Thompson scores 40 points to lead Warriors over Mavs 128-120

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Klay Thompson scored 40 points and Stephen Curry added 33 to help the Golden State Warriors become the second team to post back-to-back 65-win seasons with a 128-120 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night.

Draymond Green added 19 as the Warriors won their 52nd straight regular-season home game and improve their record to 65-7 following a 67-win season a year ago. The only other team to win at least 65 games in consecutive seasons was Chicago in 1995-96 and 1996-97. The Bulls won a record 72 games that first season, a mark the Warriors remain on target to beat after their latest win.

Golden State hit 21 3-pointers to give them a record 938 on the season, breaking the mark of 933 set by Houston last season. Dallas hit 18 3s as the teams combined for a record 39 on the night.

Wesley Matthews scored 26 points and J.J. Barea added 21 for the short-handed Mavericks, who were without three usual starters. David Lee added 12 points, nine rebounds and six assists in his first game back in Oakland since winning the championship with Golden State last season.

The Warriors opened up an 18-point lead in the third quarter before Matthews helped lead Dallas back. He scored 18 points in the quarter as the Mavericks closed to within 102-89 after three. Dallas got the deficit into single digits early in the fourth three times, only to have Thompson respond with 3-pointers each time to restore the double-digit margin.

The Mavericks then closed to 116-113 with just over three minutes remaining on a 3-pointer by Charlie Villanueva. But Harrison Barnes hit a turnaround jumper and Curry scored on a coast-to-coast layup with help from a slick behind-the-back dribble to elude Zaza Pachulia to make it 120-113 with 22:33 remaining.

Curry was involved in one of the few plays that didn’t work on a night dominated by the offenses. Late in the second quarter, he found himself all alone behind the 3-point line. Thompson raised his arms in celebration and started back down to the other end of the court, so sure that Curry would make the open 3. The only problem was Curry decided to pass to an equally open Thompson. The ball hit off Thompson and was nearly a turnover.

Curry made up for that blunder when he hit a 33-footer punctuated by a shimmy dance just before the halftime buzzer to give Golden State a 72-58 lead at the break.

TIP-INS

Mavericks: F Dirk Nowitzki (rest), PG Deron Williams (abdominal strain) and G Devin Harris (birth of child) all sat out for Dallas. … F Chandler Parsons will miss the rest of the season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Friday.

Warriors: Thompson hit nine 3-pointers to give him a career-high 246 on the season. … F Andre Iguodala (sprained left ankle) is making progress in his recovery, but the earliest he will be able to play will be next Tuesday.

RING NIGHT

Lee was presented with his championship ring in a pregame ceremony. There was a video tribute to Lee before Curry presented his former co-captain his ring.

“It’s very special,” Lee said before the ceremony. “When we got here, we were a losing team. It’s been quite a journey. To end that last year with the ultimate thing you want to accomplish in sports, to win a championship, it’s great to celebrate that and enjoy it for one last time tonight.”

UP NEXT

Mavericks: Visit Sacramento on Sunday.

Warriors: Host Philadelphia on Sunday.

Report: Rockets signing Thabo Sefolosha

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The Rockets’ minicamp has produced a signing – Thabo Sefolosha.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

This is surely for the minimum. It’s unclear how much is guaranteed.

Houston has just 10 players with guaranteed salaries, including Nene’s dud of a deal. So, there’s room for Sefolosha to make the regular-season roster.

Sefolosha should fit well in Houston. He’s a smart, versatile defender and can knock down corner 3s. James Harden and Russell Westbrook will allow Sefolosha to concentrate on his strengths in a limited role. The biggest question is how much the 35-year-old Sefolosha has left in the tank.

NBA to better define traveling rule, increase enforcement, explain rule to players, fans

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Gather and two steps.

That is how the NBA has defined the traveling rule for many years now. A player can take a step if he is in the process of “gathering” a dribble or pass, then has two steps. Players such as James Harden have stretched that to the limit, frustrating opponents and non-Rockets fans, but it’s legal.

Now the NBA is looking to better define that “gather” step, then crackdown on enforcement of the rule. With that will come an education program for everyone from players to fans. All of this was approved at the NBA’s Board of Governors’ meeting in New York on Friday.

“One of the most misunderstood rules in our game is how traveling is interpreted and appropriately called,” Byron Spruell, NBA President, League Operations, said in a statement. “Revising the language of certain areas of the rule is part of our three-pronged approach to address the uncertainty around traveling.  This approach also includes an enforcement plan to make traveling a point of emphasis for our officiating staff, along with an aggressive education plan to increase understanding of the rule by players, coaches, media and fans.”

That “aggressive education plan” should be interesting.

At the meeting, the owners also made gamblers everywhere happy by saying that starting lineups now need to be submitted by coaches 30 minutes prior to the start of the game. In past years that had been only 10 minutes (and road teams complained that was not evenly enforced between home and road teams all the time).

