Kyle Kuzma leads late Lakers rally to knock off Pacers 105-100

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
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LOS ANGELES — Kyle Kuzma scored 15 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, LeBron James added 18 points and 10 assists, and the Los Angeles Lakers rallied late for a 105-100 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.

Montrezl Harrell had 17 points and Kuzma added 13 rebounds as the defending NBA champions returned from the All-Star break with just their fourth win in 11 games.

Los Angeles trailed by 12 points early in the fourth quarter before Kuzma led a strong rally to keep the Pacers winless against the Lakers at Staples Center since November 2015. Kuzma went 5 for 8 with two 3-pointers and four rebounds in the fourth.

“It’s all about growth, and the game has just slowed down every year for him,” James said. “He knows his role with this team and he does it to a high level, and tonight was another example of that.”

Malcolm Brogdon scored 23 of his 29 points in the first half for the Pacers, who opened a three-game road trip with their 11th loss in 16 games. Domantas Sabonis added 20 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists, but Indiana wilted down the stretch.

“I thought there was a four-minute stretch there where we let it get away from us,” Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren said.

The Pacers still had the ball at midcourt down 103-100 with 9.9 seconds left, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope stole Brogdon’s inbounds pass and hit two free throws to ice it.

“I saw the opening to get the steal, so I tried to get in front of him,” Caldwell-Pope said. “We needed stops. They kept going on their runs, and we needed more energy. Rebounding the ball and getting out in transition is what we’re best at. I think we did it over the last few minutes.”

“They knew the play,” Brogdon said. “They switched to deny it. I just threw a bad pass.”

Brogdon lit up the Lakers for 18 points in the first quarter. Indiana had an 86-74 lead early in the fourth, but the Lakers made a 22-4 run and seized the lead on Kuzma’s back-to-back 3-pointers.

Los Angeles won without starters Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol.

After the game, Caris LeVert said he will make his Pacers debut Saturday at Phoenix.

LeVert underwent surgery in late January to remove a cancerous growth from his kidney nine days after he was traded to Indiana from Brooklyn in the James Harden/Victor Oladipo trade. The Pacers have been cautious with LeVert’s recovery, but he is eager to help his struggling new team.

“It’s been a while, and I miss the game for sure,” LeVert said. “I always saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I knew the pain I was feeling after the surgery, that wouldn’t last forever. I knew this day would come where I felt up to playing again. I’ve got a great support system with my family and my teammates. … It’s just going to be a joy to play the game tomorrow. I’m sure it’ll be a great night for all of us.”

T.J. Warren still out for Nets, team to reassess status in November

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The Brooklyn Nets bet that the T.J. Warren from the bubble in Orlando — the one who averaged 26.6 points and 6.3 rebounds a game for the Pacers — would re-emerge and give them a quality forward they could mix into a deep rotation.

Instead, so far it has looked more like the Warren who has played just four games since the bubble due to stress fractures in his foot.

Warren is improving and the Nets are bringing him along slowly, keeping him off the court until November at least, reports Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Small forward T.J. Warren, who has missed nearly two full seasons following multiple foot surgeries, is “doing some shooting” and “a little bit more movement the last two weeks than he was prior,” Nash said. He added that Warren will be reassessed in about a month.

The Nets can afford to be patient. They have plenty of other questions to answer as a team before worrying about what Warren can or cannot contribute. But in the dream scenario where everything comes together for the Nets this season, Warren gets healthy and becomes a valuable contributor off the bench giving the Nets more versatility, scoring, and shooting along the front line.

For now, the Nets and Warren wait.

NBA returning to Seattle for exhibition game, when will it be more?

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SEATTLE (AP) — An NBA preseason game may not seem like a benchmark moment, even in a basketball-hungry city like Seattle, but Jamal Crawford believes there’s value even in an exhibition.

“It reignites a whole new generation of kids who need to see this,” said Crawford, a Seattle native who has been a basketball ambassador for the city through a 20-year NBA career and now with a pro-am that brings in NBA players every summer. “They need to be able to dream and know that it’s real.”

The NBA is making its latest brief return to the Emerald City. The Los Angeles Clippers will play the Portland Trail Blazers there on Monday night, the first time two NBA teams will meet in Seattle since 2018, when the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings played a preseason game. That was the last sporting event inside KeyArena before it was gutted and rebuilt into the gleaming Climate Pledge Arena.

