Warriors beat Clippers 133-120 for 9th straight win over LA (VIDEO)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Stephen Curry scored 29 points despite making just three 3-pointers, Kevin Durant added 26 points and 10 assists, and the Golden State Warriors defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 133-120 for their fifth straight victory on Thursday night.

Blake Griffin had 31 points, making 11 of 13 free throws, for the Clippers. They have lost nine in a row to their Bay Area opponents, the franchise’s longest active skid against a single team.

The rematch wasn’t the debacle that occurred last weekend when the Clippers lost by 46 points at Golden State.

But they still never led and trailed by 21. The Clippers got beat in every category despite Griffin’s hard-charging effort. The Warriors were dominant in the paint, on second-chance points and fast break points.

Golden State has won 11 of its last 12.

The Clippers got within seven on a 3-pointer by Jamal Crawford with 1:55 remaining in the game. But Durant answered with a 3-pointer and Klay Thompson added another.

The Clippers’ defense was no match for Curry. He slipped through the lane for a fastbreak layup with Raymond Felton dogging him on the left and DeAndre Jordan on the right. Curry fell down scoring, drawing the foul and completing the three-point play that kept the Warriors ahead by 15 in the third quarter.

The Warriors toyed with the Clippers, who got within four points in the first quarter and then five in the second quarter, only to have Golden State immediately push the lead back to double digits.

Golden State barreled around the court, knocking down former Warrior Marreese Speights and J.J. Redick in one fell swoop after Durant pushed Austin Rivers on another possession. It was all part of a rollicking first half when the Warriors bobbed, weaved and whipped circus-like passes around before scoring.

The Clippers gave up three dunks and had four turnovers to start the game. Curry forced two steals, feeding Durant and JaVale McGee for consecutive dunks that stunned the Clippers.

Los Angeles outshot Golden State in the first quarter when the Warriors took nearly twice as many shots as the Clippers.

MAKING HISTORY

Curry hit his 200th 3-pointer of the season with 2 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter, making him the first player in NBA history to have 200 or more 3-pointers in five consecutive seasons. He missed his first four 3-pointers in the game. Curry came into the game 4 of 28 from 3-point range in three previous games at Staples Center this season.

HIGHLIGHT REEL

Griffin’s windmill dunk over Warriors forward Kevon Looney drew oohs from the crowd and merited multiple replays on the video board. He took one large step through the lane and pushed his left hand off the head of a ducking Looney as Griffin elevated before slamming the ball down with his right hand.

TIP-INS

Warriors: Curry had 11 assists. … McGee and James Michael McAdoo each finished 5 of 6 from the field. They were among seven Warriors in double figures. … Curry got a technical for smacking the ball out of bounds in the second quarter. … They have reached 100 points in each of the last 26 games. … They were missing starting forward Draymond Green, who has a left shoulder contusion.

Clippers: Griffin passed Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo to move into second on the franchise scoring list. … Los Angeles is 2-5 in its last seven without injured Chris Paul. … Jordan will participate in the slam dunk competition on Feb. 18 during All-Star weekend in New Orleans against Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, Phoenix’s Derrick Jones Jr. and Indiana’s Glenn Robinson III. Jordan leads the league with 152 dunks this season.

UP NEXT

Warriors: Visit Sacramento on Saturday, a team they beat by 11 points last month.

Clippers: Visit Boston on Sunday to start their annual five-game Grammy road trip.

LeBron James rips AAU workload: ‘AAU coaches couldn’t give a damn about a kid’

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Last week, during the pointless debate about Kawhi Leonard missing a game for load management, the most salient point came from former Suns coach Earl Watson.

He echoed a must-read story (from Baxter Holmes at ESPN) that reverberated around the NBA this summer (but for many fans got lost in the shuffle of player movement): How NBA team medical staffs — as well as just doctors working on young athletes — were noticing the extreme wear and tear on the body of AAU basketball players. The volume of games, often without enough training and conditioning to properly strengthen their young bodies or let them recover, sets young players up for injuries later in their playing career. NBA teams and doctors, with their load management techniques, are trying to make up for damage that started long before.

LeBron James, with two sons playing AAU ball right now, is in full agreement.

