Five Takeaways from NBA Thursday: Warriors crush Spurs (again), get to 70 wins

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What were you thinking about instead of the NBA Thursday night? Spacepants. Spacepants. Spacepants.

1) Golden State crushes Spurs, gets to 70 wins, but Steve Kerr still thinking rest.
For the second time this season, the Warriors thumped the Spurs at Oracle Arena, this time 112-101. Golden State continued their sloppy play for the first nine minutes or so of the game, but got some good defensive stops and used those to get out and run during a 14-0 run that spanned the first and second quarters. From there they were never really challenged again. Stephen Curry had 27, and Harrison Barnes had a strong game with 21. It was an impressive win, the kind that should put doubts in the minds of Spurs fans (if not the Spurs themselves) that beating this team four times out of seven — including once at Oracle — will be next to impossible.

The win also makes the Warriors just the second team ever to get to 70 wins in a season, and it keeps the dream of a record 73-win season alive. Curry wants that record. So does Draymond Green. But coach Steve Kerr is still thinking rest would be in order. Here is what Kerr said postgame, via Ethan Sherwood Straus of ESPN:

“It’s not so much that I want to rest guys to avoid injury, but we do have a back to back here. It will be our third game in four nights Sunday night. The good news for us is the guys who actually need rest have had plenty of rest: Bogut, Andre, Shaun Livingston. The rest of our core they’re 24, 25, they recover pretty quickly so I’m not sure they actually need a rest physically but maybe a break mentally would do them some good. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure we’re not going to be in this position next year. You can’t keep winning at this level. It’s a very unique situation to be in this position and our guys are — not all of them — but most of our guys really want to do this.”



2) The Chicago Bulls lose to Heat, are all but out of the playoffs.
In theory, the Chicago Bulls can still make the playoffs — they just have to win their final three games and hope the Indiana Pacers lose out. That’s it. That’s the only way — a path that could be dead by Friday night when the Pacers take on the Raptors, but if not then it will be over when the Pacers take on the Nets and Knicks after that. It’s over for Chicago. They can blame their defense — watch them part the Red Sea for this dunk by Miami’s Josh Richardson.

Dreams of Indiana losing are what the Bulls are left with after their 106-98 loss to Miami. This was a game the Bulls played with the urgency they have lacked too often lately, but the Heat just have more offensive weapons (and the Bulls don’t have the defense to stop it). Now we head into a summer where Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and maybe even Derrick Rose will be gone as Chicago does the kind of roster reshaping it should have considered a summer or two ago.

3) DeMarre Carroll returns for Raptors, who fall to Atlanta 95-87.
Atlanta got the win because their defense — second in the NBA this season — was sharp, rotated quickly, took the Raptors out of what they like to do, and contested shots. That led to transition opportunities and some easy buckets for the Hawks, and that was the difference. And for Raptors fans, that’s not the big story — after missing 41 games DeMarre Carroll was back in the lineup. Carroll had five points and four steals, not a bad return. It’s a hopeful sign.

4) Rockets lose to lowly Suns, playoff chances take a serious hit. If the Rockets miss the playoffs — and they have just a 15 percent chance of making it now, according to fivethiryeight.com — they can look back on nights like this as the reason. Houston was up to take on Dallas Wednesday in a game they needed (and lost), then came out the next night and just didn’t bother to play any defense against Phoenix and paid the price, falling 124-115. It may be rock bottom for the Rockets. Houston is now 1.5 games back of Utah for the final playoff spot in the West — the Rockets need to win out (they have a soft schedule, but this team just lost to the Suns) and hope that the Jazz lose at leat two of their remaining four (Clippers, Mavericks, Nuggets, Lakers). The Jazz are playing well, and they could win three of those. If the teams are tied, the tiebreaker (because they are 2-2 head to head) likely come down to conference record — if Houston wins out, they will take that. But that’s what the Rockets are banking on after too many bad defensive nights like Thursday.

5) Dunk of the night: Of course it’s Zach LaVine. How about an in-game windmill from the man who had 18 in a Minnesota win?  You got it.