Thompson scores 38 points, Warriors beat Rockets 114-110

5 Comments

HOUSTON (AP) Soon after Draymond Green posted his NBA-leading fifth triple-double he was asked whether Stephen Curry should worry that he was trying to steal his job as point guard while the NBA MVP is out with a leg injury.

“I don’t think Steph Curry got to worry about too much of nothing,” Green said, laughing.

Klay Thompson scored 38 points, Green had a career-high 16 assists and added 10 points and 11 rebounds and the Golden State Warriors overcame Curry’s absence to beat the Houston Rockets 114-110 on Thursday night.

“I just tried to step up and make plays,” Green said. “One thing we talked about was kind of trying to slow the pace of the game down and executing our offense.”

Golden State was blown out by Dallas on Wednesday night for just its second loss of the season when Curry missed his first game since March 13 because of a sore left lower leg. But the Warriors were able to outlast the Rockets thanks to the big night by Thompson, who made six 3s.

“Last night was embarrassing,” Thompson said. “We had every excuse in the world, but we didn’t want to come away 0-2 so we figured out this would be a much bigger statement win if we responded like we did and won with playing 10 guys.”

Houston cut it to three with a jump shot by James Harden with about 5 minutes left before Golden State scored the next six points, highlighted by an alley-oop dunk from Andre Iguodala to Bogut, to make it 111-102.

Harden had 30 points for the Rockets. They have dropped seven straight regular-season games to the Warriors.

Shaun Livingston made his second start of the season in place of Curry, who was injured Monday night against Sacramento, and finished with 13 points. Interim coach Luke Walton said Curry was feeling better Thursday, but that he was not ready to play.

The Warriors led by eight entering the fourth quarter and had scored four straight points to extend their lead to 99-87 with about 9 minutes remaining. Houston used a 13-5 run after that to cut the lead to 104-100 with about 6 minutes left.

Houston led by three points with about 3 minutes left in the third quarter when Golden State scored 10 straight points to take a 88-80 lead with less than a minute left in the quarter. Thompson scored five points in that span and Iguodala added a 3-pointer before James Michael McAdoo capped it with a dunk following a turnover by Ty Lawson.

“We’re just inconsistent,” Harden said. “We played a pretty good game up until the end of the third quarter when they went on that run. Just giving up small buckets like that to a really good team (is) something you couldn’t really do.”

TIP-INS

Warriors: C Festus Ezeli (toe) missed his second straight game. … G Leandro Barbosa (left shoulder sprain) and F Harrison Barnes (sprained left ankle) were not with the team. … McAdoo got a cut over his right eye when he was hit by Howard on a dunk attempt in the first half. He received three stitches to close the gash. … Iguodala had 20 points.

Rockets: Harden received a flagrant 1 foul when he elbowed Bogut in the neck area on a charge in the first quarter. … Former Rockets stars Dikembe Mutombo and Tracy McGrady watched the game from courtside seats. … Howard blocked a shot by Livingston into the stands in the first quarter and shook his finger like Mutombo used to when he blocked shots, but the Hall of Famer hadn’t yet arrived. … Howard had 21 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks.

WALTON’S FUTURE

Coach Steve Kerr, who has missed all season because of complications from back surgery, made the trip to test how his back would feel with the long travel. The Warriors haven’t issued a timetable for Kerr’s return, but some believe he could be back soon and that Thursday’s game could be Walton’s last as interim coach.

Thompson doesn’t know when Kerr will return but is sure that whenever that is, it certainly won’t be the last time Walton will be in charge of a team.

“It won’t be his last game as a head coach,” Thompson said. “He’s got a great future in this league and his record (shows) that. He’s a lot of fun to play for, he keeps it light around here but you also respect him and him knowledge. There’s a reason we’re 30-2 under him.”

Walton didn’t want to talk too much about the future but did reflect a bit on the season so far.

“It’s been an incredible experience and it’s been a lot of fun,” he said.

 

LeBron James rips AAU workload, “AAU coaches couldn’t give a damn about a kid”

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Last week, during the pointless debate about Kawhi Leonard missing a game for load management, the most salient point came from former Suns coach Earl Watson.

He echoed a must-read story (from Baxter Holmes at ESPN) that reverberated around the NBA this summer (but for many fans got lost in the shuffle of player movement): How NBA team medical staffs — as well as just doctors working on young athletes — were noticing the extreme wear and tear on the body of AAU basketball players. The volume of games, often without enough training and conditioning to properly strengthen their young bodies or let them recover, sets young players up for injuries later in their playing career. NBA teams and doctors, with their load management techniques, are trying to make up for damage that started long before.

