The Los Angeles Clippers have been rumored to be sellers come the trade deadline, but after signing Blake Griffin to a five-year extension this past July, the leader of Lob City was not a candidate to be dealt. Well, on Monday night, the Clippers changed things up in a big way by dealing Griffin to the Detroit Pistons for a whole slew of players. That list included Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, and two draft picks, one first-round pick and one second-rounder. The Clippers also added Willie Reed and Brice Johnson to even out the money aspect, This move gives the Pistons a legitimate star on their roster for the first time in a long while, allowing them to hopefully attract talent in the future. They have Griffin locked up for four more years, and they will most likely use him to help them come free agency. This also pairs the former Oklahoma Sooner with Andre Drummond, who many feel was snubbed from the All-Star Game. The move also seems like a desperation attempt from Stan Van Gundy to get his team back in the playoff picture, as they sit 2.5 games behind the Philadelphia 76ers for the final playoff spot in the East and on a current eight-game losing streak. Meanwhile, the Clippers are still expected to shop stars Lou Williams and DeAndre Jordan, but claim they are not tanking, just re-shaping their roster.
Irving Helps Celtics Hold Off Nuggets
The Boston Celtics' west coast road trip has been a challenging one, which is not surprising given the competitive nature of the Western Conference. They were in another tough contest on Monday night, and it was Kyrie Irving who took over down the stretch. Irving scored 10 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Celtics to a close 111-110 win over the Denver Nuggets. Jaylen Brown hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 34 seconds left, as Will Barton's long three-point attempt was short and Torrey Craig's tip-in was late for Denver. Boston seemed to be comfortably ahead when leading by 20, but a Nuggets' rally made it another close contest. The Celtics have lost three games by four points or less in the past two weeks, but Irving's 11-of-17 shooting and Jayson Tatum's 20 points helped them survive this test. Nikola Jokic had a double-double of 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, while Barton finished with 19 in their 24th loss, as they fell to 19-7 on their home floor. It was the second win for Boston over Denver this season, as they move on to host the New York Knicks on Wednesday night. The Nuggets are back at it on Tuesday when they visit the San Antonio Spurs.
Giannis, Bucks Get Best of Sixers
If the playoffs were to start today, then Monday's matchup in Milwaukee was a battle of playoff teams. This one went to the Greek Freak, who had 31 points and 18 rebounds in the Bucks' 107-95 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bucks outscored the Sixers by 10 in the second half, helped out by Matthew Dellavedova scoring all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter. The win was the fourth in a row for Milwaukee, who, at 27-22, is looking more and more like a threat in the East. They are doing this under interim coach Joe Prunty, who took over for the fired Jason Kidd. Philadelphia was playing without Joel Embiid, who was out for rest, as he has not yet played back-to-back nights this season. Dario Saric led the Sixers with 19 points, but his team shot just 2-of-26 from beyond the arc. Ben Simmons added 16 points for Philly, who still holds the final playoff spot in the East, 2.5 games ahead of the struggling Detroit Pistons. Giannis Antetokounmpo's performance was his 22nd double-double of the season, as he leads his team into a road matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night. The Sixers move on to Brooklyn to take on the lowly Nets.