This showdown of teams with dreams of getting past the first round of the playoffs was shaping up for an exciting ending. For three and a half quarters the teams had traded runs, made some big shots and both sides played some defense. The Warriors had been up 5 with just under 9 minutes left, but then the Raptors went on an 11-0 run. Golden State worked hard and got back into the game to set up that ending.
Then the Warriors shot themselves in the foot.
Down two with three minutes left the Warriors possessions went like this:
• Stephen Curry missed a pull-up three, David Lee got the rebound and kicked it out to a wide-open Klay Thompson who had too much time and missed.
• Curry gets double-teamed 29 feet from the basket and ends up fumbling the ball out of bounds.
• Curry tries to rifle a pass to David Lee down on the low block but it gets tipped and ends up a turnover.
• A bad Andrew Bogut pass becomes a turnover.
It was an eight-point game inside a minute at that point and even a Curry step-back three couldn’t save the Warriors at that point. Toronto had executed better down the stretch — that included DeMar DeRozan capping off his 32-point night with a rainbow long two — and the Raptors got the win, 104-98.
At the end of the game guys who had been quiet all night for Toronto — Amir Johnson and John Salmons — were making plays. Salmons made a nifty pass to set up a Johnson dunk one possession then on the next one, when Andrew Bogut laid back to stop a similar pass, Salmons drained he pull-up jumper off the pick.
Curry had some rough patches — like the second quarter when he was 2-of-8 shooting — but finished with 34 points on 27 shots plus had 7 assists. Klay Thompson had a rough night (4-of-15 shooting) and David Lee had 20 points (on 18 shots) and 11 rebounds).
Golden State is going to look back at games like this and feel a little sick when they see their first-round playoff matchup and know they are starting on the road (they are currently the six seed but need to make up four games on the Clippers and Rockets to get a top four seed, that’s not happening). This was a game they could have won, but they fumbled the ball and the chance away late. The Raptors knew what to do with the gifts.
Tributes have poured in all over the NBA world since Kevin Garnett announced his retirement on Friday afternoon — from other players, commissioner Adam Silver and media members who covered him. Garnett and Tom Thibodeau have a lengthy history together: Thibodeau coached Garnett in Boston as an assistant under Doc Rivers, and they won a championship in 2008. This spring, Thibodeau took over as head coach and president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team that drafted Garnett, saw his best years and saw him end his career. Thibodeau released a heartfelt statement on Saturday congratulating Garnett:
“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank Kevin for all of his great accomplishments and contributions to the NBA, the Minnesota Timberwolves organization, and for me personally with the Boston Celtics. Kevin combined great talent with a relentless drive and intelligence. I will always cherish the memories of the way in which he led the Celtics to the 2008 NBA Championship. His willingness to sacrifice and his unselfishness led us to that title. Kevin will always be remembered for the way in which he played the game. His fierce competitiveness, his unequalled passion for the game, and the many ways in which he cared about this team was truly special. KG is without question the all-time best player to wear a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey, and he is also one of the best to ever play this game.”
It’s a shame that Thibodeau didn’t get to coach Garnett again in Minnesota, but the team is in good hands with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
The Indiana Pacers have been a franchise for 50 years — 10 in the ABA and 40 in the NBA. To celebrate this anniversary, they’ve unveiled a new patch that they will wear on their uniforms this season. You can check it out below:
It looks pretty sleek, combining the Pacers’ logo with the zero in “50.” It’s subtle and well-designed.
This summer, three of this generation’s defining NBA players, and three of the greatest players of all time, called it a career: Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. The latter two in particular had a lot in common, as psychotic competitors and polarizing personalities. They had many memorable battles over the years, including the Lakers-Celtics Finals in 2008 and 2010 (they each won one) and the playoffs in 2003 and 2004, when Garnett was in Minnesota. On Saturday afternoon, a day after Garnett officially announced his retirement, Kobe paid tribute to him with a tweet.
The next time they’ll be together is 2021, when they go into the Hall of Fame together.
With the NBA season around the corner, there are a lot of eyes on how teams and players will handle the national anthem protests that have become prominent in the NFL. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers wholeheartedly supports the notion of his players participating, and hopes the whole team can figure out a statement to make together. Via Dan Woike of the Orange County Register:
“Listen, we need social change. If anyone wants to deny that, they just need to study the history of our country,” he told the Southern California News Group on Friday. “… I’ve said it 100 times. There’s no more American thing to do than to protest. It’s the most patriotic thing we can do. There are protests I like and protests I don’t like. It doesn’t matter. …Protests are meant to start conversation. The conversation, you hope, leads to acknowledgement, and the acknowledgement leads to action. We’re, right now, still in the conversation.”
“I hope we do it as a group. I know whenever you protest as one solid group, the protest has more teeth if you want to protest,” he said. “… I’m supporting our guys’ right to protest. I’m saying that up front. My hope is you believe it and do it for the right reasons and not just because it’s a hot topic on Instagram.
Rivers has a unique perspective — his father was a police officer, but he’s seen plenty of racism in his life. This won’t be his first time leading a team when it comes to social issues — he was able to unite the Clippers in the spring of 2014 when the Donald Sterling racism scandal broke. It’s encouraging to see NBA coaches trending towards fostering open dialogue on their teams about these issues.