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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley’s struggles reached new depths Sunday when he had a career-low one rushing yard on 13 carries in a 34-27 loss to the New York Jets. He also failed to effectively block Jets safety Jamal Adams on a pair of sack/fumbles in the contest.

Barkley’s previous low in a game he played from start to finish was 28 yards, which occurred last week against the Cowboys and Week 2 of his rookie season. His longest run against the Jets went for three yards. Barkley had four rushes that went for negative yards in the contest.

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Barkley was “banged up” in Sunday’s game, according to coach Pat Shumur. He was seen by reporters entering the X-ray room following the loss.

“Jets played a hell of a game. They’re a hell of a defense,” Barkley said. “Going into the game they were only averaging [allowing] 3.1 yards per carry. They did an amazing job. I reached out to [defensive coordinator Greg] Williams. Shook his hand and said, ‘good job.’”

When asked about whether the injuries were affecting his play or about the X-ray, Barkley responded: “Next question.”

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Adams rips ball away from Jones for 25-yard fumble-6Jamal Adams wrestles the ball away from Daniel Jones with authority and takes off the other way for a 25-yard touchdown.
It has been a struggle for Barkley ever since returning from a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 3. He’s averaging just 2.6 yards per carry in the four games since.

There was a moment early in the second quarter when Barkley grabbed at his left leg after an incomplete pass thrown in his direction. He was taken off the field for one play, then returned without a limp.

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Barkley’s previous injury was to his right ankle. Regardless, the Pro Bowl running back isn’t passing the eye test at this point. There may be reasons beyond the struggles of the Giants’ offensive line, which finished the game with three backups on the field.

“[Barkley] got banged up a little bit [Sunday], so I don’t know,” Shurmur said. “I’m sure that contributes. We’ll look at it as we go. He got banged around pretty good.”

There were moments when Barkley was on the field that he was ineffective. It showed up on two costly plays with his blocking.

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Jets safety Adams silences critics with banner day
Barkley was dominated by Adams on the sack/fumbles, with the second resulting in an Adams touchdown.

“Jamal Adams beat me. Simple as that. He’s a heck of a player. All-Pro,” Barkley said. “Didn’t really want to switch jerseys with him after the game. Jokingly told him that. One of my good friends. One of my boys. Hell of a player. Much respect to him. I got to be better there.”

Barkley and the Giants (2-8) are entering their bye week sputtering and not at 100%. This gives them time to heal.

Starting wide receiver Sterling Shepard, tight end Evan Engram, right tackle Mike Remmers and center Jon Halapio all missed Sunday’s game because of injury. Left tackle Nate Solder exited in the second quarter with a concussion.

“Only thing I got to focus on is just coming in and trying to be the player I can for my team,” Barkley said. “Just focus on the bye week. It’s a week where everyone can get a chance to get healthier, not only myself but the whole team. We get to reflect on our season so far. Just try to be a better team than we were in the first half.”

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The Giants enter their bye week on a six-game skid. It has everyone searching for answers.

“I mean, like, I don’t know. Yes, frustration, disappointment, anger. Everything you said,” Barkley said. “No one wants to be 2-8. No one wants to have a losing record. I don’t know, yes. Everyone is upset. Everyone is frustrated.”

After a 21-point blowout loss at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, New York Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry addressed the media to express their displeasure with the team’s struggles.

“We’re not happy with where we are,” said Mills. “This is not where we expected to be at this point — 10 games in.”

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Sunday’s loss dropped the Knicks to 2-8 on the season. It was their third loss of at least 20 points in the last four games and the second at Madison Square Garden in that span.

The Cavs opened the second half on an 18-6 run and led the Knicks by as many as 30 in the third quarter. After a fast-break layup by Collin Sexton with under seven minutes left in the quarter, fans booed the Knicks.

Perry said the team has lacked consistency in its effort.

“I think the lack of consistency — that for the most part we’ve seen it, but you see sporadic efforts, too,” Perry said. “And that’s what we talked about as we sat during this game, and one of the reasons we wanted to come out and address you guys. Because we got to be consistent in all areas of the game, starting with the effort.”

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Despite the struggles, Mills said the front office still believes in coach David Fizdale.

“We have patience, and we believe in Coach,” Mills said. “And we believe in the group that we put together, but we also know that, as Scott and I both have said a number of times, we need to find a way to have a consistent level of effort and execution.”

“Got to own that our home consistency is not there,” Fizdale said after the game. “I take full responsibility for that.”

The Knicks didn’t necessarily have playoff expectations this season after whiffing on landing a big free agent in the offseason, but they were expected to be more competitive than last season’s league-worst 17-65 team. So far, that hasn’t been the case.

