NBA Draft Lottery Basketball

Cavaliers bask in another lottery victory

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Two years ago, Nick Gilbert made famous his catch phrase – “What’s not to like?” – when his father’s Cavaliers won the NBA Draft lottery with Nick as the team’s on-stage representative.

Since, Nick has been asked many times, “What’s not to like?” by interviewers who expect a response without considering that the phrase is rhetorical. Nick was asked the question again Tuesday night at the 2013 lottery, and for the first time, I heard him give a good response to the inherently impossible-to-answer question.

“Well, where I’m at now is the lottery,” Nick said.

Nick’s first lucky break, which resulted in Kyrie Irving, hasn’t helped the Cavaliers escape the dredges of the NBA. But Nick was all business Tuesday in doing his best to help Cleveland get another boost.

Once the top three picks were revealed to belong to the Cavaliers, Wizards and Magic, their representatives left their podiums and stood next to each other as ESPN’s cameras zoomed in on each individually.

Nick held a straight face as long as he could before smiling. Washington’s Bradley Beal also tried to keep a straight face, but he succumbed to smiling even sooner than Nick did. Pat Williams, who had already won the lottery twice with the Magic, immediately flashed a huge grin and gave two thumbs up.

Of course, the Cavaliers won, and Nick dropped any hints of sternness. He celebrated with large group of Clevelanders and honorary Clevelanders, most of them sporting bowties and some, including Dan Gilbert, wearing gaudy wine-red blazers with a Cavaliers logo.

“We’re going to be right back in it next year in a big way,” Dan Gilbert said with one arm around Nick.

Just behind that embrace, Tate Moore fiddled nervously with his phone.

Moore won a Cavaliers contest by submitting a video that explained why he would bring luck to the Cavaliers, earning  a trip to New York with the Cleveland contingent. Now, he was trying to use his phone to take a photo, but a non-stop flood of tweets and texts prevented the device from having any use.

The lone break in Cleveland’s good fortune didn’t last long, as Moore was fortunate enough to find someone who could help with his phone. Is he really as luck as he said in his video, or was it an act?

“Going into it, I would say I would do anything to win a contest,” Moore said. “But, hey, I came here, and we won the lottery. So, maybe it is true.”

Even on the flight to New York, Moore and Nick Gilbert routed a couple media members in euchre, a card game we like to play in Ohio, Michigan and Canada.

“Me and Nick, we can’t be beat,” Moore said.

Cleveland can’t win Super Bowls, World Series or NBA Championships. But the city sure can win lotteries.

Posing for pictures, Nick held up two index fingers to signify the Cavaliers’ two No. 1 picks in the last there years.

After the festivities died down, Pat Williams sat to the side of the studio with nobody at his side, hunched over and tuckered out. Bradley Beal hid in a corner behind some cameras to type on his phone.

And, somewhere, Nick Gilbert was smiling without any attempt to stifle it.

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.