After a dismal opening night performance at home in a loss to Dallas, the Lakers will take to the road for their second game in as many nights against a Blazers team that’s ready and waiting.
There was plenty wrong with L.A. on Tuesday — the offense was horrid, and the defense (if you want to call it that) was even worse. Steve Nash had a rough outing trying to run the new offense instead of doing what he does best, and Dwight Howard fouled out, missed a couple of dunks we would normally expect him to convert, and shot a miserable 3-of-14 from the free throw line.
That last part is important, because just two games into the young season, a Lakers opponent is going to try to exploit that weakness to its advantage.
Howard has such a physical advantage over most teams that he can post numbers even when not playing that well overall. And, still finding his way back to 100 percent from the back surgery he underwent over the summer, his athleticism isn’t fully there, and the team as a whole (Howard included) is still figuring out its defensive rotations.
WIth all of that being said, if you’re the Blazers starting an undersized front line of Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, and J.J. Hickson (as they did in the team’s preseason finale), you want Howard off the floor as much as possible.
Grinding the game to a halt and forcing him to shoot (and miss) a ton of free throws is certainly one way to get that desired result.
DeMar DeRozan drains game winner to cap 37-point night, Raptors beat Knicks 92-91
With Kyle Lowry out until around the start of the playoffs, a lot is going to be asked of DeMar DeRozan. Monday night at Madison Square Garden, he delivered.
The Raptors needed a bucket as time ran down, not only got the ball to DeRozan but got the switch so Derrick Rose was guarding him, and that allowed the Raptors star to get to his spot, rise up and bury the midrange jumper for the win.
It capped off an impressive 37-point night for DeRozan — he’s going to need to do more of this in the coming weeks.
Kevin Hart rings bell before start of Sixers game vs. Warriors
Michael Beasley was getting back up court to try and defend a LeBron James drive to the basket early in the clock Monday night when he took an awkward step and appears to hyperextend his knee. You can see the video above. He tried to leave the floor under his own power but had to be helped back to the locker room by teammates.
Beasley has been solid off the bench for the Bucks this season, averaging 9.7 points a game with a and with a PER of 17.6 (above the league average). They would miss him in the rotation as they try to make a playoff push if he has to miss any time.
Kevin Durant on return to Washington D.C. that never was: “I really just didn’t want to play at home”
A year or two ago, there was a palpable buzz among Wizards fans — they had a shot to get Kevin Durant. LeBron James had just returned like a prodigal son to Cleveland, and there seemed to be a sense from fans that other stars wanted to go home to play. The Wizards needed another star, they had the cap space, so some saw a path for Durant to return to his native D.C.
Except, a lot of players don’t want to go home again. Not to play.
“I don’t want to open up anything in the past, but I really just didn’t want to play at home,” Durant said. “It was nothing about the fans. Being at home, I was so happy with that part of my life — playing at home, being in front of friends, hanging with friends and family every day. That was a part of my life that has come and gone.
“I was like, I’m trying to build a second part of my life as a man living in a different part of the country, just trying to do different things. I did everything I was supposed to do in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, I felt. Now it’s time to do something new. I didn’t want to come back. That’s just my thought process behind it. It had nothing to do with basketball, the fans, the city.”
Not every Wizards fan will see it this way, but that’s an entirely reasonable thought process. Sometimes in life, we need a change of direction, and for Durant this would have been a step back into the past. The one he made to go to Golden State has worked out pretty well for him so far.
KD is not alone in this. Players see a lot of added stress returning home, both in terms of expectations and the demands of family and friends (asking for tickets, etc.), and some are just not into the idea of a return. The idea that Blake Griffin wants to return to Oklahoma and play for the Thunder may not fit with who he is right now. Russell Westbrook seems to like it in OKC and isn’t itching to get back to Los Angeles (but Paul George might be). Each player is a different case — how they view their hometown, whether they would want to play for the team there — and each will make his decision.