet. But you have to take positives from it.”

Cavaliers, Warriors well rested as NBA playoffs round two opens

April 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Defending champion Cleveland and season win leader Golden State, each seeking a third consecutive NBA Finals appearance, are well rested as the second round of the playoffs begins Sunday.

James

They were the only clubs to advance through the first round without dropping a game and are again favored in their best-of-seven second round matchups.

Cleveland superstar LeBron James, trying to reach the NBA Finals for a seventh consecutive year and eighth overall, led the NBA in minutes played while averaging 26.4 points, 8.7 assists and 8.6 rebounds. He powers the Cavaliers against Toronto, a team they beat in last year’s Eastern Conference final.

“Doesn’t mean we’re going to be able to win this year,” James said. “We’ve got to go out and make it happen. We have to worry about game one first.”

Boston faces Washington starting Sunday in the other East matchup, the Celtics having taken the conference top seed over the Cavs.

“The sky is the limit for this team,” Boston guard Avery Bradley said. “Anything can happen as long as we continue to stay positive and play as hard as we can.”

The Warriors, one win from back-to-back NBA titles last June before Cleveland made the greatest comeback in finals history to deny them a repeat, wait until Tuesday to open round two at home against Sunday’s winner between Utah and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Golden State has been nagged by injuries, including a calf injury to star forward Kevin Durant, and health issues with coach Steve Kerr, who has missed two games and is uncertain for the remainder of the playoffs.

The other Western Conference semi-final showdown matches Texas rivals San Antonio and Houston, their first playoff meeting since 1995 after a season where their four meetings all went down to the final minute.

James has won at least once on the road in 27 consecutive playoff series dating to 2009 and in 35 of 38 over his 14-year career.

“I just like the adversity of the road,” James said. “I love the ‘Tonight is not the night’ LeBron slogans. I love the ‘You’re overrated’ and all those things.”

He might hear it a lot. Despite 31 home wins, second best in the NBA this season, the Cavaliers won’t have the home-court edge again in the playoffs if form holds.

Cleveland and Toronto each went 51-31 this season and while Cleveland went 3-1 against the Raptors to gain the home-court edge, three meetings were last year and the last had many key players sitting out to rest.

The Raptors pushed Cleveland to six games last year and won’t likely vanish easily this time.

“I know what we have in that locker room, and that’s some fighters and scrappers,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.

The Celtics, 2-2 against Washington this season, expect to have guard Isaiah Thomas for game one after her attended his sister Chyna’s funeral Saturday. She was killed in an auto accident two weeks ago, but Thomas has not missed a game.

“I don’t know (how he played),” Bradley said. “It’s truly amazing.”

Celtics coach Brad Stevens is more concerned about the man than the games.

“If he decides when he gets there that it’s too much, that’s OK. That’s fine,” Stevens said. “This (grieving) is a lot more important.”

Thomas averaged 27.8 points a game against the Wizards this season while Washington guards John Wall and Bradley Beal together averaged almost 40 points against Boston.

Washington led the NBA with 20.7 fast break points and 9.2 steals a game in round one.

“It’s playoff time,” Beal said. “It’s winning time and we’re going to do whatever it takes.”

While Durant has rested his calf, Kerr missed practice again Saturday as he battles nausea, headaches and neck pain related to back surgery two years ago.

Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown guided Golden State in his absence and could be pressed into duty throughout the playoffs. He’s a former Cleveland coach who 10 years ago guided James and the Cavs into their first NBA Finals, where they lost to San Antonio.

The Spurs are powered by Kawhi Leonard while James Harden sparks Houston. Harden averaged 29.8 points, 12.5 assists and 9.0 rebounds against the Spurs, who boast the NBA’s top defense and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Leonard.

San Antonio was 3-1 against the Rockets but three games were decided by two points and the other by only six.

Warriors put Blazers on brink, Gasol’s floater sinks Spurs

April 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Stephen Curry scored 14 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter and the Golden State Warriors stormed back from a 16-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 119-113.

Curry

Klay Thompson tallied 24 points on Saturday for the Warriors, who seized a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven first-round Western Conference playoff series.

CJ McCollum scored 32 points and Damian Lillard added 31 for the Blazers, who will try to stay alive with a win in game four on Monday.

“They had a lot of adrenaline but we were able to withstand their runs and get back in the game,” said Curry. “I love these kind of moments. I have confidence in myself to make those shots.”

Elsewhere Saturday, Marc Gasol lifted Memphis to a 110-108 overtime win over the San Antonio Spurs with a clutch jump shot at the buzzer that allowed the Grizzlies to level their playoff series at 2-2.

Golden State was without forward Kevin Durant (calf injury), guard Shaun Livingston (finger) and forward Matt Barnes (ankle).

Warriors coach Steve Kerr also did not attend the game because of illness. His was replaced by assistant coach Mike Brown.

After the final buzzer, Curry collected the game ball and said he planned to deliver it to Kerr.

“Our coach is going through a lot right now,” Curry said. “He told us to go out and ‘win one for the Gipper.'”

Lillard scored 22 points and McCollum 17 as the Blazers went into halftime leading 67-54.

Curry and Thompson were a combined eight for 25 from the field at halftime.

In Memphis, Gasol’s floater over Spurs defender LaMarcus Aldridge with 0.7 seconds left capped a thrilling back and forth first round playoff contest Saturday in front of a crowd of 18,100.

Kawhi Leonard scored a playoff career high 43 points for the Spurs, including San Antonio’s final 16 points in the fourth quarter.

“Both teams played their hearts out,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Just a fantastic basketball game. The fans got their money’s worth. Marc made a great shot. L.A. (Aldridge) contested it very well, it (went) down.”

Leonard added eight rebounds, six steals and three assists. Leonard’s fade-away jumper with 12 seconds left in regulation gave San Antonio a 96-94 lead.

But Leonard’s brilliant performance was in vain as Mike Conley led Memphis with 35 points and had nine rebounds and eight assists.

Conley, who had 11 points in the final quarter, answered with a floater in the lane with four seconds left to tie the game at 96.

Leonard then missed a 21-footer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

Memphis won despite making a franchise postseason record 23 turnovers that led to 31 San Antonio points.

Elsewhere, DeMar DeRozan, held scoreless from the floor a game earlier, struck for 33 points and nine rebounds to lead Toronto over Milwaukee 87-76.

The visiting Raptors pulled level with Milwaukee at 2-2 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series, which continues Monday in Toronto.

