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.
Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. It was a $72 million gamble that has not worked, and left New York with an anchor o a
Tomorrow it will be official he is done for the season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.
During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.
Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.
The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.
Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.
Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. But that is interesting.
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.
Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.
His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.
Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.
Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.
As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.
Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.
Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.
Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.
Maybe a little too pumped.
That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.
Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.
(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)