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Stephen Curry’s 45-point night vs. LA Clippers leaves Golden State Warriors in awe

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SAN FRANCISCO — Steve Kerr has run out of superlatives to describe Stephen Curry‘s brilliance.

After watching the two-time MVP pour in 45 points in a 115-113 win over the LA Clippers on Thursday night, Kerr was left to discuss an unbelievable Curry performance one more time — a display that included two game-defining 3-pointers in the final two minutes to help secure the win.

“Steph Curry was just Steph Curry,” Kerr said. “There’s never been anybody like him. Those last two 3s were ridiculous.”

Curry’s outburst, which came a day after Golden State’s season-opening win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night when he went just 5-for-21 from the field, didn’t surprise any of his teammates, but those last two 3-pointers left many inside Chase Center in awe. The first triple, from 31 feet away, came with 1 minute, 54 seconds left in regulation and gave the Warriors a 108-107 lead. The second one, from 27 feet away, came with 57.7 seconds left and gave the Warriors a 111-109 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

It was a performance those close to him knew was coming after such a poor shooting night against the Lakers.

“He didn’t miss a shot today in shootaround,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “So we kind of knew it was coming. But he could have missed every shot in shootaround, and I still would have known it was coming. He’s an incredible player.”

What made this particular showcase even more impressive was that Curry started the game 10-for-10 from the field, including 9-for-9 in a 25-point first quarter. Curry finished 16-for-25 from the field, including 8-for-13 from beyond the arc, grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out an assist and turned the ball over six times in 38 minutes.

The confidence he has in his game, and in his shot, never wavers. Curry said he always believes the next one is going in no matter how poorly he may have played the game before.

“It’s earned confidence from the work you put in,” Curry said. “It’s always a message of next shot’s going in or the next game’s going to be a good game because I try not to dwell on it too much. Even laughing at that question — I don’t even know what Staples does to me when I’m shooting the basketball. Who cares, move onto the next one. You play enough games, you figure out the ability to turn the page really quickly.”

While many of the Warriors have grown accustomed to Curry’s talent, Kerr said a couple of members of his new coaching staff, including assistant coach Jama Mahlalela, couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing Thursday night.

“Jama came up to me after the game, he said, ‘This may not be new to you guys, but [DeJan Milojevic] and I were just talking’ — this is their first time with the Steph Curry Experience,” Kerr said. “They were just blown away. And even though we’ve all been here watching it, I’m still blown away. There’s never been anybody like him. Not just the shooting range but the competitiveness, the guts, just an amazing, amazing player. What a game he had.”

Green, who has seen plenty of Curry’s greatest hits in person, summed up his teammate’s latest scoring explosion with historical context.

“I expect all of them to go in regardless of how ridiculous some of them are that he decides to take,” Green said. “I still expect them to go in because he makes those ridiculous ass shots and that’s what he’s done over the course of his career. That’s why he’s become who he’s become. That’s why he’s great. That’s why he’s one of the top players in this league and one of the top players ever to play this game. A tough shot taker and a tough shot maker.”

That Curry’s latest memorable effort came on the day he was named to the NBA’s 75th anniversary team wasn’t lost on him.

“Honestly, it’s an amazing honor,” Curry said. “It’s something I never dreamed of in terms of — I remember watching the Top 50 list and the interesting jackets they had, just the names that you saw on that night, think about 25 more. The last 25 years and what it’s meant, so to be on that list, it’s amazing. Especially while you’re still playing. It means a lot in terms of what you pour into the game and what I feel like I have left.”

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Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis a game-time decision vs. Miami Heat on Sunday after 16-game absence

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MIAMI — Anthony Davis, out for the last five weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee, has been upgraded to questionable for the Los Angeles Lakers‘ game against the Miami Heat on Sunday and is considered a game-time decision, according to the team.

Davis missed the last 16 games since the Minnesota TimberwolvesJaden McDaniels collided with the Lakers All-Star’s knee and L.A. went 7-9 without him.

“Whenever AD is ready, we’re going to love that, that’s for sure,” LeBron James said of Davis on Friday. “I mean he’s one of our biggest guns that we have, and having him on the floor, it just creates so much for us offensively and defensively, able to do so much more. But his health is what’s most important, and once we know that he’s healthy, he knows that he’s healthy, we get him back on the floor, and then we start getting his wind and his rhythm.”

Davis was averaging 23.3 points on 52.1% shooting, 9.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.2 steals this season prior to the injury. His jump shot, however, had been off. Davis is shooting just 60-for-185 (32%) on shots outside the paint this season, according to NBA.com.

Davis has used the rehabilitation to work on not only his knee but his shot mechanics as well, sources told ESPN.

Davis had been eyeing the Lakers’ six-game road trip to return, as ESPN reported last week, and his presence could certainly help his team that has absorbed reports about Frank Vogel’s job security and Russell Westbrook‘s role in his absence.

