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Basket - NBA - Les Los Angeles Lakers officiellement éliminés de la course aux play-offs

Battus par les Milwaukee Bucks (107-103) au terme d'un match houleux, les Lakers sont mathématiquement éliminés de la course aux play-offs, à un mois de la fin de la saison régulière.Pour la quatrième année d'affilée, les Lakers seront en vacances dès la fin du mois d'avril. Battue pour la 49e fois en 69 matches, la franchise californienne est devenue la deuxième franchise, après Brooklyn, à être officiellement éliminée de la course au play-offs cette saison.Walton furieux contre les arbitresUne soirée d'autant plus ratée que les Californiens se sont inclinés devant leur public, au Staples Center, au terme d'une rencontre houleuse où deux de leurs joueurs (Nick Young et D'Angelo Russell) ont été expulsés, à la suite d'une altercation survenue dans le troisième quart-temps. «J'ai besoin d'une explication, parce que cette sanction n'a aucun sens, s'est emporté Luke Walton, le coach des Lakers, à l'issue de la rencontre. Et qu'on ne touche pas à mes joueurs», a-t-il ajouté en faisant référence à un membre du staff des Bucks qui a profité de la confusion pour entrer sur le terrain et repousser Brandon Ingram.Milwaukee, porté par Khris Middleton (30 points) et Giannis Antetokounmpo (26 points, 8 rebonds, 5 passes), réalise de son côté une excellente opération en décrochant son huitième succès en neuf matches, se replaçant ainsi à la septième place de la conférence Est.

Honestly, the hardest one to guard was in practice. №24. Kobe Bryant. There was nothing like trying to guard him on that wing when you were iso-ed.

You were literally helpless. He was such an asshole. He’d tell you about too. He wasn’t just going; he treated practice as games.

It was no different to him. If you’re competing on the court, he was trying to kill you and he was telling you about it.

As a man, it’s tough to hear someone tell you about how they’re going to kill you and then [watch them] kill you.

—  LA Lakers coach Luke Walton on the hardest player he ever had to guard in the NBA
(h/t Bill Simmons)
Lakers host 76ers, seek rare winning streak

LOS ANGELES – After snapping an eight-game losing streak, the Los Angeles Lakers attempt to win two straight contests for the second time this year when they face the banged-up Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday at Staples Center.

Los Angeles (25-40) ended their skid Thursday with a 122-110 romp over the host Phoenix Suns. Six Lakers reached double figures in scoring with point guard D'Angelo Russell leading the way with 28 points on 10-of-20 shooting. Russell also had three steals.

Since the All-Star break, Russell is averaging 21.9 points, five assists and 2.3 steals per game.

Lakers coach Luke Walton was more impressed with Russell’s defense, which isn’t one of his strengths, against the Suns.

“He ended up having a great all-around game for us,” said Walton, whose club halted an eight-game slide in Phoenix. “That starts with doing things the right way. He started the game doing that on the defensive end. It led to the type of game he had. He definitely was the leader of the group tonight.”

Said Russell: “Everybody did their job.”

A win over the 76ers would allow the Lakers to capture two in a row for the first time since Jan. 6 and 8 when they defeated the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic. Only four times this season has Los Angeles claimed consecutive wins, with the other two occasions occurring in November.

The Lakers, who reside in the basement of the Western Conference standings, captured two consecutive victories against the 76ers, earning a 100-89 victory on Dec. 16 at Philadelphia in their last meeting.

Overall, Philadelphia (23-42) has lost four in a row and seven of its last eight games. The 76ers fell 112-100 on Saturda yto the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples. Richaun Holmes had a career-best 24 points with 10 rebounds, while Dario Saric scored 16 points for the 76ers, who have dropped 10 of their last 11 contests to the Clippers and the past five at Staples.

The 76ers led 79-75 entering the fourth quarter but were outscored 37-21 in the final frame.

“We played well, we led at the half and after three quarters,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. “Chris Paul is one of my favorite all time players and you saw him physically take command of the game in the fourth quarter.”

In addition to the string of losses, injuries have hampered Philadelphia for much of the season. They already lost Joel Embiid (knee) and Ben Simmons (acute fracture, right foot) for the rest of the season, and are playing without Tiago Splitter (right calf strain) and Jerryd Bayless (left wrist surgery).

