February 24, 2018, 2:30 am
The Lakers defeated the Mavericks on Friday night 124-102; in the process they extended their home-win streak to nine games, their best since the 2012 season. Los Angeles led this game from wire-to-wire, never allowing Dallas a chance to compete.
Los Angeles started the game aggressively attacking the Mavericks inside, drawing two quick fouls on Dirk Nowitzki and relegating him to the bench. They jumped out to a 23-5 lead, outscoring the Mavs 14-0 in the paint. The Lakers held Dallas to 29.2 percent field goal shooting in the first quarter.
The Lakers took a 63-41 lead into the half based on their interior dominance and defensive effort. They outscored Dallas 38-6 in the paint for the half and 20-0 in the second quarter alone, while outrebounding them 36-15. They held the Mavericks to 15-of-48 shooting, good for only 31.3 percent.
Wesley Matthews gave the Lakers a bit of a scare early in the third quarter, hitting four consecutive 3-pointers to help cut the lead down to 66-53 before Los Angeles responded with a 7-0 run to extend the lead back to 20 points. One reason was that the Mavericks inexplicably went away from Matthews, cooling him off and curtailing their own momentum. The game was never in question after that point.
Julius Randle recorded his fifth career triple-double and his second against Dallas. Randle was aggressive from the onset, pounding the Mavericks down low relentlessly. He had 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists by halftime. He repeatedly made beautiful passes to his teammates for layups — his vision and timing on his passes was extremely impressive. Randle’s footwork in the post was also noticeably improved. He finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists and a plus-27 rating while shooting 9-of-14 from the field.
Many Lakers joined Randle in delivering exemplary performances, none more impressive than Brandon Ingram who accumulated 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and three blocks while shooting 6-of-9 from the floor. He had one particularly impressive play where he used his full inspector gadget-like wingspan to block a jump shot and then finish the play with a perfect pass to a cutting Randle for a dunk.
The story on the night for the Lakers was the return of Lonzo Ball, who came off the bench to knock down his first shot, a 3-pointer, much to the delight of the crowd. He tallied nine points, seven rebounds and six assists in only 17 minutes. Ball showed great chemistry with Isaiah Thomas in particular, another exciting development on a night full of positive elements for Los Angeles.
Thomas accrued 17 points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals on 5-of-12 shooting and 5-of-5 from the free throw line. He continued to demonstrate his excellent rapport with Ivica Zubac (14 points, six rebounds) and got stronger as the game wore on. He knocked down a rainbow jump shot to end the third quarter and appeared more confident throughout the contest.
Other members of the robust stat line club were Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (15 points, six rebounds, two assists and three steals), Josh Hart (12 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and one steal) and Kyle Kuzma (12 points, three rebounds, one assist and two blocks).
Dallas had seven players in double-figures, including all five starters, but never really matched the Lakers intensity on the evening. Perhaps, all the off-court distractions were too much for the Mavericks to overcome.
Key Stats and Observations
-The Lakers were minus-18 from 3-point range as the Mavericks made 19-of-42 (45.2 percent) compared to 13-of-33 (39.4 percent) for Los Angeles. Dallas actually shot better from 3-point range than they did from 2-point range (36.7 percent).
-Dallas was outshot 40.7 percent vs. 51.6 percent for the game.
-Los Angeles absolutely crushed Dallas on the boards tonight, outrebounding them 62-29 overall and 13-3 on the offensive glass.
-The Lakers demolished the Mavericks in the paint where they outscored them 62-26. This was to be somewhat expected as the Lakers lead the league in points in the paint compared to Dallas who came into the game last in that department.
-The Lakers shot a respectable 15-of-20 (75.0 percent) from the free throw line while restricting Dallas to only 9-of-11 (81.8 percent) attempts from the line.
The Lakers head to Sacramento to take on the Kings on Saturday night.
They will be without Ball, who is expected to miss the game as part of his recovery process from a sprained MCL. His absence will rob fans of an opportunity to watch him duel No. 5 overall draft pick De’Aaron Fox, who has a mini-rivalry with Ball, stemming from their college days and subsequent draft position.
Instead, fans will have to focus their attention on Thomas’ return to Sacramento, where he started his career. He should play a fairly significant role with Ball out of the lineup.
May 31, 2020, 8:10 pmKz OkpalaF, Miami Heat
Kz Okpala's offensive game has come a long way since January according to Heat Vice President and Assistant GM, Adam Simon.
Okpala is already viewed as an NBA-ready defender, and once his offensive game is up to speed the Heat will have a hard time not getting him into the rotation. He spent 20 games in the G League and five with the Heat before the suspension slowed down his progression in 2020. Okpala got off to a slow start due to injuries, and a trade on draft day took away his chance to play in summer league. While this season is unlikely to amount to anything, Okpala is someone to watch in deeper leagues next year.
Source: Miami Herald
May 31, 2020, 8:03 pmGabe VincentPG, Miami Heat
Heat Vice President and Assistant GM, Adam Simon, stated that Gabe Vincent's knee is "good to go".
