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Raptors nip Nets on Patterson’s steal, hoop



NEW YORK — Patrick Patterson hasn’t played football since he was at Huntington High School in West Virginia, but the 6-foot-9 forward looked like a Pro Bowl defensive back in the waning seconds of the Toronto Raptors’ 104-103 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night at the Barclays Center.

“Me, Richard Sherman, Ed Reed, we’re all in the same category,” the playful Patterson said.

Patterson not only stole guard Deron Williams inbound pass with 10.9 seconds remaining, but he also sank the game-winning 12-foot jumper for Toronto, which won for the third time in four games.

Patterson, who scored 15 points off the bench, gained some personal redemption after an air ball on a 3-point attempt with 42.9 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter that would have given the Raptors the lead.

“That felt great,” Patterson said. “I was saying to myself after that air ball it would have been a perfect opportunity to pump-fake, one dribble and pull up, but I’m thankful I had another opportunity.”

Kyle Lowry torched the Nets for 31 points — one shy of his season high — on 10-of-18 shooting, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range. However, the guard’s biggest play came on his seventh assist, when he found Patterson in the closing seconds.

“Honestly, it would have been tough passes to others,” said Lowry, who also had five rebounds, five steals and buried a 48-footer to beat the halftime buzzer. “It was the safest pass for me, and I have confidence in Pat. He shot the air ball earlier in the corner, but I have confidence he is going to make that shot every time.”

Toronto center Jonas Valanciunas had 20 points and 13 rebounds while playing stellar defense against future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett (six points). Guard Greivis Vasquez had 12, and swingman Terrence Ross added 10 points for the Raptors (23-21). Toronto was playing without leading scorer DeMar DeRozan, who missed the game due to a sprained left foot.

“It takes a whole village to win the game, and we did,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “We knew that. It took everybody tonight, and everybody that stepped on the court contributed.”

Paul Pierce scored a season-high 33 points, including three 3-pointers as part of a 15-2 run for the Nets (20-23) in the fourth quarter. The veteran guard knocked down seven treys, but he missed a desperation heave as time expired.

“He was great, he was great on both ends,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said of Pierce. “That’s a veteran guy understanding the magnitude of a game like this at home against a team that’s in front of you. He definitely had a big game.”

Forward Andray Blatche came off the bench to score 20 points, and guard Joe Johnson added 12 points for Brooklyn, which had its season-high, five-game winning streak snapped.

“It’s tough,” Pierce said. “We fought so hard to come back, but we put ourselves in a bad position. We got down late, we got down in the fourth quarter and we had to claw our way back. We gave ourselves a chance to win. Sometimes that’s all you can ask for. We just didn’t execute properly down the stretch.”

Toronto did, though, in an airtight battle between the top two teams in the Atlantic Division that featured 18 lead changes and nine ties.

“It’s just all about our toughness, our resiliency,” Patterson said. “No matter who is out there during the course of the game, no matter who’s not playing, the guys on this team, we step up every single night and we put our hearts on the line.”

NOTES: Toronto G DeMar DeRozan, who sprained his left foot in the third quarter Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers, missed his first game since April 26, 2012. The Raptors’ leading scorer (21.8 points per game) did not make the trip, snapping a streak of 125 consecutive starts dating back to Oct. 31, 2012. DeRozan has missed just eight games in five seasons with the Raptors. … Also out for Toronto was F Landry Fields (right wrist surgery). … Several players from the Seattle Seahawks watched the game from a Barclays Center suite. Cornerback Richard Sherman sat courtside. … The Nets are the first team since the 1995-96/1996-97 Chicago Bulls to start January 10-1 or better in back-to-back years, according to Elias Sports Bureau. … The Nets remain in Brooklyn to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night. … The Raptors return to Toronto to play the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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Jazz agree to trade Derrick Favors, first-round pick to Thunder



First reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Utah Jazz are trading power forward/center Derrick Favors and a first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a future second-round pick. The goal here was to help reduce their tax bill. While the six-foot-eight Georgia native does not have any notable NBA awards or honors on his basketball résumé, in the 2020-21 NBA season, Favors averaged 5.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, and a field goal percentage of 63.8 percent. The 11-year NBA veteran also recorded a free throw shooting percentage of 73.8 percent last season.

The 2020-21 Thunder finished 27-50 (.306), ranking 14th overall in the Western Conference. They could use another first-round pick. Plus, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks, this trade will put Utah $13 million below the luxury tax. On November 24, 2020, Favors signed a three-year, $29.2 million contract with the Jazz. Favors is set to earn $9,720,900 next season. This is the second time in his career he has left the Jazz.

He played with them from the 2010-11 season to the 2018-19 season, before he was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans on July 7, 2019 for a 2021 second-round pick and a 2023 second-round pick. For the 2022-23 season, he has a player option of $10,183,800. The Jazz plan to also re-sign Mike Conley, so this was somewhat of a drastic move to help clear up cap space. On July 6, 2019, Conley was traded by the Memphis Grizzlies to the Jazz, in exchange for Grayson Allen, Darius Bazley, Kyle Korver, and a 2020 first-round pick.

Moreover, scoring-wise, the 33-year-old point guard has not lived up to his performances from his last few seasons on the Grizzlies, but the Jazz need all the help they can get. Jazz general manager Justin Zanik will make it a top priority to re-sign Conley here soon. Conley earned $34,504,132 in the 2020-21 season.

