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HomeSPORTSStephen Curry's 47-point takeover delivers Warriors needed win

Stephen Curry’s 47-point takeover delivers Warriors needed win

Stephen Curry had never been happier about a win in the 11th game of the regular season than he was about the Golden State Warriors’ 116-113 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.

Coming off a five-game losing streak, the Warriors considered this to be as close to a must-win game as possible this early in the season.

Curry finished the night with a game-high — and season-high — 47 points on 17-of-24 shooting, including 7-of-12 from 3, eight rebounds and eight assists. He scored 17 of his points in the fourth quarter. Curry is the first player to record such a stat line and have no turnovers since turnovers were first tracked in 1977-78, according to Elias.

“It was very Game 4 of the NBA Finals to me. He just wasn’t going to allow us to lose,” Draymond Green said. “Take that with a grain of salt because I’m not saying this game was as important. But you know when to get out of the way. It was one of those times where he was taking over.”

Curry’s dominance has been desperately needed by Golden State through the early portion of the season as they navigate defensive struggles and an unproductive bench. But Curry insists the weight he is carrying for his team is not a burden.

“We have to understand that (the young players) are all going to get an opportunity to perform, and there are going to be some struggles — some real high highs, and some real low lows,” Curry said. “That’s the story of this team. As vets, you understand every year is a little different and you are ready for that challenge. For these young guys to try and find themselves in this league and also a specific role, it’s challenging.”

Curry has scored at least 30 points in eight of the 10 games he’s played, becoming the third player in franchise history to do so alongside Wilt Chamberlain and Rick Berry.

So far, Curry has made 53 3-pointers this season, the second-most through a player’s first 10 games of a season — trailing only his record of 59 from the 2018-19 season.

“Steph was just breathtaking,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s obviously one of the greatest players of all time and he plays so well on so many nights. But this even seemed like something special for him.”

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“Steph was just breathtaking,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s obviously one of the greatest players of all time and he plays so well on so many nights. But this even seemed like something special for him.”

“It was obviously necessary,” Kerr said. “But it’s not sustainable. So we know we can’t do this for a long time.”

The Warriors have needed to rely on their starters in almost every game this season, facing a major drop-off in production during their bench minutes.

Following their winless road trip, Kerr vowed to switch up his rotation to try and find a spark. He opted to move two-way player Anthony Lamb higher up into the rotation, as well as 2021 No. 7 overall pick Jonathan Kuminga, who was a DNP in three of the Warriors’ last seven games.

Following their winless road trip, Kerr vowed to switch up his rotation to try and find a spark. He opted to move two-way player Anthony Lamb higher up into the rotation, as well as 2021 No. 7 overall pick Jonathan Kuminga, who was a DNP in three of the Warriors’ last seven games.

Coming out of halftime Kerr moved Poole into the starting lineup over Kevon Looney to try and get Poole going, but it didn’t work. Kerr also never returned to Kuminga in the second half and played Moses Moody for just nine minutes all night.

“We were not right in that first half after the good start. We lost our juice,” Kerr said. “So the second half, it was more just figure it out … we did enough to get it done, but at that point, we were just flying by the season of our pants.”

Notable omissions from the rotation were lone veteran reserve JaMychal Green and 2020 No. 2 pick James Wiseman, who is back after missing 18 months with a meniscus injury and multiple setbacks.

Kerr said there will be opportunities for JaMychal Green and Wiseman to work their way back into the rotation at some point, but for the time being Kerr plans on playing smaller lineups that feature Draymond Green and Kuminga as the backup centers for Looney.

“It’s imperative that (Wiseman) uses this time to improve,” Draymond said. “If you’re not in the lineup, you should be crushing yourself every single day. One thing for sure: Steve is going to call your number … you have to make sure you’re ready.”

 

Amid 2-8 start, Darvin Ham vows turnaround coming for Lakers

SALT LAKE CITY — An undermanned Los Angeles Lakers team dropped to 2-8 on the season with a 139-116 loss to the Utah Jazz on Monday. It was their third straight loss, all by 14 points or more.

And in each of those losses, L.A. looked progressively ineffective on the defensive end after showing some signs of life on that end at the outset of season.