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“We’re not here focused on the record,” Mills said. “We’re focused on improvement and delivering a consistent effort, because we believe that if this team plays with the kind of effort that they played against Dallas that we’ll win basketball games.”

Prior to facing Cleveland, the Knicks played the Mavericks on Friday, earning their second win of the season in Kristaps Porzingis’ first game against his former team. Offseason acquisitions Marcus Morris Sr. (29 points) and Julius Randle (21) led the team in scoring in the 106-102 win.

“[Mills and Perry are] right. We need to win,” Morris said after Sunday’s loss. “We got great players. We got great chemistry. We got great guys on this team. … If I was front office, I’d be upset too. Our coaches are doing a great job. We just got to be better. They’re not the ones giving up 20-point leads in the beginning of the first half. That’s us. It’s all on us, and we have to own it.”

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Mills said team owner Jim Dolan still believes in the plan he and Perry have in place but wants to see better results on the court.

“He’s [as] passionate as we are about this,” Mills said. “So he would want us to have better results on the floor as well. And I think Jim is a fan and believes in what we’re doing, but he has the same kind of expectations that we have.”

The San Francisco Giants have hired former Cubs front-office executive Scott Harris as general manager, the team announced Sunday.

Harris spent seven years in the Cubs’ front office and was named their assistant GM in January of last year. He has long been seen as a future GM and was an integral part of the Cubs’ recent rise.

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“We’re thrilled to be able to bring in an executive of Scott’s caliber to help lead our Baseball Operations group,” president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said in a statement. “The combination of his breadth of experience, contributions toward building a championship-winning perennial contender in Chicago and his Bay Area roots made him an ideal fit for our General Manager position and I’m looking forward to executing our vision together.”

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Harris is the 10th GM in Giants history and the first hired during Zaidi’s tenure, which began last year. The Giants still need to find a manager to replace Bruce Bochy, who retired after the 2019 season.

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A native of Redwood City, California, Harris attended Columbia Business School while working for Major League Baseball as the league’s coordinator of major league operations for two years prior to joining the Cubs in 2012.

Toronto Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner will be out a minimum of four weeks after sustaining an ankle injury Saturday against the Flyers.

Marner, 22, is the Leafs’ second-leading scorer with 18 points (four goals, 14 assists) in 18 games this season.

“I’m disappointed for Mitch, I’m disappointed for our hockey team,” coach Mike Babcock said after Sunday’s 5-4 loss to Chicago.

“In saying that, someone else is going to get an opportunity. As a coach, we’ve got to figure it out, get our lines — we had a different line for each period (Sunday) — we’ve got to get our lines right to maximize the group we have, get the right people in the right spots.”

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Marner signed a six-year contract worth almost $11 million per season after registering 94 points (26 goals, 68 assists) in 2018-19.

The team said he will be reevaluated at the end of the four weeks.

Liverpool opened up an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League with an emphatic and hugely impressive 3-1 win over defending champions Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday.

The victory leaves unbeaten Liverpool on 34 points from 12 games, eight ahead of Leicester City and Chelsea, and nine in front of Pep Guardiola’s fourth-placed City.

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Liverpool grabbed a sixth-minute lead with a thundering drive from Brazilian Fabinho, who pounced on a clearance from Ilkay Gundogan and blasted past Claudio Bravo from distance.

Yet City felt the stunning effort should have been ruled out — and a penalty awarded to them — as prior to the break that led to the goal Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold appeared to handle the ball inside the box but the VAR review went against the visitors.

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City pushed forward in response and Raheem Sterling missed a close-range header, but Liverpool struck again in the 13th minute when Andy Robertson crossed from the left and Mohamed Salah nodded the bouncing ball past Bravo to make it 2-0.

City’s third defeat of the season look assured when Liverpool made it 3-0 six minutes after the interval as Jordan Henderson worked space for a cross on the right flank and Sadio Mane stooped to head home at the back post.

Bernardo Silva pulled a goal back for City in the 78th minute, drilling home a low cross from Angelino and the visitors enjoyed some late pressure but Liverpool held firm.

“What happened today we showed why are champion, I am so proud of my team, more than ever,” City boss Guardiola said postmatch. “We can be proud of how we played against the strongest team in Europe.

When pushed about the controversy around the first goal, he added: “Ask to the referees, don’t ask me. Ask to Mike Riley and the guys in VAR. I would like to talk about our performance, it was so good.

