Clippers’ Lou Williams drops 50 on Warriors (video)

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Lou Williams scored 27 of his career-high 50 points in the third quarter and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Golden State Warriors for the first time in more than three years with a 125-106 win Wednesday that spoiled a milestone night for Kevin Durant.

Williams shot 16 for 27 with a career-best eight 3-pointers and made all 10 of his free throws. His 27-point third quarter was the NBA’s highest-scoring quarter this season.

Durant became the 44th player in NBA history to score 20,000 career points, finishing with 40 as the Warriors had their five-game winning streak snapped along with a 12-game unbeaten stretch in the Clippers rivalry.

Durant reached the milestone on a pull-up jumper from the left wing at the 1:41 mark of the second quarter. The Warriors announced his accomplishment on the main scoreboard and Durant received a standing ovation, shaking his head in acknowledgment while still very much in game mode.

By late in the fourth quarter, that crowd was making its way for the exits with the game out of reach.

The NBA Finals MVP returned from a three-game absence due to a strained right calf and scored 25 points in the first half against the Clippers – KD’s biggest half of the season and the exact number he needed for 20,000.

Durant, who had a four-point play during the second quarter on the way to 14 points in the period, is at 29 the second-youngest player behind LeBron James and first to reach the 20,000 mark as a member of the Warriors.

He shot 14 for 18, including 6 of 7 from deep, and Zaza Pachulia added 12 points on a night when the Warriors were without their starting backcourt. Stephen Curry re-sprained his right ankle during the morning shootaround, and Klay Thompson also was out for rest that had been previously scheduled.

Williams also dished out seven assists and rookie Tyrone Wallace added a season-best 22 points off the bench for the Clippers while returning to the Bay Area, where he starred in college at California.

Nick Young started in place of Thompson and had seven points but shot 3 for 11 and missed six of his seven 3-point tries. It was Young’s first start with the Warriors. Shaun Livingston played in place of Curry and contributed eight points and four assists.

Draymond Green missed his first five shots before connecting late in the third.

“We still have two All-Stars. It’s an embarrassment of riches,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said of Durant and Green. “I’m not going to shy away from that.”

There were 13 lead changes in the first quarter alone. Golden State went on a 10-0 run midway through the second during which Durant scored eight points.

CURRY’S ANKLE

Curry has the same injury that recently sidelined him for 11 games, though Kerr said: “I don’t think it’s serious. … He tweaked it.” No MRI or X-rays were scheduled for now, though Curry was sore and the Warriors won’t take any chances.

“I didn’t see anything,” Kerr said before the game. “We just had a normal shootaround and he was in his usual game-day routine with Q (Bruce Fraser) and he just rolled his ankle somehow. Just kind of a fluke thing, kind of caught us off guard, but obviously he won’t play. … It’s unfortunate. Hopefully it’ll clear up in the next couple days.”

The Warriors are 10-2 without Curry.

TIP-INS

Clippers: Los Angeles hadn’t beaten the Warriors since Christmas Day 2014. The Clippers also had lost 11 straight on Golden State’s home floor since a 105-86 win on Dec. 25, 2011.

Warriors: Durant notched his seventh 30-point game this season. … Thompson had played in all 41 games this season. … C JaVale McGee played for only the second time in five games as Kerr struggles to use all his players in a deep, talented rotation. … Young earned his 194th career start as Golden State used a 14th different starting lineup this season – matching the team’s total from last season.

UP NEXT

Clippers: At Sacramento on Thursday, looking for a fourth straight win in the series.

Warriors: At Milwaukee on Friday to begin a five-game road trip featuring tough stops at Cleveland and Houston.

 

Lance Stephenson on why he blew in LeBron’s ear: “I was really trying to get him mad”

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Lance Stephenson and LeBron James are teammates with the Lakers.

It’s not something anyone would have seen coming back in 2014 when Stephenson blew in LeBron’s ear, creating a meme for the ages and adding to the legend of Stephenson. From the moment it happened, people have asked: “What was Stephenson thinking?”

