Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers down Nuggets thanks to… we’re not sure. It was weird.

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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.

Notes:

  • 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.

Glenn Robinson III does his best to salvage Dunk Contest, gets victory in process

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NEW ORLEANS β€” This year’s NBA All-Star Dunk Contest was doomed to disappoint, it was never going to match last year’s epic battle. It started in a hole.

It never climbed out. Don’t take my word for it, check out what JaVale McGee thought.

Saturday was an underwhelming night of dunks punctuated by a couple of moments of brilliance.

The Pacers’ Glenn Robinson III had the most of those moments β€” which is why he won the event. His strong night started with his first dunk, which may well have been the best of the contest.

The final one from Robinson, the one that sealed the victory, may be the other best dunk of the competition β€” dunking over Paul George, the Pacers mascot, and a Pacers dancer.

“I originally planned for it just to be PG (Paul George),” Robinson said afterward. “I knew I had to bring out something special. We added the mascot and the cheerleader. I really just wanted to get up high and dunk that thing hard, man. My adrenaline was going. It felt like I was looking at the rim. All I knew was the crowd go crazy. I pointed like this because, man, everybody seemed to sleep on me, didn’t really think I was going to win this thing.”

Event favorite Aaron Gordon, who should have won a year ago, opened the contest with an innovative idea β€” a drone dunk β€” but he couldn’t execute it and there were a few attempts before he nailed it.

Gordon didn’t advance out of the first round, and his first dunk summed up the 2017 Dunk Contest β€” interesting ideas that didn’t quite pan out like planned. (To be fair, Gordon has been battling injuries recently, that may have thrown him off).

If it wasn’t going to be Gordon, a lot of people expected it to be the bouncy Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. who won, and he reached the Finals in part thanks to this spectacular dunk that woke the Smoothie King Center up.

DeAndre Jordan was okay, but without Chris Paul throwing him lobs it didn’t quite feel the same. Jordan can dunk with such power in game, but we didn’t see that Saturday.

In the end, it was Gordon who was making the plays.

“I’m not really a known dunker,” Robinson said. “I practiced. I prepared. I know I’m a jumper. And like I said, I’m a guy that stays out of the way. But when it’s time to shine, that’s my thing. That’s what I wanted to do. I knew all along I had some things planned, and I just wanted to show the world.”

Glenn Robinson III wins underwhelming dunk contest on over-people, below-rim dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — Glenn Robinson IIIΒ won the dunk contest with the second-best dunk of the night, going over a few people and under the rim — a narrow path to slamming victory.

It would’ve rated as the event’sΒ best dunk if he were truly under the rim rather than somewhat in front of it. And he did have the best body of work to win the contest.

But the best single dunk was still by runner-up Derrick Jones Jr., who went between the legs on a pass off the side of the backboard.

NBA stars shoot threes to raise $500,000 for Sager Strong Foundation in touching moment

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NEW ORLEANS β€” The spirit of Craig Sager is strong during All-Star weekend in The Big Easy and he’s going to get a spot in the Hall of Fame, deservedly so.

After Eric Gordon won the Three-Point Contest, he and the other finalists Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker stayed on the court to shoot threes to raise money for the Sager Strong Foundation β€” they would shoot threes for a minute and for each make the foundation would get $10,000. Then they brought out help β€” Reggie Miller, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, DJ Khaled, and others to knock down shots. That raised $130,000.

Stephen Curry tried to push that to $500,000, but it was Sager’s son that actually did it (with an assist from Shaquille O’Neal).

It was a touching moment for a great cause.

Derrick Jones Jr. catches pass off side of backboard, jams between-legs dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — With defending runner-up Aaron Gordon eliminated in the first round, Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. might be our best hope to save the dunk contest.