Lakers’ Lonzo Ball continues to sit with ankle sprain

first_imgUnder ordinary circumstances, it might seem a silly degree of concern for an ankle sprain. But Ball is no ordinary rookie. On the night of the injury, Walton stressed the need to keep Ball on the floor to ensure the Lakers could continue to grow around him.Without Ball, the Lakers have continued to put in more elements of their offense, putting pressure on Ball to learn more from the sidelines.“We’re still working on just getting familiar with the different reads, with the different options,” Walton said. “We’re putting in an offense that has play calls to it right now but eventually we’d like it to just be reads for the players.”Ball’s injury, minor though it initially seemed, has been a setback for the Lakers, disrupting their preseason strategy and delaying their timeline.There is not, however, much of anything that can be done about that.“He played in the first couple games,” Walton said. “When he’s healthy, the training staff will give us the clear and he’ll get ready to go.”DEFENSE IMPROVING?After allowing an average of 116 points over the first three games of the preseason, and earning a tongue-lashing from Walton following a 128-107 loss to Denver on Oct. 4, the Lakers seem to have figured out a couple of things defensively.After rewatching the 105-99 loss against Utah, Walton said, “We found a lot of good half-court defensive stuff we did again. Which obviously we’re thrilled about.”Of course, there were things Walton did not care for. Transition defense, once again, was suspect. They fouled too much at the rim.“Those were the kind of focal points in the film room on the defensive end,” Walton said. “But on the whole we were very happy with how we defended last night.”After the Lakers did not show early signs of improvement, some began to fear they would once again be among the league’s worst defensive teams. Those concerns have been temporarily put to rest.“I am 100 percent sure that we are going to be better than last year,” veteran Corey Brewer said. “We are not going to be 30th, come on now. That’s horrible. You can see that we have shown signs that we can really do it and I think we will do it.”Brewer, one of the Lakers’ best wing defenders, went so far as to say, “we should be a top-five offensive team and a top-10 defensive team.” EL SEGUNDO — Sitting on the sidelines in shower shoes and a crisp white Big Baller Brand hoodie, Lonzo Ball watched as another day of Lakers basketball rolled on without him.The prized rookie continues to sit out with a sprained ankle that was initially labeled as mild, but has proved to be anything but.Enlisted as the new face of a team whose offensive philosophy was constructed around him, Ball has been limited to light drills since suffering the injury on Oct. 2.The highly anticipated start to Ball’s Lakers career has sputtered out of the gates. He has missed three consecutive preseason games and is listed as questionable for Friday’s exhibition finale against the Clippers. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersCoach Luke Walton said he was hoping Ball could play, but did not sound especially confident it would happen.“Do I plan on him playing?” Walton said. “No. We’re going about coaching this with the guys that we know are available.”Ball worked out before Tuesday’s loss to Utah with assistant coach Miles Simon, and did so again before practice on Wednesday, Walton said. The Lakers would like to see him complete a practice before playing in a game, but that could be either Thursday or in an extended shootaround Friday.On Wednesday, Walton acknowledged the injury has been trickier than he initially expected.“I didn’t think he would miss the whole preseason,” Walton said, “but you try not to really think like that. They’re injuries, you can’t and you don’t want to rush players back.”last_img read more

