Warriors rally to beat Rockets after Kevin Durant injury

1 Comment

Golden State was nearly finished blowing a 20-point lead. Stephen Curry was still slumping. Klay Thompson had gone quiet since a scorching start.

Then, Kevin Durant limped off the court with a calf injury.

End of the Warriors as we know them?

No, thanks to the Warriors as we previously knew them.

In a performance reminiscent of 2015 and 2016 before Durant joined them, Curry took over, Thompson came up big in support and Draymond Green threw his body all over the court as Golden State beat the Rockets 104-99 in Game 5 Wednesday.

The Warriors take a 3-2 series lead into Houston for Game 6 Friday. Teams with home-court advantage and a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series entering a road Game 6 have won Game 6 51% of the time and the series 91% of the time.

This has been an especially tight series with games decided by four, six, five, four and now five points. The first five games of a series have each been decided by six or fewer points only three times previously. The Grizzlies eliminated the Thunder in five close games in 2013. After five close games, the Cavaliers blew out the Pistons in Game 6 to clinch their 2007 series. In 1995, the Magic and Pacers played five close games then exchanged blowouts in Games 6 and 7, Orlando ultimately prevailing.

Will Golden State-Houston follow the trend with a blowout Game 6? Or will these teams keep it unprecedently close?

Durant’s injury could give the Rockets an edge. The Warriors are still determining whether he’ll even travel to Houston.

But Golden State bought itself margin for error with tonight’s win.

Nobody stepped up more than Curry. His scoring before and after Durant’s injury:

  • Before: 9 points on 4-of-14 shooting, including 1-for-8 on 3-pointers, in 30 minutes
  • After: 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 2-for-3 on 3-pointers, in 14 minutes

His help was sporadic, but timely.

Green (eight points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, game-high +12) fouled out, and he got a late technical foul for elbowing Chris Paul in the head while celebrating a charge drawn on Paul. But Green also buried a huge 3-pointer on the next possession:

As the Warriors tried to preserve a three-point lead with the shot clock off, Thompson (27 points on 5-of-10 3-point shooting) got trapped along the sideline and threw a pass up for grabs. The ball got batted around until Kevon Looney – who made numerous big contributions and could start for Durant – secured it. Looney passed to a cutting Thompson, who made a contested layup:

That was the dagger in an odd game.

James Harden (31 points and eight assists) scored early in the fourth quarter and again late, but he went more than 10 minutes of game time and nine minutes of playing time without making a shot (only one free throw in that span).

Paul (11 points on 3-of-14 shooting, including 0-for-6 on 3-pointers) was off.

The Rockets can play much better.

But the Warriors quickly rediscovered their pre-Durant identity, and that could propel them in what looks like a tossup Game 6.

Wembanyama encore: 36 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks against Ignite

0 Comments

Victor Wembanyama is for real.

And I don’t mean real tall, although he is that, too. Check out this image of him next to Rudy Gobert, who is a legit 7’1″.

Wembanyama is for real like a genuine generational talent — in his second game against the G-League Ignite he had 36 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocked shots.

That comes off his 37-point performance in the first meeting where he hit 7-of-11 3-pointers and had five blocks.

To be clear: That is 73 points, 15 rebounds, nine blocks, shooting 9-of-18 from 3 (and 22-of-44 overall) across two games against a good talent level. And he is 18 years old.

Everyone in and around the NBA has been trying to come up with player comps — Kristaps Porzingis, Ralph Sampson, Tim Duncan — but the reality is Wembanyama is one of one.

Scoot Henderson — the G-League guard projected as the No. 2 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft — played just five minutes in this game after bumping his knee while guarding Wembanyama. He was taken out of the game and X-rays found a bone bruise, he did not return. He is officially day-to-day the team announced.

Wembanyama and his Metropolitans 92 got the win in this rematch, 112-106.

Draymond Green not expected to miss any games, Warriors to handle discipline ‘internally’

2022 NBA Summer League - Golden State Warriors v New York Knicks
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
0 Comments

Draymond Green is not expected to miss any games for punching teammate Jordan Poole during an altercation during practice, Warriors GM Bob Myers said Thursday.

That’s not to say he is escaping any punishment, it will just be handled internally, Myers said.

Green showed up at Chase Center and apologized to the team and then left, he did not practice with the Warriors, reports Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.

