Curry leads Warriors to 50th win, 102-92 over Hawks

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ATLANTA (AP) — The Golden State Warriors Jerseys reached 50 wins faster than any team in NBA history.

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With their eyes on more than regular-season records, the Warriors improved to 50-5 as Stephen Curry scored 36 points and Golden State bounced back after squandering a 23-point lead to beat the Atlanta Hawks Jerseys 102-92 on Monday night.

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The Warriors eclipsed the mark set by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls Jerseys, who needed one more game to win their 50th. Of course, that’s the team Golden State is chasing, moving another step closer to the record 72-10 mark put up by Michael Jordan & Co. at the height of their six-titles-in-eight-years dynasty.

”Fifty wins is great,” Curry said, ”but we’ve got to keep plugging away and staying hungry, because nobody wants to talk about that in June.”

Curry and the defending NBA champions appeared headed for a rout against the struggling Hawks, pushing out to a 70-47 lead approaching the midway point of the third quarter. Atlanta closed the period on a 28-6 run and grabbed the lead briefly early in the fourth, igniting the sellout crowd.

But the Warriors would not be denied cheap jerseys, bouncing back to hand the Hawks their fourth straight home nba jerseys cheap loss.

”I liked our response,” coach Steve Kerr said. ”They were on fire in their home building. Everything was going against us, and we maintained our poise and pulled away down the stretch. It was a really good win.”

Klay Thompson added 27 points for the Warriors. Both he and Curry knocked down five shots from 3-point range. Draymond Green didn’t do much offensively, scoring only six nba jerseys cheap points, but he had 14 rebounds and nine assists.

Al Horford led the Hawks with 23 points.

”The third quarter is something we can hopefully build off of,” said Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer, whose team had the top record in the Eastern Conference a year ago but has slipped all the way to sixth this season.

Curry put on a clinic in the first half, thoroughly dominating Hawks point guard Jeff Teague.

Perhaps the best sequence came when Curry swished a towering 3-pointer from the corner, the ball seeming to disappear into the rafters of Philips Arena at the height of its arc wholesale nba jerseys. Then, after posing briefly in front of the Golden State bench, he hustled back to the other end to draw an offensive foul on Teague, who looked befuddled by what he was seeing.

At the end of the half, with the clock running down and Teague right in his face, Curry somehow found just enough space to knock down another amazing jumper from the corner, though this one with his foot on the stripe.

Someone on the Golden State bench threw a white towel high in the air – partly to celebrate, partly in disbelief.

The Hawks could’ve thrown in the towel early in the third.

Instead, Atlanta finally showed some fight against the league’s best team, making five 3-pointers and nearly 60 percent of its shots in the period.

The Warriors regained control in the fourth, helped by Curry’s 3 that left him wiggling his shoulders in front of the Atlanta bench.

”He senses when he needs to take over,” Kerr said.

SHARING THE BALL

Golden State had 30 assists in a game for the 29th time this season, a franchise record.

The previous mark was set last season on the way to the championship.

In addition to Green’s team-high assists, Curry doled out eight, Andrew Bogut had four and Thompson chipped in with three.

”It’s a special group,” Curry said.

TIP-INS

Warriors: Improved to 45-0 when leading after the third quarter. It looked as though the Hawks would have the lead heading to the fourth, but a video review showed Thabo Sefolosha’s jumper left his hand a split-second after the clock expired, leaving Golden State ahead 76-75. … Bogut played 29 minutes with a strained right Achilles, grabbing 11 rebounds. … Newly signed Anderson Varejao watched the game from the Warriors bench but didn’t play. He was signed after being cut last week by Portland.

Hawks: Have lost four straight home games for the first time since March 21 to April 1, 2007, according to STATS. … Tim Hardaway Jr. had some effective spurts off the bench, scoring 12 points. … Atlanta made 10 of 34 from 3-point range and is 19 of 75 from beyond the arc in its last two games.

UP NEXT

Warriors: Travel to Miami to face the Heat on Wednesday.

Hawks: Host the Chicago Bulls Jerseys on Friday.

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/paul-newberry .Sports & RecreationBasketballGolden State Warriors JerseysStephen CurryAtlanta Hawks JerseysChicago Bulls Jerseys

Bryant visits Golden State for last time

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — At every stop, in every road arena, Kobe Bryant is reflecting on 20 years of memories and many great games.

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He’s enjoying every second of this farewell ride despite all the losing, which isn’t exactly how he intended to go into retirement.

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The 37-year-old Bryant returned to Oracle Arena on Thursday night and the site of his first career 50-point game to face the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors Jerseys.

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”It’s really cool. This has been 20 years coming,” Bryant said. ”It’s fun to go cheap nba jerseys to these arenas for the last time and be able to soak it all in and really appreciate the arenas and appreciate the fans and the players from a different perspective versus having blinders on and really just focusing on one thing.”
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During pregame introductions, the Warriors showed a tribute from Lakers Hall of Famer and Golden State executive Jerry West with a highlight video on the main scoreboard as fans in the sellout crowd – including retiring Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson Jerseys, Oakland quarterback Derek Carr Jerseys and Athletics manager Bob Melvin – chanted ”Kobe! Kobe!” before a rousing ovation when his name was called. Bryant waved wholesale jerseys, tipped his head and clapped his hands in appreciation.

In honor of Bryant’s five NBA titles, the Warriors gifted him with a five-day Napa Valley vacation with five wineries and five restaurants included. He also received a five-liter bottle from Amuse Bouche winery featuring a special label with his jersey.

Bryant received many a hug at midcourt from the Warriors beforehand. He started despite a nagging sore right shoulder and a right Achilles strain, and made his first shot.

”He was fixated in not having a career. He was fixated on having an incredible career,” West said in a pregame news conference, recalling the first workout Bryant went through 20 years ago at age 17.

”For someone that age, it was remarkable the skill, the love that he had for the game and the desire to excel. The one thing that was very evident to me right away, this was a player at 17 years old I had never seen someone with the skill that he had.”

Interim Warriors coach Luke Walton won’t get ahead of himself and think about the chance to coach Bryant in his All-Star Game finale next month, though Walton knows that would be a blast – noting, ”I’m not even really a real coach. I have zero wins.”

Bryant left a lasting impression on Walton with his grit to play no matter what body part was hurting or how tired he might be, and they won two NBA championships during 8 1/2 seasons together with the Lakers.

”He was incredible. I’ve never, still to this day, ever seen anyone play through the stuff that he’s played through. Early on in my career, I would think, ‘OK, well he’s not going to be out there tonight and we have to step up and then after a while you just learn that he’s playing no matter what unless someone takes him off the court,” Walton recalled. ”There was a game he couldn’t even lift his right shoulder up above his head to shoot the ball so he started shooting it left-handed and finally that’s when Phil (Jackson) pulled him out.

”That kind of hurt a little bit that he thought him shooting left-handed 3-pointers was more effective than passing me the ball. That’s what made him such a great player.”

Bryant certainly hoped for a better showing in Oakland this time as he departs the Bay Area. In a 111-77 loss here Nov. 24, Bryant shot 1 of 14 for just four points to match the worst-shooting performance of his career in a game when he had at least one basket. Golden State set a record for the best start in NBA history that night, too, improving to 16-0 on the way to a 24-0 mark.

Yet this is also the place where Bryant produced his first career 50-point game, when he scored 51 on Dec. 6, 2000, at Oracle Arena – his highest output ever here. Golden State star Antawn Jamison also scored 51 that night in a 125-122 overtime win against the Lakers.

Whatever Bryant does next, West will remember what he brought to the game.

”He has left a legacy throughout the world. Millions of people love this guy, and millions of people will miss what he was able to accomplish in his career,” West said. ”He’s left a lot of big footprints there. I don’t see anyone there who’s going to be able to step in those footprints.”

That game is one that still sticks out in his mind, and Bryant acknowledged it has been fun to cheap nba jerseys see Golden State grow into a contender again after all the down years.

Oh, and he has no desire to face Stephen Curry and these Warriors in the playoffs. No thanks.

”No, I’m good. They play too well here. I’d rather not,” Bryant said with a grin. ”If I had to and the challenge presented itself, of course I’d rise to the challenge. If I had a choice, absolutely not. I don’t want to deal with this crowd.”Sports & RecreationBasketballKobe BryantGolden State Warriors Jerseys

Pistons rout Warriors despite Curry’s 38

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Before the game, Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said Golden State simply has more margin for error than other teams, meaning the Warriors can win even when they don’t play their best.

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Not on this night against Van Gundy’s Pistons.

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Kentavious Caldwell-Pope held his own against Stephen Curry for most of the night, scoring 20 points as the Pistons handed the Warriors their second loss in three games, 113-95 on Saturday.
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Much of the pregame talk centered around how well Caldwell-Pope might be able to defend Curry. The Golden State star scored 38 points, but Caldwell-Pope gave the Pistons a boost offensively.

”I think we know that we’re capable of beating anybody,” Van Gundy said afterward. ”The difference between the Golden States, San Antonios, Clevelands of the world and where we are right now, is you’ve got to do it night after night after night after night after night, and that’s our challenge.”

The Warriors (37-4) reached the midway point of the regular season a win short of the best 41-game start in NBA history. The 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers Jerseys and 1995-96 Chicago Bulls Jerseys started 38-3.

Detroit retired Ben Wallace’s No. 3 jersey at halftime, and by that time the Pistons led 65-49 on a raucous night at the Palace.

Curry scored 16 points in the third, but the Warriors still trailed by 11 at the end of period. Then Detroit started the fourth with a 16-2 run to lead 101-76.

”We’ve been saying it all year, but no matter where we go, teams are going to give us their best shot,” Warriors interim coach Luke Walton said. ”It was a big night with the crowd, it was a sellout, retiring Ben Wallace’s jersey. They were coming after us. … In this league if you’re not ready to fight back, you’re going to get cheap throwback basketball jerseys blown out.”

