Lakers’ Blake out indefinitely; Nash, Meeks doubtful for Game 3

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It looks like the Lakers will head into Game 3 against the Spurs Friday night without their top four guards.

Steve Blake is out indefinitely with a right hamstring injury suffered in the fourth quarter of the Lakers latest loss on Wednesday night, the team announced Thursday afternoon. The injury was checked out by ultrasound and found to be moderate but that is enough he is done for a while.

Both Steve Nash (hip and hamstring, for which he had his third epidural) and Jodie Meeks (sprained ankle, kept him out of Game 2) are listed as doubtful for Friday night. Mike D’Antoni said, “realistically Meeks is more doubtful than Nash,” but I wouldn’t bet on either playing.

And we all know that Kobe Bryant is sitting at home with a torn Achilles and not tweeting.

What that means is a lot of Darius Morris (covering Tony Parker), a lot of Andrew Goudelock, a lot of Chris Duhon. All that up against Manu Ginobili and the rest of the Spurs in a must-win game for the Lakers. Good luck with that.

The problem for the Lakers is there advantage is inside but in the NBA you can take away what a team does best in the playoffs — the Spurs have fronted the post, hand help nearby and generally crowded the paint and made life difficult for Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. The Spurs have size with Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter, but they are throwing the kitchen sink at the Lakers bigs. The Spurs can do that because they pay no price for largely ignoring the Lakers guards — there is no outside shooting the Spurs fear, no guy slashing into the paint messing up their plans.

You’re not going to beat the Spurs in the playoffs with your first option, you are going to need your second and third options. And right now the Lakers options are not pretty.

And for game three they are just ugly.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.

DeMarcus Cousins on Confederate statues: ‘Take all them motherf—ers down’

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DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.

So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.

Cousins, via TMZ:

“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”

These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.

Not whom I want to honor, either.