Kurt Helin

Kobe Bryant with insight into why Luke Walton succeeds as coach

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Luke Walton had a solid 10-year career as an NBA reserve where he won a couple of rings as a cog in Phil Jackson’s triangle, but he may be catching a few more eyes now as the “interim” coach of the 28-2 Golden State Warriors. Walton continues in that position Saturday, the rumors that Steve Kerr was going to be back and take over in the big chair turned out to be false.

Looking back, a lot of the people around Walton through his playing days saw a future coach, something Diamond Leung lays out beautifully in a story for the San Jose Mercury News.

Kobe Bryant threw out maybe the most interesting comments.

“I used to tease him when he was playing here about he’s destined to be a much better coach than a player,” Bryant said. “I used to rib him all the time. He didn’t want to hear it because he didn’t have the coaching bug yet, but I could see it in him. It was there. It was just a matter of time.

“He’s extremely smart. He always saw the game in combinations and sequences. … I kind of just chuckle a little bit at it, because I see he’s thinking in threes. Most coaches think in combinations of twos, but he’s thinking in threes. This pass leads to that pass is going to lead to that one. And I remember sitting in the locker room and going over this stuff with him.”

Walton will get a long look by a couple of teams making a head coaching change around the league. The buzz that I heard (and a lot of others have as well) is that Phoenix has interest if/when they move on from Jeff Hornacek. Walton will be in a position to decide whether that organization is one he wants to join — he will have options.

And he will be the only coach in the league with a Grateful Dead tattoo. Well, as far as we know. Nobody has ever asked Gregg Popovich about it.

Watch Paul George score Pacers’ final 21 points in win over Pistons

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Paul George was having a rough night, he was 2-of-11 shooting and the Pacers were in a fight with the Pistons. Well, not literally until the final seconds, and even that was more shove than fight. But the game was tight.

And then George dropped the final 21 points for the Pacers as they pulled away and got the 94-82 win.

George was 7-of-7 shooting in the quarter, and only one of the shots came at the rim. He was 3-of-3 on long twos from the right side of the court, plus he nailed all his threes. He got to the line four times, hitting them all. It was an impressive showing.

Aldridge has 24 points, Spurs beat Rockets 121-103

San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) drives around Phoenix Suns center Alex Len (21) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Associated Press
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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points, Kawhi Leonard added 22 and the San Antonio Spurs made a season-high 13 3-pointers, avenging an earlier loss to the Houston Rockets with a 121-103 victory on Saturday night.

San Antonio extended its franchise record home start with its 20th straight victory, but this was among its toughest despite the lopsided score.

Dwight Howard had 22 points, including 10 for 17 on free throws, and 11 rebounds. James Harden had 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting for Houston (16-19).

The Rockets’ 88-84 victory on Christmas Day is the Spurs’ only loss in their past 12 games. San Antonio has won four straight since that game while Houston is winless.

The Rockets bullied the Spurs early by pushing them out of their sets and keeping them from cutting to the basket.

Patrick Beverly dug an elbow and shoulder into Tony Parker in the first half while awaiting an inbounds pass, prompting Parker to give him a two-handed shove that did not yield a call.

San Antonio was able to counter that aggression at different points with long-range shooting, quick passing and Aldridge’s own hard-nosed play.

Spurs guard Danny Green said his New Year’s resolution was “to make more shots,” and he fulfilled that promise early. Green opened the game 4 for 5 on 3-pointers, including his first 3, and finished with 18 points on a season-high six 3-pointers.

Aldridge assisted with his most forceful game since signing with the Spurs in the offseason. He was 10 for 16 from the field, including spinning away from Terrence Jones and hitting a fadeaway jumper after absorbing a couple of hard bumps.

TIP-INS

Rockets: Rockets guard Marcus Thornton missed the game following the birth of his daughter, Maleia, with fiancee Lyndsey Duplessis on Friday. Houston coach J.B. Bickerstaff was unsure if Thornton would be available for Monday’s game in Utah. … As a 13-year-old, Bickerstaff attended a Spurs camp conducted by San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford in Aspen, Colo. David Robinson and Sean Elliott were among those assisting at the camp.

Spurs: Tim Duncan had no points, four rebounds, and two assists in 13 minutes in his return from a three-game absence. Duncan had not played since San Antonio last faced Houston. He missed the ensuing game for rest, but missed the following two due to right knee soreness. … San Antonio tied Houston for the second-best home start to the season in the Western Conference. The 1978 Portland Trail Blazers hold the conference record with 26 straight home victories to open the season. … San Antonio’s previous high for 3-pointers was 10, which they had in four previous games, most recently against Minnesota on Dec. 23.

 

Kenneth Faried suffers neck injury, taken to hospital

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This was scary.

Denver’s Kenneth Faried suffered a neck injury in the scramble under the net during overtime of the Warriors eventual win over the Nuggets. You can see the play in the video above, Will Barton comes down on his with his arm, it was a fluke. After the game, Faried had to be taken out of the arena on a stretcher while wearing a neck brace.

Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports was in the arena and had more details.

Hopefully, it turns out to be nothing serious, the fact he had feeling in his legs is a good sign. Keep checking back to PBT for updates as we get them.

Kings beat Suns; coach George Karl ties for 5th most wins

Sacramento Kings coach George Karl, center, huddles with his team during the closing moments of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Sacramento, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015. The Trail Blazers won 98-94. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Associated Press
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Coach George Karl moved into a tie for fifth on the NBA wins list with 1,155 when DeMarcus Cousins had 32 points and nine rebounds Saturday to lead the Sacramento Kings to a 142-119 victory over the Phoenix Suns, who lost their eighth in a row.

Karl matched Phil Jackson with the milestone win. The 63-year-old Karl is 1,155-795 in 27 seasons.

Brandon Knight had 23 points, and Devin Booker had 21 for the Suns, who have lost 10 of 11. TJ Warren scored 19 points and Mirza Teletovic had 13.

Darren Collison had 21 points and six assists, and Marco Belinelli had 19 points for the Kings. Rudy Gay added 16 points, and Rajon Rondo had 15 points and 15 assists. The Kings had a season high for points and shot 61.6 percent in snapping a three-game skid.

Phoenix played without Leading scorer Eric Bledsoe, who missed his fourth straight game and is out for the season.

The Kings erased a four-point deficit with 12 straight points in the third quarter. Cousins and Rondo both had nine points and Sacramento produced a season-high 44-point quarter in taking a 103-87 lead into the fourth.

TIP INS

Sun: Starting center Tyson Chandler was ejected after arguing a foul in the third quarter. … The two teams have a combined seven players from the University of Kentucky. … Suns coach Jeff Hornacek remains one win away from 100 coaching victories. He has been stuck on 99 since Dec. 18. … Disgruntled forward Markieff Morris didn’t play for a second straight game.

Kings: San Francisco Giants reliever Sergio Romo sat in a courtside seat for a second straight game. … The Kings had a 23-2 first-quarter run and led by 17 points. … Willie Cauley-Stein, a rookie, returned for the first time since Dec. 3 when he went out with a dislocated right finger. He played the game’s final five minutes. … Cousins gave Karl a high five after the coach was called for a second quarter technical. … Rondo, the NBA assist leader, has recorded 10 or more assists 20 times. …