Three Things We Learned Tuesday: Kevin Durant injury clouds Warriors season

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The NBA world — and potentially the race to the Finals — changed in an instant Tuesday night with one injury. But if you were busy celebrating Bill Paxton’s best work as the director and star of a music video about fish heads, we understand, here are the big takeaways from the night.

1) Kevin Durant injury leaves cloud over Warriors season (but Wizards will take the win).
Here are the numbers that matter most as we await the MRI results and the news of just how severe Kevin Durant’s knee injury is:

The NBA playoffs start in six weeks, the Western Conference Finals in two-and-a-half months, the Finals in three months.

The Golden State Warriors went from “can anyone beat this team” to vulnerable in the space of this one play, when Washington’s Marcin Gortat threw Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia to the floor to get a rebound and Pachulia fell right into Durant’s knee, leading to a hyperextension.

The MRI results are expected Wednesday at some point, but the Warriors are bracing for the worst having already set up plans to sign Matt Barnes to fill in on the wing.

While the Warriors tried to focus on the game despite not having their best player this season, the Wizards were playing with some real desperation — and that got them a much-needed win, their first since the All-Star break. John Wall dished out a career-high 19 assists, Otto Porter and Markief Morris hit key shots down the stretch, Stephen Curry is now 2-of-20 from three his last two games, all of which led to a dramatic Wizards win in Washington.

2) Triple-doubles tonight: Russell Westbrook (of course) and Nikola Jokic (the guy is a stud). The Thunder and Nuggets are both teams in need of wins as they focus on the playoffs — the Thunder to climb up the West seedings, the Nuggets to hang on to the eighth seed — and on Tuesday night both got massive games from their stars to get key wins.

Russell Westbrook put together his 30th triple-double of the season, scoring 43 points and hitting some clutch shots late, and did it against one of the best defenses in the league leading the Thunder to a win over the Jazz.

Denver leaned on their big man and franchise cornerstone Nikola Jokic, who led the team to a road win in Chicago with 19 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists. Combine that with a Portland loss (see below) and Denver moves to 1.5 games ahead of the Blazers (and one better in the loss column).



3) Pistons knock off Blazers in overtime in the best game of the night.
Detroit entered Tuesday night as the eighth seed in the East. Barely. Portland entered as the ninth seed in the West. Barely, just half a game back of Denver. Both teams are desperate for wins to make the postseason, and desperation can lead to exciting basketball.

Damian Lillard forced overtime with a driving lay-up, but the night ultimately belonged to Marcus Morris, who had a career-high 37 points and was feeling it. Detroit got the win thanks to him.

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.