Big O Tires

Who will get first tech in NBA All-Star Game history: Draymond or DeMarcus?

Who will get first tech in NBA All-Star Game history: Draymond or DeMarcus?

The NBA All-Star break will last seemingly forever, but we have two great opportunities between now and next Thursday (no games until Thursday? What fresh hell is this?) to treat the audience to something new and enjoyable before James Dolan decides to start banning Willis Reed from Madison Square Garden.
 
In other words, cue Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins. This is right up their individual wheelhouses.

Simply, we want to see which of them wants to become the first player in All-Star Game history to get a technical foul. 
 
That’s right, no player has ever been T’d up in an All-Star Game, which is amazing since Rick Barry got called for 30 personal fouls in his All-Star career and fouled out twice, and agreed with every call? That’s demonstrably implausible on its face.
 
You may be less surprised by this fact because the All-Star Game has become a game played for laughs and layups. Nobody gets fouled, nobody gets mad, nobody has a tantrum – it’s all snicks, giggles and no-host drinking from start to finish.
 
But there is an opportunity for either high drama or low comedy this weekend in New Orleans that could energize an otherwise mega-meh event. And frankly, Boogie and Dray are our best bets.
 
Yes, we are ignoring the idea of a Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook drawdown, mostly because while it is clear the two gentlemen are going to let their snit fester awhile, it is equally evident that neither would ruin the weekend for their fellow players by being caught giving the media hellhounds what they crave – a series of easy stories that make the event less relentlessly tedious.

And we all know how little they want to serve any media-based agendas.
 
We also won’t get a lot of drama from Charles Oakley or Li’l Jimmy, because everyone agrees that Dolan is a raging jackwagon, and you can’t have drama without people on both sides of an argument.
 
No, this looks like a job for Boogie and Day Day.
 
Cousins and Green have as part of their reputations a penchant for disputatious behavior that catches the eye and ear of your average official. Cousins leads the 
league in technical fouls with 17, and Green, though less consistent, picked up two Wednesday night from Ronnie Garretson and now sits just off the pace in fifth place with 10.
 
Westbrook would have 13 if not for two that were rescinded by the league’s hall monitor division, DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers has 12 and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan has 11, but Cousins and Green are the two guys you think of first when it comes to back-sass. They are what the nation demands here.

Thus, one of them could decide, just on the basis of entertainment value and Twitter trendage, to get into the grills of one of Sunday’s officials (Ed Malloy, Ken Mauer and Tom Washington, in case you had a bet on it). I mean, there’s history to be made here, and surely one of them could hustle up a sponsor to get paid for the T. Say, the American Civil Liberties Union.
 
But there is another avenue for Green, and that is in the celebrity game he is helping to coach. Yes, someone had to draw the shortest straw of the weekend, and sitting through the Kevin Hart Cares Way Too Much Memorial Game is Green's.

Though there has never been a technical foul rained upon a player (hell, there hasn’t been a player foul out since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1987), there is one coach to get one – the redoubtable Red Auerbach, who got thrown out of the 1967 game in the Cow Palace by Willie Smith and Earl Strom, with the kicker being that he had retired from active coaching the year before, and might have been playing it for laughs himself. After all, he coached an old-timers game, the ’84 game and got tossed from that one as well, the cranky little elf.
  
Here lies another opportunity for Green to win some eyeballs with the simple act of snapping over some bogus foul call against Candace Parker or Baron Davis, or even better, getting into a shouting match on the bench with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who is playing on Green's team.
 
I mean, under what other circumstances would you watch this sneakered B-list-and-below tire fire? Draymond Green doesn’t owe us a snap, but the game could use one, and he is better qualified than anyone – except, now that we think of it, Cuban.
 
Green and Cousins should then double down on Sunday and double-team Malloy (he’s the official who looks like a coat rack on wheels), or Mauer (he’s the official who looks like he had his hair styled at a Lego factory) to get one each, maybe at the same moment, even if it’s just for comedy value.
 
I mean, the T’s wouldn’t count against their regular season totals, people would laugh, highlight clips would be enhanced, and Adam Silver could come from the stands and fine them each a quintazillion units of money from a country that no longer exists. It’s a cavalcade of cheap laughs in a game that had 369 points a year ago and can use all the useful comedy it can get. 
 
And on the rule of thumb that if you’re gonna go, go big, the weekend is in the hands of DeMarcus Cousins and Draymond Green. Let your inner complaints department run free, gentlemen. It’s good for the game. Trust us.

Warriors slap themselves awake before sleep time at All-Star break

Warriors slap themselves awake before sleep time at All-Star break

The Golden State Warriors had a hard time getting involved with the task at hand Wednesday night – namely, packing for the weekend.
 
Their basketball work, on the other hand – well, they came as close as a team can come to doing it in their sleep. And if there is a lesson in that, it can be found upside the Sacramento Kings’ collecting skulls. 
 
In boxing the Kings, 106-83, almost entirely on the strength of an overwhelming third quarter, the Warriors eased into the All-Star break four games clear of the San Antonio Spurs and playing largely against their own standard until the playoffs begin a million years from now.
 
