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Kurt Helin

Nick Young, could Lakers make playoffs? “We think we could, for sure”

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Playoffs?!? They’re talking playoffs?!?

At 6-4, the Lakers are currently tied for the six seed in the West with Portland. Just 10 games into the season it’s a “Hillary can’t lose” level prognostication mistake to say Los Angeles is a lock, but with Memphis, Denver, Sacramento, Dallas, and Minnesota stumbling out of the gate, is it time for the Lakers to start dreaming of the playoffs?

Nick Young told Mark Medina of the Orange County Register the team thinks they can make it.

“We think we could, for sure,” Lakers forward Nick Young said. “If we continue to play how we’ve been playing…..”

Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson then interrupted Young and asked about the subject matter. After Young caught Clarkson up to speed, the two playfully chastised a reporter for bringing up the topic.

“It’s not nice. You put pressure on these young guys,” Young said. “Now we have to make the playoffs when you said [before] we were the last team in the world.”

First, you have to love the chemistry on this team right now — they like each other and are having fun on and off the court, and it shows.

Can the Lakers sustain this? I don’t doubt they could have an offense around the top 10 (currently ninth), the question is will their middle-of-the-pack defense remain at that level? Will the young team hold up physically and not have excessive mental lapses? Can Young keep playing like this?

The Lakers look like a team that will be in the mix for a playoff spot, which before the season started seemed a wild long shot.

Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith is out against Hornets

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CLEVELAND (AP) Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith is out against the Charlotte Hornets because of a sore right ankle.

The Cavaliers said Smith tweaked the ankle Friday night against Washington. Mike Dunleavy will start at shooting guard Sunday for the defending champions, who are 7-1 and have the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Smith is averaging 10.5 points and had made 36 percent of his 3-point attempts. Dunleavy, who is starting for the first time this season, is 7 of 23 from the 3-point line and is averaging 4.4 points.

Kings’ Omri Casspi denies he requested trade

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With the Kings off to a bit of a slow start, the rumors of potential trades have started — Willie Cauley-Stein‘s name came up, and Shaquille O’Neal dropped DeMarcus Cousins hints.

The other name that hit the rumor mill in Sacramento Omri Casspi, with reports he requested a trade.

Casspi denied that to James Ham of CSNBayArea.com.

“Zero truth to that. Zero,” Casspi told CSN California via text.

According to multiple sources, Casspi’s agent met with the Kings this week to discuss his role with the team. But he did not request a trade at that time.

Casspi’s role with the Kings has declined under new coach Dave Joerger, he’s playing 12 fewer minutes a night. A hip injury was part of what set him back, but he hasn’t earned the trust of the coach more than Anthony Tolliver and others.

It’s possible the Kings will consider moving him, but not in the short term. If he does go on the market in a serious way, there will be interest, other GMs think he just needs a new setting.

Damian Lillard on Portland’s Trump protests: “Tearing apart your own city” doesn’t help

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From Los Angeles to New York and in blue states across the nation, there have been protests in the wake of Donald Trump winning the election and becoming president-elect. Cities with large minority communities, in particular, have seen frustration and large-scale protests (in New York the protest landed at the door of Trump Tower in Manhattan).

But the only real violence happened at protests in Portland. There, according to police, demonstrators used bats to smash store windows and cars, others lit fires, and on Saturday one protestor was shot (no arrest as of yet). Police have called the situation a “riot,” and over the past few days more than 45 people have been arrested.

Damian Lillard hopes the violence will stop, as he told Chris Haynes of ESPN.

“I think it’s very unfortunate that people have done some of the things they have done during the protest. A lot of harm and damage has been done,” Lillard told ESPN on Saturday. “I do understand their frustration, and I commend people wanting to come together for some kind of change. Tearing apart your own city just isn’t the place to begin, and also making your own city less of a safe place isn’t the answer….

“Portland has been a great place since I’ve been here and long before, but this type of activity doesn’t even seem to fit the description of Portland,” Lillard said. “Especially when the majority of the people here voted for Hillary. So if this is an anti-Trump rally, then you’re probably harming the people that you side with in most cases. So again I share the same worry, but I don’t think this is the solution.”

Watch James Harden’s latest triple-double for Houston

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It was impressive. It wasn’t enough.

Above you can see above, James Harden racked up another triple-double Saturday night — 25 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds. That’s two in a row for him against San Antonio. How good is he for Houston? When he is off the court their offense is 33 points per 100 possessions worse (it is abysmal).

The Spurs took advantage of that Saturday and got the win, splitting the two games they played against each other this week.

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