Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Warriors just keep on winning, now fastest to 60

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Here’s what you missed Monday night while putting a business suit on a horse….

1) Another milestone as Golden State becomes fastest to 60 wins, remains undefeated at home. The injury to Andre Iguodala — out a few weeks with an ankle sprain — gave a lot of pause to the “Golden State will get to 73 wins” bandwagon. He’s a Sixth Man of the Year candidate because he stabilizes their second unit, and he’s a vital part of their “death line up” when they go small with Draymond Green at the five, providing great defense on the wing plus another ball handler and scorer. With three games against the Spurs, some other tough matchups, and a few back-to-backs still to come, going 14-3 the rest of the way was not going to be easy.

Make that 13-3 now as the Warriors steamrolled a struggling New Orleans team 125-107 Monday night. That has the Warriors at 60-6 on the season, they are the fastest team to 60 wins in NBA history and remain ahead of the Bulls’ pace.

Stephen Curry had 27 points on 16 shots, on a night he drained threes but also continues to finish in the paint (6-of-7). Klay Thompson added 18, while both Draymond Green and Marreese Speights had 14.

2) East playoff chase: Good night for the Bulls, not for Detroit. Chicago started the night out of the playoffs looking in, while Detroit held down the eighth seed in the East. The Bulls also had the daunting task of facing a good Raptors team and doing it without Pau Gasol — but with the return of Jimmy Butler and a huge 29-point night from Doug McDermott, Chicago got the upset win over Toronto, 107-105. That despite Drake getting in Justin Holiday‘s ear and forcing a five-second violation.

Detroit was facing the Washington Wizards, a team two games back of them and this was a chance for the Pistons to slam the door on the Wizards. Instead, Washington owned the game winning 124-81.

That puts Chicago back in the eight seed but in a virtual tie still with Detroit (Chicago is one game up in the loss column), and the Wizards are looming two games back still. Statistical site fivethirtyeight.com still gives the Pistons a 56 percent chance of making the playoffs, Chicago is at 35 percent, and the Wizards are hanging on at 17 percent.

3) West playoff chase: Good win for Mavericks, better one for Jazz.The Dallas Mavericks entered the night two games ahead of the Utah Jazz for the final playoff spot in the West, but entering a brutal stretch of their schedule — the next six games are a gauntlet, and it started with the red-hot Hornets. But Dallas went into Charlotte and picked up the 107-96 upset win behind 24 points from Chandler Parsons (he’s played well of late) and 23 from Dirk Nowitzki. It’s the kind of win that improves a team’s odds of making the playoffs, and gives Dallas confidence heading into the next stretch.

Then Utah went out later that night on national television, without its leading scorer Gordon Hayward, and beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 94-85. That is a huge win for the Jazz. Both teams were on the second night of a back-to-back, but on the fourth game of a road trip the Cavaliers’ legs seem tired, and they shot 10-of-42 from three — and against the massive front line of Utah it’s tough to make up for those buckets by driving the lane and scoring. Rodney Hood stepped up and had 28 points for Utah.

Because of Dallas’ brutal schedule the rest of the way, statistical site fivethirtyeight.com still has it as a 71 percent chance the Jazz catch and pass the Mavericks to get the final playoff spot in the West. But Dallas is not going to make that easy if they get more wins like this one.

4) Russell Westbrook with 12th triple-double of the season in Thunder win. Just another day at the office for Russell Westbrook: 17 points, 16 assists, and 10 rebounds as the Thunder handled the Trail Blazers 128-94. That is Westbrook’s 12th triple-double of the season, and he did it in 21 minutes of playing time.

5) Andrew Bogut with as bad a free throw as you’re going to see. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say the ball slipped out of his hands because Bogut is a career 55 percent free throw shooter — not good, but not this bad.

Later Bogut did show some range draining a three up against the shot clock.

Joseph Tsai to buy rest of Nets, Barclays Arena for $3.4 billion

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NEW YORK — Joe Tsai has agreed to buy the remaining 51 percent of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center from Mikhail Prokhorov in deals that two people with knowledge of the details say are worth about $3.4 billion.

Terms were not disclosed Friday, but the people told The Associated Press that Tsai is paying about $2.35 billion for the Nets – a record for a U.S. pro sports franchise – and nearly $1 billion in a separate transaction for the arena. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the transactions have not yet been completed.

Tsai is the co-founder and executive vice president of the Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce giant. He already had purchased a 49 percent stake in the team from Prokhorov in 2018, with the option to become controlling owner in four years.

Instead, he pushed up that timeline for full ownership of a team on the rise after signing superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in July.

Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire, became the NBA’s first non-North American owner in 2010 and oversaw the Nets’ move from New Jersey to Brooklyn two years later. He spent big in the first couple years after the move in a quest to chase a championship, but the team soon became one of the worst in the NBA before rallying to return to the playoffs last season.

