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Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry betting favorites to be All-Star Game MVP

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Predicting the NBA All-Star Game MVP is like predicting a roulette spin, it could land anywhere. Everyone in the game is talented and knows how to score, nobody plays any defense, so whoever wants it has the chance to go get it.

However, of course, there are betting odds.

And gamblers are leaning toward the obvious choices of Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry to win the All-Star Game MVP. Here are the latest odds for the top 10, via Bovada.lv.

Russell Westbrook (WEST) 7/2
Stephen Curry (WEST) 6/1
Anthony Davis (WEST) 13/2
Kevin Durant (WEST) 7/1
James Harden (WEST) 7/1
LeBron James (EAST) 7/1
Kyrie Irving (EAST) 15/2
Giannis Antetokounmpo (EAST) 11/1
Kawhi Leonard (WEST) 15/1
Isaiah Thomas (EAST) 15/1

Of course, we’re talking gambling, and you can bet on anything. Here are the odds for the Saturday night events:

Slam Dunk Contest
Aaron Gordon (ORL) 5/8
Derrick Jones Jr. (PHO) 5/4
DeAndre Jordan (LAC) 8/1
Glenn Robinson III (IND) 9/1

Three-Point Contest
Klay Thompson (GSW) 11/10
Kyrie Irving (CLE) 4/1
CJ McCollum (POR) 8/1
Eric Gordon (HOU) 9/1
Kyle Lowry (TOR) 9/1
Nick Young (LAL) 9/1
Wes Matthews (DAL) 11/1
Kemba Walker (CHA) 11/1

Skills Competition
Isaiah Thomas (BOS) 2/1
John Wall (WAS) 9/4
Devin Booker (PHO) 4/1
Gordon Hayward (UTA) 8/1
Anthony Davis (NO) 10/1
Kristaps Porzingis (NY) 10/1
DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) 15/1
Nikola Jokic (DEN) 15/1

Bulls’ Taj Gibson trying to be Zen as trade rumors heat up. Again.

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Taj Gibson‘s name name has come up more in trade rumors in the past couple years than Adele’s did at the Grammys (but with far fewer tears on Gibson’s end).

So as the trade deadline approaches again and the very solid forward with the expiring and very movable contract knows the rumors are going to get more intense, and he’s good with it, as he told Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com.

 “Of course it’s gonna get hotter,” said Gibson to CSNChicago.com about the trade talk. “No matter what happens, you’re still in the NBA. You’re still getting paid a lot of money to play basketball. People don’t understand that. They think it’s bad half the time. No it’s not. It’s the same paycheck, just on a different team.”

The Raptors had long been rumored as a Gibson landing spot, which made sense considering Toronto’s need at the four, but then Serge Ibaka trade ended that. Goodwill reports that the Bulls and Raptors had talked about a first-round pick for Gibson this year, but Terrence Ross (who went to Orlando in the deal) was not part of the talks.

However, Gibson will draw interest from other teams in the coming weeks, and he is not part of the Bulls’ future. He’s just trying to stay in the moment, help the Bulls win games now, and whatever happens is going to happen at the deadline.

“I can’t. I can’t (focus on it),” Gibson said. “It’s like how Melo’s (Carmelo Anthony) going through it right now. You just can’t. You just gotta focus on your teammates, your family, have good people around you. Been going through this for eight years, teams trying to get you. It’s tough, every year. You never know what’s going to happen. Stay professional, stay in the gym, do whatever you can to take your mind off it.”

 

Sixers coach on Ben Simmons: “We do expect him to play this year”

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We’ve started to have a taste of what the Sixers might become. When Joel Embiid is on the court, they show a lot of promise, and even when he’s not — which has been 11-of-12 due to injury — the culture coach Brett Brown has built there is starting to show. The Sixers aren’t a pushover anymore.

But we all want to see what they look like with No. 1 pick Ben Simmons in the lineup.

