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OKC survives big mistakes in wild ending, takes Game 2 over Spurs (Ball Don't Lie)
(Mon, 02 May 2016 22:06:12 PDT)
Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder was a huge shock for the extent to which the hosts dominated in a series most expected to be extremely close. Game 2 hewed closer to what most analysts thought would transpire, but it ended up just as surprising for the wild events of the final few seconds. It's best to start with that finish, because it's sure to be a point of discussion in the run-up to Friday's Game 3 and perhaps an incident spoken of for years to come. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr:  The best slams from all of basketball] Down 98-94 with 18 seconds remaining, the Spurs caught a major break when Serge Ibaka fouled LaMarcus Aldridge on a three-point attempt five seconds into the possession. Aldridge nailed all three attempts to cut the margin to one point, although the Thunder still looked in good shape with a chance to go back up three points after free throws. Billy Donovan called his team's final timeout to advance the ball for the ensuing inbound pass, and everything looked set to play out as a fairly normal late-game scenario. Then all hell broke loose. Dion Waiters struggled to get the ball in against pressure from Manu Ginobili and finally lobbed a high-arcing pass for Kevin Durant, who lost his footing first and the ball second for a Danny Green steal. The Spurs had a 3-on-2 break that looked likely to finish in a go-ahead basket, but it was not to be: The scramble for the ball in the aftermath of Patty Mills's three ate up the final seconds to help the Thunder grab a 98-97 win that evens up the series at 1-1. It was just the second loss for the Spurs in 45 games at the AT&T Center this season and registers as particularly incredible given their dominance in Saturday's Game 1. Those were secondary concerns right after the buzzer, though, because all anyone wanted to talk about was Waiters's interaction with Ginobili right before his pass to Durant. As TNT commentator Chris Webber immediately exclaimed and replays showed, Waiters elbowed Ginobili near the top of his chest to create space. There are replays in the video above, but here's another look: This... is not legal. pic.twitter.com/J7lW3ZfKjT — Deadspin (@Deadspin) May 3, 2016 I have watched lots of basketball in my life and never seen a player push an opponent in this manner to get space for an inbound pass. Lead official Ken Mauer said the same and believed a foul should have been called if someone had seen it: Lead referee Ken Mauer said a foul should've been called on Waiters. He also says he's never seen that play before. pic.twitter.com/LjWxEhCyJB — SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 3, 2016 To be fair, the sideline view of the incident shows that Ginobili stepped on the sideline, which is a violation by the rulebook: Obviously Waiters can't shove Ginobili, but Ginobili can't go over the line either. pic.twitter.com/9SY1UO8FLH — Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) May 3, 2016 Waiters agreed: Dion Waiters sitting at his locker, scrolling through his phone postgame: "He stepped on the line anyway" — Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 3, 2016 On the other hand, it's tough to argue that shoving an opponent is a suitable response to that infraction. Ginobili and others have stretched the rules in this fashion many times before without such a response. A few of the involved parties seemed confused, too — Gregg Popovich responded to a press-conference question by saying "something certainly happened" (perhaps to avoid a fine), Billy Donovan played dumb, and Ginobili said something wrong had occurred but didn't know exactly what kind of whistle should have blown on Waiters. (The rules state it should be a turnover on Waiters and perhaps also a technical foul for unnecessary contact, though the latter is up to the referees.) What seems certain is that this play will be discussed at least until Friday's Game 3 and will receive some kind of response from the league. That official answer might not involve a fine or suspension for Waiters — it could just be a note in the "Last Two Minutes" officiating report — but there will be something. What we know for sure is that the Thunder's series-tying win will not be reversed. Ginobili seemed most focused on that fact, specifically lamenting that he and his teammates had not taken advantage of the turnover that followed Waiters's curious action. He's probably right to note that San Antonio mistake, because we've grown accustomed to the Spurs succeeding in moments like this one. Just look at the scoring chance they had: the Spurs obviously got shafted in a weird way but I can't shake the thought that they had OKC in *this* position pic.twitter.com/i6v1v8neIs — adam figman (@afigman) May 3, 2016 On the other side, the Thunder should feel relieved that they escaped Monday night with the win. A team known for late-game execution errors made several crucial mistakes in the final 20 seconds — some called, some not called — and very easily could have handed the Spurs a 2-0 lead. Instead, the OKC win gives them home-court advantage and new life in a series that began Saturday with an overwhelming performance by San Antonio. It looked clear early that Game 2 would be very different, in part because the Spurs offense looked decidedly less crisp in the minutes following tipoff. Saturday's 43-point first quarter was followed by 21 in Monday's opening period, although that figure alone does not communicate the Spurs' early struggles. They began the game making just one of 13 field goal attempts, a very poor conversion rate caused by both their own decision-making and a much-improved effort from the Thunder. OKC's energy boost also appeared at the offensive end, especially as evidenced by the play of Russell Westbrook. The hyper-athletic point guard was stifled by Kawhi Leonard and several others in Game 1, but he returned with a clear attack mindset and a willingness to create plays when none presented themselves. He put up 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the first quarter to announce himself as a matchup problem for the Spurs. He was the biggest reason OKC held a 29-21 lead after one quarter. Unfortunately for the Thunder, the Spurs bounced back fairly quickly and took their first lead since 2-1 a little more than five minutes into the second quarter. OKC held strong and managed to build up a 56-53 lead at halftime, but San Antonio's ability to get back into the game clarified a few keys to the series that will matter greatly as the action shifts locations for Game 3. The first was one of the big stories of Game 1, as well — that LaMarcus Aldridge is serious matchup problem for Serge Ibaka and anyone else who tries to check him. It turns out that Aldridge's incredible Game 1 performance of 38 points on 18-of-23 shooting was not an outlier — he was arguably better in Game 2 in scoring 41 points on 15-of-21 from the field and 10-of-10 from the line. Aldridge was particularly effective in the second quarter to put up 22 points on 9-of-11 FG by halftime, but he also adjusted to increased double-teams after the break and managed to score in a variety of ways. Ibaka often succeeds as a defender who can follow forwards onto the perimeter and into the paint, but he has struggled to combat Aldridge's post-up game and mid-range shooting. This has been the most impressive two-game stretch for the five-time All-Star since he decimated the Houston Rockets in the first two games of their 2014 first-round series. The other issue for the Thunder is that their bench-heavy lineups look increasingly difficult to justify. OKC's reserve quartet of Enes Kanter (19 minutes), Anthony Morrow (15 minutes), Dion Waiters (25 minutes), and Cameron Payne (seven minutes) all finished with plus-minuses of minus-11 or worse, and San Antonio took clear control of the contest whenever a majority of the starters (and especially Westbrook) sat. It's not clear that Billy Donovan has a good solution to this problem, but he might need to extend the minutes of his best players to win the series. On the plus side, Westbrook and Durant are good enough that the Thunder can commit a number of mistakes and still find themselves in a position to win. The former was especially great on Monday, finishing with 29 points on 11-of-25 shooting, 10 assists, seven rebounds, two steals, a block, and three turnovers (including none in the second half). This was the sort of performance most expected from Westbrook before Game 1 — he impressed himself upon the action and ensured that the Thunder would have an option every time down the court. Durant was not quite as insistent as Westbrook — who is? — but he was also very good with 28 points on 11-of-19 shooting, seven rebounds, and four assists. As ever, it looked likely that the Thunder could have created more open shots, played one-on-one less often (16 assists), and made better decisions (18 turnovers). However, this is how they play, and it tends to work often enough that criticism is often a matter of personal taste more than of the quality of the results. It looks increasingly likely that the Thunder will have to rely on big games from Westbrook and Durant, strong all-around contributions from Serge Ibaka, points and rebounds from Kanter, and steady play from Steven Adams to win games against the Spurs. The calculus can differ from game-to-game — Adams was easily the third-best player in blue on Monday, with 12 points on 5-of-6 FG and 17 rebounds — but it's going to have to come from those players. No one else looks especially dependable in any area right now. If OKC still feels like the underdog in this series despite gaining homecourt advantage, it's because that tendency to make key mistakes could loom large in a series that now looks as tight as it was supposed to be. Game 2 proved that San Antonio can make their own mistakes — bizarre Waiters push aside, the Spurs had a 3-on-2 break to win the game and didn't score — but they feel like the group more likely to optimize what they have on hand. The most impressive thing about the Thunder is that their immense talent could render that advantage insufficient. - - - - - - - Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @FreemanEric

