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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Basketball

Kobe Bryant offers his help to the Lakers

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant is making clear that if the Los Angeles Lakers want his input, he’s always happy to help.

Bryant told Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times that he’s just one call away if Jeanie Buss or anyone else wants him.

Bryant isn’t angling for a formal role of anything like that, but he’s still fond of the Lakers and wants to help lift them out of the cellar. In fact, their general manager — who also happens to be Bryant’s former agent — has already been in touch with him.

H/T CBS Sports

Tyronn Lue implies Cavs have better defensive sets but aren’t using them

The Cleveland Cavaliers have looked like a bunch of traffic cones on the defensive end as of late, but head coach Tyronn Lue appears to have an explanation for their struggles on that side of the ball.

After the Cavs’ 127-115 loss at home to Washington on Saturday, Lue implied they had better defensive sets under their sleeves but were simply choosing not to reveal them before the playoffs, per the team’s official Twitter account.

Lue can rationalize all he wants, but things aren’t looking pretty for the Cavs right now. Saturday’s game marked the 12th time in 14 March contests that they’ve given up 100 points or more, a stretch that has seen them slip to 23rd in the NBA in defensive rating on the season as a whole (which would easily be their worst mark since LeBron James returned in 2014, per NBA.com).

Some of Lue’s players have been brushing off the team’s recent woes as well, so the pressure will be on for the Cavs’ defense to deliver come the postseason.

Mark Cuban has funny response to JJ Barea’s ejection for pushing Blake Griffin

Mark Cuban

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is on a roll with his humor lately.

Mavs guard J.J. Barea was assessed a flagrant 2 foul and ejected in the third quarter of the team’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday after pushing Clippers big man Blake Griffin on a screen.

While there was some shoving action on the part of the 6-foot-0 Barea, it was also a fairly egregious flop by the 6-foot-10 Griffin. So when asked about the play on Saturday, Cuban replied with this funny tongue-in-cheek response, according to Isaac Harris of FanSided.

Cuban also joked that Griffin might duck Barea the next time the Clippers and the Mavs meet on April 5, per Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The 58-year-old billionaire has been the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to entertaining quotes these last few days, so perhaps there’s some incentive for the rest of us to root for the Mavs, who are currently 3.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Denver Nuggets, to make the playoffs this year.

Video via NBA Reddit

Mark Cuban cracks Donald Trump joke about Mavs’ season

Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban made a reference to his nemesis Donald Trump while discussing the poor season the Dallas Mavericks are enduring.

The Mavs are likely to finish with their first losing season since Cuban took over as the franchise’s owner. It’s not a matter of pride for Cuban.

When talking about his team’s disappointing fate, Cuban joked that he should get some Russian hackers to distract everyone with “fake news.”

“It’s just is what it is, and there’s not a whole lot I can do. I guess I can go to Russia and ask them to hack the NBA and put out some fake news,” Cuban joked, via the Star-Telegram’s Dwain Price.

“Fake news” of course is a term Trump has used to describe stories he dislikes or disputes. Trump’s campaign aides are alleged to have been in contact with Russian hackers during the election period, which resulted in the smearing of Hillary Clinton via leaks. Trump would call reports of his ties to the Russian hackers “fake news.” Cuban is a Clinton supporter and has a long history of beefing with Trump.

Walt Frazier: Old-school NBA players don’t like stars resting

Hall of Fame point guard-turned-color commentator Walt “Clyde” Frazier sees a generational divide when it comes to the issue of star players resting.

In an interview with Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune that ran on Friday, the New York Knicks legend offered his two cents on the NBA’s recent trend of maintenance days.

“Us old-school guys, we don’t like it,” said the 71-year-old Frazier. “We didn’t have that luxury when I played. We had to play through commercials, back-to-backs, whatever they told us to do. We paved the way for these guys and they are biting the hand that feeds them. The reason the league is so big today is because of the TV money, and now they are sitting out?”

For his part, Frazier played in the league for 13 seasons and appeared in 77 or more games for seven of those seasons in a row. Furthermore, he subsisted in an era in the 1970s that didn’t have the benefit of modern travel accommodations or medical advances, as he hinted at.

Frazier’s comments are also consistent with (albeit a bit more self-aware than) the remarks made recently by fellow point guard great John Stockton, who is 17 years Frazier’s junior. As such, it’s become fairly clear that two competing schools of thought have emerged between the old guard and the new guard when it comes to the league’s rest problematic.

Image via FOX 5 New York on YouTube

LeBron James sports goggles on Saturday to protect eye

LeBron James channeled his inner Kareem Abdul-Jabbar against the Washington Wizards on Saturday.

The four-time MVP took the court for the intraconference showdown between the Wizards and his Cleveland Cavaliers sporting a pair of bright-colored goggles to protect his eye.

As alluded to above, James suffered a scratched cornea on Friday night after getting poked in the eye in the third quarter of a victory over the Charlotte Hornets. He apparently chose to go with the goggles despite making some public proclamations that suggested otherwise.

Unfortunately however, the goggles look was short-lived as James reportedly discarded them less than nine minutes into the first quarter after getting some less than favorable results.

Now the only question is which brief phase of James’ career do we prefer better: LeGoggles or LeMask?

Rudy Gobert has harsh words for Jazz after loss to Clippers

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was in quite the sour mood after a loss on Saturday to the Western Conference rival Los Angeles Clippers.

After the Jazz’s 108-95 defeat at Staples Center, Gobert called out some of his teammates for a lack of competitiveness.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete,” said the French big man, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is.

“Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete,” Gobert continued. “We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Gobert did his part on Saturday, finishing with a team-high 26 points and 14 rebounds. But the loss was Utah’s fourth in their last five games, and doubly frustrating was that it came at the hands of a bitter adversary in the Clippers, who are now just half a game behind the Jazz for the fourth seed in the West.

The 24-year-old Gobert has already begun to develop a reputation for outspokenness on the court, and now it looks like that’s true off of it as well.

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