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The Golden State Warriors’ comeback is complete, plus our new 1-30 breakdown

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The NBA’s last remaining one-loss team suffered its second defeat Sunday when the Golden State Warriors fell to the Charlotte Hornets. Stephen Curry kicked off the week with a 50-point performance against the Atlanta Hawks — and dropped 40 against the Chicago Bulls on Friday — but was 7-of-22 from the field in Sunday’s loss.

Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns are close behind, riding an eight-game win streak to the West’s second spot. The Los Angeles Lakers, meanwhile, continue to try to tread water while LeBron James rehabs an abdomen injury that has sidelined him for the past six games.

In the East, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards are trying to stay ahead of a surging Brooklyn Nets team that has seemingly found its rhythm after an up-and-down start. The Miami Heat have cooled off, while the Milwaukee Bucks have lost seven of their past 10 games.

Can the Bucks stop their skid? Will the Warriors falter as they hit the road? Can the Lakers climb back to the top of the West? Our experts break down where all 30 teams stand after four weeks of play.

Note: Throughout the regular season, our panel (Tim Bontemps, Jamal Collier, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, Tim MacMahon, Dave McMenamin and Ohm Youngmisuk) is ranking all 30 teams from top to bottom, taking stock of which teams are playing the best basketball now and which teams are looking most like title contenders.

1. Golden State Warriors
2021-22 record: 11-2
Previous ranking: 2

Stephen Curry didn’t have the homecoming that he wanted in Sunday’s loss to the Hornets — shooting just 7-for-22 from the field — but at 11-2, the Warriors still feel great about the direction they’re headed thanks in large part to a deep roster that is playing well together early in the year. The Warriors’ first huge test of the year comes Tuesday night when they see former teammate Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets as they continue their first East Coast swing of the season.— Friedell

This week: @BKN, @CLE, @DET, TOR


2. Brooklyn Nets
2021-22 record: 10-4
Previous ranking: 4

It has been a rather chaotic few weeks for the Nets. And yet, despite Kyrie Irving‘s absence and James Harden‘s slow start, they sit tied for first in the East with the Wizards, and have put several games between them and their expected rivals for the top spot, the Milwaukee Bucks. With better days all but certainly ahead for Harden, things are looking quite rosy in Brooklyn ahead of a showdown with the West-leading Warriors on Tuesday at Barclays Center. — Bontemps

This week: GS, CLE, ORL


3. Phoenix Suns
2021-22 record: 9-3
Previous ranking: 7

JaVale McGee has had to step up with Deandre Ayton missing time this season, and he had his biggest game of the year on Sunday in a big win against the Rockets. In just 25 minutes, McGee had 19 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks. He became just the 10th NBA player to hit those marks in a game in as little as 25 minutes. In six starts this season, McGee is averaging 12 points and 7.5 rebounds. Phoenix is 6-0 in those games. — Lopez

This week: @MIN, DAL, DAL, DEN


4. Washington Wizards
2021-22 record: 9-3
Previous ranking: 11

The Wizards sit atop the East at 9-3, and with a slightly better winning percentage than the Nets (10-4). They’ve won four straight and have done it in different manners, blowing out Memphis while also pulling out a tight win over the improved Cavs. Washington also won while not having to depend on its star, Bradley Beal. Beal struggled, shooting 4-for-19, in the win over Cleveland before revealing that his grandmother had died. He did not play in Saturday’s win over Orlando and will miss Monday’s game against New Orleans. But the Wizards are deeper and have more scorers this season, and it’s showing. — Youngmisuk

This week: NO, @CHA, @MIA, MIA


5. Denver Nuggets
2021-22 record: 9-4
Previous ranking: 10

Last week started with the Nuggets wondering if their franchise star would be looking at a multiple-game suspension. But league MVP Nikola Jokic drew only a one-game suspension for body-checking Markieff Morris from behind after taking exception to a foul in Denver’s 113-96 win over Miami. The skirmish set off a lot of emotions, including a social media back-and-forth between Jokic’s brothers and Morris’ twin brother, the Clippers’ Marcus Morris. Despite not having their top three players in Jokic, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., the Nuggets beat the Pacers. And with Jokic back in the lineup, Denver handled Atlanta and Portland. The Nuggets have won five straight, the past four without Porter, whose return remains in the air due to a back injury. — Youngmisuk

