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Lonzo Ball not worried his father LaVar will be problem with teammates

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Los Angeles coach Luke Walton tells the story of coming to Lakers training camp as a rookie in 2003, when his father Bill was an outspoken television color commentator on national NBA games, and having multiple veterans basically tell him “I’m going to make your life hell because of your father.” But it didn’t really work out that way. Walton proved he belonged, found a role on a team that went to the NBA Finals, and fit in. He wasn’t really hazed more than any other rookie.

Lonzo Ball feels much the same way. Sure, his father LaVar Ball has courted media attention with the outlandish, but the son does not expect to be punished for the sins of his father.

“Nah. Speaking for my teammates, they already know how he is so it’s never been a problem, and I don’t think it’s going to be a problem,” Ball told NBCSports.com.

In fact, the younger Ball says the new “Ball in the Family” reality series on Facebook is already changing the opinions of some about his father and his family.

“I think they’re already seeing it because I get a lot of feedback on the show, and a lot more people are seeing the person that he really is,” Ball said. “I’m happy for him, I’m happy people get to see the person I have known my whole life.”

That may be true, but you can bet some of the stars LaVar took shots at — Stephen Curry, LeBron James and others — may do a little stare down with dad jogging back upcourt after a big play against the Lakers this season. It’s not wise to provide the NBA’s best players more motivation.

None of it seems to phase Lonzo. The younger Ball just does what he does, not reacting to his father. For example, LaVar said that Steve Nash was too short and slow to teach his son anything, but Lonzo didn’t see it that way at all.

“He’s an MVP, you know, one of the best point guards who ever played, so anything that he taught me is definitely useful,” Ball said. “And just that one day alone I learned a lot about coming off a screen, guarding, there’s a lot of stuff he helped and I appreciate him taking time out of his day to do that because I know he didn’t have to.”

Working on how to better take advantage of screens was something coach Walton wanted Ball to focus on this summer, and few have ever been better and using their dribble as a weapon to create space and angles off a pick as Nash. Another area of focus this summer was getting stronger and working on conditioning before the marathon grind of the NBA season — Nash could help with that, too. He was one of the NBA’s early prophets on the topics of diet and sleep for players.

“We talked about nutrition, keeping your body right in the training room and stuff, lifting weights the right way, so he helped me on more things than just basketball,” Ball said. “He helped me with my all around game… speaking for myself, I haven’t really taken care of my body like that before because I didn’t have to. Hearing it from him, it definitely made a lot of sense and I’m looking forward to adding that to my daily routine.”

One big question out there has been Lonzo’s shoes — he wore a different pair almost nightly during Summer League. During our conversation — which you can hear all of on the PBT Podcast — I asked him what planned to wear opening night against the Clippers? A pair of his brother’s LaMelo’s? Lonzo laughed and said he’s stick with his own shoes, the ZO2.

Lonzo is just going to do his thing. Like always. So far that has worked well for him.

 

‘Tired’ Jimmy Butler sits out All-Star Game at his own request

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LOS ANGELES — Jimmy Butler leads the NBA in minutes played per game at 37.3. He’s ninth in the league in total minutes played and played 77:35 minutes in the two games leading up to All-Star Weekend.

Butler was tired and asked Mike D’Antoni to give him some rest, according to both parties (despite speculation this was really a win for the Los Angeles nightlife). Butler did not play in Sunday’s All-Star Game.

“Rest,” Butler said when asked why he didn’t play. “I have to rest. I have to rest my body up. This Timberwolves season is very, very important to me. I’ve got to make sure I’m ready to roll when I get back there.”

“He was tired and he just felt like his legs weren’t there,” Team Stephen head coach Mike D’Antoni. “He didn’t practice yesterday or play today. You have to respect that. He plays hard. Sometimes your body just needs a rest.”

Butler is having the kind of season that has him in the discussion for a place on the MVP ballot. He’s averaging 22.4 points per game with a very efficient true shooting percentage of 59.3, plus he’s playing strong defense. He and Karl-Anthony Towns have led the Timberwolves to a 36-25 record that has them as the current four seed in the West, poised to break an 11-year playoff drought for the franchise.

Still thankful, LeBron James breaks Michael Jordan’s record for years between All-Star MVPs

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Los Angeles – When LeBron James became the youngest-ever NBA All-Star MVP in 2006, he said during the trophy presentation: “I’d like to thank the fans for voting me in as a starter.”