In Atlanta, the Atlanta Hawks led wire-to-wire en route to a dominating 116-98 victory over Washington, cutting the Wizards lead in the playoff series to 2-1.

Forward Paul Millsap registered his second consecutive double-double by finishing with 29 points and 14 rebounds as the Hawks clawed their way back into the Eastern Conference series.

Millsap was 12 of 20 from the floor and had five assists. The only blemish on his night was missing four-of-nine free throws.

Game four of the series is Monday in Atlanta.

After the game, Millsap and Washington’s Markieff Morris continued to fire verbal jabs at each other.

Morris called Millsap a “crybaby”.

“He’s a crybaby. You get all the calls when you’re a crybaby. That’s how I look at it,” Morris said.

Millsap added: “It definitely got personal now, yes.”

Atlanta also got 27 points and nine assists from Dennis Schroder. Rookie Taurean Prince scored 16 points.

Warriors cut down Blazers, Westbrook runs out of gas

April 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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The Golden State Warriors clamped down on defense as they cruised to a 110-81 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, taking a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Warriors

Playing without injured star Kevin Durant, Golden State held Portland to just 12 points in the third quarter Wednesday to post their 11th straight home win over the Trail Blazers in a rematch of last year’s Western Conference semi-final series.

Durant missed the game with a calf strain.

“You got to be aggressive. Tonight we didn’t really get it going and we had some dry spots but we won the game with our defense,” said Warriors star Stephen Curry. “We asserted ourselves in first quarter that set the tone for the game.”

Curry had 19 points and Klay Thompson added 16 as the Warriors won easily despite scoring 11 fewer points than in their 121-109 win in the opening game of the series.

JaVale McGee said they miss not having Durant in the lineup but they also know how to adjust when he is not there.

“We have confidence. We have had to play without KD for a lot of games earlier so we are used to it. But we need KD. We need his scoring,” said McGee, who came off the bench to score 15 points.

The teams will travel to Portland for the next two meetings in the best-of-seven series, with the Warriors taking their lead into game three on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams caught fire in the fourth quarter as the Houston Rockets rallied for a 115-111 playoff win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, who lost despite another historic 50-point night by Russell Westbrook.

The Rockets erased a 15-point deficit to take a 2-0 lead after game two of their Western Conference series.

Westbrook delivered a triple-double of 51 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds but couldn’t get the ball to drop when it counted. He shot a dismal four of 18 in the fourth quarter.

His scoring total was the highest for a postseason triple-double in NBA history.

Despite the historic night, Westbrook failed to find his teammates with passes as he appeared to run out of steam in the final quarter.

He missed 14 shots in the fourth, the most misses in any quarter in the last 20 NBA playoffs.

“I wasn’t tired,” Westbrook said. “I don’t care about the (personal stats). We lost.”

“It’s not like it is going to be a surprise to anybody. We know what we have to do,” said Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni of stopping Westbrook.

Gordon gave the Rockets their first lead with his three-pointer at the 8:07 mark of the fourth quarter at 96-94.

Gordon delivered another clutch basket with 1:48 remaining, drilling a 28-footer off a James Harden pass to extend the lead to eight.

Harden finished with 35 points and eight assists and was a perfect 18 for 18 from the free-throw line.

Game three is Friday in Oklahoma City.

In Washington, Bradley Beal scored 16 of his 31 points in the final quarter as the Washington Wizards seized a 2-0 lead in their first-round series with a 109-101 win.

John Wall delivered a team high 32 points as he and Beal tallied 20 of the Wizards’ final 21 points in a penalty filled contest.

Game three is in Atlanta on Saturday as the Wizards have won five in a row over the Hawks.

Paul Millsap had 27 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks. Dennis Schroder scored 23 points and Tim Hardaway had 19. Atlanta committed 18 turnovers.

After game one, Millsap made a point of calling out what he considered overly aggressive play from the Wizards — “They were playing MMA,” he said.

In game two, the teams were whistled for 55 fouls and took a combined 71 free throws. Atlanta was 33 of 38 and Washington finished 24 of 33.

Washington’s Marcin Gortat easily controlled the head-to-head matchup as Dwight Howard’s struggles in the playoffs continued. Hawks center Howard had just six points and seven rebounds.

Warriors rout Portland, Butler shines for Bulls in NBA playoffs

April 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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The Golden State Warriors clamped down in the fourth quarter to pull away to a 121-109 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday in game one of their NBA playoff series.

Warrios

Golden State, aiming to get back to the NBA finals for a third straight year and regain the crown they surrendered last season to the Cleveland Cavaliers, had 32 points from Kevin Durant in his first playoff game as a Warrior.

Stephen Curry added 29. Draymond Green was everywhere, finishing with 19 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, five blocked shots and three steals for the Warriors.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler scored 15 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter as the Chicago Bulls held on to beat the Boston Celtics 106-102 in the opener of a first-round Eastern Conference series.

Golden State withstood 75 combined points from the Trail Blazers duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to triumph in a game that saw 22 lead changes.

They were tied at halftime and knotted at 88-88 after three quarters.

But the Warriors opened the fourth frame with a 15-2 scoring run to seize control.

Backup point guard Ian Clark contributed seven points in the flurry, but it was increased defensive pressure that really turned the tide.

“We let them get to their spots in the first half,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “they still made some tough shots, which they’re going to do. I thought we did a better job in the second half of being a little more physical.”

The Trail Blazers pulled within 105-99 with 5:16 to play. But Green tipped in a Curry miss and Durant produced three straight baskets to stretch Golden State’s lead to 113-99 with 3:36 remaining.

Durant, acquired as a free agent after the Warriors’ loss to the Cavs in last year’s finals, connected on 12 of his 20 shots and also pulled down 10 rebounds.

Game two of the series, a rematch of a Western Conference semi-final last season, is on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in the West, the Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder tipped off in a series featuring the top contenders in the Most Valuable Player race — Thunder star Russell Westbrook and the Rockets’ James Harden.

Sunday’s Eastern Conference action got under way in Washington, where John Wall scored 15 of his 32 points in a dominant third quarter to lead the Wizards to a 114-107 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in their series opener.

Wall also handed out 14 assists while teammate Bradley Beal scored 22 points and Markieff Morris added 21.

German guard Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 25 points and Paul Millsap had 19. Atlanta made 32 of 39 free throws, but connected on just 43.6 percent of their shots from the floor and turned the ball over 21 times.

In Boston, Butler scored five points during an 8-0 run midway through the final period that put the Bulls in control on an emotional night at the Boston Garden.

Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas played the day after his younger sister, Chyna, was killed in a car accident.

Thomas led the Celtics with 33 points, hitting a layup with seven seconds left to cut Chicago’s lead to 104-102.

But Butler dribbled off a few seconds and sealed the victory with a two free throws with just three seconds on the clock.

Game two of the series is Tuesday at the Garden.

Curry leads Warriors fightback in Spurs defeat

March 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Stephen Curry scored 29 points as the Golden State Warriors fought back from a 22-point deficit to land a psychological blow against the San Antonio Spurs with a 110-98 road victory on Wednesday.

Spurs

The Warriors — who could ultimately end up facing San Antonio for a place in the NBA finals when the playoffs get under way — looked to be in deep trouble as the Spurs raced into a 29-7 first quarter lead.

But Curry and Klay Thompson led a magnificent team effort to haul the Warriors back into contention in the second quarter, gradually chipping away at San Antonio’s lead to close within three points at halftime.

The Warriors then turned on the style in the third quarter, piling on the pressure to open up an 84-77 lead heading into the final period.

From there the Warriors were always able to keep San Antonio at arm’s length, and picked off the Spurs to claim an ultimately convincing win.

Curry’s points haul included four three-pointers, a tally matched by offensive partner Klay Thompson who had 23 points.

Andre Iguodala (14) and David West (15) also posted double figure tallies for the Dubs, who improved to 61-14 to head the Western Conference comfortably from San Antonio, who are 57-17.

San Antonio’s scoring was led by Kawhi Leonard with 19 points while Spanish star Pau Gasol had 18 points. LaMarcus Aldridge and Danny Green also made double figures.

Reigning NBA MVP Curry was satisfied with a victory that gives the Warriors a huge boost as the playoffs loom, with injured star Kevin Durant still to return to their ranks.

“We’re on the right track,” Curry said. “We don’t win a championship in this game but we understand we’re getting better as we get to the playoffs and that’s really the only focus right now. We want to keep it up.”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich didn’t mince his words about the quality of his team’s opponents, describing the Warriors as the best team in the NBA.

“They played great, they all played great,” Popovich said. “They just played better. Curry, Thompson — they all made shots. That’s why they’re the best team in the league.”

Thompson, Curry outshine Westbrook as Warriors down Thunder

March 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry outgunned Russell Westbrook as the Golden State Warriors scored an emphatic 111-95 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday.

Westbrook

Thompson poured on 34 points while Curry finished with 23 on a below-par night for Westbrook, who was restricted to 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

Thompson made 12 of 21 from the field and sunk seven of 15 attempts from three-point range, reviving memories of his heroics in last season’s playoffs when he blitzed the Thunder with a stream of three-pointers.

“I don’t think it’s anything particular,” Thompson said when asked about his habit of delivering against Oklahoma City.

“I’ve been playing well the last few games. Got a lot of great looks today. It’s as simple as knocking them down.”

Curry meanwhile drained seven three-pointers as the Warriors improved to 56-14.

Victor Oladipo led the scoring for Oklahoma City with 17 points. Enes Kanter made 11 points from the bench while Taj Gibson added 10 as the Thunder fell to 40-30.

Curry had his radar finely tuned from the get-go, shrugging off the attentions of man-marker Westbrook to score 11 points in the first quarter.

Westbrook meanwhile struggled to find his range, making only one from six from the field.

“Just one of those nights, Westbrook said. “Shots didn’t fall. They made shots as well. A few mishaps defensively. But we’ll be all right.”

The Thunder star was unable to find a way past some vigilant Warriors defense, with the visitors comfortable soaking up pressure before countering effectively.

The frustration got the better of Westbrook late in the second quarter, when he engaged in a shoving match with Curry that led to a prolonged melee.

The scuffle ended with technical fouls against Westbrook, Curry, Draymond Green and Oklahoma City’s Semaj Christon.

“Ain’t nothing going through my mind but to protect my teammates,” Westbrook said when asked about the scrap. “That’s what was going through my mind.”

When play resumed, the Warriors won the tap and found Curry, who unfurled a trademark long-range effort to make it 59-39 at the half.

Westbrook and Oladipo inspired a 13-5 Oklahoma run at the start of the second half to give the Thunder hope.

But Curry and Thompson responded with a slew of three-pointers to halt the Thunder’s momentum.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr was satisfied by the way his team responded after Westbrook’s rally early in the second half.

“We knew it was coming,” Kerr said.

“We’re on their home floor. Russell did not have a great first half. We knew he would come out attacking. He attacked the rim a couple of times. We just weathered the storm,” added Kerr, singling out JaVale McGee for praise.

“(He) came in and had a huge impact. Getting his hands on a lot of rebounds, deflections. He just got his hand on the ball and created extra deflections for us. Obviously, we had Steph and Klay going from 3-point land,” he said.

Curry comes alive as NBA Warriors end losing skid

March 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Stephen Curry moved into 10th place on the all-time three-point list as the Golden State Warriors rebounded from back-to-back defeats with a 112-105 NBA win over the struggling New York Knicks on Sunday.

Curry

The Warriors had dropped two straight games since losing Kevin Durant to injury and one factor was a lack of production from Curry.

But the reigning two-time NBA Most Valuable Player found his scoring touch on Sunday.

The 28-year-old point guard tallied 31 points, hitting five three-pointers at Madison Square Garden to move ahead of Chauncey Billups for 10th place overall.

“We haven’t been playing our best. It was showing as we lost two in a row,” said Curry. “Just the way we were playing wasn’t great so we wanted to get back to who we are.”

Curry and Klay Thompson did just that. They combined for 60 points which marked the 42nd time in their careers they have both scored at least 25 or more points in a game and the seventh time this season.

Derrick Rose scored 28 points and Kristaps Porzingis contributed 24 points and 15 rebounds for the Knicks, who fell to 25-38 on the season.

“For most of the game we were there. We came out ready to play,” said Knicks star Carmelo Anthony. “They hit a couple of threes which opened it up. Two threes from Steph was a big thing. Once they got (the lead) up to seven or eight we just tried to fight from that time.”

The Warriors improved to 51-11 and avoided a three-game losing streak.

A pair of free throws from Thompson extended the Warriors’ lead to 96-83 with 9:04 to play, but the Knicks put together a 13-1 run shortly after to make it 97-96 with just under six minutes remaining.

An 8-2 surge helped seal the victory for the Warriors giving them a 110-101 lead with 69 seconds remaining.