This week: @DAL, PHI, CHI, @PHX


6. Miami Heat
2021-22 record: 8-5
Previous ranking: 3

After three straight losses, including some fireworks in Monday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets, the Heat picked up a nice win over the Jazz on Saturday as Tyler Herro poured in 27 points. Jimmy Butler is still dealing with a sprained ankle, but Miami finally gets a short, two-game break at home after Monday’s tilt against the Thunder. — Friedell

This week: @OKC, NO, WAS, @WAS


7. Chicago Bulls
2021-22 record: 9-4
Previous ranking: 9

Chicago is going to have to figure out how to adjust to playing without center Nikola Vucevic, who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, but the Bulls continued their hot start by winning three of four games last week. Their bench should receive a scoring boost this week with Coby White set to make his season debut on Monday against the Lakers. — Collier

This week: @LAL, @POR, @DEN, NY


8. Utah Jazz
2021-22 record: 8-5
Previous ranking: 5

After a 7-1 start, Utah has lost four of its past five games. The Jazz’s defense has been dreadful during the 1-4 funk, allowing 114.5 points per 100 possessions, which is more than any team in the league is giving up this season. Frustrations boiled over during the kerfuffle late in Thursday’s loss to the Pacers, which resulted in Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles being ejected and fined a total of $85,000. — MacMahon

This week: PHI, TOR, @SAC


9. Dallas Mavericks
2021-22 record: 8-4
Previous ranking: 6

Dallas is tied for the West’s third-best record despite ranking ninth in the conference in point differential. The Mavs have mopped up mediocre and poor competition but lost by double-digit margins to each of the three teams they’ve faced that currently have winning records, as well as the now-slumping Hawks. Dallas’ next seven games are against plus-.500 foes. — MacMahon

This week: DEN, @PHX, @PHX, @LAC


10. Philadelphia 76ers
2021-22 record: 8-6
Previous ranking: 1

Philadelphia followed up an impressive 4-0 week with an 0-4 showing — which happened, in large part, because Joel Embiid was sidelined for all four games after testing positive for COVID-19. While Tyrese Maxey continues to give 76ers fans things to be excited about, and the team fought gamely while down several players, losses are losses. A five-game West swing looms. — Bontemps

This week: @UTAH, @DEN, @POR


11. Los Angeles Lakers
2021-22 record: 8-6
Previous ranking: 15

Could L.A. be turning a corner? After Sunday’s 114-106 win over the San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers are 3-3 without LeBron James since he was sidelined by abdomen strain, and a source close to the 19-year veteran told ESPN that James’ return is “soon.” In the meantime, the rest of the Lakers are getting healthier, as Wayne Ellington (out the first eight games because of a hamstring injury) and Talen Horton-Tucker (out the first 13 games following thumb surgery) scored 15 and 17 points, respectively, against the Spurs. — McMenamin

This week: CHI, @MIL, @BOS, @DET


12. LA Clippers
2021-22 record: 8-5
Previous ranking: 20

The Clippers suffered their first loss of November on Sunday when the Bulls, who increasingly look like one of the top teams in the league, snapped their seven-game winning streak. The Clippers have looked a lot like the team that made the run to the Western Conference finals last season. They’ve defended and played with a lot of fun during the winning stretch, even with Kawhi Leonard and Marcus Morris out and Serge Ibaka playing sparingly in just two of the games as the big man works his way back from injury. After a tough seven-game stretch, Eric Bledsoe is beginning to look like the point guard the Clippers envisioned over the past four games. Paul George continues to play like a do-it-all MVP candidate, and Reggie Jackson is a catalyst when the Clippers are at their best. — Youngmisuk

This week: SA, @MEM, @NO, DAL


13. Cleveland Cavaliers
2021-22 record: 9-5
Previous ranking: 16

It’s beginning to look like the Cavs’ early-season success will be sustainable. Now winners of six out of seven — the only loss in that stretch came because of two 3s by the Wizards’ Kyle Kuzma in the final 30 seconds — Cleveland has not only proven it can win without Collin Sexton (meniscus tear), but it appears to be improving. Saturday’s 91-89 win over the Celtics came after trailing by 19 late in the third quarter and was led by Darius Garland‘s 22 points. “We’re here and we’re not a slouch anymore,” Garland said postgame. — McMenamin