However, despite the disappointments and being the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference, the 76ers improved on last season’s 10-72 campaign.

On Saturday, the Lakers signed reserve guard David Nwaba to a second 10-day contract. The 6-5 Nwaba is averaging 2.6 points and 1.6 rebounds in five games since being called up Feb. 28 from the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the NBA Development League.

Walton laments 'soft' Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton says that his team have developed a reputation for being “soft” after slipping to the second-worst record in the NBA.

The Lakers went down 122-111 to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, taking their record to 19-45. Only the Brooklyn Nets’ (11-51) is worse.

Byron Scott also accused the Lakers of being soft in 2015, with Walton’s latest lament laying bare his frustration at the team’s malaise.

“We still haven’t truly figured out how to make teams uncomfortable,” Walton said. “I think teams feel like when they play us right now, that we’re kind of a soft team, that they can come in and get their offensive numbers against us.

"It’s got to be up to us to change that and the only way to do that, is to do it out there on the court. I think we’re taking steps in that direction. I think our guys want to get there and I think they are learning how to get there, we’re just not there yet.”

Julius Randle, who had a triple-double in Tuesday’s game, was not so ready to give his team-mates the soft label, although he admits they need to get better.

“It p***** me off, cause we’re not soft,” Randle is quoted by Lakers Nation. “But we’re not the aggressor. When we’re the aggressive team, we give ourselves a chance to win and the soft stuff is out the window. When we’re not the aggressor, then teams have confidence, players have confidence.”

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had little sympathy for the Lakers, and he hopes the recent appointments of Magic Johnson as team president and Rob Pelinka as general manager backfire on LA.

“I hope they fail miserably. I hope they fail horrifically,” Cuban said, via the L.A. Daily News. “I hope Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka go down as the worst GM-president combination in the history of GM-president combinations. But I hope they live wonderful lives.”

Luke Walton was blindsided by news of Lakers upheaval

Lakers coach Luke Walton was driving to breakfast when he found out that Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak – the two men who hired him with a five-year, $25 million contract last summer – had been fired.

Walton got the unsettling news on Tuesday, Feb. 21, the same day the rest of the NBA world also heard that Lakers president Jeanie Buss had relieved executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss (her brother) and GM Kupchak of their duties and put Magic Johnson in charge of the team’s basketball operations. Johnson has since hired Rob Pelinka, a former player agent, as GM.

“I was driving to breakfast,” Walton told USA Today. “And yeah, I was surprised. We had a meeting scheduled with all four of us (Walton, Jim, Kupchak and Johnson), and I was going to breakfast before the morning and then my phone started blowing up, so I came in.”

The move by Jeannie Buss wasn’t a total shock to pro hoops observers. The Lakers have been struggling on the basketball court the last several years under the guidance of Jim Buss and Kupchak.

Walton, though, didn’t see it coming.

“Honestly, it wasn’t ever clear to me (that Jim and Kupchak would be on their way out) because when I interviewed that was one of the questions I asked, was ‘Are we going to be in this together?’ And they said ‘Yeah,’ so I was under the assumption that (it was) Jimmy and Mitch. So I wasn’t worried about this or that. I was expecting that that was the front office, the whole time I was going to be here, at least for a while, so there wasn’t any uncertainty with me.”

The news was unsettling to Walton for obvious reasons. When a new regime takes over a sports franchise, it often brings in a new coach.

Working in Walton’s favor is a solid rapport with Jeannie Buss, something she didn’t have with Walton’s predecessors Mike D’Antoni and Byron Scott, USA Today notes.

But Walton is just getting to know his new direct boss, Magic Johnson. When he was Lakers player, Walton occasionally intersected with Magic.

“It was not a really deep relationship or anything like that,” he said.

MORE: ESPN colleagues blast Dan Le Batard over Magic Johnson hot take | Lakers to hire Kobe Bryant’s agent as general manager under Magic Johnson | Jeanie Buss blocks brothers’ attempt to gain control of Lakers

For now, Walton is keeping to task.

“This is an incredible opportunity,” he said. “We get the opportunity to try and rebuild and get the Lakers back on top, (and) yeah I get really frustrated with losing. It’s tough to sleep at night, but by the time I wake up in the morning, I’m normally very positive and excited driving into work about what we get to do for the day. That’s kind of the approach I take going into it.”