Yet, as bleak as things might seem, ranked 14th out of 15 teams in the Western Conference through 10 games played, Lakers coach Darvin Ham vowed a turnaround is on the way.

“I would say this, man. And write it, quote it, however,” Ham told reporters, beginning an impassioned diatribe about the state of the Lakers. “This may be happening now at the outset of what we’re trying to force to be a culture change in terms of getting us back to being highly competitive on a highly consistent basis, but it’s not going to always be like this.

“We’re going to turn the corner. I didn’t come here to lose. They didn’t bring me here to lose.”

With LeBron James sidelined because of discomfort in his left foot and L.A. down two other starters because of an illness (non-COVID) that’s swept through the locker room in Lonnie Walker and Patrick Beverley, the upstart Jazz controlled the action from the start.

With LeBron James sidelined because of discomfort in his left foot and L.A. down two other starters because of an illness (non-COVID) that’s swept through the locker room in Lonnie Walker and Patrick Beverley, the upstart Jazz controlled the action from the start.

“There is a process involved where we have to go through tough times,” Ham continued. “Like, I want to bottle this up. I want to embrace it. I want to have it and store it so when things are turned around and we get too comfortable and we start complaining about some problems that are not even necessarily problems — problems that winning teams go through — I want to be able to reflect on these times.”

“There is a process involved where we have to go through tough times,” Ham continued. “Like, I want to bottle this up. I want to embrace it. I want to have it and store it so when things are turned around and we get too comfortable and we start complaining about some problems that are not even necessarily problems — problems that winning teams go through — I want to be able to reflect on these times.”

Without James, Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 29 points on 11-for-18 shooting, and Russell Westbrook went 8-for-14 for 22 points off the bench.

“It’s like we just stopped communicating in the third quarter, stopped helping one another,” Davis said. “We can’t afford that.”

And he lamented the state of the team.

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“S—, 2-8 is a hard pill for me to swallow,” Davis said. “Obviously, it can change around. I think New Orleans was 1-12 or something last year, come back and go on a run. We’ve got to put it together. Offense has found its rhythm. It seems like we’ve lost all our defensive intensity. And that’s what’s killing us.”

Ham specifically said he was not aiming his postgame comments at Davis — “That’s not directed at AD,” he said — but remained steadfast in his optimism in the Lakers’ situation.

“I don’t want anyone around me with a defeatist mentality,” Ham said. “I don’t want anyone around me that’s not competitive. I don’t want anyone around me that’s selfish. We got to be on the same page at all times, through the good, bad and indifferent. And that’s all I can say about that. …

“I’ve always seen the glass half full, regardless of the circumstance. And it’s damn sure not going to stop now. We’re going to push through this and we’re going to be better for it.”

 

Clippers pull off surprising rally to halt Cavs’ 8-game win streak

LOS ANGELES — After scoring while being fouled to give the LA Clippers an improbable lead with 37 seconds left to play against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Paul George let out a scream toward the home crowd.

George’s three-point play completed a surprising 17-1 run by the Clippers that erased a 13-point deficit in the final five minutes to stun the Cavaliers 119-117 at Crypto.com Arena on Monday night.

The Clippers (6-5) snapped Cleveland’s eight-game winning streak and handed the Cavs (8-2) just their second loss.

“This is our best win, our biggest win,” said George, who had 26 points and five rebounds. “Overall, this was probably one of our better offensive nights, as well as our defense. They got elite scorers, elite shooting, and I thought we did a great job of just matching on both ends.”

George’s scream in the right corner of the baseline came near the same spot where he hit a game-winning shot to help the Clippers stave off an embarrassing loss to the rebuilding Houston Rockets a week ago. At that time, the Clippers were incredibly relieved to have beaten the Rockets, erasing a five-point deficit in the final 1:27 to halt what was then a four-game losing streak.

Monday night’s fourth-quarter comeback, though, was much different. Instead of avoiding a bad loss to the Rockets, the Clippers willed themselves to a win over the hottest team in the league.

They pulled off several stirring come-from-behind victories last season. But the Clippers trailed by 10 points in the final three minutes against Cleveland and still won. They were previously 0-629 when trailing by 10 or more points in the final three minutes of regulation over the past 25 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

“I was surprised today,” center Ivica Zubac said of the Clippers’ latest comeback, because of the quality of opponent it came against and how Cleveland was playing. “But I guess that’s what we do.

