Warriors bench holding Blazers' reserves in check during West finals


Warriors bench holding Blazers' reserves in check during West finals

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Warriors and Trail Blazers' benches continued their series-long tug-of-war in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Saturday night.

Golden State's second unit scored 33 points in a 110-99 win at Moda Center, and Portland's did the same. The respective benches ended the contest in the same position they entered it: dead-even in combined points.

Some of the Blazers have had the best individual scoring performances, but as a whole, no bench has an edge in offensive output through three games. That didn't look likely during Saturday's first half.

After point guard Damian Lillard played the entirety of the first quarter, Blazers coach Terry Stotts trotted out a lineup comprised entirely of reserves Seth Curry, Evan Turner, Rodney Hood, Zach Collins and Enes Kanter -- who gave way to big man Meyers Leonard in the starting lineup -- to start the second. A two-point lead to start the quarter grew to seven by the time CJ McCollum checked in for Hood 3:15 into the quarter.

By the time Lillard checked back in nearly halfway through the quarter, Portland led by 13.

"You know, the first half, everybody contributed," Stotts said Saturday after the Blazers' loss. "The starters, the bench, different combinations really worked well. You know, if you score 66 points in a half, a lot of people contributed that."

Curry stayed on with four of the Blazers' starters, and Portland led by as many as 18 points. He, along with Turner, Collins and Kanter, finished the second quarter plus-11. Warriors reserves Kevon Looney and Alfonzo McKinnie, meanwhile, were the only Golden State bench players who had an even plus-minus.

The second half was a reversal of fortune.

For one, the Warriors -- led by Draymond Green's dominance on both ends of the floor -- stormed back to take the lead in the third quarter. Stotts didn't roll out any all-reserve lineups, instead keeping Lillard or McCollum on the court with the second unit. Lillard played the entirety of the third quarter, and he re-entered Game 4 after exactly two-and-a-half minutes on the bench, with the score tied at 84.

Just 2:21 later, Warriors reserves Quinn Cook, Kevon Looney, Jonas Jerebko and Shaun Livingston checked out of the game with a 90-84 lead.

Still, the Blazers were within striking distance, and McCollum had chances to cut the deficit even further. Each of Portland's bench players finished the second half with a negative plus-minus, but McCollum said the starters' finish was what cost the Blazers.

"You know, we just didn't make shots," McCollum said. "They got out and ran, and they had a little bit of momentum based on the run they went on, but I thought the second unit did a great job. We have to do a better job as a starting unit of closing games."

The Warriors' defense on McCollum and Lillard paid off in Game 3, as it has throughout the Western Conference finals. With Steph Curry shooting the lights out and Green's two-way superiority, Golden State hasn't needed its bench to do much more than match Portland's.

[RELATED: Steph believes Dubs won't be slowed by Iguodala injury]

Thus, it's unsurprising Stotts didn't fault his reserves for the second-half swing. The reasons his Blazers find themselves in a three-games-to-none hole in the best-of-seven series go far beyond bench contributions.

"I don't know how much it was their bench," Stotts said of the Warriors after Game 4. "You know, they just -- they are a championship team. They have been a championship team and they have a style of play, and they continue to play at a certain level, and the second half, we just didn't match that.

"Whether it was their bench players or their starters, they didn't miss a beat."

NBA draft 2019: Updated order after Lakers-Pelicans Anthony Davis trade

NBA draft 2019: Updated order after Lakers-Pelicans Anthony Davis trade

From the moment the 2019 NBA Draft lottery concluded on May 14, it was safe to assume the New Orleans Pelicans would end up acquiring the No. 3 overall pick from the Knicks or the No. 4 overall pick from the Lakers for Anthony Davis.

On Saturday, New Orleans and Los Angeles reportedly agreed to a blockbuster trade centering around the All-Star big man. One of the pieces headed to the Pelicans is indeed the No. 4 overall pick.

The trade hasn't officially been completed, and isn't expected to go through until July 6 at the earliest, but we can still update the NBA Draft order knowing that the player taken by the Lakers on Thursday eventually will end up in New Orleans along with Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart.