This week: BOS, @BKN, GS


14. Milwaukee Bucks
2021-22 record: 6-8
Previous ranking: 8

The Bucks have kicked off their title defense slower than expected, but a pair of wins last week will keep hands off the panic button for now. Khris Middleton is expected to rejoin the team as soon as Wednesday night ahead of a five-game homestand against some favorable competition, which should provide a big boost to an offense that has struggled to score consistently. — Collier

This week: LAL, OKC, ORL


15. New York Knicks
2021-22 record: 7-6
Previous ranking: 12

New York’s starting five is being outscored by over 14 points per 100 possessions. New York’s all-bench unit is outscoring teams by nearly 20 points per 100 possessions. The Knicks — coached, remember, by Tom Thibodeau — rank 24th in defensive rating. It has been a strange beginning to the season for the Knicks, who have gone 2-5 since the calendar flipped to November. — Bontemps

This week: IND, ORL, HOU, @CHI


16. Charlotte Hornets
2021-22 record: 8-7
Previous ranking: 17

Charlotte picked up its third straight win on Sunday over the surging Warriors thanks in large part to the play of Miles Bridges, LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier — who combined for 63 points. Wednesday’s game against the Wizards should provide another test for a young team that has bounced back well after dropping five straight games last week. — Friedell

This week: WAS, IND, @ATL


17. Toronto Raptors
2021-22 record: 7-7
Previous ranking: 14

It appears Toronto is going to be a difficult team to face, and a hard one to get a read on. Thursday, the Raptors had a nice come-from-behind win in Philadelphia, only to come home and drop a game to the Pistons on Saturday night. Toronto is yet another team that should be in the play-in mix all season long in the East. — Bontemps

This week: @POR, @UTAH, @SAC, @GS


18. Memphis Grizzlies
2021-22 record: 6-7
Previous ranking: 13

Memphis is mired in a miserable stretch, having lost four of its past five games with a minus-67 point differential during that span. After the Pelicans snapped their nine-game losing streak at the Grizzlies’ expense on Saturday, Ja Morant tweeted that he has “gotta do more,” but he’s the only player in the league averaging at least 26 points and 7 assists per game. — MacMahon

This week: HOU, LAC, @MIN


19. Boston Celtics
2021-22 record: 6-7
Previous ranking: 22

Boston has, so far, lost two double-overtime games, lost another game on a Luka Doncic buzzer-beating heave and blew big fourth-quarter leads to Cleveland and Chicago. Oh, and Jayson Tatum is shooting 38.8% from the field. All of that is to say: It has been an awkward, rough start. But the Celtics are still hovering around .500 and have a top-10 defense. Better days are ahead. — Bontemps

This week: @CLE, @ATL, LAL, OKC


20. Portland Trail Blazers
2021-22 record: 6-8
Previous ranking: 18

As if the Blazers didn’t already have enough to deal with, Damian Lillard is nursing a lower abdominal injury that kept him out on Sunday. Without their star, the Blazers lost 124-95 in Denver. Portland has dropped three of its past four games by eight or more points. Off the court, the Blazers are dealing with the investigation into general manager Neil Olshey. Rookie head coach Chauncey Billups has his work cut out for him. — Youngmisuk

This week: TOR, CHI, PHI


21. Atlanta Hawks
2021-22 record: 5-9
Previous ranking: 19

Trae Young had 42 points and 10 assists as the Hawks snapped a six-game losing streak with a win over the Bucks on Sunday. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, it was Young’s eighth 40-point, 10-assist game in his career, breaking a tie with Luka Doncic for the most such games for a player in their first four seasons since the merger (1976-77). It was also Young’s 17th 40-point game, tying him with Kevin Durant and LeBron James for third most by a player in his first four seasons, behind only Michael Jordan (62) and Shaquille O’Neal (21). — Lopez

This week: ORL, BOS, CHA


22. Indiana Pacers
2021-22 record: 6-8
Previous ranking: 23

Indiana has bounced back from a 1-6 start with wins in five of its past seven games, including victories over the Jazz, Knicks and Sixers. Indiana’s offense is among the top 10 in the league even with Caris LeVert in and out of the lineup due to a back injury and T.J. Warren yet to make his season debut. — Collier

This week: @NY, @DET, @CHA, NO


23. Oklahoma City Thunder
2021-22 record: 5-7
Previous ranking: 26

Lu Dort, who has earned a reputation as one of the league’s best perimeter defenders, has shown significant improvement as a driver and finisher this season. He’s shooting 61.5% inside 5 feet this season, according to NBA.com stats, an upgrade from 49.8% in the previous two seasons. Dort averaged 19.8 points during the Thunder’s four-game winning streak, which was snapped Sunday by the Nets. — MacMahon

