Cavs’ Mobley: ‘I feel like I’m pretty ahead of schedule so far’

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ three-game winning streak was snapped on Friday night as they fell to LeBron James and the Lakers 113-101 at Staples Center.

The game was tied at 54 at halftime, but the Lakers(3-3) pulled away in the fourth quarter to get the victory.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and Bottom Line of Cleveland’s loss to the Lakers.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Evan Mobley is the real deal. The rookie had a team-high 23 points and snatched six rebounds, and three assists in a team-high 36 minutes of action. This kid does not appear to get rattled, and according to him, he’s ahead of schedule, which could be scary for the rest of the league.

“I feel like I’m getting adjusted to the NBA pretty fast,” Mobley said postgame. “I feel like I’m pretty ahead of schedule so far.”

-Darius Garland had a double-double with 18 points and 11 assists(six turnovers). It was Garland’s second double-double of the season. 

-Lauri Markkanen had a season-high 17 points(7/14 FG) on Friday night, which included a season-high three three-pointers. Markkanen has struggled with his shot(30.5 FG%) thus far this season, so it’s good to see him put the ball in the basket.

-Ricky Rubio continues to bring it every night. He had 18 points, six rebounds, and four assists off the bench. What an acquisition for this team.  It’s early, but if Rubio keeps playing at this level, he could be in the discussion for Sixth-Man of the Year.

The Not so Great for the Cavaliers:

-Fourth-quarter: Cleveland trailed 88-85, heading into the fourth quarter. However, they went completely cold in the fourth. They shot 4/18(22%) from the field and were outscored 25-16 in the quarter. The Cavs took their last lead of 91-90 with just under eight minutes left, but the Lakers would go on a 10-0 run, and Cleveland never threatened after that.

-Defense: One of the reasons Cleveland won three straight was their defense. The Cavaliers held teams below 90 points and below 410% shooting from the floor in those three wins. However, the Lakers scored 113 points with 55% shooting. Los Angeles also had 60 points in the paint.

-After scoring 26 points against the Clippers on Wednesday night, Collin Sexton, the team’s leading scorer, was a non-factor against Los Angeles. He scored 9 points on 2/9 shooting.

Bottom Line:

This was not a bad loss for the Cavs. They competed against the Lakers, who you knew would be tough to beat after their loss to the Thunder on Wednesday. In addition, Cleveland kept it close and even had a lead in the fourth. The Cavs can hold their heads up high after this loss.

What’s Next:

Cleveland(3-3) continues their five-game road trip as they travel to Phoenix to battle the Western Conference Champions, the Suns(1-3), on Saturday night; Phoenix, who has lost two straight, is 0-2 at home this season.

Best of the Rest:

In his return from an ankle injury, LeBron James led the Lakers with 26 points, eights assists, and three rebounds; Carmelo Anthony added 24 points, including six three-pointers off the bench.

Watch below as Mobley, Rubio, and Markkanen react to loss against Lakers:

Lakers’ Howard on altercation with AD: ‘We squashed it right then and there’

The Los Angles Lakers added a few pieces to their team in the offseason. They brought in guys like Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, DeAndre Jordan and brought in two guys from their 2020 championship team in Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo, but they have gotten off to a slow start.

On Friday, the Lakers(0-2) dropped their second straight game as they were defeated by the Suns(1-1) 115-105 at Staples Center.

The loss is not too concerning when you consider it’s only the second game of the season. However, what might be more concerning is what transpired on the team’s bench between Howard and Anthony Davis.

The two got into a shoving match in the second quarter after a Suns timeout. 

Watch below:

After the game, both Howard and Davis said it was squashed.

“We squashed it right then and there,” Howard said. “We just had a disagreement about something that was on the floor… We’re grown men, things happen. But we are going to squash this little issue between me and him, and that’s my brother, that’s my teammate.”

Davis, who had 22 points and 14 rebounds on Friday night, added: “After the situation happened, me and DH, we talked about it, and we left it at that.”

According to Davis, the argument started over an issue with their pick-and-roll defense.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel says stuff like this happens when you’re losing:

“When you’re getting your a** kicked, sometimes those conversations get heated,” he said. “They talked it out, and that’s going to happen from time to time.”

Howard did not play in the second half, but Vogel said it had nothing to do with the incident with Davis.

