Lakers tell players to cool it with “external chatter”

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The Lakers held an informal meeting that developed out of a film session following their back-to-back losses to Detroit and Washington, ESPN reports. During the conversation, assistant coaches for the team asked players to refrain from “external chatter,” whatever that is, presumably about potential trades. From ESPN LA:

“It wasn’t an airing out session,” Brown said Saturday, downplaying its significance. “It was a film session.”

The session was mostly X’s and O’s based and run by Brown until he handed over the floor to his assistant coaches.

“I utilized my assistants a lot because I don’t like the players hearing my voice a lot,” Brown said. “I talked a lot. I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to have someone else talk.’ After two losses like that everybody’s feeling kind of down. So, I wanted to hear other guys’ voices.”

Players were invited to speak after Lakers assistant coaches John Kuester and Chuck Person left strong impressions. Part of the assistant coaches’ message was urging the players to curtail any “external chatter,” according to a source.

via Source — Los Angeles Lakers told to curtail ‘external chatter’ – ESPN Los Angeles.

That’s pretty much code for “Hey, Pau, quit talking about how upset you are at being involved in trade talks,” and “Hey, Kobe, quit talking about how upset Pau is about being involved in trade talks.”

It’s a clear attempt to try and restore some semblance of order to a team which has seemed out of control as of late. Reports of dissension between ownership and management, management and players, players and coaches, coaches and ownership have run rampant the last couple of weeks and it’s created a nasty atmosphere in L.A.. After a successful winning streak that very much had the Lakers looking like legit title contenders, the road losses this week and a dispiriting near-loss to the Wolves without Kevin Love (or Ricky Rubio the final 30 seconds) wiped all that good will away.

The trade deadline is anxious for a lot of players, a lot of teams. But the Lakers seem especially urgent to get past it. If they can get through Thursday at 3 p.m. EST together, they might have the ability to clear their minds and make a run. Otherwise, they’ll have gone through the trades and at least it’ll be over. It’ like waiting for layoffs from your company, only instead of unemployment, you have to move to Charlotte (a wonderful city, I might add).

The Lakers face Boston Sunday afternoon.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.

LeBron James: Reporter warned me about question on Gregg Popovich’s wife before live TV interview

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In her on-court interview with LeBron James following the Cavaliers’ Game 2 win over the Pacers last night, TNT sideline reporter Allie LaForce asked him about the death of Gregg Popovich’s wife.

LeBron appeared emotional as he gathered his thoughts.

That prompted some to criticize LaForce for ambushing LeBron on a sensitive subject on live TV. But that’s not what happened.

Uninterrupted:

LeBron:

I’m not on social media right now, but I was made aware through some friends through texts that a question was asked to me postgame, and a lot of people feel I was blindsided. That is absolutely false. Allie LaForce told me that she was going to ask the question and if it was OK.

And once I started talking about it, once we were on air, actually my emotions kind of took over. And that was just my emotions coming straight from my heart about the late Erin Popovich.

It’s unfortunate. It’s a tragic loss. My thoughts, my prayers, once again goes out to the Popovich family, to Gregg, to the Spurs family, to the whole Spurs fan base.

And also guys, please get off Allie LaForce’ back, because she followed the proper protocol and she warned me. So, get off her back, man. She’s very professional, and she does a great job at her work.

Like I said, thoughts and prayers to the heavens above. We all know the man above never makes mistakes, even when we question it. But it’s a sad, tragic time right now for the NBA family, and we’re all praying and hoping for the best.

It would have been surprising if LaForce hadn’t done that. Somewhere between nearly nobody and absolutely nobody in her position is trying to embarrass players.

PBT Extra: If Portland is going to turn series around it starts with Damian Lillard

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This was the year the Trail Blazers were going to break through. They were defending better as a team. There was some depth on offense. And Damian Lillard was playing at a level that will get him on many voters’ MVP ballots.

Instead, they are down 0-2 to Anthony Davis and New Orleans, having dropped both games at home to open the series. Portland is on the verge of being bounced in the first round for the third time in four years.

If Portland is going to turn this series around, it starts with Lillard, something I discuss in this latest PBT Extra. C.J. McCollum needs to get more buckets, Jusuf Nurkic needs to contribute more on both ends, but for Portland it all begins and ends with Lillard and it’s on him to start the turnaround.

Rockets easily overcome James Harden’s horrid shooting night, win Game 2 over Timberwolves

AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith
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James Harden shot 2-for-18 – the worst field-goal percentage (11%) on so many attempts in a playoff game in nearly a decade and the worst ever in a first-round game.

The Rockets still won by 20 because of their stout defense, a strong supporting star in Chris Paul and Harden’s foul-drawing ability.

Houston’s took a 2-0 series lead with a 102-82 win over the Timberwolves on Wednesday. Game 3 will be Saturday in Minnesota, but the top-seeded Rockets have seized firm control.

Every No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 seed to take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven first-round series have won it. There’s little reason to believe Houston will become the exception.

The Rockets are no longer as reliant on Harden, the likely MVP who seemed to wear down last postseason.

They buckled down defensively before letting up in a fourth quarter that was entirely garbage time. Houston forced more turnovers (16) than allowed assists (15) and contested shot after shot.

It’s becoming increasingly clear the Timberwolves have no quick solution to the Karl-Anthony Towns problem, and it’s not simply a matter of deciding to feed him more. Yes, he can get favorable post matchups against the Rockets’ switching scheme. But Minnesota lacks quality entry passers. The Timberwolves are also short on shooters and need him to spread the floor – even if that skill is less-helpful after a switch. Towns scored just five points in 24 minutes tonight.

His teammates were barely, if at all, better. The focus has turned to Towns, but this was a far-wider letdown.

On the other hand, Paul (27 points and eight assists) led Houston’s offense. Gerald Green (21 points and 12 rebounds) got hot. Even Harden (7-of-8 on free throws) chipped in thanks to his elite foul-drawing ability.

The Rockets aren’t always the most enjoyable team to watch, and that was the case tonight. Mostly, because they put this game out of reach long before it actually ended.