Stephen Curry scores 25 as Warriors breeze past Bulls 125-94

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CHICAGO (AP) — Stephen Curry glanced at the “72” banner hanging from the rafters during the morning shootaround. A number that for two decades seemed unattainable just might be in reach for the Warriors if they keep playing this way.

Curry scored 25 points, and Golden State made it look easy again, beating the Chicago Bulls 125-94 on Wednesday night.

Curry tied a season high with 11 of his team’s 38 assists and grabbed seven rebounds.

Klay Thompson added 20 points. Harrison Barnes scored 19, and the defending champions simply outclassed Chicago after embarrassing LeBron James and the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Monday night.

That’s two straight dominant wins over two of the Eastern Conference’s top teams after losing at Detroit and dropping two of three.

“Good teams bounce back quick and we were able to do that,” Curry said. “It says a lot about our resiliency.”

The Warriors are more than just a good team. They’re a team that set a league record with a 24-0 start. And they’re a team that could challenge the single-season mark of 72 wins set by the 1995-96 Bulls.

“I feel like we kind of have that chip back on our shoulders,” Draymond Green said. “It kind of fell off a little bit.”

The Warriors built a big lead in the first quarter and never were threatened after that, improving their league-best road record to 20-4.

Derrick Rose scored 29, and Jimmy Butler added 23 points after a slow start for Chicago. Pau Gasol was a nonfactor with one point and the Bulls missed 19 of 20 3-pointers on the way to their fifth loss in seven games.

“It’s embarrassing,” Rose said. “We stopped communicating while we were out there. You could easily tell there was no communication on both sides of the ball. The only thing we can do from it is learn.”

STRONG START

Two nights after they pounded Cleveland in the arena where they captured the championship last spring, the Warriors wasted little time seizing control in this one.

Playing in the shadows of that “72” banner, they continued their assault on the mark.

Golden State was trailing by one midway through the first quarter when a cutting Curry converted a three-point play. Rose, who committed the foul, got subbed out after a strong start. And in a flash, the Warriors broke this one open.

They were up 34-18 going into the second and led by as many as 21 before heading to the locker room with a 63-44 cushion.

Curry had 15 points and seven assists in the half. Barnes scored 11 and the Warriors simply put on a clinic in ball movement that led to 30 points in the paint.

Rose scored 21 for Chicago, but the rest of the team combined for just 23 points in the half. The numbers barely describe how one-sided this was.

There were comical moments like when Chicago’s E'Twaun Moore crashed to the floor in the first quarter trying to defend a crossover by Curry, who buried a 19-foot jumper. There was a neat pass from Shaun Livingston to Leandro Barbosa for a reverse layup that made it 41-20 early in the second. There was also a somewhat scary moment when the Bulls’ Aaron Brooks tripped Rose, sending him into Curry as they raced out to defend a 3-point attempt from the corner with 4:28 left in the half.

HONORING BACH

The Bulls held a moment of silence before the game for longtime NBA and college coach John Bach, who died this week at age 91.

The funeral was Wednesday, and Hoiberg and his staff attended as well as Golden State coach Steve Kerr and assistant Ron Adams.

Bach’s defensive expertise as an assistant to Phil Jackson helped the Bulls win three NBA titles from 1991 to 1993. He was the head coach of the Golden State Warriors from 1983-86 before joining the Bulls as an assistant.

TIP-INS

Warriors: Green said he was fine after taking a shot to the face from Chicago’s Taj Gibson early in the third quarter. He returned to the game in the fourth

Bulls: Coach Fred Hoiberg said C Joakim Noah is “in great spirits” after having what could be season-ending surgery to repair his dislocated left shoulder on Tuesday. He said Noah hopes to rejoin the team this weekend, although he is not sure when and where he will rehab.

 

Steven Adams inks two-year, $25.2 million extension with Grizzlies

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Steven Adams signed a two-year, $25.2 million contract extension with Memphis, which will keep him tied to the team through the 2024-25 season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojanrowski broke the news on Saturday.

