Hubbard: For the Lakers and Kobe, it was good business

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Los Angeles disasterLOS ANGELES – Arriving in at LAX for Thanksgiving proved to be entertaining as usual.

Kobe Bryant signed his two-year, $48.5 million extension Monday morning, so by the time my plane touched down late Tuesday, the irrational debate and cheap analysis was kicking into a higher gear among Lakers Nation.

This group is one of my favorites because its members live in a self-contained universe where there are only two types of humans – those who are Lakers and those who want to be Lakers.

In the first 24 hours here, I read or heard about scenarios that had LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook coming to the Lakers, although one written report quoted an anonymous Lakers source saying speculation on James migrating to the West Coast was “a pipe dream.”

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Bernucca: With fundamentals, Spurs making NBA look like AAU

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We are all familiar with the Spurs and their uncanny efficiency. Are you familiar with AAU basketball? benched spurs

I have coached it at the high school level for the last three years. And one thing I have learned is that with just four hours of weekly practice time followed by four games every weekend, if you don’t have definitive, well-drilled schemes on both offense and defense, you have no chance to compete.

However, if you have a group that is committed to a specific style of play on both ends of the floor, you can consistently compete with, and even beat teams that are bigger, stronger, quicker and more talented than yours.

Gregg Popovich has the San Antonio Spurs committed to a system. At its roots, that system is grounded in the fundamentals that are preached – and often ignored – at every level of basketball, from AAU to NBA. On defense, pressure the ballhandler to make things difficult. Commit to playing defense as individuals and as a team. Box out and don’t allow second shots.

On offense, get the ball quickly upcourt and look for early offense. In the halfcourt, set solid picks and make hard cuts. Trust your scheme and your teammates. Give up a good shot to get a great shot.

These are the basics of the game. And right now, with these basics as their foundation, Popovich and the Spurs are making the NBA look like an AAU tournament.

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Tweet of the Night: Robert Pera explains what may have gotten Zach Randolph going against David Lee

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zach randolphWhenever Zach Randolph goes up against his former backup in David Lee (they played together in New York), his eyes tend to light up. The power forward plants himself on the right side, bullies his way to the basket and has his way against the smaller Lee almost every time the two are matched up against each other.

Randolph has compiled a career average of 20.8 points and 11.3 rebounds whenever facing Lee, with an overall record of 12-2. The two losses came prior to his days with the Memphis Grizzlies. Yes, this means he has yet to lose against the Golden State Warriors since donning a Grizzlies jersey, and he is one of the biggest reasons for this feat.

So it came as a surprise when Randolph had a very quiet night on Wednesday against the Warriors, going three-of-seven from the field for six measly points. At the end of the night, though, he continued to see single coverage and eventually went to work on the trimmed-down Lee once again, posting 15 second-half points and 12 rebounds. 

Tweet of the Day: Zach Randolph Unloads 1,000 Turkeys & Hams

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Grizzlies Knicks BasketballThanksgiving. The day in which we celebrate and give thanks for the harvest and the past year. Traditionally celebrated with a feast, often with family and friends.

For many Americans, such a meal is common. But, there are plenty of people who do not have the means to enjoy Thanksgiving like the rest of us.

Thankfully, there are many people with big hearts, willing to bear the burden of supplying those less fortunate with food for their own celebratory meals. People like Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph.

Thursday, Randolph unloaded 1,000 turkeys and hams for citizens in his hometown community in Marion-Grant County in Indiana as part of his 6th Annual Zach Randolph Turkey and Ham Drive.

Mike Conley, Jamal Crawford and Tony Allen react to big game between Clippers and Grizzlies

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CP3 Tony AllenLooking to stay undefeated at home were the Los Angeles Clippers as they hosted the Memphis Grizzlies – considered a rival after seeing them for two consecutive seasons in the playoffs – on Monday night.

Instead, Chris Paul ate a swinging foot to the face  from Tony Allen and the Clippers suffered their first loss at the Staples Center 106-102.

Paul looked to penetrate into the lane late in the first quarter when Allen, who initially appeared to want to take a charge, realized he was nowhere near in position. He then jumped and extended his left leg, nailing Paul in the process. Allen was given a flagrant-2 foul – an automatic ejection – for the play and had this to say after the game:

Unstoppable in the paint was Zach Randolph, who had 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting and 15 rebounds despite hearing a chorus of boos every time he touched the ball.  Marc Gasol was also highly effective with 23 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Paul had 18 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists.

Below are the reactions from Jamal Crawford and Mike Conley after the close contest:

 

 

James Park is the chief blogger of Sheridan Hoops. You can find him on twitter @SheridanBlog.