Steph Curry: 'Pretty good' chance of return for Game 3 vs. Blazers (Ball Don't Lie)
(Mon, 02 May 2016 10:48:30 PDT)
The Golden State Warriors sure seem to be doing just fine without Stephen Curry these days, but the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player remains eager to return to the court from his right knee sprain as soon as possible. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr:  The best slams from all of basketball] After tests confirmed that Curry had suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament during his slip-and-fall just before halftime of Game 4 against the Houston Rockets, the Warriors set a target for the star point guard's return at May 9, the scheduled date of Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal series against the Portland Trail Blazers. But with several days of intensive rehab under his belt and a return to shooting (albeit from stand-still positions), Curry told ABC's Lisa Salters during Sunday's Game 1 that he's optimistic about being able to come back one game sooner : [...] during a sideline interview with ESPN's Lisa Salters during Sunday's Game 1 win against Portland, Curry said the chances of him returning for Game 3 are "pretty good." "To me they're pretty good so I'll do anything I can this week to make that happen," Curry said. [...] "I'm doing a lot more rehab-wise, trying to test my body out a little bit," Curry told Salters. "I'm looking forward to getting back on the court, maybe a practice setting and see how it feels. "I've gotten pretty much my full range of motion back. It's still painful but for the most part I can get on my feet and try to do basketball activities that will get me back into the playoff atmosphere." The most important words Curry said, of course, are "to me." The Warriors' medical team and coaching staff will have to be confident that his knee has responded well to treatment and rehabilitation, and that a potential early reinsertion into the lineup won't carry unnecessary additional risk of reinjury, before signing off on getting No. 30 back in uniform. When exactly everyone will be comfortable enough to pull that trigger remains to be seen, as Kerr said this weekend, according to Janie McCauley of the Associated Press : "It just depends how his week goes," Kerr said of Curry's status for Saturday's Game 3. "We'll just monitor him and see how it goes and hopefully get him back at some point. It's nice to have that long break between 2 and 3." [...] "It's all speculation," Kerr said. "As Bob said from the beginning, the two-week timetable was just kind of a random guess more than anything based on past history of these MCL injuries. So, we don't really know, but that's the hope, is that by the middle of next week we'll get him back in more basketball-type movements." In the meantime, Curry seems to have plenty of confidence that an attack led by flamethrowing shooting guard Klay Thompson, triple-double machine Draymond Green and a defense that held high-scoring Blazers guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum to a combined 13-for-43 mark from the field can keep Golden State rolling along until he's cleared to return. "I only played 38 minutes in the first round and we finished it in five," he said Sunday. "Obviously I'd like to be out there with them and I feel like we're a better team when I'm out there, but the way that they play and the way they have that confidence and swagger about them, it's fun to watch." And if everything keeps moving along swimmingly, the return of the league's top scorer, best 3-point shooter and most electrifying offensive player could make it even more fun as soon as next weekend. More NBA coverage: - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.

