By Ben Golliver
• The Magic set up a young lady for a halfcourt shot, which she missed badly. The rub: the shot was actually an appetizer for her boyfriend to propose marriage on the court. (Video via YouTube user NBAshowtimeHD.)
Add another investor to the group Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is assembling to keep the Kings from moving to Seattle. Johnson announced Monday night that Paul Jacobs, CEO of the international technology company Qualcomm, has agreed to become part of the Sacramento bid. Jacobs joins a group that includes billionaire investor Ron Burkle, 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov and TIBCO Software CEO Vivek Ranadive.
"A true Dream Team! This Fab Four is a bracket buster,'' Johnson wrote on Twitter.
"It's a message that was sent," Warriors coach Jackson said. "I wanted my guys to understand that we are the better team. ... We were not going to come into the game on our heels. We respect them and they have guys that will be in the Hall of Fame. ... That being said, this is a different day."
• Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie goes hard on the Lakers' play this week.
The Los Angeles Lakers should be embarrassed to be in this spot. Hubris, lack of intensity, poor choices and disparate agendas have resulted in a team that is one loss away from moving back to the .500 mark some five months into the season. It’s true that a top-heavy team full of injury-prone players with significant age concerns always had the potential to bottom out entering 2012-13 … but this team has bottomed out. The Lakers could finish the year with two All-NBA first team participants and zero playoff games.
In a season full of missteps, the last seven days should act as the most shameful. Los Angeles was not ready to take on a terrible Phoenix team that it clearly underestimated, Kobe Bryant’s defense in the losses to Washington and Golden State was abominable, and Dwight Howard could barely be bothered to move his feet in his team’s defeat against the Warriors on Monday night.
• Zach Lowe of Grantland also gets on L.A. for its poor transition defense.
The Lakers still don’t get back on defense and there's still minimal coordination when it comes to weakside help. The Lakers may lead the league in the percentage of defensive possessions that end with teammates shrugging and/or pointing at each other, though the Kings would give them a run.
This isn’t all on Bryant, obviously. Howard is slowly rediscovering his form, but he’s not even close to his disruptive peak. Pau Gasol is recovering from several knee and foot issues that have compromised his already compromised mobility. Steve Nash and Steve Blake simply cannot stay in front of quick point guards.
My favorite interaction with him was after the Clippers came to play in the Rose Garden. During the game, Blake Griffin unleashed the sort of hellacious dunk he has made mundane. There was a buzz in the Rose Garden, but the dunk came in transition -- it wasn’t on anybody, and the game wasn’t extremely close, so time didn’t exactly stop for a lot of flexing and gaping. After the game, Will still couldn’t get over it. “Bruh,” he said, “that was the best dunk I have ever seen.” I pressed him. The best ever? I listed a few. He clarified that it was the best dunk he’d ever been present for. For a good two or three minutes, he described the hangtime, the distance Griffin covered. It was matter-of-fact adoration, untroubled by any presumption of competitive propriety.
The Thunder actually move into the top five in the 3-point era by point differential. With a 10.8 pace-adjusted point differential, the Thunder inch past the 1985-86 Celtics and the 1986-87 Lakers, who, compared to this season's Thunder, benefited from approximately extra eight possessions per game to stretch that point margin.
Only six teams in the 3-point era have joined the exclusive 10-point club, which is reserved for only those who have a double-digit point differential. And the Thunder are currently one of them. Four teams eventually won the title, with the 2008-09 Cleveland Cavaliers (plus-10.3) being the only team to buck the trend.
• Royce Young of Daily Thunder reacts to those numbers.
The Thunder have built that impressive margin of victory largely by beating up on bad, average and above average teams. When it’s come to the elite teams of the league, the Thunder have struggled. What’s funny is that in the games OKC’s won against the likes of the Spurs, Nuggets and Grizzlies, they did it in blowout fashion. Basically, the Thunder feast or come up painfully short.
• Warriors rookie Harrison Barnes joked on Twitter that Golden's State's win over the Lakers at Oracle on Monday night was a "big time road win!" Eric Freeman of Ball Don't Lie runs down the history between the two California franchises.
However, it makes a little more sense in Oakland. California is a big state, but there's a fair amount of movement between the Bay Area and Los Angeles because of the expansive UC system and different kinds of job opportunities in both locations. I live in San Francisco but have lots of friends who've moved to and from Los Angeles, and that's not uncommon. Lakers fans attend Warriors games because they grew up in Southern California and buy tickets early, not because they rejected their birthright. Maybe Warriors fans should have done a better job to lock up available tickets early, but it's not ridiculous for transplants to take advantage of this opportunity. It happens in lots of places — there just happen to be a lot of Lakers fans around Oakland.
Yet, while Barnes likely didn't attend to be comment on this issue, his comment does factor into the Warriors' longstanding little-brother relationship with the Lakers. During the Warriors' two-decade run of futility, the Lakers have coincidentally been really good, creating a one-sided rivalry in which Golden State fans have focused perhaps too much on games against L.A.
• Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com reports that Metta World Peace might consider opting out of the final year of his contract, which would pay him $7.7 million, if it means that he can stay with the Lakers.
“I think my agent is trying to see if he can get an extension to stay here in L.A.,” World Peace told NBA.com. “I’m really excited about the possibilities of staying here in L.A.”• Chad Ford writes in an ESPN.com chat has Nerlens Noel is the "popular pick among NBA GMs" as the No. 1 guy in the 2013 draft.
But would he take a pay cut to help make it happen?
“It’s too early to say those types of things right now,” he said Monday night at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors beat the Lakers 109-103. “It’s too early to say. I don’t know what the Lakers are thinking. I don’t know what anybody’s thinking. I don’t even know what other teams think. I don’t know what’s going on because I haven’t told my agent, ‘Hey, go out there and ask around’ and things like that. I don’t know what anybody’s thinking at this point in time. I just try to keep my game. I’m playing at a good level.”