Five Takeaways from NBA Wednesday: About that Warriors’ let down…


I completely understand if you were prepping for “The Force Awakens” opening by watching (or re-watching) the Family Guy Star Wars episodes. I think we all are. If that means you missed the slate of a dozen NBA games on Wednesday night, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know about a busy Wednesday around the NBA.

1) About that Warriors’ let down after their first loss… The Warriors lost to the Bucks because they were tired — seventh game of a road trip, the second night of a back-to-back after playing a double-overtime thriller. Wednesday they were rested, and the Phoenix Suns paid the price — 128-103, and it wasn’t that close. Starting at the end of the first half the Warriors went on a 58-19 run and by the end of the third were up 40. Klay Thompson had 27 in the third shooting Stephen Curry-like threes, and he finished with a career-high 43. Draymond Green had 16 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, and five steals. It wasn’t a perfect night for Golden State — Curry actually missed two free throws in a row — but the Suns lack any of the tools to properly combat what the Warriors do. Golden State is going to be rested — just five games the next two weeks, all at home — and they showed again that when focused there is not another team in the Association playing as well right now. I can’t wait until the Christmas Day showdown with Cleveland (who should finally be healthy for this matchup).

2) Don’t look now, but the Thunder have won six in a row. It doesn’t always have to be the Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook show. Sure, they combined for 37 points, but four other OKC players were in double figures scoring also as the Thunder rolled the Trail Blazers 106-90. That’s 10 wins in the last 12 games for OKC. In their last 10 games the Thunder have the NBA’s fourth-best offense and fifth-best defense — those are the signs of a team playing like a contender. In those last 10 OKC is outscoring opponents by an impressive 9.9 points per 100 possessions — the problem is that’s still third behind the Spurs and Warriors. There are still questions in OKC, but they are playing like a team that wants to be in the title contender conversation.

3) The Kristaps Porzingis vs. Karl-Anthony Towns showdown goes to Towns. And Ricky Rubio. And the Knicks. Let’s be honest, we tuned into this game to see the top two rookies in the NBA — Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis — go head-to-head. If we go to the judges’ cards to score that matchup, Towns gets the decision — he had 25 points on 21 shots, plus 10 rebounds (Porzingis had 11 points on 14 shots). But Porzingis did land some blows.

The other winners on the night were the Knicks, who needed a “W” and got one thanks to 29 from Arron Afflalo. Also getting a win was Ricky Rubio, whose line of 9 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds, and eight steals was as close to a quadruple-double as anyone has come in a long time.

4) Paul Pierce reaches 26,000 career points, only 15 others have done that. Paul Pierce has become almost a forgotten man with the Clippers, averaging just 4.2 points a game, not playing in crunch time, and just getting a quiet 15-20 minutes a night. But the man has had a long career of scoring and with that keeps racking up milestones — like reaching 26,000 career points when he hit this jumper at the first quarter buzzer. Pierce is 16th on the NBA All-Time scoring list (19th if you count the ABA numbers). He’s a lock Hall of Famer, and we won’t remember him as the guy coming off the Clippers’ bench.

5) Enes Kanter had the worst length-of-the-court shot you may ever see. Words cannot do this justice.

Pelicans Trey Murphy III reportedly invited to participate in Dunk Contest


We knew three participants invited to the All-Star Saturday night Dunk Contest: G-League fan favorite Mac McClung, the Portland Trail Blazers Shaedon Sharpe and the Houston Rockets’ KJ Martin.

The fourth slot in that event will go to the Pelicans’ Trey Murphy, reports Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

No doubt Murphy can throw it down with the best of them.

The Dunk Contest will headline All-Star Saturday night, Feb. 18, from the Vivint Arena (soon to be the Delta Center again). The event will be broadcast on TNT.

The Dunk Contest is the Saturday night headline event, but it has fallen flat in recent years. Adding a G-League dunker and young, bouncy athletes such as Murphy, Martin and Sharpe could make this one entertaining. However, what fans really want to see — what made the Dunk Contest must-watch back in the day when Jordan, Kobe, and Vince Carter were doing it — is the stars. There will be no Ja Morant, no Zion Williamson, and no Anthony Edwards in this contest.

LeBron James NBA all-time scoring record tracker


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has held the NBA all-time scoring record at 38,387 points since he retired in 1989. It is one of the most iconic records in sports and one thought by many that would never be broken, but LeBron James is on the verge of breaking that scoring record and doing it at age 38. How many more points does LeBron need to take over the scoring record? When is it projected to happen? Let’s break down the latest numbers (this will be updated after every Lakers game until the record is set).

