NBA DAILY DRIBBLE: Warriors win the battle of North Carolina

NBA results: February 27, 2019

Golden State Warriors (121) – Charlotte Hornets (110)

Portland Trail Blazers (123) – Cleveland Cavaliers (110)

Indiana Pacers (109) – Detroit Pistons (113)

San Antonio Spurs (85) – Brooklyn Nets (101)

Phoenix Suns (124) – Miami Heat (121)

Milwaukee Bucks (117) – Chicago Bulls (106)

Atlanta Hawks (111) – Houston Rockets (119)

LA Lakers (105) – Memphis Grizzlies (110)

Sacramento Kings (105) – Minnesota Timberwolves (112)

Philadelphia 76ers (111) – New Orleans Pelicans (110)

Dallas Mavericks (112) – LA Clippers (121)

Five things that happened in the NBA today:

1. Warriors win Carolina rematch

Because this year’s All-Star Game was held in Charlotte, it became kind of a homecoming of sorts for Steph Curry. The Warriors superstar was the talk of the town, as he and his family were treated like royalty during in their return to North Carolina. One person was kind of forgotten during that weekend. Kemba Walker, Charlotte’s own superstar made the All-Star Game and was representing the hometown during one of the game’s biggest events.

A week after the All-Star Weekend, Curry and the Warriors were visiting Charlotte once again. It was supposed to be a great chance for Walker to carry his team to a big win. Unfortunately for him, Curry was still armed with All-Stars in Golden State, Walker didn’t have the same arsenal on his team.

Curry had an awful game in his second hometown return this season. He could only manage to score 16 points on 27% shooting. Walker was also only marginally better, scoring 23 on 37% shooting. It was the other stars that shined in this game.

Charlotte leaned on Cody Zeller to do the heavy lifting. He scored a career-high 28 points, missing only one shot the entire game. Zeller nailed his first 12 tries to carry the Hornets offense.

But the Warriors were just too stacked. Matching Zeller’s output was Cousins. He played 31 minutes in the game, his most since his return from injury. Because of that, Cousins beasted for 24 points and 11 boards.

Leading the Warriors in scoring was the other Splash Brother, Klay Thompson. He dropped 26 points to add to the Golden State offense.

Draymond Green nearly had a triple-double with 14 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists. Kevin Durant had a chill 20. When the Warriors are clicking like this, they’re hard to stop. Golden State bounced back from a stunning loss to a Harden-less Rockets and are gearing up for another monster win run.

2. Playoff Mode?

Remember when LeBron James said that he’s turned on Playoff Mode? He then showed it off by leading a second-half comeback against the Rockets? Well that might have been a one-game hit. After that big win to open the stretch run, the Lakers have come back down to earth with back-to-back losses to the Pelicans and the Grizzlies, two lottery teams trying to lose games.

More than the actual losing, what has Laker fans frustrated is how James is handling the losing. Against the Grizzlies he was passive on defense and looked like he wasn’t even trying. There are even moments where he just stops playing defense entirely.

Then, after the game, the Lakers’ leader went off on his teammates, saying that the spotlight of the Lakers might be too much to handle for “distracted” players.

The Lakers are 29-31, 11th out in the West. There might be a real chance that they miss the Playoffs this season. But the bigger story is that there might be a real chance that James misses the Playoffs for the first time since 2005.

3. KAT is back

A few days ago, Karl-Anthony Towns was in a car accident. His parked car was hit by a semi. For real.

He was held out of Minnesota’s last game due to the league’s concussion protocol. Thankfully, Towns wasn’t seriously injured in the accident. He proved it by going off against the Kings. He exploded for 24 points and 21 rebounds, including a highlight dunk on the break.

Stay safe, KAT.

4. Harden’s 30-point streak ends

James Harden had an awful game against the Hawks. He missed all 10 of his three-pointers and shot only 7/21 from the field. But even with those numbers, he was one basket away from keeping his 30-point streak alive.

Harden had 28 points and had a chance to get to 30 with six seconds left in a won game. The Hawks decided that they would team up to end his streak. They quadruple-teamed Harden, preventing the Rockets superstar from getting a shot up in the final moments.

Harden’s 30-point streak ends at 32 games, the second most in NBA history next to Wilt Chamberlain’s 65-game streak.

But one streak did continue in today’s game. Trae Young stayed hot for the Hawks. The rookie continued his stellar play this month. His latest game was one of his best. Young exploded for 36 points on eight threes.

5. Doc Rivers with the classy gesture

With nine seconds left in a game that was already wrapped-up, Doc Rivers made sure that a legend was appreciated by the Clippers crowd. Rivers called a timeout and got on the mic to have the LA fans cheer for Dirk Nowitzki.

This could be the last time Nowitzki plays on the Clippers’ home court and Rivers gave hime a memorable moment as a parting gift.

Photo from Getty Images