Defense, a little Curry magic, spark Warriors to Game 2 rout of Celtics


SAN FRANCISCO — Draymond Green broadcast the Warriors’ Game 2 strategy to the world Saturday.

“When you’re playing against a great team at this level at this point in the season, they have to feel you every possession,” Green said.

The Celtics felt the Warriors in Game 2 — and Green was in the middle of it, being Jaylen Brown to open the game. And stirring the pot a little.

“Just like I said, Steph Curry sets the tone on the offensive side of the ball, it’s my job to set the tone from the defensive side of ball,” Green said. “And I wanted to do that from the very beginning of the game.”

Golden State was physical at the point of attack, Green and Andrew Wiggins took away straight-line drives into the paint for Jayson Tatum and Brown, and the Warriors stripped the ball when the Celtics did get into the lane. Boston was still hitting its 3-pointers —10-of-19 in the first half — but they were shooting 28% inside the arc and had 11 turnovers in the first 24 minutes.

Those numbers came back to bite them in the third when the predictable Warriors avalanche came — Stephen Curry had 14 points in the frame and was hitting 3s, Klay Thomspon started to find a groove, then a struggling Jordan Poole did this.

Golden State shot 7-of-12 from 3 on its way to a 35-14 domination of the third quarter. From there, the Warriors pulled away and, unlike Game 1, never let Boston get up off the mat.

The Warriors routed the Celtics 107-88, evening the NBA Finals at 1-1.

Game 3 is in Boston on Wednesday.

At points all season — especially the first couple of months — when the Celtics were challenged physically by a defense, they tended to get tunnel vision on drives into the paint, didn’t move the ball and it led to turnovers. Those bad habits were back in Game 2.

“We had 11 turnovers for 18 points in the first half,” Ime Udoka said. “They had nine steals. Playing in the crowd way too much… But we weren’t strong with the ball overall, so it wasn’t just [Green]. Of course he’s going to come out and try to set the tone. But I think we weren’t strong with the ball a lot, searching for fouls instead of going up and making plays, especially with their lack of rim protection.”

The turnovers let the Warriors get out in transition and play with pace, which Golden State felt needed to open up its offense. Curry got going and finished with 29 points, while Kevon Looney added 12 on 6-of-6 shooting, finishing passes and putbacks at the rim. Poole, who was 4-of-13 in the Finals before his half-court shot, finished with 17 and found his stroke in the final quarter.

“I think tonight turnovers and I think sometimes letting our offense affect how we defend,” Tatum said of what set Boston back. “We were a little stagnant in the third quarter, and I feel like it translated on the defensive end.”

However, it was the Warriors who forced the Celtics to struggle.

“We were able to get them out of their rhythm,” Kevon Looney said. “We were able to get [Al] Horford off the three-point line. Get Derrick White to finish some tough shots, and I think Draymond did a great job setting the tone on Jaylen Brown with his physicality, and we were able to keep them on their heels.”

Another part of that was the return of Gary Payton II to the rotation. He stepped into minutes that had gone to Andre Iguodala in Game 1 — he was out for Game 2 — and Payton’s value as a strong on-ball defender was obvious. Payton was +15 on the night.

With Payton, Golden State reminded everyone they had the No. 2 defense in the NBA this past season.
Tatum finished with 28 points on 8-of-19 shooting, a much improved shooting night from Game 1. Jaylen Brown added 17 and Derrick White had a dozen off the bench.

“I feel like we didn’t move [the ball] enough on offense at times,” Al Horford said. “I think that for whatever reason, we got caught playing, going downhill, attacking the basket a little more. They did a good job of staying with me, for example. Obviously, I didn’t get an attempt, not even a look. So they did a good job making sure they took me away. I just have to find other ways to impact the game, and that’s something that I’ll do Game 3.”

Boston got a split on the road, which is a good thing, but the Warriors showed their championship mettle in Game 2. If the Celtics are going to be champions, they will have to match it.

Watch Curry score 39, spark Warriors rally from 20 down to beat Pelicans


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Draymond Green yelled at the other bench, his own team and even his coach, and this time those intense emotions absolutely made the difference.

Steve Kerr loved it.

“We need his fire,” Golden State’s coach said.

“It was perfect, right, perfectly executed,” Green said with a grin.

Stephen Curry had 39 points with eight 3-pointers, eight rebounds and eight assists, Jordan Poole added 21 points with consecutive layups that gave Golden State the lead early in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors rallied past the New Orleans Pelicans 120-109 on Tuesday night in a testy, playoff-like matchup in late March.

Klay Thompson scored 17 and hit five 3s to set a new single-season career high of 278, which leads the NBA.

The Warriors moved up a spot into sixth place in the crowded Western Conference standings, a half-game up on Minnesota and 1 1/2 games ahead of New Orleans. Golden State lost 99-96 at home to the Timberwolves on Sunday, so coming back from 20 down to win this one was key as the defending champions try to avoid the play-in round. The top six teams are guaranteed playoff berths.

“We lost a heartbreaker the other night. We knew we had to bounce back,” Kerr said.

Brandon Ingram had 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, Trey Murphy III scored 21 points and CJ McCollum added 15 for the Pelicans, who came in riding a five-game winning streak.

Green chirped and pushed the emotions and physicality all game, then threw an alley-oop to Jonathan Kuminga for a dunk with 7:09 left for one of his 13 assists and a 101-98 advantage.

“Draymond willed us to victory tonight,” Kerr said. “His frustration early with the way we were playing. Mad at the world. Yelling at everybody, their bench, our bench, me, and frankly we all deserved it.”