This week: MIA, HOU, @MIL, @BOS


24. Sacramento Kings
2021-22 record: 5-8
Previous ranking: 21

The only good thing about the Marvin Bagley III drama ramping up again this week — with coach Luke Walton having to answer questions about whether Bagley refused to check in when called upon against the Suns — is it has taken some of the spotlight away from the shoddy play by Sacramento as of late. The Kings have dropped four straight, including a 136-117 shellacking from a Spurs team that was just 2-7 going into that game. — McMenamin

This week: @DET, @MIN, TOR, UTAH


25. Minnesota Timberwolves
2021-22 record: 4-8
Previous ranking: 24

Minnesota has lost seven of its past eight games and is struggling to generate consistent offense despite having three dynamic scoring talents in Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell. Minnesota ranks as a bottom-five team in offensive efficiency. — Collier

This week: PHX, SAC, SA, MEM


26. San Antonio Spurs
2021-22 record: 4-9
Previous ranking: 25

In Wednesday’s win over the Kings, the Spurs had four bench players score at least 15 points. That was the second time that has happened under coach Gregg Popovich, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The bench has been big this year for the Spurs. San Antonio leads the NBA in bench scoring at 41.7 points per game, fueled by second-year forward Devin Vassell, who has scored in double figures in eight of the Spurs’ 13 games. — Lopez

This week: @LAC, @MIN


27. Orlando Magic
2021-22 record: 3-10
Previous ranking: 27

The young Orlando group suffered two losses this week but got a nice performance from Mo Bamba, who had 14 points and 17 rebounds in Saturday’s loss to the Wizards. Orlando has a rough five-game road swing upcoming, including a trip to Brooklyn and two straight in Milwaukee. — Friedell

This week: @ATL, @NY, @BKN, @MIL


28. Detroit Pistons
2021-22 record: 3-9
Previous ranking: 29

After a victory over No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green and the Houston Rockets earlier in the week, Pistons rookie Cade Cunningham followed that up with his first moment excelling in the clutch during Saturday’s win against the Toronto Raptors. Cunningham scored twice in the final 2:30 of the game over stellar defensive wing OG Anunoby to help Detroit secure a victory in what Pistons fans hope is a sign of things to come. — Collier

This week: SAC, IND, GS, LAL


29. Houston Rockets
2021-22 record: 1-12
Previous ranking: 28

Houston, which has lost its past 11 games, is paying the price for relying so heavily on such an inexperienced backcourt. The Rockets rank last in offensive efficiency (98.9 points per 100 possessions). Their starting guards — Kevin Porter Jr. (37.9%, 4.3) and Jalen Green (35.8%, 3.1) — are two of the four players in the league shooting less than 40% from the floor and averaging more than three turnovers per game. — MacMahon

This week: @MEM, @OKC, @NY


30. New Orleans Pelicans
2021-22 record: 1-9
Previous ranking: 30

A bright spot for New Orleans through 14 games: Jonas Valanciunas is shooting 15-of-26 from 3-point range. That’s a whopping 57.7%, which is good enough for the league lead at this early part in the season for players who make at least one 3 per game. Valanciunas has never hit at least one 3 per game for an entire season, and he’s shooting close to two per game. — Lopez

This week: @WAS, @MIA, LAC, @IND



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Amid cancer fight, NBA referee Tony Brown returning to work

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Tony Brown usually isn’t that excited about being assigned a shift as one of the referees working in the NBA’s replay center.

That is, until now.

The longtime NBA ref — diagnosed earlier this year with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer — is going back to work Monday for the first time in eight months. He’s been cleared to work in the replay center for two nights, after his family, his doctors and the league agreed that his treatment has gone well enough to allow for him to start a comeback.

“I haven’t had time to sit around and be like ‘Why me?’ or ‘What am I going to do?'” Brown said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Me not fighting would have made me feel like I was letting people down. What kind of example was I going to be to my kids if I just laid in this bed and let it overtake me? I had to show my kids that there’s nothing in life that you can’t challenge and overcome if you have a positive mindset.”

Brown’s fight is a long way from over. The American Cancer Society estimates 3% of patients with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer are alive five years after being diagnosed.

