THIS WEEK IN THE NBA BY MATT VELAZQUEZ
TOP BUCKS PLAYER
Giannis Antetokounmpo kicked off the past week of games with one of his best outputs of the season. He knocked down clutch shots to lead the Bucks to a comeback victory over the Washington Wizards, finishing with 34 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a block in nearly 41 minutes. Over the rest of the week, he averaged 25.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists as the Bucks went 2-2.
BUCKS LOOK AHEAD
The Bucks enter the second-half of their season with a daunting stretch over the next week. They start with a rare, back-to-back set of afternoon games against two of the teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings, first facing Miami at noon Sunday before making their second visit to Washington for a 1 p.m. Monday game. The Bucks will then get a second dose of the Heat at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Wednesday before making their first trip to Philadelphia to face the young, up-and-coming 76ers on Saturday night.
Guard Malcolm Brogdon on holding the Golden State Warriors to 5-of-15 shooting from three-point range: “That’s a team that beats mainly everybody by shooting the three ball. We didn’t let them do that tonight, but we let them beat us by them playing their system and being more disciplined than us.”
TOP NBA PLAYER
Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams has made a name for himself by being an incredible scorer and averaging a career-high 23.1 points per game for the injury-riddled Clippers. This week he went above and beyond all expectations. Over four games, Williams averaged 34.3 points while making nearly 5 three-pointers a game and shooting 46.3% from long range. His crowning achievement was dropping a career-high 50 points on the Warriors on Wednesday, leading the Clippers to a 125-106 win in Oakland. TOP NBA TEAM
The Minnesota Timberwolves are hitting their stride. Jimmy Butler's tenacity, scoring and leadership have started to elevate the team, and their young stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins are making contributions on both ends of the court. Defensively, Minnesota has really demonstrated improvement over the past month.
Top 10: 1. Golden State Warriors, 2. Boston Celtics, 3. Toronto Raptors, 4. Houston Rockets, 5. Minnesota Timberwolves, 6. San Antonio Spurs, 7. Cleveland Cavaliers, 8. Miami Heat, 9. Washington Wizards, 10. Oklahoma City Thunder.
Middle 10: 11. Portland Trail Blazers,
12. Denver Nuggets, 13. Detroit Pistons, 14. New Orleans Pelicans, 15. Milwaukee Bucks, 16. Indiana Pacers,
17. Los Angeles Clippers, 18. Philadelphia 76ers, 19. Charlotte Hornets, 20. New York Knicks.
Bottom 10: 21. Dallas Mavericks, 22. Utah Jazz, 23. Phoenix Suns, 24. Brooklyn Nets, 25. Chicago Bulls, 26. Los Angeles Lakers, 27. Memphis Grizzlies, 28. Sacramento Kings, 29. Atlanta Hawks, 30. Orlando Magic. ONE MAN'S OPINION
I submitted my official All-Star Game ballot on Saturday morning. Like the fan voting, I was only asked to select the starters in each conference, picking two backcourt players and three frontcourt players.
Here's what I came up with:
Eastern Conference: Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James and Joel Embiid.
Those are the five players who are actually leading the fan vote. Western Conference: James Harden, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and LaMarcus Aldridge. I didn't 100% go with the fans this time, though it was close. Before his injury, Harden was with James in the MVP race, so he was a shoe-in. Curry and Durant have been outstanding. The last two spots came down to three players — Davis, Aldridge and DeMarcus Cousins.