Also, in case you forgot, the Pelicans own the No. 1 overall pick, which they almsot certainly will use to draft Duke star Zion Williamson.

The Warriors will pick at No. 28 in the first round and No. 58 in the second round. The latest mock drafts have some intriguing options going to Golden State.

As for the Kings, they don't have a first-round pick, but they own the No. 40, No. 47 and No. 60 picks in the second round.

Here's the refreshed 2019 NBA Draft order taking the trade into account:

First round

1. New Orleans
2. Memphis
3. New York
4. New Orleans (from Los Angeles Lakers)
5. Cleveland
6. Phoenix
7. Chicago
8. Atlanta
9. Washington
10. Atlanta (from Dallas)
11. Minnesota
12. Charlotte
13. Miami
14. Boston (from Sacramento via Philadelphia)
15. Detroit
16. Orlando
17. Brooklyn
18. Indiana
19. San Antonio
20. Boston (from LA Clippers via Memphis)
21. Oklahoma City
22. Boston
23. Utah
24. Philadelphia
25. Portland
26. Cleveland (from Houston)
27. Brooklyn (from Denver)
28. Golden State
29. San Antonio (from Toronto)
30. Milwaukee

Second round

31. Brooklyn (from New York via Philadelphia)
32. Phoenix
33. Philadelphia (from Cleveland via Orlando and New York)
34. Philadelphia (from Chicago via Los Angeles Lakers)
35. Atlanta
36. Charlotte (from Washington via Orlando, Denver and Atlanta)
37. Dallas
38. Chicago (from Memphis)
39. New Orleans
40. Sacramento (from Minnesota via Portland and Cleveland)
41. Atlanta (from Los Angeles Lakers via Cleveland and Indiana)
42. Philadelphia (from Sacramento via Brooklyn and Milwaukee)
43. Minnesota (from Miami via Charlotte)
44. Atlanta (from Charlotte)
45. Detroit
46. Orlando (from Brooklyn via Memphis and Charlotte)
47. Sacramento (from Orlando via New York)
48. LA Clippers
49. San Antonio
50. Indiana
51. Boston
52. Charlotte (from Oklahoma City)
53. Utah
54. Philadelphia
55. New York (from Houston)
56. LA Clippers (from Portland via Detroit and Orlando)
57. New Orleans (from Denver via Milwaukee)
58. Golden State
59. Toronto
60. Sacramento (from Milwaukee)

NBA rumors: Anthony Davis trade timing could hinder Lakers free agency plans

NBA rumors: Anthony Davis trade timing could hinder Lakers free agency plans

Lakers fans everywhere are excited by the agreed upon Anthony Davis trade with the Pelicans.

Initial reporting on Saturday speculated that Los Angeles would still have between $27 and $32 million in cap space remaining, enough to bring in another marquee player through free agency.

But new information coming out Sunday paints a slightly bleaker picture for the Lakers.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the trade won't be executed until July 6.

Davis also has a 15 percent trade kicker that equates to $4 million. He could waive the trade kicker to help the Lakers, but Wojnarowski doesn't see that happening.

With that in mind, the Lakers' cap space would decrease from just over $27 million to just over $23 million.

But there's more.

By completing the trade on July 6, the player the Lakers draft with the No. 4 overall pick next Thursday wouldn't count towards their salary. But if the Lakers were to tell the Pelicans 'Hey, let's wait until July 30 to execute the trade,' Los Angeles could free up salary-cap space because the No. 4 pick would be on the books.

Wojnarowski believes there's a chance the teams wait until July 30, but for now, he expects the blockbuster trade to go through on July 6.

[RELATED: Lakers need more than Davis]

If that's the case, the Lakers will have less cap space than they had hoped. That would be welcome news for the Warriors and Kings, who are watching their Pacific Division rival retool their roster in a big way.

If the Lakers aren't able to add a marquee free agent alongside Davis and LeBron James, they won't be as daunting.