Should 0-4 Lakers be worried about preseason? Not really.


Do not take any results from the preseason seriously.

I mean it. Don’t do it. The Sixers blew out the Celtics Monday night, but a game without Kevin Garnett (and Andrew Bynum) is not an accurate reflection of anything that you might see on the court in just a couple weeks. It just doesn’t matter.

But sometimes you can start to see trends that you should watch heading into the season.

So the Utah Jazz blew out the Lakers 114-80 Tuesday night in Anaheim, and Lakers fans should yawn. The loss makes the Lakers 0-4 in the preseason, but that is utterly meaningless. The Lakers were without Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol or Jordan Hill in the paint Tuesday night, for starters. At least Kobe Bryant put on a show in the third quarter (he finished with 31), so the Lakers fans in attendance feel like they got their money’s worth. Which is all anyone can hope for in the preseason.

But there is something going on this preseason Lakers fans should be concerned about:


That’s what you see in preseason games — Kobe and Steve Nash and Pau Gasol don’t need big minutes to get ready for the season. Dwight Howard is sidelined. Those are not the guys getting the run. What you see in the preseason are the guys who get limited minutes during the regular season getting big minutes.

The Jazz roll out nice young players to get minutes in the preseason — Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks and on down the line. The Lakers… not so much.

The Lakers starting five may well be the league’s best. They will show up ready to ball for the regular season. But the second five has either Chris Duhon or Steve Blake as the backup point, Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison, the currently injured Jordan Hill, Earl Clark and maybe Chris Douglas-Roberts. They are not a deep team.

That may not matter as much once they get to the playoffs when the starters can run more minutes (with less travel and regular days off). As long as they are healthy they will still win a lot of regular season games.

But the Lakers need to keep Nash’s minutes under 30 a game this season and bring Kobe’s down from the 38 a game he played last season. And of course some guys are going to miss games due to injury (or just need a night off) during the coming nearly six-month regular season grind.

And you can fairly question how much the Lakers bench will contribute during that grind after watching them this preseason. It could impact their playoff seeding.

Lakers fans, don’t worry about your team losing big to the Jazz in a meaningless preseason game. But you should be a little bit concerned about why.

Dwight Howard posts just second 30-30 game in last 36 years

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Dwight Howard never played for the Nets. He almost got traded to Brooklyn by the Magic, but the deal never happened.

Which puts a dent in Dennis Schroder‘s theory Howard gets up for games against only his former teams.

Howard dominated Brooklyn for 32 points and 30 rebounds in the Hornets’ 111-105 win tonight. That’s just the second 30-30 game in the last 36 years, Kevin Love notching the other in 2010.

All 30-30 games since Wilt Chamberlain, who had a ton:

  • Dwight Howard (Charlotte Hornets, 3/21/2018): 32 points, 30 rebounds
  • Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves, 11/12/2010): 31 points, 31 rebounds
  • Moses Malone (Houston Rockets, 2/11/1982): 38 points, 32 rebounds
  • Swen Nater (Milwaukee Bucks, 12/19/1976): 30 points, 33 rebounds
  • Elvin Hayes (Capital Bullets, 11/17/1973): 43 points, 32 rebounds

Howard helped Charlotte erase a 23-point second-half deficit and a 10-point deficit with four minutes left. The Hornets are playing out a lost season, and Brooklyn has looked overmatched most of the year, particularly at center. But no matter the situation, Howard says he still feels super-sized expectations.

Tonight, he exceeded them by leaps and bounds.

Giannis Antetokounmpo leaves Bucks’ loss to Clippers with ankle injury (video)

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The Bucks lost, 127-120, to the Clippers tonight.

More importantly, Milwaukee lost Antetokounmpo to an ankle injury.

He limped off in the second quarter and didn’t return. The Bucks called it a sprain.

Any more time Antetokounmpo misses would be a huge loss. Hopefully, he recovers quickly.

No matter how many other good players – Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe – Milwaukee has put on the floor, the team has struggled without its star. Antetokounmpo is a commanding force offensively who just does so much, and his defense impresses.

The Bucks (37-34) are eighth in the East. They’re safely in playoff position, five games ahead of the ninth-place Pistons. But this hurts Milwaukee’s chances of avoiding a first-round matchup with the excellent Raptors – though the way Toronto has regressed in the playoffs in previous years, that might not be so bad. Still, the Bucks should probably chase the seventh-place Heat, who are up 1.5 games on Milwaukee, and a likely first-round matchup with the injury-ravaged Celtics.

Obviously, a healthy Antetokounmpo would be central to that pursuit.

Cavaliers beat Raptors, become first team in 27 years to surrender 79 first-half points and win


The Cavaliers haven’t been good enough throughout the season, especially defensively. The Raptors have – offensively, defensively, starters, bench. Hope has grown in Toronto of winning the Eastern Conference after getting eliminated by Cleveland the last two years.

But LeBron James and Cavs showed why it’s hard to pick any other team – even the first-place Raptors – to win the East in a 132-129 win over Toronto tonight.

Cleveland allowed 79 first-half points and fell behind by 15. But a LeBron-led offense was just too potent. This was the first time since 1990 (Nuggets over Spurs after trailing 90-83) a team surrendered so many first-half points then still won.

LeBron finished with 35 points, 17 assists and no turnovers. No forward has ever dished so many assists without a turnover in Basketball-Reference’s database, which dates back to 1963-64.

And LeBron led the Cavaliers to this win despite Tristan Thompson, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr., Kyle Korver and Cedi Osman being out.

It’s only one game, and it was in Cleveland. But even with home-court advantage in a potential playoff series, the Raptors must grapple with even more lingering doubt now about their ability to beat the Cavs.

Report: Becky Hammon staying with Spurs, not coaching Colorado State men’s team

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Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon was a candidate to coach the men’s team at Colorado State, her alma mater. That would have made her the first woman to coach a Division I men’s team.

Alas, it won’t happen.

Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports:

It’s unclear whether Hammon was ever actually offered the job.

She’s still on the right track for a head-coaching job somewhere. Most importantly, by all accounts, she’s doing good work in San Antonio. There’s also more attention on her career because of her pioneering status, and that will appeal to some teams.

This dalliance with Colorado State raises her profile even further and shows just how close she is.