Lebrion James, Dwyane Wade

LeBron says he was going to play until he got the last rebound needed for his triple-double against Sixers

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The Heat won their 10th straight game on Saturday, taking care of the Sixers easily behind a game-high 33 points from Dwyane Wade, and a triple-double effort from LeBron James.

Miami led by 16 after three quarters, and it would have been easy for James to sit the rest of this one out, even though as the fourth quarter began, he was one rebound shy of that elusive triple-double achievement.

LeBron was aware of his statistical situation on this night, however, and there was no way he was going to let this game finish without making sure he recorded the final rebound that would give him that special numerical accomplishment.

From Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida:

“I was going to be out there until I got it,’’ James said. “I wasn’t letting this one slip away. I’ve had way too many nine-rebound, nine-assist games. And I had the whole (fourth) quarter to get one rebound. So I didn’t care if Dwyane Wade would have stood at the scorer’s table the whole quarter until I got my rebound.’’

James got his rebound with 11:11 left in the game. He then left the game for good with 10:15 left in favor of Wade and with the Heat leading 89-74 …

Plenty of people cite the purity of the game and similar nonsense when criticizing players for trying to notch individual statistical achievements. But in this case, no one should have an issue with LeBron wanting to make sure he ended up with that triple-double, for a variety of reasons.

While the game may have been effectively out of reach for the Sixers when James was still in there to start the fourth, technically the deficit wasn’t so large where the Heat would have some moral obligation to sit their best players. A lead under 20 to open the final period isn’t likely to change Erik Spoelstra’s regular rotations, so James was going to be in there anyway.

This wasn’t a case where LeBron was playing with under a minute remaining and his team up by an insurmountable margin, where he’d be embarrassing himself to chase some stats. He simply was being honest (and likely a bit playful) when acknowledging he knew what was needed to reach his triple-double, and given the circumstances surrounding the game at the time, there isn’t anything wrong with that.

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.