Lakers still laughing off Nuggets


The Lakers haven’t been exactly awesome against the Western second place Nuggets this season. They’re 0-2 against Denver this season, and the games haven’t exactly been down to the wire.

But still, the Lakers are nothing if (over-)confident. And despite the fact that we’re now entering the part of the season where they say the games “matter” (as opposed to the rest of the games this season which don’t count towards playoff seeding, apparently), the Lakers’ hubris is as strong as ever. The blessing of being the defending champs, as it were.

Via Kevin Ding’s Twitter account, we get this jewel from Lamar Odom:

They really look forward to playing us. … We just saw it as one more game.”

Well, then. As long as you’re bringing your A-game, Lamar.

And after reading the deep smattering of dismissals from essentially everyone on the Lakers not named Josh Powell from Chris Tomasson, it’s apparent that LO is not the only Laker that refuses to admit the Nuggets may be a legitimate rival.

Tomasson notes that it will take a loss in the playoffs for the Lakers to take Denver seriously, which is spot on. The Denver series was about the least competitive six game series you can have. But this season seems different. The Nuggets are deeper, and have been more impressive in their wins over LA, even if they were in the regular season.

The Lakers can coast as long as they want as long they turn it on when April comes around. Still, you have to wonder, yet again, about the mental intensity of the team if they sleepwalk their way through every game with a contending team.

Then you remember this team got taken to the woodshed in three games against the Rockets (two without Yao) and still won the title. This isn’t a dominant team. And that ring on their finger means they’ve earned the right to dismiss anyone they want for now.

76ers tie NBA-record losing streak, dropping heartbreaker to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas, T.J. McConnell
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After a rare period of on-court competence, the 76ers led the Celtics by five with two minutes left tonight.

Then, Philadelphia snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The 76ers yielded a 9-0 run to close an 84-80 setback.

They’re now 0-16. Combined with their 0-10 finish to last season, that’s a 26-game losing streak – tied for longest in NBA history. Last year’s 76ers already shared the record.

Philadelphia is also in danger of the worst start to a season. The 2009-10 New Jersey Nets began 0-18, and last year’s 76ers won only one game sooner.

The 76ers will try to avoid the all-time longest streak at the Rockets on Friday. If that goes unsuccessfully, they’ll try to avoid matching the worst season start at the Grizzlies on Sunday. And if both fail, they could set the worst-start record against the Lakers on Tuesday.

76ers-Lakers – it’s shaping up to be a big one.

Timberwolves read mean tweets about themselves (video)

Flip Saunders, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones
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The Timberwolves didn’t select the meanest tweets about these players, but credit Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones, Shabazz Muhammad and Zach LaVine for being good sports.

LeBron James: I’m healthier than a year ago


LeBron James received an injection in his back before the season.

It’s working.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

LeBron James now says he feels better than he did even a year ago.

“I feel better in the mornings; I feel better throughout the games; I feel better throughout the day,” James said before a Cavs shootaround Wednesday in preparation for their game against the Toronto Raptors. “It was a rough start to the season for me last year and for our team. Obviously the way we’ve been playing, a lot is predicated on my health and being able to lead these guys out on the floor and not from the sidelines.”

LeBron certainly looks healthier than he did at this point last year. He’s moving much better and giving more effort.

But comparing November to November means very little for the Cavaliers, who hope to play deep into June.

The key question: Did LeBron properly time his injection? There’s a limit on the number he can have in a year, and it takes time to recover after one. Cleveland doesn’t want LeBron to peak to early.

It’s good for the Cavs that LeBron feels better now, but his health in the playoffs remains the priority.

Report: Suns signing Bryce Cotton

Bryce Cotton
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Eric Bledsoe missed the Suns’ loss to the Spurs on Monday with a knee injury.

So, Phoenix is bringing in a reinforcement – Bryce Cotton.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Jazz waived Cotton before the season despite Dante Exum‘s injury leaving them with just two other healthy point guards. That says something about Cotton – but also Utah’s depth.

Cotton – who went undrafted out of Providence last year – is quick, varies his speed well and can leap. There’s reason to believe in his potential at age 23. But his 6-foot-1 frame limits him defensively, and he’s not much of a distributor.

Phoenix will rely on Brandon Knight and Ronnie Price at point guard if Bledsoe is unavailable. The Suns can also use fewer two-point guard lineups – giving more minutes at shooting guard to Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin and Sunny Weems.

Cotton provides insurance while Bledsoe is banged-up with what seems to be a minor injury. But he might have to show something to keep drawing an NBA paycheck once Bledsoe gets healthy.