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.

 

LeBon James takes over, leads Lakers to NBA Finals with win

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The Denver Nuggets had come back from 3-1 down twice in these playoffs.

The Denver Nuggets had never run into LeBron James.

LeBron dominated this close-out game. He scored 16 points in the fourth quarter. He put up a triple-double of 38 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists. Defensively he shut down Jamal Murray (who was slowed due to a bruise on his foot) and made smart plays.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever witnessed a guy take over a game the way he did in the fourth quarter tonight, in person,” Lakers’ coach Frank Vogel said of LeBron.

LeBron did what the Jazz and Clippers had failed to do — he and the Los Angeles Lakers closed out the Nuggets in five games with a 117-107 win.

“He’s had a chip on his shoulder all year long,” Vogel said about LeBron. “Everybody has doubters. To be in the Eastern Conference and get there as much as he had and to come over to the Western Conference, it’s an enormous accomplishment to [reach the Finals] with a third team.”

The Lakers advance to the NBA Finals, which will begin Wednesday (if Miami closes the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday) or Friday (if there is a Game 7 in the East).

LeBron James made history with the win, becoming the third player in NBA history to make it to 10 NBA Finals, joining Sam Jones (11) and Bill Russell (12) of the 1950s-60s Boston Celtics.

The Lakers pulled ahead in the first half of Game 5 because of Nikola Jokic‘s foul trouble — he played just eight minutes in the first half because of it. The Nuggets were +3 in those eight minutes and -13 in the other minutes of the first half, which had Dever down 10 at the break.

The Nuggets fought back in the third quarter, in part thanks to a monster game from Jeremi Grant who had 20 points on the night (tied with Jokic for a team high). Despite a hobbling Murray, the Nuggets did what they had done all playoffs long and refused to fold.

“What more could you ask from a group?” Denver coach Michael Malone said after the loss. “What more commitment, sacrifice, just everything in the last 82 days that our team has gone through. The history that we’ve made. The adversity that we faced and never ran from, embraced it… I couldn’t be more proud.”

Anthony Davis had 27 points for L.A. The Lakers also had role players stepping up. Alex Caruso had 11 points and was 5-of-7 from the floor. Danny Green also scored 11.

However, in the end, it was LeBron James looking like the best player on the planet.

Now he is headed to the Finals with the chance to make history and win a title with three different teams.

 

Lakers’ Anthony Davis ‘good to go’ for Game 5 despite sprained ankle

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This was expected, but when the Lakers officially listed Anthony Davis as questionable for Game 5 with a sprained ankle, it raised a few eyebrows.

Davis will play in Game 5 Saturday night, coach Frank Vogel said pregame.

Anthony Davis sprained his ankle in the fourth quarter of Game 4, and while he stayed in the game there were questions about how it would respond the next day.

The Lakers are up 3-1 on a Denver team they know will not be easy to close out.

To do that, Los Angeles needs Davis: When AD has been on the court in the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers have outscored the Nuggets by 9.4 points per 100 possessions, but when he sits, the Lakers are -21.3 (stats via NBA.com).

The Lakers want to close out in five games to get some added rest. The NBA Finals are expected to start next Wednesday, Sept. 30 (unless one conference finals series goes seven games, then it is likely Friday, Oct. 2). If the Lakers lose Saturday but win Game 6 Monday it would be a short turnaround (as it would be after a Game 7).

Denver, however, has played its best basketball whenever it has faced the prospect of packing its bags and going home.

New York congressman insults Knicks, James Dolan funds opponent

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Things are changing with the Knicks. Leon Rose is in the front office, Tom Thibodeau is the coach, and together they are talking about developing players and having a plan moving forward. It’s a reason for hope…

Then there’s James Dolan.

Max Rose, a Democratic congressman from Staten Island, echoed the voice for a lot of Knicks fans when he said: “I’m a Knicks fan to the day I die, but Dolan’s gotta sell. Right now, this is an absolute disgrace.”

We have seen how Dolan reacts to fans saying he should sell the team. In the case of Rose, he is fundraising for the Republican running against him. It would be easy to say “Dolan is a big President Donald Trump supporter and donates to GOP causes all the time” and this isn’t personal, except Dolan sent out an email to help raise funds for Republican candidate Nicole Malliotakis and the New York Post got a hold of it.

“Max Rose thinks he can make our team and my ownership his political platform,” Dolan wrote in a personal email to friends last week that was obtained by The Post. “I need to let him know that we will not stand for this. The best way to do this is to help his opponent. He is in a tight race for the US Congress in Staten Island. … Please join me in helping Nicole defeat Max Rose for Congress.

“It will help send a strong message to all NY politicians that the Knicks will not be their political ticket to reelection.

That’s personal. Dolan isn’t just asking other people to donate.

A $50,000 check from MSG Sports was cut Tuesday to “The Governing Majority Fund,” a PAC run by former Reps. John Faso and Jeff Denham, Dolan confirmed. The PAC’s mission is to help Republicans take back the House.

Rose represents New York’s 11th District, a solid Republican district until the 2018 midterms when it became one of 30 districts nationally that flipped blue. The GOP is trying to turn a number of those back, including Rose’s district.

Whatever you think of Rose’s politics (he’s a former Army Ranger, which helped him in a more conservative district), what he said about wanting Dolan to sell the franchise is what many Knicks fans are thinking. Dolan just doesn’t like to hear it. Maybe Rose and Thibodeau can turn the Knicks around — they certainly deserve a chance — but the team has struggled since Dolan became the owner and that’s not a coincidence.

Whatever Rose and Knicks fans want, it’s also highly unlikely Dolan sells the team, there are no rumblings about that around the league (and he certainly has had chances).

Former Pelicans GM Dell Demps shifts to become Jazz assistant coach

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While teams have moved away from anyone in a dual coach/GM role, some people bounce between coach and the front office around the NBA: Steve Kerr was once the Suns’ GM before being the Warriors coach; Sean Marks was on the bench in San Antonio before moving to their front office and eventually the head guy in Brooklyn.

Now Dell Demps is making that move. The former general manager for the New Orleans Pelicans, who was let go a year ago, will be an assistant coach on Quin Synder’s staff in Utah. Demps was the GM of the Spurs G-League team years back and hired Snyder to coach it.

“I was fortunate to work with Dell to begin my career as a head coach in professional basketball and I know he will delve into his role on the bench,” Snyder said in a statement. “He has an incredible work ethic and commitment to his craft. His vast experience both as a player and in front office roles brings a unique perspective that will be invaluable to our team. We’re excited to welcome him to the Jazz.”

“I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with Coach Snyder again,” Demps said. “I have always had tremendous respect for Quin and the Jazz organization. I look forward to joining this talented coaching staff and working with our players. My wife Anita and I couldn’t be more excited to make the move to Utah and become a part of a tremendous community.”

Demps was not the only hire by Snyder, who is also bringing former NBA player Keyon Dooling. He played for 13 years in the league and then has worked with the National Basketball Players Association in various roles — most recently as a wellness counselor and mental health advocate — in recent years. Dooling played for two years at Missouri in college, a team coached by Snyder.

“Keyon is a fantastic addition for us on multiple levels and someone I’ve always had tremendous respect for since our time at Missouri where we formed a close bond that has continued throughout the years,” said Snyder. “He’s a natural leader who was a captain on multiple teams in the league and I have no doubt that the way he approached the game as a player will translate to the work he puts in with our roster on the court.”