Kurt Helin

Kevin Durant’s 37 leads Warriors past pesky Suns 106-100

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PHOENIX (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 37 points, Stephen Curry added 28 and the Golden State Warriors held off the pesky Phoenix Suns 106-100 on Sunday.

The Warriors didn’t seal the victory until Curry’s two free throws with 12.9 seconds to play. Durant added a pair of free throws with seven seconds left to provide the final margin.

T.J. Warren scored 26 points and Eric Bledsoe had 21 for the winless Suns, who took the Thunder into overtime in Oklahoma City on Friday night. Tyson Chandler grabbed 18 rebounds for Phoenix.

The Suns led by as many as 13 in the first half. The Warriors finally took somewhat shaky control midway through the final quarter.

The game looked well in hand for the reigning Western Conference champs when Durant took a lob pass from Andre Iguodala, dunked and was fouled. The three-point play put the Warriors up 102-94 – their biggest lead of the day – with 1:19 to play.

But Phoenix got consecutive driving layups from Bledsoe, Warren and Jared Dudley to cut it to 102-100 with 14.8 seconds remaining. The Suns had to foul Curry, and arguably the best free throw shooter in the game made them both to put away Golden State’s second victory after a loss in its home opener.

The Suns used a 22-2 run to take the big early lead. Durant scored five points in the final 30 seconds of the first half to cut Phoenix’s lead to 57-55 at the break.

Phoenix’s last lead was 84-83 on Alex Len‘s inside basket with 10:15 to play

SUNS RUN

Phoenix scored 16 straight points in what became that 22-2 run to lead 30-17 when Alex Len sank a pair of free throws with 38.4 seconds left in the first quarter. Six Suns scored in the run.

TEENAGE FAREWELL,

The Suns’ Devin Booker had a rough day on the court on his 20th birthday, but he did some serious damage in the NBA as a teenager.

Booker scored 1,078 points in 78 games as a teen. The only teens to score more are LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmello Anthony, Durant and Dwight Howard. Booker had six 30-point games as a teenager, one fewer than Durant.

He missed six of his first seven shots Sunday and wound up 3-for-12 for seven points.

TIP-INS

Warriors: Curry drew his fourth foul with 7:51 left in the third quarter but didn’t get his fifth until there was 3:22 to play. … Golden State beat the Suns for the eighth straight time. … Golden State swept the four-game series with the Suns two of the last three years.

Suns: Warren has 56 points in his last two games. … Rookie Marquese Chriss drew his third technical foul of the season. He had two and was tossed from the previous game at Oklahoma City. … Booker was 0 for 6 from the field before sinking a 3 at the shot clock buzzer to tie it at 62.

 

Watch Russell Westbrook drop another triple-double in win over Lakers.

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The raw numbers are stunning:

Through three games, Russell Westbrook has 116 points, 37 rebounds, and 35 assists. The man is on a mission.

More than numbers, that mission is wins, and he got that with a 113-96 victory over the Lakers Sunday. But in doing so Westbrook had 33 points, 16 assists, and 12 rebounds. That’s two triple-doubles in three games.

No player is playing with the anger, the fire of Westbrook every night. The only question is will this load weigh on him over the course of the season.

Kevin Durant scoring buckets, with or without his shoes

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Golden State had a rough time with Phoenix — the Warriors defense remains awful — but Kevin Durant is still getting buckets.

Even without one of his shoes, as you can see above.

And if you let him get ahead of everyone in transition, the rim pays the price.

 

Physical Clippers push past struggling Jazz for 88-75 win

Associated Press
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LOS ANGELES — This game was not a thing of beauty. The video is not headed to Springfield.

When two teams expected to be in the league’s top-10 in defense meet, it often isn’t, but this was uglier than anticipated. The Sunday matinée at Staples Center was physical, it was slow paced, it was workmanlike, it was at times sloppy.

And the Clippers will take it.

Los Angeles won 88-75 in a slow, grinding, defensive game. The Clippers improved to 2-0 on the young season, while the Jazz fell to 1-2 with the Spurs on the road next on the docket.

