Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks

When Nash comes back Kobe says he can just focus on scoring

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Right now we get to see Kobe Bryant running a lot of pick-and-roll when we watch a Lakers game — and it’s not bad. He was never really asked to do this in the triangle offense, but he has shown real skill at decision making on setting up teammates and when to get the points for himself.

But there also has been moments of vintage Kobe — in the four games since Mike D’Antoni started stalking the sidelines, the two times Kobe had fewer than 20 shot attempts the Lakers won, when it was 20 or more they lost. As always, when the other Lakers are struggling to score Kobe takes on more of the offense, but that doesn’t always work.

Kobe thinks his point totals will go up and the Lakers will be better off when he has to distribute less because Steve Nash returns from his broken leg. Then he can just focus on scoring, he told Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register (hat tip to SLAM).

“I’ve been doing this my whole career, and some nights my teammates hit more shots and that adds up to more assists for me,” Bryant said. “The games we win are when the whole team is making shots. Now, if our shots aren’t going in, then I have to take more of the offensive load.”

Bryant is looking forward to Nash’s return, for sure. Nash will be re-evaluated next week.

“I’ll be scoring a lot more when Nash gets back,” Bryant said. “I won’t have to facilitate as much, and it will allow me to do what I do best — and that’s put the ball in the hole.”

There seems to be this feeling among the Lakers and their fans that the return of Nash will be a panacea for the Lakers issues. That somehow everybody will get the touches they want in the places they want once Nash returns.

But it’s not that simple. Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard’s spacing and confidence issues will not magically disappear. It’s not that simple. There will be more adjustments, more guys trying to figure out where they fit in. There are no simple answers for the Lakers… well, other than that they need to defend better.

Glenn Robinson III does his best to salvage Dunk Contest, gets victory in process

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NEW ORLEANS — This year’s NBA All-Star Dunk Contest was doomed to disappoint, it was never going to match last year’s epic battle. It started in a hole.

It never climbed out. Don’t take my word for it, check out what JaVale McGee thought.

Saturday was an underwhelming night of dunks punctuated by a couple of moments of brilliance.

The Pacers’ Glenn Robinson III had the most of those moments — which is why he won the event. His strong night started with his first dunk, which may well have been the best of the contest.

The final one from Robinson, the one that sealed the victory, may be the other best dunk of the competition — dunking over Paul George, the Pacers mascot, and a Pacers dancer.

“I originally planned for it just to be PG (Paul George),” Robinson said afterward. “I knew I had to bring out something special. We added the mascot and the cheerleader. I really just wanted to get up high and dunk that thing hard, man. My adrenaline was going. It felt like I was looking at the rim. All I knew was the crowd go crazy. I pointed like this because, man, everybody seemed to sleep on me, didn’t really think I was going to win this thing.”

Event favorite Aaron Gordon, who should have won a year ago, opened the contest with an innovative idea — a drone dunk — but he couldn’t execute it and there were a few attempts before he nailed it.

Gordon didn’t advance out of the first round, and his first dunk summed up the 2017 Dunk Contest — interesting ideas that didn’t quite pan out like planned. (To be fair, Gordon has been battling injuries recently, that may have thrown him off).

If it wasn’t going to be Gordon, a lot of people expected it to be the bouncy Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. who won, and he reached the Finals in part thanks to this spectacular dunk that woke the Smoothie King Center up.

DeAndre Jordan was okay, but without Chris Paul throwing him lobs it didn’t quite feel the same. Jordan can dunk with such power in game, but we didn’t see that Saturday.

In the end, it was Gordon who was making the plays.

“I’m not really a known dunker,” Robinson said. “I practiced. I prepared. I know I’m a jumper. And like I said, I’m a guy that stays out of the way. But when it’s time to shine, that’s my thing. That’s what I wanted to do. I knew all along I had some things planned, and I just wanted to show the world.”

Glenn Robinson III wins underwhelming dunk contest on over-people, below-rim dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — Glenn Robinson III won the dunk contest with the second-best dunk of the night, going over a few people and under the rim — a narrow path to slamming victory.

It would’ve rated as the event’s best dunk if he were truly under the rim rather than somewhat in front of it. And he did have the best body of work to win the contest.

But the best single dunk was still by runner-up Derrick Jones Jr., who went between the legs on a pass off the side of the backboard.

NBA stars shoot threes to raise $500,000 for Sager Strong Foundation in touching moment

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NEW ORLEANS — The spirit of Craig Sager is strong during All-Star weekend in The Big Easy and he’s going to get a spot in the Hall of Fame, deservedly so.

After Eric Gordon won the Three-Point Contest, he and the other finalists Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker stayed on the court to shoot threes to raise money for the Sager Strong Foundation — they would shoot threes for a minute and for each make the foundation would get $10,000. Then they brought out help — Reggie Miller, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, DJ Khaled, and others to knock down shots. That raised $130,000.

Stephen Curry tried to push that to $500,000, but it was Sager’s son that actually did it (with an assist from Shaquille O’Neal).

It was a touching moment for a great cause.

Derrick Jones Jr. catches pass off side of backboard, jams between-legs dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — With defending runner-up Aaron Gordon eliminated in the first round, Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. might be our best hope to save the dunk contest.