Kurt Helin

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 22:  Andrew Bogut #12 of the Golden State Warriors dunks against Al Horford #15 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on February 22, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Warriors become fastest team ever to 50 wins

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We know you spent most of Monday night trying to figure out what that ethereal music the Apollo 10 astronauts heard on the dark side of the moon was, so you didn’t watch any NBA games. That’s okay, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know from a Monday around the Association.”

1) Warriors become the fastest team to 50 wins in NBA history by beating Hawks.
 It got interesting. Atlanta became the latest team to make a big run on Golden State and force a response. Portland did it most of the game, but the 13-turnover third quarter for the Warriors put that game out of reach. The Clippers game seemed to be in garbage time until a 13-0 run late gave Los Angeles a chance to tie (the shot fell short). Then Monday night the Warriors were in complete control up 23 in the third quarter, when the Hawks went on a 33-6 run and took the lead. These lapses are a combination of factors. The Warriors have some mental vacations, they get bored it seems, but also teams are not just rolling over for them. Good teams that have pride. The result is the Warriors having to work hard for games where it felt like they were in control.

But in the end, the Warriors usually do bounce back. Golden State closed Monday’s game on a 23-10 run in Atlanta.

The result is almost always the same — Golden State gets the win, this time 102-92. The Warriors are now 50-5, the fastest team to 50 wins in NBA history. Golden State remains on pace to beat the 1996 Chicago Bulls’ win record of 72 games (they need to go 23-4 to do it).

Monday’s hero for the Warriors was Andrew Bogut. Yes, Bogut. He provided some physicality in the paint, blocked some shots, made smart passes on offense, and changed the tone for a Warriors’ team that had taken its foot off the gas. Yes, Stephen Curry was still doing Stephen Curry things — he had 36 points — but I’m telling you Bogut gets the credit here. Still, if you’re demanding your nightly ridiculous Curry highlight, here you go.

2) Channing Frye makes his debut for Cavaliers but Pistons spoil the day. Cavaliers fans got to see the guy they gave up Anderson Varejao for Monday night (not that much was expected of Channing Frye in his debut, he’s had basically no practice time with the team). Frye played nine minutes for the Cavaliers, missed both his threes, and looked like the new kid trying to fit in. He’ll find a more comfortable groove.

As a whole the Cavaliers looked flat Monday, none more so than LeBron James who shot 5-of-18 on the evening. The Cavaliers were on the second night of a back-to-back, but so were the Pistons who played with far more energy all game. Maybe the best example was in the final minute, when down eight LeBron James used his strength to bully his way to the rim on a drive, the ball cradled in his arms — and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ripped the ball out of his hands, then went the length of the court for the dagger layup. Ballgame. Chalk it up to just an off night for the Cavs, they just don’t want to have too many of those.

3) Giannis Antetokounmpo finishes the off-the-backboard alley-oop. Yes, it still counts if you do it against the Lakers’ defense. The Bucks picked up a win and the Greek Freak had maybe the highlight of the night.



4) Pistons void Donatas Motiejunas trade with Rockets over concerns about his back.
Stan Van Gundy has coveted Motiejunas for years — a true 7-footer who can bang inside and is shooting 41.2 percent from three this season. He’s a perfect fit on paper for the inside-out offense Van Guyndy is trying to set up in Detroit.

But in reality, Motiejunas’ back (he’s had a couple of surgeries in the past year) is so bad that SVG and the Pistons decided to take a pass. They voided the trade made on the deadline day with Houston, something they are allowed to do if Motiejunas did not pass his physical. This is a real punch to the gut for the Rockets. First, they lose a top-eight protected first round pick in 2016 that was coming their way, now Houston may be without a first round pick this year. Second, the return of Motiejunas’ salary put them back above the tax line and make the Rockets tax payers again. Finally, that makes four guys that the Rockets tried to trade (Dwight Howard, Ty Lawson) or did trade (Motiejunas, Joel Anthony) who are now back in the locker room for the rest of the season. I do not envy J.B. Bickerstaff trying to coach this team.

5) Kyle Lowry puts up triple-double. Does it still count if Jose Calderon is guarding him? Kyle Lowry and the Raptors went into Madison Square Garden on Monday night and looked every bit the second best team in the East, with an unstoppable backcourt led by Kyle Lowry. Going up against the porus defense of Jose Calderon, Lowry did what he wanted on the way to 22 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds, and the Raptors picked up a comfortable win 122-95.

Kyrie Irving says hotel bed bugs caused his “flu” against Thunder Sunday. Ewwww.

A bed bug in an undated photo. 


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The Cleveland Cavaliers were in Oklahoma City and staying at the same hotel most teams stay at when in town, the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. You know, the one with the one said to be haunted. It’s a beautiful hotel.

But it wasn’t the ghosts that bothered Kyrie Irving, it was the bed bugs.

