Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Warriors set record while Spurs, Cavaliers stumble

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Here’s what you missed Monday while you were binge-watching House of Cards (Frank Underwood is as great a character as there is on television right now):

1) It’s not pretty, but Warriors set a new record for consecutive home wins.
Golden State has won 45 consecutive games at Oracle Arena, passing the Jordan-era Bulls for the most consecutive wins at home ever. It’s another milestone for a team trying to build a legacy. There are two ways you can look at this game from the Warriors’ perspective. One is that their shots started falling again (16-of-35 from three), they got back to playing fast, and, more importantly, they got back to having fun on the court — everything that was missing in the loss to the Lakers.

I subscribe to the second theory: This is how the Warriors have played the last few weeks. They were sloppy (they turned the ball over on 21 percent of their possessions), their defense wasn’t sharp, they played to the level of their opponent, and got bailed out by Stephen Curry and his ridiculous shooting skills. This has been the trend lately, the Warriors are not playing as well as they had earlier this season, it’s just being masked by Curry. Which happens over the course of a season — team’s stumble and when you have the world’s best player he gets you wins when other teams would suffer a loss. But with the playoffs 20 games away, the Warriors need to start to turn around this ship.

Still, it’s a historic win for the Warriors in front of their raucous fans. And Curry became the first player ever with 300 threes in a season — something he did with vintage Curry flare.

2) Cavaliers struggle against shorthanded Grizzlies and lose because of Tony Allen offensive explosion. No. Mike Conley. No Marc Gasol. No Zach Randolph. No Courtney Lee. No Matt Barnes. No Chris Andersen. No Brandan Wright. The Memphis Grizzlies are the walking definition of banged up, the problem was the Cavaliers came out and played like they expected Memphis just to roll over. The Grizzlies still grit and grind, plus they had the secret weapon that is Tony Allen — he was 11-of-17 shooting for 26 points. Allen’s only offensive move is a straight-line drive to the rim, but that worked as he got deep into the paint for 13 of his shots (and he went 2-of-4 on his rhythm jumpers). Mario Chalmers also was slicing and dicing the Cavaliers defense, while the Cavs offense was a lot of talented guys playing next to one another, not with one another.

The Cavaliers do not bring it every night, their level of focus tends to be tied to the level of their opponent. That can happen this time of the season, but if the focus is on personal brands and tweets, they will not get past it. And the Cavs need to get past it as they start to gear up for a playoff run.

3) LeBron James passed John Havlicek on all-time scoring list. LeBron James had 28 points in the loss, and he is at the point in his career where he is going to set milestones all the time, such as passing Celtics’ legend John Havlicek for 13th on the all-time scoring list. Congrats to LeBron.

4) Spurs followed Warriors’ lead from Sunday, have terrible shooting night and lose. It’s probably best Gregg Popovich didn’t have to watch this. He is away from the team for personal reasons and he missed a rough shooting night from San Antonio — they scored a season-low 32-points in first half, shot 27.1 percent and were 1-of-14 from three before halftime. It got a little better in the second half, but the Spurs shot 34 percent on the night and down the stretch didn’t have an answer for Monta Ellis, who finished with a game-high 26 points (Paul George had 23). This was a quality win for the Pacers, who earned it with their play at both ends. The Spurs had won eight in a row and had been dominating teams coming in, so we’ll chalk this up to a one-off performance. We’ll see how they bounce back against Minnesota on Tuesday night.

5) Tweet of the night, Rockets’ rookie ragging on Dwight Howard. This is about the most Dwight Howard photo ever, and Rockets rookie Sam Dekker called him out for it (but you can’t let a rookie do you like that, Dwight).

Report: Lakers have interest in Joakim Noah

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The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly interested in Dwight Howard. He has not yet been bought out by the Memphis Grizzlies, but a return to L.A. for Howard would be one of the most Lakers things of all time.

Howard infamously left Los Angeles under an auspicious circumstances in 2013 after things went south during the 2012-13 season between him, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash. He signed with the Houston Rockets that summer.

But Howard is not the only aging center under consideration by the Lakers. According to Shams Charania, Los Angeles is also considering adding Joakim Noah to their roster.