Adams has been crucial to the Grizzlies’ recent success. He’s coming off his first season with the team, where he averaged career-highs in rebounds (10.0) and assists (3.4). He also helped them lock up the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference and make it to the Conference Semifinals, where they lost to the eventual-champion Warriors 4-2. Despite the improved numbers, a lot of his value is from intangibles that don’t show up in the box score.

Adams spent the first seven years of his career with the Thunder before being traded to New Orleans in the four-team deal that sent Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee. Adams was moved again to Memphis in a package for Jonas Valanciunas.

Adams has found a new home with a young Grizzlies team that is looking to win a championship. The team is built around Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane, but Jackson Jr. is expected to miss time after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot. Memphis will rely on Adams more than ever to begin the season.

Watch Curry, Klay in 3-point shooting contest in Japan. Yeah, they’re good at this.

NBA Japan Games Saturday Night
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The NBA went to Japan to promote the brand, play a few games in a huge market — Japan specifically but Asia as a whole — and put on a show.

Is there a better show than Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson draining 3s? Here they are in a 3-point contest during a basketball exhibition (there were some pro dunkers) in Tokyo on Saturday.

Stephen Curry, was there any other possible outcome?

It’s preseason and they are the defending champs — they should be having fun, playing with some joy.

Thompson took part in the shooting contest but is not playing in either of the exhibition games in Japan as the Warriors ease him back into play this season. It’s a marathon of a season and the Warriors need the best version of Klay starting in April, not October.

Report: Pelicans, Nance agree to two-year, $21.6 million extension

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Larry Nance has been a stabilizing influence in New Orleans since coming over mid-season as part of the trade for CJ McCollum. Nance is a versatile player who can play the four or the five, knocks down his threes, is very strong on the glass, can be a disruptive defender in passing lanes, and fits in — and he has the veteran attitude of work this team needs.

So the Pelicans have reached an extension to keep the 29-year-old around for two years past this coming season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a signing that should make Pelicans fans happy. Importantly, it makes CJ McCollum happy — they are tight and this is something McCollum wanted to see. The money on this deal seems fair, about the league average for a solid rotation player.

Nance is the kind of veteran this team needs considering its young core of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram (just turned 25), Herb Jones, and guys like Trey Murphy III, Jose Alvarado, and others. Nance compared it to the young Lakers teams he was on, but noted that team lacked the same level of veteran leadership this Pelicans team has.

We may see more Nance at the five lineups — small ball with Zion at the four — to close games this season in New Orleans, that could be their best lineup because Nance can defend but also spaces the floor for Zion on offense. Coach Willie Green has a lot of different players and matchups to experiment with.

And now he has the stability of Nance for a few more years.

Durant tired of talking Nets dramatic offseason: ‘I didn’t miss any games’

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No team had an offseason quite like the Brooklyn Nets. First, they would not give a long-term extension to Kyrie Irving, which sent the star guard looking for a new team (but there were no offers that worked for everyone, so he opted in with Brooklyn). Then Kevin Durant asked for a trade, and to gain a little leverage reportedly threw down an ultimatum of him or the coach and GM. No trade could be found — how much the Nets wanted one is up for debate — so he is back in Brooklyn. And all that is not even getting into the return of Ben Simmons, a trade for Royce O’Neal, or anything else.

The Nets drama and how they move past it has been the talk of training camp. The only talk at training camp, it feels like.

When asked Friday if there were any inaccuracies in the reporting of the Nets summer he would like to clear up, Durant sounded weary of rehashing the summer.

The only thing that will start to move the conversation in a new direction is the Nets playing and winning games (they open the preseason Monday against the 76ers). And even those wins will have the shadow of the offseason cast over them. Durant and Irving made this bed.

Part of the fascination is the Nets remain the team hardest to predict in the league. They arguably have the most talented roster in the league and, if everything comes together just right, they can contend for a title. It’s also possible the wheels fall off early and by Christmas the Nets are looking to trade Durant again. Both things feel possible (even if reality most likely lands somewhere in the middle).

That uncertainty about the Nets’ future is the drama that will keep eyeballs on them — which also means more questions about this past offseason. Durant can choose not to answer them, but the questions aren’t going away.