Mavs' back-up point guard spot still a mystery

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Rick Carlisle mentioned last week that the Mavs’ rotation this season would continue to be fluid. That’s a must considering that he’s still working Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson into the mix, and that’s to say nothing of Erick Dampier’s injury that has kept him out of the lineup since February 16th.

I’m not sure it’s quite the same for the back-up point guard position, considering that both candidates have been with the team all season, but it at least makes sense of Carlisle’s rotation philosophy: play the players who deserve to play. A novel concept, right?

Last night’s game against the Timberwolves was simply the latest in the neck-and-neck race between J.J. Barea and rookie Rodrigue Beaubois, and it only confirmed what we already knew about Carlisle. Jason Kidd sat out to get some much-needed rest, leaving Barea and Beaubois to fight for minutes and opportunities.

Barea was something of a surprise starter, but his recent play has certainly warranted the nod from Carlisle. That said, under his watchful eye the Mavs came out in anemic fashion, allowing the lowly Wolves to seize momentum early. Beaubois came in to save the day, and he totaled a season (and career) high 17 points on 66% shooting with four assists. Roddy closed the game as the Mavs’ point guard, and helped the team squeak out a win despite some sub-par play.

Still, Barea turned a slow start into a decent, albeit completely unspectacular, game. So if Rodrigue started traveling towards Back-Up Point Guard City at a speed of one kilometer per minute from 65 miles away, and J.J. is going to the same destination but from a location 55 miles away and traveling at 21,160 inches per half-minute, who arrives to secure Carlisle’s trust and earn the role first? 

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.

Watch Lakers fan drain half-court shot to win $75,000

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
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It might have been the loudest the crypto.com Arena was all night.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).

One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.