Stephen Curry drops 40, leads 20-point comeback as Warriors beat Pelicans in OT, take 3-0 series lead

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The crowd was rocking. Anthony Davis was making the plays — 23 points through the first three quarters — that had the New Orleans crowd screaming like it was Mardi Gras. It  seemed after 36 minutes that it was going to be the Pelican’s night; they were up 20 points entering the final frame, up 17 with six minutes to go. The Pelicans were in command. New Orleans outplayed Golden State most of the night.

But Golden State has Stephen Curry.

The Warriors started to make a little run early in the fourth, chipping away at the lead bit by bit. The clock couldn’t move fast enough for the Pelicans. Then Curry entered the game, and he kept getting space — somehow 16 of Curry’s 29 shot attempts on the night were uncontested (according to the NBA’s SportsVU cameras). He was making plays.

Golden State closed out the game on a 17-5 run but were still down three with 9.6 seconds left in regulation. Then this happened.

Curry missed the first one, but Marreese Speights picked up the offensive board, brought it out to the corner and Curry got another shot.

He wasn’t going to miss that one. The Pelicans had their hearts ripped out on national television.

From there it just had a sense of inevitability. Curry finished the night with 40 points and nine assists, and the Warriors won 123-119. That gives Golden State a commanding 3-0 series lead, they can close the Pelicans out Saturday in New Orleans.

Still, all anybody is talking about is that final play, the shot by Curry.

Pelicans coach Monty Williams said after the game he had told his players to foul on that final play — don’t even let Golden State get off a three to tie it. Foul them and make it a free throw contest. The Pelicans had ample opportunity before both shots and didn’t execute. They didn’t and paid the price.

Basketball games are not won or lost on one play, there were a number of things that cost the Thunder. Such as offensive rebounds. It wasn’t just Speights’ rebound that led to the Curry shot; the Warriors had seven offensive rebounds in the final five minutes. For the game, the Warriors grabbed the offensive rebound on 39.3 percent of their missed shots.

Curry and Klay Thompson were hot at the start of Game 3 but credit the Pelicans for once again being scrappy and fighting through it. New Orleans led by one after 12 minutes then pulled away in the second and third. They were the better team — New Orleans shot 51.1 percent on the night to Golden State’s 40.4.

But it’s about how it ends. The game went to overtime and Curry had seven points in the frame as the Warriors opened on a 9-3 run. Again the Pelicans scrapped to make it interesting, but they could never fully close the gap.

Klay Thompson poured in 28 for Golden State while Draymond Green added 12 points and 10 rebounds. Davis finished with 29 for the Pelicans; Ryan Anderson added 26.

It’s a painful loss for the Pelicans, but the kind that young teams grow and learn from.

For the Warriors, it’s a legendary comeback. It’s also another win when they don’t play their best game. In this round they can get away with that.

Thanks to Stephen Curry.

Paul George says he knew James Harden/Russell Westbrook pairing would work

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When James Harden and Russell Westbrook share the court this season, the Rockets are +8.9 points per 100 possessions. That is fueled by a surprisingly good defensive rating that has them giving almost exactly a point per possession.

All of that is much better than many pundits predicted, as they questioned how to isolation players with questionable defensive chops would fit together.

Not Paul George. He thought this would work from the start, as he told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

“I knew it was going to work,” George said at the morning shootaround before the Clippers face the Rockets on Friday night. “Russ is a winner. Russ wants to win, Russ does whatever it takes to win. My time playing with him, Russ doesn’t really have an ego. He puts his ego to the side.

“He allowed me to be myself, he allowed me to be comfortable. And I had one of the best career [years] I had while playing alongside him. Russ is a heckuva teammate.”

James Harden — averaging 38.4 points, 7.5 assists, and 5.8 rebounds a game — would likely agree with George.

George, however, surveyed the situation with Westbrook and OKC — after Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers knocked them out in the first round — and decided to move on and team up with Kawhi Leonard with the Lakers. He may have liked Westbrook as a teammate, but the two of them (with that talent around them and few ways to make real upgrades) had limits on how far they could go.