Thompson pours in 37 as Warriors jump on Blazers
(Sun, 01 May 2016 19:35:22 PDT)
(The Sports Xchange) - If the Golden State Warriors miss Stephen Curry, they sure did not show it in their first-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets. Klay Thompson bombed in a game-high 37 points and Draymond Green recorded his second career postseason triple-double as the Warriors ran off early from the Portland Trail Blazers en route to a 118-106 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference semi-finals on Sunday.

NBA-Thompson pours in 37 as Warriors jump on Blazers
(Sun, 01 May 2016 19:34:29 PDT)
If the Golden State Warriors miss Stephen Curry, they sure did not show it in their first-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets. Klay Thompson bombed in a game-high 37 points and Draymond Green recorded his second career postseason triple-double as the Warriors ran off early from the Portland Trail Blazers en route to a 118-106 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference semi-finals on Sunday.

Warriors whip Portland at home in opener of West semifinals (The Associated Press)
(Sun, 01 May 2016 19:18:07 PDT)
From the opening tip, Klay Thompson shot lights-out and even heaved one in from way out in Stephen Curry territory. Draymond Green began yapping from the start while doing his thing to make plays every which way, calling on his teammates to bring an edge on defense. With Curry sidelined because of a sprained right knee, Green and Thompson took charge again.

