NBA News & Notes: Spurs and Warriors to meet in historic battle, Kobe's career in numbers

April 7, 2016

In the DSH's latest NBA News and Notes report, we take a look at tonight's historic regular season game between two of the league's elite teams this season, the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors, and also examine Kobe Bryant's career via the numbers:

Spurs-Warriors Clash in Historic Game

Tonight marks the first meeting in NBA history between two teams that enter with at least 65 victories each, as the Golden State Warriors will battle the San Antonio Spurs in a showdown in Oakland.  If the Warriors prevail, they would clinch the best record in the Western Conference (and in the NBA), and would become the second team in NBA history to win 70 regular-season games.

Golden State, coming off a shocking overtime loss to Minnesota on Tuesday, has not lost two in a row all season. No team has ever gone an entire season without losing back-to-back games (San Antonio, riding a four-game winning streak, also hasn’t lost consecutive games this season).

The Warriors and Spurs have a combined winning percentage of .865. The highest combined winning percentage among the top two teams in one season is .829 in 1995-96. In that season, the Bulls finished an NBA-record 72-10 and the SuperSonics were 64-18; Chicago went on to defeat Seattle in The Finals.

Golden State can surpass Chicago’s single-season record of 72 victories by winning its last four games – the two against the Spurs and two against the Grizzlies (Saturday in Memphis at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN and Wednesday, April 13 in Golden State at 10:30 p.m.).

Warriors guard Stephen Curry needs 18 three-pointers to reach 400 for the season. With four more threes, he would have 100 more than in 2014-15, when he set the NBA single-season record with 286.

The Spurs have set an NBA record with 39 consecutive home wins to start a season, leaving them two victories from the first perfect home regular-season record in league history. San Antonio’s final two home games are Sunday against the Warriors and Tuesday, April 12, against Oklahoma City (8 p.m. ET, TNT).

Overall, the Spurs have won 48 straight home regular-season games, the second-longest streak in NBA history behind the Warriors' 54 games (that run ended with a loss to Boston on April 1). The Spurs’ last regular-season home loss was March 12, 2015, a 128-125 overtime defeat to the Cavaliers in which Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving scored 57 points, an NBA high for the 2014-15 season.

With his next appearance, Spurs big man Tim Duncan will pass Reggie Miller for sole possession of second place on the NBA’s all-time list of games played with one team. Duncan has played 1,389 games with San Antonio, the same number Miller played with Indiana. John Stockton appeared in 1,504 games with Utah.

Talkin' Smack

Victor Oladipo, Magic guard: “Being a professional athlete doesn’t just mean playing a sport. It means giving back to those in need and contributing to something bigger than yourself.”

Michael Pina, “The rookie who lacks any noticeable flaws, who makes the phrase ‘future Hall of Famer’ feel more like an objective statement than a hyperbole, is rare. [Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony] Towns is that good.”

Ben Cohen, Wall Street Journal: “[T]he dominance the Warriors have displayed this season can be traced back to one of the most unusual ideas embraced by the data-loving executives: the notion that the NBA’s 3-point line was a market inefficiency hiding in plain sight.”

Monthly Honorees

The Heat’s Josh Richardson and the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns were named the NBA Rookies of the Month.

The Cavaliers’ LeBron James and the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook were named the NBA Players of the Month.

The Numbers

  • The Mavericks are allowing an average of 86.0 points during their current five-game winning streak, which has given them a one-game lead over the Jazz for seventh place in the West.

  • Pistons center Andre Drummond has joined Isiah Thomas (1984-85) as the only Detroit players to lead the NBA in double-doubles for a season. Drummond has 66 double-doubles – 14 more than any other player this season.

  • The Trail Blazers, who clinched a playoff spot Wednesday, are a season-high six games above .500 (43-37).

  • Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (27.1 ppg, 11.6 rpg) is on pace to become the first player to average at least 27 points and 11 rebounds since Shaquille O’Neal in 2002-03. Cousins, who is also averaging 3.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.4 blocks, would be the first player to average 27 ppg/11 rpg/3 apg/1.5 spg/1 bpg since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1993-94.

  • Bulls center Pau Gasol is averaging 16.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.0 blocks. The last player to average 16 ppg/11 rpg/4 apg/2 bpg for a season was Kevin Garnett in 2003-04.

  • Suns guard Devin Booker has six 30-point games this season, the most by a rookie since Blake Griffin (14) in 2010-11 with the Clippers.

  • Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas has been the team’s outright scoring leader in each of the last 17 games, the longest streak in the NBA this season.

  • Thunder center Enes Kanter scored a career-high 33 points and grabbed a season-high 20 rebounds Wednesday, joining DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond and Dwight Howard as the only players with 30-and-20 games this season.

