Boston’s rebounding woes are nothing new; but are they fixable?



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WALTHAM, Mass. — During one of his pregame radio interviews in early February, Boston Celtics Jerseys coach Brad Stevens was informed that his team was no longer in last place in the NBA in defensive rebound percentage.

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“We’re not? Did a team drop out of the league?” Stevens deadpanned.

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The Celtics entered the 2016-17 season with the smallest roster in the league. Routinely quizzed on how Boston could overcome the rebounding deficiencies inherent from its lack of size, Stevens would joke that it was unlikely his team was going to endure a growth spurt so his players would simply have to put an increased priority on boxing out and hope guards could help clean up the glass.

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The Celtics finished the season ranked 27th in both defensive (75.3) and total rebound (48.5) percentages. For much of the season, 6-foot-2 guard Avery Bradley led Boston in rebounds per game before Al Horford overtook him late in the year. Even still, Horford’s 6.8 rebounds per game ranked 45th overall in the NBA.

All of that says that rebounding has been an issue for Boston throughout the season. And those struggles were back in the spotlight on Sunday night when the Chicago Bulls Jerseys turned 20 offensive rebounds into 23 second-chance points as part of a 106-102 Game 1 triumph at TD Garden.

The Celtics finished the night by grabbing just 54.5 percent of available defensive rebounds cheap jerseys, a jarringly low number considering the league average is more than 20 percent higher. Boston was actually far more competitive in the second half but still had instances where second-chance opportunities negated otherwise strong first-shot defensive stands.

When his team huddled to watch film on Monday afternoon at the team’s practice facility, Stevens implored his players to initiate contact when shots go up.

“You’re not going to get every defensive rebound, but you’ve got to hit first,” Stevens said. “And you can’t wait to make contact when [Robin] Lopez is running into the paint. If he’s at the charge circle, he’s winning that battle. The same thing if somebody’s running from the corner to get an offensive rebound. You can’t wait until they get into the paint to make contact. You’ve got to block out sooner than that.

“That doesn’t guarantee you’re gonna get it every time, but that gives you a better chance.”

The Celtics’ big men acknowledged that the team’s issues were rather obvious on film.

“There’s just stuff that we can clean up,” starting center Amir Johnson said. “Some guys were just caught staring, looking at the ball, instead of just hitting the body and going and getting it. It’s just all-out effort and you just gotta continue doing your job; the play never stops until a person gets the rebound. Once you do your job defensively, you get in your defensive coverages, and then the shot finally goes out wholesale nba jerseys, sometimes you just get caught staring at the shot like, ‘OK, I’ve done my job.’ But the job isn’t over until you actually get in front of your man and get the ball.

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“It’s a team effort. That’s a big key to winning that game. I thought our half-court defense was pretty good besides [the fact that] it seemed like, if they put up a shot and missed, they got the ball and put the ball back in the basket. Our cheap jerseys half-court defense was definitely up to par. We just gotta rebound.”

Not unlike most teams, the Celtics have pronounced splits in how they rebound in wins versus losses. During the regular season, Boston owned a defensive rebound rate of 76.6 percent in its 53 wins. It dipped to 72.8 percent in its 29 losses.

It’s prudent to remember that defensive rebound rate is not the primary indicator of team success. The Golden State Warriors Jerseys ranked 29th in the NBA in grabbing just 74.9 percent of available defensive rebounds and still won 67 games. Likewise, height isn’t necessarily an excuse for rebounding woes, as the Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys were the second-shortest team to start the season and finished in the top 12 in defensive rebound percentage.

For Boston, rebounding comes down to effort and commitment. It’s a fairly good indicator of how engaged the Celtics are on a game-to-game basis. Maybe Chicago’s Jimmy Butler summed up rebounding best on Monday after gushing about how Lopez impacted Sunday’s Game 1 win.

“If you want to go get the ball, you’re going to go get the ball. Rebounding is 95 percent effort, 5 percent technique,” Butler said. “Same thing with the defensive part. If you want to do it, you’re gonna do it. If you don’t, you won’t.”

