NBA Opening Night Winners/Losers: Big nights for The Beard and The Brow

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It’s a make or miss league. With that comes the simple fact every night in the NBA there are winners and there are losers.

In this new column at PBT, five nights a week we will lay out the nights winners and losers in NBA action for you — not just the teams and on the scoreboard, but in every facet of the game. No better time to start than on an interesting opening night.

source:  New Orleans Pelicans’ front line. We told you just how great Anthony Davis (third best player in the NBA?) was on opening night, but the guy next to him along the front line, Omer Asik, had a monster night, too. The pair combined for 40 points, 34 points and 14 blocked shots. They were defensive beasts and just overwhelmed the Magic (although Nikola Vucevic played well). This is not a one-off performance. These guys are why the Pelicans are a playoff threat. —KH

source:  Every Spur besides Kyle Anderson. The Spurs returned an impressive 14 players from their 2014 title team, and they received their championship rings before Tuesday’s game. Getting the rings is special, but for so many players who battled together last season to get the jewelry together, it adds another level. At least the rookie Anderson, the team’s lone newcomer, got an up-close look at the ceremony and San Antonio’s 101-100 win over the Mavericks. —DF

source:  Chandler Parsons. Parsons, whom the Mavericks gave a near-max offer sheet this summer, didn’t live up to the billing in his first game with Dallas. The small forward scored just five points on 2-of-10 shooting and had no assists in 34 minutes against San Antonio. There’s no sense drawing conclusions from one game, but if Parsons had played just a little closer to expectations, the Mavericks might have won. —DF

source:  James Harden. While all the talk leading into the opening night was about the feud between Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard (and they had their little moment) the night really belonged to Harden. All game long he abused the Lakers in transition, he hit a step-back jumper over Kobe, posted up Ronnie Prince and generally did whatever he wanted to. The Lakers had no answers. Harden finished with 32 points on 17 shots (he got to the line 16 times). He looked like what he is — the best two guard in the NBA.—KH

source:  The hopes of Lakers fans everywhere. Not only did the Lakers look utterly lost on defense, not only did their offense look unimaginative and it led to too many midrange jumpers, not only did Dwight Howard and the  Rockets just own the Lakers, but then on top of it all their prized rookie draft pick Julius Randle goes down with a fractured tibia in his right leg. That likely means surgery, it certainly means missing a healthy chunk of the season. Ugh. This season is looking like a dreary slog for Lakers fans.—KH

Watch Kobe Bryant memorial live stream (video)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Thousands of mourners will gather in Staples Center on Monday to say farewell to Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

The basketball superstar and his 13-year-old daughter will be honored in a public memorial at the arena where Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kobe and Gianna Bryant died along with seven others on Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash.

The Celebration of Life will feature speakers reflecting on Kobe Bryant’s impact on his sport and the world, along with music and retrospectives on Bryant’s on-court achievements. Bryant became active in film, television and writing after he retired from basketball in 2016.

Bryant’s family, dozens of sports greats and many major figures in Bryant’s public life are expected to attend.

Staples Center is sold out for the memorial. The money made from ticket sales will be given to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, which supports youth sports programs in underserved communities and teaches sports to girls and women.

Bryant played his entire 20-year NBA career with the Lakers, including the final 17 seasons at Staples Center, which opened in 1999. The five-time NBA champion’s two retired jersey numbers – 8 and 24 – hang high above the arena where he became the third-leading scorer in league history until Lakers star LeBron James passed him on the night before Bryant’s death.

Bryant’s death caused an outpouring of grief across Los Angeles, where he remained the city’s most popular athlete into retirement. Dozens of public memorials and murals have been installed around the sprawling metropolis, and thousands of fans gathered daily outside Staples Center to commiserate after the crash.

Symbolic meanings will run throughout the ceremony, which will be held on a 24-foot-by-24-foot stage. Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife and Gianna’s mother, chose Feb. 24 as the date in honor of the uniform numbers of Kobe and Gianna, who wore No. 2 on her youth basketball teams.

A private funeral was held for Kobe and Gianna Bryant in Orange County on Feb. 7.

Lakers’ Rajon Rondo throws dead ball into air, hits Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in head

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What an unfortunate encapsulation of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s time with the Lakers.

At least Rajon Rondo, beyond this gaffe, did plenty to help the Lakers beat the Celtics.

Bucks’ minor-league coach goes on epic rant, calls ref ‘f—ing clown’ (video)

Bucks' minor-league affiliate Wisconsin Herd vs. Pistons minor-league affiliate Grand Rapids Drive
Mike E. Roemer/NBAE via Getty Images
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After coaching the Wisconsin Herd (Bucks’ minor-league affiliate) to a loss to the Grand Rapids Drive (Pistons’ minor-league affiliate), Chase Buford – son of Spurs CEO R.C. Buford – had a normal one.

Ryan Rodig of WFRV-TV:

Buford:

The officiating definitely went right for Grand Rapids. That was as unprofessional as an officiating performance. I hope you tweet this out and tag the league, because that was embarrassing. Matt Rafferty is a f—ing clown. That being said, we have to be so much better at the end of games. We can’t blow a 21-point lead with 12 minutes to go. However bad and biased and unfair and illegal and cheating the referees are, we have to be better at closing games. And so that’s the way I feel.

Herd:

The words are amazing: “f—ing clown,” “illegal,” “cheating.”

But the hair really completes the whole unhinged motif.

Mavericks protesting loss to Hawks

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Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was irate after his team’s loss to the Hawks on Saturday.

He’s putting his money where his Twitter fingers are.

Dallas is protesting the game, according to the Last Two Minute Report. That requires posting a $10,000 fee to be refunded only if the challenge prevails.

The contentious play occurred in the final 10 seconds. Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith was called for goaltending Trae Young‘s shot. The play was reviewed and ruled a clean block. However, officials determined the whistle was therefore inadvertent and blew while John Collins was in his shooting motion on a successful putback attempt. So, Collins’ basket counted.

The Mavericks are claiming officials misapplied the rules – a key distinction for a protest. A simple missed call won’t get it done.

Protests rarely succeed. This one probably won’t.

But I think Dallas has a chance. The whistle wasn’t inadvertent. It was intentional. It was for a wrong call. But it was intentional.

Even if the challenge is successful and the Mavericks get their desired jump ball in a re-do, they’d still be trailing by two in the final seconds. They’d still be underdogs.

On the other hand, odds still strongly favor Cuban getting fined… eventually.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

The NBA plans to await commissioner Adam Silver’s ruling on a Dallas Mavericks game protest before leveling possible discipline on owner Mark Cuban for his behavior during and after the Mavericks’ loss to Atlanta on Saturday night.