Clippers hold off Lakers 94-84 in Bryant’s last Christmas game

AP Photo
2 Comments

LOS ANGELES (AP) Chris Paul scored 23 points and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Los Angeles Lakers 94-84 on Friday night to end a three-game skid and win their eighth straight against their Staples Center co-tenants.

Kobe Bryant scored 12 points for the Lakers in his NBA-record 16th and final Christmas Day game. He played 26 minutes and sat out the entire fourth quarter while the Lakers outscored the Clippers 27-9.

J.J. Redick had 14 points and DeAndre Jordan had nine points and 14 rebounds for the Clippers. They have won 12 of their last 13 meetings with the Lakers.

Rookie D'Angelo Russell had a team-high 16 points off the bench for the Lakers.

Bryant announced on Nov. 29 that he will retire after this season, his 20th in the NBA. He has a record 395 points on Christmas Day.

The Clippers took an 85-57 lead into the fourth, and both coaches rested all of their starters until the Lakers started to make a move led by Russell, Julius Randle and Marcelo Huertas.

After missing a 35-point home loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday because of a sore ankle, Randle started this one with 15 scoreless minutes off the bench. Then he got nine points in a 2:56 span – including a 3-pointer that cut the deficit to 87-72 with 7:50 to play. He finished with 11 points.

The Clippers missed 15 of their first 18 shots in the final period. Clippers coach Doc Rivers was forced to put Paul, Redick, Jordan and Blake Griffin back in the game, while Lakers coach Byron Scott kept his reserves out there and left Bryant on the sidelines even as the crowd chanted Bryant’s name.

The Lakers got within 89-82 on a pair of free throws by Randle with 4:01 remaining, but then the Clippers pulled away with a 3-pointer by Wesley Johnson and a 16-footer by Paul.

The Clippers never trailed and used 17 points by Paul to build a 60-44 halftime lead. Bryant missed all three shots he took in the first quarter before scoring nine points in the second, including a pair of 3-pointers 29 seconds apart to help slice a 17-point deficit to 47-37 with 4:14 left.

The Lakers had 16 turnovers. Seven of them came in the first quarter, including a double-dribble violation against Russell and a traveling call against Randle on consecutive possessions during the final 64 seconds of the period.

Larry Nance Jr. also had an embarrassing moment in the opening quarter for the Lakers. The 6-foot-9 forward jumped for a defensive rebound and accidentally tipped the ball into the basket from just in front of the foul line about 2 1-2 minutes in. The points were awarded to Jordan.

TIP-INS

Clippers: Doc Rivers played for the Knicks on Christmas Day in 1992, making 1 of 4 shots and scoring seven points in an 89-77 loss at Chicago. He also coached the Celtics on Christmas every year from 2008 through 2013. … G Austin Rivers was bummed about missing his second straight game because of a sprained right ankle – and the timing of it.” Man, I wanted to play so bad tonight, and I came this close,” he said, holding two fingers close together. “I’ve never played in a Christmas Day game. But I just can’t cut really quickly right now. It hurts.” … F Paul Pierce has played on Christmas Day for four different teams in the past four years, including Boston, Brooklyn and Washington.

Lakers: Bryant’s best game on Dec. 25 was in 2004, when he had 42 points in a 104-102 overtime loss to Miami at Staples Center. … The Lakers are 6-10 on Christmas when Bryant has played, including 0-4 against Miami. … Oscar Robertson held the previous career record for points on Christmas with 377 before Bryant broke it in 2012. He sat out the previous two years because of injuries. … This was the second time the Lakers played the Clippers on Christmas, having won 85-75 in 1991 at the Forum with 20 points from A.C. Green and 18 from Scott. … The Lakers have played on Christmas every year since 1998, when their season opener was delayed until Feb. 5 because of a lockout that reduced the schedule to 50 games.

UP NEXT

Clippers: At Utah on Saturday night.

Lakers: At Memphis on Sunday night.

Wembanyama encore: 36 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks against Ignite

0 Comments

Victor Wembanyama is for real.

And I don’t mean real tall, although he is that, too. Check out this image of him next to Rudy Gobert, who is a legit 7’1″.

Wembanyama is for real like a genuine generational talent — in his second game against the G-League Ignite he had 36 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocked shots.

That comes off his 37-point performance in the first meeting where he hit 7-of-11 3-pointers and had five blocks.

To be clear: That is 73 points, 15 rebounds, nine blocks, shooting 9-of-18 from 3 (and 22-of-44 overall) across two games against a good talent level. And he is 18 years old.

Everyone in and around the NBA has been trying to come up with player comps — Kristaps Porzingis, Ralph Sampson, Tim Duncan — but the reality is Wembanyama is one of one.

Scoot Henderson — the G-League guard projected as the No. 2 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft — played just five minutes in this game after bumping his knee while guarding Wembanyama. He was taken out of the game and X-rays found a bone bruise, he did not return. He is officially day-to-day the team announced.

