VIDEO: Highlights from games played Nov. 11
NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Mavs get some last digs in on Jordan — The Los Angeles Clippers’ much-anticipated visit to Dallas last night ended in a 118-108 Mavericks win fueled by Dirk Nowitzki. The ‘return’ of DeAndre Jordan to the team he famously spurned in free agency was the main talking point and Mavs fans let Jordan have it all game long. After the game, some of Dallas’ players (and of course, owner Mark Cuban) couldn’t resist getting a few last parting shots in on Jordan, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com:
The sellout crowd booed Jordan from pregame warm-ups to the final buzzer — “I thought it was going to be a lot worse, honestly,” he said — during Dallas’ 118-108 win over the Clippers. Jordan finished the game with nine points on 3-of-5 shooting and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes, during which the Clippers were outscored by 23 points.
“He’s not a priority to us,” Mavs small forward Chandler Parsons told ESPN.com when asked whether the Jordan drama was done. “And by the looks of their team, he’s not to them, either.”
That was a thinly veiled shot at Jordan’s role with the Clippers, who promised during the recruiting process that he would be more of a focal point in the offense. With Parsons serving as their lead recruiter, the Mavs had sold Jordan on coming to Dallas to be a franchise player instead of a complementary piece with the Clippers.
Cuban, with whom Jordan has not communicated since the night before he re-signed with the Clippers, attempted to downplay the drama before the game while still taking some verbal shots.
“It’s not like DeAndre and I pinkie swore,” said Cuban, who was giddy when Jordan originally accepted his offer of a max contract worth more than $80 million over four years. “It’s not like we’ve been friends forever. It’s not like he broke some trust we had. You know, he turned out to be who we thought he was.”
Cuban continued to reference text messages that he kept from his July conversations with Jordan, saying he would release them publicly “if there’s ever a good reason.” To that, Jordan joked that he doesn’t care “as long as it’s not naked pictures of me.”
Cuban said, however, that his recent jabs at Jordan and the Clippers were mostly in good fun.
“I have fun playing with this,” Cuban said. “You guys know me. I have fun messing with it, without any question. But it’s not that I’m mad or pissed off or bitter. Excuse my French, but if you f— with me, I like to f— with you back. It’s just my nature.”
VIDEO: Dallas prevails in showdown with DeAndre Jordan, Clippers
No. 2: Cousins, Kings get win, but strife still lingers — Two days ago after a loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings star center DeMarcus Cousins was calling for a players-only meeting to fix what ails the team. Yesterday, word came out that the players, coaches and team brass all had meetings on Tuesday to discuss the team’s 1-7 start. Then came last night’s matchup with the Detroit Pistons, which Sacramento won 101-92. So, all is right in Kings-ville, right? Not exactly. While the win did help things, our Scott Howard-Cooper was on the scene and he and others detail a very fluid situation between Cousins, coach George Karl and the front office:
The six-game losing streak was over, for sure, thanks to the 101-92 victory over the Pistons. The talk of another coaching change was slowed, for now. The dysfunctional feel of a franchise that can’t get out of its own way is not going anywhere, but these last few days were the Kings’ chance to reboot the season that fishtailed away from them with such ease and speed that it was a surprise even with their penchant for calamity.
There was the race to the bottom of the standings and the injuries, especially to All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and key reserve Darren Collison. And player frustration over an unpredictable rotation. And Cousins returning Monday against the Spurs, then declaring after the latest loss, “We got some issues in house we need to figure out,” around the same time owner Vivek Ranadive had the brilliant idea it was a good night to parade rapper Drake around the locker room. That was followed by reports Cousins cussed out coach George Karl in front of the players, another story that Karl wanted Cousins suspended for the outburst but did not get support from the front office, and the team meeting Tuesday that all sides said was a positive for the chance to clear the air.
All the while, many minority owners have grown increasingly frustrated with Ranadive’s inability to steer the ship, management began to question whether 64-year-old cancer survivor Karl was physically capable of the job — eight months after being hired by Ranadive — and the season was quickly slipping away at 1-7.
Given the chance to dismiss the idea he wanted Cousins suspended, Karl declined comment Wednesday. At least Cousins apologized, or his representatives told Cousins he was apologizing in a statement released to Yahoo Sports: “It’s no secret that we are all frustrated by losing — me more than anyone. I let my frustrations get the best of me in the locker room following the loss to San Antonio — that is my bad. For the record, my frustration is not about any one person or player or coach. There is no one to blame. All of us are accountable. My frustration is that we are 1-7, simple as that.”
And to the Kings front office, Cousins’ tirade a couple nights earlier was frustration firing off in every direction and not specifically directed at Karl, thus the absence of discipline.
“I thought yesterday our meeting, not only me and (Cousins), but I think made a step and a connection,” Karl said. “In a 1-7 stretch, I think it’s always sometimes good to kind of open up the door and listen to people. I think that was done yesterday.”
“It was a good win, something this team needed,” Cousins said. “We had some adversity. We came together, overcame and will try to build from this.”
He added a couple minutes later, when asked about the best thing to come out of the team meeting the day before: “The win. I’ll take the hit. If it results in this every night, I’ll take the hit. I’ll be the scapegoat.”
