Steve Kerr calls for Warriors to clean up turnovers, defense

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) So what if coach Steve Kerr added a pair of extra turnovers to his team’s ugly, uncharacteristic two-day total. He made his point that the Golden State Warriors’ sloppy play of late must stop – and now. Well before the playoffs begin as the record-setting NBA champions chase another title.

“Yeah, 46 turnovers in the last 36 hours, inexcusable,” Kerr said of what should actually have been 44 turnovers. “I think the team leading the league averages 12 or 13 a game so some are going to happen, but I can rattle off 10 easy that were just inexcusable. Sometimes the game comes too easy for our guys and they just think they can do anything.”

That’s largely because Golden State has been so, so good this season. Far better than during that special run to the franchise’s first title in 40 years last year.

Sure, the Warriors won a 45th straight regular-season home game on Monday night to surpass the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ previous-best mark and improve to 56-6. Yes, reigning MVP Stephen Curry became the first player in NBA history to make 300 3-pointers in a single season – with 20 games still to go.

“It’s still kind of surreal to have accomplished that knowing that I love to shoot the ball and I try to do it at a high level,” Curry said.

All those milestones can be properly celebrated, Kerr just wants more from this group than what he has seen of late. He wants his Warriors to know one thing about the turnovers after matching a season high with 24 on Monday against the Magic: “That’s kind of our weakness.”

“If we don’t get that cleaned up then we are in big trouble,” Kerr said. “That’s a major goal for us going forward.”

The miscues nearly cost Golden State on its precious home floor in Oracle Arena, where the Warriors held off Orlando 119-113. A day earlier, they lost 112-95 to the lowly Lakers in Los Angeles with 20 turnovers.

“Over the course of 82 games, anything’s liable to happen,” Curry said. “You give them that many extra possessions, a talented NBA team that gets paid just like we do, you’re going to be in trouble if you don’t take care of the ball.”

Curry scored 41 points Monday in another spectacular outing. It was his 12th 40-point performance of the season, most by a Warriors player since Hall of Famer Rick Barry’s 15 in 1974-75.

“We are winning and Steph is bailing us out an awful lot and he bailed us out tonight,” Kerr said. “But we can’t count on that and we can’t rely on that. We need to get back to being the best defensive team in the league, which we were a year ago – which we are not right now anywhere close to.”

Curry considers it his job as Golden State’s best player – not to mention the NBA’s biggest star – to do just that.

“My job on the floor is to help our team win,” he said. “I kind of see it as that’s what I’m supposed to do.”

Despite the struggles the past couple of games, Kerr realizes how special his team’s unbeaten run at home is. He was part of history himself alongside Michael Jordan in Chicago.

He was part of that Bulls team that won 44 in a row at the United Center, and now the Warriors are trying to top Chicago’s record 72-win season that year.

“Remarkable by our players over these last two years,” Kerr said. “The effort and the consistency it takes to do that. Pretty amazing. There are so many games where the ball could bounce either way and we definitely had some of those during the streak. Could have lost several times last year and could have lost tonight very easily. We keep putting ourselves in position to win games and dominate our home floor and I’m really proud of the guys for that.”

Is Matisse Thybulle ready for a big step forward with 76ers?

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Matisse Thybulle brings a valuable NBA skill to the table — he is an elite perimeter defender. Two-time All-Defensive Team in three years in the league.

But when the 76ers got up against Miami in the playoffs, Thybulle’s role shrank dramatically. While Doc Rivers needed his defense, Thybulle’s lack of an offensive game became a problem — the Heat largely ignored him and helped off him, allowing Miami to muck up the Philly offense (he was limited in the Toronto series because he was not vaccinated and could not play in road games). The 76ers tried to solve that problem this offseason by bringing in DeAnthony Melton, Danuel House and P.J. Tucker — solid role-playing defenders who can contribute on offense, too.

Thybulle wants to be part of the solution, too, and told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer he spent the summer focused on his offensive game.

“I’m really proud of what I did,” Thybulle said of his offseason. “I’ve worked harder than I’ve worked. And I had a meeting with [Sixers coach Doc Rivers] early this week and was telling him I feel more bought in than I’ve been before.”

No doubt Thybulle put in the work, we will find out soon if it paid off — and if that will get Thybulle paid.

Thybulle is entering a contract year — the 76ers can extend him up until Oct. 18, after which he would become a restricted free agent next summer. Thybulle said his goal is to remain in Philadelphia (and he’d like an extension).

