Players

Dwyane Wade apparently staying put in Miami

Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat slows down the offence during a game against the Cleverland Cavariers at American Airlines Arena on March 16, 2015 in Miami, Florida 

Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat slows down the offence during a game against the Cleverland Cavariers at American Airlines Arena on March 16, 2015 in Miami, Florida

Star guard Dwyane Wade reassured the Miami Heat faithful on Thursday that he’s sticking with the only NBA team he’s ever represented.

“Let’s Get it! Heat Nation,” the 33-year-old Tweeted, posting a short video captioned “My city My Home My House.”

Wade has played his entire NBA career in Miami, winning three league titles.

But after he opted out of the second year of his two-year contract to become a free agent Heat fans feared he’d be tempted to try a new challenge, and team up with his great friend and former Heat colleague LeBron James in Cleveland.

Speculation that such a move was in the offing were fuelled on Wednesday by social media reports that the two players had been seen vacationing together in the Bahamas.

However, multiple US media outlets reported Thursday that Wade had agreed to a one-year deal worth $20 million to stay in Miami.

No free agent contracts can be signed until July 9, but a welter of deals was reportedly in the works on the second day of the free agency negotiating period on Thursday.

The Portland Trail Blazers have reportedly agreed on a five-year extension worth more than $120 million with star point guard Damian Lillard.

Lillard, the 2012-13 NBA Rookie of the Year, has continued to mature, earning All-Star nods in each of the past two seasons.

His extension comes as the Trail Blazers prepare for the likely departure of free agent LaMarcus Aldridge. Power forward Aldridge is among the most coveted free agents on the market this year, and is reportedly being courted by the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers and Heat.

July 4, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players Tags:,
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Congolese Mudiay on his way to Denver Nuggets

Congolese Mudiay on his way to Denver Nuggets

Emmanuel Mudiay (right)

Congolese Emmanuel Mudiay has been selected seventh overall by the Denver Nuggets in the 2015 NBA draft on Friday morning at Barclays Arena in Brooklyn, New York.

The 19-year-old point guard, who last played for the Guangdong Southern Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association, has become the second highest drafted player from the Democratic Republic of the Congo since centreBismackBiyombo was picked seventh by the Charlotte Hornets.

Reacting to his selection, Mudiay felt special. “7 is a great number,” he said. “That’s my favourite number, so I’m excited that I’m going to be a part of the organisation.”

Last year, Mudiay committed to play with legendary coach Larry Brown at Southern Methodist University. Instead he opted to play professionally in China, alleging hardship and sacrifice within his family. He has reportedly made over $1 million in China.

Mudiay is a big point guard, 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, with great athleticism, and is often compared to Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook.

He averaged 18.0 PPG in 12 games for Guangdong Southern Tigers in China.

Talking about his draft process, which generated uncertainty about his potential, Mudiay insisted that he kept his faith strong.

“They couldn’t see me play as much. They wished they could have watched me, but I feel they have seen enough though.”

“I just want to win as many championships as I can win. The league is about winning. When you win, everything else takes care of itself. What I can bring is just my competitive spirit and try to bring it both sides of the floor, defence and offence.”

Centre JahlilOkafor, who is of Nigerian heritage has been selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with No 3 pick.

Okafor is now set to team up with Cameroonian Joel Embiid.

He said he wasn’t shocked to be selected by Philadelphia, a team that drafted a centre – Noel Nerlens and Embiid – in the last three years.

“I knew I was going to be going to the NBA tonight. I was going to be a top five pick, no matter what happened.

“Joel Embiid texted me last night [before the draft] and said See you in Philly. He kind of jinxed me.

“It’s a great feeling. I know some of those guys already, so I’m excited.”

Cameroonian-American JP Tokoto was selected 58th by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Meanwhile, Minnesota selected Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns with the first pick, the Los Angeles Lakers selected the second overall D’Angelo Russell of Ohio State, Okafor heads to Philadelphia and the New York Knicks chose Latvian forward KristapsPorzingis.

And, 19-year-old Singh Bhamara became first Indian-born player to be drafted. The 7-feet-1 centre was selected in the second round by the Dallas Mavericks.

June 30, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players Tags:
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Former NBA All-Star Kirilenko retires

Russian basketball player and former NBA All-Star Andrei Kirilenko announced on Tuesday that he was retiring from the sport. 

Russian basketball player and former NBA All-Star Andrei Kirilenko announced on Tuesday that he was retiring from the sport. 

“I am finishing up my career on court,” said the 34-year-old CSKA Moscow forward in an interview with the Russian daily Sport-Express.

He did not rule out, however, returning to the sport in the future.

“I have not said that this is my final decision. However, at the moment – yes, I have retired. I have had enough. I have had a successful career as a basketball player and the time has come to do something different,” he said.

Kirilenko started his career with Spartak St Petersburg, before moving to Russian giants CSKA Moscow. He then moved to the United States to join the Utah Jazz and was selected for the NBA All-Star game in 2004.

In recent years, Kirilenko has appeared for the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA, before returning to Russia in February to link up once again with CSKA until the end of the 2014/15 season.

Kirilenko helped the Russian national team win the 2007 European Championships and a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

The Russian said he could be tempted by a leading role in the country’s basketball federation.

“Is it really possible that I could take over as the head of the Russian Basketball Federation? I can’t say for certain,” he said.

“There is a difficult situation in Russian basketball at the moment as there is a lot of negativity surrounding it. I would like to try and change something.”

June 25, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players Tags:,
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Ezeli, latest African-born to win a NBA title

Festus Ezeli

Festus Ezeli

Nigerian Festus Ezeli has endured the entire 2013-14 season on the sidelines due to a knee injury that seemed to ruin his NBA career, but what happened next was a reward for his resilience to adversity.

Some critics often compared Ezeli’s health to former Portland Trail Blazers’ number 1 pick Greg Oden, who missed his first season due to a knee injury, and continues to battle health issues.

Although Ezeli has played only 46 regular-season games in 2014-15 – he spent some time with the D-League team Santa Cruz Warriors – he returned to action as a backup centre for Andrew Bogut, stepping up when in mattered most to earn his first NBA ring as the Golden State Warriors claimed their second championship title since 1975.

In Game 6 of the best-of-season Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Ezeli came off the bench powered in 10 points, had four rebounds and came up with a tremendous putback dunk in almost 11 minutes to help the Golden State Warriors extend their lead to 13 points in the third quarter and closed out the series with a 105-97 win.

What happened next was celebration for the first Nigerian-born to win a NBA title since Hakeem Olajuwon sparked the Houston Rockets to a back-to-back championship in 1995.

While Olajuwon was a prolific scorer and defender, Ezeli is primarily a backup defense force.

Gearing up to the Finals, the 25-year-old revealed how the Warriors became such a terrific team. At the time he said: “We have worked too hard this year. Whatever you have you have got to bring it on the floor.”

An excellent ending of the season for Ezeli, a Vanderbilt University graduate, who parents wanted him to become a doctor. Instead Ezeli embraced basketball and was selected 30th overall by the Golden State Warriors in 2012 along with Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes who became pivotal for the Warriors success.

In his second playoffs appearance the 2.11m centre averaged 3.5 points and 3.1 rebounds per games.

As well as being the latest Nigerian-born to win the Larry O’Brien trophy, Ezeli is also the last African-born to win a NBA trophy since Congolese, Kinshasa-native, Didier Ilunga-Mbenga who helped the Los Angeles Lakers win back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010.

Supersport

June 23, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players 0 Comment

NBA: James ‘as good as we’ve ever seen’ – Magic

LeBron James

LeBron James

The performance by LeBron James in the thrilling NBA Finals ranks near the top all-time, says Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, adding he felt “sick” that the series was over.

“For a basketball junkie like I am, I just loved it,” Johnson told ESPN Radio on Wednesday about the series claimed 4-2 by the Golden State Warriors over James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“I was actually sick that the series is over,” added Johnson, who won five NBA title rings with the Los Angeles Lakers. “It was just truly greatness, and right in front of our eyes.

“It was a true delight and pleasure for me to watch Stephen Curry and LeBron James play in this series. Steph Curry is probably the greatest shooter we have ever seen. LeBron was the best player in the series. He dominated the series.”

Johnson said James raised his game to a new level, as he became the first to lead all players in an NBA Finals in points, assists and rebounds.

“This is as good as we’ve ever seen. It won’t be the top because he did lose. So we’re going to have to still go with (Michael) Jordan as one, but now he can probably take No 2 spot. It will be 1-A Jordan and 1-B LeBron,” Johnson said.

Despite Johnson’s comments, James did not win the Most Valuable Player award for the series. Instead, it went to Golden State’s Andre Iguodala, who received seven of 11 votes from the voting panel.

Playing without injured teammates Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, James nearly lifted undermanned Cleveland to the city’s first major professional team title in 50 years.

“Cleveland, get ready. You’re going to win probably two championships at least with this guy.

“It won’t be too long that you’ll be celebrating and you’ll have confetti coming down on their heads and the city will just be going crazy,” he said.

Some oddsmakers agree.

Cleveland was made an early 3-1 favourite to win next year’s NBA title by Bovada, rating them ahead of Golden State 5-1, Oklahoma City 7-1 and Chicago, LA Clippers and San Antonio, all at 10-1.

June 19, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players Tags:,
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LeBron ready to carry gritty Cavaliers to title

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James is ready to carry the injury-hit Cleveland Cavaliers to a title, having shown his gritty teammates and the Golden State Warriors that the NBA Finals are far from over.

His masterpiece game for the ages of 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists powered the Cavaliers to a 95-93 over-time road victory Sunday, levelling the best-of seven series at 1-1 entering game three Tuesday in Cleveland.

“It’s what needs to be done to help our team win,” James said. “But if that’s what the case has to be to help us win, then I don’t have a choice.”

Asked if he could handle the load, James said, “Well, of course. I’m built for it. It’s a maximum of five games left in the NBA season. So I’m ready for whatever.”

The Cavaliers lost forward Kevin Love with a separated shoulder in the first round of the playoffs and star guard Kyrie Irving in game one of the finals with a fractured left kneecap, leaving unheralded role players to compete with defensive hustle, rebounding and near-superhuman efforts from James.

And they are opposing this season’s winningest and best scoring NBA team, a deep Warriors lineup led by reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Steph Curry, a 3-point sharpshooter.

“I’m not a high-volume shooter. I’ve never been in my career,” James said. “But things have changed on our team where the shots that Kevin and Kyrie would have has now been placed on myself and the rest of the guys as well.

“All we can do is go out and play hard. We’re undermanned. I don’t know any other team in this league that would be able to do that, to be without two All-Stars on their team and compete the way we compete and be a force. So the guys are taking that very personal.”

GRIT SQUAD

It’s Australian Matthew Dellavedova filling in for Irving and shutting down Curry defensively. It’s 17 points and 11 rebounds from Russian big man TimofeyMozgov, 14 rebounds from Tristan Thompson and timely shotmaking by J.R. Smith and James Jones — often aided by spectacular passes from James.

“It’s the grit squad that we have,” James said. “It’s not cute at all. If you’re looking for us to play sexy, cute basketball, then that’s not us right now. Everything is tough. We’re going to come in with an aggressive mindset defensively and offensively.”

Cleveland shot only 32.6 percent in game two but won by outrebounding the Warriors 55-45, forcing 18 turnovers and taking control of the game’s tempo, often allowing the shot clock to expire while working for just the right shot.

“For us to win a Finals game shooting 32 percent from the field, it’s just a testament of how gritty we can be,” James said. “It has to be that for the rest of the series, no matter how many games it takes.”

The win bolstered the Cavs’ confidence they can win the title without two of the stars who helped them reach the finals. Cleveland can do so with three wins at home, where the team has won 26 of its past 28 starts.

“We have the home-court advantage now and we have to take advantage of it,” Smith said. “In spite of it all, without Kevin and Kyrie, we can still get it done.”

While James evoked memories of Michael Jordan in his heyday, even Jordan never faced such a rival without key helpers.

NO LIMITS ON JAMES

James returned to his hometown Cavs from Miami last July after four consecutive finals trips, determined to bring Cleveland it’s first US sports champion since the 1964 NFL Browns. James is only three wins shy on his first try, but might need more astonishing efforts to succeed.

“You never put limits on a guy like that,” Thompson said. “He has been exceeding expectations since he was 16. When you say he can’t do more, he always proves you wrong.”

He’s out to foil the naysayers again.

“One thing we can’t allow is what everyone is saying about us affect what we do, because that’s just smoke and mirrors,” James said. “What truly matters is that we have a game plan and how we execute it.”

June 11, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players 0 Comment

Iguodala crucial as Warriors beat Cavaliers

Iguodala crucial as Warriors beat Cavaliers

Andre Iguodala

Andre Iguodala came off the bench to inspire the Golden State Warriors to a 108-100 overtime win in Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals on Friday morning.

Despite a slow start for the Warriors, Iguodala was not just superb offensively; contributing 15 points, but he also played a crucial role defensively.

Four-time MVP LeBron James could have decided the game with a second left in the regulation, but missed a three-pointer attempt over an overstretched Iguodala.

Although James finished with a game-high 44 points in 46 minutes, Game 1 belonged Iguodala and the Warriors crew, who trailed by as many as 14 points in the first quarter.

Reigning MVP Stephen Curry hit a jumper over LeBron, giving the Warriors a crucial and decisive 94-93 lead with 3.37 remaining, and the they never trailed again.

Iguodala found Harrison Barnes widely open for a three-pointer with 2.02 left, the Warriors extended to their biggest lead of the game to 107-98.

The Warriors outscored the Cavaliers 10-2 in the extra five minutes.

Even first-year Warriors coach Steve Kerr praised Iguodala.

“Andre is one of the smartest defenders in the league,” Kerr said. “He is not stronger than LeBron, but he is strong. We have several guys who are capable of spending time guarding LeBron, whether is Draymond, Harrison, Klay. We got some options, but we feel like Andre has guarded him the most, he has been in the league for 11 years, he has guarded him an awful lot, so we stayed with him.”

Klay Thompson said of Iguodala: “Andre is one of the best defender in the league. He is very active, and he is going to be pivotal in the series. He played both ends for us. That’s what he expect from a great player.”

Former Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving added 23 points for the Cavaliers, but he limped off the court due to a left injury. The same injury that forced him out two games in the Eastrern Conference Finals.

James, Irving and Russian TimofeyMozgov were fundamental for Cavaliers, but the team’s bench was highly unproductive.

“Our bench has been throughout the playoffs, but we missed them tonight,” said Cavaliers coach David.

While the Warriors bench contributed 34 points, J.R Smith was the only Cavalier to score off the bench, finishing with 9 points.

The Cavaliers stepped on floor ready to take Game 1, leading 29-19 with James leading all scorers with 12 points, while Curry had only four.

The Warriors cut the deficit to four points, mainly because of instant contributions from Marreesse Speights, who added eight points off the bench.

In that moment of the game, Curry would send home fans into frenzy when he tied the contest at 36-36 with a catch-and-shoot three-pointer (his first of the game) over an overstretched Tristan Thompson.

Curry hit another three-pointer for the Warriors first lead (39-36) since early in the game, sending home fans into frenzy.

Meanwhile J.R Smith was 3 for 4 in the first half, sparking the Cavaliers to 51-48 first-half lead.

Game 2 is on Sunday at Oracle Arena.

June 6, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players Tags:
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James, Curry collide in dream finals showdown

Stephen Curry #30 and the Golden State Warriors celebrate the warriors 104-90 victory against the Houston Rockets during game five of the Western Conference Finals

Cleveland’s LeBron James and Golden State’s Stephen Curry have powered their teams into an NBA Finals showdown, but only one club can complete a fairy-tale run to a long-awaited crown.

James, a four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, is on the brink of realizing the dream that pushed him to leave the Miami Heat last July and return to the Cavaliers, who could become Cleveland’s first major team sports champion since the 1964 NFL Browns won a crown in the pre-Super Bowl era — the longest title drought of any US city.

“I’m a guy who believes in unfinished business,” James said. “We all know how long it has been since a champion has been in this city.”

Curry, this season’s NBA Most Valuable Player, sparked the Warriors to the NBA’s best record at 67-15 and has them in their first final in 40 years and on the verge of their first title since 1975.

“It’s going to be a special joy these next two or three weeks to finish off this journey,” Curry said. “The Bay Area has been waiting 40 years. It’s time we got it done.”

NBA icon James and Curry, the league’s hottest new rising star, collide when the best-of-seven championship series begins Thursday at Oakland, California, on the home court where Golden State is an NBA-best 46-3 this season, including 7-1 in the playoffs.

“To get to the NBA Finals for the first time in 40 years for the Warriors, it’s more than relief. It’s joy,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Our players are feeling it and I know our fans are.”

James, 30, and Curry, 27, were both born in Akron, Ohio. Curry’s father Dell was playing for the Cavaliers when Steph was born but moved when his father went to another club. James became a prep star in Akron and later a top draft pick by Cleveland.

James sparked the Cavaliers to their first NBA Finals in 2007, when they were swept by San Antonio. When they failed to return over the next three years, James departed for Miami.

In Miami, James won two NBA titles and reached the finals twice more. He returned home vowing to revamp the Cavaliers, who couldn’t reach the playoffs without him, into champions.

“I hope everyone here understands that it’s not easy to even get to this point,” James said.

FIVE IN A ROW

James and reserve teammate James Jones, who spent the past four seasons in Miami, will become only the ninth and 10th players in NBA history to compete in the NBA Finals five years in a row. The only others were on the Boston Celtics dynasty that won nine titles in 10 consecutive trips to the final between 1957 and 1966.

James has averaged 27.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and 8.3 assists a game in the post-season, adapting his roles as a separated left shoulder knocked out forward Kevin Love and left knee and right foot injuries slowed guard Kyrie Irving.

“That’s a major dilemma for everybody,” Kerr said of stopping James. “He’s a great player, physically so strong. You know he is going to have a huge impact on the game. You just try to limit him as much as you can.”

Curry has averaged 29.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists in the playoffs as defenders wonder how to limit him.

“Same way you slow me down — you can’t,” James said. “He never stops moving. His ball handling, his ability to shoot the ball off the dribble and catch, it’s uncanny. He just creates so many matchup problems for your defence. You just have to always be aware.”

Curry had 286 3-pointers this season, breaking his old NBA record from two seasons ago by 14, and Klay Thompson was second in the league with 239.

Curry has made an NBA-record 73 3-pointers in the playoffs and Thompson was next best with 45.

First-year NBA coaches will meet in the finals for the first time since the league’s inaugural season. Either Kerr or Cleveland’s Dave Blatt will become the first rookie coach of a champion since Pat Riley with the 1982 Los Angeles Lakers.

“I just try not to get involved with what I feel and what I am in all this,” Blatt said. “What I’m supposed to do is help my team win, coach this team to the best of my abilities, and the rest of the stuff is just story line.”

June 5, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players 0 Comment

Thompson back for team practice

Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson

The Golden State Warriors were given a welcome boost on Monday when their All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson returned to team practice five days after suffering a concussion.

Though Thompson still needs medical clearance to play in the best-of-seven NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers starting on Thursday, he is now just one step away from being given the green light.

“I expect to be (cleared),” Thompson, 25, told reporters after taking a full part in practice with his teammates in Oakland, California. “I feel like I’m well on my way there.”

Thompson, who is Golden State’s second-leading scorer behind point guard Stephen Curry, sustained a concussion during the team’s clinching Game Five win over the Rockets on Thursday after being kneed in the head by Houston’s Trevor Ariza.

Working in Thompson’s favour is that Thursday’s Game One will give each team seven days rest between games, the longest gap ever between the end of the conference finals and the start of the NBA Finals.

June 3, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players Tags:,
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Harden leads Rockets win, Curry OK after scary fall

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets shoots against the Golden State Warriors in the second half during Game Four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs 

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets shoots against the Golden State Warriors in the second half during Game Four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs

A playoff career-high 45 points by James Harden sparked the Houston Rockets to a 128-115 must-win victory Monday over the Golden State Warriors, denying the Warriors an easy path to the NBA Finals.

The Warriors had a scare and then breathed a sigh of relief after NBA Player of the Year Stephen Curry suffered a bruise to the back of his head after a bad fall in the second quarter but then returned to the game.

Houston got their first win in the series, pulling to 3-1 in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals and forcing a fifth game Wednesday in Oakland. They snapped Golden State’s six-game win streak.

“We’re going to come out with some great intensity,” Harden said. “They are a tough team and we know we have to work hard.”

Curry called his spill the scariest fall he has suffered in a game, although he added he has been hurt worse and will be ready for game five.

“I will be fine,” Curry said. “I feel pretty good. Just not how I envisioned the game going, disappointed we lost. I came out of that relatively OK and tried to go in there and give my team something.”

Curry passed mandatory NBA concussion tests before being allowed back into the game midway into the third quarter.

“Obviously it’s always scary when a guy hits his neck,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He was up and went back to the locker room. Our doctors cleared him and he’s doing fine.”

While the Rockets prevented a sweep, no team in NBA history has recovered from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series.

“We’re a really good team when we are moving the ball and working together,” Harden said. “We’ve got to do a better job of being consistent.”

Harden made 13-of-22 shots from the floor, including 7-of-11 from 3-point range, and added nine rebounds and five assists.

“He played a hell of a game,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said.

The Rockets improved to 4-0 in playoff games when facing elimination, the first team with such a post-season run since the 2006 Phoenix Suns.

“We don’t want to go home,” Rockets centre Dwight Howard said. “We came out and played as hard as we could, left it all on the floor and when you do that, good things will happen.”

The West champion will face the Eastern Conference champion in the NBA Finals starting June 4. Cleveland leads Atlanta 3-0 in the East with game four on Tuesday.

ROCKETS NEVER TRAILED

The Rockets opened a 12-0 lead in the first 3:15 and stretched it to 45-22 after the first quarter.

“The game was won in the first quarter,” Kerr said. “They were more ready than we were. We were on our heels. They were making shots from everywhere. The came out on fire.”

Curry’s severe fall came when he leaped into the air as Houston’s Trevor Ariza went up for a shot. Curry soared over Ariza and fell hard onto the floor, landing on the back of his head and neck.

“That was the scariest one because you are in the air for a long time and you know you’re going to hit the floor,” Curry said.

“It’s a bad feeling. Once the situation changes completely in the air, you see you’ve got no control over yourself. It could have been a lot worse.”

Curry stayed on the court for several minutes before being escorted to the locker room.

“I could hear voices from trainers saying take my time, don’t rush myself getting up,” Curry said. “I was still a little in shock from the feeling of falling. I got back to the locker room and gathered myself and was able to get back out there.”

Curry finished with 23 points, including six 3-point baskets.

The Warriors, seeking their first trip to the NBA Finals since winning the 1975 title, became the first team to lose after making 20 3-point shots, as the teams combined for a record 37 3-point baskets.

The Rockets, who have not reached the NBA Finals since winning the title in 1995, had lost all seven prior games against Golden State in the playoffs and regular season.

Howard had 14 points and 12 rebounds while Josh Smith had 20 points for the Rockets and Ariza added 17.

Klay Thompson led Golden State with 24 points while Draymond Green added 21 points and 15 rebounds.

 

May 27, 2015 By : Category : English featured Players Tags:,
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