From the Los Angeles Times:
“I’m not comfortable with either of the two games (Sunday) or Monday,” Jackson said Saturday at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo. “It’s why we had a practice today. We’re concerned. We didn’t think we played well last night, but we got away with a win anyway. There’s a natural tendency to relax after winning a couple games. There’s not the same intensity. You have to be very careful of that as a player and coach.”
via Phil Jackson worried about upcoming games against the Clippers and Thunder | Lakers Blog | Los Angeles Times.
Jackon’s smart to recognize that this winning streak is strained at its edges. The Lakers have played better, there can be no question about that. But there are three types of winning streaks. Winning streaks in which you demolish your opponent because you are just that much better than they are, winning streaks in which you simply find a way to win no matter the circumstances because you’re riding that fortunate wave of skill and luck, and winning streaks that defy your weaknesses due to the inferior nature of the opposition. The Lakers’ recent streak is a bit of the first and a bit of the latter.
The Lakers struggled with the Nets, who while they can be scrappy, can also be detonated pretty easily by elite teams. Yet the Lakers struggled a bit with them before putting them away. First up is a game against the suddenly competitive Clippers, who just bested Miami and are playing their best ball of the season. Blake Griffin will challenge Pau Gasol, DeAndre Jordan is a mammoth, physical beast to counter Andrew Bynum, Eric Gordon can light it up, and they have a versatile bench. The Lakers should cruise, but getting the team a bit more focused instead of treating it as same old Clippers is a wise strategy by Phil.
Oklahoma City on Monday, on a back to back for the Lakers, is an entirely different matter.
The Detroit Pistons’ playoff dreams hinged on them being able to hang around until point guard Reggie Jackson got back from this thumb and knee injuries. They have done just that — the Pistons are 11-10 and would be the eighth seed if the playoffs started today.
And now they get Jackson back. Stan Van Gundy made the announcement Sunday at shootaround, before the team takes on the Orlando Magic.
It will take a few games to get his conditioning back, but this is huge for Detroit. Jackson running the pick-and-roll with Andre Drummond is at the heart of Detroit’s offense – the Pistons were 2.3 points per 100 possessions better with the ball in his hands. Ish Smith played well for the Pistons in his absence — 10.8 points per game, 6.4 assists, and he’s been solid. Move his playmaking to the second unit and suddenly the Pistons become a lot more dangerous.
The scouting report on Jakob Poeltl coming out of Utah said he could run the floor well and he was a good finisher around the rim.
But we didn’t expect this.
During the Raptors win Sunday against the stumbling Hawks, Poeltl filled the lane on the break, got the rock, and nobody was going to stop that finish. Least of all Tim Hardaway Jr., he just ends up in the poster.
Entering free agency last July, Hassan Whiteside said his first choice was to stay in Miami — then Pat Riley gave him 98 million reasons to stick around. While the Heat have been up and down this season, Whiteside has thrived as the franchise player in Miami.
Last July he also met with Dallas, but it turns out that was not his second choice. Here is what Whiteside told Erik Gunderson of the Miami Herald before his team fell to the Blazers on Saturday.
“Portland was my second option,” Whiteside said at the team’s Saturday shootaround in Portland. “I would have came here.”
Interesting. There were reports the Blazers chased Whiteside, but it didn’t seem that serious. Apparently, it was. If The Blazers got Whiteside, would they still have spent $70 million on Evan Turner? Probably not. And suddenly a lot of things look better in Portland.
For Blazers fans, watching their team try to outscore opponents while playing terrible defense this season — in part because of a lack of rim protection behind their undersized guards — it’s easy to imagine how much Whiteside would have changed the picture in the Northwest. But at this point, that’s just fan fiction.
JaVale McGree has become a solid contributor for the Warriors off the bench, giving them a needed shot blocking presence. He’s not getting a ton of run (seven minutes a night), but he’s efficient when he’s out there.
Still, there is his reputation as the guy most likely to end up on Shaqtin’ a Fool. He hasn’t done anything like that for a while… until Saturday night, when after a made free throw he tried to inbound the ball for the Suns for a second.
The Warriors bench was laughing under their shirts and towels.