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Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Mount Stephen Curry erupts in win

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Here’s what you need to know from a Monday night around the NBA:

1) Stephen Curry broke out of his slump with a volcanic eruption. Curry had been in a slump for more than a week. In his prior five games coming into Monday night, he was shooting 28.1 percent from three (9-of-32). In the first quarter against the Kings Monday night it continued, he was 0-of-4 from the floor overall and 0-of-3 from beyond the arc.

Then it happened. Mount Curry erupted in the second quarter — 17 points in a just over three-minute span at the end of the first half.

So much for that slump. And so much for the Kings, despite Omri Casspi having nine threes of his own on the night. Curry finished with a triple double — 23 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists — while Klay Thompson added 29 points and Draymond Green 25 and the Warriors won again 122-103. That would make them 29-1 on the season, for those of you scoring at home. If they want 72 wins it seems a more and more reasonable goal every day.

2) DeMarcus Cousins gets ejected after arguing foul call. He should get his checkbook out now. The Kings fell victim to one of the classic blunders — the most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia” — but only slightly less well-known is this: Never get into a shootout with the Golden State Warriors. George Karl wants the Kings to play fast, but once Curry got going (see above) things spiraled downward fast for Sacramento in the third.

Especially once DeMarcus Cousins got ejected for arguing a call.

This was a classic example of a Cousins’ ejection. That questionable call — Cousins does touch Curry but it seemed Ben McLemore commits the foul — was Cousins’ fifth foul of the night. He was frustrated. And when Cousins feels wronged he simply is incapable of letting it go, he needs to feel vindicated (and doesn’t channel that anger into his play). He lets his emotions get the better of him. And he does it without regard to his team — notice in that video the Kings were up two when Cousins got tossed. The Warriors went on a 15-0 run after Cousins was sent to the shower and that was the ballgame.

Cousins can expect a fine for this from the league.

Kings’ fans, if you want more in-depth breakdowns of what is going on in Sacramento I had CSNBayArea.com Kings’ insider James Ham on the PBT Podcast this week and we spent more than an hour talking all things Sacramento.

3) Kemba Walker shreds Lakers “defense” for 38 points. On the list of “most entertaining players in the NBA to watch” Kemba Walker doesn’t get mentioned enough. The man puts up points and puts on a show. Put him against the Lakers “defense” and you end up with him dropping 38 in a win.

4) Chris Paul for the Dunk Contest. The story for the Clippers Monday night should be that Paul Pierce moved into the starting lineup for the injured Blake Griffin and that lineup was +9 on the night and showed promise on both ends of the floor. Or, the story should be that the Clippers actually got good bench play for a night and that is why they beat the Wizards 108-91.

Instead, the story is that Chris Paul threw down his first two dunks of the season. The first came off some cherry picking, and he let the bench know he could do it.

With that Paul was feeling it, so he went for the dunk on a drive and got the And-1.

5) Bulls beat Raptors as parity reigns in the East. The Atlanta hawks had been hot, winners of six in a row, so they got upended by the Pacers Monday. Any team that starts to look like it could break out of the pack in the second tier of the East (it’s Cleveland then everyone else) gets knocked down a peg. Take the Raptors, who finally got healthy with DeMarre Carroll and Jonas Valanciunis back in the lineup, so… they get beat by the Bulls Monday, 104-97. The Bulls may have found a bench bigs pairing that works with Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis, and Chicago got a strong game from Tony Snell off the bench with 22. Pau Gasol also had 22. I’d say keep an eye on the Bulls to try to break out of the pack in the East, but the trend is they will come crashing back to earth soon. Everyone does.

Vanessa Bryant sues sheriff over Kobe Bryant helicopter-crash photos

Kobe Bryant crash site
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LOS ANGELES — Vanessa Bryant, the widow of basketball star Kobe Bryant, has filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County sheriff claiming deputies shared unauthorized photos of the crash that killed her husband, their 13-year-old daughter and seven others.

After the Jan. 26 crash, reports surfaced that graphic photos of the victims were being shared. Vanessa Bryant was “shocked and devastated” by the reports, the lawsuit states.

The suit seeks damages for negligence, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The victims died when the helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, northwest of Los Angeles, during cloudy weather. They were traveling to a youth basketball tournament at Bryant’s sports facility in Thousand Oaks. The National Transportation Safety Board has not concluded what caused the crash on the outskirts of Los Angeles County but said there was no sign of mechanical failure in the Sikorsky S-76. helicopter.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva previously told news media that eight deputies took or shared graphic photos of the scene and he ordered the images deleted. The sheriff said the department has a policy against taking and sharing crime scene photos, but it does not apply to accident scenes.

