Andre Iguodala

It wasn’t pretty but Warriors will gladly take win, force Game 7 with Clippers


That was playoff basketball.

Two teams with high-flying explosive offenses get sucked into grinding it out, with neither team shooting better than 40 percent for the game. Guys fouled out (or in the case of Jermaine O’Neal got injured) and other guys stepped up (hello Marreese Speights). Stars struggled, role players found a way (Matt Barnes).

In the fourth quarter the Warriors had a little more — they shot 52 percent overall for the final 12 minutes, they had balance while the Clippers leaned on Jamal Crawford to create and score (he had 11 in the quarter) and with that the Warriors won 100-99.

That sets up a Game 7 showdown Saturday night in Los Angeles.

This game started out looking like Game 5, the Clippers were led defensively by DeAndre Jordan who was blocking shots, the Clippers getting points in transition and they raced out to a 16-7 lead early. The Warriors opened the game shooting 2-of-9 from the floor.

Then, in what would be a pattern for the rest of the night, the team that was behind made a run of their own and kept it close. In this case it was a more active Warriors defense (they aggressively doubled Blake Griffin when he caught the ball), it worked to the point that by a few minutes into the second quarter the Warriors were on top.

Then the Clippers made a run. And so it went all night.

It was not a good night for the stars of either side. Blake Griffin was 8-of-24 shooting for 17 points. Chris Paul was 3-of-10. Likely Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford was 5-of-13. Stephen Curry was 9-of-24 for 24 points. Klay Thompson 3-of-11.

Combine that with foul trouble — Griffin, Redick and David Lee all fouled out, plenty of others were in foul trouble — and you ended up with the kind of game where twice in a row in the fourth quarter Golden State’s offense was a Jordan Crawford isolation.

Where Golden State earned the win was the effort plays. For example, the Warriors had 14 offensive rebounds in the first half — they didn’t shoot well but they got a second shot opportunity on 40 percent of their misses that half. After the game Clippers coach Doc Rivers talked about the Warriors winning the 50/50 balls all night.

Doc also wasn’t getting enough out of Jordan and Blake to punish Golden State for going small, so he went small to match, employing a lot of three-guard lineups.

It almost worked. But in the end the Warriors hit a few more key threes while the Clippers struggled to get into an offensive set that got them good looks. Throw in an Andre Iguodala four-point play in the fourth and you get a one-point Warriors win.

The Clippers will play better at home Sunday night, they should be the favorites. However, any team with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson can simply have nights where they go into video game mode and can’t miss, nights where they will win no matter what. Do that and Doc Rivers will have a lot of basketball questions to answer.

Good news: Anthony Davis listed as probably vs. Utah Saturday

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Watching Anthony Davis fall to the court clutching his knee, not being able to put any pressure on his leg as he was helped to the locker room, it was frightening Friday night in Los Angeles.

It turns out it’s not that bad. After the game the injury was described as a “knee contusion” and not the serious damage that was feared. Saturday the Pelicans said Davis was good to go.

Whew. Nobody wants to see Davis miss time.

The Pelicans had won three in a row until they ran into the Clippers Friday night. Davis has played better of late — the New Orleans defense is 7.2 points per 100 better when he is on the court — and New Orleans has gotten better point guard play out of Ish Smith.

Stephen Curry abuses Sun’s Price with behind-the-back, pull-up three (VIDEO)

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That is just cruel.

An on-fire Warriors team dropped 44 on the Suns in the first quarter Saturday, and Curry had 19 of those points going 5-of-6 from three. The Suns’ had no defender who could begin to hang with him. Certainly not Ronnie Price, who came in off the bench and got abused for his efforts.

Curry finished with 41 points, never had to set foot on the court in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors improved to 17-0 on the season. Just another day at the office for them.

Philadelphia has dropped record 27 in a row dating back to last season

Brett Brown

We tend to think of record streaks having to be in one season, not broken up across two.

But if you can suspend that, the Philadelphia 76ers are now the owners of the longest losing streak in NBA — and major professional sports — history.

With their tough two-points loss to Houston Friday night, the Sixers have lost 27 in a row. The Sixers dropped their final 10 last season and with the loss to the Rockets are 0-17 to start this one.

That bests the 26-game losing streaks of the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and these same Sixers from 2013-14. Looking across sports, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 1976-1977 also lost 26 in a row, which when you consider the length of the NFL season is pretty embarrassing.

The Sixers struggles are born from a plan by GM Sam Hinkie (and approved by ownership) to get better long-term by being bad now and hoarding draft picks. It’s a strategy that can work if Hinkie nails the draft picks (the book is out on how Hinkie is doing on that front). And they are committed to it through at least this draft.

But don’t think for a second the players and coach are trying to lose.

If you have watched the Sixers play their last few games you know the players are trying hard to get that victory (and almost have a couple of times). The effort is there, they are just outmatched and lack the kind of presence at the end of games to execute under pressure (something a couple of quality, regularly-playing veterans might help, but that’s another discussion). They have the point differential of a team that should have a couple wins; they just haven’t been fortunate. It happens. Go ahead and blame management if you think this plan is an abomination. Just don’t question the desire or effort of the players or coaches, that is not in doubt.

The Sixers play at the Grizzlies Sunday, then have maybe their best shot at a win for a while when they host the Lakers on Tuesday.



Byron Scott, is it time to bench Kobe Bryant? “That’s not an option.”

Kobe Bryant, D'Angelo Russell, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant‘s shooting woes this season have been well documented. Let me explain… no, there is too much. Let me sum up. Kobe is shooting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three, all while jacking up more threes than ever before. He was 1-of-14 shooting against Cleveland, and that’s as many shots as rookies D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle got combined.

If Kobe keeps shooting like this while dominating the ball, is it time to bench Kobe? Coach Byron Scott laughed at the idea, as reported by Baxter Holmes at ESPN.

“I would never, never, never do that,” Scott said after practice at the Lakers’ facility. “That’s not an option whatsoever. No, that’s not an option.”

It’s not an option because this is the guy the fans have paid to see, at home and on the road (the Lakers have still sold out every road game this season, the only team to have done so). Kobe is the draw, he’s going to play.

That doesn’t mean Scott is handling all this well, Kobe has no repercussions for his actions.

Byron Scott is an enabler with Kobe. In his mind Kobe has earned the right to play poorly because of his career, which is just hard to watch.

The real issue I have with Scott enabling Kobe is the double standard — minutes for Russell and the other young players get jerked around when they make mistakes. Scott sounds and acts like a guy with a couple rookies on a veteran team where the objective is to win as many games as possible.

This can’t be emphasized enough: the primary goal for the Lakers this season is to develop Russell, Randle, and Jordan Clarkson (and Larry Nance Jr., who has impressed). But Russell has sat a lot of fourth quarters, and when Scott is asked if playing in those blowout minutes might help develop the young point guard faster, he says, “Nah.” Scott has benched Clarkson at points and called him out in the media.

Reduction of minutes can be a valuable teaching tool with young players — if the conditions of them getting those minutes are precisely laid out. Clear rules with rewards and consequences. That is not the case in Los Angeles, where Russell has said Scott has not spoken to him much about what he’s doing wrong and why he’s spending the ends of games benched. That’s not coaching a guy up; that’s not player development. There need to be clear guidelines and structures for young players to follow.

The only guideline in LA seems to be “Kobe has carte blanche.”