I hope you enjoyed the couple days of respite from the Lakers panic, because it is back on.
If the Lakers were looking to carry over their momentum from their win over Detroit, they failed miserably against the Jazz and fell hard 95-86. L.A. looked listless early and dug themselves a hole that they couldn’t climb out of even with a spirited second half that saw their effort improve dramatically.
The Jazz controlled the paint against the Lakers’ vaunted front line and ultimately this was the key to the game. Utah scored 28 points in the paint in the first half alone and rode their trio of Al Jefferson (18 points and 10 boards on the night), Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter early on to set a tone of bruising, physical play.
On the perimeter, the Lakers had a hard time containing Mo Williams and Randy Foye. The backcourt duo combined for 33 points on only 24 shots with Williams making his mark early in the game and Foye hitting several key shots down the stretch (including three huge three pointers) to bury the Lakers last ditch attempt at a comeback.
For the Lakers, it was another mistake prone night as they turned the ball over 18 times and got lost on their defensive rotations too frequently. Combine that with a 34% shooting night from the floor (including going 4-23 from behind the arc) and they simply weren’t ready to play. Kobe Bryant had a team best 29 but was clearly frustrated after the loss.
If the Lakers were playing better to start the year you could chalk this game up to a bad night and brush it off. But poor play has been the norm for them through five games and even the most patient observers should start to be a bit concerned.
NEW YORK (AP) — TNT will use broadcast teams featuring only former players and no traditional play-by-play men during five NBA doubleheaders later this season.
The “Players Only” schedule runs Monday nights from Feb. 27 to March 27 and includes matchups such as Golden State-Oklahoma City on March 20 and Cleveland-San Antonio a week later.
Brent Barry will serve as the primary host of one team with Derek Fisher and Grant Hill, while Greg Anthony partners with Kevin McHale and Richard Hamilton on the other.
Lisa Leslie and Dennis Scott will serve as reporters.
Turner Sports says Thursday that Chris Webber will anchor the studio coverage with Isiah Thomas and Baron Davis, and that additional NBA players will contribute to the five-week program.
HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden took some time out after the Houston Rockets’ win over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks to give a fan a present on a her 100th birthday.
Video shows Harden signing a ball for the woman and spending a few moments sitting next to her in her courtside seat and posing for pictures Wednesday night.
Harden told ESPN’s Doris Burke in an interview that he told the woman how “blessed” he was to be able to have a chance to meet her.
The Houston guard also put on a good show for the fan during the game, scoring 38 points in a 111-92 victory over the Bucks.
Kings center DeMarcus Couins appears set to become the first player to sign as a veteran designated player. The Pacers hope Paul George will follow.
But in the Pacers’ win over the Kings yesterday, George beat Cousins.
Not even Cousins thwacking George in the face could stop this dunk.
The Bucks projected Khris Middleton to miss about 70 games when he tore his hamstring before the season. That extended absence often leads players just to shut down for the year, but Middleton vowed to return in time for the playoffs.
He might get back far sooner than that.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star break.
Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.
The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.