It’s safe to say that the All-Star Break couldn’t be coming at a better time for the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers lost the last three games of their recent seven-game road trip, and their struggles culminated in a shocking loss to the woeful Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
The 10-46 Cavaliers were coming off a 15-point home loss to the Washington Wizards, and had not won a game in regulation since November 27th, 2010, but looked like the superior team against the defending champions.
The Lakers looked tired, disinterested, and frustrated throughout the game. Kobe Bryant picked up an early technical in the first quarter, and looked completely out of sorts all night; he shot 8-24 from the field, did not draw a single foul, turned the ball over seven times, and sealed his team’s fate by forcing quick threes late in the game. Pau Gasol abused the Cavaliers’ thin frontline to the tune of 30 points and 20 rebounds, but Andrew Bynum was completely ineffective, going 2-12 from the floor.
On defense, the Lakers could not stay in front of the ultra-quick Ramon Sessions, who torched the Lakers for 32 points on 9-16 shooting from the field and 13-14 shooting from the free-throw line.
This was an embarrassing loss for the Lakers, especially since they beat the Cavaliers by 55 points earlier in the season, but it shouldn’t be time to panic yet. The Lakers are a veteran team, and Kobe and Bynum’s knees are not built to handle long road trips. After the All-Star break, I’d expect a rested, revitalized Laker team to get back to its winning ways. Still, this loss should sting for them.
Carmelo Anthony can flat-out score the rock — that has never been the question. Even hurting last season for many of the 40 games he played, he averaged 24.2 points a game, had a true shooting percentage of 53.1 percent (right near the league average) while having the entire weight of the Knicks offense on his shoulders (32.2 usage rate, fifth highest in the NBA). When people (or players) talk about him being overrated, the discussion turns to defense or if he makes his teammates better. But there should be no doubt Anthony is an elite scorer.
He thinks he will be for a while longer — like another five years. Via Ian Begley of ESPN:
In fact, the 31-year-old Knicks star is confident that he can play at a high level for the next “four or five years.”
“Without a doubt. Without a doubt,” Anthony said after the Knicks’ final training camp practice on Saturday.
The Knicks better hope that’s true, they already made that bet with that massive five-year contract they gave him last summer.
Anthony’s age combined with him coming off knee surgery have a lot of people — myself included — expecting him to take a step back. Not a big one, but he is coming up at the point in his career where some open shots he used to get are now contested because he’s half-a-step slower, and some of those looks don’t fall as often. His jumper isn’t suddenly going to look like Rajon Rondo‘s, ‘Melo is going to get his points, but he may not be as efficient.
Fortunately, the Knicks have an improved supporting cast around him this season. That should take some offensive load off his shoulders, and maybe the Knicks offense will see better ball movement and start to resemble the triangle. If it’s just more isolation Anthony, it’s not going to be pretty.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.
General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.
McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.