Pau Gasol says the Lakers don’t need to make big changes

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After winning back-to-back NBA titles, the Lakers looked flat in the playoffs last season. Pau Gasol looked flat. The Dallas Mavericks looked anything but flat, they were playing smart and passionate ball. The result was Dallas unceremoniously sweeping the champions aside.

That led some Lakers fans — a fan base that can have the disposition of a nervous poodle at times — to call for big changes.

Pau Gasol doesn’t see it that way. That’s what he told Brian Kamenetzky over at ESPNLosAngeles.com.

“It’s not that we have to change who we are. We are who we are, and I think we’re perfectly fine with that. We just have to make sure we work as hard as anybody in the league, or the hardest. Want it as bad as anybody, or the [most], and that’s it. Be on the same page. Those three things are the basics of success, as being champions and becoming champions. I think that’s what we do. It’s not about doing fundamentally, or even tactically– you can have the tactical strategy that you want, but you have to have the basics.”

There is one big change — Mike Brown is in and Phil Jackson is out as coach. That will mean changes in offensive and defensive philosophy. And a very different energy.

“Well, we haven’t had a chance to work with our new coach yet, but from the feeling I got, he comes in with a lot of energy, and a lot of passion, and wants to help this team continue to be successful. That’s a plus. I think that’s a good way to go.”

Here’s what it comes down to with the Lakers — will they play defense for Brown? That is the key. They didn’t for Jackson last playoffs. This lineup with Gasol, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum is going to score. Yes, they need to figure out the point guard spot now, but the offense will be there.

But will the Lakers buy into what Mike Brown sells? They don’t really have a choice, they don’t have a year to waste fighting change, they need to buy in from day one. And then they need to recommit to the defensive end. Do that, and the Lakers are again title contenders. Fail and their window closes fast.

Watch LeBron James miss a wide open dunk against the Celtics in Game 4 (VIDEO)

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LeBron James did not have a good first half on Tuesday night against the Boston Celtics. The Cleveland Cavaliers star had four fouls in the first half, the first time that had ever happened according to ESPN.

Things were not going well for James when he went up for a dunk with nary a defender in front of him and he still wound up being unable to convert the bucket.

This is something you don’t see every day.

Via Twitter:

Of course, thanks to a 23-point quarter by Kyrie Irving the missed dunk didn’t seem to mean much. LeBron’s playoff entry to Shaqtin’ A Fool will be duly noted.

Meanwhile, the Kyrie Irving saved the Cavaliers in Game 4 with a 42-point effort. The Cavaliers beat the Celtics, 112-99, and will have a chance to close the series Thursday night in Boston in Game 5.

Kyrie Irving scores 23 in third quarter, saves Cavaliers in Game 4 win over Celtics

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The Boston Celtics led by as many as 16 points, but Kyrie Irving‘s 23-point third quarter sparked a Cleveland Cavaliers comeback that the visiting squad could never match. With LeBron James struggling early, Irving’s incredible play helped Cleveland grab a win in Game 4, 112-99.

James was the big storyline as the game opened, as the King again struggled with scoring. James got himself into foul trouble hilariously early, racking up his fourth foul in the second quarter. It was the first time in his career that James had four fouls in the first half, and it hamstrung the Cavaliers.

Boston continued their effective play on offense, seemingly less predictable with Isaiah Thomas out with a hip injury. Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder were the stars for the Celtics, but after an incredible Game 3 performance Marcus Smart failed to deliver.

Irving’s big third quarter was of course the main storyline of the game, with the star guard going nuts on Celtics defenders with a bevy of crossovers, twisting layups, and pull up 3-pointers. He did all this after rolling his ankle, seemingly using the adrenaline to fight off both injury and a series tie at 2-2. Irving’s 23-point quarter fueled a 40-point period for Cleveland, helping them turn the tables and take a 7-point lead going into the fourth.

LeBron seemed to reactivate off Irving’s stellar play, and he wound up scoring 34 points on 15-of-27 shooting, adding six assists, five rebounds, a steal and a block. Irving finished with 42 points, going 4-of-7 from 3-point range to go along with four assists and three rebounds.

Boston was led by Bradley, who scored 19 points but went just 1-of-7 from 3-point range. Crowder added 18 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Al Horford dropped 16 points, seven assists, and three rebounds.

Cleveland now has a chance to put us out of our misery and close this series in Boston in Game 5 on Thursday.

If the Cavaliers do close, the big questions that remain will be whether LeBron can perform steadily and if the Cavaliers have what it takes on defense to slow down the Golden State Warriors.

Celtics G Isaiah Thomas visits specialist, surgery undecided

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CLEVELAND (AP) Boston Celtics star guard Isaiah Thomas has visited one hip specialist and plans to see others.

Thomas, who is done for the season with a right hip injury he sustained in March and aggravated in the playoffs, told Celtics coach Brad Stevens that he intends to get “one or two more opinions” before a course of action is set. It’s possible Thomas could undergo surgery on his hip. The Celtics have described Thomas’ condition as a tear in his hip.

Stevens reiterated before Game 4 that Thomas will not play again this season, even if the Celtics push the defending champion Cavaliers beyond five games in the Eastern Conference finals.

Thomas was ruled out for the remainder of the postseason on Saturday, ending his inspiring playoff run following the tragic death of his younger sister.

Stevens said Thomas told him he’s still sore and there is still significant inflammation in his hip.

More AP NBA: http://www.apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

J.R. Smith takes daughter Dakota, born premature, home from NICU for first time (PHOTO)

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Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith‘s daughter Dakota received some good news on Tuesday. The 5-month-old Dakota had spent her entire life at the NICU at a local hospital, but before the Cavaliers took on the Boston Celtics Smith was able to take Dakota home for the first time.

The news came amid some good news as of late, including Smith and wife Shirley buying flowers for all the NICU mothers for Mother’s Day.

Smith shared the good news with fans on his Instagram.

Via Instagram:

Hopefully this means progress for the Smith family for what no doubt is a tough road ahead.

Cleveland and Boston square off for Game 4 on Tuesday.