Associated Press

Three Things to Know: Stephen Curry sprains ankle in Warriors comeback win


Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA. Here is what you missed while cooking your own meal at Waffle House.

1) Stephen Curry sprains his ankle and it looks nasty. He’s going to miss a little time. Often when there are less than two minutes left in a Warriors game Stephen Curry is resting comfortably on the bench, a towel draped over his head, watching guys who just pulled off their sweats five minutes ago close out another blowout Warriors win. But with the Warriors down 20 at the half to the Pelicans, Golden State mounted a comeback (more on that below) the Warriors stars were in the game late and bad things happened.

Curry lunged for a steal, stepped on the foot of E'Twaun Moore, rolled his ankle and it was not pretty.

After the game X-rays were negative but his ankle was very swollen and Curry was diagnosed with a sprain. An MRI comes on Tuesday, at which point there will be some kind of timeline for his return. However, you can be sure Curry is out Wednesday in his hometown of Charlotte, and very possibly for the two games left on the Warriors road trip after that.

Golden State has the talent to survive without an injured Curry and still win most, if not all, of its games. However, the team will need to be a lot more focused than the way it has coasted through most of the last few weeks, and frankly most of the season.

2) For the second time this season, the Warriors were down 20+ points at halftime and came back to win. But this time it had a price. It’s one bit of NBA history that Steve Kerr would rather not have his team associated with: For the second time this season, the Golden State Warriors were down at least 20 points at the half and came back to win — the first team in the NBA to do that twice in one season.

It speaks to how the Warriors have played all season long — they make playground passes that don’t connect, they take bad shots (even for them and their shooters), they coast on defense and hope that their talent gets them through. In games where it doesn’t, they flip the switch for a stretch — five minutes, a quarter, a half at tops — and overwhelm teams.

In the first half Monday night, against a pretty good and (as of now) playoff-bound Pelicans team, the Warriors had a first half offensive rating of 87.3 (points scored per 100 possessions) and a defensive rating of 130.6 — that’s -43.3 net rating in a half. Second half it was a ridiculous true shooting percentage of 74.9, a 136.4 offensive rating, an 84 defensive rating for a net rating of 52.4. The Warriors cared, got 31 points from Curry, 22 from Klay Thompson, 19 each from Kevin Durant and Draymond Green and that was enough to get the win. (Jrue Holiday had 34 for the Pelicans, who were without Anthony Davis.)

But the Warriors paid the price this time. Curry will miss time with a sprained ankle. And Kevin Durant will pay a $25,000 price after he and DeMarcus Cousins were ejected late in the contest.

Don’t expect the Warriors to turn it on and care, outside of some specific games, until the playoffs. The question is can Steve Kerr get them to build good habits through the course of this season anyway?

3) Giannis Antetokounmpo is amazing, drops 40 on Boston, but that’s not enough to beat Celtics. Two things we thought coming into this game felt confirmed by the night.

First, Giannis Antetokounmpo is an elite NBA player, a top 10 guy (maybe top five). Going against the best defense in the NBA this season, he dropped 40.

Boston, however, is the better team. Kyrie Irving put up 32 points, Al Horford had 20 (and shows some real chemistry with Marcus Smart), and rookie Jayson Tatum had 17. Boston defended well, played as a team, and was in control of this game pretty much the whole way, exploiting the shaky defense in Milwaukee that could lead to Jason Kidd’s seat getting warm. Boston is talented and relentless with their execution, and that was too much for the Bucks.

LeBron James’ triple-double lifts Cavaliers past Bucks

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CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James scored 40 points as part of his third triple-double in four games and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 124-117 on Monday night as coach Tyronn Lue began his leave of absence to address health issues.

Lue said Monday in a statement he been dealing with chest pains and loss of sleep, and that tests have offered no conclusion about what the issue is. Associate head coach Larry Drew will run the team in Lue’s absence.

James scored 17 points in the third quarter and finished with 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his 16th triple-double this season and 71st of his career.

The four-time MVP took over in the third beginning with back-to-back 3-pointers. After not getting a foul called on a third attempt, he finished Cleveland’s next possession with a massive dunk. He was fouled attempting another dunk and made both free throws the following time down.

Milwaukee cut a 17-point lead to 117-109, but James drove the length of the floor for a dunk with just over a minute left.

