Intentional foul in final seconds nearly costs Warriors

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Intentional foul in final seconds nearly costs Warriors

With the Warriors leading the Nuggets 106-103 in the finalseconds of Thursdays game at Oracle, Andre Iguodala came down the right sideof the court looking to make a 3-pointer to tie the game and send it intoovertime.

RECAP: Warriors 106, Nuggets 105
Jarrett Jack had missed at the other end with nine secondsremaining, and so the game was coming down to this possession.As Iguodala approached the arc, Jack committed anintentional foul on him, wanting to take the potential 3-point game-tying shotout of the equation.But the official ruled that Iguodala was in the act ofshooting on the foul and awarded him three free throws with 3.4 secondsremaining -- and a chance to send the game into overtime.To be sure, it was a questionable call. And lets go aheadand make it a bad call for the purposes of this discussion.But the point here is not to harp on the call. The point here is to show an example of why intentionallyfouling late in the game with more than a two-point lead isnt always theno-brainer that some believe it is.It is becoming more and more common that teams will foulinside, lets say, five seconds or so with a three-point lead so as not toallow the trailing team an opportunity to tie the game with a3-pointer.The thinking is that the percentages are with the team thatswinning to secure a rebound off an intentional miss on the second foul shotattempt as opposed to the trailing team making a 3-pointer to tie thegame.And in theory, it seems to be a sound strategy.But the reality is that when you decide to foul in thatsituation you are also inviting trouble.In that case, you must allow for the unknown of thereferees whistle andor the possibility that your player may not quite foul atthe right time.Thursday night was a perfect example of that. The Warriorswere in a position where if they got one stop at the end of regulation -- onIguodalas last possession -- they would have gone into the locker room winners -- quick and easy.The worst scenario for the Warriors there would have beenIguodala hitting a contested 3-pointer (hopefully) and the game going intoovertime. Certainly not ideal, but you still have a chance to win inovertime.But by choosing to foul -- and with an accompanyingquestionable call -- the Warriors actually put themselves in position to losethe game in regulation.By choosing to foul, youre choosing to extend the game, astrategy that mostly is employed by the team thats losing. And by extendingthe game while youre ahead, youre giving the trailing team more opportunitiesto come back and win the game.In the case of the Warriors-Nuggets Thursday night, it wasalmost a nightmare for Golden State. Iguodala made two free throws with 3.4seconds left, missed the third but Golden State couldnt secure therebound.That left Denver with the last possession and an inboundsplay in the Warriors frontcourt. At that point, the Warriors could have veryeasily lost the game in regulation -- which couldnt have happened if theWarriors had chosen not to foul.Of course, Iguodala ended up making what appeared to be agame-winning buzzer-beater. But replays showed the ball came out of his hands asplit-second after the buzzer.A tenth of a second here or there and its a crushing lossfor Golden State -- and the reason would have been two-fold -- because it choseto foul and because the official made a questionable call.But you have to take into account for that improbability. Inother words, if youre going to foul, you also need to prepare for some thingsbeyond your control. Thats why some coaches elect not to do it, insteadrelying on his teams defense to get one stop.If youre an advocate of fouling with a three-point leadlate in a game, you certainly have a leg to stand on. But choosing not to foulisnt wrong, either. Its just another way to go.

Stojakovic won't be surprised if Curry, Klay finish Top 2 in career 3s

Stojakovic won't be surprised if Curry, Klay finish Top 2 in career 3s

SACRAMENTO -- The NBA game is changing. League records are in jeopardy all over the place, but it’s hard to imagine a bigger statistical shift than that of the 3-point shot. Instituted to start the 1979-80 season, the 3-pointer isn’t just a gimmick, as first thought. It’s the lifeblood of a league that is growing at an incredible pace.

The ability to make the long distance shot used to be a rarity, now it is a prerequisite to enter the league. Even centers like DeMarcus Cousins and Marc Gasol are letting it fly as the game shifts to the perimeter.

The leaderboard is being rewritten and it’s will likely continue to change as more and more players are lining up from behind the arc.

Sacramento Kings executive Peja Stojakovic knows this fact all too well. Out of the league just six years, the Serbian-born sharpshooter has seen his place in the standings diminished almost every season.

“Every decade, every 10-15 years, there is some new, great player that comes in that take the game to a different place we haven’t seen before,” Stojakovic told CSN California earlier this week. “That’s what’s so special about this game.”