“It was one of the best performances we have played. We played like back-to-back champions. We cannot deny how good Liverpool are but the way we played, the personality, it was good. It was quite similar to the Champions League game. It was an incredible situations in that game too but the performance today was so good.

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“Always we try, never give up that is why we are back-to-back champions. Always fight until the end. “It is important to grow as a club and as a team. It was an honour for both team to show Premier League to spectators this type of game.”

LSU is an overwhelming No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll after beating Alabama in a 1-2 matchup, and Minnesota moved into the top 10 for the first time in 57 years.

After two weeks of historically close voting at the top of the poll, LSU received 54 first-place votes in the AP Top 25 presented by Regions Bank. Ohio State was No. 2 with five first-place votes and Clemson was third with three first-place votes. Alabama fell two spots to No. 4.

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Georgia was fifth, followed by Oregon and Minnesota at No. 7. The Gophers won Saturday’s other matchup of unbeaten teams, defeating Penn State at home. The Nittany Lions slipped four spots to No. 9.

No. 24 Indiana is ranked for the first time since 1994, snapping the longest poll drought among Power Five conference schools.

POLL POINTS

It wasn’t a great week for Alabama, but the Crimson Tide did extend their record for consecutive weeks in the top five of the AP poll. Alabama has been among the five highest-ranked teams for 66 weeks, a streak that started on Nov. 8, 2015.

The second-longest streak of top-five appearances is Miami, which had 55 from Oct. 8, 2000 to Oct. 26, 2003.

Minnesota has its best ranking since it reached No. 5 in 1962 and finished 10th.

AP Top 25
1. LSU (54) 9-0
2. Ohio St. (5) 9-0
3. Clemson (3) 10-0
4. Alabama 8-1
5. Georgia 8-1
6. Oregon 8-1
7. Minnesota 9-0
8. Utah 8-1
9. Penn St. 8-1
10. Oklahoma 8-1
11. Florida 8-2
12. Baylor 9-0
13. Auburn 7-2
14. Michigan 7-2
15. Wisconsin 7-2
16. Notre Dame 7-2
17. Cincinnati 8-1
18. Memphis 8-1
19. Boise St. 8-1
20. SMU 9-1
21. Navy 7-1
22. Texas 6-3
23. Iowa 6-3
24. Indiana 7-2
25. Oklahoma St. 6-3

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IN-N-OUT

Indiana had a great off week with the help of another Power Five school that had not been ranked in years. Wake Forest slipped out of the ranking after a loss at Virginia Tech. The Demon Deacons earlier in the year earned a ranking for the first time since the 2008.

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The Hoosiers (7-2) already have their first seven-victory season in 12 years and will head to Penn State next week trying to win as a ranked team for the first time since late in the 1993 season. The previous time Indiana was ranked, it moved into the rankings on Sept. 18, 1994, after beating Kentucky to get to 3-0. Ranked No. 25, the Hoosiers visited No. 16 Wisconsin, lost 62-13, and have not been ranked since.

Now that Indiana has ended its drought, the Hoosiers’ in-state rivals have the longest run of being unranked among Power Five schools. Purdue hasn’t been ranked since 2007. The next-longest droughts are Kansas (since 2009), Illinois (2011) and Rutgers (2012).

• No. 22 Texas moved back into the rankings after beating Kansas State and knocking the Wildcats out of the Top 25.

• No. 25 Oklahoma State moved back into the Top 25 for the second time this season.

• San Diego State fell out after losing to Nevada.

CONFERENCE CALL

For the sixth time this season, three of the top five teams are from the SEC.

Big Ten — 7 (Nos. 2, 7, 9, 14, 15, 23, 24).

SEC — 5 (Nos. 1, 4, 5, 11, 13).

American — 4 (Nos. 17, 18, 20, 21).

Big 12 — 4 (Nos. 10, 12, 22, 25).

Pac-12 — 2 (Nos. 6, 8).

ACC — 1 (No. 3).

Mountain West — 1 (No. 19).

Independent — 1 (No. 16).

RANKED vs. RANKED

No. 5 Georgia at No. 13 Auburn. Another top-10 opponent for the Tigers.

No. 7 Minnesota at No. 23 Iowa. The Gophers still have work to do in the Big Ten West.

No. 24 Indiana at No. 9 Penn State. The Nittany Lions look for a bounce back before their showdown with Ohio State.

No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 12 Baylor. Could be first of two meetings, with a Big 12 championship rematch.

No. 21 Navy at No. 16 Notre Dame. The Midshipmen have an opportunity to give the American Athletic Conference a statement victory.

