Hey Earl Clark, really good game for the Lakers against the Spurs the other night. Well done.
Your reward: Cover Kevin Durant Friday night.
The Lakers need to start winning games fast if they want to even make the playoffs (they need to go 30-17 the rest of the way to get to 45 wins, and that may not be enough in a deep West) and it doesn’t get any easier Friday night with Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder coming to town.
And the Lakers get to face OKC shorthanded — Pau Gasol met with doctors again but was not cleared to play, tweets Lakers.com reporter and television sideline reporter Mike Trudell. That after a concussion caused by an inadvertent JaVale McGee elbow last Sunday night. Also out is Dwight Howard with a torn labrum (he will be re-evaluated next week) and Jordan Hill (hip).
So the Lakers are trying this lineup to break their five-game losing streak:
The idea is to have Kobe Bryant on Westbrook. The concerns there for the Lakers are Kobe getting in foul trouble from and aggressive Westbrook and the energy he has to expend on defense and what that might do to his offense. This season the Lakers have an offensive rating of 113.6 point per 100 possessions when Kobe is on the court (that would be the best in the league) and 99.7 when he sits (that would be 22nd in the league). The Lakers can’t win without the very best of Kobe.
And of Earl Clark, too.
Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.
So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.
LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.
When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.
At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.
The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.
China has secured the ninth and final Olympic men’s basketball berth awarded this year.
China earned the bid to the 2016 Rio Games with a 78-67 win over the Philippines. 2016 first-round draft prospect Qi Zhou had 16 points and 14 rebounds, setting up the Olympics to be his big introduction to American fans.
Former NBA player Yi Jianlian won tournament MVP by averaging 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.
This will be China’s ninth straight Olympic appearance.
The Philippines, who got 17 points from Andray Blatche in the final, will still go to an Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer with a chance to reach Rio.