Brandon Jennings is “doing his homework on big-market teams,” but winning may entice him to stay with the Bucks

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Brandon Jennings made plenty of Bucks fans nervous on Friday, thanks to a quote about his thoughts on future free agency that was reported by Chris Broussard of ESPN.com

“I am going to keep my options open, knowing that the time is coming up,” Jennings said. “I’m doing my homework on big-market teams.”

The “big-market teams” part is the most troubling phrase for Milwaukee obviously, even though in the rest of the interview, Jennings makes it pretty clear that he, like all free agents, is going to carefully weigh his options when the time comes.

“I’m not saying I won’t (sign an extension with the Bucks) and I’m not saying I will,” he said, in the very same piece. “I’m just keeping my options open.”

Harmless stuff, especially considering that the only relatively immediate action that could come regarding Jennings and free agency is his ability to sign a long-term contract extension with Milwaukee after this season. If he chooses not to, he still wouldn’t be an unrestricted free agent until 2014.

Fans will read into this what they like, but the reality is that we’re still a pretty long way from Jennings fleeing Milwaukee for a so-called big-market team. Interestingly enough, I had a conversation with Jennings about this very subject at the beginning of January, when his Bucks were in Phoenix to face the Suns. And I asked him about Milwaukee as an organization, and if he’d consider signing to stay with them for the majority of his career.

“I’m happy here,” Jennings told NBCSports.com. “Small, big market, whatever you want to call it. As long as I’m in the NBA playing and doing what I love, it’s just a blessing at the end of the day. That’s how I see it.”

As for whether star players would ever align in a city like Milwaukee as they have recently in Miami and New York, Jennings didn’t seem to think the city was the primary concern. It’s playing for a winning organization that he believes would ultimately attract the big-name free agents.

“At the end of the day you’ve got to start winning, though, to attract players and things like that,” Jennings said. “I wouldn’t say it’s more about the market, it’s more the tradition and how the team is. If you’re winning, they’ll come.”

This seems to be in line with the part in Broussard’s report where he cites sources saying that Jennings is “frustrated with the direction of the franchise.”

The good news for the Bucks is that they have some time to try to get things turned around to the point where Jennings will want to sign a long-term deal. He seems genuinely fine with playing in Milwaukee, and as long as the team can attract some additional talent to play alongside him, Jennings may very well be content to stay.

“I’m here, and I enjoy it. I enjoy the city,” he said. “At the end of the day, you’re in the NBA. So you’re doing what you love, no matter where you’re at, no matter what city you’re in.”

Warriors take 3-0 series lead over Blazers with 119-113 win

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 34 points, Klay Thompson added 24 and the short-handed Golden State Warriors overcame a slow start to take a 3-0 lead in their playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers with a 119-113 victory on Saturday night.

The Blazers led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but couldn’t hold off the Warriors, who can clinch the series with a win Monday night in Game 4 at the Moda Center.

Golden State was without Kevin Durant, who was sitting for a second straight game cause of a left calf strain, and coach Steve Kerr stayed back at the team hotel because of illness.

The Warriors took a 108-100 lead after Andre Iguodala‘s dunk with 4:05 to go.

Noah Vonleh‘s dunk got Portland within four at 110-106 with 1:29 left, but Curry answered with a 3-pointer that all but sealed it, sending fans streaming for the exits.

CJ McCollum led the Blazers with 32 points, while Damian Lillard added 31.

Markieff Morris calls Paul Millsap a “crybaby,” Millsap responds “It definitely got personal now”

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The Atlanta Hawks owned the Washington Wizards from the opening tip Saturday, making it a 2-1 series with an easy win.

It’s a series now — and that includes trash talk.

Paul Millsap had 29 points, pulled down 14 boards, got to the line 11 times, and led the Hawks to the win. He got the calls he wanted this game, but Washington’s Markieff Morris was not exactly down with high praise for Millsap.

The key line here: “”He just did more for his team. He’s a crybaby. Get all the calls and you a crybaby.”

