Kurt Helin

Watch Kawhi Leonard fake out the entire Jazz defense


Kawhi Leonard is having an MVP-like start to the season (it’s way, way too early to discuss that award, but he’s been that level of phenomenal).

That includes putting up 30 points on 18 shots and pulling down seven rebounds in the Spurs one loss this season, on Tuesday to the Utah Jazz. He also had two assists, and the one above is a thing of beauty — he fakes out the entire Jazz team on the floor.

Leonard is not big on self-promotion, but he doesn’t need to be with performances like this. He’s going to get plenty of attention. Deservedly.

Stephen Curry on Ray Allen: “To me, he’s the greatest shooter ever”


When Stephen Curry someday hangs up his Under Armours and walks away from the NBA, he will go down as the greatest shooter the game has ever seen.

But all greats build upon the players that came before them, that set the standard.

For Curry, Ray Allen set the standard. Chris Haynes of ESPN asked Curry about Allen as Allen has announced he is officially retiring from the game.

“To me, he’s the greatest shooter ever because of his longevity,” Curry told ESPN of the future Hall of Famer’s career. “He did it year-to-year and he got up on his shot. That’s what made him different. He was a special player.”

Allen still holds the record for most made three-pointers in a career, 2,973. Curry will someday break that (Curry got to 1,600 much faster than Allen).

Curry said Allen’s records like that are goals for him to shoot for — which is what they greats do, they set the bar, and the next generations try to clear it. Allen will go down as one of the greatest shooters the game has ever seen, with as pure a stroke as you will ever find. He set the bar high.

Curry will clear it.

Paul Pierce: Golden State “choked” away 3-1 NBA Finals lead


The Truth has said his piece.

Paul Pierce will be on Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons on HBO Wednesday night (10 p.m. Eastern, with multiple other showings during the week, check your local listings), and the man with the best Rick James costume in the NBA was asked about the NBA Finals. You can see his answer above.

He hesitated.

Then he said what he was thinking — the Warriors choked that 3-1 lead away. And that would never happen to a team he was on. (He was on a Celtics team that was up 3-2 on the Lakers in the Finals and lost, for the record.)

I hate the choked narrative for one key reason — it robs Cleveland of some of their due. The Cavaliers as a whole played an impressive final three games, and LeBron James played as good an NBA Finals series of games as you will ever see. They were not given this, they earned it.

That said, if Draymond Green could have kept his hands to himself and not been suspended for Game 5, we’d be talking about back-to-back Warriors’ championships. The Warriors did hunt threes too much and not try to go inside at key parts of the game. They helped out the Cavs plenty.

Anthony Davis is frustrated with Pelicans 0-4 start

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Anthony Davis has scored more points than any player in the NBA this season with 148. He’s second in points per game at 37 a contest (behind Russell Westbrook). He’s averaging 13.2 rebounds a game (third best in NBA). He’s averaging three blocked shots per game. He has been efficient doing all of this — his PER of 38.7 leads the league in this young season.

Davis has been a flat out beast.

And the Pelicans are 0-4.

Davis is getting no help, and while he wouldn’t throw his teammates under the bus, he was clearly frustrated after the loss to the Bucks, speaking to William Guillory of The Times-Picayune.

“We had too many mental breakdowns,” Davis said. “We’re not talking out there and so, therefore, we have mental breakdowns that gave them easy layups at the basket and open shots….

“It’s definitely frustrating. We can’t get a win, it’s frustrating,” Davis said. “Whatever we need to do, we need to do it fast.”

Davis wasn’t the only one frustrated.

“I thought we played hard, but we’ve got to start playing a lot smarter,” said Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry. “We just have too many defensive breakdowns…We’ve got a lot of work that we’ve got to do. We’ve got to get better defensively. It doesn’t matter, we can get 113 every night, but if we’re going to give up 117, mathematically, that doesn’t add up.”

Statistically — and it’s a very small sample size — the Pelicans have been middle of the pack defensively this season, but are 26th in the league offensively. That said, the defense hasn’t been consistent at all — with the game close late Tuesday the Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo got a fairly easy lay-up than an uncontested three back-to-back. There are breakdowns, and the Pelican’s offense right now (without Jrue Holiday to guide it) can’t make up the ground.

It may be a frustrating season all around in New Orleans.

Damian Lillard’s words inspired best Warriors defensive game of season

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“It’s not the same. They are a great offensive team and I think they will still be a good defensive team, but it’s different than when  (Andrew) Bogut is not back there. It’s just not the same.’’

That was Damian Lillard before the Trail Blazers took on the Warriors Tuesday night in Portland — and he was right. Through their first three games this season, the Golden State defense had been terrible — the Warriors were drilled by the Spurs, but then allowed the Pelicans and Suns to score more than 100 points a game as well (and do so efficiently).

Tuesday night in Portland the Warriors defense looked more like the top five defense of the past couple seasons — Portland shot just 43 percent, turned the ball over 18 times, and scored at just a 97 points per 100 possessions pace. What changed things around for the Warriors? They read Lillard’s comments and got fired up, according to Draymond Green, speaking to CSNBayArea.com after Golden State’s best win of the season.

“It was a complete team effort,” Draymond explained. “Everybody was swarming around, getting deflections, cutting off the lane to the rim. We did a lot of things well and I think it was all based on everybody just really flying around and helping each other.

“That was great for us to really come out and put that kind of game together on the defensive end, especially when our defense has been called out — that there’s no anchor and it’s not the same and all that — I think some opinions will change sooner than later. But until then, we’ll just keep doing that. And when they change, we’ll keep doing that still. It was fun to do that.”

The reality is Portland still had success when Zaza Pachulia and the starters were on the floor — Portland went at him and he is no Andrew Bogut. The Blazers scored at a 119 points per 100 possessions pace against the Warriors starters, with Pachulia as the anchor. Portland hung with that lineup.

However, when the Warriors went small with Green at center they looked like the defensive team we remember — Kevin Durant provided rim protection, while Green and Andre Iguodala seemed to be everywhere. Ian Clark and David West played very well with the small lineups (in fact, the Curry/Iguodala/Green/Clark/West lineup held the Trail Blazers to an offensive rating of 31.3 points per 100 possession in its six minutes together).

The Warriors need another game like that Thursday night against Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s offense has been all Westbrook and not great overall (23rd in NBA) but the Thunder do play tough, physical defense. Golden State needs to match that. Do it and we’ll talk about them being on track.

And if they are, Lillard deserves a hat tip.