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Morning shootaround — March 30


VIDEO: Highlights from Tuesday’s games

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Warriors tie franchise wins mark | Westbrook miffed over Jackson’s celebration | Kidd: Giannis to start at point next season | Reports: Lakers’ Russell losing teammate support after video emerges

No. 1: Warriors tie franchise mark for victories — Just a season ago, the Golden State Warriors did what was considered a long shot for them entering 2014-15 — to not only rise to the top of the Western Conference standings, but also amass the most wins in franchise history (67-15) en route to an NBA title. Here the Warriors are again with 67 wins, only this time they’ve got eight games left and a more than realistic shot at breaking the NBA’s single-season wins mark of 72. Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle was on hand for last night’s demolishing of the Washington Wizards and has more on Golden State:

The Warriors put together one of their best defensive games since March 16, generally taking the life out of the Wizards for a 102-94 victory at Oracle Arena in front of a national TV audience.

The Warriors forced 17 turnovers, allowed Washington to shoot only 41.9 percent from the floor (21.7 percent from three-point range) and limited an opponent to fewer than 100 points for only the sixth time in the past 26 games.

“I thought our defense was pretty solid,” said coach Steve Kerr, who still harped on getting beat backdoor and some transition flaws. “We guarded the three-point line really well. We challenged all of the three-point attempts that they put up. We did have some breakdowns that were sort of head-scratchers.

“We can still get better, but overall, the intensity and energy were pretty good.”

Just in time to secure some more history.

The Warriors (67-7) tied the franchise mark for wins in a season and remained one game ahead of the pace set by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who won an NBA-record 72 games.

The Warriors need to go at least 6-2 during the season’s final eight games to break the record, and five of those games are at home, where the Warriors extended their regular-season winning streak to a league-record 54 games, 36 of them this season.

“Mind-boggling,” Kerr said. “I could have never imagined anything like this, but a lot of things have gone our way this year, and the guys have done an amazing job, coming off of last year, of focusing on getting better and trying to continue the rise.…

“It’s not easy to do in this league. It takes a lot of energy, so I’m really proud of them for the way they’ve competed.”

“As you go through the season and kind of get lost in the journey, we should be able to accomplish both: be a better team and better our record, which we’re on our way to doing,” Stephen Curry said. “For us to be playing at such a high level for two straight years and to have our eyes set on the ultimate goal, it’s fun.”


VIDEO: Warriors handle Wizards, get win No. 67

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 No. 2: Westbrook miffed over Jackson’s celebration — The Oklahoma City Thunder visited Detroit with a seven-game win streak in tow. They left the Motor City without it, suffering an 88-82 loss to the Pistons that was led by guard Reggie Jackson. After an emphatic dunk by Jackson with 1:29 to play pushed Detroit’s lead to 82-77, he celebrated the play and the coming victory. Thunder All-Star guard Russell Westbrook — a teammate of Jackson’s in OKC for 3 1/2 seasons — wasn’t happy about it and let reporters know after the game. The Detroit NewsRod Beard has more on what Westbrook was upset about:

On its own, it probably doesn’t constitute enough to be called a beef, but the Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t take kindly to Reggie Jackson’s celebration in the final seconds of the Pistons’ 88-82 win on Tuesday at The Palace.

With 1.1 seconds remaining and the Pistons ahead by four, Jackson raised his arms and attempted to rouse the Pistons fans, also celebrating his first win over his former team.

Of note, the Pistons moved into seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings and are on course to make the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. The Thunder are almost locked into the No. 3 seed in the West and rested two of their starters, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka.

Even without them, the Thunder (52-23), were within striking distance, trailing by one with five minutes to go.

But Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who has had some past words for Jackson, took exception to the display.

“I thought it was some real bull—- for our team and our organization, I don’t like it at all,” Westbrook told Oklahoma City reporters. “But it is what it is. We’ll see him down the line. We’ll take care of that when we get there.”

Jackson was a reserve with the Thunder before the Pistons acquired him last season to be their starting point guard. Jackson signed a long-term deal in the summer but there is still some animosity between Westbrook and Jackson.

