Here are our nightly grades from the night’s action around the Association, or what you missed while reading why Los Angeles is the best food town in America (it is)…..
Memphis Grizzlies. California isn’t the “Bear Republic” anymore; it’s the “Grizzlies Republic.” With their 88-81 overtime win Wednesday at Golden State, Memphis became the first team since 1985 to sweep all four California teams on one road trip — the Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Warriors. They did it at both ends with their defense becoming more lock down and their offense finding a new level of efficiency. After a slow start they have found a groove under new coach Dave Joerger.
Paul George, Indiana Pacers. He wasn’t efficient for much of the night but he was when it mattered — George hit 7 of 11 field goals in the fourth quarter and overtime and finished with a game-high 35 points. He added to his superstar resume by out-playing Carmelo Anthony at both ends of the court.
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats. Walker has struggled with his shot to start the season — 32.9 percent overall, 26 percent from three — but he found his groove against the Nets slow, old defense. Walker had 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting and hit 4-of-7 from three. More importantly he was at the center of the Bobcats third quarter run when they pulled away to take charge of the game — Walker hit three threes in the quarter and had 13 points. Hopefully he builds on this and the slump is a thing of the past.
Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz. There is a lot on his shoulders with this roster, maybe too much. He’s a very good young player, just not the No. 1 option he is forced to be, which is why we end up with nights like this — he was 1-of-17 shooting. He had a worse shooting night than the Jazz’s record (1-12 now), which is tough to do. He did dish out 10 assists, so we will cut him a little slack. He has a lot of fans in NBA front offices, but Wednesday was just not his night.
Monta Ellis, Dallas Mavericks. When Ellis is efficient (and he has been more efficient this season than at any time in his career) he is nearly impossible to stop. He was very efficient Wednesday against the always-soft Rockets perimeter defense — 37 points on 13-of-18 shooting, getting to the free throw line 12 times, and scoring 8 of those points in the fourth quarter when Dallas came from 14 down to win. His biggest play may have been an assist — with 50 seconds left in the game Ellis drove baseline, drew a couple defenders then made a jump pass to Shawn Marion for a corner 3 giving Dallas its first lead since the game’s opening minutes.
The Lakers might not even have a first-round pick this year.
Thanks to the ill-fated Steve Nash sign-and-trade, the Lakers owe the 76ers (via the Suns) a top-three-protected first-rounder. As the No. 2 seed in the lottery, the Lakers have just better than a coin-flip chance of landing in the top three and keeping the pick.
But if the Lakers land the top selection, they might not engage in the Ben Simmons-or-Brandon Ingram debate.
Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports:
Is this a good idea? The answer, as usual, is it depends on what they could get.
There’s a logic to adding another young player whose peak would align with Lakers’ core. D'Angelo Russell (20), Julius Randle (21) and Jordan Clarkson (23) aren’t ready to win. It might be better to add someone who will enter his prime when they do.
But the Lakers’ market and prestige make them a popular free-agent destination, and free agents value winning. Moderate improvements that would stick many teams on the mediocrity treadmill could open the door for the Lakers signing a star.
The Lakers should weigh these factors and trade offers logically and decide what to do if they get a top pick.
Of course, there are other factors. Jim Buss faces a somewhat-self-imposed deadline for contending. To the person in charge, what’s best for the franchise’s long-term outlook might not matter as much as a potential quick fix.
How tall is Kevin Durant?
He’s listed at 6-foot-9, but his teammates have guessed everything from 6-foot-10 to 7-foot-3.
Durant, via Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal:
“For me, when I’m talking to women, I’m 7 feet,” he said. “In basketball circles, I’m 6-9.”
“But really, I’ve always thought it was cool to say I’m a 6-9 small forward,” he said. “Really, that’s the prototypical size for a small forward. Anything taller than that, and they’ll start saying, ‘Ah, he’s a power forward.’ ”
This mirrors Kevin Garnett, who Flip Saunders once called “6-foot-13” because Garnett didn’t want to get pigeonholed as a center.
But most height fudging in the NBA has players trying to be listed as taller. Read Herring’s piece for a fun look at the hijinks.
The Heat haven’t gotten past the Raptors. The Cavaliers haven’t toppled the Hawks, for that matter.
But can you imagine a Cleveland-Miami conference finals?
LeBron James can.
LeBron, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
“I think naturally of course. That’s since I’ve came back,” James said. “It’d be great to play against those guys in the postseason. Throughout my whole career, I’ve always wanted to go against (Dwyane) Wade in a playoff series. We’ve always talked about it even before we became teammates in ’10. It’s not been heavy on my mind but it’s crossed my mind throughout my whole career.”
LeBron doesn’t realize how bad of an idea this is, which is what makes it such a bad idea.
It isn’t that the Heat are playing better than Toronto right now – though they are. It isn’t that the Heat are a tougher matchup for Cleveland than Toronto – though they are, routing the Cavs twice in three regular-season games (one of which LeBron didn’t play).
It’s that facing the Heat would bring a ridiculous level of drama to the series, and LeBron’s teammates are more equipped to face the Raptors and the fewer distractions that would come with that matchup.
LeBron just wants to be on the court with his friend, Dwyane Wade – with him or against him. I think LeBron can handle that, enjoy that and still produce.
But it undermines his teammate’s focus when LeBron does something like chat with Wade during halftime when they’re trying to prepare for the second half. It can bother teammates when even more attention than usual is placed on LeBron, who’d be THE storyline in a matchup with his old team.
If the Cavs had a choice – and they obviously don’t – they should avoid all that.
But the way the teams are playing, LeBron will probably get his wish.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had a dumb idea about the Sonics.
So, he posted it to Twitter:
Yes, because this is how the NBA decides where to place teams.
Seattle’s City Council voted not to sell part of a street to Chris Hansen, essentially blocking a new arena – which is probably for the best. Why build a stadium when you might not even get a team? NBA commissioner Adam Silver says the league isn’t expanding anytime soon, and no franchise appears imminent to move.
But a petition could change all that do nothing – except rile up Wilson’s fans, no matter how detached the idea is from reality.