Via Twitter:

DeMarcus Cousins’ ACL injury has created a dearth of center depth for the Lakers, one that cannot be easily filled quickly. There aren’t a lot of available players left, and Los Angeles doesn’t have much to help facilitate a trade.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis need some help moving forward if they want to go deep into the Western Conference playoffs, and having only JaVale McGee playing at the center position won’t help them do that. They need to add somebody, but Howard or Noah being the answer to that is a scary proposition for a team with championship hopes.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar didn’t like how Bruce Lee was portrayed by Quentin Tarantino

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was friends with Bruce Lee before the actor’s tragic death in 1973. He was his teacher, pal, and co-star in in 1972’s Game of Death. Naturally, Abdul-Jabbar is protective of his friend’s legacy, and he’s not too happy about how Lee was portrayed in Quentin Tarantino’s latest film.

Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is a meandering, beautiful, boring tribute to the film industry as it was changing at the end of the 1960s. It’s worth seeing just as a thing to look at, but the narrative — or lack thereof — is plodding, and the ending harkens back to a kind of transposed version of Inglourious Basterds that leaves you wondering what the point of making the film was in the first place.

Somewhere in the middle of its long 2h 45m runtime, there’s an extended scene in Once Upon A Time where Brad Pitt’s character Cliff fights Bruce Lee. Why? Probably because Tarantino wanted to pay tribute to Lee being an important part of that era, and because Tarantino so untouchable that nobody could tell him to leave the extemporaneous scene on the cutting room floor.

Instead, what Tarantino’s tribute scene appears to have angered Abdul-Jabbar along with members of Lee’s family.

In an article penned in The Hollywood Reporter this week, Abdul-Jabbar called Lee’s portrayal “sloppy” and “somewhat racist”.

Via THR:

Quentin Tarantino’s portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood does not live up to this standard. Of course, Tarantino has the artistic right to portray Bruce any way he wants. But to do so in such a sloppy and somewhat racist way is a failure both as an artist and as a human being.

The John Wayne machismo attitude of Cliff (Brad Pitt), an aging stuntman who defeats the arrogant, uppity Chinese guy harks back to the very stereotypes Bruce was trying to dismantle. Of course the blond, white beefcake American can beat your fancy Asian chopsocky dude because that foreign crap doesn’t fly here.

Lee’s family, including daughter Shannon, has also spoken up about how Lee was portrayed in the film. In an interview with The Wrap, Shannon Lee said that, “He comes across as an arrogant asshole who was full of hot air.”

Once Upon A Time is a forgettable movie wrapped in the trappings of modern prestige media, where viewers are either unable separate production value from content, or unwilling to do so. It is beautiful, and the people involved are heavy hitters. But halfway through, the viewer is left asking “What’s the plot of this movie?” and that question remains until the final 15 minutes, when the inevitable, telegraphed ending finally, mercifully closes the story and the end credits roll.

Meanwhile, in true Tarantino form, his indulgences have created a mini-storm around one of his films in the most unnecessary way. An ill-conceived and executed scene that added nothing but length to Once Upon A Time has turned into a grating talking point for people like Abdul-Jabbar and Shannon Lee.

Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor to host ‘NBA Countdown’

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Things just keep getting better for NBA fans when it comes to national TV broadcasts.

It was announced in August that TNT would be doing away with the “Players Only” broadcast that appeared on NBA TV. Those broadcast crews were roundly criticized as being meandering and uninformed when it came to the product on the floor.

Now fans are getting more of what they want in the form of Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor.

According to a report from Richard Deitsch, Nichols and Taylor will be the hosts of ESPN’s pregame show, NBA Countdown.

Paul Pierce and Chauncey Billups Won’t return as analysts on the pregame show next year, leaving just Jalen Rose. That means there are a couple of spots open, and we don’t yet know who ESPN will fill them with. Nichols will reportedly continue to host her regular show “The Jump”.

As the league continues to get more popular, it makes sense that broadcast partners listen to the audience. Nichols is an NBA favorite, so having her be more visible makes a lot of sense.

NBA players roast Kyle Kuzma over outfit posted to Instagram (PHOTOS)

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Kyle Kuzma is going to be expected to have a big year for the Los Angeles Lakers. He thinks he can have the impact of a third star for L.A., a team that didn’t add Kawhi Leonard to go alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis this summer.

That’s big talk from Kuzma, but perhaps that talk has boosted his confidence a little bit. In a photo posted to Instagram this week, Kuzma could be seen wearing… whatever this is.

Via Twitter:

Twitter had a great time with Kuzma outfit, which looks like something pulled straight out of an early 2000s episode of TRL.

Kuzma’s contemporaries in the NBA thought he was getting a little wild with it, too, with several hopping onto the post to roast the Lakers big man.

Via Twitter:

I don’t know what this means for the upcoming Lakers season, but I’m sure it’s something interesting.