JUST HOW LEGIT ARE THE LAKERS? The Lakers reeled off their fourth win in a row on Sunday, beating down the Hawks 122-101, bumping their record to a league-best 11-2 for the season in the process. Considering it’s the first time in a while that the Lakers look this good, it forces one to wonder: Is this real? For what it’s worth, the advanced numbers do love them, with both net rating and defensive rating calling Los Angeles the strongest team in the Association thus far this year.
But it must also be noted that to this point, the 13 teams that the Lakers have faced this year have a combined record of 78-85, which is middling as far as strength of schedule is concerned. What’s more, only five of their games have come on the road. So there might be just a touch of fool’s gold involved with the team’s dominant record early in 2019-20. At the same time, however, they are led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, two of the best players in the world, and they do have an elite defense thanks to their top-notch rim protection, so Los Angeles is undoubtedly a legitimate contender.
🏀 Speaking of LeBron, the four-time league MVP is averaging 24.3 points per game this season, and owns the longest double-digit scoring streak in the regular season in league history. Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are not even that close.
DEPLETED WARRIORS: The hits keep on coming for the Warriors, who will now be without All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell for at least two weeks. It’s so bad that Draymond Green has been forced to play the point.
🏥 Warriors players have missed a combined 75 games due to injury so far this season. The second NBA team in the ranking? 38.
BEHIND THE SCENES ON BIG SIGNING: Adrian Wojnarowski on how the Melo-Blazers marriage came to be.
WHO WANTS SOME J-CROSSOVER? Jamal Crawford, 39, is baffled he’s not in the NBA right now.
MO WAGNER, FLOP MASTER: Call it flopping, call it great defense, call it whatever you want, but Wizards big man Moritz Wagner has been statistically outstanding at drawing charges this season.
IN DEPTH WITH VETERAN TRAINER: NBA trainer Joe Abunassar has trained an insane amount of NBA players, including guys like Kevin Garnett, Kawhi Leonard and DeMarcus Cousins. He recently went on the HoopsHype podcast with Alex Kennedy and had a lot of interesting things to say.
A KEEPER: Per Shams Charania, some contenders expected Phoenix to eventually buy out Aron Baynes’ contract during the season. With the way Suns and Baynes are performing, that’s the longest of shots right now.
TEAMS EYEING DUNK CHAMPION: In that same piece, Charania also reported that teams are eyeing Magic swingman Aaron Gordon for a potential trade, but that Orlando isn’t interested at the moment.
FEEL-GOOD STORY: Aaron Gordon teammate Markelle Fultz scored a career-high 19 points Sunday. He’s been great scoring in transition this season, and Orlando has been a better team with him on the floor, despite his shooting struggles.
📷 Since we’re on the topic of transition scoring, Fultz also had a game-sealing steal and dunk (in transition) on Sunday, throwing down this monster slam over Washington.
FROM DYNASTY TO THE TOP OF THE LOTTERY: If they continue on the winning pace they’re currently at, the Warriors will set the record for biggest year-to-year drop in win percentage in league history.
GOAT SUPPORTING GOAT: Kobe Bryant made a rare appearance at the Lakers’ Sunday night game, sitting courtside with his daughter for the contest and dapping up LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard throughout the evening.
HE DID… THAT? Did… anyone know Danny Green could get up this high? Judging by Dwight Howard’s reaction, he certainly didn’t.
OUCH: The Celtics saw their 10-game win streak snapped by the Kings on Sunday. The way the contest ended was particularly brutal (at least if you’re a Boston fan), as Marcus Smart had a good look to win it at the buzzer, but saw his floater roll around the rim before ultimately missing.
DEROZAN VS REFEREES: DeMar DeRozan has been pretty outspoken against what he deems to be poor officiating this season. Now, he says he’s going to start flailing and flopping his way to calls. He should watch more James Harden tape for a good guide on how to do that.
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