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Antetokounmpo scores 28 points, Bucks beat Raptors 97-83

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TORONTO — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 28 points, rookie Malcolm Brogdon had 16 and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Toronto Raptors 97-83 on Saturday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

Playing his second career playoff series, Antetekounmpo made 13 of 18 shots, and added eight rebounds and three assists. Greg Monroe added 14 points, Tony Snell had 11, and Khris Middleton finished with 10 points and nine assists.

DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 27 points, and Serge Ibaka had 19 points and 14 rebounds. The Raptors have lost the opening game in eight consecutive playoff series.

Toronto’s Kyle Lowry made only two of 11 field-goal attempts, missing all six 3-point efforts, and finished with four points. Jonas Valanciunas had nine points and nine rebounds.

Game 2 is Tuesday night in Toronto.

Antetekounmpo picked up his fourth foul with 4:33 left in the third and headed to the bench as Toronto’s P.J. Tucker was making two free throws to break a 64-all tie.

Without Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee closed the quarter on an 11-5 run to take a 75-70 lead into the fourth.

Milwaukee kept it going after Antetokounmpo returned for the final quarter. The Bucks scored eight straight points, including four from Khris Middleton, to make it 85-71 with 8:47 left.

Ibaka’s jump shot at 7:49 was Toronto’s first made field goal of the fourth. Toronto shot 7 for 35 in the second half, following up a 3 for 18 showing in the third by going 4 for 17 in the fourth. The Raptors went 27 for 75 overall.

Many in the sellout crowd headed for the exits throughout the final quarter as the Bucks stretched their lead to a game-high 19 points.

Ibaka was the only Raptors starter to make a 3-pointer. Toronto finished 5 for 23 from long range, with the starting five going 1 for 13. No Raptors player made more than one 3-pointer.

Toronto trailed 30-22 after the first but outscored Milwaukee 29-16 in the second to take a 51-46 lead at halftime. Ibaka scored 10 points in the first and DeRozan had 10 in the second, going 6 for 6 from the free throw line.

TIP INS

Bucks: Milwaukee shot 7 for 21 in the second. … Milwaukee has won consecutive games against Toronto after losing 13 of the previous 14 meetings.

Raptors: After playing 418 games over seven seasons, Tucker made his playoff debut. … DeRozan finished with one assist. … Actor Ethan Hawke attended the game.

JJ Redick has crack in left leg, will be reevaluated 10-14 days

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The Philadelphia 76ers could use JJ Redick, but it appears that the sharp-shooting guard will be out for at least 10 days due to an injury he suffered on Monday.

The team says Redick sustained the injury late in the fourth quarter during Philly’s 117-111 win over the Toronto Raptors.

Redick finished the game with 15 points, five rebounds, and one assist in 28 minutes of play, but had to be replaced with a little more than four minutes to go by T.J. McConnell.

Via Twitter:

A bone edema is a bit of fluid collection in the marrow (inner) area of the bone. The cortical part of the bone is the harder outer surface. What appears to have happened is that Redick suffered a crack in the exterior portion of his bone that also caused some inner fluid collection.

None of that sounds fun, but Redick will apparently be re-assessed in 10-14 days, so hopefully for the team it’s less serious that all this medical stuff makes it sound.

Arron Afflalo and Nemanja Bjelica fight, both get ejected (VIDEO)

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The Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers nearly got into a fight on Monday night after their game. The whole thing was a fiasco, and we don’t know the extent of that incident, but apparently it was just an amouse-bouche for Tuesday’s showdown between Arron Afflalo and Nemanja Bjelica.

During the matchup between the Orlando Magic and Minnesota Timberwolves in Florida, the two wound up actually fighting during a play in the second quarter.

As both teams went to contest a rebound on a Jamal Crawford jumper, Bjelica appeared to rush directly at Afflalo as the smaller player tried to pass block.

Elbows and forearms were involved in the rebound attempt, and that’s what caused some actual swinging.

Via Twitter:

Afflalo’s big haymaker didn’t appear to make contact, and Bjelica sort of got the better of him by getting him in a headlock, ending the fight.

Both were ejected. No doubt Adam Silver and the league office will have their work cut out for them trying to parse this fight and whatever happened between Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza, James Harden, Blake Griffin, and Austin Rivers.

Afflalo should get a couple of games for that big swing, and for being the main instigator. Bjelica got a good run at him for the rebound, but the first arms going up above the shoulders was all Afflalo.

It will probably also help Bjelica that once he had Afflalo in a headlock he put his other arm up, seemingly indicating he wanted to get out of the situation but didn’t want to let Afflalo go for fear of the fight continuing.

Players are heated lately, and there has been some discussion about whether new officiating styles by younger referees has led to players getting antsy with each other. We’ve heard that some of the newer refs aren’t talking with players as much, and perhaps that hasn’t let guys blow off steam throughout the course of the game and they’re taking it out on each other.

This is all very armchair psychology of me to speculate, but no doubt the conversation between the NBA, NBPA, and NBRA during the All-Star break regarding the officiating will be massively important.

Stephen Curry, Warriors lead league merchandise sales. Again.

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A few years ago, the Warriors were everybody’s darlings — they were the Brazilian soccer team of the NBA, everybody’s second-favorite squad because they play the beautiful game and did it with flair. However, sustained success in today’s world means people are going to turn on them — how dare they go and add a great player — and it’s become trendier to root against the Warriors and for the next hot thing. The Warriors didn’t change. That’s just the cycle of fame.

However, the trend has not slowed Warriors merchandise sales — they are still the top-selling team in the league, the NBA announced Tuesday. Stephen Curry is on top of the individual jersey sales. Both led the list last season, and Curry has been on top for a few years now.

Those next hot things — Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kristaps Porzingis, and Joel Embiid — are fast climbing the list. Those three rank behind the expected big three of Curry, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant.

The NBA releases the jersey rankings based on NBAStore.com sales from last October through the end of 2017 (that’s not a perfect measure, but it’s representative). Here are the top 15 player jersey sales from NBA.com:

1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
5. Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
6. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
7. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
8. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
9. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
10. James Harden, Houston Rockets
11. Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers
12. Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics
13. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
14. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
15. Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves

Antetokounmpo has steadily climbed the list the past couple seasons, but this is the first time Porzingis or Embiid appeared in the top 15. Same with Lonzo Ball at 11 (he’s sold more gear than Kyrie Irving or Klay Thompson, which feels wrong).

As for team merchandise sales from NBA.com:

1. Golden State Warriors
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Philadelphia 76ers
4. Los Angeles Lakers
5. New York Knicks
6. Milwaukee Bucks
7. Boston Celtics
8. San Antonio Spurs
9. Chicago Bulls
10. Oklahoma City Thunder

Jazz make it official: Thabo Sefolosha to have knee surgery, done for season

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This report had been out there for a few days, but on Tuesday the Utah Jazz made it official:

Swingman Thabo Sefolosha is going to have knee surgery. From the official release:

After further evaluation, Sefolosha (6-7, 220, Switzerland) has elected to undergo right knee surgery to repair an avulsion of the medial collateral ligament (MCL) which he suffered against Charlotte on Jan. 12. 

While the team would not put a timeline on this, he is done for this season.

Which is a blow to a Utah team that has battled injuries all season, most notably a couple of knee injuries to center Rudy Gobert. Sefolosha has been solid for the Jazz this season, averaging 8.2 points per game primarily off the bench, shooting 38 percent from three and playing solid defense in 21 minutes a night.

Joe Johnson will get more run, but this does not help the slim hopes of the Jazz to climb back into the playoff race.