“That was my No. 1 priority, was to make sure those photos no longer exist,” Villanueva previously told NBC News. “We identified the deputies involved, they came to the station on their own and had admitted they had taken them and they had deleted them. And we’re content that those involved did that.”

Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit alleges the sheriff’s actions constituted a “cover-up” of the misconduct. The suit claims the photos could still exist.

“Mrs. Bryant feels ill at the thought of strangers gawking at images of her deceased husband and child and she lives in fear that she or her children will one day confront horrific images of their loved ones online,” the lawsuit states.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has not yet signed a bill that would make it a misdemeanor for first responders to take unauthorized photos of deceased people at the scene of an accident or crime. The legislation was prompted by the crash photos.

A statement from the sheriff’s department Tuesday incorrectly said such actions are now criminal. The bill has not yet been signed into law.

“Shortly following this tragic crash, Sheriff Villanueva sponsored legislation which now makes it a crime for public safety personnel to take and share non-official pictures of this nature,” the statement said. “Due to the pending litigation, we are unable to offer further comment.”

Vanessa Bryant’s attorney, Gary C. Robb, declined to comment.

The Los Angeles Times first reported the allegations that the graphic photos had been taken and disseminated in February.

Bryant previously filed a claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, in May. The suit was filed Thursday.

Separately, Vanessa Bryant has also filed a lawsuit alleging the helicopter’s pilot, Ara Zobayan, was careless and negligent to fly in the fog and should have aborted the flight.

The brother of the pilot has said in a court filing that Bryant knew the risks of helicopter flying and his survivors aren’t entitled to damages from the pilot’s estate, while the helicopter company, Island Express, says it is not responsible for damages, calling the crash, among other things, “an act of God” and “an unavoidable accident” that was beyond its control.

Chicago Bulls hire Billy Donovan as coach

Billy Donovan coaches Thunder-Bulls
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Billy Donovan left the Thunder despite them offering a new contract. Maybe it wasn’t as much money as he desired to coach a team that could be entering rebuilding. But active head coaches rarely turn down an NBA job unless they know they’ll land on their feet.

Donovan will land on his feet – with the Bulls.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN first broke the story, the Bulls confirmed it soon after.

“We are very pleased to welcome Billy and his family to the Chicago Bulls. The success that he has sustained over the course of his coaching career puts him on a different level,” Chicago head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said in a statement. “We feel his ability to help his players reach their potential, both individually and collectively, will mesh well with our roster. Whether as a player or as a coach, he has won everywhere his career has taken him, and we hope that will continue here in Chicago.”

This is a major credibility upgrade for Chicago, which fired Jim Boylen. Donovan is a solid NBA head coach who adapts to his players rather than putting them through extreme measures.

Considering they just hired Arturas Karnisovas as president, the Bulls might have the patience for a rebuild. Donovan will be tasked with overseeing the development of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Coby White, Wendell Carter Jr. and the No. 4 pick in the upcoming draft. Donovan’s time as a college coach at Florida shows he can help players progress.

But Chicago also frequently faces pressure, especially internally, to win sooner than later. Donovan inherits veterans like LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky. Donovan showed at Oklahoma City he could manage a team with immediate expectations.

Is this group’s long-term future inspiring? No. Is this group’s present inspiring? No.

But Donovan provides a little boost in both areas.

Celtics: Romeo Langford out rest of playoffs after wrist surgery

Celtics guard Romeo Langford
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The Celtics don’t have quite enough dependable players to fill a playoff rotation. So, beyond its core, Boston has juggled deep-bench minutes throughout the postseason.

One of those options – Romeo Langford – will no longer be available.

Celtics release:

Celtics guard Romeo Langford this morning underwent successful surgery to repair the scapholunate ligament in his right wrist. He will miss the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA season.

A rookie, Langford also suffered a right-hand injury last season at Indiana. A pattern? Probably not. But it’s another interruption in the 20-year-old’s development.

For Boston’s playoff hopes, this is a minor setback – one made even smaller by Gordon Hayward returning (and staying). Though more of a forward, Hayward clears the way for Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart to handle more guard minutes, a few of which could have gone to Langford.

Adam Silver: It’s on U.S. government whether American companies, like NBA, operate in China

NBA commissioner Adam Silver
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Politicians have repeatedly criticized the NBA for its involvement in China.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver is defending his league.

Sopan Deb of The New York Times:

Senators have power to affect the United State’s foreign policy, including where American companies are permitted to operate. The NBA shouldn’t face unique scrutiny for acting like a business, seeking to maximize profit, within legal parameters.

Silver is generally right: There is value in exposing American values to countries with authoritarian regimes. Basketball can be a good vehicle for doing so. Those connections can inspire change for the better.

But the league has repeatedly failed to uphold American values it espouses in its dealings in China. That warrants criticism and leaves Silver’s response quite lacking.