Green was whistled for a double technical for tussling with Ingram late in the second quarter – and Green’s foul was upgraded to a Flagrant 1. He already served a one-game suspension March 17 at Atlanta for his 16th technical.

Green committed an offensive foul moments later and players for both sides tangled, Green’s feet getting caught up with Herbert Jones’ head. A replay showed no additional infractions but Kerr briefly took Green out with tensions running high because of his “extreme energy” in that moment.

“We looked dead those first 18 minutes of the game,” Kerr said. “We had to find some energy somewhere. I knew it wasn’t just going to come.”

Three straight 3-pointers by Curry late in the third got Golden State within 89-83. Poole then stole the ball from Ingram and dunked on the other end as the Warriors trailed 89-85 going into the final 12 minutes.

Golden State started the third on an 8-0 burst fueled by Donte DiVincezo. He made a putback dunk over Ingram early in the second half then a three-point play before Thompson’s 3 at 10:44 made it 63-54.

McCollum’s 3 with 1:40 left before halftime put the Pelicans up 60-43, then Ingram made it a 20-point game with a 3 New Orleans’ next time down.

The Pelicans, coached by former Warriors assistant Willie Green and longtime Golden State assistant Jarron Collins on his staff, had won five straight after a 124-90 romp at Portland on Monday night.

The Warriors’ victory prevented the Sacramento Kings, coached by former top assistant Mike Brown, their first playoff berth since 2006 that would end the worst drought in NBA history at 16 years.

Nowitzki, Wade, Gasol, Popovich reportedly headline Hall of Fame class


It will not become official until Saturday, but this is shaping up to be a legendary Hall of Fame class.

Dwyane Wade. Dirk Nowitzki. Gregg Popovich. Pau Gasol. Tony Parker. Becky Hammon. They are all in, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a deep class, and there was no question about any of those players’ Hall of Fame credentials.

Wade is one of the (arguably THE) greatest shooting guard in the history of the game, winning three rings as a member of the Miami Heat, plus making eight All-NBA teams and 13 trips to the All-Star game. Nowitzki is the greatest Maverick ever and the greatest European player in NBA history, an NBA champion and Finals MVP, plus he won the regular season MVP in 2007.

Popovich, the legendary coach of the five-time champion San Antonio Spurs — a team that won 50+ games 18-straight seasons with him at the helm, plus he coached Team USA to the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Parker was the point guard for much of that Spurs run, is a four-time NBA champion and was Finals MVP in 2007. Gasol is a two-time NBA champion, four-time All-NBA,and led Spain to the FIBA World Championship in 2006 and won three Olympic medals.

The Hall of Fame class will officially be announced on Saturday.


Draymond Green is good with facing Kings in first round — because of the travel


If the NBA playoffs started today, the Golden State Warriors would be in the play-in and host the Pelicans in the 7/8 game. Win that and they would hop on a more than three-hour flight to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies.

Draymond Green said on his podcast he is hoping the Warriors finish as the No.6 seed and dodge the play-in, then face the Kings to open the playoffs (which is how the standings stood 24 hours ago). Why? It’s a 90-mile drive to Sacramento.

“The reason why I said Sac is simply just because of the travel. That’s a lot on your body. If we can bus ride an hour and 10 minutes up the way, I just think that’s much better for us. At the end of the day, I don’t really care who we play in the playoffs, I think we can win.”

Green is not wrong about the travel.

While some teams may have looked at the top four in the West (Nuggets, Grizzlies, Kings, and Suns) and seen Sacramento as the obvious target, that plan could backfire. The Kings’ offense is diverse and elite, and they have the Clutch Player of the Year in De'Aaron Fox, and their building will be rocking like no other after the franchise has not been in the playoffs since 2006. In a West filled with flawed teams, the Kings winning a couple of rounds is well within the realm of possibility.

This could be the first year since the Kings moved to Sacramento that all four California teams make the playoffs (it is likely that all four at least make the play-in). The Kings are all but locked in to be the No.3 seed, while the Warriors, Lakers and Clippers are in the crowded field at the bottom of the playoff bracket where three games separate the No.5 and 11 seeds.

Bradley Beal reportedly under investigation after confrontation with fan who lost gambling

Washington Wizards v Orlando Magic
Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

On March 21, Bradley Beal had an off game — 16 points on 4-of-15 shooting — as the Wizards fell to the Magic in Orlando.

Walking off the court, Beal got into a confrontation with a couple of fans, one of whom blamed him for a gambling loss. The next day that incident became a complaint filed with the Orlando Police Department by the fan. David Purdum of ESPN summarized the police report this way:

Beal and the Wizards were exiting the court and in the visitors’ tunnel, headed to the locker room, when, according to the police report, an unidentified man remarked to Beal, “You made me lose $1,300, you f***.”

Beal, according to the report, turned around and walked toward a friend of the man who made the comment and swatted his right hand toward him, knocking the man’s hat off and contacting the left side of his head.

Police reviewed video footage of the altercation and heard Beal say this is his job and he takes it seriously, and the man is heard apologizing, implying he did not intend to offend him, according to the report.

At this point, no charges have been filed against Beal. According to TMZ, Beal told the heckler, “Keep it a buck. I don’t give a f*** about none of your bets or your parlays, bro. That ain’t why I play the game.” The entire incident lasted less than a minute.

NBA spokesman Mike Bass said, “We are aware of the report and are in the process of gathering more information.”

Sports betting is not currently legal in the state of Florida.

While there is nothing official from the team, speculation abounds that the Wizards have shut down Beal and Kyle Kuzma for the season.