Curry’s triple-double leads Warriors to win in Kerr’s return

3 Comments

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Stephen Curry banked in a shot from midcourt with a hand in his face at the halftime buzzer after his three-quarter court swish at the end of the first was just late and he finished with 39 points and a triple-double, helping coach Steve Kerr win his season debut in the Golden State Warriors’ 122-110 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.

Kerr returned from a leave of absence dating to Oct. 1 for complications following two back surgeries, and defending champion Golden State delivered for him by winning its 38th straight home game at Oracle Arena to match the 1985-86 Celtics for third-longest home winning streak all-time. The Warriors are 20-0 at home this season.

Curry added 12 assists and 10 rebounds for his second triple-double of the season and seventh of his career. The reigning MVP shimmied after his half-court shot and pounded his chest following his 201st 3-pointer at the 6:26 mark of the third quarter.

Golden State has 10 triple-doubles this season – Draymond Green has the other eight – to match the franchise record also done in 1959-60. Curry has 30 or more points in six of his last eight games, while Green added 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Curry also became the first player in NBA history to make 200 3-pointers in four straight seasons. The only player with more than four seasons with at least 200 3s is Ray Allen with five.

An emotional Kerr waved and said, “Thank you” when he received a rousing ovation during pregame introductions. He led the Warriors to a franchise-best 67 wins and their first championship in 40 years last season as a first-year coach. Interim coach Luke Walton guided Golden State to an NBA-record 24-0 start and 39-4 record, and now goes back to his job as top assistant.

Monta Ellis led the Pacers with 18 points in his return to Oracle to face his former team. Myles Turner, who had averaged 20 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks over his previous two games, scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

Golden State made 10 of its first 14 shots, four of those by Green and two 3-pointers by Curry to go ahead 25-8 on the way to a season sweep of the Pacers. The Warriors put up a 79-point first half – most in a first half in the NBA this season – on the way to a 131-123 road win at Indiana on Dec. 8.

KERR’S RETURN

Kerr couldn’t wait to get back out there. He had “butterflies.”

“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time … I really missed the routine,” Kerr said. “It feels like the first game of the season, which it is for me. Fortunately our team’s in a pretty good groove and hopefully we can keep going.”

Cameras closed in on Kerr when he walked in before the game, then he waved to the fans and a delayed ovation ensued as they realized what was happening – then Kerr waved again during his introduction just before tipoff and said, “Thank you.”

“He’s a good friend, and it signals the fact that he’s feeling much better, health-wise,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “And that’s wonderful.”

GEORGE ALL-STAR STARTER

Pacers coach Frank Vogel made a point to congratulate Paul George on being named an All-Star starter for the Eastern Conference in the Feb. 14 game at Toronto.

It’s been a long road back from that devastating right leg injury suffered with the U.S. national team on Aug. 2, 2014.

“So proud of him. I talked to him this afternoon,” Vogel said. “You see that (injury) happen and you don’t know if you’re ever going to play the game again, or walk the same again. To come as far back as to get in some games last year and just return to the court was a huge accomplishment in my mind.”

TIP-INS

Pacers: Ellis played his initial 6 1/2 seasons for the Warriors from 2005-12, then was traded to Milwaukee in the deal that brought Andrew Bogut to Golden State in March 2012. … The Pacers were outrebounded 50-44.

Warriors: The two home winning streaks longer than Golden State’s current unbeaten run: Bulls’ 44 from March 30, 1995-April 4, 1996, and 40 by the Orlando Magic (March 21, `95-March 19, `96). The Warriors haven’t lost at Oracle since a 113-111 overtime defeat to Chicago last Jan. 27. … Golden State won its first season series against the Pacers since going 2-0 in 2000-01. … Kerr plans to keep some plays installed by Walton, saying, “Tough act to follow.” … Bogut had three blocks in back-to-back games for the fourth time this season.

UP NEXT

Pacers: At Sacramento on Saturday.

Warriors: Host San Antonio on Monday.