2018-19 NBA Western Conference season preview capsules

first_img1. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORSLAST SEASON: 58-24, won NBA championshipPROJECTED STARTERS: Steph Curry (26.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 6.1 apg), Kevin Durant (26.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 5.4 apg), Draymond Green (11 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 7.3 apg), Klay Thompson (20 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.5 apg), Jordan Bell (4.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1 bpg)KEY LOSSES: JaVale McGee (Lakers), Zaza Pachulia (Detroit), David West (retired), Patrick McCaw and Nick YoungKEY ADDITIONS: DeMarcus Cousins (New Orleans), Jacob Evans (Cincinnati), Jonas Jerebko (Utah) OUTLOOK: Yes, Houston is trying to replace versatile defensive stoppers Ariza and Mbah a Moute with aging Carmelo (16.2 ppg) and journeyman Ennis (7.1 ppg). But it’s worth noting that the Rockets were 14-1 in games Ariza missed last season, with the lone loss coming in a meaningless season finale when the regulars sat out. The Rockets’ record with reigning MVP Harden, Paul and Capela all playing was 42-3 (plus 11-4 in the playoffs). Melo has never been one to embrace the defensive end of the floor (and has bristled at the idea of being a Sixth Man for anything but an Olympic team), but he does bring even more firepower to one of the league’s most high-octane offenses. If Paul stays healthy and if Coach Mike D’Antoni can keep this team from falling apart defensively and if the Rockets can get Anthony to embrace coming off the bench, there’s no reason they can’t play deep into the playoffs again.3. UTAH JAZZLAST SEASON: 48-34, lost to Houston in Western semifinalsPROJECTED STARTERS: Ricky Rubio (13.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 5.3 apg), Donovan Mitchell (20.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.7 apg), Joe Ingles (11.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.8 apg), Derrick Favors (12.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.2 bpg), Rudy Gobert (13.5 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 2.3 bpg)KEY LOSSES: Jonas Jerebko (Golden State), Erik McCree (Pesaro) and David Stockton (Bayreuth)KEY ADDITIONS: Grayson Allen (Duke) and Tyler Cavanaugh (Atlanta)OUTLOOK: The Jazz were the best defense in the league last season and they sprinted up the conference standings once Gobert got healthy, going 29-6 from Jan. 24 through the end of the regular season, posting the league’s second-best record and best point differential during that span. Rookie of the Year runner-up Donovan Mitchell was dazzling. Presuming he improves as a pull-up shooter, he appears poised to become one of the best scoring threats in the league. The Jazz don’t have many other players who can create their own shot and they’re average at best in transition, but with virtually all of their rotation players back, they should remain cohesive and unselfish. Barring another injury to Gobert, this team should pick up where it left off and be in the hunt for a top-four seed.4. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDERLAST SEASON: 48-34, lost to Utah in first roundPROJECTED STARTERS: Russell Westbrook (25.4 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 10.3 apg), Paul George (21.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2 spg), Andre Roberson (5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.2 spg), Jerami Grant (8.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1 bpg), Steven Adams (13.9 ppg, 9 rpg, 1 bpg)KEY LOSSES: Carmelo Anthony (Houston), Corey Brewer, Nick Collison (retired), PJ Dozier (Boston), Daniel Hamilton (Atlanta), Josh Huestis and Dakari Johnson (Memphis)KEY ADDITIONS: Dennis Schroder (Atlanta), Tyler Davis (Texas A&M), Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky), Timothe Luwawu (Philadelphia) and Nerlens Noel (Dallas)OUTLOOK: Massive luxury-tax implications made dumping Melo’s salary a must, but the move might also make the Thunder a better team. OKC was minus-58 in Anthony’s 194 playoff minutes and outscored the Jazz by 32 points in the 94 minutes Melo sat during that series. After averaging a triple-double for consecutive seasons and convincing Paul George to re-sign, Russell Westbrook could run for governor and win in a landslide. His combination of athleticism and competitive fire should again have him among the league MVP candidates. The Thunder have struggled mightily when Westbrook leaves the court the last two seasons, but having a starting-caliber point guard like Schroder (19.4 ppg, 6.1 apg last season) as a backup should help, presuming Schroder embraces being a sixth man. The Thunder’s perimeter defense suffered when Roberson got hurt last season, but Noel (5.6 rpg, 1.1 spg) provides some defensive depth. OKC is never going to be a great ball movement team with Westbrook at the wheel, but it’s a physical, athletic team that should score a lot in transition and rebound well.5. LAKERSLAST SEASON: 35-47, did not make playoffsPROJECTED STARTERS: LeBron James (27.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 8.6 apg), Brandon Ingram (16.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.9 apg), Rajon Rondo (8.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 8.2 apg), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (13.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg), JaVale McGee (4.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.9 bpg)KEY LOSSES: Julius Randle (New Orleans), Brook Lopez (Milwaukee), Thomas Bryant (Washington), Isaiah Thomas (Denver) and Gary Payton II (Portland)KEY ADDITIONS: LeBron James (Cleveland), Rajon Rondo (New Orleans), Lance Stephenson (Indiana), JaVale McGee (Golden State), Michael Beasley (New York), Svi Mykhailiuk (Kansas) and Mo Wagner (Michigan)OUTLOOK: The two other times when LeBron relocated as a free agent, his new teams jumped by 11 and 20 wins, respectively, the next season. Of course, the Lakers didn’t also add Chris Bosh or Kevin Love at the same time the way Miami (2010) and Cleveland (2014) did. LeBron might be 33, but he is coming off one of his best all-around seasons. Scoring should not be a problem for this group, especially in transition, but defense will likely determine just how many rungs they can ascend in the standings. The Lakers went from worst in the league in 2016-17 to No. 12 in defensive rating last season, but many have made the observation that the best centers in the Western Conference might give this Lakers roster a lot of trouble. How well they shoot from the perimeter remains the other significant question mark, though LeBron’s presence should create more quality looks for everyone and rookie Mykhailiuk is a pure shooter who could become a rotation player. Luke Walton has a difficult coaching job ahead of him, but the Lakers’ playoff drought should come to an end.6. SAN ANTONIO SPURSLAST SEASON: 47-35, lost to Golden State in first roundPROJECTED STARTERS: Derrick White (3.2 ppg), DeMar DeRozan (23 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 5.2 apg), Rudy Gay (11.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 0.8 spg), LaMarcus Aldridge (23.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg), Pau Gasol (10.1 ppg, 8 rpg, 3.1 apg)KEY LOSSES: Kawhi Leonard (Toronto), Tony Parker (Charlotte), Manu Ginobili (retired), Danny Green (Toronto) and Kyle Anderson (Memphis)KEY ADDITIONS: DeMar DeRozan (Toronto), Jakob Poeltl (Toronto), Marco Belinelli (Philadelphia), Dante Cunningham (Brooklyn), Lonnie Walker (University of Miami) and Chimezie Metu (USC)OUTLOOK: The Leonard saga is over, but will the Spurs’ historic playoff streak come to an end as well? Their 21 consecutive postseason appearances is tied for second in NBA history after they squeezed through the door last season despite Kawhi playing only nine games. DeRozan is not the all-around player Leonard is, but he’s been the leading scorer for a playoff team each of the last five seasons. With Aldridge and DeRozan, the Spurs have a pair of go-to scorers and two of the best mid-range shooters in the league, but they don’t have many quality 3-point bombers. Losing Dejounte Murray to a season-ending torn ACL is another blow. Derrick White likely starts, so Patty Mills can remain in his bench role. Pac-12 product Poeltl could be primed for a breakout season with a bigger role in San Antonio. Gregg Popovich-coached teams are always going to play good team defense, but the franchise just lost its three most important players this century outside of Tim Duncan. With Leonard, Parker and Ginobili gone, who becomes this group’s on-court leader?7. NEW ORLEANS PELICANSLAST SEASON: 48-34, lost to Golden State in Western semifinalsPROJECTED STARTERS: Anthony Davis (28.1 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 2.6 bpg), Jrue Holiday (19 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 6 apg), E’Twaun Moore (12.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg), Julius Randle (16.1 ppg, 8 rpg), Nikola Mirotic (14.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg)KEY LOSSES: DeMarcus Cousins (Golden State), Rajon Rondo (Lakers), Jordan Crawford, DeAndre Liggins and Emeka OkaforKEY ADDITIONS: Julius Randle (Lakers), Elfrid Payton (Phoenix), Jahlil Okafor (Brooklyn)OUTLOOK: Despite the midseason Achilles injury to Cousins, the Pelicans caught fire in the second half then carried that momentum into a first-round sweep of Portland. Davis and midseason acquisition Mirotic were effective together, but can a team that played at the league’s fastest pace keep that up with reclamation project Payton (12.7 ppg, 6.2 apg, 4.3 rpg) replacing Rondo? Ian Clark (7.4 ppg) had moments in the playoffs, but he has yet to break out. Randle is coming off the best season of his career and should still be motivated to earn a bigger payday down the road (he can opt out of his two-year deal next summer). They could use more shooting from the wings. Even if Rondo’s absence is felt early, Davis is a legitimate MVP candidate who should be able to keep this team in the playoff mix.8. DENVER NUGGETSLAST SEASON: 46-36, did not make playoffsPROJECTED STARTERS: Nikola Jokic (18.5 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 6.1 apg), Paul Millsap (14.