Gorin Dragic, Samardo Samuels

Suns come back from 26 points down to beat Cavaliers

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PHOENIX — It was a brutal start for the Suns on Friday, against a young and aggressive Cavaliers team that was ready to take it to them from the moment the ball was tipped. But that just made the finish that much sweeter.

Phoenix trailed by as many as 26 points in the first half, only to make it all the way back to a thrilling 107-105 victory, one that was the largest comeback win at home in franchise history.

“I don’t know if we just thought they were going to stop playing or what, but they just kept playing hard,” Cavs head coach Byron Scott said afterward.  “We just never reacted after the first quarter to them trying to get back into the game and being a little bit more aggressive and more physical.”

The Suns opened the game by giving up 10 straight points, then found themselves down 18-2, then trailed by 21 points at the end of the first quarter. Cleveland seemed to be unstoppable early, getting 37 points in that opening period on better than 63 percent shooting. Most of the points seemed to come on slashing drives to the basket, with the speedy backcourt of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters carving up the Suns defense.

“It’s hard, those guys are really talented and Irving’s one of the best point guards in the league,” Goran Dragic said afterward. “It’s tough when you’re getting screened two or three times in one possession and you try to fight over the screens, but you get tired. At the same time, they’re really fast so if you’re not cautious they’re going to penetrate and kill you. Our plan on those guys was to blitz them on pick and rolls and then force them to try to make plays.”

Phoenix chipped away at the deficit to get it to a more reasonable 13-point margin by halftime, and then came out with a different mindset in the second half. Michael Beasley struggled through a rough 4-of-14 shooting night, but opened the third period with a couple of nice assits and got loose for a breakaway dunk which cut the lead to single digits.

Shannon Brown was big off the bench for the second straight game, scoring 22 points in 26 minutes. He and Dragic were the ones doing the damage offensively, while Marcin Gortat continued his stellar early-season rim protection with five blocked shots, to add to the seven he had the previous game. Just don’t ask him to explain the reason for his success.

“I don’t know, I’m just blocking,” Gortat said. “I guess I’m invisible and they don’t respect me, so I’m going to disrespect them then.”

Two of those blocks were game-savers, coming with under a minute to play.

Phoenix took its first lead of the game at 87-85, before Waiters went off for 10 consecutive Cavaliers points to keep his team in it while Irving got some much-needed rest. The point guard appeared gassed in the third quarter, but Scott was forced to bring him back earlier than he wanted due to the Suns beginning to take control.

Even after the comeback, however, Phoenix found itself down seven again with just over four minutes left. Considering the effort they had to expend to come back, that might have been it. But they wanted this one, and fought to take it.

The Cavs had a final chance, trailing by two with the ball with 2.9 seconds remaining. Irving got off a contested three-pointer from the top of the arc, but with Dragic closely defending, it rimmed off as time expired.

This was beyond a huge win for Phoenix; despite the early gigantic deficit, the final result got the team back to .500, and perhaps made up for the opportunity that was lost in Orlando earlier this week when the Suns were on the wrong end of the home team’s comeback effort.

Shannon Brown said that the team was told at halftime to keep believing and keep fighting, and clearly, the message was carried to the court.

“We didn’t want to lose, we knew our mistakes we were making, and we just had to correct them,” he said. “Good thing we had enough energy to withstand a couple of runs in that whole second half, fighting our way back.”

Klay Thompson gives most depressing interview answer (video)

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The Warriors are taking a beating on the court, but their turmoil reached heartbreaking levels in Klay Thompson‘s press conference after Game 4.

Thompson, scanning the box score for any semblance of hope, applauded Golden State’s “40 assists” – which would have been the most in a playoff game since 1994. But he quickly realized that couldn’t be right, looked again and sadly announced Golden State had just 15 assists.

Thompson was probably looking at the Warriors’ rebounding total (which was 16 below the Thunder’s).

Report: Steven Adams suffered testicular contusion

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 22:  Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors drives against Steven Adams #12 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second quarter in game three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 22, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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When Draymond Green kicked Steven Adams in the groin, it did more than create mass debate about the appropriate punishment.

Green hurt Adams badly, it sounds like.

John E. Hoover of The Franchise Tulsa:

Once you finish wincing, take a moment to appreciate how tough Adams is. He kept playing in the game and then came out in Game 4 throwing bullet passes.

Thunder on verge of completing hardest-ever run to Finals

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 24:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder drives against Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors in the third quarter in game four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 24, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Ten teams in NBA history outscored opponents by at least 10 points per game in the regular season.

Seven won the championship.

One was eliminated by another (Bucks by Lakers in 1972).

And the Thunder are one win from knocking out their second of the 2016 playoffs.

After beating the Spurs (+10.6) in the second round, Oklahoma City has built a 3-1 led on the Warriors (+10.8) in the Western Conference finals. If the Thunder advance, they will have faced the toughest competition en route to the Finals since the NBA adopted a 16-team playoff in 1984.

Oklahoma City’s three opponents – Mavericks (42-40), Spurs (67-15) and Warriors (73-9) – collectively won 74.0% of their games. That’d top the 1995 Rockets, who beat the 60-22 Jazz, 59-23 Suns and 62-20 Spurs – a group that went a combined 73.6%.

Houston faced such tough competition, in part, because it entered the playoffs as a No. 6 seed. The third-seeded Thunder are just excelling at the right time in a year that featured two all-time great teams in Golden State and San Antonio.

No other finalist comes within five percentage points of Oklahoma City. The 2009 Magic currently rank second at 68.7%.

Here’s every finalist since 1984 – plus the 2016 Thunder – sorted by the combined winning percentage of their playoff opponents:

Sheet 2

Finalist First round Second round Conference finals Opponents’ combined win percentage
2016 OKC DAL 42-40 SAS 67-15 GSW 73-9 74.0%
1995 HOU UTA 60-22 PHO 59-23 SAS 62-20 73.6%
2009 ORL PHI 41-41 BOS 62-20 CLE 66-16 68.7%
2002 LAL POR 49-33 SAS 58-24 SAC 61-21 68.3%
2010 BOS MIA 47-35 CLE 61-21 ORL 59-23 67.9%
2006 DAL MEM 49-33 SAS 63-19 PHO 54-28 67.5%
2005 SAS DEN 49-33 SEA 52-30 PHO 62-20 66.3%
2001 LAL POR 50-32 SAC 55-27 SAS 58-24 66.3%
2014 SAS DAL 49-33 POR 54-28 OKC 59-23 65.9%
1997 CHI WSB 44-38 ATL 56-26 MIA 61-21 65.4%
2011 DAL POR 48-34 LAL 57-25 OKC 55-27 65.0%
2008 LAL DEN 50-32 UTA 54-28 SAS 56-26 65.0%
2004 LAL HOU 45-37 SAS 57-25 MIN 58-24 65.0%
1999 NYK MIA 33-17 ATL 31-19 IND 33-17 64.7%
2011 MIA PHI 41-41 BOS 56-26 CHI 62-20 64.6%
1991 LAL HOU 52-30 GSW 44-38 POR 63-19 64.6%
1998 UTA HOU 41-41 SAS 56-26 LAL 61-21 64.2%
2012 OKC DAL 36-30 LAL 41-25 SAS 50-16 64.1%
2010 LAL OKC 50-32 UTA 53-29 PHO 54-28 63.8%
2007 SAS DEN 45-37 PHO 61-21 UTA 51-31 63.8%
1993 CHI ATL 43-39 CLE 54-28 NYK 60-22 63.8%
1990 POR DAL 47-35 SAS 56-26 PHO 54-28 63.8%
2015 GSW NOP 45-37 MEM 55-27 HOU 56-26 63.4%
2000 LAL SAC 44-38 PHO 53-29 POR 59-23 63.4%
1994 HOU POR 47-35 PHO 56-26 UTA 53-29 63.4%
2009 LAL UTA 48-34 HOU 53-29 DEN 54-28 63.0%
2006 MIA CHI 41-41 NJN 49-33 DET 64-18 62.6%
2003 SAS PHO 44-38 LAL 50-32 DAL 60-22 62.6%
1998 CHI NJN 43-39 CHA 51-31 IND 58-24 61.8%
1992 POR LAL 43-39 PHO 53-29 UTA 55-27 61.4%
2015 CLE BOS 40-42 CHI 50-32 ATL 60-22 61.0%
1999 SAS MIN 25-25 LAL 31-19 POR 35-15 60.7%
2004 DET MIL 41-41 NJN 47-35 IND 61-21 60.6%
1997 UTA LAC 36-46 LAL 56-26 HOU 57-25 60.6%
1996 CHI MIA 42-40 NYK 47-35 ORL 60-22 60.6%
2013 SAS LAL 45-37 GSW 47-35 MEM 56-26 60.2%
1994 NYK NJN 45-37 CHI 55-27 IND 47-35 59.8%
2005 DET PHI 43-39 IND 44-38 MIA 59-23 59.3%
1992 CHI MIA 38-44 NYK 51-31 CLE 57-25 59.3%
1986 HOU SAC 37-45 DEN 47-35 LAL 62-20 59.3%
2012 MIA NYK 36-30 IND 42-24 BOS 39-27 59.1%
1988 DET WSB 38-44 CHI 50-32 BOS 57-25 58.9%
2014 MIA CHA 43-39 BRK 44-38 IND 56-26 58.1%
1993 PHO LAL 39-43 SAS 49-33 SEA 55-27 58.1%
1996 SEA SAC 39-43 HOU 48-34 UTA 55-27 57.7%
1990 DET IND 42-40 NYK 45-37 CHI 55-27 57.7%
1987 BOS CHI 40-42 MIL 50-32 DET 52-30 57.7%
2008 BOS ATL 37-45 CLE 45-37 DET 59-23 57.3%
2000 IND MIL 42-40 PHI 49-33 NYK 50-32 57.3%
1989 LAL POR 39-43 SEA 47-35 PHO 55-27 57.3%
2001 PHI IND 41-41 TOR 47-35 MIL 52-30 56.9%
1985 BOS CLE 36-46 DET 46-36 PHI 58-24 56.9%
1989 DET BOS 42-40 MIL 49-33 CHI 47-35 56.1%
1986 BOS CHI 30-52 ATL 50-32 MIL 57-25 55.7%
2003 NJN MIL 42-40 BOS 44-38 DET 50-32 55.3%
2007 CLE WAS 41-41 NJN 41-41 DET 53-29 54.9%
2002 NJN IND 42-40 CHA 44-38 BOS 49-33 54.9%
1995 ORL BOS 35-47 CHI 47-35 IND 52-30 54.5%
1991 CHI NYK 39-43 PHI 44-38 DET 50-32 54.1%
2013 MIA MIL 38-44 CHI 45-37 IND 49-32 53.9%
1984 BOS WSB 35-47 NYK 47-35 MIL 50-32 53.7%
1988 LAL SAS 31-51 UTA 47-35 DAL 53-29 53.3%
1985 LAL PHO 36-46 POR 42-40 DEN 52-30 52.8%
1984 LAL KCK 38-44 DAL 43-39 PHO 41-41 49.6%
1987 LAL DEN 37-45 GSW 42-40 SEA 39-43 48.0%

For a historically good team, Warriors are losing historically badly

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 24:  Head coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors speaks to the media after their 94 to 188 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in game four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 24, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 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 J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
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When the 62-win Jazz followed a Game 2 loss with a 96-54 setback to the Bulls in the 1998 NBA Finals, Utah coach Jerry Sloan offered a blunt assessment:

They ate us alive.”

If that was the case, what should we say about these Warriors?

We’ve never seen anything like Golden State, which won a record 73 games. So, obviously, we’ve never seen a  team so good lose so badly in the playoffs – by a combined 52 points in its last two games.

We’ve also never seen a 67-win team stumble so badly in consecutive postseason games. Or a 65-win team. Or even a 60-win team.

In NBA history, 85 teams have won 60 games in a season or the equivalent with a shorter schedule. None had lost consecutive playoff games by a combined 50 points until the best of the bunch – the 73-9 Warriors – did it Games 3 and 4 of the 2016 Western Conference finals.

Golden State’s 133-105 and 118-94 losses to the Thunder undercut the 1998 Jazz, who lost by a combined 47 in their two games against Chicago.

The next-best team to lose consecutive playoff games by 52 was the 2014 Thunder, who went 59-23 and dropped 122-105 and112-77 contests to the Spurs.

