Tagged in: Golden State Warriors

LeBron James, Anthony Davis reassure Russell Westbrook after his struggles as Los Angeles Lakers drop NBA opener

LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook failed their first real test together, a 121-114 loss to the Golden State Warriors on opening night, but they found some common ground.

All three of them have now lost in their Lakers debuts: James versus the Portland Trail Blazers in 2018, Davis versus the LA Clippers in 2019 and Westbrook versus the Warriors on Tuesday.

While James (34 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists) and Davis (33 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks) outperformed Westbrook, who had a team-worst plus/minus of minus-23 in 35 minutes and finished with eight points on 4-for-13 shooting and four turnovers, their bigger impact might have come in the postgame locker room, lifting up their new teammate.

“I told Russ to go home and watch a comedy,” James said. “Do something that can put a smile on his face. He’s so hard on himself. I told him, ‘Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s one game.'” It was similar to a pep talk James gave to Davis when their first match together in Los Angeles also didn’t go their way.

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“My first time, I sat next to LB, he looked at me, and he said, ‘You’re fine, this is Game 1,'” Davis recalled. “He’s laughing. He’s joking on the phone. And I’m like, ‘Why am I upset then?’ And I kind of just went with the flow. And it’s the same thing with Russ. And I told him the same thing. ‘I’m the same way you were.’ We said some things to him, and he smiled and things like that, so I expect him to be better in the game Friday.”

If Westbrook broke out a grin in the locker room, it was gone by the time he reached the media room for his postgame interviews.

“We talked” was all Westbrook would say about the conversation with Davis and James.

His entire media session lasted less than three minutes as he kept his answers as brief as possible.

James, who has often stated that experience is the greatest teacher, was hopeful that Westbrook would glean some perspective from the ordeal.

“I just don’t want him to be so hard on himself,” James said. “That was the one thing that I hoped to get through to him, don’t be so hard on himself. Go home and you’re going to see three babies that he has that might be asleep, but they’ll put a smile on his face. He has a beautiful wife and family. So at the end of the day, you go home and you’re really like, ‘OK, that was not that bad. It’s really not that bad.'”

Lakers coach Frank Vogel acknowledged the tricky spot Westbrook finds himself in.

“Him more than anybody, it’s going to be an adjustment period,” Vogel stated. “He’s coming into our culture, our system. He’s the new guy, and he’s got to find his way. It’s difficult, when you’re used to being the guy who has the ball most nights, to be able to play off of others like Bron and AD. So it’s just a little bit different for him. He’s going to be great for us, but it’s going to be an adjustment period.”

While Westbrook looks to grow within the group, James is urging him to be the player he was before he came to Los Angeles — an uber-confident nine-time All-Star, Olympian and former league MVP.

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Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry scores 41, puts on show in preseason finale

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry looks primed for another run at the third MVP award of his career.

The 33-year-old guard scored 41 points during Friday’s 119-97 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, the final preseason match before Tuesday’s regular-season opener versus the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.

“He’s been building up perfectly from before camp started to all of the training over the summer to now,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “Obviously missed the game in L.A. the other night, that was part of the plan, he didn’t need to play all five games, but the last few days he got a lot of individual work in and he’s clearly ready to roll for the regular season, so he’s in a great place.”

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The 41 points are tied for the third-most in a preseason game over the past 15 years.

It’s also Curry’s third career 40-point game in the preseason, the most by any player over the past 15 years, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The performance also capped a 5-0 preseason record for a Warriors group that is no longer surprised when it sees Curry go off offensively the way he did Friday — even in a preseason game that has little meaning.

“The guy’s a machine,” Kerr said. “It’s just amazing how he looks after himself physically, emotionally, he’s just an incredible athlete at the peak of his powers still at 33. He’s just remarkable to observe, and obviously we’re lucky to have him leading the way for us.”

Chants of “MVP! MVP!” echoed through Chase Center as fans embraced the type of Curry performance that has become commonplace through his time with the organization. Curry went 13-for-23 from the field and 7-for-14 from the 3-point line in 30 minutes.

“It’s always fun to watch when Steph puts on a show like that,” Warriors center Kevon Looney said. “We see it a lot, and it’s getting close to the real games so you see him turn it up. Our team played pretty well, so [it’s] exciting to get to opening night.”

