Klay Thompson questionable for Game 3 with ‘mild’ hamstring strain

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After Game 2, Klay Thompson tried to play down the hamstring strain that sent him to the sidelines in the fourth quarter saying he expected he would play in Game 3 Wednesday. Coach Steve Kerr was more wait-and-see, knowing an MRI was coming.

“Klay said he’ll be fine, but Klay could be half dead and he would say he would be fine,” Kerr said. “We’ll see. He pulled his hamstring.”

That hamstring is strained and has him questionable for Game 3, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic and confirmed by the Warriors.

No Thompson would put a lot of pressure on the Warriors as shot creators, especially if Kevin Durant cannot play (his status for Game 3 is unknown).

Thompson will want to play, but even if he is close the Warriors need to way the risk vs. reward, they can’t afford to have him make it worse and be out for the series.

Thompson had 25 points on 17 shots plus defended Kawhi Leonard much of the time before he was forced to leave the game. He was the best player on the court for three quarters of that game.

With no Thompson or Durant down the stretch of Game 2, the Raptors went to the never seen in the NBA (or college, or most high school games) box-and-one defense with Fred VanVleet harassing Stephen Curry — and it worked. The Warriors didn’t score for seven straight possessions, Toronto just struggled against the Warriors defense and could not get come all the way back for the win.

There are counters to every defense, but if Thompson is out (and especially if Durant is out, too), a heavy burden will fall on Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and others to create shots and make the Raptors pay for their attention to Curry.

 

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.

Watch Lakers fan drain half-court shot to win $75,000

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
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It might have been the loudest the crypto.com Arena was all night.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).

One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.