That may not happen soon, he’s not even going to play 5-on-5 over the All-Star break, but it is coming coach Brett Brown told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“We do expect him to play this year,” Brett Brown said before the Sixers played the Celtics on Wednesday. “It is our expectation that he will get on a court. It’s moving slowly. It’s calculated. We’re trying to be very careful.”

Simmons suffered a Jones fracture to his foot in training camp, and the Sixers are understandably cautious — this is a potential franchise player and foot injuries can be chronic things if not allowed to fully heal. We know from watching how the organization was with injuries to Embiid and Nerlens Noel in their first years, the Sixers default setting is very cautious.

However, he is moving closer to getting on the court and showing off those passing gifts.

“I feel like after the All-Star break, when he’s got a chance to begin practicing with us and start playing against actual defensive people and him guarding, then we will better judge on when that time frame is,” Brown said. “But I think the path right now is solid.”

Andrew Wiggins had his second straight 40+ point game, plus one monster dunk (VIDEOS)

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Andrew Wiggins had his midrange jumper going, and the Nuggets did not have anyone who could stop him. Much like the Cavaliers couldn’t the night before.

The Timberwolves’ athletic wing had back-to-back 40 point games when he put up that number in Minnesota against Denver on Wednesday night. Against the Nuggets Wiggins hit a couple threes and got some buckets inside, but he shot 8-of-11 on midrange jumpers, and that was opening everything else up.

You can check out all his buckets from the last two games above. Or just watch his poster dunk against Denver if you prefer.

The Timberwolves split the two games, falling to the Cavaliers but beating the Nuggets.

Three things we learned Wednesday: It’s the Westbrook, ‘Melo show

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For most of the NBA, it was getaway night before the All-Star break, with 28 teams in action. Here are the three stories we pulled out as worth knowing from the busy night around the league.

1) Russell Westbrook’s triple-double enough to out duel Carmelo Anthony, Knicks. This looked like Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks’ night to start. While the Thunder started out ice-cold shooting, hitting just 1-of-10, Anthony made Adam Silver look smart for picking him as an All-Star and could not miss. Oklahoma City had assigned their best wing defender in Andre Roberson on Anthony and Roberson was doing his job — Anthony was not getting shots from his spots on the floor, and everything was contested. Didn’t matter. Anthony started the game 7-of-7 and had 19 points in the first quarter on his way to an eventual 30 points.

The Knicks even got a little defensive help inside from Kristaps Porzingis.

Then Russell Westbrook started doing Russell Westbrook things.

The MVP candidate finished with his 27th triple-double of the season: 38 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists, shooting 13-of-22. It was another powerful performance in a powerful season from Westbrook.

2) Suns’ Derrick Jones Jr. finally dunks in an NBA game.
Looking for someone to challenge Aaron Gordon in the All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, the NBA went deep in the Suns’ bench to get Derrick Jones Jr. — a rookie who can dunk but has now only played 24 minutes all season, spending most of his time in the D-League. But in limited minutes against the Lakers Wednesday night, Jones got loose and threw down three big dunks.

Consider this a little All-Star Saturday taste.

3) Raptors come from 17 down to start fourth to win. Serge Ibaka didn’t suit up in a battle of struggling teams, and for three quarters the Raptors showed why they needed him — the lane was clogged, the offense couldn’t hit shots, and the entire thing was like watching an elephant walk through mud. Charlotte, maybe more desperately needing a win than Toronto, had built a 17-point lead after three quarters behind 20 points (to that point) from Kemba Walker.

Then Raptors coach Dwane Casey started the fourth using a lineup of Kyle Lowry, DeMarre Carroll, Delon Wright, Cory Joseph, and Jakob Poeltl, and they went on a 24-2 run to regain the lead. What I love is that Casey rode the hot hand — he didn’t go back to DeRozan or Jonas Valanciunas or Norman Powell, those guys stayed glued to the bench and the five that started the run stayed in. And sealed up a much-needed win for Toronto 90-85.