As has gotten a lot of publicity this season, the Lakers have one of the best defenses in the NBA, sixth in the league in defensive rating coming into Wednesday night. Their combination of length and activity has thrown teams off their games.
Less well publicized, the Orlando Magic have been bad on offense this season, fifth-worst in the NBA.
What happens when the immovable object met a very soft force on Wednesday night, well…
Orlando shot 4-of-21 in the first quarter, missing all six of their threes, plus turned the ball over four times just to make things a little worse. It’s not that the Lakers were exactly tearing it up, as a team they shot just 35.7 percent in the first quarter (Orlando is a good defensive squad), but Anthony Davis saved their bacon with seven points plus three assists (all for threes, so 16 points generated by him in the first).
The Lakers stretched that out to a 24-point lead in the second quarter before a combination of Orlando stepping up their play and the Lakers taking their foot off the gas a little led to an 18-3 Orlando run that cut the lead to 13 at the half. LeBron James had 16 points to lead the Lakers.
By the middle of the third, Orlando had made a game of it.
PARIS — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 30 points and 12 rebounds and the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks beat the Charlotte Hornets 116-103 on Friday night in the first NBA regular-season game in France.
Milwaukee improved to 40-6 with its eighth straight victory. The Bucks have the best 46-game start in franchise history. They were 39-7 in 1970-71 when they went on to win the NBA championship.
Eric Bledsoe added 20 points and five assists for the Bucks.
Malik Monk led Charlotte with 31 points. The Hornets have lost eight in a row.
Milwaukee rallied to tie it at 78 going into the fourth quarter. Pat Connaughton put the Bucks in front with a dunk in the fourth. Then Antetokounmpo got going, drawing a foul as he slalomed through the defense.
Dallas took a big hit this week when center Dwight Powell went down with a torn Achilles. The Mavericks’ starting center was a critical pick-and-roll partner with Luka Doncic, a roll man and vertical threat that allowed Kristaps Porzingis to space the floor (along with other Dallas shooters), plus Powell was a solid team defender.
Willie Cauley-Stein is going to get a chance to fill that role.
Golden State is trading Cauley-Stein to Dallas for a second-round pick.
Dallas just made a trade for Justin Patton to waive him and clear out a roster spot for this trade.
Cauley-Stein is averaging an efficient 7.9 points and 6.2 rebounds a game for Golden State. More importantly for Dallas, he provides the athletic dive man, a threat on the roll they need to keep things open for Doncic.
Dallas could have waited out the market to try and land a better center, but this gives them a reliable fit for minimal cost (a late second-round pick, they kept Golden State’s own second rounder). Cauley-Stein will split time at the five with Kristaps Porzingis, Maxi Kleber, and Boban Marjanovic.
For those of you crunching the numbers at home:
For Golden State, in the short term, this move creates a couple of open roster spots. One of those likely will be used to re-sign Marquese Chriss, who was waived last week. The other roster spot likely will go to Ky Bowman.
Golden State adds a pick and a trade exception for sending out a player that was not part of their long-term plans anyway.
We have a trade…
That shifts things around on the end of the bench in Dallas so they could create a roster spot forWillie Cauley-Stein (a trade that was announced later). A trade that is mostly about saving some and rolling the dice on a project in OKC.
Dallas is sending Isaiah Roby to OKC for Justin Patton, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic.
What is really going on here?
For Dallas, this is about clearing out a roster spot, it plans to waive Patton. That roster spot is going to Willie Cauley-Stein in a trade with Golden State, that was just reported. The Mavericks lost center Dwight Powell to a torn Achilles this week and needed to bring in a player or two — via trade or free agency — to help bolster the existing front line of Kristaps Porzingis, Maxi Kleber, and Boban Marjanovic. Here is Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.
The move also clears out a little cash for Dallas.
In Oklahoma City, they get a young player to develop but also save some money.
Roby has not played in an NBA game yet. The rookie out of Nebraska — taken 45th overall last June — is a development project, but one who passes the eye test for an NBA power forward. He did a lot of things well in college — scoring, rebounding, works hard off the ball — but can he do that at an NBA level? He’s played in nine G-League games this season, averaging 9.2 points and 7 rebounds a game.
Lauri Markkanen ranked No. 34 on our list of the 50 best players in 5 years entering the season.
Instead of building toward that promise, Markkanen has underwhelmed. His shot just isn’t falling as hoped.
Now, the news get even worse.
The Bulls (2.5 games and two games out) have been hanging in the playoff race. But there was already little reason to believe they’d make a postseason push. Now, there’s even less rationale to predict a longshot postseason run.
Markkanen will be eligible for a contract extension next offseason. The 22-year-old can still fulfill his potential as a 7-foot shooter with defensive versatility. But he’s running out of time to show consistent contributions. That’ll make it tougher for Chicago to offer a satisfactory extension.
Two of the very things that could happen for the Bulls are Markkanen shaking off his extended slump and landing a high draft pick.
This could help with both.