In an 82-game season, stuff like this does happen. This could bring the Lakers closer, and we’ll see the impact this altercation may have on Los Angeles going forward.

Howard talks altercation with Davis:

Listen to Go4it! Guest: Ex-NBA player C.J. Watson

Former NBA player C.J. Watson talks Chris Paul, Trae Young, can the Bucks win the Finals without Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Watson believes that Derrick Rose is Hall of Famer, Ben Simmons has to shoot if he wants to be better, Dame Lillard’s future in Portland, can LeBron James win another title, and who is the best player in basketball?

C.J. talks Foundation and children’s books:

quietstormfoundation.org

cjpens.com

Listen below:

James on Davis: ‘My mindset is that he’s not going to be able to play in Game 6’

The Phoenix Suns are one game away from advancing to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs after routing the Lakers 115-85 in Game 5 at Phoenix Suns Arena on Tuesday night.

The Suns lead the series 3-2 with a chance to close out the defending champions on Thursday night at Staples Center.

Devin Booker led the Suns with 30 points, and Cameron Payne, who continues to play well in the series, added 16 points off the bench.

Phoenix led by eight after one quarter and took a 66-36 halftime lead. The Suns led by as many as 36 points in this contest.

Phoenix got a little scare in the third quarter when Chris Paul appeared to re-injure his shoulder after trying to box out Wesley Matthews. Paul would leave the game and did not return. 

However, after the game, Paul seemed pretty confident that he would be good to go for Game 6.

‘It’s a little banged up, but I’ll be all right,” Paul said about his shoulder.

The Suns are clearly a better team with Paul on the court, while the Lakers are clearly a worse team when Anthony Davis is not on the court. Davis, who missed most of Game 4 and all of Game 5 due to a groin injury, is hoping to get back on the court for Game 6. 

But, according to LeBron James, who led the Lakers with 24 points on Thursday night, he’s going to prepare for Game 6 like Davis will not be there.

“My mindset is that he’s not going to be able to play in Game 6,” James said. “If something changes, then we’ll go from there. But I’m preparing as if he’s not.”

The Lakers cannot win this series with Davis in street clothes, so they need him on the court to beat the Suns, especially if Paul is healthy. However, never underestimate the heart of a champion. Expect Los Angeles to get a big-time effort out of James and the rest of the Lakers, but it might not be enough without Davis.

Notes:

Lakers’ Dennis Schroder struggled on Tuesday night. He finished 0/9 from the field with zero points and one assist.

Lakers use big third quarter to defeat Suns in Game 3

The Los Angeles Lakers had their first home playoff game in eight years at Staples Center, and they took full advantage of it. Behind Anthony Davis’ 34 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists, and LeBron James’ 21 points, nine assists, and six rebounds. The Lakers defeated the Suns 109-95 in Game 3 of their first-round best of seven game series.

Deandre Ayton led the Suns with 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Booker scored 19 points.

The Lakers lead the series 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles. This game turned in the third quarter. The Lakers outscored the Suns by 10 points and led by as many as 17 points in the third. Davis scored 18 points in the quarter, while James added 10 points. The Lakers never looked back, and now they have control of this series.

There were a lot of interesting subplots in this game. In the fourth quarter, LeBron James went head-to-head with Phoenix’s Jae Crowder and scored on a reverse layup, which excited the Lakers bench and the Staples Center crowd. Crowder would be ejected in the fourth. Also, late in the fourth, Booker would get ejected after being called for a Flagrant two foul. Booker shoved Dennis Schroder, who had 20 points in Game 3, while he was in the air. 

“That wasn’t a basketball play, and regular season, it’s probably a suspension as well,” Schroder said after the game.

“It’s a dirty play,” Davis said. “Dennis could’ve really gotten hurt right there.”

James added: “I thought the play wasn’t a basketball play.”

Suns PG Chris Paul, who is battling a shoulder injury, came into Thursday’s action 0-10 in playoffs games refereed by Scott Foster. After losing to the Lakers, Paul is now 0-11 in games officiated by Foster.

Paul never mentioned Foster by name, but at the end of his post-game interview, Paul had this to say:

“11 in a row.”

Watching Paul, who had seven points, six assists, and five rebounds in Game 3, struggle is brutal. Phoenix may have to make a tough decision and sit Paul down because right now, he has been ineffective. In his place, Cameron Payne has played well. Payne scored 15 points and dished out six assists on Thursday night and had a strong Game 2, so it might be time to turn to Payne.