Here’s every team that won at least 60 games or the equivalent with a shorter schedule, sorted by record, with the point margin of its worst two-game stretch in the playoffs:

image

Team Worst consecutive playoff games Net PTS
2016 GSW (73-9) OKC 133, GSW 105; OKC 118, GSW 94 -52
1996 CHI (72-10) SEA 107, CHI 86; SEA 89, CHI 78 -32
1997 CHI (69-13) UTA 104, CHI 93; UTA 78, CHI 73 -16
1972 LAL (69-13) LAL 108, MIL 105; MIL 114, LAL 88 -23
1967 PHI (68-13) SFW 117, PHI 109; PHI 125, SFW 122 -5
1973 BOS (68-14) NYK 129, BOS 96; NYK 98, BOS 91 -40
2016 SAS (67-15) OKC 111, SAS 97; OKC 95, SAS 911 -18
2015 GSW (67-15) MEM 97, GSW 90; MEM 99, GSW 89 -17
2007 DAL (67-15) GSW 109, DAL 91; GSW 103, DAL 99 -22
2000 LAL (67-15) LAL 120, IND 118; IND 120, LAL 87 -31
1992 CHI (67-15) CLE 107, CHI 81; CHI 105, CLE 96 -17
1986 BOS (67-15) BOS 106, HOU 103; HOU 111, BOS 96 -12
1947 WSC (49-11) CHS 81, WSC 65; CHS 69, WSC 53 -32
2013 MIA (66-16) SAS 113, MIA 77; MIA 109, SAS 93 -20
2009 CLE (66-16) ORL 99, CLE 89; ORL 116, CLE 114 -12
2008 BOS (66-16) CLE 108, BOS 84; CLE 88, BOS 77 -35
1971 MIL (66-16) MIL 91, LAL 73; LAL 118, MIL 107 7
1950 SYR (51-13) MNL 91, SYR 77; MNL 77, SYR 69 -22
2009 LAL (65-17) LAL 103, DEN 97; DEN 120, LAL 101 -13
1987 LAL (65-17) LAL 107, BOS 106; BOS 123, LAL 108 -14
1983 PHI (65-17) PHI 104, MIL 96; MIL 100, PHI 94 2
1960 BOS (59-16) PHW 128, BOS 107; BOS 119, PHW 117 -19
2006 DET (64-18) MIA 98, DET 83; MIA 89, DET 78 -26
1997 UTA (64-18) HOU 118, UTA 100; HOU 95, UTA 92 -21
1996 SEA (64-18) UTA 98, SEA 95; UTA 98, SEA 95 -6
1965 BOS (62-18) BOS 129, LAL 123; LAL 126, BOS 105 -15
2006 SAS (63-19) DAL 113, SAS 91; DAL 104, SAS 103 -23
1994 SEA (63-19) DEN 110, SEA 93; DEN 94, SEA 85 -26
1991 POR (63-19) LAL 106, POR 92; LAL 116, POR 95 -35
1990 LAL (63-19) PHO 117, LAL 103; PHO 114, LAL 101 -27
1989 DET (63-19) DET 96, MIL 94; MIL 94, DET 88 -4
1985 BOS (63-19) LAL 109, BOS 102; LAL 136, BOS 111 -32
1982 BOS (63-19) PHI 99, BOS 97; PHI 119, BOS 94 -27
1972 MIL (63-19) LAL 115, MIL 90; LAL 104, MIL 100 -29
2012 SAS (50-16) OKC 102, SAS 82; OKC 109, SAS 103 -26
2012 CHI (50-16) PHI 109, CHI 92; PHI 79, CHI 74 -22
2014 SAS (62-20) OKC 106, SAS 97; OKC 105, SAS 92 -22
2011 CHI (62-20) MIA 85, CHI 75; MIA 96, CHI 85 -21
2009 BOS (62-20) ORL 83, BOS 75; ORL 101, BOS 82 -27
2005 PHO (62-20) SAS 111, PHO 108; SAS 102, PHO 92 -13
1998 UTA (62-20) CHI 93, UTA 88; CHI 96, UTA 54 -47
1998 CHI (62-20) IND 107, CHI 105; IND 96, CHI 94 -4
