Luka Doncic, Dallas bench blows up Lakers’ plan, end’s L.A.’s 10-game win streak

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LOS ANGELES — The Lakers had a plan.

To open the game, the Lakers blitzed Luka Doncic every time he came off a pick, trying to force the ball out of his hands. JaVale McGee was showing out hard and cutting off lanes. If Doncic got past him and to the rim, Anthony Davis would swoop in looking for a block.

LeBron James came out Sunday like a great player challenged by a young upstart — LeBron was active, physical, all over the court and disrupting Doncic’s passing lanes at every turn. LeBron had three early steals and got into the body of Kristaps Porzingis to force one of them.

The Mavs were flustered and the Lakers led 15-5 early and Staples Center was rocking with fans expecting an 11th win in a row.

Then the Dallas bench came in and settled things down, playing so well that Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle went with all-bench lineups for an extended period. At the same time, the Lakers’ bench got away from what worked, then let some calls they didn’t like get into their head.

By halftime, LeBron was calling a huddle on the court to cuss at his teammates about the effort level.

Then Doncic took over the third quarter — 16 points, four rebounds, and five assists in those 12 minutes alone — and the Mavericks pulled away. In the fourth, he was icing the win with a step-back three over his idol LeBron.

Dallas ended up with a comfortable 114-100 win that ended the Lakers’ 10-game win streak.

Anthony Davis finished with 27 points (he had 20 in the first half) and LeBron had 25.

Doncic finished with 27 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. It was another impressive outing for the 20-year-old, one where he kept his head after a rough start.

“It was awful, awful for me,” Doncic said of his 2-9 first-half shooting performance. “In the second half I felt better, kept attacking, trusted my shot.”

“[Doncic] made a really good adjustment in the second quarter, he started moving the ball quickly then getting the ball back, and that put him in some positions that were a little harder to predict for the defense,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “The second half was more of the same…

“He hit a couple of hellacious shots that only a handful of people in the world can hit,” Carlisle added.

However, for Dallas this win was more about the bench. Delon Wright had 17 points and Justin Jackson 15, and the pair combined to knock down six threes. Dallas’ bench moved the ball well, moved into open spaces, and took threes.

A lot of threes. Dallas as a team took 49 threes, hitting 17 of them (34.7 percent). The Lakers were 7-of-27 from three (25.9 percent) and that math is hard to make up.

While the Lakers had won 10 in a row, they had done much of that against a softer part of the schedule. They had developed a few bad habits, had some sloppy stretches and dug themselves holes, but against weaker teams Los Angeles could bounce back. Against Dallas, and the better teams the Lakers will see in December, the Lakers can’t get behind like that and expect to be able to flip the switch.

“When the better teams come into this building, or we play them on the road, the margin for error is very slim,” Danny Green said. “You can’t dig yourself a hole and think you’ll come back against those better teams. Especially when they’re a high-powered offense like Dallas.”

Now the Lakers head out on the road to Denver and Utah, two outstanding teams that play well at home. The Lakers did what they had to do the past few weeks, but a bigger test is coming in December (the Lakers have the toughest schedule in the league for the coming month).

Now they need to stick with their plans for a full 48 minutes.

Kings TV play-by-play announcer Grant Napear resigns after “all lives matter” Tweet

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Sacramento television play-by-play announcer Grant Napear resigned on Tuesday amidst a backlash from former Kings’ players and many fans after Napear’s “all lives matter” comment on Twitter.

Napear had been the Kings’ play-by-play man since 1988, plus he was the host of a sports talk radio show on Sports 1140 in Sacramento. Napear lost both of those jobs.

“I want to thank the fans for their overwhelming love and support,” Napear said in a statement. “I will always remain a part of Kings nation in my heart.”

“His recent comments about the Black Lives Matter movement do not reflect the views or values of Bonneville International Corporation,” the media company that owns Sports 1140 said in a statement announcing the change. “The timing of Grant’s tweet was particularly insensitive. After reviewing the matter carefully, we have made the difficult decision to part ways with Grant.”

The controversy started with former Kings’ big man DeMarcus Cousins, in the wake of nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd, asked Napear what he thought and got the “all lives matter” response.

“All lives matter” is a controversial phrase that has become a flashpoint. It’s a phrase used by those opposed to the Black Lives Matter movement to try and discredit it, to try and undercut and change the topic away from the much-needed discussion of racism and how black Americans are treated by the police — and other institutions — in this nation.

Cousins quickly responded that he expected this from Napear.

Chris Webber and Matt Barnes, two other former Kings, jumped in to comment about Napear.

“Closet racist” is a strong phrase, but Tom Ziller, the longtime NBA writer based out of Sacramento, said in his Tuesday newsletter “This element of Napear’s personality has been obvious to anyone who listened to his radio show even occasionally over the past 20 years.”

Napier took to Twitter to try and apologize.

On Monday he was put on leave from his radio show, and by Tuesday he had resigned as Kings’ play-by-play man and no longer was part of his radio show with former King Doug Christie.

