There are some players everyone believes in , and other players whose teammates believe in them. And then there are those players who completely believe in themselves – even when others might not.
Third Star: Kobe Bryant (35 points, 8 rebounds)
Arguably, no player believes in himself more than Kobe, who shot 11-for-27 against the Warriors and extended his lead in games with at least that many shots. His teammates shot an even worse percentage than he did Tuesday, and you could use that stat to defend Kobe’s volume or argue Kobe’s teammates suffered because he stagnated the offense. I suspect Kobe wouldn’t be interested in having that discussion. He – and only he – is capable of leading the Lakers to wins, even if he didn’t do that tonight.
Second Star: LeBron James (24 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds)
The Magic led Miami most of the second quarter, but the Heat’s 27th straight win never seemed seriously in doubt – and it shouldn’t have. As long as they have LeBron, everyone believes the Heat have a chance to win. Once the NBA’s top player turned it on, Orlando was toast.
First Star: John Wall (47 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds)
Before Wall began his season in January, the Wizards were 1-13 when Nene was also out injured, including suffering the final three losses by 26, 30 and 32 points. It was almost like the Wizards knew they were overmatched. But with Wall, they believe again, and why shouldn’t they believe in someone scoring like this? With Nene out, Wall upped his game in a way the Wizards were either unable or unwilling to do earlier in the season. Only Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant have scored more in a game than Wall this year.
Lonzo Ball makes expected official, declares for NBA Draft
Ball is expected to go second or third in the upcoming NBA draft. Speaking with people around the league Washington’s Markelle Fultz is a clear No. 1, but after that if the Lakers — the team with the second-worst record in the league — have the No. 2 pick they are expected to snap up Ball. Depending on how the lottery shakes out the top of the draft, Ball could fall a little — there are teams that like Josh Jackson — but not much.
Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who averaged 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game for UCLA last season. He has fantastic passing vision, impressive shooting range (although he can take some questionable shots), and a great sense of floor spacing and how to run an offense, particularly in transition. However, his weaknesses were exposed in his final game some as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky completely outplayed Ball. Defensive pressure took Ball (and the Bruins) out of rhythm, forced them to play in the half court (where Ball is not as strong), and it’s one of the things Ball is going to have to adapt to at the next level where everyone is more athletic. Also, he’s going to need to get more consistent defensively.
The potential for Ball to be special is there, which is why he will go high in the draft.
And no, the rantings of his father will not change that. Teams see the father as a distraction that can be handled, they aren’t going to let him get in the way of drafting talent.
Watch highlights of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside Staples Center
Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”
Jerry West said he loved him like a son.
Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”
The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.
Check out the highlights above.
Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah to be suspended 20 games for violating league drug policy
Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. Last summer, Phil Jackson took a $72 million gamble on an aging Noah that has not worked at all, and left New York with an anchor of a contract for three more seasons after this one.
Tomorrow it will be official Noah is done for this season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.
Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.
Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.
The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.
According to reports, this is not a substance banned in the new CBA that kicks in July 1, but was covered in the previous CBA. Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.
Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. The 10 games this season is no big deal for the Knicks, he wasn’t going to play anyway, but the 10 at the start of next season could sting (depending on how they plan to use him).
Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.
Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.
His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.