Stephen Curry expressed his gratitude for the support of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade after he led the Golden State Warriors past the Houston Rockets and into the Western Conference Finals.

Warriors star Curry was held scoreless in the opening two quarters of Game 6 against the Rockets at Toyota Center on Friday but produced a sensational second half, racking up 33 points to inspire the defending NBA champions - who were without the injured Kevin Durant - to a 118-113 victory and a 4-2 series success.

That haul represented Curry's best since the opening game of the playoffs, and comprehensively silenced any doubters.

And Los Angeles Lakers star James, who faced Curry in each of the past four NBA Finals during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, voiced his backing of his fellow three-time champion, as did retired Miami Heat legend Wade.

James posted on Twitter: "NEVER underestimate the heart of a Champion!!!!"

Wade added on his account: "Y'all better stop disrespecting @StephenCurry30 just because he's a team first guy and is willing to sacrifice in moments doesn't mean he's not still a beast."

Asked if he felt he had been disrespected or underestimated ahead of Game 6, Curry took a long pause before responding.

"I've heard a lot of noise this series, for sure, I'll just leave it at that," he said.

"Whether it's positive, negative, whatever the case is, I know what I'm capable of and it's bigger than me, so I don't get caught up in that.

"I don't need any extra motivation, I don't need to hear who I am as a player, I know that. My confidence never wavers in those situations so I appreciate those words.

"Champions recognise champions and what it takes to win games like tonight and do what we've been able to do over these last five years so hopefully [there is] more of that to come."

Dwyane Wade says he can retire a happy man and expressed his gratitude to the rest of the 'Banana Boat crew' for being courtside at the Miami Heat legend's swansong on Wednesday.

The three-time NBA champion ended his illustrious career with a triple double of 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 113-94 defeat to the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.

LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony were there to witness Wade's last hurrah.

Wade felt it was a fitting that his close friends were reunited for his last NBA appearance.

"Obviously, it means a lot [to have them here]," Wade said. "They know that I will always be there for them, especially in a moment like this.

"No matter what I'm doing, I will be there for their last game. It was cool to see those guys over there. I'm glad they came, but at the same time I wish they weren't here because the whole time they kept telling me to shoot, shoot, shoot.

"But it was great. We've got a brotherhood. Those are my brothers."

Wade added: "For me I'm happy with this season. Unfortunately for the organisation, our team, we weren't in position to make the playoffs, but I'm happy to say I completed it.

"I almost messed it up when I fell on the scorer's table. But it's been great. I'm thankful for it and I can retire and be happy about my career, my body of work and everything I've been able to accomplish."

The Detroit Pistons are heading to the NBA playoffs after defeating the lowly New York Knicks 115-89.

After jumping out to an early lead and never looking back, the Pistons clinched the final postseason spot in the Eastern Conference on Wednesday.

The Pistons took control in the opening moments and held a 14-point advantage by the end of the first quarter. They pushed the score to 65-41 by half-time and cruised from there.

Andre Drummond tallied 20 points and 18 rebounds to lead Detroit to the victory. Luke Kennard chipped in a game-high 27 points off the bench while connecting on four of his eight three-point attempts.

The Pistons were playing without star Blake Griffin, who is dealing with a sore knee. They had last made the playoffs in 2015-16.

Meanwhile, the Charlotte Hornets entered play with their postseason hopes still alive. But, they were officially eliminated following Detroit's win.

Charlotte would not have advanced to the playoffs anyway as they fell to the Orlando Magic 122-114.

Soon-to-be free agent Kemba Walker recorded 43 points and five assists for Charlotte in what could be his last game with the Hornets.

 

Wade and Nowitzki say goodbye

Dwyane Wade registered a triple-double in his last game before retirement. The 37-year-old put up 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the Miami Heat's 113-94 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

Dallas Mavericks veteran Dirk Nowitzki scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in his farewell – a 105-94 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Jonathon Simmons had 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the Philadelphia 76ers won 125-109 against the Chicago Bulls.

