Shake Milton

Mock NBA expansion draft
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Mock NBA expansion draft: Celtics, Nets, Knicks, 76ers, Raptors

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The NBA season is on hiatus. NBC Sports is not – even if we have to venture into fantasy.

We’re holding a mock NBA expansion draft. Keith Smith is setting protected lists for existing teams. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman will run two new teams as this project culminates in an expansion draft.

Current teams can protect up to eight players. Each team must make at least one player available. If selected, restricted free agents become unrestricted free agents. Pending options can be decided before or after the expansion draft at the discretion of the option-holder. Anyone selected in the expansion draft can’t return to his prior team for one year. Players entering unrestricted free agency and players on two-way contracts are essentially ignored.

We’re unveiling protected/unprotected lists by division. Players are listed with their 2020-21 salary. Up now, the Atlantic:

Boston Celtics

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 7

Ineligible – 0

Analysis: Boston’s decisions are fairly cut and dry. Jayson Tatum, Romeo Langford, Grant Williams and Robert Williams are all on their rookie-scale contracts. Jaylen Brown will be starting a four-year contract extension. Kemba Walker was just signed to a max contract. Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis are good values and key rotation players.

The toughest decision was on Gordon Hayward. Carrying a salary over $34 million, the Celtics are betting he’ll go undrafted and will return to the team. Everyone else was a fairly easy decision to leave unprotected.

Brooklyn Nets

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 5

Ineligible – 2

Analysis: The Nets are keeping their big four in Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert. Jarrett Allen is still on his rookie-scale contract, so that’s an easy decision. With over $101 million on the books for just Durant, Irving, Dinwiddie and LeVert, Nicolas Claxton and Rodions Kurucs help bring some low-cost upside to the back-end of the roster.

DeAndre Jordan will likely go unselected, given his age and $30 million-plus owed through 2022-23. If Jordan is selected, Brooklyn can bank some potential luxury tax savings down the line. Taurean Prince was on the fence, but given his disappointing play this season, and lack of fit in a lineup featuring Durant, the Nets will take their chances he’ll be selected.

New York Knicks

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 6

Ineligible – 1

  • Maurice Harkless

Analysis: The Knicks are clearing the decks for a run at free agency this summer. The expansion draft could only help along that way. New York is protecting their young players with upside, as well as Julius Randle, last year’s big free agent addition. The Knicks are also protecting Damyean Dotson and Allonzo Trier. Not out of fear of losing them, but in hopes that either of the expansion teams will select a bigger salary and take it off the New York cap sheet.

Dennis Smith Jr. was the only questionable player to leave unprotected, but $5.7 million is simply too much for a player out of the rotation. The other five players aren’t part of the future in New York, so that decision was easy.

Philadelphia 76ers

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 3

Ineligible – 4

Analysis: Philadelphia’s decisions make themselves. The highly paid players are key rotation players. Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton are steals on minimum contracts. Matisse Thybulle is only entering year two of his rookie scale deal. Zhaire Smith was on the bubble, but he’s young enough, and under team control, that he’s worth protecting.

Al Horford is very unprotected. His signing simply hasn’t worked out for the Sixers. He’s a player Philadelphia is open to talking about a trade with either of the expansion teams. With an extra first-round pick, the 76ers hope to dangle it to entice a team to select Horford.

Toronto Raptors

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 3

Ineligible – 4

Analysis: The Raptors don’t have to expose any of their core rotation players in the expansion draft. Up front, Pascal Siakam just inked his contract extension, and OG Anunoby is still on his rookie scale deal. Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are all free agents. In the backcourt, Toronto can protect Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell, along with undrafted find Terence Davis. And Fred VanVleet is a free agent.

The leaves just a handful of players who don’t have a role for the Raptors. Toronto could even entertain offering a second-round pick to entice either expansion team to select Stanley Johnson and take his $3.8 million off the cap/tax.

NBA Power Rankings: Rockets, Clippers threatening Bucks, Lakers at the top

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While the Bucks and Lakers hold on to their top two spots, the Rockets and Clippers are climbing fast and look like threats (at least in the West).

Bucks small icon 1. Bucks (52-9, Last Week No. 1). Brook Lopez is going to get some down-ballot Defensive Player of the Year votes — and he deserves them. Lopez has contested more shots than anyone in the NBA this season — 1,133 shot contests (82% of those are twos), which is 182 more than the next person on the list (Rudy Gobert). Lopez has played the best defense of his career and is a key reason the Bucks have the top-ranked defense in the NBA. That defense will get a good test Friday night when the Bucks travel to Los Angeles to face the Lakers.

Lakers small icon 2. Lakers (47-13, LW No. 2). The Lakers add 4.1 points per 100 possessions because of their transition play, tied for most in the league (with Toronto, stats via Cleaning The Glass). The Lakers are a force when they get out and run, however, that is muted somewhat because they have a middle-of-the-pack transition defense. The Lakers are an elite halfcourt defense but the Bucks will test their transition defense Friday night (no team tries to run as much as Milwaukee). Then comes a Sunday showcase game against the healthy and hot Clippers.

Rockets small icon 3. Rockets (39-21, LW 4). In November, Russell Westbrook took 28.3% of his shots from three and 36.4% at the rim, and he struggled with his shot. In his last 10 games, just 9.4% of his shots are threes while more than half (50.6%) of his shots came at the rim — and Westbrook is thriving. The Rockets have gotten him chances to play downhill and attack closer to the rim, using him in snug pick-and-rolls and tighter spaces with their small ball lineups. It has worked brilliantly. This is one of the best stretches of basketball in Westbrook’s career.

Clippers small icon 4. Clippers (42-19, LW 8). Finally healthy and fully loaded, the Clippers have won five in a row and looked like a force of nature the past week. As in, best team in the NBA kind of force of nature. Their offense has been the best in the NBA over the past five games since everyone got in the lineup, and the defense has locked teams down (fifth-best in the league in the last five, although that got a little skewed by Shake Milton’s hot hand). Speaking of defense: Montrezl Harrell leads the NBA in charges drawn this season with 30. Doc Rivers said in the Clippers system they see a charge drawn the same way as a blocked shot and Harrell has taken that to heart.

Celtics small icon 5. Celtics (41-19, LW 5). Kemba Walker returned Tuesday night and had 21 points on 23 minutes, but a minutes limit had him on the bench down the stretch as the Celtics blew a 17-point fourth quarter lead and fell to the Nets in Boston’s worst loss of the season. Also not on the court at the end of that was was Jayson Tatum, due to illness, but the numbers are in from Tatum’s breakout February: 30.7 points a game on a 63.7 true shooting percentage, plus 7.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists a night.

Raptors small icon 6. Raptors (43-18, LW 3). Toronto just can’t get healthy — right as Norman Powell returns, Fred Van Vleet and Serge Ibaka head to the bench injured (joining Marc Gasol, who has been out since January). Toronto is up one game in the loss column over Boston for the two seed in the East, and their schedules are basically even in terms of difficulty the rest of the way. Toronto needs to get healthy and get some wins.

Nuggets small icon 7. Nuggets (41-20, LW 7). Denver had an impressive defensive start to the season, but the blowout loss to the Clippers last Friday night was a reminder how much they have faded on that end of the court — the Nuggets are 20th in the league in defense over their last 10 games. This may be the biggest question the Nuggets face heading into the postseason: Can they get enough stops when it matters. Denver has 22 games to get their defensive groove back from November.

Mavericks small icon 8. Mavericks (37-25, LW 10). As should have been expected coming off an ACL injury, it took a while for Kristaps Porzingis to get his legs back under him. In November he averaged 15.8 points per game on 38.7 percent shooting overall and he made 2.1 threes a game. Fast forward to February where he averaged 25.2 points per game on 48.3 percent shooting and 3.7 made threes a game (on 39.8 percent shooting from deep). Fans and some pundits were impatient, but Porzingis looks like the cornerstone Dallas thought he would be.

Heat small icon 9. Heat (39-22, LW 12). Back in November, Miami had a defensive rating of 105, eighth-best in the NBA. Since then, the Heat defense has gotten a little worse each month, culminating in a February defensive rating of 113.7, a bottom 10 in the league ranking (hat tip to our old friend Rob Mahoney of The Ringer for pointing that out). Miami’s defense was spectacular for a night in the upset of Milwaukee this week, and the team is on a three-game winning streak. The defense will get tested by Zion and New Orleans on Friday night.

Thunder small icon 10. Thunder (37-24, LW 6). Dennis Schroder is one of the leading candidates for Sixth Man of the Year, averaging 18.9 points per game and shooting 38 percent from three. It helps that he is part of the powerful three-guard lineup with Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander that has drawn a lot of attention, and it helps that the Clippers’ two stars will split the vote, but Schroder deserves to be at the front of that race. Reality hit the Thunder hard the last two games when the Bucks — in a 47-point blowout — and the Clippers handled them with relative ease.

Pacers small icon 11. Pacers (37-24, LW 13). While Jeremy Lamb’s torn ACL is painful news, Indiana has continued to roll of late, having won four in a row and 6-of-7. Part of the spark there is Victor Oladipo looking a little better each game (he had 19 points against Cleveland), at least until a right knee flare up has him out at least a game and maybe more. The Pacers have won two in a row to start 5-of-6 on the road, but things get tougher with the Bucks, Mavs, and 76ers coming up.

Sixers small icon 12. 76ers (37-25, LW 9). Philadelphia made a Christmas Day statement beating Milwaukee 121-109, improving to 23-10. Since that they are 14-15 with a -2.1 net rating, the defense has been solid but held back by a 24th-ranked offense (Shake Milton can only bail them out so much). That’s not getting better in the short term with Joel Embiid still out, and Ben Simmons is going to be out “a while” due to his lower back nerve issue, according to coach Brett Brown. The Sixers have slid back to sixth in the East, but the top priority is getting healthy before the playoffs.

Jazz small icon 13. Jazz (38-22, LW 11). The Jazz have the worst defense in the NBA since the All-Star break. That is some small sample size theater of just six games, but dead last is not good. Donovan Mitchell was single-handedly trying to cover that up scoring 30+ points in four straight games (until that streak ended Monday because he didn’t need to do that to beat the Cavs), but the Jazz need to get the defense fixed. A month ago I would have said Rudy Gobert is on his way to another DPOY award, but he and the Jazz have not looked great defensively of late and that door is now open for others to walk through.

Grizzlies small icon 14. Grizzlies (30-31, LW 17). Fivethirtyeight.com gives the Grizzlies a 13% chance of making the playoffs, that despite their three-game lead for the eight seed with 21 games to play (give or take, depending on the team). That’s because four teams — the Kings, Trail Blazers, Spurs, and Pelicans — are within four games of the Grizzlies, and every one of them has an easier schedule than Memphis. That’s why the Grizzlies upset of the Lakers was so critical, it was an unexpected win. It likely takes about 40 wins to get the last playoff spot, which means the Grizzlies need to go 10-11 the rest of the way. Do that and there’s no question Ja Morant is the Rookie of the Year (there probably isn’t anyway).

Pelicans small icon 15. Pelicans (26-35, LW 14). There are a lot of fans around the league (and in executive offices at ESPN/TNT) who want the Pelicans to grab the eight seed and face the Lakers in the first round, which is why a loss like Tuesday’s to a struggling Minnesota team is a big setback. Now New Orleans has 5-of-6 on the road and against some quality teams such as the Mavericks and Clippers. That soft schedule everyone talks about with the Pels is the final dozen games or so of the season but they have to stay afloat until then to have a chance.

Magic small icon 16. Magic (27-34, LW 16). Steve Clifford finds ways to make sure his team can compete, and throw in Aaron Gordon’s first career triple-double (against Minnesota) and this team looks like it can avoid Milwaukee in the first round. There is a 99% chance the Magic make the playoffs for the second straight year (according to fivethirtyeight.com) but that doesn’t negate the “what kind of team are they trying to build?” questions that the team will face this summer.

Nets small icon 17. Nets (27-33, LW 15). Tuesday night’s comeback win against the Heat — sparked by Caris LeVert’s 51 — was the best win of the season for Brooklyn. That took some of the sting out of a recent four-game losing streak where the Nets had a chance to win three of those games late and fell short. Brooklyn is stumbling toward the finish line this season, but its eyes were always on next season anyway.

Kings small icon 18. Kings (25-37, LW 18). Sacramento is surging, having won 6-of-7 to move within three games of the Grizzlies and ending the longest playoff drought in the NBA. The Kings have a top-10 offense and defense, leading to a +6.2 net rating, since the All-Star break. Fivethirtyeight.com gives the Kings a 15% chance of making the postseason, which is a lot better than things looked a couple of weeks ago.

Blazers small icon 19. Trail Blazers (27-35, LW 19). Damian Lillard is set to return to the lineup on Wednesday night after missing six games with a strained groin (only six because it happened just before the All-Star break). Portland went 2-4 in those games but remained within the striking distance of the Grizzlies and the playoffs if they got hot — now Lillard needs to light this fire (fivethirtyeight.com gives Portland a 19% chance of making the playoffs and taking on the Lakers in the first round).

Spurs small icon 20. Spurs (26-34, LW 21). Fivethirtyeight.com gives the Spurs just a 3% chance to come out of the pack and make the playoffs, maybe what they need is to have Tim Duncan as acting coach for more games, he is undefeated after all. Part of the reason for the pessimism around the Spurs chances is they have lost big man Jokob Poeltl for a few weeks to a month due to a right MCL sprain.

Wizards small icon 21. Wizards (22-38, LW 22). Bradley Beal is starting to get the James Harden treatment late in games, with teams throwing early double-teams at him to get the ball out of his hands and dare anyone else on the roster to beat them. The reason is obvious: Beal is red hot, averaging 36.2 points per game in February. Fivethirtyeight.com gives the Wizards a 10% chance of making the playoffs, but to get there they are going to need some help from Brooklyn (or Orland) coming back to the pack.

Suns small icon 22. Suns (24-38, LW 20). The Suns have lost Kelly Oubre Jr., likely for the season, following surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, and after that the Suns have lost four in a row. That has all but killed the dreams of climbing up into the playoffs in Phoenix. One of those losses was at home to the Warriors (with both Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton on the court), the kind of loss teams in a tight playoff race cannot afford.

Pistons small icon 23. Pistons (20-42, LW 24). Great note from James Edwards III over at the Athletic: Tony Snell is 28-of-28 at the free throw line this season, only the second player in league history to have more than 25 attempts in a season without a miss. If he can get over 30 attempts without a miss, he will set a new NBA record for the most free throws in a season without a miss. Hopefully all the attention on this streak doesn’t jinx it.

Bulls small icon 24. Bulls (21-40, LW 23). Coby White continues to be red hot (even though his 30+ point a game streak ended) and it’s possible Lauri Markkanen will be back soon from his pelvis injury. None of that, however, as Bulls fans as pumped as the rumors there could be front office changes this summer. Gar Forman appears to be on the way out, but it looks like John Paxson will remain on as president. How much power the new GM has — and what it means for coach Jim Boylen’s future — will be something to watch.

Knicks small icon 25. Knicks (19-42, LW 28). The Knicks have had a couple of nice, promising wins this week: They beat the Bulls behind Mitchell Robinson‘s 23 points and 10 rebounds; then R.J. Barrett went off for 27 in an upset win against Houston. Unfortunately, nobody is talking about that because Knicks management got in a public pissing match with Spike Lee that the Knicks could not win. The Knicks need to keep their heads down and fix the on-court product, but they’ve needed to do that for years and here we are.

Hornets small icon 26. Hornets (21-40, LW 25). Devonte' Graham still has his moments, like the nine points in the fourth quarter against Toronto to spark an upset win last Friday, but the consistency of his game is not there. Charlotte remains one of the luckiest teams in the NBA this season, with the net rating of a 17-win team, but they have snuck out some close ones to boost that total.

Hawks small icon 27. Hawks (19-44, LW 26). Clint Capela has been approved for contact, but is at least two weeks away from stepping on the court — Atlanta still wants to see that this season, to jump start the Trae Young/Capela chemistry. In their last five games the Hawks have the third worst defense in the league, yet play at the fourth fastest pace, which means a lot of opponent points. Atlanta is 2-3 in those games.

28. Timberwolves (18-42, LW 29). They have turbocharged the offense since the All-Star break, playing at a nearly 108 possessions a game pace. In those games, 17.5% of their plays have started in transition, up from a middle-of-the-pack 14.3% for the season. The Timberwolves also have the second worst defense in the league since the break, meaning with the pace they are giving up a lot of points.

Cavaliers small icon 29. Cavaliers (17-44, LW 27). J.B. Bickerstaff started with a 3-1 record as the Cavaliers coach, but three straight losses have changed that dynamic (although they were competitive in a couple of those). Cleveland is going to have a high pick in a guard-heavy draft coming up this June, and after watching the Darius Garland/Collin Sexton backcourt for a season, this franchise has to take the best guy on the board regardless of position. There is no Luka or Zion on this roster, the Cavs need talent regardless of position.

Warriors small icon 30. Warriors (14-48 LW 30). Stephen Curry should return to the court this week, and even with the rust that adds a reason to watch this team play. Steve Kerr and the Warriors staff need to start assessing how Curry fits with Andrew Wiggins, and also with Eric Paschall (who could set some picks, roll, and possibly have some chemistry with Curry). The Warriors aren’t giving up the odds of a high pick with a couple more wins, and just having Curry back on the court will be good for the psyche of the team.

76ers guard Shake Milton ties NBA record with 13 straight 3-pointers made (video)

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Buried on the bench a couple weeks ago, Shake Milton is breaking out for the 76ers.

How hot is the second-year guard? He tied an NBA record by making 13 straight 3-pointers, matching Terry Mills (1996-97 Pistons) and Brent Price (1995-96 Washington Bullets).

Milton made his last three 3-pointers in a loss to the Cavaliers on Wednesday. He made all five of his 3-pointers in a win over the Knicks on Thursday. Then, he made his first five 3-pointers in a loss to the Clippers on Sunday.

Even when Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid return, Milton has earned a longer look in the rotation.

Three Things to Know: LeBron James, Zion Williamson put on show in New Orleans

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday during the NBA regular season we are here to help you break it all down. Here are three things you need to know from yesterday in the NBA.

1) LeBron James, Zion Williamson put on a show in New Orleans. LeBron James, at age 35, remains one of the NBA’s elite players. He’s a serious MVP candidate. Don’t take my word for it, here is what New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said postgame Sunday (via Dave McMenamin of ESPN).

“I’m just amazed that they talk about anybody other than him for MVP. That’s what he does. Every team that he’s been to, every team that he’s gone have a chance to win the championship. To me, I’m not sure what the definition of MVP is, but he makes everyone on his team better, makes it difficult for everybody playing him.”

LeBron had a triple-double on Sunday — 34 points, 13 assists, 12 rebounds — and his Lakers needed every bit of it to beat the Pelicans because Zion Williamson was having a day — 35 points and another dominating performance.

“You have to actually be out on the floor to actually feel the strength and the speed that he plays at,” James said.

LeBron’s Lakers’ weekend split of games may decide who they face in the first round of the playoffs (we’re all assuming the Lakers, with their 5.5 game cushion, will hold on to the top seed in the West).

Saturday the Lakers were upset by Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies in one of those “just flush this game and move on” nights from Los Angeles. Those same Lakers — without an injured Anthony Davis — turned around 24 hours later and were ready to play, beating the Pelicans.

That leaves New Orleans three games back of Memphis for the final playoff slot in the West (Sacramento and San Antonio are also three games back). While that’s a healthy gap with 22 games to play, the Grizzlies have the fourth toughest schedule remaining in the NBA, and the Pelicans have the easiest. (San Antonio and Portland also have soft schedules remaining). Memphis is going to have to find some wins and pull off a few upsets to hold on to that final playoff spot, and beating the Lakers was a good first step.

2) Kristaps Porzingis is looking better and better, drops 38 in Dallas win. As sports fans — and, frankly, as a species — sometimes we know things on an intellectual level but it doesn’t change our gut reaction to it.

Case in point: Kristaps Porzingis.

If I had said before the season, “expect a slow start from KP as he has missed 19 months of basketball following a torn ACL” fans everywhere would have nodded their heads in agreement. It’s obvious. We get it, on an intellectual level.

Yet we all watched Porzingis the first few months of the season and the gut reaction was “he’s not quite the same.” Or “is he really a No. 2 on a team with Luka Doncic or a No. 3?” Or “no wonder the Knicks were ready to move on?” (That last one was mostly a few Knicks homers.)

Watch him play Sunday in a win over the Timberwolves (without Doncic) and the perception is completely different — he looks like a guy who has found his way back, dropping 38 points, shooting 6-of-14 from three, and leading his team to a win over the Timberwolves.

Back in November, Porzingis averaged 15.8 points per game on 38.7 percent shooting overall and he made 2.1 threes a game. In February that was 25.2 points per game on 48.3 percent shooting and 3.7 made threes a game (on 39.8 percent shooting from deep). Porzingis has got his groove back.

Dallas is going to be a tough out for some team that lands them in the first round.

3) Shake Milton puts on a show and scores 39, but Clippers are 4-0 since they got healthy. Sunday, the 76ers played with the kind of fight and shooting they usually reserve for home games.

That was led by Shake Milton — he shot 14-of-20 overall and 7-of-9 from three on his way to 39 points. Coming out of the All-Star break, Brett Brown told Milton he wouldn’t be in the rotation, but gave him the standard coach-speak “but be ready, you never know” talk. Then the “you never know” happened — Ben Simmons went down with a pinched nerve in his lower back. Opportunity knocked, and Milton has answered the door.

“It definitely feels cool, it’s a cool thing to say…” Milton said of scoring 39 and breaking out in Los Angeles. “But we didn’t win so you can’t take too much away from it.”

Philadelphia played with real heart — but without Simmons or the injured Joel Embiid — and Clippers’ talent overwhelmed them in a 136-130 Los Angeles win. It was the Clippers’ fourth win in a row, all since they got healthy and had their full rotation. Kawhi Leonard had 30 points for the game on 10-of-20 shooting, while Paul George, Lou Williams, and Montrezl Harrell each had 24. The Clippers’ defense was not as sharp as it has been in recent games, but they were able to dial it up enough during a third-quarter stretch to take the lead, then hold on the rest of the way.

“It’s great [to have everyone healthy],” Rivers said. “We needed everyone tonight. [The 76ers] played great, you have to give them credit.”

With the win, the Clippers and Nuggets remain tied for the two seed in the West with 22 games to play.

Philadelphia sits as the fifth seed in the East, tied in the loss column with Indiana for the six seed. The Sixers are 1.5 games back of the Heat for the fourth seed and home court in the first round.

Shake Milton’s 39-point statement not enough to lift 76ers past Clippers

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LOS ANGELES — Less than two weeks ago, as the All-Star break was coming to an end and the Philadelphia 76ers were gearing up for the stretch run of the season, coach Brett Brown looked at his rotation and delivered some sobering news to guard Shake Milton.

“For about 72 hours you figure out what life will look like post-All-Star break and the run home,” Brown said. “And you sit down with every single player, and you explain very clearly ‘this is your role.’

“My discussion with Shake is, ‘You are not playing. You are not in the rotation. I’m going with Alec [Burks], I’m going with [Josh Richardson], and Ben Simmons. You have to stay ready, and this is your role, so that we’re nice and clear.’”

“It definitely sucks, everybody wants to play, everybody wants to be in the rotation at all times,” Milton said of that conversation. “I was just trying to control what I can control, keep putting in the work, and when the opportunity did present itself I’d be ready.”

The opportunity almost instantly presented itself because of Simmons’ pinched nerve his back.

“For him to hear that, and then you learn life changes, things happen, and are you ready?” Brown asked. “He clearly is… Now in March he’s the starting point guard on a pretty good team, and just had 39 points on national TV against a candidate to win an NBA championship.”

Milton put on a show Sunday at Staples Center — he shot 14-of-20 overall and 7-of-9 from three on his way to 39 points. It was the most points Milton has scored since he put up 52 in his senior year of high school.

“It definitely feels cool, it’s a cool thing to say…” Milton said of scoring 39 and breaking out in Los Angeles. “But we didn’t win so you can’t take too much away from it.”

As great as Milton was, and as much as the Sixers played with real heart, the Clippers talent overwhelmed them in a 136-130 win. It was the Clippers’ fourth win in a row, all since they got healthy and had their full rotation.

“It’s great [to have everyone healthy],” Rivers said. “We needed everyone tonight. [The 76ers] played great, you have to give them credit.”

The Sixers played with the kind of fight and shooting they usually reserve for home games.

Philly was hot from the start, shooting 10-of-12 — mostly from the midrange — to open the game and had a quick double-digit lead. Milton led that charge, with 26 points on 10-of-11 shooting in the first half. He was feeling it, and at point sized up Kawhi Leonard and went at him.

However, the Clippers bench led by Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell — who each finished the night with 24 points — kept the Clippers close.

The Clippers started to pull away in the third quarter, not coincidentally when Milton went cold — he hit the side of the backboard on one shot. The Clippers closed the third on a 28-9 run — again largely sparked by the bench — and had a 12 point lead entering the fourth.

“They stood us up, they got into us, like we played on our back heels,” Brown of what happened in the third quarter.

Give Philly credit, the team did not fold, they got as close as four late, but the Clippers held on for the win. Leonard had 30 points for the game on 10-of-20 shooting, while Paul George had 24 points on 13 shots. The Clippers’ defense was not as sharp as it has been in recent games, but they were able to dial it up enough for a stretch to get the win.

Simmons is going to miss “a while” (to use Browns’ words) with his back issues, there is no timeline for his return. As deep as the Sixers can be at guard, is it going to be difficult to find Milton run going forward?

“For 39 reasons, it should be pretty easy,” Brown said.