Kurt Helin

Draymond Green’s triple-double leads Warriors past Hornets 111-101

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — For five straight trips down the court, Draymond Green knew he needed just one more assist for a triple-double.

When he got the ball to Stephen Curry behind the 3-point line, Green made history.

Green became the second Warriors player ever to post three straight triple-doubles and Golden State rolled to its 35th straight regular-season home win, 111-101 over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night.

“Oh man, it was hard to come by,” Green said. “When you start looking for it, it’s impossible to get.”

But Green managed to do it again.

He had 13 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists to join Tom Gola in 1959-60 as the only Warriors players ever to get triple-doubles in three straight games. The last player in the NBA to do it was Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, who had a four-game streak last season.

“He’s playing at a very, very high level,” Curry said. “His consistency is just off the charts. … It’s amazing how he can impact the game.”

Curry and Klay Thompson scored 30 points apiece and Marreese Speights had a season-high 15 off the bench to help the Warriors sweep the season series from Charlotte.

Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb each scored 22 points for the Hornets. Charlotte has lost a season-high four straight games.

“We did do some good things but we did a lot of things that we shouldn’t have done as well,” Walker said. “We are short-handed but we’ve got guys that are capable of playing big games as well. We do have to get better. We’re in a tough stretch. We just have to be better.”

The Hornets cut a 12-point lead down to one following back-to-back 3-pointers from P.J. Hairston and Jeremy Lin early in the third quarter. But Thompson answered with a layup and a 3-pointer to restore the lead to 71-65 and start a 12-0 run that put Golden State in control.

A jumper by Harrison Barnes early in the fourth expanded the lead to 20 points and the Warriors cruised from there.

TIP-INS

Hornets: Lamb left the game briefly to undergo X-rays on his bruised right hand and wrist. … Swingman Nicolas Batum sat out with a sprained toe on his right foot. He could also miss Wednesday’s game in Phoenix. … Big man Spencer Hawes returned after missing five games with a back injury.

Warriors: Green is the 15th player in NBA history to have three straight triple-doubles. He has seven overall this season. … Barnes returned from a 16-game absence from a sprained left ankle. He got a standing ovation when he checked in for the first time since getting hurt Nov. 27 at Phoenix. Barnes scored eight points. … G Leandro Barbosa (left shoulder sprain) and F James Michael McAdoo (sprained toe, left foot) remain sidelined.

 

76ers roll past Timberwolves 109-99 for 3rd win in 6 games

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — From anguish to flourish, the 76ers are suddenly a better team with Ish Smith.

Chalk up another win to Smith’s double-double.

Credit Philadelphia’s hot streak – by the franchise’s feeble standards, not the rest of the NBA’s – to Jerry Colangelo’s first shrewd deal.

Smith had 21 points and 11 assists and Richaun Holmes scored 17 points to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to 109-99 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.

Still the worst team in the NBA at 4-33, the Sixers have won three of six games and have a new confidence since they named Colangelo chairman of basketball operations last month.

Colangelo’s first big move was acquiring Smith from New Orleans in a Dec. 24 trade that cost them nothing but second-round draft picks. Smith averaged 13.4 points and 7.6 assists since the deal and has made his teammates feeling bullish of late.

He may have been at his best against the Timberwolves, with eight points in the decisive fourth quarter.

“We’re young, we play fast,” Smith said. “We’re constantly trying to get better. Good win, let’s celebrate the night, let’s move on to the next game.”

Smith, 9 of 16 from the field with three steals, keyed a fourth-quarter run that helped the Sixers push the lead to double-digits and broke open a game that had 21 lead changes and 12 ties.

The 76ers won with leading scorer Jahlil Okafor on the bench. With the team rolling, coach Brett Brown had Okafor watching the white towel in support of his teammates.

Trying to keep a recent hot streak alive, Smith’s 14-footer late in the fourth gave the Sixers a seven-point cushion. Jerami Grant blocked Shabazz Muhammad‘s layup and Nerlens Noel, who scored 10 points, capitalized on the other end with a dunk. Carl Landry added another dunk off an assist from Smith for a 103-92 lead.

