Kobe Bryant was reluctant to brand the Lakers’ first win of the season a turning point as LA ended their five-match losing slump.
Bryant and Jeremy Lin scored 21 points apiece as the Lakers defeated Charlotte 107-92, bringing an end to their worst start to a campaign.
Bryant he added. Offensively, Lin said, he and Bryant are still adjusting to each other.
“It’s just a process,” said Lin, who was traded to the Lakers by the Houston Rockets in July.
“He’s got to learn to continue to trust me and I have to learn to trust him and what that looks like in terms of when to give the ball to the other person.
“It’s not like we’re both coming in inherently trying to be selfish. We both want it to work, we just have to figure out how and today was a step in the right direction.”
Carlos Boozer finished with 16 points and Jordan Hill added 12 with a career-high seven assists for the Lakers.
Al Jefferson led the Hornets with 23 points, while Kemba Walker added 17 and Marvin Williams 11. Meanwhile, Steph Curry cursed a series of missed opportunities for Golden State as their status as the NBA’s last undefeated team ended against Phoenix.
Isaiah Thomas top scored for the Suns with 22 points in the 107-95 triumph, while Curry continued his impressive early season form with 28 points. But the Warriors’ guard scored just six of those in the second half as Golden State let leads of 11 points at half-time, and eight points at the end of the third quarter, slip.
Curry, who was without backcourt partner Klay Thompson who had a sprained right hand, said: “We just made a lot of stupid plays that gave them life as opposed to putting the nail in the coffin when we had the opportunity to do that.”
In a rematch of last year’s Desert Bowl, the Abu Dhabi Wildcats and Dubai Stallions meet as the latter look to avoid consecutive losses.
After rolling through the 2013/14 campaign with a 5-0-1 record, Stallions fell short in the championship to Wildcats. More so than revenge, the Stallions are now hoping for a win in Al Ain to keep from falling into a 0-2 hole.
Improvement on offence will be key after quarterback Markas Morton completed only three passes in the opener and the Stallions scored just seven points.
It won’t get any easier this week against the Wildcats, who allowed six points to the Al Ain Desert Foxes in week one.
Wildcats coach Charles Gillespie said: “The Stallions in the first game did a lot of the same things they did last year, so we just have to go out and play Wildcat football to the best of our abilities. The best way you can respect your opponent is by going out and giving your best effort and that’s what we plan to do.”
Maybe the only area Wildcats were lacking in during the opener was discipline. They were flagged repeatedly and had two players ejected for throwing punches.
So in practice leading up to this week’s game, the mental aspect wasn’t overlooked. “We were just focused on improving, working on discipline and getting fewer penalties. That’s it,” said Gillespie.
The Stallions’ defence has the unfortunate task of going from facing perhaps the league’s best passing attack in the Barracudas, to the league’s best running game in the Wildcats.
The Al Ain Desert Foxes host the Dubai Barracudas on Friday evening in a battle of two teams looking to overcome a lack of depth.
Both squads are low on numbers and using players in various positions. But while Barracudas were able to rely on their high-octane offence to nab a win in their opener, Al Ain suffered their seventh straight loss dating back to last year.
For the Barracudas, the 14-7 win over city rivals Stallions was a favourable start to the new season, but the margin of victory could have been much more if not for several mistakes and turnovers.
With another week to get his players up to speed, Barracudas coach Kyle Jordan is expecting a more solid outing in today’s match-up at the Al Ain Club for the Disabled.
“It was just firming up people’s understanding and recall of the assignments on each play and in each defensive formation, scheme or play-call that we had,” Jordan said of the week’s practices. “We had a lot of guys that were 65 to 75 per cent on what they were doing from play to play.”
Though the Desert Foxes have been at the bottom of the Emirates American Football League standings the past two years, they were feisty against the Abu Dhabi Wildcats in week one.
For Sharp, the Desert Foxes are a work in progress and the regular season gives them the chance to steadily improve before peaking when it matters most.
“The advantage you have in this league is that we already know we’re in the playoffs,” said Sharp.
“So as a coach, it puts me in the position where I want to win every game, but I look at every game as a scrimmage. My goal is to win two games – the playoff game and the championship.”
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, or Peyton Manning and Tom Brady – putting one ahead of the other, even in a literal sense, is an exercise in futility – are the perfect rivals.
They’re both striving to be the best quarterback that’s ever played, and in the end, they both might be.
Their teams meet for the 16th time today, but it could be for the 50th time and no one would complain of having enough. The rivalry is that spectacular – not just the best in the NFL, but one of the very best across all sports.
And that rivalry, for as great as it is on the field, is nothing without all the factors that exist outside of the final scores, statistics and Super Bowl rings.
On one side, there’s Manning – the son of a former NFL quarterback, middle sibling of three brothers, a college football star, first overall draft pick and immediate starter for the Indianapolis Colts. He was practically destined for greatness since birth and his success isn’t all that surprising.
As a quarterback, he might as well be a cyborg. Humans shouldn’t be capable of doing the things he does, like dissecting opposing defences at the line of scrimmage and audibling to maybe the one play out of 10 that will be the perfect counter.
Now at the Denver Broncos, he studies film religiously and knows the most detailed tendencies of not only his own receivers, but of the defensive backs lined up against them.
Then there’s Brady, a part-time starter in college, a sixth round draft pick and initially fourth-stringer for the New England Patriots. He’s had to prove people wrong time and time again, doing that to the umpteenth level.
If you had to boil down Brady to one word, it would undoubtedly be ‘winner’. He won the Super Bowl in his first season as a starter and then claimed two more in the next three years. He holds the highest winning percentage all-time for a quarterback. He’s married to a sup-ermodel. You get it, he wins. A lot.
But guess what? Manning is also a winner. And Brady’s intelligence and football IQ are unquestionable. They’re not that different in the qualities they possess. How they make the game look, however, is what exaggerates their legend.
Manning is a human calculator, like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. He drops back in the pocket with both hands on the ball, feet constantly in motion to best position himself, looking like the most hyper-aware player to ever strap on a helmet.
When he’s driving down the field, it’s open heart surgery. If you squint hard enough while it’s happening, you can see the Matrix digital code trickling.
Brady, meanwhile, is the coolest kid you knew in high school. When he drops back, he looks like he’s taking a stroll through the park. Nothing is rushed, as if his body language is saying ‘relax, I’m completing this pass’, and he does. When he’s carving up defences, it’s like a composer writing a symph-ony. It’s art in its purest form.
Style aside, the debate of which quarterback is better seems neccessary, but impossible to quantify.
Manning has the stats, but he’s done it with better weapons. Brady has the Super Bowls, but he’s played on better overall teams.
Today’s game won’t tilt the balance one way or the other, but hopefully there’s plenty more chapters left to be written.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, or Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. It’s impossible to choose.