Warriors beat Clippers 133-120 for 9th straight win over LA (VIDEO)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Stephen Curry scored 29 points despite making just three 3-pointers, Kevin Durant added 26 points and 10 assists, and the Golden State Warriors defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 133-120 for their fifth straight victory on Thursday night.

Blake Griffin had 31 points, making 11 of 13 free throws, for the Clippers. They have lost nine in a row to their Bay Area opponents, the franchise’s longest active skid against a single team.

The rematch wasn’t the debacle that occurred last weekend when the Clippers lost by 46 points at Golden State.

But they still never led and trailed by 21. The Clippers got beat in every category despite Griffin’s hard-charging effort. The Warriors were dominant in the paint, on second-chance points and fast break points.

Golden State has won 11 of its last 12.

The Clippers got within seven on a 3-pointer by Jamal Crawford with 1:55 remaining in the game. But Durant answered with a 3-pointer and Klay Thompson added another.

The Clippers’ defense was no match for Curry. He slipped through the lane for a fastbreak layup with Raymond Felton dogging him on the left and DeAndre Jordan on the right. Curry fell down scoring, drawing the foul and completing the three-point play that kept the Warriors ahead by 15 in the third quarter.

The Warriors toyed with the Clippers, who got within four points in the first quarter and then five in the second quarter, only to have Golden State immediately push the lead back to double digits.

Golden State barreled around the court, knocking down former Warrior Marreese Speights and J.J. Redick in one fell swoop after Durant pushed Austin Rivers on another possession. It was all part of a rollicking first half when the Warriors bobbed, weaved and whipped circus-like passes around before scoring.

The Clippers gave up three dunks and had four turnovers to start the game. Curry forced two steals, feeding Durant and JaVale McGee for consecutive dunks that stunned the Clippers.

Los Angeles outshot Golden State in the first quarter when the Warriors took nearly twice as many shots as the Clippers.


Curry hit his 200th 3-pointer of the season with 2 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter, making him the first player in NBA history to have 200 or more 3-pointers in five consecutive seasons. He missed his first four 3-pointers in the game. Curry came into the game 4 of 28 from 3-point range in three previous games at Staples Center this season.


Griffin’s windmill dunk over Warriors forward Kevon Looney drew oohs from the crowd and merited multiple replays on the video board. He took one large step through the lane and pushed his left hand off the head of a ducking Looney as Griffin elevated before slamming the ball down with his right hand.


Warriors: Curry had 11 assists. … McGee and James Michael McAdoo each finished 5 of 6 from the field. They were among seven Warriors in double figures. … Curry got a technical for smacking the ball out of bounds in the second quarter. … They have reached 100 points in each of the last 26 games. … They were missing starting forward Draymond Green, who has a left shoulder contusion.

Clippers: Griffin passed Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo to move into second on the franchise scoring list. … Los Angeles is 2-5 in its last seven without injured Chris Paul. … Jordan will participate in the slam dunk competition on Feb. 18 during All-Star weekend in New Orleans against Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, Phoenix’s Derrick Jones Jr. and Indiana’s Glenn Robinson III. Jordan leads the league with 152 dunks this season.


Warriors: Visit Sacramento on Saturday, a team they beat by 11 points last month.

Clippers: Visit Boston on Sunday to start their annual five-game Grammy road trip.

Report: Becky Hammon staying with Spurs, not coaching Colorado State men’s team

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Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon was a candidate to coach the men’s team at Colorado State, her alma mater. That would have made her the first woman to coach a Division I men’s team.

Alas, it won’t happen.

Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports:

It’s unclear whether Hammon was ever actually offered the job.

She’s still on the right track for a head-coaching job somewhere. Most importantly, by all accounts, she’s doing good work in San Antonio. There’s also more attention on her career because of her pioneering status, and that will appeal to some teams.

This dalliance with Colorado State raises her profile even further and shows just how close she is.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni: James Harden ‘best offensive player I’ve ever seen’

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James Harden torched a solid Trail Blazers defense for 42 points on 13-of-25 shooting, including 5-of-7 on 3-pointers, and seven assists.

That prompted his coach to heap praise on the runaway MVP.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

“That’s the best offensive player I’ve ever seen,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said of Harden. “They’re running guys to him and he just steps a little further back and makes a 3. The way he can pass and see the floor, get layups, floaters, maybe a lob, maybe out to the corner — he has so many weapons, and now he’s shooting those step-back 3s.

“It’s impossible to guard him. It’s impossible.”