It should be interesting to see how Paul and the Suns respond in Game 4 on Sunday, which is a must-win situation for this team.

 

 

Report: Porzingis fined $50K for attending club

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Dallas Mavericks’ Kristaps Porzingis has been fined $50,000 by the NBA for violating the rule prohibiting players from going into bars, clubs, lounges, or similar establishment regardless of vaccination status. 

Porzingis attended a club on Sunday, according to the report.

The 25-year-old Porzingis finished with 14 points on Saturday in the team’s win over the Clippers in Game 1 of their first-round series. The Mavericks will battle the Clippers in Game 2 at Staples Center on Tuesday night.

Recently, LeBron James came under fire for attending a party in Los Angeles. James did violate the league’s health and safety protocols, but he was not suspended.

Hopefully, this won’t be a distraction for the Mavericks as they try to sweep the first two games in Los Angeles.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on James: ‘There is a reason why he is who he is’

For the Cavs(8-9), defeating the world champion Los Angeles Lakers(14-4) is a tall order, but defeating the Lakers when LeBron James scores 21 points in a quarter is nearly impossible. 

James returned to Cleveland on Monday night and went off. In 38 minutes, James was 19/26 from the field, including 7/11 from three-point range, and finished with 46 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. The four-time MVP scored 21 of his 46 points in the fourth quarter, and the Lakers moved to 10-0 on the road with a 115-108 victory over Cleveland. 

At 36, James became the fifth player 36 or older to score 46 points or more in an NBA game.

“You take your hat off to him,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said about James. “There is a reason why he is who he is, and he accomplished all the things that he’s accomplished. If he’s making shots like that, you pat him on the butt. You try to do more the next time and force him to take an even more difficult shot. When a guy is doing what he did tonight, he’s hard to deal with.”

Andre Drummond led the way for Cleveland with a double-double of 21 points and 15 rebounds.

After getting blown out in Boston on Sunday, Bickerstaff wanted a better effort from the Cavaliers on Monday, and he got it. Cleveland was right there with the Lakers all night long and led by two heading into the fourth quarter.

“I think they responded the right way,” he said. “This game was not lost by our effort. It was not lost by our scrap. They gave us what they had tonight. They competed. They played together; they competed together. That’s not where this game was lost tonight.”

Bickerstaff was not happy with the officiating, and he felt the officials did not give his team the same respect they gave the Lakers. Los Angeles shot 12 more free throws than Cleveland on Monday night. 

“I think it was some momentum-changing calls that were made or weren’t made,” he said. “I think our guys showed up and gave the effort to deserve the respect that both teams should garner, and tonight, I don’t think that was the case. The Lakers are a hell of a basketball team, don’t get me wrong. They deserve everything they have coming, but our guys scrap and play hard and deserve the same.

“Were there plays that we made down the stretch where we could’ve made better decisions, sure. When you’re in a position where your playing uphill, you have to be even better and be even more certain with your decisions, your shot selection, your defensive execution, so we could’ve been better there as well, but it’s hard to overcome the champs-plus.”

The Cavaliers went 2-2 in this four-game stretch against the Nets(2x), Celtics, and Lakers. Going 2-2 is a win for this team, and outside of the Boston game, they played some pretty good basketball, which is progress. Now, they prepare the Pistons on Wednesday night.

LeBron: ‘I just go out and try to prepare to be the best every night’

Plenty of history was made on Wednesday night in San Antonio. Some we expected and some that was a surprise. First, LeBron James, on his 36th birthday, became the first player in NBA history to have one-thousand straight game in double figures. Next, after Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected in the second quarter, Spurs assistant Becky Hammon became the first woman in NBA history to serve as head coach.

Ultimately, behind James’ team-high 26 points, the Lakers would defeat San Antonio 121-107 at AT&T Center. 

Michael Jordan previously held the record with 866 straight games in double-figures, but James would surpass that mark in 2018. 

After the game, James reflected on one-thousand straight games of 10 points or more.

“I just go out and try to prepare to be the best every night I step out on the floor,” James said about one-thousand straight games in double-figures. “If I’m in uniform, I gotta do things to help our team win. If that’s scoring, rebounding, defending, assisting. Doing the little things, and just be available for my teammates throughout the course of the game when I’m on the floor or when I’m also on the bench.”

