Associated Press

Three Things to Know: Kerr, Warriors start vacation early, Lillard takes advantage in win

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Steve Kerr, Warriors start vacation early; Damian Lillard, Blazers take advantage in a victory. NBA players generally treat the last game before the All-Star break the way you treat your last day at work/school before vacation — they have already checked out mentally. There was plenty of that with the Warriors heading into Wednesday night — DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston were all given the night off.

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant played but started their vacation a quarter early. Both were brilliant through the first three: Durant had 16 points in the first quarter and after three had 32 points on 12-of-17 shooting; Curry led the Warriors third quarter push with 18 points in the frame on his way to 32 points on 24 shots. However, both of them were completely scoreless in the fourth.

The, after a controversial flagrant foul call on Draymond Green in the fourth, Steve Kerr decided to start his vacation early and got ejected.

Kerr will be writing a check to the NBA for that outburst. The league can’t let that slide. However, Kerr is right about the call — Green was in no way deserving of a flagrant. Collins was going in for a dunk, Green fouled him to stop it, but the definition of a flagrant foul is “unnecessary and/or excessive contact,” and you’re not going to convince me there was any of that. I know the league wants to protect players and not allow contact to the head, but there was very little if any and it was incidental. Even Zach Collins (the guy fouled) was surprised by the call. That was a common foul.

Portland owned the fourth 35-12 to get the win — credit the Blazers for showing up ready to play on getaway day. It was evident back in the second quarter when Maurice Harkless out-hustled five Warriors down the court for a transition dunk. It was evident in the play of a bench unit that has been up and down this season but brought it in this one, especially in the fourth, when Jake Layman had 12 of his 17 of the night and Rodney Hood pitched in five.

Lillard finished the game with 29 points on 9-of-15 shooting, the Warriors simply had no answer.

It was a good day for the Trail Blazers off the court, too — they added Enes Kanter for the stretch run off the buyout market. Kanter will provide some more scoring punch off the bench to go with Zach Collins (and behind Jusuf Nurkic), the Turkish star knows how to get buckets. He’s of limited help (if any) once the rotations shrink in the postseason because he gets exposed on defense, but Kanter will make sure the Blazers are well positioned entering the postseason.

2) James Harden extends his scoring streak to 31 to tie Wilt Chamberlain, but it’s not enough to get Houston the win. James Harden is an MVP candidate because he is willing the Rockets into the postseason.

Wednesday night he scored 42 points against the Timberwolves, extending his streak of 30+ point games to 31, tying the legendary Wilt Chamberlain for the second longest such streak ever. Remember when Harden started this streak the Rockets were a below .500 team sitting at 13th in the West, now they are fifth.

But Harden can only do so much. Or, more accurately, Harden can only do so much to cover up the putrid Houston defense. Especially with Clint Capela out. Houston lost to Minnesota 121-111 on Wednesday because they cannot get stops — Jeff Teague had 27 points on 16 shots, Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 points on 18 shots, and as a team the Timberwolves had an offensive rating of 129. Minnesota got the shots in wanted and knocked them down all game.

Plus, Minnesota made some defensive plays.

That’s what separates this Rockets team from a season ago (that and Chris Paul is still good but looks like he has lost a step). Last year’s Rockets team was a threat to the Warriors because of their defense, maybe that team can flip the switch and come back for the playoffs, but after 57 games it looks like this is who the Rockets are. And that’s not going to be good enough.

3) Nets win triple-overtime thriller thanks to DeMarre Carroll three, then D’Angelo Russell sinking dagger. The most entertaining game of the night happened in Cleveland. Which is why you didn’t watch it. But we’ve got the highlights of overtime for you, complete with DeMarre Carroll forcing triple overtime with a shot at the buzzer, then D'Angelo Russell sealing the win with the last of his 36 points on the night. There are some nice Collin Sexton highlights in there as well.

BONUS Thing To Know: Kevin Knox had the ridiculous poster dunk on Ben Simmons. Damn, this is just nasty.

Three Things to Know: While Lakers will go al-in, expect Anthony Davis drama to drag out

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) While Lakers will go all-in, expect Anthony Davis drama to drag out. The Lakers have learned their lesson.