Anthony Davis Jersey Lakers

O astro Anthony Davis é o novo reforço do Los Angeles Lakers. Segundo Adrian Wojnarowski, da ESPN, o New Orleans Pelicans fechou acordo para enviar o pivô de 26 anos para a equipe californiana em troca dos jovens Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart e Lonzo Ball, além de múltiplas futuras escolhas de primeira rodada de draft. Espera-se que a negociação seja oficializada no início de julho.

As seleções de recrutamento cedidas pelos angelinos na negociação começam pela quarta escolha do draft desse ano, que acontecerá dentro de cinco dias. Envolve também uma seleção protegida para as oito primeiras posições de 2021 (e, então, desprotegida em 2022) e desprotegida de 2024. O time da Louisiana ainda ganha o direito de trocar escolhas com o parceiro de transação em 2023 e 2025.

As negociações entre Lakers e Pelicans por Davis se estendiam desde fevereiro, na trade deadline, quando ele fez um pedido público de troca e as conversas foram prejudicadas pelo regular vazamento de informações. Uma extensão de contrato, agora, passa a ser o objetivo dos executivos de Los Angeles: o craque deverá ser agente livre na offseason do ano que vem.

O Boston Celtics também estava interessado na aquisição do pivô, mas a ação do empresário do atleta, Rich Paul, “esfriou” o interesse do time. O controverso agente nunca escondeu ter predileção por colocar o all-star na equipe da Califórnia, ao lado de outro de seus célebres clientes: LeBron James. Em uma entrevista recente, ele chegou a ponto de cravar que o jogador não ficaria em Massachussets após 2020.

Primeira escolha do draft de 2012, Davis é considerado um dos melhores jogadores da NBA na atualidade. O astro acumula seis convocações para o Jogo das Estrelas, três eleições para os quintetos ideais da temporada e três seleções para uma das equipes de defesa da liga na carreira. Ele registrou médias de 25.9 pontos, 12.0 rebotes, 3.9 assistências, 2.4 tocos e 1.6 roubos de bola na campanha passada, mesmo atuando com restrições de minutos em parte do ano.

Após troca, Pelicans ainda tenta negociar quarta escolha do draft

A negociação de Davis foi a primeira decisão de David Griffin como presidente de operações de Nova Orleans. A oferta do Lakers teria sido a que mais se enquadrou dentro das exigências da equipe, que buscava múltiplas escolhas de draft e jovens talentos para liberar o craque. O time, vale lembrar, já tem a primeira escolha do draft desse ano – e, por consequência, Zion Williamson.

De acordo com Adrian Wojnarowski, da ESPN, o Pelicans não pretende ficar com a quarta escolha do draft e já iniciou negociações com múltiplos interessados para repassá-la antes do recrutamento. Atlanta Hawks e Phoenix Suns seriam dois dos mais fortes candidatos para adquiri-la.

Ball, Ingram e Hart já eram parte do pacote oferecido no meio da temporada por Davis e são três dos mais brilhantes jovens talentos que o Lakers selecionou nos drafts dos últimos anos. Os dois primeiros foram titulares na maior parte de sua passagem pela franquia angelina, enquanto o terceiro era um dos principais reservas arremessadores do elenco.

Confira, então, como ficou a troca fechada entre Lakers e Pelicans – com situação contratual e média dos atletas envolvidos na temporada que acabou de terminar:

Lakers recebe

Anthony Davis (US$27.0 milhões a receber até 2020): 25.9 pontos, 12.0 rebotes, 3.9 assistências e 2.4 tocos em 33.0 minutos de ação

Pelicans recebe

Brandon Ingram (US$16.7 milhões a receber, entre opções, até 2021): 18.3 pontos, 5.1 rebotes e 3.0 assistências em 33.8 minutos de ação
Lonzo Ball (US$34 milhões a receber, entre opções, até 2022): 9.9 pontos, 5.3 rebotes, 5.4 assistências e 1.5 roubos de bola em 30.3 minutos de ação
Josh Hart (US$10.6 milhões a receber, entre opções, até 2022): 7.8 pontos, 3.7 rebotes e 1.4 assistências em 25.6 minutos de ação
Três escolhas de primeira rodada de draft (2019, 2021 e 2024)
Dois direitos de trocar escolhas de primeira rodada de draft (2023 e 2025)

Troy Daniels Jersey Lakers

After tweaking his left knee at practice on Monday, Los Angeles Lakers guard Troy Daniels underwent an MRI and the results came back negative, according to Mike Trudell of Lakers.com. Daniels is listed as questionable with a sore knee for Tuesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns.