Wednesday’s odd twist, which didn’t really move the needle all that much, was that Draymond Green got hurled into the ether in the final minute of the first half for two staccato waves of disgust and a pungent and disputatious colloquialism at official Ron Garretson. The technical fouls are his ninth and 10th of the season, closing the gap between him and league leader DeMarcus Cousins to seven, and that of suspension by the NBA’s Bureau Of Politeness to six.
 
But in his absence, the Warriors put up their 16th 40-point quarter of the season, blitzing the Kings, 42-15, largely behind Klay Thompson’s shooting (17 points on five-of-six) and Patrick McCaw’s ridiculous defensive work (he was plus-28 in 10 minutes).
 
And it wasn’t so much that they were beating the Kings as a show of solidarity for their wronged colleague (Green was called for a wonky foul but earned the two technicals) but as a realization that they were going to have to work much harder and more efficiently to slap themselves from their first-half torpor.
 
And slap they did, as they usually do. Thompson was the obvious catalyst, McCaw the omnipresent annoyance, and Kevin Durant (21/7/7) was properly Durant-y, but they also excised DeMarcus Cousins (a paltry 13/4/6 in 22 minutes) from the Kings’ game, in all putting down a 28-2 run in less than seven minutes to more than negate the fact that the Kings were three points better in the other 41.
 
But that’s Golden State in a pretty mahiogany box. The Warriors do that a lot, which is why they have won 34 of its 47 victories by double digits, and 17 by 20 or more. They have elevated the bar of stimulus for their home crowds to the point where they sounded almost Staples Center-disinterested through the first half. It took a Thompson 3 and then a Curry 3 a minute later to get them involved at all, but as the Kings kept going down the floor to achieve nothing over 16 possessions, the crowd got their time-released jollies and went home satisfied if not tingly. 
 
The game spoke very little new of the Warriors, but it showed the Kings what the reward for finishing eighth will be. True, the Kings will take anything given that they have missed the playoffs with a stirring consistency this past decade, and since the Warriors are almost certainly going to win the conference and Oklahoma City is almost certainly uncatchable, the Warriors would be their only fate.
 
And it would be a fate that would probably look a lot more like Wednesday’s than the Kings’ overtime win two Saturdays ago. Such is the gulf between the two, Draymond Green or no Draymond Green.
 
Not that that’s news or anything, but it’s all there is before this eight-day break. The Kings are in a death-war with Denver and Dallas and Portland and New Orleans and Minnesota, and the Warriors . . . are just the Warriors. Even if, as they were Wednesday night, just the Warriors for 12 minutes.

Instant Replay: Klay catches fire, Warriors surge past Kings in second half

Instant Replay: Klay catches fire, Warriors surge past Kings in second half

BOX SCORE

Golden State eased into the All-Star break by pretending it had already started, but couldn’t prevent their essential Warrior-ness from eventually emerging, throttling the Sacramento Kings with a building-clearing 109-86 final. It was their 17th victory of 20 or more points, six more than second-place Houston.

Klay Thompson (35/5/4, plus-36 in 31 minutes) snapped the sleep out of the Warriors, who blah-ed their way through a 47-point first half, and sent to New Orleans and various golf and dining establishments with a 47-9 record, while Sacramento dropped a chance to cut the gap between themselves and the playoffs to a half-game.
 
The game began turgidly enough, with the Warriors taking a 19-9 lead largely on the basis of making eight of their first nine shots before slowly returning most of that lead by missing 15 of their next 20. The early highlight was Stephen Curry’s over-the-right-shoulder block of a Willie Cauley-Stein gimme near the end of the first quarter, but it wasn’t nearly enough to excite a stolid and underinvolved crowd.
 
The game got no better in the second quarter, but the officiating irked Draymond Green enough to get two technical fouls for protesting a foul call in the final minute before the half. He aired out official Ron Garretson and then reloaded seconds later to get tossed, his ninth and 10th technical of the season.
 
It didn’t serve as immediate inspiration, but the Warriors’ inability to be uninteresting for an entire game reared its head in the third quarter. Their defense held Sacramento to 5-for-23 shooting and forced six turnovers, while offensively they scored 42 points (12 assists on 14 baskets), allowing Steve Kerr to clear the bench in the final eight minutes of mock. DeMarcus Cousins, the king of Kings, was held to a minimal 13 points and four rebounds in 22 minutes.
 
STANDOUT PERFORMER
 
Thompson, returning from his absence against Denver, hit his first five shots, plus the game-sparking trey 3:37 into the third quarter and guided the Warriors through their soul-searing 42-15 period.
 
TURNING POINT
 
Thompson’s three to give the Warriors a 60-57 lead early in the third became the start of an absurd 22-0 run that took a close but bland game and made it a lopsided and bland game. He was easily the standout performer on a night that begged for them, and reiterated why the Warriors are the Warriors. They front-run like few teams in the history of the game.
 
INJURY REPORT

Warriors: C Zaza Pachulia (R rotator cuff strain) and F/C David West (L thumb fracture) remained out, but Kerr expected them to be ready after the break.

Kings: F Omri Casspi (R foot tendon tear and R calf muscle strain), F Rudy Gay (L Achilles tendon rupture), G Ty Lawson (L thigh strain) and G Garrett Temple (L hamstring tear) did not play.

WHAT’S NEXT

Thirty-three percent of the roster goes to New Orleans for the All-Star Game, and then regathers with the rest of the employees for games next Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers and Saturday against Brooklyn at The O. Both are 7:30 starts.