I don’t think the Philadelphia 76ers are going to go 0-36 to end the season. They are going to get one more win.
Most nights they are overmatched — the other team is just more talented. That’s why they lost game 26 in a row Thursday night to the Houston Rockets, 120-98. The Sixers are bad as they rebuild (call it tanking if you want, Adam Silver still calls it rebuilding) and the Rockets are likely the sixth best team in the NBA. Henry Sims tries hard for the Sixers, but he’s not stopping Dwight Howard.
The Sixers now face another problem — teams are up for them. Nobody wants to be the team that lost to the Sixers and ended their streaks. Opponents are focused.
So what game can the Sixers win to break the streak? Here are four real possibilities
Sat. March 29 vs. Detroit Pistons. That’s Philadelphia’s next game and their chance to avoid owning the NBA record for the longest losing streak all by themselves (they are currently tied with the 2011 Cavaliers). On paper the big front line of the Pistons — Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, Josh Smith — should overwhelm Sims and the rest of the Sixers front line, but the Pistons shoot themselves in the foot more than any team in the league. The Pistons come in having lost 9 of their last 11, and they will be on the second night of a back-to-back having to play in Miami Friday night. If an energized Sixers team gets a tired Pistons team where Smith starts jacking up threes and Brandon Jennings tries to play hero ball the Sixers can certainly win.
Fri. April 4, at Boston Celtics. This is one team looking to end up high in the lottery this season, just like the Sixers. As of right now this Celtics team has lost 8-of-9 and are giving young players such as Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk big minutes. The Celtics also start some quality guys — Rajon Rondo is an All-Star, Avery Bradley can play, Jeff Green can be mind blowing when he wants to — but this is another team coasting to the finish line and playing poorly on the defensive end. This is another team the Sixers could steal one against.
Mon. April 14, vs. Boston Celtics. See the comments above, but note the Sixers are at home for this one.
Wed. April 16 at Miami Heat. Yes, against the Heat — this is the final regular season game before the playoffs and coach Erik Spoelstra might well sit LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and anyone else who will matter in the postseason. The Heat will not care about this game at all… but the Sixers might.
When Magic Johnson resigned as Lakers president, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss had an opportunity to be bold. Instead of empowering cronies, she could find the best available executive to lead the front office.
Instead, she’s apparently again leaning on the comfort of friends.
As the Lakers’ conduct their coaching search, Kurt Rambis (Senior Basketball Advisor) and his wife Linda Rambis (Executive Director, Special Projects) are quite involved.
Bill Oram of The Athletic:
Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times:
The goal is seemingly to move Rambis to the bench as an associate head coach. But if that doesn’t work, he could become the assistant general manager.
Kurt Rambis interviewing Monty Williams makes sense. Kurt Rambis works in basketball operations, after all. Linda Rambis’ presence makes less sense given her official role within the organization, but she is close to Jeanie Buss.
It’d be something else entirely to install Kurt Rambis as an associate head coach, though. He did poorly as Timberwolves coach and, as New York’s interim coach a couple years ago, made the Knicks into an even bigger mess than they already were.
This shines new light on Magic Johnson reportedly admonishing Luke Walton for not having an experienced coaching staff. Walton had Brian Shaw, a former Nuggets head coach (and someone with his own problems relating to players). Shaw wasn’t enough?
Maybe there was a preference from above, not for any experienced assistant coach, but Kurt Rambis specifically.
This should scare any Lakers coaching candidates. Not getting to pick your own staff is a negative. Having the owner’s hand-picked choice forced upon you is a huge red flag. That means management will be confident in an internal replacement if it’s considering firing you.
Damian Lillard made the coldest shot the NBA has seen in years – a buzzer-beating, series-winning, 37-foot pull-up 3-pointer over Paul George.
George called it a “bad shot.”
Lillard on the Pull Up podcast:
It was a good shot.
