Stephen Curry posts worst NBA Finals Game Score by MVP in 26 years

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Stephen Curry played terribly in Game 2.

He shot 5-for-23, including 2-of-15 on 3-pointers and committed six turnovers. He air-balled the potential game-winner in overtime and threw away the ball on the Warriors’ final possession.

It was a disastrous performance for anyone, let alone the reigning MVP.

Here’s how every MVP has performed in each Finals game since 1985, as far back as Basketball-Reference.com has complete game logs. To measure, we’ll use Game Score:

the formula is PTS + 0.4 * FG – 0.7 * FGA – 0.4*(FTAFT) + 0.7 * ORB + 0.3 * DRB + STL + 0.7 * AST + 0.7 * BLK – 0.4 * PFTOV. Game Score was created by John Hollinger to give a rough measure of a player’s productivity for a single game. The scale is similar to that of points scored, (40 is an outstanding performance, 10 is an average performance, etc.).

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Game Game Score
Tim Duncan: 2003 SAS-NJN G1 40.8
Shaquille O’Neal: 2000 LAL-IND G1 37.9
Charles Barkley: 1993 PHO-CHI G2 37
Michael Jordan: 1992 CHI-POR G1 36.9
Charles Barkley: 1993 PHO-CHI G4 35.6
Allen Iverson: 2001 PHI-LAL G1 35
Magic Johnson: 1987 LAL-BOS G3 35
Michael Jordan: 1991 CHI-LAL G2 34.7
Shaquille O’Neal: 2000 LAL-IND G2 33.5
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G1 33.5
Michael Jordan: 1992 CHI-POR G5 33.3
Larry Bird: 1986 BOS-HOU G2 33
Michael Jordan: 1991 CHI-LAL G1 32.6
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G7 32.5
Larry Bird: 1986 BOS-HOU G6 32.2
Shaquille O’Neal: 2000 LAL-IND G6 30.9
Magic Johnson: 1987 LAL-BOS G1 30.9
Magic Johnson: 1987 LAL-BOS G5 30.7
Magic Johnson: 1987 LAL-BOS G2 30.6
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G6 29.7
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G4 29.6
Shaquille O’Neal: 2000 LAL-IND G5 28.7
Shaquille O’Neal: 2000 LAL-IND G4 28.7
Michael Jordan: 1991 CHI-LAL G4 28.6
Michael Jordan: 1998 CHI-UTA G6 28.5
Karl Malone: 1997 UTA-CHI G3 28.2
Michael Jordan: 1996 CHI-SEA G3 28.1
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G4 28
Larry Bird: 1985 BOS-LAL G4 26.3
Michael Jordan: 1991 CHI-LAL G5 26.1
Tim Duncan: 2003 SAS-NJN G6 25.9
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G6 25.8
Tim Duncan: 2003 SAS-NJN G5 25.7
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G3 25.6
LeBron James: 2012 MIA-OKC G5 25.5
Kobe Bryant: 2008 LAL-BOS G3 25.4
LeBron James: 2012 MIA-OKC G4 25.3
Michael Jordan: 1992 CHI-POR G6 25.3
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G6 25.1
Michael Jordan: 1992 CHI-POR G2 25.1
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G2 25
Michael Jordan: 1998 CHI-UTA G2 24.8
Michael Jordan: 1991 CHI-LAL G3 24.8
LeBron James: 2012 MIA-OKC G2 24.7
Allen Iverson: 2001 PHI-LAL G3 24.1
Shaquille O’Neal: 2000 LAL-IND G3 23.6
Larry Bird: 1986 BOS-HOU G3 23.6
Kobe Bryant: 2008 LAL-BOS G2 23.3
Larry Bird: 1985 BOS-LAL G2 23
Magic Johnson: 1987 LAL-BOS G4 22.5
LeBron James: 2012 MIA-OKC G1 22.3
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G7 22
Tim Duncan: 2003 SAS-NJN G4 21.9
Michael Jordan: 1996 CHI-SEA G2 21.8
Michael Jordan: 1998 CHI-UTA G4 21.5
Larry Bird: 1986 BOS-HOU G1 21.5
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G5 21.2
Michael Jordan: 1996 CHI-SEA G1 21.2
Tim Duncan: 2003 SAS-NJN G3 20.9
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G3 20.7
Larry Bird: 1986 BOS-HOU G4 20.6
Stephen Curry: 2015 GSW-CLE G1 20.4
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G1 20.4
LeBron James: 2012 MIA-OKC G3 20.4
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G2 20.2
Magic Johnson: 1989 LAL-DET G2 20.1
Magic Johnson: 1987 LAL-BOS G6 20.1
Larry Bird: 1985 BOS-LAL G1 20.1
Michael Jordan: 1998 CHI-UTA G1 20
Magic Johnson: 1989 LAL-DET G1 19.5
Allen Iverson: 2001 PHI-LAL G4 19.4
Charles Barkley: 1993 PHO-CHI G5 19.2
Charles Barkley: 1993 PHO-CHI G3 19
Allen Iverson: 2001 PHI-LAL G5 18.7
Michael Jordan: 1998 CHI-UTA G3 18.6
Larry Bird: 1985 BOS-LAL G5 18.4
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G1 18.3
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G4 18.3
Karl Malone: 1997 UTA-CHI G4 18
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G2 17.9
Larry Bird: 1985 BOS-LAL G6 17.8
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G7 17.7
Charles Barkley: 1993 PHO-CHI G6 17.7
Michael Jordan: 1992 CHI-POR G4 17.3
Michael Jordan: 1992 CHI-POR G3 17.1
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G5 17
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G5 16.5
Kobe Bryant: 2008 LAL-BOS G5 16.2
Karl Malone: 1997 UTA-CHI G6 15.6
Karl Malone: 1997 UTA-CHI G1 15.6
Michael Jordan: 1996 CHI-SEA G5 15.1
Michael Jordan: 1996 CHI-SEA G6 14.9
Michael Jordan: 1998 CHI-UTA G5 14.8
Kobe Bryant: 2008 LAL-BOS G4 14.3
Larry Bird: 1986 BOS-HOU G5 12.4
Charles Barkley: 1993 PHO-CHI G1 12.1
Larry Bird: 1985 BOS-LAL G3 12.1
Karl Malone: 1997 UTA-CHI G5 11.7
Karl Malone: 1997 UTA-CHI G2 11.6
Kobe Bryant: 2008 LAL-BOS G1 11
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G3 10.3
Michael Jordan: 1996 CHI-SEA G4 9.8
Tim Duncan: 2003 SAS-NJN G2 9.5
Kobe Bryant: 2008 LAL-BOS G6 8
Allen Iverson: 2001 PHI-LAL G2 5.2
Stephen Curry: 2015 GSW-CLE G2 2.9
Magic Johnson: 1989 LAL-DET G3 -0.7

