Breakfast Special: The Western Conference Joins LeBron James

The worry in Cleveland was that LeBron James was going to take off and join the Western Conference, perhaps the Los Angeles Lakers.

So owner Dan Gilbert, in a flurry of activity at the trade deadline, brought the Western Conference and the Los Angeles Lakers to Cleveland in order to play with LeBron.

George Hill joins Cleveland from Sacramento, Rodney Hood comes from Utah, and Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. arrive from the Lakers, the younger Nance joining a squad his dad made some noise on back in the Michael Jordan era.

What’s more, they put one heck of a poison pill in the Lakers rumors by sending LeBron’s least favorite teammate, Isaiah Thomas, there in the deal.

Jae Crowder is gone, making Danny Ainge once again look like a genius who fleeced the Cavs in a downright “Patriot Way”-level trade that would do that Super Bowl runner up proud. Dwyane Wade was sent back to Miami for just a second-round pick, Channing Frye is out, Iman Shumpert is out, and Derrick Rose was mercifully taken out behind the woodshed.

And with that in mind, let’s start the highlight show with…


Man, it is going to be fun watching IT and Lonzo Ball fight to the death, isn’t it?

Or maybe I should say IT and LaVar Ball.

But in the meantime, a shorthanded Lakers squad faced a DNP-Rest All Stars team, as Oklahoma City was without Russell Westbrook or Carmelo Anthony.

Paul George had 29, but the rest of the Thunder shot a combined 21-of-65 (32.3 percent), and the Lakers won 106-81.

Perhaps more interesting is the fact that the Lakers are 11-4 since the 4th of January…without Lonzo in the lineup, they’ve been excellent, lending further credence to the idea that their No. 2 pick wearing the No. 2 jersey has been a steaming pile of No. 2 who belongs in the G-League.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led LA scorers with 20, Brandon Ingram had 19, and Julius Randle 17 in a balanced attack, and Kyle Kuzma added 16 of his own off the bench:

Meanwhile, in Boston…

Someone asked Kyrie Irving what he thought of all the Cavs trades.

Said Irving: “I’m in Boston.”

Besides being a fantastic “not my circus, not my monkeys” answer, for Irving, it meant he could play hero as he so often does, scoring 28 in the Celtics’ 110-104 overtime win over the Wizards.

Bradley Beal had one of those Bradley Beal Games, the ones where he shoots his team out of the contest and sinks them with his inefficiency.

This time, he was 7-of-27 from the field, scoring 18 points in a ballgame in which his whole team shot just 40 percent.

Irving scored 12 of the last 17 for the C’s…

…and Jaylen Brown had three of the other five in a clutch shot:


Golden State throttled the Dallas Mavericks on the hardwood in Oakland, handing the league’s worst team by record a 121-103 good and proper thrashing.

Kevin Durant led the way with 24, Stephen Curry hit 4-of-9 from three on his way to 20, Klay Thompson added 18, the Dubs assisted on 37 of their 45 makes and shot 51.1 percent…

…in other words, a Warriors game. Plain, simple, nothing fancy about it.

Durant was your man of the match:

Lightning Round!

Toronto stayed level in the loss column with Boston, clobbering the Knicks 113-88 in Toronto.

Jonas Valanciunas led a Total Team Effort with 18, as seven Raptors scored in double figures, but neither Kyle Lowry (7 points, 2-of-10) nor DeMar DeRozan (8 on 2-of-11) were among them.

And seriously, that’s impressive. The backcourt plays that badly and the Raps still blow out an opponent? Yikes. This team is good, folks.

How about some total team highlights:

A basketball game of no importance was played in Orlando, as the Magic beat the Hawks 100-98.

If a tree falls in the draft lottery and nobody’s around to notice because they’re all too fixated on LeBron Derby, did it make a sound?

D.J. Augustin was your man of the match with 18 points and nine assists as the Magic played their first game without Elfrid Payton‘s ridiculous hairstyle, gone to Phoenix in a trade:

And finally, so much for “here come the Charlotte Hornets.” Christmas is cancelled, Charlotte, your team is sunk.

Despite Kemba Walker scoring the same number of points on 26 shots (40) as Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum did combined on 40 shots, that didn’t account for Jusuf Nurkic‘s monster 24-point, 14-rebound, 10-of-14 shooting game, and that was enough for the Blazers to win in overtime, 109-103.

Portland goes to 30-25, now sixth in the West; Charlotte falls to 23-31, just a game above the woeful Knicks for 10th place and fully 4.5 games back of Philadelphia and Detroit, who are tied for eighth.

That’s nine straight at home for the Blazers. Highlights:

The All-Star festivities draw ever closer, and with the trade deadline behind us, we’re careening toward the season’s end, so stay tuned and thanks for reading!