“At this point, I would always want to stay in Philly,” he said. “And if it’s up to me, that’s always going to be my choice.

“But considering that I’ve realized the reality of how far out of my control it is, if I do get traded or something does end up happening, I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day.”

With a win-now Sixers team, Daryl Morey may be in a wait-and-see place with Thybulle, letting the market set his price next offseason. If he signs now, it will likely be on a team-friendly deal (but maybe one that still works for the 25-year-old).

If Thybulle gets on the court this season and shows an improved offensive game, one where he can make teams pay for helping off him, his price goes up and there may be multiple teams bidding for his services next summer. And Doc Rivers would be happy in the short term.

It’s up to Thybulle to prove it now.

 

Markelle Fultz will miss start of training camp, at least, with broken toe

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The basketball gods continue to turn their backs on Markelle Fultz.

A torn ACL had limited him to 26 games over the past two seasons, but he was healthy and ramping up to a larger role this season with a young and interesting Magic team. Then came the news he fractured his left big toe during a training session. As a result, he will be out for at least the start of training camp, the team announced. From the official announcement:

“He has been placed in a walking boot and his return to play will depend on how he responds to rehabilitation and treatment. Fultz suffered the injury during a preseason workout prior to returning to Orlando and imaging confirmed the fracture.

He will not need surgery, according to the team.

Fultz was set to split point guard duties with Cole Anthony, this injury means RJ Hampton could see more run at the point for now. Fultz should be able to return either during the end of the preseason or early in the season.

Fultz was the No.1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft but never found his footing with the 76ers (in part due to injury). However, since getting out of that spotlight and allowed to develop in Orlando he’s been a solid rotation point guard when healthy. Last season in 18 games he averaged 10.8 points and 5.5 assists a game, and while he’s still not an efficient shooter he can run a team.

How Anthony and, eventually, Fultz will work off the ball as rookie Paolo Banchero gets the opportunity to create more offense will be just one of the interesting things to watch with this Magic team this year. We’ll have to wait a little while to see Fultz.

 

Vintage Kobe: Redeem Team recalls him running over Pau Gasol

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If the goal of a trailer is to get you to want to see the movie, then well done Netflix. I’m in.

Netflix released a trailer for its upcoming Redeem Team documentary on the 2008 Olympics, featuring some vintage Kobe Bryant. Just as a quick refresher, in 2008 the USA’s toughest opponent would be a deep Spanish team led by peak Pau Gasol but also with Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, José Calderón, Rudy Fernández, Juan Carlos Navarro and more. This was a legitimately dangerous team and one the USA would face first in group play.

Kobe wanted to set a tone — and did by running through his friend Gasol. (Warning: There is NSFW language in the video clip below.)

“‘First play of the game I’m running through Pau Gasol.’ And we was like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘First play of the game, I know what they’re gonna run.’ And he knew Pau was gonna be the last screen and he said ‘I’m running through him,'” Dwayne Wade said

Spoiler alert: The USA thrashed Spain in group stage play. However, come the Gold Medal game it was a lot tougher for the Americans to beat the Spaniards, with Kobe having to have a big fourth quarter and — what often goes unremembered — a master class from Chris Paul in game management to control the tempo and flow.

I’m all in for the documentary, which drops on Oct. 7 on Netflix.

Spurs’ Keldon Johnson to miss start of training camp with shoulder injury

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Keldon Johnson is poised to have a monster season on a rebuilding Spurs team.

Except he’s going to miss the start of training camp and the team’s preseason games. And could be out longer.

Johnson suffered a “right shoulder posterior dislocation during Spurs open gym” the team announced Saturday. Posterior dislocations are rare (less than 5% of all dislocations) and are usually from a fall on an extended arm. Recovering from the injury depends on many factors but can extend out for months. However, the Spurs said Johnson is expected to be available for the start of the regular season less than a month from now.

Johnson averaged 17 points and 6.1 rebounds a game last season, and is an elite perimeter shooter off the catch-and-shoot (39.8% from 3 overall), who also can put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim. He was the team’s second-leading scorer last season (to Dejounte Murray, who is now in Atlanta).

The Spurs will be cautious with bringing Johnson back. Even in what could be Gregg Popovich’s last season as coach the Spurs are looking more to be part of the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes than push for a playoff spot. Johnson is a quality player who helps San Antonio win games, which both is why they want him back healthy and why they are not going to rush him.