Smith, who was not re-signed by the Sixers in the summer, hit back-to-back 19-footers and the Sixers suddenly pulled away to another win.

“I think we have such a young team that his personality pairs up with their youthful spirit a lot,” Brown said.

The Sixers won two games on a five-game road trip that not only gave them a needed dose of confidence, but inched them closer toward the 10-win mark needed to keep them from going down with the worst record in NBA history.

Muhammad led the Timberwolves with 20 points and Gorgui Dieng had 14 points for Minnesota.

TIP-INS

Timberwolves: Andrew Wiggins was held to 16 points on 4 of 9 shooting after scoring 32 in the season’s first meeting. … Minnesota has lost four straight road games. … The Timberwolves have lost six of the last eight against the 76ers in Philadelphia.

76ers: Looking to add some veteran leadership in the locker room, the Sixers signed forward Elton Brand. “I know I can affect change and be a part of something,” the 36-year-old Brand said. Brand played for the Sixers from 2008-2012. … The Sixers also waived forward Christian Wood. … Okafor and guard Kendall Marshall distanced themselves from recent comments made by their fathers. Marshall’s dad tweeted white players are getting more chances under Brown even when they aren’t playing well. Okafor’s father was accused by fans of heckling Brown during a recent road trip. Marshall said he did not share his father’s opinion. “That’s not coming out of my mouth. That’s not my social media,” he said.

 

Dwyane Wade’s driving layup forces overtime, where Heat beat Pacers

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The Heat and Pacers played a thriller down to the wire Monday. They didn’t always play it well, there was plenty of slop, but both teams were putting out a genuine effort.

In the end, Miami had a little bit more — they had Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Bosh had 31 points on the night, but Wade had the dynamic plays — including the layup that forced overtime. With 2.7 seconds left Paul George wanted to be aggressive, but he was trailing Wade coming off a Bosh screen and when Wade turned toward the rim nobody was in his way. He made the play.

Wade also had a couple of points in overtime and a key tip of a rebound after a missed free throw. However, this was his most spectacular play of the day, a turn-back-the-clock moment.

 

Warriors’ Stephen Curry to play against Charlotte

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, right, drives over Sacramento Kings' Ben McLemore during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 28, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Stephen Curry returned from missing a couple of games with a bruised calf, and promptly got kicked in the same spot. That led to speculation he would sit out Monday night’s game against Charlotte (his hometown team is visiting the Bay Area).

Nope. He’s good to go.

The Warriors play Tuesday night against the Lakers in Los Angeles on a back-to-back.

The Warriors are +6.4 points per 100 possession better when Curry is on the court; they could use that against a scrappy Hornets team (but one that has struggled lately).

Byron Scott pulls Julius Randle, who is irritated as to why

Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle wears glasses after being injured during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Nuggets won 120-109. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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With 4:43 left in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ 20-point win against the Suns Sunday, Lakers’ coach Byron Scott yanked Julius Randle from the court, the first of him pulling all the bench players and re-inserting the starters to preserve the win. That would be three wins in a row for Los Angeles, something to celebrate.

After the game, Scott expressed his frustration with Randle. From Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

Randle didn’t exactly show deference to the coach when he heard the comments.

My first thought: Byron Scott wants to single out a particular Laker for not playing defense now? This team hasn’t played defense all season (they are tied for the worst defense in the NBA heading into Monday’s games).

My second thought: I like players who don’t want to be pulled out of the game.

Scott’s skill at developing young players has been a question mark all season (and at a couple of coaching stops before this one). He pulled the team’s future to get the starters in (which does include Larry Nance and Jordan Clarkson) so they could preserve the win and improve to 8-27 on the season. It’s fair to ask if the Lakers are not better served long term with their highest ceiling young players learning to play through trouble.

Was he wrong in this particular instance? That can be debated. But the trend of leaning on veterans and sacrificing long-term growth for the sake of short-term wins seems to be a season-long trend for the Lakers.