Paul Pierce practiced Monday, could return vs. Celtics Tuesday

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Tuesday night the Nets could get Paul Pierce and Deron Williams back on the court. Which would be a nice first step toward turning Brooklyn’s tire fire of a season around.

Both Pierce and Williams went through practice on Monday, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.

We knew Williams was close to returning, however Pierce was expected to be out at least two weeks when it was announced 10 days ago he broke the third metacarpal bone in his right hand. He said his decision to play will be based on how his hand feels Tuesday after going through a full practice Monday.

D-Will, who needs to be the guy with the ball in his hands controlling the Nets offense, hasn’t played since Nov. 20 due to a sprained ankle. Injuries had also sidelined him for most of training camp.

While the Nets looked the worst they have this season in their 30-point loss at home to the Knicks over the weekend, which dropped them to 6-14 on the year, management is being patient with coach Jason Kidd because injuries have riddled this team and destroyed any chance at building chemistry. That includes a sprained ankle for Brook Lopez that kept the Nets’ best player on the sidelines for seven games.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Monday night’s games. It’s $10 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Monday. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Getting Pierce back to play the Celtics would have all kinds of significance for Boston (even though the game is in Brooklyn) but mostly it’s just a chance to start to see what this Nets team can be. In the sad Eastern Conference the Nets are not close to out of the playoff hunt — they are just three games out of the Atlantic division lead.

However Brooklyn is going to have to turn around what has been the league’s worst defense and find some improved offense behind Williams and Lopez to make their not-so-lofty goals of a playoff slot a reality.

Russell Westbrook scores most points ever in triple-double, 57

AP Photo/John Raoux
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Russell Westbrook led a double-digit comeback in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Been there done, that.

Westbrook hit a defining buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Been there done, that.

Westbrook posted a historic triple-double. Been there, done that.

All three in one game?

That’s a new level for Westbrook, who lifted the Thunder to a 114-106 win over the Magic tonight while posting an incredible stat line: 57 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.

James Harden scored 53 in a triple-double just this season, and Westbrook has already one-upped that record.

This MVP race is one for the ages.

Russell Westbrook’s 3-pointer caps incredible Thunder comeback, send Magic game to OT (video)

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The Thunder trailed the Magic by 21 points in the second half and 14 points midway through the fourth quarter.

Russell Westbrook capped the incredible comeback with this 3-pointer to send the game to overtime.

This becoming the norm for Oklahoma City.

NBA: Timberwolves got away with key late foul in win over Pacers

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Paul George expressed extreme dismay after the Pacers’ loss to the Timberwolves last night — the latest cause for concern in Indiana with its biggest star just one season from free agency.

But perhaps George wouldn’t have sounded so disillusioned if that game featured correct officiating down the stretch.

Minnesota’s Kris Dunn got away with fouling Jeff Teague by disrupting the Pacers guard’s speed/quickness/balance rhythm with 21.6 seconds left, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Dunn (MIN) makes contact to Teague’s (IND) arm that affects his SQBR and causes him to lose control of the ball.

Because the Timberwolves were in the penalty, a correct would’ve sent Teague — who’s making 86% of his free throws this season and 84% for his career — to the line. He would’ve had two attempts to build on Indiana’s two-point lead.

Instead, he forced an off-balance shot, which Minnesota rebounded. Ricky Rubio drew a shooting foul on a 3-pointer on the other end, and his three free throws lifted the Timberwolves to a 115-114 win.

The two-minute report featured a few other missed calls: George getting away with pushing off then Wiggins getting away with fouling George on a possession where George missed anyway, Andrew Wiggins getting away with a travel on a possession where Minnesota turned the ball over anyway. But those were effectively wash’s. Dunn’s uncalled foul was the one of consequence — especially if it contributes, even in a small way, to George’s exit from the Pacers.

Edmond Sumner declares for NBA draft despite torn ACL

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Edmond Sumner has grown about five inches since high school.

That has helped turn the 6-foot-5 Xavier point guard into an intriguing NBA prospect — but also seemingly contributed to physical complications. Sumner missed nearly all of his freshman year with knee tendinitis. Then, after a promising second season and start to his third, he tore his ACL in January.

Still, he’s entering the NBA draft.

Sumner:

Rick Broering of Musketeer Report:

Like with Duke’s Harry Giles, medical testing will be huge with Sumner. But at least Giles ended the season on the court. Sumner might not be healthy at all during the pre-draft process.

Sumner looked like a borderline first-round pick before the injury. This probably pushes him into the second round.

His long strides provide impressive speed and quickness, and he’s still shifty. Add quality court vision, and his ability to drive by defenders is even more valuable.

A 6-foot-8 wingspan and good lateral mobility also help make him a quality defender.

But it’s also concerning that so much of his positives could be undermined by his knee issues, especially considering his unreliable jumper. If Sumner can’t move like he did before getting hurt, I don’t see how he sticks in the NBA.

If Sumner’s knees check out, it’s worth rolling the dice on him and hoping his jumper develops. He might even be OK without shooting range, though that’d lower his ceiling considerably.

Again, though, the first thing is examining his knees.