Around The Association
Recap | Box score
MVP: Stephen Curry. His 28 points and six assists led the Warriors out of their fourth-quarter rut, and the Clippers had absolutely no answer for his off-the-ball movement. Six of eight from downtown is ridiculous.
X factor: 3s and free throws. As has been the case all season between these two teams, those two factors determined the outcome. Golden State was the more efficient offense, if only slightly.
That was ... a shootout: Both teams made double-digit 3-pointers and were shooting well more than 50 percent for most of the game. The fast-paced tempo dared each team to one-up the other with a barrage of treys.
Recap | Box score
MVP: Joe Johnson. He was only 8-for-20, but JJ's triples (5-for-8 on the day) served as the microcosm for a Brooklyn team that was sizzling for much of the afternoon. Couple that with a few jumpers late in the fourth, and you get a signature season performance.
X factor: 3-point shooting. The Nets gave the Knicks a bit of their own medicine, connecting on 12 of 24 from deep and coming up with answers -- on the hot hands of Johnson and Keith Bogans -- to every big 'Bockers bucket down the stretch.
That was ... par for the course: A series split in which each team wins one on the other's home turf and every game teeters on the brink of brawls? Both boroughs will take it. Bring on a playoff series.
Recap | Box score
That was ... exciting: The Grizzlies' penultimate possession went for 47 seconds as a staunch Indiana defense prevented Memphis from scoring until its third shot. Then George Hill drew a foul on the other end and made a go-ahead free throw that left just 1.4 seconds for a game-winning try by the Grizzlies. Rudy Gay made the shot -- it just took too long.
MVP: Paul George. His shooting was ugly (5-for-13), but George filled the stat sheet, created open 3-pointers for his teammates, forced turnovers and blanketed Memphis players on defense for 42 minutes.
X factor: Wayne Ellington. He hit back-to-back 3-pointers seconds after entering the game for the first time, and scored four quick points late in the third that put Memphis up by six. The Grizzlies would have lost by more than one if not for his game-high 17 points off the bench.
Recap | Box score
X factor: Location issues. With word of the team's pending sale to a Seattle-based group making headlines, and facing a 10 a.m. tip-off on West Coast time, the Kings were sluggish throughout the first half. By the time they woke up midway through the third quarter, they faced a deficit too big to overcome.
MVP: Greivis Vasquez. Directing New Orleans' offense with near-flawless control, Vasquez finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists.
That was ... a glimpse of the Hornets' potential: At full strength and firing on all cylinders in the first half, New Orleans dominated Sacramento on both ends of the floor. Anthony Davis missed the second half after spraining his ankle, and suddenly the game was competitive.
Recap | Box score
MVP: Al Horford, who finished with 28 points and 10 boards. Horford took 20 shots -- far more than he's accustomed to -- but he connected on 12 of them.
X factor: Pargosanity, anyone? Jannero Pargo -- who was recently signed to back up Jeff Teague after Devin Harris and Lou Williams landed on the injury list -- made the most of his opportunity by scoring 16 points, with 14 coming in the fourth quarter.
That was ... injury free! Well, sort of. Neither of these two injury-riddled teams suffered another blow, but SkyHawk, the Hawks' mascot, hurt his ankle when he landed wrong attempting a timeout trampoline dunk.
Recap | Box score
MVP: Kemba Walker's team lost, but it's hard to argue him not being the best player on the court for a majority of this game. He scored a career-high 35 points on 12-for-21 shooting (6-for-7 from behind the arc) and got wherever he wanted, whenever he wanted, for 39 minutes.
X factor: Patrick Beverley gave Houston 24 huge minutes and finished the game in place of Jeremy Lin. Beverley had a slew of hustle plays that allowed the Rockets to mount their comeback, and scored 10 points on 50 percent shooting.
That was ... good?: James Harden scored 29 points and attempted 21 free throws (good) ... but was 5-for-20 from the floor, making him 20-for-80 in his past four games (not good).
Pacers-Grizzlies: Which Will Go Deeper?
When the Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies square off in Monday's annual matinee celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., both teams might feel like they're looking in the mirror. In a league trending toward smaller lineups, the Pacers and Grizzlies feature inside-out offenses built around a pair of quality big men. Those post players also anchor elite defenses. There's one key difference between the two teams, and it's one that could determine Memphis' direction before the trade deadline -- the Grizzlies are stuck in the loaded Western Conference, while Indiana has an easier playoff path in the East.
In November, it looked like the Grizzlies might render such concerns moot by joining the West's elite. Along with the Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis was the surprise of the early season, starting 12-2 behind a suddenly elite offense. After rating no better than average in offensive rating during their current run of contention, the Grizzlies used unexpectedly hot shooting to surge to fifth in the league in offensive rating in November.
Whereas the Clippers were able to maintain and even improve upon their own fast start, Memphis' proved to be a fluke. (Or maybe, more appropriately for a team that used to play in the Pyramid, a mirage.) The Grizzlies' offense collapsed in December, sinking to 28th in the NBA, but they were able to compensate by tying -- with Indiana, naturally -- for the second-best defense on a per-possession basis.
Memphis' offense has rebounded a bit in January, but the defense has lacked the same bite. That's why the Grizzlies were beaten soundly in three consecutive 20-point losses last week. The distraction of trade rumors was blamed, but it's difficult to discern why Memphis was able to shake off the rumors for a hard-fought overtime win over San Antonio right before the losing streak. More realistically, the Grizzlies have such a thin margin of error with their current offense that they are vulnerable to blowouts when one thing -- like Rudy Gay's absence due to personal reasons against the Clippers -- goes wrong against elite opposition.
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FAQ on Kings Sale
The majority owners of the Kings have been struggling financially. In 2009, the Maloofs sold the New Mexico beer distributorship that was the original source of the family's wealth under the late patriarch Joe Maloof Sr. In 2011, they lost majority control of the Las Vegas casino Palms, which struggled financially after the economy crashed.
Weighed down by debt, the Maloofs saw a Kings' move as a possible cash infusion. A deal to take the team to Anaheim in 2011 collapsed, and when an effort to build an arena for the team in Virginia Beach was unable to secure government backing earlier this month, the Maloofs apparently decided it was time to sell.
5 on 5: Next For Kings
1. For the league, the Kings/Seattle news is __________________.
J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: An upgrade. The league is moving to a larger television market, something to keep in mind when the national TV deal expires in 2016. They'll be able to get a larger local TV deal as well, which will drive up the pot split with the players. They'll be the only NBA team in Washington, rather than the No. 4 NBA team in California.
Kevin Arnovitz, ESPN.com: Ecstasy. Two months after the Memphis Grizzlies were sold for $377 million, the Kings fetch a valuation of $525 million. It's clearly a fine day to own an NBA franchise. On a secondary level, the league re-enters the 12th-largest television market in the United States and almost certainly makes an upgrade in the ownership ranks.
Mark Haubner, The Painted Area: Bad news overall. Restoring a great fan base does not compensate for losing another one. We now have two stories of heartbreak versus one of renewal overall. That's 33 percent good and, league-wide, that feels about right -- though some precincts in Northern California are reporting that estimate's about 33 percent too high.
Zach Harper, A Wolf Among Wolves: Confusing. It's hard to know how to feel about this. The city of Sacramento has been deceived by an ownership group that agreed to an arena deal and did everything asked of it to retain their team. The city of Seattle is getting a team back to a fantastic market and fan base that wasn't in position to fight for their arena/team. Mixed feelings here, and a city still gets the short end.
Jonathan Santiago, Cowbell Kingdom: Decision time. Most reports are suggesting that approving a Kings move north is just a formality. But is it? The NBA invested a year of its time and resources to broker an arena deal that it, the city of Sacramento and entertainment giant AEG all agreed to last year. Had the Maloofs not backed out, a new arena would've been in construction in downtown Sacramento. If Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson can make a compelling case for California's capital city, just as he did two years ago when a Kings move to Anaheim was all but a done deal, this saga has one more chapter to be written.