Thursday NBA grades: The Nets need Deron Williams and…


Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while entranced watching Charles Barkley pretend to eat churros….

source:  Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets. If you are going to beat the Heat, you need to attack where they are weak — at the point or with bigs. For a Brooklyn team built with beating Miami in mind that means Deron Williams, the point guard they traded for to be their franchise cornerstone. Except he had zero points on the night. None. Zip. Zilch. He was 0-for-9 from the field — and some of those were good looks. By the fourth quarter he was hesitant… and with that performance the Nets were toast.

source:  Mirza Teletovic, Brooklyn Nets. We could continue to Deron Williams in this space. Or Kevin Garnett. But that’s like making fun of Jar Jar Binks — it’s not even a challenge and everyone has done it. Let’s find a positive for Brooklyn… Teletovic. He was knocking down threes for Brooklyn, five in the first half and 6-of-9 for the game, setting a Brooklyn record. More than that he pulls the Heat bigs out of the paint and opened things up for the Brooklyn offense.

source:  Tiago Splitter, San Antonio Spurs. In the first round he slowed down Dirk Nowitzki. In this round he gets LaMarcus Aldridge and has been crucial to the Spurs series lead. Aldridge was 6-of-23 shooting in Game 2, and with Splitter keeping Aldridge in check the other defenders can stay home on the Blazers three point shooters. Splitter is pitching in on offense, he had 10 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. But it’s his defense that is key.

Watch Kawhi Leonard, Mike Conley in epic playoff duel Saturday (VIDEO)

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Kawhi Leonard scored 16 straight points for the Spurs at the end of regulation to give San Antonio the lead and a chance. Then Mike Conley hit a floater in the lane forced overtime.

There Mike Conley hit a floating bank shot that had the Grizzlies up three with :47 seconds left, only to have Leonard answer with a three to tie the game. Marc Gasol would break that tie and get Memphis the series-evening win.

Conley and Leonard traded blows through the clutch parts of Saturday’s epic Game 4 between Memphis and San Antonio. It’s worth checking out the highlights again.

John Wall goes coast-to-coast, behind-the-back for lefty dunk (VIDEO)

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There’s not going to be many plays better than this in the entire playoffs.

There wasn’t a lot for Wizards’ fans to cheer in Game 3, the Hawks took control early and routed Washington, making it a 2-1 series. But there was this, John Wall going coast-to-coast with the ball, going around-the-back and throwing it down left handed.

Wall is just so fast end to end.

Warriors take 3-0 series lead over Blazers with 119-113 win

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 34 points, Klay Thompson added 24 and the short-handed Golden State Warriors overcame a slow start to take a 3-0 lead in their playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers with a 119-113 victory on Saturday night.

The Blazers led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but couldn’t hold off the Warriors, who can clinch the series with a win Monday night in Game 4 at the Moda Center.

Golden State was without Kevin Durant, who was sitting for a second straight game cause of a left calf strain, and coach Steve Kerr stayed back at the team hotel because of illness.

The Warriors took a 108-100 lead after Andre Iguodala‘s dunk with 4:05 to go.

Noah Vonleh‘s dunk got Portland within four at 110-106 with 1:29 left, but Curry answered with a 3-pointer that all but sealed it, sending fans streaming for the exits.

CJ McCollum led the Blazers with 32 points, while Damian Lillard added 31.

Markieff Morris calls Paul Millsap a “crybaby,” Millsap responds “It definitely got personal now”

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The Atlanta Hawks owned the Washington Wizards from the opening tip Saturday, making it a 2-1 series with an easy win.

It’s a series now — and that includes trash talk.

Paul Millsap had 29 points, pulled down 14 boards, got to the line 11 times, and led the Hawks to the win. He got the calls he wanted this game, but Washington’s Markieff Morris was not exactly down with high praise for Millsap.

The key line here: “”He just did more for his team. He’s a crybaby. Get all the calls and you a crybaby.”

Millsap was asked about that comment in his postgame presser — and the best part may be Dennis Schroeder’s reaction.

“It definitely got personal now, yes. I mean, I don’t care. So what? He can take his loss and go back to the hotel and be ready for the next game.”

These two have already had a beef this series.

Game 4 in this series just got a lot more interesting.