Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves

Byron Scott: Lakers ‘better be ready to play some defense’

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Byron Scott will be the new head coach of the Lakers.

Even though the team hasn’t yet officially announced the hiring due to “some little details” that need to be ironed out, he’s agreed in principle to the four-year, $17 million deal that was originally reported on Saturday.

Scott is already giving interviews explaining his excitement over his new role, and wants to make it clear that he will be trying to make the Lakers a defensive team above all else.

From Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com:

“I’m a little tired tonight,” Scott told ESPN.com late Sunday night after returning from a trip to the Caribbean. “But I’m extremely excited about the job, extremely excited about the opportunity to bring the purple and gold back up to championship-caliber basketball.”

Scott said he’s been texting with Lakers star Kobe Bryant throughout the summer and conferring about this year’s team. Bryant texted Scott this weekend after news broke that he had accepted the job.

“He told me he was working out with Wesley [Johnson] and Nick [Young],” Scott said. “I told them that sounded great, but ‘they better be ready to play some defense.’ “

The Lakers finished 28th in defensive efficiency last season, and sure, part of that can be blamed on Mike D’Antoni and his diminished interest in stressing the importance in playing on that end of the floor. But a lot of it also has to do with personnel, and the injuries that forced so many random lineups to be thrown together at various points throughout the season.

The question becomes whether or not Scott is capable of getting the desired results.

As we’ve detailed previously (with some help from John Schuhmann at NBA.com), Scott’s Cavaliers team was historically bad defensively. In fact, he’s the only coach since the league expanded to 30 teams to lead one that finished in the bottom five in defensive efficiency for three straight seasons. You can blame that on the roster if you want, but Mike Brown, for example, took Cleveland immediately from 27th to 17th in that category last season.

Scott is right to want to stress defense, but saying it and implementing the proper schemes are two different things. Maybe he fills out his coaching staff with some strong defensive-minded assistants, but if not, and he is able to turn the defense around, it’ll be the first time in a long time he’s proven capable of doing so.

Watch all 25 threes from Cleveland in Game 2 win

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Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.

Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.

In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.

Cavaliers threes shotchart

Report: Rockets to interview Mike D’Antoni, Frank Vogel for coaching vacancy

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Head coach Mike D'Antoni of the Los Angeles Lakers gestures during the game against the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center on February 28, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 126-122.   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 Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.

The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.

Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.

Cavs set single-game three-point record in blowout win over Hawks

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On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.

Nope.

The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.

The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.

18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:

That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.

LeBron James whips one-handed pass, leads to open Kevin Love three (VIDEO)

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 2: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers fights for a loose ball against Al Horford #15 and Kyle Korver #26 of the Atlanta Hawks during the second half of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals at Quicken Loans Arena on May 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Hawks 104-93. 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 Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:

The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.