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.

PBT Extra: How big a threat are Pelicans to Warriors?

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Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and the New Orleans Pelicans were the surprise of the first round of the NBA playoffs. We knew they were good, but they looked dominant on both ends sweeping the three-seed Portland Trail Blazers right out of the postseason (and into a somber period of reflection).

New Orleans looked like the best team in the West in the first round and now they take all that momentum to Golden State where… let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In this PBT Extra I discuss how the Pelicans have found an identity, but the matchups against Warriors are dramatically more challenging than what they saw in Portland. And that’s before Stephen Curry returns to the fold.

The Pelicans are a great story, but the pecking order in the West is real for good reason.

Nuggets’ Mason Plumlee undergoes surgery to fix core-muscle injury

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DENVER — Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee underwent surgery to fix a core-muscle injury.

The team said Plumlee had the procedure performed Thursday morning by Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia.

Plumlee is expected to return to basketball activities this summer and be ready for training camp in the fall. He averaged 7.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists for a Nuggets team that narrowly missed out on the postseason.

The 28-year-old Plumlee was acquired by Denver as part of a deal in February 2017 that sent center Jusuf Nurkic to Portland. Plumlee signed a three-year, $41 million deal with the Nuggets last September.

 

PBT Extra: Spurs many off-season questions start with Kawhi Leonard

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San Antonio has a lot of roster questions heading into this summer. When Danny Green opts out at $10 million a year, how much do they offer to bring back a key wing defender? What about Tony Parker, an unrestricted free agent? Will Manu Ginobili come back at age 78 41 for another season?

But at the top of the list: Can the Spurs relationship with Kawhi Leonard be repaired?

If so, do they trust his health enough to offer him the $219 million designated veteran max extension?

If not, do they test the trade market (likely we will know the answer to that around the draft, well before July 1)?

I get into all of it in this latest PBT Extra.

NBA makes it official: LeBron did goaltend on Oladipo’s final shot

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Ultimately, this is moot. Nothing changes — not the critical last Pacers possession, not the fact LeBron James drained a three afterwards (and may well have anyway). All it provides is a little validation for frustrated Pacers fans and players.

Yes, LeBron did goaltend on Victor Oladipo‘s shot with 5.1 seconds remaining in what was then a tie game between the Pacers and Cavaliers. The NBA confirmed it in its Last Two Minute Report on Game 5 in that series. From the report.

“(Above the rim view) shows that James (CLE) blocks Oladipo’s (IND) shot attempt after it makes contact with the backboard.”

Oladipo called it goaltending. However, the officials didn’t call goaltending on the play, therefore it was not reviewable. Often on bang-bang plays like this one an official will call goaltending just to give themselves the chance to review it, but this crew did not (and that is a tough call to make accurately in real time).

From there, LeBron went on to hit the dramatic game-winning three that gave Cleveland the win and a 3-2 series lead.

The report also concluded that it was Thaddeus Young who knocked the ball out of bounds on the baseline with 27.6 seconds left, knocking the ball out of LeBron’s hands. The ball bounced on the line — and was therefore out, but the official didn’t call it — then bounced back up, hit LeBron on the arm and went clearly out of bounds. The referee called the second bounce after it hit LeBron. From the report:

“(Video) shows that Young (IND) deflects the ball away from James (CLE) and it lands out of bounds, but there is no whistle. The ball then bounces and hits James’ arm and lands out of bounds again, which is called. Possession of the ball is incorrectly awarded to the Pacers.”

One other note to Pacers fans: The goaltending call is not why Indiana lost. Oladipo shot 2-of-15 on the night. Darren Collison had a very an off night, was not aggressive, and was 1-of-5 shooting. There are a myriad of plays and decisions that go into a game, one blown call is not why the Pacers lost.

The question is can they regroup at home, get more secondary playmaking and buckets from someone other Oladipo, and can their defense force a Game 7? It can, but they have to put the end of Game 5 behind them first.