Lonzo Ball, Lakers’ interior defense missing in first half of Florida trip

ORLANDO — It was “Classic Night” in Orlando on Saturday; the Orlando Magic went with old-school video graphics and in-game music, as well as sweet vintage Shaquille O’Neal and Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway uniforms from the 1990s.

As it turns out, the Los Angeles Lakers decided to participate to some degree, throwing back their defense to the start of this season, when they were horrible, as opposed to how they had been playing much improved defense more recently.
Making matters worse for the Lakers was the fact that Lonzo Ball struggled badly offensively and went scoreless with Rajon Rondo out in a 130-117 Magic rout of the Lakers at Amway Center on Saturday night.
On Sunday night, LeBron James returns to Miami, and he certainly hopes the Lakers and Ball will play better against the team of his old friend Dwyane Wade and former boss Pat Riley. It’ll be the first of two straight return games for James, who visits the Cleveland Cavaliers next Wednesday for the first time since signing with the Lakers in free agency.

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“After the first quarter, we were pretty bad defensively,” said James, who had 22 points and seven assists but watched the entire fourth quarter from the bench as the Lakers never cut Orlando’s lead below double digits. “We had a lot of breakdowns, uncharacteristic of us as of late.

“But give Orlando credit. They put us in positions where Wholesale jerseys
they just kind of took advantage of not being in the right spots defensively,” James added.

The Lakers had their four-game winning streak snapped in defenseless fashion. The Lakers (8-7) opened the first quarter looking like a team that had won six of its previous seven games, scoring 31 points in the first quarter. But their defense collapsed after that, looking like the defense that surrendered an average of 120 points per game in the first 10 games of the season.

“There were a lot of things that hurt us tonight,” James said. “It’s not just one thing.”

D.J. Augustin was the latest quick guard to expose the Lakers’ defense, scoring 18 of his 22 points and hitting 7 of 8 shots over the second and third quarters. By the time Augustin was done flying by Lakers guards, the Magic were up 100-81 entering the fourth.

Nikola Vucevic also toasted the Lakers for game highs of 36 points and 13 rebounds, forcing Lakers coach Luke Walton to try to go small when Vucevic was hitting outside shots and the Lakers’ defensive center duo of JaVale McGee and Tyson Chandler was ineffective.

Magic fall 115-112 to Trail Blazers without injured Aaron Gordon

Another lead, another loss for the Orlando Magic.

Sure, it makes no sense, but the Magic have made a habit this season of gaining momentum and rolling up double-digit advantages only to watch the opposition pick them apart like apples off a tree.

The Portland Trail Blazers were the latest foe to turn the tables on the Magic, and Damian Lillard was the culprit this time as Portland rallied to topple the Magic 115-112.

Monday it was Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson rallying cheap nba jerseys china
the Golden State Warriors back from an 18-point hole against Orlando to win the game.

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On Wednesday, Lillard scored 27 of his game-high 41 points in the second half as the Blazers not only rallied from an 11-point third-quarter deficit but went on to take an 11-point lead of their own, and the Magic were playing keep-up the rest of the way.

And just like Monday, when the Magic needed shots to overtake Lillard and the Blazers, they couldn’t hit them.

Orlando tied the game with 2:56 remaining with a pair of Jonathon Simmons free throws 108-108. But they would only score two more field goals the rest of the way while the Blazers rattled of a 10-4 run with the help of some energy from the hometown crowd.

Magic head coach Steve Clifford was not pleased after the game and addressed the media for all of about 40 seconds before walking off.

“We got to get some loose balls. We gotta block out once in a great while. They hammered us on the glass. They beat us to every loose ball, which is a major weakness for our team,” Clifford said. “We got out-efforted on anything tough, so we play hard with the things that come natural to us. We moved the ball. We had good energy. We gotta get tougher. That’s it. That’s it.”

For the second straight game, Orlando got crushed on the boards, outrebounded by a 47-37 margin by the Blazers.

But two of the biggest plays of the game came on simple miscues, and Evan Fournier was quick to own up to how detrimental his two turnovers were inside the final one-and-a-half minutes.

Fournier scored with 1:34 remaining to pull Orlando within 111-110 with 2.33 left in the game, and on three consecutive trips following that bucket the Magic had chances to take the lead. Instead, it was three straight turnovers.

Jonathan Isaac was called for a three-second lane violation and then Fournier made two incredibly uncharacteristic plays in throwing bad passes that Portland would eventually convert on the other end. Lillard hit a 3-pointer after the final turnover by Fournier, and then iced the game with four straight free throws down the stretch.

“We had the opportunity to win and I turned the ball over twice. That’s the kind of plays you gotta make if you’re gonna win in this league,” Fournier said. “I had one drive, I passed it to Vooch too short and the other one, I get a rebound and I pass it to D.J. [Augustin] but too late. When you’re down one with 40 seconds left, you just gotta make plays.

“I feel I’m responsible for that one because we were in a good position to win.”

Fournier said it was much more about what the Magic didn’t do than what Lillard was doing.

“They set some really good screens on the perimeter to get him open and he got hot, very hot,” Fournier said. “We had the opportunity to win. It doesn’t matter if Damian Lilliard has 40 or not … He’s terrific, don’t get me wrong, but the game was still winable.”

The Magic were missing Aaron Gordon, who sat out with lower-back tightness and pain and the absence would be felt for the Magic. WIth Gordon in the game, the Magic could have thrown more bodies at Lillard, but as it were, Lillard had plenty of open space in hitting 10 3-pointers.

Nikola Vucevic scored 20 points and had eight rebounds while the Magic had six players in double figures. Fournier had 17 points and Isaac, who started in place of Gordon, scored 16 and had seven rebounds as the Magic slipped to 10-12.

Orlando now heads to Phoenix where it will complete this five-game western-states road trip looking to at least end on a positive note. So far the Magic are 1-3 on the trip and have fallen two games below .500 with a 10-12 mark.

Knicks Trade Rumors: Frank Ntilikina Targeted by Magic

If the New York Knicks are ever willing to field trade offers for young guard Frank Ntilikina, the Orlando Magic may be among the teams in the bidding.

According to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, “Teams remain curious about the 2017 lottery pick, who is raw offensively but already a stout, long-limbed, defensive player who has shown advanced skill there. The Magic have shown interest in the 20-year-old, according to a league source, with a scout in Philadelphia last night watching him.”

In New York, head coach David Fizdale is still experimenting Cheap Orlando Magic Jerseys
with the rotations and playing time for both the team’s young guns and more seasoned veterans. In the process, the 20-year-old Ntilikina is averaging just 5.9 points and 2.7 assists in 23.1 minutes per game.

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A number of guards have seen playing time for New York this season, including Damyean Dotson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke, Allonzo Trier, Emmanuel Mudiay and Ron Baker. And with Courtney Lee set to return from injury at some point as well, New York’s guard rotation isn’t wanting for options.

So Ntilikina continues to fight for playing time, though it’s hard to imagine the Knicks would give up on him so soon. At the very least, he still projects to be an excellent defensive player on the perimeter.

Ntilikina would fit with the vision of Orlando general manager John Hammond, who has targeted size and length for the Magic in the team’s rebuild. The 6’6″ Ntilikina would certainly check that box on the perimeter, though questions remain if he’ll ever develop a perimeter jumper.

His 30 percent shooting from three to this point in his career remains a concern, as does his 35.7 percent shooting from the field. There may be a role for a defensively solid, playmaking point guard in the league, but Ntilikina’s upside is tied to the consistency of his jumper.

Clippers’ Doc Rivers has LeBron James, Kevin Durant comparison for Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo

Lakers Fans Need to Get Used to LeBron
Milwaukee Bucks superstar small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the best players in the game, which makes him almost impossible to gameplan for. Just ask L.A. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, cheap nba jerseys china
who says Antetokounmpo is in the same class as Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.

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Appearing on FS1’s Undisputed Tuesday morning, Rivers said preparing for The Greek Freak is just as hard as game planning for KD and LeBron.
Through 19 games this season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been a man among boys. The Bucks’ two-time All-Star is averaging 26.8 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game while shooting 57.2 percent from the field.

Antetokounmpo doesn’t have the shooting prowess that Durant does, but he doesn’t even need it since he can get to the rim whenever he wants with his long strides. No one in the league has the strength which LeBron does when he’s going downhill, but Giannis Antetokounmpo is a nightmare on the fastbreak as well. He can take two steps from half court and he’ll be dunking the ball.

The Bucks are 14-6 on the season, second place in the Eastern Conference. New head coach Mike Budenholzer has implemented a more fluid offense which is predicated on ball movement and off-ball cuts. As a result, Antetokounmpo is scoring with ease this season.

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls Preview: Quick Rematch Awaits

Milwaukee’s season is off to a promising start and after a tough beginning, the schedule has eased up on them a bit. Next up is a game against division rival Chicago Bulls tonight. The teams just played 11 days ago, which saw Chicago storm out to a first half lead before Milwaukee blitzed the Bulls in the second half and won by 19.

