Without Stephen Curry, Warriors top Hawks to stay perfect at home

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Draymond Green hit an off-balance 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with 40.2 seconds remaining in overtime, and the Golden State Warriors escaped with a 109-105 win against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night while Stephen Curry watched in street clothes with an injured ankle.

Andrew Bogut saved the ball from going out of bounds, and then Green got the shot off just in time with his legs splitting in the air while avoiding Kent Bazemore‘s diving steal attempt.

Klay Thompson made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:54 remaining and another big basket at the 11.4-second mark on the way to 26 points. The Warriors won their second straight overtime game to earn a franchise-best 43rd straight regular-season home victory and 25th in a row this season.

Golden State (54-5) can tie the Bulls’ 44-game unbeaten mark at home from March 30, 1995, to April 4, 1996, when the Warriors host Oklahoma City on Thursday. They are also chasing the `95-96 Chicago team’s record 72-win season.

The Warriors won their sixth straight overall, improved to 5-0 in OT and haven’t lost at Oracle Arena since a 113-111 defeat to the Bulls on Jan. 27, 2015.

Atlanta’s Paul Millsap missed a wide open 3-pointer with 24 seconds left in regulation, and then Thompson and Bogut each missed potential winning shots in the closing seconds.

Millsap scored 19 points for Atlanta, which rallied from a 14-point deficit to force overtime before dropping to 0-4 in OT.

Reigning NBA MVP Curry sat out with a tender left ankle he injured at Oklahoma City on Saturday night before hitting the long, winning 3-pointer in overtime. Curry, with three straight 40-point games, was named Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday after averaging 43.8 points over four games.

No Curry equaled some no-shows as many prime seats were vacant.

Shaun Livingston started in Curry’s place and had six points, seven rebounds and three assists in his 600th career game. Leandro Barbosa came off the bench to score nine of his 11 points in his first 5 minutes on the floor, while Bogut wound up with 19 points.

The Warriors kicked off March by the playing the first of 17 games over the final 24 at Oracle Arena after just two at home in February.

Green added 15 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists and four steals in Golden State’s first home game since Feb. 9 after the Warriors completed an impressive 6-1 trip in which they won the last five following a 137-105 loss at Portland on Feb. 19 – and sealed their playoff berth, too, in the quest for another championship.

“It was a great trip especially to rebound after that blowout in Portland,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Now we’re really in the home stretch with 17 of our last 24 at home. The trip set us up to go for that 1 seed in the West, which is our goal.”

Atlanta had won two in a row leading into its four-game road swing out West.

Golden State played back-to-back overtime games for the first time since Dec. 13-14, 2005, a win at Seattle and a loss against Houston.

TIP-INS

Hawks: Atlanta signed veteran forward Kris Humphries, adding experienced depth to the Hawks’ front line. Humphries was waived by Phoenix on Sunday after averaging 7.3 points in four games. He was 0 for 9 from the field in his last game against the Nets on Thursday. … The Hawks lost their third straight overall to Golden State and fourth in a row in Oakland.

Warriors: Mo Speights hit a pair of 3s in the fourth and had a highlight-reel worthy block of Al Horford in the first. … Curry missed his third game after sitting out Dec. 30-31 with a bruised lower left leg. … Swingman Andre Iguodala did not dress, sidelined while dealing with tightness in his left hamstring. … Golden State last won four straight at home vs. Atlanta from Feb. 23, 2003, to Nov. 2, 2005. … The Warriors became the fastest team to 50 wins in NBA history when they won 102-92 at Atlanta on Feb. 22. … The Warriors’ three first-half turnovers matched their fewest in the opening half this season.

 

Report: CJ McCollum has been playing through fractured lower back

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CJ McCollum hit two critical free throws late Tuesday to put Portland up three late on Dallas and secure the win.

But he had a rough night overall, shooting 2-of-14 overall. His shooting numbers are down across the board through this restart, not terrible but down from the level the world has seen from one of the games most feared scorers.

Now we know why: A fractured lower back. Dwight Jaynes of NBC Sports Northwest broke the news.

Sources told NBC Sports Northwest prior to the game that McCollum has been playing with a L3 vertebral transverse process fracture (non-displaced) since last Thursday. In layman’s terms, he has a fracture in his lower back. He has played three games since the injury.

