P.J. Tucker setting a good example for the Summer Suns

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LAS VEGAS — P.J. Tucker came to Las Vegas as part of the Suns Summer League squad, but it wasn’t because he needed the practice.

Tucker, 28, has played the last seven seasons professionally — five overseas, two in the NBA — and started 45 of the 79 games he appeared in for the Suns last season.

No, Tucker wasn’t here for his professional development; he was here to set an example.

His work ethic is second to none, and Tucker once again played critical minutes and made some key plays to help the Suns continue their undefeated streak with a 91-89 win over the Heat to advance to Monday night’s championship game of the inaugural Summer League tournament.

The plan was always for Tucker to play a little with the summer team, said Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek, just to show the young guys how it’s done.

“Before we took over they had talked to him about playing in the summer just to help establish the hard work for some of the young guys that were going to be here,” Hornacek said. “It’s great for us as coaches to have a guy that demands hard work all the time. That can relate to the other players, so it’s a good example for us.”

But when asked what Tucker is still doing here — leading his team with 19 points in 29 minutes while at the same time going all out defensively — Hornacek said that it was simply due to the fact that Tucker wanted to stay.

“Guys love to play basketball,” Hornacek said. “P.J. was going to be out here anyway and when we initially talked to him, he said ‘yeah, I’ll play a couple games.’ Then the guy’s competitive juices flow, and I keep asking him, do you want to take the next one off? But he goes (quickly) ‘no, I’ll play.’ So I said OK.”

Tucker made the decision to keep playing sound like an extremely simple one.

“I’m here,” Tucker said. “You know, we got a new coach, he’s coaching our Summer League team — why wouldn’t I play?”

It’s been great that he has, for a young Suns team looking to develop a winning attitude under a new coaching staff. And the way Tucker always plays with a high level of energy and intensity can be nothing but a positive for the other guys on the summer roster to experience.

Clippers blow 18-point lead, lose in final 2 seconds on putback to Kings (VIDEO)

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The Los Angeles Clippers had a rough go of things against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. Up by 18 with more than five minutes to go, LA blew their lead and were left to watch as the Kings sealed the game late.

The final possession for Sacramento came on a missed corner 3-pointer by Clippers guard Jamal Crawford. The Kings got the outlet pass out on the rebound, but Ben McLemore took it to the rack and missed. That’s when Willie Cauley-Stein stepped in, cleaned up the board, and put the game-winning shot home with less than two seconds left.

Los Angeles lost in spectacular fashion, and became the only team this season to lose given their game situation.

Here’s a compilation the NBA put together of Sacramento’s epic comeback:

Meanwhile, Chris Paul called it the worst regular season loss of his career.

The Clippers peaked too soon. Like, the first 20 games of the season too soon.

Russell Westbrook throws incredible halfcourt bounce pass vs. Rockets (VIDEO)

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Russell Westbrook had yet another triple-double on Sunday. The Oklahoma City Thunder star notched 13 assists in the loss to the Houston Rockets, 137-125, and one of them came on a nifty pass to teammate Victor Oladipo.

The play happened with the Thunder on the fastbreak early in the third quarter. Westbrook was moving from left-to-right across the middle of the floor with the ball while Oladipo streaked down the right wing.

With the Rockets defense collapsing, Westbrook reached halfcourt and fired a bounce pass that sliced through the opposition.

Oladipo finished with the clean dunk.

Still not sure it beats this one, but I think we’ll have to compare once the season comes to a close.

Kobe Bryant on race for Podoloff Trophy: “We might see our first co-MVPs this year”

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The race between James Harden and Russell Westbrook for the 2017 NBA MVP has narrowed to a two-man race toward the end of the season. The Oklahoma City Thunder star is averaging at triple-double this year, and the Houston Rockets guard is doing things nobody has ever done on a basketball court before.

It’s a tough decision to decide between them, so much so that even former Los Angeles Lakers great and 2008 NBA MVP Kobe Bryant can’t do it.

Speaking on ESPN on Sunday, Bryant said he thought the league might have to just bite the bullet on Westbrook vs. Harden.

“We might see our first co-MVPs this year,” said Bryant.

That would be a huge step for the league, but I’m not entirely sure they would do it. There have been co-NBA All-Star Game MVPs in years past, but never league MVP.

Still, can you decide between Russ and Harden? The Mamba can’t.

Watch Rockets C Nene lead the break, eurostep past Enes Kanter (VIDEO)

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Houston Rockets center Nene is from Brazil, but on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder the South American native went full euro.

On a fastbreak possession, Nene took on Thunder big man Enes Kanter near the rim and absolutely shook him with a nasty eurostep.

The play was so good that it forced Oklahoma City to call a timeout as James Harden and the rest of the Rockets bench met Nene on the court to celebrate.