Klay Thompson’s 27-point third quarter leads Warriors past Suns

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Klay Thompson scored 27 of his season-high 43 points in the third quarter and the Golden State Warriors responded after their first loss following a record 24-0 start by beating the Phoenix Suns 128-103 on Wednesday night.

Stephen Curry added 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting and seven assists as Golden State returned home from its two-week road trip that ended with its lone defeat, 108-95 on Saturday at Milwaukee. That also ended a 28-game overall winning streak by the Warriors, second-longest in NBA history.

Draymond Green had 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his fourth triple-double this season, while Thompson hit 15-of-22 shots and 8-of-13 3-pointers in his first 40-point game this season.

Mirza Teletovic scored 24 points off the bench for the Suns, whose poor showing sent the sellout crowd to the exits midway through the fourth.

Thompson’s big quarter was reminiscent of his NBA-record, 37-point outburst in the third quarter of a career-high, 52-point performance on Jan. 23. He helped the Warriors turn the game into a rout with a remarkable 67-23 run, making 9 of 11 shots in the third and 4 of 6 3s.

Golden State’s 46-point third quarter is the largest in any quarter in the NBA this season. With the starters resting down the stretch, the Warriors just missed a new largest win ever against the Suns – Golden State had a 133-103 victory on March 18, 1975.

In the team’s first game at Oracle Arena in 18 days, Golden State warmed up with a big run stretching from the second quarter to the third. The Warriors used a 58-19 run over 14:01 to turn a 42-38 deficit with 5 minutes left in the first half into a 96-61 advantage.

Golden State won its eighth in a row at home against Phoenix, fifth straight overall and 13th in 16. The Suns sit in third place in the Pacific Division behind Golden State and the Clippers.

The Warriors now will get a shot at Milwaukee again when the Bucks visit Oracle Arena on Friday. The Warriors ran their regular-season home winning streak to 29 dating to Golden State winning its final 18 here last season.

REFLECTION

During Golden State’s long flight home from Wisconsin late Saturday, interim coach Luke Walton could finally take a breath and reflected on the remarkable start his team had before the Warriors’ unbeaten run ended.

“Obviously it doesn’t feel great to lose but it was a good time to reflect on what our guys had just done and what they accomplished,” Walton said.

Now, Walton and his staff will make sure the Warriors get some much-needed days off while continuing to work on areas that need attention.

They began a stretch with just five games in two weeks and all at home, which includes a highly anticipated Christmas Day home game and NBA Finals rematch with LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

“It’s a fine line because of what our schedule’s been like and our belief in resting players and keeping them fresh,” Walton said.

 

TIP-INS

Suns: Phoenix surrendered 15 3-pointers this time after giving up a Golden State franchise-best 22 from long range – and NBA-record 15 in the first half – in the first meeting with the Warriors on Nov. 27. … Brandon Knight with 17 points was the lone Suns starter in double figures.

Warriors: Green shares the NBA lead for triple-doubles with Sacramento’s Rajon Rondo. … Harrison Barnes missed his sixth straight game with a sprained left ankle. … Curry hit a 3-pointer in his 99th straight regular-season game and 49th consecutive at home. … Golden State is 11-0 at Oracle for its best home start since a franchise-best 12-0 to begin the 1975-76 season. … Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis and rapper Drake were among the celebrities in attendance.

 

Bulls’ Lonzo Ball “nowhere near playing,” could miss entire season

New Orleans Pelicans v Chicago Bulls
Michael Reaves/Getty Images
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“I’m trying to stay positive, keep my hopes up. I would love to play. I would never count that out.”

Lonzo Ball tried to put an optimistic face on his recovery from a second knee surgery, but he was realistic and put no timetable on a return.

Bulls coach Billy Donovan was more realistic, speaking Saturday before the Bulls took on the Magic. Via Julia Poe of the Chicago Tribune.

“He’s made some progress, but I’d be the first one to tell you he’s nowhere near playing,” Donovan said. “He’s just not. Because he’s not running on a consistent basis. When he can get to that place where he can do that consistently and be able to come back the next day and do it again, do it again and do it again — I think you’ll feel a little bit more optimistic.”

Could Ball be out for the entire season? Donovan again, via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago:

“My guess would be – there’s not been a specifically set date – my guess would be I think we get through the All-Star Break, I think there would probably be everybody sitting down to talk about length and time of the season, how realistic is it for him to get back, if he could get back what would the minutes look like, is it not worth having him back just because it’s too much?’’ Donovan said. “I think everything, at least in my conversations with medical about him, have always been geared towards helping him get back to playing. Certainly once you get out of the All-Star Break, with the amount of time that’s left, basically you’re at the end of February. You have all of March and not even two weeks in April, so you start to get to that point where I think there will be some conversations of, ‘OK, if he’s still not close to playing, what’s the plan moving forward?’”