Asked about their relationship, Westbrook shared his assessment of Jackson:

“He wasn’t changing nothing for us. Obviously, he didn’t want to be here. He’s at a better spot,” Westbrook told reporters. “He’s not doing too much different (in Detroit) if you ask me. He’s gonna stay over in Detroit. We gonna stay over here and we’ll see them next season.”

“I don’t know what that was for,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said in his postgame comments. “It’s only one game and there’s a lot more to play for.”

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No. 3: Kidd: Antetokounmpo playing point to start next season — In our Blogtable last week, our stable of NBA.com writers tried to make sense of whether or not the Milwaukee Bucks using Giannis Antetokounmpo at point guard was a long-term solution for them. Well, we have our answer. According to coach Jason Kidd, “The Greek Freak” will be the starting point guard once the 2016-17 season begins. So what does that decision mean for the other point guards on the roster? Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel digs in:

The long story is this: The Milwaukee Bucks now have the tallest point guard in the NBA.

And he won’t be going back to the small forward position anytime soon.

Bucks coach Jason Kidd said after Tuesday’s practice that Giannis Antetokounmpo will be the team’s starting point guard at the beginning of next season.

The 6-foot-11 Antetokounmpo has made a successful transition to point guard over the last two months and recorded four triple-doubles since late February.

“We’re going to go forward with him (Antetokounmpo) handling the ball,” Kidd said. “You can call him point guard, point forward, point center, however you want to look at it.

“With him having the ball and the pressure he puts on the defense and his ability to find guys, it has been a plus for us.”

“We’ll finish out these last eight and also look forward to training camp and starting the season with him handling the ball,” Kidd said in an emphatic endorsement of the 21-year-old’s move to the point.

Since the all-star break Antetokounmpo and second-year player Jabari Parker have worked to forge a connection, and Parker’s play also has taken off.

“I think the team is very comfortable with that,” Kidd said of having Antetokounmpo at point guard. “You can see the way he’s been playing and the way the team has been playing.

“With that being said, it gives him some summer school studies and he goes in understanding what he has to do to get better.”

Kidd said Antetokounmpo has made the adjustment well and is learning each game.

“He has a skill set that he can guard smalls and bigs,” Kidd said. “Being able to guard the 4s (power forwards) or the wing players is something he can do.”

Kidd’s announcement creates some questions about the role of point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who started 37 of 54 games this season. Carter-Williams said Monday he thought he could co-exist with Antetokounmpo in the lineup and could play a bench role if that is what the team needs.

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No. 4: Reports: Russell losing teammate support after video emerges — This hasn’t been the easiest season for Los Angeles Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell, as the No. 2 pick in the 2015 Draft has been criticized often by coach Byron Scott for his play. The latest issue Russell has to deal with is one that is reportedly affecting him off the court. According to ESPN.com’s Baxter Holmes and Marc Stein, Russell is being ostracized by Lakers teammates after a private conversation he and teammate Nick Young had emerged recently on social media:

Sources told ESPN.com that some teammates’ trust in Russell is eroding after a video surfaced in the past week that shows Russell recording a private conversation between himself and teammate Nick Young. Young does not appear to realize he is being taped.

The video, which is believed to have come to light last week via the Twitter account of a celebrity gossip site, shows Russell filming Young while asking questions about Young being with other women. Young got engaged to Australian rapper Iggy Azalea last summer.

While it’s unclear how the video became public, sources say the resulting tension in the Lakers’ locker room in recent days was among the factors that contributed to L.A.’s limp showing in Salt Lake City on Monday night, when they absorbed a 48-point pounding from the Utah Jazz. The loss was the Lakers’ worst in franchise history.

“Right now,” one source said, “they’re handling it by isolating him.”

Austin Brown, Russell’s agent from Creative Artists Agency, declined to comment when reached Tuesday.

Said one team insider: “This was a prank gone wrong and a mistake by [Russell], and he has to be held accountable, but I would hope he isn’t overly criticized for it.”

The emergence of the video, sources said, has been the talk of the locker room for the past several days and has led to a tangible strain between Russell and some teammates.