Millsap was asked about that comment in his postgame presser — and the best part may be Dennis Schroeder’s reaction.

“It definitely got personal now, yes. I mean, I don’t care. So what? He can take his loss and go back to the hotel and be ready for the next game.”

These two have already had a beef this series.

Game 4 in this series just got a lot more interesting.

Marc Gasol game-winner tops Kawhi Leonard’s brilliance, evens Spurs/Grizzlies series 2-2

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Best. Game. Of. The. Playoffs.

So far at least.

Kawhi Leonard scored 16 consecutive points for the Spurs down the stretch of regulation to force overtime, then in OT hit a corner three with 7.2 seconds left to tie the game at 108-108. Leonard finished the game with a career playoff high of 43 points.

It wasn’t enough. Because in those final seconds Marc Gasol did this.

The 110-108 Memphis win ties the series at 2-2 as it heads back to San Antonio for Game 5. I might not want to sit next to Gregg Popovich on the flight home.

While Gasol hit the big shot, he never gets the chance if Mike Conley isn’t every kind of amazing through the clutch parts of this game. Conley finished with 35 points, and that includes a floater in the lane that forced OT (although Leonard got a pretty good look to end it in regulation and just missed). I’m surprised the Spurs switched on the pseudo pick on this play.

The Spurs struggled to get stops down the stretch, mostly because they had David Lee and Tony Parker both on the floor and Memphis did a good job getting switches onto those defenders. Spurs starting center and best defensive big Dewayne Dedmon missed the game due to an illness, and that ended up mattering.

Hawks take control early, romp past Wizards 116-98

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ATLANTA (AP) — Paul Millsap scored 29 points, Dennis Schroder had 27 and the Atlanta Hawks delivered an early knockout blow against Washington, cruising to a 116-98 victory Saturday that sliced the Wizards’ lead to 2-1 in the opening-round playoff series.

After two tight losses in Washington exposed some bad blood between the teams, Atlanta returned home and built a 25-point lead by late in the first quarter.

The Hawks were never seriously challenged by the Wizards, who were essentially a one-man team. John Wall kept up his dazzling play in the series, scoring 29 points, but the point guard got no help from his teammates.

The other Washington starters combined to score 30 points on 14-of-45 shooting.

Millsap also had 14 rebounds, while rookie Taurean Prince chipped in with 16 points.

Game 4 is Monday night in Atlanta.

The Hawks came out intent on moving the ball, getting open looks and cutting down on the turnovers that plagued them in the first two contests.

Talk about following the game plan.

Atlanta pushed out to a double-digit lead before the game was 3 minutes old and stretched the margin to 38-13 with just under a minute to go in the opening quarter on Schroder’s 3-pointer.

Wall did everything he could to spark the Wizards. He posed along the baseline after a thunderous dunk, which might have had more effect if the Wizards weren’t losing by 23 at the time. He also darted through the lane against a collapsing defense to bank in an improbable shot, drawing gasps from the Atlanta crowd.

Wall made all but one shot and scored 21 points in the first half, but the Wizards trailed 64-46 heading to the locker room. The other four Washington starters had just 18 points.

Beal, in particular, had a miserable night after averaging 26.5 points in the first two games. He was held to 12 points on 6-of-20 shooting, missing all six of his attempts beyond the arc.

TIP INS

Wizards: Wall is averaging 31 points per game in the series. … F Otto Porter Jr. left in the third quarter with a strained neck and didn’t return. … After a video review, Jason Smith was called for a flagrant foul against Millsap late in the third quarter.

Hawks: C Dwight Howard remains a non-factor in Atlanta’s offense. He scored five points and took just four shots, giving him a mere 15 attempts over the first three games. He did have 11 rebounds. … Schroder had some issues at the free-throw line, making only half of his eight attempts. Millsap did, too, going 5 of 9. … Atlanta had a double-digit lead for the final 44:24 of the game. … Prince picked up a technical foul for taunting the Wizards after an alley-oop dunk in the closing minutes. … The Hawks had just 11 turnovers.