Report: NBA season could last through Oct. 12

Spurs wing DeMar DeRozan and 76ers forward Tobias Harris
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The NBA is reportedly targeting July 31 for resuming games.

Now, we also have a planned end date for the season.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The big question: What happens between July 31 and Oct. 12?

Most likely, 22 teams will return for more regular-season games, a play-in tournament then playoffs. It appears a last-ditch argument for all 30 teams continuing has stalled.

But that still leaves many questions within a 22-team structure. How many regular-season games will each team play? How many seeds will be up for grabs in the play-in tournament? How many teams will qualify for the play-in tournament. Will the the playoffs have 1-16 seeding?

And then there’s next season and beyond. The NBA will obviously delay the start of the next season. But will the league work back toward an October start for future seasons? Or will this be the beginning of regularly starting the season in December?

Still, as many questions remain unanswered, the timeline is coming into sharper focus.

Tilman Fertitta: ‘Such a disappointment’ Rockets faced trouble for Daryl Morey’s tweet

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and owner Tilman Fertitta
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When Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for Hong Kong protesters (who are trying to maintain and expand their freedoms), Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta quickly distanced the organization. Though he never publicly condemned Morey, Fertitta emphasized that Morey was speaking as a private citizen and not for the organization.

But the winds have turned. The Knicks are facing criticism for not saying enough about the death of George Floyd. The Rockets – as apolitical as Fertitta says they should be – even released a statement on the death of Floyd:

How does Fertitta reconcile the different approaches?

Power Lunch:

Fertitta:

Speaking up of an issue in America and speaking up on an issue that’s somewhere else in the world are two different matters, OK? In America, we have free speech, and we can do whatever want to do and say whatever we want and not be penalize because of it. And that’s why we all love this country so much.

One hundred percent, I believe that you should not be a political organization, because we have 60 thousand employees and a hundred million customers, and we don’t always agree. It’s usually 50 percent one way and 50 percent this way.

But when it comes to an issue like this in America, you sure should speak out and say exactly what you want. And I encourage all my employees – from my basketball team to my restaurants to my hotels to my casinos – to speak out on this issue, and let’s make this world better and this country better that we live in that’s been great for so many of us.

I go back to what happened to Eric Garner in New York, which is a second home to me, and of course George Floyd, who is from Houston, Texas. And it’s inexcusable for two men to die like that, who did not appear to be putting up a fight. And I totally agree, and I understand the protests and the injustice out there.

And it’s really a shame that, because of a few bad people, that the distraction of protesting for the inequality, that we have to watch everything else. And we know this. There’s bad journalists. There’s bad CEOs. There’s a few bad cops. And there’s a few bad protesters. And it’s so disappointing, because I love that the protesting. That’s what makes America great.

And remember, we got in trouble, my team, earlier in the year because we commented about something, which was such a disapointment, because that’s what makes America great.

This is the most strongly – by far – Ferttita has supported Morey about the Hong Kong tweet. My question: Why now? When he tweeted, Morey was an American citizen who enjoyed the freedom of speech Fertitta espouses. Fertitta could have backed Morey like this at the time, even while maintaining a message that Morey didn’t speak for the organization.

Morey’s tweet cost the NBA, including the Rockets, a lot of money in China. Everyone quickly entered damage control. Fertitta appeared more focused on the financial ramifications than anything else.

Right now, it’s popular to stand for racial justice. Customers appreciate it. So, supposedly apolitical organizations like the Rockets are issuing statements on George Floyd.

That’s why I’m not looking to professional basketball teams for leadership on these issues. It’s easy when doing the right thing aligns with maximizing profits. When those things don’t align, it’s far messier.

Even in this interview, Fertitta struggled to keep his message consistent. He said both “Speaking up of an issue in America and speaking up on an issue that’s somewhere else in the world are two different matters” then later “let’s make this world better.” But after that slip into acknowledging global considerations, Fertitta jumped right back to “this country better that we live in that’s been great for so many of us.”

Some Americans focus on injustice in America. Some Americans are concerned with with injustice elsewhere. There’s not a major difference between those outlooks  – unless it screws up the money.

Brian Shaw reportedly to coach new G-League ‘Select Team’ of young stars

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The NBA’s new G-League “Select Team” has already drawn some elite talent from the 2021 NBA Draft class such as Jalen Green (currently projected as a top-three pick), Daishen Nix (lottery pick), and Isaiah Todd (late first round/second round) into its specialized training program.

Who will be running that program and coaching the team? Former Nuggets coach Brian Shaw, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Shaw had a 14-year NBA playing career, winning three rings with the Shaq/Kobe Lakers. He went on to join Phil Jackson’s coaching staff with the Lakers before getting the head job in Denver, which lasted less than two seasons. He reportedly beat out David Fizdale and Sam Mitchell for the job (although they could have roles with the team).

The Select Team roster will have some top prospects — ones who decided to get paid (Green will make a reported $500,000) and skip college — plus a handful of veteran players as mentors. The goal is to get the young players NBA-level training and games (they will play exhibitions against other G-League teams but not be part of the standings).