Breaking down last three minutes of Warriors 106-105 win over Nuggets.

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This game was crazy. And fun. Both teams had and gave up double-digit leads. The end involved missed shots, replay and about as close to a game going the other way as it can.

For something a little different, rather than a traditional recap, let’s just recap in some detail the final three minutes of this game and how that showed the trends of the entire night:

102-102 tie, 2:56 left (Warriors ball): David Lee is working at the elbow extended draws and the defense out then makes a nifty pass to Klay Thompson who had cut from the weakside along the baseline to get the ball on the strong side low post. His problem is Kenneth Faried switches onto him quickly and now lords over him. Thompson tries to swing into the middle for a shot but Faried rejects it. This is what Faried did all night — he seemed to be everywhere grabbing rebounds, playing good defense and just working harder than everyone. Like Manimal always does. He is just fun to watch and this was a good game from him.

Denver takes the ball off the blocked shot and pushes the pace in transition, and while the defense is focused on not giving Ty Lawson a lane to drive — something they struggled to do all night, he carved them up — Andre Iguodala runs to the arc on the right side and after a pass steps into a wide-open three that rims out. Golden State gets the rebound.

After taking some time off the clock, Jarrett Jack and Lee run a side pick-and-roll, both defenders go with Jack and he hits the rolling Lee feet from he rim. Faried is a split-second late on the rotation and Lee both makes the bucket and gets an and-1 chance (he missed the free throw). Lee was on top of his offensive game all night — he played smart on offense and just scored, putting up 31 points. He made shots isolated in the post, off the pick-and-roll, in transition, he was 13-of-15 shooting and had a fantastic offensive game. (If we knock Lee’s defense we would have to knock everyone’s in this game. The fans got their money’s worth of offense but no D.)

104-102 Golden State, 2:07: Lawson brings it up off the missed free throw and the Warriors defense isn’t set, so Lawson finds a wide-open Corey Brewer in the left corner corner but Brewer misses the shot.

Warriors don’t run much of an offensive set, Curry just hangs out up high and eventually fires up and misses a three, but Jack gets and offensive rebound. Curry tried to pass inside this time but Denver deflects it out of bounds. Then on the inbounds pass Jack just throws it to nobody and it is a turnover.

Denver takes the turnover and it is off to the races. In transition Lawson passes to Brewer who is fouled going to the rim. But Brewer only hits one of two free throws.

104-103 Golden State, 1:26 left: Jack runs a high pick-and-roll with Lee and Denver handles it about as poorly as you can — Lawson can’t fight over the top but Danilo Gallinari doesn’t show out, or really do much of anything but stand there like a marble Italian statue, so Jack drives into the wide open lane. Faried is the help but he is late and Jack hits a layup high off the glass. With that Jack had 18 points on the night.

106-103 Golden State, 1:12 left: Early in the clock Lawson decides to just drive on Stephen Curry, Lawson tried to initiate contact he didn’t get the foul call and the ball just goes off him out of bounds. That would be Denver’s fifth turnover of the quarter

Jack is in control of the offensive set for Golden State and he keeps going off picks until he can find a little daylight in the lane, but not much. The result is him driving the right side then trying an awkward looking 11-foot fadeaway that airballs.

Denver works it around but the ball eventually goes to Gallinari who tries to take Carl Landry off the dribble and he almost does, but his three-foot runner rims out.

Again, it’s Jarrett Jack with the ball. Not Stephen Curry. Jack uses up some clock then again drives and this time uses some hesitation moves to get himself a nice 15-foot look, but that won’t go down either, it is off the back rim.

Gallinari gets the rebound and pushes it up (I love that George Karl didn’t call a timeout here, he told his team to play) and Gallinari passes to Iguodala. The Warriors have a foul to give and Jack tries to use it while Iguodala tries to go into the shooting motion. The referees called it a shooting foul and while they reviewed this all they can review is if it is a three or not. Which is good for Denver because the replay showed it was not a shooting foul, but the refs can’t reverse that.