According to Spotrac, Conley has a cap figure of $39,344,900. Center Rudy Gobert and shooting guard Donovan Mitchell have a combined percentage of 47.61 percent of Utah’s total salary cap. On December 20, 2020, Gobert signed a five year, $205 million extension with the team. He will earn $35,344,828 next season.

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Wizards, Lakers agree to Russell Westbrook and Three-Player Trade Deal



The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed with the Washington Wizards to acquire Russell Westbrook in a three-player trade, sending Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and the No. 22 pick in Thursday’s 2021 NBA Draft to the Wizards. According to ESPN, the Wizards are also giving up their 2024 and 2028 second-round picks as well. During last night’s draft, at pick No. 22, the Lakers sent Wildcats’ center Isaiah Jackson to the Pacers via the Wizards. At pick No. 15, the Wizards drafted Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert. In the second round, at pick No. 31, the Milwaukee Bucks traded NBA G League player Isaiah Todd to the Wizards via the Pacers.

On Thursday, Harrell decided to pursue his $9.7 million player option for next season. Yesterday, rumors surfaced across social media regarding a possible Lakers-Kings trade involving Harrell. Despite the outlandish predictions and mindless speculation from fans over these last couple of days, this trade move could work out great for both teams.

After all, Westbrook is a 9-time NBA All-Star and three-time assists leader. In his MVP season back in the 2016-17 season, over the course of 81 games, he averaged a career-high 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. On Twitter, Westbrook tweeted, “I’m blessed to have been a part of such a stand up organization. It didn’t take long to make a home in DC, and I will forever be grateful and appreciative of my experience with the organization. Thank you!”

In the 2020-21 NBA season, Caldwell-Pope averaged 9.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game in 67 games started for the Lakers. The 28-year-old shooting guard will make $13 million next season. As for Kuzma, in 68 games played last season, he averaged 12.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. Kuzma is set to earn $13 million next season. For Harrell, in 69 games played last season, he averaged 13.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game. The six-foot-seven power forward/center is also a six-year player. Instead of having one or two notable super stars, the Wizards having several contributing players might work out better in their favor.

Last season, in 65 games played in his only season spent on the Wizards, Westbrook averaged 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 11.7 assists. The 32-year-old point guard finished the 2020-21 season with 38 triple-doubles, ranking first in the league and second highest in his own playing career. Westbrook also surpassed Oscar Robertson last season for the most all-time assists; Robertson accumulated 181 triple-doubles in 14 seasons. Now, the two-time NBA scoring champion has 184 career triple-doubles, the most all-time for any player. Furthermore, this is Westbrook’s fourth team in his NBA career.

He is the fifth former MVP in league history to play on four different teams over the course of four seasons or less, adding to the existent list of Bob McAdoo, Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Derrick Rose. Moreover, on December 2, 2020, Westbrook was traded by the Houston Rockets to the Wizards for John Wall and a 2023 first-round draft pick. He is set to earn $44.2 million in the upcoming season. His player option for the 2022-23 season is $47 million. This trade deal will not be official until August 6th.

Per Bovada’s NBA Futures odds, the Lakers now have +300 odds of winning their eighteenth championship in the 2021-22 season. This is a move from 4/1 odds before the trade, leaping the Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors, and they now have the second best odds behind the Brooklyn Nets (+250). Westbrook also has the best odds of leading the league in assists next season, with first place odds showing EVEN. He is ahead of James Harden (+150), Trae Young (+450), and Luka Doncic (+600). With +6600 odds, he also ranks 19th in the NBA for next season’s MVP odds, trailing Lakers’ teammates such as James (+1200) and Davis (+2800).

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Mike D’Antoni to step away as Nets assistant coach



On Wednesday evening, the Brooklyn Nets organization announced that assistant coach Mike D’Antoni would not be returning to Steve Nash’s coaching staff for the 2021-22 NBA season. Coach D’Antoni is deciding to step down from his position after one season spent with the organization. The reason D’Antoni is deciding to leave the team is unknown. In late June, D’Antoni met with the Portland Trail Blazers for the vacant head-coaching position; he was interviewed twice.

From ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the 70-year-old veteran coach is still seeking to pursue another job as head coach. Coach Nash commented on the story stating, “I will forever be grateful for his guidance and will carry on a lifetime of lessons from the many years we’ve spent together. Our players and staff all benefited from this time in Brooklyn and we wish Mike, Laurel, and their family the very best in what lies ahead.” This news has personally shocked Nash, considering their history together.

In his 16-year NBA head coaching career, D’Antoni’s W-L record is 718-555 (.564). Despite never winning an NBA championship, D’Antoni won the 2005 Coach of the Year award with the Phoenix Suns when Nash was his star point guard, and he won his second award while coaching the Houston Rockets in 2017. The 2004-05 Suns finished 62-20 (.756), ranking first in the Pacific Division and first overall in the Western Conference. However, the Suns went on to lose four games to one against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.

The 2017-18 Rockets ended their season 65-17 (.793), ranking first in the Southwest Division and first in the Western Conference Finals. Though, once again, D’Antoni’s team came up short, losing in Game 7 versus the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Coach D’Antoni was also the NBA All-Star Game head coach in 2007 and 2018. Moreover, the Nets lost another assistant coach this offseason after the Boston Celtics hired Ime Udoka to become their next head coach. On July 9, 2021, the Nets hired former Trail Blazers assistant coach David Vanterpool to their coaching staff.

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