During turbulent time in NBA, Warriors enjoy smooth sailing
By BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer
Coaches get fired. Players get fired up.
A lot happens over the course of the NBA season. In this wacky week, it came in one day.
The Cavaliers lost more games and apparently some patience with Kevin Love, and Jason Kidd lost his job in Milwaukee. Not even the stoic Spurs were immune on the manic Monday, with ESPN reporting there were differences between Kawhi Leonard and the team due to frustration in his recovery from a quadriceps injury.
In a time of turbulence around the NBA, the only smooth sailing, it seems, remains by the Bay Area.
The Golden State Warriors seem to be drama free, in part because of lessons Steve Kerr learned while playing for Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson. They understood that losing games didn’t mean having to lose control, and their championship teams weathered whatever storms popped up quickly and quietly.
“Wonderful balance of this is our job and we should be passionate about it, we should work our tails off every day and we should be competitive and want to win and get after it, but if we don’t, it’s OK,” Kerr said of those coaches. “It’s not the end of the world. You’ve got other things going on in your lives.”
Teams are beyond the midway point of their seasons, when they want to be building championship habits. But the only thing the Cavs are creating is more chaos.
They followed their blowout loss to Oklahoma City on Saturday with a team meeting Monday in which fingers were reportedly pointed at Love, who missed practice Sunday because of an illness.
“I’m numb to it at this point,” he said Tuesday in San Antonio, hours before another loss. “We’ve been to three straight Finals. We’ve been able to thrive under a certain amount of chaos at some points.”
The Warriors just avoid it.
LeBron James reached a major milestone Tuesday and now two of his close friends are approaching others.
Carmelo Anthony needs 30 points to become the 21st player in NBA history to reach 25,000. He has three games remaining this week, starting when Oklahoma City hosts Washington on Thursday.
With 10 more points, Dwyane Wade will move ahead of Hall of Famer Larry Bird (21,791 points) for 32nd place on the career scoring list. His Cleveland Cavaliers have games remaining this week against Indiana on Friday and Detroit on Sunday.
James became the youngest player with 30,000 points and just the seventh ever during Tuesday’s loss in San Antonio, when Wade had 12 points off the bench.
“It was an HONOR to not only be in the building for this moment_but to be on the court as your teammate,” Wade wrote in an Instagram post featuring a picture of himself congratulating James . “In the midst of this darkness that we’re experiencing as a team_THANK YOU for this light!!!”
James, Anthony and Wade were all taken among the top five picks in the 2003 NBA draft.
COMING THIS WEEK
Minnesota at Portland, Wednesday. There could be a celebratory feel in the Moda Center after Damian Lillard was selected for the All-Star Game on Tuesday.
Washington at Oklahoma City, Thursday. Scott Brooks brings his current team back to face his old one in a matchup of the fifth-place team in each conference.
Minnesota at Golden State, Thursday. Half the Western Conference All-Stars in one game, with four Warriors and Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns from the Timberwolves.
Boston at Golden State, Saturday. The current No. 1 seeds meet in a nationally televised showdown.
Philadelphia at Oklahoma City, Sunday. Rematch of perhaps the game of the season in the NBA, the Thunder’s 119-117, triple-overtime victory on Dec. 15.
STAT LINE OF THE WEEK: DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans. With 44 points, 24 rebounds and 10 assists Monday in a double-overtime victory over Chicago, the All-Star center became the first NBA player since Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1972 to have as many as 40 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in a game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
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AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in Oakland, California contributed to this report.