Jevon Carter tallied 32 points in the Memphis Grizzlies' 132-117 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

 

Finney-Smith struggles

Dorian Finney-Smith was two-of-10 shooting and scored five points in the Mavericks' defeat.

Atlanta Hawks wing Kent Bazemore shot two of 10 from the field and was a minus-16 as his team fell to the Indiana Pacers 135-134.

 

No stopping Gordon

Aaron Gordon powered his way to the basket for the Magic.

 

Wednesday's results

Orlando Magic 122-114 Charlotte Hornets
San Antonio Spurs 105-94 Dallas Mavericks
Philadelphia 76ers 125-109 Chicago Bulls
Memphis Grizzlies 132-117 Golden State Warriors
Detroit Pistons 115-89 New York Knicks
Indiana Pacers 135-134 Atlanta Hawks
Oklahoma City Thunder 127-116 Milwaukee Bucks
Brooklyn Nets 113-94 Miami Heat
Denver Nuggets 99-95 Minnesota Timberwolves
Los Angeles Clippers 143-137 Utah Jazz (OT)
Portland Trail Blazers 136-131 Sacramento Kings

The playoffs

After a long regular season, the playoffs have finally arrived. The path to the championship begins on Saturday when the first series tip-off.

LeBron James and other stars were in the crowd for Dwyane Wade's final NBA game on Wednesday.

In Wade's finale after a glittering 16-year career, his best friends — James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul — were courtside for the Miami Heat's matchup against the Brooklyn Nets.

The trio travelled to Brooklyn to see Wade off one last time midweek.

James played with Wade in two stints — including the 2010-2014 seasons in Miami, winning two NBA championships together — and the Los Angeles Lakers superstar said he could not miss the farewell.

"We all started this journey together — obviously CP [Paul] came into the league a couple years after us — but we have a brotherhood that's so much more than basketball," James said.

"CP played last night, we [the Lakers] had our last regular-season game last night and Melo [Anthony] is right here in New York so we made the plan, made the decision to come up here.

"Listen, we couldn't miss D-Wade's last game. This is the last time he's going to be on an NBA floor wearing that Miami Heat uniform, that number three. So we're happy to be here supporting him."

James added: "He's given so much to this game. [He's] one of the best players we've ever seen in this game from as soon as he came out of Marquette. It's an honour for me to be alongside him for four years and to also be his brother for the last 16 years of my career."

Wade, a 13 All-Star, is averaging 14.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.

Miami – who were eliminated from the postseason race despite Tuesday's win over the Philadelphia 76ers – entered Wednesday with a 39-42 record, tied with the Charlotte Hornets for ninth in the Eastern Conference standings.

Dwyane Wade expressed his gratitude to Miami for allowing him to grow and says "Wade County" will always be his home after his final game at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Former United States president Barack Obama was among those to congratulate Wade on his outstanding career in a video tribute to the Heat legend on an emotional Tuesday night in Florida.

The three-time NBA champion marked the occasion by top-scoring with 30 points in a 122-99 victory that was not enough to take Miami into the playoffs.

Wade, a 13-time NBA All-Star, will make one last appearance in his illustrious career against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday after delivering a message of thanks following his Miami swansong.

"It's meant everything," Wade said. "To be able to come here and be embraced, to find a home, to be able to grow. I think that's the one thing.

"When I was on the court early on and Stan [Van Gundy, former Heat head coach] let me grow, as a player, whether it was mistakes I made in life to whatever it was, this city has allowed me to grow.

"I hope they are proud of what they have helped me become. This city means everything to me. It's forever, forever, forever going to be my home.

"This is the end of the basketball part for me, but [there is] so much more that I want to do in this city, so much we can accomplish together, so I look forward to that."

Wade says whatever comes next cannot compare to life as one of the best basketballers in the world.

"You can't replace this. I remember talking to MJ [Michael Jordan] about it. You've got to obviously find other ways of being competitive, to throw that competitive nature into [something]," the 37-year-old added.

Tuesday was a historic day for the NBA.

Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki each played their last home games for their respective teams, as both have plans to retire after the season. The Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks were both able to secure quality wins for their superstars on such an important night.