The Warriors announced after the game that they have waived Gary Payton II, Jordan Bell, Avery Bradley and Mychal Mulder. Kerr stated that, for the time being, the Warriors would leave the 15th spot on the roster open.

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Los Angeles Lakers debut LeBron James-Anthony Davis-Russell Westbrook combo in preseason loss to Golden State Warriors

The Lakers’ brand-new Big Three made its preseason debut in a 111-99 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. And while the result of Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis’ first court time together was another defeat to drop L.A.’s record to 0-5 in its exhibition calendar, the postgame message echoed by the stars was one asking for patience but exuding positivity.

“It’s going to take a minute for us to become the team that we know we are going to be capable of being,” stated James, who put up 17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 6 turnovers. “We’re going to have moments where we’re not quite right there. We may take steps backwards. But that’s all part of … I think nothing is worth having if it’s not worth working for.”

Westbrook, who worked his way to the Lakers in the offseason by convincing the Washington Wizards to seek a deal, looked the best he has yet in purple and gold — which isn’t saying much, considering he combined to shoot 4-for-19 with 16 turnovers in his first two outings. But his speed in the open court when flanked by so much talent will be a difference-maker this season.

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“We had some good spurts,” Westbrook said after finishing with 10 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 turnovers. “Obviously, it’s the first game. But there are some good things we can take from it. … We can be a little encouraged by it.”

For James, who comes into the season seeking a fifth ring that would tie his career total with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and Tim Duncan, moral victories mean little. Yet the 19-year veteran pledged to guide his group through its nascent stages.

“Me, as a leader, my job is for myself not to get frustrated,” he said. “If I don’t get frustrated, I think it will trickle down to everyone else. I’ve never been a person that’s OK with not being excellent. But I understand things take time as well. As long as I keep the main thing the main thing, stay even keel throughout whatever is going on with our ballclub, then we’ll be fine.”

Davis was more than fine versus Golden State, leading the Lakers with 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting to go with 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. He was encouraged by his first glimpse of L.A.’s new-look lineup with him starting at the 5, along with James, Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Kent Bazemore.

“We saw some great things with me, Bron and Russ in action,” Davis said. “There’s endless possibilities, the things we can run and we can do. … And even though there were good things, a lot of things that we can do better.”

The Lakers close out the preseason Thursday on the road versus the Sacramento Kings and have a week until the regular season opens up, back home against the Warriors again.

There is plenty of more work to do before the Lakers come close to a final product, starting with getting all their players healthy. 

Trevor Ariza (ankle surgery) is expected to miss at least two months; Talen Horton-Tucker (thumb surgery) will be sidelined around a month; and Kendrick Nunn (right ankle) and Wayne Ellington (left hamstring) both sat out Tuesday, along with Malik Monk (groin), who will be out about another week.

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New Orleans Pelicans officially name Willie Green as next head coach

The New Orleans Pelicans officially named Willie Green as their next head coach Thursday.

Green is coming off a stint as an assistant with the Phoenix Suns, who just made a run to the NBA Finals, which delayed the timing of the Pelicans’ announcement.

“After an extensive and collaborative search, Willie stood out among an impressive group of candidates as the best person to lead our team moving forward,” Pelicans governor Gayle Benson said in a statement.

“We are very happy to welcome Willie as our new head coach and we look forward to working with him to guide our team on the court as we work towards bringing a championship to New Orleans.”

Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin called Green, a 12-year NBA veteran, one of the “most respected assistant coaches in the NBA.”

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“He brings a vast amount of basketball knowledge and experience to our team as both a coach and former player, along with exceptional leadership qualities and an innate ability to connect with players, staff and fans alike,” Griffin said in a statement.

Green spent three seasons as an assistant with the Golden State Warriors before joining Phoenix.

“I want to thank Mrs. Benson, David Griffin, and the entire Pelicans organization for having faith in me to lead this talented group of players moving forward,” Green said. “It’s a blessing and an honor to get this opportunity in a special place like New Orleans. I look forward to getting to work and immersing myself and my family into the local community.”

As a player, Green made the playoffs in seven of his 12 seasons, including the lone year in New Orleans (2010-11), one of just seven playoff trips the team has made in franchise history.

That season, Green made it on a team coached by Monty Williams and led by point guard Chris Paul. Now the Pelicans are hiring Green away from a Suns team led by Williams and Paul.

