After sitting out the first two games of the Lakers three game road trip, there was a sliver of hope that he might try to play Friday night against the Thunder. The thought was that the extra rest may help his knees feel good enough to give it a go in what is certainly a big game for the Lakers.
That will not happen, however. Pau will continue to rest his sore knees instead of suiting up against the team that eliminated the Lakers from the playoffs last season:
It was a long shot that Pau Gasol would play at all on this trip, so this shouldn’t be surprise. Still, for an undermanned Laker team that’s already missing Steve Nash, having him sit out still stings.
In his absence, the Lakers are 1-1 but face their biggest test of the trip in this final game. And while a healthy Gasol would be an asset against the Thunder, the physically limited version would only be a liability against a team that has the athletes to hurt them in transition and the lineup versatility to force him to defend away from the basket.
Expect Antawn Jamison to continue to start in Gasol’s absence and for Jordan Hill to see minutes at back up center when Dwight Howard goes to the bench. Both players have done well in Pau’s absence and they’ll need to do so again tonight if the Lakers are to have a chance against a Thunder team that’s won their last 6 games.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.