After a dismal opening night performance at home in a loss to Dallas, the Lakers will take to the road for their second game in as many nights against a Blazers team that’s ready and waiting.
There was plenty wrong with L.A. on Tuesday — the offense was horrid, and the defense (if you want to call it that) was even worse. Steve Nash had a rough outing trying to run the new offense instead of doing what he does best, and Dwight Howard fouled out, missed a couple of dunks we would normally expect him to convert, and shot a miserable 3-of-14 from the free throw line.
That last part is important, because just two games into the young season, a Lakers opponent is going to try to exploit that weakness to its advantage.
Howard has such a physical advantage over most teams that he can post numbers even when not playing that well overall. And, still finding his way back to 100 percent from the back surgery he underwent over the summer, his athleticism isn’t fully there, and the team as a whole (Howard included) is still figuring out its defensive rotations.
WIth all of that being said, if you’re the Blazers starting an undersized front line of Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, and J.J. Hickson (as they did in the team’s preseason finale), you want Howard off the floor as much as possible.
Grinding the game to a halt and forcing him to shoot (and miss) a ton of free throws is certainly one way to get that desired result.
LeBron James appears to call for timeout with Lakers out of them (video)
David Blatt infamously tried to call a timeout while the Cavaliers were out of them. Though he was stopped before receiving a technical foul, that was seen as evidence Blatt didn’t have the basketball intelligence to coach LeBron James.
Somewhere, Blatt is quietly smiling. (Or let’s be real, loudly telling everyone how smart he is.)
LeBron had his biggest moment as a Laker, making a game-tying 3-pointer to force overtime in Los Angeles’ eventual loss to the Spurs last night. But LeBron probably shouldn’t have had the opportunity to take the shot.
Once the Lakers secured possession, LeBron appeared to call for a timeout despite the Lakers having none remaining. If referees granted the timeout, it also would have come with a technical foul that gave the Spurs a chance to put the game out of reach in regulation.
Instead, Josh Hart incidentally made a big play by passing to LeBron. LeBron had to drop his T-signaling hands to catch the pass. Then, he brought the ball up court and drilled a 3-pointer.
LeBron said he wasn’t trying to call timeout, but his smiling denial isn’t exactly convincing.
There should be no place for that. None. Games should be decided by the 10 players on the court. Anyone not in the game should do nothing to encroach on the space of players in the game. Stepping over the sideline is an egregious violation. Touching a player or his uniform is beyond outrageous.
The NBA has occasionally fined coaches (including former Wizards assistant Sidney Lowe) and players, but the league hasn’t gone far enough. This type of conduct, though usually not this flagrant, occurs far too often. It’s past time to crack down. Fines, suspensions, whatever it takes to ensure this stops.
After years of neglecting to deter these antics, the NBA shouldn’t put all the weight of the problem on Morris. Fine him what has been the standard amount, but make clear to everyone this was the last straw before more severe penalties.
Morris’ shorts tug might have decided the game. We’ll never know whether that would have been the difference between the Trail Blazers scoring on the possession or not. Probably not. Damian Lillard missed on a drive, but maybe he would kicked to Seth Curry if Curry weren’t flailing his arms, exasperated by Morris contact. Or maybe Otto Porter would have stuck just a little closer to Curry without “help” defense from Morris, leaving more room for Lillard.
But it’s only a matter of time until the NBA has a more controversial ending involving someone on the bench getting involved in the play.
Check out Maurice Harkless’ Tyrone Biggums of the “Chapelle’s Show” Halloween costume
Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) Bad loss for Boston: Offense stumbles again and Celtics fall to Magic. I get it, we’re just four games into the NBA season and the Celtics are still adjusting to having Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back in the rotation. This early the defense isn’t expected to be at its switching peak yet. Everything is a work in progress and it’s far too early to even get nervous.
But the Celtics were manhandled down the stretch by the Raptors. Then Boston almost lost to an unimpressive Knicks team.
Now comes a home loss to Orlando. That is a bad loss. Boston is simply not playing well right now.
Following an unimpressive preseason, the Celtics are 2-2 to open the season after a 93-90 loss to the punchless Magic Monday. While Evan Fournier and D.J. Augustin were able to get in the paint and kick out, and Nikola Vucevic had 24 and 12, it wasn’t the Magic offense torching the Celtics defense that was the biggest problem on the night. Once again, Boston’s offense looked out of sync, as evidenced by them shooting 7-of-20 in the first quarter or going 9-of-40 from three (22.5 percent). When the long Magic defenders stopped the Celtics’ initial actions, Boston players were not making passes that started good actions elsewhere, they just looked stagnant.
Meanwhile, the Magic had their young star, Jonathan Isaac, making plays.
The Celtics’ offensive chemistry is a work in progress — they will get there, this team will be elite, but it’s going to take a lot longer than expected. Everybody thought this would be more plug-and-play, that everything would come together quickly for the Celtics with their stars back. Things seemed to come more easily last season, it’s not that way this time around. This time, Brad Stevens and crew have a lot more work to do.
It’s just four games, the Celtics have the talent and plenty of time to get it all together. But this is not the start their fans envisioned.
2) Laker defense gets them in trouble, Spurs’ Patty Mills puts the nail in the coffin. Lakers remain winless. If you want highlights, this game had plenty. There was clutch LeBron forcing overtime.
However, he did it so fast LeBron had one more shot to win it all, he got to his spot and…
The Spurs win, 143-142 in overtime.
Get past the highlights, and LeBron’s Lakers remain winless because of the same things that have plagued them through the first two games. The Lakers do not defend well at all (the Spurs scored 125.7 points per 100 possessions, and the Lakers are bottom six in the league in defense through three games). While the Lakers’ offense is great in transition, slow them down and they are very inconsistent (and searching for consistent shooting from three). Bottom line, if the Lakers get stops and can run they are impressive, but they don’t get enough of those, and then things are a roller coaster.
It’s just three games, but for a Laker team expecting to make the playoffs in a deep West, they need to start winning sooner rather than later.
Yes. Markieff Morris. He had 28 points and nine rebounds, including making key plays in a 125-124 overtime win for the Wizards. Damian Lillard was hitting clutch shots too, but with everything on the lin late Otto Porter rejected Lillard near the rim.
Rather than reading a description, just watch the highlights of the end of regulation and overtime, and enjoy.