Associated Press

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

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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.

Warriors will watch Kobe Bryant’s numbers get retired, Lakers might not

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The Lakers will retire Kobe Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 at halftime of their game against Warriors tonight.

The road team won’t miss it. The home team might.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr, via Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area:

“I want our guys to see it,” Kerr said Saturday. “It’ll be a pretty cool moment.

“Just to experience of one of the greatest players in the history of the game getting his jersey retired and we happen to be there? I’m not going to keep them in the locker room watching tape from the first half. The players would look at me like I was nuts.”

Lakers coach Luke Walton, via Harrison Faigen of Lakers Nation:

“I hadn’t thought much about [watching the ceremony],” Walton said Sunday. “We’re still deciding how we’ll approach halftime.

“Our first priority is still the job that we have. I’m sure there’s going to be some halftime adjustments we need to make against the Warriors. We’re toying with a couple different ideas to let guys at least see part of it.”

Kerr seems like a pretty cool guy, someone who understands what truly matters. This will be a historic moment, and that can take priority over watching video for one night in a long season.

But he also has the luxury of coaching an all-time great team. Even with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia and Shaun Livingston injured, the Warriors are favored.

Walton has a young team that needs every break it can get. But he too should embrace the significance of the ceremony. His franchise is.

After reportedly initially being scheduled for pregame, the ceremony will occur at halftime. The NBA implemented a hard 15-minute limit on halftimes this season. Any team not ready will be assessed a delay-of-game penalty. So, lengthy speeches tonight could hinder the current team on the court. And that’s well worth the cost of doing business.

In the same regard, current Lakers watching Kobe’s ceremony would gain pride in being a Laker. There’s real value in that, probably more than in going over adjustments for a December game during a season very likely to end outside the playoffs regardless.

George Hill nails half-court buzzer-beater with less than a second to shoot (video)

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I bet this made George Hill happier.

The Kings still losing to the Raptors, 108-93, probably didn’t, though.

Phil Jackson to miss Kobe Bryant’s jersey retirement Monday

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For one last night, Staples Center will belong to Kobe Bryant on Monday.

Sure, the Warriors are in town to take on the Lakers, but Monday night the Lakers are retiring Kobe Bryant’s numbers — both 8 and 24 — in a halftime ceremony. It’s been the hottest ticket in Los Angeles, with celebrities, luminaries, and regular Lakers fans shelling out a lot of cash to see the Laker legend be honored.

Except, Phil Jackson will not be there, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Jackson has been in touch with Bryant in advance of the ceremony to congratulate him, sources said. But he was unable to travel from his Montana home for the ceremony in Los Angeles.

No reason was given (nor does one need to be made public, that’s between Kobe and Jackson).

Jackson coached Kobe to all five of his NBA titles, and while their relationship had its ups and downs — remember Jackson called out Kobe as almost uncoachable in one of his books — they remain close.

 

Three Things to Know: LeBron James racks up third straight triple-double

Associated Press
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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’s what you missed on Sunday while practicing your ax throwing in Paris

1) LeBron James has third straight triple-double… and sends equality message. Back in the 2008-09 season, LeBron James strung together three consecutive games of triple-doubles, the season he went on to win his first MVP award. Despite 61 career triple-doubles, he hasn’t had a string like that since.

Until now. LeBron put together three again this week, the most recent coming at the expense of the Washington Wizards on Sunday, a team that had no answer for his playmaking skills. James finished the game with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists. It wasn’t the most efficient LeBron scoring performance of his career (8-of-23 shooting overall, 2-of-7 from three, his legs looked a little tired on the back-to-back) and he was playing too much in isolation (nearly twice as many possessions as in pick-and-roll). However, down the stretch he was a fantastic playmaker, finding teammates — such as finding the cutting Jeff Green and Kyle Korver — and doing what it took to lift his team to the 106-99 win (Cleveland’s has won five straight and 18-of-19).

LeBron was also sending a message while playing in our nation’s capital: He wore one black and one white of the LeBron 15s, with the word “Equality” on the back of both of them. Good on LeBron, I love that he has found a voice and is comfortable using it.

2) Cavaliers sticking to plan even if he seems ready: Isaiah Thomas should join Cavaliers after the first of the year. Patience. It’s a virtue. Cleveland’s end game is to have another elite playmaker and scorer on the floor in late May and (hopefully) June, not for Christmas Day (no matter who is on the schedule).

Meaning that despite the face Isaiah Thomas is working out and says he and his injured hip feel ready to return, it will be 2018 before he officially pulls on a Cavaliers jersey and takes the court.

This is the smart play by the Cavaliers, who have racked up enough wins not to need to push him. That said, LeBron is carrying a heavy load — he’s played more minutes than anyone in the league so far, and this is his 15th NBA season — and the Cavaliers need to get him some help and rest so he is fresh for the postseason.

3) Detroit ties a franchise record with 17 made threes in win over Orlando. The Pistons are not exactly a great three-point shooting team: They average a middle-of-the-pack 29.3 attempts per game (31.6 percent of their attempts), but at least hit them at a healthy 38.3 percent clip. Detroit does a good job at least of getting corner threes up and knocking them down.

Sunday they were knocking everything down, hitting 17-of-34 threes to tie a franchise record for the most made threes in a game. Anthony Tolliver led the way (5-of-7 from deep) with Reggie Bullock pitching in 4-of-5.

The Pistons have snapped out of their seven-game losing streak to win three in a row now, including a quality win over the Pacers on the second night of a back-to-back.