Bulls

Curry shoots Warriors to 73rd win, breaking Bulls' mark

Curry shoots Warriors to 73rd win, breaking Bulls' mark

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors took their last shot at Michael Jordan and history and they swished it — for 73.

Down to their final chance at the record, the Warriors became the first 73-win team Wednesday night by beating the Memphis Grizzlies 125-104, breaking what many considered an unmatchable mark set 20 years ago by Jordan's Chicago Bulls — oh, and Golden State coach Steve Kerr, too.

"I want to congratulate the Warriors on their amazing season," Jordan said in a statement. "The game of basketball is always evolving and records are made to be broken. The Warriors have been a lot of fun to watch and I look forward to seeing what they do in the playoffs."

Curry achieved yet one more shooting milestone, becoming the first player to make 400 3-pointers in a season by knocking down 10 from long range on the way to 46 points and 402 total 3s. Golden State saved one last record for the closing day of the regular season, and did it for a roaring, sellout home crowd at Oracle Arena. Yet these Warriors want nothing more than to build off their remarkable run so far and ride it to another title.

Draymond Green had 11 points, nine rebounds and seven assists as defending champion Golden State (73-9) topped the Jordan-led 1995-96 Bulls who went 72-10.

"It's a great way to finish off what was an amazing regular season," Kerr said. "I just told our guys I never in a million years would have guessed that that record would ever be broken. I thought it was like DiMaggio's hit streak, really. I was wrong, but I will say the same thing now that I said 20 years ago, 'I don't think this one will ever be broken.' Somebody's got to go 74-8. I don't see it, and I hope our fans aren't expecting that next year."

When the final buzzer sounded, Green bounded onto the floor and grabbed the game ball as confetti streamed down and "73 WINS" appeared on the scoreboard.

"We were going to play 82 games, anyway," Green said. "We might as well try to win. It means that I'm on the best team ever. Not many people can say that — 15 guys can say that."

President Barack Obama sent a tweet that said: "Congrats to the @warriors, a great group of guys on and off the court. If somebody had to break the Bulls' record, I'm glad it's them."

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement, saying: "Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors on their 73rd win and the best regular-season record in NBA history. The team held itself to a high standard throughout the season, playing with purpose every night and captivating fans around the world with its free-flowing style, spectacular shooting and flair for the dramatic. Kudos to the entire Warriors organization."

The Warriors went for it, all right. They absolutely wanted this record, even when they could have been resting up for the next challenge: to repeat. And Curry? No doubt about it. He came out and did what he has all along during this sensational season: Let it fly from anywhere on the floor.

Curry had seven 3-pointers by halftime, then hit No. 400 just 43 seconds into the third.

Already the first player to make 300 3-pointers in a season, he knocked down six in the first quarter and three straight during one jaw-dropping stretch that included a 31-footer well behind the top of the arc. And Curry immediately began trending on Twitter.

Curry shattered his own single-season record of 286 from a year ago. When he hit his 400th, the reigning MVP raised his arms and patted his chest in celebration.

He made 10 of 19 3-pointers and shot 15 for 24 overall to go with six assists as fans chanted "M-V-P! M-V-P!" all evening. Klay Thompson added 16 points with four 3s of his own before Curry rested the fourth quarter and Thompson most of it.

For all of those so-called experts who doubted the Warriors' first championship in 40 years last June that didn't go through San Antonio, this season might have changed their tune.

Golden State not only won nearly every night with a cool swagger and new focus on the offensive end but with a determination to be far better than during that special season.

From Day 1, Kerr challenged the Warriors to make big strides.

Already the Western Conference's No. 1 seed heading into this weekend's playoffs, Golden State had to get past the very Memphis team the Warriors squeaked by 100-99 four days earlier on the Grizzlies' home floor to keep themselves in position to make history.

The Warriors whipped the Grizzlies 119-69 at home back on Nov. 2, with the 50-point win the third-largest margin of victory in franchise history.

No champagne celebrations were planned for this focused bunch.

"Absolutely not. You've got to save that 'til June. I mean you might have a glass of wine after the game but that's about it," Thompson said. "This record doesn't mean a thing if we don't take care of business in the postseason."

Kerr missed his team's 24-0 start and the first 43 games overall — Luke Walton led the Warriors to a 39-4 record in Kerr's absence — while dealing with complications following two back surgeries.

The Warriors had their NBA-record 54-game home winning streak in the regular season snapped in an April 1 loss to Boston at Oracle. Golden State finished 39-2 at home for the second straight year.

Zach Randolph scored 24 points to lead Memphis, which lost its fourth in a row to end the season.

Jimmy Butler leaves game unable to put any pressure on right leg after apparent non-contact injury

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ESPN

Jimmy Butler leaves game unable to put any pressure on right leg after apparent non-contact injury

The NBA may have lost another top superstar due to injury.

On Friday, Jimmy Butler appeared to have suffered a non-contact injury to his right knee. He left the game against the Houston Rockets unable to put any pressure on his right leg and needed assistance getting back to the locker room. 

Here's a video of the incident:

Coach Tom Thibodeau said that Butler will have an MRI when the team returns to Minnesota on Saturday.

Butler drew a lot of headlines last weekend after not playing in the NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

Entering Friday, Butler led the league with 37.3 minutes played per game.

The Bulls also take on the Timberwolves in Minnesota on Saturday night.

It's Bobby's World in Bulls' lottery-improving loss to 76ers

It's Bobby's World in Bulls' lottery-improving loss to 76ers

The final 25 games was supposed to be all about the development of the Bulls’ recent acquisitions and securing a record worthy of one of the last three envelopes at the NBA Draft Lottery.

