Curry scores 28, Warriors rally in the fourth for 123-116 win over Jazz

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SALT LAKE CITY — Earning road victories against other top NBA teams is quickly becoming a habit for Golden State.

Stephen Curry scored 28 points and had nine assists on Saturday night to help the Western Conference-leading Warriors to a 123-116 win over the Utah Jazz, who are third in the conference.

The Warriors notched their second major road victory over an elite Western Conference foe in eight days, after beating second-place Phoenix on Christmas Day.

“It’s a good confidence builder to be in these types of settings on the road and get wins like this and show who we are,” Curry said. “Our DNA is built on chasing championships and you got to win games like we have to get it done.”

Andrew Wiggins had 25 points for the Warriors, and Otto Porter Jr. had 20 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Andre Iguodala added 12 points, eight assists and seven rebounds off the bench – including a late 3-pointer to seal the win.

Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson all scored 20 points, and Rudy Gobert had 20 points and 19 rebounds in Utah’s seventh home loss.

Mitchell shot just 4 of 19 from the field for a season-low 21%. It came a day after scoring a season-high 39 points against Minnesota.

“I liked a lot of the looks,” Mitchell said. “It’s the same shots I hit not even 24 hours ago. … I can’t count many times the ball rolled in and out. Those nights are going to happen. It can’t go in every night.”

Golden State shot 53% from the field before halftime and had a 14-point lead at the half, which Utah erased and then some (16-point deficit) in the third quarter with a 19-5 run. Bogdanovic and O’Neale hit back-to-back 3-pointers to punctuate the run, which put the Jazz up 79-74.

Utah scored 41 points in the third quarter – the most Golden State has given up during a single quarter this season. But the Warriors came back in the fourth quarter, scoring on seven consecutive possessions for a 111-106 lead. Wiggins led the charge with three straight baskets that finally put Golden State back in front.

“They did a great job of moving the ball, of getting up into us defensively and making us uncomfortable and controlled that third quarter,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “But that requires a lot of energy too. That lead we had at halftime forced them to really get after it in that third quarter and they did. But I thought we had more energy in the fourth as a result.”

Utah tied it at 111-111 on a 3-pointer from Bogdanovic. Curry answered with back-to-back baskets and Iguodala added a 3-pointer to give the Warriors a 119-112 lead with 40 seconds left.

“I thought we ran out of gas a little bit,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “When they’re scoring, it’s obviously much harder to run. That’s something that we know we need to do throughout the course of a game. I didn’t think we were committed to that on a possession-to-possession basis.”

The Warriors shot 53.5% overall for the game, made 17 3-pointers and improved to 5-16 all-time in New Year’s Day games.

Kevon Looney fouled out with 59.4 seconds left after totaling eight points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Golden State shot 13 of 18 from the field in the fourth quarter – 11 of those came off assists. The Warriors also committed only three turnovers in the final quarter to finish with a plus-12 point differential in the fourth after struggling to keep pace with Utah in the third quarter.

The Warriors missed just two shots over the final 10 minutes. Wiggins, Iguodala, and Porter all joined Curry in making critical baskets down the stretch.

“They’re talented and they’re gamers and they understand they’re going to have to play like that for us to do special things this year,” Curry said. “The opportunity is there. It’s just a matter of going through the reps.”

Anthony Davis ‘excited’ to be Lakers’ No.1 offensive option, LeBron pushing him to do it

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Is Anthony Davis a No.1 offensive option on a championship team?

The Lakers made a massive bet in trading for Davis — both in good young players and picks — that he could help them win a title now and be the bridge to the future post-LeBron James. Davis was everything the Lakers hoped in the bubble and did win them banner No. 17. However, he has not stayed healthy or consistently played up to that standard.

New Lakers coach Darvin Ham is betting on Davis again and is going to run more of the offense through him this season. LeBron James reportedly backs Ham up. Can Davis stay healthy, find that form again and look like that bridge to the future? If he can’t, the Lakers have to reconsider their post-LeBron plans. That’s why there is pressure on Davis this season.

Davis is excited to prove he is ready for the role, he told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. He added LeBron is pushing him to do it.

“I’m so excited that I’ve got goosebumps just thinking about this year,” Davis told Yahoo Sports this week. “I’m looking forward to a healthy year and doing what I know we can do.”…

Davis said James, 37, has been in his ear about taking over the reins of the team, while the rest of the roster would follow his lead.

The first step in Davis being that No.1 option: Staying healthy. He played 40 games last season and 36 the season before that. While some of that was due to fluke injuries, the history of Davis missing time is long.

When healthy, Davis is an unquestionably elite player — to use the bubble example, Davis was a defensive force in Orlando who knocked down midrange jumpers after facing up, averaging 27.7 points on a 66.5 true shooting percentage, plus grabbed 9.7 rebounds a game. That is the AD the Lakers need this season.

Which can be a lot of pressure, but Davis said he doesn’t feel that.

“But for me, I’m not putting any pressure on myself at all,” Davis said at media day. “I’m gonna go out there and play basketball, work hard, defend and do what the team needs to win basketball games. I’m not going to overthink and, you know, listen to what everybody else is saying and try to be this ‘whatever’ player they want me to be.”

