Watch Devin Booker drop 58, spark Suns comeback win against Pelicans

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PHOENIX — Devin Booker dribbled toward the left corner 3-point line with two Pelicans in hot pursuit before rising up for an off-balance jumper. Coach Monty Williams wasn’t sure that was a great idea.

“I couldn’t make that shot,” Williams said grinning.

But Booker can. And he did.

The three-time All-Star put on a show with one of the best scoring games of his career, pouring in 58 points to nearly single-handedly push the Phoenix Suns past New Orleans 118-114 on Saturday night.

The Suns earned the comeback win barely one week after losing to the Pelicans twice in New Orleans. Booker prides himself as a team player and a willing passer, but on Saturday night, he realized he had the hot hand.

“Once I get it going a little bit, shooting over a hand is the right play,” Booker said.

It’s the second time this season Booker has topped 50 points – he scored 51 against Chicago at home Nov. 30 in just three quarters. He had a career-high 70 points at Boston in March 2017 and had 59 at Utah in March 2019.

This effort brought the Suns back from a 24-point deficit. The three-time All-Star made 21 of 35 shots, including 6 of 12 3-pointers. He added five rebounds, five assists and played the entire second half.

The Phoenix bench and fans loved every minute of it. New Orleans? Not so much.

“I don’t enjoy watching somebody score 58 points on us,” Pelicans guard C.J. McCollum said. “It is not enjoyable.”

The Pelicans led 83-59 midway through the third quarter, but the Suns used a 25-6 run to cut that advantage to 89-84 going into the fourth. Booker scored 20 points in the third, willing his team back into contention.

“It’s unreal,” Paul said. “I’ve had the opportunity to play with a lot of greats – Blake Griffin, James Harden and now Book. Sheesh, you just try not to get caught watching.”

Phoenix tied it at 99 with 7:04 left on Josh Okogie‘s free throw. Booker scored a stunning 25 points in a row for the Suns before Okogie’s two free throws, making just about everything he tossed toward the rim as the home crowd roared.

The Suns were clinging to a 111-109 lead when Paul made a crucial 3-pointer with 1:04 remaining. Paul finished with 18 points and eight assists.

The Suns won their second straight game while the Pelicans have dropped three in a row.

Zion Williamson led the Pelicans with 30 points and McCollum added 27. Williamson had a solid game, shooting 12 of 15 from the field, but it was completely overshadowed by Booker’s performance.

“You got to give respect when it is due,” Williamson said. “He put on a clinic.”

The Pelicans pushed to a 34-27 lead after one quarter while shooting 67% from the field. McCollum had 15 points, making 6 of 7 shots, including three 3-pointers.

New Orleans stretched its lead to 63-46 by halftime. Booker scored 22 points before the break on 8-of-13 shooting, but the rest of the Suns shot just 8 of 31 from the field.

“We couldn’t throw it in the ocean if we had been on a boat,” Williams said.

Booker broke the arena record, topping a 54-point game by Gilbert Arenas in 2006 for Washington.

LeBron, other NBA players react to Kyrie Irving trade to Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks v Brooklyn Nets
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Is there going to be a football game of some kind next weekend? You’d never know the way the NBA trade deadline can dominate the headlines.

Kyrie Irving is getting traded to the Mavericks, which has blown up the NBA world — Dallas looks like a threat in the West, and there is a countdown clock over Kevin Durant‘s time in Brooklyn. It wasn’t just fans and pundits stunned by the news, NBA players past and present took to Twitter and social media to react and give their thoughts on the Irving trade. Starting with LeBron James and one of the guys in the trade.

Nets reportedly trade Kyrie Irving to Mavericks for Dinwiddie, Finney-Smith, picks

Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets
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Dallas desperately needed a second star and shot creator to go next to Luka Dončić.

They got one — Mark Cuban has always been willing to take risks to win. The question about how long this can last comes later.

The Nets are trading Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, their unprotected 2029 first-round pick their 2027 and 2029 second-round picks, according to multiple reports.

Irving is reportedly “ecstatic” to make the move to Dallas (the hard questions about a future contract will wait until after the season).

Irving reportedly will land in Dallas Monday, take the standard post-trade physical, and could be available for the Mavericks on Wednesday against the Clippers.

Brooklyn had several suitors to choose from but wanted in return players it could slot in around Kevin Durant now (or, once he is healthy and returns) so they could still have a puncher’s chance to win the East. Dinwiddie gives Brooklyn a point guard and shot creator who can play some off the ball — and he returns to Brooklyn, where he made a name for himself in the league. Finney-Smith is a coveted two-way wing who can step in right now. Plus, the Nets add some potentially valuable picks down the line.

