Sunday NBA grades: Stephen Curry finds his groove and the Clippers find trouble

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Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while mocking the new look Ronald McDonald….

source:  Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors. Nobody could slow Stephen Curry on Sunday… well, Joey Crawford did for a possession. But nobody on the Clippers. At the start of the game a distracted Clippers team gave Curry more space than he has seen this postseason, and he knew what to do with it — Curry started 5-of-5 from three. Once he gets going like that it’s over. And it was pretty early for the Clippers. When this Curry shows up the Warriors can beat anybody, the question is will he be there for a now crucial Game 5 Tuesday?

source:  Trevor Ariza, Washington Wizards. The Washington Wizards wanted to make the playoffs and made some moves in recent years that were not about building for the long-term but winning more now. Like trading for veteran Trevor Ariza — he earned a ring with the Lakers in 2009 and had some big postseason games back then. None, however, bigger than Sunday — Ariza dropped 30, shooting 6-of-10 from three, leading the Wizards, who went up 3-1 on the Bulls Sunday. To be fair it wasn’t all Ariza, both John Wall and Bradley Beal had “watch us mature before your eyes” games playing well at both ends. But Ariza was knocking down shots and making plays at both ends. He was huge and the Wizard got a win without Nene.

source:  Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors. He didn’t put up the most gaudy numbers on the Raptors (that would be DeMar DeRozan, but he struggled in the second half when the Nets trapped him) but Kyle Lowry did it all. He had 22 points, including six in a row in a key stretch late in the third. He has looked good at the point, he has adjusted to playing the two next to Greivis Vasquez. He even helped defend on Joe Johnson on a key possession late. Whatever has been asked of him this series he’s done it and done it well.

source:  LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers. After struggling in Game 3 he was back and again was destroying the Rockets from the midrange — 6-of-11 from there on his way to 29 points. He did a lot of his damage in the third quarter (13 points) when he sparked the start of the Blazers comeback, which eventually became an overtime win. He continues to be impressive at both ends of the floor. The minus is for those missed free throws late that gave the Rockets hope they wouldn’t otherwise have had.

Luka Doncic with 42-point triple-double, sticks dagger in Spurs for Mavericks win

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Luka Doncic is having a “we’ve got to talk about this guy as a possible MVP” kind of season so far.

The latest addition to the resume: A 42 point, 11 rebounds, 12 assist triple-double to lead the Mavericks past the Spurs. That includes sticking the dagger in the Spurs late.

Dallas won 117-110 and improves to 8-5 on the season.

The 42 points is a career-high for Doncic, and he is the first player in Dallas history to record a 40-point triple-double. This is Doncic’s sixth triple-double of the season.

And he’s still just 20 years old.

Here’s the full list of NBA players who have had 40-point triple-doubles at the age of 20 or younger:

LeBron James
Luka Doncic

That’s it — and that’s some impressive company for Doncic.

Kings’ Buddy Hield fined $25,000 for kicking ball into stands in celebration

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This was a $25,000 celebration by Buddy Hield.

Sacramento led by one in the final seconds against Boston Sunday, but the Celtics had a final shot and Marcus Smart‘s attempt at a game-winning floater hung on the rim seemingly forever… then fell off. The ball was tipped out to mid-court and — as you can see in this video — Heild kicks the ball into the stands as part of the celebration.

Kicking or throwing the ball into the stands is a standing $25,000 fine, and the league came down with that on Hield on Monday. It was not a surprise.

Hield was the reason Sacramento won the game, scoring 35 points to lead the Kings, including going 7-of-12 from three. He’d likely make that trade for the win again.

Kawhi Leonard out vs. Thunder Monday night, third straight game due to knee bruise

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This isn’t load management. This is a bruised knee.

The first Clipper game with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George sharing the court will have to wait as Leonard is going to miss his third straight game with a knee contusion Monday night against the Thunder. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN broke the news.

The Clippers are going to be cautious with bringing Leonard back from this, thinking long term with his health, as they should. Los Angeles is playing for games in May and June, not games in November.

This means tonight the Clippers will be the Paul George show again — in two games he has scored 70 points in 44 minutes. This will be George’s first game against the Thunder since he demanded a trade out of the city last summer, landing him on the Clippers with Leonard.

Kevin Love tries to ignore trade rumors, ‘let the chips fall where they may’

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Cleveland Cavaliers GM said he has no interest in trading Kevin Love.

You can count the number of people around the league who believe him on one hand. There’s a good chance Love is still on the Cavaliers at the end of this season, but that’s more about him being in the first year of a four-year, $120 million contract extension than it is Cleveland’s willingness to trade him (or interest from other teams, if money was not an issue). The Cavaliers are rebuilding, and if they can get young players and picks for Love, they have to consider it.

With Portland off to a slow start, and Love growing up in the Pacific Northwest, that rumor has floated around. There are others. Love is just trying to ignore them and play ball, he told Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times.

“I know there’s talk about me possibly being the missing piece somewhere,” Love said. “There’s been constant chatter since I signed that I could be traded. It’s one of those things where I’m going to keep doing right by the team, by Cleveland and by the organization. If my number is called, so be it, but I’m going to stay true to my commitment and let the chips fall where they may.”

Love, who has been open in recent years about his struggles with anxiety and mental health, said dealing with the trade rumors that constantly swirl around him can be a challenge on that front.

“A big aspect of mental health is just staying in the present but it’s so hard,” he said. “You have to try to not get too far ahead of yourself or get worked up. You can get that anxious feeling or fear for the future, but you have to try to stay focused on getting better and let things work out the way they should.”

Kevin Love has played well to start the season, averaging 18.3 points and 11.3 rebounds a game, shooting a respectable 34.7 percent from three. He could help a lot of teams, particularly ones in the West who want to be in the mix for a ring but who look at the Lakers and Clippers and think, “we have to get better fast.”

The rumors around Love are just going to get louder the closer and closer we get to the trade deadline. Love will have to do a lot of work to tune all that out.