Five Things We Learned in NBA Monday: Just a reminder Anthony Davis is as good as anyone right now

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If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while putting Clyde Frazier’s suits in a bracket to choose the best one

1) Anthony Davis is playing as well as anyone in the NBA. And he’s just 21. Anthony Davis is not going to win the MVP award this season because his campaign doesn’t come with a compelling narrative (I think Westbrook leads there) and the Pelicans likely miss the playoffs. But make no mistake, he’s played as well as anyone in the league this season and gotten it done at both ends. He showed it again Monday night, putting up a huge line against the Bucks: 43 points on 17-of-23 shooting, 10 rebounds, six assists, and a couple blocks. But more than that it was how he did it — he had 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the fourth quarter, taking the game over down the stretch by knocking down midrange shots (even showing off a floater) to get the Pelicans the win on the road. He is unreal.

2) Giannis Antetokounmpo just keeps getting better every day. The one guy who could try to challenge Anthony Davis for the “best young player in the game” title is the Greek Freak, and he put up an impressive line against Davis’ Pelicans: 29 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals, three blocks. He’s not Davis, and the Bucks lost, but Antetokounmpo is just fun to watch play the game.

3) Hassan Whiteside is going to get suspended for this. Also, Miami’s playoff dreams are fading. First let’s talk playoffs. This is what the loss of Chris Bosh for the season has done to Miami — they went from being a playoff lock to a team that, even at home, can’t beat the Boston Celtics. Those Celtics are another team in the playoff mix and they have been on a run behind Isaiah Thomas, who closed out this game brilliantly (and the Heat were without Goran Dragic to counter). Miami is just half a game out of the playoffs as of this loss, but watching them play it’s hard to see them catching Indiana or Charlotte.

As for Whiteside, this is his second immature skirmish of the past week, and this one is going to cost him a game or two.

4) The Wizards can beat a playoff team. Sure, it’s a tired Hornets team on the second night of a back-to-back, but the Wizards will take it. No questions asked. John Wall was using his speed to pressure the Hornets defense early. Marcin Gortat was fantastic in the paint (20 points). The Wizards needed a win like this; the question is can they build off it.

5) Even the Nuggets can beat up on the Knicks. Just a reminder that the best thing about the Knicks right now are Walt Frazier’s suits. Denver has been a franchise in disarray of late having lost 14-of-17 and firing their coach (although to be fair, they have played more free under interim coach Melvin Hunt),  but they owned New York — the Nuggets went on a 12-0 run late in the second quarter to take charge, outscored the Knicks by 16 in the third quarter and led by as many as 34. At least the Knicks are ensuring good lottery odds. But you can’t underestimate the amount of work that roster needs.

Pascal Siakam scores 37, Raptors remain red hot with win vs. Suns

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TORONTO (AP) — Pascal Siakam had 37 points and 12 rebounds and the Toronto Raptors beat the Phoenix Suns 118-101 on Friday night for their 16th victory in 17 games.

Serge Ibaka scored 16 points, Fred VanVleet and Terence Davis each had 14, Kyle Lowry had 13 points and 10 assists and OG Anunoby aded 12 points for the defending NBA champion Raptors.

After Toronto’s franchise-record 15-game winning streak ended with a loss at Brooklyn in the final game before the All-Star break, the Raptors bounced back by starting the second half with their eighth consecutive home victory.

The Raptors have not lost back-to-back games since an overtime loss at Indiana on Dec. 23 and a home loss to Boston on Christmas Day. Toronto has gone 19-1 since.

Siakam connected on 12 of 19 attempts, going 5 of 9 from 3-point range.

That was just one fewer than the six 3-pointers the Suns managed on 34 attempts. Phoenix shot 17.6%t from long range, its lowest mark of the season. No Suns player made more than one shot from distance.

Devin Booker scored 21 points and Deandre Ayton had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Phoenix. The Suns lost for the seventh time in nine games.

Ayton returned to the starting lineup after missing the final two games before the All-Star break because of a sore left ankle.

Phoenix trailed 93-78 through three quarters, but the Suns cut the gap to six points, 96-90 on a basket by Ayton with 8:08 left to play. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson made a pair from the line, and VanVleet and Siakam both scored to put the Raptors up 102-90 with 6:58 remaining.

Booker missed a 3 with 4:45 left that would have made it a four-point game. Anunoby scored on a dunk and, after another missed 3 by the Suns, Ibaka banked home a 3-pointer to restore Toronto’s 12-point cushion.

Moe Harkless says no buyout with Knicks: “I’ll be here the rest of the year”

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Moe Harkless went from a guy often starting and playing critical minutes for a contender in the Clippers to being the matching salary in a trade and finding himself on the woeful Knicks.

“It is definitely an adjustment with the way things are,” Harkless told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “Everything is different, the culture and everything.”

If there was a player nobody would blame for wanting a buyout and the chance to get back to a team playing for something, it would be Harkless.

That’s not happening. Multiple reports have surfaced that he is not talking buyout with New York running up to the March 1 deadline. The latest comes from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Then Harkless was even more direct speaking to Bondy.

“I’ll be here the rest of the year,” he said.

Harkless has fans in NBA front offices, with the Lakers rumored to be among them (although they are about to land Markieff Morris in a similar role). Harkless could play good defensive minutes on the wing down the stretch for a team, buying rest for key guys, plus in the playoffs he could be advantageous in certain matchups.

Morris and the Knicks have time to change their minds, but it sounds like he will play out the season in New York then be a free agent next summer.

Lakers reportedly will waive DeMarcus Cousins to clear roster spot

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If the Lakers are going to add Markieff Morrisas has been rumored — or anyone else via free agency, they are going to need to clear out a roster spot.

That has the Lakers looking to waive DeMarcus Cousins, a report broken by Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Cousins signed with the Lakers over the summer but never set foot on the court with them after tearing his ACL during summer workouts (which led to a scramble and L.A.’s fortuitous signing of Dwight Howard). He was around the team and rehabbing, and while they would never officially rule him out, Cousins was never expected to play.

He was not waived before because his $3.5 million salary might have been useful in a trade. When that didn’t materialize at the deadline it, became likely he could get waived.

It’s highly unlikely a team picks up Cousins this season, while he continues to rehab from his injury. However, it might be a good roll of the dice this summer by a team to sign him to a minimum contract for next season. Cousins still has some NBA basketball in him, if he can just stay healthy.

Karl-Anthony Towns has fractured wrist, to be re-evaluated in two weeks

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Karl-Anthony Towns was a surprise scratch from the Timberwolves last game before the All-Star break, a “left wrist injury” delaying the home debut of him with D'Angelo Russell (they did play a road game together in Toronto). Then came the rumors he could miss a few games when play started up again.

It’s going to be more than a few games, more than a few weeks.

Towns has a fractured left wrist, the team announced Friday. He is out and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. From the team press release:

“While Towns has been diligent in treatment with a goal of return to play, he has been assessed by multiple specialists over the last several days and the team continues to gather information on the optimal management strategies.”

Towns had been playing through wrist pain for a couple of weeks before this diagnosis.

Towns is having a career year on offense, averaging  26.5 points a game while shooting 41 percent from three (on 7.9 attempts per game), plus grabbing 10.8 rebounds a night. That has not translated into wins for Minnesota, however.

Towns being out doesn’t hurt the Timberwolves in the short term, they have fallen far out of the playoff chase in the West. However, this cuts into time Towns and Russell could have used to grow accustomed to each other’s games. It’s time lost for the coaching staff and front office as they evaluate the fit of players they have around Towns and Russell.