What is the identity of this Los Angeles Lakers team? What kind of team are they?
You don’t know. I don’t know. It’s pretty clear the players don’t know. With the roster and coaching and system changes, they have not found their footing yet.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak doesn’t know either. He doesn’t like the record but he told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News he doesn’t yet know what he’s got.
“I can’t sit here and say I’m happy with our record. I don’t think that’s a stretch for me or any Laker fan to say that. That’s just stating the obvious. But I’m not sure how you assess this team until you get key players back.”
Well, fans are assessing it by wins and losses. That’s the problem.
But Medina wisely was more direct — do you plan to keep Pau Gasol?
“That has always been the plan,” Kupchak said. “Nothing has happened to change the plan.”
Kupchak seconded reports that it will be weeks before Steve Nash returns to the lineup. Which means a couple different tests are on tap for the squad.
“I’m curious to see how the team gets through the next two or three weeks until Steve gets back,” Kupchak said. “Once he gets back, then I’m curious to see how he fits in with everybody.”
The goal for the Lakers has not changed — they see themselves as title contenders. But even if the Lakers do get it together when Nash and Gasol get back and start to blend in, this start has made their path harder. At this point the Lakers are not going to catch Oklahoma City, San Antonio or Memphis in the standings, and likely not the Clippers (the Lakers are 5.5 games back). Which would have them as a five seed at best, playing every round of the playoffs on the road.
But that is the price for this start. And we haven’t seen enough of the Lakers to assess if they could climb that mountain or not.
NEW YORK (AP) James Harden had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in his 12th triple-double of the season and the Houston Rockets easily ended their first losing streak of the season by beating the Brooklyn Nets 137-112 on Sunday night.
Held to 105 points in losses to Minnesota and Memphis, the Rockets bounced back with 104 after three quarters and handed the Nets their 10th straight loss.
Eric Gordon led the Rockets with 24 points and Trevor Ariza added 23. Houston made 21 3-pointers and had five players with at least 16 points.
Houston shot just 40.8 percent during its two losses, well below its 46.8 season average, while being held nearly 10 points below its season scoring average. But the Rockets had no trouble bouncing back against the Nets, who allow an NBA-worst 114.3 per game.
Joel Embiid has fans all around the NBA. Some even came out to see him during the Philadelphia 76ers game against the Washington Wizards on Saturday despite the Cameroonian big man sitting out due to restrictions on playing in back-to-back games.
#BusTheProcess was the hashtag used to get 350 Sixers fans to the game in D.C. thanks to Embiid, coach Brett Brown, and the podcast The Rights to Ricky Sanchez.
Via Twitter and ESPN:
Fun stuff for some dedicated fans, even if they didn’t get to see Embiid play.
Unfortunately for the #BusTheProcess folks, the 76ers wound up losing to the Wizards, 109-93.
Michael Carter-Williams is still shaking the dust off after being inserted into the starting lineup, I guess. At least, that’s about what you can say when you pass the ball off your starting center’s face.
But there’s good news! The Chicago Bulls scored on this play.
Let’s take a look at the whole thing, shall we?
I think the more important question is whether Carter-Williams received a secondary or primary assists on the NBA.com tracking site.
ATLANTA (AP) Kent Bazemore scored 24 points, Mike Dunleavy added 20 and the Atlanta Hawks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 111-98 on Sunday.
Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 33 points and was a tough matchup in the paint for Milwaukee, which dropped 2 1/2 games behind the fourth-place Hawks in the Eastern Conference.
Atlanta has won eight of nine. The Bucks have dropped three of five.
Dunleavy, in his second game since arriving in a trade last week with Cleveland, had his first 20-point performance since a first-round playoff game for Chicago on April 30, 2015.
Antetokounmpo has scored at least 30 points in eight games in a breakout season.