Associated Press

Three Things to Know: Stephen Curry gets Warriors a win without relying on three ball

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Stephen Curry gets Warriors a win despite hitting just two from deep. Scott Brooks and the Washington Wizards had a plan — do not let the Warriors shoot threes. The Wizards defended the arc and a few feet behind it, taking away the shots that had fueled the Warriors’ eight-game winning streak.

So Stephen Curry got 32 of his 38 inside the arc, and the Warriors held on for a 126-118 win in Washington.

Curry shot 14-of-24 overall and just 2-of-8 from beyond the arc, but he was the guy who got the Warriors a win (on a night when Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant combined to shoot 13-of-31). Whenever the Wizards would make a push, it was Curry who pushed back. He did that with 13 points in the third. He did that in the fourth when the Wizards cut Warriors’ lead to two while Curry sat, but when he came in the Warriors quickly pushed the lead back up to eight.

Curry even did a little dance in front of the Wizards’ bench.

Also of note, DeMarcus Cousins had 17 points for the Warriors and picked up his first technical of the season.

2) All-Star Game starters and captains named, and it’s pretty much who you’d expect. When it comes down to picking the five best players in each conference, you’re going to end up with elite players even if we can quibble over a spot or two. The All-Star Game starters for this year’s game in Charlotte were announced, and there’s no bad call in there.

Here are your All-Star starters, chosen by a combination of fan votes (50 percent of the total), media votes (25 percent) and player votes (25 percent).

WEST
Guard: Stephen Curry (Golden State)
Guard: James Harden (Houston)
Frontcourt: LeBron James (L.A. Lakers)
Frontcourt: Kevin Durant (Golden State)
Frontcourt: Paul George (Oklahoma City)

EAST
Guard: Kyrie Irving (Boston)
Guard: Kemba Walker (Charlotte)
Frontcourt: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee)
Frontcourt: Kawhi Leonard (Toronto)
Frontcourt: Joel Embiid (Philadelphia)

Not sure there’s much to argue about there. Some people in my Twitter timeline wanted to nitpick LeBron making it after he has missed time, but that just suggests more people are using legalized pot than I thought. The All-Star Game isn’t a reward for half a season only, and this is LeBron “best player on the planet/best player of a generation and still near his peak” James we’re talking about. One could argue Anthony Davis deserved to start more than Paul George or maybe even Kevin Durant, but there is no wrong choice among that group.

Three players the fans wanted did not cut it with the players and media — and the players and media got them right. Fan votes had Derrick Rose as a starter, but he is out and the very deserving James Harden is in. Fans had Mavs rookie Luka Doncic in as a starter, but he wasn’t as popular with media and players so Paul George starts. In the East, the fans had Dwyane Wade as a starter, but that spot now goes to the Hornets’ Kemba Walker, who gets to start in his home town.

Now the coaches will vote for the seven reserves from each conference. Who should they pick? We made our choices already, and check out the NBC Sports PBT Podcast that drops today where Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports and I debate this very topic.

3) Don’t take him for granted, Russell Westbrook racked up another triple-double. It’s been a debate on NBA Twitter, and on podcasts and more: Does Russell Westbrook deserve to be an All-Star this season? His shooting has been terribly inefficient — 41.8 percent overall, 24.3 percent from three on almost five attempts a game, and a 48.1 true shooting percentage that is dreadful and the worst of his career.

He’s also averaging a triple-double again with 21.9 points, 10.8 rebounds and 10.7 assists per game. His playmaking for others is better this season.

Yes, Westbrook should be an All-Star reserve. And we shouldn’t take for granted his triple-doubles, like the 23-17-16 one he had on Thursday night in a Thunder win over the Pelicans.

This may be a down season by his standards, but he remains one of the game’s elite.

Watch Zion Williamson score 25, lead Pelicans to crucial win vs. Trail Blazers

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Zion Williamson had 25 points for his seventh straight game with at least 20 points, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers 128-115 on Friday night.

The No. 1 draft pick was playing in just his 11th game after a right knee injury sidelined him for the first half of the season.

The Pelicans, who led by as many as 22 points, have won four of their last five games.

The Blazers, who have lost three straight, were without Damian Lillard, who is expected to miss three or more games because of a groin injury that occurred in Memphis last week. It kept Lillard out of the All-Star Game and the 3-point contest last weekend.

Lillard is averaging a career-high 29.5 points and 7.8 assists per game. His absence hurts the Blazers, who went into the game 3.5 games back of Memphis for eighth in the Western Conference standings.

And it’s not just Lillard: Portland had only nine players available for the game.

CJ McCollum took over as point guard and finished with 27 points and 10 assists. Hassan Whiteside added 19 points and 12 rebounds.

The Pelicans were among four teams, along with the Blazers, fighting for those last playoff berths with just a third of the season left. Coach Alvin Gentry said he’s treating the last 27 games like a college season.

“We want to play to get into a tournament. We want a high seed. Those are the things that we’ve talked about. Obviously, we have to play good basketball,” Gentry said.

