Leaner, meaner Amare

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Since the All-Star Game, Amare Stoudemire has been Beasting. With the capital “B.” Like Kobe/LeBron level Beasting.

In the last 10 games he is averaging 28 points, 9 rebounds, shooting 54.6 percent and attacking the rim so he gets 10 free throws a game. He and Steve Nash are running an unstoppable pick-and-roll like they did in the D’Antoni era.

The secret to Amare’s resurgence? He’s dropped 26 pounds this season he told the Arizona Republic.

The Suns All-Star had the weight of a franchise hinging on his ability to recover from a serious eye injury and months of down time. He also had the extra pounds on his body caused by limited activity, pushing his weight to around 268 pounds in August.

Part of the reason Stoudemire has returned to his old self is the dropped weight. He has lost about 26 pounds and is down to 242, a more customary weight for him at this point of the season, and his body fat is about 5.5 percent.

“I feel great,” Stoudemire said. “Feel quick. Feel fast. Agile. With that being said, my basketball IQ is definitely improving. That’s been helping my teammates.”

Hold on there… losing weight helps your basketball IQ? Well, that does explain Oliver Miller’s play for all those years.

Somebody get Eddy Curry on the phone, STAT!

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.