Dwight Powell has game-sealing dunk as Mavs beat Thunder (VIDEO)

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Trey Burke had 25 points and eight assists, Dwight Powell scored the winning basket on a dunk with 21 seconds left and the Dallas Mavericks, playing without star rookie Luka Doncic, stunned the Oklahoma City Thunder 106-103 on Sunday.

Jalen Brunson had 18 points, Devin Harris added 15 and Dirk Nowitzki – playing perhaps his final game in Oklahoma City – grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds to go with seven points for the Mavericks, who were 3-17 over their previous 20 games.

Russell Westbrook had 25 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for his 30th triple-double of the season and Paul George had 27 points and 11 rebounds for the Thunder, which had sealed a Western Conference playoff spot Saturday when the Sacramento Kings lost. But Oklahoma City has struggled since the All-Star break, going 7-13.

Dallas led 93-84 after Burke made one of two free throws with 6:50 left, but Oklahoma City used a 14-4 run and went ahead 98-97 with 1:59 left on two free throws by George, the first of six lead changes in the final two minutes.

Burke scored on a tough, driving basket with 1:15 left to put Dallas back up 100-98, but George answered with a 3-pointer with 1:09 left. Brunson hit a 17-foot jumper with 49.1 seconds and the Mavericks went ahead 102-101 before Jerami Grant‘s layup – off an inbounds pass from Westbrook – put Oklahoma City up 103-102 with 32.8 seconds left.

Brunson passed to Powell for the dunk with 21 seconds left and Dallas again took the lead. Dennis Schroder and George each missed a 3-point attempt for the Thunder before Dallas’ Ryan Broekhoff made two free throws with 4.2 seconds left to make it 106-103. Westbrook missed a 38-foot shot just before the buzzer.

Steven Adams added 20 points and 15 rebounds and Grant had 14 points for Oklahoma City, while Powell had 11 points and nine rebounds for the Mavericks.

Doncic missed the game with a right thigh contusion.

An 11-0 spurt over 91 seconds of the second quarter – which included two 3-pointers from Harris – gave the Mavericks a 51-37 lead with 5:05 left in the half, but Oklahoma City closed the half on a 19-7 run to pull within 58-56.

TIP-INS:

Mavericks: Coach Rick Carlisle, who played on Virginia’s Final Four team in 1984, began his pregame news conference wanting to discuss his alma mater’s win over Purdue on Saturday that sent the Cavaliers to the national semifinals for the first time since 1984. … Nowitzki received a loud ovation when he was introduced as part of the starting lineup. … Courtney Lee started in place of Doncic. … Harris received a technical foul with 11:48 left for arguing an out of bounds call.

Thunder: Westbrook, who already has served a one-game suspension for accumulating too many technical fouls, picked up another one in the third quarter, his 17th of the season. Another technical would result in a second one-game suspension. … Westbrook’s triple-double was the 134th of his career. He’s four behind Magic Johnson (138) for second place in NBA history in that category.

UP NEXT:

Mavericks: Host Philadelphia on Monday to begin a three-game homestand.

Thunder: Host the Los Angeles Lakers (without LeBron James) on Tuesday.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBAbasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Pelican’s Green says Zion ‘dominated the scrimmage pretty much’

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The Zion hype train keeps right on rolling. First were the reports he was in the best shape of his life, then he walked into media day and it looked like he is.

Now Zion has his own hype man in Pelicans coach Willie Green, who said he dominated the first day of team scrimmages. Via Andre Lopez of ESPN.

“Z looked amazing,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said on Wednesday afternoon. “His strength, his speed. He dominated the scrimmage pretty much.”

“What stood out was his force more than anything,” Green said. “He got down the floor quickly. When he caught the ball, he made quick decisions. Whether it was scoring, finding a teammate. It was really impressive to see.”

Reach for the salt shaker to take all this with — it’s training camp scrimmages. Maybe Zion is playing that well right now — he’s fully capable, he was almost an All-NBA player in 2020-21 (eighth in forward voting) before his foot injury — but we need to see it against other teams. In games that matter. Then we’ll need to see it over a stretch of time.

If Zion can stay healthy this season, if his conditioning is where everyone says it is, he could be in for a monster season. Combine that with CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram and a strong supporting cast in New Orleans, and the Pelicans could surprise a lot of people — and be fun to watch.

 

PBT Podcast: What’s next for Celtics, Suns? Should NBA end one-and-done?

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NBA training camps just opened and teams have yet to play a preseason game, but already two contenders are dealing with problems.

The Celtics have the suspension of coach Ime Udoka as a distraction, plus defensive anchor center Robert Williams will miss at least the start of the season following another knee surgery.

The Suns have the distraction of a suspended owner who is selling the team, plus Jae Crowder is out and demanding a trade, and Deandre Ayton does not seem happy.

Corey Robinson of NBC Sports and myself go through all the training camp news, including the wilder ones with the Lakers and Nets, breaking down what to take away from all that — plus how good Zion Williamson and James Harden look physically.

Then the pair discusses the potential of the NBA doing away with the one-and-done role and letting 18-year-olds back in the game — is that good for the NBA?

You can always watch the video of some of the podcast above, or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please feel free to email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Report: Price tag on Phoenix Suns could be more than $3 billion

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Six
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In 2004, Robert Sarver bought the Phoenix Suns for a then-record $401 million.

When Sarver sells the team now — pushed to do so following the backlash prompted by an NBA report that found an 18-year pattern of bigotry, misogyny, and a toxic workplace — he is going to make a massive profit.

The value of the Suns now is at $3 billion or higher, reports Ramona Shelburne and Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

There will be no shortage of bidders for the team, with league sources predicting a franchise valuation of more than $3 billion now that revenue has rebounded following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and with a new television rights deal and CBA on the horizon. Sarver purchased the team for just over $400 million in 2004.

Saver currently owns 35% of the Suns (the largest share), but reports say his role as managing partner allows him to sell the entire team (the minority owners have to comply, although they would make a healthy profit, too). Sarver also decides who to sell the team to, not the NBA or other owners.

Early rumors of buyers have included Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle), Bob Iger (former Disney CEO), Laurene Powell Jobs (widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, she has a 20% share of the Washington Wizards), and others. There have been no reports of talks yet, and Sarver does not need to be on a rushed timeline.

Meanwhile, a contending Suns team tries to focus on the season despite the owner selling the team, Jae Crowder not being in training camp and pushing for a trade, and Deandre Ayton does not sound happy to be back with the Suns.

Steve Nash on his relationship with Kevin Durant: ‘We’re good’

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In an effort to gain leverage for a trade this offseason, Kevin Durant threw down a “either the coach and GM are gone or I am” ultimatum.

Now coach Steve Nash (and GM Sean Marks) are back in Brooklyn, on the same team and trying to build a contender together. Awkward? Not if you ask Nash, which is what Nick Friedell of ESPN did.

“We’re fine,” Nash said after the Nets’ first official practice of the season on Tuesday. “We’re good. Ever since we talked, it’s been like nothing’s changed. I have a long history with Kevin. I love the guy. Families have issues. We had a moment and it’s behind us. That’s what happens. It’s a common situation in the league.

“We all were hurting, seething, to go through what we went through last year, not being able to overcome all that adversity. Sometimes you lose perspective because you expect to win, but the reality is we were able to talk and discuss what we can improve on from last year. And also keep perspective. We went through a ton of stuff.”

First off, what else was Nash going to say? He knows the power dynamic in the NBA, and Durant has far more leverage than he does — not enough to get Nash fired this summer, but still more than the coach.

Second, Nash could be telling the truth from his perspective. NBA players and coaches understand better than anyone this is a business and things are rarely personal. Grudges are not held like fans think they are (most of the time). Nash saw Durant’s move for what it was — an effort to create pressure — and can intellectually shrug it off, reach out to KD and talk about the future.

What this brings into question was one of the Nets’ biggest issues last season — mental toughness and togetherness. Do the Nets have the will to fight through adversity and win as a team? Individually Durant, Kyrie Irving, Nash and others have shown that toughness in the past, but as a team it was not that hard to break the will of the Nets last season. Are their relationships strong enough, is their will strong enough this season?

It feels like we will find out early. If the wheels come off the Nets’ season, it feels like it will happen early and by Christmas things could be a full-on dumpster fire. Or maybe Nash is right and they are stronger than we think.