Kurt Helin

Rajon Rondo with playground move abuses Trey Burke (VIDEO)

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That is just not fair.

Sacramento’s Rajon Rondo was bringing the ball up in transition and Utah’s Trey Burke tried to make the right play, slowing him down mid-court rather than letting him run unfettered deep into the lane. But Rondo just abuses Burke with the fake behind-the-back pass, which becomes an easy pass to Rudy Gay for the finish.

Rondo has been his own highlight factory of late. The Kings went on to win 114-108 over the Rudy Gobert-less Jazz.

Klay Thompson rolls ankle near end of win, says it’s not serious

Klay Thompson
Associated Press
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It looked like another easy win for Golden State. It had been in total control against Indiana since a 22-0 run in the first quarter and led by 28 entering the fourth quarter. The starters went to the bench to watch 12 minutes of garbage time. Except it didn’t work out that way, the Pacers opened the quarter on a 12-2 run of their own and quickly were chopping away at the Warriors lead, which ultimately got down to single digits. Warriors coach Luke Walton had to send the starters back in to secure the victory.

Here is the danger with that: In the final minute of the game Klay Thompson — who had a team-high 39 points on the night — came down on Shaun Livingston‘s foot and rolled his ankle. He went to the ground in pain.

Fortunately X-rays were negative and Thompson said he didn’t plan to miss time, speaking with Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com.

“I just came down, either on the floor or on somebody’s foot. I just rolled it. I’ll be alright. I’m just going to be sore for a couple of days, but I’ll be back in no time,” Thompson told reporters in Indiana.

 

Thompson said he plans to play this weekend, the Warriors face the Celtics Friday and the Bucks Saturday. We’ll see, the Warriors tend to err on the side of caution with these things, especially considering it’s still mid-December. The Warriors are going to prioritize the long term.

If he does miss time, it could mean Brandon Rush starting at the two and Andre Iguodala starting at the three, although coach Luke Walton (are we still calling him interim?) has other options at his disposal. This is a versatile team.

James scores 33 as Cavs rally to beat Trail Blazers 105-100

LeBron James, Al-Farouq Aminu
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CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James scored 33 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied from an 18-point first-half deficit to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 105-100 on Tuesday night.

Kevin Love added 18 points and a second-half lineup adjustment by coach David Blatt helped Cleveland break a three-game losing streak.

James, who didn’t play Saturday in Miami to rest, scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer and a three-point play down the stretch. He shot 14 for 24 from the field.

Damian Lillard scored 33 points to lead Portland, which blew a late lead Monday in Milwaukee and appeared to run out of gas as Cleveland came back in the second half.

C.J. McCollum added 24 points for the Trail Blazers.

Report: Teams inquire about Shabazz Muhammad, Minnesota holds fast

Shabazz Muhammad
Associated Press
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Shabazz Muhammad showed some real potential last season — he shot 39 percent from three and showed off skills working in the post. It was hoped he would make strides in this, his third season with the Timberwolves, but with Andrew Wiggins, Kevin Martin, Zach LaVine, and Tayshaun Prince ahead of him in the rotation he’s seen his minutes squeezed this season.

Other teams have gone fishing in Minnesota thinking they might get a steal with Muhammad, but so far the Timberwolves are not biting, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

That this got leaked suggests someone in the Muhammad camp would love to see him moved to a place he can get more run than 17.6 minutes a game (his average this season). Muhammad has struggled some this year, including shooting just 25.8 percent from three.

There’s no reason for Minnesota to make a move right now. They can field offers, try to play teams off each other, and keep Muhammad around for injury insurance. Then as we get closer to the trade deadline in February, they can move him if there is a deal they like.

Or, they can hold on to him. Muhammad shows promise and teams should be hesitant to give up solid young players that could be part of a future rotation. The Timberwolves have options.

Warriors race out to early lead, coast in to beat Pacers, go 23-0

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Last season’s Golden State Warriors won 67 games and the NBA title.

This season’s Golden State Warriors are better.

If you take one thing away from Tuesday night’s comfortable Golden State win over Indiana — or their 23-0 start to the season — it should be that. After a close first six minutes Tuesday, the Warriors went on a 20-0 run, led by 30 at one point, took their foot off the gas a little too early but still coasted in for a 131-123 win over the Pacers.

Golden State extended their record winning streak to start the season to 23 games. They were led by Klay Thompson with 39 points, but he sprained his ankle late, and while X-rays were negative he could miss a couple of games.

Not that it matters to these Warriors. They are without their coach. They are without Harrison Barnes. None of it matters. The fact that Bankers Life Fieldhouse was going nuts because the Pacers got within seven points with less than a minute to go — a nearly impossible deficit to overcome — tells you how this game went. And how desperately their fans wanted it to be a game.

The Pacers were not bad on this night. Paul George had 33 points (on 27 shots), C.J. Miles added 24, the Pacers had 60 first half points. The Pacers’ defense was not great — they struggled to handle switches or to get around picks between guards/forward — and they let the Warriors get too many three pointers early. Still, it wasn’t as bad as giving up 79 points in the first half would suggest.

It’s just that right now, if the Warriors are focused (and they were for this nationally televised, hyped showdown) there is nobody in their class. It doesn’t matter that Stephen Curry bordered on human, with 29 points but only shot 3-of-11 from beyond the arc. Nor is it relevant Draymond Green had eight points on 13 shots. The Warriors find ways, such as centers Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli combining for 26 points on 12-of-16 shooting.

Look at it this way, here is the Warriors shot chart for the first half.

Warriors/Pacers shot chart

The game only got interesting because the usually reliable Warriors bench couldn’t hold a 28 point lead entering the fourth quarter. The Warriors’ starters had to come back in and secure the win, but it was never really in doubt.

The Warriors have two games left on this road trip, Boston on Friday night followed by the Bucks on Saturday. They need just five more wins to get to their Christmas Day Finals rematch with the Cavaliers undefeated. And that seems like a reasonable thing.

For the Pacers, they now see where the bar is set. They were not ready to clear it Tuesday night; they are not ready to clear it this season. But this is still an improved team and one of the best stories in the NBA.

But the Warriors remain THE story in the NBA.