Stephen Curry hailed Mike Brown's input after the Golden State Warriors moved 3-1 ahead in their Western Conference semi-final series duel with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Brown, who has agreed to become the Sacramento Kings' next head coach, is seeing out his final weeks as assistant with the Warriors and stepped up on Monday when Steve Kerr tested positive for COVID-19 and was ruled out of Game 4 duties.

Curry joked Brown was setting trends, after being made head coach of two teams in such quick succession.

The Warriors were held to just 38 points in the first half, but Curry stepped up, scoring 18 of his 32 points in the final quarter, including eight consecutive clutch free throws in the final minute as his team edged ahead and clung on to a narrow lead.

"It's been a wild day all round. You just had to figure it out on the fly," Curry said after the 101-98 win.

"We've been through this before. In '16-17 the coach had his back problems back in the day when he was out of the line-up but still had an influence, and Mike B stepped up.

"We didn't have a lot of time to react. We went out and tried to execute. We obviously didn't for three quarters. Defensively we were solid, but offensively we couldn't get anything going, and we gutted it out."

Curry became the first player to reach 500 three-pointers in NBA playoffs during the narrow win.

Brown's move to Sacramento was only agreed on Sunday and will take effect once the playoffs are over. With Warriors head coach Kerr sidelined, Brown kept the team moving closer to the Western Conference Finals.

"He had a lot of good words tonight," said Curry. "I don't know in history if anyone's been named head coach of two teams in 24 hours, so he's continued to set some trends.

"He's been through it all, been with us for this last six years, been interim coach for a little bit and made his presence felt, especially defensively."

Al Horford's career-best playoff haul of 30 points drew acclaim as the Boston Celtics secured Game 4 with a superb fourth quarter in a 116-108 road win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

The 35-year-old veteran and five-time NBA All-Star delivered 11-of-14 shooting with eight rebounds and three assists as Boston levelled the NBA Eastern Conference semi-final series at 2-2.

Horford rose to the occasion after a third-quarter dunk from Giannis Antetokounmpo left him smarting, and steered the visitors to a crucial win at the Fiserv Forum in Wisconsin.

The center returned the favour on his opponent in the final act, with both handed technical fouls, but it was the sheer energy of the Dominican that captured the attention.

"That was a hell of a play," team-mate Jayson Tatum said. "Especially anytime Al turns back the clock and he looks like his old self, it gets everybody off the bench.

"Al plays with so much passion. When Al is playing with passion like that, everybody else has to follow."

Marcus Smart also hailed Horford, in particular for his dunk, adding: "It's a big-time play in a big-time moment.

"It's a physical game. We were on the other end a couple of times, so it felt kind of good to have that one."

Horford himself admitted the Celtics were driven to victory by a desire to close out the game after the Bucks held on for a 103-101 win on Saturday in Game 3.

"We felt that at the end of Game 3 that we were in a position to win the game, and we didn't," he added. "I was just really locked in.

"I understood the moment and what we needed to do as a group. Just come out and we were gonna do whatever it took tonight. It was one of those types of nights."

The two sides return to Massachusetts now, and will contest Game 5 at the TD Garden on Wednesday.

The Boston Celtics produced an incredible fourth quarter to take Game 4 116-108 on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks, tying the NBA Eastern Conference semi-final series at 2-2.

A strong start for home side Milwaukee saw them hold the Celtics to just 18 points in the first quarter, but the tough play of Al Horford, Derrick White and Jaylen Brown helped the visitors back into the game, trailing 48-47 at half-time.

Performances went up a gear in the second half, as a massive Giannis Antetokounmpo dunk on Horford was then reciprocated, with both players receiving technical fouls after their respective dunks.

After a quiet start, Jayson Tatum began to find his footing, eventually taking over to score 20 of his 30 points in the second half, going 11-of-24 from the field overall with 13 rebounds and five assists.

Tatum was vital to the Celtics, but Horford was their best player, with 30 points on 11-of-14 shooting with eight rebounds and three assists, while also being their primary source of interior defence.

There were times when it appeared Antetokounmpo simply would not be denied, going on to post game-highs in points with 34 (14-of-32 shooting) and rebounds with 18, but he needed far more offensive help from Jrue Holiday, who shot just five-of-22 from the field for his 16 points to go with his nine assists and seven rebounds.

