Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Warriors become fastest team ever to 50 wins

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We know you spent most of Monday night trying to figure out what that ethereal music the Apollo 10 astronauts heard on the dark side of the moon was, so you didn’t watch any NBA games. That’s okay, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know from a Monday around the Association.”

1) Warriors become the fastest team to 50 wins in NBA history by beating Hawks.
 It got interesting. Atlanta became the latest team to make a big run on Golden State and force a response. Portland did it most of the game, but the 13-turnover third quarter for the Warriors put that game out of reach. The Clippers game seemed to be in garbage time until a 13-0 run late gave Los Angeles a chance to tie (the shot fell short). Then Monday night the Warriors were in complete control up 23 in the third quarter, when the Hawks went on a 33-6 run and took the lead. These lapses are a combination of factors. The Warriors have some mental vacations, they get bored it seems, but also teams are not just rolling over for them. Good teams that have pride. The result is the Warriors having to work hard for games where it felt like they were in control.

But in the end, the Warriors usually do bounce back. Golden State closed Monday’s game on a 23-10 run in Atlanta.

The result is almost always the same — Golden State gets the win, this time 102-92. The Warriors are now 50-5, the fastest team to 50 wins in NBA history. Golden State remains on pace to beat the 1996 Chicago Bulls’ win record of 72 games (they need to go 23-4 to do it).

Monday’s hero for the Warriors was Andrew Bogut. Yes, Bogut. He provided some physicality in the paint, blocked some shots, made smart passes on offense, and changed the tone for a Warriors’ team that had taken its foot off the gas. Yes, Stephen Curry was still doing Stephen Curry things — he had 36 points — but I’m telling you Bogut gets the credit here. Still, if you’re demanding your nightly ridiculous Curry highlight, here you go.

2) Channing Frye makes his debut for Cavaliers but Pistons spoil the day. Cavaliers fans got to see the guy they gave up Anderson Varejao for Monday night (not that much was expected of Channing Frye in his debut, he’s had basically no practice time with the team). Frye played nine minutes for the Cavaliers, missed both his threes, and looked like the new kid trying to fit in. He’ll find a more comfortable groove.

As a whole the Cavaliers looked flat Monday, none more so than LeBron James who shot 5-of-18 on the evening. The Cavaliers were on the second night of a back-to-back, but so were the Pistons who played with far more energy all game. Maybe the best example was in the final minute, when down eight LeBron James used his strength to bully his way to the rim on a drive, the ball cradled in his arms — and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ripped the ball out of his hands, then went the length of the court for the dagger layup. Ballgame. Chalk it up to just an off night for the Cavs, they just don’t want to have too many of those.

3) Giannis Antetokounmpo finishes the off-the-backboard alley-oop. Yes, it still counts if you do it against the Lakers’ defense. The Bucks picked up a win and the Greek Freak had maybe the highlight of the night.



4) Pistons void Donatas Motiejunas trade with Rockets over concerns about his back.

Stan Van Gundy has coveted Motiejunas for years — a true 7-footer who can bang inside and is shooting 41.2 percent from three this season. He’s a perfect fit on paper for the inside-out offense Van Guyndy is trying to set up in Detroit.

But in reality, Motiejunas’ back (he’s had a couple of surgeries in the past year) is so bad that SVG and the Pistons decided to take a pass. They voided the trade made on the deadline day with Houston, something they are allowed to do if Motiejunas did not pass his physical. This is a real punch to the gut for the Rockets. First, they lose a top-eight protected first round pick in 2016 that was coming their way, now Houston may be without a first round pick this year. Second, the return of Motiejunas’ salary put them back above the tax line and make the Rockets tax payers again. Finally, that makes four guys that the Rockets tried to trade (Dwight Howard, Ty Lawson) or did trade (Motiejunas, Joel Anthony) who are now back in the locker room for the rest of the season. I do not envy J.B. Bickerstaff trying to coach this team.

5) Kyle Lowry puts up triple-double. Does it still count if Jose Calderon is guarding him? Kyle Lowry and the Raptors went into Madison Square Garden on Monday night and looked every bit the second best team in the East, with an unstoppable backcourt led by Kyle Lowry. Going up against the porus defense of Jose Calderon, Lowry did what he wanted on the way to 22 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds, and the Raptors picked up a comfortable win 122-95.

Suns fall to hot shooting Adelaide 36ers from Australia, 134-124

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The Adelaide 36ers may be from Australia’s National Basketball League, but they are professional players — leave them wide open and they will hit shots.

Phoenix treated Sunday like their first preseason game (it was) and the 36ers hit 24 3-pointers on their way to an upset of the Suns, 134-124. The 36ers were the aggressors all night long, playing team basketball and putting Phoenix on its heels.

It’s just preseason. One preseason game is not a bellwether for the season, there should be little more than raised eyebrows in Phoenix. However, with their last game being a crushing 33-point loss to Dallas which eliminated them from the playoffs a season ago, this was not the palate cleanser that Phoenix fans were hoping for.

