Kurt Helin

Brandon Jennings throws off-the-backboard alley-oop to Andre Drummond

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There’s been a lot of talk this season about the chemistry in Detroit between Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson.

Looks like Brandon Jennings and Drummond have some, too.

That’s a sweet off-the-backboard alley-oop pass to Drummond for the monster slam. Drummond finished with 21 points to lead Detroit to a 105-100 win.

Amar’e Stoudemire giving Heat a lift when they’ve needed it most

Miami Heat center Amar'e Stoudemire scores against the Golden State Warriors during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Associated Press
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MIAMI (AP) — This is what the Miami Heat envisioned when they got Amare Stoudemire to agree to a free agent deal last summer. In short, they would use him when needed.

And right now, he’s needed.

Miami’s season was teetering on the brink a week ago, with losses and injuries piling up. But the Heat have since won four straight games, Stoudemire starting them all in place of injured center Hassan Whiteside and helping Miami get back on track. Stoudemire posted season-highs of 13 points, 12 rebounds and three steals in Miami’s most recent win, a 105-87 romp over Atlanta on Sunday night.

“He knows how to play,” Heat point guard Goran Dragic said.

Stoudemire has averaged 22 minutes in Miami’s last six games, after averaging about 10 in his first 14 appearances. He’s not the rim protector that Whiteside is, but his pick-and-roll game – he and Dwyane Wade kept effectively running it on Sunday – and ability to finish has given the Heat offense a clear boost.

“Amar’e can be who he was in his 20’s in short bursts if we’re all smart about it and control the minutes,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “That’s the hardest thing for me to do. When we manage and bottle them up those minutes, he’s fresh. He spends a great deal of time … so much time training, working on his strength, doing corrective exercises, treatment, just to get himself ready to play. He just gives you a highly decorated talent.”

He’s also been highly patient.

Stoudemire played in only three of Miami’s first 28 games, logging a total of 27 minutes in that span. The Heat didn’t see a spot for him in the nightly rotation, but Stoudemire never openly complained. He kept up on his long daily routines, taking care of himself on and off the floor and knowing at some point he would play a key role.

That time has arrived.

“I just stayed humble, knowing eventually all the hard work would pay off,” Stoudemire said. “Patience is a virtue. Stay humble. Stay ready.”

He said he found “joy in training” and did so while getting lost in music – Bob Marley or Marvin Gaye mostly – much of the time during workouts to keep his spirits high and mood calm. During games, even when he wasn’t playing, Stoudemire was usually one of the first off the bench to greet teammates or one of the most animated when celebrating someone else’s highlight.

He’s fit into the Heat locker room with ease. And when Whiteside comes back, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Stoudemire remained somehow in the rotation.

“I’m here to support Hassan 100 percent,” Stoudemire said. “He’s going through an injury right now. I’m here to support him. There’s no pressure on myself, no pressure on the coaches. My job is to help this team win.”

NOTES: Wade won the Eastern Conference’s player of the week award, averaging 24 points in Miami’s 4-0 week. It’s the 11th different season in which Wade has won the weekly honor. … The Heat said G Tyler Johnson will have surgery to repair an issue with his left rotator cuff on Wednesday. Johnson has had the problem since his college days, and he and the team were hoping to hold off on the procedure until the offseason. Johnson said he expects to be sidelined around two months. … Whiteside is listed as questionable for Tuesday in Houston because of his strained left hip.

Myles Turner throws it down, blocks LeBron for Pacers against Cavaliers

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Myles Turner has looked good as a starter for the Pacers since he was inserted in the lineup two games ago — he’s scored 28 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, and is +8 in those two games. He’s looked good on both ends.

That didn’t stop Monday night, in a game where the Pacers gave the Cavaliers all they could handle.

Early in the game he threw down this slam on his way to a double-double in the game. Later on he did this to LeBron James:

Turner still makes rookie mistakes — not reading the clock and coming out to set a pick for Monta Ellis on the last shot of regulation (the game went to overtime) but he’s doing a lot of good, also.

Stephen Curry on 73 wins: “If we have an opportunity to go for it, we’ll go for it”

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The Golden State Warriors are on pace for 75 wins this season — it would be the best record in NBA history. But getting past the Bulls 72-win record is not going to be that simple, in part because the Warriors’ schedule is getting much tougher — they face Oklahoma City three times in their next 12 games. And that stretch includes a seven-game road trip. Throw in the fact the Warriors will end up resting some players down the stretch to make sure they are healthy for the playoffs and eclipsing the Bulls is still a daunting task.

But the Warriors are aware of the number — not that the media and our constant questions will let them forget — and they may make a push for it at the end if it is in reach. That’s what Stephen Curry told Brett Pollakoff of Fox Sports in a recent interview.

We talk about it because we’re asked about it, mostly. We’re not afraid to address it and understand the opportunity we have, obviously with the 24-0 start. We’re on pace for it, or actually I think we’re one game ahead of that pace.

So we know where we are, but it’s really hard to fast-forward to April and really kind of get your mind to where, we’re 28 games from tying the record. It just makes it sink in how hard and how special that accomplishment was for the Bulls. We’re obviously worried about what happens in the playoffs, and being healthy and full-strength playing our best come April 16 or whenever our last game is.

But if we have an opportunity to go for it, we’ll go for it. Because how many chances are you going to get to be a team that passes that record, and obviously everybody’s still talking about the 95-96 Bulls — one, because of their record, and two, because they finished it off with a championship. We want to be able to do both, too.

This follows the company line the Warriors have stuck with since they started 24-0 — we’d love to get the record, but not at the expense of a championship, and we’re just taking things day-by-day. Not that they don’t mean it, but I think there is more of a drive to grab this record than they let on — the Warriors are in legacy-building mode, which means they need multiple rings but also they could use a record like this along the way.

My sense has been that if the Warriors get to mid-march, with about a month to go in the season, and that record is still well within reach, they will make a push for it. They want it to happen. But if there are enough stumbles in the next six weeks to make chasing that record a potential detriment to getting another ring, they will just move on and focus on the big picture.

Reports: Curry, Bosh (maybe), Booker to take part in All-Star Three-Point Contest

Taco Bell Skills Challenge 2015
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This is the week we start to learn who will be taking part the All-Star Saturday events — like DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis leading a charge of big men into the Skills Competition.

What about the three-point contest?

Stephen Curry told our old friend Brett Pollakoff, now of Fox Sports, that he plans to return and defend his crown.

“Most likely. I’ve done it three straight years and finally won one. Knowing I’ll be there already, I’ll probably suit up Saturday night and see if I can defend it. It’s a gym I’ve gotten a lot of shots up in growing up, with my dad playing up there for three years. So, it’ll be a pretty special spot to lace ‘em up and shoot some threes.”

Who is he going up against? Chris Bosh for one. Maybe.

Suns rookie Devin Booker — who is shooting 41.7 percent from three — will be there as well, reports Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.

Booker, the NBA’s youngest player at 19, is leading the rookie class with 41.7 percent 3-point shooting this season. He will be only the fourth rookie to compete in the 30-year-old contest, joining Stephen Curry (2010), Kyle Korver (2004) and Dennis Scott (1991).

There has been a push to get Boston’s Kelly Olynyk considered for the event (he is shooting 43 percent from three this season), but nothing is official.

The participants for all of the All-Star Saturday events will be announced later in the week.