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.8 apg), Will Barton (15.7 ppg, 5 rpg, 4.1 apg), Jamal Murray (16.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.4 apg), Gary Harris (17.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.9 apg)KEY LOSSES: Wilson Chandler (Philadelphia), Kenneth Faried (Brooklyn), Darrell Arthur (Phoenix), Devin Harris (Dallas) and Richard JeffersonKEY ADDITIONS: Isaiah Thomas (Lakers), Trey Lyles (Utah), Michael Porter (Missouri), Jarred Vanderbilt (Kentucky) and Thomas Welsh (UCLA)OUTLOOK: Denver just missed on a playoff berth last season, losing its final game of the season to Minnesota, but the Nuggets return a deep roster and a nice mix of versatile young players. This summer, the Nuggets locked up Barton and star center Jokic, whose basketball IQ keeps growing. Denver has plenty of players who can shoot the ball and/or create off the dribble and will have added firepower if Thomas (15.2 ppg) can regain the All-Star form he showed in Boston. Porter could go down as the steal of the draft, but it’s unclear what they’ll get from him this season. Denver should rebound well, and a healthy Millsap should improve the interior defense, but the Nuggets were the worst 3-point defense in the league last season. This looks like a playoff team with a promising nucleus that could contend for the Northwest Division title.9. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERSLAST SEASON: 49-33, lost to New Orleans in first roundPROJECTED STARTERS: Damian Lillard (26.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 6.6 apg), CJ McCollum (21.4 ppg, 4 rpg, 3.4 apg), Al-Farouq Aminu (9.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg), Evan Turner (8.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg), Jusuf Nurkic (14.3 ppg, 9 rpg)KEY LOSSES: Ed Davis (Brooklyn), Shabazz Napier (Brooklyn), Pat Connaughton (Milwaukee) and CJ WilcoxKEY ADDITIONS: Anfernee Simons (IMG Academy), Seth Curry (Dallas) and Nik Stauskas (Brooklyn), Gary Trent Jr. (Duke)OUTLOOK: There’s a reason Lillard and McCollum tweeted their displeasure when the Blazers let Davis leave in free agency. The valuable, rugged backup center ranked third on the team in win shares last season, and losing the athletic Connaughton and Napier doesn’t help either. The Blazers were 31-26 before Lillard led them on a 13-game win streak and to the Northwest division title. After being named All-NBA first-team for the first time, will he still play with the chip on his shoulder that has made him such a competitor and one of the best closers in the league? Curry missed last season with a stress fracture in his leg, but he adds 3-point shooting, and rookie Simons averaged 11 points while leading Portland to the Summer League title. Last year’s stunning playoff sweep at the hands of New Orleans should provide motivation, but unless Zach Collins (4.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg) makes major strides, returning to the postseason in a deep Western Conference could be difficult. If they miss the playoffs again or suffer a third consecutive 4-0 exit, do the Blazers go into wholesale rebuild mode?10. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVESLAST SEASON: 47-35, lost to Houston in first roundPROJECTED STARTERS: Karl-Anthony Towns (21.3 ppg, 12.3 rpg, 1.4 bpg), Taj Gibson (12.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg), Jimmy Butler (22.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.9 apg), Andrew Wiggins (17.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.1 spg), Jeff Teague (14.2 ppg, 7 apg, 1.5 spg)KEY LOSSES: Jamal Crawford, Cole Aldrich, Nemanja Bjelica (Sacramento), Aaron Brooks and Anthony Brown (Philadelphia)KEY ADDITIONS: Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech), Anthony Tolliver (Detroit), James Nunnally (Fenerbahce/Turkey), Luol Deng (Lakers) and CJ Williams (Clippers).OUTLOOK: Despite making the playoffs for the first time since Kevin Garnett was in his prime, things have become awkward in Minnesota. Karl-Anthony Towns signed a $190 million super-max extension, but Butler, a free agent next summer, rejected a $110 million contract extension and has requested a trade. The versatile Towns is too big, quick, athletic and skilled for most opponents to handle, but the talented Wiggins remains a bit of a disappointment who seems to vanish during stretches. Minnesota thrives in the paint but made the fewest 3-pointers in the league last season. Tolliver, a fan favorite who played here from 2010-12, and Nunnally should help that issue. Okogie is the kind of tough, athletic perimeter player Coach Tom Thibodeau loves. The Butler situation makes this a difficult team to project, but even if the team defense improves, the Wolves appear among those teams in a dogfight to earn a playoff spot.11. CLIPPERSLAST SEASON: 42-40, did not make playoffsPROJECTED STARTERS: Tobias Harris (19.3 ppg, 6 rpg, 3.1 apg), Danilo Gallinari (15.