When Paul George was available via trade in June of 2017, the Lakers thought he would come their way via free agency in a year so when the Pacers asked for Brandon Ingram in a deal, the Lakers said no. That was too steep a price. Which is when Oklahoma City rolled the dice — sending Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to Indy — and not only traded for George but then won him over the next season. George re-signed with the Thunder without ever meeting with the Lakers and is now having a season that will earn him a spot on a lot of MVP ballots.

With Anthony Davis the Lakers will not make that mistake again, they will go all-in before the Feb. 7 trade deadline. No hesitations.

The situation is different — now the Lakers have LeBron James — and with Davis’ agent telling New Orleans the best big man in the game will not re-sign with them and asking for a trade, the Lakers will not hold back on their offer. Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, anyone not named LeBron is available. Davis’ agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports (who also represents LeBron), is clearly trying to steer Davis to the Lakers: That’s why this was leaked now (Boston can’t make a deal until July 1 because of a CBA rule, leaking now gives the Lakers a window) and why it was leaked Boston is not a “top target” for Davis.

It’s not going to matter. This is going to drag out into the summer.

Unless a third team comes in hard over the top before the deadline (Houston?), sources told me the Pelicans are not going to feel pressure and rush a deal before the deadline a week from Thursday. The Pelicans even pushed back on the idea of a quick move — and at Rich Paul — in their official statement.

“Relative to specific talks of a trade, we will do this on our timeline. One that makes sense for our team and it will not be dictated by those outside of our organization. We have also requested the League to strictly enforce the tampering rules associated with this transaction.”

The Pelicans will very likely wait until at least May to see what happens in the NBA Draft Lottery — the Knicks want in on AD trade talks, and if they end up with the No. 1 overall pick (they currently have the second-worst record in the league) and the rights to Zion Williamson, things get very interesting.

Then there’s Boston. Most scouts/teams value their young players — particularly Jayson Tatum, but also Jaylen Brown — higher than the Lakers core, plus Boston has the Kings’ pick this draft and the Memphis pick (top eight protected this draft, top six in 2020, unprotected in 2021) which may be very valuable the way that franchises is headed. (What ultimately matters is how the Pelicans value the Lakers vs. Celtics assets, we don’t know that, but most teams prefer the Celtics’ package. Do you see a future All-Star in that Laker offer?)

Boston’s GM Danny Ainge is reportedly not slowed by Davis’ agent’s comments. Ainge knows if he trades for Davis, Kyrie Irving will certainly re-sign, those two have a bond. The other bit of leverage: If Davis left Boston after that as a free agent he leaves a boatload of money on the table.

What’s the motivation for New Orleans to get a deal done now, before Boston and others can make their best offer? Davis is uncomfortable? So what. He created the situation. And the Pelicans know the big Laker offer coming in the next few days will be on the table in July, too. The Lakers are all-in, they are not pulling out of this (they don’t have another option, Klay Thompson will get a max offer and stay in the Bay Area, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard aren’t interested in being in LeBron’s shadow).

The Pelicans should ignore the noise and do what is best for them. Maybe a surprise Godfather offer comes up before the trade deadline, but probably not.

Which means expect the Anthony Davis drama to drag out into the summer. He will get traded, just don’t expect it before Feb. 7.

2) Nuggets rally from 25 down midway through the third to beat Grizzlies. Just when you thought things were not going to get worse for the Grizzlies…

In the first half of this game, Memphis looked like the team it was the first weeks of the season, playing strong defense and holding Denver to just 41 points, while getting just enough offense to lead. Midway through the third quarter, the Grizzlies led by 25 and were in control… then the wheels came off. Denver cut the lead to 17 entering the fourth, then won the final quarter 35-15 to come all the way back and get the 95-92 win.

Nikola Jokic continued to play like an All-Star and had the go-ahead bucket.

Jokic should be named when the All-Star reserves are announced Thursday (coach’s vote).

3) Warriors win 11th in a row, just in case you forgot they are the league’s dominant force. There was one scary moment in Indiana for Golden State, but it had nothing to do with the score. It was when Myles Turner picked up a flagrant foul on DeMarcus Cousins in transition and Boogie — in just his fifth game back from a torn Achilles — went down awkwardly.

Cousins got up, shot the free throws, and the Warriors went on to roll the Oladipo-less Pacers 132-100. Cousins had 22 points, Stephen Curry 26. Pretty much everything the Warriors threw up went in, including when Shaun Livingston was behind the backboard.

The Warriors went 5-0 on this road trip and have won 11 in a row. Unless a contender can make an Anthony Davis trade before the Feb. 7 deadline, it’s difficult to see who is going to challenge Golden State in the postseason when they are playing like this.