So Iguodala has three free throws to tie the game with just 3.4 seconds left. He drains the first. He drains the second. But the third clangs off the rim, however it goes out of bounds of Lee. And Denver gets a last chance.

106-105, 2.1 seconds left, Denver ball side out of bounds. Andre Miller is making the pass and while the rest of the Nuggets try to come to the ball Lawson runs basically a football curl route on the weakside and Miller tries to hit him with a pass so he is isolated but the entire thing never comes together or looks like it had a chance to. But the ball is off Golden with 0.5 seconds left.

Denver gets one last chance and somehow the Warriors and their spotty defense all night lose track of Iguodala who gets the pass catches and shoots and drains the three — but replay shows it still on his finger tips as the red lights go on and time expires. It was as close as can be but it was the right call.

The Warriors got lucky, and they got the win.

Russell Westbrook, Paul George call out Zaza Pachulia for “dirty” fall on Westbrook

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Zaza Pachulia has a reputation. The league even created a rule — the “Zaza rule”  — after he stepped under Kawhi Leonard last playoffs and twisted the forward’s ankle, ending Leonard’s playoffs and the Spurs chances.

Then Saturday night, as the Warriors pulled away in the second half and routed the Thunder, this play happened, where Pachulia fell on Westbrook’s leg.

While there was some contact, was that really enough to knock Pachulia over? It doesn’t look like it, it looks intentional, but remember Pachulia falls into a lot of guys — including Kevin Durant last season. This, however, was ugly.

After the game Westbrook and Paul George called Pachulia out.

Even the Celtics’ Kyrie Irving chipped in on this.

It will be interesting to see if the league does follow up. There is some history here.

After two lopsided losses to OKC, Kevin Durant leads Warriors rout

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 28 points for Golden State while avenging an embarrassing home loss to his former Oklahoma City team earlier this month and another on the road in November, leading the Warriors past the Thunder 112-80 on Saturday night.

Stephen Curry added 21 points with five 3-pointers, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals as Golden State put on the kind of defensive performance coach Steve Kerr has been seeking from the defending champs.

Russell Westbrook had 15 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for Oklahoma City, which failed to reach 100 points for the first time in the last five games. The Thunder had scored at least 100 in 14 of their last 16.

Durant’s pretty layup off a perfect pass by Curry with 3:06 left in the third put the Warriors up 75-66. That was part of a 37-11 Golden State run that included 30 points over the final 8:48 of the third – when Zaza Pachulia subbed in to relieve JaVale McGee.

The Warriors held Paul George to five points. George’s 3-pointer at the 7:52 mark of the third with Durant’s hand in his face was his first basket after going 0 for 9 to begin the game. He finished 1 for 14 after going off for 38 points in the last meeting when Oklahoma City left Oracle Arena with a 125-105 rout on Feb. 6.

Golden State also lost at OKC by 17 on Nov. 22.

Draymond Green added 10 points, eight assists and five rebounds. He picked up his 15th technical of the season with 1:04 left in the first half, moving him within one of an automatic suspension. That came after Durant and Carmelo Anthony pushed, shoved, yelled from close range and had to be separated, receiving double technicals.

It was a testy rematch after the Warriors received five technical fouls in the previous meeting. That prompted general manager Bob Myers to address the importance of keeping poised.

Durant announced his decision to join the Warriors and leave OKC on July 4, 2016, making him an instant villain in his former city.

He scored 33 in the Feb. 6 meeting but got plenty of help this time.

Earlier this month against the Thunder, Curry and Klay Thompson were a combined 11 of 27 from the floor and 4 for 15 on 3-pointers as the Warriors lost for the third time in four games. Thompson had 11 points Saturday, shooting just 1 for 11 from deep.

The Warriors on Saturday improved to 8-1 this season in the next game against an opponent after losing the previous meeting.

After Shaun Livingston‘s jumper at the 8:47 mark of the second quarter, Golden State went nearly five minutes without scoring before Curry’s basket at 4:51 started a 7-0 burst.

