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Struggling Warriors, Iguodala show signs of frustration

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Off-color jokes. Criticizing officiating. Lamenting a tough portion of the schedule.

The Golden State Warriors have rarely dealt with adversity over the last three regular seasons. Now that it has arrived, there are signs of tension and frustration with a team trying to find a groove without Kevin Durant while in pursuit of a third straight trip to the NBA Finals.

After a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night – Golden State’s fourth defeat in six games – forward Andre Iguodala made several racially tinged comments during his postgame remarks to the media. The comments came after coach Steve Kerr announced that Iguodala, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson would sit out a showdown with the second-seeded Spurs in San Antonio on Saturday night.

“No clue,” Iguodala said when asked if he was aware of Kerr’s plan before the game. “I do what master say.”

Iguodala also was asked what was at the root of the issues for a Warriors team that was dominant with Durant, but has looked tired and vulnerable since he went down with a knee injury on Feb. 28.

Iguodala, who is black, used a racial slur to imply that was what the media was looking for, then said “Just play harder. Figure it out. Change gonna come. You know what we used to say. Change gonna come.”

He later clarified to ESPN that he has no issue with Kerr or his decision to rest players in a nationally televised game on Saturday night.

The Warriors also expressed significant frustration with the officiating from Ken Mauer’s crew in the 103-102 loss to the Wolves. Kerr said Andrew Wiggins “did not get fouled” on a play late in the game that put him on the free throw line for the winning foul shots.

Green didn’t speak to the media until about 45 minutes after the game ended, a very long time for a player who normally likes to address things quickly and move on. He said he spent most of that time contemplating whether he wanted to risk a $25,000 fine from the NBA for criticizing the officials. He joked that he was going to buy himself a watch for deciding to use restraint, even after questioning a technical foul he received for getting tangled up with Karl-Anthony Towns.

“How do I get a technical for trying to stop continuation?” Green said. “I don’t know. I guess I got to play by different rules than the rest of the NBA. That one really sticks with me.”

It was Green’s 13th technical foul this season. If he gets three more, he will be suspended for a game.

“How many do I really got is the question?” Green said. “I don’t know. Different set of rules.”

The road weary team is at the tail end of a tough stretch of eight games in eight different cities in 13 days. With Durant not expected back for another month or so, the minutes are piling up and the heavy favorites to come out of the Western Conference for a chance at a second championship in three years are just 1+ games up on the Spurs for the No. 1 seed.

Curry is struggling with his shooting. He was 1 for 8 from 3-point range against the Wolves and is 18 for 76 from long distance in March.

But a reprieve is right around the corner. After the Spurs game, the Warriors finish the season with 11 of their final 16 at home, and Green, Curry, Iguodala and Thompson will get three full days of rest before they have to play again.

After being down 17 points in the first half and 14 points to start the fourth quarter against the improving Wolves, the Warriors started to show signs of their old selves with a furious fourth quarter rally that came up just short.

“A couple tough calls, but that’s the way it goes,” Kerr said after the game. “The main thing is I’m really pleased with just our fight and our defensive effort in the fourth quarter. We gave ourselves a great chance to win. It just didn’t happen.”

Russell Westbrook dogs Warriors, Damian Lillard after Paul George misses All-Star roster

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Ah yes, let the mud-slinging begin.

Russell Westbrook is on a team with three huge stars in the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was always going to be difficult for all of them to make the 2018 NBA All-Star team out west.

But that doesn’t matter to Russ.

After Tuesday night’s win over the Brooklyn Nets (where Westbrook hit the game-winning shot, no less) the reigning NBA MVP had some thoughts about teammate Paul George missing out on the All-Star Game, calling it “outrageous”.

Westbrook wasn’t too happy with teams getting “four people” onto the team (a dig at the Golden State Warriors) and that players are, “Talking about getting snubbed until they get in.”

That last part seems to have taken aim at Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, one of the most talked about snubs in recent years who finally got another All-Star bid.

Via Twitter:

Westbrook also said that George was “Top 2 at his position” which really colors the underlying issue at hand: Russ likes PG and wants him to stay in OKC.

Nobody reasonable would say that George is a Top 2 player on the wing. Not while LeBron James and Kevin Durant are alive, at least. And Westbrook’s comments about folks being stars vs. not stars, even if the voting goes one way says a lot.

The Warriors are the best team of all time. A bunch of guys getting on All-Star teams in their heyday makes sense, even if one of those guys is Klay Thompson (sometimes). We all have Warriors fatigue, I guess.

Meanwhile, Lillard is one of adidas’ biggest athletes when it comes to basketball, the face of a franchise, and has put up numbers deserving of making the team in years past. He’s also a big personality and a rapper. Lillard’s name is in lights each and every night. The issue with him sees to be that nobody watches him consistently east of the Cascades.

