Kurt Helin

Stephen Curry scores 35 points, Warriors top Raptors 127-121

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TORONTO (AP) — Stephen Curry had 35 points, Kevin Durant added 30 and the Golden State Warriors beat the Toronto Raptors 127-121 on Wednesday night for their fifth straight victory.

The Warriors also have won five in a row against the Raptors, three in Toronto.

NBA scoring leader DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 34 points, and Kyle Lowry had 24. DeRozan was 17 of 17 from the free-throw line, and had his ninth 30-plus-point game in 11 games this season.

The Raptors led for most of first quarter, stretching their lead as high as 10 thanks to nine points apiece from Lowry and DeRozan. Durant chipped in with nine of his own as the Warriors fought back to close the deficit to 38-34 after 12 minutes.

Durant and Curry, in particular, ensured they improved on that in the second quarter with 10 points each. Aided by the Raptors shooting 5 for 24, the Warriors closed out the half on a 23-6 run, turning a four-point deficit into a 13-point lead, 66-53. The 66 points were the most the Raptors have given up in a first half at home since surrendering 71 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 25, 2014.

Golden State pushed the advantage to 19 points over the first 1:30 of the third quarter, but DeRozan brought the Raptors back with 19 points to send the Raptors into the fourth trailing 95-86.

Over the final 12 minutes, the Golden State backups stretched the lead to 16, and were able to hold on as the Raptors rallied within 4 with 13 seconds to play.

TIP INS:

Warriors: Coach Steve Kerr is one win away from the 150th coaching victory of his career. With 33 assists and a 50.6 success rate from the field, the Warriors set a franchise record with a fifth straight game with at least 30 assists and shooting over 50 percent. … With 10 field goals made, Curry moved past Joe Barry Carroll (4,010) for eight place on Golden State’s career list.

Raptors: Along with Brooklyn, Toronto is the only team to face Cleveland and Golden State in back-to-back games. Toronto lost 121-117 in Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Raptors out-rebounded Golden State 46-35. The Raptors dropped to 5-2 this season when DeRozan and Lowry combine to score 50 or more points.

ENJOYING THE VIEWS:

Canadian rapper Drake was on hand for the team’s fourth annual Drake Night. Wearing a shirt bearing the likeness of ESPN presenter Doris Burke as well as the words “Woman Crush Everyday,” Drake explained that he’s a big fan of Burke. He then sat courtside as the Raptors wore their Drake-inspired black-and-gold uniforms.

HE SAID IT:

“I want the Drake Night record to not only be all wins but I want them to be good wins, all good wins. I think I picked the right team; I’m excited. And if we don’t pull it out now, that’s not even an option.” – a confident Drake before watching the Raptors suffer their first loss on Drake Night. Toronto also dropped to 8-3 when it wears its alternate black-and-gold Drake-inspired uniforms.

MVP IN THE HOUSE:

Toronto FC forward Sebastian Giovinco, the reigning Major League Soccer most valuable player, was sitting courtside. Despite 17 goals and 16 assists in his second season in North America, the Italian failed to make the cut when this season’s three MVP candidates were announced earlier this month. Toronto FC plays the Montreal Impact in an all-Canadian Eastern Conference final starting on Nov. 22.

 

Watch Marc Gasol nail game-winning three, do dance you will (not) want to copy

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Let’s talk about the dance/walk first, we’ll get to the game-winning shot later:

What was that, Marc Gasol? There was no consensus in the NBA Twitterverse, although the leading candidate was it was the Conor Mcgregor octagon walk. My first thought was it was a bad Bernie Lean.

Whatever it was, we know the one thing it was for sure: Full of swagger.

Marc Gasol earned that dance and that swag. He can call it whatever he wants.

It was a great play design, Mike Conley had the hot hand all night for Memphis, they ran him off a high screen to get the switch of J.J. Redick on to him, then he just drove left, got even (or ahead slightly) of Redick, and forced DeAndre Jordan to make a choice between protecting the rim and giving Gasol a clean look at a corner three. Jordan chose the rim and Gasol made him pay.

Memphis ends up with the 111-107 road win.

This was a fantastic victory for David Fizdale’s Grizzlies and his vision — he wants to up the pace, space the floor, and they did it and did it well against the best defense in the NBA this young season. It was a fantastic effort by the Grizzlies and the kind of win that can help them take a step forward.

Carmelo Anthony is great in new Foot Locker ad

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Foot Locker has a number of ads hitting the airwaves to promote its Week of Greatness sales event.

Carmelo Anthony had the best one, a little dig at his critics while pimping the store.

The future Hall of Famer — and make no mistake, he is that — talks greatness in this ad and it’s kind of funny. And true.

PBT Extra: Phil Jackson’s “posse” comment another sign he’s stuck in past

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Phil Jackson is not a racist, he’s a man who has both spoken out about and walked the talk on civil rights.

But he is a 71-year-old who can be stuck in the past — from how he views players and them taking more control of their brand and affairs, to how to build an NBA team for the modern era.

That’s what I discuss in this latest PBT Extra, talking about Jackson’s “posse” comment about LeBron James and the reaction from LeBron, Carmelo Anthony, and others. It’s just a sign of who Jackson is now.

Best Wednesday night showdown: Russell Westbrook vs. James Harden

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James Harden is averaging 30.3 points, 12.6 assists, and 7.9 rebounds a game, with a true shooting percentage of 65 and a PER of 32.1.

Russell Westbrook is averaging 32 points, 9.9 assists, and 9.7 rebounds a game, with a true shooting percentage of 56 and a PER of 31.6.

The former teammates have become two of the of the biggest stories in the NBA this season as virtual solo acts — they are first and second in the league in time of possession this season, and they are second and third in the league in touches (behind Damian Lillard). Harden is the point guard of Mike D’Antoni’s whirlwind of an offense and has looked at home as a playmaker and scorer; angry Westbrook is just powering through defenses and nobody can stop him.

Wednesday night is the showdown: the 6-4 Rockets head north to take on the 6-5 Thunder.

There are going to be highlights and a lot of points.

I’d say Harden has been the slightly better player this season, but the winner of the showdown will be the one that gets the most help.

The Thunder have lost four in a row and are 20.2 points per 100 possessions better when Westbrook is on the court. The last few games the second unit for the Thunder have been destroyed when Westbrook sat, and the defense that got the team early wins has gone into hibernation. The Thunder are going to count on Andre Roberson to contain Harden — and not get in foul trouble, like he did against DeMar DeRozan recently (once Roberson had to sit DeRozan went off).

The Rockets have a pretty simple scouting report on OKC.

The Rockets are 36.7 points per 100 possessions better when Harden is on the court, and their offense becomes anemic when he has to rest. Surprisingly, they are not running as much as you expect from a Mike D’Antoni team — they are 15th in the NBA, the Thunder play faster. That may change tonight. The Rockets are going to need to find some defense from Trevor Ariza (with Clint Capella protecting the rim behind him) and get offense out of Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and the rest.

Could we see two guys get triple-doubles in one game? Maybe.

But the one we see get help will get the win.