NBA

Poole leads Warriors charge as they chase down Embiid's 76ers, Mavs lose again as Lakers win

By Sports Desk March 25, 2023

The Golden State Warriors stormed home to rally back from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to down the Philadelphia 76ers 120-112 despite Joel Embiid's 46 points on Friday.

Jordan Poole was clutch with 33 points off the bench including six three-pointers, while Stephen Curry added 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field with eight rebounds at the Chase Center.

Poole made a pivotal three-pointer for a 115-110 lead with 1:18 remaining in the last as the Warriors improved to 39-36 to sit sixth in the Western Conference.

The 76ers had led by 11 points with 11:32 remaining in the fourth quarter after Shake Milton laid off for Paul Reed's alley oop layup, but the Warriors launched their comeback with Poole and Curry at the heart of it.

Poole scored 19 of his 33 points in the fourth period, while Curry stepped up with eight points in the final four minutes.

Klay Thompson added six triples in his 21 points, while Draymond Green had 10 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists in a busy display.

MVP candidate Embiid was huge with 46 points on 13-of-23 shooting from the field with nine rebounds and eight assists.

Tobias Harris added 23 points for the 76ers, with Tyrese Maxey contributing 21. James Harden was absent with Achilles soreness.

Embiid scored 13 straight points for the 76ers in the fourth quarter after checking back in with 8:26 left.

Mavericks slip out of play-in spots

The Dallas Mavericks suffered their third straight loss as their playoff hopes took another hit with a disappointing 117-109 loss to the short-handed Charlotte Hornets.

Luka Doncic scored a game-high 34 points with 10 rebounds and eight assists, while Kyrie Irving added 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, but the Mavs were undone after a slow first half, with Hornets forward P.J. Washington managing a team-high 28 points.

The loss leaves the Mavs outside the play-in tournament spots in 11th in the Western Conference with a 36-38 record.

Lakers up to .500 for first time this season

The Los Angeles Lakers squared their ledger at .500 and moved up to eighth in the West with a 116-111 triumph over the Oklahoma City Thunder securing three consecutive wins.

Anthony Davis had 37 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers, while Lonnie Walker impressed in his return with 20 points and Denis Schroder added 13 of his 21 points in the second half.

The Lakers improved to 37-37 with the win, getting to .500 for the first time this season, with LeBron James' return form injury reportedly not far away. LA are 8-5 during James' latest absence.

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    Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr believes there is a "lot of value" in the team keeping their core of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson together, as the latter of the trio prepares to hit free agency.

    The Warriors' season came to an abrupt end on Tuesday as they were dumped out of the Play-In Tournament by the Sacramento Kings, falling to a 118-94 defeat to their upstate rivals. 

    It is the third time in the last five seasons that Golden State – who have won four NBA championships under Kerr – have missed out on a playoff berth. 

    That has led to questions being asked about the team's future, and they have a decision to make over Thompson as the 34-year-old prepares to become an unrestricted free agent.

    While the Warriors have outlined their desire to keep Thompson, he has been linked with the Orlando Magic and Dallas Mavericks and says his priority is playing for a championship contender. 

    Speaking at his exit interview on Thursday, Kerr spoke of the difficulties of breaking up great teams and said he was keen to continue working with the Warriors' 'big three'. 

    "It's rarely a storybook," Kerr said. "Even the '96 or '98 Bulls, the team was broken up and we won the championship in our last year but there was a documentary about what a disaster the whole thing was. It's impossible for this stuff to end perfectly.

    "I do think there is a lot of value to having our three guys being Warriors for life. I think there's a lot of value in ending with dignity.

    "For those three, I really want to see all of them finish their careers here, but also finish out their careers with a sense of pride and dignity in what they're doing."

    Much of the Warriors' season was overshadowed by discussions regarding Green's ill-discipline, with the forward being ejected four times in 2023-24.

    Green also missed 16 games after receiving an indefinite suspension for striking Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic in the face in December, an incident that Kerr described as "unforgivable".

    However, Kerr still believes Green is worth the trouble, saying: "Yet I forgave him. He's one of the most competitive, one of the smartest players I've ever been around. 