The Pelicans also won the previous three meetings this season with Portland. Earlier this month in New Orleans, Williamson had 31 points and nine rebounds in a 138-117 victory over the Blazers.

Williamson, who played just one season at Duke before going pro, went into the game against the Blazers averaging 22.1 points and 7.5 rebounds.

His streak of games with 20-plus points is the longest among NBA rookies this season. And he was the first player since Michael Jordan to have 20 or more in eight of his first 10 NBA games.

Lonzo Ball’s 3-pointer put the Pelicans up 29-17 in the opening quarter. But the Blazers closed within 40-38 early in the second on Whiteside’s dunk. It was as close as Portland could get, and Williamson’s dunk gave New Orleans a 54-46 lead.

Williamson’s layup pushed the Pelicans’ advantage to 65-50 and New Orleans led 73-63 going into halftime. He led all players with 19 points.

Consecutive jumpers from Carmelo Anthony and Whiteside’s dunk pulled Portland within 80-75 in the third quarter. The Pelicans pulled away with a 12-0 run to head to the fourth with 102-83 lead.

Portland closed the gap a bit in the fourth when back-to-back 3-pointers from Trevor Ariza and McCollum got the Blazers within 114-105. Jrue Holiday‘s 3 and Ball’s layup extended New Orleans’ lead again and fans at the Moda Center headed for the exits.

Holiday finished with 20 points and nine assists.

Pascal Siakam scores 37, Raptors remain red hot with win vs. Suns

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TORONTO (AP) — Pascal Siakam had 37 points and 12 rebounds and the Toronto Raptors beat the Phoenix Suns 118-101 on Friday night for their 16th victory in 17 games.

Serge Ibaka scored 16 points, Fred VanVleet and Terence Davis each had 14, Kyle Lowry had 13 points and 10 assists and OG Anunoby aded 12 points for the defending NBA champion Raptors.

After Toronto’s franchise-record 15-game winning streak ended with a loss at Brooklyn in the final game before the All-Star break, the Raptors bounced back by starting the second half with their eighth consecutive home victory.

The Raptors have not lost back-to-back games since an overtime loss at Indiana on Dec. 23 and a home loss to Boston on Christmas Day. Toronto has gone 19-1 since.

Siakam connected on 12 of 19 attempts, going 5 of 9 from 3-point range.

That was just one fewer than the six 3-pointers the Suns managed on 34 attempts. Phoenix shot 17.6%t from long range, its lowest mark of the season. No Suns player made more than one shot from distance.

Devin Booker scored 21 points and Deandre Ayton had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Phoenix. The Suns lost for the seventh time in nine games.

Ayton returned to the starting lineup after missing the final two games before the All-Star break because of a sore left ankle.

Phoenix trailed 93-78 through three quarters, but the Suns cut the gap to six points, 96-90 on a basket by Ayton with 8:08 left to play. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson made a pair from the line, and VanVleet and Siakam both scored to put the Raptors up 102-90 with 6:58 remaining.

Booker missed a 3 with 4:45 left that would have made it a four-point game. Anunoby scored on a dunk and, after another missed 3 by the Suns, Ibaka banked home a 3-pointer to restore Toronto’s 12-point cushion.

Moe Harkless says no buyout with Knicks: “I’ll be here the rest of the year”

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Moe Harkless went from a guy often starting and playing critical minutes for a contender in the Clippers to being the matching salary in a trade and finding himself on the woeful Knicks.

“It is definitely an adjustment with the way things are,” Harkless told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “Everything is different, the culture and everything.”

If there was a player nobody would blame for wanting a buyout and the chance to get back to a team playing for something, it would be Harkless.

That’s not happening. Multiple reports have surfaced that he is not talking buyout with New York running up to the March 1 deadline. The latest comes from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Then Harkless was even more direct speaking to Bondy.

“I’ll be here the rest of the year,” he said.

Harkless has fans in NBA front offices, with the Lakers rumored to be among them (although they are about to land Markieff Morris in a similar role). Harkless could play good defensive minutes on the wing down the stretch for a team, buying rest for key guys, plus in the playoffs he could be advantageous in certain matchups.

Morris and the Knicks have time to change their minds, but it sounds like he will play out the season in New York then be a free agent next summer.

Lakers reportedly will waive DeMarcus Cousins to clear roster spot

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If the Lakers are going to add Markieff Morrisas has been rumored — or anyone else via free agency, they are going to need to clear out a roster spot.

That has the Lakers looking to waive DeMarcus Cousins, a report broken by Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Cousins signed with the Lakers over the summer but never set foot on the court with them after tearing his ACL during summer workouts (which led to a scramble and L.A.’s fortuitous signing of Dwight Howard). He was around the team and rehabbing, and while they would never officially rule him out, Cousins was never expected to play.

He was not waived before because his $3.5 million salary might have been useful in a trade. When that didn’t materialize at the deadline it, became likely he could get waived.

It’s highly unlikely a team picks up Cousins this season, while he continues to rehab from his injury. However, it might be a good roll of the dice this summer by a team to sign him to a minimum contract for next season. Cousins still has some NBA basketball in him, if he can just stay healthy.