Kurt Helin

Kevin Durant calls two-minute report “b*******”; Steve Kerr says officials didn’t decide game


The NBA admitted that the officials missed it: Richard Jefferson tripped Kevin Durant on the final play of the Cavaliers come-from-behind Christmas Day win over the Warriors.

Durant said he would have made the game winning shot if he hadn’t been tripped — then he became the latest in a long line of players, coaches, and GMs to slam the “two-minute reports” on officiating in tight games. Via Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com.

“The refs didn’t lose us that game,” he began after practice Tuesday. “We lost that game; we could’ve been better.

“I think it’s b******* that the NBA throws the refs under the bus like that. This happened to be in our favor – it’s not even in our favor; we don’t get the win – but to say that I got fouled and the tech . . . just move on. You don’t throw the refs under the bus like that, because the next game that group of refs, or whoever it is, they’re going to come out and they’re going to ref the game and they’re going to be tense when they’re reffing the game and they’re going to try to get every play right. They’re going to try to be perfect, without just going out there and relaxing and making the right call. You can’t fine us for criticizing (and then) throw them under the bus for a two-minute report? What about the first quarter? The second quarter? The third quarter? I think it’s b*******.”

Steve Kerr echoed Durant’s first point — the Warriors lost that game for themselves, not the officials.”

The essential part of Kerr’s quote: “The officials didn’t decide that game, we had a 14 point lead in the fourth quarter, it was our mistakes that I’m more concerned about.”

Mistakes such as how his team shot 1-of-11 outside the paint in the fourth quarter, how the Cavaliers frustrate Stephen Curry and seem to be in his head, and how the Warriors play fast and loose with the ball but the Cavaliers make them pay with turnovers. That is what cost them a game on Christmas.

Kerr’s job is to not let those things cost them games in June.

Chinanu Onuaku brings underhanded free throw to NBA regular season

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He did it while at Louisville. He did it in the NBA preseason and has continued to do it in the D-League.

Monday, Rockets’ rookie Chinanu Onuaku brought the “granny style” underhanded free throw back to the NBA regular season. Somewhere, Rick Barry is smiling.

Onuaku was called up to the Rockets with Clint Capela out injured, and the rookie got a little run at the end of the Rockets’ blowout win over the Suns. Onuaku was fouled, went to the line, shot underhanded — and knocked down both shots. He’s shooting 67.4 percent from the charity stripe in the D-League. It works for him.

Laugh if you want, but if Dwight Howard or DeAndre Jordan or any of the other hack-a-player targets shot 67 percent from the line that tactic would die quickly. And we’d all be better off.

DeMarcus Cousins, Joel Embiid mutual admiration society expressed through butt slaps


Game recognize game.

DeMarcus Cousins has game — he dropped 30 on the Sixers Monday night, including draining the game winner — and he recognizes what he’s going up against in Sixers’ rookie Joel Embiid. He knows Embiid is going to be special — and coming after Cousin’s crown of “best traditional center” in the game. The two big men were playing some old school basketball down on the block in Sacramento Monday — pushing, bodying up, fighting for position, and just going at each other.

During the game, Cousins expressed his admiration for Embiid with a playful butt slap — and Embiid returned the favor. You can see it above, these were not love taps. After the game, Cousins was classic praising Embiid in an interview.

Boogie was making plays when it mattered most in crunch time. First, there was the go-ahead three.

Then Cousins blocked Embiid’s attempted game winner (Embiid and the Sixers wanted a whistle on this one, they may have a point).

Three things we learned on Monday: Otto Porter, Wizards figuring out how to win

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We know you didn’t keep up on all 11 NBA games Monday night because you were busy checking on a meat pie floating out in space, so we’ve got you covered with the big stories.

1) Otto Porter drops 32, Wizards win and starting to look like a playoff team. This July, you will be able to tell people who follow the NBA closely from the casual fan by how they react to what Otto Porter gets paid. Because he’s going to get PAID. Like north of $20 million a year, near the $24 million max number. People who follow the league closely know it’s coming.

Porter is having a breakout season, averaging 14.1 points per game, shooting 43.5 percent from three, and grabbing 7.1 rebounds a night. His PER has jumped to 18.1. He’s become the steady glue guy on a Wizards team where John Wall is the star and Bradley Beal is paid to get buckets.

Monday night Porter was the man keeping the Wizards close to the Bucks for three quarters — he had 26 points in the first 36 minutes of the game, and with that the Wizards hung around with a team that blew them out just before Christmas. Porter was getting most of his looks (13 touches) as a floor-spacing spot up guy, and he’s a dangerous catch-and-shoot threat from three, but he also now has the handles to spend time as a pick-and-roll ball handler (as he did eight times Monday, according to Synergy Sports). Porter was also the guy guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo most of the night and he did as good a job as could be expected (the Greek Freak finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists). Milwaukee stretched their lead to double digits early in the fourth — the Wizards bench strikes again — but Beal had 10 of his 22 in the fourth, Wall was dishing out assists (16 for the game and was mostly driving and kicking in the fourth), Porter added another six — including a key three — and the Wizards got the 107-102 win.

That was exactly the kind of win the Wizards need if they are to make the playoffs, beating one of the teams they are chasing in the crowded third tier of the East — just three games separate Charlotte as the four seed and Orlando at 12. Washington has won 7-of-10 and at 14-16 on this season has turned around their slow start to be just half a game out of the playoffs. The Wizards are all offense right now, but the defense has picked up to average, and that has been good enough most nights.

Washington can be a playoff team if they can stay healthy and keep playing this way. And if Porter can continue to be the glue that holds the odd-fitting Wizards roster together.

2) Jeremy Lin injures hamstring again, but Randy Foye steps up and saves the day.
Jeremy Lin had played seven-of-eight games for the Nets since returning from a left hamstring injury that sidelined him for 17 games.

Which is why Nets fans (and Lin fans) got a punch to the gut when Lin left the third quarter of the Nets game against Charlotte with a left hamstring problem. Lin had driven the lane, was fouled, and landed awkwardly in the third and limped after that point. He stayed in the game for a play, but quickly took himself out of the game. There are not a lot of details yet, but expect Brooklyn to be cautious with their star point guard, not rushing him back.

Lin on the sidelines meant Randy Foye was getting run and was in on the final play of the game, with the Nets down one to Charlotte. Foye had taken and missed one shot all game, until this happened.

The Nets have scored more than 100 points in 11-of-12 games (and they scored 99 in the other) but haven’t been winning because they struggle so much on the defensive end. For one night, that didn’t matter and Brooklyn celebrated.

3) DeMarcus Cousins, Joel Embiid mutual admiration society expressed through butt slaps. It was some old school basketball down low in Sacramento Monday — DeMarcus Cousins and Joel Embiid where pushing, bodying up, and going at each other in the post. Cousins likes what he sees in the young Sixers star.

Cousins and Embiid expressed that admiration through slapping each other’s behind.

Of course, when it mattered Cousins was sinking threes.

And blocking Embiid’s attempted game winner (Embiid and the Sixers wanted a whistle on this one, they may have a point).

Bonus thing we learned, stat of the night: ESPN’s researchers with an interesting nugget pointing to LeBron James’ importance (after the Cavaliers lost with him resting Monday).

Pistons rout Cavaliers 106-90 while LeBron James rests

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) LeBron James took the night off, and that was exactly the break the Detroit Pistons needed.

Tobias Harris scored 21 points to help the Pistons snap a five-game losing streak by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 106-90 on Monday night while James sat out resting.

“Any time you go through a stretch like that, you’re just fighting for a win,” Harris said. “It could change a lot, so hopefully we take this one and move forward and continue to build some consistency.”

James missed his third game of the season, and Cleveland has lost all three. The Cavaliers had their five-game winning streak snapped on a night they never led.

Cleveland was playing its fifth game in seven days and coming off a thrilling win Sunday over Golden State. So James sat, and the Pistons took advantage.

“They haven’t played since Friday and they’ve been sitting here waiting for us. Give them credit, because that’s what they are supposed to do,” Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving said. “They knew we were flying in here after the Golden State game, and they were resting up and waiting for us. They jumped on us early, but it might have been different if they were coming off a back-to-back and we had two days of rest.”

The Cavs were also playing their fourth game without starting guard J.R. Smith, who is expected to miss three months because of a broken right thumb.

Detroit scored the first eight points, led 50-44 at halftime and took control near the end of the third quarter. Harris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made 3-pointers early in the fourth, and the Pistons led 82-65.

Kevin Love had 17 points and 14 rebounds for Cleveland.

There was some booing when James was announced as a scratch before the game. Although the crowd was certainly happy to see the Pistons play well, the atmosphere wasn’t quite as raucous as it surely would have been had Detroit routed the Cavs with Cleveland’s top player in the lineup.

“LeBron is obviously a great player who opens up the floor for his teammates, so other guys have to step up,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “I thought we tried to do that tonight, but it didn’t happen.”

The Pistons went 16 of 28 from 3-point range, and Andre Drummond had 11 points and 17 rebounds.


Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy changed his starting lineup Friday in an attempt to shake the Pistons out of their funk, starting Jon Leuer in place of Harris. Detroit played decently in that game but lost to Golden State before ending the skid Monday.

“It’s two games,” Van Gundy said. “I’m not going to go crazy, like, deciding that that’s the great move. We didn’t win both games. We’re 1-1. We’ll see how it goes, but I’ve been happy with the two games.”


Cavaliers: Tristan Thompson became the first player in franchise history to play in 400 consecutive regular-season games. … Irving had 18 points and eight assists.

Pistons: Detroit fell one 3-pointer short of the franchise record of 17. … The Pistons scored 29 points off 22 Cleveland turnovers. Detroit turned the ball over only 12 times.


Cleveland G Kay Felder, a rookie who played collegiately just a few minutes away at Oakland University, scored 11 points in his return to Michigan.

“I thought we played hard. We just gave some young guys a chance to play and looked at a few different things,” Lue said. “The biggest factor in the game was them hitting 16 out of 28 3s. That’s just great shooting.”

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