Klay, Draymond lead Curry-less Warriors to 1-0 lead over Blazers (Ball Don't Lie)
(Sun, 01 May 2016 16:55:26 PDT)
Before tipoff at Oracle Arena on Sunday, Stephen Curry got in some light stand-still shooting work , part of an intensive rehabilitation regimen aimed at getting him past the Grade 1 sprain of the medial collaterial ligament in his right knee and back on the court sooner than anticipated. Asked by ABC's Lisa Salters about the chances that he makes his return in next Saturday's Game 3, Curry sounded an optimistic note: [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr:  The best slams from all of basketball] As exciting as the prospect of the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player returning is for Bay Area sports fans, though, his Golden State Warriors teammates seem intent on doing whatever's in their power to convince him not to rush back on their account. Klay Thompson scored a career-playoff-high 37 points, Draymond Green notched the second triple-double of his postseason career, and Steve Kerr's club dominated on the glass and on the defensive end to beat the Portland Trail Blazers, 118-106 , to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals series on Sunday. Once again, Thompson assumed the primary offensive role for the Warriors in Curry's absence, and once again, he comfortably filled it, making 13 of his 24 field-goal attempts and seven of his 14 3-point tries. Thompson now has 21 3-point makes in his last three postseason games, which is a new NBA record for triples in a trio of games — finally, there's one 3-point record he can take from his Splash Brother — and as many as the Warriors' opponents have managed in total over the past three games. He opened the floodgates early, outscoring the Blazers on his own in the first quarter , 18-17, flying around off the ball and curling off teammates' screens for feeds from Green and replacement starting point guard Shaun Livingston to put the overmatched Blazers behind the 8-ball — and down by 20 points — before the end of the first quarter. The Warriors' 37-17 advantage was the largest first-quarter lead in the postseason in the shot-clock era ... and, again, they're doing this without the MVP. While torching the Blazers on one end, Thompson was also using his long arms and agility to make life tough on Portland star point guard Damian Lillard on the other in an effort that drew heaps of praise from his coach after the game. "There's not many guys in the league who could chase Damian Lillard around for 37 minutes and score 37 points, too," Kerr said. "Klay is a tremendous two-way player, and that was a really amazing night for him in terms of just his all-around play. Obviously, we got a lot of really good performances from people, but that's a big burden to have to play both ways like that, and he was awesome." After posting strong finishes to their first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers, high-scoring guards Lillard and C.J. McCollum struggled mightily against a Warriors defense featuring lengthy perimeter defenders like Thompson, Livingston and Andre Iguodala, active help defense from Green and Harrison Barnes, and strong rim protection from center Andrew Bogut, who blocked three shots, snagged three steals and deterred a number of other shots on the interior. Lillard finished with 30 points, but needed 26 shots to get there, and did the bulk of his damage in the fourth quarter , long after the Warriors had seized control of the game. McCollum added 12 points on 5-for-17 shooting for the Blazers, who never led, trailed by as many as 26 points, and shot just 40.2 percent for the game. "We made it tough on Dame tonight, we made it tough on C.J.," Green said after the game. "Obviously, we know they're not going to continue to have games like this every night, but if we can make them take tough shots throughout the course of the series — they're so ball-dominant with those two guys, and rightfully so, they've been great all year — but if we can make it tough on them, we think they'll wear down throughout the course of the series." Golden State has now allowed 225 points on 233 shots (36.1 percent shooting) in 10 quarters since Curry went down just before halftime of Game 4 against the Houston Rockets, outscoring the opposition by 72 points in those 120 minutes. Lest we forget, the league's most efficient regular-season offense came attached to the NBA's No. 4-ranked defense in points allowed per possession, and the Warriors have doubled down on trying to choke out opponents to stay afloat while Curry rehabs. "When Steph's out there, we can go toe-to-toe with anybody with our offense and probably have the advantage," Green said after the game. "But when he's not out there, you've got to get it done on the defensive end." They did just that on Sunday, according to Thompson, thanks to paint-patrolling guard dogs Green and Bogut, who made Portland drivers think twice before venturing into the lane and made them pay the price when they felt bold enough to do so: "The whole year, Steph, our backcourt, we get a lot of attention, but people don't realize how good our frontcourt is," Thompson said. "It's the best defensive frontcourt in the NBA, and I've seen it a long time. With those two out there, it makes it tough for teams to finish at the rim, and both are great communicators out there. They make my job easy, and it's fun to play with these guys." The Blazers bounced back after their rough first quarter, taking advantage of the Warriors' bench behind contributions from the likes of Ed Davis, Allen Crabbe and Al-Farouq Aminu, who — as he did against the Clips — got a steady diet of open looks from a Warriors defense trained much more on keeping Lillard and McCollum from getting on a roll. On the other end, the ball movement that had led to 10 assists on 15 Golden State baskets dried up, allowing Portland to get the lead down to nine in the final two minutes of the second quarter. Green got Golden State going, though. With Stotts preferring super-small lineups featuring Aminu and Maurice Harkless at center to match up with Golden State's array of wings, Green attacked his way to three offensive rebounds and a 6-for-6 mark from the foul line while dishing three of the of Warriors' five second-quarter assists, energizing the team and helping keep Portland at arm's length just enough for a quintessential late-second burst to push the Warriors into half up by 14. It was all part of a 23-points, 13-rebound, 11-assist, three-block, one-steal outing that led Bogut to call him "probably the best all-around player in the league at this point," drawing a nod of agreement from Thompson. "I mean, you'll never hear me call myself that, but if they want to say it, I'll take it," a smiling Green said during his post-game press conference. A 20-6 run put the Warriors up by 26 with just over four minutes remaining in the third, making the rest of the game largely academic ... except for some extracurricular activities between Warriors center Anderson Varejao and Blazers swingman Gerald Henderson, who began to broil beef late in the third after Varejao tripped Henderson following an away-from-the-ball collision in the paint, prompting double technical fouls: The bad blood continue to boil, resulting in some trash talking while Henderson stood near a seated Varejao on the Golden State bench and another round of double-techs, sending the two men to an early shower with 15 seconds remaining in the third: Like Henderson, the Blazers didn't go down without a fight on Sunday, continuing to compete even when it appeared they were drawing dead — unable to credibly defend Thompson with smaller guards, unable to handle Green's ability to overpower his counterparts when Portland tried to match smalls with the best small-ball team in the world, and unable to get their must-have scorers untracked against a defense that thrives on forcing even the very best offensive players in the game to play left-handed. On the plus side, the Blazers have been in this situation before, and not too long ago. "We got beat pretty soundly in Game 1 against the Clippers, and we made some adjustments and played a bit better, and we played better as the series went along," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said after the game. "We need to do the same thing. We'll watch the video and see what we can come up with for Game 2, but there's no question that we have to play better and learn from Game 1, like we did with the Clippers." Just one problem with that: even without Steph, these aren't the Clippers, and they're definitely not the Clippers without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. "They're an elite team either way, and they showed that tonight," Lillard said. More NBA coverage: - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.