This is James’ 17th season in the NBA, so first, you need longevity to pull this type of streak off, and next, you have to have consistency, which means this record will be tough to break.

It’s not easy to score a basket in the NBA, and scoring in double-figures is even harder, but as he continues, James is making many things in the NBA look easy. 

At 36, James is still playing at an elite level, and the way the world-champion Lakers are presently constructed, this team could make another deep playoff run this season. James shows no signs of slowing down, and he appears to be a guy who could play at a high level for years to come. Expect James to achieve more milestones and do more amazing things moving forward. 

At this point, it’s clear, we are all witnesses to greatness.

Mavs’ Doncic: ‘We box out, we win the game’

Playing good defense in the NBA requires players to contest shots and try to stay in front of the offensive player, and at the end, grabbing the rebound on a missed shot. 

On Christmas day against the Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks may have done some of that, but they did not do the rebounding part. Dallas allowed the Lakers to have 35 second-chance points to the Mavericks zero. Ultimately, the world-champion Los Angeles(1-1) would rout Dallas(0-2) 138-115 at Staples Center on Friday night. 

Mavericks-Lakers was the marquee matchup on Christmas day in the NBA. LeBron James against Luka Doncic. James would finish 22 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds, while Doncic poured in 27 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds, but unfortunately for Dallas, LeBron had more help. Anthony Davis led all scorers with 28 points, and Montrezl Harrell chipped in 22 points off the bench.

According to Doncic, the Mavericks’ inability to rebound cost them this game.

“I’m not surprised we lost,” he said. “You can’t win a game when second-chance points is 35 to zero. It’s as simple as that. We box out, we win the game. It’s that simple. I think we did some great stuff on defense, but at the end, you have to finish with the boxing out, and that’s what we gotta work on…

“I think it’s everything about mentality and toughness. It’s gotta be mental. If somebody is rebounding like that, you just have to box them out no matter what. Somebody else is going to get the rebound. Like I said, we have to work on it, and we just gotta get better.”

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle added: “A team has given up 35 points second chance and had gotten zero. It’s obviously the story of the game.”

At this point, Dallas is missing what Kristaps Porzingis brings to the table. They miss his scoring(20.4 ppg last season) and his ability to rebound(9.5 rpg). Porzingis is expected to return sometime in January after he needed surgery to repair a torn meniscus back in October. 

You’re not going to win in the NBA when you get beat that bad on the glass. The Lakers out-hustled and dominated Dallas on Friday night. After two games, the Mavericks remain winless as they get ready to battle the Clippers on Sunday, which will be another challenging game. Dallas has to find a way to bring more energy and effort against the Clippers if they want to get their first win of the season. 

The first two games have been a disappointment, but fortunately for Dallas, there is a lot of basketball left in the season.

Mavs’ Carlisle on Luka: ‘He’s already one of the faces of the NBA’

In just over two seasons, Mavericks G Luka Doncic has turned himself into one of the NBA’s better players. Last season, Doncic averaged 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game. In the playoffs, Doncic upped his game and averaged 31.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per contest, including a memorable buzzer-beater in Game 4 of the Mavericks first-round matchup against the Clippers.

The stars come out in the NBA on Christmas, and the 21-year-old Doncic is one of those stars. Dallas(0-1) will battle LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the world-champion Lakers(0-1) at Staples Center on Christmas day.

Dallas returns to playing on Christmas for the first time in nine years, and one of the reasons the Mavericks are playing on Christmas is because of Doncic, who, according to Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, is one of the faces of the NBA.

“He’s already one of the faces of the NBA,” Carlisle said on Thursday. “If you haven’t noticed, he’s in almost all of the NBA ads. I’ve seen him on some billboards that aren’t in the state of Texas. He’s a great ambassador for the NBA game. 

“He has the charisma; he has the game, and he has the following. So, he’s got an amazing future ahead of him, but also a lot going on right now. He’s up for this. He’s one of the few 21-year-olds that I can imagine that actually has the bandwidth to deal with all these different things.”

It’s clear that Doncic is one of the faces of the league, and if he continues playing at a high level, which he did on Wednesday night when he scored 32 points and the team’s 106-102 loss to the Suns, Doncic could be the most prominent face in the NBA. However, for that to happen, he must continue to make memories on the league’s biggest stages and ultimately, he has to win, which if the first couple years are any indication, could happen sooner than later.