Nelson takes unique resume into Hall

540377.jpg

Nelson takes unique resume into Hall

Don Nelson has the most wins in NBA coaching history with 1,335, yet has zero NBA Finals wins.Thus, we can say with confidence that Nelsons induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame is a tribute to his body of work, even though he becomes the first coach never to have either won a championship or taken his team to a title gamegames.This is in and of itself a remarkable achievement, then, as Nelson has always been among the most difficult of coaches to understand. He was a high priest of orthodoxy early in his coaching career in Milwaukee, but became known more as a master tinkerer later on. He won more games than anyone but was defined in large part by his inability to clear the last two hurdles. He is admired for his creativity, yet derided for his eccentricity.In short, he is going to be one of the most debated inductees in the history of the Hall. Not because he doesnt have a perfectly good case to be inducted, but because his case is so different than everyone elses.Halls of fame can often be a strange mixture of statistics and politics, and Nelson had been a finalist often in the past. But while he won often as a player with the Russell Celtics (Nelson was a bruising power forward at the back end of the Boston dynasty), he wasnt a Hall of Famer in uniform. And as a coach, his best work was probably his early work with the Milwaukee Bucks of the early 80s, a team that could never quite navigate around Boston or Philadelphia.Indeed, the fact that he had to wait as long as he has suggests that there was fevered debate inside the room over a series of years about his Hall-worthiness. Having the most wins is a nice bauble, but his credentials were made by the early 2000s.Thirty-one years of coaching has its own metric tonnage, and in three different cities over three different decades, he took 18 teams to the postseason, eventually passing Lenny Wilkens as the coach with the most regular season victories. Wilkens edges him when you throw in postseason wins, in case youre wondering.Nelsons inclusion, then, will create a good deal of debate between now and the actual date he is installed. He changes the template by which future coaches are evaluated, and while he is not unworthy, he changes the debate about the nature of Hall of Fame coaches. Indeed, the fact that this is the Basketball Hall of Fame, and not the NBA Hall of Fame, makes it even more confusing down the road.Nevertheless, his plaque will shine just like the rest, and he has made the Hall safer for innovators and outside-the-box thinkers (Tex Winter's induction in 2011 comes immediately to mind as another mold-breaker) whose resumes may not otherwise be traditionally complete. If that is his true legacy, then his admission serves a greater purpose for the game.

Warriors 'should have our guard up' in Rockets-Spurs back-to-back

Warriors 'should have our guard up' in Rockets-Spurs back-to-back

Programming note: Warriors-Rockets coverage starts today at 4pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

The Warriors left town Monday atop the Western Conference, on the wings of a seven-game win streak and staring into the most consequential 30 hours of the season.

They’re at Houston on Tuesday night, and the explosive Rockets, third in the Western Conference, have emerged as a legitimate threat to reach the NBA Finals.

Immediately after that game, the Warriors make the roughly 200-mile trip to San Antonio for a Wednesday night battle with the Spurs, the most consistent contender of this generation -- and the team whose footsteps are cluttering the ears of the Warriors.

Winning both games is conceivable only if they reach the level of lights-out defense that has been essential to their recovery in the wake of losing Kevin Durant. A sweep also stretches the boundaries of probability.

A split would be acceptable, under the circumstances, particularly if the victory is over the Spurs.

Losing both games would slice into the Warriors’ hopes of maintaining the No. 1 overall seed for the playoffs.

The Warriors say they are ready. And coach Steve Kerr insists they are rested.

“We should have our guard up and we should be ready to roll,” Kerr says. “We are playing well. We’ve got to keep it going.”

The Warriors (59-14) own the best record in the NBA and have a two-game lead over the Spurs (57-16). A win over the Rockets (51-22) would guarantee the Warriors would finish ahead of Houston.

Here’s the rub: The Warriors are 0-2 against the Spurs and 1-1 against the Rockets.

“We know it’s a tough trip,” Draymond Green says. “The Rockets are playing well and, also, San Antonio is playing well.

“But you know, we’re going there and play a hard game, which we’ve done a good job of as of late. We’re going there with a defensive mindset and everything else will fall into place, and we’ll be just fine.”

Defense has been the hallmark of the Warriors for much of this season, and certainly over the past seven games, during which they have led the league in defensive rating. The lockdowns generally start with Green, but the efforts of his teammates, particularly Andre Iguodala, also have allowed the Warriors to play some of their most efficient offense of the season.

They’ve managed to post an NBA-best 99.0 defensive rating this month despite the absence of Durant, who had been stellar on defense and, overall, the team’s best player.

No opponent in the NBA tests defenses to the degree the Rockets do. With MVP candidate James Harden orchestrating things, they’re second in scoring (115.8 points per game), just behind the Warriors (115.9), and their 25.4 assists per game is No. 2, behind the Warriors’ 30.4. Moreover, Houston is No. 1 in 3-point makes and attempts. They average 14.7 threes per game; the Warriors are fourth at 12.0.

“You’ve got to be really disciplined against these guys,” Kerr says. “That means sticking to your principles but not getting frustrated when they do make shots. They make tough shots. But as long as they’re tough ones, and not easy ones, and you stay with it, you can get through it.

"We played a really disciplined game here last time and won in this building. That’s what it takes. We’ll see if we can do it again.”

Doing so won’t make the next night, San Antonio, any easier. It will be different, given the Spurs’ shooting accuracy and offensive proficiency, but no less challenging.

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.