Wembanyama and his Metropolitans 92 got the win in this rematch, 112-106.

Draymond Green not expected to miss any games, Warriors to handle discipline ‘internally’

2022 NBA Summer League - Golden State Warriors v New York Knicks
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
0 Comments

Draymond Green is not expected to miss any games for punching teammate Jordan Poole during an altercation during practice, Warriors GM Bob Myers said Thursday.

That’s not to say he is escaping any punishment, it will just be handled internally, Myers said.

Green showed up at Chase Center and apologized to the team and then left, he did not practice with the Warriors, reports Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.

“Draymond apologized to the team this morning, Jordan was there in the room, I was there in room with the team, the coaches, the players and we heard that,” Myers said.

Whatever punishment the Warriors are handing down to Green, it will not include missing games, Myers said.

Coach Steve Kerr added, “I expect [Green] to return on Saturday and get back at it.” That implies a couple of days suspension, likely with a hefty fine.

Kerr was also quick to shoot down the rumors of Poole having an “attitude” around camp as he comes up on a massive contract extension. Stephen Curry echoed that, saying those reports are “absolute BS.”

The Warriors have seen their fair share of Draymond Green incidents over the years, and as a locker room and franchise they know how to move on from it. While this made headlines, the Warriors will shrug it off and move on.

Miami, Milwaukee have their eyes on Jae Crowder

NBA 2022 Playoffs - Phoenix Suns v Dallas Mavericks
Getty Photo
0 Comments

The Heat and Bucks don’t just have interest in the same player. They’re looking to replace the same player.

Two years ago, P.J. Tucker helped Milwaukee win their first championship in a half-century. Last season, he helped Miami lock up the top seed in the East and make the Conference Finals.

With Tucker in Philadelphia, both the Heat and Bucks are looking to fill the void with a different lockdown enforcer that can stretch the floor.

Jae Crowder and the Suns agreed that he won’t participate in practice as the team looks to accommodate his trade request. In a recent ESPN+ article, Zach Lowe made it clear that both Miami and Milwaukee are interested in pursuing a trade for Crowder.

“The Bucks have internal interest in Crowder as that Tucker replacement after getting into the recent Jerami Grant and Bojan Bogdanovic discussions, sources say. They will search all season for one more piece.

“The Heat have interest in Crowder too, sources say, but finding matching salary is tough until Dewayne Dedmon, Caleb Martin and Victor Oladipo become trade-eligible in the winter. Martin might start, and the Heat are optimistic Oladipo can play a huge role.”

Grant and Bogdanovic were traded to Portland and Detroit, respectively. The Heat may struggle to find a trade that works since Phoenix probably won’t want to take on Duncan Robinson’s contract. Dedmon, Martin and Oladipo will become trade eligible on January 15th.

Crowder has a history with the Heat, as he helped them make the NBA Finals in the bubble. He helped Phoenix make the NBA Finals two seasons ago and then helped them finish with the best record in the NBA last season.

LeBron says Wembanyama is an ‘alien’ and a ‘generational talent’

0 Comments

There was a time when LeBron James was the “it” kid coming for the NBA — a freakish athlete like nobody in the league had seen. A player the size of Karl Malone with the quickness and skills of an elite point guard.

Now the “it” guy is Victor Wembanyama, the 7’4″ mold-breaking big out of France — and LeBron is impressed.

“Everybody’s been a unicorn over the last few years, well he’s more like an alien,” LeBron said after the Lakers’ preseason loss to the Suns in Las Vegas. “I’ve never seen, no one’s ever seen anyone as tall as he is, but it’s fluid and as graceful as on the floor…

“His ability to put the ball on the floor, shoot step-back jumpers on the post, step-back 3s, catch-and-shoot 3s, block shots. He’s for sure a generational talent. And hopefully he continues to stay healthy, that’s the most important for him personally, and as you could tell he loves the game. He was smiling a lot while playing the game last night. I think it was the two best players in the draft on the floor last night and they both did their thing.”

Wembanyama is projected to be the No.1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, just ahead of point guard Scoot Henerson, who scored 28 points with nine assists of his own leading his G-League Ignite to a win over Wembanyama’s Metropolitans 92. Wembanyama scored 37 points in the game, hit 7-of-11 shots from 3, had five blocks and a few other shots changed because of his length (7’11” wingspan) and the threat of his block.

Wembanyama and Henderson face off again tonight in a second game between the Ignite and Metropolitans 92 just outside Las Vegas in Henderson (9:30 p.m. ET on NBATV).

Wembanyama will play, with his agent telling ESPN there are no plans to shut the No.1 pick down to avoid injury and protect his draft status. “He’ll never agree to that. He wants to compete and get better,” Bouna Ndiaye said.

LeBron looked back on his time as the “it” player and said simply, “thank got there wasn’t social media” at the time. It’s a different world now, but game still recognizes game.

And LeBron recognizes it in Wembanyama.