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Let’s start things off today by throwing right to Shams.
Two pieces of big news for you.
First, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association are progressing toward reaching a new collective bargaining agreement, sources with knowledge of both sides tell The Athletic.Both sides have extended their mutual opt-out deadline. It’s now March 31 to reach agreement on a new CBA, have one party opt out or again extend the process. The NBPA has informed the league office that it is their goal to complete a deal in March, according to sources. Sources say there’s been significant progress made in recent weeks, generating hope that a deal is within reach.
More details in our story about the negotiations at The Athletic.
The NBA and NBPA are progressing toward agreement on a new CBA, sources tell @ShamsCharania.
◽️ New luxury-tax tiers
◽️ Lowering the NBA Draft age eligibility
◽️ Increasing contract extension limits
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) February 27, 2023
Additionally, Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry has an agreement to sell his stake to Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam for a $3.5 billion valuation, sources tell The Athletic.Haslam will join current co-owner Wes Edens. The acquisition comes after Haslam attended Bucks games throughout the months-long process of Lasry deciding whether to sell his stake. Sources with knowledge of Lasry’s plans said he will continue pursuing business opportunities in sports, including the potential ownership of another team.
Dame scored 70, and that’s still amazing
For the second time this season, a player crossed the 70-point barrier. That doesn’t even feel like it should be legal, but Damian Lillard made it a reality Sunday night. Facing the unserious Rockets, Lillard put on a rare display … that we saw from Donovan Mitchell almost two months ago.
Lillard is the eighth player to ever crack 70. Of course, Wilt Chamberlain achieved the mark six times. But Lillard’s outburst had its own distinctions:At 32 years and 226 days old, Lillard is the oldest to score at least 70. David Robinson is now second. Lillard shot 22-of-38, the second-fewest attempts in a 70-point game. He was 14-of-14 from the free throw line, the fewest attempts among all 70-point games. You guessed the flipside stat. His 13 made 3-pointers are tied for the second-most in a game, ever. He’s the sixth player to hit a dozen 3s in a game. His five from at least 30 feet are tied for the most since the league started tracking data in 1996-97. He’s now averaging 41 in his last dozen games. Kobe Bryant and James Harden are the only others since the ABA-NBA merger to enjoy similarly hot stretches.
Let’s not yawn at this. Just because scoring is up and we’ve had 148 40-point games, doesn’t mean this achievement should be taken for granted. The NBA has multiple 70-pointers in a season for the first time since Wilt pulled off three in 1962-63.
Regardless of trends, 70 is absurd.
Go back to Kings–Clippers again — and again
This was an inconceivable weekend of basketball. Let’s recap Friday night, when the Kings and Clippers had a showdown with 3-seed implications. The Clippers were up 145-131 with about four minutes left in regulation (yes, those are real numbers) before De’Aaron Fox and the Kings came storming back. Sacramento forced four consecutive turnovers before the game reached overtime tied at 153.
By the time the dust settled, the victorious Kings got 42 from Fox and 45 off the bench from Malik Monk, as this game had the second-highest score in NBA history, 176-175 in double-overtime. Fox and Monk became the seventh duo to record 40 points and five assists apiece in the same game.
Fox and Monk said they don’t “give a BLEEP” who is against them. They’re here too. The Kings are on pace for the best offensive rating in NBA history and have a three-game lead for the 3-seed.
Power Rankings: Kings are the highest they’ve been this season.
BasketBuds: Kings-Clippers discussion with myself, Travonne Edwards and Mo Dakhil.
Best NBA moment from this weekend?
-Kings-Clippers 2OT (2nd highest-scoring game ever)
-Tatum GW, Embiid's WILD shot that didn't count
-Lakers 27-point comeback vs. Mavs
-Dame 71 PTS
-PG late on GW shot, Nuggets win in OT pic.twitter.com/czcBgQy4Ku
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 27, 2023
Bucks are still winning
Giannis Antetokounmpo left early Friday, but it didn’t stop the Bucks from stomping Miami for their 13th straight win. Now, after a Giannis-less showdown on Sunday against the Suns, it’s 14.
That’s tied for the fourth-longest win streak in franchise history. Milwaukee is a half game behind Boston for the NBA’s best record.
Around the rest of the East:
And the West
What was Harden doing here?
At the end of Celtics-Sixers Saturday night, Boston ran a fantastic inbound play to get Jayson Tatum a chance. He coldly knocked down a 3-point shot.
JT's game winner is tonight's @JetBlue Play of the Game 👌🏽 pic.twitter.com/JCcL8Qcib3
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 26, 2023
Here’s the insane thing: James Harden flubbed it. The 14-year veteran decided to hug up on Marcus Smart – a 33 percent 3-point shooter who wasn’t even facing the basket, 40-plus feet away.
By the time Tatum gathered into his shot, Harden decided to do the “fake hustle through a crosswalk with a car waiting to turn” effort, never really imposing himself enough for Tatum to even know a second defender was nearby.
It’s not like we’re expecting much from Harden defensively, but please make Smart beat you from 40-plus feet.
What are the Wolves waiting for? Jon Krawczynski looks at their disappointing effort and direction.
Speaking of waiting, Lillard told his teammates there is no more. It has to happen now.
Andy Larsen writes the Jazz are still focused on growth.
Brook Lopez has had a remarkable mid-career development, via Robby Kalland.
Jon Greenberg writes that Mac McClung’s agent is now having a Jerry Maguire moment.
Chris Fedor says the Cavs have to stop ignoring Evan Mobley in the fourth quarter.
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(Photo: Alika Jenner / Getty Images)