Steve Kerr: Michael Jordan and Stephen Curry share similar aura

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After one of the most impressive performances by any team in the NBA all season, next for the Golden State Warriors is a chance to beat the only team they have faced that they’ve yet to defeat.

Having Stephen Curry in the lineup should make things easier this time.

Curry was out when the Warriors lost to the Dallas Mavericks last month, and he’ll try to help Golden State match the second-longest regular-season home win streak in NBA history Wednesday night.

Golden State (41-4) crushed San Antonio 120-90 on Monday in what turned out to be a mismatch between the NBA’s best teams. Curry, averaging a league-high 30.3 points, hit six 3-pointers and scored 37 in 28 minutes.

The comparisons between the Warriors and the 1995-96 Chicago team that won a record 72 games continue to grow. Coach Steve Kerr, who played on that Bulls team, admitted at Tuesday’s practice that the reigning league MVP’s impact reminds him of the legendary Michael Jordan.

“There is an aura that’s similar,” Kerr said. “Steph is obviously a worldwide phenomenon now and you see a thousand people watching him warm up or you see a couple hundred people at the hotel at 2 a.m. trying to get his autograph, that’s similar to the Michael phenomenon.”

Jordan fans may like to point out that he didn’t miss any games that season. Curry has missed two due to a bruised lower left leg, including a 114-91 defeat at Dallas on Dec. 30.

The Warriors have taken seven straight over the Mavericks with Curry in the lineup, although that isn’t the streak that will be on everyone’s minds Wednesday.

Golden State can match the 40-game run in the regular season at home by Orlando between March 21, 1995-March 19, 1996. The only longer streak is the 44-game stretch by Jordan’s Bulls from March 30, 1995-April 4, 1996.

The Warriors’ current four-game win streak includes road victories by 34 over Cleveland and 31 over Chicago, and is a run in which they are averaging 124.8 points on 51.5 percent shooting overall and 42.7 percent on 3-pointers.

“That’s the most exciting part about it is that yeah, we’re 41-4, yeah that’s great, a great start but we’re nowhere near where I know we’re going to get and that’s encouraging,” forward Draymond Green said.

Dallas (26-21) has dropped five straight at Golden State, and it’s not clear who will be available for the Mavericks after they had to work hard for Tuesday’s 92-90 road win over the lowly Los Angeles Lakers on Dirk Nowitzki‘s tiebreaking jumper with 2.1 seconds left.

Nowitzki made 5 of 14 shots for 13 points.

“I didn’t really have touch there the entire night,” he told the Mavericks’ official website. “They did a good job and did some switching on my pick-and-rolls, and they didn’t leave me much.”

Coach Rick Carlisle has twice rested at least four starters in the second game of back-to-back sets, with Dallas going 7-4 overall in such contests. Those two instances came after games that went overtime and nobody logged more than 34 minutes in Los Angeles.

Mavs guard Devin Harris sat out Tuesday with a toe injury and center Zaza Pachulia has missed two straight games with a leg injury.

Report: Players argued to Adam Silver they would’ve been punished for tweet as costly as Daryl Morey’s

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league is suffering “fairly dramatic consequences” economically from Daryl Morey’s tweet, which supported Hong Kong protestors (who are trying to maintain and expands their freedoms) and angered many in China.

Silver also said the Rockets general manager won’t face punishment from the league.

ESPN:

NBA commissioner Adam Silver held a tense meeting with players from the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers last week when he arrived in Shanghai, sources told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols.

During the meeting with the players, sources said, Silver was directly asked whether anything would happen to Morey, as several players said they believed that if a player had cost the NBA millions of dollars because of a tweet, there would be repercussions.

We already knew LeBron James spoke up in this meeting and later criticized Morey for sending the tweet when/how he did. Good luck convincing anyone LeBron wasn’t among the players who said a player would’ve been treated differently.

Are they right?

We can’t know, but I don’t think so. The financial damage in China likely would’ve been similar, but it would have been an even bigger public-relations mess in the United States to censor a player. Players are far more familiar and have bigger fan bases than general managers. The domestic backlash against the league would’ve been even stronger, deeper.

