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.

Watch Hassan Whiteside beat the Pistons at the buzzer with tip-in (VIDEO)

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The Miami Heat took until the final moments on Tuesday night to beat the Detroit Pistons, but it was worth it. With just a handful of games left to play, the Heat need to stave off the Chicago Bulls for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Thanks to a tip at the buzzer by Hassan Whiteside, they’re one step closer to achieving that goal.

The play came with just seconds left in the fourth quarter. James Johnson missed a shot with six seconds to go, and the Heat grabbed the rebound. Goran Dragic then tried his hand, but he couldn’t get it to go, either.

That’s when Whiteside came back with a tip at the buzzer that ended the game.

Via Twitter:

Miami now sits at 36-38, a game above the Bulls for the No. 8 seed.

Whiteside, meanwhile, is never going to wash that hand again:

Kobe Bryant says LeBron James has earned the right to take a rest (VIDEO)

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Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was a pretty consistent player in the NBA. Save for his final injury-laden seasons and the lockout year of 2011-12, Bryant played in no fewer than 65 regular season games in a single season.

Coaches also had no reason or want to ask Bryant — a notorious worker — to sit out in order to rest. That wasn’t really on the menu, and Bryant knew that.

Speaking to ESPN’s First Take, Bryant said no coach really asked him to ever take a rest, “I’ve never been approached by a coach and asked to rest.”

Bryant remarked that he took queues from Michael Jordan during tough stretches of the season — back-to-backs or four games in five night scenarios — where he could switch his game up, floating from perimeter to post, in order to save energy during those matchups.

Bryant also said during the same interview that he understands the complexity of the modern game, and that players like LeBron James deserve to take a rest if they’ve earned it.

“LeBron has done so much for the game. He’s earned the opportunity to take a rest,” said Bryant.

The debate on this subject will continue, it seems.

Phil Jackson’s reaction to Kristaps Porzingis getting turned upside down feels about right

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New York Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis is the future of the franchise, so any time he’s upended and nearly lands on his noggin it’s a cause for concern. To say the least.

That’s what happened on Monday night, as Porzingis got turned upside down during a play near the basket during a game against the Detroit Pistons.

Porzingis was OK on the play, and Detroit big man Andre Drummond did his best to help catch him so nothing too scary happened.

Still, Knicks president Phil Jackson had a pretty hilarious reaction to the whole thing. I guess that’s what happens when you watch your basketball life flash before your eyes.

Porzingis was unhurt and played a full 37 minutes. New York beat Detroit, 109-95.

Jimmy Butler won’t pick LeBron over Durant as toughest matchup in NBA, and for good reason

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Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler is a smart dude. He’s spent years of offseason work turning himself into a max-level player, and that shows he knows not only how to work but how to attack the game of basketball.

He’s also smart enough to know he shouldn’t go poking the bear when it comes to two future Hall of Fame players in LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

When asked whether the Cleveland Cavaliers star or the Golden State Warriors scorer was the toughest matchup in the NBA, Butler made sure he wasn’t adding any kind of blackboard material to rile up either player.

Via Twitter:

The best way to defend LeBron or Durant: don’t make them angry.

Smart move, Jimmy.