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.”

 

PBT Podcast: All things Sixers with Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia

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The Sixers have started the season 0-3, Joel Embiid is frustrated about his lack of post touches, and Markelle Fultz‘s shot has gone funky…

Relax. The Sixers are going to be fine, and they still very well could be a playoff team in the East this season. It’s just three games (against teams expected to finish above the Sixers in the standings anyway).

Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia joins Kurt Helin on the Podcast today to talk all things Sixers. They discuss the things that have gone wrong, but also the culture Brett Brown has built, why the Sixers still have to be thought of as a playoff team, and why the future is bright. Also, there is a little discussion of the mess with the Phoenix Suns, their lack of a process, and how Eric Bledsoe could tilt things in the East.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (just click the button under the podcast), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

Stephen Curry fined $50,000 for throwing mouthpiece

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Stephen Curry knew a fine was coming, the only question was how much? The NBA had established this precedent before: When Curry (or any player) threw his mouthpiece he got fined. That he’s done it before and threw it in the direction of an official this time meant the price could go up.

It did — Curry was slapped with a $50,000 fine for throwing his mouthpiece during the ejection from Saturday night’s Warriors loss to the Grizzlies. Curry felt he was fouled on a drive and didn’t get the call, and he lost his cool.

Andre Iguodala was also fined $15,000 for “verbally abusing a game official” during the same incident.

Some fans wanted a suspension for Curry, mostly because it’s trendy to hate on Curry and the Warriors in some circles. Reality is there is a precedent here, and the league office stuck with that. Now, if the mouthpiece had struck the official, Curry would have gotten a suspension. If you want to argue the intent was the same, call up the league. They make the distinction.

Reports: Knicks, Bucks, Nuggets among teams calling about Eric Bledsoe

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Eric Bledsoe is done with the Suns. His excuse that his “I Dont wanna be here” Tweet was about a hair salon is as believable as myself, Bruce Willis, and Andre Agassi Tweeting about our time in hair salons. The Suns have told him to go home, and they will work to trade him. Most likely, the Suns are going to get crushed in this deal — they have no leverage, Bledsoe is a free agent in less than two years (2019), plus most teams are not looking for another point guard. But he is being shopped, and he’d like to go to a winning team.

Where will Bledsoe get traded?

A few names have come up — the Knicks, Bucks, and Nuggets are the ones out in public now. There are more, but let’s take a look at those three.

The Knicks have one of the two worst backcourts in the NBA (the Bulls are in that mix, too) so they certainly could use Bledsoe short term. However, long term he doesn’t fit on the Kristaps Porzingis timeline so how much would New York give up to get him.

That price is too high, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.

The Suns have asked about young Knicks such as Frank Ntilikina and Willy Hernangomez in trade talks about guard Eric Bledsoe, sources confirm. But New York have been opposed to trading either young player, sources told ESPN. Hernangomez has not been in head coach Jeff Hornacek’s regular rotation in the first two games of the season, which has left the second-year center frustrated. But Hernangomez’s lack of playing time isn’t a sign that the club is looking to move him. Ntilikina has dealt with several injuries early in his career but the point guard remains part of the young core New York wants to build around and management, as of Monday afternoon, did not want to move him in a Bledsoe deal.

Then there is Milwaukee.

On the court, this makes some sense. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the point forward who has the ball in his hands, but Bledsoe is adept off the ball and can hit the three. The move would send Malcolm Brogdon back to the bench, which he may not like but is a good thing for a team looking to bolster its depth.

The trade likely would involve Jabari Parker going West, along with salary filler such as Matthew Dellavedova. Parker is coming off multiple injuries, but he still knows how to score inside and in the right system has value. Whether that system is in Phoenix depends on what kind of system they want to run and roster they want to build.

Then there is Denver.

Denver likes Jamal Murray at the point guard spot and is ready to move on from Emmanuel Mudiay, so there could be a point guard swap but with some more salary coming back to Phoenix (Denver likely would want to dump Kenneth Faried but the Suns will want something that helps them out more than that). This makes some sense as it gives the Suns a young point guard with some skills to try out, while the Nuggets get deeper at a spot of need.

Other deals are lurking (yes LeBron James and Bledsoe are tight, but that deal is a long shot), and the Suns rightfully are going to take the best deal they can find, regardless of whether Bledsoe wants to be there or not. The only questions are how fast do they get it done, and what are teams offering?

J.R. Smith replacing Dwyane Wade as Cavaliers’ starting shooting guard

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The Cavaliers are 2-1, but their starting lineups have been outscored by 19 points in 32 minutes. Dwyane Wade has been so bad as the starting shooting guard, his struggles have overshadowed J.R. Smith‘s miserable play as the backup.

But at least Wade volunteered a solution to this predictable problem.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Dwyane Wade is headed for the Cavaliers’ bench at his own request and J.R. Smith is returning to the starting lineup.

Wade, 35, a 12-time All-Star who struggled in his first three games with Cleveland, asked coach Tyronn Lue to make the change, Lue said. But this wasn’t exactly Wade’s idea, either.

Lue told him when he signed with the Cavs Sept. 27 that the second unit may be the best fit for him.

“I just decided, earlier than later, just to get to the unit where I’d be more comfortable in and can probably better with this team in that lineup,” Wade said. “Why wait? Three games in, why wait? Wanted to get in there with those guys.”

Cleveland’s starting lineup needs more shooting and defense around LeBron James – especially with Derrick Rose starting over an injured Isaiah Thomas (though Rose is out a couple games with his own ankle injury). Smith provides that.

Bench-heavy units need more playmaking. Wade provides that.

This was a tricky situation given Wade’s status as a future Hall of Famer and friendship with LeBron. Whether Wade simply suggested the change or Lue is trying to give Wade public credit after coaxing it behind the scenes, the result is the same.

The Cavs can now use their most logical rotation, and they should be better for it.