The Lakers present nearly every team they face with a matchup dilemma — do you put your biggest players out there and try to match their front line size, or do you go small and try to run them out of the building.
Denver is down 0-2 to the Los Angeles heading into a must-win Game 3 for the Nuggets, and you can bet they are going to try and run the Lakers ragged in the thin air. If they do they are back in the series and set up a monster Game 4. If they fail and go down 0-3 the series is all but over.
Tempo will be key — if the Lakers can turn this into a halfcourt slog their size and Kobe Bryant will win out. They are just more skilled. But if Denver gets out and runs it may be different. In Game 2 Denver got 23.9 percent of its offensive attempts in transition and shot a good-but-not-great 52.6 percent (stats via MySynergySports.com). They need more points in transition — and do better than shoot 0-3 from beyond the arc in transition — but if they can get them they can win this game.
Denver needs to knock down more threes in general — they were 4-19 overall and 3-12 on catch-and-shoot threes. Not good enough. You have to space out the Lakers from distance to break down their halfcourt defense.
One more thing for Denver — they need a big night from JaVale McGee. Less Kosta Koufos, who cannot handle Bynum. Not that you can count on McGee, but he and Mozgov are better options if you decide to match the Lakers size.
The Lakers need to keep running the offense — Kobe Bryant has gotten 30 points in each of the games in this series, but he has done it in the flow of the offense, not with a ton of isolations. Get the ball in the post, hit cutters, run some pick-and-roll with Ramon Sessions and don’t give Denver one simple thing to focus on.
Also, the Lakers have gotten quality play from their role players like Devin Ebanks, Jordan Hill and even Matt Barnes. It is role players who tend to disappear in road playoff games, the Lakers need them to show up.
For Denver, this is must win. Desperate teams are hard to beat, but it all comes down to what kind of game it ends up being — the Nuggets need to run the Lakers into the ground.
DALLAS (AP) The Dallas Mavericks have signed rookie forward Ben Bentil to a 10-day contract to fill one of the two spots from a roster shake-up that came at the trading deadline.
The addition of Bentil on Sunday puts the Ghana native in position to make his NBA debut. The former Providence player was drafted in the second round by Boston but was waived during the preseason.
Bentil has played in the NBA Development League and in China since the Celtics let him go. He played 13 games in two stints with Fort Wayne in the D-League, interrupted by an 11-game stint with Xinjiang in China.
The Mavericks had two roster spots after sending Andrew Bogut and Justin Anderson to Philadelphia in a deal for Nerlens Noel and waiving guard Deron Williams.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Marquese Chriss got into a bit of a scuffle on Sunday, with the Milwaukee Bucks star earning a technical foul for his role in the hubbub.
It happened midway through the first quarter in Milwaukee after Antetokounmpo blocked Chriss on defense, then charged down the floor on the fastbreak.
Antetokounmpo drew the foul on Chriss, who was bumping with the Milwaukee wing with his arms up and his elbow parallel to the floor.
Chriss’ right elbow was above Antetokounmpo’s head, and there appeared to be incidental contact between the two players.
That, and a bump on the floor from Chriss’ leg sent Antetokounmpo off as the two ended up against the stanchion with Antetokounmpo pushing at Chriss.
After review, Chriss was assessed the foul and Antetokounmpo was given a technical.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert has been fined $25,000 for making contact with an official during the third quarter of Friday’s game between the Jazz and the Milwaukee Bucks.
The incident occured with 5:19 left in the third after a drive to the bucket by Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks star was driving past Jazz wing Joe Johnson, who fouled Antetokounmpo as he went up with a shot over Gobert in the paint.
A foul was whistled on Johnson, but it appeared that Gobert thought the call was initially on him despite his up-and-down contest.
That sent Gobert flying after the official, where he made slight contact, earning him an immediate technical foul.
Video of the incident was released by the NBA and can be viewed here.
Vlade Divac has started the clock on his own success or failure as an NBA GM with the Sacramento Kings. Speaking with the Sacramento Bee this week in a long Q & A, Divac said that if the DeMarcus Cousins trade hasn’t put the Kings in a better position in two years he will step down.
The trade that sent Cousins and teammate Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans returned Buddy Hield, a first round pick with protections, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, and a second round pick.
Via the Sacramento Bee:
Q: Well, the pressure is on you now. It’s pretty clear that Divac, not Ranadive, is making the personnel decisions. Some people still can’t believe Ranadive actually stepped aside and allowed you to trade his favorite player.
A: That’s my job, and I take responsibility. And I totally understand why some fans would be upset. They supported DeMarcus, and I like DeMarcus a lot. But I believe we are going to be in a better position in two years. I want to hear again from these same people in two years. If I’m right, great. If I’m wrong, I’ll step down. But if I go down, I’m going down my way.
Divac also mentioned that he approached Cousins’ management team about anger therapy, and again harped on the move as being the right thing for the “culture” he wants to build in Sacramento.
The clock is ticking.