Kurt Helin

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 07:  Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors smiles after making a three-point basket against the Orlando Magic at ORACLE Arena on March 7, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Warriors set record while Spurs, Cavaliers stumble

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Here’s what you missed Monday while you were binge-watching House of Cards (Frank Underwood is as great a character as there is on television right now):

1) It’s not pretty, but Warriors set a new record for consecutive home wins.
Golden State has won 45 consecutive games at Oracle Arena, passing the Jordan-era Bulls for the most consecutive wins at home ever. It’s another milestone for a team trying to build a legacy. There are two ways you can look at this game from the Warriors’ perspective. One is that their shots started falling again (16-of-35 from three), they got back to playing fast, and, more importantly, they got back to having fun on the court — everything that was missing in the loss to the Lakers.

I subscribe to the second theory: This is how the Warriors have played the last few weeks. They were sloppy (they turned the ball over on 21 percent of their possessions), their defense wasn’t sharp, they played to the level of their opponent, and got bailed out by Stephen Curry and his ridiculous shooting skills. This has been the trend lately, the Warriors are not playing as well as they had earlier this season, it’s just being masked by Curry. Which happens over the course of a season — team’s stumble and when you have the world’s best player he gets you wins when other teams would suffer a loss. But with the playoffs 20 games away, the Warriors need to start to turn around this ship.

Still, it’s a historic win for the Warriors in front of their raucous fans. And Curry became the first player ever with 300 threes in a season — something he did with vintage Curry flare.

2) Cavaliers struggle against shorthanded Grizzlies and lose because of Tony Allen offensive explosion. No. Mike Conley. No Marc Gasol. No Zach Randolph. No Courtney Lee. No Matt Barnes. No Chris Andersen. No Brandan Wright. The Memphis Grizzlies are the walking definition of banged up, the problem was the Cavaliers came out and played like they expected Memphis just to roll over. The Grizzlies still grit and grind, plus they had the secret weapon that is Tony Allen — he was 11-of-17 shooting for 26 points. Allen’s only offensive move is a straight-line drive to the rim, but that worked as he got deep into the paint for 13 of his shots (and he went 2-of-4 on his rhythm jumpers). Mario Chalmers also was slicing and dicing the Cavaliers defense, while the Cavs offense was a lot of talented guys playing next to one another, not with one another.

The Cavaliers do not bring it every night, their level of focus tends to be tied to the level of their opponent. That can happen this time of the season, but if the focus is on personal brands and tweets, they will not get past it. And the Cavs need to get past it as they start to gear up for a playoff run.

3) LeBron James passed John Havlicek on all-time scoring list. LeBron James had 28 points in the loss, and he is at the point in his career where he is going to set milestones all the time, such as passing Celtics’ legend John Havlicek for 13th on the all-time scoring list. Congrats to LeBron.

4) Spurs followed Warriors’ lead from Sunday, have terrible shooting night and lose. It’s probably best Gregg Popovich didn’t have to watch this. He is away from the team for personal reasons and he missed a rough shooting night from San Antonio — they scored a season-low 32-points in first half, shot 27.1 percent and were 1-of-14 from three before halftime. It got a little better in the second half, but the Spurs shot 34 percent on the night and down the stretch didn’t have an answer for Monta Ellis, who finished with a game-high 26 points (Paul George had 23). This was a quality win for the Pacers, who earned it with their play at both ends. The Spurs had won eight in a row and had been dominating teams coming in, so we’ll chalk this up to a one-off performance. We’ll see how they bounce back against Minnesota on Tuesday night.

5) Tweet of the night, Rockets’ rookie ragging on Dwight Howard. This is about the most Dwight Howard photo ever, and Rockets rookie Sam Dekker called him out for it (but you can’t let a rookie do you like that, Dwight).

Warriors pass Bulls for most consecutive home wins as Stephen Curry hits 300th three

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What a difference 24 hours makes.

A day after their worst performance of the season, the Warriors were back to draining threes — 16-of-35, 45.7 percent — led by Stephen Curry scoring 41 while setting a new milestone beyond the arc. More than that the Warriors were back to playing fast, moving the ball, and playing their spirited brand of basketball.

And winning. Golden State rushed out to a comfortable lead then hung on at the end to beat Orlando 119-113 Monday at Oracle Arena.

This was the 45th consecutive home win for the Warriors, setting the record for consecutive wins by passing the 1996 Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls — the team the Warriors are on pace to beat for greatest single-season record in NBA history (those Bulls were 72-10, the Warriors are 56-6). Once again the raucous crowd in Oakland (one of the league’s loudest arenas) was in full voice as they wanted to see history made. The last time those fans saw the Warriors lose at home was Jan. 27, 2015, to the Chicago Bulls in a game that went to overtime.

It’s just another milestone in a seeming season of them for the Warriors. Just like Stephen Curry knocking down his 300th three-pointer of the season Monday night — and doing it in vintage Curry fashion.

That also is a single-season record for most threes, although ever three Curry hits now sets a new record. The old record was 286, which Curry set last season.

This record-setting win from the Warriors was far from a pretty thing. The Warriors turned the ball over on 21 percent of their possessions, and the Warriors defense wasn’t consistent. They have played to the level of their opponents lately. It allowed a scrappy Magic team to hang around and make a run in the fourth quarter, making sure Curry was not going to get to rest during the final frame. Orlando had a balanced attack — Aaron Gordon, Brandon Jennings, and Evan Fournier all scored 20 points.

But it wasn’t enough to overcome the Warriors, who keep winning thanks to the best backcourt in the NBA. Curry had 41, Klay Thompson added 27, and the two had 11 more threes made than on Sunday. That was enough for Monday night.

And it was enough for a milestone record for the Warriors. Now they have other milestones in mind — 73 wins, then most importantly another title.

Missing 4 starters, Grizzlies stun sloppy Cavaliers 106-103

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) passes over Memphis Grizzlies' Tony Allen (9) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, March 7, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) — When word reached the Cavaliers’ locker room shortly before tip-off that the Memphis Grizzlies were down four starters, LeBron James got an uneasy feeling.

His fears were warranted.

Tony Allen scored a season-high 26 points and the Grizzlies, playing with just one of their starters, stunned the Cavaliers 106-103 on Monday night.

“We’re all in this league for a reason,” James said. “We didn’t respect them tonight and they beat us.”

Vince Carter made four free throws in the final 13.4 seconds to steal the upset by a Memphis team missing Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Chris Andersen, Matt Barnes and had more coaches than players sitting on the bench.

A day after the Los Angeles Lakers shocked the Golden State Warriors, the Grizzlies dazed the Cavs.

“The guys played their hearts out,” Memphis coach David Joerger said. “We had guys cramping, but they left it all out there. It’s a happy locker room. The phones are blowing up from everybody in Memphis. All of our guys that (are) back home like Marc (Gasol) and Birdman (Andersen) are jumping and down in their living room right now.”

Lance Stephenson added 17 points and JaMychal Green 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who forced the Cavs into a season-high 25 turnovers and never backed down against the Eastern Conference’s top team.

Data curated by PointAfter

Allen returned after missing eight games with a knee injury for Memphis, which only dressed eight players.

“I don’t care who you are playing, if it’s my son’s little league team you’re going to lose when you give up that many points off turnovers,” James said. “We were very careless with our mindset – and with the ball.”

James scored 28 points and Kyrie Irving had 27 – 14 in the fourth. James also moved past Hall of Famer John Havlicek into 13th place on the NBA’s career scoring list.

Perhaps overconfident following weekend wins over Washington and Boston, and against a wounded Memphis team without, the Cavs were outplayed at both ends. Cleveland trailed the Grizzlies the entire game before taking its first lead on Irving’s steal and layup with 2:42 remaining.

Memphis figured to buckle, but the Grizzlies wouldn’t give in and took a 101-100 lead on Mario Chalmers‘ layup with 25 seconds left.

Allen then tied up James on a drive, forcing and winning a jump ball with 17 seconds to go. Chalmers made a free throw and Carter made two free throws before James hit a 3-pointer to bring the Cavs within 104-103.

Carter, who finished with 15 points, made two more from the line and the Grizzlies escaped with an unexpected win when Irving’s 3-pointer at the horn hit the back of the rim.

“I just thought they were tougher than us tonight,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “Thought they played hard and out-scrapped us. You got to respect everybody in this league. Everyone gets a paycheck.”

Only an hour before tip-off, Joerger still wasn’t sure who would start.

The Grizzlies initially said only Conley (foot) and Andersen (shoulder) would be out, but then Joerger broke the news that Randolph (knee) and Barnes (hamstring) were also sidelined, making things even tougher on a Memphis team already without Gasol, done for the season with a broken right foot.