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg), Marcin Gortat (8.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg), Patrick Beverley (12.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.9 apg), Avery Bradley (9.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg)KEY LOSSES: DeAndre Jordan (Dallas), Austin Rivers (Washington), CJ Williams (Minnesota) and Sam Dekker (Cleveland)KEY ADDITIONS: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Kentucky), Jerome Robinson (Boston College), Marcin Gortat (Washington), Luc Mbah a Moute (Houston) and Mike Scott (Washington)OUTLOOK: DeAndre Jordan’s departure means all of the Lob City Era cornerstones have moved on, which is one of the reasons the Clippers are expected to finish below .500 for the first time since 2010-11. Nonetheless, the Clippers have depth and will start solid players at all five positions. With Beverley, Bradley and Mbah a Moute, their perimeter defense is going to be stingy, and that’s likely to be the personality of this team. Coach Doc Rivers liked the way his team scrapped through an injury-plagued season last year, and energetic players like Montrezl Harrell remain on the roster. Tobias Harris has gotten better every year he’s spent in the league, and when Gallinari is healthy (a career-long challenge), he is another forward who can light it up. Lou Williams (22.6 ppg) is coming off a Sixth Man of the Year season, and the team is high on its pair of lottery pick rookies. The Clippers opted against making wholesale changes this summer, looking toward 2019 when they look like they’ll have salary cap space to pursue two max-contract free agents.12. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIESLAST SEASON: 22-60, did not make playoffsPROJECTED STARTERS: Mike Conley (17.1 ppg, 4.1 apg, 1 spg), Kyle Anderson (7.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.7 apg), Marc Gasol (17.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 4.2 apg), Dillon Brooks (11 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 0.9 spg), Jaren Jackson Jr. (10.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg at Michigan State)KEY LOSSES: Tyreke Evans (Indiana), James Ennis (Houston), Deyonta Davis (Sacramento) and Jarell Martin (Orlando)KEY ADDITIONS: Jaren Jackson Jr. (Michigan State), Kyle Anderson (San Antonio), Jevon Carter (West Virginia), Omri Casspi (Golden State), Shelvin Mack (Orlando) and Garrett Temple (Sacramento)OUTLOOK: Memphis is above .500 when Gasol and Conley are in the lineup together the past three seasons, but keeping them healthy has been the issue, particularly for Conley (heel surgery cost him 70 games last season). The contracts of Conley, Gasol and Chandler Parsons meant there was no pursuit of notable free agents, but the team is high on rookies Jackson and Carter. The promising Jackson, 19, is still growing into his 7-foot frame but he’s long, athletic and can play around the basket or on the perimeter, while Carter is a lockdown defender. Anderson was a nice signing who could thrive with a bigger role than he had with the Spurs. The Grizzlies are aging, not terribly athletic and won’t score a lot of easy transition points, which should keep them among the league’s lowest-scoring teams. This franchise seems like it’s approaching a complete teardown soon.13. DALLAS MAVERICKSLAST SEASON: 24-58, did not make playoffsPROJECTED STARTERS: Dirk Nowitzki (12 ppg, 5.7 rpg), Harrison Barnes (18.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg), DeAndre Jordan (12 ppg, 15.2 rpg, 0.9 bpg), Dennis Smith Jr. (15.2 ppg, 5.2 apg, 3.8 rpg), Wesley Matthews (12.7 ppg, 2.7 apg, 3.1 rpg)KEY LOSSES: Yogi Ferrell (Sacramento), Doug McDermott (Indiana), Seth Curry (Portland), Nerlens Noel (Oklahoma City), Kyle Collinsworth (Toronto)KEY ADDITIONS: Luka Doncic (Real Madrid), DeAndre Jordan (Clippers), Jalen Brunson (Villanova), Kostas Antetokounmpo (Dayton), Ray Spalding (Louisville), Devin Harris (Denver),OUTLOOK: Dallas missed the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since Dirk Nowitzki’s first two seasons in the league, and it doesn’t seem likely they’re going to make it in what he says will be his final season. Barnes, Smith (All-Rookie, second team) and Nowitzki figure to carry the offense again, but the development of crafty Slovenian Doncic alongside Smith should be the priority. Jordan’s offensive game is limited, but he’s great around the basket and gives the young playmakers a lob threat. The Mavericks’ draft didn’t stop at Doncic. They added three other interesting players in NCAA National Player of the Year Brunson, Antetokounmpo (the younger brother of Milwaukee’s Giannis) and Spalding, a big man who moves exceptionally well for his size, has some offensive skill and can defend multiple positions.14. PHOENIX SUNSLAST SEASON: 21-61, did not make playoffsPROJECTED STARTERS: Devin Booker (24.