The only mark worse than Curry’s 2.9 is Magic Johnson’s -0.7 in Game 3 of the 1989 NBA Finals. But Johnson played just five minutes, missing a couple shots and dishing an assist, due to a hamstring injury suffered in Game 2. He missed all of Game 4 as the Pistons completed the sweep.

Curry played 42 stunningly awful minutes.

Credit Matthew Dellavedova and the Cavaliers’ defense. They performed well.

But also blame Curry for laying an egg when it counts most. MVPs aren’t supposed to play this way.

Until last night, it’d been a long time since one had.

Report: Leaders in Lakers’ locker room think team ‘only a couple of players away’ from contending

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There’s a sense of optimism around the Lakers: They have won 5-of-6 and are expected to have both Anthony Davis and LeBron James healthy Monday night, plus Russell Westbrook has found a role and comfort level off the bench and other players are settling into roles. They may be 7-11, but it’s early enough there is a sense this could be turned around.

That is echoed by “locker room leaders” who think the team is just a couple of players away from being a contender in the West (where no team has pulled away), reports Dave McMenamin at ESPN.

There is belief shared by leaders in the Lakers’ locker room, sources said, that the team is only a couple of players away from turning this group into a legitimate contender. But acquiring the right players could take multiple trades.

Let’s unpack all of this.

• “Leaders in the Lakers’ locker room” means LeBron and Davis (both repped by Rich Paul). Let’s not pretend it’s anything else.

• If the Lakers don’t make a move to significantly upgrade the roster, how unhappy will those leaders become? How disruptive would that be?