I think a lot of people don’t know what goes into the moments. That’s because they’re not the ones that’s there. I literally work on those shots. And I don’t work on it so I can just come out and just shoot it for the whole game. I work on it just because, over my career, I know how much attention I’m going to get from defenses. So it’s just like you’re just keeping stuff, adding more things, adding more and more, keeping stuff in your pocket, in case these types of situations do present itself. Even if it’s not something you want to lean on, it’s something that you have there, that you worked on, you spent time doing. So, you’ve got confidence in it when the time does come. That’s why, when I was just standing there, I was like, well, it’s probably not good in a lot of people’s eyes. But I’m comfortable with this, and I’m confident in this. So, to me, it’s a solid shot.
For him to say that’s a bad shot, that’s just kind of being a poor sport. If anything, it was bad defense, because I had the ball in my hands with two seconds, and I wasn’t going to drive, so maybe he should’ve just bodied up.
Whether a shot is good or bad depends on the context. With the game tied, the Trail Blazers wanted to ensure they took the last shot of regulation, make or miss. The Thunder’s defense was set. Lillard has tremendous range.
In a good shot/bad shoot binary, I’d call this a good shot. It certainly wasn’t a great shot. But in that situation, I think it passes the test (though I’m obviously biased by seeing it going in).
The fact that it was such a difficult shot doesn’t take anything away from Lillard. It only adds to the accomplishment.
I’m loving his victory lap. After Portland got swept by the Pelicans in the first round last year, he faced questions about his ability to perform in the playoffs. It’s time to put those to rest.
There’s plenty of room to debate whether that incredible basket was a good shot or a bad shot by process. But Lillard is built for these moments. There’s no doubt.
Kings coach Luke Walton is being sued for sexual assault. He is not facing a criminal investigation.
Kings release, via NBC Sports California:
The Sacramento Kings and the National Basketball Association announced today that they have commenced a joint investigation into the allegations contained in a civil lawsuit filed Monday against Kings Head Coach Luke Walton.
The Kings have hired Sue Ann Van Dermyden, founding partner of Sacramento law firm Van Dermyden Maddux, who is an expert on employment law with decades of experience in conducting investigations, and Jennifer Doughty, a veteran investigator and senior associate attorney at Van Dermyden Maddux. They will lead the Kings investigatory team.
The NBA’s investigatory team will be led by Elizabeth Maringer, Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, Integrity and Investigations. Prior to joining the NBA, Ms. Maringer served 12 years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, including three as Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division.
The Kings and the NBA take these allegations very seriously and will collaborate to conduct a complete and thorough investigation.
In 2016, Derrick Rose was sued – and found not liable – for sexual battery. The NBA did not investigate that situation as the lawsuit unfolded.
Why did the league change its approach now?
As he stunningly resigned as Lakers president, Magic Johnson bemoaned “the backstabbing, the whispering.” It seemed he was talking about general manager Rob Pelinka. And maybe he was.
But perhaps Johnson was also referring to owner Jeanie Buss.
Ric Bucher of FS1:
My understanding is is that there were some emails that were exchanged between Rob and Jeanie … about Magic and about what Magic was and wasn’t doing. They were critical emails. And somehow, some way – Jeanie, from what I understand, was CCing or blind CCing Magic on everything. That was sort of protocol, standard issue. Somehow, the exchange between Rob and Jeanie ended up on that string of the blind CCs that were going to Magic. So, Magic now is seeing emails from Rob to Jeanie that were critical of what he was doing.
And maybe most important in all this is that there was no indication that Jeanie was backing Rob up in terms of either going to Magic and letting him know that this was going on or going back at Rob and defending Magic. That was not happening. And so when he talked about the backstabbing, to me, my understanding is that’s what started it. And the fact that Jeanie waved goodbye and said, “Thank you for all that you did,” was that she didn’t necessarily disagree with what Rob was saying.
The problem with this story: It’s believable, and a lot of people want it to be true. I want it to be true! It’s hilarious.
But that opens the door for people spreading it, even if it’s untrue. It’s a lot of fun to pile on the Lakers right now.
Back to the believability. Johnson, even while resigning, has frequently called Buss his sister. Would she really participate in email chains critical of her own brother?