“I was really trying to get him mad, really trying to win the game, get him unfocused,” Stephenson told The Score in an interview (video above). “And I was trying anything, and for you to do something to somebody and they don’t respond, they keep continuing playing hard, it’s like: ‘yo, how do I…’ I was just trying to find stuff… LeBron was such a good player, you know, I was trying to do anything to get him frustrated. It’s going to be different, being friends with LeBron, you know what I mean?”

We do, because Stephenson did other stuff over the years, like tap LeBron on the face, trash talk LeBron, and kicking him in the “groin,” and those antics occasionally worked.

LeBron has said before he could put that behind him and play with Stephenson, but of all the signings the Lakers made this summer this was the one that left people around the league scratching their heads. In part because of the history between the two, but more because of Stephenson’s history outside of Indiana — he’s struggled. Badly. Now he’s going to be put in a tight role on a team with high expectations and ridiculous levels of scrutiny. Is this really going to work?

It’s just a one-year deal, the Lakers set themselves up to chase another star (via trade or free agency) and that remains the priority. Everything else is just window dressing. But man, there could be quite a show in that window with the Lakers this season, that’s a lot of big personalities in one space.

 

Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. guesses Vince Carter’s first NBA season was in 1987 (video)

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Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. insisted he meant no disrespect to Luka Doncic after liking an Instagram comment that called the Mavericks rookie overrated.

But this is darn sure disrespectful toward Vince Carter.

Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype:

Carter – who signed with the Hawks for next season – entered the NBA in 1998. He’s old, but he’s not that old.

Hawks rookie Trae Young: ‘I know there is a lot on my plate’

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The Grizzlies plan to bring No. 4 pick Jaren Jackson along slowly.

No. 5 pick Trae Young won’t have the same luxury.

After picking Young, the Hawks traded Dennis Schroder, their incumbent starting point guard. Though Atlanta also dealt for Jeremy Lin, Young knows where he stands.

Young, via Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“Obviously when they move the point guard they’ve had for a while, their starting point guard, it definitely opened my eyes,” Young told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from New Jersey, where he was taking part in the Rookie Transition Program. “It shows how much they are committed to me. Bringing Jeremy in as well is a good fit for us. I know there is a lot on my plate. I’m looking forward to it.”

Unlike Memphis, the Hawks aren’t trying to win now. They can ride through Young’s highs and lows.

Though I’m quite high on Young, I also expect him to struggle next season. Most rookies do, especially point guards. And the small Young could face an especially tough adjustment to NBA size and athleticism.

But he seems to be embracing the challenge with the right attitude, giving himself the best chance of emerging on the other side ready to lead an NBA team.

76ers’ Ben Simmons: ‘We’ve got to get past Boston. Those are the guys at the top right now’

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After winning the Eastern Conference the last eight years, LeBron James leaving the Cavaliers for the Lakers has created a power vacuum in the East.

The Celtics, Bucks, Wizards and Pistons have staked their claims as teams ready to fill the void. The Raptors announced themselves with their trade for Kawhi Leonard.

But 76ers forward Ben Simmons isn’t ready to put Philadelphia atop the Eastern Conference hierarchy.

Simmons, via James McKern of SportingNews:

“We’ve got to get past Boston, those are the guys at the top right now. Beating them, that’s our next goal,” Simmons said.

“Obviously getting further than the second round and winning the Eastern Conference Finals and then moving on to the Finals.

This is a surprisingly restrained approach by Simmons. Many of his peers are talking bigger.

But the 76ers belong behind the Celtics, who beat Philadelphia in the second round last year. The 76ers could pass Boston. They just must prove it. In the meantime, Simmons is paying the Celtics proper deference.

Don’t forget about Toronto, though. Though Boston and Philadelphia were poised to own this next era in the East, Leonard reinvigorates the Raptors. If he’s healthy, they belong at the top with the Celtics.