Good morning. Let's basketball.
ROOK WEEK PART 2! Zito Madu on how D'Angelo Russell defeated his coach. Jason Patt on how Philly can succeed with Jahlil Okafor despite his flaws. Tim Cato talks to Mario Hezonja about his famous self-confidence surviving Scott Skiles. Paul Flannery and I suss out where this nascent draft class might someday rank. More awesome stories from the network blogs in our Rook Week supergroup.
ETERNAL DUNK CONTEST! Remember how Zach LaVine hit a 360 dunk the other day? Aaron Gordon responded with a magnificent windmill on Tuesday. This dunk contest will literally never end!
OOF: Jordan Clarkson crossed up Evan Fournier so bad Larry Nance Jr. decided to re-enact Fournier falling down on the bench. After the game, Metta World Peace explained why the Lakers are so fierce right now.
SCORES GALORE ...
BKN 99, TOR 104
SAS 116, MIN 91
NYK 94, DEN 110
ATL 91, UTA 84
WAS 109, POR 116 (OT)
ORL 98, LAL 107
LOTTERY WATCH: There's basically no reasonable way Philadelphia will finish with anything but the league's worst record, so the Sixers will have the best shot at No. 1 and a guaranteed top-four pick. The Lakers, despite recent wins, are still in good position for the second-worst record, which would give them 55 percent odds of keeping their top-three protected pick. This is only because Phoenix has won two straight games, bringing them to 17 wins compared to L.A.'s 14.
Brooklyn has 18 wins, but their pick goes to Boston so there's no incentive whatsoever to lose. Minnesota is in solid position to finish with the league's fifth-worst record (20 wins right now). After that, it's a mess: six teams have between 24 and 27 wins. There could be some real jockeying among those squads (New Orleans, Sacramento, New York, Orlando, Denver and Milwaukee) as we approach April, though the Knicks don't have their own pick and the Kings only keep their own if it stays in the top 10.
ON THE AIR TONIGHT: ESPN has Grizzlies-Celtics (7 p.m. ET) followed by a critical Thunder-Clippers game (9:30).
Take care of yourselves and each other. See you next time.