If you missed the NBA’s Wednesday night slate because you got sucked into the last season of American Idol, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know from a Wednesday around the Association.
1) Miami played well, but in the fourth quarter there was too much Splash Brothers for anyone to contain. In the NBA, talent wins out. Poor coaching can limit that talent and hold it back a little. Bad locker room chemistry can hurt a team for a season or two. But in the end, the most talented team wins the most games.
Golden State has most talented backcourt in the NBA. In Miami Wednesday that got Golden State another win — Stephen Curry had 42 points, and Klay Thompson had 33 — that’s 75 of Golden State’s 118 points (64 percent of them). In the fourth quarter of a close game, Thompson scored 15 points in a row at one stretch, and then Curry hit a couple of late threes that helped the Warriors come from behind in the final minute. When those two are going like they were, beating the Warriors becomes even that much harder.
Their scoring exploits overshadowed the fact that less than two minutes into the game Curry hit a three, giving him one in 127 consecutive games, tying Kyle Korver‘s all-time mark. Curry will set the record Thursday in Orlando.
2) No Derrick Rose, no Jimmy Butler, scrappy Bulls still beat Warriors and get tighter grip on playoffs. This was one the Wizards needed. They entered the game three back of Chicago for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, win here and not only are they just two games back but the Wizards would also own the tiebreaker. Washington was on a back-to-back, but the Bulls rested Rose and Nikola Mirotic (plus Jimmy Butler is still out) and had to start a lineup of E'Twaun Moore, Tony Snell, Taj Gibson, Mike Dunleavy, and Pau Gasol. In the second quarter, the Bulls actually had a Justin Holiday and Christiano Felicio pick-and-roll going.
That was enough. Taj Gibson had 17 first half points, the Bulls guards waltzed into the paint at will, and then started the third quarter hitting their first eight shots. Combine that with a flat effort from the Wizards (again!) the Wizards suffer a setback in any playoff dreams. Then again, if Doug McDermott is doing this, maybe it’s just the Bulls’ night.
3) Lance Stephenson being Lance Stephenson. The Grizzlies were able to beat the defenseless Lakers, but the game also gave us a vintage Lance Stephenson moment.
4) Kawhi Leonard returned to Spurs lineup. The Spurs out-executed the Kings down the stretch and easily picked up the road win 108-92. That’s about as surprising as finding a good microbrew in Portland. What mattered on Wednesday is that Kawhi Leonard returned to the Spurs lineup, scored 18 points, and as a team they are close to whole again. They remain just 3.5 games back of Golden State, which is ridiculous.
5) Chris Copeland waived, claimed off waivers, instantly waived again. It’s all about the Benjamins. Earlier this week, the Milwaukee Bucks waived veteran forward Chris Copeland to make way for the addition of Steve Novak to the roster. A respected veteran on a minimum contract, would someone snap Copeland up?
Yes, Orlando. Then they turned around and instantly waived him again.
Why? Money. The Magic are below the salary floor by more than $600,000, meaning at the end of the season the Magic would have to cut a check for that amount, and it would be divided amongst all the players on the team. By grabbing Copeland, his $325,000 goes on their books, but by instantly waiving him again they don’t have to pay Copeland a dime. This is just a financial move to save them money. Bobby Marks of the Vertical explained it here.