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NBA schedule released, some big games on the front end


Would you look at that, a full 82 game schedule. Haven’t seen one of those in a while. Kind of missed it.

The NBA released the full season schedule on Thursday and clearly they had some marketing in mind. Some fans liked the big splash when the league opened on Christmas Day last year after the lockout, so the NBA put some splash up front to try and appease them. It can be hard for the NBA to make a dent in October and November, when the NFL and college football are in full swing, but they certainly are trying.

The games kick off Oct. 30 with one highlight matchup. Here are some schedule highlights at first glance.

Oct. 30 (opening night):
Wizards at Cavaliers (John Wall vs. Kyrie Irving)
Celtics at Heat
Mavericks at Lakers

The highlight of that schedule is Celtics at Heat — Boston has to go into Miami and watch them raise a banner and get their rings. Then they have to play against Ray Allen. Kevin Garnett is fired up for that game today. After that we get to see Steve Nash against one of the teams he spurned this summer.

Oct. 31
Spurs at Hornets

No. 1 pick Anthony Davis makes his NBA debut against Tim Duncan. Not a bad career trajectory if you are looking to follow one.

Nov. 1
Knicks at Nets
Thunder at Spurs

We told you about this one before, Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks take the 2 line/Seventh Avenue Express over to Brooklyn to help the Deron Williams and the Nets open the new Barclays Center. (Sure, Amare Stoudemire would take the subway to a game, why not?) Biggest question, what’s the ration of Nets to Knicks fans for this one? About 70/30?

Dec. 17
Rockets at Knicks

Jeremy Lin returns to New York.

Dec. 25 (Christmas)
Celtics at Nets
Knicks at Lakers
Thunder at Heat
Rockets at Bulls
Nuggets at Clippers

Obviously the finals rematch is the marquee game and the Knicks vs. Lakers will be fun (Knicks fans can get Nash envy). But the real sleeper on that card is Nuggets at Clippers, which should be entertaining. Staples Center double-header that day.

Jan. 30
Lakers at Suns

Steve Nash returns to Phoenix. I think most Suns fans were at peace with him leaving to chase a ring — until he went to the hated Lakers. Interesting to see how they great him.

March 18
Miami at Boston

Ray Allen will hear a new sound from his beloved Celtics fans at this game.

Other notes from a first glance at the schedule:

• The Brooklyn Nets open the Barclays Center with six of eight games at home.

• Joe Johnson returns to Atlanta on Jan. 16. No bad blood there, though, even Hawks fans wanted to get rid of his contract.

• Speaking of returns, Jason Terry returns to Dallas March 22. Again, no real bad blood there.

• Soft start for the Clippers, who have 7 of first 9 at home and one “away” game against the Lakers. They will pay for that later when the Grammys kick them out of town for a couple weeks.

• The Lakers visit the Celtics Feb. 7, and Boston comes out to L.A. a couple weeks later on Feb. 20.

Philadelphia has dropped record 27 in a row dating back to last season

Brett Brown
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We tend to think of record streaks having to be in one season, not broken up across two.

But if you can suspend that, the Philadelphia 76ers are now the owners of the longest losing streak in NBA — and major professional sports — history.

With their tough two-points loss to Houston Friday night, the Sixers have lost 27 in a row. The Sixers dropped their final 10 last season and with the loss to the Rockets are 0-17 to start this one.

That bests the 26-game losing streaks of the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and these same Sixers from 2013-14. Looking across sports, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 1976-1977 also lost 26 in a row, which when you consider the length of the NFL season is pretty embarrassing.

The Sixers struggles are born from a plan by GM Sam Hinkie (and approved by ownership) to get better long-term by being bad now and hoarding draft picks. It’s a strategy that can work if Hinkie nails the draft picks (the book is out on how Hinkie is doing on that front). And they are committed to it through at least this draft.

But don’t think for a second the players and coach are trying to lose.

If you have watched the Sixers play their last few games you know the players are trying hard to get that victory (and almost have a couple of times). The effort is there, they are just outmatched and lack the kind of presence at the end of games to execute under pressure (something a couple of quality, regularly-playing veterans might help, but that’s another discussion). They have the point differential of a team that should have a couple wins; they just haven’t been fortunate. It happens. Go ahead and blame management if you think this plan is an abomination. Just don’t question the desire or effort of the players or coaches, that is not in doubt.

