Stephen Curry leads Warriors to a big second half, win over Kings

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Steve Kerr pulled a Gregg Popovich. One missed defensive assignment with no backdoor help on DeMarcus Cousins, and Kerr called a timeout 18 seconds into the game.

“Nobody can make a move like Pop, I’m a very cheap version of him, if at all,” the Golden State coach quipped about Popovich, the longtime San Antonio coach.

“It definitely made a statement,” Draymond Green said.

Stephen Curry scored 30 points and the defense started rolling after halftime, with the Warriors taking their first lead midway through the third quarter on the way to a 117-106 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night.

Once the 3-pointers began to fall, the Warriors were on their way.

Kevin Durant had 28 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four blocks, and Klay Thompson added 18 points. With their 17th straight victory after a loss, the Warriors reached 124 regular-season games in a row without suffering back-to-back defeats.

“It’s deflating for other teams when we can get stops and protect the rim, get steals, force them into tough shots and tough misses and on the other end we’re just running it right back down the paint,” Curry said. “We have to allow that part of our game to shine.”

Green had 10 assists for his 12th game with double digits assists and third in four, while Zaza Pachulia scored 10 points to reach double figures for the fourth straight game. Yet one for the highlight reel was Pachulia’s no-look, backward over-the-head pass to Curry after the big man got the ball when Durant blocked a shot by Cousins.

“We scored, right? Nobody’s going to say anything. If it was a turnover, first thing on the film,” Pachulia said.

Sacramento’s Rudy Gay scored 15 of his 23 points in the first quarter. Cousins had 17.

Golden State had 30 assists for the 26th time this season and won its 13th straight against the Kings, seventh in a row in Sacramento.

The Warriors woke up after halftime, starting the third with a 19-7 burst and outscoring the Kings 39-22 in the period. Golden State didn’t lead until Curry’s 3-pointer with 7:34 left in the third, following Durant’s tying 3 the previous possession. Curry hit five 3-pointers and has at least 30 points in three consecutive games.

Gay shot 9 for 17 in his second game back after missing four straight with a right hip flexor strain and 10 of 11. Cousins went 4 for 11.

“We always have that one quarter or one little stretch where we have bad basketball,” Cousins said. “It comes back to bite us in the end.”

The Warriors went 3 for 14 from long range in the first half, then shots fell as the defense improved.

Before the game, Kings coach Dave Joerger joked, “Ask `em nicely if they won’t shoot so many.”

The Warriors just needed some time to warm up after choosing not to shootaround in the morning with a 6 p.m. tipoff even with it being their first visit to the new Golden 1 Center.

They didn’t relinquish this one, two days after squandering a 24-point lead in the second half of a 128-119 overtime home loss to Memphis.

BOLLYWOOD GAME

The special “Bollywood Night” game marked the first regular-season NBA game to be livestreamed on Facebook, this time only to fans in India.

There was Indian-themed entertainment and music and even a Henna tattoo station.

TIP-INS

Warriors: Durant notched his 700th regular-season block in the second quarter and had at least three blocks for a third straight game. That matches a career-long streak also done from Nov. 25-30, 2015. …. The team’s winning streak against the Kings is its longest active unbeaten run against any opponent and tied for third-longest in franchise history behind a 14-gamer against Dallas from 1991-94 and 15-game winning streak from 1947-49 vs. the Providence Steamrollers. … San Francisco mayor Ed Lee was in attendance, while Giants CEO Larry Baer sat courtside and got a first-quarter shoutout on the enormous scoreboard.

Kings: Cousins received a technical – his 12th – 4:14 before halftime after punching a chair following his third foul. … The Warriors were the last Pacific Division opponent the Kings had yet to face. Golden State returns to the Golden 1 Center on Feb. 4 before the Kings visit Oakland on Feb. 15 and March 24. … Sacramento hasn’t beaten Golden State since March 27, 2013, and last at home 131-127 on Dec. 19, 2012.

 

Hawks, coach Mike Budenholzer agree to part ways

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This was expected.

It was pretty obvious Mike Budenholzer didn’t want to stick around and lose a lot of games with the Atlanta Hawks as they rebuild the next few years, especially after he had been stripped of his GM powers. Budenholzer went well down the road with the Phoenix Suns about their open coaching position before thinking better of it. Since then he has set up a meeting with the Knicks about their coaching vacancy, a job he reportedly wants badly.

At this point there was no need for the Hawks and Budenholzer to continue their sham marriage, so they have agreed to amicably separate, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and since confirmed by the Hawks.

Budenholzer said this to Wojnarowski of ESPN:

“I am grateful for the five years that I spent as coach of the Atlanta Hawks, and will always cherish the incredible contributions, commitment and accomplishments of the players that I was fortunate enough to work with here,” Budenholzer told ESPN on Wednesday night. “From ownership to management, support staff to the community, I’ll look back with great pride on what we were able to achieve together with the Hawks.”