Golden State was whistled for three technical fouls. Curry and Draymond Green were hit with technicals late in the second quarter, and Walton was called for one in the fourth after a dunk by Detroit’s Andre Drummond. The technical free throw by Stanley Johnson made it 94-74.

Drummond had 14 points and 21 rebounds, and Reggie Jackson scored 20 points for Detroit. The Pistons had six players in double figures, while Golden State had only three. Klay Thompson scored 24 points for the Warriors wholesale jerseys.

Golden State’s Andre Iguodala went scoreless, and Green had five points on 1-of-7 shooting.

The Pistons took an early 10-point lead, and the crowd gave Wallace a standing ovation during a timeout. Golden State rallied to take a 30-27 lead after the first quarter, but backup center Aron Baynes gave Detroit a lift.

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Caldwell-Pope outscored Curry 16-15 in the first half. View gallery AUBURN HILLS, MI – JANUARY 16: Marcus Morris #13 of the Detroit Pistons Jerseys dunks against the Golden Sta …

SPECIAL GUESTS

In addition to Wallace, several other former Pistons were in attendance, including Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed cheap throwback basketball jerseys Wallace. Larry Brown, who coached Detroit to the 2004 NBA title, was also part of the festivities. It was the type of celebratory night with a big crowd that the Pistons have rarely enjoyed over the last few years.

”The energy was in the building,” Caldwell-Pope said. ”We felt it tonight. We just fed off it.”

NO EXCUSES

In each of their first three defeats of the season, the Warriors were missing key players like Harrison Barnes, Green and even Curry. On Saturday, Golden State had all of its top scorers, and Green thought they could make a run even when they were down heading into the fourth quarter.

”I thought we could, but we still didn’t get stops and scores,” he said. ”We just didn’t get stops and we fouled them a lot.”

TIP-INS

Warriors: Barnes was in the starting lineup for the first time since returning nearly two weeks ago from a sprained left ankle. He scored five points on 2-of-11 shooting. … Golden State shot 37 percent from the field, its worst showing of the season. The Warriors shot 39 percent at Boston on Dec. 11.

Pistons: Brandon Jennings left with a jammed left ankle.

UP NEXT

Warriors: Play at Cleveland on Monday night in a rematch of last season’s NBA Finals.

Pistons: Host Chicago on Monday.

Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtristerSports & RecreationBasketballGolden StateStephen CurryPistonsthe WarriorsDetroitKentavious Caldwell-PopeStan Van GundyBen Wallace

Nowitzki doubt for Mavericks in next NBA playoff game

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Los cheap youth basketball jerseys Angeles (AFP) – Dirk Nowitzki faces a battle to be fit for the Dallas Mavericks Jerseys when they face the Oklahoma City Thunder Jerseys on Thursday in a crucial Game Three of their best-of-seven playoff series.

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Nowitzki played a key role for the cheap youth basketball jerseys Mavs on Monday when they bounced back from being thrashed in Game One to snatch an 85-84 win to level the series at one apiece.

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However, Nowitzki underwent a scan Tuesday which revealed a bruised bone in his right knee, leaving him touch and go for Thursday’s third game wholesale jerseys.

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“Dirk suffered a bruised right knee on the play very early in the game when he slid and fell,” coach Rick Carlisle told reporters. “This thing with Dirk now, we hope this is not something that’s going to cost him to miss any time.”

Nowitzki’s absence would be another blow for the Mavs, who are already facing doubts around point guard J.J. Barea (groin) and forward David Lee (foot).

Point guard Deron Williams (hernia) is also “uncertain going forward,” according to Carlisle, despite playing in Game Two.

Williams, who took pain-killing medicine to help him play in Game Two, said he is hopeful he can feature on Thursday.

“I’ve got three days now to try to get treatment and do what I can do to get it back ready to go again,” Williams told reporters.Sports & RecreationBasketballDirk NowitzkiDallas Mavericks JerseysOklahoma City Thunder Jerseys

Lakers-Jazz Preview

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Already struggling to control the glass, the Utah Jazz Jerseys suffered another significant hit to their frontcourt when Trevor Booker took a blow to the head.

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Now two of their top three rebounders could be sidelined against the woeful Los Angeles Lakers Jerseys in Salt Lake City on Saturday night.

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The Jazz (17-22) own a plus-1.3 rebounding margin on the season, but have posted a minus-6.7 mark in the last six games of a 2-5 stretch. They’ve been dominated on the boards by a 54-38 margin each time in dropping their last two.

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Derrick Favors, second on the club nba basketball jerseys cheap with 8.6 rebounds per game, could miss a 13th straight due to back spasms. Booker is expected to also be out Saturday after being diagnosed with a concussion following an elbow from DeMarcus Cousins in Thursday’s 103-101 home loss to Sacramento.

Booker is averaging 6.6 boards on the season.

