Kurt Helin

Stephen Curry, DeMarcus Cousins put on show Saturday night (VIDEO)

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After off games, Stephen Curry was back in MVP form Saturday night: 38 points on 21 shots, eight threes, and dishing out 11 assists.

On the opposing side, DeMarcus Cousins looked like the best center in the NBA: 33 points and 10 rebounds against one of the better defenses in the league.

The result was an entertaining game — one the Warriors won, 128-116. They are the better, deeper team. But this kind of play has Sacramento just 1.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the West, and they are a threat to climb in with Utah struggling above them. Of course, that could make this game a first round playoff preview — which based on tonight would be pretty fun to watch.

Remembering NBA forward John Johnson

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John Johnson, the former NBA All-Star who was a part of the Seattle Supersonics 1979 title team, has passed away at the age of 68.

Drafted No. 7 out of Iowa, he was an All-Star his first two seasons in the league with the Cavaliers. He was one of the pioneers of the idea of a “point forward” and he had a skill set that would have translated well into today’s game. He scored 11 points a game for the title-winning Sonics team of 1979. He also played for Portland and Houston in his NBA career.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon throws down double-pump reverse slam (VIDEO)

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I love that dunk. It’s a little old-school, a little Dominique Wilkins.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon finished with 10 points, but it wasn’t enough. Washington almost the entire game and ptetty comfortably through most of it, going on to a 105-99 win behind 24 points from John Wall.

Gordon Hayward scores 34 points, Jazz defeat Heat 98-83

Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward, right, is held by  Miami Heat forward Gerald Green, left as he drives to he basket during an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Salt Lake City. The Jazz defeated the Heat 98-83. (AP Photo/George Frey)
Associated Press
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Jazz forward Gordon Hayward had no particular plans to shoulder a heavier load with the team short-handed and dressing only three wing players due to injury Saturday night. It just happened to work out that way.

Hayward scored a season-high 34 points and Utah beat the Miami Heat 98-83 to break a three-game losing streak.

“Once I saw a couple go in, the basket opened up and I was able to get some more,” Hayward said. “I knew I needed to be aggressive throughout the game. I was turning the ball over so much (early), I might as well throw it at the rim. Would’ve been better than giving them the ball. Just an aggressive mindset.”

Hayward came out of the locker room after a passive first half and scored 18 points in the third quarter, including nine in a row to give the Jazz a 68-60 lead. Utah outscored the Heat 27-19 in the period.

The Heat got as close as four in the fourth, but a late 6-0 run pushed the lead back to 88-78.

“It’s a really good win for our team,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We’ve talked about trying to get better throughout whatever challenges we have with injury and fatigue on back-to-backs and playing through adversity.

“I think our players could’ve been down. And we just tried to maintain the strength of character as a group and not let those things affect us. That’s a credit to our players. … I’m not sure I could do what they’re doing right now.”

Trey Burke scored 11 points off the bench and Raul Neto matched a career high with 13 for the Jazz.

Chris Bosh led the Heat with 24 points, and Goran Dragic added 16. Hassan Whiteside had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Dwyane Wade was held to eight points on 3-for-17 shooting.

The Heat shot just 30.4 percent from the field after halftime.

“Hayward really got it going and they read our schemes and what we were doing defensively,” Wade said, “and they did a great job getting the things they needed from our schemes.”

Miami jumped out to a 29-19 lead at the end of the first quarter thanks to 11 points from Dragic.

A pair of baskets by Burke spurred a 9-2 Jazz run at the beginning of the second quarter that cut the Heat lead to three, but Miami responded with a 6-0 spurt itself and took a 49-45 lead into halftime.

“They started making some shots. The pick-6s and those turnovers really gave them some life,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They made big shots when they need to. Extra possessions, all that stuff they were able to get and we weren’t able to stop the avalanche in the last 6 minutes.”

TIP-INS

Heat: It was the second of a six-game road trip for the Heat. Their current stretch includes 12 of 14 games on the road. Twelve road games this month is the franchise record for January. … Miami shot 55.6 percent in the first half. … Wade hurt his shoulder in the third quarter, but was able to return to the game. He’ll be evaluated further by the Miami medical staff.

Jazz: Utah shot 51.4 percent from the field in the first half. … Trevor Booker went to the locker room late in the first half. He returned for the second half. … Chris Johnson started his first game of the year and scored a season-high 14 points.

 

Blazers’ Terry Stotts thinks Warriors can reach 72 wins

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At 34-2, the Golden State Warriors are on pace to go 77-5 this season.

That has a lot of fans asking “can they break the Michael Jordan/Bulls record of 72-10?”

The Warriors dodge that question when asked. But after his team became the latest Warriors victim, Trail Blazers’ coach Terry Stotts answered it for them — yes they can. Via Sean Michael Meagher (hat tip Eye on Basketball):

If they can stay relatively healthy, the Warriors have a chance — but things are going to get harder as the season wears on.

The Warriors have the fourth easiest schedule in the NBA so far — they have played the Cavaliers once (Christmas Day) and have yet to face either the Thunder or Spurs. They have eight games still ahead against those other serious contenders. Also, the Warriors trust the body/health monitoring analytics gear that players wear during practices, and at some point later this season it will tell them to rest guys like Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson for nights, making the Warriors more vulnerable.

The Warriors have the point differential of a team 30-6, according to Basketball-Reference.com, meaning the Warriors have been a little bit lucky so far. That kind of luck tends to balance out over the course of a season.

The Warriors to a man say they are not focused on the outcome yet, just the process. But this is also a team trying to establish its legacy up their with some of the great squads of all-time, and breaking the win total would be another significant step on the way to doing just that. My guess is that if the Warriors get to mid-march, with a month to go in the season, and they have a good shot at the record it will become more of a priority.

But for now, they know their ultimate legacy will be determined by rings more than regular season accomplishments.