Associated Press

Nets end 16-game skid with 109-100 road win over Kings

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Brook Lopez had 24 points and eight rebounds, and the Brooklyn Nets never trailed in snapping a 16-game losing streak by defeating the Sacramento Kings 109-100 on Wednesday night.

The Nets’ previous win was Jan. 20 at New Orleans. They had dropped 27 of 28 games since beating Charlotte on Dec. 26. The franchise record for consecutive losses is 18 by the 2009-10 team that went 12-70, another low mark in club history.

Jeremy Lin scored 17 points, Isaiah Whitehead had 14 and Caris LeVert finished with 13 for the NBA-worst Nets (10-49). Brooklyn made 11 3-pointers and shot 46 percent.

Sacramento rookie Buddy Hield hit four 3-pointers and scored 16 points. Ty Lawson and Tyreke Evans both had 15 points, and Aaron Afflalo added 14. The Kings have lost three straight and are 1-3 since trading DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans in a blockbuster deal.

Evans hit a 3 and followed with a jumper, pulling the Kings to 99-93 with 2:34 remaining. A basket by Lawson with 30 seconds left cut the margin to four, but Randy Foye made two free throws and Lin added two more to secure the victory.

The Kings (25-36) fell three games behind eighth-place Denver for the final Western Conference playoff spot and are tied with Minnesota for ninth.

The Nets got off to a fast start, making six 3-pointers in the first quarter in taking a 35-31 lead. They led by three at halftime and outscored cold-shooting Sacramento 24-18 in the third quarter to take a nine-point lead into the fourth.

TIP-INS

Nets: Lopez had a second-quarter dunk to become the second player in Nets history to surpass 10,000 points. He has 10,014 and trails only Buck Williams (10,440). … This was the third stop on an eight-game road trip, their longest of the season.

Kings: Rookie big man Skal Labissiere started his first game after several recent promising performances. … Sacramento is clearly lacking an interior presence without Cousins. Starting center Kosta Koufos missed all seven shots and went scoreless in nearly 25 minutes.

 

Report: Duke guard Frank Jackson undergoes foot surgery before NBA draft

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Duke guard Frank Jackson declared for the 2017 NBA draft with an outside shot of going in the first round and a likelihood of getting picked in the second-round.

This won’t help his stock.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Duke’s Frank Jackson, a well-regarded point guard in the 2017 NBA draft class, underwent right foot surgery and is expected to be fully recovered sometime in July.

When Jackson recovers will determine whether he plays in summer league, and that can affect transition to the pros as a rookie.

The bigger questions: Will this hinder his athleticism long-term? Does this put him at greater injury risk?

Jackson, a 6-foot-4 scoring guard, relies on a strong first step to attack the basket and high elevation on his jumper.

Report: 76ers, with No. 3 pick in NBA draft, like PGs De’Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith Jr.

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If there’s consensus on the top prospects in the 2017 NBA draft, it’s:

1. Markelle Fultz

2. Lonzo Ball

3. Josh Jackson

That squares nicely with the Celtics picking Fultz No. 1 and the Lakers taking Ball No. 2.

But what about the 76ers, who pick No. 3? They already have a playmaking forward with a shaky jumper in Ben Simmons. Jackson isn’t the cleanest fit. Even if they plan to deploy Simmons at point guard, they could still use a traditional point guard for support/insurance.

Enter De'Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith Jr.

Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:

https://twitter.com/SBondyNYDN/status/867526157184491521

The 76ers could also get a workout with Ball. There will be point guard options.

I’m just unsure any of them, assuming Ball is off the board, trump Jackson.

Philadelphia’s starting small forward is Robert Covington – a nice player, but not someone who should influence draft decisions. We can lightly pencil Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons into the 76ers’ starting lineup the next time the team gets good, but the rest of the lineup is open. Pondering Jackson’s fit into a half-blank canvass is overthinking. Embiid is an excellent outside shooter for a center, and Philadelphia’s eventual guards (or shooting guard and power forward if Simmons plays point guard) could be good shooters.

The 76ers’ should draft the best prospect available. If that’s Jackson, so be it. They should consider Fox’s and Smith’s fit only if those point guards are in the same tier as Jackson.

That said, don’t rule out the possibility of Fox and Smith working their way into that level. They’re intriguing players.

Thunder’s Enes Kanter: ‘I don’t like Golden State, so I want Cleveland to win the championship’

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When Kevin Durant left the Thunder for the Warriors, Oklahoma City center Enes Kanter jumped fully on board the pro-Russell Westbrook, anti-Durant bandwagon.

That ride doesn’t stop with his former teammate facing the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

Kanter, via Fox Sports Radio:

I don’t like Golden State, so I want Cleveland to win the championship.

Kanter never misses an opportunity to take a shot at the Warriors – except when Zaza Pachulia laid out Westbrook and stood over him.

Dwane Casey: Masai Ujiri assured me I’ll return as Raptors coach

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Raptors president Masai Ujiri didn’t mince words at his season-ending press conference: Toronto’s playing style had become unacceptable.

It sounded as if he might have been planting the seed for firing Dwane Casey.

But the coach says Ujiri assured him he’d return next season.

Casey on TSN (hat tip: Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic):

I think people mistook Masai’s comments for that. We had a good meeting before that meeting, and we’ve had meeting since then – with all the coaches – as far as plans for next year and the culture reset, which I think every corporation and every team should do periodically to get the culture back in focus and that type of thing. It’s not like we’re in total chaos or anything like that. It’s just good to have roles defined, things we can do better in each of our roles.

We’re doing some good things and some things we can do much better with. And that’s what we’ll plan on doing this summer and also this fall, when we go to training camp.

The Raptors’ offensive rating has dropped from regular season to the playoffs by 8.5, 7.2 and 11.7 the last three years. Their isolation-heavy style is just easier to stop when defenses see it in consecutive games.

The big question: What does Toronto do about that?

It’d be difficult to move on from the two players most responsible for the style, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. DeRozan is signed long-term, and if the Raptors don’t re-sign Lowry, who’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer, they won’t have the cap space to land a comparable replacement.

The best bet is probably changing schemes from the bench and hoping the players can adjust – and maybe Casey can handle that responsibility. Hiring a new coach obviously would been the clearest path to a shake up, but maybe Casey can evolve. I’d want to see a plan from him before committing to keeping him, but maybe Ujiri got that.

Casey has played a key role in Toronto’s improvement, it’s nice to give him an opportunity to coach differently before hiring a different coach.