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Stephen Curry returns with 32 points in Golden State Warriors’ win despite lingering tailbone pain

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SAN FRANCISCO — Golden State Warriors star guard Stephen Curry scored 32 points, dished out six assists and grabbed five rebounds in Monday’s 116-102 win over the Chicago Bulls — making his return from a tailbone injury that much sweeter for a Warriors group that snapped a four-game losing skid.

“He changes everything being out on the floor,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “The game becomes so much easier for the whole team. So it opened things up for us. I thought every guy on the floor played well, every single guy. … I just thought everybody followed suit, and that’s the effect that Steph has. He makes the game easier for everybody.”

Curry had been out since March 17 after tripping over a set of risers and falling hard on his tailbone during a 108-94 win over the Houston Rockets. Initially, the Warriors hoped Curry’s injury would keep him out only a few days, but an MRI revealed inflammation in the tailbone and led to uncertainty about exactly when he would be able to return. Following Sunday’s practice and Monday’s shootaround, Curry felt he could play. However, after he grinded through 30 minutes of action against the Bulls, it’s clear the injury is something to keep an eye on over the next few weeks.

The 33-year-old didn’t appear to have any issues moving to start the game, but after he fell hard on his backside near the end of the first quarter and then fell several more times over the course of the game, it was evident the injury is still bothering him — a fact he acknowledged following the win.

“I knew it was going to be interesting,” Curry said. “How you can’t really simulate that [with] practice and workouts and stuff so it wasn’t fun, but got through it. And was able to keep warm and deal with the pain and just play so it will be something to manage in the near future but it’ll continue to heal as I get some more time.”

Several times after Curry came out of the game, a member of the Warriors staff walked over to him to place a heating pad around his tailbone. Curry stood up much longer than usual to try to keep everything loose, but when he did finally sit in his seat on the bench, a staff member would bring out a large black pad for him to sit on. The two-time MVP understands that this injury is going to linger for a while and did his best to keep himself upright and not allow his momentum to carry his body to the floor like he normally would. Asked what changes the most for him because of the tailbone discomfort, Curry, who still managed to take a charge in the third quarter, was quick with an answer.

“Just dealing with pain,” Curry said. “That’s it. Try to turn it off and just focus on the game. The charge I took was probably — it was a good play. I tried to brace myself. That’s the one that you don’t want to second guess moves or decisions on either end of the floor because you’re trying to avoid pain. You kind of just have to deal with it so that was my mindset coming back.”

Curry understood he was needed — especially given that the Warriors came into the night in 10th place in the Western Conference, and were 1-6 without him on the year. Leading up to Monday’s game, Kerr also noted what has been obvious throughout the organization for years — Curry’s presence gives the rest of his young team the confidence it needs to play at its best, a belief that was on display throughout the night.

“Steph having a rusty 32, 5 and 6 is pretty remarkable and I don’t think people really understand what he’s been doing this year after missing an entire season,” Warriors guard Kent Bazemore said. “You see some guys sprain an ankle, miss five games and come back looking like a shell of themselves. He missed 65 games last year plus the pandemic and for him to come back and play at this high level says a lot. And for him to put his body on the line for us tonight meant a lot for this locker room. We owe it to him to go out there and give it our all moving forward.”

As happy as the Warriors are to get Curry back, his presence also comes with an uneasiness given the tricky nature of his injury. The Warriors are hopeful that Curry will eventually be able to play pain-free, but nobody is quite sure when the pain in that tailbone will go away.

“Because it’s such an unorthodox type of fall,” Curry said. “Landing on that stair like I did, probably not any time soon but I should be good and keep playing.”

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Cleveland Cavaliers extend qualifying offer to Jarrett Allen

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CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers extended a qualifying offer Friday to center Jarrett Allen, making him a restricted free agent.

The team had until Aug. 1 to make the offer to Allen, a 23-year-old acquired last season in a trade from Brooklyn and viewed as one of Cleveland’s core pieces.

The Cavs can now match any offer given by other teams to Allen, whose size and athleticism at both ends of the floor makes him enticing.

General manager Koby Altman has expressed his hope to keep Allen in Cleveland long-term.

Allen, who played college ball at Texas, came to the Cavs as part of the blockbuster trade in January that sent star James Harden to the Nets.

Allen’s arrival pushed veteran Andre Drummond to the bench and eventually led to the team buying out the two-time All-Star center’s contract.

Allen averaged 13.2 points and 9.9 rebounds in 51 games — 40 starts — for Cleveland.

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Devin Booker, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday available for Team USA opener vs. France

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TOKYO — The trio of players making the unprecedented jump from the NBA Finals to the Olympics are all scheduled to be in Japan by Saturday.

The hope is for Devin Booker, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday to be available when Team USA opens play Sunday against France, according to coach Gregg Popovich.

After attending the Milwaukee Bucks‘ championship parade Thursday, Middleton and Holiday are scheduled to fly to Seattle on Friday. There, they will join Booker, whose Phoenix Suns they helped eliminate on Tuesday, and take a private plane to Tokyo.

The pivot from being opponents in the NBA playing for the highest stakes to teammates on the national team going for a gold medal has happened over the years but never this suddenly, making it one of the more awkward scenarios in Team USA’s already fascinating history of intersecting star players.

“I would say just understanding competition and that it’s never personal between who you’re going with, unless lines are crossed,” Booker said this week discussing going from foe to teammate with the Bucks’ players. “Those guys aren’t that type and I would never go that way with them, because there’s a high respect level for each other. Representing your country is a whole different dynamic than competing against each other in the NBA Finals, but I can always respect somebody that competes at the highest level.”

With the lengthy procedures for entry into Japan, it is unlikely the new arrivals will get much more than a light walk-through with the rest of Team USA, which has been in Japan since Tuesday. But with an expected tough test against the French, Popovich is planning on using his reinforcements immediately, even if he’s not sure how it will play out.

“I have no idea [how to use them]. I’m not trying to be glib. I’m trying to be transparent,” Popovich said. “Maybe they’ll be OK for the game [Sunday] and it’ll hit them two days later. Maybe we should play them in the first half and see what they’re like.”

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Los Angeles Lakers extend qualifying offer to guard Talen Horton-Tucker

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The Los Angeles Lakers made their first move in what promises to be a busy offseason by extending a qualifying offer to second-year guard Talen Horton-Tucker, the team announced Thursday.

The qualifying offer for Horton-Tucker is $1.9 million, according to ESPN front office insider Bobby Marks, and will make the 20 year old a restricted free agent, allowing the Lakers to match any outside offer to retain their former second-round pick.

Los Angeles has early Bird rights and can re-sign Horton-Tucker for a contract that projects to start at $10.4 million, according to Marks. The contract must last at least two seasons.

Horton-Tucker averaged 9.0 points on 45.8% shooting with 2.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.0 steals in more than 20 minutes per game last season.

The Iowa State product made strides in his second year in the league, memorably filling up the box score with 14 points, 11 assists and three steals in a road win over the Brooklyn Nets in April and played 13 games when he scored 15 points or more, during which the Lakers had an 8-5 record.

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