Careful Curry can't mute the subtext

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NBA_curry.jpgWith no Monta Ellis or Corey Magette in the lineup last night, Steph Curry went off. He scored 36 points, collected 10 rebounds, and dropped 16 assists in a 30-point win over the Clippers. That’s an absurd stat line even by this rookie class’ standards, and it was the first 30-10-10 line from a rookie since Jason Kidd did it in 1995.

You could chalk it up to hot shooting from the Warriors. Or impressively unimpressive defense from the Clippers. Or perhaps the most obvious: the absence of Monta Ellis. In the post-game media scrum, Curry was bombarded with questions regarding the impacts of Ellis’ (and Maggette’s) absence (via Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News):

Q: Does a game like this show you maybe what this team needs to do more of when Ellis and Maggette are back?

CURRY: I mean, yeah. They play their style. And you’ve got to cater to that. But as a team, you can always move the ball, you can always find the open guy. That’s just good basketball. I think when we come back on Tuesday, we’ll watch film on how we played this game and try to mimic that against the Lakers.

Q: The stats are that you are way better offensively when Monta’ s not playing. Any reason you can think of for that?

CURRY: I’m not sure. I mean, he averages… he gets his numbers up. The ball’s in his hands a lot, so he needs that … to be productive. So I don’t know, when he’s out, everybody has to pitch in. There’s just that feeling. Even though we had 7 players, everybody’s got to work together. It’s just that thing, where everybody keys in Monta a lot because they know how great of a player he is. So when he’s out, everybody has a chance to make plays.

Curry later made plenty of concessions; he noted Ellis and Corey Maggette as “All-Stars in [his] book” and mentioned that he “[doesn’t] really believe that [the Warriors are] a better team without [Ellis].” But throughout the season, Curry has often played the diplomat, even when Ellis was burning bridges.

Both Ellis and Curry want the ball in their hands, and eventually something’s got to give. So far, that’s been Steph’s rookie status giving in to Monta’s experience. But if Curry continues to excel as he did last night, it only puts more pressure on Don Nelson to make a change. Given the personnel, the contracts, and the personalities associated with this team, I’m honestly not even sure how much room a stable, sane management staff would have to maneuver…much less whatever you would call the Golden State front office. But Ellis and Curry won’t be able to coexist forever, and though this particular Warriors team isn’t going anywhere of import anyway, the writing is on the wall.  

Doc Rivers on DeMarcus Cousins: “I’m 55. It’s tough for me to call a grown man ‘Boogie'”

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The Kings trade with the Pelicans has made DeMarcus Cousins the NBA’s mostdiscussed player lately.

But Clippers president/coach Doc Rivers isn’t sure he can address Cousins by his nickname.

J.A. Adande of ESPN:

Cool story, Glenn.

Deron Williams clears waivers, intends to sign with Cavs

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 01:  Deron Williams #8 of the Dallas Mavericks brings the ball down the floor against the Charlotte Hornets during their game at Spectrum Center on December 1, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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CLEVELAND (AP) — Free agent guard Deron Williams has cleared waivers and told the Cleveland Cavaliers he intends to sign with them.

Williams, a five-time All-Star, was waived earlier this week by Dallas. He will give the defending NBA champions a playmaker they’ve needed all season and one LeBron James demanded.

Williams cannot sign with the Cavs until Monday. Cleveland hosts the Milwaukee Bucks that night. The Cavs will be the fourth team for Williams, who is averaging 13.1 points this season.

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue can bring him off the bench and also play him with Cleveland’s starters to give James and Kyrie Irving rest before the playoffs.

Kyle Lowry plays through injury in All-Star game, out for Raptors now

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 19:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors and Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors in action during the 2017 NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center on February 19, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
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Kyle Lowry participated in the 3-point contest. He played nearly 18 minutes in the All-Star game.

But when the Raptors played the Celtics in their first game after the break, Lowry never saw the court.

He was sidelined with a right wrist injury suffered in Toronto’s final game before the break.

Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet:

He can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened and didn’t even feel it during the game, but when Lowry woke up the next morning he knew something was up.

“Honestly, I thought I’d slept on it wrong — I thought it would go away,” Lowry said. “It was a little sore, but I paid no attention to it.”

Unconcerned at the time, Lowry didn’t tell anyone but his wife about the wrist pain, and took off for New Orleans where he participated in both the NBA’s three-point contest and all-star game this past weekend. He received some treatment in between his all-star appearances and iced his wrist on and off, but he still saw little cause for alarm.

“I thought over the break it would rest up and heal up,” Lowry said. “But it constantly stayed bothering me.”

“That’s a blow — that’s a huge blow for us,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said Friday evening after announcing the injury. “I don’t know how long he’s going to be out. But, no, it’s not a one-day thing.”

This is bad — bad for the Raptors and bad for Lowry’s reputation.

Lowry might have wanted to show his toughness by not running to the doctor for every bump or bruise. But this will also raise questions about whether he prioritized the shine of All-Star Weekend over the grind of Toronto’s season. Lowry is not a trained medical professional, so it’s understandable he misdiagnosed his injury. But he makes his living using his body, and his employer provides trained medical professionals to handle these types of things. Lowry’s bet that his wrist would heal over the break clearly backfired.

And now the Raptors pay the price. They traded for Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker to make a push, but that’ll be much tougher without the the team’s best player. Toronto beat Boston without Lowry, but the Raptors are still fourth in the Eastern Conference. Passing the Wizards for third is paramount to avoiding a second-round matchup with the Cavaliers and getting a clearer path back to the conference finals.

Every game matters now for Toronto, and wherever blame falls, Casey nailed the outcome: Lowry’s injury is a huge blow.

Brandon Ingram posterizes Taj Gibson on alley-oop (video)

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The Lakers wouldn’t trade Brandon Ingram for DeMarcus Cousins, because they believe in Ingram (or because they couldn’t get on the same page about a deal, but let’s go with a belief in Ingram).

The Thunder traded for Taj Gibson because he provided, among other things, stellar rim protection.

One of those worked better than the other on this play.