76ers

Davis scores 44 as Pelicans survive in double overtime

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Davis scores 44 as Pelicans survive in double overtime

NEW YORK — Anthony Davis knows how much the Brooklyn Nets depend on 3-pointers.

The All-Star forward and the New Orleans Pelicans took advantage of Brooklyn's inability to hit them, building a 22-point halftime lead, but they couldn't stop the Nets from hitting 3s over the next two quarters.

But they benefited again from the Nets' long-distance woes in the second overtime to close them out.

Davis had 44 points and 17 rebounds, Rajon Rondo had a triple-double, and the Pelicans recovered after blowing a 28-point lead to beat Brooklyn 138-128 in two overtimes on Saturday night.

"You know they live by the 3, die by the 3. They were missing a lot and then they were able to get hot, especially Allen Crabbe. That's how they get back into games," Davis said. "We just wanted to keep fighting, doing what we did to get the lead."

It was nearly identical to his last game in New York, when Davis had 48 points and 17 rebounds in a victory over the Knicks last month (see full recap).

Thomas scores 22 in debut as Lakers fall to Mavs 
DALLAS — Isaiah Thomas used his crossover dribble to create an open 3-pointer that helped his new team build a double-digit lead in the first half.

The Los Angeles Lakers couldn't stay in front in the diminutive guard's debut following his ill-fated stint in Cleveland. Still, there was plenty of evidence that Thomas can be the scorer he was in Boston.

Dirk Nowitzki had a season-high 22 points, Harrison Barnes added 21 and the last-place Dallas Mavericks rallied to beat the Lakers 130-123 on Saturday night.

Thomas finished with 22 points and already looks like a better fit in coach Luke Walton's offense following the deadline deal that brought him from the Cavaliers, who acquired him last summer in the trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Celtics (see full recap).

Kerr reaches 250 wins as Warriors top Spurs
OAKLAND, Calif. — Steve Kerr shouted out Luke Walton for his help reaching 250 coaching victories in record time.

Kerr trash talked old coach Phil Jackson, now the second-quickest to 250 wins behind his former Bulls player.

Then, Kerr offered credit where he always does: to his uber-talented roster of All-Stars.

Klay Thompson scored 25 points, 10 coming in the third quarter to help Golden State pull away, and the Warriors beat the San Antonio Spurs 122-105 on Saturday night.

Fellow Splash Brother Stephen Curry added 17 points and eight assists in Kerr's milestone night (see full recap). 

Antetokounmpo, Terry lead Bucks over Magic
ORLANDO, Fla. — The Milwaukee Bucks got what they have come to expect from 23-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo and an unexpected boost from 40-year-old Jason Terry.

Antetokounmpo scored 32 points and Terry came off the bench to score 11 points in the second half in the Bucks' 111-104 victory over the Orlando Magic on Saturday night.

A couple of 3-pointers by the 40-year-old Terry put the Bucks ahead to stay late in the third quarter, although the game stayed close until Antetokounmpo's three-point play made it 107-100 with 45.7 seconds left.

"I'm not sure a lot of teams have a guy like Giannis," Milwaukee coach Joe Prunty said. "You can go up and down the stat sheet and you know it's going to be filled.

The 6-foot-11 forward had a modest game by his standards, compiling five rebounds, five assists and a couple of blocks (see full recap).

Report: Sixers trade No. 39 pick to Lakers for 2019 2nd-rounder, cash

Report: Sixers trade No. 39 pick to Lakers for 2019 2nd-rounder, cash

The Sixers didn’t wait until draft night to start their wheeling and dealing.

According to a report Wednesday by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Sixers have traded the No. 39 pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for a 2019 second-round pick (via the Chicago Bulls) and cash.

With the Sixers previously holding six total selections in Thursday’s 2018 NBA draft and 11 players already under contract for next season, the team was never going to be able to use all of its picks.

The Sixers now enter the draft with picks Nos. 10 and 26 in the first round and Nos. 38, 56 and 60 in the second round.

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NBA draft profile: Villanova G Jalen Brunson

NBA draft profile: Villanova G Jalen Brunson

Jalen Brunson

Position: Guard

Height: 6-2

Weight: 198

School: Villanova

As Mikal Bridges cements his status as a consensus lottery pick and Donte DiVincenzo’s name becomes hot enough to reportedly receive an invite to the green room of the draft, their Villanova teammate who was the consensus national player of the year has seen his stock remain static.

Jalen Brunson was the leading scorer on Villanova’s national title team last season, pouring in 18.9 points per game while dishing out 4.6 assists. Bunson, a three-year starter and two-time national champ, was also highly-efficient, shooting 52.1 percent from the floor, 40.8 percent from deep and 80.2 percent from the free throw line. And as a result of his remarkable junior season, the Villanova point guard took home a ton of hardware in sweeping the major national player of the year awards.

But, Brunson isn’t considered a surefire first-round pick.

Two of the main reasons for this? His position and age. The point guard position has the greatest depth in the NBA so lead guards don’t tend be high draft picks unless they have All-Star upside. If Bridges was five inches shorter, he wouldn’t have the same kind of value. Teams are starving for rotation three-and-D wings and not so much for high-floor/low-ceiling point guards. 

With Brunson set to turn 22 years old in August, he doesn’t possess the tantalizing upside of the top point guards in this draft like Trae Young, Collin Sexton and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Even so, there's still a place for Brunson in the NBA.

Strengths
As a three-level scorer, Brunson can fill it up in a variety of ways. He has a smooth jumper that extends beyond the three-point line. In the mid-range area, he makes up for his lack of quickness with crafty moves to create separation for pull-ups. On drives, Brunson can initiate contact to draw fouls, contort his body to avoid contests and has good touch around the rim. And believe it or not, the 6-2 guard utilizes his craftiness to be an effective post player as well. 

When Brunson has the ball in his hands, he carries a calming force with him. He plays at his own pace and just always seems in control, rarely committing egregious turnovers or taking bad shots. He's also a willing, talented passer who will make the unselfish extra pass and can also fit the ball into a tight window to a cutter/roller.

Weaknesses
Brunson’s weaknesses have less to do with his skills and more with his physical traits and tools. He’s not an explosive athlete with crazy bounce and doesn’t possess game-changing speed or quickness. So will he be able to create enough space against more athletic wing defenders to penetrate to the rim or get off his pull-up jumper? 

Defensively, Brunson works hard and isn't way undersized as a point guard. But he doesn't have the size to switch across multiple positions and the one position he will defend is deep with high-level talent. He can survive against backups, but how will he fare against quality starters and stars?

NBA comparison
Lefties tend to get compared to other lefties, but I'm passing on the Derek Fisher comp and going with fellow Big 5 alum Jameer Nelson. The St. Joe’s product is shorter and had a little more quickness during his prime, but was a solid starter capable of scoring at all three levels despite some physical limitations. Brunson projects more as a backup but has the ceiling of a player like Nelson.

How’d he fit with the Sixers
Let’s look at the Sixers’ current guards beyond Ben Simmons. Markelle Fultz is an unknown. T.J. McConnell is set to be an unrestricted free agent next summer. And the only others under contract are Jerryd Bayless, Timothe Luwawu-Caborrot and Furkan Korkmaz.

This team needs guard depth, specifically ball handlers and shot creators/makers. While it may not come at an elite level, Brunson could fill both of those needs. And because of his shooting ability, he could also play off the ball as a spot-up shooter and secondary creator alongside Simmons and Fultz.

Draft projection 
A fringe first-rounder, Brunson's range will start right around the Sixers’ second pick at No. 26. If they pass on him there, they shouldn’t count on him still being on the board at their next pick at 38.

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