Bucks Update
Since that Chicago game, the Bucks had an interesting week. Milwaukee held off the Denver Nuggets, crushed the Portland Trail Blazers by 43 points and cheap nba jerseys from china
came back from a 12-point deficit to defeat the San Antonio Spurs. The Bucks had a hiccup against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night losing 107-110 and definitely didn’t lose at home to the Phoenix Suns. Milwaukee still sports a 14-6 record, which is second in the whole league.

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Player to Watch: Malcolm Brogdon
It’s been an interesting season for Brogdon. On the one hand, he has statistically been posting highs for points per game, and has been the key for a few of Milwaukee’s best wins (i.e. the Denver games). However, Brodgon has very much been a frustrating player for fans, often deciding to dribble instead of shooting and showing blinders on in transition. Brogdon might be the toughest person to peg among the Bucks impending free agents on if they will be re-signed and for how much. Let’s hope we see more from him.

Bulls Update
Things have not been going well in Chicago. Since losing to the Bucks, Chicago has lost four of their last five with their only win coming against Phoenix. The Bulls defense has continued being a sieve, as they’re currently in the bottom half in most defensive categories. The injury bug has still stricken Kris Dunn and their best player Lauri Marakkanen.

Bulls player to watch: Zach Lavine
With Marakkanen out injured, Lavine takes the mantle as the Bulls best player. He currently averages 25.7 and is letting you know he will take the shot even if it’s ill advised. While defensively he is not a player the Bucks need to fear, his shot making and ability to get to the line will be something to watch.

How Brook Lopez turbocharges the Bucks’ offense by just standing at the 3-point line

Here’s a tip for making one of the NBA’s most exciting teams incredibly boring: spend the entire time watching Brook Lopez. Ignore Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Eric Bledose, and the beautiful Moreyball offense that Mike Budenholzer has built in Milwaukee, and instead focus your eyes entirely on their plodding center.
This is an oversimplification, cheap milwaukee bucks jersey
but not that much of one. According to NBA.com player-tracking data, Lopez runs at an average speed of 3.96 miles per hour, more than two-tenths of a mile slower than the second-slowest Buck who plays rotation minutes. The effect is even more pronounced on offense: Lopez’s average speed is 0.37 miles per hour slower than second-place Malcolm Brogdon, a margin greater than the difference between Brogdon and the fastest in-game player on the team (Thon Maker).

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Lopez thus has the dream job of any washed pickup player. He gets to run three-point line to three-point line, launch super-long shots if he does get the ball at a solid 37-percent clip, and doesn’t owe his team much more than his mere presence when he doesn’t.

The NBA’s Most Overpaid Underperformers for 2018-19

If you’ve happened upon this space looking for a comprehensive overview of the NBA’s worst contracts, you’re in the wrong place.

That procedure is necessary in its own right. But this is something cheap nba jerseys from china
different—and equally essential. We’re trafficking in both pricey pacts and expectations. Some of the most notorious no-good, really bad deals will make cameos, but only if they’re whiffing on their adjusted bars for performance.

Context is key, so we’ll use these tiers:

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Impacted By Injury, But Yeah: Availability is a skill. Anyone who has yet to play this season will be spared, but small samples are fair game. These players are far from locks to match their pay grade, even if they’re being held to the lowest possible bar.
Contract-Year Under-Performers: Expiring contracts of players who are, as of now, costing themselves money. Anyone whose value is being impacted by a dearth of importance to the bigger picture or who was deliberately overpaid in the offseason will be excluded. Think: Trevor Ariza, DeAndre Jordan, Robin Lopez, Zach Randolph, etc.
Barely In/Out of the Rotation: Players absent from the rotation for reasons not related to injuries or youth-movement politics. No one here is supposed to be a major factor, but they are less than blips on the radar and don’t have strong arguments for more playing time.
Need More Playing Time, But Still: Players who overlap with the previous category, except they have a case for more minutes.
Near-Immovable Money: A greatest-hits group. Everyone here is frequently mentioned among the league’s worst contracts (shout-out, Summer of 2016). And they have managed to become less valuable by the year. Call them “The Untradeables” if you wish, but as we’ve seen time and time again, no contract is truly immovable.
They’re Supposed to Be Better Than This: Obviously overpaid, but worse than projected and needed.
Superstar Money Problems: Stars and non-stars earning star money who aren’t living up to this season’s pay stub.
Placement within these tiers isn’t permanent. Some have the opportunity to dig themselves out of their hole. Just remember that not all the worst contracts will show up, and that we’re dealing with 2018-19 salaries alone.

Kent Bazemore, Tim Hardaway Jr., George Hill (shoulder injury) Evan Turner, Hassan Whiteside, et al. remain overpaid but are either better or as expected. John Wall (comfortably) misses the cut, because he’s being viewed against his current pay grade and not against a raise that has yet to take effect.

Dwyane Wade Said He Dropped 35 Points on Sunday to Send Message to Son

When Miami Heat superstar guard Dwyane Wade dropped 35 points on the Toronto Raptors Sunday night, he not only set a franchise record for bench scoring — he also sent a message to his son.
Wade’s 16-year-old son Zaire is a point guard for American Heritage School in Miami, Fla. It seems that, like many teenagers, the young Wade was overestimating his own abilities and underestimating his father’s accomplishments.

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In response, Father Prime belied his 36 years and 16 seasons cheap miami heat jerseys
with a magical performance that included six assists and five rebounds.

Some day, every father has to face the fact that he can no longer dominate his son in a one-on-one matchup. With a son as talented as Zaire Wade appears to be, perhaps that day is coming. But it certainly hasn’t come yet.

Heat’s Goran Dragic out for fifth consecutive game

Goran Dragic’s seemingly minor knee issue has extended into a major absence with the Miami Heat point guard out for a fifth consecutive game Tuesday night against the Atlanta Hawks at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Dragic initially missed two games with the knee injury before returning for an uneven four-game span that included pair of 20-point games but also pair of games when he went scoreless in one and scored eight in the other.

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He has been out since, starting with the Nov. 18 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. He then had his knee drained the following day, missing the Heat’s just-concluded two-game trip against the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors.

Dragic, 32, has two seasons left on his contract, cheap nba jerseys
including a player option for next season.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has downplayed the lack of another true point guard on the roster, citing the ballhandling and playmaking of James Johnson, Dwyane Wade, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson, among others.

The Heat also remain without reserve guard Tyler Johnson, with Tuesday marking his fourth consecutive absence with a strained right hamstring.

“There is no definitive update,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They’re both getting better. They’re both doing a little bit more. But we’ll continue to take it day by day.”

The Heat also remain without guard Dion Waiters, who has been sidelined since January ankle surgery.

“He’s making progress. He’s doing more work each week when I see him,” Spoelstra said, with Waiters yet to participate in practice.

Asked if Waiters could be back by the turn of the calendar, Spoelstra only would say, “We don’t have an update. I’m always about, optimistic about any of our guys.”

The Heat are operating with a 14-player roster (not counting the two players on two-way contracts), one shy of the NBA maximum.

Anonymous Lakers executive thinks it’s ‘too early’ to judge Brandon Ingram, but that team didn’t know LeBron James was coming when they drafted current core

As has become tradition after Los Angeles Lakers losses, the conversation almost immediately turned to how the front office could find more immediate help to surround LeBron James. Seeing as the Washington Wizards are having the fire sale of all fire sales, speculation has often been centered on a Brandon Ingram-for-Bradley Beal swap.

The thing those who push for that kind of trade seem to forget is that this was always going to be a multi-year process of surrounding James with NBA Finals-capable talent. The Lakers seem invested in really finding out what they have in their third-year forward.

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“It’s too early to tell for Ingram,” a Lakers executive said. “Where was [Beal] at the same age?”

Well, to answer the question, Beal was averaging 15.3 points, cheap nba jerseys
3.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Compare that to Ingram’s 15.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists and you can kind of see why the Lakers want to remain patient for as long as they possibly can.

One concern remains Ingram’s fit alongside LeBron. Ingram is a legitimately different player with LeBron on the court versus without him (a trend that’s continued since the two came together) and while the Lakers can stagger the two’s minutes, at some point, you need the two best players on the roster to be able to function together.

This should go without saying, but something to keep in mind was the timeline in which this roster came together.

“Getting LeBron … makes it interesting,” the executive said. “Obviously, we didn’t draft the guys [we have on the roster] knowing we would get him.”

Ingram was drafted by a completely different front office. If we really want to go full galaxy brain here and you are skeptical that the front office just happened to draft a few guys who do fit quite naturally with LeBron (Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball fit in basically that order), that’s fine and quite fun to think about. But there was simply no way when they drafted Ingram that they thought LeBron was coming — and their fit together speaks very loudly to that point.

Still, the larger, overriding point here is that the Lakers recognize the patience they have to display if they want the LeBron James-Lakers era to reach its full potential. Beal would be a great quick fix, but would severely hamper what the Lakers could do this summer. Seeing as everyone knew this was a multi-year project, it just makes more sense to stick to the plan — which involves waiting to see what Ingram is capable of with a full year of playing next to LeBron.