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.7 apg), Deandre Ayton (21 ppg, 11.6 rpg at Arizona), TJ Warren (19.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg), Trevor Ariza (11.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg), Tyson Chandler (6.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg)KEY LOSSES: Brandon Knight (Houston), Marquese Chriss (Houston), Alex Len (Atlanta), Jared Dudley (Brooklyn), Danuel House (Golden State) and Elfrid Payton (New Orleans)KEY ADDITIONS: Deandre Ayton (Arizona), Mikal Bridges (Villanova), Trevor Ariza (Houston), Ryan Anderson (Houston), Darrell Arthur (Denver) and De’Anthony Melton (USC), Elie Okobo (France)OUTLOOK: The 21-year-old Booker, who might miss the start of the season recovering from hand surgery, can shoot from anywhere and is becoming a reliable playmaker too. Now, the Suns added No. 1 draft pick Ayton and hope they have their cornerstones for the next decade. Ariza and Anderson are savvy veterans who have experience winning, but a team with a logjam of wing players still needs a point guard and has serious defensive issues (ranked 30th last season). The task of beginning to build the Suns into a competitive team falls to Igor Kokoskov, the first NBA coach raised mostly on international basketball. He was an outside-of-the box choice but has a solid reputation. Second-year swingman Josh Jackson averaged 18.7 points after the All-Star break but still needs to improve from 3-point range (26.3 percent).15. SACRAMENTO KINGSLAST SEASON: 27-55, did not make playoffsPROJECTED STARTERS: Marvin Bagley III (21 ppg, 11.5 rpg at Duke), De’Aaron Fox (11.5 ppg, 4.4 apg), Willie Cauley-Stein (12.8 ppg, 7 rpg, 2.4 apg), Bogdan Bogdanovic (11.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 3.3 apg), Justin Jackson (6.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg)KEY LOSSES: Garrett Temple (Memphis), JaKarr Sampson (Chicago), Bruno Caboclo (Houston), Vince Carter (Atlanta)KEY ADDITIONS: Marvin Bagley III (Duke), Yogi Ferrell (Dallas), Deyonta Davis (Memphis), Ben McLemore (Memphis), Jamel Artis (Orlando), Nemanja Bjelica (Minnesota)OUTLOOK: The dysfunctional, perpetually rebuilding Kings have gone 12 years (and nine head coaches) since their last winning season, but with No. 2 overall pick Bagley, 2017 first-rounder Harry Giles (missed last season, knee injuries) and Fox, there’s a young nucleus to build around. Last year’s 27-win Kings tried to weave veterans with their young core and ended up relying on aging Zach Randolph (14.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg) to be their leading scorer. Fox, Bogdanovich and Cauley-Stein had their moments, as did Buddy Hield (13.5 ppg, 43 percent from 3-point range), but the Kings were still the lowest-scoring team in the league (98.8). They signed restricted free agent Zach LaVine to an offer sheet this summer, but Chicago matched it. The 6-10 Giles is coming off a strong Summer League showing and the Kings, who say they want to push the pace more, can only hope Bagley is the franchise player they’ve been searching for. Regardless, another trip to the draft lottery seems certain. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersOUTLOOK: The league’s dominant team got better after upgrading the center position from Pachulia and McGee to Cousins. When everyone is healthy (and there’s no reason to rush Cousins’ recovery from an Achilles injury last winter), the Warriors can start five future Hall of Famers. … They’re still the best shooting team in the league, and can play lockdown defense when they need to, but don’t forget that Houston was perhaps just a Chris Paul pulled hamstring from knocking them off last spring. The Warriors’ talent should allow for stars beyond Cousins to take games off if they need to nurse injuries (Curry only played in 51 regular-season games last year because of a bothersome ankle). Still, short of Cousins being a chemistry issue on- or off-court or having a setback in his recovery, this team is a heavy favorite to win its third title in a row and its fourth in five seasons. Next summer, ownership can tend to the business of how much it is willing to spend to keep this core together.2. HOUSTON ROCKETSLAST SEASON: 65-17, lost to Golden State in Western finalsPROJECTED STARTERS: Chris Paul (18.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 7.9 apg), James Harden (30.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 8.8 apg), Clint Capela (13.9 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 1.9 bpg), Eric Gordon (18 ppg, 2.5 rpg), P.J. Tucker (6.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg)KEY LOSSES: Trevor Ariza (Phoenix), Luc Mbah a Moute (Clippers), Ryan Anderson (Phoenix)KEY ADDITIONS: Carmelo Anthony (Oklahoma City), Marquese Chriss (Phoenix), Brandon Knight (Phoenix), James Ennis (Memphis), Bruno Caboclo (Sacramento), Michael Carter-Williams (Charlotte)center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

Whicker: Dwight Howard takes flight again as Lakers shake off Charlotte

first_img How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs PreviousCharlotte Hornets guard Dwayne Bacon, left, and Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard battle for the rebound during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. The Lakers won 120-101. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Charlotte Hornets guard Dwayne Bacon, left, and Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard battle for the rebound during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. The Lakers won 120-101. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsCharlotte Hornets forward Cody Zeller, right, shoots while Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, center, defends as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope looks on during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. The Lakers won 120-101. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, left, speaks with David Beckham prior to an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Charlotte Hornets guard Dwayne Bacon, right, and Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard battle for the rebound during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. The Lakers won 120-101. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, center, goes up for a shot while Charlotte Hornets guard Malik Monk, right, and PJ Washington defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. The Lakers won 120-101. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Charlotte Hornets guard Terry Rozier, right, goes up for a shot while Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee, left, and Anthony Davis defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Charlotte Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham, right, loses the ball while Los Angeles Lakers guard Quinn Cook defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis, right, drives to the basket while Charlotte Hornets forward Cody Zeller defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis, right, is fouled by Charlotte Hornets guard Terry Rozier while driving to the basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) dunks the ball while Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges (0) looks on during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges, front, dunks the ball past Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley, left, and JaVale McGee during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, left, steals the ball away from Charlotte Hornets guard Terry Rozier during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, center, goes up for a shot past Charlotte Hornets guard Dwayne Bacon, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis, right, speaks with head coach Frank Vogel during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Charlotte Hornets guard Dwayne Bacon, left, and Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard battle for the rebound during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. The Lakers won 120-101. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)NextShow Caption1 of 15Charlotte Hornets guard Dwayne Bacon, left, and Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard battle for the rebound during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. The Lakers won 120-101. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)ExpandLOS ANGELES — If he plays this way against all his former teams, that’s seven victories right there.Dwight Howard was the puddle-jumper version of Superman Sunday night. He hit all eight shots, got 10 rebounds, blocked four shots and scored 16 points in not quite 23 minutes for the Lakers against Charlotte, which was Superman’s next-to-last stop on what looked like a farewell tour.He was reduced to a return to the Lakers, cape in hand, and he had to promise that he would stay in a narrowly defined lane, and keep in mind that other Lakers were in charge of the flight plan.Few groups are louder than Laker fans scorned, but the peevish booing they hurled at Howard has now turned to rejoicing. He did exactly what he was supposed to do and nothing more Sunday night. “All of that stuff before, the way I played and the way I used to act, that’s not me anymore,” Howard said. “I kept telling myself that if it was 30 seconds, two minutes, 15 minutes, I was going to do whatever it took to help my team win.”“He scored the way we wanted him to score,” Vogel said. “He was crashing, going to the basket, but defensively was where he was dominant. He was getting that above-everybody-else types of rebounds. He has shown bursts throughout camp. Tonight he was off the charts.”The Lakers were shoddy defensively, particularly in transition, for much of the game, against a team that has a seat reserved at the 2020 lottery table. They didn’t guard the 3-pointer well, and they missed 20 of 31 three-pointers, with Danny Green going 1 for 5.But they have a lot of Plan Bs, and a very reliable AD. Anthony Davis had 29 points and 14 rebounds, beat people off the dribble, swished 3-pointers, brought the ball downcourt, blocked shots, and kept the Lakers afloat in the first half. No matter how good you thought Davis was, he is better than that. To see him stretch himself amid all this other help, particularly when Kyle Kuzma returns, will be revelatory.Caruso, the G League veteran and the sacrificial point guard in so many what’s-the-point Lakers games last year, had a major effect for the second consecutive game. He came into the third quarter, and somehow the Lakers started flowing. If you like plus-minus, he was plus-17 in 13 minutes.“He is creating good problems for me,” Vogel said, smiling.Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers“He was a star in his role,” coach Frank Vogel said.“I told him at one point that we needed more energy from him,” Alex Caruso said, “and he said he knew it, and he went out there and gave it to us. We see him every day. He’s dunking like he is 21 again.”The Lakers needed Howard, and a late punch from Caruso, and a solid fourth quarter from LeBron James to dispose of the Hornets, 120-101. They only led by a point going into the fourth quarter, but they shot 62 percent the rest of the way, and that’s when Howard got three of his blocks.Howard would be far from the first bounce-back star to win an NBA championship, but few have been asked to overcome such revulsion. In Houston, he and James Harden could barely fit into the same arena. He passed through Atlanta, Charlotte and Washington, where he missed all but nine games with a bad back that needed surgery.Before that, of course, he was a towering figure with Orlando, having led the Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals. Eight times he was an NBA All-Star, and his rebounding and blocked-shot numbers are better than many Hall of Fame residents. But he was damaged goods, and not just physically. Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed But Howard put the buzz in the building Sunday.“The fans and I have been through a lot,” he said brightly. “I’m trying to keep the fans up with the hype at this point. I’m the hype man.“The joy comes from being out on the court after missing the whole year with back injuries, and not being able to do nothing but be in the bed. I’m going to express it the best I can. But in order for us to win, we have to play that fourth quarter in every quarter. We can’t play around with teams like this. You saw what happened with the Clippers and Phoenix last night. They didn’t take the game as seriously as they should, I didn’t think, and they lost.”At some point a player sees that he’s closer to the descent than the takeoff.“Every moment counts,” Howard said. “It counts from the weight room to the training room to everywhere else. If I do my job 100 percent every night, it will put us in a good position.” Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers last_img read more

Dominic Smith doesn’t want to be traded: ‘I only want to play for the Mets’

first_img“I don’t pay too much attention to stuff I can’t control,” Smith told reporters. “I know baseball is a business at the end of the day. It’s just how the game is. I love New York. I only want to play for the Mets. This is all I know. This is home for me and my family. I love it here and I’m just trying to establish myself and just get better every day.”Dominic Smith on trade rumors:”I don’t really pay attention to too much stuff I can’t control…I love New York, I only want to play for the Mets…this is home for me”— SNY (@SNYtv) July 18, 2019Smith is having a breakout season for New York as he’s slashing .294/.376/.536 with nine home runs and 18 RBIs in 81 games. The team has even started to play him in left field in order to get him more at-bats. Related News If you’re in a pinch, call @TheRealSmith22.#MustC— New York Mets (@Mets) July 18, 2019The Mets are expected to be sellers before the July 31 trade deadline and they’re reportedly exploring moving Zack Wheeler, Jason Vargas and Todd Frazier, amongst others.New York, however, enters play Thursday on a four-game winning streak and is just five games out of the second wild-card spot with a 44-51 record. MLB trade rumors: What could Yankees, Astros, Padres offer for Noah Syndergaard? Noah Syndergaard addresses trade rumors, says he loves being with Mets Dominic Smith does not want to leave New York.The 24-year-old’s name has begun to surface in trade rumors because he’s behind star Pete Alonso at first base on the Mets’ depth chart. But, Smith said he hopes he isn’t moved. Mets manager Mickey Callaway praised Smith when he spoke with reporters after a 14-4 win over the Twins.“Offensively, we knew he was capable of this,” Callaway said, via Newsday. “You could see the sweet swing, the plate discipline, his ability to go the other way, his ability to pull the ball. I think his ability to move around and play multiple positions and do it pretty well is the surprising part and the thing that we’re kind of proud of right now.” GM Brodie Van Wagenen: Mets will take ‘underdog role’ as trade deadline approach changeslast_img read more

