Breakfast Special: The Lakers Make Danny Ainge Look Smart

The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Sacramento Kings Tuesday in a battle of two of the worst teams in the Western Conference, and by extension among the worst in the entire NBA.

Previously, I’d referred to the LOLakers as “they can’t even tank right”, but it was brought to my attention that “hey, genius, the Lakers don’t own their pick in 2018.”

And that’s true; if the pick is No. 1 overall or 6th or later, the Sixers get it; if it falls between 2 and 5, the Celtics get it. The whole thing is the result of the Steve Nash trade (how the Suns got the pick originally, in 2012 as a future conditional pick), the Brandon Knight trade (how Philly ended up with the pick), and the Markelle Fultz/Jayson Tatum pick swap in 2017 (how Boston got skin in the game.)

In other words, it’s a cursed pick. Three one-sided trades had that pick at the center, and of those, three of the four franchises involved got ruined by it. Only the Celtics came out smelling like roses because Danny Ainge is a mad genius and possibly part of a Legion of Doom with Bill Belichick.

In the meantime, we got a basketball atrocity. Lonzo Ball did the hard part of getting a triple-double; he had 11 assists and 11 rebounds. He stumbled and faceplanted at the finish line, however, scoring only five points on 2-of-10 shooting and a horrifying 1-of-7 from three.

Yet the Lakers shot 48.1 percent as a team. Take Lonzo’s “contribution” out and they shot 52.2 percent overall and 39.3 from out in the parking lot.

It was a moot point in any event; Sacramento shot 34.5 percent, including a horrifying 15-of-51 (29.4 percent) from the starting lineup. Yikes.

Julius Randle was the man of the match, scoring 22 points and pulling down 14 boards while shooting 61.5 percent overall. But he’s not getting the featured highlight.

That honor goes to Vince Carter, who turns 41 in two weeks:

Sir Missed-A-Lot

Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony combined for 63 points.

Unfortunately, they also combined to take 55 shots, as the Portland Trail Blazers rode a 53.1 percent shooting night of their own to a double-digit win, taking the game by the final count of 117-106 on the road.

C.J. McCollum was a lot less Dark Age-y than usual, scoring his 27 points on a surprisingly efficient 11-of-19 shooting, while Shabazz Napier (21, 5-of-10) and Jusuf Nurkic (20, 8-of-15) completed the powerhouse performance.

Westbrook was a rebound shy of a triple-double. Great for daily fantasy. Not so much for daily reality.

Portland rises to 22-18, overtaking the 22-19 Thunder in the Western Conference standings and sneaking into fifth place.

Highlights from the man of the match, who continues to provide the sans-Lillard push Portland needs:

Dragon 1, Dark Ages 0

DeMar DeRozan had himself a 2002 of a time out there, getting his 25 points on a horrific 10-of-29 shooting.

Goran Dragic, meanwhile, got to 24 shooting 10-of-21.

In a game that ended in a one-point win for The Best Bad Team In Basketball (to the extent that isn’t Cleveland, but Miami is the four seed despite a negative point differential; at least the Cavs have an offense to offset their horrendous defense), that kind of Bronx cheer efficiency was enough.

Indeed, Toronto played a terrible game from top to bottom; they shot 38.9 percent from the field, lost the rebound battle 64-37 (!), and gave up 20 offensive rebounds (!!) while watching Dragic get 12 boards overall, Hassan Whiteside claim 15, and Bam Adebayo add 15 more of his own off the bench. That’s three guys who outrebounded an entire team.

Toronto should’ve been blown out, but they committed only five turnovers (to Miami’s 13) and watched the Heat struggle with their own shot (you don’t get 20 offensive boards shooting well, and the Heat ended up at 40.2 percent overall while making just four three-pointers.)

A good team had a bad night; a bad team got another squeaker that leads one to wonder if they’ll continue to defy the advanced stats that say they’re a 38-win team.

Well, plus there’s the whole Wayne Ellington played hero thing:

And America’s Greatest Slovenian:

And Finally…

It was one of those days in the Association, two games with intriguing playoff implications and two complete stinkers.

We covered the Lakers’ stinker up top because Google loves Lonzo and I love traffic, but let’s bury the second one on page D8 next to the crossword puzzle and the 30-year-old Peanuts comic.

Dallas beat Orlando 114-99, as the Magic continue to be hot garbage and the Mavs continue to have too much heart to just fold up the tent and tank.

Dirk Nowitzki had 20 on 6-of-13, Dennis Smith Jr. had his 20 on a much less efficient 8-of-19, and the Mavs committed just four turnovers as a team compared to Orlando’s 13.

Combine that with a 51.8-45.6 shooting percentage advantage and you see why they won by 15.

Nowitzki may be in the twilight of his career, but he can still fill the stat sheet:

It’s Wednesday, so we’ve got a lighter schedule of just this here breakfast piece, but why not click on the homepage or one of those lovely related articles below? There’s plenty enough to read around here, so enjoy and thanks for reading!