Kurt Helin

Stephen Curry says Warriors have not talked to him about sitting out games. Yet.

4 Comments

The Warriors No. 1 priority is to win another NBA title, to go back-to-back.

But make no mistake, the Warriors also want 73 wins and to claim the title of best regular season of all time, besting Michael Jordan’s Bulls.

The challenge is what happens when those two priorities clash.

Golden State needs to go 10-2 the rest of the season to get to 73 wins, and they are four games ahead of second place San Antonio for the top seed and home court throughout the playoffs. Pretty soon the Warriors will have the Spurs far enough in the rearview mirror that Steve Kerr can start resting players looking ahead to the postseason — and he has said he will. But how much will he rest Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the rest and risk the pursuit of 73.

Curry says so far there has been no talk of rest. From Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle.

It’s going to be interesting watching Steve Kerr walk this line the final weeks of the season. After the Clippers Wednesday, the Warriors next two games are the struggling Mavericks and the lowly Sixers, is that a time to give a guy or two the night off? At what point is it time? More interestingly, does Kerr go Gregg Popovich and rest all his stars at once, or does he platoon the rest to continue to chase 73?

There are still a lot of questions to be answered in the Bay Area before the season ends.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson returns to Nets, throws down monster dunk

1 Comment

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson missed 50 games following ankle surgery back in December, which has been hard as the rookie was about the only reason to watch Brooklyn play.

He was back on Tuesday night, in a limited role (15 minutes off the bench). But he showed he still has some explosion in those young legs as he got up for one of the better dunks of the night.

Good to see Hollis-Jefferson back on the court.

Three Takeaways from NBA Tuesday: The night Russell Westbrook and Tony Allen were offensive forces

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) shoots as Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) defends during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Oklahoma City won 111-107. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Leave a comment

Here’s what you missed from the NBA on Tuesday while you were busy putting a hockey puck in a hydraulic press

1) Oklahoma City held on in the fourth quarter, Russell Westbrook‘s a beast, Houston’s playoff hold gets shakier. That headline sums up the takeaways from the biggest game on the schedule Tuesday night. The narrative around the Thunder has been about them not playing well down the stretch of games and blowing leads at a Sixers-level pace, but on Tuesday the Thunder got 14 points from Russell Westbrook in the fourth and held on to beat the Rockets 111-107. James Harden had 9 of his 24 in the fourth, and he had 16 assists on the night, but he also had the turnover that sealed Houston’s fate late. The best news for the Thunder is they played better defense in the fourth, forcing several key turnovers and making enough plays. And nobody was making plays like Westbrook, who dropped his 15th triple-double of the season.

The loss leaves Houston in the eighth and final playoff slot in the West, just half a game ahead of Utah. That said, I expect the Rockets to make it — Dallas is just half a game and Portland just one game ahead of Houston and both those teams are 3-7 in their last 10 (and the Mavericks just lost Chandler Parsons for a while due to knee surgery).

2) Tony Allen goes 12-of-12 shooting for 27 points, but it’s not enough as Grizzlies fall to Lakers 107-100.
This is how much injuries have depleted the Grizzlies’ roster — they are turning to Tony Allen for offense. The same Tony Allen that the Warriors decided to “guard” with Andrew Bogut during the playoffs last season so Bogut could help on anyone and everyone else. Give Allen credit, he performed on Tuesday in Los Angeles — check out that shot chart:

Shotchart_1458733573357

Of course, the fans came to see Kobe, and he gave them 20 points (on 7-of-18 shooting) and backed down Matt Barnes a few times. The scary part for Lakers fans was seeing D'Angelo Russell go down with what the team is calling a shin injury (in reality it looked like a knee-to-knee collision), but postgame Byron Scott said it wasn’t serious, and he hoped Russell could play Wednesday in Phoenix.

3) Dunk of the night? Let’s go back to Westbrook. Nobody is as explosive in the NBA as Russell Westbrook.

Lakers hold off Grizzlies 107-100, snap 4-game skid

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant, left, points as he handles the ball while Memphis Grizzlies forward Matt Barnes, right, defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
Associated Press
Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES (AP) One last time, Kobe Bryant backed down Tony Allen, talked friendly trash with Matt Barnes and reminisced with old AAU teammate Vince Carter.

By the final minutes, Kobe was watching them all from the bench while the young Los Angeles Lakers closed out an unlikely win.

Jordan Clarkson scored 22 points, Brandon Bass got eight of his 18 in the fourth quarter and the Lakers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 107-100 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night.

Bryant scored 12 of his 20 points in the third quarter, but the superstar sat out the final 4:20 because coach Byron Scott wanted “to see what these guys can do.”

Bryant was curious himself, and he wasn’t disappointed.

“I thought they played hard,” Bryant said of the young group. “I think it’s time for them to make that jump. Now it’s time to really lock in on those details.”

Even with D'Angelo Russell sidelined by a bruised shin, Clarkson led Los Angeles smoothly past the playoff-bound Grizzlies, who had won the clubs’ first three meetings of the season. The Western Conference-worst Lakers wrapped up an eight-game homestand with three wins, beating contenders Golden State and Memphis.