Twelve years later, he sounds similar, maybe just a little more thoughtful: “It’s always been my fans who voted me in. For 14 straight years, my fans have voted me in as an All-Star starter, and it’s been up to me to go out and let them know and show them, listen, I appreciate that, and here’s what I’m going to give to you every time you vote me in.”

He plays similarly, too.

LeBron again won All-Star MVP, leading his team to a 148-145 victory Sunday. He finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

“Every night I step on the floor, I have to lead my guys or prove to myself that I’m still able to play at a high level,” said LeBron, 33. “I feel great.”

The 12-year gap between LeBron’s first and last All-Star MVP – he also won in 2008 – is the longest in NBA history. It tops the 10 years between Michael Jordan’s first (1988) and last (1998).

Here’s the difference between the first and last All-Star MVP for every multi-time winner:

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Players’ effort in this exhibition game comes and goes, but LeBron appeared invigorated .

When LeBron’s team trailed by 15 in the second quarter, he checked in and quickly led it back into the lead. When his team fell behind by 13 midway through the fourth quarter, he again led a spirited comeback. He hit the go-ahead bucket.

Despite playing a game-high 31 minutes, his intensity lasted all the way through the final buzzer.

His coach, the Raptors’ Dwane Casey, said he asked LeBron whether to foul or defend on the final possession while up three. LeBron said defend.

“If he says that, or any great players say that, you want to go with them because it was their idea, their belief, and he had it,” Casey said. “…He got the guys jacked up and juiced up as far as wanting to get a stop.”

LeBron and Kevin Durant swarmed Stephen Curry, who couldn’t shoot and could barely pass. Curry’s team didn’t even get a shot off:

“As you can hear in my voice, that tells how competitive it was,” LeBron said scratchily.

Again, his message echoed 2006: “We’re competitors, and our competitive nature kicked in and said let’s get some defensive stops.”

A lot will get made about the format change, and it might have mattered.

But maybe LeBron is just uniquely capable of dominating and embracing of this stage all these years later.

Defense? Dramatic finish? Team LeBron wins All-Star Game that’s worth watching

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LOS ANGELES — The NBA gambled its new format — with captains picking teams playground style — would produce an All-Star Game where the players showed some pride, played hard, and the showcase again would become something that resembled basketball (unlike last season).

It worked.

For proof guys were invested this time around, check out how Team LeBron responded to winning with a defensive stop, taking away Team Stephen’s attempt to get a clean look at a game-tying three in the closing seconds.

The THRILL of #NBAAllStar VICTORY!

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“It had a real game feel to it,” LeBron James said.

Team LeBron beat Team Stephen 148-145. LeBron was named MVP with 29 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists. He also hit the game-tying and go-ahead shot that got the win.

“I played with (LeBron) a few times,” Kyrie Irving said of the play and pass that set up that LeBron game-winner. “I cut back door, (Russell Westbrook) was driving, I saw the opportunity. I saw, before even Russ even passed to me, LeBron was going to circle to the rim, and he’s one of the best finishers at the rim.”

Most importantly, this was an All-Star Game with some defense — it had 81 fewer points than the layup line game last year, and the fewest points in five years. It also proved to be the closest game in six years.

“We wanted to kind of change the narrative of the All-Star Game being a joke,” Kevin Durant said. “Today we wanted to make it a real basketball game.”

There was more defense than last year from the start of the game — for example, LeBron blocked an alley-oop pass in the first quarter. Of course, “better than last year” was not a high bar to clear, but there was some effort to not just have a layup line. Most of the time.

Also to start the game, Anthony Davis came out wearing the “0” jersey of injured teammate DeMarcus Cousins (he switched back to his own #23 before the first half was over).

On the night, Team LeBron got 19 points out of Kevin Durant, 16 from Paul George, and 14 from Andre Drummond. Team Stephen was led by 21 from both DeMar DeRozan and Damian Lillard, and 19 points and eight rebounds from Joel Embiid in his first All-Star Game.

The fantastic ending made up for what was a laughable opening skit/national anthem before tip-off that did something very rare — it unified NBA Twitter. It was awful.

Now all anybody is talking about is the game itself. And that’s what the NBA wanted.

LeBron James hits go-ahead shot in All-Star win (video)

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LOS ANGELES – LeBron James‘ team trailed by 13 midway through the fourth quarter of the All-Star game, but he led a competitive comeback.

This shot put his team up 146-145 over Stephen Curry‘s team, and Team LeBron held on for a 148-145 win:

Great penetration by Russell Westbrook, and he and Kyrie Irving moved the ball well. LeBron made it count.