Curry returns, scores 19 in fourth quarter, but loss shows work Warriors have to do Police in Colorado investigating Morant, potential gun law violation Heat’s Haslem confirms this is his final season: ‘I’m done no matter what happens’ Celtics center Robert Williams out 7-10 days with hamstring strain UPDATE: NBA rescinds rebound, manufactured Giannis Antetokounmpo triple-double

ANGELS – Stephen Curry returned, and on Sunday in Los Angeles, he dealt with Stephen Curry.

The confidence he exudes, his seriousness and the way it distorts the defense, and the 19 points he scored in the fourth quarter on Sunday are all the Warriors will need if they’re going to defend their title.

“It’s great to have him back,” Steve Kerr said, stating the obvious. “He is who he is. He instills fear in our opponents and opens up many opportunities for his teammates.”

It wasn’t enough on Sunday as the Warriors’ road problems continued – they are now 7-24 in a season away from the Chase Center.

The LeBron-less Lakers team lashed out at the sleazy Warriors and scored 15 points in Game 1 for 39 points. Anthony Davis, and held off Golden State’s comebacks to win 113-105. It was a quality win for the Lakers as they battle to make the playoffs (or at least stay in the playoffs) while LeBron James sits on a bench with his foot in his boot.

The Warriors are doomed to the playoffs—they’re in fifth place even after losing—and to the men, they talk about the urge to flip the switch and get back into championship form.

That switch wasn’t flipped on Sunday, and the loss showed the Warriors have a lot of work to do to consistently achieve this level of performance.

There were stretches on Sunday that the Warriors could hang their hat on, but the addition of Curry and Andre Iguodala in the line is not plug-and-play. It showed. For every good stretch on the Warriors’ ball, there was a stretch of sloppy play that gave the Lakers opportunities, and Los Angeles played well and took advantage.

“It’s a tough transition for everyone as Andre and I return,” Curry said. “Guys [are] just trying to find your rhythm or keep your rhythm, keep your confidence. And all this is our task as a team.”

Although Golden State wants to focus on themselves and not the standings, they still keep an eye on the standings and its implications.

“It’s weird to talk about it like we’re trying to win championships, but we’re also trying to stay out of the game,” Curry said. “Both could be true, just based on what our challenge was this year.”

This problem was the change of compositions and rotations throughout the season. The warriors have lost Otto Porter And Gary Payton II summer (Payton returned in exchange, but was injured), James Wiseman did not find a suitable one and was sold, Moses Moody gone, and on top of that Curry, Clay Thompson, Draymond Green and others have struggled with injury.

All of this instability took a toll on the Golden State defense, which was 21st in the NBA before the All-Star break.

Then, during their five-game winning streak heading into Sunday, the Warriors posted the best defense in the NBA with a 100.6 defensive rating — effectively dropping just one point for possession.

Trouble on the road continued against the Lakers, with a Defensive Rating per game jumping to 115.3 (through glass cleaning), which will be in the bottom ten in the league this season. Kerr, however, was not thrilled with this end of the court.

“I thought we protected them well. Threw 44%, made 11 triplets, yeah, that’s usually enough [for us] win,” Kerr said. “Therefore, I was not at all disappointed in our defense, except for a few errors in lighting. So it was our offense that we needed to play a little better.”

Defensive and road wins have been a core part of the identity of the Warriors’ four title teams, but the team has failed on those fronts this year. These are areas they need to improve in March because they will need them to advance in the wide open playoffs in the West. The spotted execution on Sunday raises the question of whether they can get there.

But they brought Stephen Curry back and it’s a step in the right direction.

Police in Glendale, Colorado — part of the Denver metropolitan area — are investigating if I am Morant broke any laws by apparently having a gun in a club within their city limits, reported by Ramona Shelburne and Liz Merrill of ESPN.

Colorado is an open-carry state, but there are a few restrictions. One of them is that people cannot own firearms while intoxicated. Morant doesn’t drink in a video of him brandishing a gun at a club that went viral after he posted it on Instagram Live (the video alerted police to the situation, no complaints reported, according to the report).

The NBA is also investigating the situation. The league does not permit a player to possess a firearm on any team property or while traveling on team business. Morant and the Grizzlies were on the trip and in Denver when the incident happened early Saturday morning (or late Friday night).

The NBA could be suspended — which means losing Morant’s game pay — in addition to being “away” from the Grizzlies for an indefinite period of time (which won’t affect his salary).

“There’s no exact timeline yet,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said of Morant’s return. “I mean, we said it would be at least two games, you know, we take them one day at a time. I mean it will be an ongoing healing process. So I can’t comment on the exact schedule because it’s really not a schedule.”

Jenkins did not elaborate on what steps would need to be taken to get Morant back on the team.

Morant released a statement over the weekend:

“I take full responsibility for my actions last night. I apologize to my family, teammates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis, and the entire organization for letting you down. I’m going to take some time off to get help and work on learning more effective ways to deal with stress and my general well-being.”

The Grizzlies see the situation more as helping Morant heal than as a desire to punish their 23-year-old All-Star and face of the franchise.

“Jah takes responsibility for actually getting the help he needs to get better…” Jenkins said, later adding:

“We love him. You know we want the best for him. We support him. It’s going to be a difficult process. But you know, we’ve got a great group to go through with it.”

Udonis Haslem retains a unique place in the NBA, a mascot of the Heat and their culture who barely makes it to the court — he’s played 46 minutes this season — but whose influence in the locker room and organization can’t be overestimated.

Before this, his 20th season, Haslem said it would be his last. Haslem is not one of those guys who is shy of words, but if anyone doubted that he was moving away, he clarified in the comments on Anthony Chan from Miami Herald.

“I’m done,” Haslem said. “I’m done, no matter what happens. I have contributed. I think these guys should have a different voice at this stage. It’s time for someone to come forward and be a voice.”

Haslem will still have some voice in the organization, but it will be different. It will also be celebrated in several ways in the coming weeks and years: Later this month, section 305 of the (currently named) Miami Dade Arena will be called Haslem…


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