OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Kyle Kuzma scored a season-high 36 points and the Los Angeles Lakers rolled past the Oklahoma City Thunder 125-110 on Saturday night without stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel said James had a chest cold. James is averaging 25.4 points, a league-leading 10.7 assists and 8.7 rebounds and has helped the Lakers to the best record in the Western Conference.
Davis, who leads the Lakers with 27.1 points per game, missed his second straight game with a gluteus maximus contusion.
It didn’t matter. Kuzma, in just his third start of the season, made 15 of 24 shots.
Rajon Rondo added 21 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists for the Lakers. Los Angeles shot 51.5% to win its eighth in a row.
James played on Friday night and had 35 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists in a win over the Dallas Mavericks.
Without him, the Lakers raced to a 73-49 halftime lead over the Thunder behind 58% shooting. Kuzma scored 23 points before the break. It was Oklahoma City’s largest halftime deficit of the season.
The Lakers extended the lead to 32 in the third quarter before Oklahoma City rallied and trimmed its deficit to 102-82 at the end of the period, but the Thunder never really got close.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari each scored 24 points for the Thunder, who had won 11 of their previous 13 games.
Earlier this season, Kyrie Irving missed several weeks with a shoulder injury. Throughout the absence, the Nets provided few details and no clear timeline. Eventually, a report said Irving could miss 2-3 additional weeks with bursitis. The Nets denied it. Later, Irving confirmed he had bursitis then returned nearly three weeks after the report.
Finally, Brooklyn caught the league’s ire.
The NBA today announced that the Brooklyn Nets have been fined $25,000 for failing to comply with league policies governing injury reporting.
It’s unclear what specifically caused this violation. Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen, Jamal Crawford and Rodions Kurucs have all appeared on the Nets’ injury report during the resumption. As 19-point underdog, Brooklyn pulled a historic upset of the Bucks. Remember, public injury disclosures are primarily about preserving gambling integrity.
For the NBA not to reveal even basic details while fining the Nets for their lack of transparency is ironic. It’s also ironic this fine comes amid a restart that featured the NBA being highly secretive about player heath.
The Clippers got fined $50,000 earlier this season for saying Kawhi Leonard was healthy. What did Brooklyn do that was less egregious but still worth of a fine?
The Lakers’ offense has stumbled so far in the bubble.
Joe Vardon of The Athletic:
LeBron gave a weird answer about this. He agreed that he and the Lakers were looking for a rhythm on offense. And then he said: “It’s just some things that you can’t control that’s here, that I really don’t want to talk about, that’s off the floor.”
Mike Trudell of the Lakers:
Was LeBron referring to his groin injury? I wouldn’t call that an off-court issue, but maybe he would.
LeBron knows how to work the media. This subtle comment will draw attention and sets up LeBron to look better if he leads the Lakers through this mysterious issue.
Without more context, it’s easy for imaginations to wander – especially about a team with Dwight Howard, Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith. The Lakers could be facing a major hurdle. Or a minor nuisance. Who knows? But the unknown is scary.
It’ll be difficult to detect the Lakers’ progress during remaining seeding games. The Lakers have already clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, and without a home-court advantage in the NBA Finals, there’s no reason to chase the NBA’s best overall record. That’s why LeBron missing tonight’s game against the Rockets could be mostly precautionary.
Ben Simmons injured his knee during the 76ers’ win over the Wizards yesterday.
The diagnosis is in, and the prognosis sounds worrisome.
Serena Winters of NBC Sports Philadelphia:
How quickly will Simmons recover? Once he recovers, will he face elevated risk of re-injury?
These questions now haunt Simmons and Philadelphia.
Simmons is a young star who’ll begin a max contract extension next season. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons opened Philadelphia’s championship window, and now rain is drizzling through. Philadelphia can’t reach it ceiling without Simmons healthy and providing value.
Even more modest goals in a disjointed season will be more difficult to reach.
The 76ers were just adjusting to playing Simmons at power forward. Now, they must again re-configure their plan – maybe for a significant chunk of the remainder of the season.
Even more burden falls onto Embiid, who has been shouldering so much with this mismatched roster. Simmons plays across the positional spectrum, so any number of 76ers could fill in while he’s out. Many of those lesser players will complement Embiid more smoothly than Simmons did. But the talent deficit without Simmons can’t be offset.
That’s the scary issue for now – and maybe a while.
WNBA players and Kelly Loeffler hit a stalemate.
Players want to oust Loeffler as Atlanta Dream co-owner because Loeffler – a Republican U.S. Senator from Georgia – holds political stances they disagree with and is advocating against the league supporting Black Lives Matter. Loeffler said she won’t sell, and the league won’t force her out.
So, players have turned to Loeffler’s senate race, wearing “VOTE WARNOCK” shirts in support of Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock.
Holly Rowe of ESPN:
ATLANTA—Today, political outsider and conservative businesswoman Kelly Loeffler issued the following statement in response to WNBA players wearing “VOTE WARNOCK” t-shirts. The shirts endorse Kelly’s Democrat opponent, Raphael Warnock, following her criticism of the league’s embrace of the Black Lives Matter political organization.
“This is just more proof that the out of control cancel culture wants to shut out anyone who disagrees with them. It’s clear that the league is more concerned with playing politics than basketball, and I stand by what I wrote in June:
“We come together around sports, but promoting a political agenda divides us rather than unites us. The lives of every African American matter, and there’s no place for racism in our country. But I oppose the BLM political organization due to its radical ideas and Marxist foundations, which include defunding the police and eroding the nuclear family. On the other hand, our flag represents our values of freedom and equality for all. If we can’t unite behind our flag, much less the national anthem during this struggle, then what keeps us together? It’s sad to see that there’s more interest in tearing our country apart than in solutions that bring us together. I’ll continue to defend American values and our flag, because this is not a game – it’s the future of our country. “
“Cancel culture” is a vague term with shifting definitions. But people supporting voting for one political candidate over another? That comes nowhere near any reasonable definition of cancel culture.
WNBA players are not just basketball players. They’re human beings with varied interests – including politics. That should come perfectly naturally to a self-described “political outsider” who’s a sitting senator and running for re-election. If it’s reasonable for Loeffler to be interested in politics (it is), it reasonable for WNBA players to be interested in politics.
As far as Loeffler restating her previous points, she remains errant.