The short-handed Grizzlies faced a daunting task, but they weren’t intimidated and nearly led from start to finish.

“This is big time for us,” Carter said. “We had a lot of guys out. When you see shots go down you gain confidence. We did a great job of executing and not getting rattled.”

LEARNING CURVE

James chalked up the unexpected loss to a team still figuring things out.

“We’re a team that’s still learning, man,” he said. “We got some young guys and a group that’s been together for a little over a year. It’s another learning experience for us.”

TIP-INS

Grizzlies: Conley underwent an MRI and the team is hoping to have a better sense of how long he will be sidelined later this week. … Memphis has lost more playing time due to injury or illness this season than any other current playoff team. … The four missing starters average a combined 42.9 points.

Cavaliers: James said the chance to play one final game against Olympic teammate Kobe Bryant would not take precedence over any decision for him to sit out and rest. The Cavs visit the Lakers at Staples Center on Thursday night. Bryant is retiring at the conclusion of his 20th season in the NBA. James said he and Lue have discussed possible games he’ll sit but “it’s still day-to-day.”

 

Pacers take control early, surprise Spurs with 99-91 victory

Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) shoots the basketball over San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 7, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith)
Associated Press
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Monta Ellis scored 26 points and Paul George added 23 to help the Indiana Pacers end the San Antonio Spurs’ eight-game winning streak with a 99-91 victory Monday night.

The Pacers led by double digits most of the night and hung on after San Antonio trimmed the deficit to three several times in the final 2 minutes.

It’s only the second time in 17 meetings since 2008 that the Pacers have beaten the Spurs.

Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge each had 23 points for the Spurs.

The loss came hours after the team said coach Gregg Popovich did not make the trip because of a “family medical situation.” A team spokesman did not provide additional details about his absence.

Without Popovich, San Antonio wasn’t the same and the Pacers took advantage.

Data curated by PointAfter

Indiana grabbed the lead with a 14-0 first-quarter run and never trailed again.

It was a stark contrast to the first meeting between the old ABA rivals, which San Antonio won 106-92.

George had his worst game of the season, going 1 of 14 from the field and 1 of 5 on 3-pointers. On Monday, George was 7 of 20 from the field, 2 of 5 on 3s, made all seven of his free throws and completed a three-point play with 15.7 seconds left to seal it.

But San Antonio had much bigger problems. It missed 14 of its first 15 3s, shot a season-low 35.4 percent from the field and spent almost all night playing catch-up.

After giving up back-to-back baskets to start the game, the Pacers ran off 14 points in a row to take the lead that they extended to 25-13 after one quarter.

They led by as much as 16 in the second and never let San Antonio get closer than five until Aldridge scored on a follow shot with 1:55 to play.

The Spurs cut the deficit to three two more times after that, but Ellis’ basket with 26 seconds left and George’s three-point play wrapped it up.

POP OUT

Popovich is also expected to miss Tuesday night’s game at Minnesota. In his place, assistant coach Ettore Messina filled in. Popovich is expected to return to the bench Thursday night when the Spurs host Chicago.

TIP-INS

Spurs: The Spurs scored 13 points in the first quarter, their lowest total in any quarter this season. … San Antonio still has the best record in franchise history after 63 games…. Tim Duncan had 14 rebounds to give him 14,998 in his career. … Tony Parker left with a bruised left toe in the second half and did not return. … The loss also ended a six-game road winning streak.

Pacers: Forward C.J. Miles missed the game with a strained left calf. … George was 2 of 5 on 3-pointers, making him 175 of 461 and putting him within striking distance of Reggie Miller for fifth on the team’s single-season list in both categories. Miller made 180 3s in 2001-02 and attempted 464 in 2000-01. … The Pacers held a moment of silence before the National Anthem in honor of former first lady Nancy Reagan, who died Sunday. … Indiana University guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell drew loud applause when he was shown on the big screen television.

 

Ty Lawson sprains foot five minutes into Pacers debut

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This is not the debut Ty Lawson or the Pacers hoped for.

Five minutes into his debut for the Pacers off the bench, Lawson went down on a drive grabbing his foot. He left the game and not long after came the news from the Pacers that he was out for the night with a sprained foot.

No word yet on how serious this is, reports Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

The Pacers led from the start — the Spurs were ice cold shooting — and held off a San Antonio charge at the end to get a big win at home. Monta Ellis had 26, and Paul George had 22 for the Pacers in the win.