“Some ups and downs tonight but at the end of the game we were moving the ball, finding the open guy and finished the game strong,” Curry said.

The Warriors are in the midst of one of their longest road trips of the season with all five games coming against Eastern Conference opponents.

Golden State travels to Atlanta on Monday and Boston on Wednesday to conclude the swing.

Bulls hand Warriors second straight defeat

March 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Golden State, adjusting to life without injured Kevin Durant, fell to the Chicago Bulls, just the second time in nearly two years the Warriors have suffered back-to-back NBA regular-season defeats.

Bulls

Jimmy Butler scored 22 points to lead four Bulls players in double-figures in the 94-87 triumph.

The Warriors’ points total was their season low, and they lost a second straight regular-season contest for the first time since April of 2015.

The Warriors had fallen 112-108 to the Washington Wizards on Tuesday, when Durant limped out of the game in the first quarter with what was later diagnosed as a left knee ligament sprain and bone bruise.

The former NBA Most Valuable Player will be sidelined indefinitely, although the Warriors, who have already secured a playoff berth, have not ruled out a return before the end of the regular season.

“Obviously, you feel for him and want him to get healthy as fast as possible but not rush it because we have a long journey ahead of us going into the playoffs,” two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry said. “Next man up mentality, but obviously it will be tough to replace a guy like KD.”

Curry led the Warriors with 23 points, but he and “Splash Brother” teammate Klay Thompson combined to make just three of 22 three-point attempts.

Overall, the Warriors were six-for-30 from three-point range in the defeat. Thompson added 13 points and Draymond Green contributed a dozen in the defeat.

The Warriors had led 51-47 at halftime, and erased a five-point deficit with 9:09 to play thanks to three baskets from Curry and a driving layup from David West that gave Golden State an 85-84 lead with 5:43 to go.

But Golden State couldn’t maintain the momentum.

“A couple of shots we normally make did not fall,” said Curry, who was 10 of 27 from the field. “That’s not the reason we lost.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his team didn’t play with enough urgency to make up for their cold shooting.

“You are not always going to shoot well,” Kerr said. “When that happens, the ball is gold. You have to value each possession. Our intensity and focus was not there.”

Veteran Dwyane Wade scored 12 points for Chicago, putting the Bulls up 88-85 with 2:16 remaining.

Bulls reserve Paul Zipser closed out a 7-0 scoring run with three-pointer that stretched Chicago’s lead to six points with 1:41 to play.

With the Warriors struggling from the floor, Chicago closed out the victory with a series of free-throws.

The Bulls won for the fifth time in six games improving to 31-30 — sixth in the Eastern Conference.

“Our defense hasn’t been good of late,” Wade said. “I thought today, our attention to detail was phenomenal. They missed some shots — even some of them open. But that’s part of the game.”

The Warriors slipped to 50-11 — still the best record in the league.

Elsewhere, Damian Lillard scored 33 points as the Portland Trail Blazers used a 16-0 surge late in the game to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-109 at Moda Center.

Lillard led a half dozen Blazers in double figures as the Portland improved to 25-35 on the season and won for only the third time in 10 games. Jusuf Nurkic tallied 18 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for the Blazers.

Russell Westbrook scored 45 points for Oklahoma City but made only 12 of 36 shots from the field. He added eight rebounds and four assists.

Enes Kanter came off the bench for 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder, who saw their four-game winning streak end.

Westbrook scored 28 first-half points, and Oklahoma City closed on a 12-0 run in the final 1:17 to take a 60-57 lead at halftime.

Injury scare for Durant as Warriors fall to Wizards

March 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Kevin Durant suffered an injury scare as the Golden State Warriors slumped to a 112-108 defeat against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.

Durant

Warriors star Durant limped out of the game in the first quarter at Washington’s Verizon Center after team-mate Zaza Pachulia fell awkwardly onto his left leg.

The Warriors later confirmed Durant had suffered a hyperextended left knee and that an MRI scan had been scheduled. There was no further information about the Warriors’ All-Star’s long-term condition.

“We’ll know a little more tomorrow. I’m always concerned about any injury because you never know how bad it’s going to be. We’ll just keep our fingers crossed,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

It was an unhappy homecoming of sorts for Durant, who grew up in the nearby Maryland suburbs and who had been courted by the Wizards during his free agency last year before choosing to join the Warriors.

That snub clearly still rankles with some Washington fans, who subjected Durant to boos during the introduction and whenever he touched the ball.

The Wizards took full advantage of Durant’s absence to claim a narrow victory that saw them improve to 35-23 in the Eastern Conference Standings.

Bradley Beal led the scoring for the Wizards with 25 points, three assists and four rebounds.

Markieff Morris added 22 points, six rebounds and one assist. Guard John Wall also shone, with 12 points, 19 assists and six rebounds.

But the Wizards were left sweating after they saw the Warriors overhaul a 19-point deficit before the hosts finally clinched victory in the final minute.

Warriors coach Kerr said he was proud the way his team had responded after being forced to reorganise following the early departure of Durant.

“It was a great response. It was a hell of a basketball game,” Kerr said. “The fans got their money’s worth.

“I liked how we came back after we were thrown for a loop early on. We had to change all of our rotations. I thought after we took that first blow we got back into the game — we just couldn’t close it out.”

NBA MVP Stephen Curry led the scoring for the Warriors with 25 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Klay Thompson (16), Draymond Green (14), Shaun Livingston (14) and Pachulia with 12 also made double-figures for the Western Conference leaders, who have already booked their place in the playoffs.

LeBron’s Cavs, Warriors set sights on Finals rematch

February 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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LeBron James resumes his bid for a seventh consecutive NBA Finals appearance Thursday while the Golden State Warriors plan their third consecutive finals trip and Russell Westbrook takes aim at history.

James

And with the NBA trade deadline Thursday along with the resumption of play following the mid-season NBA All-Star Game break, the championship chase swings into high gear.

Only six players have reached the finals more consecutive years than James, who led the Cleveland Cavaliers over the Warriors last year in the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history after the Cavs lost to Golden State in 2015.

James, who also guided Miami to two NBA crowns in four finals appearances, says being the player others measure themselves against feeds the hunger for more success.

“It’s motivating. It’s great. To know that everyone is trying to build their team or wanting to get their team to try to get to where you are and try to knock you off, it’s a motivating factor,” James said.

“It’s also a humbling factor that to know that I’ve been in this position for so long. I want to continue to work my habits, train my body, train my mind, and work on my game every day to put me in a position to be successful.”