While this injury is not as bad as “a fractured back” sounds, it has slowed other players who had it, including Utah’s Mike Conley.

Portland has had success despite a slowed McCollum, in part because Gary Trent Jr. has stepped up and taken on a larger role on both ends of the court (including drawing a charge on Kristaps Porzingis that sealed the Blazers win over the Mavericks).

That win put Portland in as the eighth seed in the West, a spot they can hold with a win against Brooklyn on Thursday. That would put them in a play-in series — where if they won the reward would be LeBron James and the Lakers. To reach that point and threaten Los Angeles, Portland is going to need a lot out of McCollum. The question is how much does he have to give with this injury?

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo ejected after headbutting Moe Wagner

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The Milwaukee Bucks are lucky they have another seeding game remaining because there is a good chance Giannis Antetokounmpo gets suspended a game for this.

The reigning (and soon-to-be two time) MVP let Washington’s Moe Wagner get under his skin. After Wagner took a charge from Antetokounmpo the two had to be separated. They kept jawing, and when they came together again, Antetokounmpo headbutted Wagner.

Wagner may have sold that a little, but that is unquestionably a headbutt. Antetokounmpo deserved the Flagrant II and ejection that came with it.

The one-game suspension that is coming will not cost the Bucks anything, they have the No. 1 seed in the East locked up. However, that one game is aginst the Grizzlies and if Memphis wins it gets the nine seed in the West at worst (eighth of Portland were to lose Thursday).

Wagner has a gift for getting under an opponent’s skin. Antetokounmpo has to do better keeping his emotions in check, because come the playoffs they will get tested like never before.

 

Damian Lillard scores 61 points, win vaults Portland to eight seed

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The Portland Trail Blazers control their own postseason destiny — and they can thank Damian Lillard for that.

Lillard got all the respect he wanted when he tied his career-high of 61 points Tuesday, and the Portland Trail Blazers needed every one of them to beat the Dallas Mavericks 134-131.

Lillard was 9-of-17 from three, plus got to the line 18 times and hit every free throw.

Portland’s win combined with Memphis’ loss to Boston puts the Trail Blazers into the eighth seed in the West — win on Thursday against Brooklyn and Portland is the eighth seed. That is a massive advantage heading into the two-game play-in series, the eighth seed just needs to win one of those two games to advance to the playoffs (and a first-round date with LeBron James). The ninth-seeded team needs to sweep the two games to advance.

Memphis can maintain the nine seed with a win Thursday. Should the Grizzlies lose again (to the Bucks, who have nothing to play for) it opens the door for the Suns or the Spurs to get the nine seed. Or maybe higher.

Portland is not safe just because of the win Tuesday: If it loses to Brooklyn on Thursday and two of Memphis, Phoenix, and San Antonio win, the Trail Blazers will be watching the first round of the playoffs on television like the rest of us. The race in the West is that tight.

It’s hard to imagine Portland losing a critical game, however, with the way Lillard is playing. He said he wants some respect on his f ****** name – and he’s more than earned it.

Watch Devin Booker score 35, keep Phoenix perfect 7-0 and in play-in hunt

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Devin Booker scored 35 points and the Phoenix Suns protected their playoff hopes by beating the Philadelphia 76ers 130-117 on Tuesday to remain undefeated in the NBA restart.

Booker became the Suns’ career leader with his 91st 30-point game, breaking a tie with Walter Davis.

Mikal Bridges added 24 points and Ricky Rubio had 16 points with 10 assists for the Suns, who began the day only one game behind eighth-place Memphis in the Western Conference playoff race.

Phoenix is 7-0 as the only undefeated team in the restart and an unlikely factor in the tight race for a spot in this weekend’s play-in for the final playoff spot.

Phoenix pulled away late after leading only 105-102 following back-to-back baskets by Alec Burks, who led the 76ers with 23 points.

A dunk by Cameron Johnson capped a 10-3 run that stretched the lead to 115-105.

The Suns continued their high-scoring play in the bubble after averaging 120 points in the first six games.

Philadelphia, No. 6 in the East and already assured of a playoff spot, is attempting to prepare for the postseason after losing Ben Simmons to a knee injury.

Shake Milton was Philadelphia’s only healthy starter against the Suns. The 76ers also were without Joel Embiid (left ankle), Tobias Harris (sore right ankle) and Al Horford (sore left knee). Josh Richardson was rested.