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Chris Paul, Steven Adams, Dennis Schroder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari are a makeshift group of players. Three are in their first seasons with the Thunder. Four are possible trade candidates. But the five have formed the best lineup in the NBA, according to the net rating of lineups that have played a minimum of 100 minutes. And it’s not close. With Paul, Schroder and Gilgeous-Alexander sharing backcourt duties, Gallinari stretching the floor as a power forward and Adams manning the paint, the Thunder is outscoring opponents by 31.4 points per 100 possessions. Oklahoman

That’s a lesson in how Marc Gasol approaches basketball, too. Before the hamstring injury, Gasol had played some of the strangest basketball of his career, or at least, the most deliberate. He still found cutters with next-level passes, still rebounded, still defended with his enormous body and bigger basketball brain. He is such a unique, valuable player. But he didn’t shoot. Gasol attempted 8.2 field goals per 36 minutes in his first 27 games, the lowest number of his career, and a little more than half the rate in his final two seasons in Memphis. His free-throw rate is a career low, too. His usage number, which combines field-goal and free-throw attempts plus turnovers, was the lowest of his 13-year career, too. Toronto Star

When the Bulls drafted 19-year-old Coby White in the first-round last June, they didn’t expect he would be ready to step right in as the starting point guard. As it turns out, White hasn’t been playing much point guard at all, instead used mostly as a scorer off the bench while paired with either Kris Dunn or Ryan Arcidiacono. The rookie from North Carolina has turned in some outstanding games, outdueling Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant in the second game of the regular season with 25 points in a Bulls win. NBC Sports Chicago


Any potential second-half playoff surge the Pistons could possibly muster this winter is looking more and more unlikely. The limping Pistons lost season took another blow as Luke Kennard could be out another month because of knee tendinitis, coach Dwane Casey said. “They said somewhere around All-Star break, I’m not sure,” Casey said of the break, which starts Feb. 12. “We’ve had so many injuries. I get this guy’s injury mixed up with that guy’s injury. Just hope that you have (Kennard) because he’s a big piece if what we’re trying to do.” Detroit News

The Cleveland Cavaliers said guard/forward Dylan Windler will miss the rest of the season because of a lower left leg injury.

Forget NyQuil ... Bad Bunny is apparently the perfect cure for the flu -- 'cause after he brought LeBron James onstage Sunday -- the Lakers star looked magically cured!!! LBJ has been battling a bad cold this past week ... and he was feeling so crappy over the weekend, he missed L.A.'s game against the Thunder on Saturday.


It’s just the Hawks’ luck that as go-to scorer and playmaker Trae Young was ruled out with left hamstring pain, Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving returned to the court for the first time since Nov. 14. Young paves the way for Atlanta on offense, with his absence putting the Hawks in a tough spot — they couldn’t get much of anything going in an anemic 108-86 loss to the Nets Sunday in Brooklyn. Falling to 8-32, the Hawks continue to own the worst record in the NBA and are dead last in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Washington Wizards made several roster moves Sunday morning to bulk up their injury-ravaged roster. Washington waived injured forward CJ Miles and converted the two-way contract of 24-year-old center Anzejs Pasecniks to a three-year NBA deal with the free roster spot. The Wizards then used the open two-way contract slot to re-sign forward Johnathan Williams, bringing him back to the team a week after it waived him. After the moves, the Wizards (13-26) remain at 17 players, with 15 on the NBA roster and Williams and rookie Garrison Mathews on two-way deals. Washington Post

Bradley Beal and Thomas Bryant returned to the Washington Wizards’ lineup Sunday afternoon, but more bodies didn’t equate to better basketball. In the Wizards’ 127-116 loss to the Utah Jazz at Capital One Arena, the visitors flipped a switch in the second half and dulled Washington’s light. Utah, which shot 53.3 percent from the field overall, outscored the Wizards 72-50 over the final two quarters to erase an 11-point halftime deficit. Washington operated smoothly in the first half and knocked down nearly 62 percent of it shot attempts, but it shot under 40 percent for the rest of the game. Washington Post

The Toronto Raptors have seemingly spent all season scrambling to survive while dealing with one injury after another to their core rotation of players. That, however, is finally starting to change. Pascal Siakam (groin) and Norman Powell (shoulder) both returned from injury Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs. Both are playing for the first time since suffering the injuries in the same game Dec. 18 in Detroit. Marc Gasol -- who suffered a hamstring strain in the same game -- didn't return Sunday, but is close after being initially listed as questionable to play.

The Grizzlies erased that concern by outscoring the Warriors by 18 in the third quarter and cruising to a 122-102 win over Golden State at FedExForum. Memphis improved to 18-22 with the win — its fifth straight — and kept its lead on San Antonio for the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings. Jonas Valanciunas paced the Grizzlies with 31 points and 19 rebounds against a Warriors team (9-32) that had no answer for his bruising style in its eighth straight loss. Memphis Commercial Appeal

Saturday marked a turning of the page in the Timberwolves schedule. Entering that game against Houston, seven of the Wolves’ previous 10 games were against teams currently out of playoff position. Saturday marked the first of a stretch of eight of nine games against teams in line to make the playoffs at their current pace. The beginning of this chapter of the Wolves’ season didn’t get off to the best of starts. Houston dominated them for a 139-109 victory. Star Tribune


Kyrie Irving is expected to make his return to the Brooklyn Nets lineup Sunday against the Atlanta Hawks, league sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Irving has been out since mid-November with a right shoulder injury. He recently returned to 5-on-5 workouts in practice and is preparing for his return Sunday in Brooklyn.