That offer gave the Nets more win-now possibilities than they got out of the Lakers’ offer (two future first-rounders and Russell Westbrook) or what the Suns and Clippers put in the mix.

There are questions for Dallas, but ones they believe they can answer — elite talents figure out a way to make it work on the court. Off the court, it helps that both coach Jason Kidd and former Nike executive turned Mavericks GM Nico Harrison have strong relationships with Irving. That’s a start.

The pairing of Dončić and Irving should lead to games and stretches where they look brilliant, but the question is not the highs but the lows — how deep and how prolonged will those be? Irving works well off the ball (as he has done with Durant and LeBron James) and should be able to play off Dončić. However, can Dončić play well off the ball when Irving is hot? Do the Mavericks — with Tim Hardaway Jr., Christian Wood, Maxi Kleber, Reggie Bullock and the rest — have enough around their two stars to be a serious threat in the West? Off the court, can the very different personalities of Irving and Dončić mesh, or at least work well enough not to be a distraction?

The biggest question: Do Cuban and the Mavericks really want to re-sign Irving for the four-years, $198.5 million he demands at the end of the season? There are reports that Dallas (like every other front office in the league, including Brooklyn) is hesitant to do a long-term deal with Irving that gives him that kind of guaranteed money.

But that is a concern for the future — Dallas got its second star. It has vaulted itself into the upper echelons of the Western Conference and positioned itself to contend.

Reports: Stephen Curry out ‘weeks’ with leg injury, Warriors hope for return after All-Star Break

Dallas Mavericks v Golden State Warriors
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This is bad news for the Warriors. How bad depends on how the word “weeks” is ultimately defined.

Stephen Curry has torn ligaments in his leg — in the shin area just below the knee — and while the team does not have an official timeline he will be out “weeks” reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

“Weeks” is a vague word, and for the Warriors the difference in Curry being out three weeks (with one of those being the All-Star Break) versus him being out six to eight weeks could be the difference in how long a playoff run the Warriors have.

The Warriors are hoping for a Curry return just after the All-Star break, reports Monty Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Of short-term concern, this has Curry out for the All-Star Game where the fans voted him a starter. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will bump one of the reserves up to a starting spot — likely Ja Morant, who was third in fan voting — and name an injury replacement for the team. The top candidates are Devin Booker (if he returns from injury this week as expected), De'Aaron Fox or Anthony Edwards.

Longer term, the Warriors can’t afford to be without Curry for an extended period.

Curry is averaging 27.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists a game, and the Warriors outscore opponents by 5 points per 100 possessions when he is on the court and get outscored by 5.4 when he is off. With the team one game above .500 and struggling to avoid the play-in, an extended absence for Curry is trouble for a Warriors team that has never found its footing this season.

 

Nets reportedly going to sit Kyrie Irving until he is traded

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This time it looks like it’s going to happen, the Brooklyn Nets will trade Kyrie Irving (unlike this summer).

Just don’t expect to see Irving on the court for Brooklyn until he’s moved, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

That is at one time a combination of smart, the only real call to make, the Nets wanting to look like they have control over the situation because Irving’s camp already leaked that he was going to sit out the rest of the season if not traded.

Irving did not play Saturday night when the Nets went down by 20 in the first quarter but rallied behind 44 points from Cam Thomas to get a much-needed win.

Four primary suitors have stepped up for Irving: The Lakers (considered Irving’s preferred destination), Suns, Mavericks and Clippers. The question is what do the Nets want back in a trade? If, as most around the league expect, the goal is to remain in the championship picture around Kevin Durant, Brooklyn will prize quality players and depth over draft picks. That’s bad news for the Lakers (the core of their offer is two future first-round picks plus Russell Westbrook) and good for the team down the hall, the Clippers can offer good players — John Wall, Luke Kennard, Reggie Jackson, plus young players such as Terance Mann — plus a pick if they need it.

The question for teams: Irving wants a max contract after this summer, similar to the four-year, $198.5 million fully guaranteed extension the Nets would not offer after Irving had 10 weeks or so of not being disruptive and focusing on basketball. Around the league, front offices are very hesitant to get into the Irving business for that long (most thought he would never get more than a two-year offer). Are the four teams above desperate enough for a bold move that ownership would sign off on four years with Irving? Will any of them? Or, like this summer, will Irving find the market not to his liking?

It’s going to be interesting until the Feb. 9 trade deadline.