Lakers starters chat during their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles

Mark Cuban hopes the Lakers “suck.” They did for a night.

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There are a whole lot of people rooting for the Lakers to suck this year after forming their own West Coast superteam with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.

Mark Cuban is just the most prominent of them. From Mark Medina at the Daily News (hat tip to SLAM):

“I don’t care,” Cuban said before the Lakers’ season opener Tuesday against Dallas at Staples Center. “I just hope they suck….

“They’re like any other team,” Cuban said. “Obviously Nash is great. Kobe’s phenomenal. But it takes a team. They have to come together and play as a team. Hopefully they don’t figure it out.”

It’s safe to say they haven’t yet — Cuban’s Mavs outworked and outplayed the Lakers to win the opener 99-91.

Steve Nash deferred a lot, floated around the perimeter off the ball and generally didn’t impact the game as Kobe had the ball in his hands a lot. Dwight Howard couldn’t hit a free throw and looked a little slowed by his back. The Lakers bench and defensive rotations were unimpressive.

It’s one game. Remember the first game of the Heat’s big-three era? They lost by 8 to the Boston Celtics, but it didn’t feel that close at all. LeBron, Wade and Bosh looked confused playing together.

The older Lakers with their shorter contracts don’t have a couple of years to figure it out like the Heat, but it’s not going to happen overnight.

Smart Lakers watchers realized it. Lakers radio play-by-play man John Ireland was doing his local radio show and predicted the Lakers would start the season 13-6 and had caller after caller (not to mention his radio co-host Mychal Thompson) come on and say “no, they are going to be 18-2.” Because that’s how fans view the world.

But they learned a hard lesson Tuesday. You can’t rush chemistry.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

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Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

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Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.