NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Amazing Klay — Last night against the Sacramento Kings, Golden State’s Klay Thompson did something last night nobody in the history of the NBA had ever managed to do: He scored 37 points in one quarter. He was so hot that nothing slowed him down, not double-teams, not timeouts. Thompson didn’t miss a shot in the period and scored 37 of Golden State’s 41 in the third, effectively ending the Kings’ chances with each increasingly improbable three. Diamond Leung, the Warriors’ beat writer from the Bay Area Media Group, writes that after the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr even compared Thompson to another wing player who was known to get buckets…
He delivered the most electrifying game of his career, going 16-for-25 from the field and 11-for-15 from 3-point range in 33 minutes to lift the Warriors to their 35th win of the season at the midway point and a franchise-record 18th straight victory at home.
Thompson was 9-for-9 from 3-point range in the third as the rest of the Warriors kept passing him the ball in a quarter when he scored 37 of their 41 points.
“As many spectacular things as Michael (Jordan) did, which he did nightly, I never saw him do that,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who won three NBA championships playing with Jordan.
“It was reminiscent of Michael because it’s sort of otherworldly.”
The Kings as a team scored 22 in the third, and their hopes for an upset were dashed after Thompson began flicking his wrist.
Thompson made a steal, stepped back and made a 3-pointer to put the Warriors ahead 63-60 before hitting another to make it 66-64.
Stephen Curry fed him on a one-handed alley-oop after which Thompson continued his barrage. He even got a shooter’s roll on one of the 3-pointers.
Thompson brought down the house going it alone against the Kings defense with a jumper that gave the Warriors an 89-70 lead. Another 3-pointer made it 95-71.
“I was taking a lot of bad shots out there, but I was taking one until I missed, and I just got lucky,” Thompson said.
With 4.9 seconds in the third, Thompson hit two free throws that gave him 50 points for the game to become the 12th player in franchise history to score at least that number. His previous career highs were 41 points against the Los Angeles Lakers in November and eight 3-pointers at Sacramento last season.
Thompson hit two free throws in the fourth before checking out of the game to an ovation with 9:28 left.
“He was typical Klay,” Draymond Green said of Thompson on the sideline. “Just sitting there. His favorite line: ‘It’s crazy.’ That’s all he said.”
His third quarter had set the NBA record for points, and falling with it was a significant franchise mark. Wilt Chamberlain in his 100-point game in 1962 held the previous record with 31 points in a quarter.
“It’s that number 37 in a quarter that’s unbelievable. I thought I’d never see that,” Curry said after using his phone to watch video of Thompson’s performance again.
Up until Thompson began hoisting shots into history, the Warriors were struggling to put away Sacramento, which entered the game having lost five in a row.
Kerr was angry at halftime, telling his players he wouldn’t be calling plays in order to let them figure things out themselves. The Warriors had led by 18 points in the first quarter, but the Kings grabbed the lead after halftime.
“Get the ball to Klay, and Klay get the ball,” Kerr said. “Those are the two plays they ran.”
Said Thompson: “They just kept wanting to see the show. That’s what they kept telling me. When your teammates have confidence in you like that, you can do extraordinary things.”
No. 2: Hawks Soaring — Meanwhile, on the other coast, the Atlanta Hawks just keep winning. They entered last night’s game against Oklahoma City with a gaudy 35-8 record, winners of 14 in a row and 27 or their last 29. But that streak got put to a serious test last night as they hosted a potent Oklahoma City Thunder team hungry for a win. And through one half, after a dozen turnovers, the Hawks looked like they didn’t mind if their win streak came to an end. But that turned around in the second half, and the Hawks won going away, 103-93, for a franchise-record 15th win in a row…
The Atlanta Hawks romped to their 15th straight victory, the longest streak in franchise history.
Don’t expect them to savor it for long.
This team is focused firmly on what’s in front of them.
Paul Millsap scored 22 points, Jeff Teague added 17 and the Hawks broke the record with a 103-93 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.
“It’s a good accomplishment,” Millsap said, sitting in a rather somber locker room. “But it’s just another win.”
The wins keep piling up for a team that no one expected to be a title contender at the beginning of the season. Before a raucous sellout crowd, the Hawks came out on top for the 29th time in 31 games to extend their Eastern-best record to 36-8.
As usual, pretty much everyone chipped in.
Four starters were in double figures and backup point guard Dennis Schröder led a spurt at the start of the fourth quarter that helped the Hawks pull away. He finished with 13 points and five assists, igniting the arena with a towering finger roll that dropped gently through the net.
“Give me five really good guys,” Millsap said, “and I’ll go out there and win with ’em.”
Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 22 points, but it wasn’t enough to extend their four-game winning streak.
Kevin Durant added 21 points, while Serge Ibaka with 13 was the only other Thunder player in double figures.
The Hawks were much more balanced. Al Horford had 14 points and 12 rebounds, while DeMarre Carroll chipped in with 13 points. Kyle Korver was the only starter who didn’t reach double figures, but even he chipped in with a play that had everyone talking: another dunk in the waning seconds of the first half that sent the Hawks to the locker room with a 48-47 lead.
