Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry says contract talks may have affected his opening night performance


The Warriors earned a hard-fought victory over the Suns on Wednesday, in a game where they blew all of a 17-point first-half lead and had to come from eight points down in the final period to get out with that win.

A big part of the Warriors’ trouble was the fact that the team’s biggest stars in Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut, and David Lee didn’t contribute in a positive way offensively to the team’s effort. Curry and Lee combined to make just 4-of-30 field goal attempts, and Bogut, playing his first game since suffering an ankle injury nine months ago, performed well but was limited to just 18 minutes by the team’s medical staff.

It’s unclear why Lee was so off on this night (and we’ll leave it to Warriors fans to further disparage his particular performance), but Curry may have had a legitimate reason.

The contract extension talks — which resulted in a generous $44 million dollar extension over the next four years — had been weighing on Curry significantly, and after the game he said that the “crazy day” he endured may have indeed been part of the reason for his 2-of-14 night from the field.

“I think it was just one of those games, but it was just a crazy day,” he said, while trying to make sense of it all. “It was still a little nerve-wracking the last 48 hours seeing if we could get something done, and obviously we didn’t have any games so it’s pretty much all I was thinking about. And then this morning, realizing that it was finally done, and then media obligations and family texting me every five seconds … it was definitely a blessing. But thankfully we were able to get a win and finish off the day nicely.”

The win almost didn’t come, with the Warriors leaving the door open time and again for the Suns to take it instead, especially down the stretch. Curry had a chance to seal the game with his team up two and just 4.4 seconds remaining, but the career 90 percent free throw shooter missed two straight from the line to give the Suns one final chance.

“That was about the sign of how my night went,” he said. “Thankfully there was not enough time for them to get a shot off and I was able to walk off with a win.”

Now that the contract extension is firmly in place, it’s likely Curry returns to form the next time he takes the court. If he takes the advice that head coach Mark Jackson had for him, he should be able to put this one bad game behind him and immediately find his way back.

“I told him he already earned his money,” Jackson said. “He doesn’t have to go out there and try to earn it all again in one night.”

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.

Paul George reiterates “I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot”

Paul George

In the Pacers first exhibition game of the season Saturday against the Pelicans, Paul George started at the power forward spot and looked healthy — that should be the big takeaway. He also showed off his offensive game in the first quarter, eventually finishing the night with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He forced some shots in the second half and had some defensive challenges, but it was a solid outing for a first preseason game.

George did not see it that way, and that will end up being the big takeaway.

He complained about playing power forward during training camp and given the chance after this one game he did it again, as reported by Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

“I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot,” George said after the Pacers’ 110-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, a game in which he started matched up against 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.

“I don’t know if this is my position. We’ll sit and watch tape and I’m sure I’ll talk with coach (Frank Vogel). I’ll talk with Larry (Bird) as well to get both their inputs on how the first game went but…I’m still not comfortable with it regardless of the situation. It’s still something I have to adjust to or maybe not. Or maybe it’s something we can go away from.”

George sees himself as a wing, where he has played his entire career. He doesn’t like defending traditional fours, as a scorer he doesn’t like expending all that energy defending pick-and-rolls and banging with bigger bodies. He’s been clear about that.

He still needs to be open to the idea. How much time George gets at the four on any given night should depend on the matchup — and Anthony Davis is about as rough a matchup as he is going to see. Davis scored 18 points in 15 minutes, and the Pelicans controlled the paint against the small-ball Pacers. George had a hard time defending Davis — welcome to a rather large club, PG. That said, George scored 12 points in the first quarter mostly with Davis on him, he pulled the big out in space and got what he wanted.

Back to the matchups point, George will struggle defensively against the best fours in the game (most of whom are in the West). But what about the nights in the East when George would be matched up on Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn, Jared Sullinger (or David Lee, or whoever) from Boston, or Aaron Gordon with the Magic, or Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks when they play small? There are a lot of lineups the Pacers will see where George at the four makes sense.

The Pacers are transitioning from a plodding and defensive-minded squad to a more up-tempo style, and that’s going to take time— a lot more than one preseason game. However, if George is throwing cold water on the plan after this one effort, it might take a lot longer and be a lot bumpier to make that transition than we pictured.