• It is no coincidence that McMenamin’s report comes the day the Lakers face the Pacers, a team they went deep into conversations with this summer on a Myles Turner/Buddy Hield trade, but Los Angeles GM Rob Pelinka ultimately would not put both available Lakers’ first-round picks (2027 and 2029) in the deal and it fell apart. Turner said the Lakers should “take a hard look” at trading for him. The thing is, the Pacers are now 11-8, not tanking for Victor Wembanyama but instead thinking playoffs, so are they going to trade their elite rim protector and sharpshooter away? Not likely. At least not without an overwhelming offer, and the Lakers’ two picks may not get there anymore.

• While Westbrook has found a comfort level coming off the bench (and not sharing the court as much with LeBron), he is still a $47.1 million contract that no team is trading for without sweeteners. To use NBA parlance, he is still a negative value contract, even if it feels less negative than a month ago.

• Are the Lakers really a couple of players away from contending? While they have won 5-of-6, three of those five wins came against the tanking Spurs, the others were against the so-injured-they-might-as-well-be-tanking Pistons, and the Nets before Kyrie Irving returned. The Lakers did what they needed to do and thrived in a soft part of the schedule, but that schedule is about to turn and give the Lakers a reality check on where they really stand. After the Pacers, it’s the Trail Blazers (likely still without Damian Lillard), then an East Coast road trip that includes the Bucks, Cavaliers, Raptors and 76ers. The next couple of weeks will be a better marker for where the Lakers stand, and if they can build off of the past couple of weeks.

Dallas Mavericks near agreement to sign Kemba Walker

Oklahoma City Thunder v New York Knicks
Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images
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Looking for help spacing the floor and with secondary shot creation behind Luka Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks are turning to Kemba Walker.

Marc Stein was first with the news the sides were close to a deal, but since then multiple reports — plus comments from team owner Mark Cuban — confirmed it is happening.

This will be a veteran minimum contract (all the over-the-cap Mavericks can offer). To create the roster spot, the Mavericks will waive Facundo Campazzo, who was signed a few weeks ago and has barely touched the court for the team.

Walker averaged 11.6 points and 3.5 assists a game playing solidly in stretches for the Knicks last season, but the concern was his staying on the court — he appeared in just 37 games due to ongoing knee problems. Walker spent the offseason working on getting past those, but the Knicks traded him to Detroit for picks, but the Pistons were stacked at the point guard spot (at least before the season and injuries hit Cade Cunningham), so they bought out his $9.2 million for this season.

Walker worked to convince teams he still had plenty in the tank, but it was always going to take a situation where a team reached a certain level of desperation. Enter the Mavericks.

Doncic calls Antetokounmpo ‘the best player in the NBA right now’

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It was a matchup of two of the NBA’s top five players and two guys high in the way-too-early mix for MVP this season: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic.

Doncic carried the Mavericks again with 27 points on 10-of-20 shooting plus 12 assists.

Antetokounmpo was a force of nature with 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting plus 11 rebounds, plus he had more help around him leading the Bucks to a 124-115 win.

There is a mutual admiration society between these two players, and after the game Doncic called Antetokounmpo the best player in the NBA. Via Jack Maloney at CBS Sports.

“Enjoy [competing against him] is hard because I want to win, so it’s hard to go against a guy like that,” Doncic said after the Mavericks’ fourth consecutive defeat. “He’s the best player in the NBA right now. He’s almost impossible to stop. It’s really fun to see him play, but it’s not that fun to go against him.”

Antetokounmpo had praise for Doncic as well.

“That’s a great compliment and I appreciate that,” Antetokounmpo said. “When you play against the best players in the league, being able to say something like that feels good. No matter wins or losses, just being respected by your peers, it’s always a good feeling.”

We have many years of these two players testing each other, and someday it may be Antetokounmpo calling Doncic the best in the NBA.

Three things to know: The Warriors are starting to look like the Warriors again

Golden State Warriors v Minnesota Timberwolves
David Berding/Getty Images
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Three Things is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out NBCSports.com every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks that make the NBA must-watch.

1) The Warriors are starting to look like the Warriors again

About that slow start in the Bay Area…

Over their last 11 games, the Golden State Warriors are 8-3 with a top-10 in the league offense and defense and a +4.5 net rating (fourth best in the league over that stretch). The latest win was Sunday’s destruction of the stumbling Timberwolves, 137-114, a game that saw the Warriors up by more than 20 in the first quarter and never truly threatened again.