“We were moving the ball, but a lot of it started on the defensive end,” Clarkson said. “We just stuck to the game plan.”

Data curated by PointAfter

Allen made all 12 of his shots while scoring 27 points for the Grizzlies, who rallied to win in Phoenix on Monday night.

“It was one those games where they took advantage of us coming off a back-to-back, but no excuses,” Allen said. “That team played hard. They were all over the place, getting second-chance points. We turned the ball over and they scored off our turnovers. They played with a little more energy than us. They outhustled us and had a little more pep in their step. They’re a young, talented group, and they’re the future of the NBA.”

Zach Randolph and Lance Stephenson added 16 points apiece for the Grizzlies.

“It’s a game that we needed, and we didn’t win,” said Carter, who had four points. “They had more energy than us. I don’t know what they’re playing for, but I know what we’re playing for.”

KOBE’S GUYS

Bryant suited up for the fourth time in Los Angeles’ last 10 games, and he appeared to be in a good mood throughout his final showdown with several old friends.

Kobe recently called Allen the toughest defender he faced in his 20-year NBA career, and Carter was among his early inspirations to work hard. Bryant’s long-standing connections with them explained why he’ll attempt to play back-to-back games with his sore shoulder instead of sitting out this one before Wednesday’s game in Phoenix.

“My shoulder feels great,” Bryant said. “I didn’t have any aches or pains.”

Bryant said he still intends to play in his Phoenix farewell.

D’ANGELO DOWN

Russell had 11 points in 22 minutes before sitting out the final 1 1/2 quarters. The rookie No. 2 overall pick went down in pain in the first half after a leg-on-leg collision with JaMychal Green, but he played in the third quarter before shutting it down.

NO JUSTICE, NO WORLD PEACE

Metta World Peace was ejected early in the fourth quarter when he wouldn’t stop complaining about the lack of a foul call when Vince Carter tied him up for a jump ball. The former Ron Artest has a monumental history of on-court misbehaviors, but it was his first ejection of the season. The Grizzlies got the chance to choose the Lakers player who had to enter the game to take World Peace’s spot on the jump ball, and they grinningly chose Kobe, who lost the tip.

TIP-INS

Grizzlies: Longtime Lakers G Jordan Farmar had eight points and five assists in his second game with Memphis, which signed the Los Angeles native and UCLA product to a 10-day contract. … Stephenson scored five points in 1.5 seconds late in the third quarter with two free throws, a quick steal and a three-point play. … Mike Conley missed his 10th straight game with tendinitis, and P.J. Hairston missed his fifth straight game with a strained groin.

Lakers: Rookie F Larry Nance Jr. sat out as part of the team’s strategy to rest his sore knees during back-to-back sets. He is expected to play Wednesday in Phoenix. … Russell is questionable to play in Phoenix, the team said.

UP NEXT

Grizzlies: At Spurs on Friday.

Lakers: At Suns on Wednesday.

Westbrook’s triple-double leads Thunder past Rockets 111-107

Leave a comment

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Russell Westbrook had 21 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds to help the Thunder beat the Houston Rockets 111-107 on Tuesday night.

Westbrook has 15 triple-doubles this season and 34 in his career. It’s the most triple-doubles by a player in a season since 1988-89, when Magic Johnson had 17 and Michael Jordan had 15.

It was also Westbrook’s sixth triple-double in March. According to STATS, it’s the most by a player in a calendar month since Jordan had seven in April 1989. It was his third in a row and fourth in his past five games.

Data curated by PointAfter

Kevin Durant scored 23 points and Dion Waiters added 17 to help the Thunder win their fifth straight.

James Harden had 24 points, a career-high 16 assists and seven rebounds for the Rockets. Dwight Howard had 16 points and 13 rebounds and Patrick Beverley added 16 points.

Houston led 99-97 when Westbrook took over. He found Steven Adams for a dunk on an inbounds pass, got a steal and a dunk, then made a long 2-point jumper to give the Thunder a 103-99 lead.

Harden’s 3-pointer with 13.8 seconds to play cut Oklahoma City’s lead to 108-107. Serge Ibaka made 1 of 2 free throws with 11.9 seconds left to give the Thunder a two-point lead. Harden turned the ball over while trying to get it into Howard, and Waiters stole it. Westbrook made two free throws at the other end with 3.5 seconds remaining to put the game out of reach. Westbrook scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.

TIP-INS

Rockets: Howard played for the first time since the league investigated a spray he said he had routinely put on his hands for grip for the past five years. A Rockets spokeswoman said there has been no discipline from the league, and Howard chose to use nothing on his hands. … Harden’s 10 assists in the first half matched the most he’s had in a half in his career. … A basket by Michael Beasley late in the third quarter was waved off after review because he took the shot after the shot clock had expired.

Thunder: F Kyle Singler sat out with soreness and tightness in his lower back. … The Thunder shot 52.2 percent in the first quarter. … Oklahoma City attempted just three free throws in the first half. … The Thunder improved to 6-0 on Tuesdays this season. … Durant passed Michael Finley and moved into 81st place on the league’s all-time scoring list. He now has 17,326 points.

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP