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Lakers remove highly priced FAs Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov from starting lineup


The Lakers have pulled their splashy free-agent additions — Luol Deng (four years, $72 million) and Timofey Mozgov (four years, $64 million) — from the starting lineup.

Who could have seen that coming?

Oh, right. Practically everybody.

In their 121-107 win over the Knicks tonight, the Lakers started:

*Black had been starting at power forward next to Mozgov with Randle battling pneumonia, but Randle is Los Angeles’ primary starting power forward. Black supplanted Mozgov at center tonight.

It’s not just that Deng and Mozgov are underperforming relative to their salaries — though it is that. It’s that those two veterans aren’t even meeting the modest standard of making the Lakers respectable. Los Angeles entered tonight 17-36 and had lost 10 of 12.

The 31-year-old Deng and 30-year-old Mozgov have no upside. At this point, it’s about preparing for the future, and that means more playing time for younger players. Mozgov didn’t even get off the bench, as rookie Ivica Zubac played behind Black.

The Lakers’ future looks reasonably bright with a young core featuring Russell, Randle, Ingram, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Zubac. With the exception of Clarkson, those players are all still on low-paying rookie-scale contracts.

Los Angeles can pitch free agents on joining those youngsters just as they blossom manage an unnecessarily murky future with Deng and Mozgov occupying significant cap space over the next three years.

Watch Kawhi Leonard, Mike Conley in epic playoff duel Saturday (VIDEO)

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Kawhi Leonard scored 16 straight points for the Spurs at the end of regulation to give San Antonio the lead and a chance. Then Mike Conley hit a floater in the lane forced overtime.

There Mike Conley hit a floating bank shot that had the Grizzlies up three with :47 seconds left, only to have Leonard answer with a three to tie the game. Marc Gasol would break that tie and get Memphis the series-evening win.

Conley and Leonard traded blows through the clutch parts of Saturday’s epic Game 4 between Memphis and San Antonio. It’s worth checking out the highlights again.

John Wall goes coast-to-coast, behind-the-back for lefty dunk (VIDEO)

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There’s not going to be many plays better than this in the entire playoffs.

There wasn’t a lot for Wizards’ fans to cheer in Game 3, the Hawks took control early and routed Washington, making it a 2-1 series. But there was this, John Wall going coast-to-coast with the ball, going around-the-back and throwing it down left handed.

Wall is just so fast end to end.

Warriors take 3-0 series lead over Blazers with 119-113 win

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 34 points, Klay Thompson added 24 and the short-handed Golden State Warriors overcame a slow start to take a 3-0 lead in their playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers with a 119-113 victory on Saturday night.

The Blazers led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but couldn’t hold off the Warriors, who can clinch the series with a win Monday night in Game 4 at the Moda Center.

Golden State was without Kevin Durant, who was sitting for a second straight game cause of a left calf strain, and coach Steve Kerr stayed back at the team hotel because of illness.

The Warriors took a 108-100 lead after Andre Iguodala‘s dunk with 4:05 to go.

Noah Vonleh‘s dunk got Portland within four at 110-106 with 1:29 left, but Curry answered with a 3-pointer that all but sealed it, sending fans streaming for the exits.

CJ McCollum led the Blazers with 32 points, while Damian Lillard added 31.

Markieff Morris calls Paul Millsap a “crybaby,” Millsap responds “It definitely got personal now”

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The Atlanta Hawks owned the Washington Wizards from the opening tip Saturday, making it a 2-1 series with an easy win.

It’s a series now — and that includes trash talk.

Paul Millsap had 29 points, pulled down 14 boards, got to the line 11 times, and led the Hawks to the win. He got the calls he wanted this game, but Washington’s Markieff Morris was not exactly down with high praise for Millsap.

The key line here: “”He just did more for his team. He’s a crybaby. Get all the calls and you a crybaby.”

Millsap was asked about that comment in his postgame presser — and the best part may be Dennis Schroeder’s reaction.

“It definitely got personal now, yes. I mean, I don’t care. So what? He can take his loss and go back to the hotel and be ready for the next game.”

These two have already had a beef this series.

Game 4 in this series just got a lot more interesting.