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LeBron James once again playing Christmas game at home of defending NBA champ

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OAKLAND, Calif. — LeBron James will make what has become a regular Christmas visit to the home of the reigning NBA champion when he leads his new team, the Los Angeles Lakers, against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.

The Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, led by James, have won the last four NBA titles, with the champion each of the first three times earning the right to host the runner-up in a rematch on Christmas.

But it’s only half-true this year, with the NBA opting to invite James and his new team rather than the Cavaliers.

The Warriors beat the Cavaliers in their last two Christmas rematches in Oakland following their first two championships in 2015 and 2017. James had 20 and 25 points in those losses.

The Warriors had not yet signed Kevin Durant when they beat the Cavaliers 89-83 on Christmas of 2015, with Stephen Curry scoring 19 points and Klay Thompson 18.

After the Cavs beat the Warriors when the clubs met in Cleveland in 2016 — because the Cavaliers had won the championship six months earlier — the Warriors prevailed again at home last Christmas despite Curry sitting out with an injury. Kevin Durant (25 points) and Thompson (24) led the way.

The Warriors and Lakers are meeting for the first time since James moved west in the offseason. They currently sit second (Warriors, 23-11) and fourth (Lakers, 19-14) in the Western Conference standings, creating the possibility they will meet in the playoffs for the first time since 1991.

The last time the Warriors won a playoff series from the Lakers, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor were on the losing end of a 3-0 sweep in the 1967 Western semis when the opponent was known as the San Francisco Warriors.

The Warriors will take the floor Tuesday having won seven straight over the Lakers and having dominated them to the tune of 13-3 in the Steve Kerr era.

They are coming off two nail-biting home wins on back-to-back nights — 120-116 over Dallas on Saturday and 129-127 over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

“It will be fun,” Kerr said upon turning his attention to the Lakers after Sunday’s win. “I love Christmas games, as long as they are at home. We are lucky we’re at home.”

The Lakers have lost three of their last four games, including a 107-99 defeat at home against Memphis on Sunday night.

They likely once again will be without center JaVale McGee, who has missed four straight games as he has battled pneumonia.

McGee felt good enough to make the trip north, and will receive his 2018 championship ring in a pregame ceremony.

A key contributor to the Warriors last season when he made nine playoff starts, McGee admitted Sunday he was just happy to be back at the arena and working up a sweat after being hospitalized.

“It felt good, man,” he said of his pregame warmup, something he hopes to build upon Tuesday. “Just getting back to the routine. For the past eight, nine days, my routine has been laying in bed. And that’s it. So it’s real refreshing.”

Report: Lakers have interest in Joakim Noah

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The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly interested in Dwight Howard. He has not yet been bought out by the Memphis Grizzlies, but a return to L.A. for Howard would be one of the most Lakers things of all time.

Howard infamously left Los Angeles under an auspicious circumstances in 2013 after things went south during the 2012-13 season between him, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash. He signed with the Houston Rockets that summer.

But Howard is not the only aging center under consideration by the Lakers. According to Shams Charania, Los Angeles is also considering adding Joakim Noah to their roster.

Via Twitter:

DeMarcus Cousins’ ACL injury has created a dearth of center depth for the Lakers, one that cannot be easily filled quickly. There aren’t a lot of available players left, and Los Angeles doesn’t have much to help facilitate a trade.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis need some help moving forward if they want to go deep into the Western Conference playoffs, and having only JaVale McGee playing at the center position won’t help them do that. They need to add somebody, but Howard or Noah being the answer to that is a scary proposition for a team with championship hopes.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar didn’t like how Bruce Lee was portrayed by Quentin Tarantino

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was friends with Bruce Lee before the actor’s tragic death in 1973. He was his teacher, pal, and co-star in in 1972’s Game of Death. Naturally, Abdul-Jabbar is protective of his friend’s legacy, and he’s not too happy about how Lee was portrayed in Quentin Tarantino’s latest film.

Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is a meandering, beautiful, boring tribute to the film industry as it was changing at the end of the 1960s. It’s worth seeing just as a thing to look at, but the narrative — or lack thereof — is plodding, and the ending harkens back to a kind of transposed version of Inglourious Basterds that leaves you wondering what the point of making the film was in the first place.

Somewhere in the middle of its long 2h 45m runtime, there’s an extended scene in Once Upon A Time where Brad Pitt’s character Cliff fights Bruce Lee. Why? Probably because Tarantino wanted to pay tribute to Lee being an important part of that era, and because Tarantino so untouchable that nobody could tell him to leave the extemporaneous scene on the cutting room floor.

Instead, what Tarantino’s tribute scene appears to have angered Abdul-Jabbar along with members of Lee’s family.

In an article penned in The Hollywood Reporter this week, Abdul-Jabbar called Lee’s portrayal “sloppy” and “somewhat racist”.

Via THR:

Quentin Tarantino’s portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood does not live up to this standard. Of course, Tarantino has the artistic right to portray Bruce any way he wants. But to do so in such a sloppy and somewhat racist way is a failure both as an artist and as a human being.

The John Wayne machismo attitude of Cliff (Brad Pitt), an aging stuntman who defeats the arrogant, uppity Chinese guy harks back to the very stereotypes Bruce was trying to dismantle. Of course the blond, white beefcake American can beat your fancy Asian chopsocky dude because that foreign crap doesn’t fly here.

Lee’s family, including daughter Shannon, has also spoken up about how Lee was portrayed in the film. In an interview with The Wrap, Shannon Lee said that, “He comes across as an arrogant asshole who was full of hot air.”

Once Upon A Time is a forgettable movie wrapped in the trappings of modern prestige media, where viewers are either unable separate production value from content, or unwilling to do so. It is beautiful, and the people involved are heavy hitters. But halfway through, the viewer is left asking “What’s the plot of this movie?” and that question remains until the final 15 minutes, when the inevitable, telegraphed ending finally, mercifully closes the story and the end credits roll.

Meanwhile, in true Tarantino form, his indulgences have created a mini-storm around one of his films in the most unnecessary way. An ill-conceived and executed scene that added nothing but length to Once Upon A Time has turned into a grating talking point for people like Abdul-Jabbar and Shannon Lee.

Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor to host ‘NBA Countdown’

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Things just keep getting better for NBA fans when it comes to national TV broadcasts.

It was announced in August that TNT would be doing away with the “Players Only” broadcast that appeared on NBA TV. Those broadcast crews were roundly criticized as being meandering and uninformed when it came to the product on the floor.

Now fans are getting more of what they want in the form of Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor.

According to a report from Richard Deitsch, Nichols and Taylor will be the hosts of ESPN’s pregame show, NBA Countdown.

Paul Pierce and Chauncey Billups Won’t return as analysts on the pregame show next year, leaving just Jalen Rose. That means there are a couple of spots open, and we don’t yet know who ESPN will fill them with. Nichols will reportedly continue to host her regular show “The Jump”.

As the league continues to get more popular, it makes sense that broadcast partners listen to the audience. Nichols is an NBA favorite, so having her be more visible makes a lot of sense.

NBA players roast Kyle Kuzma over outfit posted to Instagram (PHOTOS)

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Kyle Kuzma is going to be expected to have a big year for the Los Angeles Lakers. He thinks he can have the impact of a third star for L.A., a team that didn’t add Kawhi Leonard to go alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis this summer.

That’s big talk from Kuzma, but perhaps that talk has boosted his confidence a little bit. In a photo posted to Instagram this week, Kuzma could be seen wearing… whatever this is.

Via Twitter:

Twitter had a great time with Kuzma outfit, which looks like something pulled straight out of an early 2000s episode of TRL.

Kuzma’s contemporaries in the NBA thought he was getting a little wild with it, too, with several hopping onto the post to roast the Lakers big man.

Via Twitter:

I don’t know what this means for the upcoming Lakers season, but I’m sure it’s something interesting.