Stephen Curry says Warriors must maintain focus while Kevin Durant recovers

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CHICAGO (AP) — As tough as it was to lose Kevin Durant to a leg injury, the Golden State Warriors were breathing a little easier. After all, they expect their superstar forward will return this season.

“There was definitely a sense of relief that he’ll be able to come back at some point down the stretch of the season,” Stephen Curry said Thursday in Chicago. “Our job now is to (continue) being us, continue to get wins, continue to play well, continue to build toward the playoffs and then when he’s able to rejoin us, hopefully, we hit our stride and be ready to try to win another championship.”

Curry, the two-time reigning MVP, spoke at the shootaround before the Warriors’ game against the Bulls.

Golden State boasts the NBA’s best record, has a playoff spot locked up and is focused on a second championship in three years. But Curry and Co. might have to get by without their leading scorer and rebounder for the remainder of the regular season and maybe even longer after he injured his left knee in Tuesday’s loss at Washington.

Durant, averaging 25.3 points and 8.2 rebounds, sprained a ligament and bruised a bone when teammate Zaza Pachulia fell into him after being pushed by Wizards center Marcin Gortat. An MRI revealed the injuries.

Durant is scheduled to be re-evaluated in a month. That would leave about two weeks remaining in the regular season if he is ready to return then. The playoffs start in mid-April.

“Obviously, it’s tough,” Draymond Green said. “We’ll have to do it by committee. One guy isn’t going to come and bring 26 points and eight rebounds per game. Multiple guys have got to step up. Some guys’ minutes will increase.”

No doubt, losing their big man is a huge blow for the Warriors. They became the earliest team in NBA history to clinch a playoff spot when they beat Brooklyn on Saturday and are trying to lock down the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

But it’s not like they haven’t won in a huge way without Durant. They captured the NBA championship two years ago and then set a league record with 73 victories on the way to their second straight finals last season, before signing the 2013-14 MVP to a two-year deal.

“It’s not the end of the world,” Green said. “We’ve still got to go out and win basketball games. … Home court in the playoffs, of course that’s the goal.”

Golden State signed forward Matt Barnes to replace the injured Durant, adding some toughness and defense to a team gearing up for another deep playoff run. He spent two years with the Warriors earlier in his career, helping them beat Dallas in a stunning upset in the 2007 playoffs. The 36-year-old Barnes played in 54 games for the Sacramento Kings this season before being waived.

“Just excitement,” Barnes said. “Tremendously humbled. It’s a team everybody talks about, the chemistry they have on and off the court and the way they play for each other. That’s something I want to be a part of.”

Grizzlies beat slumping Pacers, who fall into tie for final playoff spot

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Mike Conley matched his career high with seven 3-pointers on his way to 36 points, helping the Memphis Grizzlies rout the Indiana Pacers 110-97 on Wednesday night.

Vince Carter had 21 points and eight rebounds, and Zach Randolph finished with 17 points as Memphis snapped a four-game losing streak. Conley went 13 for 21 from the field.

Paul George led the Pacers with 22 points, Aaron Brooks, who provided an early spark from outside the arc, had 18 points, and Thaddeus Young finished with 16.

Indiana lost for the fourth time in five games.

Memphis played without All-Star center Marc Gasol, who missed his third straight game with a left foot strain. But Conley helped the Grizzlies get off the fast start, and Pacers were never able to catch up.

Memphis led by as many as 22 in the second quarter and carried a 72-53 advantage into the break. Conley scored 22 points in the first half, and the Grizzlies went 10 for 17 from beyond the arc in the first two periods.

Brooks made four 3-pointers and scored 14 in the first half for Indiana.

The Grizzlies led 96-79 after three, and the sliding Pacers never threatened in the fourth.

Indiana (37-38) dropped into a tie with Miami for the last spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Both are two games behind Milwaukee and Atlanta.

The Heat, Bucks and Hawks all won Wednesday night.

TIP-INS

Pacers: Brooks made a 3-pointer in the first quarter to reach 800 for his career. … Indiana dropped to 0-8 in road games on the second night of a back-to-back.

Grizzlies: JaMychal Green was out with left shoulder soreness. That caused Memphis to use its 22nd different starting lineup this season. … Memphis scored 38 points in the first quarter, matching its highest point total for any quarter this season. … Memphis has made at least 10 3-pointers in 36 games. … In the third quarter, Carter passed Ray Allen (24,505) for 22nd in NBA history for career points scored. … Reserve guard Andrew Harrison left in the third quarter with a right ankle injury.

PACERS HOMECOMINGS

Pacers forward Thaddeus Young played high school basketball in Memphis and still lives there. Pacers guard Monta Ellis has a home in the Eads community east of Memphis.

HOME STRETCH

Memphis (41-34), which sits seventh in the Western Conference playoff race, has a beneficial schedule down the stretch. Of its seven remaining games, five are at home, and five are against teams with losing records.

UP NEXT

Pacers: Visit Toronto on Friday.

Grizzlies: Host the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

Three Mavericks teammates restrain Devin Harris, who still gets ejected (video)

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Dallas guard Devin Harris was ejected from Wednesday night’s 121-118 loss to New Orleans after angrily protesting calls made by official Ben Taylor.

Harris was assessed two quick technical fouls by Taylor, the first after Harris protested Taylor’s decision to whistle him for a personal foul when he collided with Pelicans’ guard Jordan Crawford.

The impact with Crawford sent Harris crashing to the court, marking the second time in the period that Harris had gone down hard. The first time, no foul was called when a collision with Pelicans’ guard E'Twaun Moore left Harris flat on his back.

When Harris was assessed the first technical, he went into a tirade and had to be restrained by teammates as he advanced toward Taylor. That triggered his ejection.

Bucks’ Malcolm Brogdon beats shot clock, Celtics with dagger (video)

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Who should win Rookie of the Year?

Joel Embiid has been, by far, the best rookie while on the court, but a season-ending injury will limit him to just 31 games. Malcolm Brogdon has been next best over the full course of the season. Dario Saric is making a heck of a finishing kick, and with a couple weeks left, he can still catch Brogdon.

But Brogdon got his own late signature moment in the Bucks’ 103-100 win over the Celtics tonight.

With the Bucks up one in the final seconds and the shot clock nearing expiration, Brogdon hit an off-balance jumper with 3.9 seconds left to produce the final margin.

Milwaukee’s win drops Boston (48-27) to second in the Eastern Conference, behind only the Cavaliers (47-26). The Bucks (39-36) keep pace with the Hawks in a tie for fifth.

Russell Westbrook scores most points ever in triple-double, 57

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Russell Westbrook led a double-digit comeback in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Been there done, that.

Westbrook hit a defining buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Been there done, that.

Westbrook posted a historic triple-double. Been there, done that.

All three in one game?

That’s a new level for Westbrook, who lifted the Thunder to a 114-106 win over the Magic tonight while posting an incredible stat line: 57 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.

James Harden scored 53 in a triple-double just this season, and Westbrook has already one-upped that record.

This MVP race is one for the ages.