Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant dives for a loose ball during their NBA game against the Chicago Bulls in Los Angeles

ESPN bumps Lakers-Rockets for Suns-Timberwolves, Cavaliers-Wizards for Pacers-Trail Blazers

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The Lakers gave Kobe Bryant a no-negotiation contract extension – in the exact opposite manner of this, to be clear – for many reasons.

One of them was undoubtedly the amount of money Kobe’s star power generates for the Lakers.

Regardless of how good Kobe is in the coming years or how good the Lakers are after spending what remains of their cap room, Kobe makes money for the team. Case in point, Tim Bontemps of the New York Post:

Los Angeles and Houston are obviously bigger markets than Phoenix and Minnesota. And, as their Christmas game with the Heat showed, the Lakers can still compete with teams like the Rockets.

But Kobe will still be injured Jan. 8, and with him sidelined, the appeal is obviously much lower.

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The Cavaliers and Wizards also lost their ESPN matchup Feb. 7, according to J. Michael of CSN Washington.

Cleveland and Washington didn’t do too much wrong to get booted. As both teams hoped, they’re squarely in the playoff race, though in the Eastern Conference, that means both have losing records.

Instead, the Pacers and Trail Blazers, who will get the Feb. 7 ESPN game, just made their matchup irresistible. Each team leads its respective conference, and though few are predicting an Indiana-Portland NBA Finals, the regular-season bout should definitely draw viewers.

Hassan Whiteside ejected for elbowing Boban Marjanovic in face (video)

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Hassan Whiteside defends himself when questions about his maturity early in his career with the Kings arise:

“That was a long time ago,” Whiteside said. “If they want to think about things that happened four, five years ago, that’s up to them.

“I don’t think it’s something that should follow me, but I really don’t know right now. That was years ago. Things didn’t work out in Sacramento. I worked my way to get back here. I could’ve easily gave up and went back home and just chilled. But I put in the work, and I feel like I’m a hard worker or I wouldn’t be here.”

But then he does something like this.

Gordon Hayward beats buzzer, Mavericks (video)

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 18:  Gordon Hayward #20 of the Utah Jazz during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 18, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Rodney Hood got the Jazz to overtime.

Gordon Hayward took it from there.

This extends Utah’s win streak to eight games and snaps a 10-game losing streak in Dallas. The last time the Jazz won in Dallas? Mavericks guard Deron Williams started – for Utah.*

*Those Jazz brought Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver and Wesley Matthews off the bench. Dang

Rodney Hood sends Jazz-Mavericks to OT (video)

during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 18, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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Up three points and the final seconds winding down, the Mavericks had a great chance to intentionally foul Trey Lyles (a 62% free-throw shooter) with his back to the basket.

Instead, they allowed Rodney Hood to hit this shot and get the Jazz to overtime.

Avery Bradley fouls Khris Middleton, who makes game-winning free throw (video)

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The Bucks led the Celtics led the Bucks by 19 in the fourth quarter and four in the final minute.

But Boston completed its comeback when Jerryd Bayless committed a boneheaded foul on Kelly Olynyk with a second left, shoving Olynyk in the back on the inbound. Olynyk sunk both free throws to tie the game.

Then, Khris Middleton got Bayless off the hook.

Middleton drew a foul on Avery Bradley, who was trying to contest the game-winning shot. The Milwaukee wing made one free throw then intentionally the second, and Jae Crowder couldn’t replicate this.