No stars, no problem: Spurs reserves too much for Warriors in 104-102 win

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When the Spurs rest Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili they still are pretty darn good.

Ask the Heat — last year Gregg Popovich and the Spurs were fined $250,000 by the league for late notice resting the big three for a Thursday night showcase game in Miami. What people forget is the Spurs almost won that game (they lost 105-100).

Better yet, now you can ask the Warriors.

Duncan, Parker and Ginobili were out again for a nationally televised game (this time with better warning from the Spurs, so no fines). But this time San Antonio got the win — a Tiago Splitter tip in with 2.1 seconds left gave the Spurs 104-102 victory on the road in the Bay Area.

It’s a tough loss for Golden State — they shot themselves in the foot in this game turning the ball over 24 times. Look at it this way: 22.7 percent of the time they came down the floor they turned the ball over. The Warriors bail themselves out of mistakes by knocking down threes but they hit just 8-of-31 in this game. You are not beating the Spurs that way no matter who they put on the court.

Golden State had a 10-0 run in the first quarter to take an early lead and were up by as many as 14 in the second quarter. But then Kawhi Leonard happened — he had 14 of his 21 points in the second quarter as the Spurs went on a 19-4 run and then we had ourselves a ball game. One that stayed tight the rest of the way.

Marco Belinelli came alive in the third scoring 17 of his team-high 28 as the Spurs made plays and maintained a small lead but could never pull away. The game was sloppy, with too many turnovers at a fast pace (106 possessions), but that kind of favored the scrappy Spurs.

Still, you expected a few big shots and a Warriors run — and you got the big shots. Stephen Curry hit a second-chance three pointer to tie the game at 102-102. Curry had 30 points and 15 assists in the game (plus 5 turnovers) and this looked like another dramatic game where the Warriors were going to pull out a dramatic win at home despite their play.

Then this happened.

Ballgame.

Golden State can only blame itself here — this is a good team with a +3.6 per 100 possessions point differential (which would suggest a record more like 16-11, not 14-13), but a team that doesn’t play consistent defense and hurts itself too often. This game is a perfect example of that.

And it’s a perfect example of a Spurs team that just executes its system no matter who is on the court.

Gordon Hayward breaks leg against Cleveland in first game with Celtics

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The Boston Celtics season has taken a turn for the worse.

During Tuesday’s opening game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, new Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward broke his leg after landing following a leaping back cut to the basket.

It became immediately apparent to those in the arena, and the broadcast angle of the left leg injury was not pretty.

Just be warned here, the resulting photo and media is pretty disgusting. I let out a big yell when I saw it live, so it’s not for the faint of heart.

Via TNT:

This is just the most awful way to start the NBA season, for all of us. Get well soon, Gordon.

Kings’ rookie De’Aaron Fox commits California mortal sin, slams In-N-Out

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We Californians take a few things seriously. Surf reports, for one. Winemaking/tasting. Tech toys. Coming up with potential blockbuster movie franchise ideas, getting a star to buy in, then maybe or maybe not worrying about getting a decent script.

Also, In-N-Out Burger. If there is one thing all Californians can agree on, it’s that In-N-Out is the best burger chain in the world. It’s not up for debate.

Apparently Kings’ rookie De'Aaron Fox did not get that memo. He did a Q&A with Rolling Stone’s Seerat Sohi and crossed a sacred line.

“All I gotta say, you can tell everybody that lives in the state of California this: In-N-Out is not good.”

What’s your beef with In-N-Out Burger?
“Their burgers are overrated. They’re OK.”

Even Animal Style?
“Yes. People always say, you haven’t tried this. You haven’t tried that. I’m like, “Yeah, I looked up the secret menu. I’ve tried it all. It’s just not good.”

That’s controversial. What’s the best fast food spot then?
“Honestly, for me, I don’t count Chick-fil-A, because it’s way too good to be considered fast food. So I’m gonna say Wendy’s. Fat Burger in L.A. is better than In-N-Out.”

It’s this simple: Fox is flat-out wrong.

First off, Chick-fil-A is wildly overrated, so we know the taste of the 19-year-old point guard is off. Fat Burger is legit. But Wendy’s? Come on now, that’s just average.

If Fox had tried to argue Five Guys, I would have let it slide — I don’t think they’re as good, but I will admit a California bias. But Wendy’s? You lose the entire argument right there. It’s like saying Pixels was the best movie ever.

In-N-Out is the best. Fox needs to get on board with this.

Bulls’ Nikola Mirotic hospitalized after practice fight with Bobby Portis

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It was going to be a difficult season in Chicago if everything went right — and two days before the first game of the season things have gone horribly wrong.

Bulls’ starting forward Nikola Mirotic got into a shoving match with Bobby Portis, and Portis turned and sucker-punched him, according to multiple reports.

The Bulls have confirmed the fight and have announced Mirotic suffered a concussion and maxillary fractures in his face — the upper jaw and nasal cavity area — which likely will require surgery. He is going to miss weeks of time.

Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports had more details.

Mirotic was taken to the hospital Tuesday after their shoving altercation during practice ended with an alleged cheap shot from Portis to Mirotic’s face, league sources told The Vertical. Mirotic is undergoing tests, but is expected to be out for the foreseeable future, league sources said.

Mirotic will miss weeks, according to a source, and you can be sure severe discipline from the team is coming down for Portis.

In the short term, this likely means more run for rookie Lauri Markkanen as well as just re-signed Cristiano Felicio.

LeBron James will play in opener against Celtics

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Did we really expect anything else?

LeBron James was a game-time decision for the season opener in Cleveland against Boston and Kyrie Irving due to a sprained ankle. We expected he would go, but ankles can be tricky and are easy to re-injure once sprained, so the Cavs wanted to be careful.

He’s going to play. Coach Tyronn Lue made it official.

LeBron is the best player on the planet, but he can coast through the regular season at times. What teams try to avoid is giving him extra motivation… say bringing in a guy who left the team last summer on opening night. Expect full force LeBron tonight.