Anthony Davis. Screenshot
Lakers sputter to Nuggets in opener, 119-107
Anthony Davis inexplicably erratic; 17 pts. first half, 0 pts. second half
Charles Barkley was not impressed with Anthony Davis' performance in the Lakers' loss to the Nuggets on Tuesday night.
Davis scored 17 points in the first half of Tuesday night's season opener. That put him on pace for 34 in the game. His final scoring output? 17 points. That's right. Davis didn't score a single point in the second half of the Lakers' 119-107 loss to Denver.
Barkley criticized Davis after the game for
failing to live up to expectations, a recurring criticism for much of Davis' Lakers career.
“I said when he was in New Orleans [that] this guy is going to be the best basketball player in the world in the next five years. He’s not even mentioned anymore when you talk about the best players in the game,” Barkley said.
“LeBron has said it publicly: It’s (Davis’s) team now. And you wonder when the light is going to kick on because he [doesn’t] have to play great every night, but you can’t go a whole half and not score.”
That's a fair analysis from Barkley. Davis hasn't been the reliable No. 1 star the Lakers have needed him to be on a consistent basis.
Imagine being LeBron James. At 38 years old, James can't be solely responsible for carrying the Lakers on a nightly basis. He brought Davis to Los Angeles to eventually take over the Lakers as their biggest star.
Ja Morant. Courtesy Memphis Grizzlies
NBA suspends Ja Morant 25 games with conditions for reinstatement
NEW YORK (MNS)—The NBA announced June 16 that Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant has been suspended 25 games without pay for conduct detrimental to the league.
Morant posed with a firearm in a car during a live-streamed video on May 13, less than two months after he was suspended eight games without pay for the live streaming of a video on March 4 in which he displayed a firearm while in an intoxicated state at a Denver area nightclub.
The league office found that, on May 13, Morant intentionally and prominently displayed a gun while in a car with several other individuals as they were leaving a social gathering in Memphis. Morant wielded the firearm while knowing that he was being recorded and that the recording was being live streamed on Instagram Live, despite having made commitments to the NBA and statements that he would not repeat the conduct for which he was previously suspended. On May 16, Morant issued a statement taking full accountability for his actions.
Morant’s suspension begins immediately and will remain in effect through the first 25 games of the 2023-24 NBA regular season for which he is otherwise eligible and able to play. He will also be required to meet certain conditions before he returns to play and will be ineligible to participate in any public league or team activities, including preseason games, during the course of his suspension.
"Ja Morant’s decision to once again wield a firearm on social media is alarming and disconcerting given his similar conduct in March for which he was already suspended eight games," said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. "The potential for other young people to emulate Ja’s conduct is particularly concerning. Under these circumstances, we believe a suspension of 25 games is appropriate and makes clear that engaging in reckless and irresponsible behavior with guns will not be tolerated.
"For Ja, basketball needs to take a back seat at this time. Prior to his return to play, he will be required to formulate and fulfill a program with the league that directly addresses the circumstances that led him to repeat this destructive behavior."
WHAT'S WRONG WITH JA MORANT?
For the second time in less than three months, two- time Memphis Grizzlies All-star guard Ja Morant has been suspended for illegal gun possession. Morant was seen on Instagram holding what appeared to be a weapon.
The first time Morant committed the infraction led to an eight-game NBA suspension handed down in March and cost him about $669,000 in salary.
There is something apparently wrong with Ja Morant. He fears for his life or he's trying hard to cultivate a "street tough" image, which appears ludicrous because Morant doesn't come from a tough background growing up and had the benefit of a middle-class two-parent upbringing. Fondling with a self-destruct button is confounding.
So, the question again—What's Wrong With Ja Morant? Why would he jeopardize a promising and lucrative NBA career committing witless infractions? Morant is begging for help. He needs psychiatric counseling.
Brian Bowen II runs during a Team USA basketball game. Photo courtesy of All-Pro Reels/Wikipedia Commons via Courthouse News
Kareem in LeBron's sights
LOS ANGELES (CNS)—Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James enters today's game against the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis needing 89 points to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA's career scoring leader.
James scored 28 points Tuesday in a 129-123 overtime victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden to increase his career total to 38,299 points in 1,407 games over 20 seasons. Abdul-Jabbar scored 38,387 points in 1,560 games over 20 seasons.
James is seventh in the league in scoring, averaging 30.2 points per game. If he maintains his average and does not miss a game, he would set the record Tuesday in a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Crypto.com Arena.
As he regularly is, James is listed as questionable due to left ankle soreness. However, he has played in 10 of the Lakers' past 11 games, missing only Monday's game at Brooklyn.
James scored 21 points in a 116-115 loss to the Pacers on Nov. 28 at Crypto.com Arena in the teams' only other meeting this season.
The Lakers (24-28) are 13th in the 15-team Western Conference, two games behind the New Orleans Pelicans in the race for the conference's final spot in the play-in tournament.
Indiana (24-28) is 10th in the 15-team Eastern Conference, percentage points ahead of the Chicago Bulls in the race for the conference's final spot in the play-in tournament.
The game will be televised by Spectrum SportsNet at 4 p.m.
The Los Angeles Lakers have named Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Darvin Ham head coach Screen shot.
Lakers tab Darvin Ham head coach
LOS ANGELES (CNS)—The Los Angeles Lakers have found a new head coach, with the team today reaching a deal to hire Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Darvin Ham.
ESPN first reported the hire, which was subsequently confirmed through sources by the Los Angeles Times. Although the team did not immediately respond to a request for comment, star LeBron James confirmed the news on Twitter, writing, "So damn EXCITED!!!!!!! Congrats and welcome Coach DHam!!"
Ham, 48, played college ball at Texas Tech and spent 12 years as a pro, including stints with the Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, Bucks, Washington Wizards, Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets. He has been an NBA assistant coach for more than a decade, including a 2011-13 stint with the Lakers.
He was also an assistant for the Atlanta Hawks before joining the Bucks coaching staff in 2018.
The Lakers in April fired head coach Frank Vogel following two straight disappointing seasons on the heels of the team's championship in the pandemic-abbreviated 2019-20 season.
In the 2020-21 season, the team finished 42-30 and was ousted from the playoffs in the first round. In the 2021-22 season, with James and Anthony Davis both battling injuries, the Lakers missed the postseason. Vogel compiled a 127-98 record during his time with the team.
So long Staples; Hello
LOS ANGELES (CNS)—After 22 years, the Lakers will play their last game at Staples Center tomorrow night—two days before the venerable downtown venue officially becomes "Crypto.com Arena" on Christmas Day.
The Lakers host the San Antonio Spurs in the 7:30 p.m. game, and plan a number of sendoff festivities for their finale under the "Staples" banner. They include:
A special opening video to be played prior to tip-off; fans in attendance receiving a commemorative ticket, as well as a T-shirt that's a replica of the first T-shirt given away at Staples in June 2000 when the Lakers won the NBA's Western Conference; several Lakers legends appearing for a halftime celebration featuring past NBA champion- ship trophies; a banner marking 22 years of Lakers history at Staples being featured along the top
of arena's City View Terrace.
The Lakers are scheduled to host the Brooklyn Nets on Christmas Day in the first game played at Crypto.com Arena, but that game is in danger of being postponed, as the Nets' roster has been devastated by the corona virus surge. Brooklyn's scheduled Thursday night game in Portland was postponed by the NBA on Wednesday, with the Nets not having the league-minimum of eight players available.
It was the third straight Nets game that was postponed.
The Nets have signed several "hardship replacements," and as of Wednesday the Christmas Day game was still a go. The Lakers' next scheduled home game after that is on New Year's Eve against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Clippers, who also call the arena home, are scheduled to host the Denver Nuggets on Dec. 26.
The NHLs Los Angeles Kings, another tenant of the arena, are scheduled to host the Las Vegas Golden Knights at Crypto.com Arena on Dec. 28. Crypto.com, which bills itself as the fastest-growing crypto currency platform, is beginning a 20-year naming rights agreement with AEG, the arena's owner. A new logo and other branding assets, including internal arena signage, will be introduced on Christmas Day if the game goes off as planned. All of the venue's external signage will be replaced by June.
The agreement, announced Nov. 17, includes official designations across Crypto.com Arena, L.A. LIVE, Microsoft Theater, The Novo, the Lakers, and the Kings. The agreement also makes Crypto.com an official crypto currency platform partner of the Lakers and Kings. Terms of the agreement were not announced, though the Los Angeles Times reported Crypto.com paid more than $700 million for the naming rights, according to sources familiar with the terms. That would make it one of the biggest naming deals in sports history.
Crypto.com claims to have more than 10 million customers. Its headquarters are in Singapore, and it employs more than 2,600 people in offices across the Americas, Europe and Asia. The company was founded in 2016. It recently began a global campaign featuring actor Matt Damon to formally introduce the platform.
Crypto.com also has sponsorships with the UFC, the F1 auto racing circuit, Italian soccer's Serie A, the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, and NHL's Montreal Canadiens.