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Knicks fans may get wish — Shumpert may start Friday

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“We want Shum-pert.”

The chant rained down on Madison Square Garden Wednesday night as Knicks fans are frustrated with their point guard play. Toney Douglas is the starter but he is a score-first guy who does not fit with Mike D’Antoni’s system. Landry Fields is at the two but he has struggled this season and is shooting 21.1 percent from three. Baron Davis is injured and Mike Bibby is Mike Bibby.

Iman Shumpert is the hope, the fan favorite, if for no other reason than he is the only guy untarnished (and he had 18 points on Wednesday in his first game back from injury).

Knicks fans may get their wish — Shumpert may start as soon as Friday, D’Antoni told the New York media on Thursday. But Frank Isola of the New York Daily News adds this note on twitter.

D’Antoni says Shumpert could start at either guard position but added that no decision has been made yet

Whether it is Shumpert or Baron Davis or anyone else, two things need to happen for the Knicks at the guard spot. One, if they are going to play D’Antoni’s system, they need to push the pace actually run more. They have the 11th fastest pace in the league this season, they are slowing down.

Second, and more importantly, they have to play defense. It is that end of the floor where the Knicks remain a real disaster.

Right now, without a true point guard, the Knicks remain a roster that fits poorly with the style of the coach. Shumpert alone is not going to solve the Knicks problems.

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.