Antetokounmpo's 13 points in the third quarter guided the Bucks to a 80-73 lead at three-quarter time, but there would be nothing they could do about the offensive onslaught that was to come.

In the final frame, the Celtics shot 16-of-19 from the field (84 per cent), four-of-five from three-point range and seven-of-seven from the free-throw line, winning the quarter 43-28 and pulling away down the stretch.

Game 5 will head back to Boston, with Game 6 scheduled to return to Milwaukee. Game 7, if needed, will be played in Boston.

Chef Curry cooks up late comeback

The Memphis Grizzlies lacked the firepower to match the Golden State Warriors down the stretch, going down 101-98 as the Warriors established a 3-1 series lead in their Western Conference semi-final.

Without Ja Morant, who missed the game after suffering a knee injury in Game 3, the Grizzlies fought gallantly, leading at quarter-time, half-time and three-quarter time as their defense rose to the occasion and turned it into a scrap.

With Jaren Jackson Jr dominating around the rim – blocking five shots and snatching two steals – the Warriors were held to just 38 points in the first half, but poor shooting from Jackson (seven-of-21) and Dillon Brooks (five-of-19) bogged down the Grizzlies offense.

Needing a hero in the fourth quarter, Warriors superstar Stephen Curry stepped up, scoring 18 of his 32 points, including eight consecutive clutch free throws in the final minute, as his team edged ahead and clung on to a narrow lead.

Curry shot 10-of-25 from the field across the game, and four-of-14 from long range, with eight assists and five rebounds.

Andrew Wiggins was arguably the Warriors' strongest performer across all four quarters, shooting seven-of-13 for his 17 points, with five of his 10 rebounds coming on the offensive end, and he added two blocks and one steal to finish with a team-high plus/minus of plus 12.

Otto Porter – who is still just 28 years old and set to become an unrestricted free agent – continues to make himself money this postseason as he played a crucial 26 minutes off the bench, shooting four-of-six from long range and adding three assists with two steals.

Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant has officially been ruled out of Game 4 against the Golden State Warriors due to a knee injury he suffered in Game 3.

Morant, who was the winner of this season's Most Improved Player award, has averaged 38.3 points, 8.3 assists and 6.7 rebounds per game through the first three fixtures of the series.

It appeared Morant had a knee-on-knee clash in Game 3, but the Grizzlies highlighted a sequence where Morant got tangled up with Jordan Poole during a double-team near half-court, where Poole appeared to grab Morant's knee and pull it.

While it seemed innocuous, with the NBA announcing Poole would face no repercussions, Morant tweeted a video of the incident immediately after the game with the caption "broke the code" – before deleting the tweet.

The "code" Morant is referencing touches on a comment made by Warriors coach Steve Kerr, when he said Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks "broke the code" with his flagrant two foul on Gary Payton II that caused a fractured elbow and sidelined the defensive specialist through at least the rest of the series.

While Morant's absence will be clearly felt, the Grizzlies may be the team most equipped to survive for a game without their star, finishing the regular season with a 20-5 record in the 25 games Morant missed.

Game 4 will be played at the home of Golden State, before returning to Memphis for Game 5. 

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Game 4 against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Assistant coach Mike Brown will step in as acting head coach – a role he is familiar with.

During the Warriors' 2017 championship run, Brown went 12-0 as acting head coach in the playoffs as Kerr was sidelined for an extended period, with the Warriors ultimately finishing that postseason with a 16-1 record.

It is interesting timing for Brown, who was announced as the next Sacramento Kings head coach on Sunday.

He has been with the Warriors since 2016, after spending 10 years as a successful head coach beforehand, winning over 61 per cent of his games with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers.

Former NBA player and Michigan State star Adreian Payne has died at the age of 31 after being shot in Orlando. 

The Orange County Sheriff's Office confirmed on Monday that Payne was transported to hospital following reports of a shooting at 01:34 local time and was later pronounced dead. 

Payne was a first-round pick in the 2014 draft and played 107 NBA games, averaging 4.0 points and 2.9 rebounds across spells with the Atlanta Hawks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic. 

