Kobe Bryant wants World Peace to be an enforcer again

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There was a time when Ron Artest was feared, because he was unpredictable and aggressive. He had skills on the court, but he was feared like a hockey enforcer.

Metta World Peace — the guy Ron Arest became complete with a new name — is a guy trying to fit in with the Lakers. A more mature guy.

Kobe Bryant wants some the old Artest back. It’s part of what he told Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports as part of an interview after the Lakers latest ugly loss, this one to the Knicks in Madison Square Garden.

“Metta has a big presence on this team. I really encourage him to take that role head on – and to be an enforcer with it. But Metta, he’s done it before. We’ve won before together….

“Metta’s just as intense as I am, and he’s got a lot of that psychopath attitude that I do. That’s something Magic and me talked about, about how [Michael] Cooper and him did that a lot, how they played off each other.”

Well, good to know Magic is talking to someone with the Lakers rather than just launching blasts from afar.

Kobe says he needs Pau Gasol back and to step up too — the guys that have “done this before” need to lead the way for the new Lakers.

The Lakers need to get Steve Nash and Gasol back with Bryant and Dwight Howard and let them play together, all of them, for a few weeks. The bench looks better with Steve Blake on it and Antawn Jamison coming off it. Rotations might settle down. The Lakers are not going to be up-tempo, but they can find their pace and find their footing.

Then you can really evaluate this team and see if they can become what many of us thought on paper they could be. We’ll see if they can defend like they need to do.

But right now, the Lakers just look lost and Kobe needs help leading them out of the wilderness. Even from a psychopath.

PBT Extra: Disciplined Celtics highlight bad habits of Milwaukee Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.

The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.

I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.

Ettore Messina to coach Spurs in Game 3 following death of Gregg Popovich’s wife

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.

That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.

But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.

On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.

To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.