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.
Lakers’ Dennis Schroder struggled on Tuesday night. He finished 0/9 from the field with zero points and one assist.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The NBA announced the structure and format for the 2020-21 season on Tuesday, which will include a Play-In Tournament to determine the teams that will fill the seventh and eighth playoff seeds in each conference.
The regular season will begin on Tuesday, Dec. 22 and feature 72 games for each team.
The opponent breakdown for the regular season:
Each team will play three games against each intraconference opponent (42 total games per team), with each pairing featuring either two home games and one road game or one home game and two road games. Within each team’s division, the league office has randomly assigned which two opponents will be played twice at home and which two opponents will be played twice on the road.
All five teams from within a division will play all five teams from one other intraconference division twice at home, and all five teams from the remaining intraconference division twice on the road.
Each team will play two games against each interconference opponent (30 total games per team), with each pairing featuring one home game and one road game.
NBA schedule to be released in segments:
The 2020-21 regular-season schedule will be released in two segments. The schedule for the First Half of the season will be released around the start of training camp. The schedule for the Second Half of the season will be released during the latter part of the First Half portion of the schedule. The Second Half schedule will include the remainder of each team’s 72 games not scheduled in the First Half as well as any games postponed during the First Half that can reasonably be added to the Second Half schedule.
The All-Star break is scheduled to take place March 5-10, 2021, between the First Half and Second Half of the regular season.
Additionally, The Play-In Tournament, which will take place after the regular season and before the first round of the playoffs, will include the teams with the seventh-highest through the tenth-highest winning percentages in each conference.
The teams with the seventh-highest and eighth-highest winning percentages in each conference will each have two opportunities to win one game to earn a playoff spot. The teams with the ninth-highest and tenth-highest winning percentages in each conference will each have to win two consecutive games to earn a playoff spot.
At the conclusion of the regular season, the team with the seventh-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the eighth-highest winning percentage in its conference in a Play-In Game (the “Seven-Eight Game”). The winner of the Seven-Eight Game in each conference will be the seventh seed in the playoffs for its conference.
The team with the ninth-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the tenth-highest winning percentage in its conference in a Play-In Game (the “Nine-Ten Game”). The loser of the Seven-Eight Game will host the winner of the Nine-Ten Game in a Play-In Game, and the winner of that game will be the eighth seed in the playoffs for its conference.
Tentative schedule calendar for the 2020-21 season:
Dec. 11-19, 2020: Preseason games
Dec. 22, 2020 – March 4, 2021: First Half of regular season
March 5-10, 2021: All-Star break
March 11 – May 16, 2021: Second Half of regular season
May 18-21, 2021: Play-In Tournament
May 22 – July 22, 2021: 2021 NBA Playoffs