giannis antetokounmpo
AP

Antetokounmpo leads Bucks over Nets, 111-93

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NEW YORK (AP) Giannis Antetokounmpo had 23 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, Jabari Parker scored 22 points and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Brooklyn Nets 111-93 on Thursday night.

Malcolm Brogdon and Tony Snell each added 13 points for the Bucks, who followed their impressive victory over Cleveland with their third straight win.

Brook Lopez scored 15 points, Sean Kilpatrick had 14 and Bojan Bogdanovic added 13 for the Nets, who outlasted the Los Angeles Clippers in overtime on Tuesday and were trying to win consecutive games for the first time this season.

The Bucks continued their dominance of the Nets since Jason Kidd left Brooklyn for the Milwaukee coaching job.

Milwaukee led by one in the third quarter when the Bucks went on a 14-2 run to go up 77-64. Milwaukee took a 90-78 lead into the fourth quarter, led by Antetokounmpo’s 11 points in the third, and never looked back.

TIP-INS

Bucks: Coach Kidd believes Antetokounmpo is just beginning to show his potential. “He’s only 21 years old,” Kidd said. “That’s the most underrated thing about him. He’s 21 years old doing a lot of things that a lot of us can’t do. I think that’s special and I think that is overlooked a lot of times.” . Steve Novak and Khris Middleton were inactive.

Nets: Coach Kenny Atkinson said the team is going to “build up” Rondae Hollis-Jefferson‘s minutes after an ankle injury. . Jeremy Lin (strained left hamstring) and Caris LeVert (left foot rehab) were inactive.

SPEAKING THE TRUTH

Two days after Paul Pierce played his final game in Brooklyn, Kidd was asked how would remember a long-time adversary and later a player he coached.

“I think he’s a true pro, a true warrior and a champion,” Kidd said. “Being able to coach him, to see his work ethic at a very high level. (He) respects the game and is a true vet. As a player who’s played against him, he is not afraid of having the ball late in the game. He always wanted to deliver that winning shot.”

COURTSIDE CELEBRITIES

Former President Bill Clinton was courtside with Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry. New York Giants safety Landon Collins and running back Bobby Rainey were also on hand at Barclays Center.

UP NEXT

Bucks: Host Brooklyn on Saturday.

Nets: Visit Milwaukee on Saturday.

PBT Extra: LeBron as MVP and other NBA postseason award predictions

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Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.

In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).

Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.

Jazz: Dante Exum undergoing surgery after shoulder injury

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Jazz point guard Dante Exum hurt his shoulder in a preseason game – an injury that immediately looked like it could be season-ending.

Though Utah doesn’t outright say Exum is done for the year, this doesn’t engender much hope.

Jazz release:

The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum who suffered a separated left shoulder on October 6 vs. Phoenix.

After further evaluation, Exum (6-6, 190, Australia) has elected to undergo surgery to stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The surgery is scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 24 in Los Angeles. Further updates will be provided when appropriate.

Exum (obviously) didn’t receive a contract extension before today’s deadline, so he’ll become a free agent next summer. After one full missed season already and two years of limited effectiveness, it’s not even clear Utah will extend Exum a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. The former No. 5 pick almost certainly won’t meet the starter criteria, which means his qualifying offer would be worth $4,333,931 (down from $6,619,903 based on his draft slot).

The Jazz will start Ricky Rubio, and Raul Neto will be the primary point guard behind him. Wings Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles can all share facilitating duties.

Utah will probably be just fine without Exum this season, which speaks to his marginal place long-term.

Sprained ankle has LeBron James questionable for opener vs. Celtics

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James‘ playing status for Tuesday’s season opener against Boston remains unclear.

James has been slowed by a sprained left ankle for more than two weeks and it’s still not known whether he’ll be on the floor when the Cavaliers take on the Celtics and Kyrie Irving, who asked to be traded by Cleveland this summer.

Following Monday’s practice, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said “I really don’t know” when asked if James will play.

James took part in some post-practice shooting drills with teammates. He did not speak with the media as the Cavaliers prepared for their opener, a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals.

James has never missed an opener in his NBA career, and teammate J.R. Smith doesn’t expect him to miss this one.

“Oh, he’s going to go,” Smith said. “He’s going to go, trust me that. I don’t care what he’s got to do, he’s going to play.”

 

Report: Richard Jefferson signing with Nuggets

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Update: The Nuggets will waive Jameer Nelson, according to Wojnarowski:

It looks like Denver will ride with the younger Jamal Murray and Emmanuel Mudiay at point guard — a risky proposition. Nelson stabilized the position in the event Murray or Mudiay weren’t ready for bigger roles. The Nuggets aren’t hedging their bets now, which puts plenty of pressure on Murray and Mudiay.

Murray should be fine eventually. Mudiay’s promise is far less certain. But this is a team trying to reach the playoffs now, and it might have to ride out growing pains from its point guards without Nelson as a safety net.

 

Richard Jefferson became a late entrant into free agency when the Cavaliers traded him and the Hawks waived him.

But the forward is landing on his feet.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Jefferson could help the Nuggets, who look primed to end a four-season playoff drought. They were set to squeeze backup small-forward minutes behind Wilson Chandler out of the undersized Will Barton and oversized Juan Hernangomez. Jefferson is far more comfortable at the position.

He’s 37 and doesn’t offer long-term upside, but he’s a savvy defender and still pretty athletic. He picks his spots well enough offensively to help on that end, too.

But Denver also has a deep roster that already had 15 players on standard contracts. There’s not an obvious cut to make room for Jefferson, though the Nuggets clearly have something planned.