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Stephen Curry leads Warriors to a big second half, win over Kings

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Steve Kerr pulled a Gregg Popovich. One missed defensive assignment with no backdoor help on DeMarcus Cousins, and Kerr called a timeout 18 seconds into the game.

“Nobody can make a move like Pop, I’m a very cheap version of him, if at all,” the Golden State coach quipped about Popovich, the longtime San Antonio coach.

“It definitely made a statement,” Draymond Green said.

Stephen Curry scored 30 points and the defense started rolling after halftime, with the Warriors taking their first lead midway through the third quarter on the way to a 117-106 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night.

Once the 3-pointers began to fall, the Warriors were on their way.

Kevin Durant had 28 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four blocks, and Klay Thompson added 18 points. With their 17th straight victory after a loss, the Warriors reached 124 regular-season games in a row without suffering back-to-back defeats.

“It’s deflating for other teams when we can get stops and protect the rim, get steals, force them into tough shots and tough misses and on the other end we’re just running it right back down the paint,” Curry said. “We have to allow that part of our game to shine.”

Green had 10 assists for his 12th game with double digits assists and third in four, while Zaza Pachulia scored 10 points to reach double figures for the fourth straight game. Yet one for the highlight reel was Pachulia’s no-look, backward over-the-head pass to Curry after the big man got the ball when Durant blocked a shot by Cousins.

“We scored, right? Nobody’s going to say anything. If it was a turnover, first thing on the film,” Pachulia said.

Sacramento’s Rudy Gay scored 15 of his 23 points in the first quarter. Cousins had 17.

Golden State had 30 assists for the 26th time this season and won its 13th straight against the Kings, seventh in a row in Sacramento.

The Warriors woke up after halftime, starting the third with a 19-7 burst and outscoring the Kings 39-22 in the period. Golden State didn’t lead until Curry’s 3-pointer with 7:34 left in the third, following Durant’s tying 3 the previous possession. Curry hit five 3-pointers and has at least 30 points in three consecutive games.

Gay shot 9 for 17 in his second game back after missing four straight with a right hip flexor strain and 10 of 11. Cousins went 4 for 11.

“We always have that one quarter or one little stretch where we have bad basketball,” Cousins said. “It comes back to bite us in the end.”

The Warriors went 3 for 14 from long range in the first half, then shots fell as the defense improved.

Before the game, Kings coach Dave Joerger joked, “Ask `em nicely if they won’t shoot so many.”

The Warriors just needed some time to warm up after choosing not to shootaround in the morning with a 6 p.m. tipoff even with it being their first visit to the new Golden 1 Center.

They didn’t relinquish this one, two days after squandering a 24-point lead in the second half of a 128-119 overtime home loss to Memphis.

BOLLYWOOD GAME

The special “Bollywood Night” game marked the first regular-season NBA game to be livestreamed on Facebook, this time only to fans in India.

There was Indian-themed entertainment and music and even a Henna tattoo station.

TIP-INS

Warriors: Durant notched his 700th regular-season block in the second quarter and had at least three blocks for a third straight game. That matches a career-long streak also done from Nov. 25-30, 2015. …. The team’s winning streak against the Kings is its longest active unbeaten run against any opponent and tied for third-longest in franchise history behind a 14-gamer against Dallas from 1991-94 and 15-game winning streak from 1947-49 vs. the Providence Steamrollers. … San Francisco mayor Ed Lee was in attendance, while Giants CEO Larry Baer sat courtside and got a first-quarter shoutout on the enormous scoreboard.

Kings: Cousins received a technical – his 12th – 4:14 before halftime after punching a chair following his third foul. … The Warriors were the last Pacific Division opponent the Kings had yet to face. Golden State returns to the Golden 1 Center on Feb. 4 before the Kings visit Oakland on Feb. 15 and March 24. … Sacramento hasn’t beaten Golden State since March 27, 2013, and last at home 131-127 on Dec. 19, 2012.

 

LeBron James, Cavaliers hold off Suns 120-116

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PHOENIX (AP) — LeBron James scored 12 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and the Cleveland Cavaliers fought off Phoenix down the stretch to beat the Suns 120-116 on Sunday night.

Kyrie Irving added 27 points and Kevin Love 25 for the Cavaliers. They led by as many as 22 in the first half and 20 early in the third quarter.

The Suns tied it late in the third and got within one in the fourth but never took the lead.

