NBA finals Lakers Celtics Game 5: The Bynum paradox

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bynumpractice.jpgWith Andrew Bynum’s knee freshly drained and with his MRI showing no further damage, Phil Jackson expressed a desire for Bynum to play in Game 5. Bynum’s listed as questionable as even though the damage hasn’t increased, the amount of pain Bynum is in has. It’s one of those weird things with the human body. When the tear was getting increasingly worse, Bynum said he had little to no pain. But recently it’s been bothering him enough for him to be unable to play long minutes in the second half, even though there’s no increase in damage.

Frankly, it’s been amazing Bynum’s managed to play at all on it, let alone as well as he has. For a player whose work ethic and toughness has been questioned by everyone up to and including Tex Winter, it’s been a remarkable advance in his maturity. The question is, has Bynum reached the tipping point?

The Lakers are playing for an NBA championship. The highest prize they can obtain. This is the summit. There’s no guarantee that with Kobe getting older along with the rest of the Lakers’ core that they’ll be back here. It’s likely, of course, but not guaranteed, not like it was two years ago when Pau Gasol was first traded there. So there’s a certain amount of sense in the idea that Bynum should leave it all on the floor to collect as many rings as possible.

Beyond that, however, is the fact that Bynum is 22 years old. He’s got a whole career left in him. And playing on that knee is going to do further and further damage to him. With the advances in medical science, it’s probable that he’ll be able to bounce back completely and go back to having a stellar career. But this is his third knee injury in his short NBA lifespan. There’s just as good of a chance that the continued damage he’s doing by playing on it could shave years off his career, which could cost him significant money down the road. He’s got two to three contracts left in him to play, and essentially, he’s risking that to win his second ring.

It’s what we always ask of players, to value victory over the money, but is it really the right thing to do?

Maybe the tear is such that further damage to it and the resulting surgery won’t greatly impact his later career. Maybe Jackson is aware of it and trying to find a happy medium by playing him until it becomes too much and then yanking back on it as he did in Game 4. It’s obvious that the Lakers truly do need Bynum to beat the Celtics. It’s just such a dangerous game to be playing with the life of a kid that has so much left in him to give this game.

Royce O’Neale agrees to four-year, $36 million contract extension to stay in Utah

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Royce O'Neale is a name casual NBA fans may not recognize.

However, GMs around the league recognize him is the kind of role player teams need to win. O’Neale is asked to guard the opposing team’s best wing player nightly, while on the other end of the court he’s shooting 44.3 percent from three. He’s become a critical part of Utah’s rotation.

So the Jazz have locked him up with a contract extension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The Jazz — who have won 16-of-18 — just got Mike Conley back in the rotation, and have jumped up to a top-four seed in the West (as of this writing). Things are looking up, and also they have set themselves up well financially for the future.

Bigger bills are coming in Utah, in the summer of 2021 the Jazz will need to max out Donovan Mitchell with an extension plus re-sign Rudy Gobert. Which is why locking in a quality role player like O’Neale at a fair price now is a smart move.

Marcus Smart’s Celtics record 11 threes still not enough to beat Suns

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BOSTON — Devin Booker had 39 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists and the Phoenix Suns overcame a franchise-record 11 3-pointers by Boston’s Marcus Smart and beat the Celtics 123-119 on Saturday night.

Smart shot 11 for 22 from 3-point range and finished with a career-best 37 points. His performance marked the first time in NBA history that a player made 11 or more 3-points in a losing effort, according to Stats.

Deandre Ayton had 26 points and 15 rebounds and Mikal Bridges added a career-best 26 points for the Suns, who have won four of their last five games.

Jayson Tatum scored 26 points and Gordon Hayward added 22 for Boston, which has lost three straight and six of eight.

Three years ago, Booker scored 70 points in a loss to the Celtics in TD Garden. He finished an assist shy of his first career triple-double.

The Celtics were missing two of their top three leading scorers – Kemba Walker (team-best 22.1 per game), out with left knee soreness, and Jaylen Brown (20.0), sidelined for the second straight game with a sprained right thumb.

Boston cut its deficit to 90-85 early in the fourth, but Dario Saric and Bridges answered with consecutive 3s. The Celtics had it down to 114-111 on Daniel Theis‘ breakaway dunk with about a minute left, but Bridges hit a jumper in the lane with 37 seconds to play.

Booker’s two free throws sealed it with 4.8 seconds left.

The Suns led 60-51 at halftime and answered – mainly behind Booker and Ayton – any surge by Boston. The lead never fell below seven in the quarter, with Booker scoring nine points and Ayton getting eight.

The loss of two key players showed for the Celtics in the first quarter when the Suns broke in front 26-10 before Boston’s bench helped spark a 15-0 run.

LeBron James gets ‘M-V-P’ chants in Houston

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Laker fans are everywhere.

Decades of stars and success — from Magic Johnson through Kobe Bryant — turned the Lakers into the biggest franchise brand in the NBA, the only thing that might rival it is LeBron James‘ brand. Combine those two and there seem to be loud, at points obnoxious, Lakers fans in every arena.

Case in point: LeBron James got “M-V-P” chants in Houston while the Lakers beat the Rockets.

LeBron called it humbling.

LeBron’s play this season — 25.5 points and a career-high 10.9 assists a game, playing his best defense in years and leading the Lakers to a West best 34-8 record — has him in the hunt for a fifth MVP award (although he’s not who we would vote for right now).

Expect to hear these chants in a lot more buildings this season.

Check out Stephen Curry the sideline reporter (VIDEO)

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Stephen Curry, the most overpaid sideline reporter in the NBA.”

That’s how Curry was introduced on the Warriors broadcast Saturday night as he took over some sideline reporting duties while still out after fracturing his hand four games into the season. What else has he got to do?

Above you can see the best of Curry’s reactions, or check out his walk-off interview with Eric Paschall:

I’d say he shouldn’t quit his day job, but that job also pays a little better.

By the way, the Warriors ended their losing streak with a 109-95 victory over Orlando. D'Angelo Russell led the way with 26 points.