The wheels were already coming off in Los Angeles for the Lakers, but now it seems like an axle just gave way. A 112-105 home loss to Denver drops L.A. to 15-18, which is three games worse (as ESPN’s J.A. Adande perfectly pointed out) than the ’04-’05 Laker team with Chucky Atkins and Chris Mihm at point and center. The way Sunday’s loss ended is a metaphor for the Lakers’ season so far. Something good happens (Dwight Howard‘s block on Andre Miller with less than 15 seconds to go, with the Nugs up three), and then something worse happens (Howard’s block going right to Danilo Gallinari, who sank a three). And then when something good happens again (Kobe Bryant‘s insane corner three, guarded by three guys) it’s much too late to really matter. Your 2013 Los Angeles Lakers. The fourth loss in five games for L.A. also brought the news Howard will get a MRI on his right shoulder, which he had injured previously against the Clippers in their slugfest on Friday night. And the Lakers might ask if the Redskins team doctor, James Andrews, can spend some time on their bench now, because Pau Gasol likely has a broken nose after getting whacked Sunday. Bad news for the Lakers comes in the form of a back-to-back with Houston and San Antonio this week, so if Howard needs to miss time it will be big. He had 26 boards, 14 points and four blocks, though the final block was an assist right to Gallinari (20 points, just 3-of-10 from three) to get Denver up six. Kobe’s (29 points, 26 shots) following three while stuck in the corner about six inches from going out of bounds either way was nothing short of masterful, but Denver put it away with free throws. … There’s always a “JaVale moment” but this was good: McGee put his own teammate, Miller, on a poster with a dunk in the first half. … After the game sources told the New York Daily News that Kobe and Dwight had beef on New Year’s Day, but do you believe it? … Miami can’t rebound very well, a troubling trend considering the team is about to go away from home for its first significant stretch of the season with a six-game road trip. The perfect pick-me-up was a 99-71 win over the Wizards. LeBron had 24 points and Ray Allen had 20 off the bench. Leading only by 10 doesn’t sound like much of a cushion in the fourth quarter, but these Wizards can’t shoot and can’t rebound, either, making that gap feel like a 20-point lead. Soon enough it was, when the Heat scored the last 21 points of the game. … Dwyane Wade‘s (14 points, seven rebounds) steal at midcourt off a trap late in the second quarter led to one of the funniest moments all weekend in an NBA broadcast booth. The Heat broadcast hosted a teenager battling leukemia as part of their three-man team for a stretch. Wade sucked in three defenders and lobbed to LBJ for the oop, and the kid had this great call on the mic: “Oh yeah baby! Yes! … Hoo! … I need to catch my breath.” The basket didn’t count, but the moment was pretty cool. … Hit the jump to hear about Dirk’s sobering take on Dallas hoops …
It was interesting how much Dallas played up Mark Cuban‘s 13-year anniversary of buying the team last week. Like, okay, 13 years is nice but it’s not 10 or 15 years. So what gives? Maybe it’s because looking at the past is a better option for Mavericks fans than looking ahead right now. Their franchise cornerstone is even saying so. Dirk Nowitzki said that “I always liked to think you don’t want to build your franchise on hope,” which could be construed to say, hey Mark – is there a strategy here or are we casting our line without a plan? No, the one-year rental players Elton Brand, Darren Collison, etc., are not a plan, only a stop-gap measure meant to bridge the gap before the Mavs’ cap space opens this summer. But what then, if they whiff on free agents like they did last summer? Cuban can only hope Dwight Howard gets so upset in L.A. and doesn’t want to go home to Atlanta that he considers Dallas as his next home in free agency this July. … Oklahoma City’s Big Three combined for 75 points to win a matinee snoozer in Toronto, 104-92. KD had 22 and Russell Westbrook had 23. … Kemba Walker (20 points) has a clutch gene most players just aren’t born with. When Brandon Knight attempted to muscle him up on defense at the end of the fourth quarter and Detroit up two, the Charlotte point snuck by him and lofted a floater over Andre Drummond‘s fingertips to send it into OT, where the Bobcats won 108-101. Walker wasn’t exactly on a tear in this game, either, going 9-of-23, but regrouped in clutch time. Tyrus Thomas, of all people, came through in OT, hitting two jumpers after he hadn’t made a bucket since halfway through the second quarter. He had 13 points. … Zach Randolph had 21 in Memphis’ 92-81 road win over the Suns and Rudy Gay added 20 points. … So much for trying to find common ground in Houston: The Rockets have suspended Royce White for not providing the services his contract requires. The chance he plays in the NBA just went from slim to none. … We’re out like RGIII.
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