He played professionally with Lithuanian side Juventus Utena earlier this year and has also previously represented sides in Turkey, France, Greece and China. 

A male has been arrested for the shooting on a first-degree murder warrant. 

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams has won NBA Coach of the Year, beating fellow finalists Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat and the Memphis Grizzlies' Taylor Jenkins.

Williams narrowly missed out on 2020-21 award, with the New York Knicks' Tom Thibodeau edging the final tally by 11 votes, but he was the clear choice this season after leading the Suns to a league-best 64-18 record.

As well as winning eight more games than any other team, it also set a new franchise record for wins in a season, and legitimised last year's run to the NBA Finals as more than a fluke.

The news was first broken by Suns star Devin Booker, who tweeted: "Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams has been voted the NBA's COY, book tells sources. A formal announcement is expected later today."

Williams, a former first-round pick in his own right, spent 10 years in the league as a player, and became the youngest head coach in the NBA in 2010 when he earned the head coaching role of the New Orleans Hornets at 38 years old.

After his departure from New Orleans and five years as an assistant, Williams was hired by the Suns in 2019, guiding his team to a memorable 8-0 run in the 'bubble' during his first season.

He has followed that season with two consecutive National Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year awards, and his first official NBA Coach of the Year.

The Suns are a combined 115-39 over the past two regular seasons.

Nikola Jokic has won the NBA MVP award for the second successive season, according to reports.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Monday reported Jokic will be officially announced as MVP later this week.

It follows a 2021-22 season in which the Denver Nuggets center led the league in points/assists/rebounds per game with 48.7.

That average marked an improvement on his 2020-21 numbers, which saw him rack up 45.5 PAR per game.

His reward for that increased production is to become the 13th player in NBA history to win the MVP award in back-to-back years.

Giannis Antetokounmpo achieved the feat in 2019-20, with Stephen Curry and LeBron James the two other active NBA players to go back-to-back.

Bill Russell was the first to win successive MVPs, heading a list that also features Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan.

Tim Duncan won in 2001-02 and 2002-03 and Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash was named MVP for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.

Jokic's regular-season form did not translate to success in the postseason for the Nuggets, who lost 4-1 to Curry and the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs.

 

Chris Paul was furious after members of his family were reportedly subjected to physical contact and harassed during the Dallas Mavericks' Game 4 win over the Phoenix Suns.

A Mavs fan was ejected during their 110-101 victory at American Airlines Center, where the Western Conference semi-finals series was tied at 2-2 on Sunday.

Suns point guard Paul made an early exit from the court as he fouled out early in the fourth quarter.

It was claimed Paul's mother, Robin, was pushed by a Mavs supporter as she watched the game along with her son's wife, Jada, and their children - prompting the Suns star to seek out security staff.

A furious Paul tweeted: "Wanna fine players for saying stuff to the fans but the fans can put they hands on our families….f*** that!!"

It was a miserable night for Paul, who was hit with a fourth foul when a wily Luka Doncic tumbled towards the baseline after they both went up for a rebound just before half-time.

Paul then fouled out with just under nine minutes to play and knows he must learn from his mistakes.

He said: "I've got to look back at it. I mean, I can't put myself in the situation to give them that ability to do that. I've just got to look at myself and figure out how to do better."

Doncic spoke of his respect for Paul, but felt he only had himself to blame for being dismissed. 

"He [Paul] is one of the best point guards this league has ever had," Doncic said. "His mentality is insane, the way he sees the court, his IQ is amazing, so I think it was big time.

"He was in foul trouble, so we tried to get after him and if you don't have CP out there, it's for sure tougher on their team.

"I saw he was going for the rebound and I was surprised. He said to me if I pushed him that hard. I said, 'No, not that hard, but it was a smart play.' And he said, 'Yeah, I know.'"

Devin Booker scored 35 points for the Suns, who will look to respond in Game 5 at Footprint Center on Tuesday.

Luka Doncic admitted he exaggerated contact from Chris Paul to get him into foul trouble after the Dallas Mavericks' 111-101 win over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.

Doncic came up with 26 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds in the Game 4 win but the Mavs' win and levelling of their playoff series was aided by Chris Paul fouling out early in the fourth quarter.

