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Sloppy Warriors, Stephen Curry turn it on in overtime to beat Lakers

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LOS ANGELES — Galling.

That was the word Warriors coach Steve Kerr used to describe his team’s 22 turnovers, but he might as well have said their game overall.

“I like the word galling. Tonight was absolutely galling,” Kerr said. “There were some mind-boggling plays out there, and I don’t know what to tell you. We’ve got to be able to take better care of the ball and make better decisions.”

Stephen Curry had been part of the problem much of the night, but then he turned around and scored 13 points and knocked down a couple of crucial threes in overtime as the Warriors held off a feisty Lakers team 127-123.

There are no moral victories in the NBA, but this really was one for the Lakers.

Brandon Ingram had probably the best game of his career, scoring 32 points on 12-of-21 shooting, and he was aggressive from the start — early in the game in transition drove right into the body of Jordan Bell and powered through him. Ingram, the No. 2 pick in 2016, looks like a player figuring it out, turning the corner to become a force in the league. And he was fearless. Much of the night Ingram was matched up with Kevin Durant and showed no hesitation. Ingram defended well and forced turnovers (he had three steals and two blocks on the night), plus was the Lakers’ go-to offensive option.

That meant with 5 seconds left and the game tied 109-109, the Lakers turned to Ingram in isolation to try and win it, but Draymond Green slid over in a good bit of help defense on Ingram’s drive, challenge the shot, Ingram missed the driving lay-up, and the game went to overtime.

“He was going to go right, he always goes right,” Green said of his help on the final play (and it’s a reminder Ingram still has work to do to round out his game).

Lonzo Ball finished the night with 15 points and 10 assists, and for one third-quarter stretch found his groove and knocked down back-t0-back threes, then hit a driving layup. For much of the night, the Warriors helped off Ball and basically ignored him on the offensive end when he didn’t have the ball, and for a couple of minutes he made Golden State pay for that and was the scorer the Lakers need him to be.

“Well, he’s been shooting lights out in practice the last week or so,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “I told him before the game, I said, ‘Zo, you’re going to be one of the best point guards in the league, you are. Embrace this challenge if you’re open and in rhythm.’ I thought most of (his shots) tonight were in rhythm.”

All of which is nice for the Lakers, but the Warriors got the win. Durant had 29 points, Curry 28, Klay Thompson 20 with four threes, and Green had 15 points and 11 boards.

Golden State looked either disinterested or like they had too good a time in Los Angeles the night before for much of the game. But they locked in for a few stretches and overtime, and that — plus their talent — was enough.

“We got stops when we needed,” Durant said. “We turned the ball over too much tonight and got them going, but we got stops when we needed them, we hit big shots down the stretch.”

That was enough for this night. Barely.


Giannis Antetokounmpo to tell his story on 60 Minutes this week (preview clip)

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Giannis Antetokounmpo grew up hocking wares — clothes, sunglasses, whatever — on the streets of Athens, Greece. He easily could still be living there, the tallest salesman in a poor part of a country with high unemployment and real challenges.

Instead, he is a multimillionaire living comfortably in the United States, and is one of the 10 best basketball players in the world — and still improving. In a few years we may well be saying he is the best player on the planet.

Antetokounmpo will be telling his story on the legendary television news magazine 60 Minutes this week, and the show released a clip. Check it out.

This is the best missed free throw to game winner you will ever see

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We’ve all seen this situation before at every level of basketball: A team down three points gets fouled in the final seconds and has two free throws, so the shooter aims to make the first free throw then miss the second and create a rebound he or a teammate can grab then throw back in to tie the game. It works about as often as an NFL Hail Mary — either the shooter makes the shot anyway or the defense gets the board — but what other choice is there?

Nobody has ever pulled it off as well as Paulinho Boracini of the Brazilian league team Cearense.

Intentional or not (and I lean not), he banked the second free throw off the rim toward the corner, ran it down himself and hit the game-winning three.

Damn. That’s impressive.

(If Boracini and Cearense sound familiar, you win the award for “watching too much Knicks preseason basketball” because they played New York in a 2015 exhibition.)

Giannis Antetokounmpo doubtful with ankle injury for Bulls game

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MILWAUKEE (AP) The Milwaukee Bucks say Giannis Antetokounmpo is doubtful for Friday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls with a sprained right ankle.

The All-Star forward got hurt in the second quarter of a 127-120 loss on Wednesday to the Los Angeles Clippers when he appeared to trip over teammate Shabazz Muhammad under the Bucks’ basket.

Antetokounmpo is fourth in the league in scoring at 27.3 points a game.


Anfernee Simons declares for NBA draft straight out of high school (kind of)

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Anfernee Simons spent the last year playing high school basketball. But because he did so as a fifth-year prep after technically graduating from high school last year and turns 19 in June, he’s eligible for the NBA draft.

Following a path taken by Thon Maker and considered by Jonathan Isaac, Simons – as expected – is turning pro.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

Anfernee Simons will forgo his collegiate eligibility and declare for the 2018 NBA draft, he informed ESPN.

Simons informed ESPN that he will sign with agent Bobby Petriella of Rosenhaus Sports Representation

Simons looks like a mid-first-rounder, though his range is quite wide considering how large of a jump he’s making. Teams can learn relatively more about him in workouts and interviews.

A 6-foot-4 shooting guard who specializes in scoring, Simons is quick on his feet with a quick release off the dribble – with range from beyond the 3-point arc to an impressive floater game. Those floaters will be important, because Simons isn’t nearly strong enough for the NBA. He’s also a lackluster passer, though because of physicality concerns, no team will count on Simons to run an offense anytime soon, anyway. He’ll have time to develop as a distributor.

By signing with agents, Simons loses his college eligibility. Drew Rosenhaus, a big-name football agent, isn’t certified with the National Basketball Players Association. Petriella’s only NBA client has been Diamond Stone, a 2016 second-rounder who’s out of the league. They’re all in this bold venture together now.

As the NBA considers changing its draft rules for young prospects, Simons will be an interesting case study. He obviously meets the draft-eligibility requirements in the one-and-done era, but he’s also jumping from prep-school competition to the NBA. The league’s strength and nutrition programs should serve him well. His overall development could influence the wider debate.