Milwaukee Bucks v Phoenix Suns

Bucks win in Phoenix for first time in 25 years


PHOENIX — The Suns are in a bad place right now, contemplating rotation changes geared more toward player development than winning in the not-so-distant future. The Bucks, meanwhile, are a playoff team in the East, and fought like it on Thursday to overcome an eight-point fourth quarter deficit on the way to a 98-94 victory.

The win broke a crazy streak for Milwaukee, who hadn’t won in Phoenix since Feb. 21, 1987. The Suns had won 24 straight home games against this opponent since then, and the Bucks had yet to win a game at the US Airways Center, going 0-19 before this one since the building opened its doors for the 1992-93 season.

Bucks head coach Jim Boylan said he chose not to even mention the streak to his team before the game got started.

“We actually did not discuss it at all,” Boylan said. “The players knew about it. They were aware of it, so it wasn’t something they didn’t know. Everybody knew about it.

“In years past, we’ve tried that a couple times, and said ‘hey guys, it’s been 20-some-odd years since we’ve won here,’ but it’s never seemed to work,” he continued. “So I took the opposite track, and figured I’m not going to say a word about it. But I did have the box score [from that last win] and we were able to throw that up there after the game to kind of celebrate.”

A comeback win on the road is always worth celebrating, no matter the opponent. On this night, Milwaukee got a 10-point fourth quarter from Monta Ellis, who finished with a game-high 24 points on 10-20 shooting, to go along with four rebounds and six assists.

Ellis didn’t miss a field goal or a free throw in his nine and a half fourth quarter minutes, and that, along with a key defensive stretch late where the Bucks blocked three consecutive Suns’ shots with under 2:35 to play while clinging to a two-point lead was the difference.

For the Suns, the way this game played out was all too familiar. The team has put together spurts of solid basketball in many of its losses, including tonight when they used a 25-10 run in the last 6:35 of the second quarter to turn a 12-point deficit into a three-point lead at the break. But in the end, too many turnovers and not enough playmakers doomed their chances.

‘You’ve got to be able to make plays down the stretch to win games,” a dejected Alvin Gentry said afterward. “We got the game to the point where we should have won it. When you’re up 10 and you’re at home, you’ve got to find a way to win the game. That’s been the story of our season and we haven’t been able to do it.”

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry
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The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.