  • Raptors rookie guard Norman Powell, the 46th pick in NBA Draft 2015 out of UCLA, averaged 14.5 points and shot 52.6 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from three-point range in a six-game stretch from March 25 to April 2.

  • Pacers forward Paul George has scored 1,826 points in 2015-16, the fourth most for a season in team history. Billy Knight is the all-time leader with 2,075 points in 1976-77, followed by Reggie Miller in 1989-90 (2,016) and 1990-91 (1,855).

  • Clippers center DeAndre Jordan is shooting an NBA-best 70.1 percent from the field after hitting an NBA-best 71.0 percent last season. No NBA player has ever had multiple seasons of shooting at least 70.0 percent.

  • Magic center Nikola Vucevic has come off the bench to average 21.5 points (on 63.9 percent shooting) and 8.8 rebounds in 26.6 minutes over his last four games.

  • April 13, 1986 (30 years ago): The Celtics closed out the 1985-86 season with a 135-107 win over the Nets at Boston Garden, finishing an NBA-record 40-1 at home.

Second Hawaii Player Declares for NBA Draft

University of Hawaii junior guard Aaron Valdes has decided to forgo his final year of eligibility to turn pro.

Valdes is the second Rainbow Warrior underclassman to depart the program joining junior forward Stefan Jankovic, who also decided to forgo his final year of eligibility.

In a statement, Valdes said, “After taking the last few weeks to weigh my options for the future, I have finally made one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. Please know this was not an easy decision and it required much prayer and consideration. That being said, I have decided to forego my final year of eligibility at the University of Hawaii and explore my professional options as a basketball player.”

This past season, Valdes was UH’s second-leading scorer (14.1 ppg) and ranked third in rebounding (5.5 rpg), assists (72), and steals (35). He shot 47.1 percent from the field and tied for second on the team with 43 3-pointers. Valdes was selected as the Big West Conference Tournament’s Most Valuable Player after averaging 17.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game in UH’s three wins and was also picked second-team all-conference.

Valdes also added, “These past 4 years in Hawaii have been some of the best and most memorable and I will never forget the moments we’ve shared together. It has been an honor and a privilege to represent such a great state and such great people. Please know that wherever my future leads, I will always carry Hawaii with me.”

Valdes, a junior from Whittier, Calif., was a two-year starter who appeared in 94 career games in three seasons and totaled 975 points (10.4 ppg), which is 18th all-time, 403 rebounds (4.3 rpg), 122 assists, and 100 steals. He also finished with 78 career 3-pointers and shot 47.9 percent from the field and 33.8 percent from 3-point range.

“We want to thank AV for all his efforts and contributions to our program, to this University and this state,” head coach Eran Ganot said. “AV is an inspiring story as someone who put in a lot of work to take both his individual game and our program to new heights. Additionally, he has been tremendous in the community. He made great strides on the court each season and I know that will continue in his professional career. We will follow from afar and we know Hawaii will always be home for him.”

A Look at Kobe's Career in Numbers

Five-time NBA Champion Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers will play the final game of his 20-year career Wednesday, April 13, when he leads the Lakers against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. Below are facts and figures about Bryant’s historic career:

48,527: Minutes played through April 7, 2016, the sixth most in NBA history

33,521: Career points, third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone (36,928)

5,640: Points scored in the NBA Playoffs, third most in NBA history behind Michael Jordan (5,987) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5,762)

81: Points in a 122-104 victory against the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 22, 2006, the second-highest total in NBA history behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962

50: Twenty-four career 50-point games, third most in NBA history behind Wilt Chamberlain (118) and Michael Jordan (31)

37: This season he became the first player age 37 or older to score at least 25 points in three straight games since Michael Jordan at 40 in 2003

24: Jersey number beginning in the 2006-07 season after switching from No. 8

20: Seasons with the Lakers, the most with one team in NBA history

18: Consecutive All-Star Game selections (the longest streak in NBA history) and All-Star Game selections overall (the second most all time behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 19)

16: Appearances on Christmas Day, the most in NBA history

15: All-Star Game starts, the most in NBA history

13: Overall selection by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA Draft

11: All-NBA First Team selections, tied with Karl Malone for the most in NBA history

9: NBA All-Defensive First Team selections, tied with Kevin Garnett, Michael Jordan and Gary Payton for the most in NBA history

5: NBA championships, tied with Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs for the highest total among active players

4: All-Star MVP Awards (2002, 2007, 2009, 2011), tied with Bob Pettit for the most in NBA history

2: Finals MVP Awards (2009, 2010)

1: NBA Most Valuable Player Award (2008)

By Staff of and news services

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