Kurt Helin

Draymond Green on Blazers: “Of course I think they’re done”


Stephen Curry is back, and with that the Warriors are back.

Does that mean the Trail Blazers are done? Yes.

Do you expect Warriors players to say that? No. But Draymond Green did just that in his postgame press conference, which you can see above. Green had been testy and combative all night, drawing one technical and dancing with another, so this fit in with his evening. What he’s saying has some logic — if you believe in your team, and you’re up 3-1, you have to believe the other team is done. It’s just refreshing and a little surprising to hear a player say that.

Don’t think he was backing down from the statement either; Draymond said he wanted to give them bulletin board material. (As a side note, how is “bulletin board material” still a phrase? I can’t remember the last time I saw a bulletin board in a locker room.)

Somewhere, Steve Kerr is just shaking his head.

Dwyane Wade’s shot sits on rim, quickly spawns jokes on Web

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Miami and Toronto went to overtime — again — on Monday night. However, unlike the NBA’s late game when fans were begging for more Lillard/Curry showdown, the Raptors vs. Heat was sloppy and filled with two teams trying to find their way after the loss of their respective big men (Hassan Whiteside and Jonas Valanciunas).

Nothing summed up this game — or this series — like this shot by Dwyane Wade with a minute to go in overtime.

Twitter turned this into fodder to smack the series around, and just make jokes.

And for the movie buffs…

Stephen Curry is all the way back, drops 40 on Blazers in Warriors’ OT win


Stephen Curry had 17 points. In overtime.

In overtime.

Stephen Curry is back. Not just back on the court for the first time this series following a sprained knee, but the past-and-future MVP, drops-your-jaw Curry was back by the fourth quarter of this one. And with that, so were the Warriors.

After three quarters trying to get his groove back — 6-of-18 shooting, 0-of-9 from three, not getting to the free throw line — the Curry fans love and opponents feared showed up in the fourth. He shot 10-of-14 and hit 5-of-7 from three in the fourth quarter and overtime, but those numbers don’t tell the story — vintage showing-off-the-handles-then-burying-the-deep-three-in-your-face Curry was back with 27 points in the final 17 minutes.

“I expected what I saw early, I expected a lot of rust,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said postgame. “I don’t think anyone could have predicted the explosion.”

The Trail Blazers couldn’t, nor could they stop it. Curry lifted the Warriors to a 132-125 overtime win that puts Golden State up 3-1 in the series heading home Wednesday night. With Curry back, this is going to be the end of Portland’s season.

As they have all season, these Blazers battled.

For a second straight game, Damian Lillard put up numbers — 36 points — and he got help with 24 from C.J. McCollum and 18 from Al-Farouq Aminu. Mason Plumlee made plays and the Trail Blazers played with emotion.

However, the Blazers were not efficient when it mattered. For example, it took 30 shots from Lillard to get his 36. Behind their stars the Blazers raced out to a 16 point lead and led through the half. It wasn’t until a 19-4 Warriors run in the third that the game got tight — and when it did Portland kept fighting, and Lillard kept making shots.

However, also as the game wore on the Blazers leaned more and more on Lillard and McCollum isolations to score, which was not efficient. The Warriors started to crank up their defense in the fourth and OT; Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were able to combine on late stops that were crucial.

“Defensively down the stretch, that last five minutes, Draymond was unbelievable, clogging up that paint, blocking shots, altering shots,” Curry said after the game. “Andre (Iguodala) was great on C.J., Klay did an unbeleivable job on Dame to make it tough on him and not let him get any open looks.”

Also, Thompson had 24 points and Green chipped in 21 and nine rebounds.

What ended up being the key play of the game was one that looked bad for the Warriors at the time. The Warriors had gotten on a run and cut the lead to three in the second quarter, but as Trail Blazers made a push back it happened: Shaun Livingston got a layup and as he shot was hit in the head, a foul that wasn’t called. Livingston got hot and barked at referee Scott Foster all the way down the court, earning himself a technical. But Livingston didn’t stop, used some language your mom would not approve of, and Foster has a quick trigger — within seconds Livingston got a second technical and was ejected.

With a shortage of guards, Kerr had no choice but to play Curry more.

That ended up working out pretty well.

After fallback season, Hawks look to rise again in East

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ATLANTA (AP) — Paul Millsap tossed and turned much of the night.

He didn’t expect the summer to begin this soon.

Millsap and the Atlanta Hawks were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, capping a season that fell short of expectations from start to finish.

Now, the Hawks face some huge decisions, from figuring out a way to re-sign free agents-to-be Al Horford and Kent Bazemore to charting the future of the point guard position.

