Warriors big four combine for 77 points in 127-108 win over Nuggets

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DENVER (AP) — The Golden State Warriors took to the road to work out some early season wrinkles in their overall game.

Kevin Durant scored 25 points, Stephen Curry had 22 and the Warriors rode a big third quarter to a 127-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.

Klay Thompson and Draymond Green added 15 points apiece for the Warriors. They have won six of their last seven, including all three during their just concluded trip.

“Getting on the road was good for us,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Sometimes you need to get on the road to feel more threatened. A team like this especially that’s used to being successful. I thought we took a couple of home games for granted and we weren’t defending, we weren’t bring energy.”

Will Barton had 21 points off the bench to lead the Nuggets. None of Denver’s starters reached double figures in scoring.

Up by five at halftime, the Warriors forced a decisive turn in the game with a 24-4 run to start the third, taking an 84-59 lead when Curry hit a fall-away 3-pointer from the baseline after poking the ball away from Mason Plumlee for a steal.

The Warriors finished with 43 points in the third – the most points allowed by the Nuggets in a period this season – and took a 103-76 lead into the fourth quarter.

“I think everybody came out with great energy in the second half. We found something in the pick and roll and we tried to exploit it,” Durant said. “Guys were moving on the backside without the ball, finding the open area and knocking down shots.

“We didn’t play well a few games early on, but the last three games have been solid for us,” Durant added. “We’ll try to take it home and build on that.”

Durant had 13 of his points in the period and Curry added 12 in the same span, helping Golden State lead by as many as 29 points and outscore Denver by 22 points in the quarter.

“They just blitzed us and we didn’t respond,” Barton said.

Both teams began to substitute freely early in the fourth quarter and the Warriors coasted to the victory.

The Nuggets, trailing by 13 after the first quarter, scored 15 straight points to start the second behind their bench players and moved in front for the first time in the game on Barton’s fastbreak 3-pointer 38-36 midway through the period. But Golden State came back to lead 60-55 at the half, scoring nine of the last 13 points in the final two minutes of the quarter capped by Thompson’s 3-pointer off a feed from Curry an instant before the halftime buzzer sounded.

Golden State, showcasing its transition game and ball movement throughout the game, finished with 37 assists, including a game high 11 by Curry.

“They never cave in,” Barton said. “When we went on that run in the second quarter, they just kept playing, kept on making plays, stuck to their game plan and weathered the storm. And if we’re trying to be a good team, we’ve got to be able to do the same things.”

LIGHTS OUT

The Warriors shot 54.9 percent from the field, a season high by a Nuggets’ opponent and yet another signal of Golden State’s offensive potential on a nightly basis. “I don’t want to sit here and say we won’t do that all season, but as long as we get good shots, we give ourselves a chance to shoot a good percentage,” Green said.

 

 

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.