Warriors’ Draymond Green after latest loss: “I’m playing terrible”

Golden State Warriors v Washington Wizards
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The Golden State Warriors have lost 5-of-6 and are stumbling toward the playoffs. It’s easy to pin that on Stephen Curry being out with a sprained ligament in his foot — the Warriors are 11.6 points per 100 possessions worse with him off the floor — but it’s more than that. Klay Thompson is playing as well as can be expected, but he is not the All-NBA version of himself right now. Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins and the other role players have been hit or miss.

But the biggest issue besides Curry: Draymond Green has not been himself since returning from a back injury.

And he knows it.

“I’m playing terrible. I’ve never really been on a team that gets worse when I’m on the floor and that’s kind of where we are right now. Some things I can correct, some things will come with time. Just kind of what it is but we’re definitely worse when I’m on the floor, that’s for sure.”

Sunday night Green had seven points, six assists, five rebounds, and was -20 in a game the Warriors lost by eight to the Wizards. Two nights before he had four points, three assists, five rebounds, and was -24 in an 11-point loss to the Hawks. That trend continues back through all of the Warriors’ recent losses, and the one game Golden State won — against Miami — was one he sat out.

Green had missed almost all of 31 games (he played :07 seconds in Thompson’s return) due to a back injury where the pain had reached down into his calf. Watching him play now, it’s fair to ask if he is all the way back from that; he seems half-a-step slow to plays he used to make. Maybe that’s just timing, and maybe it’s a sign of something more.

The Warriors sit as the No. 3 seed in the West and have a two-game lead over the surging Mavericks with seven games to play. Golden State should hold on to that seed (and stay on the other side of the playoff bracket from the Suns) but they need a couple more wins down the stretch. Green has to be better to get them there.

Watch Dinwiddie get ejected for elbow to Poole’s face; Mavs still win behind Doncic 41 points

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Dallas has gotten in trouble this season because of a lack of secondary shot creation behind Luka Doncic, so when Spencer Dinwiddie got ejected for an elbow to the face of Golden State’s Jordan Poole, it seemed like the Mavericks might be in danger of falling to the Warriors.

Doncic had other plans — and a 41-point triple-double.

The ejection happened early in the fourth quarter, when Dinwiddie drove the lane on Poole and, bringing the ball up, elbowed Poole in the face.

That was reviewed by the referees who ruled it a Flagrant 2. The league has cracked down on blows to the face and head — intentional or not — the past couple of seasons.

Dinwiddie being out just meant more Luka — and that was bad news for the Warriors.

Despite Doncic and his triple-double, the Warriors had a couple of chances in the final seconds. First, Stephen Curry got called for a travel.

The Warriors argued that call but got nowhere with the referees. But they got one more chance on a Klay Thompson 3 to tie, but it was just not their night.

The Mavericks got the 116-113 win. Tim Hardaway Jr. pitched in 25 points, including five 3-pointers for Dallas. Curry led the Warriors with 32.

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.