Mike D’Antoni, Alvin Gentry wear masks while coaching NBA games

NBA masks
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There were some concerns about the three NBA head coaches 65 or older — Alvin Gentry, Mike D’Antoni, and Gregg Popovich — headed into the NBA’s restart bubble in Orlando.

They are all there, but Houston’s Mike D’Antonio and New Orleans’ Alvin Gentry have worn masks while coaching NBA games as a safety precaution.

Both said this is about more than their health, it’s a statement to the people back in their home cities and the nation, via Mark Medina of the USA Today.

“It’s important to Houston and a lot of the country. Right now, they should be masked up,” D’Antoni said following the Rockets’ scrimmage against the Toronto Raptors on Friday. “We do it for Houston. We do it for you. I do it for my players. I do it for my coaches. I just feel like it’s the thing to do right now with where we are as a country.”

“It’s a statement saying we think it’s important enough even down here to have on a mask,” Gentry said after the Pelicans’ scrimmage against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. “We’d like to send a message out to everybody that if we’re going to get this thing under control, I do think that this makes a big difference.”

It’s “important” and “the right thing to do” for others. Exactly. Unfortunately, for too many people in our nation, that combination of logic and concern about others is not enough.

Much like with the Black Lives Matters messages from players out of the Orlando bubble, no one statement, no one symbolic move alone will change hearts and minds (or policy). However, the wave and totality of a lot of people doing the right thing can change things in our nation and help us start to get this disease under control.

In the case of D’Antoni and Gentry, it also helps that in a much quieter, fanless arena the plays and coverages they call out — even with a mask on — can be easily heard by players. Wearing the mask will not impact their ability to do their jobs.

Plus, it’s just the right thing to do, for themselves and everyone around them.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.

Watch Lakers fan drain half-court shot to win $75,000

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
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It might have been the loudest the crypto.com Arena was all night.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).

One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.