Doncic was key factor in that regard, tumbling towards the baseline after both went up for a rebound and earning a fourth foul for Paul just before half-time.

The 23-year-old declared his respect for Paul and his impact on the Suns, but also hinted he gave the notorious flopper a taste of his own medicine with the tumble and ensuing exchange between the two.

"He [Paul] is one of the best point guards this league has ever had," Doncic said. "His mentality is insane, the way he sees the court, his IQ is amazing, so I think it was big time.

"He was in foul trouble, so we tried to get after him and if you don't have CP out there, it's for sure tougher on their team.

"I saw he was going for the rebound and I was surprised. He said to me if I pushed him that hard. I said, 'No, not that hard, but it was a smart play.' And he said, 'Yeah, I know.'"

While Doncic had a particularly poor shooting night, shooting one-of-10 from the perimeter, he was critical in creating good shots for his teammates.

Dorian Finney-Smith was the primary beneficiary, making a playoff career-high 24 points on eight-of-12 from beyond the arc.

Doncic singled Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock out post-match, specifically for how they've been able to limit Paul's ability to attack the paint as the series has gone on. For the Mavs to win the series though, the three-time All-Star believes Dallas have to show the same intensity and determination on the road.

"That's Reg [Bullock] and Doe [Finney-Smith], those two guys are warriors," Doncic said. "Those two guys, they don't complain about how many shots they get, they just play hard, play defence and I'm really happy to have both of them on our team.

"We've got to play the same way on away games, though. I think the fans helped out a lot, with their energy, but we've got to bring this energy to away games.

"I think it's going to come down to who wins the first away game – maybe, I don't know, but we've got to play with the same energy."

The Dallas Mavericks tied up their playoff series in spite of a poor shooting night from Luka Doncic on Sunday, winning Game 4 against the Phoenix Suns 111-101.

The Slovenian went one-of-10 from beyond the arc and converted on a total of nine-of-25 from the floor, but the Mavs were otherwise automatic from long-range and Doncic was the facilitator in that regard.

He ended up with 11 assists while the rest of the Dallas team went 19-of-34 from deep, with Dorian Finney-Smith scoring a career playoff-high with 24 points on eight-of-12 from the perimeter.

While Devin Booker scored 35 points, Phoenix lacked a reference point late in the game with Chris Paul fouled out early.

The first-seeded Suns went three-of-nine from the perimeter in the fourth quarter, while Booker critically turned the ball over three times.

Sixers tie it up on home court

In the Eastern Conference, the first-seeded Miami Heat find themselves in a series, with the Philadelphia 76ers claiming a 116-108 win in Game 4.

Joel Embiid's second game back from injury gave the Sixers a boost to tie up the series, finishing with 24 points on seven-of-13 shooting and 11 rebounds.

James Harden was the star of the show, however, coming up with 31 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, including some big buckets down the stretch.

The Heat were able to generate open looks, and at timely moments in the game, but were simply not able to capitalise, going seven-of-35 from the perimeter.

Victor Oladipo and Tyler Herro were particularly unable to provide Miami with a scoring boost off the bench, combining for 26 points but off two-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc.

The Sacramento Kings are reportedly hiring Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown on a four-year deal to be their new head coach.

Brown, 52, has spent the past seven seasons with the Warriors, but spent eight years before that as a successful head coach with a 61.6 per cent winning percentage (347-216).

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Sunday that Brown had become the focus of the Kings' search, with the franchise believing he is the right man to end their 16-year playoff drought.

When Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was sidelined during the 2016-17 playoffs, Brown stepped into the acting head coach role, going 12-0 during his stint in charge as Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry led the Warriors to a 16-1 playoff record and an eventual title.

The Kings' last made the playoffs in the 2005-06 season and have had 13 top-10 picks in the NBA Draft since then, including DeMarcus Cousins, De'Aaron Fox, Bismack Biyombo and Tyreke Evans.

Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins told reporters on Sunday "there's a really good chance" superstar Ja Morant does not play in Game 4 against the Golden State Warriors.