Cavaliers All-Star forward Kevin Love returned after missing six weeks because of a broken left hand and scored 18 points in 25 minutes. He sparked a 10-0 run in the second quarter with two 3-pointers

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 37 points and went 11 for 11 at the foul line for Milwaukee, which is seventh in the Eastern Conference. Khris Middleton had 30 points, making 11 of 16 from the field.

Milwaukee guard Jason Terry was given a Flagrant-1 foul for hitting Ante Zizic in the face with an open hand while the rookie center was putting up a shot in the lane. Zizic made both free throws, helping spark a run that built a double-figure lead.

Lue, 40, led Cleveland to the 2016 NBA championship after taking over for David Blatt midway through that season.

The Cavaliers (41-29) are third in the Eastern Conference and have endured roster shake-ups, injuries and other distractions as they try to reach the NBA Finals for the fourth straight time.

No timetable has been given for when Lue will return. He missed the second half Saturday, the second time this season he left a game because he wasn’t feeling well. Lue also sat out a game against Chicago at home in December.


Pelicans rookie Frank Jackson has another surgery, will miss entire season now

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Pelicans say rookie guard Frank Jackson won’t make his NBA debut this season after having follow-up surgery to remove residual scar tissue from earlier right foot operations.

The Pelicans say Jackson also received an injection in his foot.

The club says a specialist in New York handled Jackson’s latest procedure.

The Pelicans acquired the 6-foot-4 Jackson through a draft-night trade with the Charlotte Hornets, who selected the former Duke player with the first pick of the second round last summer.

Following the draft, the Pelicans signed Jackson to a three-year contract at the NBA minimum with two years guaranteed, but Jackson needed a second foot surgery last summer to address a setback following his initial surgery last May.

Jackson spent one season at Duke, averaging 10.9 points.


Giannis Antetokounmpo turns bad pass into ridiculous alley-oop (VIDEO)

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That is just not fair.

Milwaukee’s Eric Bledsoe threw an alley-oop pass to Giannis Antetokounmpo that was off the mark — high and behind him — but it just doesn’t matter. The Greek Freak gets up and throws it down.

It’s early, but it’s going to be hard to beat that one for dunk of the night.

League’s Last Two Minute Report backs referees (mostly) in Raptors/Thunder game

Associated Press

Anyone who watched the Thunder’s win over the Raptors Sunday afternoon in Toronto — especially the final few minutes — thought it was not referee Marc Davis and crew’s finest hour. There were missed calls and three-straight ejections of Raptors players, which all seemed rather hair-trigger (especially coach Dwane Casey, who was tossed for something a fan behind him said).

The NBA’s Last Two Minute report doesn’t see it that way — it says the referees nailed it.

According to the report, there was only one missed call in the final two minutes: Carmelo Anthony held Pascal Siakam as a pass came to him with 11.7 seconds left, and that should have been called.

What about the play that set DeMar DeRozan off and ultimately got him ejected, the drive to the basket with 33 seconds left (and the Raptors down two) where DeRozan thought Corey Brewer fouled him? The report said that was a good no call:

DeRozan (TOR) starts his drive and Brewer (OKC) moves laterally in his path and there is contact. The contact is incidental as both players attempt to perform normal basketball moves….

RHH shows Brewer (OKC) make contact with the ball and the part of DeRozan’s (TOR) hand that is on the ball. The hand is considered “part of the ball” when it is in contact with the ball and therefore, contact on that part of the hand by a defender while it is in contact with the ball is not illegal.

(I didn’t see it that way, I think the contact was more than incidental, and to me looking at the replay Brewer catches some wrist and impedes the shot in a way that was not legal. Just my two cents.)

The report does not cover the ejections, which are reviewed by league operations but not part of this report.

Three thoughts out of all this:

1) Raptors fans/management/players have every right to feel the calls went against them in this game. As for calls always going against them — as DeRozan complained about after the game — 29 other teams and fan bases are convinced the officials have it out for them, too. I never bought that.

2) The Raptors didn’t lose this game solely because of the officiating. Russell Westbrook was clutch down the stretch, the Thunder were part of it, and the Raptors had other issues, too (Serge Ibaka had a rough game, for example).

3) This loss also does not say a thing about the Raptors in the postseason (even if they went a little too much isolation at the end) — this was their third game in four days, they looked tired and flat at the end. That will not be the case in the playoffs.