It sounds like Vincent would have no problem being NBA ready if the Heat decided to call up the two-way guard when play hopefully resumes July 31. Vincent is a strong 3-point shooter with the ability to attack a closeout, but it is still unlikely the Heat will need to put him on the floor for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.
Source: Miami Herald
May 31, 2020, 7:51 pmShake MiltonSG, Philadelphia Sixers
According to projections by Mike O'Connor and Derek Bodner of The Athletic, Shake Milton will be a starter for the Sixers whenever play relaunches.
Milton was thriving for the Sixers when the season was suspended due to COVID-19, and some risk remains that Ben Simmons will bump him from the rotation when the stoppage in play is lifted. In 16 starts with the Sixers, Milton averaged 14.1 points, 2.2 3-pointers, 3.6 assists, 3 rebounds and 1.1 steals. As a 3-pointer specialist along, Milton has earned a slot in 12-team formats, but things are going to be more difficult when he is forced to play off-ball in a fully healthy lineup in Philadelphia
Source: The Athletic
May 31, 2020, 7:42 pmKevin DurantSF, Brooklyn Nets
On a recent ESPN podcast featuring Adrian Wojnarowski and his colleague Zach Lowe, Wojnarowski stated that Kevin Durant (torn Achilles) would not play for the Nets this year.
Wojnarowski went onto say that he had no source that had relayed that information to him. The Nets have largely been deferring to Durant and the medical staff when it comes to his prospects for playing this year. While the organization may get hopeful that KD will lace it up for a playoff run, all signs are still pointing to him waiting until 2020-21.
Source: Anthony Puccio on Twitter
May 29, 2020, 7:43 pmEric GordonSG, Houston Rockets
Rockets guard Eric Gordon has improved his diet, focused on sprints, and has apparently shed 12 pounds in the process, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.
Gordon has battled knee ailments for essentially his whole career and has dealt with his fair share of nagging injuries this season as well. Losing weight to create a lighter frame would seem sensible, especially with the knee issues. The Rockets, remember, fully adopted the "small ball" lineup and move fast so Gordon is smart to keep his endurance and fitness at high levels. He's going to have to play well and make shots for the Rockets when the NBA returns to action, otherwise coach Mike D'Antoni won't be able to justify giving Gordon minutes. We don't anticipate much fantasy value out of him if and when the league starts back up.
Source: The Athletic
May 29, 2020, 6:03 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is reporting that the NBA is planning for a Board of Governors vote on Thursday, during which they are expected to approve Adam Silver's proposal for re-starting the season in Orlando.
The trend lines are all moving in this direction, and this adds another bullet point on the schedule as the league prepares for launching games on July 31. Adam Silver has been able to bridge any divides between ownership and the players, and has been taking into account all his key constituent's views as we approach approval of a plan for moving forward. We still have plenty of items to resolve before we see game action, but the NBA is gaining momentum as these details come into place.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
May 29, 2020, 4:44 pmBradley BealSG, Washington Wizards
On Friday, the Wizards resumed holding voluntary workouts at their practice facilities.
The Wizards have joined a chorus of teams that are returning in limited capacities to their facilities at this point. The NBA as a whole is continuing its march towards the resumption of play with a target date of July 31 now established. The District of Columbia also entered phase one of reopening today, and it makes sense for the team to proceed on a similar trajectory.
Source: Candace Buckner on Twitter
May 29, 2020, 4:03 pmJulius RandlePF, New York Knicks
Part of the Knicks' off-season thinking is to shape the roster around RJ Barrett, and it unclear where Julius Randle will fit in those plans.
Barrett and Randle have similar offensive styles, as they typically have an advantage relying upon their strength to attack the basket, but neither has a component deep ball at this stage in their careers. As Barrett is the younger option it makes sense that the Knicks want to sign shooters to give him more space to operate with. Randle's lousy percentages and turnovers has made for a disappointing season with the Knicks thus far, and Barrett will also need to make some strides in the shooting department to become a 12-team asset. Randle is under contract for next season is owed at least $4,000,000 in 2021-22.
May 29, 2020, 3:46 pmJayson TatumSF, Boston Celtics
On Friday, the Celtics' announced that their practice facilities would reopen on June 1.
That leaves us with four NBA teams without access to their facilities. Things are beginning to accelerate throughout the league as teams ramp up activities in hopes of resuming competition in Orlando on July 31. So far so good, but the NBA still has many hurdles to overcome on the path to resuming the season.
Source: Celtics PR on Twitter
May 29, 2020, 3:40 pmRJ BarrettSF, New York Knicks
The Knicks reopened their practice facility for voluntary workouts on Friday.
Another step in the right direction for the NBA's return to action at the end of July. It's still unclear if the Knicks will even be involved in whatever plan is agreed upon, but it is good to learn that the players can now access their facilities in New York. Only five team facilities have not opened up in some capacity at this point.
Source: Knicks PR on Twitter