But all this arguing gives legitimacy to Westbrook’s point, which is mostly personal. George’s numbers have taken a dip in some areas, particularly when it comes to things like VORP, assist percentage, and true shooting. They’ve gone up in others, like 3-point shooting. He’s still a very good player and very valuable to the Thunder.

Each year, guys get left off the All-Star team for various reasons. Sometimes it’s just their turn to be on it or be off it. Nice of Westbrook to stop by with some takes.

Here’s hoping for him that George stays in OKC.

Russell Westbrook hits game-winning shot to beat Nets (VIDEO)

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Spencer Dinwiddie hit the game-winning shot for the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night. At least, many thought he did.

But that honor actually went to Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook, who had hit the real game winner with a little more than three seconds to go.

Westbrook’s bucket came on after a sideline inbounds play led to a hard drive to the right side of the bucket for the reigning MVP.

Then, Dinwiddie got the ball and had appeared to make a 3-pointer to win the game for the Nets. However, it clanged off the side of the rim, moving the net in a way that many watching on TV and in the arena thought had gone in.

Via Twitter:

OKC beat Brooklyn, 109-108.

Here’s LeBron James scoring the 30,000th point of his career (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is officially the youngest player to ever reach 30,000 points in an NBA career.

The Cleveland Cavaliers great, who preemptively congratulated himself in a weird Instagram post earlier in the day, got points 30,000 and 30,001 at the age of 33 years and 24 days, edging Kobe Bryant by a year and 80 days.

The play came with just a second to go in the first quarter while the Cavaliers played on the road against the San Antonio Spurs.

Dribbling on the left arc against Danny Green — a formidable defender — LeBron gave a hesitation dribble before stepping just inside the 3-point line for a pull-up jumper.

Via Twitter:

LeBron still has Dirk Nowitzki, Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ahead of him on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

Where he ends up might just depend on how long Nowitzki plays.

Top five 2018 All-Star Game snubs

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We fans love to talk about who gets snubbed. There are 68 teams in the NCAA tournament and we argue about who was 69th and deserved to be there.

With the NBA All-Star game, there are always legitimate snubs — and with the Western Conference so ridiculously deep this season good players were going to get left out. Just picking my reserve choices for a podcast felt brutal.

We now know the All-Star Game starters and reserves, so who got snubbed. Here are the top five.

1) Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers. Los Angeles has been devastated by injuries this season (not to mention losing Chris Paul in the off-season) yet they are still in the playoff hunt in the West and the main reason is Lou Williams. The leading Sixth Man of the Year candidate is averaging 23.3 points per game, 5,3 assists a night, and is shooting better than 40 percent from three. He had a red-hot January so far, averaging 29.2 points per game. This may be a case where Damian Lillard got the nod from the coaches for his multi-year body of work (he’s been good a long time), but Williams is having his best season ever and has a great case.

2) Chris Paul, Houston Rockets. He likely didn’t get selected because he has missed 17 games this season — but Stephen Curry missed 15 and is a captain. When CP3 has played he’s been brilliant, averaging 19.1 points and 8.9 assists per game, he’s been crucial to improving the Rockets defense this season, and when he is on the court the Rockets outscore opponents by 10.9 points per 100 possessions. The Rockets are 23-5 when he plays. Houston is the second best team in the NBA, they should have more than one representative tonight.

3) Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons. The coaches went with four guards for the East reserves, and that left just three frontcourt spots and four deserving players. Drummond is the odd-man out. Which sucks — he is averaging 14.3 points per game on 54 percent shooting, and he remains the best rebounder in the game today pulling down 15 a night. He has improved his defensive play as well, but what everyone notices is he hitting his free throws (62.9 percent) and that means Stan Van Gundy can play him at the end of games and not sub him out.

Drummond was more than a little frustrated he didn’t make the cut.

4) Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder. George has played well on both ends this season next to Russell Westbrook. He is averaging 20.8 points per game and shooting 42.9 percent from three on one end of the floor, and defensively he is averaging 4.4 deflections per game and has 93 steals — both tops in the league. George is a four-time All-Star and it feels weird to see him left out, but he came to the ridiculously deep Western Conference and good players were not going to make it. He’s the odd man out in the frontcourt.

5) Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets. Could have got a lot of directions here – Ben Simmons and Goran Dragic can make their cases on appeal — but people have been sleeping on just how well Walker has been playing this season. Walker is averaging an efficient 21.8 points per game, dishing out 5.9 assists per night, and when he is on the court the Hornets outscore teams by 5.1 points per 100 possessions (that’s better than the Celtics or Timberwolves net ratings for the season). The problem is when he sits they fall apart, and Walker pays the price for his team struggling this season. His name has popped up in trade rumors, and he is the best guy available right now (not that he gets moved in a tight market). Walker was an All-Star last season and had a very strong case to be one again.