Ball has undergone multiple knee surgeries. The first was in January 2022 and the expectation at the time was he would return for the playoffs, but his knee didn’t respond well during rehab. That led to a second knee surgery, and recovery from that is going slowly as well. It leaves the Bulls in a tough spot, they miss his defense and his being a floor general on offense as they have struggled to a 23-26 record this season that sees them sitting as the No. 11 seed in the East.

Pelicans Trey Murphy III reportedly invited to participate in Dunk Contest

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We knew three participants invited to the All-Star Saturday night Dunk Contest: G-League fan favorite Mac McClung, the Portland Trail Blazers Shaedon Sharpe and the Houston Rockets’ KJ Martin.

The fourth slot in that event will go to the Pelicans’ Trey Murphy, reports Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

No doubt Murphy can throw it down with the best of them.

The Dunk Contest will headline All-Star Saturday night, Feb. 18, from the Vivint Arena (soon to be the Delta Center again). The event will be broadcast on TNT.

The Dunk Contest is the Saturday night headline event, but it has fallen flat in recent years. Adding a G-League dunker and young, bouncy athletes such as Murphy, Martin and Sharpe could make this one entertaining. However, what fans really want to see — what made the Dunk Contest must-watch back in the day when Jordan, Kobe, and Vince Carter were doing it — is the stars. There will be no Ja Morant, no Zion Williamson, and no Anthony Edwards in this contest.

LeBron James NBA all-time scoring record tracker

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has held the NBA all-time scoring record at 38,387 points since he retired in 1989. It is one of the most iconic records in sports and one thought by many that would never be broken, but LeBron James is on the verge of breaking that scoring record and doing it at age 38. How many more points does LeBron need to take over the scoring record? When is it projected to happen? Let’s break down the latest numbers (this will be updated after every Lakers game until the record is set).

How many points does LeBron James need to set the scoring record?
117

Abdul-Jabbar career points: 38,387
LeBron career points: 38,271

Lakers’ upcoming schedule:

Jan. 30 at Nets
Jan. 31 at Knicks
Feb. 2 at Pacers
Feb. 4 at Pelicans
Feb. 7 vs. Thunder
Feb. 9 vs. Bucks

When is LeBron projected to set the all-time scoring record:

LeBron is averaging 30.2 points per game this season, at that pace he would set the record on Feb. 7 at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder (if he does sit out Monday against the Nets, as the team announced).

Since he turned 38 (on Dec. 30), LeBron has averaged 35.2 points per game, which would see the mark broken at home against the Thunder.

News and notes on LeBron’s quest for the record:

• The Lakers have officially listed LeBron (and Anthony Davis) as out for the game Monday night in Brooklyn. That is the first game of a back-to-back for the Lakers, and they have rested LeBron in half of those for most of the season. This will push back the date he breaks the record, making it likely it happens at Crypto.com Arena.

• LeBron scored 41 points — and felt he should have had a couple more — in the Lakers’ overtime loss to the Celtics Saturday on national television.

• Sixers Doc Rivers on what impresses him in LeBron’s run to this record: “LeBron has done it so differently to me [thank Kareem]. Because LeBron is not a natural scorer. LeBron is a playmaker. He got criticized early in his career for making the right decisions. And the fact that he’s now about to break the scoring record, it really points out his greatness.”

• LeBron scored 20 points in the Lakers’ win over the Spurs, a game in which Anthony Davis returned from injury and Rui Hachimura made his debut as a Laker after being traded from the Wizards.

• What has Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said about LeBron passing his record? There has been a bit of frostiness between the two men, but Abdul-Jabbar was gracious in comments to Marc Stein back in 2021 about the possibility of his record falling: “I’m excited to see it happen. I don’t see records as personal accomplishments, but more as human achievements. If one person can do something that’s never been done, that means we all have a shot at doing it. It’s a source of hope and inspiration. Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile back in 1954. Since then, not only have 1,400 runners beaten that time, but the new record is 17 seconds less. We all win when a record is broken and if LeBron breaks mine, I will be right there to cheer him on.”

Watch Harden run onto court from bench mid-play to defend

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It takes a second to notice, but the 76ers had just four players on the court trying to defend the Nuggets on a late third-quarter possession.

But when James Harden — sitting on the bench — notices it, he stands up and runs into play, drawing a technical.

The technical foul was for having four men on the court, not on Harden specifically.

While that may have been a rare instance of Harden rushing to play defense, the 76ers as a team cranked up their defense in the second half against the Nuggets and went on to get the home win behind 47 points from Joel Embiid.