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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.

Report: Golden State to sign Matt Barnes in wake of Kevin Durant injury

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This is a sign that the Kevin Durant knee injury is at least fairly serious.

The Golden State Warriors are changing course and plan to sign Matt Barnes to give them some depth on the wing going forward, reports Marc Stein and Chris Haynes of ESPN.

Barnes seems to confirm this with an Instagram post of his text conversation with Stephen Jackson.

Golden State had come to an agreement with Calderon, and even though nothing is yet in ink signing him then waiving him is the classy thing to do (and puts some money in Calderon’s pocket).

Barnes, at age 37, is certainly no Kevin Durant, but he can play the role as a “3&D” wing. How well he plays it is the question, Barnes is shooting just 38.4 percent overall and 32.7 percent from three this season for the Kings. Barnes was waived after Sacramento traded DeMarcus Cousins.

The Warriors feel they need another body on the wing, which is clearly a sign something is up with Durant.

Report: Andrew Bogut to sign with Cavaliers

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LeBron James wanted help and was vocal about it.

Cavaliers GM David Griffin was patient despite the pressure, rather than trading assets (that he really doesn’t have) he waited until teams waived guys after the trade deadline, figuring he could get the cream of the crop (“come play with LeBron, and also you’ll rack up a lot of playoff money”). It worked, the Cavaliers have already signed Deron Williams.

Now they are about to add Andrew Bogut to the mix, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

In-demand center Andrew Bogut has committed to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers upon clearing waivers Wednesday night, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that Bogut and agent David Bauman began notifying interested teams Tuesday night that the Australian has chosen to sign with the Cavaliers despite interest from Houston, San Antonio and Boston.

Bogut was traded from Dallas to Philadelphia as part of the Nerlens Noel deal, but he quickly worked with the Sixers to arrange a buyout. Once he clears waivers he will be a free agent, able to sign anywhere.

Bogut will come to Cleveland as a situational/matchup player off the bench. When healthy, the Cavaliers start Tristan Thompson at center and Kevin Love at the four, but also have a lot of success with a smaller LeBron/Channing Frye front line at the start of the second and fourth quarters. They are not going away from that in a significant way.

Bogut would be used for specific matchups that could be a problem for the Cavaliers — if they face the Pistons and Andre Drummond in the first round, or Dwight Howard and the Hawks in the second. Bogut is a quality defender, who can space the floor from the midrange and is a very gifted passer. He also has plenty of playoff experience — including Finals experience against the Warriors.

The Cavaliers just got deeper and a little more experienced for the playoffs.

Kevin Durant forced out for game vs. Wizards with hyperextended knee, MRI coming

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This is scary for the Golden State Warriors. Hopefully, it’s not as bad as it looks.

Just one minute into their game against the Wizards in Washington Tuesday night, Marcin Gortat threw Zaza Pachulia to the floor and out of his way to get a rebound — and Pachulia fell into the left knee of Kevin Durant.

Durant instantly limped off the court and went straight to the locker room. He is done for the night with an MRI coming soon, the Warriors announced.

The injury looked bad and people around Durant reportedly expect the MRI to show real damage.

There were a lot of Durant fans in the building as he grew up in the Washington D.C. area.

Obviously, this is a potentially huge blow to what has been the best team in the NBA this season. He is averaging 25.8 points per game on 53.8 percent shooting overall and 37.8 percent from three — this has been one of his most efficient seasons ever. Plus, he’s providing rim protection to the tune of 1.7 blocks per game (a career high). He’s a guy mentioned as getting MVP votes (down the ballot, after Westbrook and Harden) because of how well he has fit in and played with the Warriors.

MRI shows Bucks’ Michael Beasley with hyperextended knee, out at least three games

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This is fantastic news because it looked much, much worse when it happened.

The Bucks announced Tuesday at an MRI on the left knee of Michael Beasley shows a hyperextension and that he will be out at least three games (he will be re-evaluated at that time).

Again, considering how nasty it looked this comes as good news.

Beasley has always been able to score the rock, and he has been solid off the bench in a sixth man role for the Bucks this season, averaging 9.7 points a game with a and with a PER of 17.6 (above the league average).