Morant – who is averaging 38 points, eight assists and six rebounds in the three games against Golden State this series – suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter of Game 3 after an awkward tangle at mid-court where Jordan Poole appeared to grab and pull his knee.

After the game, Morant took to Twitter and claimed Poole "broke the code" in the incident – referencing Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who said Dillon Brooks "broke the code" with his flagrant two foul that resulted in Gary Payton's fractured elbow – before deleting the tweet.

Speaking to reporters, Jenkins said "there's probably a really good chance he won't play tomorrow".

The NBA has come out and said it will not be taking any action against Poole for his role in the incident. The Grizzlies trail 2-1, with Game 4 to take place at Golden State before returning to Memphis for Game 5.

 

Jordan Poole has refuted he "broke the code" with a play on Ja Morant that left the Memphis Grizzlies point guard an injury doubt in the Golden State Warriors 142-112 Game 3 win.

Morant posted 34 points, plus three rebounds and seven assists, but limped off with five to go in the last quarter after the Warriors man grabbed his knee in a trap near half-court.

The Warriors surged on to a blowout victory in the end, resulting in them taking a 2-1 lead in the series after they were edged out in Game 2.

That led to a fiery post-game response from the Grizzlies star, who tweeted and then deleted a video claiming that Poole "broke the code" in intentionally injuring him.

The Grizzlies are yet to formally confirm the extent of Morant's injury - but speaking afterwards, Poole knocked back suggestions his play was intended to harm his opponent.

"It was a basketball play when we doubled him," Poole said. "And I hit the ball and I was going for the ball.

"I mean, obviously, you don't want to see anybody get hurt. I'm not even that type of player. I respect everybody.

"Hopefully he gets better and, you know, we can see him out there next game. I don't even play like that for real. That's not my type of game."

Poole's grab is the latest flashpoint in a fiery series, with Memphis forward Dillon Brooks sitting out Game 3 after hitting Gary Payton II in the head, resulting in a fractured elbow.

Memphis boss Taylor Jenkins skirted an official comment on whether Poole's move on his player was intentional, instead saying: "We just watched the replay.

"He was going after a dribble and Jordan Poole actually grabbed his knee and yanked it, which kind of triggered whatever happened.

"I'm actually going to be very curious to see what happens after that. I don't know what goes through you guys' head.

"No, I didn't say that it went on purpose. I said the play happened. There was a grab. I'm just curious what happened."

The two teams meet for Game 4 on Monday at Chase Center, San Francisco once more, with the Warriors looking to go 3-1 up.

The Milwaukee Bucks escaped with a win in Game 3 against the Boston Celtics, claiming a 103-101 victory after a frantic final exchange on Saturday.

Boston trailed 103-100 when Marcus Smart was fouled by Jrue Holiday just before attempting a three-pointer to tie the game with 4.6 seconds remaining.

After making the first free-throw from a non-shooting foul, Smart intentionally missed the second attempt and got the rebound, but he missed his putback attempt.

Robert Williams flew in but the ball bounced off the glass, before Horford picked up the rebound, missed his putback attempt, got his own rebound and banked it in, but his final shot came just after the buzzer sounded, denying overtime.

Giannis Antetokounmpo put up a massive performance on the other end, coming up with 42 points on 16-of-30 shooting, 12 rebounds and eight assists, as well as two steals and blocks.

Dubs defend home court after slow start

The Golden State Warriors blew the Memphis Grizzlies out despite a slow start and poor shooting night from Stephen Curry beyond the arc, taking Game 3 out 142-112.

The Warriors coughed up seven turnovers as the Grizzlies created a double-digit lead in the first quarter, but once the home side took care of the ball, their shooting facilitated a comprehensive turnaround.

Despite two-of-eight from Stephen Curry beyond the perimeter, he and Jordan Poole were able to penetrate off the dribble and get the team great looks. The Dubs went 53-of-84 for the night with an extraordinary true shooting rate of 76.1 per cent.

Curry still finished with an even 50 per cent from the floor and hit all 14 free-throw attempts, getting 30 points and six assists. Poole contributed 27 points off the bench, while the team outside of Curry went 17-of-24 from the perimeter.

Ja Morant limped off late following a knee injury, finishing the night with 34 points and seven assists.

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