Author: Kurt Helin

Nick Young

Nick Young hits 30-foot, contested, game-winning three, Lakers upset Spurs (VIDEO)


Well, didn’t see that coming.

That offensive sequence, the shot they ended up with — a contested 30 footer with the shot clock  game on the line — pretty much sums up everything wrong with the Lakers offense.

But the thing about the Lakers is they have a couple guys who on the right night can just hit those shots. Nick Young is one of them and his three with 7.4 seconds left won the game as the Lakers beat the Spurs 112-110. It was the kind of win, the kind of game that led to one of those classic :44 second, terse Gregg Popovich postgame interviews (it’s the Spurs third loss to a sub. 500 team in the last 10 days, and that’s just focus). The Spurs had to come from 10 points down just to send the game to OT. The Lakers were the better team most of the night.

Kobe Bryant had 22 points (on 22 shots) and remains nine away from passing Michael Jordan on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. That very likely comes Sunday night in Minnesota.


Carmelo Anthony to play, start vs. Celtics Friday night

Portland Trail Blazers v New York Knicks
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There may be longer-term issues with his right knee, but for now Carmelo Anthony is only going to miss one game.

Anthony will be in the starting lineup Friday night when New York takes on the Celtics in Boston, coach Derek Fisher announced.

Anthony is averaging 22.9 points and 6.6 rebounds a game, and the Knicks offense is 15 points per 100 possessions better when he plays. Which is to say, they need him.

Anthony missed one game, a Knicks loss to San Antonio despite the fact the Knicks rested Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard. The Knicks have now lost 10 in a row and are just 4-20 on the season. With ‘Melo, Boston is about as winnable a game as there is for these Knicks.

Anthony’s played through a sore knee all season, which is part of the reason for the slow start. With the Knicks play has come infighting, reports of players not liking the triangle system, Derek Fisher looking like a first year coach and just an impressively high level of dysfunction. Friday word leaked that Anthony would be open to a trade — something both he and his agent quickly denied. Which is good, because with that contract good luck moving to a team any better than the Knicks. At least in the short term.

Kings make “Reverse Shaqtin’ a Fool” — Shaq’s biggest blunders (VIDEO)

Shaquille O'Neal

That is brilliant.

“Shaqtin’ A Fool” is one of the best parts of Inside the NBA each week on TNT, when Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Kenny “The Jet” Smith all have fun at the expense of the players with the biggest blunders of the week.

But Shaq had his share of blunders, too, so the Kings turned the tables and let their players enjoy Shaq’s best blunders.

The Kings can get away with this because Shaq is part owner of the team.

Report: Jermaine O’Neal to decide in January whether to return to NBA, contenders want him

Golden State Warriors v Sacramento Kings

Quality NBA big men are hard to come by. Even mediocre NBA big men are hard to come by, which is guys well past their expiration date keep getting chances.

Enter Jermaine O’Neal. Last you saw him the Golden State Warriors inserted him into their starting lineup for the first three games of their playoff series against the Clippers. By Game 7 of that series he could’t get on the court, he had fallen far out of Mark Jackson’s rotation (and the Clippers won the series). After that the Warriors decided not to bring him back this season (they went with Festus Ezeli, a guy who had missed the entire previous season with a knee injury). O’Neil mulled retirement and wasn’t in any camp this fall.

But O’Neal is tough, a veteran, and has the size you can’t teach (officially 6’11”, 262 pounds). Which means if he decides to come back — and he’s considering it — a number of teams are going to line up as suitors, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Depth along the front line is hard to come by so it’s not a shock that teams are lining up. O’Neal can provide a decent defensive anchor in the paint for limited minutes, plus he can score a little (not efficiently, but he can score). He’s had knee issues (he’s been to Germany for the Kobe treatment) but playing just half a season in a limited role shouldn’t be a problem.

The question is, does O’Neal want to put himself through the work to get in shape, get with a team and give this one more run? Tune in next month for the answer.

Jeanie Buss: Lakers chose to build around Steve Nash not Dwight Howard

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers

Jim Buss — the man at the top of the Lakers’ basketball operations food chain — has said all along that hiring Mike D’Antoni as coach back in 2012 was a call his farther Jerry Buss made from the hospital bed he would eventually pass away in. Father and son talked, Jerry had always wanted a return to Showtime and Jim wanted his imprint on the team, so they went with D’Antoni five games into a season with a roster that was a wretched fit for his style of play.

But was it worse than that? Did the Lakers consciously choose to build around 37-year-old (at the time) Steve Nash over then 26-year-old Dwight Howard?

That’s what Lakers president Jeanie Buss says in a Q&A she did with ESPN’s fantastic Ramona Shelburne.

“It came down to hiring a coach. [The Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni in November 2012.] When you have a big man and a guard, you have to decide whom you’re going to build your team around. The choice was to build it around Steve Nash and what suited Steve Nash instead of what suited Dwight Howard.”

Clearly Jennie Buss has a dog in this fight — she is engaged to Phil Jackson, the runner up in that coaching race. That’s who she wanted, who most Lakers fans wanted, and who Dwight Howard wanted as coach. But to bring in Jackson — at a salary three or four times what D’Antoni would make — would have shifted the balance of power in the organization toward Jeannie. Jackson would have coached the Lakers for a couple years but he wanted the kind of front office job he eventually got in New York, immediately Jackson would have had some say over players/personnel, and that eats away at Jim Buss’ power.

Jim again told ESPN this was all about what Jerry Buss wanted.

Jim: I’ve been on record as saying [hiring D’Antoni] was my dad’s decision. I know that makes Jeanie uncomfortable, but I’d sit down with him for hours going over Laker decisions. In my opinion, he was sharp.

Jeanie: [Interrupts] Dad was in the hospital. I would always run things by Dad too. But he was in the hospital, not feeling well, and that is why he counted on us to make the decisions. So I agree that he would have input, but he needed my suggestion or Jimmy’s suggestion or [GM Mitch Kupchak’s] suggestion because he was confined and did not have access to all the information that we did.

I’ll say this: I don’t believe Jim Buss thought “we should build around Nash.” He may have wanted to go to that up-tempo style and thought Nash could help bridge the gap to the next star player, but no way he thought Nash was some kind of long-term cornerstone. Nobody would.

That said, Jim may want to lay the D’Antoni hiring off on his father, but he can’t. For several years prior to this Jerry was not really involved in the operations of the team, he was more consultant than active partner. Jerry would not have forced D’Antoni on Jim, this was an idea from Jim that Jerry was good with. This was two guys thinking alike but also more about the power play than what would work on the court.

And it was a big swing and a miss.

Hiring D’Antoni was a decision that turned off Dwight Howard — he wanted Phil Jackson. The guy the Lakers shot down with a late-night call. More than that, Howard wanted to feel listened to, like his input mattered to the team, and getting a coach with a system that was the opposite of fitting what Howard wanted to do was a sign he wasn’t being taken seriously. This was one of the early dominoes that ended up having Howard opt for Houston as a free agent. Lakers fans can say “good riddance” but they got nothing in return for a superstar walking out the door. That’s a loss.

There’s many more layers to this story — obviously Howard and Kobe Bryant didn’t get along in terms of approach to basketball — but what is clear is the Lakers set themselves back with that coaching hire. It was one where most of the people around the league were scratching their heads at the time it happened, now it retrospect it was an unmitigated disaster. One of several situations that led the Lakers to the mess they are right now. And will be for a while. And the Buss family will have to own up to that.