The Cavaliers are 39-16, three games ahead of Boston atop the Eastern Conference with Washington five back.

James is playing nearly 38 minutes a night and starters J.R. Smith and Kevin Love are sidelined by injuries, but James has faith the team can keep improving even without trade deadline moves.

“As the leader of the team, I’m fine with what we have, and we’ll continue to push forward,” James said.

“I’m comfortable with whatever coach wants me to do out on the floor. Whatever he gives me to do, I can figure it out.

“We haven’t been healthy pretty much all season, but I feel like if I’m in the lineup and I’m healthy, I’m feeling good, then we’re going to have a chance.”

The Warriors like their chances as well after adding superstar Kevin Durant to the core of a squad that went an NBA-record 73-9 last season. Golden State is off to a 47-9 start this season, four games ahead of San Antonio atop the Western Conference.

“Win a championship. That’s it. That’s why we play, to realize that dream,” two-time NBAMost Valuable Player Stephen Curry said. “We know, having won before, exactly what it takes. Having been on the losing side, we know how thin the line is between winning and losing. That’s what it’s all about.”

Curry has had to share a scoring spotlight with fellow 3-point sharpshooter Klay Thompson and forward Durant, but after early struggles the combination has come together in devastating fashion.

“Whether we shoot a lot of jumpers or find other ways to score, everybody is just focused on winning. It doesn’t matter how you characterize it,” Curry said.

Durant has adapted to his new teammates and the results have been impressive and at times overpowering.

“It has been fun,” Durant said. “It has been a great season. We’re winning games. Chemistry is good. City is nice. Coaches are cool. It’s pretty simple.”

And Golden State’s defense, sparked by forward Draymond Green, has found top form despite losing key players in order to find salary cap money to sign Durant.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say anything really surprised me other than how fast this team has really come together,” Green said. “We just play within the flow of the game and let everything figure itself out.”

When it comes to winning a title, Golden State is mindful that Cleveland might be the last obstacle once again.

“I know who’s at the top of their game and who you potentially have to go through to win a championship,” Curry said. “We’ve had two good battles against Cleveland the last two years. Who knows how this year will play out. It’s a different year.

“(LeBron) is playing well. There are guys in the Western Conference that are playing well that we know we’re going to have to beat to get back the finals. The way I approach it, worry about our team and getting back to the finals and whoever we play, we will be ready for them.”

Oklahoma City star Westbrook could become only the second NBA player to average a triple double for an entire season after 1960s legend Oscar Robertson. He is averaging an NBA-best 31.1 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10.1 assists over 57 games.

“Finish the All-Star break right and come back and do good things,” Westbrook said of his plans for the final 25 games of the campaign.

Green grabs NBA first in Warriors win over Grizzlies

February 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Draymond Green produced an unprecedented triple-double of 12 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals Friday as the Golden State Warriors mauled the Grizzlies 122-107 in Memphis.

Green

Green put up just four points, becoming the first player in NBA history to post a triple-double without hitting double digits in points.

“It’s pretty amazing to be the only one of something in NBA history, something good,” Green said.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr called it “as dominant a performance as I’ve seen from somebody who scored four points.”

And the Warriors didn’t need more from him offensively, with teammate Klay Thompson scoring 36, Kevin Durant adding 24 and Stephen Curry contributing 18 as Golden State turned the tables on the only team to beat them twice this season.

The Grizzlies, who beat the Warriors 110-89 in Memphis in December and rallied from 24 down for a 128-119 overtime win in Oakland in January, were never ahead in this one and never looked like they would get there.

Thompson opened the contest by hitting three three-pointers. Golden State led 62-49 by halftime and by as many as 26 points in the fourth quarter as they improved their league-leading record to 45-8.

“We didn’t want to lose to this team three times in a row,” Thompson said.

Curry added: “We have a certain sense of pride on this team.”

It was a wire-to-wire win too for the San Antonio Spurs, who rolled to a 103-92 victory over the Pistons in Detroit.

Kawhi Leonard scored 32 points, pulled down six rebounds and handed out five assists and LaMarcus Aldridge contributed 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs, who also got a big night from Dewayne Dedmon, who continued to shine starting in place of injured big man Pau Gasol.

Dedmon had a season-high 17 points and career-high 17 rebounds, helping keep Detroit center Andre Drummond in check.

“He hit the boards hard, he ran the floor, his energy, his aggressiveness, his defense — he was fantastic in that regard,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Dedmon.

- Streaking Heat -

The Miami Heat stretched their winning streak to 13 games — the longest in the league this season — with a 108-99 comeback victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

James Johnson came off the bench to score 26 points. Goran Dragic added 21 for the Heat, who erased an 11-point third-quarter deficit.

The Washington Wizards got back to winning on their home floor with a 112-107 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

The Wizards saw their home win streak halted at 17 games in a dramatic overtime defeat to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday.

But they were back on top in front of home fans in a clash of two of the league’s hottest teams.

John Wall scored 26 points and handed out 14 assists. Markieff Morris added 26 points and 10 rebounds and Bradley Beal chipped in 20 points for the Wizards.

Since falling to the NBA champion Cavs the Wizards had gone on the road to beat the Nets in Brooklyn.

But Beal said they were especially focused on winning again at home.

“We just wanted to come back home and make sure we got off to an even better start,” he said. “Get our streak back on.”

The Wizards beat the Pacers for the second time in three games this season. The defeat dropped Indiana three games behind third-seeded Washington in the Eastern Conference standings, with the teams due to meet again on Thursday.

New Orleans star Anthony Davis posted his sixth 40-point game of the season to lead the Pelicans to a 122-106 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis.

Davis’s 42 points were key as the Pelicans rallied from a 15-point first-half deficit. He connected on 16 of 22 shots from the field, including two of three from three-point range.

Kings topple Warriors, James hits milestone in Cavs win

February 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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The Sacramento Kings stunned the Golden State Warriors 109-106 in overtime on Saturday to snap a 13-game skid against their league-leading Western Conference rivals.

Kings

Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins scored six of his 32 points in overtime and also contributed 12 rebounds and nine assists.

Matt Barnes produced a double-double of 11 points and 14 rebounds as Sacramento handed the Warriors their eighth defeat of the season against 43 victories.

Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 35 points and nine assists.

He made eight three-pointers, but in the waning seconds of overtime missed two contested layups that could have given the Warriors the lead.

After Darren Collison’s two free-throws with 2.5 seconds left gave the Kings a 109-106 lead, the Warriors had one more chance.

