Klay Thompson’s big scoring night leads Warriors past Mavs

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Klay Thompson scored a season-high 45 points, Stephen Curry got going after halftime and so did the Golden State Warriors, who avenged one of their four losses this season by beating the Dallas Mavericks 127-107 on Wednesday night.

Curry hit three quick 3-pointers after intermission as Golden State overcame a sluggish first half, and the reigning MVP finished with a modest 14 points on a night the Warriors’ role players and bench provided a balanced effort.

Thompson had his second 40-point game of the season and sixth of his career, shooting 14 of 20, 7 for 12 on 3-pointers and making all 10 of his free throws.

Chandler Parsons scored 23 points for Dallas, which handed the Warriors their second loss of the season, 114-91 on Dec. 30 – but without Curry because of a lower left leg injury. It was Golden State’s largest loss of the four.

After going 1 for 8 in the first half and missing his first four from long range, Curry connected for his first 3 at the 10:02 mark of the third and had his team rolling again right away.

The Warriors ran their regular-season winning streak at Oracle Arena to 40 games, including 22-0 this season. The 40 straight home victories tied the Orlando Magic for second-longest home unbeaten run in NBA history behind the Chicago Bulls’ 44 from March 30, 1995, to April 4, 1996.

Golden State hasn’t lost at home in one calendar year, since falling 113-111 to the Bulls on Jan. 27, 2015. The Warriors also dished out 30 assists for a fifth straight game, first to do so since the 1994-95 Orlando Magic.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr went with a super-small lineup in the second quarter, and that was without Curry on the court. Golden State won its sixth in a row against Dallas at Oracle, shy of its seven-game unbeaten run at home in the series from 1991-94.

The Warriors, with 30-point wins in three of their previous four games, including 120-90 against the Spurs on Monday night, got 13 points from Harrison Barnes and 10 by Draymond Green.

Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki had the night off to rest following a 92-90 road win at the Lakers on Tuesday.

ALL-STAR RESERVES

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he considers Green “automatic” and is hopeful Thompson gets a spot when All-Star reserves are announced Thursday.

“The way I’ve always voted, when I have two people who are pretty even, I go with the team that’s winning,” Kerr said. “I think winning should be accounted for when you make your All-Star selections. The whole point of the game is to win. I think Klay deserves to be there – not only because of the way he’s played, but also because of the way the team has played.”

TIP-INS

Mavericks: G Devin Harris missed his second straight game with a strain in his left big toe that required an injection Tuesday, while C Zaza Pachulia sat out his third in a row because of an injured right Achilles tendon. … Former Stanford star Dwight Powell had 11 points and five rebounds.

Warriors: Curry moved into eighth place on the franchise scoring list. … F Kevon Looney made his NBA debut, the 11th former UCLA player to wear a Golden State uniform. He had two points and two rebounds, scoring on his first attempt. … Thompson had his 20th game with 20 or more points. … Curry has hit 34 straight free throws. … C Festus Ezeli sat out with a sore left knee that required an MRI exam Tuesday following Monday night’s win against San Antonio. … Kerr might rest some players during this stretch before the Feb. 14 All-Star Game in Toronto. “It’s a balance,” he said. “You want to give people rest if they need it.” Of his own health after complications from two back surgeries, he said getting good sleep is most important on the road. … Golden State now sets off on a three-game East Coast road trip.

 

Report: Knicks, who have No. 3 pick, to work out Darius Garland

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Duke forward R.J. Barrett is the consensus No. 3 prospect in the upcoming NBA draft. He wants to join the Knicks. The Knicks have the No. 3 pick.

Perfect match?

Maybe not.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

Maybe this is just New York doing its due diligence. The Knicks could also be trying to drum up trade interest among teams that want Garland.

But this feels a little like 2015, when Jahlil Okafor was the consensus No. 2 prospect for most of the pre-draft process but D'Angelo Russell emerged late as the Lakers’ No. 2 pick.

Barrett is a flawed prospect. He didn’t hit jumpers efficiently at Duke. His decision-making is suspect. He’s too left-handed dominant. He rarely uses his defensive tools. There’s a lot to like, to be sure. Barrett has nice size, athleticism and physicality. He’s a good ball-handler and playmaker. He seems built for a leading role.

But it wouldn’t shock me if a team likes Garland more. The point guard is a knockdown shooter with the ball-handling and footwork to get that shot off. He needs work as a distributor and lacks Barrett’s defensive potential.

Garland might not be as good as Barrett right now. But Garland’s path to success might be a little more projectable.

Harrison Barnes declining $25,102,512 player option with Kings

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Harrison Barnes‘ salary was so high, he became a talking point in the debate about WNBA salaries.

