Mark Jackson’s challenge to Stephen Curry: Commit fewer turnovers

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Stephen Curry is coming off of a breakout season for the Warriors, one in which he averaged career-bests in points, assists, and minutes played.

But Warriors head coach Mark Jackson is a master motivator, and he wants Curry to continue to improve. So he provided him with a little project.

The challenge he posed to his star player for the upcoming season: Do a better job of taking care of the basketball, i.e., cut down on the turnovers.

From David Aldridge of NBA.com:

Mark Jackson: My only thing with Steph, and he knows it, is that he has to do a better job taking care of the basketball. I asked him before camp started, what’s the biggest thing for him in camp? And he said ‘taking care of the basketball.’ And I said, no. And he looked at me like I was crazy. And I said, no — coming out of camp healthy. That’s the biggest thing. So I don’t want to put any demands on his body, or doing crazy stuff in the middle of practice, trying to split two guys and spin. Take care of the basketball, continually get better, and stay healthy.

Curry’s been steady at 3.1 turnovers per game throughout his career, though that number dipped the season before last in a limited sample size due to Curry appearing in just 26 games due to injury.

His turnover ratio isn’t horrible at 10.5, but it’s middle of the pack when you look at the league as a whole, and it’s on par with big men like Marc Gasol, Blake Griffin, and Zach Randolph — players who get swarmed by defenders inside while trying to finish in traffic.

Considering how much Curry has the ball in his hands, Jackson is right to focus on this relatively small area of concern. And it won’t be difficult for Curry to show marked improvement quickly if he’s truly focused on it.

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.