GASOL ANSWERS D’ANTONI’S MESSAGE WITH STRONG GAME AGAINST MAVERICKS

NBA.com | Hang Time Blog

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DALLAS —
For the second consecutive night, Pau Gasol sat the entire fourth quarter. This time the Los Angeles Lakers power forward was good with it as “Showtime” finally made an eagerly awaited appearance at the expense of the flat-footed Dallas Mavericks.

“Obviously, that’s exactly the situation you want to find yourself in when the game is put away and the starters can rest in the fourth,” Gasol said after the Lakers’ 115-89 Saturday night demolition in a game that was never remotely competitive. “That’s the ideal, and the right way when you want to rest in the fourth.”

The wrong way is apparently being benched in a big game and then to have your new coach, on the bench for all of three games, say he did it to give the team a chance to win. That’s exactly the explanation Mike D’Antoni gave for sitting Gasol late…

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PRESSURE ON RIVERS TO FIND HIS SHOT

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NBA.com | Hang Time Blog

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HOUSTON — Everybody has a plan until they get hit. That’s what Mike Tyson used to say.

When the Hornets made him the No. 10 pick in the draft, the plan was for Austin Rivers to settle in as Eric Gordon’s long-term partner in the backcourt.

But with Gordon still having not played a game this season due to a knee injury, there is a burden on Rivers to carry much more of the scoring load. So far, it’s been too heavy a lift.

On the up side, Rivers opened Wednesday night’s game against the Rockets by knocking down a 3-pointer from the left corner and then dropped in a running teardrop down the right side of the lane. Trouble is, he missed five of the other six shots he tried and continues to struggle to find an offensive rhythm.

“I know it’s gonna come,” Rivers said. “So…

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WILL PHIL JACKSON FOLLOW PAT RILEY AND OPEN A NEW CHAPTER?

NBA.com | Hang Time Blog

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST —
If Phil Jackson heeds the “We want Phil!” chants dropped like an anvil by the Staples Center crowd Friday night, the Zen Master will follow again in the footsteps of that other multi-title-winning Lakers coach — Pat Riley.

Rewind to the 2005-06 season. Riley’s return to the Miami Heat bench 21 games in doesn’t mirror the current circumstance that has fallen into Phil’s lap, but it’s not all that dissimilar either.

No, Jackson isn’t the president of the Lakers organization as Riley was and remains with the Heat when the then-60-year-old Riley horse-collared Stan Van Gundy into resigning nine days before Christmas.

Still, Jackson’s aura eternally twinkles above the Lakers franchise like a magical puff of — oh, you get the picture. Seven years ago Riley couldn’t resist the urge to return to the bench and coach a team he built not only…

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LAKERS SAY NO RUSH ON NASH, TEAM’S DEPTH WILL BE TESTED IN HIS ABSENCE

NBA.com | Hang Time Blog

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — A small fracture to his left leg will force us to admire more of Steve Nash‘s colorful wardrobe than is necessary. But with the Los Angeles Lakers announcing that there will be no rush on Nash’s return (which makes their timetable of him missing for a week seem a bit sketchy), we’ll spend the next few games familiarizing ourselves with Steve Blake and Darius Morris.

With those two backups playing the bulk of the minutes at point guard, the Lakers’ already questionable depth will be tested ever more. For a team that doesn’t need any more hurdles to clear to start the season, this might be the one that gives us the best gauge of their championship timber.

Surviving the preseason with both Dwight Howard (recovering from back surgery) and Kobe Bryant (nursing a sore foot) at less than full strength is…

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CHEMISTRY ISSUES SLOWING THUNDER

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS —
If anyone in the Oklahoma City Thunder locker room knows about the strain a blockbuster trade can put on a team it’s Kendrick Perkins.

The Thunder center, whose trade from Boston three season ago signaled the championship rise of his new team and a fall from that perch for his old team, is doing his best to convince anyone willing to listen that James Harden‘s trade to Houston is not what’s ailing the Thunder right now.

“We’re trying to win,” Perkins told reporters after the Thunder lost the Atlanta Hawks Sunday, their second loss in three games. “We’re not really talking about the trade. The trade is done. We’ve got enough talent in here to win games.”

Oh, how quickly we forget, Kendrick (the big fella cried after being traded to Oklahoma City, for those of you who don’t remember).

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THE BEARD GROWS FAST ON ROCKETS

NBA.com | Hang Time Blog



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Is it too soon for James Harden to ask for a raise?

Just hours after he signed that five-year deal in the $80 million ballpark with the Rockets, it looked like Harden was ready for a bigger ballpark.

Not to make too much of one game, but Harden’s 37-point, 12-assist, six-rebound performance was the basketball equivalent to a defibrillator — sending a needed jolt of electricity to the heart of a moribund Rockets franchise.

It was the first time in NBA history that a player scored as many as 30 points and dealt 12 assists in his first game with a new team. And what made it all the more impressive was the way Harden made it all look as easy as growing a beard in the 105-96 win over the Pistons.

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Harden Makes Rockets Relevant Again

NBA.com | Hang Time Blog

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HOUSTON
— The Tigers are already down to their final chance in the World Series because they simply can’t connect with the ball.

Give Daryl Morey credit because no matter how desperate the situation got, he never stopped swinging.

After trying fruitlessly to land a big fish in the free-agent market or by trade for the past several years — Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard — the Rockets general manager finally got his hook into James Harden.

So much of the focus on the stunning deal that was consummated Saturday night will be on Oklahoma City. That’s to be expected when an up-and-coming powerhouse that was in the NBA Finals last June unloads one of its key players. There is instant speculation about whether the Thunder will now be able to hold off a charge from the reloaded Lakers, the returning Spurs, the re-energized Clippers and…

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NO KOBE IN SEASON OPENER?

NBA.com | Hang Time Blog

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — With so much focus on Dwight Howard‘s back and whether or not he would be ready for the start of the Los Angeles Lakers’ regular season, few people worried about Kobe Bryant.

But with the opening night contest against the Dallas Mavericks just days away, it’s Bryant who could be in danger of missing the game with injury. Both of the Lakers’ stars sat out Wednesday night’s preseason loss to the Clippers and Bryant could, according to Lakers coach Mike Brown (via ESPNLosAngeles.com), be held out of the game against the Mavericks with a strained right foot:

“I don’t know if he’ll be ready,” Brown said after the Lakers 97-91 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. “So yeah, I guess there is question. I’m just going to wait for [Lakers trainer] Gary Vitti to tell me he can play because…

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ROY HIBBERT’S GANGNAM STYLE (VIDEO)

NBA.com | Hang Time Blog

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Pacers All-Star center Roy Hibbert is a favorite here at the hideout for many reasons … he’s one of the league’s best big men, a budding comedian and actor, no one enjoys life more and he’s a great interview (check him out here along with his comedic twin sister Chelsea Peretti on Episode 89 of the Hang Time Podcast).

But he’s a fan favorite in Indiana and beyond because he’s at ease in his own skin and one of the funniest and fearless people in the NBA today.

Check out the big fella’s Gangnam Style:

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Snoop Dogg Likes The New Look Lakers

ESPN – Snoop Dogg stops by the debate desk to discuss the Lakers chances of beating the Heat with Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless.