Warriors one win from first 7-0 road trip in NBA history

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The best overall start and longest road winning streak to begin an NBA season have already been added to the Golden State Warriors’ historic list of accomplishments, and they’re moving closer to the longest run the league has ever seen.

On Saturday night in Milwaukee, they can do something no one has ever pulled off.

Fatigued as they may be, the Warriors face the Bucks trying to become the first team to sweep a road trip of at least seven games as they look to make it 29 straight regular-season victories before heading back to the Bay Area.

It’s been 2 1/2 weeks since Golden State (24-0) set the NBA record for the best start at 16-0 and four days since they broke the 1969-70 New York Knicks’ mark for the best road start in Indiana with their 13th consecutive victory away from home.

That tied the Warriors for the second-longest winning streak in league history at 27, but separating themselves from that mark was perhaps their toughest challenge yet.

Even with Klay Thompson out due to a sprained right ankle and Harrison Barnes still missing because of a sprain to his left, Golden State overcame its first sub-40 percent shooting effort in 53 regular-season games to outlast Boston 124-119 in double overtime.

“We will definitely cherish this, because it doesn’t happen often,” center Andrew Bogut said. “The record, the history, the team – it doesn’t happen often so we will cherish it. Who knows? Next year you could be on a different team and nobody’s talking about you.”

Only one Warrior all season had topped 42 minutes in a game – Stephen Curry in a November OT win over Brooklyn – but the reigning MVP (47), Draymond Green (50) and Andre Iguodala (44) all got there Friday. The bench could be asked to log major minutes in Milwaukee, particularly if Thompson remains out.

“Now I can admit I’m tired,” Curry said. “We’ll dig deep for (Saturday).”

A victory in Milwaukee would give the Warriors a record as improbable as anything they’ve done. No team in NBA history has gone 7-0 or better on a single road trip.

The Bucks (9-15) should be relatively well rested after Friday’s 90-83 regulation loss in Toronto, but they’ll be playing their sixth game in nine days. They’ll have Sunday and Monday off before beginning a four-games-in-six-days trip that includes a visit to Golden State on Friday.

Milwaukee is averaging 89.1 points in its last eight games.

“We have to play a complete game,” Khris Middleton said. “We can’t take quarters, minutes, plays off. … Our margin of error is very small right now, so we can’t have any lapses.”

Milwaukee is 4-1 concluding back-to-backs, though the opponents – Brooklyn and Denver twice along with New York – have left a bit to be desired.

If the Bucks hope to have a chance, they’ll likely attempt to slow the Warriors down. Milwaukee games average the second-fewest possessions (95.29 per 48 minutes) in the league while Golden State plays at the third-fastest pace (101.74).

The Warriors, however, might welcome a less-frenetic tempo in their final contest before hopping a plane and heading home to begin a five-game homestand Wednesday.

Another poor shooting effort – Golden State hit 29 percent from long distance against the Celtics – seems unlikely, even with some tired legs. The Warriors shot below 35 percent from 3 five times prior to Friday, and they shot better than 50 beyond the arc in their next game four times.

Golden State has won 17 of 19 back-to-backs since last Christmas, and Curry has been fantastic in its six this season. He averages 32.8 points and is a 56.1 percent shooter with no rest, and his team’s 117.7 points per game in those situations is 10.1 better than anyone else.

The Warriors have won four straight against Milwaukee and topped 50 percent in the last three.

If you’re a Comcast subscriber in the Bay Area, you can stream tonight’s Warriors-Bucks game here.

 

Lonzo Ball had arthroscopic surgery on knee Tuesday, should be ready for training camp

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It’s done.

As expected, Lonzo Ball has had left knee surgery on Tuesday and is currently in recovery. He reportedly will be good to go by training camp in September.

Ball averaged 10.2 points and 7.2 assists per game last season and made the NBA All-Rookie second team. This summer he had been working hard on his conditioning and jumper before the injury.

Ball will be asked to push the pace (as he did last season) and be a secondary ball handler who can create shots when LeBron does not have the ball in his hands. They fit together better on the court than some people think (Lonzo did play off the ball some at UCLA), but the challenge for L.A.of teams helping off Lonzo to double/trap LeBron on the perimeter is real.

The Lakers also took a couple of shots across the bow of Ball — and his father LaVar — this summer. First there was the signing of Rajon Rondo, then Magic Johnson said this about Josh Hart at Summer League:

The message is clear, the days of soft-pedaling and catering to Ball are over. He must earn his starting job, and there are legit challengers for his minutes. At some point, if the balance of off-court distractions and on-court production gets out of alignment, Ball’s job and standing with the Lakers are not safe.

But for now, he just needs to get right before the season.

DeMar DeRozan expresses anger at trade to Spurs on Instagram

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DeMar DeRozan has been loyal to Toronto.

He embraced the city when former stars abandoned it and pushed their way out of town. In 2016, as a free agent, he didn’t even meet with another team, he had no intention of leaving. He said he wanted to go down as the greatest Raptor ever. A Los Angeles kid himself — born and raised in Compton — he never pushed to go home, instead becoming incredibly active in the community off the court as well as being a four-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA player on it. He has led the greatest run of Raptors basketball in franchise history.

The Raptors were not loyal to DeRozan — they are shipping him to Texas in a trade for Kawhi Leonard that is being finalized.

DeRozan reportedly hates the move and put this up as an Instagram story.

“Be told one thing & the outcome another. Can’t trust em. Ain’t no loyalty in this game. Sell you out quick for a little bit of nothing… Soon you’ll understand… Don’t disturb…”

It’s not the destination that has DeRozan unhappy, he did not want to be traded, period.

Leonard reportedly also is unhappy with the trade — he wanted to go home to Los Angeles. However, Lakers would not the players the Spurs wanted into a trade (Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and more), and the Clippers do not have the assets to interest the Spurs in a trade. San Antonio was holding out for other bidders, biding their time, and in came Raptors’ GM Masai Ujiri with an aggressive move.

Leonard’s inexperienced management team, which did not handle this situation well, wanted him in a major market that would boost Leonard’s marketing opportunities. While Toronto is a big market — sixth largest in the NBA, bigger than Philadelphia — and is the team of a nation with fans across Canada, this is not what Leonard’s people wanted. He is a free agent next summer in 2019.

DeRozan has every right to feel betrayed — next time you think of complaining about how players are not loyal to cities/teams/fans, remember this. Loyalty is a luxury in the NBA and one rarely rewarded.

DeRozan also will come around and embrace San Antonio, the Spurs culture, and Gregg Popovich. He will help them win a lot.

Whether the Raptors can win over Leonard becomes one of the NBA’s biggest storylines of 2018-19.

Raptors reportedly agree to trade to acquire Kawhi Leonard from Spurs

Associated Press
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Raptors’ GM Masai Ujiri wanted to shake things up in Toronto this offseason, to change the culture, to make a push for a ring with LeBron James having gone West. The status quo was no longer good enough.

He has done that in the most dramatic way possible.

In maybe the biggest move of the summer, the Raptors are about to acquire Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs. From Adrian Wojnarowski and Chris Haynes of ESPN:

The Toronto Raptors are finalizing a deal to acquire San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard in a trade package that includes All-Star DeMar DeRozan, league sources told ESPN.

An agreement in principle could be reached as soon as Wednesday, league sources said.

Leonard and DeRozan are both aware that an agreement could be imminent, and neither is expressing enthusiasm for the deal, league sources said.

DeRozan seems to confirm the trade — and his displeasure with it, he wanted to go down as the greatest Raptor ever and embraced that city when others stars had bolted it — in an Instagram story. The Raptors reportedly told DeRozan during Summer League he would not be traded, despite rumors.

Leonard and DeRozan cannot be traded for each other straight up (DeRozan makes $4 million more than Leonard, once Leonard’s trade kicker of $3 million is counted in), in the end the deal looked like this:

On paper, the trade makes sense for both sides. The Raptors take a shot at a ring and winning Leonard over to their team, if that fails and he bolts they start a rebuild (they also didn’t give up young players they really like such as OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam). This is a win for the Raptors.

The Spurs remain competitive for the next two or three years, likely as long as Gregg Popovich will coach, then they will rebuild.

The Spurs did not want to send Leonard to the West and the Lakers, and they wanted a star player who would keep them relevant and in the playoffs as part of the deal. DeRozan does that (while the Lakers and Sixers would not throw in key pieces such as Brandon Ingram or Markelle Fultz). Paired with LaMarcus Aldridge, Dejounte Murray, and whoever else doesn’t get put in this trade, they are in the playoff mix in the middle of a brutal West. DeRozan has two seasons guaranteed at $27.7 million, with a player option for a third season after that.

Leonard is a free agent in the summer of 2019 and can then sign anywhere he wants. That has reportedly been Los Angeles, although in Las Vegas I heard rumors from sources that both the Lakers and Clippers are in play to get him.

The Raptors will have this season to win him over and get him to re-sign — just as Oklahoma City did with Paul George. Toronto is a fantastic city, it has a passionate fan base, and the team is poised to win a lot. Toronto also has more money: with the trade Toronto can offer Leonard a five-year, $189.6 million contract next summer, the most any other team can put on the table is a four-year, $140.6 million offer. Leonard, it should be noted, walked away from a $221 million offer should he have worked things out with the Spurs. George was open to the Oklahoma City experience, will Leonard be in Toronto? (Also, the Raptors can trade him again at the deadline.)

If Leonard is fully healthy — something nobody really knows for sure — the Raptors would be contenders in the East, they have arguably the best player in the conference now (him or Giannis Antetokounmpo). This team is a threat to favorite Boston as well as Philadelphia.

Blazers win 2018 NBA Las Vegas Summer League Championship vs. Lakers

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The Portland Trail Blazers are your 2018 NBA Las Vegas Summer League Champions. I want Multnomah County just to drink that in for a minute.

Tuesday night’s Final was not a close one, with the Trail Blazers in control of the game for most of the time. Portland jumped out to an early 31-19 lead, and were led by KJ McDaniels, who eventually took home the championship game’s MVP honors.

On the other side of the floor, it was Summer League MVP Josh Hart who had been ejected in the fourth quarter. Portland’s largest lead was 24 points, and it was surely a frustrating night for the young Lakers Squad.

Via Twitter:

McDaniels led the way for Portland, finishing with 17 points, seven rebounds, and one assist on 57 percent shooting from the field. The Blazers had six players in double figures, and helped shut down LA from 3-point range, forcing them to shoot just 3-of-21 from deep.

Hart scored 12 points for the Lakers, and Los Angeles had just three players in double figures. As a team, LA shot 39 percent from the field during the 18-point loss.

This Summer League playoff win doesn’t quite make up for the 2000 Western Conference Finals between these two rivals, But Blazers fans have to be happy that their team at least got a sniff of a deep playoff run.

No doubt they will be partying on SE Division tonight.