Only Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn seemed to matter, with Cameron Payne and Cristiano Felicio being the perfect window dressing for development as opposed to just saying a team is tanking.

But Bobby Portis is making a case that he isn’t to be forgotten in the big picture, that his worth is more than just being a punchline to the jokes that followed his incident with Nikola Mirotic.

The only thing Portis didn’t do right in the Bulls’ 116-115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers was missing a point blank shot that would’ve given the Bulls an improbable and unwanted win, and it would’ve given him 40 points.

Instead he had to settle for a career-high 38 as Joel Embiid was bearing down on Portis when he caught a diagonal pass from Dunn with 1.1 seconds left, having the shorter T.J. McConnell on him and taking a power dribble to gather himself.

“If I could go back I would’ve just went up the first time off the glass like I always do,” Portis said. “We just have to try to close out games better.”

Embiid showed he’s worth all the trouble with his health problems, scoring 30 with 13 rebounds and five rebounds while Ben Simmons put up 32 with 11 assists and seven rebounds as the 76ers improved to 31-25, good enough for seventh place in the East.

In a game that featured remarkable resolve from a purposely undermanned Bulls team as they sat Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday, they put themselves in position to win after trailing by 18 early. After leading by five courtesy of a LaVine walk-down triple with 1:02 left, they made a couple critical errors that allowed the 76ers to steal a game the Bulls won’t mind them taking at the end of 82.

Denzel Valentine’s inbounds pass with 5.9 seconds left was intended for LaVine, but Embiid stepped in front for a steal as they were in position to make it a free-throw game the rest of the way.

Similar to the Bulls’ unlikely win over the Orlando Magic before the All-Star break, they returned the favor as 76ers rookie Ben Simmons made free throws after the steal to give the visitors a one-point lead, setting the stage for the final play.

If learning lessons is what the last 100 quarters of basketball is supposed to be about, the Bulls got a big-time lesson in a game that ultimately means nothing.

“These are learning opportunities for our team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I couldn’t be happier, the way we went out and competed. We dug ourselves an 18-point hold and (fought) our way back—have complete control of the game.”

Control was wrestled from the 76ers by Portis’ able and quick hands. Taking more of a scoring posture since Mirotic’s departure, Portis has never been shy about being aggressive.

But now he’s being encouraged in that department, playing a big part in the Bulls’ tying their franchise record of 18 triples with six of his own, scoring 21 in the first half and not backing down one step from the massive Embiid.

“I kind of struggled from (three) in the last six, seven games,” said Portis, who didn’t take much time off during the All-Star break. “I think I’ve shown this entire year, trying to stay consistent and be a spark off the bench.”

Counting the last two games before the break, Portis has been on the best scoring binge of his career—cementing his place in the league when just a few months ago, many were questioning if the Bulls should’ve actually picked up his player option following the Mirotic incident.

His 25.0 points in the last three, along with scoring in double figures for seven straight games are career-bests. With every flex, every energetic plea to the crowd and resourceful score underneath the rim, Portis is becoming a player the Bulls can’t afford to plan without.

The stage was set for a Portis breakout shortly after the incident, when he was serving his suspension to start the season. When the Bulls traveled to Miami and Orlando, he flew on his own to Orlando for dinner with his mentor, former NBA veteran and Magic assistant coach Corliss Williamson.

Williamson, a player who was not to be trifled with during his career, told Portis essentially, “this too shall pass”.

“Just play your game,” Williamson told NBCSportsChicago.com recently. “Don’t put any pressure on yourself about what’s gonna happen after this year. What’s got him here is hard work, how hard he plays in the game. He continues to do that, he’ll be successful.”

Portis recalled the dinner where he was finally able to confide and unleash after weeks of frustration. Calling Williamson a father figure dating back to their Arkansas roots, where Portis played on Williamson’s AAU teams in middle school, Portis put his trust in him and came back reinvigorated.

“We talked for hours about the whole situation,” Portis told NBCSportsChicago.com “He told me when I come back to come 10 times harder. When people play this game and play the right way, they forget about the other stuff. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Scoring 38 tends to remake a narrative.

“Bobby just continues to improve,” Hoiberg said. “He’s a confident kid that goes out and plays with a ton of swagger and toughness. You need that, to go out and play with that type of effort. He’s tenacious on the glass. He’s getting the crowd into the game.”

When speaking of Portis, Hoiberg’s face went from flush to beaming, knowing how far Portis has come in his three years—being a player who wouldn’t take 3-pointers with confidence to now unleashing them whenever a defender’s feet shows the slightest hint of leaning back.

No hesitation.

“Regardless if I’m making shots, I try to leave it all out on the floor,” Portis said. “It felt good making shots, being able to help the team. I wanted the win tonight.”

Portis helped make up for the Bulls not getting their usual production from Dunn, who struggled guarding the bigger Simmons and Lauri Markkanen, who missed all five of his 3-pointers and made just one field goal in 32 minutes.

“You can put he and Lauri together,” Hoiberg said. “It gives you two guys that can stretch the floor and space it, two guys that can rebound, two that can put it on the floor. It’s exciting to think about when Kris gets his rhythm back.”

And now, Williamson’s words have proven to be prophetic for his pupil, because if the Bulls aren’t seeing Portis as a key part of their future, there’s about 25 other teams who’ll be lining up for his services this summer.

“I told him don’t even worry about it,” Williamson said. “Let your game speak for itself. People who really know you, know what type of person you are. You start producing people will forget about it and love you for what you do on the court.”

His game is talking, even if the Bulls’ loss was one they’d rather have taken in silence.