Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers - Game One

NBA Playoffs: It’s not all about the Lakers… but it’s close


I don’t want to write that Game 2 is really about the Lakers — how they adjust, what effort they bring, whether they stick with their game plan. Because that is dismissive of a very good Mavericks team. This version of Dallas is different — past Mavs teams would have lost Game 1, not taken advantage of the Lakers many miscues down the stretch. These Mavs are not soft (Tyson Chandler sees to that).

But really, it’s about the Lakers.

Because it was about those miscues. About being clutch. When these two teams play their best games, the Lakers will win. And while Dallas was not at its best, the Lakers were farther away from that ideal Monday. If Los Angeles acts like the veteran team, comes out and plays with some real desperation and passion, Dallas will not be able to stop the series from being tied 1-1.

But we don’t know what we will get from the Lakers. What’s more, this year’s Lakers have been so inconsistent that to expect a switch to be flipped would be the big mistake. The question is how many chances does Dallas get and can they capitalize on enough? If they capitalize on Game 2 they will be a long way to a huge upset.

There will be a few adjustments for Game 2. One is talk that the Lakers may give Ron Artest some time on Dirk Nowitzki, who put up 28 and looked like he could get what he wanted for much of Game 1. Pau Gasol struggled to slow Dirk, Lamar Odom was the better matchup. Artest is physical, maybe that bothers Nowitzki, but the fact is a 7-foot guy who can shoot rainbow fadeaways cannot be stopped on a hot night. Doesn’t matter who is on him. But the Lakers will try some different looks.

As for the Lakers, look for them to return to getting the ball inside. They did a reasonable job of that in the first half (Gasol had 9 points on 5 shots, plus 6 rebounds in the first 24 before his error filled ending) but after a Lakers run at the start of the third Los Angeles fell in love with the jumper and stopped feeding the beast in the paint. Look for Los Angeles to assert Andrew Bynum early and often, to go right at Tyson Chandler.

Also, look for Kobe Bryant to attack off the dribble and try to draw contact, not just shoot jumpers. Well, unless his ankle is worse than everyone lets on.

None of these adjustments are really a surprise. It’s a matter of execution and focus.

For the Lakers, they better have enough to get the win. If they go down 0-2, there should be real desperation in L.A.

Report: Lakers were fined over Magic Johnson’s tweets

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 15:  Earvin 'Magic' Johnson attends game one of the National League Championship Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field on October 15, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Last May, Magic Johnson tweeted that the Lakers chase LeBron James, Kevin Durant and DeMar DeRozan in free agency. All three players were still under contract with their teams until July 1.

In response to that apparent tampering, the Lakers announced Johnson had asked the team to remove his title of Vice President.

Too little, too late.

William Weinbaum and Steve Delsohn of ESPN:

Outside the Lines learned this week — and confirmed with a senior Lakers official — that the NBA fined the team over Johnson’s communiques about players under contract to other teams.

If Drake got the Raptors fined for tampering by pitching Durant during a concert, the Lakers deserved this fine.

Report: LeBron James unhappy Tristan Thompson is dating Khloe Kardashian

FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2016, file photo, Khloe Kardashian participates in the panel for "Kocktails with Khloe" at the FYI 2016 Winter TCA in Pasadena, Calif. Kardashian is calling her sister's robbery on Oct. 3, in Paris "a wake up call for everybody" but is pushing back against criticism that Kim Kardashian West had been too public in displaying her wealth. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Tristan Thompson and Khloe Kardashian are dating. There are mixed reports about whether they’re engaged.

No matter their exact terms of their relationship, it brings increased attention to the Cavaliers – who are already in the spotlight as LeBron James‘ team and the defending NBA champions.

LeBron might not welcome increased scrutiny.

Gabriella Ginsberg of Hollywood Life:

LeBron James hasn’t been happy that Tristan Thompson is dating drama magnet Khloe Kardashian, and we hear that the teammates had a locker room showdown before the Cavs’ home opener game.

“Tristan isn’t taking any crap from his teammates anymore. As far as he’s concerned, Khloe’s coming to every damn game she chooses,” the insider reveals. “Tristan told LeBron straight up before last night’s game that Khloe was coming and that was that.”

There’s nothing wrong with LeBron, as a friend, advising Thompson about his personal life. They share an agent, Rich Paul, and that obviously means a lot to LeBron.

But at a certain point, LeBron should back off. Neither coworkers nor friends have a right to determine who someone dates.

Justise Winslow posts photo with 76ers forward Jerami Grant raising fists, captions it ‘WE MATTER’

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 26: A portrait of Justise Winslow #20 of the Miami Heat on September 26, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Rob Foldy/Getty Images

76ers players are unsure how to respond to their franchise blocking Sevyn Streeter from singing the national anthem because she wore a “WE MATTER” jersey.

Justise Winslow is seemingly trying to nudge Philadelphia in a certain direction.

The Heat forward posted a photo with himself and the 76ers’ Jerami Grant raising fists and captioned it “WE MATTER”:

I’m unsure when this photo was taken, but my best guess is after the Miami-Philadelphia preseason game – which was preceded by the national-anthem singer kneeling during her performance.

Thabo Sefolosha throws down reverse dunk in transition (video)

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Was Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha making the smart play to beat the defender or just showing off?

Either way, I’m glad he did it.