VIDEO: Highlights from Thursday’s games
NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: LeBron dismisses criticism of Miami trip — The Cleveland Cavaliers host the Washington Wizards tonight (8 ET, ESPN) in what will be Cleveland’s first game since a Monday victory against the Indiana Pacers. Cavs star LeBron James spent part of the layoff not in Cleveland but in Miami, where he worked out with former Heat teammate Dwyane Wade. James drew criticism for that move but felt no need to explain it in a Thursday interview with reporters. ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin was on hand for LeBron’s interview and has more:
LeBron James was in no mood to justify using consecutive off days for the Cleveland Cavaliers this week to fly to Miami and spend part of that time working out with former Heat teammate Dwyane Wade.
“I don’t care,” James said after Cavs practice Thursday when asked about the perception of him spending time with a potential playoff foe during the season. One of James’ trainers, David Alexander, posted a video of the pair in his Florida gym Wednesday.
The Cavs are currently the No. 1 seed in the East and the Heat are No. 4, meaning the two teams could meet in the conference semifinals should the standings hold and both advance out of the first round.
Much how James was irked by being asked about flying to attend Ohio State’s national championship win over Oregon the night before a Cavs game last season, he had little interest in explaining his two-day trip to Miami.
“What do I go there for? Go there ’cause I want to,” James said. “I would love to go to L.A., but I’ll take 2½ [hour flight] over 4½. I’ve got a house in L.A., but it makes more sense for me to go south than go west. But I go because I want to.”
When James finished his remarks to the media for the day, he made reference to the Miami line of questioning again.
“That’s cool? I’m OK to leave when I want to leave?” James facetiously asked. “Be back at my work on time, two hours before? OK. Last one to leave the gym. OK. Thank you. Love you guys.”
VIDEO: LeBron James talks after Thursday’s practice
The Warriors rallied back from a third-quarter deficit with swarming defense, clamped Kevin Durant in the late-going, and came away with a 121-106 victory over the Thunder.
That brought the Warriors’ record to a ridiculous 55-5, and puts them on pace for 73 victories, which would break the NBA record.
“Fifty games over .500,” coach Steve Kerr said, shaking his head. “I mean, crazy.
“You can’t even dream this stuff up. But it’s been that kind of season for us.”
Or, as forward Marreese Speights put it: “Lot of guys don’t win 55 games in three years combined. It’s a blessing to be on this team. Keep it rolling.”
The Warriors are also now 26-0 at home this season and on Thursday survived a game they could’ve lost — with Curry and Andre Iguodala both coming back from minor injuries and against a Thunder team that has a lot of offensive weaponry and pushed the Warriors to the brink just last weekend.
On Thursday, the Warriors didn’t look great at times, and looked shaky at times.
So the question becomes: When will the Warriors ever lose at Oracle — or anywhere — again?
No team has ever gone undefeated at home in a regular season, and right now it would probably be a surprise if the Warriors don’t do it.
It’d be a surprise if the Warriors don’t win everything possible, break all records, get their second consecutive championship, and draw crowds jam packed with every mega-celebrity in existence.
Also, are the Warriors setting the stage for even better things next season?
They’re rumored to be one of Durant’s top options next summer if he leaves the Thunder in free agency, and now he has lost to the Warriors twice in a week.
During one stoppage for free throws, Durant sidled up to Kerr and the two chatted amiably for about a minute.
“I asked him where he ate last night,” Kerr said, tongue-in-cheek. “What restaurants he enjoys in the San Francisco area.
“No, I don’t even remember. We got to know each other a little bit at the All-Star game last year. So during a game it’s kind of common you say hi to a guy that’s standing next to you. That’s about it.”
VIDEO: Golden State gets past Oklahoma City, moves to 26-0 at home
No. 3: Gentry sorry for rant after loss to Rockets — New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry didn’t mince words after his team’s loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, declaring the Pelicans out of the playoff race in the Western Conference. A day after he said that, though, Gentry walked back his comments and apologized for them, citing the emotions of the moment as a reason for his outburst. Justin Verrier of ESPN.com has more from Gentry:
A day after claiming that his New Orleans Pelicans were out of the playoff race, coach Alvin Gentry admitted regret over his comments.
“Yeah, I was emotional. I would say that I shouldn’t have said it. I’m not afraid to say that,” Gentry said. “But at that time I was just so frustrated. That’s why it’s good that I wait a while to talk to [the media]. Sometimes, it doesn’t subside enough that you still say emotional things.
“But it was a frustrating loss. The last two have been very frustrating. We’ve played good basketball after the All-Star break. You just want to try to continue to win and you hope you get a little momentum, because through all that’s ever happened, there’s still not enough separation that you’re completely out of the playoff picture.”
TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager reported during Thursday’s Pelicans-Spurs broadcast that Gentry apologized to general manager Dell Demps for the outburst.
The Pelicans, who let a late lead slip away to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday, are six games behind the Rockets for the eighth spot in the Western Conference, with the Jazz (1½ games back), Kings (five) and Nuggets (six) ahead of them.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: To make room for new addition Ty Lawson, the Indiana Pacers are expected to waive forward Chase Budinger … Speaking of Lawson, a look at how he might help Indiana … Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy respects how the San Antonio Spurs get players below market value … Goran Dragic is glad he got out of Phoenix when he did …