BDL's 2015-16 NBA Playoff Previews: Warriors vs. Trail Blazers (Ball Don't Lie)
(Sat, 30 Apr 2016 17:46:12 PDT)


Blazers have proven the doubters wrong into the 2nd round (The Associated Press)
(Sat, 30 Apr 2016 00:33:00 PDT)
The Portland Trail Blazers continue to surprise this season, even if they benefited by untimely injuries for the Los Angeles Clippers. After facing a Clippers' team unable to recover from the loss of stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Blazers advanced to the face the Golden State Warriors without Stephen Curry in the Western Conference semifinals. The defending champion Warriors will be without the league's reigning MVP for at least the first two games - the series opens Sunday at Oracle Arena.

Curry rehabbing right knee several times a day to get back (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 29 Apr 2016 22:29:59 PDT)
Stephen Curry is rehabbing his injured right knee about three times a day, spending four to five hours at the Warriors' practice facility to try to get back on the court for the defending champions as soon as possible. ''I always have an optimistic view, no matter what it is,'' Curry said Friday.

Lakers put faith in Walton to lead return to glory
(Fri, 29 Apr 2016 21:48:31 PDT)
(Reuters) - Luke Walton, the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, will leave the league's hottest team to take charge of an acclaimed NBA franchise that has fallen on hard times and currently occupies the other end of the spectrum. Currently in his second season as assistant coach at the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors, Walton was confirmed as Byron Scott's replacement on Friday. Scott was ditched after the Lakers went 17-65 in the recently-completed season, otherwise known as the Kobe Bryant farewell tour.

