Warriors fans hijack Mullin number retirement to boo owner

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I’ve never seen a number retirement ceremony go badly before.

I have now. Chris Mullin was having his number retired by the Golden State Warriors Monday night, but when owner Joe Lacob took the microphone — right after Mullin — fans unleashed a torrent of boos. You can see it in the video above.

Why? Apparently for some it is the Monta Ellis trade for Andrew Bogut, a move disliked by many fans in the Bay Area. Ellis was popular — scorers always are — and there is a sense that if they had to trade him they could have done better, that this was a sideways trade. At best.

But other people — such as Bay Area resident Eric Freeman of Ball Don’t Lie and The Classical — noted frustration from Warriors fans runs much deeper than just the deadline deal. They have issues such as Lacob promising change that the fans have yet to see (and fans are frustrated with the state of the franchise from far before this ownership, this team has gone to the playoffs once in the last 18 seasons). Or the feeling Lacob inserted himself into this night when he should have taken a back seat. Or Lacobs’s plans to move the team to a new, yet-to-be-built arena in San Francisco (they currently play across the bridge in Oakland). Besides, fans boo owners. There are maybe five in the NBA that if they stood at center court would not hear boos from the fans.

Lacob (and partner Joe Guber) purchased the Warriors last year and have spoke openly about changing the culture of a franchise. One of the things Lacob did change was bringing Mullin back into the fold of a franchise where he had been frozen out.

Watch the video above. When Lacob took the microphone to speak, he had to wait for the boos to subside. When he did speak the first thing he did was say, “now that we’ve got that out of the way…”

But the fans were not done and continued to boo through Lacob trying to talk about the new ownership embracing history. It got to the point that Mullin himself cane out and tried to calm the situation by saying that, “sometimes change is inevitable but it’s going to work out just fine.”

The boos did not stop, and the situation was exacerbated by Rick Barry taking his turn at the microphone to play the stern father and reprimand the fans for their treatment of Lacob and the timing. That was just gasoline on the fire.

After the game, Lacob said this to Marc Spears of Yahoo (via twitter):

“The fans are upset I guess that we traded one of our favorites. That’s all I can attribute that to. What I feel bad about is… they kind of ruined a night that was very special. The organization really tried to do the right thing with Chris.”

Fans can be frustrated with Lacob and Warriors ownership. But he’s right about the timing. Rather than talking more about Mullin and his fantastic Hall of Fame career, we are talking about the boos. That will be the story. This is what Chris Mullin’s jersey retirement will be remembered for. Which is too bad.

Thunder’s Taj Gibson providing scoring help for Westbrook

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Taj Gibson often describes his role for the Thunder as doing whatever the team needs.

For now, scoring is playing a bigger part than usual. The versatile 6-foot-9 power forward has found his way since being traded from Chicago and has emerged one of Oklahoma City’s few consistent offensive weapons alongside Russell Westbrook in the playoffs. He may need to keep it up to give the Thunder a chance of winning the first-round series with Houston – Oklahoma City trails 2-1 heading into Game 4 Sunday at home.

Gibson built a sterling reputation in Chicago, but the Brooklyn, New York native is more concerned with the respect he’s earned since his arrival.

“They see I’m in here late nights, early mornings, just constantly working with my teammates, constantly putting work in,” he said. “The confidence is going to be there because they understand you do the work, but I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help my team.”

Gibson has done a little bit of everything since coming to the Thunder. He has provided experience and versatility to an already stacked frontline that includes emerging young players Steven Adams and Enes Kanter. He also has added toughness, and at times, scoring punch. His athleticism and ability to guard on the perimeter against outside-shooting big men and on switches fills some of the void created when the Thunder traded Serge Ibaka on draft night this past offseason.

“Great vet,” guard Victor Oladipo said. “Great man, first and foremost. Very positive and does what it takes to win. It was a great pickup for us.”

