Tagged in: Golden State Warriors

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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Warriors trade D´Angelo Russell to Wolves for Andrew Wiggins

D’Angelo Russell’s time in Golden State was short-lived.    

The Warriors traded the star guard to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, a 2021 protected first-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick, Minnesota informed on Thursday.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report the deal.

Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman will also head to Minnesota as part of the blockbuster deal.

The Warriors obtained Russell, 23, in a sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets this offseason, shocking the NBA world.

The Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers were expected to be his primary suitors.

There were questions about how Russell and Steph Curry would coexist on both ends of the floor, especially defensively, as neither player is stout on that end.

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Offensively, the Warriors figured to work more pick-and-rolls into their scheme to highlight Russell’s strengths, while Curry would be asked to play off the ball a bit more as well, which didn’t seem like a stretch given his effectiveness as a shooter coming off screens.

With Klay Thompson recovering from an ACL tear and Kevin Durant now in Brooklyn, the Warriors had to make the Russell-Curry partnership work. Those plans hit a snag, however, when Curry broke his left hand in late October.

While Russell averaged 23.6 points and 6.2 assists with the Warriors, shooting 43.0 percent from the field and 37.4 from three, he was always an option to be traded ahead of the deadline for a more natural fit as the Warriors attempt to restock for a playoff run next campaign.

He now heads to his third team in the past year, where he’ll bring his scoring and playmaking out of the pick-and-roll. Russell was never a natural fit in Golden State. A change of scenery should benefit both sides.

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Sixers´ Joel Embiid returns from injury against Warriors

The Philadelphia 76ers held serve at home versus the Golden State Warriors 115-104 on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center.

Joel Embiid led the 76ers with 24 points and 10 rebounds in his first game back after missing nine matches with a torn radial collateral ligament in his left hand.

All five 76ers starters scored in double digits. Big man Al Horford was two assists shy of a triple-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and eight dimes. 

Raul Neto dropped 19 points off the bench, all in the first half.

Philadelphia led by only four points heading into the final quarter, but Embiid keyed a 9-0 run to start the fourth with a pair of buckets and an assist. Philadelphia never led by fewer than seven from that point forward. 

The match was the first in Philadelphia since Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Maria died Sunday along with seven others in a helicopter accident.

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The 76ers paid a pregame tribute by holding a moment of silence and sounding a bell nine times.

In what has became a leaguewide norm since Sunday, the two teams started the game with an eight-second backcourt violation and a 24-second shot clock violation in honor of Bryant’s Nos. 8 and 24 jerseys.

Embiid paid tribute to the former Laker for the night by changing his jersey number from 21 to Bryant’s 24, which he wore in the latter half of his career.

Bryant was born in Philadelphia and played high school basketball at Lower Merion High School in nearby Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

For the Warriors, D’Angelo Russell led all scorers with 28 points. Draymond Green added a near-triple-double with nine points, 12 assists and nine boards.

The 31-17 Sixers have won six of their last seven. The 10-38 Warriors lost their fourth consecutive.

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Timberwolves fall for their 11th straight loss

D’Angelo Russell scored 30 points, Alec Burks had 25 points and eight assists, and the Warriors defeated the Timberwolves 113-104 on Monday night, the 11th straight loss for Minnesota.

“It’s no secret we’re in a funk right now,” Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders said.

“Young team or not, we’ve got to learn lessons in this league, because you’ve got to go through hard times to get to where you want to be.”

Draymond Green added 14 rebounds and nine points and Damion Lee had 14 points for Golden State, which won consecutive games for the first time since last season’s Western Conference finals.

“It feels … amazing,” Green said. “I never thought I’d be so excited for two regular-season wins in my life.”

Andrew Wiggins scored 22 points and Jordan McLaughlin had 19 for the Timberwolves.

Jeff Teague added 12 points for Minnesota. The Warriors, sporting an uncharacteristic 7-24 record, broke open a tie game midway through the second quarter with an 18-3 run to take a 53-38 lead.

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Green scored on a hook shot with 2:30 left in the first half to cap the run.

The Warriors opened up a 64-47 lead after starting the third quarter on a 7-0 run. The Warriors led 82-58 late in the third quarter on Omari Spellman’s layup.

Minnesota went on a 14-2 run to close within 84-72 early in the fourth quarter.

The Timberwolves closed to 109-104 with 22 seconds left when McLaughlin was fouled on a dunk and completed the three-point play with a free throw.

The Timberwolves are 5-19 since a 125-119 victory over Golden State on Nov. 8 in which Russell scored 52 points and Wiggins had 40.

The Warriors are playing their best ball ahead of a Christmas home match versus the Houston Rockets that will be seen by a national audience. “We need this regardless of what’s coming next,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

“We just needed to win a couple of games in a row just to get a little momentum and feel good. Christmas is always a special day to play on, you know that everybody’s watching. It’s got a different vibe, a different feel, and our players will be really excited it’ll be good to go into that game with momentum.”

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