NBA-Lakers put faith in Walton to lead return to glory
(Fri, 29 Apr 2016 21:44:49 PDT)
* Currently assistant at Warriors * Son of former great Bill Walton * Takes over declining franchise (adds details, quotes) April 29 (Reuters) - Luke Walton, the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, will leave the league's hottest team to take charge of an acclaimed NBA franchise that has fallen on hard times and currently occupies the other end of the spectrum. Currently in his second season as assistant coach at the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors, Walton was confirmed as Byron Scott's replacement on Friday. Scott was ditched after the Lakers went 17-65 in the recently-completed season, otherwise known as the Kobe Bryant farewell tour.

Lakers announce Luke Walton has been hired as head coach (Ball Don't Lie)
(Fri, 29 Apr 2016 19:35:30 PDT)


Curry optimistic he'll return in a fortnight
(Fri, 29 Apr 2016 16:40:00 PDT)
Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry said Friday he's confident he'll be back from a sprained right knee within the two-week time frame originally given by doctors. "Having talked to the doctors, athletic training staff and all the experts, that two-week timeline is an educated guess based on other cases and the recovery time they had," Curry said in his first public comments since he was hurt last Sunday. With Curry sidelined, the Warriors kept their hopes of successfully defending their NBA title on track with a 114-81 rout of the Houston Rockets on Wednesday that sent Golden State into the second round of the playoffs.

Rockets must find coach in wake of first-round ouster (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 29 Apr 2016 16:34:32 PDT)
The Houston Rockets' season got off to a disappointing start. The Rockets narrowly avoided missing the playoffs and barely put up a fight before their first-round elimination by Golden State in Game 5 wrapped up a tough season. Now they face many offseason questions, the biggest being who will coach this team and whether Dwight Howard will opt out of the last year of his contract and become a free agent.

Livingston enjoying the moment filling in for injured Curry (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 28 Apr 2016 16:11:49 PDT)
Shaun Livingston's left leg could have been amputated nine years ago. The knee injury he suffered while with the Clippers in 2007 was that severe. Going for a layup, Livingston's leg buckled backward, parallel to the court, when he fell in a freak accident.

No Curry, no worry as Warriors eliminate Rockets
(Thu, 28 Apr 2016 12:24:57 PDT)
(The Sports Xchange) - The Golden State Warriors did not skip a beat without key point guard Stephen Curry, routing the Houston Rockets 114-81 on Wednesday to seal a 4-1 series triumph in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. The defending NBA champs will move on to face either the Portland Trail Blazers or Los Angeles Clippers. If the Trail Blazers, up 3-2 in the series, can finish off the injury-ravaged Clippers at home on Friday, the Western semi-final best-of-seven would start on Sunday in Oakland.

Warriors approve Lakers request to approach assistant coach Walton
(Thu, 28 Apr 2016 11:08:03 PDT)
The Golden State Warriors have given the Los Angeles Lakers permission to approach assistant coach Luke Walton for their vacant top job. Warriors coach Steve Kerr confirmed that the reigning NBA champions had told Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak they could meet Walton following their series win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.

Rockets’ disastrous season ends as expected (Yahoo Sports)
(Thu, 28 Apr 2016 07:41:44 PDT)
The dysfunctional Rockets appeared to be in a hurry to begin an offseason that could lead to major change.

Warriors reach second round with MVP Stephen Curry sidelined (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 28 Apr 2016 00:37:25 PDT)
Perhaps a corny catchphrase to some, those three words really resonate with the Golden State Warriors: ''Strength in Numbers.'' They are bought into this mantra, all right. Poll a few Warriors and they surely will bring up the defending champions' depth and ability to push forward, no matter who goes down. Golden State rolled right into the second round of the playoffs by embarrassing the Houston Rockets 114-81 on Wednesday night to win the best-of-seven series 4-1 as the league's leading scorer watched in delight.

Dose: Warriors move on (Rotoworld)
(Thu, 28 Apr 2016 00:16:00 PDT)
The Hornets and Blazers took 3-2 leads and can close out at home and the Warriors finished off the miserable Rockets on Wednesday. Dose it up!

Warriors roll into second round of playoffs without Curry (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 27 Apr 2016 23:50:27 PDT)
Klay Thompson knew Golden State had to come together, that every player needed to raise his game with Stephen Curry sidelined. ''None of us can do it alone,'' Thompson insisted hours earlier. ''Urgency of the game and we did not want to go back to Houston - it's a long flight,'' Thompson said of his extra motivation.

