A few diehard Lakers fans are still clinging on to the hope they could win an NBA title this season.
Why? Why is the team itself still optimistic? Because they still have so much talent, something Kevin Ding explains at the Orange Country Register. That talent hasn’t been healthy or fit together all that well yet, the defense and bench are in question, but the possibility of what that talent could bring keeps title hopes alive in Lakers nation.
Charles Barkley would like to crush those hopes.
He was on The Dan LeBatard Show on 790 The Ticket in Miami and did not mince words when asked if the Lakers could win a title this year (thanks to Sports Radio Interviews).
“None. Zero. Zero chance. I think Oklahoma City, Memphis and the Spurs are the three best teams in the West. I still have my concerns. Everybody is on the Clippers’ bandwagon. I don’t like their half-court offense. I don’t like their free throw shooting. I love Chris Paul. I said it for years. I thought Jason Kidd was the best leader in the NBA. I passed that mantle, in my personal opinion, to Chris Paul, but I don’t like their half-court offense.”
Earlier in the interview Barkley reiterated what he said on TNT — the Lakers look old and slow.
It’s hard to see the Lakers even getting above a six seed after the hole they have dug themselves. They are not catching OKC or San Antonio, and despite Barkley’s concerns they are not catching the Clippers in the regular season either. (I don’t share Barkley’s concerns about the Clippers, but we will see where they are come March and April.) The West is deep with good teams and while I expect the Lakers make the playoffs they have made their playoff road much more difficult.
Barkley sees what we all do out East — the Miami Heat are the best team and look like a force of nature when they are focused. The Knicks have had some backsliding of late and they still might be the most likely second best in the East (maybe if the Pacers get Danny Granger back and Roy Hibbert out of his slump they can step into that role).
CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.
Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.
James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.
Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.
Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.
After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”
Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.
Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.
This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.
One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.
LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.
Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.
That lasted about a minute.
LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.
For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.
The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.
With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.
I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.
That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.