NBA

Warriors reclaim NBA's best record behind Curry, LeBron's Lakers lose

By Sports Desk December 18, 2021

Stephen Curry posted 30 points as the Golden State Warriors reclaimed the best record in the NBA with a 111-107 victory at the Boston Celtics.

Curry – the league's all-time three-points leader – nailed five shots from beyond the arc to fuel the Warriors (24-5) on Friday.

The Warriors snapped a five-game losing streak against the Celtics as Andrew Wiggins added 27 points.

It was a milestone victory for head coach Steve Kerr, who became the third coach in franchise history to reach 400 career wins.

"We're coming off the emotional roller coaster ... a lot going on around the league," Curry said after Jordan Poole entered the NBA's COVID-19 protocols. "You try not to get distracted by all the things that are outside the locker room."

 

Lillard's 43 inspires Blazers

Damian Lillard torched the Charlotte Hornets with a season-high 43 points to help the Portland Trail Blazers end a seven-game losing streak by winning 125-116. Lillard was 12 of 19 from the field as he posted the 40th 40-point game of his career.

The San Antonio Spurs upstaged the Utah Jazz 128-126 behind Dejounte Murray's second triple-double in three games – 16 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. San Antonio did not commit a turnover in the third quarter and registered a season-high 41 points in that period to snap Utah's eight-game winning run.

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic fell just short of a triple-double after scoring 20 points, collecting 10 rebounds and tallying seven assists in the Denver Nuggets' 133-115 win against the Atlanta Hawks. Trae Young's 34 points and 10 rebounds were not enough for the Hawks.

 

LeBron's Lakers beaten

LeBron James was five-of-13 shooting for 18 points and 10 rebounds in the Los Angeles Lakers' 110-92 defeat at the Minnesota Timberwolves. Isaiah Thomas had 19 points in his second Lakers debut as Karl-Anthony Towns inspired the Timberwolves with 28 points and 10 rebounds.

Not even a career-high 40 points from Jrue Holiday could lift defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks, who went down 116-112 to the New Orleans Pelicans after overtime in the absence of stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.

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    The Golden State Warriors have signed free agent Donte DiVincenzo to a two-year, $9.3million deal – with the second year being a player option.

    DiVincenzo, 25, was a first-round draft pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2018 after winning his second NCAA Championship on the same Villanova team as Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson, earning the Final Four's Most Valuable Player in the 2018 title.

    He found a role immediately with the Bucks, and went on to start in all 66 of his regular season appearances in their championship season in 2021, before getting injured in the first round of the playoffs.

    In that season, he averaged 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game while shooting 38 per cent from long range, proving himself as a strong complementary piece that can provide above average wing play on both ends of the floor.

    During the Bucks' championship run, Pat Connaughton usurped DiVincenzo's role, with Milwaukee opting to trade him just two months after he returned from his six-month injury layoff.

    While he was never able to truly fit in with the Sacramento Kings after arriving mid-season, he still averaged 18 points, 8.1 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 2.7 steals per 100 possessions in his 25 games off the bench – all career-high marks.

    For the Warriors, DiVincenzo figures to fill important minutes after the departures of both Gary Payton II to the Portland Trail Blazers and Otto Porter Jr to the Toronto Raptors.

  • Jazz trading Gobert to Timberwolves Jazz trading Gobert to Timberwolves

    The Utah Jazz are trading center and three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday.  

    Utah will receive multiple first-round picks in return for the three-time All-Star, along with Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Walker Kessler, Jarred Vanderbilt and Leandro Bolmaro.  

    ESPN reported that the Timberwolves are sending its 2023, 2025 and 2027 picks unprotected and a top-five protected 2029 pick to Utah.  

    The news comes a day after the Timberwolves and star Karl-Anthony Towns agreed to a four-year, $224million contract extension, giving Minnesota one of the most decorated frontcourts in the NBA.  

    A busy offseason continues for Timberwolves president Tim Connelly, who took over basketball operations this offseason after building the Denver Nuggets into a contender.  

    Gobert led the league last season by grabbing 14.7 rebounds per game. Fellow All-Star Towns ranked 14th at 9.8 rebounds per game.  

    Gobert's departure marks the end of an era for Utah, which peaked in 2020-21 when they secured the West's No. 1 seed but were ousted by the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round of the playoffs.  

    The Jazz went 49-33 last season, losing in the first round to the Dallas Mavericks. The team will now look to rebuild around three-time All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell.  

    Gobert has spent all nine of his NBA seasons in Utah, who drafted him 27th overall in 2013. He has averaged 12.4 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 611 career games.  

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    Last season, the Timberwolves secured the No. 7 seed in the play-in tournament but fell to the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round in six games.  

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    The Golden State Warriors have retained a key member of their NBA championship team by agreeing to a three-year, $25.5million contract with forward Kevon Looney, ESPN reported on Friday.

    A first-round pick of the Warriors in 2015, Looney started a career-high 80 regular-season games in 2021-22 and emerged as a valuable complementary contributor to Golden State's fourth NBA title in eight years.

    The 26-year-old averaged just 6.0 points per game during the regular season but was among the Warriors' top rebounders at 7.3 per game while providing a strong interior defensive presence.

    Looney also chipped in a couple of standout performances during Golden State's title run. The seven-year veteran grabbed 22 rebounds – one short of a franchise single-game postseason record – in a series-clinching Game 6 win over the Memphis Grizzlies in the second round, then later amassed 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting along with 12 boards in a Game 2 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals.

    Keeping Looney was a top priority for the Warriors, who will be losing two other important rotation players in free agency in forward Otto Porter Jr. and guard Gary Payton II.

    Porter agreed to a two-year contract with the Toronto Raptors, according to Yahoo Sports, while The Athletic reports that Payton will sign a three-year, $28 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.

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