No Curry, no problem as Warriors rout Rockets in NBA playoffs
(Wed, 27 Apr 2016 23:49:26 PDT)
The Golden State Warriors brushed off the unsettling absence of injured star Stephen Curry to demolish the Houston Rockets and advance to the next round of the NBA playoffs. The Warriors' hopes of successfully defending their NBA crown received a blow on Sunday after Curry was sidelined for at least two weeks with a sprained knee ligament.

Wednesday's Sports in Brief (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 27 Apr 2016 23:41:41 PDT)
The NCAA Board of Governors adopted an anti-discrimination measure that would affect the way the governing body evaluates bids to host sporting events. The NCAA said the decision came during the board's quarterly meeting in Indianapolis. The NCAA said the decision follows actions of legislatures in several states.

NBA-No Curry, no worry as Warriors eliminate Rockets
(Wed, 27 Apr 2016 22:34:05 PDT)
The Golden State Warriors did not skip a beat without key point guard Stephen Curry, routing the Houston Rockets 114-81 on Wednesday to seal a 4-1 series triumph in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. The defending NBA champs will move on to face either the Portland Trail Blazers or Los Angeles Clippers. If the Trail Blazers, up 3-2 in the series, can finish off the injury-ravaged Clippers at home on Friday, the Western semi-final best-of-seven would start on Sunday in Oakland.

Warriors eliminate Rockets, advance to 2nd round in breezy blowout (Ball Don't Lie)
(Wed, 27 Apr 2016 22:28:27 PDT)
Few doubts remained over the Golden State Warriors' ability to defeat the Houston Rockets without Stephen Curry before Wednesday's Game 5 in Oakland. The presumptive back-to-back MVP played just 39 minutes while active for two games before spraining the MCL in his right knee before halftime of Game 4 , and the Warriors have had little trouble handling the rudderless Rockets in all but one of their matchups this series. There are questions as to how far Golden State can go without the league's leading scorer, but Houston provided little resistance. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr:  The best slams from all of basketball] In many ways, then, the Warriors' series-ending win in Game 5 was very predictable. Nevertheless, the extent of the devastation was perhaps not foreseen. Because the Warriors never really gave the Rockets a chance in a wire-to-wire 114-81 victory that looked headed for a blowout after just a few minutes. For those keeping score at home, the Warriors outscored the Rockets by 70 points in the six quarters after Curry went down in Game 4. Houston ended its season as it lived it — with lackluster effort, no cohesiveness, and very little pride. Meanwhile, Golden State took care of business in less-than-ideal circumstances to give everyone a few days of rest before starting a Western Conference Semifinals series against either the Portland Trail Blazers or Los Angeles Clippers. The Warriors announced their intention to end the series very early in Wednesday's matchup, starting with a tremendous sense of purpose that manifested itself in an overwhelming first-quarter offensive output. The stats tell a great deal of the story — they put up 37 points on 14-of-22 shooting from the field with 12 assists and just one turnover. Yet the success was much more than a product of hot shooting, because the Warriors shared the ball and made extra passes as a general rule in order to put the Rockets away early. Not surprisingly, Houston responded with little increase in their defensive intensity. It's not a shock that the Rockets didn't defend effectively, because that's what they've done all season. But it was slightly more surprising to see the offense look remarkably disjointed even for a group with such little on-court chemistry. James Harden scored quite well in the first quarter to put up 18 points on 6-of-8 from the field, but his teammates combined to miss all 15 of their field goal attempts for two points (on Dwight Howard free throws, of all things). Bad luck certainly contributed to many of the misses, but it also felt like a perfectly fitting way for the last game of a massively disappointing season to end. It's not terribly necessary to discuss the particulars of the rest of the game, because the Rockets pretty clearly weren't in any kind of mindset to come back. The Warriors cooled off and the non-Harden Rockets began to make some shots in the second quarter, but the general dynamics of the matchup did not change at all. Golden State led 59-37 at halftime and turned the second half into a big party as everyone played and no one saw more than Draymond Green's 31 minutes. Of course, it wouldn't be a Warriors game if someone didn't make history. Klay Thompson was the man on Wednesday, scoring a team-high 27 points on 7-of-11 shooting from beyond the arc to become the first player in NBA history to make at least seven three-pointers in consecutive playoff games. Congratulations, Klay — you have a three-point record that Stephen Curry doesn't. With the Warriors coasting to a win, the Rockets were left to consider the last moments of a lost season. Harden spent his time doing what he does best — scoring. His 35 points matched his best output of the series and helped keep Houston afloat when no one else could buy a bucket. Then again, Harden committed seven turnovers that gave Golden State some key transition opportunities. As ever, the overall quality of his game depended on factors well beyond his scoring. Fellow max-contract player Dwight Howard had a much more curious game. After a first half of missed lay-ups and late defensive challenges, Howard apparently requested to continue playing through the blowout and finished with 45 minutes played: JB Bickerstaff on playing Dwight until final buzzer: "He wanted to stay in, he wanted to finish. He didn't want to bail out of the fight." — Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixYS) April 28, 2016 Don't worry, though, Howard still had time for some fun. Here's the three-pointer he hoisted up on the game's final possession: Howard often gets criticism when he doesn't entirely deserve it and the game was obviously very over by this point, but it's probably not the best idea to fire up a goofy three-pointer if your whole plan is to prove you won't give up the fight. Don't expect many free-agent suitors to be swayed this summer. Or maybe Dwight's just an artist, because this shot is the perfect finish to a Rockets season that started poorly and only got more disappointing from there. As soon-to-be unemployed J.B. Bickerstaff said in his post-game press conference, this team blew its opportunities all season. Winning one game in a playoff series without having to contend with the NBA MVP is just the fitting conclusion to it all: "These years in the NBA aren't guaranteed....So when you are in these moments you've got to take full advantage" https://t.co/tHat40m5FA — NBA TV (@NBATV) April 28, 2016 The Warriors have accomplished a great deal this season, but the best thing they did on Wednesday was not moving onto the next round. It was ensuring that none of us will ever have to watch the 2015-16 Houston Rockets ever again. Their reward is at least a few days off before the start of the Western Conference Semifinals. The Blazers' win over the injury devastated Clippers in Game 5 of their series Wednesday means that they are likely to clinch a series win at home in Friday's Game 6, which would set up a Game 1 at Oracle Arena on Sunday. It figures that the Warriors will be rooting for the Clippers both for the preferred matchup and because a full seven games would push the start of the semifinal back to Tuesday. With Curry out, they need all the rest they can get. It's fair to assume that the Warriors will be ready whenever they begin the next round. They will face far more difficult opponents than the Rockets in the future, but this series still proved that they possess champion-level focus and resolve. If reports are accurate that Curry plans to test his knee next week , then it's very possible that they'll firmly reestablish themselves as overwhelming favorites quite soon. Golden State didn't have an ideal first round by any means, but they definitely showed that they're ready to defend their title. - - - - - - - Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @FreemanEric

