The most predictable game, ever


We all knew the Lakers were going to slaughter the Wolves last night. You, me, your cousin Vinny, your mailman, the stoner who changes your oil at Jiffy Lube, your third grade science teacher, and this guy.

What’s funny is that reading ye old blogosphere this morning is how resoundingly according to form the game was. Enthusiastic, informed writers? Beaten into simply saying “It was exactly what you’d expect.” Basically, last night was a Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy. You know exactly what you’re going to get. You may be happy (“Yay, Lakers win!”) or sad (“Boo, the Timberwolves lost AND are a complete joke whose best player refuses to cross the Atlantic for them!”), but you knew what was going to happen, and then it happened.

Here’s some choice examples of what I’m talking about.

“As for other events on the court tonight, it was all more or less as
expected. The Wolves are atrocious. The Lakers don’t need to exert
themselves to beat Minnesota, and sure enough they didn’t. They built an
11-point lead in the first quarter, lost it by the middle of the third,
quickly recovered with a 12-0 run and cruised from there. A forgettable
night at the office. Don’t forget to clock out when you’re done.”- Silver Screen and Roll

“Now, back to the recap.The Lakers won.  The end. Oh, you want more than that?  Well then, the Lakers played the type
of game we’ve come to expect from them when they play a team like
Minnesota.  When the Lakers don’t feel threatened in a game or feel like
they can’t really lose to a team, they let their guard down.  They let
lesser opponents hang around and stay within striking distance, because
in the end their talent will win out.  And that is exactly what happened
tonight.” –Forum Blue and Gold

“There isn’t much to say about rotations, coaching, and effort against
the Lakers.  They are a bigger, stronger, and more
talented team.” – Canis Hoopus

Well, then. You know how late in the season we are? It’s not even worth the effort to point out that the Lakers let a bad team hang around. Because, really, that’s nothing new. The only important news to come out of the game was what we told you last night about Andrew Bynum’s achilles strain. We’ll keep you updated on his test results the minute they become available.

Ricky Rubio did not play for Minnesota.

Kobe Bryant went from DeMar DeRozan’s idol to his friend

Kobe Bryant, DeMar DeRozan
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TORONTO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan was 16 when he was invited to Kobe Bryant‘s camp for the top 25 American high school shooting guards.

A friendship grew between the youngster who would become an All-Star for the Toronto Raptors and the player who would become the third-leading scorer in NBA history.

DeRozan talked at length Sunday night about Bryant, who announced on The Players’ Tribune that he’ll retire after the season, capping a 20-year NBA career.

“The knowledge that he tended to give me every time I got the chance to be around him, especially at a young age, carrying over to the league, it was definitely an honor,” DeRozan said after the Raptors’ 107-102 loss Sunday night to Phoenix. “I tried to listen as much as possible, soak in as much as I could all of the time. It’s crazy how much time flies.”

Bryant was DeRozan’s favorite player while growing up in Compton, Calif.

“I’ve tried to emulate and learn so much from him ever since I was a kid, watching every single game growing up in Los Angeles, having a chance to get with him and learn from him, from conversations even when I was in high school from playing against him, completing against him, being in big games with him,” said DeRozan, who scored 29 points in Sunday’s loss. “It’s definitely a sad, sad day, but he’s been in the game a long time.”

Bryant’s announcement came just before the Lakers’ game against the visiting Indiana Pacers. Fans at the game received a letter of thanks from the 37-year-old player in a black envelope embossed with gold.

Bryant has struggled mightily with injuries the past several years, and is shooting a career-worst 32 percent this season.

“It don’t matter. That man has five rings, 17 all-stars, MVP,” DeRozan said. “There’s nothing he hasn’t done. It’s just father time catching up with him, injuries catching up with him this past year. People will appreciate it when he’s away from the game.”

DeRozan has his favorite Kobe memory – Bryant scoring 81 points against Toronto in 2006. DeRozan, who would join the Raptors as a rookie three years later, said he felt as if he was playing a video game watching the high-scoring spectacle unfold on TV.

DeRozan is in his seventh season with Toronto. He can’t imagine playing 20 years.

“Especially playing at a high level, doing the things he was doing … people don’t understand how hard that is,” DeRozan said. “Even now, a lot of us find ourselves tired (on) back-to-backs. It’s tough. It’s really tough. To do it 20 years at a high level, you have to give that man every credit in the world.”

Hornets’ Al Jefferson out 2-3 weeks with strained calf

Al Jefferson
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The Hornets have been playing well of late, going 7-3 in their last 10 and outscoring opponents by 6.3 points per 100 possessions. They are solidly in the playoff picture out East, in the six slot right now.

This is not going to help matters.

The team announced that an MRI confirmed center Al Jefferson will be out two to three weeks with a strained left calf muscle, suffered during Charlotte’s 87-82 win over Milwaukee on Sunday.

Jefferson missing a few weeks due to injury at some point during the season is an annual event, like the Rose Parade or the Head of the Charles Regatta — but this year the Hornets are better prepared to deal with it. This is the deepest Charlotte team in recent memory.

Tyler Hansbrough, Cody Zeller, and Frank Kaminsky will get more run — plus Spencer Hawes may be back in the rotation — and if they can step up the Hornets will not slow down much.

This season the Hornets defense has been downright stingy when Jefferson is on the bench, giving up 94.2 points per 100 possessions (which is 10 better than when he is on the court). However, the Hornet offense and rebounding efforts are stronger when he plays.

PBT Extra: How did Thunder, Pacers move up in PBT Power Rankings?

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As they do every Monday during the season, the PBT Power Rankings came out and while the top three remained the same there were some climbers.

Specifically, the Thunder at No. 4 and the Pacers at No. 5.

Why they are there is the latest PBT Extra topic with Jenna Corrado. The simple answer is they are both excellent teams. Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Paul George are all playing like Top 10 players.

PBT Podcast: We’re back talking Kobe, 76ers, Warriors, Pistons, more

Kobe Bryant
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The ProBasketballTalk NBA podcast is back.

Sure we’re a month into the season, but we’re going to get this podcast rolling again and you can expect us on each Monday and Thursday, with a variety of guests talking everything around the NBA.

Today NBC’s own Dan Feldman joins Kurt Helin to talk Kobe Bryant‘s retirement announcement, and what that means both for the Lakers going forward this season and beyond, but also what that could mean for Byron Scott’s future as the Lakers’ coach.

We also delve into the “showdown” between the Lakers and Sixers on Thursday, talk about the job Brett Brown is doing there as coach (a good one), we talk some Warriors, some Draymond Green, Pistons, Spurs and Pacers to round it all out.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.