Stephen Curry ‘optimistic’ he’ll be ready to play in Game 4 despite ankle injury

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Stephen Curry suffered a sprained left ankle late in the fourth quarter of his team’s Game 3 loss to the Spurs. It wasn’t severe enough to immediately force him out of the game, but he was noticeably limping, both on the court and in the tunnels of the arena afterward.

Curry didn’t speak to reporters following the game, and opted to begin treatment on the ankle in preparation for Sunday’s Game 4, which has a 12:30 p.m. local start time.

The team made Curry available to a pool reporter on Saturday as he continued with his treatment. While he ultimately said he’d need to see how he feels Sunday morning and remains a game-time decision, Curry is optimistic that he’ll be able to play, at least in a limited capacity.

From Marcus Thompson of the Contra Costa Times:

If you could gage it, you think you’ll be able to play?

I think so. You never really know how it’s going to feel the next day. You just keep with the treatment. Same ol’ story. I have the same answers. I hope it feels good enough to go tomorrow. But until I wake up tomorrow and see, you just hope for the best right now.

Will you be limited or play the same way?

If I can give the team anything, I will play. I feel like if I can get to a point where I’m not hobbling and I can cut how I want to. It doesn’t gave to be 100 percent, as long as I can be confident that it won’t do any further damage. I have a feeling I’ll be at that point tomorrow, no problem.

While it’s admirable that Curry will try to go as long as he feels he can contribute something, a hobbled version of the sharpshooter may do the Warriors more harm than good — especially considering his recent poor shooting.

The Spurs adjusted to Curry’s hot start to the series by guarding him with Danny Green, whose length and athleticism has caused Curry to struggle. Curry was 5-of-17 from the field in Game 3, and was just 3-of-11 from the field during the second half of Game 2.

Trying to lose Green around multiple screens on a bad wheel wouldn’t seem to bode well for Curry increasing his shooting percentage in Game 4, depending on just how limiting the injury tuns out to be. Either way, it looks like he’s planning on giving it a shot on Sunday.

Russell Westbrook on Rockets laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws: ‘Probably the guys that don’t play’

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The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.

Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.

But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.

Report: Austin Rivers returning for Clippers-Jazz Game 5

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There have been bigger injuries in the Clippers-Jazz first-round series: Blake Griffin‘s toe, Rudy Gobert‘s knee and Gordon Hayward‘s stomach.

But Clippers guard Austin Rivers has yet to play due to a strained hamstring.

It sounds as if that will change tomorrow.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This is neither as big a deal as the Clippers will make it out to be nor as meaningless as Rivers’ many detractors will claim.

The 6-foot-4 Rivers will provide an important defensive upgrade on the perimeter. The Clippers haven’t successfully hidden Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton, allowing Utah too many quality looks. Here how the Jazz have shot when defended by each, per NBA.com:

  • Crawford: 18-of-36 (50%), including 7-of-17 on 3-pointers (41%)
  • Felton: 13-of-24 (54%), including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers (63%)

Rivers needn’t be great to help behind Chris Paul and J.J. Redick.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.