Steve Nash blames back problems for poor shooting night against Blazers

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The Lakers pulled out a close win over the Blazers on Friday, behind a stellar 40-point offensive performance from Kobe Bryant.

Bryant hasn’t been scoring like this lately, preferring instead to involve his teammates more in the offense by passing up shots in favor of getting them some better and more consistent looks. But when they struggle to score, as Steve Nash did in this one, Bryant is forced to take matters into his own hands.

Nash is one of the game’s historically high-percentage shooters, but had one of his worst games in recent memory in terms of making shots. He finished 2-11 from the field, and missed his only attempts from the free throw line and three-point arc by leaving both shots uncharacteristically short.

As it turns out, there was a reason for Nash’s struggles.

From Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times:

“I tweaked my back in the first quarter and it kept locking up,” said Nash. “It was tight the whole game and I couldn’t get the mobility.”

“I didn’t have enough time to get it sorted out and it just tightened up as it [went on],” said Nash of his back. “Hopefully, since we don’t play tomorrow, it should be fine by Sunday.”

The last thing the Lakers need is more injury concerns this season, and should Nash go down for any extended period of time, the team would find itself in even more trouble than it already is in trying to secure a spot to play in the postseason.

Despite Nash’s shooting woes, he was stil able to push the tempo and create a few things for his teammates during his 34 minutes of on-court action. He knows what it takes to get his body right, and works as hard on the conditioning aspect of his game as any player in the league, so hopefully for the Lakers this won’t become a lingering issue to finish out the season.

Jazz boost international bona fides with new minor-league coach

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Martin Schiller has been named coach of the Salt Lake City Stars, the Utah Jazz’s NBA G League affiliate.

Schiller previously served as an assistant coach of MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in Germany and replaces Dean Cooper. He was an assistant coach for the Artland Dragons from 2010-15.

Schiller has also been an assistant coach on the German National Team since 2015, where he worked with Jazz assistant coach Alex Jensen.

Schiller hails from Vienna, Austria, and Stars vice president of basketball operations Bart Taylor lauded him for his international experience and player development background.

The Jazz organization is known to have close relationships with the international basketball community. The Jazz currently have eight international players.

Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 with Celtics

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BOSTON (AP) — Newly acquired guard Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 in Boston because the Celtics already have retired the numbers he wore in college and with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Irving wore No. 11 at two New Jersey high schools before switching to No. 1 at Duke. He wore No. 2 with the Cavaliers for the first six years of his NBA career.

The Celtics retired No. 1 for founder and original owner Walter Brown. They retired No. 2 for former coach and general manager Red Auerbach.

In all, the Celtics have retired 21 numbers, with Paul Pierce’s No. 34 next in line for the TD Garden rafters.

 

PBT Extra: Cavaliers’ new GM aces first big test with Kyrie Irving trade

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Everyone in the NBA — heck, nearly everyone living in the Western hemisphere — knew Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland. That should kill the Cavaliers’ leverage and make it hard to get enough quality back.

New GM Koby Altman — the guy thrust into the job when David Griffin was shown the door — pulled it off brilliantly.

That’s what I talk about in this new PBT Extra. With Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, the Cavaliers remain the team to beat in the East this season. The Brooklyn Nets pick gives them flexibility going forward, whatever LeBron James decides to do next season.

First time at the plate in the big leagues and Altman crushed it to straight away center field.

Cavaliers-Celtics deal first offseason trade involving players who just met in NBA Finals or conference finals

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The Cavaliers and Celtics played in last year’s Eastern Conference finals. The teams were widely expected to meet there again.

Yet, Cleveland and Boston just completed a blockbuster trade – Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.

That seemed odd.

In fact, it’s unprecedented.

That is an incredible fact, one which speaks to LeBron Jamescachet. The Cavs are emphasizing this season, LeBron’s last before a player option, by loading up with veterans Thomas and Crowder. With LeBron still reigning in Cleveland, the Celtics are delaying their peak by acquiring the younger Irving.

Adding to the intrigue: the Cavs and Celtics are still favored to meet in this year’s conference finals. At minimum, they’ll face off in a(n even more) highly anticipated opening-night matchup.