Klay Thompson shoots the Warriors past the Spurs to win Game 2, even the series

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In many ways, Game 2 between the Warriors and the Spurs was similar to Game 1. Golden State got out to a large lead behind one of its guards shooting the lights out, and San Antonio was stuck playing from behind the rest of the way.

The first game of the series saw the Spurs go on an incredible late run to erase their opponent’s early success, and they were able to pull it out after more than one overtime session. There would be no such heroics on this night, as the Warriors held off San Antonio 100-91 to steal home court advantage and even the series at a game apiece.

In Game 1, Stephen Curry was the one doing the damage for the Warriors. But after a decent first half in Game 2, he was largely held in check the rest of the night.

Klay Thompson was the killer for Golden State from the very start, pouring in 29 first half points while knocking down seven of his eight attempts from three-point distance. The Warriors built a lead of 19 points by halftime on the strength of Thompson’s hot hand, and unlike the first game of the series, were able to get just enough in the second half to keep the Spurs at bay.

Thompson finished with a game high 34 points and 14 rebounds, on 13-of-26 shooting, including 8-of-9 from beyond the three-point arc. He also did an excellent job defensively in helping to limit Tony Parker, who finished just 7-of-17 from the field with 20 points. Thompson fouled out near the end of regulation in Game 1 just before the Spurs embarked on their huge comeback, and his defense was sorely missed.

The Warriors cooled considerably in the second half, as Thompson and Curry combined to shoot 5-of-19 from the field over the game’s final two periods. The Spurs once again made a run, and twice cut the lead to six in the fourth quarter. But despite the overall low shooting percentage that Golden State suffered through in the second half, the team managed to find an answer offensively each time — first with a three from Draymond Green, and later with an incredible scoop shot finger roll from Curry with under four minutes to play that extended his team’s lead back to eight.

San Antonio tried to shoot their way back into it quickly from distance, yet managed to connect on just five of its 14 second half attempts from three-point range.

There are a lot of positives the Warriors will take with them back home to Oracle Arena for the next two games. They were able to get both of their guards going separately in each of the first two games, and they showed maturity in Game 2 by not collapsing again as they had in Game 1 of the series.

For the Spurs, the lesson is clear. If you let Curry or Thompson get loose early, they’ll torch you for a big performance that will be extremely difficult to stop. Both Mark Jackson and Gregg Popovich had their own take on the Warriors’ stellar shooters after this one.

“I thought it was polite of them to at least take turns and not both be on fire on the same night,” Popovich joked.

Jackson, however, was much more proud in praise of his guys.

“I’ve said, I’ve got the greatest shooting backcourt that’s ever played the game,” Jackson said. “Call my bluff.”

The Spurs would be wise not to do that for the remainder of this series.

Hawks, coach Mike Budenholzer agree to part ways

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This was expected.

It was pretty obvious Mike Budenholzer didn’t want to stick around and lose a lot of games with the Atlanta Hawks as they rebuild the next few years, especially after he had been stripped of his GM powers. Budenholzer went well down the road with the Phoenix Suns about their open coaching position before thinking better of it. Since then he has set up a meeting with the Knicks about their coaching vacancy, a job he reportedly wants badly.

At this point there was no need for the Hawks and Budenholzer to continue their sham marriage, so they have agreed to amicably separate, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and since confirmed by the Hawks.

Budenholzer said this to Wojnarowski of ESPN:

“I am grateful for the five years that I spent as coach of the Atlanta Hawks, and will always cherish the incredible contributions, commitment and accomplishments of the players that I was fortunate enough to work with here,” Budenholzer told ESPN on Wednesday night. “From ownership to management, support staff to the community, I’ll look back with great pride on what we were able to achieve together with the Hawks.”

For Budenholzer, the long-time Spurs assistant and a strong Xs and Os coach, look for him to both push for the Knicks job and be in the running if/when the Milwaukee Bucks job opens up whenever their season ends. In both cases he’s a fit — those are teams that need a culture and system reset, and Budenholzer proved he can bring that to Atlanta (that was a good team before they let Al Horford and Paul Millsap walk for nothing).

