Warriors

Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards

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AP

Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards

NEW YORK — Russell Westbrook moved past Oscar Robertson and kept right on going to the top of the NBA.

Westbrook was voted MVP on Monday night after setting a record with 42 triple-doubles during his historic season. He led the league with 31.6 points and added 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game, joining Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double for the season and breaking Robertson's single-season record of 41 triple-doubles in 1961-62.

"I remember growing up just being home, playing the video games and stuff with my pops, and my mom sitting there and my brother and just talking about maybe one day I could be the MVP. Obviously I was joking at the time," Westbrook said.

"But now to be standing here with this trophy next to me is a true blessing, man, and it's an unbelievable feeling, something that I can never imagine."

Westbrook's victory ended the first NBA Awards show, which included two wins apiece for the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks.

He received 69 first-place votes and 888 points from a panel of 100 media members and a fan vote to easily beat Houston's James Harden, who had 22 first-place votes and 753 points. Kawhi Leonard was third with nine first-place votes and 500 points.

Westbrook succeeded Stephen Curry, who had won the past two MVP awards. The point guard who plays with defiance on the court got choked up during an acceptance speech in which he brought some teammates onto the stage with him.

The Thunder went 33-9 when he had a triple-double, riding Westbrook's record run into the playoffs in their first season after losing Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors.

"Oscar, guys like him, Magic Johnson, those guys, obviously I wasn't able to see those guys play, but just to look back at history and see the things that they did, it's something that I looked up to as a kid," Westbrook said.

"I never thought I would be able to say that I broke Oscar Robertson's record, and that's just a true blessing."

Earlier, Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon became the first player not picked in the first round to win NBA Rookie of the Year in the common draft era, beating out Philadelphia's Dario Saric and Joel Embiid.

Brogdon was the No. 36 overall selection out of Virginia. The common draft era began in 1966.

"I think it's an example for guys that are told they are too short, they are not athletic enough, they are not real point guards, they are not real shooting guards," Brogdon said. "I just think it's an important message for people to see, and it can be done. It just takes a lot."

Teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo won the Most Improved Player award.

Houston coach Mike D'Antoni won his second Coach of the Year award, and the Rockets' Eric Gordon was Sixth Man of the Year after setting a record for most 3-pointers off the bench in his first season as a reserve.

"Obviously I'm just proud of the team and the way they responded all year. Great organization," D'Antoni said of the Rockets' 55-win season.

"This is not an individual award. This is a lot of people, a lot of hard work goes into it, and I'm the recipient of some pretty good players."

In his first season coming off the bench, Gordon set a single-season record with 206 3-pointers by a reserve. He averaged 16.2 points to help fuel the Rockets' run to the surprising No. 3 seed in the Western Conference and edged former NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala of Golden State by 32 points.

Golden State's Draymond Green won the Defensive Player of the Year, ending Leonard's two-year run. Leading the league in steals from his do-everything role with the NBA champions. He had a franchise-record 10 steals in a Feb. 10 game at Memphis while recording the first triple-double in NBA history without scoring in double figures, adding 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

The NBA formerly gave out its individual awards at various points throughout the postseason before switching to the awards show this season and presenting them all at once in front of the league's top players and stars from the entertainment world.

Two of the best moments came during segments that didn't include the NBA's six individual awards.

Bill Russell was presented the first Lifetime Achievement award, welcomed on stage by fellow Hall of Fame centers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo. The 11-time champion as a player and the league's first black coach first pointed at them and joked that he would have kicked their butts, then told them: "You have no idea how much respect I have for you guys."

Former Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams was given the SagerStrong Award for the strength he showed after his wife was killed in a car crash in Oklahoma City. He was given a colorful jacket like the ones worn by Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports reporter who died of cancer this past season.

Warriors thought they had found consistency, but it vanished in Mavs loss

Warriors thought they had found consistency, but it vanished in Mavs loss

OAKLAND - Less than a week ago, the Warriors were seemingly out of their post-All-Star Game hangover. 

Following a 4-5 start after the break, the Warriors entered Saturday evening having won four of their last five games. They beat the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets, and crushed the Pacers 112-89, all but alleviating any ill will entering the final 11 games of the season. 

Two days later, that equity all but vanished against the Mavericks, who handed the Steph Curry-less Warriors a 126-91 loss, the team's worst under coach Steve Kerr at home, exposing, at least for a night, the inconsistency that's marred the champs for most of the season. 

"A lot of breakdowns," Kerr said. "A lot of miscommunications or lack of communication." 

With the Warriors in a malaise, the Mavericks jumped out to a 35-16 lead in a first quarter that saw Dallas shoot 65 percent from the field, including two 3-pointers from Dirk Nowitzki. By halftime, Dallas had built a 28-point advantage. More alarming was Golden State's offense, which made just 40 percent its shots, was Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson combined to go 13-of-38 from the field.

The loss dropped Golden State a half-game behind the Denver Nuggets for the top spot in the Western Conference.

Performances like Saturday night have been an all-too-familiar occurrence for a team pushing for its third straight title. Of the team's 11 losses at home this season, six have been by more than 23 points, and three have been by teams eliminated from playoff contention. 

"It is weird, you're supposed to win at home," Green said. "And you expect to win at home. We've had quite a few letdowns this year."

