Warriors ride hot shooting to 115-112 victory over Clippers

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Klay Thompson scored 32 points, fellow Splash Brother Stephen Curry added 23 and the Golden State Warriors beat the Los Angeles Clippers 115-112 on Saturday night to avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time this season.

The Warriors were coming off a 32-point drubbing at Portland a night earlier that snapped their 11-game winning streak. They appeared highly motivated to erase that memory from the opening tip, shooting 56 percent in the first half and twice leading by 15 points in the second quarter.

Draymond Green had his NBA-leading 11th triple-double with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists to help the defending champions improve to 49-5.

Jamal Crawford scored 25 points off the bench, Chris Paul added 24 and DeAndre Jordan had 16 points and 21 rebounds for the Clippers. They fell to 19-6 without injured Blake Griffin. Their two earlier losses to the Warriors were by a combined 11 points with Griffin in the lineup.

The Clippers were coming off a 19-point win over San Antonio on Thursday night. Even with a day of rest, they played behind nearly the entire game.

Pablo Prigioni‘s 3-pointer left the Clippers trailing 115-112 with five seconds to go, long after both teams’ best players had gone to the bench. That brought Thompson, Curry, Green Harrison Barnes back in a hurry.

Andre Iguodala‘s pass was stolen by C.J. Wilcox, but his panicked shot fell well short of the basket as time expired.

The Clippers again trailed by 15 early in the third when they briefly matched the Warriors basket-for-basket during a furious scoring stretch to close within five on a dunk by Jordan off Crawford’s alley-oop pass. Jordan threw down some highlight dunks that had fans roaring and Crawford scored on a one-handed scoop shot, getting fouled as he crashed to the floor and making the free throw for the three-point play.

The Warriors’ shooting percentage dipped – barely – to 50 percent in the third when Curry missed a few shots and got called for traveling. The Clippers’ defense couldn’t stifle them, either from the perimeter or inside. Curry hit a 3-pointer with Paul in his face, and Green caught an inbounds pass from Iguodala in traffic at the basket and scored.

Curry was fouled on a 3-pointer and made two of three before Green’s layup kept the Warriors ahead 93-84 going into the fourth.

Golden State went up 14 points early in the fourth on consecutive baskets by Barnes and later stretched it to 18 points on a 7-0 run that included Barnes’ second 3 of the quarter.

TIP-INS

Warriors: Green had a technical in the first quarter. … The Warriors improved to 25-5 on the road. … C Andrew Bogot sat out with a strained right Achilles. … F James Michael McAdoo missed his 22nd straight game because of a sprained toe on his left foot. … After Curry got fouled on a 3-pointer and missed one of his free throws, a fan shouted, “Why don’t you make everything?”

Clippers: J.J. Redick, who finished with 16 points, and Paul each got technicals 67 seconds apart in the second quarter. … The Clippers signed F-C Alex Stepheson to a 10-day contract. The 28-year-old former USC player was averaging 15.9 points, 13.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 31 games for the Iowa Energy of the NBA’s D-League this season. Stepheson, who is 6-foot-10, has played overseas since failing to be drafted in 2011. “He has the gift of a being a big that plays with energy,” coach Doc Rivers said. … Rapper Kendrick Lamar was on hand in the same arena where he won five Grammys last Monday. Beyonce and Jay Z, Floyd Mayweather, comic Adam Sandler, Northern Trust Open third-round leader Bubba Watson, “Grease” actress Keke Palmer and former Clipper Baron Davis also attended.

UP NEXT

Warriors: They continue a seven-game trip at Atlanta on Monday night.

Clippers: Host Phoenix on Monday night.

Gregg Popovich ducks Australian sideline reporter for interview (VIDEO)

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San Antonio Spurs and Team USA basketball coach Gregg Popovich is notorious for not giving interviews to sideline reporters. At this point, it’s already become a schtick that’s considered a played out.

But abroad, Popovich hasn’t done that much ducking of in-game media. Perhaps he needs to get some practice in before the 2019 FIBA World Cup starts in China?

Popovich was in attendance at an Aussie rules football match this week when a reporter from BT tried to get him on camera to say a word. Not obligated to fulfill any requirements the way he is in the NBA, Popovich quickly gave the reporter the slip.

Via Twitter:

Even if you don’t like Popovich doing this to NBA reporters, this feels like it’s forgivable. There’s no obligation for him to be on TV outside of the NBA, and media is his face all the time. Pop is just trying to enjoy a game, and the reporter didn’t seem like he was too bent out of shape about it.

Meanwhile, the legend of Pop grows internationally.

Should the Raptors use this retro floor next season? (PHOTO)

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Teens keep releasing retro floors for the upcoming 2019-20 NBA season. Retro jerseys accompanied a lot of these floor releases, and teams like the Portland Trail Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies, and Charlotte Hornets have dipped heavily into the nostalgia sphere.

