Kurt Helin

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson

Five Takeaways from NBA Wednesday: About that Warriors’ let down…

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I completely understand if you were prepping for “The Force Awakens” opening by watching (or re-watching) the Family Guy Star Wars episodes. I think we all are. If that means you missed the slate of a dozen NBA games on Wednesday night, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know about a busy Wednesday around the NBA.

1) About that Warriors’ let down after their first loss… The Warriors lost to the Bucks because they were tired — seventh game of a road trip, the second night of a back-to-back after playing a double-overtime thriller. Wednesday they were rested, and the Phoenix Suns paid the price — 128-103, and it wasn’t that close. Starting at the end of the first half the Warriors went on a 58-19 run and by the end of the third were up 40. Klay Thompson had 27 in the third shooting Stephen Curry-like threes, and he finished with a career-high 43. Draymond Green had 16 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, and five steals. It wasn’t a perfect night for Golden State — Curry actually missed two free throws in a row — but the Suns lack any of the tools to properly combat what the Warriors do. Golden State is going to be rested — just five games the next two weeks, all at home — and they showed again that when focused there is not another team in the Association playing as well right now. I can’t wait until the Christmas Day showdown with Cleveland (who should finally be healthy for this matchup).

2) Don’t look now, but the Thunder have won six in a row. It doesn’t always have to be the Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook show. Sure, they combined for 37 points, but four other OKC players were in double figures scoring also as the Thunder rolled the Trail Blazers 106-90. That’s 10 wins in the last 12 games for OKC. In their last 10 games the Thunder have the NBA’s fourth-best offense and fifth-best defense — those are the signs of a team playing like a contender. In those last 10 OKC is outscoring opponents by an impressive 9.9 points per 100 possessions — the problem is that’s still third behind the Spurs and Warriors. There are still questions in OKC, but they are playing like a team that wants to be in the title contender conversation.

3) The Kristaps Porzingis vs. Karl-Anthony Towns showdown goes to Towns. And Ricky Rubio. And the Knicks. Let’s be honest, we tuned into this game to see the top two rookies in the NBA — Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis — go head-to-head. If we go to the judges’ cards to score that matchup, Towns gets the decision — he had 25 points on 21 shots, plus 10 rebounds (Porzingis had 11 points on 14 shots). But Porzingis did land some blows.

The other winners on the night were the Knicks, who needed a “W” and got one thanks to 29 from Arron Afflalo. Also getting a win was Ricky Rubio, whose line of 9 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds, and eight steals was as close to a quadruple-double as anyone has come in a long time.

4) Paul Pierce reaches 26,000 career points, only 15 others have done that. Paul Pierce has become almost a forgotten man with the Clippers, averaging just 4.2 points a game, not playing in crunch time, and just getting a quiet 15-20 minutes a night. But the man has had a long career of scoring and with that keeps racking up milestones — like reaching 26,000 career points when he hit this jumper at the first quarter buzzer. Pierce is 16th on the NBA All-Time scoring list (19th if you count the ABA numbers). He’s a lock Hall of Famer, and we won’t remember him as the guy coming off the Clippers’ bench.

5) Enes Kanter had the worst length-of-the-court shot you may ever see. Words cannot do this justice.

Klay Thompson’s 27-point third quarter leads Warriors past Suns

Klay Thompson
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Klay Thompson scored 27 of his season-high 43 points in the third quarter and the Golden State Warriors responded after their first loss following a record 24-0 start by beating the Phoenix Suns 128-103 on Wednesday night.

Stephen Curry added 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting and seven assists as Golden State returned home from its two-week road trip that ended with its lone defeat, 108-95 on Saturday at Milwaukee. That also ended a 28-game overall winning streak by the Warriors, second-longest in NBA history.

Draymond Green had 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his fourth triple-double this season, while Thompson hit 15-of-22 shots and 8-of-13 3-pointers in his first 40-point game this season.

Mirza Teletovic scored 24 points off the bench for the Suns, whose poor showing sent the sellout crowd to the exits midway through the fourth.

Thompson’s big quarter was reminiscent of his NBA-record, 37-point outburst in the third quarter of a career-high, 52-point performance on Jan. 23. He helped the Warriors turn the game into a rout with a remarkable 67-23 run, making 9 of 11 shots in the third and 4 of 6 3s.

Golden State’s 46-point third quarter is the largest in any quarter in the NBA this season. With the starters resting down the stretch, the Warriors just missed a new largest win ever against the Suns – Golden State had a 133-103 victory on March 18, 1975.

In the team’s first game at Oracle Arena in 18 days, Golden State warmed up with a big run stretching from the second quarter to the third. The Warriors used a 58-19 run over 14:01 to turn a 42-38 deficit with 5 minutes left in the first half into a 96-61 advantage.

Golden State won its eighth in a row at home against Phoenix, fifth straight overall and 13th in 16. The Suns sit in third place in the Pacific Division behind Golden State and the Clippers.

The Warriors now will get a shot at Milwaukee again when the Bucks visit Oracle Arena on Friday. The Warriors ran their regular-season home winning streak to 29 dating to Golden State winning its final 18 here last season.

REFLECTION

During Golden State’s long flight home from Wisconsin late Saturday, interim coach Luke Walton could finally take a breath and reflected on the remarkable start his team had before the Warriors’ unbeaten run ended.

“Obviously it doesn’t feel great to lose but it was a good time to reflect on what our guys had just done and what they accomplished,” Walton said.

Now, Walton and his staff will make sure the Warriors get some much-needed days off while continuing to work on areas that need attention.

They began a stretch with just five games in two weeks and all at home, which includes a highly anticipated Christmas Day home game and NBA Finals rematch with LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

“It’s a fine line because of what our schedule’s been like and our belief in resting players and keeping them fresh,” Walton said.

 

TIP-INS

Suns: Phoenix surrendered 15 3-pointers this time after giving up a Golden State franchise-best 22 from long range – and NBA-record 15 in the first half – in the first meeting with the Warriors on Nov. 27. … Brandon Knight with 17 points was the lone Suns starter in double figures.

Warriors: Green shares the NBA lead for triple-doubles with Sacramento’s Rajon Rondo. … Harrison Barnes missed his sixth straight game with a sprained left ankle. … Curry hit a 3-pointer in his 99th straight regular-season game and 49th consecutive at home. … Golden State is 11-0 at Oracle for its best home start since a franchise-best 12-0 to begin the 1975-76 season. … Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis and rapper Drake were among the celebrities in attendance.

 

AP Report: Timberwolves looking to trade Kevin Martin

Kevin Martin
Associated Press
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that the Minnesota Timberwolves are making veteran scorer Kevin Martin available in trade talks.

With second-year guard Zach LaVine showing promise as a scorer and Andrew Wiggins playing more at the shooting guard position, the Wolves are looking to move Martin to free up more playing time for their youngsters. The person requested anonymity because the team does not publicly discuss trade discussions.

The Wolves have had conversations with two teams about Martin early this season.

Martin is averaging 12.7 points in 26 minutes this season. He has struggled with his shot while recovering from a wrist injury that kept him out of the game against the Knicks, but has earned a reputation in 12 seasons in the league as one of the league’s most efficient scorers.

PBT Extra: New York big enough for two stars, but are they ‘Melo and Porzingis?

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The question isn’t “is New York big enough for two stars?” Of course it is. This is an entertainment town, a theater town that has been drawn to the pairing of big stars on stage and screen since half of Manhattan was still farmland.

Now whether those to stars for the Knicks are Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis is another question. One we tackle in this latest PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado.

Carmelo Anthony says nothing will come between him and Porzingis. He’s wrong; Father Time will. If they were closer in age you could make ‘Melo and Porzingis work in a modern NBA, with Porzingis at the five and Anthony at the four. But Anthony is on the downhill side of his career while Porzingis is a raw rookie. Those different arcs make the timing of a great team difficult and even in a best-case scenario very short-lived. The Knicks need to be thinking long-term.

Harrison Barnes says he wants Warriors to chase 72 wins

Harrison Barnes, Stephen Curry
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The streak is over, the Golden State Warriors are human after all and will not win 33 straight games. So now they settle in for the grind of the regular season, getting healthy, working on building good habits, and focusing on the postseason, right?

Not if you ask Harrison Barnes — he wants 72 wins this season.

Barnes was at a charity event Tuesday — a “Sports Matter” holiday shopping event Tuesday working with Dick’s Sporting Goods — and told Adi Joseph of the Sporting News he wants to chase Jordan and the 1996 Bulls.

“I don’t know how other guys feel, but to me, being able to win 67 games last year, that just meant so much,” Barnes said. “A year ago, we thought 50 games was a lot. The fact that we hit 50 wins was so big! Then to hit 67, it’s like, ‘Man, we got to 67 games, and think about the games we let slip away? Could we have gotten to 72?’ Seventy-two is like that magical number, so if you can get to that point, it’d be special. And it’s a little competition, too, because Coach Kerr was on that team.”

I don’t think they ultimately get there, only because they will rest Stephen Curry and other key players to have them peaking for the playoffs.

No doubt 72 wins would be huge for a team trying to establish a legacy as one of the great teams of all time — and make no mistake, that is the goal of the Warriors. But here is the key thing about the 1996 Bulls — they won the title. As much as a team’s legacy should be more than rings, that remains a baseline and the Warriors know that to reach the heights they want, they need more than one. That will be Steve Kerr’s focus, not 72 wins during the season.

But if they get close, they may well chase it.