Eric Bledsoe scored 31 points and Devin Booker had 28 for the Suns.

James sank consecutive 3-pointers, his only 3s of the game, to give Cleveland a 115-109 lead with 2:46 to play and scored on a driving layup with 44 seconds left to make it 120-114.

The young Suns got their running game going to outscore Cleveland 25-7 and Tyson Chandler‘s inside basket cut the Cav’ lead to 84-82 with 3:31 left in the third quarter.

Phoenix tied it twice before the quarter ended, the last at 90 when Booker banked in an 8-footer with 11.2 seconds left, but Irving sank a 3 at the buzzer and Cleveland led entering the fourth 93-90.

The Sun got within one three times early in the final quarter, the last at 98-97 on Booker’s left-handed drive with 9:37 left. After Phoenix rookie Dragan Bender missed a 3, Irving sank one, then added an acrobatic driving layup to put the Cavaliers up 104-98 with 7:38 left.

The Suns still were down only 109-107 after Marquese Chriss made one of two free throws with 4:28 to play but James sank his first three to boost it to 112-107. Bledsoe’s layup cut it to 112-109, and James sank his second 3 to make it a six-point game. Phoenix never got closer than four after that.

NOT YET

Kyle Korver, acquired in a trade with the Atlanta Hawks, joined his new Cleveland teammates Sunday afternoon but couldn’t play because physicals and paperwork still had to be completed to finalize the deal that sent Mike Dunleavy, Mo Williams a protected first-round pick and cash considerations to the Hawks.

Korver could make his Cleveland debut Tuesday night at Utah.

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: James became the 14th player in NBA history to reach 10,000 career field goals. … Cleveland scored 21 points off 11 Phoenix turnovers in the first half.

Suns: The 69 points matched the most allowed by Phoenix in the first half this season. … Phoenix had won two in a row. The Suns have not won three in a row all season. … Phoenix is 8-5 against the Eastern Conference. … Olympic swim champion Michael Phelps sat next to Suns owner Robert Sarver at courtside.

 

Pistons’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope drains game-winning three, knocks off Blazers in 2OT

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This was a big win for a Detroit team trying to climb back into the playoffs in the East. It was a painful loss for a Portland team trying not to fall out of the playoffs in the West.

And it all came down to a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope three.

There were 11.6 seconds left in the second overtime and the Pistons trailed 124-122. On the inbounds play Caldwell-Pope came off a little screen to go down by the baseline, waited for a second, and while Allen Crabbe ball watched KCP made a sharp cut to the arc, Andre Drummond set enough of a pick to slow Crabbe a little more, and Caldwell-Pope got off a clean three. Ballgame. Well, it was after C.J. McCollum couldn’t convert a Portland game winner, but he had forced OT and double OT with his shots.

Drummond had 26 points and 13 rebounds for the Pistons. Crabbe had 30 points for the Blazers.

The Pistons are now 1.5 games out of the playoffs in the East. This is the kind of win that can help reignite a struggling team.

Portland remains tied with the Kings for the eight seed in the West, with New Orleans, Denver, and now even the Los Angeles Lakers within two games. We’ll see if anybody actually wants that playoff spot.

James Harden with 40 points, triple-double to lead Rockets past Raptors (VIDEO)

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James Harden had a Daryl Morey kind of night — he was 7-of-9 at the rim, 4-of-9 from three, and let’s not talk about the midrange — and that was enough to get the Rockets a big win in Toronto.

More than just scoring 40 points (on 26 shots), Harden had 11 assists and 10 rebounds for another triple-double this season. The Rockets have now won eight in a row, are solidly in third place in the West (key to avoiding Golden State in the second round), and Harden is at the heart of it all.

The Rockets are on pace for more than 60 wins (63 right now). If the Rockets win around 60 and Harden keeps up this pace, does he beat out Russell Westbrook for the MVP?

DeMarcus Cousins picks up technical for punching chair (VIDEO)

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DeMarcus Cousins was getting in a little speed bag work.

Sacramento was leading Golden State in the second quarter when Cousins picked up a foul for contact with Draymond Green, which led to coach Dave Joerger taking him out of the game. A frustrated Cousins went to the bench and took out his frustrations on a defenseless chair (video above).

Cousins was given a technical for that.

If — as a lot of people around the league expect — Cousins is offered and accepts a designated-player, $200+million contract this summer, we should have years of these kinds of moments in our future. This dysfunctional marriage could last a while.