This is a good bit of transparency by the league, as have been some of the recent changes in requirements of announcing injuries. But make no mistake, this rule change is all about gambling.

Under new anti-tampering rules, Adam Silver empowered to suspend execs, take away picks, void contracts

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LeBron James publicly courted Anthony Davis. Many free agents seemingly struck deals before free agency even began. Kawhi Leonard‘s uncle/advisor reportedly sought prohibited extra benefits from teams.

The NBA finally reached its breaking point on tampering and circumvention.

After late apprehension, the league will enact stricter enforcement.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

I’m not surprised this passed unanimously. NBA commissioner Adam Silver wanted this to happen and wasn’t going to have owners vote unless he knew it’d pass. At that point, any protest-voting owners would just put themselves at odds with the commissioner. Not worth it.

We’ll see how long this crackdown lasts. I think that anonymous general manager represents many. If nobody is tampering, it’s fine not to tamper. But if some teams tamper, nobody wants to be at a disadvantage.

This could slowly creep back toward the old status quo. But if there’s a clear violator early, Silver will have an opportunity to send a message. We’ll see whether he takes it.

This should be less about which communication is or isn’t allowed. It’s about fairness.

That’s why it’s important the NBA has rules it will enforce and only rules it will enforce. That hasn’t been the case. If it is now, this will be a success.

Knicks’ offseason a giant flop

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NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

In the midst of agreeing to sign Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington, Elfrid Payton and Reggie Bullock, the Knicks released a statement.

“While we understand that some Knicks fans could be disappointed with tonight’s news, we continue to be upbeat and confident in our plans to rebuild the Knicks to compete for championships in the future, through both the draft and targeted free agents,” Knicks president Steve Mills said.

This is as close as we’ll ever get to a team apologizing for its transactions in real time.

What an embarrassment.

Knicks owner James Dolan went on TV in March and strongly suggested top free agents would sign with the Knicks this summer. Everyone inferred Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Instead, Durant and Irving signed with the crosstown Nets without even meeting with the Knicks. The Knicks pathetically put out word they didn’t offer Durant the max due to his injury (as if they would’ve balked had he actually wanted to come) and cancelled a meeting with Kawhi Leonard, who was never coming.

All New York’s planning – stretching Joakim Noah, trading Kristaps Porzingis to clear salary, hyping itself – went to waste on mediocre free agents.

At least the Knicks remain flexible. It’s just tough to see how they turn that flexibility into winning.

Dolan said no incumbent players will become the centerpiece. New York is already acknowledging how disappointing the newly signed free agents look.

That leaves a lot of pressure on No. 3 pick R.J. Barrett, himself a disapointment.

Despite an 86% chance of not getting the No. 1 pick, Knicks fans treated Zion Williamson as a near-inevitability. He was viewed as the rightful reward for a miserable 17-65 season.

This was the wrong lottery to slip. There’s a huge drop in prospect quality from Williamson to Ja Morant to Barrett. Barrett profiles as a leading player, and maybe he’ll be good enough to fill that role on a good team. But this draft was always going to leave the third-picking team with unreliable options.

Randle (three years, $56.7 million with $4 million of $19.8 million guaranteed in year three) was the big addition in free agency. He’ll put up numbers. He’s also only 24 and has shown improvement throughout his career. Maybe he’ll develop defensively and better contribute to winning. Still, it’ll take major modifications to their games for Randle and Barrett to flourish together long-term.

Not that this team represents much of whatever the Knicks are building toward.

Portis ($15 million), Gibson ($9 million), Ellington ($8 million), Payton ($8 million) and Bullock ($4 million) look like stopgaps. After those starting salaries, each has a barely/unguaranteed second season. They all look like trade chips, though most must exceed expectations on the court to hold more than neutral value. Ellington looks like the best deal.

Really, the short contract I like most is Marcus Morris‘ (one year, $15 million). New York signed him after Bullock failed his physical and agreed to a smaller contract. I don’t know why the Knicks prioritized so many other players over Morris, who committed to the Spurs before Bullock’s spine injury gave New York more cap space.

The Knicks could really use a young player like Porzingis now. He’d provide plenty of optimism amid their listless present.

Still, New York can still come out ahead in the Porzingis trade. He was an injury-prone player on the verge of getting a max contract. The Knicks got a couple extra first-rounders.

But clearing Tim Hardaway Jr.‘s an Courtney Lee‘s burdensome contracts was a key part of the trade. That aspect has now gone for naught.

New York is heading toward another lost season. A weak free agent class follows. It’ll take a while for the Knicks to build back up.

This summer – which the Knicks began with the best lottery position, massive cap space and a premier market – was a huge missed opportunity. Even getting past the New York noise and the misplaced expectations this franchise incites, that burns.

Offseason grade: D