That remains the question about these Rockets, one that is not going to be answered until next April at the earliest.

Report: Hornets interested in Pistons center Andre Drummond

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Andre Drummond is thriving.

The Pistons are not.

With Drummond headed toward free agency, that leaves major questions for Detroit. Should the 4-10 Pistons hope better health – especially for Blake Griffin – allows them to get back on track this season? Should they keep Drummond and attempt to re-sign him as a key player future seasons? Should they trade him to get value now?

Drummond’s market – both for a trade or in free agency – is somewhat limited. The NBA is overstocked with capable centers. His game, built mostly on rebounding, trends toward old-school. Drummond is better than most players of his ilk. The question is about cost.

But at least one team outside Detroit is apparently interested – Charlotte.

Sean Deveney of Heavy:

The target, according to league sources: Pistons big man Andre Drummond, a player in whom the Hornets have had an interest for at least a year.

Charlotte projects to have about $27 million in cap space next summer. That might be enough to lure Drummond with a multi-year deal.

But Drummond’s player option for next season he said he plans to decline is worth $28,751,774.

So, it might make sense to trade for Drummond now to secure his Bird Rights. That way, the Hornets could exceed the cap to re-sign him.

They’d also get an upgrade at center over Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo this season. Charlotte (6-9) is in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Even with Drummond, I wouldn’t pick the Hornets as likely to make the postseason, but that’s the type of low-level goal they often prioritize.

Charlotte has expiring contracts to facilitate a trade – Biyombo, Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The Hornets would also have to surrender assets that tempt Detroit (draft picks and/or young players).

There’s a path to a satisfactory trade… if the Pistons are open to dealing Drummond.

Harassment charges against Lakers’ DeMarcus Cousins reportedly dropped

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DeMarcus Cousins got married this past summer, but his 7-year-old son didn’t attend the wedding due to a dispute with the boy’s mother and Cousin’s ex-girlfriend, Christy West. That blew up into an ugly situation where Cousins was ultimately charged in Alabama with a third-degree harassing communications misdemeanor, tied to the domestic situation.

Now, those charges have been dismissed, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Cousins remains out for the Lakers after tearing his ACL this past summer, and he is not expected to return. Because of the surprisingly good play of Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee — particularly as mobile defenders who can show out on the perimeter and recover — the Lakers have not missed Cousins’ presence.

I have no specific knowledge of this case or the truth of what happened between Cousins and his ex. As far as I know, there was nothing to this and should have been dismissed.

However, as someone who spent a chunk of years on a police/courts beat as a young reporter, I feel the need to add this: Domestic violence/harassment cases are exceedingly difficult to prosecute. It can be a he said/she said situation, and unfortunately, often the abused women recant their testimony (whether it was true or not). The situations are a complex mix of emotions and fear, ones that make getting justice difficult. Talk to any prosecutor (or long-time police beat officer) about domestic violence cases and they will tell you horrifying stories. It is a situation that, as a nation, we need to address.

High schoolers Bronny James, Zaire Wade have more national TV games than many NBA teams

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The Wizards are entertaining in their own special way.

Washington games have averaged 241 points this season (120 for the Wizards, 121 for their opponents). That’s the highest mark in nearly two decades. The 1990-91 Nuggets scored 120 while allowing 131 points per game.

But Washington rarely gets nationally televised games.

On the other hand, Sierra Canyon School – which features Bronny James (son of LeBron James) and Zaire Wade (son of Dwyane Wade) – will have plenty of nationally televised games. That drew the attention of at least one Wizard.

Isaiah Thomas:

Of course, the Wizards aren’t alone in getting less national exposure than Bronny and Zaire. On the latest, “Off the Dribble,” Jacques Slade gets into all the NBA teams and stars on national television less often than Sierra Canyon. (For more, watch the video above where Slade also gets into Carmelo Anthony’s Blazers debut.)

The good news: Wizards games can still be found on NBC Sports Washington.