Jeanie Buss thinks her dad could have kept Dwight Howard in L.A.

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There were a multitude of reasons Dwight Howard bolted the Lakers to land with the Rockets, but in the end it all came down to trust — Howard didn’t trust the Lakers would feature him properly and build a contender around him.

That’s the opposite of Kobe Bryant back in 2004 — Kobe was very close to leaving for the Clippers, but Jerry Buss called him up, and because they had a mutual trust, Buss talked him out of leaving.

Jeanie Buss, the daughter of Jerry and one of the Lakers co-owners, thinks if her father had been around Howard would be with the Lakers today. That’s what she told ESPN Radio in Los Angeles on Thursday, as transcribed by Ramona Shelburne at ESPNLosAngeles.com.

“They would’ve probably had a better relationship if my dad hadn’t been sick,” Jeanie Buss said …. “When it came time to try to convince Dwight to stay, we lost the best closer in the business in Dr. Buss.

“Putting up the billboard maybe wasn’t the right thing. But we maybe have to learn to do things differently because Dr. Buss isn’t here anymore. People said [of the billboards], ‘Oh, that’s not the Laker way.’ Well, the Laker way isn’t the same, because Dr. Buss isn’t here.”

The billboard was playing to his ego, playing to Howard’s need for praise and reinforcement. But it was a poor substitute for the kind of relationship and trust the Lakers had a season to forge with Howard and couldn’t.

Then he meets with Houston, and they can sell him on winning basketball, but more than that Chandler Parsons sells him on team camaraderie and a collegial atmosphere. It’s the things he didn’t think he could get in Los Angeles.

Would Jerry Buss have made a difference? If he were healthy and in his prime, my guess is a number of things would have been different. Who knows if that would have kept Howard in town.

Warriors pose for photos with Jahlil Okafor’s dad’s ‘FREE JAH’ shirt

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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Jahlil Okafor‘s father has not been shy about speaking out on his son’s behalf. NBA players are advocating for the 76ers to grant Okafor, who’s out of the rotation and on an expiring contract, his desired trade or buyout.

When both join forces…

Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry appear to really enjoy Chukwudi Okafor’s shirt. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily calling on Philadelphia to do anything. But they hadn’t to know how it’d be perceived.

It’s easy to predict free agents will avoid the 76ers as a result of the Okafor situation, but few anticipate getting stuck similarly. Players overwhelmingly value money, winning, role and location. If Golden State’s stars are applying any external pressure, it shouldn’t really move Philadelphia more than anything that has already been said and done.

A couple of Lonzo Ball’s triple-double assists look dubious (video)

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Lonzo Ball draws outsized attention because his father, LaVar Ball, lures onlookers and because the rookie plays for the high-profile Los Angeles Lakers.

So, when Lonzo gets a triple-double – like his 11-points, 16-rebound, 11-assists game against the Nuggets yesterday – it draws scrutiny.

Mo Dakhil of The Jump Ball:

The NBA defines an assist as a “pass that directly leads to a basket. … An assist can be awarded for a basket scored after the ball has been dribbled if the player’s pass led to the field goal being made.”

I wouldn’t describe either of those passing as leading directly to a basket. Ball’s teammates each hold the ball for a moment after receiving the pass then take two dribbles against set defenses.

But assists are subjective, and the Lakers aren’t alone in offering a home-court scorekeeping advantage.

Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice

So, criticize/laugh at the Lakers. But your favorite team probably manipulates assists in its favor, too.

Robin Lopez and T.J. Warren exchange contact, heated words (video)

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Robin Lopez whacked T.J. Warren in the head while chasing an offensive rebound. Warren didn’t like that, so he ran to the opposite end of the court and shoved Lopez to the floor. A heated confrontation ensued, though it didn’t escalate beyond yelling.

Warren received a flagrant foul, and Lopez was hit with a technical in the Suns’ 113-105 win over the Bulls.

Lakers blow 5-on-1 fastbreak (video)

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Corey Brewer is better at finishing fastbreaks than leading them.

Nice defense by Emmanuel Mudiay, too.

But at least the Lakers won.