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.

Spurs destroy Cavs by 29, back within two of Warriors

Spurs destroy Cavs by 29, back within two of Warriors

BOX SCORE

SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and the San Antonio Spurs dismantled the ailing Cleveland Cavaliers 103-74 on Monday night in a showdown that turned into a major letdown for the defending NBA champions.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol added 14 points apiece for the Spurs, who won their fifth straight.

Cleveland (47-26) dropped its second in a row, set a season low for points and fell a half-game behind Boston (48-26) for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Cavaliers star LeBron James was injured late in the third quarter after taking an elbow to the base of his neck. He remained on the bench for a while receiving medical attention, then headed toward the locker room and didn't return to the game.

His status was not immediately known.

Cleveland has been out of sync recently, losing three of five, and those struggles only got worse against San Antonio. The Spurs led by as many as 33 points to the delight of the sold-out crowd.

San Antonio (57-16) is two games behind Golden State (59-14) for the league's best record entering a home showdown with the Warriors on Wednesday.

Cleveland opted to play its stars rather than sit them for rest, but the trio of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love sat out the fourth quarter of its second rout in the past two weeks.

James exited with 25 seconds remaining in the third after taking an elbow to his neck from David Lee on a rebound. James continually rubbed the area before collapsing after he crossed midcourt and remained on the floor for about a minute before walking unassisted to the bench. He left for the locker room early in the fourth quarter during a timeout.

James finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 29 minutes.

The Spurs held the Cavaliers scoreless for three minutes after San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was issued a technical foul during a timeout with 6:38 remaining in the first half.

Leonard hit a right-handed runner as the second quarter closed to give the Spurs a 64-40 lead.

TIP-INS:
Cavaliers: Cleveland completed its schedule against the West, finishing 16-14. In addition to losing to the Spurs by 29 points, the Cavaliers lost by 35 to Golden State and 30 to the Los Angeles Clippers. . Cleveland F Kyle Korver missed his third straight game with a sore left foot, and the team plans to sit him for several games to see if rest and treatment helps. Korver will sit out Thursday in Chicago and Friday at home against Philadelphia before being re-evaluated, a team spokesman said. The shooting specialist missed seven games earlier this month with an inflamed tendon in his foot. . G Iman Shumpert missed his second consecutive game with a sore right knee. . James needs 24 points to pass Shaquille O'Neal for seventh overall in career scoring. O'Neal has 28,596 career points. . The Cavaliers averaged 116.3 points in their previous four games.

Spurs: San Antonio is holding its opponents to an average of less than 100 points for the 22nd straight season. . Danny Green tied his season high with four blocked shots. . Leonard has scored in double figures in 100 straight games.

UP NEXT:
Cavaliers: At the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.

Spurs: Host the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.

Iguodala making loud free agency case to Warriors in Durant's absence

Iguodala making loud free agency case to Warriors in Durant's absence

OAKLAND -- It was with impeccable timing, for the Warriors and for Andre Iguodala, that he has spent recent weeks summoning all the best parts of his game.

He has been a disruptive force on defense, as usual, but at a time when the Warriors needed something extra at both ends of the court, he is providing an abundance of offensive electricity.

Iguodala came through once more on Sunday as the Warriors suffocated Memphis in the fourth quarter to take a 106-94 win at Oracle Arena. Though the team’s Sixth Man again scored at an efficient clip -- 20 points on eight shot attempts -- his ability to energize teammates from Stephen Curry to Draymond Green to Klay Thompson and beyond is no less significant.

“We feed off his energy when we see him get a rebound or get a steal, push up the court, make a crazy inside-out dribble and finish at the rim, knock down threes or play-make for other guys,” Curry said. “It’s fun to watch.”

Iguodala’s rise has coincided with the loss of Kevin Durant, the team’s leading scorer and someone who plays the same position. With Durant out, Iguodala has taken on additional playing time, which can be risky for someone in his 13th season.

“He’s been fantastic,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He looks incredibly athletic, bouncy and fresh. He’s a pro. The guy just knows how to take care of his body. He’s done a great job of stepping up in KD’s absence and recognizing what we need from him.”

The Warriors have played 13 games since Durant went down with a knee injury, and Iguodala has played in 11 of them, shooting 44 percent from deep and 61.8 percent overall. The man who shot 62.3 percent from the line in his first three seasons as a Warrior is at 70.1 percent this season. Leadership also is part of the package.

“I try to read (what’s needed) when I get into the game,” Iguodala said. “Try to bring that energy. And, more than anything, lead by example. Not say too much. Just show it.”

When Iguodala is sprinting up and down the court, rising and dunking on one end, stripping balls away on the other, the Warriors are appreciably better team. If the Curry-Durant-Green-Thompson foursome is the engine, Iguodala is the turbo boost.

“We’re a completely different team when he’s as aggressive as he’s been of late,” Green said. “When he’s moving the way he’s been moving -- he’s beating everybody down the floor -- it makes us a completely different team. “

Igoudala’s minutes have spiked, from 23 per game in November, to 26 in December, to 27 in January and February, to almost 29 in March.

“I don’t want to run his minutes up too much,” Kerr said. “But if he has to play a couple extra minutes while KD is out, then that’s fine.”

It’s fine with Iguodala and it’s paying off for the Warriors.

Iguodala hopes it pays off, literally, when he becomes a free agent in July.

Though free agents entering their 14th season don’t often command big money, he is making a very impressive audition for the Warriors or any team that might be interested in his services.

Iguodala has made it clear he’d prefer to stay in the Bay Area, and at this rate the Warriors may have to find the necessary coins to bring him back.