“This is going to be a big one for our confidence.”

The Clippers have won four of their past five without the injured Kawhi Leonard (right knee), and they staved off the Cavs with John Wall sitting out the second game of a back-to-back.

Donovan Mitchell had 30 points for Cleveland, and Evan Mobley added 26 points and eight rebounds. But the Clippers played perhaps their best defense of the season, holding the Cavs to 0-for-7 shooting for a five-minute stretch.

The Clippers play the hallway rival Lakers on Wednesday for the second time this season. While the Clippers are not expected to have Leonard for a ninth straight game, they are hoping this Cleveland win can propel them to play the way many expected them to play when they started the season with championship expectations.

Coach Ty Lue said the Clippers are trending up and that he is starting to see them resemble who they were when they fought their way to the Western Conference finals in 2021.

“I think so,” Lue said. “But it’s going to be different again when Kawhi comes back. So you got to try to figure it out again.

“But I like where we’re at. We’re competing every single night.”

 

Suns star Chris Paul exits loss to 76ers with heel soreness

PHILADELPHIA — Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul left in the second quarter of Monday night’s 100-88 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers with right heel soreness.

Paul tried to go around a screen by 76ers big man Paul Reed with 6 minutes, 27 seconds to go in the quarter, and immediately hopped in pain and grabbed at his right foot. He very slowly jogged down to the other end of the court, and when a foul was called a few seconds later, he was subbed out of the game and didn’t return.

“Trust me,” Paul said afterward, “if I could have played, I would’ve.”

Paul said he wasn’t concerned about the injury being a long-term issue, and answered with a “Yeah” when asked if not returning to the game was just him and the team being cautious with the injury.

Suns coach Monty Williams said after the game that the team had no update on Paul’s status beyond what it issued at halftime, when he was ruled out for the remainder of the game with that listing of right heel soreness.

“He was good [coming into the game],” Williams said. “He just had like a misstep over in the corner, and I looked up and he was limping a little bit.”

Paul didn’t have any wrap or other sort of covering on his right foot in the locker room after the game.

Paul, who entered Monday as the league’s leader with 10.2 assists per game, wasn’t the only player absent for the Suns. They also played their first game since starting power forward Cameron Johnson was ruled out indefinitely because of a torn meniscus in his right knee that he suffered Friday at home against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Williams said the Suns will take a by-committee approach to the power forward spot, with Torrey Craig — who had three points on 1-for-6 shooting in 23 minutes Monday — getting the first crack at it.

Other options Williams said he could consider are forwards Damion Lee and Dario Saric and center Jock Landale to play alongside Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges in Phoenix’s frontcourt.

“It’s tough, man,” said Devin Booker, who had 28 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in 43 minutes Monday night. “You never want to see a teammate get hurt, and it’s just a different dynamic. … You just have different looks and different flow, and we’re a good team at figuring that out.”

Monday also saw the return of 76ers superstar Joel Embiid to the lineup after he missed all three of Philadelphia’s games last week with a non-COVID-19 illness. Embiid finished with 33 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists in 37 minutes — including going a perfect 16-for-16 from the free throw line — but was disappointed with his performance.

“I was OK,” Embiid said. “I didn’t shoot well from the field … under 50 percent. I just got to get back to myself and be aggressive. But I thought, as a team, we missed a lot of easy shots and a lot of wide-open shots, but defensively we were pretty good.”

Embiid, who dealt with plantar fasciitis in the offseason that limited his conditioning, looked understandably tired early on in the game and wound up shooting 8-for-20 from the field. He said the best way for him to get his conditioning back is going to be to play in games, and he will try to help the 76ers navigate the absence of James Harden, who is out for the next several weeks with a right foot strain.

“Keep pushing myself, keep trying to get myself out of this sickness,” he said, when asked how he could get his conditioning back as quickly as possible. “Hope for the best, but it’s probably going to take awhile because [the illness] really hit me. But I’m excited for the challenge, and we’re going to need every single minute to be able to hold down the fort without James.”

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