Should 0-4 Lakers be worried about preseason? Not really.

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Do not take any results from the preseason seriously.

I mean it. Don’t do it. The Sixers blew out the Celtics Monday night, but a game without Kevin Garnett (and Andrew Bynum) is not an accurate reflection of anything that you might see on the court in just a couple weeks. It just doesn’t matter.

But sometimes you can start to see trends that you should watch heading into the season.

So the Utah Jazz blew out the Lakers 114-80 Tuesday night in Anaheim, and Lakers fans should yawn. The loss makes the Lakers 0-4 in the preseason, but that is utterly meaningless. The Lakers were without Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol or Jordan Hill in the paint Tuesday night, for starters. At least Kobe Bryant put on a show in the third quarter (he finished with 31), so the Lakers fans in attendance feel like they got their money’s worth. Which is all anyone can hope for in the preseason.

But there is something going on this preseason Lakers fans should be concerned about:

Depth.

That’s what you see in preseason games — Kobe and Steve Nash and Pau Gasol don’t need big minutes to get ready for the season. Dwight Howard is sidelined. Those are not the guys getting the run. What you see in the preseason are the guys who get limited minutes during the regular season getting big minutes.

The Jazz roll out nice young players to get minutes in the preseason — Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks and on down the line. The Lakers… not so much.

The Lakers starting five may well be the league’s best. They will show up ready to ball for the regular season. But the second five has either Chris Duhon or Steve Blake as the backup point, Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison, the currently injured Jordan Hill, Earl Clark and maybe Chris Douglas-Roberts. They are not a deep team.

That may not matter as much once they get to the playoffs when the starters can run more minutes (with less travel and regular days off). As long as they are healthy they will still win a lot of regular season games.

But the Lakers need to keep Nash’s minutes under 30 a game this season and bring Kobe’s down from the 38 a game he played last season. And of course some guys are going to miss games due to injury (or just need a night off) during the coming nearly six-month regular season grind.

And you can fairly question how much the Lakers bench will contribute during that grind after watching them this preseason. It could impact their playoff seeding.

Lakers fans, don’t worry about your team losing big to the Jazz in a meaningless preseason game. But you should be a little bit concerned about why.

Russell Westbrook has beef with Joel Embiid after hard foul (VIDEO)

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Russell Westbrook is always looking for something — real or imagined — to use as motivational fuel.

He found something real Saturday in Joel Embiid.

With 1:46 left in a close game on national television, Westbrook was off to the races in transition with just Embiid back and the result was a hard foul.

Westbrook was pissed after the game thinking this was not just a hard foul (warning, NSFW language):

Embiid essentially shrugged.

The actual foul was hard but a bit of a fluke. Embiid went up to block the layup/dunk but Westbrook lost his dribble for a second, and the result was an airborne Embiid crashing into Westbrook. Hard. Was there a little bit extra in there? Depends on if you’re on Team Westbrook or Team Embiid.

But the NBA could use more feuds, so bring it on.

The Thunder went on to beat the 76ers on a Paul George game-winner.

Celtics’ Marcus Smart goes after Hawks’ Deandre Bembry, gets ejected

Associated Press
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Marcus Smart will be lucky if all he has to do is write a check to the league office. This is the kind of thing that can lead to a suspension.

Midway through the third quarter in Atlanta Saturday, Boston’s Smart picked up his second technical foul jawing with Atlanta’s DeAndre Bembry before a jump ball. That got him ejected. But it was when it charged back after Bembry rather than leaving the floor that the real trouble started.

Predicting the league office on fines/suspensions is like predicting a roulette table, but that looks like it could cost Smart a game. Smart had picked up his earlier technical arguing calls.

Boston came from behind to win Saturday in Atlanta, with Kyrie Irving leading the way scoring 32.

Bucks to retire jersey Marcus Johnson’s number

via NBA.com
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Marcus Johnson is a Milwaukee legend. He averaged 21 points a game in his seven seasons with the Bucks and is sixth on the all-time franchise list in points (10,980), is its all-time leader in offensive rebounds (1,468), is third in total rebounds (3,923), and made 4,546 during his time in Milwaukee. He is now a color commenter for the team.

Now, the team is going to retire his No. 8.

The ceremony will be March 24, a story broken by the Journal-Sentinel.

Johnson will be the ninth Bucks player to have his number retired and the first since the team’s move to its new home Fiserv Forum.

Current Bucks legend Giannis Antetokounmpo told the Journal-Sentinel he was happy. Antetokounmpo turned to Johnson at points for help with footwork, post moves, and more.

“I’m really happy for him, I think he deserves to have his jersey retired,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s amazing. He’s just sitting down there like a normal person, but this guy was one of the best players in the league when he was playing. … He’s a legend.”

Johnson won an NCAA national championship at UCLA under the legendary John Wooden before going on to an NBA career that included five All-Star appearances and three All-NBA teams.

Paul George hits game winner, lifts Thunder past 76ers 117-115

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Paul George converted a four-point play with 5.1 seconds left, sending Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder to a wild 117-115 victory over Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

George’s clutch shot capped a wild finish that included another memorable exchange with Westbrook and Embiid. Westbrook hit the floor out of bounds under the basket after a foul by Embiid late in the game, and Westbrook fouled out with 14.9 seconds remaining after he got Embiid while shooting a 3-pointer.

Embiid made all three foul shots, tying it at 113, and Jimmy Butler‘s driving layup put Philadelphia in front with 6.9 seconds to go. But George drained a 3 while being fouled by Butler and made the foul shot.

Philadelphia had one last chance, but Butler missed a 3-point attempt in the final seconds. The 76ers have lost 19 in a row to the Thunder.

George finished with 31 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Westbrook had 21 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for Oklahoma City, and reserve Dennis Schroder also scored 21 points.

The Thunder had dropped five of six, including a 138-128 overtime loss against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

Embiid, who was a game-time decision because of back tightness, had 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists. JJ Redick scored 22 points for Philadelphia, and Ben Simmons finished with 20 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists.

Oklahoma City led by as many as 16 points in the first quarter, but Philadelphia rallied in the second and trailed 59-56 at the break.