Stephen Curry’s 43, halfcourt shot help Warriors top Clippers 144-98

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 25 of his 43 points in the third quarter following his first halfcourt buzzer-beater of the season at the end of the first half to lead the Golden State Warriors to their ninth win in 10 games, 144-98 over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night.

Curry’s 51-foot shot was the spark on a night that began with his playing status in doubt because of a sore left quad. After testing his leg in warmups, Curry was cleared to play and showed no signs of being slowed by the injury, hitting nine 3-pointers.

Kevin Durant added 23 points and Klay Thompson scored 16 to give Golden State its eighth straight win over its Southern California rival.

Blake Griffin scored 20 points for the struggling Clippers, who have lost four of five since star point guard Chris Paul went down with a torn ligament in left thumb.

The Warriors broke open the game with a 17-6 run over the final 2:14 of the first half. After Durant scored on a bank shot inside, Draymond Green really got it going when he blocked Griffin and then beat him back down the floor for a dunk. After another stop by Golden State, Thompson hit a 3-pointer in transition to make it 62-45.

Curry punctuated the half with his shot from just beyond halfcourt to beat the buzzer to make it 72-51. Curry dove to the floor in celebration before dancing with his teammates. This was his first basket of the year from beyond 40 feet after making four last season.

Curry picked it up in the third, when he outscored the Clippers 25-23. He made back-to-back 3s late in the quarter to make it a 34-point game. His eighth 3 of the night in the final minute of the third made it 117-74 but Curry did miss another shot from beyond halfcourt at the buzzer.

TIP-INS

Clippers: DeAndre Jordan made all four shots and is shooting 82 percent over the past six games.

Warriors: Golden State outshot its opponent for a 21st straight game, the longest streak in the league since Miami also did it 21 straight in 2004-05, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. … F Andre Iguodala, playing on his 33rd birthday, recorded his 5,000th career rebound in the first quarter.

HOMECOMING

Clippers forward Marreese Speights played his first regular-season game at Oracle since leaving the Warriors as a free agent in the offseason. He got a warm ovation from the crowd when he checked in for the first time and quickly allowed Curry to blow past him for a layup. Speights finished with five points.

“Mo is one of my favorite people that I have ever been around,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s just got a smile on his face all the time. He loves to play. He loves to shoot, he’s a phenomenal shooter. He was such a pro for us the last couple of years.”

SPEAKING OUT

Kerr, who has been outspoken in his criticism of President Donald Trump, was asked for his reaction to the crackdown on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. He said he didn’t want to distract from the game but did say: “What’s happening right now is really scary and disconcerting.”

 

Damian Lillard talks about his “no pressure” pitch to Carmelo Anthony, selling Portland

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Self-made, over-achieving players in the NBA tend not to be the recruiters. They worked hard and made it to where they are more on their own, and their world-view follows that path. Think Derrick Rose in Chicago.

Damian Lillard was one of those guys, but he has done a little recruiting of late — he reached out to Carmelo Anthony last week. Lillard told Chris Mannix of NBC Radio (who is filling in for Dan Patrick for the day on his national radio show) that it wasn’t really the John Calipari hard-sell.

“It wasn’t really a pitch, I just reached out to him and let him know the interest just wasn’t from our front office, if there was a possibility there was definitely interest from the players as well, and I didn’t want that to be confused,” Lillard said on the radio show. “I didn’t put no pressure on him or ask him a bunch of questions, I just said what it was from our end.”

That is nice, but Anthony reportedly has focused in on Houston, and might settle for Cleveland (if there was a deal to be had). Would ‘Melo waive his no-trade clause to head to Portland?

“I didn’t get a sense that he wouldn’t,” Lillard said in a tepid response. “What we have here is a good situation for him and that’s just kind of where it went. I let him know what I thought he could do for our team and what our team could do with his presence. And that was it. We didn’t go over no details or talk about a no trade clause or nothing like that. He’s gonna make his own decision to do that or not, I just want to make sure we had some kind of a conversation.”