They never trailed again, strolling off the court at the end with the public-address announcer screaming “15 in a row!”
“It’s cool to get your name in the record book,” Carroll said. “At the same time, we’ve got bigger tasks at hand. That’s making it to the playoffs and bringing an NBA championship to Atlanta.”
The crowd of 19,203 marked the third sellout in Atlanta’s last four games. In a sign that the attendance-challenged city is really getting behind its team, most of the crowd came to cheer for the home team rather than to see an out-of-town star.
“They’ve jumped on the bandwagon now,” Durant said. “The crowd was great tonight and really helped them out.”
He’s also impressed with what Atlanta is putting on the court.
“They’re a really good team,” he said – over and over again.
No. 3: Here come the Cavs? — It’s been a rough start for the Cleveland Cavaliers, marked by losing streaks, coaching questions, trades and injuries. But last night, with all the principles healthy and on the court together, the Cavaliers swatted the Charlotte Hornets, 129-90. It was Cleveland’s fifth straight win, and exactly the kind of dominant performance LeBron James and the Cavs were looking for when they constructed this team, writes the Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Joe Vardon…
That’s five wins in a row for the Cavs after losing six straight. They limited the Hornets to 40 percent shooting and caused 12 turnovers.
“Right now, I feel like this is the team that I envisioned,” James said.
In the middle of a long season, there really isn’t anything more important James could say than that.
It’s been a turbulent return campaign for James in Cleveland, and even with these last five victories the Cavs are only 24-20 and in fifth place in the East.
James admitted his team is just one losing streak from all the progress, all the good feeling, unraveling again. He sounded, and looks, like he plans to guard against that.
A three-minute, 20-second stretch in the second quarter said it all.
Cleveland was already up by 22 when James came charging into the lane before pulling up for a short floater. Thirty-seven seconds later, he drove in for a finger roll and was fouled.
Then, a steal. After that, another layup. Next possession, two free throws.
Oh, there’s more.
James stole the ball again, this time dribbling down for a left-handed windmill dunk that sounds easier than it looked. [Kyrie] Irving drained a three and then he stole the ball. Four seconds later, [J.R.] Smith tossed a half-court alley-oop to James that he might not have even tried to catch a few weeks ago.
Still not done. James stole the ball, again, and the Cavs scored on a lob, again. James passed (from halfcourt, no less) and Kevin Love caught it for a layup.
At the end of that sequence, it was 62-27 with 5:48 to play in the half.
“This is the style of basketball I envisioned,” James said. “Obviously the points we put up I don’t envision that every night, but how we share the ball, how we defend, that should be our staple.”
Charlotte coach Steve Clifford was asked before the game if James looked different on film recently than when the Hornets last played him on Dec. 15. The reason for the question – James’ obvious progress athletically since his two-week rest from nagging injury.
“He always looks pretty good,” Clifford said. “So yesterday when I started, he’s always fun to watch. And then as you get closer to the game time and making decisions about how you’re going to try to stop him, it’s not nearly as much fun.”
No. 4: Teletovic out for the season — It hasn’t been a great season for the Brooklyn Nets, who’ve had to deal with injuries to Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, trade rumors, and talk that their owner wants to sell the franchise. And now they’re out another player, as forward Mirza Teletovic has been diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs, ending his season as he seeks treatment, writes Andrew Keh of the New York Times…
Teletovic, a 29-year-old forward from Bosnia and Herzegovina, left Thursday’s game in Los Angeles after experiencing a shortness of breath and was transported to the California Medical Center.
The Nets on Friday morning said Teletovic would remain hospitalized to undergo further examination and begin treatment with blood thinners.
“Our first thoughts are with Mirza and his family,” General Manager Billy King said in a statement, praising the team’s medical staff and the emergency room doctors for their work. “I have visited with Mirza this morning and he is in good spirits as he begins his treatment and recovery.”
Blood clots can form for a variety of reasons, with long travel and surgical procedures among the most common risk factors. Blood clots near the lungs carry an increased risk of sudden death, said Dr. Alexis C. Colvin, a sports medicine specialist at Mt. Sinai Hospital, who was speaking generally and not about Teletovic’s specific case.
Teletovic posted a message on Twitter late Thursday night that read, “I had a small problem, but now everything is ok… Thx all fans from Bosnia, Spain and USA for support.”
The struggling Nets will miss Teletovic, who was averaging a career-high 22.3 minutes per game this season. They lost by 39 points to the Clippers, and their record dropped to 18-25. They had already been missing point guard Deron Williams, who fractured a left rib earlier this month.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Lakers and Kobe Bryant should get some clarity regarding the options for his injured shoulder after a meeting with doctors on Monday … Dallas’s Rajon Rondo sat down the stretch last night against Chicago, but Rondo and coach Rick Carlisle say it’s no big deal … Mark Cuban says the All-Star voting process is “absolutely, positively broken” … The Brandon Jennings/Brandon Knight trade is one of those rare deals that worked out well for both teams … Could the Clippers be free agent Nate Robinson‘s destination? …