Irving played just nine minutes against the Thunder Sunday and sat out the second half (the Cavaliers still won), with the team saying it was due to the flu. Irving told Dave McMenamin of ESPN it was bed bugs in the hotel room — and the hotel confirmed it.

“Our team said I was out with flu-like symptoms,” Irving said after the Cavs’ 96-88 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Monday. “It was honestly from the bed bugs from the frickin’ Hilton that we stayed at….

A spokesperson for the Skirvin confirmed to ESPN.com that there were indeed bed bugs found in Irving’s room.

“Unfortunately, every hotel occasionally has a case of bed bugs,” the spokesperson said. “This is one of those cases where a guest did bring in bed bugs to this particular room, and it was reported to us, fortunately, and we responded immediately and put the room out of order and all of the surrounding rooms to be inspected by a professional company.

“We actually had the company come out first thing [Monday] morning, and we found it was an isolated case in the one room, and we’re taking the necessary steps to remediate the problem.”

I’m not going to lay this at the feet of the hotel — with different people in the room on a nightly basis this kind of thing is unavoidable to a degree. What matters is how they deal with it, and it sounds like the hotel is on it. Bed bugs get around (so to speak) and were a major problem in New York a few years back.

But still, I’m a little creeped out. And I feel for Irving. Fortunately, he was back on the court for the full game Monday in Detroit.

Pistons stop 5-game skid, beat LeBron James, sloppy Cavaliers 96-88

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) drives against Detroit Pistons' Marcus Morris (13) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 22, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
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CLEVELAND (AP) — The Pistons canceled a trade and then stopped LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

Reggie Jackson scored 23 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 19 and Detroit withstood Cleveland’s late comeback for a 96-88 win Monday night to snap a five-game losing streak.

One day after allowing New Orleans center Anthony Davis to score 59 points with 20 rebounds, the Pistons beat the Eastern Conference’s top team for the second time this season and earned their first win since Feb. 4.

“It had been a long time since we got a win – coming up on three weeks – so we definitely needed it,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “You’ve seen it all year: We’re capable of beating anybody and we’re capable of losing to anybody. The guys felt good about themselves tonight, and I think everyone played well defensively the whole game.”

Andre Drummond added 15 rebounds for the Pistons, who let an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter dwindle to six before putting away the Cavs and ending their five-game winning streak.

Kyrie Irving scored 30 and Kevin Love 24 for Cleveland, which had an off night after looking so impressive in a win at Oklahoma City on Sunday. James scored just 12 points – 13 below his average – and went 5 of 18 from the floor, missing all four 3-point tries and committing six turnovers.

“I probably should have had about 12 of them,” said James, who acknowledged lacking energy on the back end of a back-to-back.

Following the game, Irving revealed he played only 9 minutes Sunday against the Thunder after being bitten by bed bugs in his Oklahoma City hotel.

“I was freaked out,” he said.

Tobias Harris, acquired from Orlando in a trade last week, scored 14 in his first start for the Pistons, who before the game rescinded their three-team trade last week with Houston and Philadelphia because not all the players involved were cleared medically.

Then, the Pistons went out and rejected the Cavs.

“It feels great to get the win,” Harris said. “The best thing was the effort, the energy level we showed against one of the very best teams. We didn’t get discouraged when they made some tough shots. We just kept telling each other, `Let’s keep our pace, let’s keep running.’ We just kept playing our pace.”

Detroit opened the fourth quarter with a 13-2 run to take an 18-point lead on Caldwell-Pope’s short jumper with 6:31 remaining.

After going through the motions most of the night, the Cavs finally awakened and reeled off 10 straight points to get to 88-82. But Jackson responded by dropping a floater in the lane, and Caldwell-Pope made the game’s biggest play, stripping a driving James and then taking the ball the length of the floor for a layup, a bucket that brought Pistons radio commentator Rick Mahorn – one of Detroit’s original Bad Boys – out of his seat.

Jackson credited the Pistons with digging deep to get the win.

“We’re desperate, man,” he said. “We’ve got to be hungry for every last win after dropping the last five. We’ve been trying to find a way to battle and be resilient, and I couldn’t be more proud of the guys for stepping up with us so short-handed.”

LEBRON’S REST

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said he considered resting James on the second game of a back-to-back.

“I should have,” he said.

James has only missed one game this season, and Lue plans to sit his superstar if and when the Cavs lock up the conference title.

TURNOVER CITY

The Cavs were their own worst enemies in the first half, committing 12 turnovers that the Pistons converted into 16 points, enabling Detroit to open a 56-49 halftime lead. Cleveland finished with 18 turnovers.

ROOKIE INJURY

Detroit’s Stanley Johnson strained his right shoulder in the second half. Van Gundy said the forward will be re-evaluated on Tuesday. Reggie Bullock will take Johnson’s spot in the rotation.

