Associated Press

Stephen Curry scores 28, Warriors beat Bucks 117-92

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Warriors signed Matt Barnes for protection and depth once Kevin Durant went down with a knee injury in late February.

Scoring? Well, that’s icing on the cake for the feisty 37-year-old veteran.

Barnes made back-to-back 3-pointers to ignite a big run in the second quarter and Golden State overcame a sluggish start to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 117-92 on Saturday night.

“He’s not a great shooter but he’s a guy who you have to honor if you’re out there defending him,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He doesn’t have to make shots to be effective. He does everything else so well. He’s already picked up our offense, like that. He’s been a tremendous addition.”

Stephen Curry scored 28 points with six 3-pointers, Draymond Green added eight points, eight rebounds and 10 assists, and Klay Thompson scored 21 points to help Warriors complete a season sweep of the Bucks.

Golden State improved to an NBA-best 55-14 with its second straight win by 25 points or more. It was also the Warriors’ third consecutive victory overall following a season-high, three-game losing streak.

The win came on the heels of news that Durant, out since spraining a knee ligament on Feb. 28, has progressed to taking jump shots, an encouraging sign for a team trying to hold on to the top spot in the West.

Golden State has been inconsistent since losing Durant and fell behind by 14 early in the opening period Saturday before outscoring the Bucks 36-15 in the second quarter.

Barnes scored seven straight points and fed Thompson for a short jumper to spark a 23-6 run, while Curry provided the game’s signature moment with a 33-foot shot just before halftime that brought the Oracle crowd to its feet.

“Matt played phenomenal tonight,” Thompson said. “We expect him to keep doing that. He just brings a certain of level of toughness we need off the bench. He’s a huge asset for us and a great pickup.”

The Warriors led by 27 in the third, allowing Kerr to rest his starters for most of the fourth for a second straight game.

Malcolm Brogdon scored 18 points while Greg Monroe had 12 points with seven rebounds for Milwaukee. The Bucks, playing the second half of a back-to-back, lost for the second time in 10 games.

“No excuses but we were fatigued,” Brogdon said. “If your second game on a back-to-back is one of the best teams, it’s going to be tough. Fatigue definitely plays a factor but it’s not the reason we lost.”

TIP-INS

Bucks: Milwaukee shot 23.8 percent in the second quarter. . Matthew Dellavedova was booed by the Oracle crowd every time he touched the ball. Dellavedova played at nearby St. Mary’s in college but is best remembered in these parts for helping the Cavaliers rally from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Warriors in the NBA Finals last season.

Warriors: Kerr is encouraged by what he’s seeing from Durant. “I watched him go from sitting in a chair shooting to standstill shooting to now jump shooting,” Kerr said. “He’s clearly making progress. It’s great.” . Two days after putting up 21 points in the first quarter against Orlando, Thompson was shut out in the first against Milwaukee but came back to score seven straight to open the fourth.

KERR’S MESSAGE

Kerr took two quick timeouts in the first quarter to settle his team down. It obviously worked. “It was mostly about the defense and rebounding,” Kerr said of his message. “I thought we actually defended halfway decently to start the game but they kept getting one offensive rebound after the other. I liked the way we were going. It was just that nothing was going our way.”

 

Elfrid Payton slams chasedown block on LeBron James (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is usually the guy handing out chasedown blocks. He’s famous for them, and has carted out his signature move in the biggest moments of his career.

He’s also not used to having his own shots blocked from behind, and certainly not by opposing point guards.

Enter Elfrid Payton.

During a play halfway through the first quarter against the Orlando Magic on Thursday, LeBron was on a drive to the hole with Elfrid trailing far behind.

Thanks to a pinch by two Magic defenders, LeBron had to try and use brute force a bit deeper in the paint than he wanted to.

That allowed Payton — running at full speed — to catch up and pin The King on the glass.

Cleveland still got the best of the Magic, as Isaiah Thomas hit a clutch free throw to win the game with 11 seconds left, 104-103.

All-Star Joel Embiid doesn’t need Rihanna: “On to the next one”

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For about as long as we can remember, Joel Embiid has famously thirsted after Rihanna on Twitter. Fans have tried to boost his standing with the singer, but it apparently that has not been enough.

In 2014, Embiid mentioned on social media that a “famous girl” — presumably Rihanna — told him to “Come back when you’re an All-Star.”

Well, today is that day.

Embiid is a starter out of the Eastern Conference, and on Thursday night he had his chance to speak to Rihanna (or whomever) via national TV on TNT.

Did Embiid decide to reach out to this famous person? Apparently he’s off it.

Via Twitter:

This is like that scene from Private Parts when Howard Stern hits No. 1 and he tells Paul Giamatti’s character to get lost.

Embiid had the chance to curve Rihanna (or whomever) and took it. Long live The Process.

Here are the weirdest NBA All-Star voting results for 2018

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NBA All-Star voting is over, and now we have the results. The starters are in, and what’s left is for us to wait until they announce the teams after they are picked in double secret ceremony.

Of course, the NBA did release the full voting results via their PR website this week, and as such there are some head scratchers. My boy Patrick Redford over at Deadspin did an excellent job rounding up some of the players who got exactly one (1) vote from other players.

The gag here is that these guys presumably voted for themselves.

Of course, what I found most interesting was actually the guys who got multiple votes from their compatriots without being All-Star caliber players.

My favorite list of player-voted non-All-Stars includes: Michael Beasley (4), Gordon Hayward (2), Boban Marjanovic (2), Jahlil Okafor (4), Quincy Acy (2), Tyler Zeller (4), T.J. McConnell (2), Elfrid Payton (2), Zaza Pachulia (3), Taj Gibson (6), Zach Randolph (5), Maurice Harkless (2), Deyonta Davis (3), Lonzo Ball (9), Mike Conley (3).

There’s a whole smattering of guys in there who either didn’t play enough, aren’t stars, are injured, or who aren’t very good.

That multiple players took time to vote for these guys really speaks to the frivolity of the NBA All-Star Game. At least outside of player contract incentives.

Bring on February!

LeBron James throws behind-the-back, nutmeg pass for assist (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is one of the best passers the NBA has ever seen, but even this is too hard to believe.

During Thursday’s game between the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron through a ridiculous behind-the-back pass that nutmegged Orlando’s Aaron Gordon.

The result of the play was a bucket for Dwyane Wade.

Via Twitter:

I mean, that’s just … insane.