Draymond Green, wide open for a three-pointer at the top of the arc, bounced one off the rim.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr wasn’t around to see it. He erupted in anger in the third quarter when Green was handed a technical on the heels of a personal foul call against teammate Kevon Looney.

Kerr stormed toward mid-court, where assistant coach Mike Brown held him back, but he was thrown out of the game.

The episode ratcheted up the intensity, but the Warriors couldn’t find their usual offensive flow.

All-Star Kevin Durant endured a difficult shooting night, connecting on just two of 10 from the floor and finishing with only 10 points.

Klay Thompson scored 26 and Green, who left the game briefly with a right knee contusion, finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

“We got what we deserved, before I was tossed and after,” Kerr said. “It was one of the worse games we’ve played all season. We had no purpose, the ball didn’t move… I didn’t even recognize our team out there tonight.

“Maybe we were due for one.”

LeBron James scored 32 points and handed out 10 assists to lead the reigning champion Cleveland Cavaliers to a 111-104 victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

James, 32, took his career total points to 28,020, becoming the youngest player to score 28,000.

James connected on 12 of 20 shots and directed the offense with teammate Kyrie Irving sidelined by a sore quadriceps.

Stand-in DeAndre Liggins scored five points without any assists, while Kay Felder added four points and three assists backing him up.

“It’s hard (playing without Irving), but guys have to step up,” James said. “Kyrie is more than just a playmaker or a scorer. He is one of our leaders.

“D Ligs (Liggins) and Kay (Felder) did as good as they could do,” James added. “They made some mistakes, but as veterans we have to pick them up.”

It was a milestone night for San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich as well.

Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker scored 18 points each, combining to make 13 of 14 of their shots from the floor in a 121-97 victory over the Denver Nuggets that put Popovich atop the list of coaching wins with one club.

Popovich, in his 21st season at the helm in San Antonio, notched his 1,128th win, moving past former Utah coach Jerry Sloan.

Legendary Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach is third on the list with 795.

“Growing up, Jerry Sloan was one of the big names, watching the (NBA) Finals and stuff like that,” Parker said. “To have Pop up there, he’s going to keep it going. It looks like he’s not getting tired at all. He’s not going to stop anytime soon.”

Parker and Ginobili are displaying some impressive longevity themselves.

Popovich wasn’t surprised at the energy provided off the bench by 39-year-old Ginobili.

“You can’t make someone that’s competitive non-competitive,” Popovich said. “You can’t extract that juice from them.”

Parker, 34, said staying productive was a matter of adjusting.

“It’s a different stage in your career,” he said. “I try to do the best I can with the guys around me.”

Warriors clobber Clippers again, milestone win for Spurs’ Pop

February 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Stephen Curry scored 29 points and Kevin Durant added 26 as the Golden State Warriors extended their dominance over the Los Angeles Clippers with a 133-120 victory.

Curry

The Warriors beat the Clippers for the ninth straight time, despite the injury absences of Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia, Shaun Livingston and David West.

Green was held out with a left shoulder contusion suffered in Wednesday’s home win over the Charlotte Hornets.

“We’ve got a deep team and all the guys fit into their roles and execute our game plan, our identity, every night no matter who suits up,” Curry said after the Warriors won their fifth straight.

They shot 52.5 percent from the field, and while their 14 three-pointers didn’t approach the stunning 21 they put up against the Hornets, it was still an impressive follow up.

“We’d rather be healthy,” Curry said. “But to have a showing like this in a back-to-back, with so many guys out, is a big-time night.”

Curry’s only three-pointer in the first half was his 200th of the season, making him the first NBA player to hit 200 or more from beyond the arc in five straight campaigns.

He finished with three treys, connecting on 11 of 23 overall from the floor and also handed out 11 of the Warriors 38 assists.

Durant had 10 assists and eight rebounds for the Warriors. Klay Thompson scored 21 points as seven Golden State players scored in double figures.

Blake Griffin scored 31 points and pulled down eight rebounds, but the Clippers have now lost five of their last seven.

In San Antonio, coach Gregg Popovich tied the league record for most career wins with a single club with the Spurs’ 102-86 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Popovich’s 1,127 victories with the Spurs tied the mark of former Utah coach Jerry Sloan, who was at the helm of the Jazz from 1988-2011 and took them to back-to-back Western Conference titles in 1997 and 1998.

Popovich, who has the most wins of any active coach in the league, characteristically downplayed the achievement.

“When you get all those wins it’s just a longevity thing more than anything,” he said.”So I’m thankful for having the job for a while.”

Kawhi Leonard led seven Spurs players in double figures with 19 points.

That matched his lowest point total in his past 10 games, but that hardly mattered as the Spurs’ balanced attack got the job done.

Dewayne Dedmon added 13 points while Patty Mills, David Lee, Davis Bertans and Danny Green contributed 12 each.

In Washington, John Wall scored 16 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter as the Wizards ran their home winning streak to 16 games with a 116-108 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bradley Beal drained five three-pointers en route to 23 points for the Wizards, who haven’t lost at home since a December 6 setback against Orlando.

Since December 1, the Wizards are an Eastern Conference-best 23-9 including six straight wins and 13 victories in their last 15 games.

Even so, their arena was packed with Lakers fans, a fact not lost on Wall.

“Hearing the crowd get up and make big Lakers chants just made me mad,” said the point guard recently selected for a fourth straight NBA All-Star team. “I do what I have to do to try and get a win for us.”

After the Lakers closed within three points on a layup by Jordan Clarkson with 1:49 to play, Wall drained a brace of mid-range jump shots to rebuild the lead.

“We gave ourselves a chance to win against a very good team,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “John Wall being the player he is stepped up and made some huge shots.”

Curry sizzles for 43 points as Warriors slice up Clippers

January 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Stephen Curry bombed in five three-pointers in a personal 25-point, third-quarter explosion, helping the Golden State Warriors run away from the Los Angeles Clippers in a 144-98 victory on Saturday.

Curry

The All-Star starter, playing at home for the first time since the formal announcement last week, poured in a game-high 43 points, delivering the Warriors (40-7) an eighth consecutive regular-season win against their Western Conference rival.

The 46-point victory margin was the Warriors’ biggest of the season. The Clippers, meanwhile, had not previously lost by more than 26 this year.

Curry swished a 51-foot buzzer-beater at the end of the second quarter but his best was yet to come.