If Davis makes his return against Miami, it could evoke warm memories for the Lakers big man. Davis averaged 25 points and 12.8 rebounds in the 2020 NBA Finals, downing the Heat in six games en route to his first championship.

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Damian Lillard, content to ‘make decisions that suit you for the long haul,’ slowly works his way back to Portland Trail Blazers’ lineup

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During the Tokyo Olympics last summer, when Damian Lillard‘s abdominal injury flared up, Jrue Holiday suggested it was time for surgery.

Lillard finally took his fellow Olympian’s advice and had the procedure Jan. 13. The Portland Trail Blazers‘ star point guard spoke to reporters Saturday for the first time since the injury sidelined him on Jan. 3.

Holiday, who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, had similar core surgery during the 2018-19 NBA season when he was with New Orleans. He and Lillard were teammates in Japan last summer on the gold-medal-winning U.S. team.

“He was the first person that pretty much confirmed that I needed to have surgery, because I sat out of practice one day and I was like, ‘I can’t move,’ and I was kind of just holding it. And he just started describing every single symptom,” Lillard said. “And he was like, ‘I had it.'”

Lillard, a six-time All-Star, averaged 24 points and 7.3 assists in 29 games this season for the Blazers. It was clear from the start that the injury — lower abdominal tendinopathy — was bothersome.

“It was just one of those things where I’ve always had control over how I moved and everything, and it had reached a point where my body couldn’t do what my mind wanted it to do and go places that I wanted it to go,” he said. “At some point you’ve got to play chess; you’ve got to make decisions that suit you for the long haul and not just right now.”

While the injury flared up in Tokyo, Lillard said he first felt the abdominal pain in 2015, and it had been gradually getting worse ever since.

The Blazers have struggled without Lillard, the undisputed leader of the team. Playing under first-year coach Chauncey Billups, Portland is 19-26 and in 10th place in the Western Conference.

Anfernee Simons has taken over as Portland’s point guard and has averaged 15.1 points per game. Portland was also playing for an extended period without Lillard’s backcourt teammate CJ McCollum, who had a collapsed right lung before becoming a father for the first time.

McCollum recently returned and had 24 points in Portland’s 109-105 victory at the Boston Celtics on Friday night.

There was no timeline for Lillard’s return, but he’s already been doing yoga. The team previously said he would be reevaluated in six weeks.

“I’m just a week from surgery. We said we’ll reevaluate my situation weeks out, six to eight weeks, and we’ll talk about it then. But I’m not in a rush,” he said. “My No. 1 goal is to win a championship. I’ve got to be in the best form of myself to make that happen and to be a part of that. So I’m not in a rush. We’ll talk about whatever that timeline is when we get to that point.”

The Trail Blazers, as play began on Saturday night, occupied the 10th spot in the Western Conference race. They were two games ahead of the Sacramento Kings.

Lillard was asked if he’d play if the Blazers decided to forgo a playoff push and play for a draft pick.

“I mean, if we’re gonna play for a draft pick, it wouldn’t make sense to me. Because I’m not gonna play for no draft pick. I’m just not capable of that,” he said. “So it’d be best if that was what we were doing, or what was decided, then it wouldn’t make sense for me to play.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Chicago Bulls G Alex Caruso to have surgery for fractured wrist, out 6 to 8 weeks, says team

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Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso will undergo surgery early next week for a fractured right wrist, the team announced Saturday.

Caruso suffered the injury during the Bulls loss to the Bucks Friday night in Milwaukee. Caruso was fouled hard by the Bucks’ Grayson Allen who was assessed a flagrant two foul and ejected from the game.

Caruso will miss six-to-eight weeks, the team announced

Caruso went up for a layup on a fast break with 5:45 remaining in the third quarter, but Allen hooked Caruso’s right arm, turning Caruso in the air and sending him hard to the floor on his right wrist. Caruso said his wrist was “a little banged up” after the game, but X-rays came back negative.

“Dude just grabbed me out of the air,” Caruso said after Friday’s game. “It’s kind of bulls—. I don’t know what else you can do about it. I’m just glad that I didn’t have any major scary injuries right away.”

Caruso said his wrist continued to bother him in the second half, especially while shooting. He finished 1-of-6 from the field for 3 points in the second half, but said he did not think the injury would linger long term.

Caruso added that Allen did not come to check on him following the play.

The foul particularly irked Bulls coach Billy Donovan, who is normally mild-mannered and rarely singles out players. But following Friday’s game, Donovan called Allen’s actions dangerous and cited his history playing college basketball at Duke.

“For Alex to be in the air and for [Allen] to take him down like that, he could’ve ended his career,” Donovan said. “He has a history of this. That to me was really — it was really dangerous. I hope the league takes a hard look at something like that because that could have really, really seriously hurt him.”

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