LeBron James, with two sons playing AAU ball right now, is in full agreement.

LeBron ripped the volume of games played in the youth basketball culture, speaking to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

“These kids are going into the league already banged up, and I think parents and coaches need to know [that] … well, AAU coaches don’t give a f***,” James told Yahoo Sports. “AAU coaches couldn’t give a damn about a kid and what his body is going through…

“I think [AAU] has something to do with it, for sure,” James told Yahoo Sports. “It was a few tournaments where my kids — Bronny and Bryce — had five games in one day and that’s just f- – -ing out of control. That’s just too much… So, I’m very conscious for my own son because that’s all I can control, and if my son says he’s sore or he’s tired, he’s not playing.

“Because a lot of these tournaments don’t have the best interest of these kids, man. I see it. It’s like one time, they had to play a quarterfinal game, a semifinal game and a championship game starting at 9 a.m., and the championship game was at 12:30 p.m. Three games. I was like, ‘Oh, hell no.’ And my kids were dead tired. My kids were dead tired. This isn’t right. This is an issue.”

It is an issue. A big issue. The NBA can talk about reducing the number of games — they are, and they should, the season is too long, but cutting the number of games becomes a complex financial issue — but it goes beyond just the NBA level.

There needs to be fundamental changes in youth basketball in the NBA, down to the AAU level. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has talked about this.

“So, where historically it’s been an area, particularly AAU basketball, that the league has stayed out of, I think these most recent revelations (from the NCAA scandal) are just a reminder that we’re part of this larger basketball community. I think ultimately, whether we like it or not, need to be more directly involved with elite youth basketball,” Silver said a couple of years ago. Since then, the league has taken steps in that direction.

However, like shortening the NBA season, there are a lot of competing interests in a complicated situation. A lot of people are making money the way things are now and don’t want them to change.

For the health of players, it needs to.

 

Bucks All-Star Khris Middleton to miss 3-4 weeks with thigh contusion

Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Khris Middleton, coming off a summer with Team USA, has quietly continued his All-Star level play this season — an efficient 18.5 points per game, shooting 39.3 percent from three but also finishing well at the rim, and the Bucks offense is 3.3 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court.

However, he’s not going to be on the court for a few weeks due to a deep thigh bruise, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

In the third quarter of the Bucks win over the Thunder Sunday, Middleton suffered the thigh bruise, which sent him to the locker room. While he returned to the bench, he did not return to the game. Afterward, in the locker room, Middleton didn’t seem to think it was that serious.

It turned out to be a little more than that, it has to be a deep bruise to have him out for up to a month.

Kyle Korver would be next in line to get those minutes, but he sat out Sunday with a “head contusion.” Behind him look for smaller lineups with Pat Connaughton, Donte DiVincenzo, Sterling Brown, and Wesley Matthews to get more minutes, plus maybe a little Thanasis Antetokounmpo.

After 0-6 start, Raptors coach Nick Nurse celebrates successful challenge like he won a championship (video)

2 Comments

After the Raptors won the 2019 NBA title, Toronto coach Nick Nurse hugged Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and Masai Ujiri.

Some of the hug recipients changed, but Nurse’s celebration didn’t look that different last night.

Nurse missed his first six coach’s challenges then finally got one right during the Raptors’ win over the Lakers. He responded by hugging everyone – including a Los Angeles fan – around him.

This was a long time coming. Even after a couple early failed challenges, Nurse sounded exasperated.

Michael Grange of Sportsnet:

Maybe Clippers coach Doc Rivers, a noted challenge critic, will eventually experience this euphoria.

Report: Gordon Hayward to have surgery on left hand

Omar Rawlings/Getty Images
Leave a comment

How good would Gordon Hayward be if he could just stay healthy?

Hopefully we will find out someday, but probably not for the next couple of months after his agent told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that Hayward will have surgery on his non-shooting hand to repair a broken bone.

There will be no official timeline for recovery until after the surgery, but after going under the knife Hayward is likely out at least six weeks. Stephen Curry is out three months after surgery on his non-shooting hand (that is a different injury, but it shows how long the timeline can be).

The play where the injury happened was innocuous.

Even so, it has left Boston with some big questions to answer through New Year’s Eve, or whenever Hayward returns. Hayward was having a bounce-back year, averaging 18.9 points per game, shooting 43.3 percent from three, pulling down 7.1 rebounds and dishing out 4.1 assists per game. He’s been a critical playmaker for the Celtics.

For Boston, this likely means a lot more Marcus Smart, Semi Ojeleye, and maybe Javonte Green.