He connected on eight of his 11 shots, including five of his eight three-point attempts in the third quarter, during which the Warriors went for 45 points and ran off to a 117-74 lead.

Despite not playing in the fourth period, Curry recorded his third 40-point game of the season and came within three of his season-high, set in November against New Orleans.

Kevin Durant contributed 23 points and a team-high seven assists, and Klay Thompson had 16 points for the Warriors, who notched their fifth straight home win.

Curry (9-for-15), Durant (3-for-4) and Thompson (2-for-3) combined for 14-for-22 shooting from three-point range, as the Warriors made half their 34 attempts from beyond the arc as a team.

Curry also found time for a team-high nine rebounds and six assists, helping Golden State gain a 48-32 advantage on the boards and record 30-plus assists for the 31st time this season with 35.

The Warriors are now 30-1 when logging 30 or more assists in a game.

Blake Griffin, playing for just the second time since returning from knee surgery, led the Clippers with 20 points.

J.J. Redick added 13 points for Los Angeles (30-18), which has not beaten the Warriors in the regular season since Dec. 25, 2014.

The Clippers fell to 1-4 since losing star guard Chris Paul to thumb surgery.

The Warriors gained an immediate upper hand in the game when Griffin drew two early fouls and was pulled in the contest’s fifth minute.

Golden State went up by as many as 11 in the quarter, then pulled away with a 41-point second period that featured 5-for-5 shooting on three-pointers.

Curry had two threes in the run, including his curtain-closer on the half from one step beyond half court.

The Warriors led 72-51 at halftime.

Cavaliers still searching after loss to Kings, Warriors bounce back

January 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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The NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers’ struggles continued with an overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings as the Golden State Warriors got back on track with a victory over the Charlotte Hornets.

Cavs

Not even a second straight triple-double from superstar LeBron James could lift the Cavs on Wednesday, who fell 116-112 and have lost their last three games and six of their last eight.

“Just try to get better,” was James’s prescription. “We’ve got to get better that’s all.

“We had our opportunities. It don’t matter who we go against, if they’re sub-.500 or plus-.500, we know we’re going to get everybody’s best, so we’ve just got to be better.”

The comments were tame compared to the tirade James delivered after Monday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, calling the squad “top-heavy” and questioning management’s commitment to retaining the title.

Cavs general manager David Griffin met with James about the outburst, saying it “certainly wasn’t appropriate from a teammate perspective”.

Although he and coach Tyronn Lue said the air had been cleared, the Cavs couldn’t reverse their fortunes on court in Cleveland.

After Aaron Afflalo’s three-pointer with 30.8 seconds left in overtime put Sacramento up 115-112, James missed a three-pointer with 10 seconds remaining and Kings star DeMarcus Cousins capped the scoring with a free-throw with five seconds to play.

Cousins scored a game-high 28 points with 11 rebounds, nine assists and three steals for the Kings.

James scored 24 points with 13 rebounds and 11 assists in defeat.

“It seems like when you’re losing, you’re not playing well, every ball bounces the other team’s way, every mistake you pay for it,” Lue said. “That’s what’s happening right now, so we’ve got to dig ourselves out of it.”

The Golden State Warriors, in contrast, wasted no time in righting the ship after a shock loss to the Miami Heat on Monday.

Led by Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, the Warriors rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Hornets 113-103 in Charlotte.

The Warriors, the 2015 champions who fell to the Cavs in last season’s title series, haven’t lost two regular-season games in a row since April of 2015 — the longest such streak in NBA history.

Durant scored 16 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter. NBA Most Valuable Player Curry added 28.

“Over the course of a season, you’re going to hit some road bumps and you’re going to lose some games,” Curry said. “So it’s all a matter of how you bounce back and show your resiliency. You can’t keep us down too long. We always seem to self-correct pretty quickly and find our way to get our rhythm back, and tonight was another example of that.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr was pleased with the determination displayed by his team in rallying from a 10-point third-quarter deficit. The Warriors trailed by five going into the final period.

“These last two games have been good for us,” Kerr said. “They were played the way teams are going to play us, physical games, a lot of grabbing and holding, trying to beat us up on the offensive boards. We have to understand that we’re a skill team and teams are going to try to take that away from us by being physical, so this has been good for us.”

Spanish big man Marc Gasol scored a career-high 42 points to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 101-99 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

Gasol scored his team’s first 16 points of the contest, connecting on 14 of 25 shots from the field including a career-best five three-pointers.

“The ball went in early and then the rim got a little bigger,” said Gasol, whose prior career high was 38 points. “And I just kept shooting.”

After setting an early tone, Gasol sealed the contest with two free throws with 36.3 seconds remaining, with the Raptors’ Kyle Lowry missing a potential game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer.

Heat scorch Warriors as winning streak ends

January 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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The Miami Heat withstood a ferocious fourth quarter rally to upset the Golden State Warriors with a 105-102 victory on Monday.

Heat

Dion Waiters led the way with 33 points as Miami notched their fourth consecutive win on the way to ending the Warriors’ seven-game unbeaten run.

The Heat were made to sweat for the victory, and came within a whisker of surrendering the initiative after the Warriors put together a 12-3 scoring run to go within one point with just over 21 seconds left.

Goran Dragic scored a free throw to put Miami two points ahead, but the Warriors tied it up at 102-102 with seconds remaining.

With overtime looking a certainty, Waiters took his time and drained a superb three-pointer to secure a dramatic victory.

“These are the moments you want to live for, especially against a great team like that,” Waiters said. “I’m in a zone right now,” added Waiters, who scored a career-high 33 points for a second straight game.

Waiters said he knew his game-winner was destined for the basket as soon as he released.

“I’m not afraid of those types of moments. This feels good,” he said.

The Heat improved to 15-30 with the win while the Warriors fell to 38-7.

Kevin Durant led the scoring for Golden State with 27 points while Klay Thompson finished with 22 and Stephen Curry 21.

But the Warriors paid the price for Thompson and Curry’s failure to convert more three-pointers, with the two making just six out of a combined 17 attempts.

Dragic finished with 19 points for Miami while Hassan Whiteside posted a double-double, chipping in 10 points and 15 rebounds.

The Warriors, who had looked sluggish in victory over Orlando on Sunday, again struggled to find their best form early on, edging into a modest 48-46 lead at halftime after making just 45.8 percent of their shots in the first 24 minutes.

The Heat also produced a disciplined defensive display, giving up only three free throws and seven fastbreak points.