Craig Randall — you may remember him from the University of Memphis and Tennessee-Martin — scored 35 points while Robert Franks added 32. The 3-point shot is the great equalizer in basketball and the 36ers were on fire.

 

The last NBA team to lose to an International squad before Sunday was the Thunder in 2016 to Real Madrid. The year before, Turkish power Fenerbahce beat Brooklyn in the preseason. It does happen.

Reserve point guard Cameron Payne led the Suns with 23 points, while Deandre Ayton looked solid and dropped 22, as did Mikal Bridges, who also had 22. Devin Booker had 13 points and Chris Paul dished out 12 dimes.

With the size of Ayton and the athletic slashing of Bridges, the Suns scored 64 points in the paint, more than doubling the 36ers. But math was not on the Suns’ side, as they traded twos for threes and kept falling behind.

This is great for the NBL and its efforts to grow the brand — the 36ers will now take on the Thunder later this week.

It’s a shrug and move on game for the Suns. Expect a more focused effort from the team next game.

Heat, Tyler Herro agree to four-year, $120 million extension (with $10 million in incentives)

Miami Heat Media Day
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Tyler Herro was frustrated — he saw players he felt he was better than getting paid.

Now he has a contract he will have to live up to.

The Heat have signed Herro to a four-year, $120 million extension of his rookie contract, with up to $10 million in incentives) a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and now confirmed by the team.

Herro went to Twitter to confirm the deal himself.

“Tyler is an impact multi-faceted player and we are excited to have him signed for the next five years,” Heat President Pat Riley said in the statement announcing the signing. “His improvement every year since we drafted him has led to this day. We believe he will continue to get better.”

This is a straight four years, no options for either side.

Signing an extension takes Herro off the table for any trades to upgrade the Heat roster this season. Herro had been at the heart of the rumors about the Heat and Kevin Durant, as well as other teams.

Herro’s new contract extension is a big bet on the wing taking another step forward this season and beyond. The deal is a little larger than expected (the conventional wisdom had Herro coming in close to the $107 million RJ Barrett got with the Knicks). Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel and I have discussed Herro’s price before and didn’t quite picture it this high, but with the rising cap over the next few years this deal may not look out of line.

Miami stepped up and paid the reigning Sixth Man of the Year high-level starter money — now he has to earn that job and that paycheck.

Mostly, he has to improve on defense so Eric Spoelstra can trust him at the end of games and deep into the playoffs (while Herro has had big playoff games, his role shrunk deeper in last postseason because of his defense).

Herro puts up numbers — 20.7 points a game on 39.9% from 3 last season — and is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, but does this new deal move him up in the Heat offensive pecking order with Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler? Probably not in crunch time (and if Kyle Lowry bounces back this season, there could be games where Herro is option No.4).

This locks up part of Miami’s roster going into the season, but they are still on the look for depth at the four. Don’t consider this roster settled.

 

Watch Celtics shooters look sharp in easy preseason win over Hornets

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics
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It’s just one meanless preseason game, but for a franchise that could use some good news the Boston Celtics will take it.

The Celtics’ shooting looked in mid-season form in their preseason opener against the Hornets on Sunday — 57.1% overall and 22-of-47 from 3 (46.8%). Boston just couldn’t seem to miss, especially early.

Jayson Tatum had 16 points in 22 minutes, while Jaylen Brown was the leading scorer with 24 points in 24 minutes.

The one unexpected bright spot was a strong game from Mfiondu Kabengele, who is currently on a two-way contract with the team. He ended up with 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting and showed some hustle.

Kelly Oubre led the Hornets with 17 points, while LaMelo Ball had 14 points, seven rebounds and four dimes.

It’s just one preseason game, don’t read much of anything into it. But the Celtics will take the good news where they can find it.

T.J. Warren still out for Nets; team to reassess status in November

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The Brooklyn Nets bet that the T.J. Warren from the bubble in Orlando — the one who averaged 26.6 points and 6.3 rebounds a game for the Pacers — would re-emerge and give them a quality forward they could mix into a deep rotation.

Instead, so far it has looked more like the Warren who has played just four games since the bubble due to stress fractures in his foot.

Warren is improving and the Nets are bringing him along slowly, keeping him off the court until November at least, reports Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Small forward T.J. Warren, who has missed nearly two full seasons following multiple foot surgeries, is “doing some shooting” and “a little bit more movement the last two weeks than he was prior,” Nash said. He added that Warren will be reassessed in about a month.

The Nets can afford to be patient. They have plenty of other questions to answer as a team before worrying about what Warren can or cannot contribute. But in the dream scenario where everything comes together for the Nets this season, Warren gets healthy and becomes a valuable contributor off the bench giving the Nets more versatility, scoring, and shooting along the front line.

For now, the Nets and Warren wait.