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Lou Williams hits game winner to beat Nets

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Lou Williams has once again been one of the best bench players in the NBA, a crucial cog in Doc Rivers’ plan to make the Los Angeles Clippers relevant.

On Sunday night, Williams put an exclamation point on an already great season by hitting a game-winning shot as time expired to beat the Brooklyn Nets.

Brooklyn had previously tied things up with a Jarrett Allen dunk with just 5.3 seconds to go. That allowed the Nets to defend on a final possession, and to their credit they pushed Williams halfway between the 3-point arc and the logo at midcourt.

But Williams just couldn’t be denied.

Via Twitter:

LA and Brooklyn are two of the more darling stories in the NBA this year, with each achieving higher than even their own diehards could imagine.

The win, 119-116, gives the Clippers a chance to fight for a higher playoff seed in the West. Los Angeles won’t be caught by the Sacramento Kings at this point, and they’re now just 1.5 games back of the Oklahoma City Thunder for the fifth seed.

Report: Raptors trade Greg Monroe, second-rounder to Nets

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The Raptors traded three players (Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright and C.J. Miles) for Marc Gasol. Toronto traded Malachi Richardson without getting a player in return.

Apparently wanting to trim the roster even further, the Raptors are unloading Greg Monroe.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Teams are required to carry at least 14 players on standard contracts during the regular season. They can drop below that for two weeks at a time. So, the Raptors will fill their roster soon enough.

They just didn’t value Monroe on it.

Gasol replaces Valanciunas as Toronto’s top traditional center. Serge Ibaka will also continue to play plenty of center. So, Monroe’s spot on the depth chart didn’t really change.

But perhaps the Raptors believe they can upgrade on the buyout market. Several bigs should be available.

By trading rather than waiving Monroe, Toronto will get his entire salary removed from the luxury-tax computation. The cost is the second-round pick.

I’m not sure whether the Nets will keep Monroe. They could slot him behind Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis. But the prize was the second-round pick.

James Harden scores 58, but Nets beat Rockets

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James Harden and the Rockets reshaped how NBA games look.

Now, they’re pushing the boundaries even further.

Harden scored 58 points tonight, just the second time someone has had consecutive 50-point games in the last decade (joining Harden in 2017). Houston went 23-of-70 on 3-pointers, demolishing the previous single-game 3-point attempts record of 61 (set by Houston in 2016).

Meanwhile, the Nets are simply winning.

Brooklyn beat Houston 145-142 in overtime tonight. The Nets are 15-5 in their last 20 games, and they showed plenty of fight to get this latest victory.

They trailed by 14 with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. They trailed by seven with 1:20 left in overtime. But Spencer Dinwiddie hit overtime-forcing 3-pointer then put Brooklyn up late in overtime with an old-fashioned three-point play.

Dinwiddie finished with 33 points, and Jarrett Allen had 20 points, 24 rebounds and three blocks – including a nice, poetic one of Harden:

Jarrett Allen’s missed dunk becomes perfect pass to D’Angelo Russell for three (VIDEO)

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This reminds me of a couple of days ago when Giannis Antetokounmpo’s pass off James Harden‘s face became a three.

Brooklyn’s Jarrett Allen got the ball back on a pick-and-roll Monday night and he had a clear flight path to the rim for a monster dunk…er… it takes a lot of skill to pass a ball off the rim out to the three-point line, where D'Angelo Russell was wide open.

The Nets are going to need every break they can get against the Raptors.

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s triple-double helps Bucks turn away Nets 129-115

Associated Press
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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo got turned away early but made the clutch plays late.

One of the NBA’s most dynamic dunkers shook off a rare rejection and helped the Milwaukee Bucks turn away Brooklyn’s attempt to rally from a 23-point deficit in a 129-115 win over the undermanned Nets on Saturday.

Antetokounmpo had his third triple-double of the season with 31 points , 10 rebounds and 10 assists, while Khris Middleton scored 29 points, despite a quad injury. The Bucks, who have won three straight and seven of eight, extended their NBA-best record to 25-10.

They nearly squandered their big lead after the Nets went on a 14-0 run in the fourth, and Shabazz Napier‘s 7-footer with 4:51 left trimmed the deficit to seven.

“I think there was a pretty major lapse, the start of the fourth quarter,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.

Middleton and Antetokounmpo, the Bucks’ two best players, reasserted control.

After a bucket by Middleton, Antetokounmpo scored six straight and also drew a charge on former teammate Jared Dudley in a 57-second span of the fourth that ended with the Bucks rebuilding a 15-point lead with 3:10 left. The Bucks were back on their way to their third straight win and seventh in eight games.

“He was phenomenal in the last five minutes,” Budenholzer said.

But a 6-foot-11 forward known for making highlight reels drew social media buzz after a dunk attempt in the first quarter was blocked by Nets center Jarrett Allen.

Leave it to Antetokounmpo to finish strong.

“That’s what a superstar does. When it’s crunch time, when it’s time to close a game out – he did it,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said.

Napier tied his career high with 32 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field and 10 of 12 from the foul line. Kenneth Faried had 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez added 24 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the 3-point arc. Lopez provided balance from the perimeter, especially after hitting 5 of 9 from the arc in the first half to help open up a 19-point halftime lead.

The 7-foot center has become quite a long-range threat since he started shooting 3s with more frequency while with the Nets two seasons ago under Atkinson’s tutelage.

Atkinson was forced to come up with a plan on Saturday to slow down the league’s highest-scoring team despite missing six players going into the contest because of injuries or rest. Brooklyn then lost forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with a right groin injury in the first quarter.