How many points does LeBron James need to set the scoring record?

Abdul-Jabbar career points: 38,387
LeBron career points: 38,271

Lakers’ upcoming schedule:

Jan. 30 at Nets
Jan. 31 at Knicks
Feb. 2 at Pacers
Feb. 4 at Pelicans
Feb. 7 vs. Thunder
Feb. 9 vs. Bucks

When is LeBron projected to set the all-time scoring record:

LeBron is averaging 30.2 points per game this season, at that pace he would set the record on Feb. 4 at the New Orleans Pelicans.

Since he turned 38 (on Dec. 30), LeBron has averaged 35.2 points per game, which would see the mark broken in New Orleans. However, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the record fall when LeBron returns to Los Angeles on Feb. 7 or Feb. 9.

News and notes on LeBron’s quest for the record:

• LeBron scored 41 points — and felt he should have had a couple more — in the Lakers’ overtime loss to the Celtics Saturday on national television.

• Sixers Doc Rivers on what impresses him in LeBron’s run to this record: “LeBron has done it so differently to me [thank Kareem]. Because LeBron is not a natural scorer. LeBron is a playmaker. He got criticized early in his career for making the right decisions. And the fact that he’s now about to break the scoring record, it really points out his greatness.”

• LeBron scored 20 points in the Lakers’ win over the Spurs, a game in which Anthony Davis returned from injury and Rui Hachimura made his debut as a Laker after being traded from the Wizards.

• What has Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said about LeBron passing his record? There has been a bit of frostiness between the two men, but Abdul-Jabbar was gracious in comments to Marc Stein back in 2021 about the possibility of his record falling: “I’m excited to see it happen. I don’t see records as personal accomplishments, but more as human achievements. If one person can do something that’s never been done, that means we all have a shot at doing it. It’s a source of hope and inspiration. Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile back in 1954. Since then, not only have 1,400 runners beaten that time, but the new record is 17 seconds less. We all win when a record is broken and if LeBron breaks mine, I will be right there to cheer him on.”

Watch Harden run onto court from bench mid-play to defend


It takes a second to notice, but the 76ers had just four players on the court trying to defend the Nuggets on a late third-quarter possession.

But when James Harden — sitting on the bench — notices it, he stands up and runs into play, drawing a technical.

The technical foul was for having four men on the court, not on Harden specifically.

While that may have been a rare instance of Harden rushing to play defense, the 76ers as a team cranked up their defense in the second half against the Nuggets and went on to get the home win behind 47 points from Joel Embiid.

LeBron livid over no foul call at end of regulation, Lakers fall to Celtics in OT


“The best player on earth can’t get a call. It’s amazing.”

Lakers coach Darvin Ham made that comment out of frustration after another game where the Lakers felt robbed at the end. He wasn’t the only Laker.

LeBron James was once again brilliant — 41 points, nine rebounds and eight assists — but with the game tied against the Celtics and 4.1 seconds on the clock, he drove the lane and didn’t get the foul call when it clearly looked like Jayson Tatum hit him on the arm as he shot.

After the game, referee crew chief Eric Lewis admitted the officials missed the call:

There was contact. At the time, during the game, we did not see a foul. The crew missed the play.”

Patrick Beverley picked up a technical foul for bringing a photographer’s camera over to the referee to show evidence of the foul.

These losses are a punch to the gut for a Laker team with little margin for error and trying to make up ground in the West (at 23-27 they sit 13th in the conference). But LeBron sees a pattern — he is scoring 30.2 points per game (sixth in the league) but is getting to the line just 4.9 times per game, fewer than anyone else in the top nine in the league in scoring.

“I don’t get it. I’m attacking the paint, just as much as any of the guys in this league that’s shooting double-digit free throws a night, and I don’t get it. I don’t understand it,” James said postgame in Boston.

The other Lakers were a little more direct.

Boston pulled away in overtime to get the 125-121 win, snapping their own three-game losing streak.

LeBron finished with 41, Anthony Davis 16 (on 6-of-15 shooting off the bench) and Beverley had 15 including a key putback dunk. Jaylen Brown scored 37 for Boston, Tatum 30 and Malcolm Brogdon had 26 off the bench.

There are no moral victories for these Lakers more than halfway into the season, playing the team with the best record in the NBA close and almost winning does not count. Time is running out on LeBron and his team, they need to string together some wins. They felt they should have gotten the chance to win this one.