Report: Warriors project at least $100 million revenue increase with new arena next season

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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The Warriors’ player costs this season are in line to be about $195 million (about $145 million in salary, about $50 million in luxury tax).

If they re-sign Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to max salaries, keep everyone under contract, sign their own draft picks and fill the rest of their roster with minimum-salary free agents, the Warriors’ spending on players next season would project to hit about $355 million (about $173 million in salary, about $182 million in luxury tax).

But maybe Golden State can afford it.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Internally, the Warriors project a nine-figure increase in revenue when they move into the Chase Center next season, sources said.

The Warriors already make so much money on their home games. That’s a whopping increase – one that could alone increase the league-wide salary cap a couple million dollars.

But this figure doesn’t say how much more money will reach Golden State ownership. Revenue differs from profit. The Warriors could have greater expenses, including revenue-sharing obligations, in their new arena.

Still, it’s hard to imagine this won’t be a windfall for the Golden State, one that could go a long way not just in affording stars but also keeping complementary players like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.

The salary cap promotes competitive balance. But big-spending teams still have an advantage.

Hawks’ Taurean Prince out at least three weeks with left ankle injury

AP
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ATLANTA — Hawks forward Taurean Prince will miss at least three weeks after injuring his left ankle in a lost to Golden State.

The team announced Tuesday that an MRI revealed a ligament sprain, bone bruise and associated soft tissue inflammation.

Prince was injured in Monday night’s 128-111 loss to the Warriors when he came down on Shaun Livingston while shooting. The Atlanta player hobbled straight to the locker room and left the arena on crutches.

The 6-foot-8 Prince is the Hawks’ third-leading scorer at 15 points a game. A first-round pick out of Baylor, he’s in his third season with the rebuilding team.

Clippers knock off Warriors in overtime 121-116

Associated Press
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lou Williams couldn’t hit a lick in regulation, so of course he had the ball in crunch time.

The Los Angeles Clippers wouldn’t have it any other way.

Williams scored the Clippers’ final 10 points in overtime after they blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, and they hung on Monday night to beat the Golden State Warriors at home for the first time in nearly four years, 121-116.

Williams recovered after shooting 3 of 16 in regulation, when the Clippers were scoreless over the final 5:15 while the Warriors ran off 11 straight points to force overtime tied at 106-all.

“There would be no point for me to be on the floor if I didn’t have confidence,” said Williams, who finished with 25 points.

Montrezl Harrell added 23 points off the bench and rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 18.

“It’s not about the run they go on,” Harrell said. “It’s about how we handle it. We stayed after it and kept going after them.”

The Clippers snapped a seven-game skid against the Warriors at Staples Center, where they last won on Dec. 25, 2014.

“Unfortunately we lost, but we’ll see them again at least three more times and that’ll be different,” Klay Thompson said.

Kevin Durant had 33 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for the Warriors before fouling out with 3:46 left in the extra session. Thompson added 31 points, but was just 5 of 16 on 3-pointers on a night without injured fellow Splash Brother Stephen Curry.

“Everything changes without Steph,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s one of the best offensive players in the history of the game so you take him out and they don’t have to worry about as much.”

Golden State lost for just the third time in 14 games.

The starless Clippers improved to 6-1 at home.

Thompson’s 3-pointer tied it 116-all in overtime, interrupting Williams’ run of 10 straight points for the Clippers.

“He’s been playing the same game for like 10 years now,” Shaun Livingston said of Williams. “He’s just a handful to guard.”

Down 106-95, the Warriors closed regulation on an 11-0 run, with Thompson scoring their last eight points. His second 3-pointer in the spurt tied it at 106. However, on the final play of regulation, Draymond Green tried to take it the length of the court rather than pass to Kevin Durant, and Green lost the ball without getting a shot off. That led to words between the two on the bench.

The Clippers crashed the boards – every player grabbed at least one – and they dominated in the paint, 62-36.

Williams’ 3-pointer gave Los Angeles its largest lead of 101-87 after they didn’t go up by double digits until Harrell’s basket to open the fourth.

The Warriors were held to 20 points in the third when they were outscored by six.

“I told our guys to empty the gun at the beginning of the third,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “Our whole goal was to get more shots than them.”

The Clippers shot 60 percent and led 64-61 at halftime.