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Brook Lopez believes Bucks can win East

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LeBron James has gone West, and suddenly everybody thinks they can win the East. John Wall believes the Wizards can be in the elite mix with Boston, Philadelphia, and Toronto.

Brook Lopez thinks the same thing about his new team, the Milwaukee Bucks. He told Alex Kennedy of Hoopshype Milwaukee’s players are confident they can be right there at the top of the East.

Absolutely, we feel like that. We definitely think the East is wide open. It’s going to be such a fun, exciting time in the East and it’s going to be super competitive. There are a lot of teams that can do [big] things, from Toronto to Boston to Philly – you just go down the list and it’s clear that the East is as exciting as it’s been in a long time. I think we’re very confident that we can, no question, win the East.

Lopez isn’t wrong. And not just in the “you want a player to talk confidently before the season” kind of way.

The Bucks could be a legit darkhorse and threat in the East. Of course, they have Giannis Antetokounmpo, who keeps making strides with his game and could again be a top-five MVP level player. They have quality players around him such as Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton. What they lacked was shooting and a better defensive plan. Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova were added to provide shooting, plus coach Mike Budenholzer will unleash every one of the roster to shoot threes and space the floor. He’s also a very good defensive coach.

The top three in the East looks pretty set — Boston is the team to beat, but Toronto gets an upgrade if Kawhi Leonard is his MVP-level self, and the young Sixers should be improved — but the Bucks are the one team in the conference with the potential to crack that group.

Which is to say, Lopez may be right.

Stephen Curry gets four-point play after Klay Thompson foul, Curry does some taunting

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Stephen Curry is enjoying going against Klay Thompson. Maybe a little too much.

In the first half, Curry was matched up on his Warriors’ backcourt mate and enjoyed that Thompson missed the shot.

Then in the fourth quarter, with the game tight, Curry drained the contested three and drew the and-1 on Thompson — and did a little taunting.

That’s some All-Star fun.

Stephen Curry bounces alley-oop way above rim, Giannis Antetokounmpo slams it down (video)

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CHARLOTTE – Stephen Curry bounced this so high!

I suppose it helps that Giannis Antetokounmpo has such ridiculous reach.

Dirk Nowitzki walks on All-Star court, quickly splashes three threes

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Maybe Dirk Nowitzki shouldn’t retire after this season.

Added to the All-Star Game by Commissioner Adam Silver (along with Dwyane Wade) in what is expected to be the final season for the future Hall of Famer, the greatest shooting big man of all time showed he still has the touch. Entering the game midway through the first quarter, Nowitzki proceeded to quickly splash a couple of threes.

And he was not done yet.

Nowitzki never officially said he was retiring….

Giannis Antetokounmpo throws himself alley-oop on free throw… that obviously doesn’t count (video)

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CHARLOTTE – It’s an All-Star game, but you still can’t do that. A free throw that doesn’t hit rim is a violation, and Giannis Antetokounmpo clearly crossed the line early, too:

He was clearly going for levity, and at least he accomplished that.