He’s undergone 14 rounds of chemotherapy — each involving seven hours of getting infused with three different drugs at a hospital, followed by two more days of treatment at home through a port in his chest. Brown still has two more rounds of chemo left, but doctors are encouraged by scans that show his tumors have been steadily shrinking.

“I’ve gotten better results than what’s been expected,” Brown said.

His friends in the NBA referee community have checked in constantly. Rodney Mott, one of his closest allies, helped introduce Brown to certain shakes and supplements that Brown believes has helped him throughout the process. Even some current players have sent well-wishes.

“This is something you cannot face alone,” Brown said.

It all started with what was initially believed to just be food poisoning from a bad batch of sushi that he had during a work trip to Miami. That led to tests, which led to more tests, which finally led to the cancer diagnosis. Within a week, he was undergoing aggressive treatment and has been seeing highly regarded doctors from Emory University in Atlanta and the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston since.

Turns out, the food poisoning was a very lucky break.

“I hope it just sends a clear message: just go and get some type of early detection,” Brown said. “It’s worth it, because you just never know. And time is of the essence.”

Brown has officiated 1,109 regular-season games, two NBA All-Star games and made his NBA Finals debut in 2020. He was going to return to the replay center earlier this month, but the schedule couldn’t be worked out around his chemo regimen at that time.

Monty McCutchen, who oversees the NBA referees, told Brown that when he was ready, the league would be ready for him. Brown’s doctors then signed off, and that left Brown with just one more necessary clearance.

“I started talking to my family about it, and before I could even get the words out, they were like ‘Absolutely, you should do it,'” Brown said. “I thought about it for about a week, then I contacted Monty and said I was ready to contribute and do my part.”

Brown’s goal is to get back on the court this season, possibly not long after the All-Star break. He’s been immersed in the game during his absence, saying watching and studying has been a big part of his therapy.

He’s also been able to keep in shape, another obvious help.

“I haven’t just been fighting for just me,” Brown said. “I’ve felt like I’m fighting for everybody that has love and respect for me. And that’s just makes you fight even harder.”

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Isaiah Thomas’ late 3 helps USA Basketball open World Cup qualifying with win over Cuba

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CHIHUAHUA, Mexico — Isaiah Thomas made sure USA Basketball’s road to the 2023 World Cup didn’t begin with a major upset.

Thomas scored 21 points, including a sealing 3-pointer with 13.3 seconds left, and the Americans erased a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Cuba 95-90 on Sunday in their World Cup qualifying opener.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to put USA on your chest,” the 32-year-old Thomas said. “So, anytime USA Basketball comes calling, I’m always going to be for it. We have a great group of guys, a great coaching staff, and it was fun to be out there. It was a great game. It was a tough game for us.”

The lead was just two after a Cuba basket by Jasiel Rivero with 34 seconds remaining. The U.S. didn’t call a timeout, and Thomas kept the ball in his hands for the entirety of what became the biggest possession of the game for the Americans.

The two-time NBA All-Star — who averaged 29 points for the Boston Celtics in 2016-17 and spent a considerable amount of time battling injuries since — waited for a screen, used it and connected from near the top of the key for a 93-88 lead.

“We have prepared for those moments,” U.S. coach Jim Boylen said. “We were organized. And he made a huge play.”

Thomas — an NBA free agent with hopes of getting back into the league — last appeared on the national team in February, starting two games during qualifying for the AmeriCup. He led the team with 14 points per game in those contests, with the U.S. defeating the Bahamas and Mexico.

He was in the NBA briefly last season, averaging 7.7 points in three games with New Orleans.

“For me, personally, the ultimate goal is to get back in the NBA,” Thomas said. “But I just love playing the game of basketball. So, obviously, at some point, if the NBA isn’t an option, I’ve got to look at options overseas. But I’m in love with the game. No matter where I’m playing, I have no pride whatsoever. I love competing and I love playing against the best players in the world.”

Brian Bowen II and B.J. Johnson each scored 16 points for the U.S., while Justin Anderson added 10 for the Americans.

Rivero, who plays professionally in the top Spanish league, led all scorers with 34 points for Cuba. Karel Guzman scored 18 and Yoanki Mensia finished with 12 for Cuba.

“We give all the respect to Cuba,” Thomas said. “They were a hell of a team. They made everything tough for us. They were talented.”