That should leave more minutes for Trey Lyles, who’s totaled 35 points but just five rebounds in nba basketball jerseys cheap his last two games. The rookie scored a season-high 19 to help Utah rally from an 18-point deficit against the Kings before Rudy Gay hit the winning jumper with 0.6 seconds left cheap jerseys.

Gordon Hayward missed all nine of his shots in the first half before going 4 for 8 in the final two quarters. He was 13 for 16 from the free-throw line overall.

“I think it takes a lot of resolve and a lot of grit (to come back) with Book out, basically every player on our roster in foul trouble except Gordon, and Gordon having a very difficult night from the field,” coach Quin Snyder said.

Hayward appears to be facing a prime opportunity to get back on track. He’s averaged 24.5 points and 50.7 percent shooting in his last four against the Lakers (9-32).

The forward led the way with 25 points and Utah held Los Angeles to 32.6 percent from the field – 3 for 21 from 3-point range – in Sunday’s 86-74 win at Staples Center.

Kobe Bryant did not play due to a strained right Achilles. He’s since totaled 15 points on 7-of-26 shooting in two games.

The retiring Bryant made his final appearance at Oracle Arena in Thursday’s 116-98 loss at Golden State. He’s yet to miss a game when it has been his last time playing in that city, though that won’t be the case Saturday with the Lakers returning to Salt Lake on March 28.

“I was really stiff (Thursday) but I felt like it was the right thing to do to go back out and try to enjoy it one more time,” Bryant said. “It was sore but it didn’t lock up on me.”

Los Angeles, loser of four of five, seems unlikely to provide Utah with much of a challenge on the boards as it ranks near the bottom of the league with a minus-4.2 rebounding margin.

Jordan Clarkson scored a team-high 22 points and Lou Williams added 21 against the Warriors. Clarkson has averaging 18.2 in his last six games while Williams has scored 23.3 in his past eight.

The Lakers have won in two of their past three visits to Utah.Sports & RecreationBasketballUtah Jazz JerseysLos Angeles Lakers JerseysTrevor BookerLos Angeles

Pacers rout Raptors to force Game 7

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — This time, the Indiana Pacers Jerseys buckled down and fought back.

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Reeling from a fourth-quarter collapse followed by a sluggish start, the Pacers turned things around just in time with an 18-0 run to save their season.

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Paul George and George Hill combined for 24 second-half points Friday to help Indiana pull away for a 101-83 victory over the Raptors to force a decisive Game 7 on Sunday in Toronto.

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”We just had a fight in us,” George said. ”As a group, collectively, we knew that this could be the end of our season. We just did a great job of battling.”

And closing it out.

Indiana had trouble all season closing out games and when it blew a seemingly safe 13-point lead in Game 5, the question was how would the Pacers respond?

They answered with one of their best halves all year, closing the third quarter with six straight points after Toronto had cut the deficit to 65-64 and opening the fourth on a 12-0 run.

George led the way. The league’s No. 1 playoff scorer coming into the night had 21 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and nba jersey cheap two steals, going 10 of 10 at the free throw line.

He also had plenty of help. All five Indiana starters scored in double figures, including Myles Turner, who had 15 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Hill added 12 points.

Coach Frank Vogel couldn’t have concocted a better script heading into Indiana’s biggest game of the season.

”I believe we can play with this team,” he said. ”We have great respect for them. But I really believe we’re hitting our stride at the right time and playing our best basketball of the season when it matters. You just have to continue to believe in who you are.” ”

Now the series and the pressure shifts back to Toronto.

The Raptors haven’t won a postseason series since 2001 and their 15-year drought is longest active streak in the league.

They have never won a best-of-seven series, something they could have done had they not blown a 3-2 lead and lost Game 7 on their home court against Brooklyn in 2014.

And if they had maintained the lead they held for the first 26 1/2 minutes of Game 6, they would already have a ticket to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Instead, the Pacers’ defense stopped Toronto.

DeMarre Carroll and Cory Joseph each scored 15 points while Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan struggled yet again.

Lowry had 10 points and 10 assists, going 4 of 14 from the field, while DeRozan scored eight points and was 3 of 13.

The All-Star guards know they must perform better in Game 7 – or Toronto could be going home wholesale jerseys.

”The season would be a failure if we don’t get out of the first round and give ourselves a chance to play in the second round,” DeRozan said. ”We understand that.”

GOLD MEDAL

Indiana handed out gold T-shirts to fans at the game and it caused a bit of a stir because the wording on the shirts read: United State of Basketball, We The Gold. It was a twist on Toronto’s motto – We The North. Raptors coach Dwane Casey didn’t seem to mind that Indiana stole the idea. ”I know that they have a great home court. You know you’re in Pacers territory because of all the gold shirts,” he said. ”But what happens between the lines for 48 minutes is what I’m concerned about.”

UPSET CITY?

The Pacers are one win away from becoming the sixth team with the No. 7 seed nba jersey cheap to upset a No. 2 seed since the playoffs expanded in 1984. Of course, history isn’t what the Pacers are talking about. ”They’ll have their fans out in full force and they’re going to be revved up,” Pacers swingman Solomon Hill said. ”It’s just going to be the more desperate team – whoever wants it.”

FREE THROWS

DeRozan has been one of the league’s best at getting to the line, but he struggled again Friday. DeRozan made both of his free throw attempts. He’s been held to no free throws twice, after doing that only once all season. George, in contrast, is 55 of 58 at the line in the series and has already set a franchise record for most free throws made in an NBA playoff series.

TIP-INS

Raptors: The Raptors were outrebounded 23-16 in the second half and wound up getting outrebounded 44-40. … Jonas Valanciunas had 14 points. … Bismack Biyombo grabbed 10 rebounds. … Toronto gave up 20 points on 17 turnovers.

Pacers: Turner blocked four shots, giving him 19 in the series to break Antonio Davis’ previous franchise rookie record in a six-game series. … Indiana started the second half by making five of its first seven shots. … Actor-comedian Mike Epps, who lives in Indy, attended the game. … The Pacers have won four straight elimination games on their home court.Sports & RecreationBasketballIndiana Pacers JerseysTorontoGeorge Hill

Cousins’ manager slaps Terry, Kings win

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Kings star DeMarcus Cousins had another strong game Tuesday night. His manager wasn’t as fortunate.

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Cousins amassed 26 points and 12 rebounds as Sacramento won its third straight by defeating the Houston Rockets Jerseys 107-97.

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His manager wasn’t around to see the victory. Andrew Rogers was ejected for slapping at Rockets guard Jason Terry, who was trailing the play on a dunk by Sacramento’s Ben McLemore in the third quarter.

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Terry put his hand out to slow down as he neared fans sitting along the baseline, and Rogers slapped at Terry’s arm. The Houston guard stopped, turned around and started to step toward Rogers, who was retro nba jerseys cheap then ejected from his seat.

Another fan, believed to be sitting with Rogers’ group, was ejected later in the game.

”I don’t know what happened. I didn’t hear anything or see anything. That’s all there is,” said Terry, who clearly did not want to discuss the situation.

The Kings never trailed after the midway point of the second quarter in a sloppy game that included 49 turnovers and three technical fouls, one on Cousins.

”I’m not sure I’ve ever won a game by 10 points where my team committed this many turnovers,” Sacramento coach George Karl said. ”I’ve got a crazy team and I’m kind of crazy. Some of our crazy decisions were amazing.”

Starting for suspended guard Rajon Rondo, Darren Collison had 14 points, a season-high 13 assists and six rebounds as the Kings won their third in a row.

Rondo was penalized one game by the NBA for directing a gay slur at official Bill Kennedy in a game Dec. 3 against Boston in Mexico City cheap jerseys.

”We all know what kind of player Rondo is, but when somebody is down, we’ve still got to be able to win games,” said Rudy Gay, who had 17 points and 13 rebounds for Sacramento. ”Darren came out there and he made an effort to keep his team in check and run the team like a point guard should. He did that.”

Omri Casspi had 19 points for the Kings, who have won seven of their past nine home games.

James Harden scored 33 points for Houston. Terry and Patrick Beverley both added 14. View gallery Sacramento, CA – DECEMBER 15: DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings Jerseys high fives teammates duri …

Rockets star Dwight Howard was in foul trouble and wasn’t much of a factor. He left the game early in the third quarter with his fourth foul and finished with four points and four rebounds in 28 minutes.

”Whatever it was, we need retro nba jerseys cheap to play harder and figure it out,” Harden said. ”That’s the type of messages that are sent. Our defense will get there, but we have to make it get there. We’re showing spurts on defense but we are not consistent.”

The Kings led 82-74 entering the fourth quarter and three early 3-pointers by Marcus Belinelli helped them maintain control in snapping an eight-game losing streak against Houston.

TRADE TALK

A report earlier in the day speculated that Howard was unhappy with his role on offense, where he’s only getting a little more than eight shots per game. The speculation had him possibly going to Miami.

”I haven’t said nothing to nobody about anything,” Howard said. ”I’ve been positive and trying to help turn this thing around every way possible. People are always going to make up lies and rumors to get off. But I haven’t said nothing about anything to anybody. That has never been my focus. I’m trying to get these guys to play better and get myself to play better. So why would I say that to anybody?”

TIP-INS

Rockets: Howard fouled Cousins late in the opening half and picked up a technical. … Harden scored 10 straight Rockets points to end the third quarter. . The Rockets missed 27 of 39 3-point shots.

Kings: Cousins drew a technical early in the game after battling underneath with Howard. … Karl was called for a technical in the second quarter. … Rap star Drake sat next to Kings owner Vivek Ranadive in courtside seats. … Seth Curry played as the backup point guard and had six points in 20 minutes.

UP NEXT

Rockets: At the Los Angeles Lakers Jerseys on Thursday.

Kings: At Minnesota on Friday.Sports & RecreationBasketballHouston Rockets JerseysDeMarcus CousinsSacramentoJason TerryThe Kings

Kobe’s enduring legacy: How his greatness spawned a generation of Kobes

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On the day her youngest son was born, Rochette Wilson awoke to a big surprise.

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Her husband had named their newborn baby after his favorite NBA player while she was heavily sedated because of complications during labor.

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“When my wife was coherent enough to know what was going on, they bring our son in from the nursery and they’re like, “Here’s Kobe!” Carlos Wilson recalled with a chuckle. “She’s like, ‘Who?’ They say, ‘Kobe.’ She’s like, ‘Who named him Kobe?’ The other people in the room point at me, and she gives me this ‘go-to-hell’ look like I’d never seen before and I’ve never seen afterward. But by that point I had filled out all the paperwork, so his name was locked in.”

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An aspiring basketball coach who had just founded an AAU team in Texas at the time of his son’s birth, Carlos had a deep appreciation for Kobe Bryant even as the 20-year-old Los Angeles Lakers Jerseys phenom was just launching his NBA career. When doctors asked Carlos the name of his newborn son, he made an impulse decision to pick “Kobe” instead of one of the biblical names he and his wife had previously discussed.

View gallery.Seventeen-year-old Kobe Wilson is one of more than 14,000 boys named after Bryant during his 20 years in the NBA. Those namesakes are as much a part of Bryant’s legacy as his five championship rings, two Olympic gold medals and 18 All-Star appearances.

Some of the oldest of that legion of Kobes are just beginning to gain attention for basketball at the same time as Bryant is months away from retiring.

There’s UCLA-bound Kobe Paras, a teenage heartthrob in his native Philippines who hopes to be the next guard named Kobe to star in Los Angeles. There’s Wisconsin-bound Kobe King, a promising shooting guard whose cousin is former Fab Five member Jimmy King. And there’s Arizona-bound Kobi Jordan Simmons, a McDonald’s All-American named after two of the greatest players in NBA history.

The name “Kobe” never cracked the Social Security Administration’s list of the nation’s 1,000 most popular boy’s names until Bryant’s rookie season, but its stature has mirrored the ebb and flow of his career ever since. It rocketed into the low 200s by the time Bryant captured his first championship in 2000, dipped noticeably after he was accused of rape three years later and then climbed again afterward as he gradually repaired his image.

At a time when Americans take cues from Hollywood on everything from clothes, to cars, to charitable causes, it’s no surprise that baby names have also become increasingly celebrity¬driven. You’re more likely to meet a newborn “Mila,” “Reese” or “Arya” today than you are a “Lindsay,” “Patricia” or “Karen.”

[More on Kobe Bryant’s legacy: Five prep prospects named after the Lakers star]

“There’s a real arms race among parents to be new and different, and that’s different from past generations,” said Laura Wattenberg, author of the book “The Baby Name Wizard.” “The name Kobe struck a chord with people because of his image as a player and the very contemporary sound of the name. In a lot of ways, it was the perfect combination.”

When Bryant’s own parents named him after the pricey, well-marbled steak they saw on a restaurant menu, the name was so distinctive that he has insisted he never encountered another Kobe throughout his entire childhood. Now there are boys named after Bryant in every corner of the country, from his native Philadelphia, to his adopted hometown of Los Angeles, to places like Salt Lake City or Sacramento, where he has received only boos and catcalls his entire career.

View gallery.

When McCaskey High School point guard Kobe Gantz was in grade school, his father had this poster of him and Kobe …If his family hadn’t already owned a Rottweiler named Jordan, Georgia native Kobi Jordan Simmons probably would have been called that, too, in honor of the Chicago Bulls Jerseys star. The Arizona-bound point guard instead became Kobi when his 4-year-old older brother suggested combining the names of the greatest shooting guard in NBA history and his heir apparent.

“My wife liked that idea so much she was done after that,” Demond Stephens said. “It was much better than having your son have the same name as your dog. You don’t where to buy cheap nba jerseys want to be like, ‘Jordan!’ and here comes your Rottweiler.”

Kobe Smith, a standout wide receiver and shooting guard from Gardena, Calif., would have been named after Earvin “Magic” Johnson if his father Anthony initially had his way. Only after Smith’s mother recoiled at the idea of naming her son “Earvin” did the couple consider another Lakers luminary.

“He was like, ‘How about Earvin?’ I was like, ‘How about not,'” Smith’s mother Julia Boyer recalled. “If we were going to name him after a Lakers player, it was going to be Kobe.”

Parents who name a son after Bryant often go to great lengths to make sure he loves the Lakers star as much as they do. They hang framed posters or jerseys in their son’s bedroom, shell out $100 for baby shoes modeled after Bryant’s latest basketball sneakers and place child-sized hoops around the house so little Kobe can master a jump shot as soon as he learns to walk.

When Kobe Gantz was still in grade school in Lancaster, Pa., his father had a poster made featuring his son clutching a basketball on one side and an image of Bryant dunking on the other. The poster hung in Gantz’s room until he was about 12, but by then the promising McCaskey High School point guard already had eyes for other basketball players.

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Park Tudor High School point guard Kobe Webster (via Isaac Webster)”He still respects Kobe Bryant, but he’s not his favorite player,” dad Collins Gantz said. “Now he’s a big Kevin Durant fan.”

Kobe Webster, a two-time state champion point guard at Indiana’s Park Tudor High School, is such an ardent fan of Bryant that he’ll watch replays of Lakers games from the Kobe-Shaq era and emulate his namesake’s moves at the gym. When a stranger at the barber shop insisted earlier this month that Bryant was no longer worthy of a spot in the Lakers’ starting lineup, Webster staunchly defended his favorite player.

“My son told the guy, ‘He’s Kobe Bryant. He should start until the day he retires,’ ” dad Isaac Webster said with a chuckle. “That’s definitely a guy you can’t talk badly about around my son.”

No matter how enthusiastic their parents are about basketball or Bryant, not every young Kobe inherits the same passion.

In Indiana, there’s a Kobe who’s headed to Purdue on a wrestling scholarship after winning a state championship at 220 pounds last year. In Florida, there’s a Kobe who’s one of the state’s best defensive shortstops and will play at Alabama State next year. Elsewhere, there are numerous Kobes with no interest in sports whatsoever.

Thankfully for Carlos Wilson, his son shares his love of basketball.

Kobe Wilson has blossomed into one of the better point guard prospects in the state of Arkansas and has already begun to receive looks from Division I programs. Perhaps someday he’ll even play for Arkansas State, where his dad is now in his second season as an assistant coach.

Carlos knows he took a risk naming his son after Bryant without consulting his wife, but Rochette Wilson apparently has forgiven her husband.

“She’s a trooper,” Carlos said. “The initial shock lasted a couple days, but about a week into it she was good with it. The name has been a perfect fit. I couldn’t have named him anything better.” Sports & RecreationKobe Bryant

Warriors’ Kerr returning to bench Friday

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Coach Steve Kerr is returning to the Golden State Warriors Jerseys’ bench Friday night after a leave of absence dating to the first week of training camp in October as he recovered from complications following two back surgeries.

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The defending champion Warriors made the announcement Friday morning that Kerr would coach Golden wholesale nba basketball jerseys State against Indiana at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors will try to win their 38th straight regular-season home game to tie the 1985-86 Celtics for third place on the all-time list for such unbeaten streaks. The Warriors went 39-4 in Kerr’s absence. They are 19-0 at home this season and haven’t lost at Oracle since a 113-111 overtime loss to Chicago last Jan. 27.

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The 50-year-old Kerr said in mid-December that he was optimistic he would be back in the coming weeks. Kerr had been dealing with headaches and other issues after the operations – the first procedure causing him to leak spinal fluid – that followed Golden State’s first championship in 40 years. He watched the Warriors’ record 24-0 start from behind the scenes.

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During a shootaround in Cleveland on Monday before Golden State’s 132-98 blowout of the Cavaliers in an NBA Finals rematch, Kerr made an underhanded heave from half court that banked in. He raised his arms in triumph, kicked his right leg out and pumped his fist afterward. That video went out on social media, and had to alert many that he was close to healthy at last.

When he began the wholesale nba basketball jerseys leave of absence, he initially had hoped to return by Jan. 1, but he did begin taking road trips in recent weeks to test his symptoms. He might still require a day off from time to time.

In his first season last year, Kerr guided Golden State to a franchise-record 67-win campaign and its first championship since 1975. Even during his absence, he addressed the team and offered input despite watching the games from an office in the arena or at home depending on how he felt. Being patient tested him, especially when he had to sit out the Oct. 27 opener against New Orleans after taking part in the pregame ceremony celebrating the championship season.

Interim head coach Luke Walton, who admirably led reigning MVP Stephen Curry and the champs in Kerr’s absence, will return to his spot as top assistant and is sure to attract attention as a head coaching candidate immediately when openings emerge. Walton’s father, Bill, broadcast the Arizona-Stanford game on Thursday night for the Pac-12 Networks and offered this message to his son through The Associated Press. ”Tell Luke I love him,” the proud Hall of Famer said.Sports & RecreationGolden State Warriors JerseysSteve Kerrleave of absence

Here’s what the trade market for Dwight Howard looks like

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With the Houston Rockets making calls to gauge interest in former All-Star Dwight Howard, The Vertical takes a look at why it could be hard for them to move the 30-year-old center, some possible trade partners, as well as the specifics of Howard current contract.

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Dwight Howard is averaging 14.6 points and 12 rebounds this season. (Getty Images)The contract
Dwight Howard is in the third year of an $87.5 million contract signed in 2013.

The current cap hit for this season is $22.3 million, plus a trade bonus that is currently $600,000. The Rockets would pay this bonus to Howard if he is traded. For trade purposes, $22.9 million should be the number the Rockets and opposing teams will use.

Although Howard is under contract through 2016-17, he can opt out of his contract by June 29, thus making him an unrestricted free agent.

The Rockets’ trade rules and hard cap situation
Because Houston is a luxury-tax team, the Rockets can only acquire players who are within 125 percent, plus $100,000 of Howard contract.

The Rockets are also hard capped and cannot exceed the $88.74 million threshold the league mandates. Currently the Rockets are $525,000 below the tax apron.

Why it could be hard for Houston to find a partner
Several factors will limit potential trade partners for Howard to a small pool of teams.

Howard has missed over 50 games the past two seasons with a variety of ailments. Although Howard minutes have been high over the past few months, one has to wonder how much longer his body can hold up.

A team acquiring Howard has no assurance he will sign come July. Unless Houston gives permission, teams are not allowed to make contact with Howard.

Factor in that the Rockets also have eyes on All-Star Kevin Durant this summer. Adding additional salary could make it difficult for Houston to create cap space to sign Durant.

It will be hard to make a deal with any Western Conference team above Houston in the playoff race.

The top-five West teams Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs Jerseys, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers do not need a center. Although the Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol recently broke his foot, Memphis does not have the picks or assets to get a deal done.

Would Houston try and make a deal with the three teams they are chasing for a playoff berth?

In Dallas, the Mavericks’ Zaza Pachulia has been one of the most improved players this season. Why trade for a player like Howard when the Mavericks can sign him outright this summer. Utah has Rudy Gobert anchoring down low. Trading for a player like Howard does not fit the rebuild the Jazz have gone through the past few years. The Trail Blazers have been the feel-good story this season with their young core of players. Like the Jazz, adding Howard to the mix goes against how the Trail Blazers have rebuilt their team.

The teams in the lottery either do not have the assets to get a deal done or it would not make sense from a roster standpoint to give away future assets. The Nuggets have the players and draft picks to make a deal, but why do it? Denver is out of the playoffs, has built a nice young core with some veterans and will have ample cap room this summer.

So where does that leave the Rockets?

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David Lee’s contract expires at the end of the season. (Getty Images)The team with the players and picks to get a deal done without touching the core would be the Boston Celtics Jerseys.

The Celtics have a treasure chest of draft picks and expiring contracts, something that would benefit the Rockets in the long run.

Here is a look at a hypothetical trade that could work for both teams:

Houston receives
David Lee
Jonas Jerebko
2016 Boston first-round pick
2016 Dallas first-round pick

Boston receives
Dwight Howard
Montrezl Harrell

Although this trade could knock Houston out of the playoff race, the Rockets would be able to add two first-round picks, as well as their own first if they miss the playoffs. The Rockets currently have the 13th pick in this basketball jerseys wholesale year’s draft and will send it to Denver if they make the playoffs. With Lee expiring contract and Jerebko non-guaranteed salary for 2016-17, the Rockets could have close to $27 million in cap space. Good enough for a max salary in free agency.

For the Celtics, the addition of Howard could move them closer to the level of Cleveland and Toronto. Acquiring a player like Howard without moving any of their core pieces would make the Celtics a dangerous out come the spring. The Celtics also would not have to move the unprotected 2016 and 2018 Brooklyn Nets Jerseys first-round picks or Memphis’ future first-rounder.

This deal would not hurt the Celtics in the summer if Howard does decide to walk. Boston would have the same cap space if it would have kept Lee and Jerebko, just minus two first-round picks in the mid 20s.

Aside from Boston, there is a limited amount of teams in the Eastern Conference with the potential to do a deal.

The one team that has plenty of assets and players to make a deal is Toronto. However, center is not a position of need for the Raptors.

A team like Philadelphia that has plenty of picks and cap space now could just sign Howard as a free agent in July. There is no need to risk assets to chase him at the trade deadline.

Two teams fighting for their playoff lives and missing their starting centers are the Chicago Bulls Jerseys and Charlotte Hornets Jerseys.

The Bulls certainly could offer up a package of Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and their own first-round pick for Howard. The tough part with this type of trade is that the Bulls are in the luxury tax and would take on additional salary, thus resulting in more luxury taxes. For Houston, the first-round pick could essentially be better than the ones Boston is offering. Although Gibson has been a high-level sixth man for Chicago, the Rockets would have to take on Gibson’s contract for next season.

Charlotte has played some of its best basketball of late and is currently holding onto the last playoff spot in the East. The Hornets could put a package together of Al Jefferson, Marvin Williams and a 2016 first-round pick, protected Nos. 1-10 for Howard. Of the trades mentioned above, this deal makes the most sense for both parties. Obtaining a player like Howard in Charlotte would likely see the Hornets in the playoffs come April. For Houston, the Rockets would still have a chance of making the playoffs while also obtaining a valuable first-rounder. Although injured, Jefferson could be back on the court in early March.

With a limited market and plenty of questions to answer in the next week, trading Dwight Howard is not as easy as it sounds.

The Vertical Insider Bobby Marks is a former longtime assistant general manager with the Nets.

More NBA coverage from The Vertical:

Sports & RecreationBasketballDwight HowardHouston Rockets

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