Green replaces Stan Van Gundy, who mutually agreed to leave the Pelicans after just one campaign. The Pelicans went 31-41 last season, a disappointing result after the season started with playoff aspirations.

In the end, New Orleans didn’t even make the Western Conference play-in. At 39, Green becomes the third-youngest coach in the NBA behind Oklahoma City’s Mark Daigneault and Memphis’ Taylor Jenkins.

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Phoenix Suns take 3-1 series lead, inspired to get Chris Paul first trip to NBA Finals

Just one victory away from the NBA Finals, Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul said he will not allow himself to consider quite yet what it will be like to compete on basketball’s biggest stage for the first time in his 16-year career.

“Not until the job is done. Not until the job is done,” Paul said after the Suns’ gritty 84-80 win over the LA Clippers on Saturday to go up 3-1 in the Western Conference finals. “We can talk about all that then, but right now, it’s just laser focus.

“Three wins don’t win the series, so right now, we did what we came here to do. We wanted to get one of these, and now we got to stay focused and be ready to go back to our crowd.”

Paul, of course, has been here before. In 2018, his Houston Rockets were up 3-2 in the Western Conference finals versus the Golden State Warriors, before the defending champions stormed back to win the final two games, with Paul hobbled by a hamstring injury.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Paul said, looking back on the disappointment from three years ago. “Don’t dwell on things, you always remember, but I’m here now, excited about this opportunity, and all I can worry about right now is Game 5.”

Paul guided Phoenix to its victory in Game 4, playing all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter, when he scored seven of his 18 points and dished out two of his seven assists, despite struggling to shoot the ball.

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Paul was 1-for-7 from the field in the fourth — and just 6-for-22 for the game — though he did go 5-for-6 from the free throw line in the closing period.

“I was mad I missed [midrange shots] that could have put us up by five or seven, but it’s so crazy when I went to the free throw line I thought about my son,” Paul, 36, said of his trip to the stripe with 3.9 seconds remaining, and the Suns up by two, when he split the pair of attempts. “I talk to my son all the time about the importance of shooting free throws.

“I seriously went to the free throw line and I was like, ‘How the hell I’m going to tell him to stay poised if I don’t do it my damn self?'”

It would appear Paul’s son is learning from his dad just fine, judging by how Paul’s younger teammates rave about the example he is setting for them.

Deandre Ayton, who lived up to his “DominAyton” nickname with 19 points, 22 rebounds, four blocks and three assists in Game 4, exuded praise for the man who is 14 years his senior.

“I love CP, man,” said Ayton, 22. “That’s really the only teammate that really pushed me. Like big-bro-type push.

“I think he was the best thing that happened to my career. I can say that every day.”

Ayton said he would like to repay Paul’s investment in him by helping Phoenix to at least one more win this postseason so Paul can finally get a taste of the Finals.

“I’m going to try my best,” Ayton said. “I’m going to try my best. … I know how it is as an older player and being in the league and stuff like that. So, when you have an opportunity like this, you can’t take it for granted. And he let us know. He let us know, and we know the task at hand.”

Devin Booker, who ditched the face mask protecting his broken nose to score a team-high 25 points before fouling out, said that he grew up watching Paul.

“I’ve been a fan of his for a long time, and I’ve learned so much from him this year, and I always talk about off the court how he carries himself, and he’s just a true professional at every level at all times,” Booker, 24, said. “I have a lot of respect for him as a man, not even as a basketball player, just understanding how bad he wants this and how much time he’s put into it … 16 years, that’s a long time.

“We know how bad he wants it. … We definitely have his back.”

Suns coach Monty Williams, who coached Paul in the playoffs when they were both with New Orleans a decade ago, gave him a compliment of the highest order when asked how he feels about Paul controlling the action down the stretch.

“He’s not afraid of those moments,” Williams said. “It’s all about winning for Chris.” One more win. One more win and Paul will experience winning in a way he never has before.

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Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry ‘still sore’ from tailbone bruise, out vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Golden State Warriors star guard Stephen Curry will miss Tuesday night’s match versus the Philadelphia 76ers because of a tailbone bruise — the third consecutive game he will sit out after suffering the injury in Wednesday’s victory over the Houston Rockets.

“He’s not going to play [Tuesday],” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after Monday’s practice.

“He did not practice today. He’s still pretty sore. And so we’re going to continue to list him as day-to-day, but still sore today and went through some activities in the training room, strengthening, and movement-wise. And he’s not ready to go … I talked to him today, he just said “It’s still sore.'”