Marcos Chacon’s 3-pointer with 8:45 left gave Cuba an 80-73 lead. The Americans answered with a quick 9-0 run — Bowen and Thomas made 3-pointers to get the U.S. within one, then Thomas added a three-point play to cap the flurry and put his team back on top 82-80.

It was tied twice more from there. Johnson’s 3-pointer pushed the U.S. edge to 88-84 with 2:46 left, and Thomas sealed it in the final moments.

“We stuck to the game plan and we got a win,” Thomas said.

USA Basketball is using a roster composed primarily of G League players for qualifying, then added Thomas a few days before training camp began earlier this month in Houston. The U.S. is ranked No. 1 in the world by FIBA and is coming off the Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo Games, but it still needs to qualify all over again for the World Cup — which is one of the paths teams can use toward qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The U.S. concludes its trip to Mexico by playing the host nation in another qualifying game on Monday night. The two games in Mexico are the first of six first-round games for the U.S. in World Cup qualifying. The Americans are also scheduled to play Puerto Rico on Feb. 24, Mexico on Feb. 27, Puerto Rico on July 1 and Cuba again on July 4 in the opening qualifying round.

There are four teams in each of four qualifying groups out of the FIBA Americas region. The top three teams in each group move on to the second round of qualifying, which starts in August and runs through February 2023.

The World Cup is scheduled Aug. 25 to Sept. 10, 2023, with the final in the Philippines and other games taking place in Japan and Indonesia.

UP NEXT

USA: Faces Mexico on Monday.

Cuba: Faces Puerto Rico on Monday.

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Stephen Curry ‘let my emotions go,’ then sparked Golden State Warriors to eighth straight win

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Stephen Curry was angry at the officials during Sunday’s 105-90 victory over the LA Clippers, then made the other team pay for it.

The Golden State Warriors star scored 13 of his team-high 33 points in the fourth quarter and caught fire with just over nine minutes left, after a drive toward the basket in which he thought he got fouled by Clippers small forward Terance Mann. Curry did not get the benefit of the whistle and let his frustrations fly, earning a technical foul, while displaying more outward anger than at any other point this season.

“I thought I got fouled, so I let my emotions go,” Curry admitted after the team’s eighth straight win. “And definitely fired me up, fired our team up — you have to be able to direct that energy into just putting the ball in the basket, obviously, after that. So that’s where I feel like we do it well, where you don’t let it become a distraction for the rest of the game, and it obviously helped open up the game.”

Curry, who is now averaging 28.4 points a game this season, broke his own record of becoming the quickest player in history to make 100 3-pointers on the year — this time in 19 games. His play is a major reason the Warriors have started off the season with a league-best 18-2 record — as his emotional outburst at the lack of a call was noticeable to his teammates and coaches.

“It was as upset as I’ve seen Steph in a long time,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “And it was as upset as I’ve been in a long time, too. It’s kind of a miracle that I didn’t get a technical, but it seemed to get him going.

“Whatever it takes, I guess … he clearly got fouled. Steph is a guy who, he’s just so competitive, and when he knows he got fouled — especially in a play like that in transition where it’s right out in the open, easy to see, and he doesn’t get the call, every once in a while he’s going to snap. He doesn’t do it often, but when he knows he’s right, the competitor in him comes out and he’ll kind of lose his mind a little bit, but it often spurs him, like it did in this instance.”

Kerr’s point was exemplified with 5 minutes, 21 seconds left in regulation as Curry hit a contested 3-pointer in the corner and celebrated by firing off what appeared to be his own technical signal, in response to getting a technical foul a few moments earlier. When asked after the game if that was a technical sign or a sign to Clippers coach Ty Lue to call a time out, Curry said:

“You can decide. It’s open for interpretation.”

Curry’s teammates knew as soon as they saw the usually calm and collected 33-year-old get fired up, the Clippers were going to have a problem.

“You saw the flurry coming,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “I was telling Jordan Poole over there, ‘He’s about to put this one up.’ He started putting them up. It was good to watch.”

Curry’s big close pushed the Warriors to their seventh straight win and sets up an early-season showdown on Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns — who have won 16 games in a row and sit one game behind the Warriors in the Western Conference standings.

“Obviously, they’re following [Devin Booker and Chris Paul],” Green said. “So you got to try and cut the head of the snake off whenever you’re trying to stop anyone’s attack, but overall I think it will be a good game. Highly anticipated. Two teams that’s playing well — obviously, they’ve won 16 in a row, you want to be the team to go stop that and you got a great opportunity to do it.”

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