Management sometimes gets a pass that labor doesn’t, and the players’ suspicions are understandable. Again, we can never know what statements would’ve followed a player’s pro-Hong Kong tweet. But I think Silver meant what he said in his third remarks on the issue:

However, the NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues. We simply could not operate that way.

PBT Podcast: Lakers? Clippers? Jazz? Rockets? Breaking down race out West

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What are the odds that one of the teams from Los Angeles is in the NBA Finals?

Could the Utah Jazz surprise the Lakers and Clippers, returning to the Finals for the first time since Stockton and Malone?

Or is it Denver’s turn to step up? Maybe James Harden and Russell Westbrook in Houston’s turn? How about Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum?

The NBA’s Western Conference really is the Wild West this season where anything can happen, and Mark Medina of the USA Today joins me to break down the conference, who could come out and make the Finals, and how, in a very deep conference, there will be no easy path forward.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Knicks’ Julius Randle’s goals this season: First All-Stars, then playoffs

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Two seasons ago, Julius Randle broke out as a scorer with the Lakers when he stopped trying to be what everyone else wanted him to be and started just playing bully ball getting to the rim. Last season he took that to another level in New Orleans, while the Pelicans’ team fell apart around him he averaged 21.4 points and 8.7 rebounds a game.

Now he’s got a three-year, $63 million contract in New York — and the Knicks are counting on him to be a leading scorer for them. While R.J. Barrett develops, the Knicks are banking on Randle and Dennis Smith Jr. to go get buckets.

Randle wants to get them and more — he wants to be an All-Star (the Knicks’ first since Carmelo Anthony), then lead the Knicks to the playoffs. That’s what he told Stephan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

“I just feel like situation and opportunity. Everything I’ve been through in the past, all the work I’ve put in in the past has prepared me for this opportunity now,” Randle said. “So [All-Stars] just a goal of mine. Eventually you feel like you have an opportunity. I feel like I do.”

“(The playoffs are) extremely important. I’m not going to sit here and talk about every day but it’s extremely important,” he said. “That’s what you work hard for. You talk about opportunity, this is my opportunity to be a real leader.

“So I just want to make sure everybody’s connected and we get better every day. I like our team compared to a lot of other teams. We do what we need to do every day to get better, that mental focus, lock in, stay connected, I like our team.”

Making the All-Star team could happen. Randle is going to put up numbers and get plenty of exposure in Madison Square Garden, and there’s space on the roster. Guys such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid are All-Star locks, but the second tier of East frontcourt players — Blake Griffin, Khris Middleton, Nikola Vucevic — is one it feels like Randle could crack.

To do that, the Knicks need to find a way to win enough to make Randle look good compared to other guys trying to get in the All-Star club (Lauri Markkanen, for example).

Will that be enough wins to make the playoffs? Well… maybe just focus on the All-Star part first. To be fair, I wouldn’t want a player on my team who went into the season thinking his team had no shot at the postseason. Reality will hit Randle and the Knicks soon enough.

Before it does, at least Randle has set his goals high.

 

LeBron James says Daryl Morey was “not educated on the situation” with China Tweet

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When Stephen Curry was asked about how the NBA moves forward in its relationship with China, he gave an answer backing Commissioner Adam Silver’s second position and playing it straight down the middle.

LeBron James was a little more aggressive, saying he didn’t have the necessary information to comment, and suggesting Rockets GM Daryl Morey had no idea what he was getting into. Via Marc Spears of ESPN and Ben Golliver of the Washington Post.

LeBron’s comments quickly blew up on Twitter, and soon after he clarified what he meant, saying he was referring to the backlash from the Tweet.

This issue will not die.

Both the NBA and China would like it to, and both are working on relaxing tensions, including NBA preseason games being shown in China again. Both sides want to move on. It’s not good for the NBA’s bottom line, and in China the NBA is incredibly popular with younger generations.

But the questions about relations between the NBA and China are not going away, and issues are going to flare up again.