There was a warm-up act of sorts Friday when the Clippers played Israeli team Maccabi Ra’anana in an exhibition, one where the most of the Clippers’ big names – Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, John Wall and Reggie Jackson – weren’t participating.

A sell-out crowd turned out for that Warriors-Kings game four years ago, the first one in Seattle since the beloved SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008 after 41 years in the Pacific Northwest. Another big crowd is expected Monday.

“The Sonics haven’t been a team since I’ve been in the NBA. So just to go play in Seattle is cool,” Blazers star Damian Lillard said. “We played in Vancouver a few years back. I think like two or three years ago, we had a preseason game at the (Memorial) Coliseum. So every time we get to do something like that, I always enjoy it because I wondered what was it like when it was a real thing, when the games were played in these different arenas. So I am excited to play in Seattle.”

Someday, possibly soon, the expectations are that Seattle will reclaim its place as an NBA town.

“It’s always been a great city to me,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said Friday. “It’s unfortunate that they lost their team and the team went to OKC. This city definitely deserves a team.”

Speculation is nonstop about when the NBA will choose to expand. Thanks to the resolution of its arena situation, Seattle seems likely to be at the forefront of those expansion talks, with Las Vegas likely right behind it.

But NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been noncommittal about a possible expansion timeline, and it seems likely those talks won’t pick up steam until the league deals with the new collective bargaining agreement and television deals that are on the horizon.

The community’s commitment has never been in question. The appetite of Seattle fans hasn’t waned in the years since the Sonics left and as the region became a hotbed for NBA talent, whether it was Crawford continuing to carry the banner for the city, to Zach LaVine of Renton, Washington, to this year’s No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, another Seattle native.

As if any reinforcement was needed, the summer provided a perfect example as fans camped overnight outside Crawford’s summer league venue for the chance to get inside and watch LeBron James make his first basketball visit to the city in more than a decade.

“Anyone that knows Seattle knows what a great basketball city we are,” Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said this summer when the preseason game was announced.

The idea for having the Blazers and Clippers meet in Seattle was the result of a brainstorm between Lue and Blazers coach Chauncey Billups. The two close friends wanted their teams to meet in the preseason and Lue noted the owners for both teams are Seattle based: Steve Ballmer of the Clippers and Jody Allen for the Blazers.

“I haven’t been back since I played there in 2008, I think it was. So just to be able to go back there and you know, Mr. Ballmer and kind of see his offices and how he lives, and (Chauncey) to get a chance to see his owner, and then to be with my best friend, I thought it would be a great common ground,” Lue said.

Steven Adams inks two-year, $25.2 million extension with Grizzlies

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Steven Adams signed a two-year, $25.2 million contract extension with Memphis, which will keep him tied to the team through the 2024-25 season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojanrowski broke the news on Saturday.

Adams has been crucial to the Grizzlies’ recent success. He’s coming off his first season with the team, where he averaged career-highs in rebounds (10.0) and assists (3.4). He also helped them lock up the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference and make it to the Conference Semifinals, where they lost to the eventual-champion Warriors 4-2. Despite the improved numbers, a lot of his value is from intangibles that don’t show up in the box score.

Adams spent the first seven years of his career with the Thunder before being traded to New Orleans in the four-team deal that sent Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee. Adams was moved again to Memphis in a package for Jonas Valanciunas.

Adams has found a new home with a young Grizzlies team that is looking to win a championship. The team is built around Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane, but Jackson Jr. is expected to miss time after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot. Memphis will rely on Adams more than ever to begin the season.

Watch Curry, Klay in 3-point shooting contest in Japan. Yeah, they’re good at this.

NBA Japan Games Saturday Night
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The NBA went to Japan to promote the brand, play a few games in a huge market — Japan specifically but Asia as a whole — and put on a show.

Is there a better show than Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson draining 3s? Here they are in a 3-point contest during a basketball exhibition (there were some pro dunkers) in Tokyo on Saturday.

Stephen Curry, was there any other possible outcome?

It’s preseason and they are the defending champs — they should be having fun, playing with some joy.

Thompson took part in the shooting contest but is not playing in either of the exhibition games in Japan as the Warriors ease him back into play this season. It’s a marathon of a season and the Warriors need the best version of Klay starting in April, not October.