We have that and more in Tuesday’s NBA newsletter.
The Lakers lost an ugly game over the weekend to the Pelicans, who had sat Anthony Davis on suspicious account of load management. The Pelicans institutionally, mind you, would rather lose games valiantly than win under any circumstances. (Players and some fans don’t subscribe to this ideology. But the franchise itself absolutely does.) This loss was unhelpful to the Lakers’ quixotic quest for the playoffs.
Then the Lakers made matters worse by losing to the Grizzlies on Monday. The Grizzlies are definitely trying to lose games, and they don’t particularly care how valiant the losses are. But a win in service of a greater good — kicking the Lakers in the teeth, in this case — is always welcome.
Is this what panic mode looks like?
L.A. is now two games under .500, only tied for 10th place with the surging Timberwolves, and three games out of the No. 8 seed with 22 games left. Their 538 playoff odds are down to 18%. They have proven they can lose literally any given night, and they can’t afford to lose too many more and make the playoffs. 538 has 44 wins getting into the playoffs in the West — the Lakers need to go 15-7 the rest of the way to hit that. That seems ambitious … and 44 might not be enough.
It may seem that we focus an extraordinary amount of attention on the Lakers, but LeBron James going to a weakened but storied glamour franchise as a free agent for business and family reasons and missing the dang playoffs after eight straight NBA Finals and after his bestie tried to orchestrate an in-season theft of Anthony Davis is really something.
Warriors 121, Hornets 110
Blazers 123, Cavaliers 110
Pacers 109, Pistons 113
Spurs 85, Nets 101
Suns 124, Heat 121
Bucks 117, Bulls 106
Hawks 111, Rockets 119
Lakers 105, Grizzlies 110
Kings 105, Timberwolves 112
Sixers 111, Pelicans 110
Mavericks 112, Clippers 121
All times Eastern. Games on League Pass unless otherwise noted.
Magic at Knicks, 7:30
Celtics at Raptors, 8, TNT
Thunder at Nuggets, 10:30, TNT
Matt Ellentuck breaks down this extraordinary Trae Young move that fakes out the entire Pistons defense. Extraordinary.
Dan Devine on the Lakers’ problems not totally being discomfort or comfort or whatever LeBron is blaming.
What DeMarcus Cousins has shown so far and how his weaknesses could be erased.
I wrote about ESPN’s big Tim Donaghy reheat and how what we’ve learned most of all is that Tim Donaghy will never go away.
A sentence uttered only at the grand opening of the Frozen Hell Resort and Spa: Harrison Barnes has opened the Kings’ full potential.
Embracing the Raptors’ future.
Marc Stein on tanking in the NBA coming to the Oscars.
Al Harrington is apparently a big-time marijuana mogul thanks to his grandma.
The problem with Terry Rozier.
A good primer on why NBA team officials still oppose abolishing the age minimum for selfish reasons.
A few words about Henry Abbott’s reborn TrueHoop: if you can afford the subscription and you love basketball, you’re crazy not to sign up. Similar to The Atheltic, ESPN+, Cleaning The Glass, The Second Arrangement, and other paid subscription content, I am unlikely to link to much of it because sending our readers to paywalled content they may not be able to access is an annoyance to those readers. But c’mon: if you can afford the cost and you love basketball, you’re crazy not to sign up.
I found this Derek Thompson piece on work as America’s religion fascinating.
Be excellent to each other.