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.”

Before season starts, watch top 10 dunks of preseason

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Starting Tuesday night, the games matter. The dunks matter.

But before we move onto those dunks, let’s have some fun with the top 10 dunks of the meaningless preseason. They may not matter, but they certainly were fun.

Of course there are some expected highlights — can you have a dunk reel without Russell Westbrook? — but game-winning dunks always get the top slot.

Carmelo Anthony says rather than take knee during Anthem he wants action in communities

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 26:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks looks on against the Cleveland Cavaliers during their game at Madison Square Garden on March 26, 2016 in New York City.  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 Al Bello/Getty Images)

Colin Kaepernick certainly fired up a discussion — not always the conversation he intended, but a discussion of the treatment of African-Americans in our society was part of that conversation.

No NBA player has taken that same step through the preseason, taking a knee during the national anthem (only anthem singers have done that). Some teams are locking arms during the anthem in a show of solidarity, but they stand in two orderly rows.

Carmelo Anthony explained in an interview with Bleacher Report that what he and many others want to see is the next step in Kaepernick’s protest — action in the community.

“I’m past the gestures,” New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony told B/R Mag. “I’m past that. It’s all about creating things now and putting things in motion. So, that’s what I’m on. I’m trying to get guys on board with that and help them understand that—enough of the gesturing and talking and all of that stuff—we need to start putting things in place….

“He’s done it,” Anthony said of Kaepernick. “He was courageous enough to do that. He created that. He created the kneeling and that protest. And people fell in line with that. Some people supported it. Some people didn’t. But at the end of the day, and I’m not taking nothing away from him…I just don’t think the gesturing is creating anything. I think it’s bringing awareness, but I think doing stuff and creating awareness in the communities [is more effective].”

What are those things? Players, the players’ union, the NBA itself, and it’s teams are all working to figure that out. This is not something where one blanket program fits all — what is needed in communities in New York is different from the needs in Milwaukee, is different from the needs in Sacramento. This needs to be local, with players involved.

There have already been some steps. The Bulls held a basketball tournament between police and a mentoring agency, which was followed by a panel discussion. Dwyane Wade biked with police through Miami. The Grizzlies have revived the Police Athletic League in Memphis. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, there are teams from New Orleans to Los Angeles are working to bring youth and police together to talk.

It’s a start. A good start.

There is no one magic gesture, no one simple measure that can heal the deep divides in our nation right now. There are no easy answers, and as a nation we can be too dependent on easy answers. We need to listen. We need to talk to each other, not at each other. We need to practice empathy.

NBA players can help lead that effort, that conversation. It would be the next step after a protest — to act on those steps. Good on Anthony and the NBA for attempting to go down that road.


Rockets change from earlier reports, waive Pablo Prigioni, keep Tyler Ennis

HOUSTON, TX - MAY 17:  Pablo Prigioni #9 of the Houston Rockets celebrates in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers during Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals at the Toyota Center for the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 17, 2015 in Houston, Texas. 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 Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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The Rockets traded for Tyler Ennis., sending Michael Beasley away in the deal.

Which is why it was a bit of a surprise on Monday when early reports had the Rockets waiving Ennis, but either the report was off or the Rockets changed their minds.

With Patrick Beverley out injured, this leaves the Rockets thin at the traditional point guard spot. However, in practice James Harden, Eric Gordon and others will initiate Mike D’Antoni’s offense, so the bigger challenge will be defensively. Prigioni was not much help there at this point in his career.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a team snaps up Prigioni as insurance, or he certainly can make money overseas. Prigioni played last season as a backup point guard for the Clippers.

Want some dance lessons from Hassan Whiteside? We got that.

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 26: A portrait of Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat on September 26, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Miami’s Hassan Whiteside is a lot of things: An elite shot blocker, up-and-coming NBA star who worked hard for the right to be that, a Heat cornerstone.

Dance instructor?

I’m not sold, but he’s showing off his groove in this Twitter video.

When you get a $98.6 million contract, you can do whatever you want. So he can be a dance if he wants to.