The Celtics must come out committed to rebounding on Tuesday night. The Bulls, post-All-Star break (and post-Taj Gibson trade), ranked in the back half of the league in offensive rebound percentage. Boston isn’t going to get to every rebound, but giving up 16 first-half offensive rebounds, like the Celtics did on Sunday, cannot happen again.

Simply being competitive on the glass is clearly important against the Bulls. In Chicago’s three head-to-head wins over Boston this season, including Sunday, the Bulls outrebounded the Celtics by 17, 19 and 20 overall rebounds, respectively.

Boston absolutely has other issues to address moving forward in this series, especially the question of who will step up when Isaiah Thomas is on the bench (the Celtics were outscored 27-11 without Thomas on Sunday). The Celtics must strive to avoid foul trouble, especially at the wing positions, in order to aggressively defend Butler throughout the game.

Rebounding will be the area most eyes are watching, however. The Celtics knew entering the series that they had to be competitive on the glass and were reminded of that on Sunday.

“[Rebounding] was the game. That’s the game. That’s the series,” Crowder said. “If we don’t rebound, we don’t win the series. It’s simple.”

Stephen Curry explains why he’s locked in but logged off



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OAKLAND, Calif. — With the NBA postseason underway, Golden State Warriors Jerseys All-Star point guard Stephen Curry told ESPN he has curtailed his social-media usage.

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Indeed, to further assist in avoiding “”unnecessary distractions,”” the two-time MVP says he deleted every social media application from his phone before Game 1 of the first-round series against the Portland cheap jerseys Trail Blazers Jerseys.

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• “”>LeBron’s all-time top playoff games
• Upsets? Series that could surprise
• Experts’ first-round picks: East | West

“When you’re really trying to zone in and keep your focus, you don’t want to have any unnecessary distractions during this point of the season,” Curry told ESPN. “We have goals to accomplish, and you want to make sure you’re giving your all.”

Curry said this is the third consecutive year he has taken this approach cheap jerseys. It’s a routine he’s never disclosed before.

Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys All-Star forward LeBron James is known for activating what he calls “Zero Dark Thirty-23” before postseason play. The Warriors point guard says he didn’t get the idea from James.

“I didn’t do it because he did it. I’m not reinventing the wheel,” Curry told ESPN. “It’s just a way to help me keep my focus on what’s important.”

James removes himself from the social media sphere entirely, refraining from tweeting and posting pictures. Curry goes about his social media ban a little differently. Moments before each game, Curry typically tweets out “Lock in #DubNation.” He didn’t do that on Sunday. He said he’ll occasionally send out a tweet or a picture, but he won’t log into his accounts to do so.

“I have a way of sending out messages without getting into my accounts,” Curry revealed wholesale basketball jerseys. “That way, I’m not seeing or reading something I’m trying to avoid.”

Curry registered 29 points, five rebounds and four assists in Sunday’s 121-109 victory, leading his team to a 1-0 series lead. Going without social media has apparently paid dividends.

“It’s worked for me so far,” Curry said. “I’m going to stay with it.”

NBA – Players shocked by All-Star move out of Charlotte



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LAS VEGAS — Under NBA commissioner Adam Silver, the league has been forceful and proactive on social issues that were important to its players like gun violence, the Donald Sterling scandal and controversial police and legal cases with the African-American community.

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But relocating the All-Star Game from Charlotte in reaction to North Carolina’s controversial anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender law is wholly uncharted territory for Silver, the NBA and a major professional sports league.

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This was Silver leading, not just responding to public calls from players and owners.

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If anything, many players seemed genuinely torn on whether moving the All-Star Game because of the controversial bill — which has been colloquially oversimplified as a “bathroom bill” — was worth the disappointment of losing the game for Charlotte.

Indiana Pacers Jerseys forward Paul George told ESPN on Thursday, “I’m huge on keeping your word. I’m not necessarily saying it’s bad for the NBA to move it. Charlotte is a growing city and the Hornets have picked that program up. It’s a shame … we’d take that away from them.”

But Silver felt strongly that the cheap NBA could not allow one of its signature public events to take place in a state where there are now no protections against discrimination for LGBT people at places such as restaurants, hotels or in taxis.

Silver explained during his annual news conference during the NBA Finals that “we as a league want to make sure there is an environment where the LGBT community feels protected down in North Carolina. At the same time, I think the bathroom issue discount nba jerseys, frankly, has become a little bit of a distraction. From the very beginning, that was not the core issue here. It was protection for the LGBT community in terms of economic rights, personal rights, and the bathroom bill became part of it.”

Many players expressed disappointment for Hornets owner Michael Jordan, who had been thrilled when Charlotte was chosen as host of the 2017 All-Star Game. AP Photo/Chuck Burton

Sources told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that openly gay Golden State Warriors Jerseys president Rick Welts made an impassioned plea to the NBA’s owners at last week’s Board of Governors meeting to explain how discriminatory this particular law was to the LGBT community.

Still, the decision to relocate the game Thursday came as a shock to many NBA players.

Toronto Raptors Jerseys wholesale guard Kyle Lowry learned of the NBA’s decision when he got an alert on his cellphone before Team USA’s practice. “Oh wow, they moved it,” Lowry said, as he held his phone out to show Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes.

Barnes said he felt like it was important to choose the political causes that resonate personally with you, and not to jump into the fray on every controversial issue he was asked about.

“Now that we’re able to speak out on issues, there’s no real standard about what you have to say,” Barnes said. “I think you can talk about whatever is on your mind or in your heart. Other issues you can’t.

“I think you kind of lose some credibility if all of a sudden on social media, you may not know what you’re talking about but you’re just weighing in on everything.” –>

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony told ESPN that the players “didn’t think it was going to get to this” and that he was disappointed for Hornets owner Michael Jordan and the city of Charlotte because the game was “definitely going to boost everything.”

Anthony, of course, has been one of the most vocal players in trying to raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement. In addition to the call to action he posted on Instagram and the speech he, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and LeBron James made at the ESPYs, Anthony has been organizing a meeting in Los Angeles on Monday to discuss sensitive racial and cultural issues.

Anthony has been warned by advisers that such a public forum could begin with good intentions but end with uncomfortable consequences once people begin speaking freely on emotional, controversial issues. He said Thursday he would press on with the conversation anyway. “I won’t listen to anybody that tells me I shouldn’t do this or shouldn’t do that,” Anthony said.

“Right now, the players and people have a very strong stance on what’s going on and what they believe in,” Anthony said of his activism in response to recent incidents between police officers and African-Americans. “The problem is, people don’t have answers. I think everybody is searching for answers. People are searching for what to do and how to do it. We’re not going to find answers overnight. It’s not going to happen. It’s following through with the message I have out there and continuing that conversation.”

This is the next step now that players have started to venture out from beyond the safety of hashtag activism on social media. And maybe that was the point of Silver’s decision to relocate the game Thursday without knowing he had a full buy-in from his players and owners. Take some time. Think, research, learn, then speak publicly if you feel compelled. Not everyone will agree. Not everyone will like what is said. But this door is wide open now, and there’s probably no closing it.

It’s the risk Silver assumed when he made the decision to relocate the All-Star Game. In the end, he decided to do it anyway, trusting that his players and owners will understand Silver’s decision to wade into social activism and say no to discrimination by pulling the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte.

Kevin Durant declined comment when first asked by ESPN about the NBA’s decision after Team USA’s practice. He said he needed some time to think about it and study it.

During the next few hours, that’s what he did. One person close to the situation told him about Welts’ personal experiences as a gay man in the NBA. Durant read one of the many articles that have been written on Welts throughout the years.

After a few hours, he composed his thoughts on Twitter.

“I recognize this was a tough decision for the NBA but respect the choice,” Durant wrote. “Discrimination of any kind cannot be allowed.”

No more Mr. Nice Guy: Kevin Durant’s new role as NBA villain



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LAS VEGAS — The family vacation was planned months in advance. As soon as free agency was over, DeAndre Jordan was heading to a resort in Jamaica where — theoretically — he would put his phone in airplane mode, surround himself with family and friends, and all the noise would stop.

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That was the plan, anyway.

If you followed NBA free agency in the slightest last July, you know what actually happened. Three days after committing to the Dallas Mavericks Jerseys, Jordan had a stunning change of heart and returned to the Los Angeles Clippers Jerseys.

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In the time it took to fill out a customs form on the flight to Jamaica, Jordan became a villain in Dallas, an accidental hero in Los Angeles and the butt of jokes on late-night talk shows, social media and sports talk radio.

He tried to keep his phone off, but there was no escaping the fallout.

One day as he was sitting on the beach, he got a text from Kevin Durant. They’d been close since high school when Durant tried to persuade Jordan to attend the University of Texas with him. Jordan instead chose Texas A&M, so they drifted apart for a few years. Eventually they reconnected during summer workouts. And in the past few years, they’d grown much closer. So close, in fact, that the Mavericks hoped landing Jordan in free agency would give them an edge in the Durant sweepstakes the following summer.

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DeAndre Jordan, left, knows a thing or two about handling life as an NBA villain. Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Durant said his message to Jordan was simple: “I just let him know, ‘Man, whatever you do. You’ve got people that love you.'”

It was the kind of thing you say to a friend to let him know you can’t make things better for him, but you’re still in his corner.

“I feel like the people who talked to me afterwards are my real friends,” Jordan said this week, after a training session with Team USA cheap jerseys. “The people who stopped texting me afterwards, the ones who said stuff like ‘we’re family and all that’ while I was deciding, that wasn’t real. I realize it was only a basketball decision for them.

“You find out who is really on your side. And Kevin was like, ‘Man, you can’t worry about what other people think. You’ve got to worry about you and what makes you happy.'”

Fast-forward a year and Durant is the one who spent his summer in the middle of a free-agency squall and made a stunning decision that brought withering criticism from fans, peers and media critics.

No, he didn’t commit to one team and then renege a few days later. But after eight years of telling the fans in Oklahoma City that he loved them and wanted to retire there, his departure for the Golden State Warriors Jerseys came as a cruel shock.

Had he misled them all those years? Did he fall out of love? Or was his love never that pure to begin with?

Durant felt all of it. If he’s being honest, knowing how much he was about to hurt the fans in Oklahoma City was one of the things that nearly held him back from following his gut and signing with the Warriors. For 48 hours after picking the Warriors, he said he stayed inside the house he’d rented in the Hamptons while receiving free-agent pitches wholesale jerseys from the Warriors, Celtics, Spurs, Clippers, Thunder and Heat.

“I didn’t leave my bed, because I was like, ‘Man, if I walk outside somebody might just try to hit me with their car or say anything negative to me,'” Durant said. “I just stayed in and tried to process it all. … It felt different.”

Very different.

“He played his heart out for that team. If they can’t respect that, if other players can’t respect it, that’s their decision.”

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Durant hasn’t been the boyish, backpack-wearing homegrown superstar most people first came to know him as for a while now. First he went through the “KD is not nice” phase where he was like a child star trying to break out of a wholesome, prepubescent box by releasing a song about being naughty (See: Selena Gomez, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber).

Then he started copping an occasional attitude at the media for perceived slights to him, his teammates or any player in the NBA who he thought was getting unfair treatment.

But there was always something about Durant’s defiance that felt a little forced. Like he was just pushing boundaries or asserting his independence from the nice-guy image that had gone way too far and escaped reality a long time ago.

He is nice. He’s just not the saint people projected him to be.

For example: Last fall he turned down a half-dozen requests for an ESPN The Magazine story. He’d decided to stay silent until he could explain his feelings about free agency on The Players’ Tribune. Fine. Totally his prerogative. He believed in the Tribune’s business model and message of player empowerment. I can respect that. But when we saw each other at Thunder media day, he came over to explain himself in person.

How many NBA superstars do that? Most tell an agent or publicist to deliver their bad news and never address it personally. And yet because we’d always had a good professional relationship, Durant felt compelled to explain himself in person. It was an incredibly self-aware, sensitive thing to do.

Editor’s PicksWhy Kevin Durant stayed in bed after choosing to leave OKC

At Team USA camp in Las Vegas, new Golden State Warriors Jerseys star Kevin Durant talked about his initial reaction of staying in bed for a few days and finally facing his decision.

Which star will take a back seat in the Warriors’ Big Four?

With four-time scoring champ Kevin Durant in the mix, Golden State’s incumbent stars are in for reduced roles. Which Warrior is equipped to handle the biggest sacrifice?

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That’s just a small example without much consequence. So how in the world was he going to handle breaking the hearts of a city that loved him? Of going from hero to villain? Of being criticized by Hall of Famers like Reggie Miller and Charles Barkley for taking an easier path to a championship?

This week in Las Vegas has been Durant’s first taste of life as a heartbreaker, and it appears he’s only allowing himself to feel it in doses.

The full weight of the fallout is too much to process all at once.

“I just try to be the man in the arena,” Durant said. “It’s easy for the critics on the outside to tell you what to do or what decisions to make, but they weren’t just out here with me, putting in work.

“I can’t really worry about the outside noise. I have to go to work. The work don’t stop. The love of the game doesn’t fade. Everything stays the same no matter where I play.”

This has become one of Durant’s refrains. A self-affirmation of sorts.

Some players would get off on being disliked — whether the sentiment is real or just a projection — and use it as motivation. But that’s not Durant’s nature.

“Guys like Kobe [Bryant] thrive on it,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, a longtime Team USA assistant. “I don’t think Kevin will thrive on it. But I do think he will immerse himself into the [Warriors] team.”

Another key difference?

“When you come into town as the villain like Kobe, everybody’s focused on him because he was the best player. But when Golden State comes in, they’re not going to just focus on one guy,” Boeheim said.

That was clearly part of the appeal to joining the Warriors. After years of being the face of his franchise, with the hopes and dreams of a city all on his shoulders, Durant was drawn to the idea of being just one of the guys.

That’s part of what he said he’s always loved about Team USA and what helped him this week as he adjusts to this new reality.

This uncomfortable period may be good for Durant in the end. Making a decision he knew would be unpopular? Maybe that’s the personal evolution and growth he needs. Maybe it won’t be. In hindsight, Jordan said that he’s found the entire process to be clarifying.

“It definitely makes you tougher,” Jordan said. “I still joke around like a little kid, but I don’t get as mad as I used to about things, I don’t let stuff affect me like I used to, because I’ve gone through that crap.”

He hopes it’ll be that way for Durant as well.

“When I found out he was going to the Warriors, I texted him, ‘Man, I’m happy for you. This is going to be big. I can’t wait to kick y’all’s ass,'” Jordan said.

“I’m happy for him. He gave those guys [in Oklahoma City] nine great years of MVP-level basketball, a Finals appearance. He played his heart out for that team. If they can’t respect that, if other players can’t respect it, that’s their decision. At the end of the day, he’s happy and that’s the only person he has to satisfy.”

Durant was sitting one seat away from Jordan as they each spoke after practice on the third day of Team USA training camp. There was plenty of room on either side of them. But the two old friends seemed more comfortable crowding each other’s personal space.

If things were destined to be uncomfortable going forward, they had might as well lean on each other.

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

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

Thunder bounce back to regain control of series

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DALLAS — Welcome to the Appetizer First Round, where the whales of the NBA are spending this time snacking on lesser teams and doing their best to rest up and stay healthy for the next round, when the games take on a greater sense of desperation.

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Those who call themselves NBA title contenders are looking the part here in the early going, leaving little room for suspense as they sprinted to commanding leads in their first two games. These blowouts may not make for compelling television, but the half-dozen heavyweights could care less, and even though they won’t admit it, it gives them license to look beyond the minions currently standing in their way.

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That’s how the Oklahoma City Thunder Jerseys should view the Mavericks, who rank among the weakest playoff teams in terms of personnel, but OKC swallowed a grapefruit in Game 2 and arrived in Dallas all square Thursday. That means this series, which had “broom” written all over it, will drag OKC at least to a fifth game. What an inconvenience.

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Durant Dominant In Game 3

Kevin Durant drops an impressive 34 points in the Thunder’s Game 3 win over Dallas.

That’s the realistic goal for the Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys, the Los Angeles Clippers Jerseys, the San Antonio Spurs Jerseys and the Golden State Warriors Jerseys, to keep this first round to an extreme minimum, and they’ve done their part so far. They know the road to the NBA Finals will suddenly get very slippery; why waste energy before then? It’s a memo that OKC, a member of the Club Elite, failed to get somehow.

At least the Thunder not-so-gently reminded the Mavericks, once again, that this series can be a mismatch by winning 131-102 Thursday to take a 2-1 series lead. In a face-saving gesture, Kevin Durant rallied from missing 26 shots by scoring 34 points in 37 minutes. Russell Westbrook had 26 points and 15 assists. Enes Kanter 鈥?why isn’t he playing more? 鈥?had 21 points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes. Game 3 never felt or looked compelling, and OKC issued another blowout, their second. They’ve won a pair of games by 38 points and now 29, which strongly suggests the Mavericks are merely in the way, a pile of leaves sitting before the blower.

“Their talent is a significant problem,” admitted Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle.

Well, of course.

The Mavericks won Game 2 by a point and only because Durant was historically inaccurate and Steven Adams’ game-winning shot was late by a nanosecond. And even then, it shouldn’t have come down to that for OKC, given the condition of the Mavericks. Chandler Parsons is out for the series. Deron Williams, also injured, might be finished as well. Every important player in the rotation is past his prime, and that includes Dirk Nowitzki. The proud future Hall of Famer who’s unable to carry this team deep into the summer, as he did five years ago. In this sense, the Mavericks have plenty in common with the teams currently staring at the Spurs, Warriors and to an extent, Clippers in the first round.

Westbrook’s Double-Double vs. Mavs

Russell Westbrook goes off for 26 points and 15 assists as the Thunder take Game 3 in Dallas.

Just look at why the first round is lacking sparks: Memphis is suiting up any healthy body it can find, even if that search takes the Grizzlies to the local YMCA, and therefore they don’t stand much of a chance against the Spurs. The depressing Rockets are ready to be disassembled, that’s how out of sync and discombobulated they are. The overachieving Blazers are trying (and failing) to move forward with a pair of guards who’ve lost their jumper.

And you know what? The Mavericks are probably the lesser of the four, at least on paper anyway. Thunder coach Billy Donovan tried to be PC with a Dallas team that took lumps in two games and stole its only win by saying: “We know coming in here it’s going to be a hard fought physical game.”

If the remaining games cheap throwback nba jerseys in this series are “hard fought” as he predicts, then that says the Thunder might not be ready to win an NBA title.

Durant scored 16 of his points in the game’s first 13 minutes and forcefully put his Game 2 misery behind him. He admitted the last two days felt more like two weeks.

“Now I know how fighters feel when they lose the fight and they know the rematch is coming, but a year later.”

Still, he explained why he doesn’t plunge into deep depression over a rare poor outing: “When I go out there and play well, I don’t throw a party for myself. I approach the game the same way, no matter what.”

Game 3 had a few skirmishes involving Raymond Felton, Adams, Andre Roberson and J.J. Barea. At least the pre-game dance routine featuring Westbrook and Cameron Payne went on without a hitch or a photobomb by Charlie Villanueva. Sensing the obvious talent difference between them and the Thunder, and perhaps feeling that this series is getting out of hand, the Mavericks did what desperate teams often do and turned physical. At this point, the only way the Thunder can come undone is by losing their cool.

Tempers Flare In Dallas

Steven Adams and Raymond Felton get tangled up and two technical fouls are called.

Noting that Dallas used “a lot of gamesmanship,” Donovan said: “I thought our guys did a good job of keeping their composure.”

There’s a game on Saturday in Dallas and, unfortunately for the Thunder, another in OKC. It would be in the Thunder’s best interest to keep their foot on the pedal and their fingers around the throats and press their way to a quick and efficient resolution of the first round. That’s what great teams do — they don’t mess around with lesser teams and waste precious energy. In this case, a series win would put OKC in a cage match against the Spurs late next week.

“We do a good job of coming in and do what we do,” said Westbrook.

Well, yes. For the most part. With one noticeable exception in this series. As much as the Thunder would like to clean out the Mavericks, and are poised to do so, they can’t use a broom.

Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. Trending

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