Don’t know if you heard, but the Heat have lost five in a row. I think that made the news somewhere.
Just like it did earlier this season when the Lakers lost four in a row. Or three in a row two other times.
Now the Lakers have won 8 in a row heading into Miami. Kobe Bryant said there is a fundamental difference between the Lakers struggles and Heat struggles, as reported by Kevin Ding at the Orange County Register.
“The difference between us is that we all know what our roles are,” Bryant said. “Everything is cemented. They’re still trying to figure that out.”
He’s right. You can question the Lakers execution, their commitment to the regular season, their passion. But even with a few new players the roles on that team are defined. The Lakers have always known who they are.
Miami is clearly still trying to figure out how who they are, especially in crunch time. They are trying to figure out how to get the best looks (although even when they get good looks they just seem to miss). Bosh wants the ball in a different spot on the floor; coach Erik Spoelstra is trying to find ways to get more motion in the half-court offense and more points in the paint. Their issues are more about their identity.
And the point in the season when you are supposed to be ramping up for the playoffs is a bad time to be having team identity issues.
That by no means makes the Lakers prohibitive favorites Thursday — the Heat are a desperate team, and there is nothing more dangerous is pro sports than a team desperate for a win.
Kobe Bryant reflected, told stories and showed his emotions.
For nearly 25 minutes, the Lakers star talked about his pending retirement. It was pretty cool.
DeAndre Jordan‘s free-throw problems – 38.7% this season, 41.5% for his career – are mental.
You can’t watch this trip to the line and convince me otherwise.
Nene hurt his calf. Drew Gooden is banged up. Martell Webster is out for the season.
Those are three players the Wizards expected to play power forward this season.
So, Washington – which has lost four straight – will bring in another big man: Ryan Hollins.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
The Wizards have a full roster of 15 players. They don’t qualify for a hardship exemption, which a team gets if four players have missed three straight games and will continue to be out. Only Webster and Alan Anderson definitely fit that bill. Gooden, who has missed five straight, might. But it’s unclear both how many of those absences were due to injury and when he’ll return.
So, Washington will have to waive someone to sign Hollins now. It’ll probably be Webster, whose $5,845,250 2016-17 salary is just $2.5 million guaranteed. If he’s out for the year and the Wizards plan to drop him by the summer to clear cap space, why not just do it now?
Hollins is more center than power forward and doesn’t appear to fit well with Marcin Gortat. But at this point, Washington just needs big bodies. Hollins – a nine-year veteran who plays decent interior defense, lacks offensive skill and rebounds poorly for his 7-foot frame – is at least that.
Sometimes – as Kristaps Porzingis sees against Dwight Howard – it’s more flattering just to play James Harden-level defense.