“We did not lose this game in the last three or four minutes — we were soft tonight,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We did not execute defensively…they were the smarter and tougher team tonight.”

Miami forged into the lead with a 12-2 run in the third that put them ahead 77-73 at the start of the fourth.

The Warriors fought back however and looked to have forced overtime with Durant’s late dunk from the baseline.

But Waiters saved his best for last, coolly sinking his three-pointer for the win.

Warriors crush Rockets for sixth straight NBA win

January 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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The Golden State Warriors took their revenge against the Houston Rockets, overwhelming on both ends of the court with a 125-108 victory at the Toyota Center arena.

Warriors

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant joined forces to power the offence while the rest of the crew made the defensive stops as the Warriors stretched their NBA winning streak to six games.

The Warriors improved to an NBA-best 37-6 on the season and 17-3 on the road.

“Three good teams in a row, we definitely wanted to come out and make a nice statement,” said Durant, who also had two steals and two blocks. “I think we did that. But we always can get better.”

Durant finished with 32 points and seven assists while Curry chipped in 24 points and seven assists as Golden State surged ahead in the first quarter and never looked back. The game was a rematch of a December 1 clash won by the Rockets in double overtime at Oracle Arena.

Rockets guard James Harden finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists. But Harden was zero-for-five from beyond the arc.

The Warriors are not only punishing teams on offence but Friday they broke the Rockets down on defence by blocking seven shots and recording eight steals.

“They obviously played better than we did and we didn’t shoot the ball well at all,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “And against a team like this, you have got to keep scoring.”

The Warriors started quickly with a 10-0 run to the lead in the first quarter.

Golden State took a 14-point lead midway through the second quarter before Harden returned to action and keyed another rally.

But Curry managed to beat the buzzer with a three pointer that delivered the Warriors a 62-57 halftime lead.

Golden State zapped the energy out of the Rockets in the third, opening the quarter with three layups.

When Curry added back-to-back three-pointers, the Warriors led 87-67 and coasted to victory.

Elsewhere, the Charlotte Hornets righted the ship Friday, putting a five-game losing streak behind them with a 113-78 rout of the Toronto Raptors.

The Hornets outscored the Raptors 58-30 in the second half, leading by as many as 37 points despite resting most of their starters throughout the fourth quarter. It was their most-lopsided win of the season.

Kemba Walker led the way with 32 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field, including six of nine from three-point range. He didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter, with the Hornets facing back-to-back contests with Brooklyn coming to town on Saturday.

“I got into one of them zones,” said Walker. “I mean, it just feels like you can make any shot. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain.

“When you are in that zone, you just kind of black out. You just try to stay aggressive and take the shots that you’ve been practising, that you practise each and every day. Tonight was a good night for me.”

In Dallas, Rudy Gobert racked up career highs with 27 points and 25 rebounds, and the Utah Jazz extended their winning streak to a season-high five by easing past the Dallas Mavericks 112-107 in overtime.

The Northwest Division-leading Jazz had won four in a row three previous times this season but had failed to get to five until beating Dallas for the third time in three tries.

In Orlando, Florida, Elfrid Payton scored 20 points and added six assists in leading the Orlando Magic to a 112-96 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at the Amway Center.

Durant’s 40 points help Warriors silence Thunder

January 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Kevin Durant took it to his former team on Wednesday, erupting for 40 points to propel the Golden State Warriors to a 121-100 NBA triumph over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Durant

Durant, who scored 39 points in the Warriors 26-point win over the Thunder in November, was brutally efficient, connecting on 13 of his 16 shots from the field, including five of seven from three-point range.

He had 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocks to help the Warriors withstand Thunder guard Russell Westbrook’s 21st triple-double of the season.

“The ball just found whoever was open,” Durant said, “and we did a good job of making the shots.”

Durant downplayed the significance of facing his former club.

“It’s good to see everybody,” he said, “but once the ball tips, you’re just playing. Simple as that.”

But Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he wasn’t surprised the match-up brought out the best in Durant.

“Every player in the NBA wants to play well against his old team,” Kerr said. “For most guys, you feel that little extra juice. I think it’s even more so with KD because of his history with that franchise… for sure he’s motivated and it’s a big deal.”

The gloss of Westbrook’s 27 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists was somewhat dimmed by his 10 turnovers.

“It was big,” Westbrook said of the turnovers. “They scored off of pretty much all of them. That’s what they do.”

Tensions mounted late in the second quarter, when Golden State center Zaza Pachulia sent Westbrook to the floor with a flagrant foul.

“I don’t play like that. I’m going to get (him) back,” Westbrook vowed. “Whenever that is, I don’t know when it’s going to be. But I don’t play that game.”

Westbrook’s ensuing free throws made it a tie game, 56-56, at halftime, but the Warriors, who improved their league-best record to 36-6, seized control in the third quarter, when they out-scored the Thunder 37-22.

In Houston, James Harden scored 38 points with eight assists and six rebounds on Wednesday to lead the Rockets to a 111-92 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

One night after Harden’s 40-point triple-double was insufficient to lift the Rockets over the lowly Miami Heat, Houston schooled the Bucks with a fourth-quarter shooting clinic.

Houston broke open a tight game with four straight three-pointers in the final period.

Rockets reserve guard Eric Gordon scored 25 points, draining seven three-pointers as the Rockets, who had lost three of their past four, improved to 17-4 at home this season.

Houston, the number three team in the Western Conference, host the Warriors on Friday.

“Obviously, we get a big test on Friday,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said, “but we’re ready to see how good we are.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 32 points with 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocked shots for the Bucks.

The Philadelphia 76ers’ resurgence continued with a 94-89 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

Cameroonian center Joel Embiid scored 26 points and T.J. McConnell added four key points in a late 7-0 scoring run that helped Philadelphia end a 14-game losing streak to the Raptors.

Ersan Ilyasova added 18 points for the Sixers, who hadn’t beaten the Raptors since January 18, 2013.

Philadelphia, a dismal 10-17 last season, improved to 14-26 with their fifth win in six games.

The Washington Wizards avenged an October overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, holding on for a 104-101 victory that stretched their home winning streak to 13 games.

In New Orleans, Anthony Davis scored a game-high 21 points, leading six Pelicans players in double figures in a 118-98 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Davis, who started after suffering thumb and hip injuries in a loss at Indiana on Monday, got another scare, missing much of the second quarter to have his left hand X-rayed.

He didn’t score in the second period, but returned to score four of the Pelicans’ first seven points in the third quarter as they built on their 13-point halftime lead.

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