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.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: