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Larry Brown Sports Tagline. Brown Bag it, Baby.
#pounditWednesday, September 30, 2020

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Stories by Darryn Albert:

Damian Lillard, NBA 2K21 cover athlete, has complaint about game

Damian Lillard

Even the man gracing the cover of “NBA 2K21” cannot seem to get the hang of the game’s new shot meter.

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard tweeted his initial thoughts on the newly-released game this week. Lillard said that he was struggling with the new shot meter and had not even made a free throw yet.

Previous editions of “NBA 2K” had a vertical shot meter that a user had to fill up. This year, the shot meter is now horizontal and requires a user to release the shoot button closer to the middle, which is less intuitive. The margin for error also appears to be significantly less.

The “NBA 2K” series is now so big that the league recently hosted a highly-viewed players’ tournament. But Lillard, as the cover athlete, is shedding some light on a serious flaw in this year’s edition.

NBA admits blown call at end of Game 4 between Heat and Bucks

Jimmy Butler

The Miami Heat were on the verge of sweeping the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks and might have actually done so if not for a blown call by the officials.

The NBA’s last two-minute officiating report for Sunday’s Game 4 admitted that Heat star Jimmy Butler should have gotten two free throws towards the end of regulation, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Butler lost the ball out of bounds with 24.2 seconds remaining and the Heat leading 107-106. Instant replay showed that Bucks guard George Hill struck Butler on the shoulder. But NBA refs are not allowed to review non-calls. Thus, they had to go off the fact that Butler touched the ball last. Awarded possession, the Bucks would tie the game and eventually win in overtime.

Milwaukee does deserve credit for remaining competitive despite Giannis Antetokounmpo’s early exit with an ankle sprain. But the Heat obviously did not want to give the Bucks any hope of somehow getting back into the series.

Poor officiating also marred an earlier game in this series. Hopefully, Tuesday’s Game 5 will be free of any more such mistakes.

Will Barton could return for Nuggets during Clippers series?

Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets recently got Gary Harris back, and now their other injured wing may not be too far behind.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports reported during Monday’s game that Nuggets veteran Will Barton has not ruled out a return during the current postseason series against the LA Clippers. Barton is dealing with a left knee injury and is currently away from the bubble undergoing treatment. Haynes adds that Barton is being tested daily for COVID-19 and would thus face a minimal quarantine period upon his return.

Barton, 29, was averaging 15.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game this season. He has not played at all in the bubble due to the injury however, seeding games or playoffs.

The Nuggets appear to have new life in the series after losing Game 1 to the Clippers in a blowout. Barton’s return would be another boost for a team that is really finding their groove right now.

Miguel Cabrera had funny trash talk for Josh Donaldson

Miguel Cabrera

Now in the twilight of his MLB career, Miguel Cabrera is definitely trying to enjoy the time he has left.

During a first-inning at-bat in Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, the Detroit Tigers slugger could be seen chirping at the Twins dugout. Dan Hayes of The Athletic revealed that Cabrera was talking to Josh Donaldson, asking him jokingly why he was not playing. Cabrera also hilariously turned to Twins manager Rocco Baldelli to ask why Donaldson sitting.

Cabrera and Donaldson are both a pair of former AL MVPs. The former is still an everyday player for the Tigers. But the latter has missed time with a calf strain this season and has come off the bench ever since returning.

In any case, Cabrera is really letting his personality show this year, and we absolutely love to see it.

Steelers great thinks JuJu Smith-Schuster should be traded

JuJu Smith-Schuster

Rod Woodson is apparently not too fond of JuJu Smith-Schuster.

The retired Pittsburgh Steelers great took to Twitter over the weekend to comment on the free agency of Josh Rosen. Woodson suggested that the Steelers should sign and groom him as Ben Roethlisberger’s replacement. When a user replied that the team could instead trade Smith-Schuster for a high draft pick to then use on a young quarterback, Woodson agreed.

Woodson also took it a step further by criticizing the 23-year-old receiver because “all he wants to do is be on social media.”

Smith-Schuster had a down 2019 campaign, but a lot of that was because of Roethlisberger being injured. In 2018, Smith-Schuster had 1,426 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, earning Pro Bowl honors in just his second career season.

True, Smith-Schuster has gotten himself into hot water on social media. But his talent and upside are so high that Woodson’s take just sounds ridiculous.

Report: Anthony Davis willing to switch to center against Rockets

Anthony Davis

Having dropped the first game of their series against the Houston Rockets, the Los Angeles Lakers need to make an adjustment. Anthony Davis could be the one to provide it for them.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports reported on Saturday that Davis is willing to slide up to center against Houston. Davis usually plays the power forward spot, but Houston’s small-ball lineup appears to be necessitating a change.

The 6-fooot-10 Davis has long been hesitant to play the 5, even dating back to his time in New Orleans. The Pelicans had to pay the likes of Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik to play the center position instead. But the Rockets do not have a traditional seven-footer to bump Davis around down low. In fact, 6-foot-7 Robert Covington is the tallest player in their starting lineup.

Having Davis at center would also allow for the Lakers to spread the floor with another shooter instead of a Dwight Howard or a JaVale McGee. It could force someone like James Harden to work harder on defense as well. Harden often hid on McGee and Howard in the halfcourt in Game 1.

In any case, the future of the big man is on trial in this series. Davis’ looming move to the 5 spot probably gives you an indication of where the jury is leaning right now.

Giannis Antetokounmpo thinks he can be playing more minutes

Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Milwaukee Bucks are now on the brink of elimination, and Giannis Antetokounmpo feels like he can be doing more for the team.

After the Bucks fell into an 0-3 hole after Friday’s loss to the Miami Heat, the reigning MVP was asked about his minutes, which have been a topic of discussion all series.

“I feel great,” said Antetokounmpo, per Matt Velasquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Yeah, I could play more.”

Antetokounmpo’s minutes during the second-round series have been rather suspect. He played 37 in Game 1, 36 in Game 2, and 35 in Game 3. That is certainly an oddity, especially in the playoffs where superstars regularly log 40-plus minutes every single game.

The 25-year-old did suffer an apparent ankle tweak during Friday’s contest. But the Bucks are one loss away from getting swept, and Antetokounmpo is their leader. Thus, there is no reason he should not be logging heavy minutes if he feels physically able to do so.

Did LeBron James take subtle shot at Astros before series against Rockets?

LeBron James

LeBron James’ attire ahead of Game 1 of his team’s playoff series against the Houston Rockets may not have been entirely coincidental.

The Los Angeles Lakers star wore a Los Angeles Dodgers cap prior to Friday’s series opener. The team posted an image of James’ fit to Twitter.

True, James could have just been wearing the cap for the fashion or to show support for his city’s baseball team. But with James about to begin a series against the Rockets, the cap very well might have been a subtle dig at the Houston Astros, who cheated the Dodgers out of the 2017 World Series.

Keep in mind that James tweeted a scathing reaction to the Astros’ cheating scandal back in February. His media company, Uninterrupted, is also producing a documentary series about the saga.

Granted, James was not yet a Laker when the Astros-Dodgers World Series took place. He has also openly rooted for other MLB teams before. Still, the timing here simply seems to good to be completely coincidental.