May 20, 2018, 11:04 pm
Steph Curry was headed for another disappointing performance, a continuing cause for concern for the Golden State Warriors rather than the driving force behind the defending champions’ success. Then halftime came, immediately after which Curry forcefully reminded the basketball world why he’s a two-time MVP – and his team might still be unbeatable after all. Buoyed by a pristine third-quarter from Curry, the Warriors routed the Houston Rockets 126-85 on Sunday night, taking a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals.
Discussion regarding Curry’s struggles reached a crescendo midway through Game 3 despite Golden State holding a 54-43 lead at intermission. He had 10 points in the first half, but needed 11 shots to get there, and missed several good looks from deep, going 1-of-7 on 3-pointers. Curry created some personal momentum with an and-one lefty layup past Chris Paul on the first possession of the second half, and furthered it moments later by cleaning up a missed bunny in transition. It wasn’t until the Rockets respond to the Warriors’ 10-0 run to open the second half, though, that he really got going.
Golden State’s first two possessions following a timeout to stymie a mini Houston run both ended in Curry layups. On Golden State’s next trip down, he lost Paul again by stepping behind a dribble hand-off with Kevin Durant and splashing his second triple of the game. Barely more than a minute later, Curry gave Harden a taste of his own medicine, dancing with the ball at the top of the floor before crossing over into a 30-foot triple, bringing Oracle Arena to its loudest roar yet – and busting out his classic shimmy.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 21, 2018
The floodgates never closed. Curry finished with 35 points, his most since late February, on 13-of-23 from the field and 5-of-12 from beyond the arc. He scored 18 points on perfect 7-of-7 shooting in the third quarter alone, and hit two more threes in the final stanza, when the Warriors turned a blowout into an all-time laugher by outscoring the Rockets 38-18.
“That what I expected to do,” he said after the game.
Curry had help in Game 3, too, from both his teammates and his opponents. Kevin Durant had 25 points, six rebounds and six assists, playing his most well-rounded offensive game of the series. Draymond Green grabbed 17 rebounds and dished six assists, while Andre Iguodala stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points (all in the first half), three rebounds, three assists and three steals. Golden State shot 52.2 percent from the field, 13-of-32 from three and 17-of-18 from the free throw line. The home team had just eight turnovers against 20 assists, and got out to 23 fast-break points.
With Curry going off from the friendly confines of Oracle, the Warriors played like the historic juggernauts they are. The Rockets, by contrast, were barely recognizable compared to their authoritative performance in Game 2. They were carless with the ball from the opening tip, committing 19 turnovers that resulted in 28 Golden State points, and notably less connected defensively. Harden ended up with a respectable 20 points and nine assists, but never found the rhythm on offense that came so easily to him at Toyota Center. Paul, plagued by a nagging injury to his lower right leg, was ineffective on both sides of the ball, routinely losing contact of his assignment defensively and struggling to score out of isolation.
The Rockets shot 39.4 percent overall, 11-of-34 from 3-point range and 8-of-17 from the restricted area. They were out-rebounded, out-ran, out-hustled and simply out-played to the extent a loud contingent of naysayers believed it would be throughout the Western Conference Finals.
“We played soft, actually,” D’Antoni said. “You can’t do that with these guys.”
A bounce-back game was to be expected for Golden State. Green said before Game 3 that his team plays best when threatened, and that’s exactly how Houston made the reigning champions feel after blowing them out on Wednesday night. And Curry, still acclimating to the speed and physicality of postseason basketball after missing almost all of March and April, has been a monster at home in the playoffs. That 41-point margin of victory deserves an asterisk, too; the fourth quarter was a formality.
Nothing that transpired on Sunday evening was surprising, basically. It’s no secret that when both these teams are playing near their peak, the Warriors are better than the Rockets. Before Game 3, though, there was a growing notion that Curry’s relative labors might keep his team team reaching those exalted heights. Now? Golden State, no matter the game-by-game performance of the Rockets or any other potential foe, seems well on its way to a second consecutive championship.
August 25, 2019, 11:25 pmCaris LeVertSG, Brooklyn Nets
The Nets and Caris LeVert have agreed to terms on a three-year, $52.5 million contract extension, as per Adrian Wojnarowski.