“Whatever” the Lakers want Davis to be is the Top 10 player in the world he has shown for stretches in Los Angeles. If he can be consistent, that Davis helps the Lakers be more of a threat in the West. If Davis can’t be that guy, it could be another long season for Lakers nation.

 

Proud to be an American: 76ers’ Embiid officially becomes U.S. citizen

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Joel Embiid is an American citizen.

A native of Cameroon, Embiid said he was sworn in as a citizen two weeks ago in Philadelphia. The NBA scoring champion and Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center said his family – Embiid and his Brazilian girlfriend Anne de Paula have a young son – played a pivotal role in his decision.

“I’ve been here for a long time,” Embiid told The Associated Press Thursday at training camp at The Citadel. “My son is American. I felt like, I’m living here and it’s a blessing to be an American. So I said, why not?”

Embiid, who played college basketball for one season at Kansas, also has citizenship in France. He said it is way too early to think about which country he could potentially represent in international basketball.

The 28-year-old Embiid averaged a career-best 30.6 points in 68 games last season. The 7-footer also averaged 11.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists in helping Philadelphia reach the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second straight year. Embiid averaged 23.6 points and 10.7 rebounds in the postseason despite playing with hand and facial injuries.

Embiid had been announced as playing out of Kansas during pregame introductions at 76ers’ home games but switched around midseason last year as being introduced from Cameroon. He might try for a mouthful this season.

“We’re going to say Cameroon, American and French,” he said, laughing.

Tyler Herro says he’s better than players ‘that have gotten paid’

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Seven
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RJ Barrett signed a rookie contract extension for four years, $107 million fully guaranteed that could climb to $120 million with incentives. Several others out of the 2019 draft class — Ja Morant, Zion Williamson, Darius Garland — earned max contract extensions with their team.

Tyler Herro is still waiting on his extension with the Miami Heat.

And with that baked in Herro confidence, he said he is better than some players he has seen getting paid, he told Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

“I was active early in the summer,” he told the South Florida Sun Sentinel of the extension window that opened in July. “Then I realized it wasn’t going to get done, if it does get done, until later. So I just told my agent to call me when it’s ready. “So we haven’t really spoken much about the contract. Obviously, I tell him to call me when it’s ready. If it’s not ready, I continue to play my game and figure it out next summer…

“There’s players across the league that have gotten paid who I know I’m better than. So it’s got to be the right number,” he said, with the Heat continuing camp on makeshift courts at the [ Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas].

One reason an extension for Herro has not gotten done — and may not get done before the Oct. 18 deadline — is Herro is the Heat’s best trade asset to go after a big name. Once he signs an extension that is off the table, something Winderman and I have discussed in our weekly video/podcast on the Heat and NBA.

The other question on a Herro extension is what is the “right number?” Did the Knicks’ Barrett set the market with his extension?

Maybe Barrett is one of the players Herro “knows” he is better than, but that would not be the consensus of scouts and free agents around the league. Herro has hardware as the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, he puts up numbers averaging 20.7 points a game while shooting 39.9% from 3 last season, he can do some secondary play creation and has had big playoff games. He has real value.

However, as Winderman has pointed out, Herro has started just 33 games across three years, compared to Barrett’s 197 starts. More importantly, Herro’s defensive limitations limited how Eric Spoelstra could use him in the playoffs. Then there is the matter of load carried. Barrett was the No. 1 option for the Knicks last season (with Julius Randle falling off) and even with the signing of Jalen Brunson, Barrett is option No.1 or 1B for Tom Thibodeau. Herro is down the Heat pecking order behind Bam AdebayoJimmy Butler, and maybe Kyle Lowry depending on how he bounces back from a down year. The Heat don’t need Herro the way the Knicks need Barrett right now, which is one key reason Herro is available via trade.

Would Herro take a four-year, $105 extension? Would the Heat even offer it? If Miami is hoping for a trade at the deadline, it may wait on an offer and let the market set Herro’s price as a restricted free agent next summer. For Herro, that would give him a chance to prove he is a starter and that his defense has improved — that he is worth more than the Heat had been offering.

If the Heat and Herro agree on an extension, look for it to be in a couple of weeks, pushing up against that October deadline.

 

Lonzo Ball undergoes successful knee surgery, out ‘at least a few months’

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Lonzo Ball underwent another arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Wednesday, and the doctors finally had some positive news.

They believe that they’ve “addressed the issue”, and there is “confidence” that he’ll be able to play this season. He’s still expected to miss “at least a few months”, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Charania added that both sides will monitor his progress over

After his first surgery in January, Ball’s knee didn’t respond well at all, and he was eventually ruled out for the season. During media day this week, Ball said that he couldn’t run or jump, so he couldn’t play basketball. Billy Donovan said that they had to think of Ball’s injury as potentially season-ending. So an update that says that he should play this season is considered good news at this point.

Chicago had a 22-13 record with Lonzo last season, but were just 24-23 without him. He averaged 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.9 blocks, and 3.1 triples per game in his first year with the team.

They have other defenders like Ayo Dosunmu and Alex Caruso, but they don’t have anyone else that can both defend and facilitate the way Lonzo can. They’ll use training camp and the preseason to decide on a starting point guard between Dosunmu, Caruso, and Goran Dragic.

They’re one of the more talented teams in the East, but they may end up playing in the play-in tournament if they’re without Ball for the majority of the season.