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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.

Phoenix council postpones vote on Suns arena renovation

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PHOENIX (AP) — The City Council has postponed a vote on a proposed $230 million renovation of the Talking Stick Resort Arena that would keep the Suns in downtown Phoenix.

The council agreed unanimously Wednesday to postpone a decision until Jan. 23 so residents can attend five public meetings to be held around Phoenix to discuss the project.

Suns owner Robert Sarver reportedly threatened to move the franchise to Seattle or Las Vegas if not given enough public funding.

Suns President and CEO Jason Rowley says the organization looks forward to the public discussions and to answering any questions about the proposed renovation.

The deal would revamp the nearly 30-year-old arena, the oldest in the NBA that is not currently being renovated.

The Suns agreed to a 40-year lease in 1992, but the deal included a provision for the team to opt out at 30 years.

Final minute of Celtics-Wizards featured five-possession, 10-point, no-stoppage stretch (video)

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Crunch time of a close NBA game is awesome.

It’s exponentially better when nobody calls timeout.

The Celtics and Wizards finished with a flourish tonight, Boston coming out ahead in a frenetic final minute. The last minute included two Kyrie Irving 3-pointers (one tightly contested, one extremely deep) and a sharp drive by John Wall (who had just returned to the game from an injury).

After a flow-killing foul in the final few seconds, the Celtics won, 130-25.

More games should be like this.

Jeremy Lamb hits game-winner despite Bismack Biyombo, others Hornets prematurely running on court to celebrate

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The Hornets sure were excited for Jeremy Lamb‘s game-winner against the Pistons tonight.

Too excited.

After Lamb hit a jumper to put Charlotte up two with 0.3 seconds left, several Hornets ran onto the court. Bismack Biyombo was nearly at halfcourt as Detroit tried to inbound! He was so far onto the court, I’m not even sure officials noticed him when dinging Malik Monk – closer to the bench –for the violation.

Ashley Holder:

The Pistons made a technical free throw to cut their deficit to one, but they still had to inbound from under their own basket. Their desperation pass was intercepted, and Charlotte held on for a 108-107 win.

Several Hornets were certainly relieved.

Crazily enough, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this.

Suns’ T.J. Warren fined $15k for inappropriate language toward official following ejection (video)

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Everyone on the Suns seems frustrated.

In Phoenix’s loss to the Clippers on Monday, T.J. Warren got ejected. And his outburst will cost him extra.

NBA release:

Phoenix Suns forward T.J. Warren has been fined $15,000 for directing inappropriate language toward a game official following his ejection, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

This wasn’t a lengthy exchange. Warren didn’t linger on the court complaining. He must have said something extremely harsh to warrant two technical fouls and a fine that quickly.

(Despite confusion, the foul preceding the ejection was called on Deandre Ayton, not Warren.)