Lakers officially eliminated from playoff contention

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It seems almost too easy to link to a famous video clip of an NFL head coach mocking the very mention of the word playoffs, when his team was playing nowhere near a level that would suggest that as a possibility.

But that might have been a legitimate reaction for some when hearing the news that the Lakers — yes, the same team that has had a season so disastrous that the word catastrophic doesn’t even feel strong enough to describe it — have officially been eliminated from playoff contention.

After suffering yet another historic loss, this time at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, the inevitable became conclusive when L.A. was mathematically disqualified from reaching the postseason.

From Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

The Lakers (22-44) were officially eliminated from playoff contention after experiencing another brutal night on defense. Who knew their victory over Oklahoma City on Sunday would become the miracle of the NBA season?

No need to stop just yet. The Spurs’ victory pushed the trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili past the “Showtime” group of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper for second-most regular-season victories by three NBA teammates (491).

In addition to the former Lakers trio being surpassed in career wins by the current Spurs one, San Antonio recorded its largest margin of victory against the L.A. franchise (34 points) since a 32-point win in 1977.

It’s been a season of humiliation for a Lakers team that has largely avoided that feeling for the vast majority of its existence. At this point, these milestones teams are recording against them are simply adding insult to injury, but it will all come to a merciful conclusion on April 16 now that the playoffs are formally out of reach.

Lonzo Ball finishes one-handed alley-oop on Willie Cauley-Stein (video)

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So much attention is paid to Lonzo Ball‘s father, jumper and passes. Those are the major storylines for the Lakers rookie.

But he has such a diverse skill set, and this is absolutely part of it. Ball is a savvy off-ball cutter in the halfcourt with the athleticism to get above the rim and finish alley-oops.

But finish them over 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein, who was tracking the play (though slightly late)? That’s an eye-opener, even in the Kings’ 113-102 win.

Marc Gasol makes 3/4-court shot just after buzzer (video)

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When Marc Gasol‘s 3/4-court attempt went through the net, it seemed to barely matter the ball left his hands just after the first-quarter buzzer. After all, the Grizzlies led the Mavericks by 15, anyway.

Turns out, Memphis really needed that basket.

Watch Knicks string together 28-0 run against Raptors

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Toronto has been the second best team in the East this young season. Not that anyone is really convinced they will be called that by the time we get to the playoffs (or even the All-Star break, or even Christmas), but for the first 16-18 games of the season their new move-the-ball offense had them at 11-5 and looking solid.

Wednesday night the Knicks dismantled the Raptors.

Especially in the third quarter when the Knicks went on a 28-0 run to blow the doors off the Raptors (video above). The Knicks dominated the third 41-10, when Toronto shot just 1-of-16 from the floor.

New York is gaining confidence with each win this season, they are a fun team to watch that is starting to find an identity (now that a certain three-sided shaped one is not being forced upon them). Kristaps Porzingis is a monster, and while the Knicks overpaid the market for Tim Hardaway Jr. he has lived up to his contract this season. With rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina showing some nice defense and playmaking skills as a rookie (although he is undoubtedly still a work in progress), you can see a path to a strong future unfolding. There are real reasons for hope in New York. Someone just keep James Dolan distracted and away from the basketball operations side of the building.

Devin Booker forces OT with deep turnaround buzzer-beating 3-pointer, but Bucks beat Suns (video)

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I’m not sure who benefited from Devin Booker‘s buzzer-beating, overtime-forcing 3-pointer. The Suns still lost to the Bucks, 113-107. The extra five minutes featured more of the same relatively bad basketball we’d seen between Phoenix (bad) and Milwaukee (shorthanded) through 48 minutes.

But darn if this shot wasn’t really cool and clutch.