Tyler Herro carries Heat over Celtics in Game 4, within one game of NBA Finals

Tyler Herro after Heat-Celtics Game 4
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

If the Celtics targeted Tyler Herro in the 2019 NBA Draft, they have more reason than ever to lament their near miss.

Herro scored 37 points to lead the Heat to a 112-109 win over the Celtics in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday. The 21-year-old rookie put Miami up 3-1 and himself in the record book.

The only other player so young to score so much in a playoff game? Magic Johnson, who had 42 points in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals at age 20.

The Heat will look to reach the NBA Finals in Game 5 Friday. Teams leading a best-of-seven series 3-1 have won 95% of the time.

Miami’s big concern: Bam Adebayo, who hurt his wrist late in the game. Adebayo (20 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two steals) played through the injury but appeared to be feeling it.

He and the Heat just kept grinding through everything, though.

Miami won despite shooting only 10-for-37 on 3-pointers (27%). Forget about make-or-miss league. The Heat willed themselves to victory with aggravating defense, hustle, rebounding… and, yes, big-time shot-making by Herro, who made 9-of-11 2-pointers and 5-of-10 3-pointers

The Celtics committed 19 turnovers – some forced by Miami, some self-inflicted. The Heat’s zone defense continues to make Boston uncomfortable, though Marcus Smart (10 points and 11 assists) found some success penetrating and kicking against it. Jaylen Brown (21 points and nine rebounds) knocked down some of those created looks.

After a scoreless first half, Jayson Tatum scored 28 points in the second half. Stephen Curry scored 33 second-half points after a scoreless first half in Game 6 against the Rockets last year. That’s the only time someone followed a scoreless first half with so many second-half points in the Basketball-Reference postseason database, which dates back to 1997.

But those successes weren’t sustained. Tatum (six), Smart (four) and Brown (four) all had too many turnovers.

This series is even by points scored. But Boston has been just a little too erratic, which is why Miami has the key 3-1 lead.

Report: 76ers open to trading if they hire Mike D’Antoni

76ers forward Al Horford and Tobias Harris
Madison Quisenberry/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The 76ers said they wouldn’t trade Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons.

Which makes it confounding they reportedly want to hire Mike D’Antoni as coach.

D’Antoni has typically succeeded with teams that can play small to spread the floor and pressure opponents through speed… and struggled otherwise. Post-based Embiid and non-shooting Simmons don’t fit D’Antoni’s demonstrated style.

Maybe Philadelphia’s roster could change.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Keith Smith:

The 76ers could trade Al Horford and Tobias Harris to reduce their glut of bigs. But Horford was already on the block (good luck convincing anyone to take his contract), and Harris is also expensive. For what it’s worth, Harris could thrive as a small-ball power forward in D’Antoni’s system, but Harris is often pigeonholed as a small forward on this roster.

The Embiid-Simmons pairing is a fundamental issue, though. Whatever Philadelphia does with Horford and Harris, Embiid and Simmons just haven’t played like they’d fit well together under D’Antoni.

If the 76ers remain insistent on not trading Embiid or Simmons, there are only so many roster moves that can be done to help D’Antoni.

Adding further complications, Philadelphia might be seeking a new lead executive. That could explain why Tyronn Lue has also gotten so strongly linked to this job. It’s not even clear who’ll oversee the coach and roster, let alone what plan that person will have.

So, yes, it’s meaningful if the 76ers are advancing trade talks with other teams to make their roster fit D’Antoni. But there are still plenty of questions about what will actually happen in Philadelphia.

For NBA players, Breonna Taylor grand jury decision ‘not enough’

Grizzlies forward Anthony Tolliver wears Breonna Taylor shirt
Ryan Stetz/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — LeBron James sent the word to the Los Angeles Lakers in a group text on Wednesday afternoon, and basketball suddenly seemed irrelevant.

A grand jury in Kentucky had finally spoken. And James was letting his team know that NBA players, who have spent months seeking justice for Breonna Taylor, did not get what they wanted.

“Something was done,” Lakers guard Danny Green said, “but it wasn’t enough.”

