NBA

Isaiah Thomas gets revenge on Cleveland Cavaliers for one night in Los Angeles Lakers' victory

Jay Asser 12/03/2018
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Isaiah Thomas finishes at the basket against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Revenge is a dish best served with 20 points and a loss.

That’s how much Isaiah Thomas scored to go along with nine assists and five rebounds to help the Los Angeles Lakers beat his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, 127-113 on Sunday.

Thomas was supposed to fill the Kyrie Irving role next to LeBron James’ when the Cavaliers acquired him from Boston last summer.

But his stay in Cleveland was a short one as the team’s struggles, combined with lack of chemistry, led to the Cavaliers giving up on Thomas and trading to the Lakers at February’s trade deadline.

In his first chance to get back at Cleveland, Thomas – who has accumulated several chips on his shoulder during his underdog career – had one of his best games of the season to hand LeBron and Co. a loss.

Thomas downplayed any extra motivation he had coming into the game, saying afterwards: “No, I don’t need to show anybody. They know what I can do. I only played 15 games for them, so it’s really not about showing them what I can do. The world knows what I can do and what I bring to the table.

“I took it as another game and I just wanted to win and we did a helluva job as a team, beating that really good team over there.”

While the Cavaliers could certainly use a player capable of scoring 20 points and dishing nine assists, it’s not as if Thomas has been lighting the world on fire since moving to Los Angeles.

The 29-year-old former All-Star has been better with the Lakers, but his shooting efficiency is still leaving a lot to be desired – 39.6 per cent from the field and 31.9 per cent from long range.

Thomas may well put his hip injury in the rearview mirror and return to his old form by the end of the season, but for now he’s still not the player the Cavaliers had hoped they traded for – even if Sunday showed otherwise.

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NBA

Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James fools everyone with filthy no-look pass against Los Angeles Lakers

Jay Asser 12/03/2018
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LeBron James recently reached 8,000 career assists.

It seems like every week LeBron James makes a pass that captures the imagination.

We all know the Cleveland Cavaliers star is a phenomenal scorer, but his passing sometimes goes under the radar.

This highlight in Cleveland’s 127-113 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, however, was a nice reminder of just how ridiculous James’ court vision is.

That’s pure art. With Kyle Korver standing alone on the perimeter and the Lakers on the verge of scrambling over, LeBron drew both defenders with his eyes and a fake before dropping an easy no-look to Ante Zizic for the dunk.

LeBron is known for making pinpoint, cross-court passes all the time, but we don’t often get these type of dimes from him that conjure memories of Magic Johnson or Pete Maravich.

It also looked familiar to one a certain former great pulled off.

LeBron wasn’t done though.

Had it not been for his beautiful no-look feed, this would have been the biggest highlight to come out of the game.

LeBron sure does love a good nutmeg.

Even at 33, James remains as fun to watch as ever.

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NBA

Stumbling San Antonio Spurs in need of Kawhi Leonard to keep playoff streak alive

Jay Asser 11/03/2018
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Kawhi Leonard has played in just nine games this season.

If Kawhi Leonard is coming back this season, his return can’t come soon enough for the San Antonio Spurs, who are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in 21 years.

San Antonio received encouraging news of Leonard reportedly being available to play as early as Thursday against the New Orleans Pelicans, barring a setback.

The two-time Defensive Player of the Year has only been on the court for only nine games, with the Spurs being without their best player and franchise cornerstone for nearly the entire season.

And San Antonio are desperate to get him back for a critical stretch run.

After keeping the machine humming as the third-best team in the Western Conference for most of the season, the Spurs have started to tumble in the standings.

A 104-94 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday dropped them to 37-29, which places them seventh in the standings and just one game from 10th.

San Antonio are just 3-10 over the past 13 games and their schedule to close out the season does them no favours, with match-ups remaining against Houston (twice), New Orleans (twice), Golden State, Washington (twice), Oklahoma City and Portland.

The only bottom-feeders the Spurs will play from here on out are Orlando on Tuesday and Sacramento in their penultimate game on April 9.

The tough finish, combined with the fact there are 10 teams battling for eight spots in the West, means it’s conceivable San Antonio could miss the playoffs for the first time since 1997 – easily the longest such streak in the league.

Leonard, if he’s healthy, could change the whole equation.

Though the Spurs are just 5-4 this season when the forward plays, his presence gives them a singular talent to lean on that is otherwise missing from the lineup.

Knowing head coach Gregg Popovich and the culture San Antonio have cultivated over the years, there’s every chance the Spurs won’t go down easy – regardless of whether or not Leonard plays.

“You’ve got no choice. You can’t give in,” LaMarcus Aldridge said after the Thunder loss. “If you give in, that shows your character. I don’t think anyone of this team is a quitter.”

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