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Lakers set to have more nationally televised games than the Heat next season

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As we dig into the particulars of the 2013-14 NBA schedule which was released on Tuesday, the amount of nationally televised games awarded to teams is an interesting indicator of perceived interest or predicted success.

But as we’re learning more and more, it’s mostly an indication of market size.

The Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks lead the league in nationally televised appearances with 33 apiece, and the Lakers are fourth on that list with 29 behind the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 30.

By comparison, the two-time defending champion Miami Heat are slated to have just 27 of their games seen by a national audience.

The reasons behind these numbers are somewhat obvious. The Lakers may not be favored to finish the season in contention for a title, but they’re still a team with plenty of star power in Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash, and they have one of the largest fan bases in the league, while playing in the second-largest market in the country.

That translates into interest on a national level, and that’s why you’ll see the Lakers playing in plenty of nationally televised games.

Another thing to keep in mind here is that NBA TV games are included when counting up the national TV schedule — which means these numbers will change before the season is through.

NBA TV has fans vote on which game it will televise on Tuesday nights throughout the season. So, if the Heat (or even the Lakers) are one of the options, you can expect them to get the nod more often than not — again, due to the level of star power and market size much more than simply because of either team’s projected level of success.

It’s actually hilarious how the public perception of the Lakers changes from year to year. A season ago, they were expected to be right there competing for a championship, but due to an insane amount of injuries that prevented the team from ever gaining a level of comfort or cohesiveness, things were derailed essentially from the very start. Yet, the Lakers remained one of the most intriguing teams in the league to watch, if only for the train wreck factor more than anything else.

This year, the Lakers will likely be a little bit better than expected. No one knows when Kobe Bryant will return from his Achilles injury, of course, and no one knows how close he’ll be to his previous level of performance. But if he comes back relatively early and can play at close to what we’ve become accustomed to seeing, L.A. will win plenty, and should be firmly in the mix for a spot in the postseason.

The Lakers won’t be as good as they’ve been in previous seasons, and they won’t be in the championship conversation for the first time in several years. But given all of the dynamics in play, they may be even more interesting to watch — which makes their semi-excessive number of nationally televised games a bit more easy to understand.

Best dunk from Friday night? Houston’s Sam Dekker. Yes, Dekker. (VIDEO)

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Second-year forward Sam Dekker is finding a comfort zone in the Mike D’Antoni offense in Houston. Healthy this season, he is coming off the bench for 18 minutes a night, and his game where he is quick and can also hit the three is fitting perfectly with Houston’s system, leading him to 6.7 points a game.

Also, he can run the floor. And finish.

As Enes Kanter found out when he hustled, got back in transition defense, and wasn’t going to stop Dekker from getting to the rim.

That’s a quality dunk.

The Rockets went on to win the game 102-99, despite Russell Westbrook‘s seventh-straight triple-double.

LeBron James passes Elvin Hayes, moves into ninth on all-time scoring list (VIDEO)

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LeBron James has been climbing the NBA’s All-time scoring list fast the past couple years, passing Hakeem Olajuwon last season to move into the top 10.

Friday night LeBron passed another legend, Elvin Hayes, who spent the prime of his career with the Washington Bullets and was an NBA champion, six-time All-NBA and 12-time All-Star from the late 1960s through the early 1980s.

LeBron passed Hayes with a vintage LeBron bucket, bringing the ball up in transition, then just using his quickness and strength to power to the rim.

LeBron’s not done, he should pass Moses Malone in the next week or so. Here is the NBA’s All-time scoring Top 10. (As a side note, if you count ABA scoring in the mix LeBron is 11th because Julius Erving and Dan Issel both pass him. For now.)

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 38387
2. Karl Malone 36928
3. Kobe Bryant 33643
4. Michael Jordan 32292
5. Wilt Chamberlain 31419
6. Dirk Nowitzki 29552
7. Shaquille O’Neal 28596
8. Moses Malone 27409
9. LeBron James 27315
10. Elvin Hayes 27313

Carmelo Anthony scores 33 to help Knicks hold off Kings 103-100

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Carmelo Anthony scored 33 points, including two free throws with 14.8 seconds remaining, and the New York Knicks held on to beat the Sacramento Kings 103-100 Friday night.

Kristaps Porzingis added 17 points and 10 rebounds for New York. Brandon Jennings scored 13 in place of injured Derrick Rose, and Kyle O'Quinn had eight points and 11 rebounds to help the Knicks beat the Kings for the second time in six days.

New York went cold from the field down the stretch but made six free throws over the final 2:09 to hang on.

The Kings missed multiple shots in the waning moments, including an uncontested driving layup by DeMarcus Cousins with 22 seconds left that would have given Sacramento the lead.

Rudy Gay missed a potential tying 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds remaining, and Cousins also missed a desperation heave from beyond midcourt that hit the rim at the buzzer.

Anthony had 23 points and five rebounds in the first half, then came up big from the stripe to help seal the Knicks’ fifth win in six games. He shot 9 of 22 from the floor and made his first 12 free throw attempts before missing two with 2.6 seconds left.

Cousins finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Gay added 13 points for the Kings.

Things got chippy during a timeout with 2:23 remaining. Darren Collison of the Kings and Courtney Lee of the Knicks appeared to get into a heated exchange before players from both teams stepped between the two. Collison and Lee received technical fouls.

TIP-INS

Knicks: Anthony scored 15 points in the first quarter. He also was called for a technical foul while driving for a layup attempt in the fourth. . Jennings shot 5 of 10 and had five rebounds with seven assists. He also shot an air ball on a free throw in the fourth quarter.

Kings: Collison scored six straight points in the fourth quarter and made a layup that briefly put Sacramento up 94-92. . Cousins was whistled for a technical foul midway through the third quarter, his eighth of the season.

A REST FOR BARNES

Matt Barnes did not play for the first time this season, although Kings coach Dave Joerger said it had nothing to do with the ongoing investigation stemming from an altercation in a bar that Barnes and Cousins were allegedly involved in while the team was in New York last weekend. Joerger called it a scheduled rest for Barnes, adding that he plans to do it more frequently for the remainder of the season.

 

Thunder’s Russell Westbrook has 7th straight triple-double

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Russell Westbrook had his seventh consecutive triple-double Friday night in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s game against the Houston Rockets, the longest streak since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989.

Westbrook got his 10th rebound with 7:46 left in the fourth quarter. He already had 16 points and 10 assists. Westbrook finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists.

The Thunder won the first six games during his streak, however they fell to James Harden and the Rockets 102-99. Harden was one rebound short of his own triple-double.

It was Westbrook’s 12th triple-double of the season and the 49th of his career. He is the NBA’s active leader in the category and ranks overall.

Jordan’s streak came during a run of 10 triple-doubles in 11 games.