VIDEO: Warriors star Stephen Curry sits down with TNT’s Rachel Nichols
NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Ambitious Warriors aiming for 33-0 — They’re not going to hide it. And that might be a good thing. The Golden State Warriors, as ambitious as any defending champion in recent memory, are on a historic pace right now. They’ve already taken care of the best record to start a season in NBA history (16-0 and counting heading into tonight’s game in Phoenix, 9:30 p.m. ET NBA TV). They want more. They want the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers’ record for the longest winning streak in NBA history, the sterling 33-0 mark that has stood for decades. No sense in being bashful when you’re already on pace. Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group has the details:
To Stephen Curry, the longest winning streak in NBA history — 33 games for the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers — is something different.
The 16-0 Warriors might not have known much about the record they broke for the most consecutive wins to start the season until recently when they started to get closer. But as they play at Phoenix on Friday, the Warriors are embracing their next chase of history.
“We talk about 33,” Curry said in a conference call with international reporters. “I think I’ve probably talked about it more than anybody else on the team, just because I know about the history and just really how hard it is.
“We’ve had like two 16-game winning streaks the last two years, and those are pretty special feats. For us to have to double that output, I mean we’re going to play hard and hopefully close in on that record, but it won’t be a disappointing effort if we don’t get there. Because there are so many talented teams in this league and for us to just be playing at a high level right now, that’s what we’re worried about. And if we close in and get to 29, 30 games, we’ll talk about it a little bit more.”
The Warriors have won 20 straight regular-season games dating to last season. The 33-game Lakers streak is both the single-season record and one including streaks that cover multiple seasons.
“Yeah, they could do it,” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said of the Warriors being the team to win 33 straight. “Because they’re good enough.
“It’s a very young league, and so they’ve managed to put together a team of extremely intelligent players and extremely versatile players and great shooters. And so I see no reason why they couldn’t continue to extend it.”
Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton had expressed concern after the Warriors reached 16 wins on Tuesday with a victory against the Lakers that with their place in the record books, the players might have a different intensity level and see their level of play go down.
Still, there are other records to threaten.
“Thirty-three is a special number,” Curry said. “So there’s obviously still milestones that we can continue to go after, but you go after them by how you approach each day.”
No. 2: Kobe’s farewell tour bottoms out — Much has been made of Kobe Bryant’s struggles this season in Los Angeles. Epic doesn’t do justice to the way he’s fallen off from the Hall of Fame standard he’s set earlier in his career. He was supposed to go out with a flurry in his 20th, and by all accounts his final season in the league. But something has gone terribly wrong, as Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com explains:
A thin line separates confidence and delusion, and Kobe Bryant is straddling it. It’s the only conclusion one could reach after judging theLos Angeles Lakers star’s comments Tuesday after he tied the worst shooting performance of his career in any game in which he attempted at least five shots.
In a humiliating 111-77 loss to the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena, Bryant shot 1-of-14 from the field, including 1-of-7 from 3-point range, and scored four points. He also shot 1-of-14 in a loss last season to the San Antonio Spurs.
Bryant is the first player this season with four or fewer points on 14 or more field goal attempts.
Many of his shots hit the front of the rim. Some 3-point attempts were air-balls. He blew one layup that should have been a dunk — and probably would have been years ago, before all his injuries. And one shot, perhaps the cruelest of all, became lodged where the rim and backboard meet. An opposing player had to help pry it loose.
The performance was his worst so far this season, yet, frankly, it wasn’t too dissimilar from those that preceded it. In his 20th NBA season, the 37-year-old Bryant has looked his age. His body has performed as if it’s carrying a ton of NBA mileage and has endured three consecutive season-ending injuries, which it has.
But once again, Bryant said he’s fine, that his health is fine, that his shot is fine, and he diverted the conversation elsewhere, largely to his teammates and the team’s overall scheme.
“I’m not really worried about it, honestly,” Bryant said. “My shooting will be better. I could’ve scored 80 [Tuesday]. It wouldn’t have made a damn difference. We just have bigger problems. I could be out there averaging 35 points a game. We’d be what, 3-11? We’ve got to figure out how to play systematically in a position that’s going to keep us in ball games.”
Read the above quote again, or a few times, if necessary. Specifically, re-read the part about scoring 80 points in a game or averaging 35.
Those comments were made by a player who is averaging more field goal attempts per game (a team-high 16.4) than points (15.2); a player who is shooting a career-worst 31.1 percent from the floor; a player who has now had 12 consecutive games scoring fewer than 25 points while shooting worse than 50 percent, the longest such streak of his career.
No. 3: Inside the Cavaliers’ players-only meeting — The Cleveland Cavaliers are 11-4 and sit atop the Eastern Conference standings today, but you couldn’t tell by the way LeBron James has been acting lately. Calling out his teammates publicly, players-only meetings and pressing the issue constantly are just a few of the ways LeBron is acting out while his team continues to work without three regular starters. That players-only meeting after a loss in Toronto took on a life of its own, even before the details were revealed. Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com provides some insight into exactly what went on inside that meeting:
Before the media was granted postgame locker room access, the players addressed a lack of toughness, heart and defensive awareness displayed in the fourth quarter Wednesday. James and James Jones demanded more.
“It wasn’t a team meeting. It’s just another game,” Mo Williams said of the postgame team chat. “When you lose games, we just discuss things we could have done better and we need to do going forward. That was basically it.”
The Cavaliers were neck and neck with the Raptors for three and a half quarters before Toronto went on a 9-0 run to eventually pull off the victory. Head coach David Blatt said he felt fatigue and their numerous injures played a factor in the loss.
“I thought that we got tired for obvious reason,” he said. “We are very shorthanded. I thought our guys played hard. I thought we ran out of gas.”
James was later asked about fatigue and he said, “No, it’s not an excuse.” Well, what about the injuries? He quickly responded, “It’s not an excuse. … We got to get better” and then voiced his disappointment and concern with the absence of physical play.
“It’s all a mindset,” James stated. “It comes from within. I’ve always had it. My upbringing had me like that, so it’s either you got it or don’t.”
After James addressed the media, he walked over to Jones, Kevin Love, Williams and J.R. Smith and began breaking down their defensive shortcomings very animatedly. He wasn’t quiet about it. He was trying to get a message across. Jones subsequently joined in agreement. It soon became a group discussion in the middle of the locker room.
Bismack Biyombo‘s name was mentioned. He came up with six boards and six points in the final quarter. He had two uncontested dunks in the final minute and a half that eliminated any chance of the Cavaliers making a comeback. Toronto had six “and-1s” in the quarter.
“We have to hold each other more accountable and we have to play better, and we will,” James said. “But I don’t think we improved tonight.”
VIDEO: LeBron James talks about his team’s struggles this season
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