“I think we’re starting to put it together and if we can keep building at this rate, you know, we’ll be poised for a run pretty soon here,” Draymond Green said.

All season long the Warriors have had Stephen Curry playing at an MVP level, carrying the team. So what has changed over the past few weeks that has the Warriors rolling? Three things.

First, Steve Kerr started staggering the rotation and separating Green’s and Curry’s minutes some, something he tried not to do much in the past. It’s one way Kerr dealt with the fact the Warriors’ bench has struggled (getting Donte DiVincenzo healthy helped as well). Curry now stays in for the entire first quarter, while Green gets his first rest about the five-minute mark, then Curry sits to start the second and Green returns to play with more of a bench unit (both stars finish the quarter together on the court).

“I’ve said for years Draymond is kind of the heartbeat of our team,” Kerr said. “He’s the guy who kind of makes everything go and he’s the motivator, he’s the bully, he protects his teammates on the floor, talks trash. But this guy is just so good at basketball.”

Second, the other way the Warriors dealt with the bench issue was Kerr scaled back the “two timelines” experiment. The idea was that the roles Otto Porter and Gary Payton Jr. filled last season could be filled by the young trio of James Wiseman, Moses Moody, and Jonathan Kuminga. That plan failed spectacularly. Wiseman is now down in the G-League, while Moody is out of the rotation. Kuminga is getting his shot — he played well against the Timberwolves — but has been up and down this season.

“I think we’ve settled into some roles, guys are comfortable now with when they’re gonna play who they’re gonna play with. So I think that’s been helpful,” Kerr said.

Third, Klay Thompson found his legs. He kept saying he needed more time, and whether it was a spark lit by Charles Barkley or Thompson getting off of social media and out of his own head, it’s worked. In his last 10 games Thompson is averaging 20.8 points a game and shooting 46.2% from 3. He is not defending like his old self (and may never again), but he’s back to being a No.2 scoring option on an elite team.

Green would throw in one more reason, the Warriors’ defense is back.

“Most importantly our defense has picked up which allows us to push the pace more,” Green said. “Like it’s one thing to push off makes, which we want to do, but when you’re pushing off a miss and getting a rebound then going, that’s tough to guard because it creates a lot of cross-matching.”

There was no magic bullet for Kerr to fire, it took a number of things to turn for the Warriors to get back to being themselves. But they have now, and the rest of the West should be worried.

2) Doncic says Antetokounmpo is “the best player in the NBA right now”

The Dallas Mavericks had no answers. Not that teams really ever do.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was a force of nature Sunday and dropped 30 with 11 boards on the Mavericks, leading the Bucks to a 124-115 win.

After the game, Luka Doncic called Antetokounmpo the best player in the game. Via Jack Maloney at CBS Sports.

“Enjoy [competing against him] is hard because I want to win, so it’s hard to go against a guy like that,” Doncic said after the Mavericks’ fourth consecutive defeat. “He’s the best player in the NBA right now. He’s almost impossible to stop. It’s really fun to see him play, but it’s not that fun to go against him.”

Antetokounmpo returned the compliment.

“That’s a great compliment and I appreciate that,” Antetokounmpo said. “When you play against the best players in the league, being able to say something like that feels good. No matter wins or losses, just being respected by your peers, it’s always a good feeling.”

Antetokounmpo and Doncic are two of the guys in the early MVP conversation, along with Curry, Jayson Tatum and a few others. It turns out, those first two also have a mutual admiration society going.

3) Clippers Ivica Zubac put up a monster 31 and 29 line against Pacers

No Kawhi Leonard, no Paul George, but the Clippers picked up another win on Sunday knocking off the Pacers 114-100.

Thank Ivica Zubac, who had a monster 31-point, 20-rebound game.

After the game, Zubac was made he fouled out before he could get his 30th rebound and have a 30-30 game.

Quietly, Zubac is having a fantastic defensive season for the Clippers, but like the rest of the team his offense has been up and down as they try to adjust to ever-changing lineups. That Clipper defense locked down the Pacers in the second half, plus Indy was just off shooting 9-of-42 from 3.

Zubac found his offense, the Pacers had no answer for him, and the Clippers have a win and improved to 12-9 because of it.