Kobe Bryant expected back Tuesday

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bryant.jpgWell Grizzlies, aren’t you lucky?

After missing five games with an ankle and tendon sprain, Kobe Bryant thinks he should be able to return to the lineup Tuesday when the Lakers face the Grizzlies in Memphis.

Bryant practiced Saturday for the first time since Feb. 15 and when asked what he learned from the session he said, “I got that I’m able to play.”

“Today it felt very, very good,” Bryant said. “I can jump, I can drive, push off [and] I can get to the basket. It’s just a matter of now of how it feels tomorrow, I guess.”

Last time Bryant practices he said he was fine, then the next morning the ankle bothered him and he did not suit up. This time, however, the Lakers have a couple more days off before a Memphis/Dallas road back-to-back.

It will be interesting to see how Kobe and the Lakers mesh upon his return, a team that went 4-1 without him. On offense, the Lakers missed him as their production dropped (although they did a better job of getting their shots out of the triangle offense and not isolation plays). Where the Lakers stepped up without Kobe was on defense — their rotations and team defensive play was much better and more focused.

If that defensive mentality stays with Kobe back, the Lakers will be a lot more dangerous. Or, they might just take their foot off the gas and relax. Hard to tell with this team.

Steven Adams restrained by referee from confrontation with Nuggets fan (video)

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Steven Adams is one of the NBA’s toughest players.

But that didn’t stop a Nuggets fan from heckling the Thunder center during Denver’s win Friday.

Adams stepped toward the fan and yelled, to the point a referee restrained him. Russell Westbrook – who lost his temper later in the game – also yelled at the fan.

It’s hard to hear exactly what Adams and Westbrook said. But it sounds profane enough both players could get fined.

Kings coach Dave Joerger on Luka Doncic: ‘Perhaps there was an idea that there was a ceiling on him. I don’t see it, unfortunately for us’

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley has been solid for the Kings.

No. 3 pick Luka Doncic has been even better for the Mavericks.

Doncic had 28 points and nine assists against Sacramento yesterday. Though the Kings won, questions have still swirled about why they didn’t just draft Doncic. Sacramento coach Dave Joerger even weighed in on the rookie.

Joerger, via James Ham of NBC Sports California:

“Perhaps there was an idea that there was a ceiling on him – I don’t see it, unfortunately for us,” Joerger said. “He’s great for them and he’s great for our league.”

Coaches commonly praise a young opponent then add a variation of “unfortunately for us” – as in, unfortunately we’ll have to play against him for many years.

But it’s easy to infer deeper significance here.

The Kings seemingly drafted Bagley for bad reasons – i.e., his desire to go to Sacramento. Doncic looked like the better prospect. But Kings assistant general manager Brandon Williams helped steer the team toward Bagley. When Joerger played veteran Nemanja Bjelica over Williams-preferred Bagley, that caused drama earlier this season. The Williams-Joerger rift apparently continued, too.

So, Joerger’s remarks could have been a thinly veiled shot at Sacramento’s front office. Maybe the coach didn’t intended it that way, but it wouldn’t be a huge leap.

Report: Knicks owner James Dolan used to play guitar on team flights after losses

AP Photo/Richard Drew
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Knicks owner James Dolan is widely regarded as one of the worst owners in sports.

He’s also defiantly himself.

That came through in a lengthy profile by Ian O’Connor of ESPN. Dolan is still defending his organization after losing a sexual-harassment lawsuit. Dolan is still blaming Charles Oakley for an ejection from Madison Square Garden last year. Dolan is still trying to contextualize his relationship with Harvey Weinstein.

But Dolan won’t concede one eye-opening claim.

O’Connor:

Jim is the owner who years ago, on occasion, would play his guitar on the Knicks’ team plane — even after losses, according to several witnesses. “It was the last thing the players and coaches wanted to hear,” says one regular on those flights. “I just remember the looks on their faces.” (Dolan denies this claim and calls it “somebody’s fantasy.”)

Dolan has made a lot of enemies over the years. It wouldn’t be shocking if one made up a story to make him look bad and others corroborated it for the same reason.

Because it’s quite believable.

Dolan is more passionate about his music than owning the Knicks. This also wouldn’t be the first time he subjected players to his musical interest.

Occam’s razor suggests Dolan did this rather than a conspiracy existing to frame him. Besides, believing he did it is way more fun.

Ahead on Nets fastbreak, Rodions Kurucs whips pass… farther ahead (video)

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With D’Angelo Harris to his left, Rondae Hollins-Jefferson to his right, Joe Harris trailing and only Hawks in front of him, Nets rookie Rodions Kurucs passed ahead. Confidently. That was a bullet.

But to nobody – except maybe the referee. It looked high for the ref, though maybe an NBA player would have snagged the throw.

At Brooklyn still beat Atlanta, 144-127.