Paul Pierce, DeMarre Carroll

Three Stars of the Night: Old Man for Rivers

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The Celtics were already pretty old to start the season. When Rajon Rondo tore his ACL, they got older. When rookie forward Jared Sullinger went out for the season, they were about as young as a men’s rec league team.

Older doesn’t necessarily mean worse, of course. Doc Rivers called it when the injuries happened — the Celtics weren’t going to expire so easily. A game in Utah against one of the youngest and best home teams in the league (21-6 at home going in) wasn’t going to be easy, but Rivers called on his old man to bring it home. To the stars!

Third Star: Bradley Beal – (20 points, 6 rebounds, 8-for-13)

Beal just keeps getting better and better. Every month this season Beal has improved his field goal percentage and points per game. Does it help he set the bar so low? Sure, but it’s clear to see Beal is becoming more confident and really figuring the league out. In January and February, Beal is shooting nearly 50 percent from behind the arc, and this month, he’s scoring 17.3 points per game. It’s too late for Washington to make the playoffs (they’re 9 games back of the 8-seed), but is it too late for Beal to steal some first place Rookie of the Year votes from Damian Lillard? If he keeps trending this way, it might not be.

 

Second StarAl Horford – (23 points, 22 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks)

Horford tied a career-high with 22 rebounds in a blowout win over the Pistons, mainly just by hanging around the rim and swallowing everything up. Horford’s 7 offensive rebounds gave the Hawks plenty of extra chances, and they knew what to do with it. Atlanta shot above 50 percent from the field as a team, thanks in large part to Horford putting in little shots around the rim.

 

First Star: Paul Pierce – (26 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists)

Pierce was great all night, but his incredible scoring in overtime put the Celtics over the top. After narrowly missing a potential game-winner in regulation, Pierce rattled off seven straight points in overtime on a variety of buckets. Even against a really solid individual defender in DeMarre Carroll, Pierce was able to come off screens and get his deadly jumper off with relative ease. Enjoy these performances while you can — it will be a long time before we see another scorer who manipulates space like Pierce does.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks at Democratic National Convention (VIDEO)

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 06: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks at the South Los Angeles Get Out The Vote Rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Leimert Park Village Plaza on June 6, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. The presidential hopeful is attending a series of campaign stops on the eve of the California presidential primary election, where polls indicate a close divide between Clinton supporters and those of Democratic rival Senator Bernie Sanders.   (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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With so much focus in recent weeks being on NBA players speaking out on social issues, it’s worth remembering that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been one of the most vocal athletes in America on these things for decades. The Hall of Fame and all-time leading scorer in NBA history addressed the Democratic National Convention on Thursday evening, urging voters to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, and opened his remarks by introducing himself as Michael Jordan, because “Donald Trump couldn’t tell the difference.”

You can watch the video of his speech below:

Kevin Durant denies report he told Russell Westbrook he was returning to Oklahoma City

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant #35 discuss play during the first half against the Los Angeles ClipperLos Angeles Kingsat Staples Center on December 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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In the weeks since Kevin Durant announced he was signing with the Golden State Warriors, we have yet to hear Russell Westbrook speak on his former teammate’s decision. This week, ESPN.com’s Royce Young indicated in a podcast interview that Durant was telling Westbrook and others in the days leading up to his decision that he was coming back to Oklahoma City. He later walked back his report, saying he misspoke. On Thursday, Durant himself told The Vertical‘s Shams Charania that he never said any such thing, or misled Westbrook or anyone else about his intentions.

“It’s false,” Durant told The Vertical on Thursday. “I didn’t say that – words about me telling Russell or Nick that I would stay or leave never came out of my mouth. We met as teammates, but no promises came out of it. In this day and age, I can’t control anything people claim out there. Someone can go out and say something random right now, and people will believe it.

“I never told Russell or Nick [Collison], ‘All right, guys, I’m coming back to the Thunder’ – and then a week later, I decide not to. Never happened. I don’t operate like that. I heard people say that story, but it’s not the truth.”

So that settles that.

Report: Spurs agree to two-year deal with free agent forward David Lee

DALLAS, TX - MARCH 01:  David Lee #42 of the Dallas Mavericks during the first half at American Airlines Center on March 1, 2016 in Dallas, 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Lee will have a player option in the second year of his deal, which will be worth the veteran’s minimum.

Lee, 33, considered more lucrative deals elsewhere, but committed to the Spurs’ opportunity to win a championship and play a backup role to LaMarcus Aldridge andPau Gasol.

General manager “R.C [Buford] and coach [Gregg] Popovich put a lot of time and energy to give David a visual of how much they wanted him and would use him,” Bartelstein told The Vertical. “A lot of people talk about taking less money, and not many people do it, so the Spurs get a lot of credit for selling David on joining their organization.”

After winning a championship with the Warriors in 2015, Lee was dealt to Boston last offseason, where he fell out of the rotation quickly. He was bought out midseason and signed with the Mavericks. He was solid in Dallas, but at his age and with almost no defensive ability, he didn’t draw much interest on the market. In San Antonio, he likely won’t have a big role, but he’s a solid veteran scorer in the frontcourt off the bench in limited minutes.

Bulls sign guard Spencer Dinwiddie

CLEVELAND, OHIO - APRIL 13: Spencer Dinwiddie #8 of the Detroit Pistons in action against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on April 13, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Pistons defeated Cleveland 112-110 in overtime.  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 David Maxwell/Getty Images)
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CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Bulls have signed guard Spencer Dinwiddie.

The Bulls acquired Dinwiddie in a trade with Detroit last month and waived him three weeks ago. He spent two years with the Pistons and appeared in 12 games last season, averaging 4.8 points and 13.3 minutes.

The Bulls announced the move Thursday.