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Curry, 33, suffered the injury after tripping over a riser and falling hard on his tailbone after taking an off-balance 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter Wednesday.

Despite the setback, Kerr stays optimistic that Curry will be back on the floor soon.

“It’s not something we’re concerned about,” Kerr said. “But it’s obviously going to take more time.”

Kerr did say there was an opportunity that young big men James Wiseman and Eric Paschall could play in Tuesday’s game after missing close to a week because of COVID-19 protocols. They have missed three straight games.

“Eric and James could possibly play [Tuesday],” Kerr said. “They were not allowed to practice today. We are hopeful that everything goes fine with their testing, which it has been, but they have to complete another couple of tests, and if they do then there’s a chance they’ll be available [Tuesday] night.”

Veteran big man Kevon Looney was back at Monday’s practice after missing Saturday’s game because of COVID-19 protocols. Looney stated he had a false positive and the rest of his tests have come back negative.

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Curry leads Warriors past Knicks as fans return to MSG

Stephen Curry welcomed fans back to Madison Square Garden with another big night in the building, scoring 37 points and leading the Golden State Warriors to a 114-106 triumph over the New York Knicks on Tuesday.

Curry, who owns a 50-point game and a triple-double in the arena, returned from a one-game absence to make the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:38 left. He scored 26 points in the second half and added six rebounds and six assists.

This performance came in the first NBA game at Madison Square Garden with fans since the Knicks defeated Detroit last March 8, days before the season was suspended as the coronavirus was about to start pummeling New York.

Julius Randle went from the high of his first All-Star selection to the low of getting thrown out in the final seconds after picking up his second technical foul. He had 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo permitted New York’s arenas to open to fans at 10% capacity, which meant roughly 2,000 at Madison Square Garden.

They greeted the Knicks with loud cheers early on, but there were the familiar noticeable groans after a turnover during a dismal stretch of the third quarter, when the Warriors opened a 13-point lead.

New York recovered from that and had the game tied at 97 before Curry’s 3-pointer. He converted a three-point play about two minutes later to make it 105-100 and helped finish it off at the foul line.

Kelly Oubre Jr. added 19 points and Andrew Wiggins had 16 for the Warriors, who got centers James Wiseman and Kevon Looney back from injuries and won for the first time after two rough losses on their four-game trip.

They blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost by four in Orlando, then fell 102-100 in Charlotte when Draymond Green got two technical fouls and was ejected in the closing seconds before Terry Rozier made a jumper at the buzzer.

Randle was the first Knicks player selected to the All-Star Game since Kristaps Porzingis in 2018. Randle addressed the crowd before the game, but the start of his remarks were drowned out by fans chanting “MVP! MVP!”

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Golden State Warriors’ Kevon Looney out at least two weeks with sprained ankle

Golden State Warriors big man Kevon Looney will be out at least the next two weeks as he keeps to recover from a sprained left ankle, the team informed Wednesday.

Looney suffered the injury late in the first half of Tuesday’s 111-107 loss to the Boston Celtics and had an MRI late Tuesday night that confirmed the sprain. He will be reevaluated in two weeks as he continues rehab.

“This was a fluke,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr stated after the game. “He caught his foot on the floor and rolled the ankle. Just the way it goes. I feel bad for him because he’s worked so hard to get back to this space and he’s really been playing well for us, so it’s a big blow.”

Looney’s injury comes at a bad time for the 11-10 Warriors. They are already playing without rookie center James Wiseman, who sprained his left wrist in last Saturday’s victory over the Detroit Pistons and will be reevaluated in a week.

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Backup big man Marquese Chriss has been out since the first week of the season after suffering a serious ankle injury during a practice in Chicago.

It still unclear if he will comeback this season.

In the short term, Kerr noted that Eric Paschall, Draymond Green and two-way player Juan Toscano-Anderson will all get minutes at the 5 spot.

“Eric Paschall becomes a bigger part of what we’re doing and so does Juan,” Kerr said. “I guess Juan sort of qualifies as a big man, kind of. Eric definitely does. So we’ll be short-handed. Draymond will play a lot of 5 and Eric will get more minutes, and we’ll see what happens from there.”

Warriors star guard Stephen Curry is hopeful that the Warriors can use the small-ball lineup to their advantage as they get set for a four-game road swing to Dallas and San Antonio over the next week. “You kind of have to flip it on its head,” Curry said after Tuesday’s loss.

