Kurt Helin

Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Stephen Curry drops 51 points, 11 threes on Wizards

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I know you didn’t have time to watch a full slate of NBA games Wednesday, instead choosing to go wild boar curling. We’ve got you covered, here’s what you need to know from Wednesday around the NBA:

1) Stephen Curry show comes to Nation’s Capital: 25 points in first quarter, 11 threes in the game and 51 points. I’ve run out of descriptions for Stephen Curry on the court. He’s simply fun to watch. Even if you’re a Washington Wizards fan — and if so, you should be proud of how well your team played — all you can do is marvel at the what Curry does, and tip your cap. In the first quarter, Curry had 25 points on 9-of-10 shooting overall and 7-of-8 from three (and that one miss was his cleanest look of the lot). Curry set a personal record with 36 first half points, and he finished with 51 on 28 shots, knocking down 11 threes. He’s a basketball magician. The Wizards played one of their better games I’ve seen — John Wall had 41 points and 10 assists — but on a night when Curry is shooting like this and Draymond Green racks up another triple-double (10th this season) there’s nothing you can do. Final score 134-121 Golden State.


2) Kevin Durant from three for the win? There’s nothing Orlando could do to stop it.
The Magic had their chance, Victor Oladipo drove the lane and looked to put a feisty Magic team up on OKC on the Thunder’s home court — Serge Ibaka would have none of that. His length and athleticism let him track Oladipo down and reject the shot. Then smart move by Billy Donovan — if you have Kevin Durant on your team don’t call a timeout and let the defense get set. KD got the ball, created a little space, and the ball touches nothing but nylon. The Magic played well, but the Thunder get the 117-114 win.

3) No Kemba, no problem: Charlotte beats Cleveland. The Charlotte Hornets had a 23-game losing streak to LeBron James led teams, and with Kemba Walker out with a sore knee it seemed like that streak might continue. Especially after the first 24 minutes. Instead, it ended on Wednesday night with a dramatic second-half comeback in Charlotte, 106-97.

In the first half Cleveland seemed to get whatever shot it wanted, putting up 58 points, finishing the half on a 13-1 run, and even getting good defensive play out of Kevin Love. They were steamrolling the Hornets as LeBron was passing out of drives behind his head to Love in the corner. But in the third quarter Jeremy Lin attacked (he had 11 in the quarter and 24 for the game), the Cavaliers took their foot off the gas and coasted, while Charlotte decided to run right at them, off both makes and misses. It put Cleveland back on their heels — often LeBron seemed the only guy back defending the breaks. In a sign of the effort level on the night, Charlotte won the battle on the glass by 21. Cleveland looked like a team still learning, and the Hornets got the kind of win they need to get past Detroit and back in the playoff mix.

4) Andrew Wiggins drops 31, Timberwolves break 14-game losing streak to Clippers. The night before, Andrew Wiggins dropped 30 on the Lakers, but was overshadowed by vintage Kobe Bryant. Wednesday there would be nobody to overshadow him — Wiggins put up 31 points on the Clippers, and the Timberwolves got the win. In the second half Wiggins got help — Karl-Anthony Towns had 17, Ricky Rubio was diving into the crowd to save balls — but Wiggins was the guy the Clippers did not have an answer for and Minnesota won 106-97. Los Angeles looked like a team that missed Blake Griffin.

There was one controversial play — late in the game the Clippers were down two and decided to trap rather than foul immediately — Chris Paul and J.J. Redick trap Rubio just over half court. Redick gets called for the foul, and while it was close you can see a foul there, he bumps him. CP3, frustrated, turns and walks away, and claps his hands — and gets called for a technical foul by Lauren Holtkamp. It was a bad tech, there was no reason to give it, CP3 was not showing up the referee and with :20 seconds left in a close game you want the players showing a little emotion. But Holtkamp has a reputation of taking any perceived slight too personally, and she has a history with Paul — last year after she gave him a technical he got a $10,000 fine saying that maybe this job wasn’t for her. She T’d him up. That’s not why the Clippers lost, but it’s going to be talked about, and Holtkamp was in the wrong.

5) LaMarcus Aldridge scored 36, and the Spurs remained undefeated at home. Why does home court matter so much in the West? Because the Spurs are 27-0 at home now — after a 110-97 win over New Orleans Wednesday — and the Warriors are 22-0. When those teams meet in the conference finals, home court is going to matter. The Spurs stayed perfect at the AT&T Center thanks to a big night from Aldridge, who went up against a good defender in Anthony Davis for chunks of the night.

