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Sloppy Warriors, Stephen Curry turn it on in overtime to beat Lakers

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LOS ANGELES — Galling.

That was the word Warriors coach Steve Kerr used to describe his team’s 22 turnovers, but he might as well have said their game overall.

“I like the word galling. Tonight was absolutely galling,” Kerr said. “There were some mind-boggling plays out there, and I don’t know what to tell you. We’ve got to be able to take better care of the ball and make better decisions.”

Stephen Curry had been part of the problem much of the night, but then he turned around and scored 13 points and knocked down a couple of crucial threes in overtime as the Warriors held off a feisty Lakers team 127-123.

There are no moral victories in the NBA, but this really was one for the Lakers.

Brandon Ingram had probably the best game of his career, scoring 32 points on 12-of-21 shooting, and he was aggressive from the start — early in the game in transition drove right into the body of Jordan Bell and powered through him. Ingram, the No. 2 pick in 2016, looks like a player figuring it out, turning the corner to become a force in the league. And he was fearless. Much of the night Ingram was matched up with Kevin Durant and showed no hesitation. Ingram defended well and forced turnovers (he had three steals and two blocks on the night), plus was the Lakers’ go-to offensive option.

That meant with 5 seconds left and the game tied 109-109, the Lakers turned to Ingram in isolation to try and win it, but Draymond Green slid over in a good bit of help defense on Ingram’s drive, challenge the shot, Ingram missed the driving lay-up, and the game went to overtime.

“He was going to go right, he always goes right,” Green said of his help on the final play (and it’s a reminder Ingram still has work to do to round out his game).

Lonzo Ball finished the night with 15 points and 10 assists, and for one third-quarter stretch found his groove and knocked down back-t0-back threes, then hit a driving layup. For much of the night, the Warriors helped off Ball and basically ignored him on the offensive end when he didn’t have the ball, and for a couple of minutes he made Golden State pay for that and was the scorer the Lakers need him to be.

“Well, he’s been shooting lights out in practice the last week or so,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “I told him before the game, I said, ‘Zo, you’re going to be one of the best point guards in the league, you are. Embrace this challenge if you’re open and in rhythm.’ I thought most of (his shots) tonight were in rhythm.”

All of which is nice for the Lakers, but the Warriors got the win. Durant had 29 points, Curry 28, Klay Thompson 20 with four threes, and Green had 15 points and 11 boards.

Golden State looked either disinterested or like they had too good a time in Los Angeles the night before for much of the game. But they locked in for a few stretches and overtime, and that — plus their talent — was enough.

“We got stops when we needed,” Durant said. “We turned the ball over too much tonight and got them going, but we got stops when we needed them, we hit big shots down the stretch.”

That was enough for this night. Barely.

 

Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis still not talking off court

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The Bulls are 5-0 since Nikola Mirotic returned from an injury suffered when Bobby Portis punched him in the face during a preseason practice. Mirotic and Portis are both excelling individually, and Chicago has outscored opponents by a whopping 34.3 points per 100 possessions when those two share the court.

Jack Maloney of CBSSports.com:

When asked if the two former combatants have spoken yet, Mirotic said, “We did on the floor. We’ve always spoken because we need to have good communication.” As for whether they’ve talked off the floor, however, Mirotic was succinct in his response: “No.”

I guess Mirotic hasn’t completely moved on, though he said he did. But that’s fine. How could someone get past a teammate punching him in the face?

Importantly, this is becoming just a regular NBA problem. The extent of that practice punch was practically unprecedented. But plenty of players have loathed teammates while making it work on the court. That happens more than people realize.

Mirotic and Portis can make this their status quo – at least the on-court cooperation. I’m not convinced Chicago will keep winning like this.

Watch Kobe Bryant’s ‘Dear Basketball’ short film (video)

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Kobe Bryant announced his retirement in a letter called “Dear Basketball,” which was made into a short film.

Now, on the day the Lakers retire his Nos. 8 and 24, you can watch it. It’s quite beautiful:

Double number retirement fitting for Kobe Bryant

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Kobe Bryant’s career truly occurred in two acts.

He was Shaquille O’Neal’s super sidekick for three championships. Then, Kobe led the Lakers to another two titles himself after Shaq departed.

He was an athletic, high-flying slam-dunk-contest champion. Then, he became known for his cerebral play and footwork.

He faced trial for rape in Colorado (the case was ultimately dismissed, and he settled civilly), blame for Shaq getting traded and criticism for being too selfish when the Lakers struggled in the aftermath of Shaq’s departure. Then, Kobe – still beloved by his fans – again became a socially acceptable marketing force.

His 2007 trade request serves as the more accurate intermission point, but his 2006 jersey change from No. 8 to No. 24 works well enough. He had a Hall of Fame career in No. 8 then a borderline Hall of Fame career in No. 24. Think Tracy Mcgrady’s career followed by Bernard King’s – but it was just Kobe followed by Kobe and with far more postseason success.

Here are the win-share leaders with a single franchise during Kobe’s career:

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So much about Kobe is excessive – his accolades, his shot selection, his reputation as clutch. He had an all-time great career, but the myth outpaces reality.

Yet, Kobe becoming the first player with two numbers retired by the same team – which the Lakers will do at halftime tonight – feels incredibly appropriate. In his 20-year career with the Lakers, Kobe had time to succeed then succeed again in an extravagant way only he could manage.

He was dedicated and disciplined, flashy and fastidious, No. 8 and No. 24

Warriors will watch Kobe Bryant’s numbers get retired, Lakers might not

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The Lakers will retire Kobe Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 at halftime of their game against Warriors tonight.

The road team won’t miss it. The home team might.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr, via Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area:

“I want our guys to see it,” Kerr said Saturday. “It’ll be a pretty cool moment.

“Just to experience of one of the greatest players in the history of the game getting his jersey retired and we happen to be there? I’m not going to keep them in the locker room watching tape from the first half. The players would look at me like I was nuts.”

Lakers coach Luke Walton, via Harrison Faigen of Lakers Nation:

“I hadn’t thought much about [watching the ceremony],” Walton said Sunday. “We’re still deciding how we’ll approach halftime.

“Our first priority is still the job that we have. I’m sure there’s going to be some halftime adjustments we need to make against the Warriors. We’re toying with a couple different ideas to let guys at least see part of it.”

Kerr seems like a pretty cool guy, someone who understands what truly matters. This will be a historic moment, and that can take priority over watching video for one night in a long season.

But he also has the luxury of coaching an all-time great team. Even with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia and Shaun Livingston injured, the Warriors are favored.

Walton has a young team that needs every break it can get. But he too should embrace the significance of the ceremony. His franchise is.

After reportedly initially being scheduled for pregame, the ceremony will occur at halftime. The NBA implemented a hard 15-minute limit on halftimes this season. Any team not ready will be assessed a delay-of-game penalty. So, lengthy speeches tonight could hinder the current team on the court. And that’s well worth the cost of doing business.

In the same regard, current Lakers watching Kobe’s ceremony would gain pride in being a Laker. There’s real value in that, probably more than in going over adjustments for a December game during a season very likely to end outside the playoffs regardless.