Breaking news: playing for the Nets is not fun

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The Nets have a legitimate shot at taking the “Worst Team in NBA History” crown, despite a fair amount of intriguing young talent. They stand at an abysmal 4-46, which no matter how you dress it up, still looks and feels like 4-46. Losing that much would destroy just about any team’s culture, and if basketball is all fun and games, fun just left town.

Cue Chris Douglas-Roberts, per Fred Kerber of the New York Post:

I’m just more cold. But all that stuff, I don’t care one way or the
other,” said Douglas-Roberts. “Caring about winning? Absolutely. But
everything else doesn’t matter. All of this is because I want to win. I
take losing bad. All of this, everything comes from me being a sore
loser. I don’t like losing.”

The Nets aren’t just losing. At
4-46, they are losing like only two other NBA teams ever have done.
Only the 1972-73 Sixers, who were a worst-ever 9-73, and the 1992-93
Mavs, who had 11 wins, were 4-46 after 50 games. What has it been like?

“Hell, really,” said Douglas-Roberts, whose production (7.5
points from 16.4), shots (6.6 from 14.3) and minutes (24.8 from 36.5)
all have plunged since Yi Jianlian returned in late December. “With so
many ups and downs, even when I was playing well early in the year, I
didn’t get any satisfaction from playing well if we’re losing. It’s
been real bad. I’m not really playing, so it’s worse.”

Needless to say, CDR’s NBA dream has had a bit of a rough start. After sliding into the second round of the draft somewhat inexplicably, Douglas-Roberts struggled to find his role during his first season. And now, not only have CDR’s minutes been curbed to accommodate teammates returning from injury, but the Nets are still a completely miserable team whose only hope for the season is the visage of John Wall.

In his three years at Memphis, CDR won 101 games and lost only nine. It would only take these Nets 15 and a half seasons to match that win total. There are so many adjustments to make in going from NCAA star to NBA rookie, but the losing has to be among the most depressing. It’s not merely a rigorous schedule with high expectations and separation from family and friends, but one that humbles even prolific young athletes on a nightly basis. For a league that makes dreams come true, the NBA is one cruel mistress.

Report: Khris Middleton could return to Bucks before All-Star break

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 16:  Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts during their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 16, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The Bucks projected Khris Middleton to miss about 70 games when he tore his hamstring before the season. That extended absence often leads players just to shut down for the year, but Middleton vowed to return in time for the playoffs.

He might get back far sooner than that.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star ‎break.

Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.

The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.

Isaiah Thomas nutmegs Knicks center Marshall Plumlee (video)

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Isaiah Thomas usually saves his best play for the fourth quarter, but the Celtics guard showed out early with this pass between Marshall Plumlee‘s legs to get Kelly Olynyk a layup.

Thomas uncharacteristically just didn’t have enough late. Though he scored 39 points, he shot just 2-for-9 in the final period, as the Knicks pulled away for a 117-106 win.

Kevin Durant misses dunk so hard, ball flies past halfcourt (video)

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Kevin Durant played great in the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night, but – perhaps fueled by excess emotion – he missed this incredibly emphatic dunk attempt.

Later, Russell Westbrook showed his former teammate how to do it (sparking their apparent conversation):

James Harden outduels Giannis Antetokounmpo as they produce fantastic highlight video

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James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo met in a battle of two of the NBA’s best point guards. (Still weird to say.) The final lines:

  • Harden: 38 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks
  • Antetokounmpo: 32 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks

The winner? Harden and the Rockets, who topped the Bucks, 111-92.

But the real winner? Anyone who gets to watch this highlight video. It just gets better as it goes.