In this edition of the podcast, Kurt Helin and I sit down to discuss the state of the Lakers following Thursday night’s loss to the Bucks.
We look at how the latest injuries to Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash might affect the team with just nine regular season games remaining, and wonder if the injuries, along with the turnovers and porous defense, are finally getting to be too much to overcome.
We also look at the playoff picture at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, where the schedules that lie ahead for L.A., Dallas and Utah don’t exactly leave the Lakers as the favorites to wrap up that eighth and final postseason spot out West.
We then turn our attention to the Phoenix Suns, who are “resting” their best player for a couple of games, and getting blown out by their opponents while doing so. We discuss the tanking option in the NBA, and while we don’t necessarily have a problem with it in Phoenix, the lack of a long-term plan in place does seem to be troubling for the franchise.
Finally, we discuss the end of the Heat’s 27-game winning streak at the hands of the Bulls earlier this week, and what it might have meant for Miami’s legacy had they been able to run it to 34 straight to set the all-time record. We wrap things up with a discussion of the more physical play in the league, sparked by comments from LeBron James about the way the Bulls played him so physically during that Miami Heat loss.
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PBT Podcast 3-29-13
LeBron James on Isaiah Thomas, via Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:
“It’s been a while since I’ve had that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time,” James told B/R Mag.
That looked like a shot at Kyrie Irving. But with more context, it clearly wasn’t.
It seems LeBron was saying it’s been a while that he’s had “that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time.” If he was slighting Kyrie Irving, LeBron was also slighting Dwyane Wade – and I doubt LeBron would do that.
LeBron and Kyrie probably aren’t above taking subtle shots at each other. But this seems like a case of Beck, after hearing LeBron’s words aloud and in context, not realizing how a trimmed version would read as text. It’s unfortunate that people initially got the wrong impression, but good on Beck for clearing it up.
Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. – maybe the top contender to supplant European guard Luka Doncic as the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft – had his campaign undercut after it barely began.
Michael Porter, Jr. will undergo surgery on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Dallas, Texas. The procedure, a microdiscectomy of the L3 and L4 spinal discs, has a projected recovery time of three-four months and will likely cause him to miss the remainder of the season. Michael is expected to make a complete recovery
With that timeline, it’s possible Porter returns late in Missouri’s NBA season. But as an elite draft prospect stuck in a cartel system that caps his compensation well below market value, he should probably be cautious.
Porter will likely still go high in the draft – if his medicals check out. This is is a serious injury, and teams will be wary off long-term effects.
But he’s a top talent, and the forward shouldn’t slip far. In fact, in a strange way, this injury could even help him. There were questions about Porter’s ability to handle physicality and tight spaces when the game slows down, challenges he would have met frequently in college basketball. Now, scouts can’t pick apart those aspects of his game. Logically or not, NBA teams tend to favor the unknown in the draft, and Porter is on his way to being one of the biggest mysteries near the top of the 2018 draft.
Kevin Durant said last season playing the Thunder is “never going to be a regular game for me.”
Now, the Warriors star, who’s questionable for tomorrow’s game in Oklahoma City, is singing a different tune.
Anthony Slater of The Athletic:
Just a regular game for me now. I learned how to tune out the crowd. I learned how to tune out the bulls— and just play. Just keep at basketball, and I’ll be alright.
Durant is entitled to change his mind, and maybe that’s all that happened.
But this strikes me as yet another chasm between how Durant actually feels and how he wishes he felt – all while facing immense public scrutiny.
Durant spent eight years in Oklahoma City. Many of his former teammates, including Russell Westbrook, are still there. Durant might want to move on, but how could there not be a different feeling when playing the Thunder, especially in Oklahoma City?
DeMarcus Cousins got ejected from the Pelicans’ win over the Thunder last night for elbowing Russell Westbrook in the head.
Afterward, Tony Allen came to his New Orleans teammate’s defense.
Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:
Did Cousins elbow Westbrook in the head? Yes. Did Westbrook create and/or embellish the contact? I don’t know.
Westbrook stuck his head in close, and he might have been baiting Cousins into a foul. But that doesn’t give Cousins carte blanche to commit a foul.
And even if Westbrook were baiting Cousins, the elbow still might have hurt. Westbrook’s reaction could have been genuine.
Did Cousins’ reputation as a flagrant fouler influence Westbrook’s strategy and how officials perceived the play? It’s much easier to convince me of that.