Dan Feldman

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) argues a call next to teammate Draymond Green (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics on Friday, April 1, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Draymond Green: Warriors’ confidence ‘still at the roof’ without Stephen Curry

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Draymond Green is going to tell it like it is, and he insists these Golden State Warriors have few issues when it comes to confidence.

Even playing without injured superstar Stephen Curry.

“We’re still very confident. If I sat here and told you our confidence level is the same without Steph, that’s a lie,” Green said after Tuesday’s practice. “I think our confidence level with Steph is through the roof. It’s beyond high. Without Steph, it’s still at the roof. We’re not losing much confidence. We still believe in ourselves. We still think it’s very possible for us to make a run. We’re going to hold it down `til he gets back.”

Sure, losing Curry for likely two weeks or more is a significant blow to the defending champions. It stings to see the NBA’s MVP go down in the middle of the playoffs after a record-setting regular season in which he became the first player to make 400 3-pointers.

“The great thing with Steph is I think he’s got perspective built in just from his family,” newly crowned NBA Coach of the Year Steve Kerr said. “He knows what’s important. His health is extremely important but in the grand scheme of things, he’s healthy, he’s happy, he’s got a great wife and kids and family. He’s probably going to be back playing basketball in a few weeks. It’s just a little bump in the road.”

An MRI exam on Curry’s injured right knee Monday showed a Grade 1 sprain of the MCL. Warriors general manager Bob Myers is estimating at least two weeks for the recovery period, but that’s merely a guess at this stage.

“His spirits are high. He’s good,” Green said of Curry. “It seems like he’s moving a little better than he was yesterday.”

Kerr reminded his team during film study Tuesday that “there’s no guarantee of anything,” using injuries to the Clippers’ Chris Paul and Blake Griffin as examples.

At a minimum, Golden State would likely be without Curry – and his 30.1 scoring average – for the initial four games of the second round if the Warriors advance. They play Game 5 of their best-of-seven series with Houston on Wednesday night at Oracle Arena leading 3-1.

“I just feel bad for Steph more than anything,” Kerr said. “He’s worked so hard and now all of a sudden after really several years of being injury-free, back-to-back injuries. But in a lot of ways, he’s lucky. He’s lucky it’s not worse and if we can take care of business while he’s getting better, there’s a chance he can come back and be part of this playoff run and help us go deep. We’ll try to hold down the fort while he’s out. … He’s obviously not playing any time soon.”

The Warriors won Sunday’s Game 4 at Houston after Curry injured his knee when he slipped awkwardly on the final play of the first half and his legs split apart. Golden State hit eight 3-pointers in the third quarter alone to turn a tie game into a 21-point lead on the way to a 121-94 victory.

“It was alarm,” center Marreese Speights said of his reaction. “All the guys saw how emotional Steph was. We’ve never seen that before. It was like, `There’s no way we’re losing this game. We’re going to go out and play the best we can play for him.”‘

Shaun Livingston already started in Curry’s place for Games 2 and 3, and will be called upon again to carry a bigger load until Curry can play again.

“That’s where it comes to me being assertive and aggressive, exposing mismatches, making them make adjustments. Then also, too, when I’m able to do that, and score and be aggressive, then it opens the floor up a little bit for our shooters and for other guys,” Livingston said. “We’re more locked into attention to detail.”

That moment seeing Curry go down shook Speights. He had never seen his superstar teammate emotionally break or come close to tears, so Curry’s display of dejection immediately after the knee injury Sunday was hard to see.

“It’s a feeling that everybody has in their heart, to see how emotional he was,” Speights said. “He’s a great guy. You never want to see a guy like that go down like that. … Things happen for a reason. He’s going to be all right. We’re going to be good, too.”

In fact, watching Curry go down fueled his teammates. They weren’t going to see him like that and not fight to win it in Curry’s honor.

And just as Golden State has shown all season when someone goes down, this group believes in depth as one of its biggest strengths.

“We feel good because we’ve had this experience before. We’ve had it during the regular season, we’ve had it in this series and in the second half of the last game,” small forward Harrison Barnes said. “We want to continue to build on that momentum and get off to a good start.”

Heat, Hornets accuse each other of flopping

Charlotte Hornets' Jeremy Lin, center, passes the ball as Miami Heat's Hassan Whiteside, right, and Josh Richardson, left, defend during the first half in Game 4 of an NBA basketball playoffs first-round series in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, April 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Hassan Whiteside accused Cody Zeller of flopping, and the Heat center said it wasn’t an isolated incident by the Hornets.

Whiteside, via Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post:

“The flop-offs, man,” he said. “I thought the playoffs was physical. This ain’t physical, man.”

Heat guard Goran Dragic also complained about officiating, referencing Jeremy Lin.

Will Manso of Fox Sports Florida:

What does Charlotte say about that?

Hornets coach Steve Clifford, via Shandel Richardson of the SunSentinel:

“I didn’t see [Whiteside’s quotes], but I’d be surprised at that,” Clifford said. “I, mean, listen, I watch the films really closely. There hasn’t been…I mean, I don’t want…if you want to get into career flopping between the two rosters, it wouldn’t be close. So, I don’t…we don’t have anybody that flops. We haven’t had a flopping issue all year. I didn’t see those quotes. Actually, the NBA comes out with reports, they have them, officiating reports and I wouldn’t say that if you read those reports that they could have any complaints with the officials. Neither do we, by the way. But they certainly shouldn’t.”

Clifford dances around the issue. Of course, the Heat have more flopping experience. They have more of every type of experience. That doesn’t mean much about how often they’ve flopped in this series.

I see two teams trying to find the line between playing physically and getting an advantageous whistle, maybe concentrating a little too hard on that rather than just playing. That could improve as the series progresses.

There are two or three games remaining, and these teams are clearly already tired of each other. That won’t improve as the series progresses.

NBA retroactively gives Justin Anderson flagrant 2 for elbowing Russell Westbrook’s face

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Justin Anderson played a central role in the testiness between the Thunder and Mavericks during their first-round series – both as the aggressor and the aggrieved.

In Game 4, Anderson was on the receiving end of a Kevin Durant flagrant 2 that got Durant ejected. Then late in the closeout Game 5, Anderson elbowed Russell Westbrook in the face under the guise of diving for a loose ball.

Anderson initially received just a technical foul for that, but the NBA reviewed and assigned him a flagrant 2.

Though it’s a relatively superficial distinction, at least the league showed how unacceptable that behavior is. But did this correction go far enough? The NBA fined Durant $15,000 for his flagrant 2. Will Anderson receive any additional penalty?

Seth Curry opting out of Kings’ contract

Sacramento Kings guard Seth Curry (30) celebrates his basket against the Phoenix Suns during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 11, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
AP Photo/Matt York
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The Kings’ curious inclusion of player options for deep reserves is coming back to bite them.

Not only is Quincy Acy opting out for a likely raise, so is Seth Curry.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Sacramento Kings guard Seth Curry will decline his $1 million player option for the 2016-17 season and become a restricted free agent, league sources told The Vertical.

The Kings can and likely will make Curry a restricted free agent by extending a $1,215,696 qualifying offer, so they have more leverage than they do with Acy. But it’ll still likely cost Sacramento more than the qualifying offer, let alone the $1,015,696 minimum salary he was due to make next season, to keep Curry.

Playing a major role in the Kings’ final 11 games, when they rested their top players, Curry averaged 15.2 points on 46.8% shooting – including 48.4% on 3-pointers – and 3.8 assists per game. Small sample? Yes, but Curry looked like he belonged in the NBA. You don’t have to search far to find a successful player with a similar background who was overlooked for much of his life.

How much the Kings will pay Curry could depend on Rajon Rondo, who’s an unrestricted free agent. Sacramento also has Darren Collison under contract. Curry would be a luxury as a third point guard, more of a risk as the primary backup.

With Curry restricted, at least the Kings get a little more time to figure out the position.

Wayne Ellington wins NBA Citizenship award

Brooklyn Nets guard Wayne Ellington (21) watches from the floor as Nets forward Chris McCullough (1) dunks in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors, Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in New York. The Raptors defeated the Nets 103-96. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Wayne Ellington is on his fifth team in six years, going from the Lakers last season to the Nets this season.

His impact off the court has been felt so many places between Los Angeles and Brooklyn.

Ellington won the 2015-16 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, selected annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

What did Ellington do to earn this honor?

NBA release:

After his father, Wayne Ellington Sr., was shot to death on Nov. 9, 2014, in Philadelphia, Ellington, a native of Wynnewood, Pa., decided to channel his grief into action by becoming an advocate for gun-violence prevention.

On Sept. 21, 2015, Ellington was the featured speaker at Peace Day Philly’s “March for Peace” before a crowd of mostly schoolchildren, many of whom lost a loved one to gun violence.  His speech was a primary attraction at the fifth annual Peace Day Philly, which was the culmination of a weeklong series of peace-oriented events.  Also in September, Ellington joined Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas and other current and former NBA players to help run the fourth annual Chicago Peace League Basketball Tournament, which aims to reduce gang violence in the city.

Ellington has continued his outreach efforts by creating the “Power of W.E.” campaign.  In addition to filming a PSA for one of the only hospital-based violence-prevention programs of its kind in the country (in conjunction with Temple University), Ellington plans to host the Philadelphia Peace Games in August.  For that event, rival gang members in Philadelphia will come together for a basketball game played on a court built and customized with Power of W.E. messaging for community use.

Ellington also connected with The Rens, a grassroots children’s basketball program in New York City.  The Rens became the first basketball team in the country at any level to wear orange patches on their jerseys as a statement against the crisis of gun violence after multiple incidents of gun violence involving the team’s members. Ellington provided them with tickets to attend two Nets games.  Through the Brooklyn Nets Assist program, Ellington also donated more than 2,000 tickets this season to various youth basketball programs, non-profit organizations and schools throughout New York City.

Ellington beat out finalists LeBron James, Chris Paul, John Wall and George Hill.