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.”

 

Serge Ibaka, DeMar DeRozan lead Raptors past Mavericks, 94-86

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DALLAS (AP) — DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka scored 18 points apiece, and the Toronto Raptors clinched a playoff berth after their fifth straight victory, 94-86 over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night.

The Raptors, who came back from 15-point deficits to win each of their last two games, made it a little easier on themselves Saturday. Toronto scored the game’s first seven points and never trailed in dealing the Mavericks’ playoff hopes a damaging blow.

Harrison Barnes scored 23 points for Dallas, which missed 18 of its first 22 3-pointers and finished just 7 of 28 from behind the arc.

Patrick Patterson added 14 points for Toronto, including a perfect 4 for 4 on 3-pointers.

The Mavericks fell four games behind Denver for the final playoff spot in the West.

Toronto led by as many as 16 points in the first half and by 15 early in the fourth quarter before a 10-0 Dallas run made things more interesting.

Dorian Finney-Smith‘s free throws with 7:57 to go brought the Mavs within 79-74, the closest they had been since 7-2 early in the game. But Ibaka made consecutive jumpers to restore a nine-point lead, and Dallas got no closer than six after that.

The Raptors had their biggest lead at 42-26 in the first half. Barnes scored Dallas’ last 11 points of the half to help cut into the lead, but Toronto led 54-44 at the break.

J.J. Barea‘s long 3 at the third-quarter buzzer again brought Dallas within 10 at 74-64.

TIP-INS

Raptors: Coach Dwane Casey said he was hopeful that guard Kyle Lowry would return from wrist surgery before the end of the regular season. “I know he’s doing a lot of conditioning, a lot of work to keep his body in shape,” Casey said. “Just let him rehab, let him do his thing and trust our medical people.” Lowry has missed the last 16 games. . Toronto was also without starting forward DeMarre Carroll due to a sore lower back. P.J. Tucker started in his place.

Mavericks: Seth Curry with 11 points and Yogi Ferrell with 10 were the only other Mavs in double figures. . Nerlens Noel started his second game in a row at center for the Mavericks, who have gone to a big lineup. They’ve moved Dirk Nowitzki to power forward, Barnes to small forward and Curry to point guard.

STREAK IN JEOPARDY

The Mavericks took their 41st loss of the season. Their next loss will end the NBA’s second-longest streak of .500 or better seasons – currently at 16 seasons. Their last sub-.500 season was 1999-00, when they finished 40-42 and Mark Cuban became owner of the team in January 2000.

San Antonio has the longest streak of .500 or better seasons with 20, including this season.

ABOUT THURSDAY NIGHT

Cuban couldn’t resist giving his opinion on Barea’s ejection from the Mavericks’ victory over the Clippers on Thursday night. Barea was called for a flagrant 2 foul for pushing Blake Griffin, a player with a 10-inch height advantage over Barea.

“I just feel bad for Blake,” Cuban said. “It’s hard to come back from a knockout like that. We sent flowers to his family, condolences. I can only guess that he’s going to be drinking through a straw for a long, long time.”

 

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.