Daniels joins Anthony Davis (shoulder), Rajon Rondo (calf) and, of course, DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) on the injury report for Sunday’s game. Of those names, Cousins is the only one that for sure won’t be suiting up against Phoenix.

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Anthony Davis listed as probable with sore shoulder, Rajon Rondo considered questionable; Troy Daniels to get an MRI on knee

Not having Daniels obviously wouldn’t be as detrimental to the Lakers as not having Davis — the team’s leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker — but it would give them one less shooter to counter the fourth-best 3-point-shooting team in the NBA.

Daniels hasn’t been as productive as he’s been in year’s past as a 3-point shooter, and is currently shooting 31.6% from behind the arc, including 27.6% on catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts. But he’s still one of the few people on the roster that can catch fire from behind the arc. On Sunday, Daniels made three 3-pointers — tied for the team-high — on 60% shooting.

Daniels is ranked third on the team in total 3-point makes despite playing the third-least total minutes on the team. He might be struggling right now, but when taking into account his career numbers, he’s still one of the better 3-point shooters the Lakers have.

That being said, if Daniels is at risk of sustaining a more serious injury by playing through pain on Tuesday, there’s no reason for him to see the floor against his former team. It’s an 82-game season, and the Lakers are going to need his shooting in the playoffs.

The Lakers will provide an update on Daniels’ health before tip-off on Tuesday.

DeMarcus Cousins Jersey Lakers

After having offseason surgery for a torn left ACL he suffered playing in a summer pick-up game, DeMarcus Cousins was expected to miss the entire 2019-20 season. Now, that may not be the case, as ESPN’s Dave McMenamin is reporting that the Lakers have not ruled out the possibility of Cousins returning at some point this season.

From ESPN:

“We’ve not closed the door on that,” Vogel said Sunday before the Lakers played the Charlotte Hornets. “We’ll just — we’re going to be a wait and see. With these injuries that are long rehabs, you have to see and take it kind of month to month and see where he’s at. But we’ve not closed the door on a possible return for him.”

Cousins signed a one-year, $3.5 million with the Lakers this summer, another prove-it deal after he did the same with the Warriors last season in an effort to show he’s still worth a big-money contract somewhere. Cousins never really got the chance to show he was right with Golden State, returning late in the regular season and then hurting his quad in the first round of the playoffs. He came back in the Finals, but wasn’t 100 percent.

The Lakers signed Cousins to pair with former Pelicans teammate Anthony Davis, who doesn’t like playing center and wants another big man next to him, and obviously the two have a certain chemistry having played together in New Orleans. After Cousins went down, the Lakers signed Dwight Howard, and have since applied for and been granted a $1.75 million DPE (disabled played exception), which they have to use by March 10th.

If the Lakers were to use that DPE and Cousins then worked his way back into playing shape, he would still be eligible to return. Who knows if Cousins, who will have missed significant portions of the last three seasons with two major injuries (ruptured Achilles and a torn ACL), would be of any real benefit to the Lakers. He could be a potential trade candidate in certain scenarios.

In terms of recovery timelines for torn ACLs, the typical time frame is 9-12 months. Cousins has surgery in late August. Do the math, and the nine-month mark would be late May — around the time of the conference finals, should the Lakers make it that far. Perhaps he could be a playoff spark if he wanted to risk returning at the front of of the normal recovery timeline, but it’s hard to imagine him being in any condition to truly contribute at a conference-finals intensity level. It seems unlikely, but the Lakers aren’t ruling it out.

Quinn Cook Jersey Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors 126-93. Anthony Davis and LeBron James continued their strong play during the preseason, but it was Quinn Cook that had much of social media taking.

Quinn Cook had missed all of the preseason recovering from a sore left calf and Wednesday night he made his Lakers debut in spectacular fashion. Cook had 16 points while shooting 6-for-9 from the field and 4-for-5 from 3-point land in 15 minutes of action. He also proved to be very effective in the pick and roll, setting up teammates with 3 assists.
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Chicago Bulls vs Golden State Warriors

Cook shot the ball without hesitation and with confidence, proving how valuable shooting is from your guards. He’s a 42% career 3-point shooter on 2.7 attempts per game. James and Davis will draw double teams whenever they are on the floor, so it’s likely Cook’s attempts will improve.

Cook is accustomed to playing with superstars. In Golden State he played with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant. In his rookie season, he played with Davis briefly in New Orleans, so he has some built in rapport with the superstar big man. Playing in Golden State, he won a championship and doesn’t seem overwhelmed by the bright lights of Hollywood.

All of this is a plus for a Lakers team who last year tried to put playmakers around LeBron instead of shooting. In Wednesday’s game, the Lakers shot 15-for-30 from deep as a team, and Cook’s shooting seemed infectious.

