Connect with us

NBA

Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers unfazed by sluggish start, know ‘season is too long’ to panic

Published

on

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — As much as the new-look Los Angeles Lakers have preached patience, a winless exhibition slate, a handful of injuries and now an 0-2 start to the regular season — that included tensions boiling over in Friday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns — would test any team’s resolve.

Yet Russell Westbrook, the former league MVP that Los Angeles moved heaven and earth to acquire in the offseason, said he is just fine with the uncomfortable orbit the Lakers currently find themselves in.

“I’m OK with adversity, honestly,” Westbrook said Saturday after the team gathered for a film session. “I never panic throughout the course of a season. Especially at the start of the season. There’s really no need to. The season is too long and nobody is winning nothing right now.

“Yes, it’s good to get off to a good start and feel good about yourself, but especially me personally, I like to make sure that I’m — as the season goes on — I’m constantly just getting better and better and better as the season prolongs. And making sure that my team and my teammates are getting better as well as we all get comfortable with each other.”

Rajon Rondo called Saturday’s film review the longest since this group came together — “Rightfully so,” he said — and added that breaking down game tape as a unit was vital to coach Frank Vogel’s success in guiding L.A. to the championship two seasons ago, as it builds a foundation for accountability and involvement.

“If Frank is the only one in the room talking, he says we’re doing something wrong,” Rondo said. “So, a lot of people are talking — the coaches, to the players, we go back and forth. Not necessarily arguing, chattering, but to understand one another because an open dialogue is best for us to develop quick chemistry on the court.”

Vogel called the meeting as “very healthy” ahead of Sunday’s home game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

“A lot of conversation,” Vogel said. “A couple really helpful discussions to just try to bring some clarity to some of the coverages that we’re breaking down on. … Today was a great growth day for us.”

There was a lot to dissect from the Suns loss, as L.A. shot just 39.5% as a team as it missed 12 layups while being outscored 52-26 in the paint and its defense gave up a staggering 71 points over the second and third quarters to Phoenix, which finished the game shooting 48.8% as a team.

“Guys are figuring out how to run with me, and play a little faster. I’m figuring out how to do other things and moving off the ball,” explained Westbrook, who averaged 11.5 points on 35.7% shooting through the first two games. “I’m OK with the struggle of figuring it out and making sure we are putting ourselves in the position to do the right things so that ultimately at the end of the year we can be playing our best basketball.”

The team dismissed any lingering impact from the disagreement between Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis shortly before halftime on Friday that required the two big men to be separated.

“It’s over with and we move on to the next game,” Westbrook said.

However, another altercation during the Suns game — this one between Rondo and a courtside fan late in the third quarter — was described with further detail.

Rondo, who declined to speak to reporters following the loss, addressed the incident for the first time but would not share exactly what the fan said to him, only that it was enough for the point guard to want to “get the guy out of the game.”

“It doesn’t really matter what he said,” Rondo explained. “He didn’t threaten me. I didn’t threaten him. Exchanging words. Got him out of the game.”

When Rondo pointed at the fan to gesture to the referee to intervene, it appeared he formed his left hand in the shape of a gun. After Rondo held his hand near the fan’s face, pressing his thumb down in what could be construed as mimicking a trigger, the fan pushed Rondo’s away and Staples Center security promptly removed him from the arena.

When asked if that was his intent to present his hand as a gun, Rondo said, “No.”

Source link

NBA

Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis a game-time decision vs. Miami Heat on Sunday after 16-game absence

Published

on

MIAMI — Anthony Davis, out for the last five weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee, has been upgraded to questionable for the Los Angeles Lakers‘ game against the Miami Heat on Sunday and is considered a game-time decision, according to the team.

Davis missed the last 16 games since the Minnesota TimberwolvesJaden McDaniels collided with the Lakers All-Star’s knee and L.A. went 7-9 without him.

“Whenever AD is ready, we’re going to love that, that’s for sure,” LeBron James said of Davis on Friday. “I mean he’s one of our biggest guns that we have, and having him on the floor, it just creates so much for us offensively and defensively, able to do so much more. But his health is what’s most important, and once we know that he’s healthy, he knows that he’s healthy, we get him back on the floor, and then we start getting his wind and his rhythm.”

Davis was averaging 23.3 points on 52.1% shooting, 9.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.2 steals this season prior to the injury. His jump shot, however, had been off. Davis is shooting just 60-for-185 (32%) on shots outside the paint this season, according to NBA.com.

Davis has used the rehabilitation to work on not only his knee but his shot mechanics as well, sources told ESPN.

Davis had been eyeing the Lakers’ six-game road trip to return, as ESPN reported last week, and his presence could certainly help his team that has absorbed reports about Frank Vogel’s job security and Russell Westbrook‘s role in his absence.

If Davis makes his return against Miami, it could evoke warm memories for the Lakers big man. Davis averaged 25 points and 12.8 rebounds in the 2020 NBA Finals, downing the Heat in six games en route to his first championship.

Source link

Continue Reading

NBA

Damian Lillard, content to ‘make decisions that suit you for the long haul,’ slowly works his way back to Portland Trail Blazers’ lineup

Published

on

During the Tokyo Olympics last summer, when Damian Lillard‘s abdominal injury flared up, Jrue Holiday suggested it was time for surgery.

Lillard finally took his fellow Olympian’s advice and had the procedure Jan. 13. The Portland Trail Blazers‘ star point guard spoke to reporters Saturday for the first time since the injury sidelined him on Jan. 3.

Holiday, who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, had similar core surgery during the 2018-19 NBA season when he was with New Orleans. He and Lillard were teammates in Japan last summer on the gold-medal-winning U.S. team.

“He was the first person that pretty much confirmed that I needed to have surgery, because I sat out of practice one day and I was like, ‘I can’t move,’ and I was kind of just holding it. And he just started describing every single symptom,” Lillard said. “And he was like, ‘I had it.'”

Lillard, a six-time All-Star, averaged 24 points and 7.3 assists in 29 games this season for the Blazers. It was clear from the start that the injury — lower abdominal tendinopathy — was bothersome.

“It was just one of those things where I’ve always had control over how I moved and everything, and it had reached a point where my body couldn’t do what my mind wanted it to do and go places that I wanted it to go,” he said. “At some point you’ve got to play chess; you’ve got to make decisions that suit you for the long haul and not just right now.”

While the injury flared up in Tokyo, Lillard said he first felt the abdominal pain in 2015, and it had been gradually getting worse ever since.

The Blazers have struggled without Lillard, the undisputed leader of the team. Playing under first-year coach Chauncey Billups, Portland is 19-26 and in 10th place in the Western Conference.

Anfernee Simons has taken over as Portland’s point guard and has averaged 15.1 points per game. Portland was also playing for an extended period without Lillard’s backcourt teammate CJ McCollum, who had a collapsed right lung before becoming a father for the first time.

McCollum recently returned and had 24 points in Portland’s 109-105 victory at the Boston Celtics on Friday night.

There was no timeline for Lillard’s return, but he’s already been doing yoga. The team previously said he would be reevaluated in six weeks.

“I’m just a week from surgery. We said we’ll reevaluate my situation weeks out, six to eight weeks, and we’ll talk about it then. But I’m not in a rush,” he said. “My No. 1 goal is to win a championship. I’ve got to be in the best form of myself to make that happen and to be a part of that. So I’m not in a rush. We’ll talk about whatever that timeline is when we get to that point.”

The Trail Blazers, as play began on Saturday night, occupied the 10th spot in the Western Conference race. They were two games ahead of the Sacramento Kings.

Lillard was asked if he’d play if the Blazers decided to forgo a playoff push and play for a draft pick.

“I mean, if we’re gonna play for a draft pick, it wouldn’t make sense to me. Because I’m not gonna play for no draft pick. I’m just not capable of that,” he said. “So it’d be best if that was what we were doing, or what was decided, then it wouldn’t make sense for me to play.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source link

Continue Reading

NBA

Chicago Bulls G Alex Caruso to have surgery for fractured wrist, out 6 to 8 weeks, says team

Published

on

Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso will undergo surgery early next week for a fractured right wrist, the team announced Saturday.

Caruso suffered the injury during the Bulls loss to the Bucks Friday night in Milwaukee. Caruso was fouled hard by the Bucks’ Grayson Allen who was assessed a flagrant two foul and ejected from the game.

Caruso will miss six-to-eight weeks, the team announced

Caruso went up for a layup on a fast break with 5:45 remaining in the third quarter, but Allen hooked Caruso’s right arm, turning Caruso in the air and sending him hard to the floor on his right wrist. Caruso said his wrist was “a little banged up” after the game, but X-rays came back negative.

“Dude just grabbed me out of the air,” Caruso said after Friday’s game. “It’s kind of bulls—. I don’t know what else you can do about it. I’m just glad that I didn’t have any major scary injuries right away.”

Caruso said his wrist continued to bother him in the second half, especially while shooting. He finished 1-of-6 from the field for 3 points in the second half, but said he did not think the injury would linger long term.

Caruso added that Allen did not come to check on him following the play.

The foul particularly irked Bulls coach Billy Donovan, who is normally mild-mannered and rarely singles out players. But following Friday’s game, Donovan called Allen’s actions dangerous and cited his history playing college basketball at Duke.

“For Alex to be in the air and for [Allen] to take him down like that, he could’ve ended his career,” Donovan said. “He has a history of this. That to me was really — it was really dangerous. I hope the league takes a hard look at something like that because that could have really, really seriously hurt him.”

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending