NBA mailbag: Should Rush start at small forward?

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NBA mailbag: Should Rush start at small forward?

Mailtime Brandon Rush as a starter, your thoughts? Jason,San Francisco.Steinmetz: You know what? I wasnt giving Rushmuch of a shot at being the starting small forward until he said that was hisgoal a couple of weeks back. Rush provided a legitimate spark off the bench forthe Warriors a year ago, and a safe assumption would be hed have the same rolethis year.But the more I think about it, the more I think its apossibility.Conventional wisdom is that rookie Harrison Barnes or perhaps Richard Jefferson will stepinto the starting small forward role. Butmaybe Barnes wont be ready to be a full-time starter on Day 1. And maybeJefferson isnt the best option there, either.Rush is the best 3-point shooter of that threesome and hesalso got the potential to be the best defender of the three at least earlyinto the season with Barnes still getting his feet wet.Another thing to keep an eye on is that the one thing coachMark Jackson seems to covet in his lineup is toughness. Its why DominicMcGuire had such a big role on the team last season, and its why Rush couldemerge as the starter at small forward.Its not that Rush is a defensive stopper, but on manynights hell give the Warriors their best shot at defending competent andathletic opposing small forwards.Do you think Bob Myers really needed to clarify hiscomments about Mark Jackson and the team earlier this week? Trapped, BayArea.Steinmetz: Not really, and I dont think he wouldhave had I not asked him directly about it.But I have no problem with Myers reaching out to Jacksonafter realizing that what he said might have not come out perfectly.The whole quote about giving Jackson something to workwith and that the team should be improved -- was much ado about nothing. AllMyers said was that he felt like the organization had given Jackson more towork with this upcoming season than it did last season, and that he expectedthe results to be different.The life span of most NBA coaches is not a long one. Factsare facts and there just arent many coaches who can survive consecutive losingseasons. Its the nature of the business.Injuries or no, the Warriors are coming off a 23-43 season,and they have way more talent this season than last. It only stands to reasonthat everyone is expecting bigger and better things in 2012-13.If the Warriors dont make the playoffs this season it willbe disappointing. And if that does happen, it only makes sense to take a lookat what went wrong whether its front office moves, team chemistry orcoaching.Could the Warriors start Jarrett Jack in thepreseason and see how it goes? Seems like it would be smart to work Curry inslowly. Scott, Bay Area.Steinmetz: I just cant see that happening. Thefocus of Currys entire rehab was to have him 100 percent by training camp, andit looks like thats going to happen. If Curry is healthy, he has to be yourstarter, and here are the reasons:First, youve got to find out more about him as a player.Does he have the potential to be an upper-tier point guard long-term? ManyWarriors fans believe he does, and so this would be the year for Curry to provethat.The only way hes going to prove that is if hes gettingstarters minutes and hes healthy.WATCH: Curry on his health: 'I feel great'
Secondly, if you want to have any chance of re-signingCurry, hes got to be the starter. Why would Curry want to re-sign in GoldenState if hes playing behind Jarrett Jack?Look, there are plenty of people out there who believe Curryis best-suited to be a sixth man, or the first guard off the bench. But itstoo early in his career for Curry to concede that, and you cant blame him forthat.Theres no doubt the Warriors should monitor Currys minutesthis season after coming off an injury plagued 2012-13. But that can happenwith Curry being the starter.The bottom line is if Jack starts ahead of Curry, I thinkyou could safely say that Currys days in Golden State are numbered then.The NBA is a joke. Just say it: Three teams have achance next year. Thats it. NBA is horrible. Vic, Bay Area.Steinmetz: I dont think its a joke, but I dothink the NBA is going to have to figure this super-team thing out. One of thereasons the league and teams gave for locking out the players last year was torestore some kind of competitive balance. But, in essence, the new CBA didnothing to address that.Every player in the league knows that in order to win atitle, youre going to have to go through Miami at this point. Well, the onlyway youre going to beat Miami is to assemble a team with at least two eliteplayers. Thats what the Lakers tried to do by getting Howard.Its what the Nets are trying to do find someone to playalongside Deron Williams. Its why Dallas had Dwight Howard and Williams ontheir radar before free agency.Id say, however, that more than three teams can win thetitle, but its not much more than that. Id give Miami, San Antonio, theLakers, Oklahoma City, Boston and perhaps even the Clippers a shot to win itall.

Secret weapon: Warriors dial up more third quarter magic to beat Orlando

Secret weapon: Warriors dial up more third quarter magic to beat Orlando

Superman has his phone booth, Popeye his spinach and Ali had his rope-a-dope. The greats often have a secret weapon to be unleashed upon opponents who dare pose a threat.

The Warriors of the NBA have the third quarter.

Twelve masterful minutes, customarily the third quarter, is all they need to turn all anxieties to swagger and perspiration into perfume.

It was, on cue, the third quarter that doomed the temporarily uppity Magic in a 118-98 victory on Sunday at Amway Center in Orlando.

Tied 50-50 and down five (55-50) 90 seconds into the third quarter, the Warriors went on a 19-2 tear to go up 12 with 6:54 left. Orlando, which had been encouraged by outplaying the Warriors for the first 25-plus minutes, was powerless to prevent the onslaught.

“We found our energy and execution and stopped turning the ball over,” Stephen Curry, who scored a game-high 27 points, including 7-of-13 shooting from deep, told reporters in Florida. “And after that, we got stops and our talent plays over on the offensive end. It is nice to see shots going in obviously, but you have to get stops and take care of the basketball to get that done.”

The Warriors (38-6) shot 41.9 percent for the field and committed 12 turnovers in the first half, leading to 13 Magic points. Only one Orlando starter, point guard Elfrid Payton, shot less than 50 percent and he was 3-of-8.

So the Warriors, whose sloppy first half could be attributed to the usually early start (9 a.m. Pacific), reached for the prescription that best cures their every ailment. They turned to ferocious defense, which generated torrential offense. They outscored the Magic 42-24 in the third quarter, pretty much putting away the game.

“For whatever reason, we’ve had a bunch really good third quarters in the last couple of weeks,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It seems to be the time when we pick up our defense and it translates into some transition hoops and 3-pointers. I don’t know why, but that seems to be the key time for us these days.”

The third-quarter blitzes are more than a trend. It’s becoming an almost predictable act of magic.

The Warriors have outscored opponents in the third in 17 of their last 19 games -- with the margin double digits on nine of those occasions. In seven of those 17 games, they were tied or trailing at the half. They lost only two of those games, to the Cavs and the Grizzlies, to both of whom they blew sizable fourth-quarter leads.

Furthermore, the Warriors’ plus-268 points differential in the third quarter is by far the best in the NBA.

It was, indeed, the third quarter that shook them from the stupor of those early Sunday wakeup calls.

“There was no morning,” Draymond Green said. “It was wake up, grab some food, put on some sweats, and get out of there. I think my bus was 9:30 a.m. That’s 6:30 a.m. West Coast time . . . it was brutal.”

Must be nice to know that even on brutal days, and even after a throwaway first half, they can usually find enough lightning in the third quarter to find victory.

On anniversary of Kobe's 81, Lakers score 73 in franchise's worst loss

On anniversary of Kobe's 81, Lakers score 73 in franchise's worst loss

BOX SCORE

DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks had something to prove on Sunday following two straight tough losses.

Coming off a three-point effort in an overtime loss on Friday, Nowitzki scored all 13 of his points in the first half and Dallas gave the Los Angeles Lakers the worst loss in their history, 122-73.

"We didn't show up to play," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "It's embarrassing for us as a team and for us as an organization. The effort just wasn't there tonight, which I don't understand."

The 49-point defeat just edged Los Angeles' two previous worst losses at 48 points, most recently 123-75 at Utah on March 28, 2016.

The Mavericks' winning margin was the third-largest in their history.

It was Dallas' 13th straight win over the Lakers, who have lost six of their last seven games overall.

After a season-best three-game winning streak, the Mavericks had blown a nine-point halftime lead at Miami on Thursday and lost to Utah on Friday.

Nowitzki was 1 for 13 against the Jazz, including a missed 3-pointer that would have tied the game in overtime.

"I looked sluggish the other night on that back-to-back," Nowitzki said, "but took a day off yesterday, didn't do anything. Felt a lot better today."

The game was close for 10 minutes, with Dallas leading 23-22 before the Mavericks scored the next 15 points to blow it open. Nowitzki had seven points during the run. He played just 20 minutes.

Justin Anderson led seven Mavericks in double figures with a game-high 19 points in 16 minutes, his most playing time since Dec. 27.

The Mavericks led 67-33 at the half and never looked back. They both scored their most points and allowed the fewest in a half and a game this season. The 34-point halftime lead was the third-largest in franchise history.

The Lakers scored their fewest points in a quarter, a first half and a game.

"What's deflating is that we didn't guard anybody tonight," Lakers forward Julius Randle said.

Lou Williams led the Lakers with 15 points.

Dallas' Seth Curry scored 14 points, including seven straight in the first quarter.

Wesley Matthews and Deron Williams also had 13 points. Devin Harris and Pierre Jackson scored 10 each. Rookies Jackson and Nicolas Brussino (eight points) each reached career highs.

TIP-INS:
Lakers: They played without D'Angelo Russell, second on the team at 14.3 points per game. An MRI taken Saturday showed a mildly sprained right MCL and strained right calf. That left the Lakers with rookie Brandon Ingram starting at point guard, and they had a season-low 10 assists. ... Larry Nance Jr. (bone bruise, left knee) returned after missing 16 games and scored four points.

Mavericks: Dallas' record winning margin was 123-70 win at home over the 76ers on Nov. 13, 2014. They beat the Knicks 128-78 in New York on Jan. 24, 2010. ... J.J. Barea missed his 26th game this season because of a strained left calf aggravated on Friday. Coach Rick Carlisle said he didn't expect Barea back until after the All-Star break (Feb. 24 at the earliest). Andrew Bogut (strained right hamstring) could return this week, according to Carlisle.

LENDING A HAND:
Mavericks G Deron Williams moved into 20th place in NBA history with 6,715 assists, passing Kevin Johnson. Williams has had at least seven assists in seven straight games; on Sunday, he had eight, seven by halftime.

LONG-RANGE:
Nowitzki tied J.R. Smith for 15th place in 3-point field goals by making one for a total of 1,729.

UP NEXT:
Lakers: Travel to Portland for the second game of a three-game trip on Wednesday night.

Mavericks: Complete a three-game homestand on Wednesday night against New York.