"These late-season games for teams like Dallas, who are out of the playoffs, it's a free swing," Kerr added. "There's no pressure. We talked about that before the game. We knew they'd come out firing and playing with freedom and just letting it loose. I kind of expected a slow start, a little bit of a letdown game, but I thought we'd pull it together." 

Most curious about Saturday's loss is that it came during a stretch where Golden State was playing its best basketball of the season. Entering Saturday, the Warriors were 4-1 over their last five games, holding opponents to just 98.8 points per game, posting a 97.8 defensive rating.

[RELATED: Oracle not an advantage anymore]

Two weeks ago, following the loss to Phoenix, the Warriors stated their goal to was to reach the top seed in the Western Conference for the fourth time in five seasons. But, as Saturday proved, that will require a consistency the Warriors have struggled to find much of the season. Fortunately for the champs, they'll have another chance less than 24 hours, against the Detroit Pistons, to find it. 

"I think everybody in that locker room had their asses beat down," Durant said. "We all did. I know this experience is different with how much winning we've done the past few years, but we still are in the NBA... And guys have been a part of terrible games, along with great games as well, so the good thing about it is we play tomorrow night too."

Roaracle no more: For Warriors, Oracle no longer real home court advantage

Roaracle no more: For Warriors, Oracle no longer real home court advantage

OAKLAND – It’s old and cranky and probably bitter about being abandoned.

That would explain why the magic of Oracle Arena, once the most reliable component of recent seasons – the best stretch in franchise history – has turned on the Warriors this season.

The cloak of invincibility they used to wear like a shield has been shot through with holes signifying vulnerability, the latest example coming Saturday in a 126-91 shellacking under a torrent of 3-pointers by the openly transitioning and largely nondescript Dallas Mavericks.

For all the talk about chasing the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference – which still is probable – and having home-court advantage for as much of the postseason as possible, the Warriors in this game were light on both spirit and performance.

The talk might be appropriate for reasons of identifying a goal, but it is profoundly hollow in the face of reality. With a home record (25-11) that is one game better than the road record (24-12), the Warriors no longer have a real home-court advantage. It has been weakening for a couple years, and now it’s as gone as the easily affordable ticket.

“It is weird,” Draymond Green said. “You’re supposed to win at home. And you expect to win at home. We’ve had quite a few letdowns this year.”

This 35-point loss is, however, the worst in 200 games at Oracle under coach Steve Kerr. And it comes 18 days after the previous worst, a 33-point drubbing by the Boston Celtics on March 5.

The Warriors went 39-2 at home in 2014-15. That’s a home-court advantage. They were 39-2 the next season, solidifying their dominance at Oracle. They thought they might be slipping when they were 36-5 at home in 2016-17.

The real slip came last season, when the Warriors were no better at home than on the road, posting 29-12 records in both columns. That, folks, is not a home-court advantage at all.

The Warriors, coaches and players, expressed a strong desire, to make this season, the last in Oakland and at Oracle, special and memorable. Give Oracle a proper farewell. Go out with a splash.

This was the sixth time this season they’ve lost a home game by at least 20 points. The Bucks (134-111 on Nov. 8) were terrific, the Thunder (123-95 on Nov. 21) were rolling, the Raptors (113-93) were out to make a statement, as were the Celtics (128-95).

But the other two blowouts, to the Lakers (127-101 on Christmas Day) and the Mavericks should be unfathomable, no matter how bored the Warriors might be with the regular season.

“You kind of sensed the energy wasn’t there,” Green said. “That’s kind of normal in a game like that. I didn’t really get the sense we would lose by 40.”

It was 35, but it may as well have been 40, as Dallas led by as much as 43.

The Mavericks, who had lost their last 12 games at Oracle, attacked from the start and never backed off. Nor was this 28-44 team put in its place. Dallas drilled 13 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 21 triples (in 49 attempts), one short of their season-high and tying the Rockets’ total (on Jan. 3) for the most against the Warriors this season.

Houston’s 21 triples also came at Oracle.

What magic?

“It was their offense and it was our (defensive) breakdowns,” Klay Thompson said.

The Warriors lacked verve at both ends. They defended as if they had no respect for the Mavericks and compounded that by shooting 40 percent overall and only 13.3 percent (4-of-30) from distance.

The Warriors were down by 12 (14-2) less than four minutes after tipoff, down by 23 (51-28) less than three minutes into the second quarter. Six different Mavericks made at least two triples, with rookie sensation Luka Doncic banging four and Dirk Nowitzki, in what may be his last season, draining a season-high five while totaling a season-high 21 points.

“I think everybody in that locker room has gotten their asses beaten at home before,” Kevin Durant said. “I know this experience is different, with how much winning we’ve done the last few years. But we’re still in the NBA. Guys have been a part of terrible games, along with the great games as well.

“The good thing about it is we play (Sunday) night, too.”

Well, yes. The Detroit Pistons come into Oracle for their annual visit. They won here last season. They’re nearly as beatable as the Mavericks, as if that matters.

Oracle doesn’t mean what it once did for the Warriors, who don’t exploit its advantages as they have in the past. If the Warriors are to win another championship, we’ve seen enough to know home court won’t be the deciding factor.