The Lakers don’t just look slow, they are slow

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There was going to come a day when the Lakers missed Jordan Farmar, and that day has arrived.

I’m serious. Hear me out.

In all the talk of what is wrong with the Lakers (2-4 in their last six and the SKY IS FALLING!) has been some discussion of “are the Lakers athletic enough?” The fact they do not have a roster of 24-year-olds who can jump out of the building became clear in the first-round playoff series last year against Oklahoma City. Then L.A. went out this summer and added guys like Steve Blake and Theo Ratliff. Veteran, savvy, but not exactly fleet of foot.

What the “athletic” comments really are asking is why do the Lakers look so slow?

Because they are playing slow, as was broken down today by Jeff Fogle at Hoopdata. The fact is the Lakers have not had more than 94 possessions in any of their last six games, that after having 95 or more in 21 of the first 28 games.

That slowdown in pace has been coupled with a reduced offensive efficiency — which shouldn’t be a surprise, teams score at a high rate in transition. Run less and your offensive efficiency tends to drop. The Lakers might be okay slowing the game down if they were playing good defense, but they haven’t done that in the last six games either.

Which brings us back to Jordan Farmar. His distaste for being the point guard in the triangle offense combined with a green light from Phil Jackson had Farmar pushing the pace of the Lakers second unit whenever he was on the floor. He got the outlet pass and ran up the floor with it and the rest of the Lakers would follow. He pushed them.

That is missed. Now the Lakers jog up after missed shots and give a cursory look for some early offense, then they start pounding the ball and running the offense. Derek Fisher does not push the tempo. Even the most athletic of the Lakers — Shannon Brown — has become a fan of over-dribbling in the offense.

There are a lot of things the Lakers need to start doing differently if they are to right the ship, getting out and running more is just one of them. But it sure would make things look a lot better.

Rockets’ Clint Capela on Warriors: ‘I expect to beat them’

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During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”

Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.

The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.

Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:

“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.

That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.

There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.

PBT Extra Player of the Week: Victor Oladipo

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Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.

That place turned out to be the Pacers.

Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.

That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.