Lakers call up G David Nwaba from D-League affiliate

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The Los Angeles Lakers have signed guard David Nwaba from their NBA Development League affiliate.

Nwaba was in uniform on Tuesday night against the Charlotte Hornets.

Nwaba has averaged 13.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 38 games for the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

Lakers coach Luke Walton says Nwaba earned the call-up with his defensive play.

Nwaba takes the roster spot created by the Lakers’ buyout of Spanish guard Jose Calderon.

Nwaba also grew up in Los Angeles, attending University High School and Santa Monica College before finishing his collegiate career at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.

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On February 23rd, 2017, the Los Angeles Lakers traded guard Lou Williams to the Houston Rockets for forward-guard Corey Brewer and a 2017 first round draft pick.

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Splashdown: Gander pool reopens (finally)

It’s a month overdue, but the Gander Arts and Culture Centre pool ha finally reopened.

The pool closed in late August to repair roof joists. It was supposed to reopen in mid-January, but the roof repairs delayed cleaning and yearly maintenance that still needed to be completed.

Competitive swimmers were especially frustrated by the delay, as the loss of the pool forced them to travel hours for swim time to St. John’s, Conception Bay South and Grand Falls-Windsor.

Gander Lakers coach Tim Rowsell said there’s a lot of work ahead for the kids who want to get back into competition.

“More laps. Lots and lots of training now so we’re back in the pool to get back into the swing of things,” said Rowsell.

The provincial championships are coming up at the end of March, and Rowsell said the swimmers who will compete for Team Newfoundland in the Canada Games will be selected that weekend.

“They need to really get back into condition,” said Rowsell.

“This is a Canada Games selection year for Winnipeg so we have some members of our team who are vying for spots on Team Newfoundland, so we really want to give them their best shot and make their dream come true.”

Rowsell said he wanted to have the pool back as soon as possible, keeping in mind the safety of swimmers, so it’s a relief the pool has reopened.

“It’s so exciting for us to finally get back in our own pool so now we don’t have to drive for hours and hours for just a little bit of training,” he said.

“Everybody here today has come in with smiles even though it’s early in the morning. They’re raring to go.”

The Department of Transportation and Works announced Thursday afternoon that the pool would open Friday.

“The department thanks all swimmers and residents for their patience and co-operation as the repairs took place,” said a statement released Thursday.

On D’Angelo Russell, Nick Young & the “Man Code”

So Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell & teammate Nick Young were in their hotel room on a team road trip when Young was boasting of all the women he slept with recently. This is the same Nick Young who is currently (or was at the time) engaged to rapper Iggy Azalea.

Apparently unbeknownst to Young, D’Angelo Russell was using his phone to record Young’s boasting. Whether by Russell or a hacker (accounts, not surprisingly, differ), the video got posted to the Internet and has been making the rounds.

Sadly, but not surprisingly, the Internet haters (and frustrated Lakers fans) have been blaming Russell for recording the conversation. Lakers head coach Byron Scott, who recently said Russell has acted like a 14-year old, is “disappointed”. Shaquille O’Neal and Stephen Jackson, as well as a couple of NFL players, commented with some variation of “snitches get stitches.” Media reports suggest that Russell’s Lakers teammates are giving him the cold shoulder, refusing to sit at his table at a team breakfast meeting and not talking to him in the locker room.

My take: Why in God’s name isn’t anybody upset with Nick Young? He’s the one who has apparently cheated multiple times on his (for-the-moment) fiancee. He’s the one who treated women like bags of meat. He’s the one who was proud - PROUD - of sneaking behind his fiancee’s back and bragging about it. Like many people who are exposed for their wrongdoing, Young is only upset because he got caught.

Was it a dumb thing for Russell to do? Probably so. I’d have a hard time trusting and/or working with someone who secretly taped personal conversations. But I darn well wouldn’t have any trust for someone who was being unfaithful to his wife/fiancee/girlfriend, much less someone who was bragging about being a lying, cheating dog.

And as for the so-called “Man Code” that Russell is accused of violating: What. A. Total. Crock. My Man Code says that a man doesn’t screw around on his wife/fiancee/girlfriend/date. If you want to be with someone else, guys, fine - but break up first. Have some degree of honor and decency - and, if nothing else, at least have some self-damn-respect.

LAST WORD: You won’t get called out for cheating if you ain’t cheating.