IL: Atlanta Hawks v Chicago Bulls

Report: Woodson likely to be D’Antoni assistant with Knicks

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Mike Woodson is the guy who has just missed out. The former Hawks head coach — that team got better every year he was there — has interviewed for every NBA head coaching job opening this summer.  And he is struck out every time.

So it looks like he is going to be the “defensive coordinator” for Mike D’Antoni in New York.

After being rumored for a while, the Daily News reports that is getting close to becoming reality. And phrased it in such a New York media way.

Although Woodson’s last Atlanta team was criticized for its failure to make defensive adjustments when getting bombed by Orlando in the 2010 playoffs, the former first-round pick of the Knicks will join D’Antoni’s staff as a defensive coach….

In the past few days, Woodson had told two confidantes that he expects to join the Knicks. The move might become official next week, according to sources, when Garden and team executives return from vacation. Woodson had what he called a good meeting with D’Antoni earlier this month, but he had people above D’Antoni in his corner from the start.

This already fuels two bits of speculation. One, Woodson has ties to Isiah Thomas and that always pricks up ears in New York. Secondly, and maybe the bigger one, this puts a guy fully capable of stepping into the number-one job right behind Mike D’Antoni. In a city where plenty of people want D’Antoni’s head on a platter.

Defensively, Woodson’s Atlanta teams got better over the years but were never above the middle of the pack in the NBA. His teams were known for switching every pick — which was largely a matter of the roster given him — which allowed teams to get matchups to exploit. But, he did well with a roster that regressed once he left.

If he can get the Knicks to play defense and still run D’Antoni’s offense, he may not hit and miss on future head coaching jobs. Then again, if he gets the Knicks to play defense with the current roster he may actually be a miracle worker.

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.