LeBron ripped the volume of games played in the youth basketball culture, speaking to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

“These kids are going into the league already banged up, and I think parents and coaches need to know [that] … well, AAU coaches don’t give a f***,” James told Yahoo Sports. “AAU coaches couldn’t give a damn about a kid and what his body is going through…

“I think [AAU] has something to do with it, for sure,” James told Yahoo Sports. “It was a few tournaments where my kids — Bronny and Bryce — had five games in one day and that’s just f- – -ing out of control. That’s just too much… So, I’m very conscious for my own son because that’s all I can control, and if my son says he’s sore or he’s tired, he’s not playing.

“Because a lot of these tournaments don’t have the best interest of these kids, man. I see it. It’s like one time, they had to play a quarterfinal game, a semifinal game and a championship game starting at 9 a.m., and the championship game was at 12:30 p.m. Three games. I was like, ‘Oh, hell no.’ And my kids were dead tired. My kids were dead tired. This isn’t right. This is an issue.”

It is an issue. A big issue. The NBA can talk about reducing the number of games — they are, and they should, the season is too long, but cutting the number of games becomes a complex financial issue — but it goes beyond just the NBA level.

There needs to be fundamental changes in youth basketball in the NBA, down to the AAU level. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has talked about this.

“So, where historically it’s been an area, particularly AAU basketball, that the league has stayed out of, I think these most recent revelations (from the NCAA scandal) are just a reminder that we’re part of this larger basketball community. I think ultimately, whether we like it or not, need to be more directly involved with elite youth basketball,” Silver said a couple of years ago. Since then, the league has taken steps in that direction.

However, like shortening the NBA season, there are a lot of competing interests in a complicated situation. A lot of people are making money the way things are now and don’t want them to change.

For the health of players, it needs to.

 

Bucks All-Star Khris Middleton to miss 3-4 weeks with thigh contusion

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Khris Middleton, coming off a summer with Team USA, has quietly continued his All-Star level play this season — an efficient 18.5 points per game, shooting 39.3 percent from three but also finishing well at the rim, and the Bucks offense is 3.3 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court.

However, he’s not going to be on the court for a few weeks due to a deep thigh bruise, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

In the third quarter of the Bucks win over the Thunder Sunday, Middleton suffered the thigh bruise, which sent him to the locker room. While he returned to the bench, he did not return to the game. Afterward, in the locker room, Middleton didn’t seem to think it was that serious.

It turned out to be a little more than that, it has to be a deep bruise to have him out for up to a month.

Kyle Korver would be next in line to get those minutes, but he sat out Sunday with a “head contusion.” Behind him look for smaller lineups with Pat Connaughton, Donte DiVincenzo, Sterling Brown, and Wesley Matthews to get more minutes, plus maybe a little Thanasis Antetokounmpo.

After 0-6 start, Raptors coach Nick Nurse celebrates successful challenge like he won a championship (video)

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After the Raptors won the 2019 NBA title, Toronto coach Nick Nurse hugged Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and Masai Ujiri.

Some of the hug recipients changed, but Nurse’s celebration didn’t look that different last night.

Nurse missed his first six coach’s challenges then finally got one right during the Raptors’ win over the Lakers. He responded by hugging everyone – including a Los Angeles fan – around him.

This was a long time coming. Even after a couple early failed challenges, Nurse sounded exasperated.

Michael Grange of Sportsnet:

Maybe Clippers coach Doc Rivers, a noted challenge critic, will eventually experience this euphoria.

Report: Gordon Hayward to have surgery on left hand

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How good would Gordon Hayward be if he could just stay healthy?

Hopefully we will find out someday, but probably not for the next couple of months after his agent told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that Hayward will have surgery on his non-shooting hand to repair a broken bone.

There will be no official timeline for recovery until after the surgery, but after going under the knife Hayward is likely out at least six weeks. Stephen Curry is out three months after surgery on his non-shooting hand (that is a different injury, but it shows how long the timeline can be).

The play where the injury happened was innocuous.

Even so, it has left Boston with some big questions to answer through New Year’s Eve, or whenever Hayward returns. Hayward was having a bounce-back year, averaging 18.9 points per game, shooting 43.3 percent from three, pulling down 7.1 rebounds and dishing out 4.1 assists per game. He’s been a critical playmaker for the Celtics.

For Boston, this likely means a lot more Marcus Smart, Semi Ojeleye, and maybe Javonte Green.