The Thunder grabbed eight offensive rebounds in the opening quarter to score 10 second-chance points, with Westbrook getting eight boards and George five. But Oklahoma City went 2 for 11 on 3s in the initial 12 minutes – Anthony, George and Westbrook a combined 1 of 8.

 

Steve Kerr “disappointed” in alma mater Arizona; wants to see NCAA follow new model

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Before he was the coach of the Golden State Warriors, before he was a five-time NBA Champion playing next to Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan, Steve Kerr was one of the great players the University of Arizona ever produced. The crowd would echo the announcer after ever made three — “Steeeve Keerrr” — where he was an All-American and helped lead a team (with future NBA players Sean Elliott and Tom Tolbert) to the Final Four.

There is a crisis around Arizona basketball right now. Coach Sean Miller was caught on a federal wiretap discussing a $100,000 payment for star recruit Deandre Ayton (expected to be a high lottery pick in June, possibly the No. 1 pick). Miller did not coach Saturday and changes are coming to Arizona.

Kerr was asked about it before the Warriors took on the Thunder Saturday.

Kerr said he was “disappointed” in his alma mater over the incident. Which is understandable.

Not to completely excuse it, but what Miller got caught doing is commonplace — money is funneled to families or the players of top recruits on a regular basis. What is more troubling (in my mind) is the money paid under the table to AAU coaches, family members, and others close to elite recruits to funnel them to a specific “financial planner” or agent, or a specific university. People in positions of trust with the player are bought and paid for.

Kerr put out one solution that would certainly be a big step forward: follow the Olympics model and let elite players get sponsorships that don’t end their college eligibility.

This system has its flaws as well, but it gets some of the dirty money out in the open. It would be better than the hypocritical facade of amateurism the NCAA has hit behind for years.

Joel Embiid has 28 points, 14 rebounds leads Sixers to Seventh straight win

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid had 28 points and 14 rebounds, and the Philadelphia 76ers extended their season-high win streak to seven with a 116-105 victory over the Orlando Magic on Saturday.

Six 76ers scored in double figures. Ben Simmons had 17 points and seven assists, and 3-point specialist J.J. Redick added 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting – and just one 3-pointer. Marco Belinelli had 15 points, Robert Covington had 12 and Dario Saric scored 11.

Aaron Gordon led Orlando with 20 points, including four 3s, to go with seven rebounds and seven assists. Evan Fournier scored 16 points, and former Sixer Nik Vucevic had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Magic, who have lost five straight.

Philadelphia led 58-40 at halftime and 71-49 in the third when Orlando used an 11-2 burst, capped by Aaron Gordon’s 3-pointer, to close within 13.

But the Sixers put on a show to finish the quarter.

Embiid overpowered a few Magic defenders for a slam, and then gestured to the crowd after being fouled while soaring to the hoop on a dunk attempt. After Embiid and Trevor Booker swatted consecutive shots in the final seconds, T.J. McConnell used a crossover move to finish a drive at the buzzer and give the Sixers an 87-71 lead entering the fourth.

Orlando used a late 15-2 run to get within nine and nearly cut it to six with 1:21 left, but a 3-point attempt by Mario Hezonja spilled out.

Midway through the first quarter, Philadelphia had more turnovers (three) than field goals (two) and trailed 15-6. The Sixers then erupted for a 21-3 run and ended the quarter up 27-18.

E-A-G-L-E-S

Orlando head coach Frank Vogel wore an Eagles Super Bowl champions T-shirt during his pregame media availability. A native of Wildwood, New Jersey, Vogel makes sure to get a taste of home when he returns to the Philadelphia area.

“Cheesesteaks, Tastykakes, Yuengling beer if we beat the Sixers,” Vogel said. “Wawa coffee, but I get Wawa in Orlando now. I did get a cheesesteak today.”

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz rang the ceremonial Liberty Bell before the game.

“I think it’s awesome,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. “He can come over and ring as many bells as he chooses.”