Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs - Game One

Stephen Curry suffered no setbacks with injured ankle, says he’s ‘ready to go’ for Game 5


The left ankle injury that Stephen Curry suffered late in Game 3 was a legitimate cause for concern for the Warriors. Despite Curry’s cold shooting in the last game and a half before it occurred, few believed that Golden State would be able to beat the Spurs without him.

Curry played in the Warriors’ overtime Game 4 victory, and played well. He finished with 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting (5-of-10 from three-point distance), to go along with six rebounds and four assists in 39 minutes of action.

The only question surrounding Curry’s health was whether or not there’d be any swelling in the ankle the next day, or whether the pain injection he took in order to play would have any lasting effects. Speaking to reporters at shootaround in advance of Game 5 on Tuesday, all signs from Curry seemed to be positive.

From Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News:

-CURRY: I feel good. Ready to go tonight. It feels a whole lot better than it did before Game 4, so that’s all I could ask for.

-Q: You said you just wanted it to feel like it did after Game 4. So it’s better than that?

-CURRY: I woke up yesterday, it wasn’t worse than it was before the game, which is a huge success. And then was able to capitalize on that with treatment the last day or so.

So mission accomplished, to be able to play Game 4 and not have any setbacks or kind of delay the healing process for tonight.

Curry went on to say that he wouldn’t play with a brace on the left ankle, and that he doesn’t expect it to require surgery in the offseason. He also said he didn’t plan on taking an injection for Game 5, despite having had to do so three times previously already in the postseason.

One more item of note, in case there was any doubt about just how great of a shooter Curry is: he wasn’t able to get any shots up between games 3 and 4 due to his ankle receiving constant treatment, and didn’t touch a basketball until layup lines minutes before tip-off. The result? Curry knocked down his first two shot attempts in the game’s first three minutes, both from well beyond the three-point arc.

League executives, players wince watching this Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
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Over the last few days, we’ve written in more detail about Kobe Bryant‘s shooting troubles. He’s jacking up threes his fastest pace ever, he can’t create space to get off clean shots, he’s hitting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three. There are flashes of vintage Kobe, but they are fleeting (and mostly because poor shot choices are falling). Byron Scott is still in Kobe’s corner, saying they just need to get the veteran better looks.

However, talk to people around the league about Kobe and you hear some variation of the phrase “hard to watch.” After 20 seasons, more than 55,000 minutes on the court, and coming off two major injuries, Kobe clearly is not the same player everyone admired for so long.

Over at the Los Angeles Times Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner got a number of sources to wince about Kobe for a story — except nobody wanted their name attached to attacking a legend of the game.

“Man, I don’t want to see Kobe go out like this, looking this bad and not able to do what he once could do,” said a retired guard who faced Bryant. “He doesn’t have anything else to prove to anybody. He was one of the greatest. I know he’s owed that $25 million, but he should just walk away now. He ain’t got it anymore.”

“He’s one of the few players in NBA history to have gotten everything possible out of his body. Now his body has nothing left to give,” (an Eastern Conference executive) said. “But that’s life in the NBA, in professional sports. At some point, the body just can’t do it anymore and Kobe’s body can’t do it anymore.”

One West scout said Bryant looked “disinterested” at times. A current player in the West went a step further.

“Yeah, I’ve seen him play and it’s disgusting,” he said. “He’s one of the best of all time. But he really hasn’t played that much in the last two or three years. He’s got nothing left. It’s sad to watch because he used to be so great, and I mean great.”

Kobe is not going to walk away mid-season, and nobody wants an injury to force him out of the game.

But it’s hard to see how anything is going to dramatically change. Kobe may shoot a little better than his current but it’s not likely going to change in a meaningful way. Which will just make things hard to watch for a full season.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.