At first, that sounds like hyperbole from a biased source. But Harden might actually the best offensive player ever. (D’Antoni has been around for all the major contenders.)

Michael Jordan gets overlooked because he was also excellent defensively. Ditto LeBron James to a lesser extent. Another contender: Stephen Curry, whose Warriors might file away D’Antoni’s assessment for if they meet Houston in the playoffs. (The Rockets provide plenty of motivational fodder.)

The list of contenders definitely skews toward the present. Players have gotten progressively more skilled, especially the generation that grew up with the 3-point arc and didn’t suddenly have to adjust to it.

And Harden might be the cream of the crop. He’s an incredible shooter with very deep range off the dribble or spotting up, and he can drive with the best of them. Yes, foul-drawing is a skill. Harden’s combination of scoring volume and efficiency is unprecedented. He’s also an impressive passer, a skill fully unleashed by D’Antoni making Harden a point guard.

I think I’d lean toward Curry, who’s an even better shooter and screener. But it’s very close, and Harden keeps raising his level. Curry probably peaked two years ago (though he obviously remains elite). I definitely wouldn’t dismiss anyone who picks Harden as biased or misguided.

Cavaliers star LeBron James: Raptors ‘in a better place than we are right now’

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It’s not enough to say the Raptors have the Eastern Conference’s best record.

The Celtics had the East’s best record last year, and most people thought the Cavaliers were better. Cleveland had a better point difference and more star power – LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love – than Boston. The Cavs confirmed that notion by cruising past the Celtics in a five-game conference finals.

The Raptors have been the Eastern Conference’s best team this season.

They rank fourth in the NBA in offensive and defensive rating, the only team top five in both categories. Led by DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, their starting lineup has embraced a more dynamic offense with more 3-point shooting and passing. Toronto’s bench is the best in the league.

LeBron, whose Cavaliers host the Raptors tonight, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“They’re in a better place than we are right now because they’ve had more consistency and they’ve had their guys in the lineup for the majority of the year,” James said after the Cavs’ morning workout. “So, they know what they want to accomplish. They know who they are at this point in the season. Obviously, you guys know about us, we’re still trying to figure that out.”

This is so obviously correct. It’s just surprising to see LeBron put it so directly, though it’s unsurprising he’s hanging on the Cavs’ instability to date.

Kevin Love and Isaiah Thomas were injured for long stretches, and Thomas and several others were traded. Coach Tyronn Lue is on a leave of absence.

But the Cavaliers made those major trades because they were struggling, and this new group won’t necessarily simply figure things out with time. Defensive problems persist. Lue’s health is unclear.

LeBron understandably remains confident in himself, even as the Cavs enter the postseason as a middling seed. He’s also setting up a narrative of Cleveland coming from behind if it advances to the NBA Finals. We’ll see whether it happens.

Tonight likely won’t be a referendum, though. Tristan Thompson, Rodney Hood, Kyle Korver and Larry Nance Jr. are out for the Cavaliers. That roster instability still exists.

If LeBron dials up playoff intensity tonight, that could send a warning to Toronto, though I’m not sure it’s necessary. As far ahead as the Raptors are right now, after Cleveland soundly eliminated them the last two years, I think everyone knows it’s a couple months too early to properly assess these teams’ relative places.

Report: Optimism remains for Kawhi Leonard returning this season

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Kawhi Leonard reportedly planned to return for last Thursday’s Spurs-Pelicans game – but didn’t.

A couple games later, and Leonard remains out. Will he actually play again this season?

Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

Leonard resumed working out in San Antonio on Feb. 27 and is feeling “much better,” according to the source. Eleven games remain in the regular season, but there remains optimism he will return this season, the source said.

Sources told ESPN that Leonard’s target date to return from the quadriceps tendinopathy that has kept him out for all but nine games this season has always been “mid-March.”

It’s March 21. We’re nearing the end of what anyone would consider mid-March.

A month ago, Spurs president-coach Gregg Popovich said time was running out for Leonard to return and acclimate to the lineup. But Popovich has sounded more open lately to Leonard – whose own doctors must still clear him – returning whenever the forward is ready.

San Antonio (41-31, tied for fifth in the West) has probably done enough without Leonard to make the playoffs. The Spurs have a 3.0-game buffer over the Nuggets and 3.5-game buffer over the Clippers for playoff position.

But San Antonio would become far more dangerous in the playoffs – a threat to any team, including the Rockets and Warriors – if Leonard returns to full strength.

First, he must just get back on the court at all, and maybe that’ll happen sooner than later. The way this injury has gone, though, it’s hard to believe anything until we see it.