Much has been made about who will start at point guard for the Lakers. Up until Wednesday, it seemed the Avery Bradley would start due to his ability to pressure the ball and be a good defensive backcourt with Danny Green. Rajon Rondo has seen a lot of minutes this preseason due to his playmaking ability and because James and Davis trust him, but neither Bradley or Rondo shoot like Cook.
Next: 5 Biggest games of the 2019-20 season

The floor spacing Cook provides the Lakers will give James and Davis plenty of room to operate and a lock down shooter to kick it to when doubled. If Cook can keep this up, it’s likely he’s going to be in Frank Vogel’s rotation. Furthermore, he just might find himself as the first guard off the bench or starting.

Alex Caruso Jersey Lakers

Phenomenal. Eye-Popping. Tenacious. These were just a few of the glowing adjectives used to describe Lakers guard Alex Caruso in his DraftExpress scouting report ahead of the 2016 NBA Draft. That may be surprising to some who didn’t see the unheralded, undrafted guard coming, but the praise is indicative of the on-court abilities that Caruso is still trying to hone and prove to this day.

After finishing four collegiate seasons and setting all-time records in assists and steals at native Texas A&M, the lanky guard set out to do what so many before him have attempted, and failed to achieve — play in the NBA.

On that anxious night of the draft in Brooklyn, Caruso would not be amongst the 60 players who had their dreams fulfilled by being selected. He would not walk that illustrious stage, he would not shake the commissioner’s hand, nor would he hear his name called.

But three years later, Caruso would sign a multi-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers and in the process, see a phoenix-like mythology that was crafted in his honor by fans of the team become reality in front of his very own eyes.

But the cruel reality of expectations for an athlete is that once they are exceeded, there is no returning to the moment before they were birthed. A new standard has been set, and later tattooed in the form of a contract as a reminder of the benchmarks that should be met, if not hurdled over again. It’s a treacherous cycle that Caruso is on the precipice of.
Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers
Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

After wowing and stealing the hearts of the Lakers’ fanbase in his limited playing time over the past few seasons, the team committed two years and $5.5 million — actual NBA money and a non-two-way roster spot — to Caruso over the summer. It was a signal that a player who was intertwined with tongue-in-cheek hyperbole and countless memes and nicknames should now be taken seriously.

And although preseason basketball shouldn’t be overanalyzed, there have already been indications both on and off the court that suggest Caruso is beginning to feel the pressure to perform.

Caruso shot a mere 24% from the field (worst amongst Lakers who attempted at least ten shots) and coughed up a team-high 18 turnovers in his 118 minutes played during the exhibition stage. While the numbers alone should not be the central cause for concern, the visual manner in which Caruso pressed and was utilized was far more troubling.

Often slapping his hands in frustration after a bad pass, wildly bulldozing into traffic and routinely getting his shots stuffed from opposing guards and bigs alike, the overall viewing experience and the composure of the fan-favorite felt different. It very much had the appearance of a player trying to imitate someone or something else.

”I’ve just been focused on making the right reads and trying to be aggressive. I really don’t think I’ve been doing that well of a job personally”, Caruso told reporters last week. “I know it’s preseason, and I’m kind of getting back in the swing of things, but I want to be playing better, so hopefully I use these last two games to round into form for next Tuesday.”

It’s difficult to argue that Caruso has succeeded in accomplishing what he says he set out to do — and to be fair, it seems even he would make the opposite argument right now. He has dished out 25 assists (tied with LeBron James for team honors) but as his aforementioned high turnover rate and low efficiency numbers suggest, he’s also made misreads.

One potential variable that could be driving him to press besides living up to his new contract and the fanfare he’s received could be the raised stakes.

Caruso no longer has the benefits that come with playing freely on a mostly young and lax team. Nor does he have the “just go out and play” essence that comes with playing in garbage time and in games with no playoff implications.

That changes this season as the Lakers will have clear and legitimate championship aspirations when the ball gets tipped Tuesday night. Anyone who takes the floor will be expected to augment such expectations.
Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

There is reason to wonder how many minutes Caruso will see under new Lakers head coach Frank Vogel. Although he tallied the most minutes of any point guard on the roster this preseason, Caruso also received minimal run with the expected starters. More prominently, he get close to no exposure next to James and Anthony Davis. A potential red flag for those pining for the guard to start.

When asked about Caruso’s struggles, Vogel said Caruso shouldn’t beat himself up for his play too much, and seemed to understand the context of it.