The Sixers play at the Grizzlies Sunday, then have maybe their best shot at a win for a while when they host the Lakers on Tuesday.



Byron Scott, is it time to bench Kobe Bryant? “That’s not an option.”

Kobe Bryant, D'Angelo Russell, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant‘s shooting woes this season have been well documented. Let me explain… no, there is too much. Let me sum up. Kobe is shooting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three, all while jacking up more threes than ever before. He was 1-of-14 shooting against Cleveland, and that’s as many shots as rookies D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle got combined.

If Kobe keeps shooting like this while dominating the ball, is it time to bench Kobe? Coach Byron Scott laughed at the idea, as reported by Baxter Holmes at ESPN.

“I would never, never, never do that,” Scott said after practice at the Lakers’ facility. “That’s not an option whatsoever. No, that’s not an option.”

It’s not an option because this is the guy the fans have paid to see, at home and on the road (the Lakers have still sold out every road game this season, the only team to have done so). Kobe is the draw, he’s going to play.

That doesn’t mean Scott is handling all this well, Kobe has no repercussions for his actions.

Byron Scott is an enabler with Kobe. In his mind Kobe has earned the right to play poorly because of his career, which is just hard to watch.

The real issue I have with Scott enabling Kobe is the double standard — minutes for Russell and the other young players get jerked around when they make mistakes. Scott sounds and acts like a guy with a couple rookies on a veteran team where the objective is to win as many games as possible.

This can’t be emphasized enough: the primary goal for the Lakers this season is to develop Russell, Randle, and Jordan Clarkson (and Larry Nance Jr., who has impressed). But Russell has sat a lot of fourth quarters, and when Scott is asked if playing in those blowout minutes might help develop the young point guard faster, he says, “Nah.” Scott has benched Clarkson at points and called him out in the media.

Reduction of minutes can be a valuable teaching tool with young players — if the conditions of them getting those minutes are precisely laid out. Clear rules with rewards and consequences. That is not the case in Los Angeles, where Russell has said Scott has not spoken to him much about what he’s doing wrong and why he’s spending the ends of games benched. That’s not coaching a guy up; that’s not player development. There need to be clear guidelines and structures for young players to follow.

The only guideline in LA seems to be “Kobe has carte blanche.”

Boston police now probing fight involving 76ers center Okafor

Jahlil Okafor

BOSTON (AP) — Boston police say a man has come forward saying he’s the victim in a fight involving Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor that was recorded and posted online.

Authorities say a man filed a police report Friday saying the fight outside a nightclub left him with stitches over his eye.

Police say the alleged victim reported the fight began after some of his female friends refused the advances of two men, including one believed to be Okafor. The man told police Okafor punched him and knocked him to the ground.

Okafor says he’s embarrassed about the scuffle and is dealing with the team and league on possible discipline.

The confrontation happened early Thursday morning after the 76ers fell to 0-16 on the season. The Sixers rookie said he was being heckled.

Previously, the police had said they were not investigating the incident.

Durant, Westbrook throw shade at Reggie Jackson after Thunder beat Pistons

Reggie Jackson
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Reggie Jackson‘s exit from Oklahoma City a year ago was not smooth or pretty. He wanted a bigger stage, he wanted out, and he let everyone know it. “We felt like everybody wanted to be here except for one guy,” Kevin Durant said after the trade that sent Jackson to Detroit.

The Pistons and Jackson were back in Oklahoma City Friday night. The fans let Jackson know they didn’t appreciate his words with plenty of boos. After the game, when asked about Jackson both Durant and Russell Westbrook threw shade at Jackson, as reported by Royce Young at Daily KD didn’t even mention Jackson among Detroit’s best players.

“Steven (Adams) did a great job on their best player and Andre (Roberson) did a great job on their second best player in (Kentavious Caldwell) Pope and Russ did his job,” Durant said…

“Who?” Westbrook said, after very clearly hearing who he was asked about.

Reggie Jackson.

“What happened?”

Those comments were more aggressive toward Jackson than the Thunder players seemed to be during the game, where he was treated as an afterthought.

Jackson has played well for Detroit this season — averaging 19.1 points and 5.9 assists per game, with a PER of 20.3 and real chemistry with Andre Drummond — but he was held in check against the Thunder. Spending much of the night battling foul trouble, Jackson had 15 points on 16 shots on the night.

Durant was the stud for the Thunder, with 34 points and 13 rebounds, and the Thunder won comfortably 103-87.