“Everybody’s going to talk about what we can’t do with a small-ball lineup, but we can focus on what we can do and that’s play fast, get everybody involved, ball can be moving. Create chaos on both ends of the floor and then figure out how you rebound and how you up the paint on the defensive end. So with Dallas and San Antonio, it will be interesting because they do — [Kristaps] Porzingis is huge, but they do play a lot of small ball, too, so maybe that will match up well for us.”

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Draymond Green, James Wiseman absent from Golden State Warriors practice

Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green and No. 2 overall draft pick James Wiseman missed Day 1 of the team’s training camp Monday.

Coach Steve Kerr didn’t detail why the two were absent but did say they were the only two players not to take the court. Kerr noted that he couldn’t elaborate on what Green and Wiseman are able to do at the moment.

“I will not comment on that any further,” Kerr said. “I’m not allowed to comment on that. You can make your own deductions. I know it’s really tricky.”

Last week, general manager Bob Myers acknowledged without providing names that two players had tested positive for COVID-19 and said they would be out at least 10 days before being tested again. Kerr noted the awkwardness for both coaches and media in trying to give an update on the health of his team without revealing who tested positive.

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“I’m just trying to figure out which one of you has put all the pieces together and figured out what’s happening here,” Kerr said. “I think you guys all got it.”

It’s the same awkward dance that is going on throughout the NBA this season concerning to injury updates and players’ privacy. Kerr knows that the uncertain nature of the virus makes it something that will hover over the league all season.

“This is the nature of this season, so everybody’s going to be dealing with it,” he said. “Every team in the league. I think the way we’re looking at it is we’re lucky to be playing basketball. We’re grateful for the opportunity to compete and play, and any difficulties to the season pale in comparison to what’s happening out in the world, so there won’t be much talk from our end about COVID and the protocols and what it means to our team … What matters is the protocols and being healthy and safe and keeping everybody that way.”

Kerr isn’t worried about Green’s readiness to play as soon as he is medically cleared to hit the floor.

“When he’s ready to go, he’ll be out there,” Kerr said. “I’m not worried about Draymond. He’s got a better feel for what we do than anybody, so he’ll be fine once he gets rolling with practice.”

As for Wiseman, getting him prepared for the condensed season will be trickier. Kerr knows that it will be hard to get the second overall pick in last month’s draft ready after his training camp absence, but he isn’t going to complain about the hand the Warriors have been dealt. “It’s unfortunate, but that’s just the way it goes,” Kerr said.

“Our coaching staff has been showing him tape the last few days, and he’s still getting some homework in between now and the time he’ll be able to play again. So it’s not ideal, but nothing’s ideal for anybody in 2020.”

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Kings send Warriors to 7th straight home loss

The Sacramento Kings came out of the All-Star break knowing they had little margin for error if they wanted to make a playoff push.

Three straight victories to begin the stretch run has them creeping back into contention.

Harrison Barnes and De’Aaron Fox each scored 21 points and the Kings defeated the Golden State Warriors 112-94 on Tuesday night for their ninth victory in the past 13 games.

”It’s a big goal,” coach Luke Walton said about making the playoffs. ”But the way you achieve a big goal is by focusing on the present and what we’re working on, and showing up and playing a certain style every night. If we do that, we’ll give ourselves a better chance to achieve the big goal at the end of the day.”

The Kings still have plenty of work to do to reach that level, as they still trail Memphis by four games in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

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But after losing 15 of 18 games during a stretch in December and January, even having a shot at it is an achievement.

”I think we’re playing well on both sides of the ball,” Fox said. ”Things have been going good for us. We’ve been able to get stops when we needed them. … We’re playing our best basketball of the season.”

Buddy Hield made five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter on the way to a 19-point night and Bogdan Bogdanovic had 17 to give the Kings their third straight win.

Marquese Chriss scored 21 points and Andrew Wiggins added 16 for Golden State.

The Warriors have lost seven consecutive overall and seven in a row at home for the first time since dropping the final seven home games in the 2000-01 season.

The Kings raced out to an early lead behind 14 points in the first quarter from Barnes and never trailed on the way to their third win in as many meetings this season with the Warriors.

This is the longest winning streak in the Northern California series for Sacramento since winning 15 in a row from 2000-03.

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