This season it could be much the same for the Toronto Raptors.

In a graphic posted it to r/nba this week, a potential new floor for the Raptors showed something a bit different.

Or should we call it an old floor?

Just months after Toronto won the NBA championship, it appears that they might be looking to harken back to the team’s very first year in existence.

Via Reddit:

What do you think? Are you a fan of the old purple dinosaur look, or do you think that nostalgia has tinged of the lenses of our judgement?

Team USA plays down loss to Australia: The real thing doesn’t start until China”

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It was the first time Team USA has lost an international game since 2006 — 78 straight wins. That seemed like a big deal.

It absolutely was huge for the 52,000 in attendance in Melbourne, where Australia was the one that upset the USA. This was validation for a strong basketball country and program — remember in the 2016 Olympics they lost by just 10 to a USA team with Kevin Durant, and it took a late push from Kyrie Irving and Carmelo Anthony to secure that win — that has never quite gotten the huge win on the international stage.

But after the loss, members of Team USA chalked it up as a learning experience. Coach Gregg Popovich said that, and the players followed suit. Quotes via Eric Nehm of The Athletic.

Kemba Walker: “Teams lose. We are just going to take this loss and build from it, that’s all we can do is continue to try our best to get better. The real thing doesn’t start until China, so we’ve got one more game. We’re going to head to Sydney and focus on Canada and from that point out the real thing starts. That’s all we are worried about, just continuing to get better, continuing to learn each other.”

Donovan Mitchell: “To be honest, this game doesn’t mean anything. Obviously it hurts to lose, but I look at this and we look at this as more of a learning experience as opposed to we just lost. That’s the mindset. If you think of this as a loss, you start to get carried away with all that.”

Technically, all of that is true. If the USA goes on to win gold at the World Cup, this will be but a blip on the radar.

But the loss also showed just far Team USA is away from that goal and how much work there is to do. Watch the game and what stood out — besides Patty Mills getting red hot and dropping 30, with 13 of that in the fourth quarter — was the difference in cohesion and chemistry. The core of this Australian squad has been playing together for a decade, and with Andrew Bogut as the offensive fulcrum (and Joe Ingles playing that role some) guys were cutting, moving with purpose, and seemingly always in the right place to get an open look or layup.

The Americans are trying to build chemistry on the fly and it comes and goes. Particularly on the defensive end. Team USA members lose guys on cuts, don’t help the helper consistently, and for stretches look like a team just thrown together. Especially under pressure, when the ball movement stops and there is too much one-on-one on offense.

This American squad still has the talent to overwhelm and beat most of the world. However, with some of the USA’s top talent staying home, there are a handful of teams out there — Serbia, Spain, Australia, France — with the talent to hang, and then it becomes about chemistry and execution. Team USA was beaten badly in those hard-to-quantify categories by Australia. The American’s margin for error is much smaller in this World Cup.

Maybe the loss galvanizes Team USA in a way nothing else could. Maybe. And the players are right that things don’t really matter for the USA until the games in China.

But Team USA still has a lot to prove.

James Harden working on one-legged step-back three for next season

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As if James Harden wasn’t unstoppable enough.

Harden’s step-back three has become probably the most unstoppable shot in the NBA. Now video has gone viral in NBA circles of Harden working on a one-legged, step-back three. Think Dirk Nowitzki’s one-legged jumper, but from three and with a little more side-to-side to it. (You can see the video above.) Harden talked to Tim MacMahon of ESPN about it.

“I’m not sure; it’s something that I work on,” Harden said when asked if he’ll use the one-legged, step-back 3 this season. “But you know how Mike [Jordan] has his fadeaway and Dirk [Nowitzki] has his one-leg and [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar] had the sky hook, I want my step-back to be one of those moves that last forever. So when I travel around the world and I see little kids that [say], ‘Hey James, I got a step-back!’ — I love to see that.

“It’s me being a creator and me being an innovator and paving the way in basketball in my own way, doing it how I want to do it, and that’s what it’s all about. As a little kid playing in these parks, that’s what I imagined, that’s what I dreamed of. Now it’s coming to reality, so it’s pretty cool.”

Harden is going to score a lot of points… or, maybe the better way to say that is he’s going to score even more points if he gets to a point he unleashes that in a game.

The challenge this season for Harden will be balance — he’s got to share the court and the ball with Russell Westbrook. Both of them are at their best with the ball in their hands, creating in isolation, but they need to be more than that. While coach Mike D’Antoni can do some things to help with that balance (staggering their minutes as much as possible) for the Rockets to become the contenders they want to be Harden and Westbrook have to be more than “your turn, now it’s my turn” on offense.

But when it’s Harden’s turn, that one-legged step back will be fun to watch.