 

Wolves beat Clippers 108-102, snapping 14-game skid

Los Angeles Lakers guard Louis Williams, right, falls while trying to guard Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 119-115. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Associated Press
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Andrew Wiggins scored 31 points, Zach LaVine added 17 and the Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the Clippers 108-102 on Wednesday night, snapping a 14-game skid with their first win over Los Angeles at Staples Center in nearly four years.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Gorgui Dieng had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolves, who also ended two other streaks: five straight losses and 12 in a row on the road.

Chris Paul scored 22 points and Jamal Crawford added 21 off the bench for the Clippers. Their four-game winning streak ended and they fell to 15-4 without injured Blake Griffin. Their streak against the Wolves was the Clippers’ longest active winning streak against any opponent.

The teams traded runs in the fourth, when the Wolves led by nine points before the Clippers briefly regained a one-point lead. Twice the Clippers tied the game in the final two minutes, but the Wolves scored to regain the lead.

Trailing 102-100, Paul hit Ricky Rubio on the head and knocked him down while trying desperately for a foul, resulting in a technical. Rubio hit the free throw and the Wolves scored four in a row for a 106-100 lead to put the game out of reach.

The Clippers closed within one early in the fourth before Minnesota went on an 8-0 run to extend its lead, 85-76. Dieng and Andre Miller each had 3-point plays and Shabazz Muhammad added a pair of free throws.

Los Angeles answered with a 12-2 spurt, including six by Crawford, for its first lead since early in the third, 88-87.

DeAndre Jordan had 18 points and 15 rebounds for the Clippers. Crawford made all 10 of his free throws.

Minnesota ran off 14 unanswered points for its largest lead of the game, 69-59, in the third. Towns had 11 points in the period after missing his first six shots of the game.

The Clippers rallied from 3-point range, hitting four treys, as part of a 15-7 run to trail 76-74 heading into the fourth. They started the quarter with 1 of 12 shooting.

The teams were nearly even in the first half, when the Clippers led 55-53 at the break. Both shot 53 percent, had 19 rebounds apiece and five turnovers each, and the Clippers’ reserves outscored the Wolves’ bench 21-20.

TIP-INS

Timberwolves: They improved to 1-2 against the Clippers this season. … F Kevin Garnett missed his sixth straight game with a sore right knee. … G Kevin Martin sat out his sixth in a row with a sore right wrist. … C Nikola Pekovic was out for the second game in a row with a sore right foot.

Clippers: Jordan had three blocks to reach 1,000 for his career. … G Austin Rivers was ejected after receiving back-to-back technicals in the second quarter. … With still no word from the NBA on its investigation of Griffin punching a team staff member, the forward remained away from the team. Coach Doc Rivers said Griffin won’t be on the upcoming four-game trip because of his broken hand from the punch-out and a partially torn tendon he already had. Rivers wasn’t sure whether assistant equipment manager Matias Testi would re-join the team pending the outcome of the league’s inquiry. … Paul’s young son, Chris Jr., presented his dad with his All-Star jersey before the game.

 

Stephen Curry lights up Wizards for 51, Warriors win 8th straight

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 36 of his 51 points in the first half to offset a monster offensive game from John Wall and the Golden State Warriors pulled away to beat the Washington Wizards 134-121 Wednesday night for their eighth straight victory.

Curry made 13 of his first 14 shots and finished 19 of 28 from the field and 11 of 26 from 3-point territory. His 11 3s tied a career high.

The defending-champion Warriors (45-4) continued on their run by tying the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers for the best 49-game start in NBA history.

Along with Curry’s 51, Klay Thompson scored 24 points and Draymond Green had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Wall led the Wizards (21-26) with 10 assists and his season-best 41 points.

Curry made his first six shots from the field, including his first 5 3-point attempts, and finished the first quarter with 25 points on 9-for-10 shooting. The Warriors led 43-28 after the first and let the lead slip to nine with Curry on the bench for the first portion of the second.

Back on the floor, Curry just kept scoring. His 36 points at halftime were the most of any first half in his career and broke the Verizon Center record of 34 set by Michael Jordan on Dec. 29, 2001.

