Steph Curry-Bradley Beal NBA scoring race heats up and leads to a Twitter beef
While the race for playoff seeding and spots in the play-in tournament heats up in the final week of the regular season, the chase for the scoring title is just as intense.
The scoring race got some added intrigue Monday after an injury and some social media sniping.
Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry scored 36 points in a 119-116 victory over the Utah Jazz. His go-ahead 3-pointer with 14 seconds left sealed the win and clinched a spot in the Western Conference play-in tournament for the Warriors. He bumped his season scoring average up to 31.9 points per game, just ahead of Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal at 31.4.
But while Curry was on the floor against the Jazz, Beal was busy on Twitter taking aim at Curry's teammate Kent Bazemore for his comments during a pregame interview.
Earlier Monday, Bazemore spoke with reporters at shootaround and mentioned how "unreal" Curry's scoring has been in recent weeks.
“49 points in 29 minutes… That’s unreal. We got guys hurting hamstrings to keep up.”
Kent Bazemore on Steph Curry leading the scoring title race vs. Bradley Beal 👀pic.twitter.com/pltWYndmM3
"Forty-nine points in 29 minutes, though, that's unreal," Bazemore said in reference to Curry's outing Saturday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. With a grin, he added, "Then we got guys hurting hamstrings, trying to keep up."
Beal scored 50 points Saturday but strained his left hamstring during the Wizards' game and sat out the end of the fourth quarter and overtime. He did not play Monday and has been ruled out for Washington's next game Wednesday. Beal took issue with Bazemore's apparent jab and blasted him in a series of tweets.
"You don’t know why I go out there and play and it damn sure ain’t for another man’s approval!!!" Beal tweeted at Bazemore. "You a straight LAME!!!"
Beal wasn't done: "I stay in my lane!! Focus on BRAD. Idc what another man doing in this league. I’m concerned about me and MY GUYS over here!! Keep that goofy (expletive) over there @24Bazemore!!"
@24Bazemore 👇🏾👇🏾👇🏾 pic.twitter.com/deRpNP4xcK
Bazemore dismissed the feud later Monday after the Warriors' game and said he had no ill will for Beal.
"I guess you can't joke anymore," Bazemore said. "Whatever. I don't know man, I feel like I'm a pretty lighthearted guy. I stay in my own lane. I don't say things to ruffle feathers. If you want to know where my loyalty is, it's to (Curry). Anybody out there chasing him, it's going to be tough.
“I guess you can’t joke anymore.”
Baze responds to Bradley Beal’s tweets pic.twitter.com/mpYLL9c3jw
"I ain't wish anything bad on him. It was just a comment. It's the kind of world we're living in right now, little bit sensitive, little sore palm calling me out. Whatever. … I ain't got time for all that Twitter trash."
Curry is closing in on his second career scoring title. He's been on a real tear the last six weeks, averaging 37.4 points per game since April 1. The Warriors and Wizards each have three games remaining to determine the scoring title, but Beal's injury leaves his status uncertain beyond Wednesday.
Here are four more things to know today in the NBA:
Return of the king (again)
LeBron James was back at practice Monday and will reportedly return to the lineup Tuesday for the Los Angeles Lakers as they prepare for one final push for a top-six seed in the Western Conference and guaranteed playoff spot. James was a full participant in practice, but Lakers coach Frank Vogel did not confirm his official status for Tuesday's game against the New York Knicks. Vogel said the Lakers went through drills and a short scrimmage and James "did all of it."
James missed nearly six weeks and 20 games with a high right ankle sprain. He returned for two games before missing the next four to rest his ankle and reportedly met with a specialist last week. At 38-30, the Lakers occupy seventh place, 1½ games behind the Portland Trail Blazers in the tight Western Conference standings. The Blazers own the head-to-head tiebreaker. To avoid the play-in tournament, the Lakers need to win out, with the Blazers going 1-2 or worse in their last three games.
Frank Vogel provides an update on LeBron James at #Lakers practice and shares his thoughts on the team’s recent performances leading up to the playoffs. pic.twitter.com/K0O127tNu6
Bucks defense torched
The Milwaukee Bucks' slim chance of still getting the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference blew up Monday with one of their worst defensive performances of the season. The San Antonio Spurs shot 59.6% from the field, including 17-of-29 (58.6%) from 3-point range, on the way to a 146-125 win. Milwaukee surrendered a season-high in points allowed, including a franchise-record 87 in the first half as San Antonio opened the game shooting 67.3% through two quarters.
Milwaukee remains in third place in the East, four games behind the Philadelphia 76ers and one behind the Brooklyn Nets. With four games left, the top spot is likely out of reach for the Bucks, but the No. 2 seed is still a possibility. They own the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Nets, but the Bucks know their defense will need to be much better to pass Brooklyn. "We got to find a way to get stops," coach Mike Budenholzer said. "Just be better overall defensively, be more efficient. It's in us. So I think we've just got to go out and execute it on both ends."
“We have 4 games to get our rhythm going. We’re in a good place.” pic.twitter.com/OWWa1hUb2V
In the cellar
The Houston Rockets have been a stark example this season of just how quickly fortunes can change in the NBA. After eight consecutive playoff appearances, including two trips to the Western Conference finals, the Rockets clinched the league's worst record Monday with a 140-129 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. At 16-53, the Rockets are four games worse than the Detroit Pistons. It marks the first time Houston has had the worst record in the NBA since the 1982-83 season.
Of course, rebuilding became inevitable once James Harden forced his trade out of town in January, which came after Russell Westbrook was traded in the offseason. The Rockets started 11-10, providing some hope they might be able to compete for a spot in the play-in tournament. They followed with a franchise-record 20-game losing streak that sent them spiraling to the basement. One reason for potential optimism: After the 1982-83 season, the Rockets used consecutive No. 1 draft picks to select Hall of Famers Ralph Sampson (1983) and Hakeem Olajuwan (1984).
Game of the night: Heat at Celtics
Boston's hopes of climbing to sixth place in the Eastern Conference and out of the play-in tournament likely have one last gasp Tuesday against Miami. The Heat have a two-game lead on the Celtics for sixth with four to play, and the winner will clinch the head-to-head tiebreaker between the teams. Miami has won nine of its last 12 and sits a half-game out of fifth place and one game out of fourth. Boston has lost three of four and learned Monday that All-Star forward Jaylen Brown will miss the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his left wrist.
Follow Matt Eppers on Twitter @meppers_.
Source: Read Full Article