Drake brings out giant Larry O’Brien Trophy during concert

first_imgDrake brought out the Raptors Championship Larry O’Brien trophy during day 2 of the 9th annual OVO Fest! 🏆— TheHipHopGuru (@thhguru) August 6, 2019Let’s face it. Drake is living out every superfan’s dream.He sat courtside during the NBA playoffs, he was on a parade float with NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and now he has a giant Larry O’Brien trophy.  View this post on Instagram Drake had a giant Larry OB made for #OvoFest2019 😂— Lauren O’Neil (@laurenonizzle) August 6, 2019MORE: Kyle Lowry “would love to do a long extension” with RaptorsHere’s another look at the giant trophy:This is wild. Thanks for the sick seats @AIRMILES! #MilesBringYouCloser #OVOFest— Lauren O’Neil (@laurenonizzle) August 6, 2019At one point during his show, he even brought out the real thing: Drake is still celebrating the Raptors’ first-ever NBA title.The rapper and passionate Raptors fan performed next to a massive Larry O’Brien Trophy during his OVO Fest on Monday in Toronto. My take away from the day today is these pictures will never fade away and we can’t even be topped by the Macy’s Day…👌🏽A post shared by champagnepapi (@champagnepapi) on Jun 17, 2019 at 10:56pm PDTSerge Ibaka, Fred VanVleet and Leonard were all reportedly at the show, and we’re sure they loved the giant stage prop.Drake shouts out Serge Ibaka, Fred VanVleet and Kawhi Leonard who are in the house for OVOfest.— Faizal Khamisa (@SNFaizalKhamisa) August 6, 2019last_img read more

FC Sarajevo defeated FC Branitelj

first_imgFC Sarajevo defeated FC Branitelj in an exhibition match in Međugorje with 2:0.In the first half-time, there were no goals, and in the second Alen Melunović scored the first goal and Horton from the USA scored the second for the final result of 2:0.last_img

Damir Džumhur is Winner of ATP Challenger in Mersin

first_imgThe B&H tennis player Damir Džumhur is the winner of the ATP Challenger tournament in Mersin, Turkey, which is worth 64.000 Euros.After he beat Matteo Viola in the semi-finals, the 22 year old from Sarajevo beat Pere Riba, who is the top seed at the cup, with 7:6 (4) and 6:3.(Source: Fena)last_img

Two Assists and two Goals of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the Match against Reims (Video)

first_imgZlatan Ibrahimovic is, according to many, like wine – the older, the better.Popular Ibrakadabra from match to match continues to delight football public, regardless of his age.This time in the match against Reims  within the French national championship enrolled two assists and two goals.Take a look at his performance in our VIDEO.(Source:

Teletović ended his Career in great Style (video)

first_imgIn the last game of the season, the BiH basketball player Mirza Teletović led the Phoenix Suns to a victory against the LA Clippers with a result of 114:105.In little less than 28 minutes spend on the parquet, Teletović scored 22 points and managed to be the most efficient player in the game. Teletović shot 8/19 from the game (2/7 for three points), and he nearly recorded a triple-double. He needed only one more rebound.The Suns ended the regular part of the season, while Clippers will play against Portland in the playoffs.To watch the video click here.(Source: read more

28th Anniversary of the killings of JNA Soldiers in Dobrovoljacka Street marked

first_imgLaying wreaths in the village of Miljevici in East Sarajevo on Sunday, the 28th anniversary of the killings of Yugoslavian National Army soldiers in Dobrovoljacka Street was marked, Srna news agency reports.The wreaths were laid by Republika Srpska Minister of Labor and Veterans ‘Disability, Dusko Milunovic, East Sarajevo City Assembly President Miroslav Lucic, Mayor of Pale Bosko Jugovic Municipality, and representatives of veterans’ organizations and deputies of mayors from East Sarajevo.“So far, this crime has not received a judicial epilogue, though it is evident by all forms of international war law that war crimes have been committed against soldiers who, by agreement, should have withdrawn peacefully,” said Milunovic.last_img read more