Domantas Sabonis was the starting power forward when Gibson arrived in Oklahoma City, but once he got settled and began to understand coach Billy Donovan’s system, the Thunder improved. Gibson replaced Sabonis for the first time March 9 against San Antonio, and the Thunder went 11-5 with him in the starting lineup. He averaged 9.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in 21 regular-season games for the Thunder.

He is averaging 11 points on 65 percent shooting in the playoffs. He was effective on offense in Game 2, establishing himself early and helping put the Thunder in position to win. Oklahoma City went away from him late, and Houston rallied for the victory.

In Game 3, the Thunder went back to him consistently. a href(equals)’https://apnews.com/dab4b99c496a4450906c11a9c72132d1/Westbrook’s-triple-double-leads-Thunder-past-Rockets-115-113?utm-campaign=SocialFlow&utm-source=Twitter&utm-medium=AP-Sports’He finished with 20 points on 10-for-13 shooting in Oklahoma City’s 115-113 win/a on Friday night.

“Taj is a great post player,” Westbrook said. “He does a great job of getting in great position down low. When we see a matchup that we like we are going to keep going to him. Whether it is a miss or a make, it gives us the opportunity to score the basketball in the paint.”

Gibson did damage inside and out and punished the Rockets with his mid-range jumper.

“It’s no shock to me, just because that mid-range is automatic for him,” Thunder forward Doug McDermott, who also joined the Thunder in the trade with Chicago, said. “He’s tough to guard on that block too.”

Gibson also had a fast start in Game 2, but once the Thunder began to struggle, they went away from him. Gibson knew he didn’t need to change much going into Game 3.

“Just continue to be aggressive,” he said. “I felt like I had good shots in Game 2. Just got to stay with it and play the game as it flows to me.”

On defense, Gibson has been a better option than Kanter and Adams, who have struggled to keep up with the more athletic Rockets. Gibson performed well in all facets in Game 3, and Donovan needs more of that in Game 4.

“I was happy for him last night,” Donovan said Saturday. “I thought he gave us a great lift in both the first and second half. He’s professional, he’s a man, and he’s a reliable guy.”

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .

Watch Kawhi Leonard, Mike Conley in epic playoff duel Saturday (VIDEO)

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Kawhi Leonard scored 16 straight points for the Spurs at the end of regulation to give San Antonio the lead and a chance. Then Mike Conley hit a floater in the lane forced overtime.

There Mike Conley hit a floating bank shot that had the Grizzlies up three with :47 seconds left, only to have Leonard answer with a three to tie the game. Marc Gasol would break that tie and get Memphis the series-evening win.

Conley and Leonard traded blows through the clutch parts of Saturday’s epic Game 4 between Memphis and San Antonio. It’s worth checking out the highlights again.

John Wall goes coast-to-coast, behind-the-back for lefty dunk (VIDEO)

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There’s not going to be many plays better than this in the entire playoffs.

There wasn’t a lot for Wizards’ fans to cheer in Game 3, the Hawks took control early and routed Washington, making it a 2-1 series. But there was this, John Wall going coast-to-coast with the ball, going around-the-back and throwing it down left handed.

Wall is just so fast end to end.

Warriors take 3-0 series lead over Blazers with 119-113 win

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 34 points, Klay Thompson added 24 and the short-handed Golden State Warriors overcame a slow start to take a 3-0 lead in their playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers with a 119-113 victory on Saturday night.

The Blazers led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but couldn’t hold off the Warriors, who can clinch the series with a win Monday night in Game 4 at the Moda Center.

Golden State was without Kevin Durant, who was sitting for a second straight game cause of a left calf strain, and coach Steve Kerr stayed back at the team hotel because of illness.

The Warriors took a 108-100 lead after Andre Iguodala‘s dunk with 4:05 to go.

Noah Vonleh‘s dunk got Portland within four at 110-106 with 1:29 left, but Curry answered with a 3-pointer that all but sealed it, sending fans streaming for the exits.

CJ McCollum led the Blazers with 32 points, while Damian Lillard added 31.