For Budenholzer, the long-time Spurs assistant and a strong Xs and Os coach, look for him to both push for the Knicks job and be in the running if/when the Milwaukee Bucks job opens up whenever their season ends. In both cases he’s a fit — those are teams that need a culture and system reset, and Budenholzer proved he can bring that to Atlanta (that was a good team before they let Al Horford and Paul Millsap walk for nothing).

With Atlanta, they likely will turn to a top assistant coach who will get a chance to develop young players on that team (and not cost Atlanta as much as an established coach). Stephen Silas of the Hornets is a rumored name, but there are others.

LeBron James overrules controversial finish with game-winning 3-pointer (video)

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LeBron James‘ turnover with the game tied late looked like a bad call. LeBron’s block of Victor Oladipo on the ensuing possession looked like a goaltend.

Did the Cavaliers get robbed of a crucial possession? Did the Pacers get robbed of two go-ahead points?

LeBron nullified those questions with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Cleveland a 98-95 win and a 3-2 series lead. The game-winner capped a great game by LeBron (44 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists) and moves the Cavs to the verge of advancing.

When a team with home-court advantage can close out a best-of-seven series with a road Game 6, it has 52% of the time. It has won the series 92% of the time.

The odds are even better with LeBron. LeBron has won 11 straight closeout games, nine of them on the road. He’ll have another opportunity Friday with Game 6 in Indiana.

Raptors’ ‘culture reset’ shines in Game 5 win over Wizards

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The Raptors promoted ball movement. They emphasized 3-point shooting. They empowered their reserves.

This was why.

Backups Delon Wright and C.J. Miles and starting center Jonas Valanciunas – who was benched in previous postseasons due to his old-fashioned style, but expanded his game beyond the arc this year – scored Toronto’s final 18 points in a 108-98 Game 5 win over the Wizards on Wednesday. Stars DeMar DeRozan (0-for-4 from the field) and Kyle Lowry (0-for-1 from the field, 0-for-2 on free throws) struggled down the stretch, as the Raptors burst open what had been a one-point lead.

Though DeRozan (32 points) and Lowry (17 points and 10 assists) were good overall, they succumbed late in previous playoff games. Toronto didn’t want that duo stuck with the burden of creating so much in a stagnate offense.

Hence, Masai Ujiri’s famous “culture reset.”

The results have been mixed so far against a tougher-than-average-eight-seed Washington. But at least the Raptors – up 3-2 entering Friday’s Game 6 in Washington – are on the verge of advancing.

When a team with home-court advantage can close out a best-of-seven series with a road Game 6, it has 52% of the time. It has won the series 92% of the time.

Raptors honor victims of van attack before Game 5 (photos)

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TORONTO (AP) — The Toronto Raptors honored the victims the deadly van attack Monday with a moment of silence Wednesday night before Game 5 of their playoff series against the Washington Wizards.

Players from both teams held up banners with the hashtag #TORONTOSTRONG as they stood on the court during the tribute and the national anthems that followed:

The Raptors, the Wizards and the NBA will make a donation to a fund for victims and those affected by the incident.

Raptors President Masai Ujiri spoke about the attack after the Raptors practiced Tuesday.

“What we do doesn’t really matter sometimes,” Ujiri said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to be on that sidewalk.”

Guard Kyle Lowry said he was impressed by the actions of Const. Ken Lam, who earned international acclaim for peacefully arresting of suspect Alek Minassian.

“In America he would definitely have been shot up,” Lowry said. “He did an amazing job of making a judgment call. I think more people could learn from that.”

Coach Dwane Casey was struck by how close the carnage occurred to his own Toronto neighborhood,

“It’s not too far from up the street from where I live,” Casey said.

Casey and his coaches were in the midst of a meeting Monday afternoon when assistant Rex Kalamian’s phone buzzed with someone informing him of the tragedy. The coaches stopped their meeting and turned on a television to find out what had happened.

“It’s very unfortunate,” Casey said. “Just this weekend I was talking to people saying how safe Toronto is, how it’s a melting pot and you don’t have the same crime. Hopefully though, sport can offer a relief, some reprieve.”

Like Casey, Ujiri said he is proud of Toronto’s reputation as a safe, welcoming place.

“Everywhere I go, I brag about this city,” Ujiri said. “It’s the safest place in the world. It’s the best city in the world and it’s going to continue to be the best place and the best city in the world.”

Toronto police said the 10 people killed and 14 injured in the attack were “predominantly” women, but have declined so far to discuss a motive. The 25-year-old Minassian has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.