Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss says she will defer to Magic Johnson on the future of Lakers head coach Luke Walton. Meanwhile it’s been no secret that LeBron James apparently wants Walton out, and there have been rumors of several other candidates including Ty Lue and Jason Kidd to replace him.
We already know that the Lakers are not a playoff team, and so LeBron’s first season in Los Angeles is about to officially come to a close. As such, it seems that James is starting to try a bit of a PR reclamation when it comes to Walton.
James sat down for a nearly 11-minute interview with Allie Clifton over at Spectrum Sportsnet, and when it came to Walton, James said that he felt as though the young coach had responded as best he could have given the Lakers’ circumstances.
Via Spectrum Sportsnet and Silver Screen and Roll:
“I mean, as good as you could. As good as you can. No one expects for a suspension to happen on opening night (Rondo and Ingram in the home opener). No one expects for injuries to happen the way they did with our franchise this year. Where your starting point guard is out for numerous games. Your starting small forward is out. Your starting two-guard, B.I., is out. Josh is hurt. Rondo is hurt. I’m not talking two or three games here, everyone is back in the lineup. We’re talking like 15, 20, 25 games. I saw something the other day where myself, B.I., Zo and Kuz only played 23 games together this year. 15-8. We had a defensive rating of fourth in the NBA, and we were like seventh in offense when we played together over 23 games. As good as that is, it’s not enough for Luke to even know what he has on a consistent basis, when you don’t have a consistent roster every night during the season. Like you said, control what you can control and you’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt, and I think he played the hand as well as he could.”
Where there is smoke there is usually fire, and it seems like Walton has been creeping toward coaching his last game for the Lakers. All rumors about James not wanting Walton in Los Angeles needed to be balanced by something, so James coming out and giving him some credit is at least something.
I’m not sure this is anything more than LeBron wanting to soften the view of his opinion of Walton on the pages of history, but here we are.
Dallas has gotten in trouble this season because of a lack of secondary shot creation behind Luka Doncic, so when Spencer Dinwiddie got ejected for an elbow to the face of Golden State’s Jordan Poole, it seemed like the Mavericks might be in danger of falling to the Warriors.
Doncic had other plans — and a 41-point triple-double.
The ejection happened early in the fourth quarter, when Dinwiddie drove the lane on Poole and, bringing the ball up, elbowed Poole in the face.
That was reviewed by the referees who ruled it a Flagrant 2. The league has cracked down on blows to the face and head — intentional or not — the past couple of seasons.
Dinwiddie being out just meant more Luka — and that was bad news for the Warriors.
Despite Doncic and his triple-double, the Warriors had a couple of chances in the final seconds. First, Stephen Curry got called for a travel.
The Warriors argued that call but got nowhere with the referees. But they got one more chance on a Klay Thompson 3 to tie, but it was just not their night.
The Mavericks got the 116-113 win. Tim Hardaway Jr. pitched in 25 points, including five 3-pointers for Dallas. Curry led the Warriors with 32.
It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.
Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.
The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.
Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).
Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.
If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.
Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).
With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.
Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.
Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.
The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.