Kurt Helin

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) reacts after hitting a shot during overtime of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, March 8, 2016. Lillard scored 41 points as the Blazers won 116-109. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

Five Takeaways from NBA Tuesday: Damian Lillard is still tearing up NBA


What did you miss around the NBA while trying to figure out what to do with nearly one million quarters? We’ve got you covered, here are the key notes from a Tuesday in the Association.

1) Damian Lillard’s 41, Gerald Henderson‘s block lift Blazers past Wizards in overtime. This was the game of the night because both teams need the win — Portland entered the night just three games from falling out of the playoffs in the West, Washington was two back of Chicago for the last playoff spot in the East. For both these teams, the playoffs have essentially started.

Damian Lillard was carving up the Washington defense from the opening tip, scoring 13 points in the first quarter. But that may not have been the biggest event in the first — Washington’s Alan Anderson was ejected after getting tangled up and in a little shoving match with Gerald Henderson where Anderson got his elbows up in Henderson’s face. Personally, I’m not sure that was ejection worthy, but Anderson got sent to the showers, and that was a blow to Washington which was already without the injured Bradley Beal.

Washington, led by John Wall and Marcin Gortat, went on a 29-4 run spanning halftime to take a 13-point lead. Portland battled back and much of the second half was close, but the Wizards thought they had this up 104-102 with 16 seconds left. But C.J. McCollum tied it, and when Gortat had a shot at winning the game in regulation there was Gerald Henderson.

In the overtime it was too much Lillard as he hit threes and circus shots on his way to nine points to cap off his 41 for the game. With the win Portland and a Utah loss Portland is now four games clear of the nine-seed Jazz — Portland is going to be a playoff team. Washington is now 2.5 back of the playoffs and just can’t string together wins like they need.

2) The Lakers have won two in a row, played better since unleashing D’Angelo Russell.
So, if you play the young guys and let them learn on the job they get better, and your team picks up a few more wins. Who knew? Well, not Byron Scott who kept D'Angelo Russell bottled up most of the season as a development method (and to reign in his ego, something that really bothers Scott, which is a funny coincidence considering the Lakers are celebrating Kobe Bryant and he had quite an ego entering the league). Russell had 27 points on 11-of-19 shooting, while Jordan Clarkson hit the dagger three late. Clarkson also had the second best highlight of the night, breaking Evan Fournier‘s ankles.

The Lakers have won two in a row but, in what is good news for Lakers fans hoping the team keeps its pick, they still have the second worst record in the league (14-51) and are still four games worse than Phoenix, with the third worst. The Lakers only keep their pick this season if it is top three, otherwise Philadelphia gets it.

3) Aaron Gordon was throwing it down like the dunk contest was still going on. This was the highlight of the night — Orlando’s Gordon is throwing it down like the dunk contest is still taking place. (By the way, he has started to play better of late, there is real promise with him at the four/five.)

It’s official: Suns sign Chase Budinger for rest of season

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This is the time of the year front offices should and do consider inexpensive rolls of the dice — and if that plays well with the fan base, all the better.

Enter Chase Budinger, who officially signed Tuesday with the Phoenix Suns, as had been expected since the Indiana Pacers cut him loose to make way for Ty Lawson. Budinger signed for the veteran minimum.

Is Budinger going to find a fit in Phoenix? The better question may be will his knees let him? Budinger was a solid NBA role player (8.1 points a game, shot 35.4 percent from three) with fantastic athleticism. However, he underwent a couple of major knee surgeries, which robbed him of that bounce that was at the heart of his game. Without it, he never could find a role this season in Indiana. He may not succeed in Phoenix, but with all their injuries and roster turnover he can get a little run and try to prove he belongs.

Why this works for the Suns is that Budinger played his college ball at Arizona, where he was very popular. This move is well received by the fanbase, in a season where they haven’t had much to get behind this season. Even if Budinger doesn’t work out, it plays well.