Wade scored a game-high 30 points for Miami in its 122-99 triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers. After the contest, he gifted jerseys to all of his teammates.

Nowitzki scored 30 points of his own in Dallas. The 40-year-old big man filled it up early, scoring his team's first 10 points in a 120-109 victory over Phoenix Suns. He became the oldest player in NBA history to score at least 30 points in a game.

While neither future Hall of Fame player will be in the post-season, they got the storybook endings they deserved in front of their home crowds.

Crawford goes off on Dallas

Pheonix Sun Jamal Crawford scored a game-high 51 points against the Mavericks.

James Harden recorded 39 points and 10 rebounds in Houston Rockets' 112-111 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Donovan Mitchell posted 46 points in Utah Jazz's 118-108 win over the Denver N.

Six and out for Green

Jeff Green scored six points on 2-of-13 shooting in the Washington Wizards' 116-110 loss to the Boston Celtics.

Wayne Ellington totaled seven points on 1-of-11 shooting in the Detriot Pistons' 100-93 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Caruso almost wins it for the Lakers

Alex Caruso hit a huge shot to put the Lakers up late, but they fell to Portland 104-101.

Paul George hit a game-winner to lift the Thunder over the Rockets.

What's Next?

Orlando Magic (41-40) at Charlotte Hornets (39-42) 8 p.m. ET — Orlando has already punched its ticket to the playoffs. Charlotte, on the other hand, is battling with Detroit for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot. Steve Clifford coached the Hornets as recently as last season and now he has the opportunity to eliminate his old team from the post-season.

Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks joked the Miami Heat should be fined for allowing Dwyane Wade to retire after this season. 

Three-time NBA champion Wade, 37, has already confirmed that the 2018-19 season will be his 16th and final campaign. 

Yet he showed there was no sign of his ability greatly declining as he contributed a team-high 20 points off the bench in Miami’s 113-108 victory over the Wizards on Saturday. 

Brooks said performances like that were evidence that Wade should not be calling it a day - and he quipped the Heat should be punished for the guard's impending retirement, too. 

"I'm not so sure why he retires," Brooks told reporters. 

"The NBA need to just fine the Miami Heat for allowing him to retire! 

"Just fine them, just flat out fine the whole team. They should not allow him to retire. He's too good. He's too fun to watch.

"Look at the crowd; he draws the crowd wherever he goes. He's a winner, man.

"The guy competes. His spirit is always in the right spot. You can see all the joy that he plays with.

"He's a multiple-time champion. He's too good to retire. I hope he changes his mind."

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich had a special parting gift for Dwyane Wade in the latest stop on the Miami Heat great's farewell tour.

Ahead of Wednesday's Spurs-Heat showdown in San Antonio — the final face-off between the legendary coach and player — Popovich gave Wade signed jerseys of Spurs icons Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

Wade, who is in his final NBA season, is averaging 14.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists through 60 games for the Heat.

"He certainly is an iconic figure as far as NBA basketball goes," Popovich said of the 37-year-old before the game.

"And it's not just because of the way he played. He played hard. He played to win. He had a ferocious attitude on the court. But it was matched with a wonderful smile and a great understanding of the world and community off the court.

"I think that's what made him so special; a coveted team-mate, somebody that everybody enjoyed playing with, a guy that cared about more than just basketball. That's what makes him iconic in my mind."

Wade previously reached 1,052 blocks for his career earlier this month to give him the most blocks by a guard in league history.

Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade explained his decision to swap jerseys with Atlanta Hawks guard Kevin Huerter after their clash on Monday.

Wade scored 23 points to lead the Heat to a 114-113 win over the Hawks, while he also had two blocks to break Michael Jordan's record for most by a guard in NBA history.

The three-time NBA champion, who is playing his final season, then drew attention after the game when he swapped jerseys with 20-year-old Huerter.

Wade, 37, said he had been told Huerter, who was the 19th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, had grown up idolising him.

"Earlier in the year, a good friend of mine told me about him when he was younger, that he used to wear my shoes, he wore number three because of me, he looked up to me," he told Fox Sports.

"I knew I was going to surprise him the last time we played them but I really like his game.

"Since preseason, we played them all the way to now, he's gotten so much better so from one number three to another, I thought I'd switch jerseys with him."

Miami improved to 29-34 with their win to sit 10th in the Eastern Conference.

LeBron James poked fun at former team-mate Dwyane Wade's stunning game-winner on Wednesday by claiming his own effort was more difficult.

Wade, playing in his final NBA season, scored a one-handed buzzer-beater as the Miami Heat defeated the Golden State Warriors 126-125, while James' own eye-catching three-pointer helped the Los Angeles Lakers to a 125-119 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Asked to rank the two, league great James took the opportunity to mock Wade's effort, questioning his unorthodox technique.

"Mine was a little bit more difficult than his," he said with a smile.

"His was weird. I don't know if that was even a shot. You know how you play pop-a-shot? He had to, because he had no time, but I think my shot was more difficult."

Describing a decisive moment in the Lakers' win at the Staples Center, James said: "I just trusted my mechanics, trusted my shot, and gave it a chance. And it went in."

Los Angeles coach Luke Walton added: "I think he had his hands in the air before it went in. That's what great players do.

"That's an impossible shot and we needed it at that moment. We had kind of stalled out offensively. A big-time shot by one of the all-time greats."

James put up 33 points, 10 assists and six rebounds as the Lakers improved to 30-31.

Dwyane Wade hailed a "special" moment in his final NBA season as he hit a stunning buzzer-beater to defeat defending champions the Golden State Warriors.

The 37-year-old will leave the league at the end of the campaign, but he delivered perhaps his final great moment for the Miami Heat on Wednesday.

Wade, a three-time champion with the Heat, fired in a game-winning three-pointer off one foot to down the Warriors 126-125.

Sharing the court with some other modern greats, such as Golden State hero Stephen Curry, Wade revelled in being able to show his younger colleagues what he was once regularly capable of.

"It's special for me," he said. "Obviously, as a team, we needed this win bad, but we kept fighting, everybody.

"I've been in this position so many times. And so many times, you don't make the shot. The one I make is a one-legged flick from my chest - it's crazy. But it's great to do it in front of the fans.

"This is a fun moment. I told Steph I needed this one on my way out. You all get enough, you got enough.

"I think the one cool thing, for me, is to be able to do this when you've got younger team-mates that heard about some of the things you do, but don't always get an opportunity to see it. It was cool to be able to do it in front of those guys as well."

Curry acknowledged that he could not help but appreciate Wade's effort, even as it cost the Warriors.

"There are just a lot of smiles - frustrated smiles from our standpoint," he said. "But it was something special, him making a play like that in his last year in this building.

"I'd much rather see him jumping on the scorer's table when we're not on the court with him, but those are iconic moments that he's had.

"Deep down, it was cool to see, even though we lost. Moments like tonight kind of remind you of how great he is. It just sucks that it was against us."

Luka Doncic has been likened to LeBron James and the duo's rookie numbers certainly show the Dallas Mavericks sensation and the Los Angeles Lakers superstar are comparable at this stage of the Slovenian's career.

It was Dwyane Wade who said 19-year-old Doncic's passing ability was "LeBron James-like" after facing the Mavs with the Miami Heat last week.

Doncic, the third overall pick in last year's draft, is the clear frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year award, a prize James took home in 2003-04 when he was a teenager playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Four-time MVP James has gone on to establish himself as one of the greatest to ever play the game, and the statistics from his rookie campaign are remarkably similar to Doncic's debut season in Dallas.

With the help of Opta, we take a look at the numbers for Doncic in 2018-19 and James in 2003-04.

Points per game: Doncic 20.7, James 20.9

James was one of 17 players to average at least 20 points per game and he finished his first season 13th, behind the likes of fellow rookie Carmelo Anthony (21) and Tracy McGrady, who led the entire NBA with 28.

A sign of how the league has changed is evidenced by the fact that, at the All-Star break, there were 30 players averaging at least 20 points and one, James Harden (36.6), averaging more than 30. In his 55 games to date, Doncic is averaging 7.3 fewer minutes on court than James but is providing similar production.

Rebounds per game: Doncic 7.2, James 5.5

James may be taller and bigger than Doncic, but the Slovenian is proving adept when it comes to boards.

The Mavs youngster ranks 36th in the league in rebounds, with James finishing his first campaign 58th in that category.

Assists per game: Doncic 5.6, James 5.9

Wade's suggestion the two are similar in the way they dish the ball around is backed up by the stats.

Doncic is 21st in the NBA for assists per game, ahead of All-Stars like Stephen Curry and Paul George, though James was 13th overall in 2003-04.

Field goal percentage: Doncic 43, James 41.7

James attempted three more shots on average in his maiden term but Doncic is proving more efficient.

The rise of three-point attempts is also reflected in the fact Doncic is making 2.4 per game from seven attempts, while James' rookie average was only 0.8 made from 2.7 attempted.

Double-doubles: Doncic 13, James 12

Despite playing 24 fewer games than James did, Doncic already has more double-doubles than his counterpart managed.

Triple-doubles: Doncic 3, James 0

James failed to register a triple-double in his first campaign in Cleveland. Doncic became the second-youngster player to achieve the feat in January and has gone on to do it twice more.

In fact, only six players have recorded more triple-doubles than Doncic in 2018-19 - one of whom is James.

Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade compared Dallas Mavericks sensation Luka Doncic to LeBron James.

Wade came away from Wednesday's 112-101 win over the Mavericks impressed with NBA rookie Doncic.

Doncic nearly tallied a triple-double after posting 18 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists.

Afterwards, Wade complimented Doncic's passing ability and likened it to Los Angeles Lakers superstar James.

"Quote me right where I say this — it's LeBron James-like from the standpoint of how he's able to rope that pass to shooters in corners, getting blitzed," Wade told reporters.

"There's not many guys who can do that and put it right there. He does an amazing job of it."

Doncic, 19, is averaging 20.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists this season.

He is second among rookies in dimes per game, trailing only Atlanta Hawks first-year guard Trae Young (7.6).

Wade played with James for four years in Miami, where they won two championships together.

Dwyane Wade does not believe there has ever been a better starting five than the Golden State Warriors' formidable quintet.

The Warriors signed four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins after retaining their NBA title last year and are favourites to be crowned champions for a third season in a row.

Wade's Miami Heat side suffered a 120-118 defeat to the Warriors in his final game at Oracle Arena on Sunday and the retiring star rates Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Cousins as five of the best.

Asked about the Warriors' starting line-up, Wade said: "That's as good as it gets. I know DeMarcus is working his way back, but they play off each other very well.

"It's as good as it gets in our game and any team that ever played this game. That's as good as it gets, that starting five.

"That's why they are who they are, that's why they are champions and to be able to add a guy like DeMarcus to it.

"That's what great teams do, they add a piece and keep adding the right pieces."

Stephen Curry questioned Dwyane Wade's decision to retire after the Golden State Warriors beat the Miami Heat on Sunday as he feels the veteran has "a lot more in the tank".

Wade and Curry swapped shirts after the legendary 37-year-old was on the losing side in his final appearance at Oracle Arena.

The Heat guard will retire at the end of the season, but two two-time NBA MVP Curry thinks he still has a lot to offer.

"It seems like he's got a lot more in the tank," Curry said. "That's what I told him after the game. I was like, 'Are you sure? I know you've got a lot of stuff going on off the court, your family and all that. Are you sure you don't have a couple more years left in there?'"

"But obviously with him going to every road arena one more time it's a different energy for sure."

The Warriors trailed by 17 points in the first quarter and Curry says they remain a work in progress despite a run of four consecutive victories.

He said: "Still a feeling out process in terms of the line-up and just understanding what we're trying to do in every possession.

"We'll correct it but it's just an understanding, it's a different look and there's so many options and weapons out there. Still got to be aggressive to start the quarter, you can't assume it's just going to happen. We'll fix it."

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