It’s a start. It’s likely not enough. Anthony wants to go somewhere and chase a ring, and despite what C.J. McCollum thinks, Portland with ‘Melo isn’t a contender. Even with Anthony, I would have them sixth in the West, maybe fifth at best (Warriors, Rockets, Spurs, Thunder, and probably Minnesota are better still). And this is assuming Portland can find a team to take on Myers Leonard’s contract to make a deal work.

What Lillard wanted to get across was that Portland is a great place to be an NBA player.

“I think people talk about what it would be like in Portland or to play in Portland, but actually having lived here, I live here year-round, so I know it’s a great place to live,” Lillard said. “Some of the best food in the United States. You talk about loving the game of basketball, our team and the soccer team are all the city has, so we get a lot of support and our fans really back our team and are really passionate about our team. That type of environment, and that type of love and support around the city, what NBA player wouldn’t want to be a part of that?”

Jimmer Fredette re-signing in China

AP Photo/George Bridges
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Jimmer Fredette played well in China last year, and buzz even emerged about him re-joining the NBA after the Chinese season ended in March. Never happened.

Even in the offseason, when every NBA team had open roster spots, nobody stateside has signed Fredette.

So, he’s returning to the Shanghai Sharks.

Fredette:

Fredette retains a cult following in America, but not the talent of an NBA player. He can score plenty in a lesser league, but his game doesn’t fit with better players on the floor.

Perhaps, he could’ve gotten a training-camp invite, maybe even with a small guarantee. But would’ve faced an uphill battle sticking into the regular season. Better for him to lock into a bigger salary in China now.

Rumor: Carmelo Anthony and the Thunder ‘officially circling each other’

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Carmelo Anthony prefers to be traded to the Rockets. He might soon be traded to the Rockets.

Are the Thunder trying to interject themselves before it’s too late?

Bill Simmons of The Ringer:

Thunder assistant general manager Troy Weaver was an assistant coach at Syracuse when Anthony played there. Weaver is also well-connected in the Washington area (D.C./Maryland/Virginia). I’m not sure how much that means to Anthony, who grew up in Baltimore – in many ways, a different world from the DMV (which includes only parts of Maryland and Virginia closer to D.C.). Still, Weaver and Anthony at least share their Syracuse connection.

The problem: An Oklahoma City trade for Anthony would almost have to include Steven Adams (way more valuable than Anthony) and/or Enes Kanter (way less valuable than Anthony). There’s no easy way to bridge either gap, especially considering how much the Thunder need Adams’ interior presence.

Here’s my best stab at a workable framework for a trade, via ESPN’s trade machine:

screenshot-www.espn.com-2017-07-24-12-26-16

The Clippers would get a more-skilled backup center while just shuffling bad contracts (at least that’s how it seems they view Wesley Johnson‘s deal). The Thunder would still need to send the Knicks more assets (Terrance Ferguson, Jerami Grant and/or draft picks). The Knicks would get a veteran point guard in Austin Rivers while Frank Ntilikina develops and, more importantly, additional young assets. It’s just a matter of determining whether there’s an overlap in the picks Oklahoma City would trade and New York would receive. That window might be tight – or not exist.

Adding Paul George and Anthony to a team led by Russell Westbrook would be exciting. I’m just not sure it’s realistic.

Rumor: Knicks likely to trade Carmelo Anthony to Rockets this week

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After numerous starts and stops and starts and stops, maybe the Knicks will actually trade Carmelo Anthony to the Rockets soon?

Tarek Fattal of the Los Angeles Daily News:

So, they found a third team to take Ryan Anderson or a fourth team to take Meyers Leonard?

If true, that’d please at least Anthony.

There’s room for a trade to work. New York is clearly ready to move on from Anthony, and Houston wants him to join James Harden and Chris Paul. The Rockets can add sweeteners to convince another team – or maybe even the Knicks – to take a bad contract in the trade.

But this has dragged on so long, I need more evidence the deal is actually close before I believe it.