TIP-INS

Pistons: F Anthony Tolliver (right knee) was diagnosed with a Grade 1 sprain and will miss two to four weeks. He was hurt Sunday against New Orleans. . Van Gundy said there are no immediate plans to fill the team’s one open roster spot. . Detroit came in holding ninth place in the Eastern Conference, 2 1/2 games behind Chicago for the final playoff spot.

Cavaliers: F Channing Frye scored two points in 9 minutes of his debut for Cleveland. … G Iman Shumpert missed his second straight game with a sprained left shoulder. It’s the same one he injured last season, when he missed six weeks. … G Mo Williams plans to have his sore left knee examined by renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews in Florida on Tuesday. Williams has been bothered by the knee for two months. He hasn’t played since Feb. 10, when he missed all four shots in a win over the Lakers.

 

This story has been corrected to show that Irving played 9 minutes Sunday.

Stephen Curry leads Warriors to 50th win, 102-92 over Hawks

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 22:  Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors shoots a three-point basket against Jeff Teague #0 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on February 22, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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ATLANTA (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 36 points and the Golden State Warriors became the fastest team in NBA history to 50 wins, beating the Atlanta Hawks 102-92 Monday night after squandering a 23-point lead.

The Warriors (50-5) eclipsed the mark set by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who needed one more game to win their 50th. Of course, that’s the team Golden State is chasing, moving another step closer to the record 72-10 mark put up by Michael Jordan & Co. at the height of their six-titles-in-eight-years dynasty.

Curry and the defending NBA champions appeared headed for a rout against the struggling Hawks, pushing out to a 70-47 lead approaching the midway point of the third quarter. Atlanta closed the period on a 28-6 run and grabbed the lead briefly early in the fourth, igniting the sellout crowd.

But the Warriors would not be denied, bouncing back to hand the Hawks their fourth straight home loss.

Klay Thompson added 27 points for the Warriors. Both he and Curry knocked down five shots from 3-point range. Draymond Green didn’t do much offensively, scoring only six points, but he had 14 rebounds and nine assists.

Al Horford led the Hawks with 23 points.

Curry put on a clinic in the first half, thoroughly dominating Hawks point guard Jeff Teague.

Perhaps the best sequence came when Curry swished a towering 3-pointer from the corner, the ball seeming to disappear into the rafters of Philips Arena at the height of its arc. Then, after posing briefly in front of the Golden State bench, he hustled back to the other end to draw an offensive foul on Teague, who looked befuddled by what he was seeing.

At the end of the half, with the clock running down and Teague right in his face, Curry somehow found just enough space to knock down another amazing jumper from the corner, though this one with his foot on the stripe.

Someone on the Golden State bench threw a white towel high in the air – partly to celebrate, partly in disbelief.

The Hawks could’ve thrown in the towel early in the third.

Instead, Atlanta finally showed some fight against the league’s best team, making five 3-pointers and nearly 60 percent of its shots in period.

The Warriors regained control in the fourth, helped by Curry’s 3 that left him wiggling his shoulders in front of the Atlanta bench.

TIP-INS

Warriors: Improved to 45-0 when leading after the third quarter. It looked as though the Hawks would have the lead heading to the fourth, but a video review showed Thabo Sefolosha‘s jumper left his hand a split-second after the clock expired, leaving Golden State ahead 76-75. … Andrew Bogut played 29 minutes with a strained right Achilles, grabbing 11 rebounds. … Newly signed Anderson Varejao watched the game from the Warriors bench but didn’t play. He was signed after being cut last week by Portland. … Golden State had 30 assists in a game for the 29th time.

Hawks: Have lost four straight home games for the first time since March 21 to April 1, 2007, according to STATS. … Tim Hardaway Jr. had some effective spurts off the bench, scoring 12 points. … Atlanta made 10 of 34 from 3-point range and is 19 of 75 from beyond the arc in its last two games.

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/paul-newberry .

Matthew Dellavedova picks up flagrant foul shoving Andre Drummond mid-air

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Time to fire up the “is Matthew Dellavedova a dirty player” discussion again.

Dellavedova was hustling back to try to break up a Pistons fast break, but in attempt to foul Andre Drummond in the act (he wasn’t going for the block) he pushed an airborne Drummond, who had no defense and went crashing to the ground. That’s a clear Flagrant 1 foul and the refs called it that.

Dellavedova went over and immediately apologized to Drummond. This seemed like another case of Dellavedova playing hard to the point of recklessness rather than being malicious. But if that leads to injuries — hello Kyle Korver — it’s an issue, and other players are not going to be happy. His recklessness puts bodies at risk.

Detroit outplayed and outworked a flat Cavaliers team all night and picked up the win 96-88. Reggie Jackson had 23 points to lead six Pistons in double digits with a balanced attack.