“Twenty at home and 11 on the road,’’ Van Gundy, the brother of former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy, said before the game. “A cynical person — which I’m not — would say the league tried to help them and build some confidence at the beginning of the year by giving them a lot of home games and giving them a chance to get going. and pick up some confidence. That’s what a cynical person would say. Not me. It’s just by chance they got so many home games early on.”
Asked if the Knicks look like a different club on the road, Van Gundy quipped, “I don’t know. I haven’t seen them on the road much.”
According to industry sources, the major factor in the Knicks’ home-heavy early schedule is a combination of the Garden hosting the Grammys in January and the Big Ten tournament for the first time ever in early March.
Several teams – most recently the 2015-16 Heat – have opened with at least 21 home games in their first 33 games of a season. This is not out of the ordinary.
The Knicks are surprisingly in the playoff hunt. But they probably haven’t built enough confidence to overcome playing 29 of their final 49 games on the road.
As long as every team plays 41 home games and 41 road games, it all evens out. I’m not convinced any realistic sequence is particularly advantageous or disadvantageous, no matter what conspiracy-theorist coaches might suggest.
LeBron James says being away from family ‘sucks,’ but favorite Christmas games have been in Los Angeles
LeBron James said his favorite holiday games are the ones he’s played in Los Angeles.
“I’ve had a lot of games that kind of stood out … playing in the Staples Center is always a treat,” James said Sunday, before the Cavs practiced in preparation for their Christmas Day game against the Golden State Warriors. “I’ve never had an opportunity to play in the Garden, but playing in the Staples Center, I’ve been there quite a few times. So, it’s kind of always fun to be in L.A. and play in front of that crowd and have that atmosphere.
“I’ve only had probably four games at home out of the 12 … but being in the Staples Center has always been pretty good.”
He said his children open their presents Christmas morning, whether he’s home or not, and this year he’ll be watching via FaceTime. His daughter Zhuri is 3, and James said this is the first Christmas where she’ll really understand what’s going on as the wrapping paper flies off the boxes under the tree.
“It sucks being here (San Francisco), obviously,” James said. “But I’ll be there for years to come in the future, hopefully.”
LeBron probably can’t escape playing on Christmas. The NBA wants to market its biggest stars, and his teams inevitably also deserve the spotlight.
But his ticket to spending at least part of Christmas Day home with his family might be signing with the Lakers.
Including their game against the Timberwolves tonight, the Lakers have played the last 19 Christmases – 16 at home. The league wants to highlight the Los Angeles market. LeBron, of course, just bought a new house in Los Angeles. He also has a home near Cleveland, but he obviously can’t keep the Cavaliers there on Christmas as often.
Signing with the Lakers would also come with the added benefit of playing at his favored arena for Christmas.
However, LeBron’s affinity for Christmas in Los Angeles might be based solely on his 3-0 record there, including a triple-double and this memorable dunk:
Besides, it’s hard to see LeBron picking a team based on its arena. After all, he has repeatedly raved about Madison Square Garden without ever signing with the Knicks.
LeBron cares about his family, and that will affect his free agency. But he has also shown his family won’t dictate his professional future.
So, include this as another reason LeBron might sign with the Lakers. The rumors are tantalizing.
But a foul Harden drew is the source of the game’s lasting controversy.
Officials called a foul on the Clippers with 3:10 left. It clearly belonged to Jawun Evans, who had five fouls at that point. But instead of Evans fouling out, the foul was assigned to Lou Williams, who wasn’t involved in the play.
Evans stayed in the game and drew a couple late charges against Harden – frustrating the Houston star and helping the Clippers to a 128-118 win.
The Rockets officially filed a protest of Friday’s game in which a Los Angeles Clippers player should have been disqualified with 3:10 left, a person with knowledge of the protest said Sunday.
An NBA spokesman on Saturday confirmed that the league was aware of the error.
The Rockets paid the league $10,000 to file the challenge and will have the money returned only if they prevail. If the challenge is upheld, the teams would replay the final 3:10 with the Clippers up five, Evans fouled out and Harden stepping to the line for two free throws. (The game could also resume after Harden’s made free throws, though I’d think he’d have to re-shoot them.)
If the league rules a scorekeeping error wrongly assigned the foul to Williams rather than Evans, the challenge will be upheld. The last successful protest came in 2008, when Shaquille O’Neal was disqualified with five – rather than the correct six – fouls in a Heat-Hawks game.
If the league rules the officials intended to call the foul on Williams, even if that was obvious mistake, the challenge will be denied. That seems more likely.
Lakers: Lonzo Ball out for Christmas, following week
Lonzo Ball, who was injured in the second quarter of last night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, had an MRI today. Results of the MRI revealed a shoulder sprain in his left shoulder. Ball will be out for tomorrow’s game vs. Minnesota and will be reevaluated in one week.
But Ball brings a level of intrigue unmatched by any other Laker. He was just the No. 2 pick, and his unconventional style lends itself to a fun, up-tempo style. Of course, his attention-grabbing father, LaVar Ball, also draws interest into Lonzo.
The Lakers (11-20) probably aren’t playing for meaningful on-court success this season, anyway. But Ball will be missed by the national audience watching tomorrow’s game.