Los Angeles Lakers (10-18) vs Philadelphia 76ers (6-19)
8pm ET Friday on ESPN
Losing your 8th straight game is bad enough, doing against the Nets is just brutal, but that’s what the Lakers did Wednesday, falling 107-97. Lou Williams came off the bench for the Lakers to score a team high 16, as none of the starters could muster so much as 15., though Timofey Mozgov did manage to a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. But the Lakers were plagued again by poor ball movement (a season-low 11 assists), which in turns leads to poor shot selection, which in turn leads to making 38.5% from the floor, including 22.2% from 3-point land. After starting the season 10-10 while shooting 45.6% from the floor, 35.2 from 3, the Lakers have dropped 8 in a row by shooting 41.5% and 31.4, while their assists have fallen from 22 a game to 17. At the same time, the Lakers’ opponents have seen their shooting climb from 47.5% and 33.9% to 49.1% and 39.5%. First-year head coach Luke Walton gave his team a talking to the other day, and Nick Young assured the media “He got his point across.”
Speaking of young teams with lots of talent that are struggling mightily, the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday lost 123-114 to the Toronto Raptors, and they needed a 40-point 4th quarter to make it look that close. The Sixers’ Robert Covington scored team-high 26 points with a team-high 12 rebounds, and Philly had more rebounds and assists, and a higher field goal percentage, but the Raptors had fewer turnovers and outscored them at the free throw line by 12, as Philly committed 27 personal fouls. The Sixers continue to be plagued by the injury bug, as top overall draft pick Ben Simmons remains out indefinitely; Joel Embiid, who finally started playing two years after being drafted, left the Raptors game with a twisted ankle, but is expected to play; and Nerlens Noel finally suited up on Monday for his first game of the season, only to sprain his ankle, causing him to miss Wednesday’s game and possibly more. Somewhere Sam Hinkie is smiling.
Dallas Mavericks (6-19) vs Utah Jazz (16-10)
10:30pm ET Friday on ESPN
This is shaping up to be an inglorious end to Dirk Nowitzki’s Hall-of-Fame career. After playing just 5 of the Mavericks’ first 15 games, Nowitzki has been sidelined indefinitely with an Achilles strain, and has begun talking about hanging it up. It might be just as well, given that he’s in pain, and the Mavs are 0-5 with him in the lineup and 6-14 without him. On Wednesday the Mavs lost to the Pistons 95-85, taking a 4-point lead into the 4th quarter, before Detroit ran away with a 12-2 run in the 4th. In addition to shooting 50.7% from the floor, Detroit controlled the boards 50-30, more than making up for the Mavs’ 11-19 turnover advantage. Harrison Barnes scored a team-high 19 for Dallas, while Deron Williams added 16-3-5, but Wesley Matthews managed just 4 points in 37:34 of play, thanks to 2-of-10 shooting. Adding to the Mavs’ woes is the absence of leading rebounder Andrew Bogut, who’s missed the last 5 games with a bone bruise in his right knee, and is expected to be out another week or so.
The Utah Jazz put the Oklahoma City Thunder on notice on Wednesday with a 109-89 victory that moved the Jazz into 1st place in the Northwest, just ahead of the Thunder. Rodney Hood, back after a two-game absence, led the Jazz with 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting, but it was on the defensive end of the floor that Utah made their bones, holding OKC to 36.6% shooting, and holding Russell Westbrook to 27 points on 7-of-25 shooting. The Jazz have held opponents to a league-low 42.8 shooting from the floor, a league low 18 assists per game, and they’re 3rd in blocks per game with 5.7, and 4th in turnovers forced with 15.8 – these guys just clamp down. Though the Thunder were without #2 scorer Victor Oladipo, the Suns were without their #2 scorer George Hill, who continues to deal with a sprained big toe, and has no specific timetable for his return.
Watch the Lakers vs 76ers at 8pm ET, followed by the Mavs vs Jazz at 10:30pm ET Friday on ESPN by subscribing to Sling Orange