At a recent breakfast meeting, one source said, no Laker would sit with Russell at his table. The source added that, in another instance, Russell came into the locker room and sat next to guard Lou Williams, who got up and walked away.

“It’s bad,” one team source told ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne. “It’s about as bad as it can get. There were trust issues already. Now there’s no trust.”

In the video, Russell asks Young at one point, “You was 30 and she was 19?” referencing Young’s age and the age of another woman that Young said that he met in a nightclub.

“What about Amber Rose?” Russell later says, mentioning another celebrity.

“No, she knows my girl,” Young is recorded as saying.

Later in the conversation, while apparently still recording, Russell is heard telling Young, “I’m glad you told my video all that.”

“Huh?” Young says, turning his face toward Russell before the video cuts off.

Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News says this issue speaks to a larger (if quieter) one on the team regarding concerns about Russell’s maturity:

Lakers rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell has lost support among certain teammates after secretly recording a video that showed Nick Young admitting that he saw another woman besides his fiancee, Iggy Azalea, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.

The video, which was obtained somehow by celebrity gossip website Fameolous this week, showed Russell filming Young in a hotel room while asking him questions about women. Russell asked Young, “You was 30 and she was 19?” referring to Young’s age and the age of an unnamed woman Young said he met at a nightclub last summer.

Young was friends with Russell and often publicly supported him amid the constant criticism the Lakers’ rookie point guard received under Lakers coach Byron Scott surrounding his play, work ethic and maturity. But Young’s relationship with Russell has since been strained, and sources familiar with the situation believe it cannot be salvaged.

Sources also added several of Russell’s teammates have become distrustful of him after violating an unwritten rule about making details about anyone’s private life public even if it was unintentional.

Even before Russell’s recorded video became public, several Lakers sources have privately echoed Scott’s criticisms throughout the 2015-16 season about the 20-year-old Russell’s maturity, work ethic and attitude. During an angry speech following a loss in Portland in late January, Kobe Bryant had also singled Russell and Julius Randle out about their poor play.

Russell had at least one supporter about his recently released video.

Young has not played in the Lakers’ last 10 games, but the team cited a stomach bug as the reason for his absence in the past two contests. Young stayed in Los Angeles during the Lakers’ loss in Utah on Monday. Before the Lakers’ game last Friday against Denver at Staples Center, Young made a deliberate attempt to avoid crossing paths with Russell during pre-game preparations.

Young also sparked attention last week when activist Alexis Jones accused both him and Lakers teammate Jordan Clarkson for harassing her and her 68-year-old mother in Hollywood.

Lastly, Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times also reports on the Russell video situation:

Some Lakers players have distanced themselves from rookie D’Angelo Russell after a video surfaced a few days ago in which he secretly recorded teammate Nick Young talking about women other than his fiancee, Iggy Azalea.

Russell and Young are friends but the video, which was surreptitiously shot a couple of months ago according to a person with knowledge of it, could drive a wedge between them and cause more problems for a team with a 15-59 record.

Other teammates are “ticked off” at Russell, according to a person familiar with the situation, believing he violated an unwritten code with the secret video.

It was unclear who released the video to celebrity gossip site Fameolous or why it took so long to be publicized from the time Russell shot it.

The Lakers were disappointed in Russell’s judgment and chalked it up to immaturity.

“D’Angelo is sometimes 20 going on 14,” said a person familiar with the situation. “They’ve all been trying to prank each other this season. This was a stupid prank.”

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut predicts teammates Harrison Barnes and Marreese Speights will get ‘a lot of money’ in free agency this summer … Speaking of the Warriors, have you met the Most Interesting Man in the World on their roster? … Utah Jazz guard (and Kobe Bryant fan) Rodney Hood got his shoes signed by Kobe after Monday’s blowout win … Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder is targeting Thursday’s game vs. the Portland Trail Blazers as his return date … All this losing in New York has Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony itching to win a bunch in the 2016 Olympics … Philadelphia 76ers chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo has a plea for Sixers fans — ‘Don’t give up’ on the team … Atlanta Hawks center Tiago Splitter explains why he had surgery when he did … 

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