“It has been an honor and a joy to open Barclays Center, bring the Nets to Brooklyn, and watch them grow strong roots in the community while cultivating global appeal,” Prokhorov said in a statement. “The team is in a better place today than ever before and I know that Joe will build on that success, while continuing to deliver the guest experience at Barclays Center that our fans, employees, and colleagues in the industry enjoy.”

The deal is expected to be completed by the end of September and is subject to approval by the NBA’s Board of Governors.

That would put Tsai, a native of Taiwan, in full control of the team by the time the Nets head to China to play two exhibition games against the Los Angeles Lakers in October. That comes at the start of a season of renewed excitement for the Nets, who just three seasons ago won an NBA-worst 20 games but are set to make a big move up the standings after landing two of the best players on the market when free agency opened.

“I’ve had the opportunity to witness up close the Brooklyn Nets rebuild that Mikhail started a few years ago. He hired a front office and coaching staff focused on player development, he supported the organization with all his resources, and he refused to tank,” Tsai said. “I will be the beneficiary of Mikhail’s vision, which put the Nets in a great position to compete, and for which I am incredibly grateful.”

Brett Yormark, the CEO of BSE Global, which manages the team and the arena, will oversee the transition before leaving for a new role.

Jazz coach Quin Snyder tells Donovan Mitchell to ‘be a sponge’ around Gregg Popovich

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While other players continue to pull out of the USA Basketball roster — De'Aaron Fox was the latest, and P.J. Tucker before him — Utah’s Donovan Mitchell has been outspoken in his commitment to the team.

“Me, I’m 22, some guys are older and got to rest their bodies and I understand that…” Mitchell said Friday night after Team USA’s exhibition game win over Spain. “For me, I’ve never been part of USA Basketball and I’m honored to be here, I’m honored to have this privilege to go out and compete.”

A lot of players have left — or just not put their names in the hat in the first place — saying they wanted to focus on preparing for the regular season, especially players in the Western Conference, which is deep with outstanding teams. The Utah Jazz, now with Mike Conley at the point, are one of those teams with high expectations.

Mitchell, however, has the full backing of his coach Quin Snyder to stay with Team USA and learn from Gregg Popovich, as Snyder told Marc Stein of the New York Times.

“Both Donovan and I have been excited for this opportunity, not just the chance to compete for his country but to play for Pop. I think he has an appreciation for the fact that he’s playing for the greatest coach that’s ever coached…

“Just try to throw yourself completely into it,” Snyder said he told Mitchell. “And try to communicate with Coach as much as you can. Be a sponge.”

Popovich has had an impact on the young players on the roster. For example, there’s more maturity to Kyle Kuzma‘s game, and Popovich recognized him on the court Friday night when Kuzma made a couple of smart plays against Spain.

Just having different coaching voices — not just Popovich but his assistants Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce, and Villanova’s Jay Wright — can help a young player. The message may be consistent, but said in a different way, one that better gets through to the player. Styles matter.

Mitchell led Team USA in scoring against Spain with 13, but Snyder and Jazz fans are hoping for more. Not just gold at the World Cup in China starting Sept. 1, but that Mitchell comes back energized and with a broadened game after having been a sponge next to Popovich.

Marcus Smart reportedly cleared to play for Team USA

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Through two weeks of training camp, first in Las Vegas then in Los Angeles, through one intrasquad scrimmage and one exhibition game, Marcus Smart has sat in street clothes.

The Celtics guard has a calf injury that has sidelined him. On Thursday in Los Angeles he took part in the shooting parts of practice during training camp, but not the full-contact scrimmages against the select team. All he could really do was this.

Friday night he never got out of his warmups and did not play against Spain, but he did say on the broadcast he would be back.

Turns out, he was cleared to be back the next day according to Mark Stein of the New York Times.

This takes away a little of the sting of De'Aaron Fox deciding to withdraw from the team just before it left on Saturday for Australia.

It also means four Celtics are on the USA roster: Smart, Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown. USA assistant coach Steve Kerr jokingly said to me last week he asked Brad Stevens for a thank you gift for running Celtics mini-camp.

Smart is one of the 13 players headed down under for a series of tune-up games before the World Cup (against Australia and Canada). If he’s fully healthy enough to go, Smart is a lock to make the roster because of his physical perimeter defense and ability to shoot the three (36 percent last season in the NBA, and the international line is a little closer in). He likely would come off the bench at the two behind Donovan Mitchell.

Bill Walton broadcast White Sox vs. Angels game and was nothing short of brilliant

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Bill Walton is brilliant.

The Hall of Fame hippie and big man was in the broadcast booth Friday night — not for basketball, but for the White Sox vs. Angels MLB game. Walton loves baseball even if his understanding of the sport is… unconventional.

I want Bill Walton to narrate my life.

The world missed him while he battled serious back issues, it’s so good to have him out and around and being himself again.