Not a bad roll of the dice during a lost season.

Mark Wahlberg to produce movie on Caron Butler’s life

PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 04:  Caron Butler #31 of the Sacramento Kings handles the ball during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on November 4, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Well, it’s got to be better than the Entourage movie.

Mark Wahlberg is not just Dirk Diggler anymore, the actor is now one of the more successful producers in Hollywood. He’s behind “Invincible, “Boardwalk Empire,” and “The Fighter” among many other things (including the excellent Entourage series, not to mention a chain of burger joints with its own reality series attached), and now he has taken a liking to Caron Butler‘s life story, told in the book Tuff Juice.

Butler announced he sold the rights to Wahlberg to produce the movie.

Rights deal complete… @markwahlberg 💯#TuffJuice #UseYourPlatformToInspire#PartnerShip#TuffJuicePromotions

A post shared by Caron Butler (@caronbutler) on

Butler’s story of growing up poor in a tough environment in Wisconsin, where he sold drugs for a while but was saved by basketball and people who cared, is truly inspiring. It could make a fantastic movie.

So who plays Butler? He told TMZ he wants Michael B. Jordan. I could see that, he should have been nominated for an Oscar for “Creed.” Then again, if they want an Oscar nominationWahlberg probably has to play Butler.

Butler is playing a limited role for the Sacramento Kings this season.

Nets hire Trajan Langdon as assistant general manager

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 25:  The Brooklyn Nets logo adorns center court prior to the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Barclays Center on November 25, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets have hired Trajan Langdon as assistant general manager.

The former Duke star had a successful international career playing for Russia’s CSKA Moscow, owned by Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. He has spent the past few seasons working for the Spurs and Cavaliers organizations.

He was a pro scout for San Antonio from 2012-15, where he worked with new Nets GM Sean Marks, and has been with Cleveland since September as director of player administration and basketball operations.

Marks was hired last month to replace Billy King and said he planned to expand the Nets’ staff. He says Tuesday in a statement that Langdon “brings a unique combination of NBA and European experience to the position.”

Billups: If Knicks want to attract top point guard, have to ease up on triangle

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If you think elite point guards like the triangle, you should try asking Gary Payton about it sometime.

In today’s NBA, elite point guards want the ball in their hands and the chance to make decisions off the pick-and-roll — and teams need someone good if you want to contend. Think about the top six teams in the NBA right now and who they have at the point: Golden State (Stephen Curry), San Antonio (Tony Parker), Cleveland (Kyrie Irving), Oklahoma City (Russell Westbrook), L.A. Clippers (Chris Paul), and Toronto (Kyle Lowry). Those guys all have great talent around them (and other decision makers to share the load), but it’s not a coincidence elite teams in the modern NBA have elite point guards.

The Knicks want one — Mike Conley is at the top of their free agency wish list. Pair him with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis and you have something to build upon.

But former Knick and now ESPN commentator Chauncey Billups warned the New York Post that if Phil Jackson and the Knicks are wed to the triangle landing that point guard will be difficult.

“I will tell you this about that triangle,’’ Billups said. “If I’m a top point guard and a free agent, I’m not going to want to be playing in that triangle. A point guard needs more pick-and-roll, more freedom. It’s going to be restrictive to my play. I think that would be a good thing — if they are opening it up a little. It’s the only way to get a point guard.’’

The Knicks are going to swing for the fences again this summer, going after Kevin Durant, Conley, and the other big names on the market (Al Horford would be an odd fit, however). Anthony wants to be at that table. Style of play and how players will be used in the Knicks system is a big part of what will matter to them. The triangle will come up in discussions, and while it has won plenty of rings in the past it’s up for debate if it can do that the way the rules of the NBA are currently enforced (zone defenses, no hand checking on the perimeter).

The more interesting question in New York this summer will be if ‘Melo is willing to move on from the Knicks and allow a trade (he has a no-trade clause).