You know those games where you just don’t really know what happened? You walk away and you acknowledge that the game was fun, but you just don’t really know what happened? Yeah that was Denver vs. L.A. at Staples today, Lakers 92-89 win.
In the final five minutes the following things happened:
Danilo Gallinari missed a game-tying layup wide open with 3 seconds left and no one has around him.
Kobe Bryant missed a free throw to put the game away with a four point lead and one second left.
Kobe Bryant lost the ball and turned it over on a key drive.
Nene missed a wide open dunk.
Andre Miller failed to secure a great pass after an offensive rebound put the offense in motion, and then Gallinari missed everything but backboard on a wide open three.
Derek Fisher bodied Ty Lawson out of the way in a pretty blatant way then rolled on top of the ball and not only did not get called for a foul or traveling, but managed to get a timeout.
In short, it was bananas.
But if you want to strip all that away and get back to actual reasons why the Lakers got a win? It’s simple.
Andrew Bynum. Bynum was dominant inside.
Bynum looked very much like the kind of young center you build around. He blocked shots, and more importantly, tipped in miss after miss. His ability to, well, be taller than everyone else was simply too much for the Nuggets. The Lakers are winning ugly under Mike Brown with aging stars and a weak bench. But they’re winning. Because they execute and the effort is there on each possession. They have what you need to win in this league, even when things go a little… weird.
- Nene is either still recovering from surgery or just not playing well. He looks tentative, he looks off. He’s not finishing when he should and of more concern, his box-outs and rotations are inconsistent. The Nuggets need more from him, especially for the money they gave him in free agency.
- Ty Lawson needs to be running the offense exclusively down the stretch for the Nuggets.
- Steve Blake continues with the patented “Laker who is en fuego early for no apparent reason” act.
- Pau Gasol’s range is simply deadly and it has a remarkable ability to confound the defense.
- Where was Arron Afflalo the last five minutes of the game? Benching the best pure shooter on the team late doesn’t make much sense.
- Danilo Gallinari used to be able to shoot threes, right? I’m not imagining this.
- Kobe was efficient and productive… until late in the game, again. Lakers fans have to be a little concerned. Gallo makes that layup and everything in this game might be different.
- At some point, we’re going to have to talk about Al Harrington’s play, at both ends, and recognize that he’s playing exceptionally well. The offense? Sure, he’s got that. But his defense has been superb early, which no one saw coming.
- Bynum’s patience has really improved, as has his comfort level in simply out-maneuvering defenders.
Marc Gasol thinks his brother Pau Gasol — who will opt out to become a free agent this summer and bolt Chicago — should join the San Antonio Spurs.
Pau doesn’t think that’s a bad idea.
Speaking with the Spanish sports publication Marca, Gasol said the Spurs would be “an interesting option for me.” (Hat tip Eye on Basketball)
Gasol put up numbers — 16.5 points and 11 rebounds a game — at age 36, he still has great post moves, can still pass, and is still fairly efficient on offense. He was an All-Star for a reason. But he’s also a liability at the defensive end. Where he lands as a free agent should be about fit.
Pau would fit with the Spurs — if he was willing to come off the bench. Which is probably what should have happened in Chicago (with Joakim Noah starting for defensive reasons). As a first big off the bench Gasol can lift a team up, but if he’s out there 31 minutes or more a night as a starter — as he was in Chicago last season — he’s going to get exposed a lot defensively.
Do the Spurs want him is another question?
Is Gasol willing to accept coming off the bench behind LaMarcus Aldridge? Or does he need to be a starter? And will he take less money to contend? Gasol has some questions to answer.
So far, the Golden State Warriors have looked just fine — thank you very much — without one Stephen Curry in the lineup. And as Dan Feldman and I discussed in the latest PBT podcast, they likely will be able to handle the Portland Trail Blazers without him as well. They don’t need to rush him back.
But Curry is rushing himself back and wants to beat the two-week timeline for his strained MCL that the doctors put out there, reports Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com.
Coach Steve Kerr said Curry looked good in treatment but did not do any work on the court.
Athletes are the worst people to ask about their own recovery timelines; they don’t get to top levels of their sport without supreme confidence and a certain feeling of invulnerability. They are always sure they can bounce back faster than the doctors say — sometimes that’s true, but not often.
So long as the Warriors are not pressured by Portland (sorry Clipper fans, you’re not advancing without CP3 and Griffin), they are under no pressure to rush him back. That second round series is expected to start Sunday in the Bay Area, if the Warriors can hold serve through the first two games then they can keep Curry on the sidelines for a couple of weeks, let the knee rest completely, and bring him back on their own terms.
The Warriors will need him back for the Conference Finals and beyond, but more than that this is a Golden State team set up to be a contender for the next four or five years, you don’t want to create a bigger problem for future years pushing too hard for a title this season if he’s not right.
Friday night sees some big Game 6s across the NBA playoffs — Indiana has the best chance of forcing a Game 7 — but everyone is looking ahead to Oklahoma vs. San Antonio in the next round.
That includes Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBCSports.com, who in this latest podcast discuss that series and the Atlanta and Cleveland series that tips off next week. Also they talk about the Friday night Game 6 matchups, and if Portland could beat Golden State if the Warriors do not get Stephen Curry back.
As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes, download it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.
The Celtics will chase Kevin Durant this summer.
Will it work?
Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports:
Ainge will be aggressive in free agency, team sources told The Vertical, and yes, that means a run at Kevin Durant. The Celtics believe Durant will meet with them this summer, but they know that meeting won’t accomplish much unless there are significant moves leading into it.
The Celtics are optimistic about meeting with Durant. The Warriors are optimistic about signing Durant.
That might just speak to different mindsets within the organizations – why shouldn’t Golden State be confident about everything? – but it also might handicap the odds of Durant’s next team. The Warriors definitely appear more likely than the Celtics.
Boston has plenty going for it: Brad Stevens, a solid young roster, extra draft picks (including the Nets’ first-rounder this year) and cap flexibility. But Durant wants to win now, so those more youthful assets mean only so much. It’s on Danny Ainge to prove he can turn that cap space into another helpful player, deal a Brooklyn pick or two for a veteran. That would become much easier if the Celtics win the lottery.
There’s a lot happening at once. If Durant isn’t coming, Boston might prefer to keep its draft picks and build slowly. Other free agents might not come. But if Durant is on board, that makes trades preferable and other free agents landable.
Of course, Durant should be the top option.
It appears the Celtics at least have their foot in the door.