“It’s tough, especially when you expect more,” Millsap said Monday after the Hawks wrapped up their exit interviews with coach Mike Budenholzer. “We really felt like we had a good chance.”

But really, this playoff exit wasn’t much of a surprise. The Hawks struggled all season to find the sort of consistency that carried them a franchise-record 60 wins the previous year.

After slipping to a 48-34 record and fourth seed in the East, the Hawks did manage to get by injury depleted Boston in the opening round. That was it. LeBron James and the Cavaliers breezed past Atlanta in four straight games, the same result as the previous season when the teams met in the conference finals.

“For five or six years, whatever team LeBron James has been on, the East has been trying to figure out how to beat that team,” Budenholzer said. “We’re just like the rest of the East right now.”

The biggest priority for the Hawks is re-signing Horford and Bazemore, who are both unrestricted free agents.

Horford has spent his entire nine-year career with Atlanta, and it’s hard to imagine where the team would be without him. While he struggled in the playoffs, the 6-foot-10 center is the type of hybrid player that Budenholzer loves to have in his fast-paced offense, a big man who can run the court and even became a bit of a 3-point threat this season.

Bazemore was one of the most improved players in the league, a 6-5 bundle of energy who wasn’t even drafted out of college but averaged 11.6 points a game in his first year as a starter. While still raw, his potential upside that is off the charts.

“They’re two big pieces,” teammate Kyle Korver said. “Al has been the cornerstone of this team for a lot of years. What he brings to the table, there’s just not anyone really like him in the NBA. Baze is obviously just figuring out who he is as a player. I think he’ll keep on getting better.”

Horford would prefer to remain with the only NBA team he’s ever known, but he’s just starting to think about all the ramifications of the huge choice he’ll face this summer.

“I really haven’t had a chance to start thinking and talking about all this stuff, even with my family,” Horford said. “I had a rule this season: Focus on the team, focus on the now, I don’t want to hear anything about the summer. Now the summer is here.”

The Hawks are also facing a reckoning at point guard, where Jeff Teague is the longtime starter but Dennis Schroder is coming on strong. Tellingly, the 22-year-old German led the Hawks with 21 points in the season finale, Sunday’s 100-99 loss to the Cavs, and had the ball in his hands for a potential game-winning shot at the end.

Teague was merely a spectator, watching from the bench.

Budenholzer, who has the final say in personnel matters, could elect to keep both point guards for another season. But Teague’s trade value is probably as high as it’s going to get entering the final year of his contract. Schroder has made it clear he wants to be the starter someday.

While another sweep by the Cavaliers prompted inevitable questions about a major overhaul, that doesn’t seem likely. Budenholzer often talks about the importance of continuity, and he’s counting on getting a lot more next season from players such as center Tiago Splitter, who went down with a season-ending injury, and Tim Hardaway Jr., who barely played at all the first half of the season.

“Blowing it up is probably not the way to beat a team like Cleveland,” Budenholzer said. “We value what this group has done, the success that they’ve had.”

The core of the team may return.

But no one wants to go through this again.

“We all want more,” Budenholzer said. “I think it’s great that we’ve put ourselves in that position where there’s some expectations. People want and expect a lot of us. We expect that. Tomorrow, the challenge is to come in, get to work, find a way to get better, find a way to go to that next level.”

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/paul-newberry .

So you know, Sam Hinkie came in 10th in Executive of the Year voting

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Sam Hinkie’s “process” was always more popular, understood, appreciated, whatever-phrase-you-want, by the people in and around the league than by most fans and some of the media members.

Which explains why Hinkie received multiple votes for Executive of the Year. That would be the Sam Hinkie that Sixers ownership pushed to the side with the hiring of Jerry Colangelo, and eventually out the door with the hiring of Bryan Colangelo.

Hinkie received one second place and two third place votes for Executive of the Year, which was won by R.C. Buford of the Spurs. He came in 10th in the voting, ahead of Dennis Lindsey of the Jazz, Wes Wilcox of the Hawks, and John Hammond of the Bucks.

The voting for this award is done by the other NBA executives (unlike MVP, Rookie of the Year, and other awards voted on by select media members).

Hinkie took “getting bad to get good” to a new level, but in doing so made the Sixers worse in the short term than even he intended. He made mistakes: He did a poor job selling his plan to the public, he refused to spend enough to draw role-playing veterans to stabilize things on the court and in the locker room, and he may have missed on draft picks (the jury is still out on that).

But he also understood that to turn the Sixers around he was going to have to draft a superstar, and he put the organization in the best possible position to do just that. This is a team loaded with young players and draft picks, assets that the Colangelos likely will turn into a good team in a few years. They will bask in the glory, but they will do it standing on the foundation that Hinkie laid.