But he’s so confident he’ll get a better deal, he’s leaving $25,102,512 on the table with the Kings.

James Ham of NBC Sports California:

If they renounce all their free agents, the Kings project to have about $60 million in cap space – likely more than they know what do with.

They could re-sign Barnes. By trading for him last year, they indicated they value him more than the rest of the league does.

Even if he settles for a lower salary next season than his player option called for, this could be the 27-year-old Barnes’ opportunity to secure a long-term deal. He’s a solid outside shooter and, even if he’s better at power forward, capable of playing small forward in a league thirsty for wings.

Sacramento could definitely use a player like him.

Can the Kings lure someone better, either this summer or – if they keep their books clean – a future year? Unless way overpaid, free agents have tended to avoid Sacramento. But the rapidly improving De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield are leading a turnaround.

Barnes’ free agency could be a good litmus test for the Kings’ reputation now. Can they convince him to continue his role on a rising team? Will they have to pay a premium to keep him? Or does he just want to leave?

Report: Anthony Davis intends to receive full trade bonus

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The Lakers are reportedly on track to trade for Anthony Davis on July 6 – the date an important distinction in determining the Lakers’ cap space.

The other key question: Will Davis take his full $4,063,953 trade bonus?

The Pelicans will pay the bonus. It will count against the Lakers’ cap.

Especially considering Davis requested a trade, New Orleans could have pressed him to waive the trade bonus in order to accommodate him. Likewise, the Lakers – his desired team – could have made the deal contingent on Davis waiving the trade bonus.

Ramona Shelburne on ESPN:

My understanding is he doesn’t intend to waive that. He’s due the four million dollars, and he’s going to keep it. But again, as you just noted in that monologue, things can change.

If he takes the full bonus, Davis’ salary next season will increase from $27,093,018 to $31,156,971. And good for him. He earned the trade kicker in his contract.

This also supports agent Rich Paul’s contention that he puts Davis’ interests first while representing Davis, not catering to fellow client LeBron James. Because while the extra money is nice for Davis, this hurts LeBron’s Lakers.

The Lakers now project to have just $24 million in cap room. They can still get a helpful player or two, but $28 million would have gone further.

I wonder whether the Pelicans prefer to pay Davis’ bonus. Though a $4,063,953 check is nothing to sneeze at, tying up the Lakers’ cap space has value with New Orleans getting so many future draft picks from Los Angeles. Maybe the Pelicans have already made Davis getting his full bonus an essential aspect of this trade.

If not, the Lakers have a week before the Davis trade can become official to pitch free agents. Perhaps, if they line up certain free agents and show him the spending power of that extra money, Davis would waive all or some of his trade bonus.

But I wouldn’t blame him if he wants his money and puts the onus on the Lakers to build a strong team, anyway. That’d sounds a lot like another Paul client.

Kawhi Leonard leaving NBA-champion Raptors would be unlike anything we’ve ever seen

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Many Raptors fans hoped Kawhi Leonard would use yesterday’s championship parade to declare his plan to re-sign with Toronto.

They got a laugh and not much else.

But they can be heartened – or maybe eventually heartbroken –a by this: Stars almost never switched teams immediately following a title.

Before this year, there have been…

  • 49 Finals MVPs who won a championship. None switched teams that offseason.
  • 147 All-Stars who won a championship. None switched teams that offseason.
  • 124 All-NBA players who won a championship. Only one switched teams that offseason.

In 1998, Scottie Pippen got signed-and-traded from the Bulls to the Rockets. He was neither an All-Star nor Finals MVP that year, but he made the All-NBA third team. After leaving Chicago, he never achieved any of those accolades.

Leonard checked all three boxes this season – Finals MVP, All-NBA, All-Star. He looks poised to take over as the NBA’s best player for the next few several years.

It’d be unprecedented for someone like him to bolt.

The most productive player to leave a championship team immediately after winning a title? It might be Tyson Chandler, who posted 9.4 win shares for the 2011 Mavericks then got signed-and-traded to the Knicks.

Even while missing 22 games amid load management and minor injury, Leonard posted 9.5 win shares last season.

Here’s how Leonard compares to the players with the most win shares in a title-winning season who began play elsewhere the following year:

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Of course, Leonard isn’t bound by history. He’ll make his own decision. If he wants to leave the Raptors for the Clippers, Knicks or anyone else, he can.

But players just usually stick with a champion. LeBron James said he might have re-signed with the Heat if they won the 2014 title. Kyrie Irving was unhappy after the Cavaliers’ 2016 championship but didn’t request a trade until they lost in the 2017 NBA Finals. Shaq and Kobe coexisted peacefully enough until the Lakers stopped winning titles.

It’s just hard to leave a team that has proven its ability to win a championship, and Leonard would have that in Toronto.