“Draymond apologized to the team this morning, Jordan was there in the room, I was there in room with the team, the coaches, the players and we heard that,” Myers said.

Whatever punishment the Warriors are handing down to Green, it will not include missing games, Myers said.

Coach Steve Kerr added, “I expect [Green] to return on Saturday and get back at it.” That implies a couple of days suspension, likely with a hefty fine.

Kerr was also quick to shoot down the rumors of Poole having an “attitude” around camp as he comes up on a massive contract extension. Stephen Curry echoed that, saying those reports are “absolute BS.”

The Warriors have seen their fair share of Draymond Green incidents over the years, and as a locker room and franchise they know how to move on from it. While this made headlines, the Warriors will shrug it off and move on.

Miami, Milwaukee have their eyes on Jae Crowder

NBA 2022 Playoffs - Phoenix Suns v Dallas Mavericks
Getty Photo
0 Comments

The Heat and Bucks don’t just have interest in the same player. They’re looking to replace the same player.

Two years ago, P.J. Tucker helped Milwaukee win their first championship in a half-century. Last season, he helped Miami lock up the top seed in the East and make the Conference Finals.

With Tucker in Philadelphia, both the Heat and Bucks are looking to fill the void with a different lockdown enforcer that can stretch the floor.

Jae Crowder and the Suns agreed that he won’t participate in practice as the team looks to accommodate his trade request. In a recent ESPN+ article, Zach Lowe made it clear that both Miami and Milwaukee are interested in pursuing a trade for Crowder.

“The Bucks have internal interest in Crowder as that Tucker replacement after getting into the recent Jerami Grant and Bojan Bogdanovic discussions, sources say. They will search all season for one more piece.

“The Heat have interest in Crowder too, sources say, but finding matching salary is tough until Dewayne Dedmon, Caleb Martin and Victor Oladipo become trade-eligible in the winter. Martin might start, and the Heat are optimistic Oladipo can play a huge role.”

Grant and Bogdanovic were traded to Portland and Detroit, respectively. The Heat may struggle to find a trade that works since Phoenix probably won’t want to take on Duncan Robinson’s contract. Dedmon, Martin and Oladipo will become trade eligible on January 15th.

Crowder has a history with the Heat, as he helped them make the NBA Finals in the bubble. He helped Phoenix make the NBA Finals two seasons ago and then helped them finish with the best record in the NBA last season.

LeBron says Wembanyama is an ‘alien’ and a ‘generational talent’

0 Comments

There was a time when LeBron James was the “it” kid coming for the NBA — a freakish athlete like nobody in the league had seen. A player the size of Karl Malone with the quickness and skills of an elite point guard.

Now the “it” guy is Victor Wembanyama, the 7’4″ mold-breaking big out of France — and LeBron is impressed.

“Everybody’s been a unicorn over the last few years, well he’s more like an alien,” LeBron said after the Lakers’ preseason loss to the Suns in Las Vegas. “I’ve never seen, no one’s ever seen anyone as tall as he is, but it’s fluid and as graceful as on the floor…

“His ability to put the ball on the floor, shoot step-back jumpers on the post, step-back 3s, catch-and-shoot 3s, block shots. He’s for sure a generational talent. And hopefully he continues to stay healthy, that’s the most important for him personally, and as you could tell he loves the game. He was smiling a lot while playing the game last night. I think it was the two best players in the draft on the floor last night and they both did their thing.”

Wembanyama is projected to be the No.1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, just ahead of point guard Scoot Henerson, who scored 28 points with nine assists of his own leading his G-League Ignite to a win over Wembanyama’s Metropolitans 92. Wembanyama scored 37 points in the game, hit 7-of-11 shots from 3, had five blocks and a few other shots changed because of his length (7’11” wingspan) and the threat of his block.

Wembanyama and Henderson face off again tonight in a second game between the Ignite and Metropolitans 92 just outside Las Vegas in Henderson (9:30 p.m. ET on NBATV).

Wembanyama will play, with his agent telling ESPN there are no plans to shut the No.1 pick down to avoid injury and protect his draft status. “He’ll never agree to that. He wants to compete and get better,” Bouna Ndiaye said.

LeBron looked back on his time as the “it” player and said simply, “thank got there wasn’t social media” at the time. It’s a different world now, but game still recognizes game.

And LeBron recognizes it in Wembanyama.