With full training camp, Mike Brown going slower with Lakers

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There were a lot of things Lakers fans criticized Mike Brown for last year. Some were deserved, some not. Such is the life of an NBA head coach.

But one legitimate complaint was he burned the Lakers candle at both ends — long practices and lots of them, not a lot of time off, and Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol played ridiculously heavy minutes.

Lakers players called Brown “all day every day.”

This season, even with new faces and a new offense to install, Brown is going slow. Or at least more slowly. From Ramona Shelburne at ESPNLA.com.

This season they all have time to breathe again. Training camp is a month long. The season isn’t condensed. And while Brown is still pushing the Lakers hard — he ran them through a three-hour practice before their exhibition game in Ontario on Wednesday — he seems to be reading and reacting to his mostly-veteran team better than he did a year ago.

“From what I hear, last year they didn’t have a day the first 19 or 20 days,” Lakers forward Antawn Jamison said. “This is already our second day off. He knows this is a team with a lot of guys who have a lot of mileage. There’s certain things he’s going to tweak what he would normally do. That’s what coaching is about — understanding your personnel.”

That three-hour practice on a game day? Brown heard about it from no less than Steve Nash who joked in his post-game comments, “That was a new one for me.”

Preseason is one thing, it’s during the season — the long, marathon grind of an NBA season — that Brown really has to back off. Nash needs to be below 30 minutes a game, even if your backup is Chris Duhon. Kobe played 38.5 minutes a game last season and that needs to drop by 5 at least. Bryant and Gasol are coming off hard-working Olympic summers, they might even get a night off here and there.

Our own Brett Pollakoff said this in our Lakers preview — Mike Brown should be the biggest concern for Lakers fans this year. This is a team that should be thinking title or bust (along with Miami and Oklahoma City). But has Brown learned that the key to getting the guys to play their best is not usually a three-hour shoot around? Will he grasp the nuances of coaching this team and getting the most out of each guy?

We will see. But know that if not his seat is going to get more than just warm.

Elfrid Payton slams chasedown block on LeBron James (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is usually the guy handing out chasedown blocks. He’s famous for them, and has carted out his signature move in the biggest moments of his career.

He’s also not used to having his own shots blocked from behind, and certainly not by opposing point guards.

Enter Elfrid Payton.

During a play halfway through the first quarter against the Orlando Magic on Thursday, LeBron was on a drive to the hole with Elfrid trailing far behind.

Thanks to a pinch by two Magic defenders, LeBron had to try and use brute force a bit deeper in the paint than he wanted to.

That allowed Payton — running at full speed — to catch up and pin The King on the glass.

Cleveland still got the best of the Magic, as Isaiah Thomas hit a clutch free throw to win the game with 11 seconds left, 104-103.

All-Star Joel Embiid doesn’t need Rihanna: “On to the next one”

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For about as long as we can remember, Joel Embiid has famously thirsted after Rihanna on Twitter. Fans have tried to boost his standing with the singer, but it apparently that has not been enough.

In 2014, Embiid mentioned on social media that a “famous girl” — presumably Rihanna — told him to “Come back when you’re an All-Star.”

Well, today is that day.

Embiid is a starter out of the Eastern Conference, and on Thursday night he had his chance to speak to Rihanna (or whomever) via national TV on TNT.

Did Embiid decide to reach out to this famous person? Apparently he’s off it.

Via Twitter:

This is like that scene from Private Parts when Howard Stern hits No. 1 and he tells Paul Giamatti’s character to get lost.

Embiid had the chance to curve Rihanna (or whomever) and took it. Long live The Process.

Here are the weirdest NBA All-Star voting results for 2018

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NBA All-Star voting is over, and now we have the results. The starters are in, and what’s left is for us to wait until they announce the teams after they are picked in double secret ceremony.

Of course, the NBA did release the full voting results via their PR website this week, and as such there are some head scratchers. My boy Patrick Redford over at Deadspin did an excellent job rounding up some of the players who got exactly one (1) vote from other players.

The gag here is that these guys presumably voted for themselves.

Of course, what I found most interesting was actually the guys who got multiple votes from their compatriots without being All-Star caliber players.

My favorite list of player-voted non-All-Stars includes: Michael Beasley (4), Gordon Hayward (2), Boban Marjanovic (2), Jahlil Okafor (4), Quincy Acy (2), Tyler Zeller (4), T.J. McConnell (2), Elfrid Payton (2), Zaza Pachulia (3), Taj Gibson (6), Zach Randolph (5), Maurice Harkless (2), Deyonta Davis (3), Lonzo Ball (9), Mike Conley (3).

There’s a whole smattering of guys in there who either didn’t play enough, aren’t stars, are injured, or who aren’t very good.

That multiple players took time to vote for these guys really speaks to the frivolity of the NBA All-Star Game. At least outside of player contract incentives.

Bring on February!

LeBron James throws behind-the-back, nutmeg pass for assist (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is one of the best passers the NBA has ever seen, but even this is too hard to believe.

During Thursday’s game between the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron through a ridiculous behind-the-back pass that nutmegged Orlando’s Aaron Gordon.

The result of the play was a bucket for Dwyane Wade.

Via Twitter:

I mean, that’s just … insane.