Report: Phil Jackson, Mike D’Antoni leading candidates for Lakers head coaching spot

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Hours after the Lakers informed Mike Brown he was out as head coach in Los Angeles, the team has already narrowed its search to two candidates.

The names are familiar, and are the two who would each seem to make perfect sense for their own reasons.

Phil Jackson and Mike D’Antoni are atop the Lakers’ wish list to replace Brown as head coach, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles. The process is expected to move quickly, and will move beyond those two if there’s no mutual interest.

The Lakers are expected to reach out to both men as early as Saturday morning, as well as several other candidates. They’d like to move quickly through this process as interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff has only committed to working a few games.

“It’s not going to be a long process; that’s for damn sure,” a source told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “But they’re going to do their due diligence.”

A meeting with Jackson could happen by the end of the weekend.

Jackson certainly has the pedigree, winning championships with Kobe Bryant five times during two separate coaching campaigns with the Lakers. He left on his own after the team failed in its three-peat bid in 2011, where L.A. was unexpectedly and unceremoniously swept out of the second round of the playoffs by the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks.

Mike D’Antoni was responsible for some of the most successful recent seasons in Phoenix, where he was Steve Nash’s head coach running the Seven Seconds or Less offense that resulted in two MVPs for Nash in the 2005 and 2006 seasons.

The concern with Jackson would be whether he still has the desire, and the concern with D’Antoni has always been defense.

We’ll see if the Lakers can coerce either man back to the bench, but whether they can or can’t, expect the decision to come down just as soon as they can lock up someone whose name appears on that very short list.

LeBron James hits go-ahead shot in All-Star win (video)

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LOS ANGELES – LeBron James‘ team trailed by 13 midway through the fourth quarter of the All-Star game, but he led a competitive comeback.

This shot put his team up 146-145 over Stephen Curry‘s team, and Team LeBron held on for a 148-145 win:

Great penetration by Russell Westbrook, and he and Kyrie Irving moved the ball well. LeBron made it count.

LeBron James finishes reverse alley-oop from Russell Westbrook (VIDEO)

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LOS ANGELES — The new format for the NBA All-Star game brought a little more defense to the first half of the annual showcase, but it didn’t do much to enliven the game. That said, the game has been better than the pre-game “entertainment.”

Midway through the second quarter, his team down 15, LeBron James decided to make it a game again and played with some energy. That included a three, and a couple impressive alley-oop finishes. The best came via Russell Westbrook.

There also was this one courtesy Kemba Walker.

Those may be the two best dunks of the first half.

Anthony Davis opens All-Star game wearing DeMarcus Cousins’ jersey

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LOS ANGELES – Anthony Davis often relies on his Pelicans teammates to set him up.

Tonight, he gave a nod to one of them.

Davis started the All-Star game wearing DeMarcus Cousins‘ No. 0 jersey. Cousins and Davis were both voted starters then drafted by LeBron James, but Cousins can’t play due to injury.

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

Very cool gesture by Davis. He’s an excellent teammate.

No, Joel Embiid didn’t cheat during the NBA Skills Challenge

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The Internet got itself all in a huff on Saturday as they watched the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend Skills Challenge. In particular, the matchup between Chicago Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen and Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid stirred up a bit of controversy.

Specifically, folks accused Embiid of cheating.

During the passing section of the obstacle course, Embiid didn’t actually make any of his passes into the ring. He then proceeded on the next section and was neck-and-neck with Markkanen as they tried to finish out the head-to-head competition. Markkanen won, but that didn’t stop folks from saying the 76ers All-Star had circumvented the rules.

We now know that’s not true.

According to the rules (provided on the NBA media site, page 47 of the 2018 NBA All-Star Media Guide) Embiid was allowed to move onto the next section even though he hadn’t completed any of his passes. A player only has to exhaust the rack, not complete a pass. It appears rules sort of assume that if a player stands there trying to complete a pass three times they’ll fall so far behind they won’t be able to catch up.

Re-watching the video, it appears Embiid knew this rule to the game and figured if he didn’t make the first one he would quickly try to blast the next two passes off the rack so he could then move onto the next section.

Embiid even took to Twitter to head off accusations that he had cheated.

Via Twitter:

Trust. The. Process.