This makes sense for the Nets, who have long extolled their love for LeVert's long-term outlook. This sounds like they're fully committed to making him a core player. Enjoy his upside this season, as he will likely take a usage hit when Kevin Durant returns to full health and takes the floor.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
August 25, 2019, 11:18 pmEvan FournierSF, Orlando Magic
In an 82-80 win by France over Italy on Sunday, Evan Fournier posted 29 points in 19 minutes of action.
This was nice showing for Fournier, who is coming of a relatively lackluster 2018-19 campaign. He will have to fend off an emergent Terrence Ross for those minutes at the wing this season and will need production-per-minute on this level if he wants to stay on the floor for the Magic.
Source: Orlando Magic Daily on Twitter
August 25, 2019, 8:29 pmVictor OladipoSG, Indiana Pacers
Victor Oladipo had little to say about his rehab process (ruptured quad tendon) at his basketball camp in Indiana.
We weren't expecting earth shattering details while Oladipo was busy overseeing his basketball camp, but more information about the Pacer would be most welcome. It is hard to know what you will get from Oladipo on draft day, but you have to figure someone in your league will be interested in taking a gamble on him. He is still not scrimmaging with other players, and whenever he does return to game action this season, it is unlikely he will resume being a top player in the early going.
Source: The Athletic
August 25, 2019, 8:08 pmBriante WeberPG, International
Briante Weber, after spending the end of last season with the Greek club Olympiacos, is joining the Metropolitians 92, based in Boulogne-Levallois, France.
Weber attended free agent mini-camps in June with the Raptors and Wolves, and spent time in the G-League last year, but has never been able to catch on long-term with an NBA team. He has had brief stops with several NBA squads over the years, so it is possible he could return to a roster at some point this season. There is nothing to see here in terms of fantasy though.
August 25, 2019, 7:54 pmRui HachimuraPF, Washington Wizards
Rui Hachimura showed off his scoring prowess with 31 points in Japan's comeback victory over Germany on Saturday.
After a nice string of Summer League performances, Rui Hachimura is continuing his strong play in FIBA World Cup exhibition games for Japan. He can clearly get his own look in the mid-range, and the rookie should get a chance to perform for the Wizards this year. Keep an eye on Hachimura's preseason opportunities, as the competition for the Wizards' power forward minutes isn't fierce. He could be worth a late-round flyer in standard league-drafts.
Source: Mike Schmitz on Twitter
August 25, 2019, 6:50 pmRobert CovingtonSF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Robert Covington (right knee) is not expected to have any limitations heading into training camp.
Covington had arthroscopic surgery in April after missing 47 games last season due to a bone bruise on his right knee.
Source: Chris Hine of the Star Tribune
August 25, 2019, 6:32 pmJeff TeaguePG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Jeff Teague (left ankle) is not expected to have any restrictions for training camp.
Teague had a left ankle debridement procedure in April to help alleviate inflammation. Teague's ankles have given him trouble throughout his career and he only played 42 games last season. With a clean bill of health Teague will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing season.
Source: Chris Hine of the Star Tribune
August 24, 2019, 11:09 pmDerrick WhitePG, San Antonio Spurs
Derrick White has reportedly passed the first concussion test after taking a nasty fall in Team USA's tuneup game vs. the Australian Boomers on Saturday.
This is good news. White has worked hard for his Team USA roster spot and should provide some guard depth for them once he clears concussion protocols. He was an eye-opener last season and should still hold some fantasy value despite the return of a now-healthy Dejounte Murray.
Source: Tom Orsborn on Twitter
August 24, 2019, 10:27 amKyle KuzmaPF, Los Angeles Lakers
Kyle Kuzma (sore left ankle) will not take part in the FIBA World Cup as Team USA announces its final roster.
Kuzma sat out Team USA's final tuneup against Australia on Saturday as Marc Stein reports that he is flying back to Los Angeles to get treatment. We should still expect him to be ready for training and congrats to Mason Plumlee for making the team as many speculated that he would be the final cut.
Source: Marc Stein on Twitter
August 24, 2019, 8:58 amKemba WalkerPG, Boston Celtics
Kemba Walker scored 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting with four rebounds with two assists as USA Basketball had it's 78-game winning streak in tournament and exhibition games snapped on Saturday.
Walker continues to assert himself as the team's best player but USA losing to Australia was the much bigger story in this one. Harrison Barnes also played well as he chipped in 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting to go with six rebounds. USA will take on Canada on Monday in their last exhibition before taking on the Czech Republic in the first official match of the tournament on September 1.