Lakers get permission to approach Walton over coaching role
(Wed, 27 Apr 2016 20:58:18 PDT)
(Reuters) - The Los Angeles Lakers have been given permission to speak to Golden State assistant coach Luke Walton over their vacant coaching job, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said on Wednesday. The 36-year-old will be able to hold talks with the Lakers at the conclusion of Golden State's first round playoff series against the Houston Rockets, which the Warriors led 3-1 ahead of Wednesday's Game Five.

NBA-Lakers get permission to approach Walton over coaching role
(Wed, 27 Apr 2016 20:46:24 PDT)
The Los Angeles Lakers have been given permission to speak to Golden State assistant coach Luke Walton over their vacant coaching job, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said on Wednesday. The 36-year-old will be able to hold talks with the Lakers at the conclusion of Golden State's first round playoff series against the Houston Rockets, which the Warriors led 3-1 ahead of Wednesday's Game Five.

Lakers get permission to interview Warriors' Luke Walton for head-coaching job (Yahoo Sports)
(Wed, 27 Apr 2016 18:30:33 PDT)
The Lakers' interest in Luke Walton was expected after they parted ways with Byron Scott.

Charles Barkley apologizes to the Rockets owner, CEO, GM (Video) (Ball Don't Lie)
(Wed, 27 Apr 2016 10:06:27 PDT)


Warriors look to advance, Clippers, Heat aim for home wins (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 26 Apr 2016 23:29:53 PDT)
There's been the unexpected, like Golden State's Stephen Curry going down with a knee injury. Then came a double whammy for the Clippers, with Chris Paul out with a broken hand and Blake Griffin's season ending because of a nagging leg injury. Then there's been the expected, like Charlotte and Miami giving each other problems in a series that's been wildly back and forth.

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