Joe Maloof offers Geoff Petrie and Paul Westphal a bit of breathing room

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The 5-22 Kings, owners of the worst record in the entire league despite having some talented young pieces, are a genuine disappointment on a number of levels. As Sacramento’s season has spiraled further and further into the abyss, rumors and reports of the seemingly inevitable firing of Paul Westphal have begun to surface. Indications that Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie’s job may also be in jeopardy have arisen as well, which is fairly standard; those with power in the NBA are sure to face a certain amount of heat when their teams are in distress.

However, Kings co-owner Joe Maloof granted both Westphal and Petrie an incredible amount of latitude, according to a recent report from Ken Berger of CBS Sports:

Kings owner Joe Maloof denied a report by CBSSports.com Friday that the team was considering firing GM Geoff Petrie and coach Paul Westphal after 21 losses in 23 games. “There’s nothing going on,” Maloof told CBSSports.com by phone. “Paul Westphal is the coach and Geoff is our general manager. That’s the way it is and that’s the way it’s going to stay.”

When pressed, Maloof said definitively that Petrie and Westphal will be in their positions for the remainder of the 2010-11 season regardless of how many games the team loses. “Yes,” Maloof said. “We’re not making any moves. The answer is yes.”

Coaches are fired and replaced frequently in the NBA, for reasons both fair and unfair. Having this kind of security — even if only until the end of the season — is incredibly rare. Westphal’s team is miserable, and yet Maloof all but gave his guarantee that coach and GM will still be in place by season’s end.

Whether Westphal deserves that luxury is another matter entirely. The team hasn’t performed well on the court, but at this stage in the team’s journey, player development is far more important than win-loss record. As long as the Kings view Westphal’s work with the core of the team (Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, etc.) to be beneficial to their long-term outlook, he’s the right man for the job. That is apparently the case, and though Westphal and Petrie’s jobs seem open for evaluation at the end of the year, Joe Maloof is at least approving enough of the tandem’s work to keep them in place until then.

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.