With Atlanta, they likely will turn to a top assistant coach who will get a chance to develop young players on that team (and not cost Atlanta as much as an established coach). Stephen Silas of the Hornets is a rumored name, but there are others.

LeBron James overrules controversial finish with game-winning 3-pointer (video)

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LeBron James‘ turnover with the game tied late looked like a bad call. LeBron’s block of Victor Oladipo on the ensuing possession looked like a goaltend.

Did the Cavaliers get robbed of a crucial possession? Did the Pacers get robbed of two go-ahead points?

LeBron nullified those questions with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Cleveland a 98-95 win and a 3-2 series lead. The game-winner capped a great game by LeBron (44 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists) and moves the Cavs to the verge of advancing.

When a team with home-court advantage can close out a best-of-seven series with a road Game 6, it has 52% of the time. It has won the series 92% of the time.

The odds are even better with LeBron. LeBron has won 11 straight closeout games, nine of them on the road. He’ll have another opportunity Friday with Game 6 in Indiana.

Raptors’ ‘culture reset’ shines in Game 5 win over Wizards

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The Raptors promoted ball movement. They emphasized 3-point shooting. They empowered their reserves.

This was why.

Backups Delon Wright and C.J. Miles and starting center Jonas Valanciunas – who was benched in previous postseasons due to his old-fashioned style, but expanded his game beyond the arc this year – scored Toronto’s final 18 points in a 108-98 Game 5 win over the Wizards on Wednesday. Stars DeMar DeRozan (0-for-4 from the field) and Kyle Lowry (0-for-1 from the field, 0-for-2 on free throws) struggled down the stretch, as the Raptors burst open what had been a one-point lead.

Though DeRozan (32 points) and Lowry (17 points and 10 assists) were good overall, they succumbed late in previous playoff games. Toronto didn’t want that duo stuck with the burden of creating so much in a stagnate offense.

Hence, Masai Ujiri’s famous “culture reset.”

The results have been mixed so far against a tougher-than-average-eight-seed Washington. But at least the Raptors – up 3-2 entering Friday’s Game 6 in Washington – are on the verge of advancing.

When a team with home-court advantage can close out a best-of-seven series with a road Game 6, it has 52% of the time. It has won the series 92% of the time.

Raptors honor victims of van attack before Game 5 (photos)

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TORONTO (AP) — The Toronto Raptors honored the victims the deadly van attack Monday with a moment of silence Wednesday night before Game 5 of their playoff series against the Washington Wizards.

Players from both teams held up banners with the hashtag #TORONTOSTRONG as they stood on the court during the tribute and the national anthems that followed:

The Raptors, the Wizards and the NBA will make a donation to a fund for victims and those affected by the incident.

Raptors President Masai Ujiri spoke about the attack after the Raptors practiced Tuesday.

“What we do doesn’t really matter sometimes,” Ujiri said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to be on that sidewalk.”

Guard Kyle Lowry said he was impressed by the actions of Const. Ken Lam, who earned international acclaim for peacefully arresting of suspect Alek Minassian.

“In America he would definitely have been shot up,” Lowry said. “He did an amazing job of making a judgment call. I think more people could learn from that.”

Coach Dwane Casey was struck by how close the carnage occurred to his own Toronto neighborhood,

“It’s not too far from up the street from where I live,” Casey said.

Casey and his coaches were in the midst of a meeting Monday afternoon when assistant Rex Kalamian’s phone buzzed with someone informing him of the tragedy. The coaches stopped their meeting and turned on a television to find out what had happened.

“It’s very unfortunate,” Casey said. “Just this weekend I was talking to people saying how safe Toronto is, how it’s a melting pot and you don’t have the same crime. Hopefully though, sport can offer a relief, some reprieve.”

Like Casey, Ujiri said he is proud of Toronto’s reputation as a safe, welcoming place.

“Everywhere I go, I brag about this city,” Ujiri said. “It’s the safest place in the world. It’s the best city in the world and it’s going to continue to be the best place and the best city in the world.”

Toronto police said the 10 people killed and 14 injured in the attack were “predominantly” women, but have declined so far to discuss a motive. The 25-year-old Minassian has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.