Sunday NBA grades: Golden State’s Curry, Thompson put on a show

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Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while watching the King of the Hill/True Detective mashup

source:  Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors. Early in the third quarter Houston took an 18 point lead over Golden State and seemed to be in complete control. Then the shots from Warriors backcourt started to fall and they combined for 30 points in the fourth quarter— the pair were 6-of-9 from three and their midrange shots were falling in the final 12 minutes (the pair didn’t get one basket at the rim in the fourth quarter). This is what’s scary about the Warriors in the playoffs, if they can get these looks and knock them down they can beat anybody on a given night. They just need to find some consistency. But when they get in trouble, they can do this.

source:  Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans. 40 points and 21 rebounds. That, my friends, is a monster night. Nobody else in the NBA has done that this season. Most importantly he did it down the stretch of a tight game — he hit a couple key shots late in the fourth quarter to help force OT. Then in the extra period he pulled down six boards and owned the glass. Davis is a beast… by the way, it is second year in the league and he is 21 years old. He’s just starting to figure out how good he can be.

source:  Dallas Mavericks’ depth. Monta Ellis struggled (2-of-7 shooting) and Dirk Nowitzki was not special by his standards (17 points on 12 shots). Still the Mavericks started to pull away from the Thunder in the second period and never looked back. Yes, the Thunder were without Russell Westbrook (and Thabo Sefalosha and Kendrick Perkins) but the Kevin Durant led Thunder knocked off a lot of teams without Westbrook. Not this time, it was Dallas’ depth that was the story.

source:  Gerald Green, Phoenix Suns. Phoenix needs wins and to spark a slumping team coach Jeff Hornacek put Eric Bledsoe back in the starting lineup and slid Gerald Green to the bench. Seems to have sparked Green. He knocked down his first five shots and scored 13 points off the bench in the first quarter, then added 10 in the fourth quarter when the Suns pulled away from the Raptors (then the Suns held on for the win). We’ve talked at this site about Green’s long journey — through China — to NBA stardom, but he has found his groove now and is a real weapon for the Suns.

Reports: Cleveland, Boston in “serious” trade talks for Kyrie Irving

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Among the list of teams that have the pieces to offer Cleveland everything they are asking for in a Kyrie Irving trade, the Boston Celtics might be at the top of the list. They can send back a quality point guard in Isaiah Thomas, they have a number of rotation players who can help now, they have the Brooklyn pick next year or the Lakers’ pick (protected), and they have young stars such as Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum who could be thrown in a deal.

The question is, would the two top teams in the East want to do business with each other, potentially helping the other out? Can you see Dan Gilbert helping the Celtics? Danny Ainge helping the Cavaliers?

The two sides are at least talking seriously, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

I get why Boston would want Irving over Thomas — he’s younger, taller, and has a couple of years left on his current contract. Plus, if Boston is going all in for a ring Irving is a fit. I get why Cleveland would want Thomas back in an Irving trade, it puts a scoring point guard next to LeBron James and keeps them as the team to beat in the East next season.

The unprotected first-round Brooklyn pick would have to be part of the deal as well for the Cavs, although maybe the Lakers’ pick works, depending on who else is involved.

But it would be a mistake for Boston to give up Jae Crowder in the deal — they need his wing defense against Cleveland and, theoretically, Golden State. Plus he’s on a good contract. Boston would prefer to send Thomas, Ante Zizic, whichever pick, and some players such as maybe Marcus Morris. That may not be enough for Cleveland. To my eye, Boston would be getting similar production next season from Irving as they would Thomas, and they are giving up a lot of other assets in that swap. Is it really worth it?

Danny Ainge has a long history of getting serious in talks, asking for a lot, then deciding it wasn’t enough and pulling back.

That said, the pieces can be made to work. But do these teams want to deal with one another? Maybe so.

Mike D’Antoni thinks “synergy” between James Harden, Chris Paul will be beautiful thing

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It’s been one of the most interesting questions of the offseason — how will Chris Paul and James Harden share the ball and control of the Rockets?

In particular, how will they do it in Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system that made Harden an MVP candidate and is not the calculated, surgical style that CP3 uses to carve defenses up?

Mike D’Antoni isn’t too worried about it. In an interview with our old friend Matt Moore of CBS Sports, the 2017 NBA Coach of the Year said the greats figure out how to work things out.

Team USA is an interesting example. Mike Krzyzewski wants to play fast (the USA is far more athletic than any team they face, they should take advantage of that) but he gives his players freedom within that outline to do what works. D’Antoni sounds like he wants to give Paul and Harden some space to figure out how to play together, what works for them. (The advantage is Team USA plays inferior opponents, often vastly inferior, and that will not be the same case for the Rockets in the NBA.)

Do the same rules apply if/when Carmelo Anthony gets traded to Houston? Probably.

D’Antoni is rightfully high on the Rockets’ offensive potential.

The real question is on the other end of the court. The Rockets were a middle of the pack defensive team last season (18th in points allowed per possession), but they have added quality defenders in Paul, P.J. Tucker, and Luc Mbah a Moute. Can the Rockets become a top-10 defensive team, one with players who can match up with Golden State? Because we know the Warriors are going to finish the season top three on both ends of the court.

It’s going to be a fascinating season in Houston.

Morris twins have day in court next week on 2015 assault charge

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Back in 2015, brothers Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris — both then playing for the Suns — were investigated and eventually charged with felony aggravated assault joining three other men to allegedly beat up Erik Hood at a recreational basketball tournament in the Phoenix area (hood ended up in the hospital with a broken nose and other injuries). The motivation allegedly had been Hood sending “inappropriate” text messages to the Morris brothers’ mother. From the start, both brothers have denied any involvement.

Next week, the brothers will get their day in court. The Boston Globe has the details (Marcus now plays for the Celtics, Markieff for the Wizards).

Celtics forward Marcus Morris and his brother Markieff, each facing aggravated assault charges stemming from an incident in 2015, will get their day in court on Aug. 28 in Arizona.

Often cases like this are pled down to a lesser charge that the defendant accepts, and that usually happens close to trial. However, it is unclear if the Morris twins would be willing to do that — any admission of guilt would likely come with some level of suspension from the NBA in addition to whatever punishment is ordered by the court. If convicted of a felony, each Morris brother would face a minimum 10-game suspension from the NBA.

If the Morris twins were not involved, they are right to fight this. Either way, it will head to court next week.

Watch Lonzo Ball dodge relentless stream of LeBron James questions (video)

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Shortly before the draft, Lonzo Ball was asked in a televised interview to pitch LeBron James on joining the Lakers – and did.

A couple months and a tampering investigation into the Lakers later, Ball learned his lesson.

Sports Illustrated:

Rohan Nadkarni’s questions were all in good fun, and he couldn’t trick Ball into tampering, anyway. The NBA has essentially decided it won’t punish players for tampering with each other.

Ask Ball an honest LeBron question, and he’ll give an honest answer.