    "Yet he makes these decisions that hurt the team, that aren't smart. So how do you reconcile all that? It's really difficult. 

    "The number one thing I would say is, if we decided he wasn't worth it then we would have moved off of him years ago. 

    "But he's worth it and he's worth it not only because of the banners that are hanging out there but because he really is a wonderful human being."

  • Leonard questionable for Game 1 versus Mavs as Clippers monitor 'unpredictable' situation Leonard questionable for Game 1 versus Mavs as Clippers monitor 'unpredictable' situation

    Kawhi Leonard is questionable for Game 1 of the Los Angeles Clippers' playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks as he continues to be troubled by inflammation in his right knee.

    Leonard has undergone surgeries to repair damage to the anterior cruciate ligament and the meniscus in his right knee in the last few years, having torn his ACL during a second-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz in 2021.

    The six-time All-Star has not featured for the Clippers – who clinched the Western Conference's fifth seed – since the end of March, missing their last eight games of the regular season. 

    Speaking ahead of Thursday's practice session, the Clippers' president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said Leonard had work to do to make Sunday's matchup at Crypto.com Arena.

    "He's doing everything, our medical staff is doing everything to get the inflammation down so he can play," Frank said. 

    "Progress has been made, but the inflammation needs to continue to reduce so he can do functional basketball movements.

    "There is no gamesmanship here and we're very sensitive of the fact that questions are going to be asked and want to be as transparent as possible. It's okay to say what the truth is. It's unpredictable. 

    "We're hoping it's trending in the right direction. It's a very accurate statement. When it gets to a point where he's able to play, then that's when he'll be back on the court."

    The two-time NBA champion averaged 23.7 points and 6.1 rebounds through 68 regular-season appearances in 2023-24, the former figure falling just short of his 23.8 points per game last term.

    Despite Leonard's importance to the Clippers' chances of defeating Luka Doncic and company, Frank says no risks will be taken with his fitness. 

    "In terms of where we're heading, is it possible he could play? Sure, it's possible. It's Thursday. With each day we'll know more and more," Frank said. 

    "Obviously if he's not healthy to play at a certain moment then he won't be out there. When Kawhi is healthy, he plays. 

    "Some things you can't control, regardless of how meticulous he is with his body and everything that goes into playing. You can only control what you can control and you've got to surrender to the things you can't."

  • James not looking to past results ahead of Lakers-Nuggets rematch James not looking to past results ahead of Lakers-Nuggets rematch

    LeBron James believes the media are putting "too much emphasis" on the Los Angeles Lakers' recent history with the Denver Nuggets.

    The Lakers, after their win over the New Orleans Pelicans, will take on the Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs.

    Los Angeles lost to Denver in the 2023 Western Conference Finals, as the Nuggets went on to win the NBA championship.

    The Lakers, meanwhile, defeated the Nuggets en route to winning the championship in 2020.

    James, though, is not looking back at past results as an indicator of how this series might play out.

    "I think you're putting a little bit too much emphasis on it," James said. 

    "This is our first-round matchup. I mean, we're looking forward to the postseason. But I haven't been, like, looking forward to the rematch.

    "The game is played how it's being played, and this is the matchup. So we're looking forward to that challenge.

    "It shouldn't be personal at all. I think you allow yourself to get away from the game plan when you make it too personal.

    "We have a game plan. You go out there and execute it and you live with the results. I'm kind of the last person you should [ask that], I just stay even-keeled.

    "I've been in the postseason way too long in my career to know that you don't get too high off of Game 1 or get too high over whoever the matchup is. You got to just stay even-keeled."

    Lakers coach Darvin Ham did say his team can take lessons from last year's defeat, in particular when focusing on cutting out small errors.

    And James echoed the sentiment.

    "We just got to be better all around," he said. "Obviously, it's a great team that we're playing against. A team that won the championship, so they've been in a lot of big games and know what they want to get to late in games.

    "So we just have to be very disciplined and have our mind into throughout the course of 48 minutes or however long it takes.

    "It's going to be challenging but that's what the postseason is all about. It should be."

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