Wednesday’s decision by the grand jury, which brought no charges against Louisville police for Taylor’s killing and only three counts of wanton endangerment against fired Officer Brett Hankison for shooting into Taylor’s neighbors’ homes, was not unexpected by many NBA players and coaches. They had a sense it wasn’t going to go how they hoped.

“I know we’ve been using our platform down here to try to bring about education and a voice in a lot of players on our team, especially also spoken out on justice for Breonna Taylor,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “We have not gotten that justice.”

Teams came to Walt Disney World to finish the season and crown a champion, and hoping that the platform of the NBA’s restart bubble could help amplify calls for change. Players and coaches have used the NBA spotlight to make statements at a time when the demand for racial equality and an end to police brutality is resonating as loudly as it has in generations.

And Taylor’s story – the tale of a 26-year-old Black woman who was killed March 13 by police in Louisville when they burst into her apartment on a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation centered around a suspect who did not live there – has captivated NBA players. Many have met, virtually, with members of her family to offer support. They say her name in news conferences, wear it on shirts, scrawl it onto their sneakers.

“We have moms. We have sisters, nieces, aunties. And just like men of color have experienced traumatic instances, so have women,” Boston forward Jaylen Brown said. “That is an example of some things that happen to women in our country. So, we wanted to stand alongside them, but also make it that it’s not just us. I think the future is female, so it’s important to show our sisters that we care. That’s why it’s been important.”

Even for teams not in the bubble, it mattered. Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce leads a committee of NBA coaches tasked with finding new ways to use their own platform to create change, and he’s encouraged his own players – Black and white alike – to speak out and take action, whether in Atlanta or their own community.

Pierce took Wednesday’s news hard.

“Yeah, there was a grand jury and yeah, they went through the information and yeah, they have facts to support whatever the claims may be,” Pierce said. “But that doesn’t provide any justice for those that are on the outside, those that feel like the police and law enforcement are there to protect them. … What currently is happening isn’t good enough.”

Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell:

Clippers big Montrezl Harrell:

National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts went a step further. “Sadly, there was no justice today for Breonna Taylor,” Roberts said. “Her killing was the result of a string of callous and careless decisions made with a lack of regard for humanity, ultimately resulting in the death of an innocent and beautiful woman with her entire life ahead of her.”

The league shut down for three days last month when a boycott that was started by the Milwaukee Bucks – in response to the shooting by police of a Black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin – nearly caused players to end the season because they felt their pleas for change were not being taken seriously enough.

And Wednesday’s news was another disappointment for them.

“We feel like we’ve taken a step back, that we haven’t made the progress we were seeking,” Green said. “Our voices aren’t being heard loud enough. But we’re not going to stop. We’re going to continue. We’re going to continue fighting, we’re going to continue to push, we’re going to continue to use our voices.”

Report: Celtics were ‘very much enamored’ with Tyler Herro, whom Heat took one pick before Boston

Heat guard Tyler Herro vs. Celtics
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Celtics – holding the Kings’ first-round pick – lost a tiebreaker with the Hornets and Heat in last year’s draft. Charlotte picked No. 12, Miami No. 13 and Boston No. 14.

The Heat took Tyler Herro No. 13.

A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston:

On NBA draft night last year there was a collective moan among the Boston Celtics brass right about the time the Miami Heat used the No. 13 pick to select Tyler Herro.

The Celtics were very much enamored with the 20-year-old leading up to last June’s draft

The draft is full of smokescreens and disinformation, especially from Boston. So, this can’t be taken as gospel.

But it’s still another fun chapter in the Pat Riley-Danny Ainge rivalry, which includes a previous example of the Heat drafting a player the Celtics coveted.

Herro made the All-Rookie second team and is now helping Miami against Boston in the Eastern Conference finals – no small feat for a rookie.

The Celtics settled for Romeo Langford, who had a far less productive first season and is now out for the year.

Of course, it’s far too early to declare either player will absolutely have a better career than the other. Besides, Boston never chose between Herro and Langford. The Heat got the choice and took the player both teams seemingly agreed was better.