You know it’s a rough game when this is the winning team’s shot chart.

Clipper shot chart

The Clippers defense was the difference.

“I thought our defense was terrific,” coach Doc Rivers said. “We were very physical, you know, two games in a row our physicality has been something you would notice. When (the Jazz) miss that many shots and they only have seven offensive rebounds, with the type of rebounding team they are, that’s great.”

“Our defense has been a main point of emphasis for us every day at practice,” said Blake Griffin, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds on the night. “We are harder on ourselves about our defense in practice than anything else. It’s been a big point of emphasis for us and we make a point to maintain our defensive identity throughout each game.”

Credit the Clippers’ defense, but it’s a two-sided coin.

Watching the Jazz offense without Gordon Hayward‘s shot creation is like watching Sisyphus. It’s not the effort, they simply don’t have the players. Against that physical defense of Los Angeles Utah shot 39.7 percent and had an offensive rating of 83.6 percent.

“I think they are that good a team. I don’t think we played well offensively,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “Our defense kept us in there for a while, but some of our better players struggled tonight, and when that happens it puts a lot of pressure on our other guys and puts a lot of pressure on your defense. We just weren’t very good offensively.”

Boris Diaw, in particular, struggled, not scoring in his 18 minutes and getting pushed around by Griffin much of the night. Snyder said he is battling through injuries.

The Clippers got a third-quarter scare when DeAndre Jordan reached out for a loose ball and his hand was hit by George Hill. Jordan instantly grabbed his right hand in obvious pain, the Clippers called timeout and Jordan went to the bench. It was a sprained right thumb, and while Jordan did return to the game Doc Rivers said postgame there was swelling and the team would X-ray the injury to make sure it wasn’t anything worse. (UPDATE: Those X-rays were negative.)

This was obviously going to be a strange game just by the vibe in Downtown Los Angeles Sunday — Los Angeles’ Comic Con was taking place across the street from Staples Center. Cosplay was everywhere downtown — I parked next to an SUV where the entire original cast of Donkey Kong got out.

It was the kind of sloppy start often seen on NBA Sunday day games, when rhythms and routines are thrown off by the sun still being out. The Clippers and Jazz combined to shoot 13-of-38 in the first quarter, it was like watching the Knicks’ version of J.R. Smith on Sunday days.

The Clippers were able to take a small lead in the second quarter, mostly due to getting to the free throw line more often, 10 offensive boards, and a dozen efficient points from Blake Griffin, but it was only 42-35 at the half.

Clippers start the second half on 7-0 run, and they stretch the lead out to double digits — which was more about the Jazz offense than the Clippers’ scoring. As Los Angeles upped its defensive pressure, Utah had few answers. The only thing that broke the scoreless drought was Rudy Gobert outran DeAndre Jordan down the floor and got a bucket early in the offense. The Clippers held that double-digit lead most of the third, and it was 69-56 Los Angeles after three.

From there, the Clippers got enough shots to fall — and Utah could not — to get the win.

Austin Rivers led the Clippers with 19 points off the bench. George Hill led the Jazz with 18 points and Dante Exum had 10 off the bench, while Derrick Favors, trying to return from injury, was 1-of-8 from the field.

Watch LeBron James’ ridiculous wrap-around baseline pass

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Damn.

Everyone wants to compare LeBron James to Michael Jordan, and regarding legacy that has some logic as Jordan is the legacy benchmark. But on the court, LeBron and Jordan are different styles of players — LeBron is far more Magic Johnson, or maybe Oscar Robertson (before my time, but a guy who could do everything on the court).

This pass is a reminder LeBron has a ridiculous court vision and is one of the best passers in the game today. It’s not just the pass it’s the anticipation — look at where Mike Dunleavy is when LeBron starts that pass, he’s 12 feet from the spot but he’s started his move. LeBron knew what was coming and it’s brilliant.

When the Cavs are moving the ball they are savage.