PBT’s Tuesday night NBA Winners/Losers: Dallas, Chicago play game of season

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Every night the NBA can be a cold hard reality — there are winners, there are losers. It’s the nature of the game. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to bring you the best and worst of the NBA each week night. Here’s what you missed while reading about the housewife on heroin….

source:  Kevin Durant. He’s back, and from his first shot he showed the smooth, effortless scoring touch that earned him an MVP last season. The touch that made him one of the NBA’s most beloved players. He showed off all the shots — he attacked the rim at points, showed off his fadeaway at others, there were catch-and-shoot buckets — and while there were moments that it looked like he had missed 17 games following foot surgery most of the time you wouldn’t have known. The bigger concern for the Thunder is they still lost to Pelicans — OKC has a hard road to get back to the playoffs in the brutal and deep West. Still, it’s just fun to have him back.

source:  Dallas Mavericks/Chicago Bulls. Best. Game. This. Season. (At least so far.) The real winner was anyone who watched this one. The Mavericks became the first team to beat Chicago when the Bulls starting five play together, but this game was filled with drama and big plays all night long. There was free basketball with double overtime and big shot after big shot— Derrick Rose hit a big three to send the game to double overtime, Monta Ellis hit one with just over 30 seconds left in that second OT to give the Mavericks the lead. Pau Gasol puts up 29 points (but on 25 shots) and has 14 boards, but in the end the Mavericks just executed a little better in the clutch, and that vaunted Bulls defense just could not contain the high powered Mavericks offense. This just wasn’t the West beating the East (again), this was one of the best of the West going into arguably the best team in the East’s home and winning.

source:  Kirk Hinrich. You can never say “this team lost because of this guy” or “this one play” because a lot of little things, so many different plays go into any outcome. But this felt pretty close. Following a pair of Gasol free throws the Bulls were up three with four seconds left in regulation. If you’re Chicago do you just foul up three and give up only two free throws? Tom Thibodeau wanted to. Monta Ellis was bringing the ball up and Hinrich tried to make the professional, smart foul but waited too long and with a second left Ellis started to go up for the shot as he took the foul. It was an obvious call — three free throws. Ellis sank them and the game went to overtime. Eventually the Mavs got the win.

source:  Stephen Curry. Cold blooded killer. Curry picked up the final three of his team-high 22 points when he drained the game winner with two seconds left to give his Warriors a victory over a feisty Magic team. That’s 10 in a row for Golden State, and that’s the hard way to do it.

source:  Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic. This is what it looks like when all of the Suns’ backcourt if firing at once — they combined for 61 points on 35 shots, were 6-of-10 from three (that was mostly Dragic), they had 10 assists and eight steals. They flat-out owned the Pacers backcourt and were the reasons the Suns picked up a comfortable win at home over the Pacers.

source:  Anthony Davis. Kevin Durant got the top billing here because it’s just great to have KD back in the game, but the Pelicans won and Davis is the reason — 25 points, 10 rebounds, six steals, and four blocks. He has been the best player in the NBA this young season and has lifted the Pelicans up to .500. Oh, and he did this to Kendrick Perkins.

Rumor: Patrick Beverley may meet with five teams before Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers want to bring Patrick Beverley back next season, his spark was at the heart of why this team made the playoffs and impressed with their potential.

First, however, the Clippers are going big game hunting for the likes of Kawhi Leonard and/or Kevin Durant (even with the Achilles injury). Beverley isn’t just going to sit around and wait for them, reports longtime NBA reporter Sean Deveney Tweeted.

The Bulls need a point guard and Beverley — a Chicago native — has said he is interested.

The Lakers also are reportedly big game hunting, but Beverley is the kind of guard they could use around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Phoenix and other teams have been mentioned.

Beverley is going to have options, but he loved his time with the Clippers last season, and that means something.

Pelicans reportedly pick up option year on coach Alvin Gentry

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David Griffin, the guy with the hammer in New Orleans, likes Alvin Gentry. They have a relationship that goes back to Phoenix, where Gentry was the coach and Griffin was in the front office (and was eventually GM).

Gentry also has a style of play — he wants to run and be up-tempo. That should fit very well with soon-to-be No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise the Griffin and the Pelicans want to keep Gentry around, as reported by Malika Andrews of ESPN.

This is another smart, stabilizing move by Griffin. The Pelicans want to build an athletic, fast-paced team and Gentry is the right coach for that style.  Maybe it doesn’t pan out, maybe the Pelicans ultimately need to go another direction with their coach, but right now this seems a good fit.

Report: Utah “frontrunner” to land Mike Conley Jr. if Memphis trades him this week

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Utah feels like it is close — a 50-win team two seasons in a row, an elite defense, an All-NBA center in Rudy Gobert and an elite shot creator in Donovan Michell. They look at the West next season, with a depleted Warriors team, and see an opening.

Yet when Utah fell to Houston 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs this year, it was reminded of what is keeping the team from being truly elite, and another shot creator and shooter is at the top of that list.

Enter Mike Conley Jr. He averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game last season, shot 36.4 percent from three, and plays strong defense. Conley would be an upgrade over Ricky Rubio at the spot.

The almost All-Star point guard out of Memphis is available via trade. He’s the kind of veteran floor general, shooter, and shot creator Utah could use. The Jazz and Grizzlies talked but couldn’t come to an agreement at the trade deadline, but the sides are talking again and conversations are “intensifying” in the run-up to the NBA Draft Thursday, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Grizzlies are intensifying talks to potentially move franchise cornerstone Mike Conley Jr., league sources told The Athletic. Memphis has been in conversations with the Jazz and Utah is a frontrunner to acquire Conley should the Grizzlies trade the point guard during draft week, league sources said.

What would be in a trade package? Certainly the No. 23 pick in this draft, plus some young players the Grizzlies like (maybe Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neal, and even someone like Jae Crowder. Reports say Derick Favors is not part of the discussion.

While anything can happen the week of the draft — and things change quickly — don’t be surprised if some version of this trade gets done.

Kawhi Leonard wins day with last laugh — his viral laugh — at end of speech

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Kawhi Leonard just won again.

He won his second NBA title leading the Toronto Raptors to the franchise’s first crown. He earned his second Finals MVP in the process.

Then on Monday he had the last laugh and won the Raptors’ championship parade in Toronto by ending his speech with his laugh, the same one that went viral at the start of the season.

Of course, what Leonard will do on July 1 was a cloud hanging over the parade, Leonard is a free agent this summer. Kyle Lowry at one point started a “five more years” chant during the parade, which is the maximum number of years Toronto can re-sign Leonard for.

Leonard, exactly as we all should have expected, dodged the question, while praising his time in Toronto.

Unfortunately, this was a parade marred by more serious concerns.