When he retired following the 2010-11 season, Stojakovic ranked fourth all-time in made 3-point shots with 1760, trailing only Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Jason Kidd.

Since leaving the game, Jason Terry, Paul Pierce, Vince Carter, Jamal Crawford, Kyle Korver, Joe Johnson, Chauncey Billups, Kobe Bryant and Rashard Lewis have all passed him, leaving Stojakovic in 13th place on the list, but only for another game or two.

Golden State Warriors star point guard Stephen Curry is hot on Stojakovic’ tail, trailing the 3-time All-Star by just 11 makes coming into Wednesday night’s matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Be it Wednesday or sometime late in the week, Curry will almost assuredly surpass the former Kings star.

“Records are meant to be broken,” Stojakovic said. “Steph is definitely a guy, that if he continues to shoot - him and Klay (Thompson), if they continue to stay on the same pace, they can climb all the way to one and two.”

Curry, 28, has led the league four straight seasons in makes, setting new standards multiple times. His 402 triples last season is an NBA record and he holds three of the top four spots all-time for 3-balls in a single season.

Thompson is right behind Curry in most seasons. His 276 makes during 2015-16 is the third most in a single season and he is on pace to hit over 250 shots from deep this year. Through five-plus seasons in the league, Thompson has hit 1182 3-pointers and at age 26, he has plenty more left in him.  

“Our league in general has shifted,” Stojakovic said. “It’s more of a guard’s league and the pace is different. A lot of teams are shooting a lot of threes and Golden State - it suits them pretty well with the personnel they have.”

Both Curry and Thompson are a long way from tracking down Allen’s top spot of 2973, although Curry can get there quickly if he continues to drop in 400-plus bombs a season.

Injuries could play a role in where each of these players end up career-wise, but they are well on their way to shattering the record books.

“They are young enough and the way the league is going, I think if they stay healthy, they can really climb up there all the way to the top,” Stojakovic said.

NBA Gameday: Round 2 of Durant vs Westbrook

NBA Gameday: Round 2 of Durant vs Westbrook

Programming note: Warriors-Thunder coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

OAKLAND -- The Warriors close out their midseason 24-day Northern California residency Wednesday night with yet another game accompanied by drama.

Two days after thumping LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers completely out of Oracle Arena, the Warriors will face MVP candidate Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder -- AKA Kevin Durant’s former team.

The Warriors (35-6) thought they might have to do it without shooting guard Klay Thompson, who went to Portland to visit a gravely ill family member but he arrived at the arena roughly 90 minutes before tip-off and is expected to play..

The Warriors are playing their ninth game out of 10 at home; the other one was up the road in Sacramento. They’re 8-1 since returning from Cleveland on Dec. 26.

Oklahoma City (25-18) is on the fourth leg of a seven-city road trip that spans 13 days, though the Thunder will return home for three days of workouts before going to Utah next Monday.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 13.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Stephen Curry vs. Westbrook: Though the point guards won’t often be in direct matchup -- Thompson, if available, will spend the majority of time defending Westbrook -- each is crucial to his team’s performance. Regardless of who gets the primary assignment on Westbrook, the Warriors will have to rely on team defense and make him a volume shooter. If Curry outplays Westbrook, OKC has no chance.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: No injuries listed; G Klay Thompson (family issue) was listed as questionable, but is at the arena and is expected to play.

Thunder: C Steven Adams (concussion) is listed as out.

LAST 10

Warriors: 8-2. Thunder: 5-5.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors won the first meeting this season, 122-96, on Nov. 3 at Oracle and have won seven of the last eight meetings. The teams met last postseason in the Western Conference Finals, which the Warriors won in seven games.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

KD: Durant has made it clear that facing his former team is different than any other opponent. There is evidence behind this. Playing with visible intensity, he torched OKC for a season-high 39 points in the Nov. 3 game in Oakland. Don’t be surprised if he delivers another impressive performance.

THE PAINT: With Adams out, the Thunder’s interior defense is appreciably weaker. OKC could start backup big man Enes Kanter, who is vulnerable, but more likely will go with a smaller lineup, with Jerami Grant at center. In either case, expect the Warriors to attack at every opportunity.

OKC O: The Thunder offense is weakest in two specific areas: turnovers and 3-point shooting. Westbrook’s ball domination contributes to both. He averages 5.4 giveaways a game and the Thunder, as a team, ranks 29th in 3-point shooting percentage (32.6). The Warriors lead the league in steals and in 3-point defense.