Curry went 3 of 10 in the third quarter. With him actually missing shots, the Wizards cut a 14-point halftime deficit down to two at one point and three at another until Golden State went on a 10-0 run to take the game back over.

MEMORY LANE

Twenty years after he and the Chicago Bulls won their record-setting 72nd game of the 1995-96 season against the Washington Bullets in Landover, Maryland, Steve Kerr returned to the area as Warriors coach seeing a lot of similarities as far as the attention the teams received.

“It was a pretty big deal then, obviously with Michael (Jordan) drawing so much attention everywhere we went,” Kerr said. “I think today things are bigger in a lot of ways with social media and so many different media outlets. And Steph is getting a lot of notoriety, obviously, and drawing fans and media everywhere we go.”

TIP-INS

Warriors: Golden State reached 30 assists for the eighth consecutive game, the most since Charlotte had 13 in a row in 1989. … Green tied his career high with five blocks. … The team is set to be honored for its NBA title at the White House on Thursday by President Barack Obama. … C Festus Ezeli missed his fourth straight game with a sore left knee.

Wizards: The 134 points by Golden State were the most Washington allowed this season. … Curry’s 51 are the most points against the Wizards this season. … Assistant Don Newman served as head coach in place of Randy Wittman, who missed his second game following the death of his brother. … The Wizards wore jerseys with Mandarin lettering to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

 

Lin scores 24 as Hornets rally to beat Cavaliers 106-97

Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lin reacts after scoring against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Charlotte, N.C. Charlotte won 106-97. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
Associated Press
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Jeremy Lin scored 24 points and the Charlotte Hornets rallied in the second half to beat the Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland Cavaliers 106-97 on Wednesday night.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 11 points and 13 rebounds, and three other players finished in double figures for the Hornets, who overcame a nine-point halftime deficit to snap a four-game losing streak against the Cavaliers.

Marvin Williams added 16 points, Frank Kaminski had 15 off the bench and Nicholas Batum scored 10 for Charlotte, which trailed 58-49 at halftime. Playing without ailing point guard Kemba Walker, the Hornets outscored Cleveland 33-17 in the third quarter to take an 82-75 lead and went on to lead by as many as 15 late in the fourth.

Kyrie Irving had 26 points and LeBron James added 23 for the Cavaliers, who had won five straight. J.R. Smith scored 14 and Kevin Love 12.

Irving gave the Cavaliers their final lead, hitting a layup with 6:36 left in the third quarter that put Cleveland up 69-67. Lin followed with a three-point play 28 seconds later to put the Hornets ahead to stay.

Charlotte’s biggest lead came with less than 5 minutes remaining, when Kidd-Gilchrist knocked down a jumper to put the Hornets up 98-83. The Cavaliers got no closer than six the rest of the way.

There were nine lead changes and 11 ties in a back-and-forth first half before a late run put the Cavaliers in front by nine.

Charlotte took its biggest lead of the first half late in the second quarter, going up 47-43 on Kaminsky’s layup with 4:23 remaining. But the Cavaliers closed the period with a 15-2 spurt.

Cleveland opened the run with Tristan Thompson‘s tip-in with 4:07 left, took the lead at 50-48 on James’ jumper with 1:35 remaining and capped it with Smith’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: Cleveland is 5-2 since Tyronn Lue replaced David Blatt as head coach on Jan. 22. . G Matthew Dellavedova was inactive with a sore left hamstring.

Hornets: Walker sat out with a sore left knee, the first game he’s missed this season. . Batum (strained right toe), center Cody Zeller (sore right shoulder) and guard Jeremy Lamb (sprained right toe) returned to action, with Zeller and Batum starting.

Report: Zach Lavine, Andre Drummond, Will Barton, Aaron Gordon in dunk contest

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Zach LaVine didn’t just win the All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest last season, he re-energized it. And then said after it was over he didn’t even break out his best dunk.

Looks like he will be back this year in Toronto to defend his title. Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer broke the story (which likely becomes official on Thursday).

The defending champion in Minnesota’s Zach LaVine, Detroit’s Andre Drummond, Denver’s Will Barton and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon are this year’s participants, league sources informed cleveland.com.

That’s an impressive field. LaVine is the clear favorite, but Will Barton should provide some exciting competition, he has had some huge dunks this season.

Drummond brings the power, and Gordon is another freak athlete. This is going to be entertaining.

But the smart money is on LaVine.