Warriors sizzle from deep vs. Pistons | Porzingis’ Achilles injury lingering | Suns soak up Mexico City experience
No. 1: Warriors getting 3-point shot on track — The Golden State Warriors as we know them now made their first waves in the NBA thanks to the “Splash Brothers”: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson (and their barrage of 3-pointers). Since then, the Warriors have only amped up their 3-point attack, finishing in the Top 10 in 3-pointers made each of the last six seasons. This season, they’re No. 2 in that department, but last night’s win against the Detroit Pistons may go a long way in helping Golden State climb a spot, writes Anthony Slater of The Mercury News:
Last season, the Warriors shot an NBA best 41.6 percent from 3. They made 1,077 total, 197 more than the next closest team (Cavaliers, 880). In the era of the 3-point explosion, they were far and away the trendsetters.
This season, even with the addition of Kevin Durant — one of the greatest 6-10 and above shooters of all-time — Golden State has taken a dip in that category.
Entering Thursday, the Warriors were shooting a solid but not spectacular 37.9 percent from 3. Four teams — the Spurs, Raptors and Cavaliers — shoot at better clips. Even more surprisingly, the Warriors’ 3-point potency has been surpassed. Entering Thursday, they’d made 455, the fourth most in the league, behind the Celtics (462), Cavaliers (481) and Mike D’Antoni’s Rockets, who have made an astounding 613.
With the way Houston is jacking, the Warriors aren’t catching them in total 3s. But the Warriors can and should both make 3s more often and more efficiently. Thursday night was a step in the right direction.
Steph Curry started the game scorching. He had six sloppy first quarter turnovers that helped the Pistons stay close, but he also made six of his seven first quarter shots. Two of those were 3s. He had 14 first quarter points.
“I always tell him to shoot the ball,” Durant said of Curry. “I like when he comes across halfcourt and shoots the 3, comes off the pick and roll and shoots…He’s the head of the snake. We kind of feed off his energy and his scoring.”
In general, the Warriors didn’t look that dominant on Thursday night. Zaza Pachulia missed three layups at the rim. Curry and Durant missed some clean looks. Golden State turned it over 18 times and gave up 28 first half points in the paint to the Pistons, who were otherwise a frigid 6-of-28 from deep.
But the final score read blowout: 20 points. And that was because the Warriors’ 3-point prowess finally revealed itself. The Warriors made 15 3s — their fifth most in a game this season — on 29 attempts, only the fifth time in 38 games they’ve made more than they’ve missed from deep.
“I don’t know how many we’re shooting compared to last year,” Curry said. “But we’re getting pretty good looks consistently. As long as we do that, I’m fairly confident we’ll knock down a good amount of them.”
The 15-of-29 display only spiked the Warriors’ 3-point percentage from 37.9 to 38.2 percent. So a string of great games is needed to near last season’s high bar.
“It’s probably going to come up anyway,” Thompson said. “Just got to get hot for a couple games. 38 percent as a team is still pretty good. But we can be better. And we will be better.”
“Maybe I need to make a couple more,” Curry said.
* * *
No. 2: Achilles injury a lingering issue for Porzingis — Between their recent losing ways and the storyline involving Derrick Rose going AWOL for a game, the New York Knicks were due for a bit of good news last night. They got it, somewhat, in the form of a 104-89 win against the visiting Chicago Bulls. However, the Knicks got that victory without any contributions from second-year forward Kristaps Porzingis, who missed the game due to a nagging Achillies injury that continues to be an issue for him, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post:
Kristaps Porzingis missed a game for the fourth time this season — sitting with Achilles soreness Thursday night as the Knicks beat the Bulls 104-89 at the Garden. That came one day after his last-second airball in Philadelphia helped cost the Knicks the game when the 76ers scored on a buzzer-beater on the ensuing possession.
Earlier, Porzingis missed three straight games with Achilles soreness after first feeling pain on Christmas Day.
A medical expert from Northwestern University told The Post recently Porzingis likely is suffering from Achilles tendinitis, which a player his size can be prone to because of the different strides taken by big men. Dr. Anish Kadakia, who has never examined or treated the Knicks big man, added Porzingis needs to go on a therapy program to strengthen the tendon, which he has done, to avoid tendinitis.
Coach Jeff Hornacek said it hasn’t been decided whether Porzingis will be shut down for a short period. It remains a possibility he could miss Sunday’s game at Toronto. Porzingis made his return at Milwaukee on Jan. 6 and played four games before going on the shelf again.
After the Sixers game, Hornacek said he thought Porzingis may have been bothered by his Achilles, resulting in his poor performance and that errant last shot. But he didn’t tell the coach of any discomfort during the contest. Hornacek said he received a text from Porzingis on Thursday afternoon, telling him he was really sore.
“A lot of times he says it feels pretty good, then you get in the game and it’s another level of intensity that you’re at in the game,’’ Hornacek said. “The first [game] he came back he looked pretty good. But you could just tell with his explosion on his legs on his shot it was all arm [Wednesday]. So maybe he’s trying to favor it. It’s tight and stiff and sore. We try and leave it up to him and see if he can play and go through it. But he’s not able to.”
Hornacek said Porzingis probably will be held out of practice until Sunday’s 3 p.m. encounter and see if he can play then.
* * *
No. 3: Suns soak up Mexico City trip — The Phoenix Suns fell in their first Mexico City game of 2017, taking a 113-108 loss to the Dallas Mavericks despite a monster game from star Devin Booker. The Suns have one more Mexico City game to go — a Saturday date with the San Antonio Spurs (6 p.m. ET, NBA LEAGUE PASS) — and while they wait, the team is just enjoying this moment to play before a different kind of crowd. Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic has more:
The NBA sounded different on Thursday. Fans whistled more than they cheered, especially when the Suns dancers took the court.
It looked different. One fan wore Michael Jordan’s replica jersey from his ill-fated stint with the Wizards. Others posed for pictures with the Gorilla while the game was in progress, inspired by the presence of Arizona’s most famous primate.
The Mavericks held off a scintillating finish from Devin Booker, defeating the Suns 113-108 before an announced crowd of 19,874. But the historic nature of Global Games Mexico City 2017 wasn’t lost on anyone, an event celebrating the league’s 25th anniversary of staging games south of the border.
“This is my third time in Mexico, and every time feels new,” Suns coach Earl Watson said. “The culture is amazing … the food is amazing.”
The Suns sacrificed two home games to be part of this historic event, part of a long-term investment to build their brand in Mexico. But in the short-term, the players seem to be enjoying themselves.
During the first media session on Wednesday, Brazil-native Leandro Barbosa was swarmed by so many media members that he felt like Tom Brady at the Super Bowl. Teammate Jared Dudley loved the police presence that escorted the team on every excursion, circumventing the atrocious Mexico City traffic by occasionally driving in the oncoming lanes. And he was blown away by the excitement he felt, especially from the country’s youngest fans.
“The media attention on the first day felt like the NBA Finals,” Dudley said. “And when we had our shoot-around at the American School Foundation, there was a viewing area at the top of the court that was enclosed by glass. There must have been 75 kids up there watching and going crazy, showing us all their dance moves.”
In sum, all of the Suns have done their best to embrace the moment, to represent the organization with class.
To wit: During an interview with a Mexican television station, Suns star Devin Booker was asked to show some moves with the basketball. He began spinning the ball on his finger, attempting to transfer it to the finger of a female reporter. Unknowingly, she held up her middle finger.
Booker was then asked about his favorite Mexican food.
“Tamales is Mexican, right?” Booker said. “My mom made really good tamales. But I’m going to try some stuff here. I’m outgoing and I’m not picky at all. So I’m going to try some different stuff.”
* * *
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: If you missed it, here are the latest NBA All-Star Game voting returns … Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he supports the idea of an NBA team in Mexico … The Golden State Warriors, Oakland Raiders and Oakland A’s combined to donate $750,000 for Oakland fire relief victims … According to a report, former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett is going to play in Turkey next … Why New York Knicks fans shouldn’t be so quick to want the Derrick Rose era to come to an end …