1995 SAS (62-20) HOU 111, SAS 90; HOU 100, SAS 95 -26
1993 PHO (62-20) SAS 111, PHO 96; SAS 117, PHO 103 -29
1988 LAL (62-20) DET 111, LAL 86; DET 104, LAL 94 -35
1986 LAL (62-20) HOU 112, LAL 102; HOU 117, LAL 1092 -18
1985 LAL (62-20) BOS 148, LAL 114; LAL 109, BOS 102 -27
1984 BOS (62-20) BOS 124, LAL 121; LAL 137, BOS 104 -30
1981 BOS (62-20) PHI 110, BOS 100; PHI 107, BOS 105 -12
1981 PHI (62-20) BOS 109, PHI 86; PHI 99, BOS 98 -22
1968 PHI (62-20) BOS 122, PHI 104; BOS 114, PHI 106 -26
1962 BOS (60-20) LAL 129, BOS 122; LAL 117, BOS 115 -9
1950 ROC (51-17) MNL 78, ROC 76; MNL 90, ROC 84 -8
1950 MNL (51-17) MNL 68, SYR 66; SYR 91, MNL 85 -4
1949 ROC (45-15) MNL 80, ROC 79; MNL 67, ROC 55 -13
2011 SAS (61-21) MEM 91, SAS 88; MEM 104, SAS 86 -21
2010 CLE (61-21) BOS 97, CLE 87; BOS 120, CLE 88 -42
2007 PHO (61-21) SAS 88, PHO 85; SAS 114, PHO 106 -11
2004 IND (61-21) DET 83, IND 65; DET 69, IND 65 -22
2002 SAC (61-21) LAL 106, SAC 102; LAL 112, SAC 106 -10
1998 SEA (61-21) LAL 92, SEA 68; LAL 119, SEA 103 -40
1998 LAL (61-21) UTA 112, LAL 77; UTA 99, LAL 95 -39
1997 MIA (61-21) CHI 75, MIA 68; CHI 98, MIA 74 -31
1991 CHI (61-21) CHI 112, PHI 100; PHI 99, CHI 97 10
1980 BOS (61-21) PHI 102, BOS 90; PHI 105, BOS 94 -23
1967 BOS (60-21) BOS 121, PHI 117; PHI 140, BOS 116 -20
1999 UTA (37-13) POR 97, UTA 87; POR 81, UTA 75 -16
1999 SAS (37-13) NYK 89, SAS 81; SAS 96, NYK 89 -1
1964 BOS (59-21) SFW 115, BOS 91; BOS 98, SFW 95 -21
1949 MNL (44-16) WSC 83, MNL 71; WSC 74, MNL 65 -21
2015 ATL (60-22) CLE 114, ATL 111; CLE 118, ATL 88 -33
2013 OKC (60-22) MEM 99, OKC 93; MEM 87, OKC 813 -12
2006 DAL (60-22) MIA 98, DAL 96; MIA 98, DAL 74 -26
2003 DAL (60-22) POR 103, DAL 99; POR 125, DAL 103 -26
2003 SAS (60-22) LAL 110, SAS 95; LAL 99, SAS 95 -19
1996 ORL (60-22) CHI 121, ORL 83; CHI 93, ORL 88 -43
1995 UTA (60-22) HOU 123, UTA 106; HOU 95, UTA 91 -21
1993 NYK (60-22) CHI 103, NYK 83; CHI 105, NYK 95 -30
1981 MIL (60-22) MIL 109, PHI 98; PHI 116, MIL 99 -6
1980 LAL (60-22) LAL 108, PHO 105; PHO 127, LAL 101 -23
1975 BOS (60-22) WSB 100, BOS 95; WSB 117, BOS 92 -30
1975 WSB (60-22) GSW 92, WSB 91; GSW 109, WSB 1014 -9
1973 MIL (60-22) GSW 100, MIL 97; GSW 100, MIL 86 -17
1973 LAL (60-22) CHI 96, LAL 86; CHI 98, LAL 945 -14
1970 NYK (60-22) BAL 127, NYK 113; BAL 102, NYK 92 -24

1. Lost next game, 113-99

2. Lost next game, 103-98

3. Lost the next game, 103-97.

4. Lost the next game, 96-95

5. Also lost to the Knicks, 103-98 and 102-93