With LeBron James and Anthony Davis sitting out the same game for the first time all season, there was a new big two for the Los Angeles Lakers in Saturday's 125-110 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder: Rajon Rondo and Kyle Kuzma. The pair combined for 57 points -- 4.5 points more than James' and Davis' combined averages, mind you -- as L.A. led by as many as 32 points and extended its winning streak to eight games, taking down a Thunder team that came into the night having won 11 of their last 13. "I knew it was going to be about another 54 extra shots and Kuz was going to take 45 of those," Rondo, who scored a season-high 21 points to go with 12 rebounds and eight assists, deadpanned. "So I knew I was going to have at least nine more to get up and be a little aggressive."

James Harden scored 32 points in three quarters to surpass 20,000, and the Houston Rockets rolled to an easy 139-109 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday. Not everything went smoothly for Harden, though, as he turned the ball over 11 times in the first half, marking the most turnovers in a half by any player in the past 20 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The only other player to have 10 in a half in the past 20 seasons was Gilbert Arenas on Nov. 10, 2009, in the second half against the Heat. Harden became the first player this season with a points-rebounds-turnovers "triple-double," and he did it by halftime. It was done five times in a game last season.

EuroLeague: First-place Anadolu Efes Istanbul made another statement at Palau Blaugrana by edging host FC Barcelona 82-86 on Friday as Shane Larkin picked up another MVP of the Round honor. In a high-profile collision that went down to the wire, Larkin posted a game-high 26 points, going 4-for-6 on two-pointers, 3-for-8 from the three-point arc and 9-for-9 at the foul line. He added 5 assists, 2 steals and 9 fouls drawn. His 4 perfect free throws broke an 82-82 tie in the final 32 seconds. Larkin's performance index rating of 35 was the best on a winning team in Round 18.


Los Angeles Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka has agreed to a multiyear contract extension, league sources told ESPN. The Lakers announced Friday that they had promoted Pelinka to the VP title, and sources say that included the negotiation of an extension onto the original five-year deal Pelinka signed in 2017.

Pelinka had been hired as the GM under former president Magic Johnson, who resigned in April. Pelinka has played a role in calming the tumult surrounding the Lakers in the aftermath of Johnson's departure and moving the franchise back into the elite of the NBA.

Paul George will not travel to Denver with the LA Clippers this weekend and will miss at least two games with a strained left hamstring. George sat out Friday night's game against the Golden State Warriors and will miss Sunday's game at Denver after suffering the injury in practice on Wednesday, according to head coach Doc Rivers.

"He's making progress," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said of Zion Williamson on Friday morning. "He's practicing. He's playing 5-on-5. We're trying to gauge exactly when it would be a good situation to put him out there. Even when we do, it'll be very limited minutes to start." Williamson hasn't played since Oct. 13 in the preseason, when he put up 22 points and 10 rebounds against the San Antonio Spurs. It was after the contest with the Spurs that the rookie first started to feel pain in his right knee. An MRI later showed damage to his meniscus. He underwent surgery on Oct. 21, the day before the regular season commenced.

Joel Embiid had successful surgery Friday afternoon in New York for a torn radial collateral ligament of the fourth metacarpal on his left hand, a team source told NBC Sports Philadelphia. The Sixers' center will be re-evaluated in 1-2 weeks. Embiid was in New York on Thursday night during the Sixers' win over the Boston Celtics, though he FaceTimed into the team's locker room after the game. NBC Sports Philly

As for when Stephen Curry will return for game action, Kerr told Yahoo! Sports' Chris Haynes that the guard should expect to return sometime in March. Curry's injury, along with fellow guard Klay Thompson's knee rehab, has caused the Warriors to slip to a 9-30 record entering Friday evening. Despite the extended absences, Kerr said both are in good spirits under the circumstances. "They're just rehabbing and doing their best to stay engaged and stay positive and staying positive but it's frustrating," he said. "They're doing their best and they want to play. NBC Sports Bay Area

The Pistons had until Wednesday to apply for the DPE. Now they'll await the NBA's decision to either approve or deny the claim. Larry Coon's NBA Salary Cap FAQ defines the process: "This exception is granted by the league, based on an application from the team and a determination by an NBA-designated physician or Fitness to Play panel that the player is substantially more likely than not to be unable to play through the following June 15." Detroit Free Press

Bruno Caboclo knew the $1.5 million day was coming sometime this month, but he was not exactly sure when. Then the 24-year-old Grizzlies forward received a message from a friend offering congratulations. "I didn't know why," he said. It didn't take long for Caboclo to figure it out. As 4 p.m. passed on Tuesday, Caboclo's contract became guaranteed for the 2019-20 season and more kudos flooded in before the Grizzlies played the Timberwolves at FedExForum. Commercial Appeal


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