Others close to the Kings hardly think the Cousins-Karl drama is done for, as Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee spells out why there continues to be a rift between the two men:
Kings All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins issued an apology Wednesday afternoon following a profanity-laced tirade directed toward coach George Karl after Monday’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
League sources, who did not wish to be identified because they did not have authority to speak on the matter, said Karl wanted to suspend Cousins for two games. General manager Vlade Divac, however, said the coach did not have the authority to do so and would not grant permission, according to the sources.
With Monday’s postgame tirade still unknown to the media, a visibly frustrated Cousins expressed concerns to reporters about the Kings’ worst start in his sixth season with the team and said a players-only meeting was necessary. Instead, Divac called the players in early Tuesday before practice and held a team meeting that included the players, coaching staff and front office.
After Tuesday’s practice, Divac and players who spoke on the matter said the meeting was healthy and the team needed to remain united and continue to play hard.
Before Wednesday’s game against the Pistons, Karl expressed frustration that his request to have Cousins suspended for two games was leaked.
“I’m not going to comment on what happened in the meeting, that’s family stuff and it stays in the family,” Karl said. “That (keeping what was said in Monday’s meeting private) was discussed. But I think, you know, we live in a crazy world.”
Along with the Kings’ worst start since the 1990-91 season, when Sacramento started 1-13, Karl has become more scrutinized, especially by NBA observers who question whether he has the stamina to endure an 82-game regular season. Karl doesn’t run up and down the sidelines raising ruckus. Associate coach Chad Iske is the loudest voice players hear from the sidelines during games.
It’s something people inside and outside the organization have expressed concern over privately, wondering if Karl’s health and energy will hold up.
At age 64, however, Karl isn’t talking like a man ready for retirement.
Players’ frustrations over Karl’s style have become apparent during the Kings’ slump. They statistically rank among the worst defensive teams in the NBA, leading to questions over the scheme while coaches question the effort of the players.
“I think we’re all trying to make it better,” Karl said. “There’s always a feeling of, ‘What the hell’s going on? What do you want me to do here?’ There’s always questions early in the season. I’m ready to go and I think they will be, too.”
VIDEO: George Karl discusses the Kings’ win over the Pistons
No. 3: Kobe hoping to be back in lineup on Friday — The Los Angeles Lakers were in Orlando last night, a city where star guard Kobe Bryant clinched his fourth NBA championship in 2009 against the Magic. That was a long, long time ago and Bryant likely pondered some of those memories as he sat out last night’s game with a sore back. According to Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com, Bryant is feeling better and hoping he can suit up tomorrow against the Dallas Mavericks:
The 37-year-old Bryant missed his first game of what could be his final NBA season Tuesday in Miami, saying afterward that he “had trouble walking.”
“Still too tight. Still too tight,” Bryant said Wednesday. “Stretching it as much as I can. Icing it down as much as I can. Hopefully by Friday I’ll be ready.”
The Lakers head to Dallas to face the Mavericks on Friday. In order to play, Bryant said, “It’s just got to go away. The back pain has just got to go away.”
Bryant, whose past three seasons have all been cut short by injury, has attributed the back soreness to 20 NBA seasons of “wear and tear.”
“It comes and goes,” Bryant said. “First game against Utah in the preseason, my back was tight. Tried to loosen my back up. Next game, it was fine. Then [I] have a couple practices, get in and start playing a little bit, scrimmaging and stuff like that [and] it tightens up. Then it goes away. It kind of comes and goes.”
Bryant said his back has never bothered him before.
“This is new,” he said. “I’ve been through worse.”
Bryant previously said, though, that he’s not concerned.
“It’s soreness and something that I can knock out with a little rest, a little treatment,” Bryant said Tuesday. “It’s not like an injury-injury.”
Lakers coach Byron Scott said he wasn’t sure how long this issue would linger with Bryant but that he was optimistic Bryant would play against the Mavericks.
“I don’t know how this is going to kind of play out. Only Kobe knows that, because he knows his body better than we do,” Scott said. “We’re just going to play it by ear and the games that he’s ready to play, he’s going to play. And when he’s not [ready] and he needs some rest or he has some ailment that’s bothering him, then we’ll give him the day off.”
Scott also said he wasn’t aware of any back issues with Bryant until last week following a practice in New York. Bryant said Tuesday that his back had been bothering him since training camp.
VIDEO: Kobe Bryant talks about the status of his back
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Fantastic, long read from Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski on the five-day stretch that landed free-agent LaMarcus Aldridge in San Antonio last summer … Tough news for the Portland Trail Blazers as power forward Meyers Leonard has a dislocated left shoulder and his availability moving forward is unknown … Houston Rockets rookie Sam Dekker is open to playing in the NBA D-League … Man, Kristaps Porzingis was thiiiis close to being the hero last night … Indiana Pacers rookie big man Myles Turner suffered a fractured hand last night …
ICYMIs of the Night: Kawhi Leonard put this dunk on the Blazers, landed this hard AND kept playing? That guy is unreal …
VIDEO: Kawhi Leonard takes it strong in Portland
… and here’s Rajon Rondo busting out the, um, Rajon Rondo move on the Pistons …
VIDEO: Rajon Rondo fakes the behind-the-back pass, then lays it up