“First of all, he hasn’t shot the ball well, but he’s played pretty well. Especially on the defensive end,” Vogel told reporters during a recent shootaround.

“And I’m not really measuring too much on the last two games in light of the difficult circumstances in China and the difficult circumstances with the trip back from China, and playing basically 48 hours later. I’ll reserve basically any real evaluations from those games, understanding that those are both difficult circumstance types of games. I’m not unhappy with his play.”

While obviously struggling on offense, Caruso has once again been one of the standouts on the team on the defensive end, and easily projects to be the best defensive option amongst the other point guards on the roster. Caruso’s absurd hustle and instincts will likely allow that to translate to when the games start to count.

In terms of the other contextual facets Vogel mentioned, they likely too have also played a role, but the head coach also shares some blame, as he has not done his point guard any favors in terms of his deployment.

Amongst Caruso’s play-type frequency in the preseason, 41.5% of his offense has come as the pick and roll ball-handler, according to Synergy. Within those possessions, he has converted only two of his 12 field-goal attempts.

When combining his passes out of these chances as well, his pick-and-roll-derived offense has a cumulative 20.8% conversion rate from the field. That’s not great.

Even tracing back to last year, Caruso has performed much better as an off-ball threat rather than having to serve as the team’s primary creator, posting higher points per possession on nearly every other play-type besides pick and rolls. It’s another reason why he excelled playing beside James last season, and potentially why he has struggled thus far.

To make a brutal start to the year even worse, Caruso also suffered a “bone-contusion” in his pelvis during the team’s final preseason contest against the Warriors after suffering a rough landing on a lay-up attempt.

He is now day-to-day, and the injury only further emphasizes that this has been about as unfortunate of a beginning as possible to the 25-year-old’s year. Hopefully just a blip in what will be an otherwise successful campaign.
NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

There is no question that Caruso’s path has been one of the most unique and successful routes in recent league memory when comparing it to the initial expectations for him. From going undrafted that night in Brooklyn, to playing with a game-seven-like intensity against De’Aaron Fox in Summer League and then serving up a seismic poster on Kevin Durant, it has all led him to this moment. It has all helped write the myth of CarusGAWD.

However, for as enjoyable the social-media campaign has been, and as popular he has become, it is has been on the back of his tireless hard-work. From chasing after loose balls to making winning play after winning play, Caruso has earned his spot in the league.

He has show he’s a capable and damn good NBA player when he plays his game. It will be up to his teammates, his coaching staff and ultimately himself to make sure he continues to do what has gotten him here.

Because the hardwood is his version of the Barclays Center stage he never got to walk, his teammates’ hands are the ones he now gets to shake after making a crucial play and the screaming fans are the ones that will make sure his name get’s called so he never forgets it.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Jersey Lakers

O ala Kentavious Caldwell-Pope vai defender o Los Angeles Lakers na próxima temporada. De acordo com Brian Windhorst, da ESPN, a franquia angelina acertou contrato que renderá US$18 milhões em salários ao agente livre até junho do ano que vem, na noite desta terça-feira. O novo vínculo permitirá que o atleta volte a testar o mercado ao fim da próxima campanha.

A contratação foi acertada após um encontro dos representantes do jogador de 24 anos com dirigentes da equipe – incluindo Magic Johnson – nesta terça, em Los Angeles. O acordo curto, de apenas uma temporada, permite que o time angelino preserve sua flexibilidade financeira para tentar investir em reforços de peso na offseason do ano que vem.

Caldwell-Pope era agente livre irrestrito desde a última semana, quando o Detroit Pistons resolveu retirar a oferta qualificatória exercida sobre seu vínculo para confirmar a aquisição do especialista defensivo Avery Bradley. O Lakers venceu ampla concorrência, pois Windhorst apurou que vários times monitoravam a situação do atleta.

Para fechar a contratação, a franquia investiu a totalidade dos US$16.5 milhões que ainda tinha disponível em sua folha salarial e, provavelmente, vai precisar fechar pequenas movimentações paralelas – abrir mão dos direitos sobre algum agente livre remanescente, trocar um de seus novatos recém-selecionados, o pivô Ivica Zubac ou o ala David Nwaba.

Titular do Pistons nas últimas três temporadas, Caldwell-Pope inicia a temporada suspenso de duas partidas em punição a uma recente condenação por dirigir sob efeito de álcool. O jovem ala esteve presente em 76 jogos da campanha passada, com médias de 13.8 pontos, 3.3 rebotes e 2.5 assistências em pouco mais de 33 minutos de ação por noite.

Avery Bradley Jersey Lakers

When Avery Bradley signed a two-year, $9.7 million deal with the Lakers over the summer, there was no confusion on what his role would be. His job would be essentially the same one he has been tasked with over the course of the last decade — to make life miserable for the opposition.

While the actuality of Bradley’s effectiveness on defense over the course of his career has been the source of debate and skepticism, it’s difficult to argue that he has not at least played a part in what has been a stellar start on the defensive end for Los Angeles.

As of this article, the Lakers sit first in the league in terms of defensive rating (allowing just 97.9 points per 100 possessions) and third (99.6) when filtering out garbage time. Those are impressive ranks many would have found difficult to be achievable this early considering that the Lakers possess a nearly entirely new roster, coaching staff and have gone up against a tough schedule.

Bradley, who has started in the backcourt in six of the team’s seven games (missing the squad’s contest in Chicago due to a leg injury that has left him “questionable” for Friday) has been one of the tone-setters on that end, a responsibility and mentality the 28-year-old sounds dedicated to maintaining.

“My mindset going into every game is to go out there and challenge myself up against the best player on the other team,” Bradley told reporters after Thursday’s practice. “Try to make them work for every single possession.

“I know that’s my role on this team, and I know I’m going to bring it every single night,” Bradley continued, before quickly correcting himself on that last part. “Every single possession.”
NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at San Antonio Spurs
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

During the infant stages of the new season, Bradley has been given the chance to back up his words on the court, as he appears to be coach Frank Vogel’s go-to option on the perimeter.

Against the Jazz, Bradley was tasked with checking Donovan Mitchell for 44% of his offensive possessions. Then against Dallas, Bradley was glued to Luka Doncic a whopping 57.9% of his time on the floor. Both register as the highest marks on the team, according to the NBA’s matchup data.

While individually once again seeing a variance between the eye-test and the numbers (according to three different site’s data points, the Lakers’ defense has essentially been the same with Bradley off the court as it is when he is on, although that could have something to do with him mostly going up against opposing starters) there is little denying that his effort level has been an encouraging constant.

Whether it’s picking up full-court or aggressively pressuring (sometimes to his detriment) opposing ball-handlers at the point of attack, Bradley’s approach has up to this point had a positive trickle-down effect on the team.

As comfortable as the veteran has felt in his role on the defensive end, he says he has also at times been asked to branch out on offense. Mainly by taking on a portion of the team’s ball-handling and creation duties, given the Lakers’ current lack of consistent playmaking outside of LeBron James.
NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Lakers
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a new-ish experience Bradley is openly welcoming at this stage of his career.

“I think it’s a fun challenge. As professional athletes, we want to always grow, and this is an opportunity for me to grow my game,” Bradley said.

“A lot of the credit goes to coach, and to my teammates for giving me that confidence,” Bradley continued. “It’s just making it a natural transition for me. I’m happy with the success that we’ve been able to have as a team and I’m happy that coach trusts me enough to give me those opportunities.”

Thus far, the guard has not yet seen a major statistical uptick in terms of these on-ball responsibilities. On the season, Bradley’s buckets have been assisted on 78% of the time, according to Cleaning the Glass, which would be a career high. He has also only registered four assists (10th on the team) during his 167 minutes on the floor, as well as being utilized mainly in spot-up chances (28.3% of the time). It’s possible he was referring to being asked to handle the ball some, but ball pressure has mostly forced him to give up the rock to another creator in such scenarios.

So while it’s unlikely Bradley will ever fully transform into the type of on-ball creator the team needs, he has still mostly been the player many hoped he would be within the first weeks of the season. Which is ultimately the role he’s best suited for, and the one the team needs him to excel in.

Bradley is not a player without flaws. He is however, a hard-nosed and reliable guard, one who — if nothing else — plays within himself and his role. A combination of attributes that the Lakers are thus far reaping the benefits from.

All stats and video per NBA.com unless otherwise noted. You can follow Alex on Twitter at @AlexmRegla. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts.

Kostas Antetokounmpo Jersey Lakers

Editor’s Note: For the second year in a row, the Silver Screen and Roll staff is counting down the most interesting Lakers heading into next season. We will be going through all 20 training camp spots before the season begins, and today we continue with No. 17, Kostas Antetokounmpo.

Within minutes of the Lakers claiming Kostas Antetokounmpo off of waivers, the jokes had already started.

Well, I guess they’re going after Giannis in 2021.

Rob has to get word to Giannis about how the Lakers are somehow.

He’s basically the new KCP.

While that might be a cynical way of looking at things, it’s also probably a realistic one. The Lakers did seem to use Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — LeBron James’ fellow Klutch Sports client — in much the same way the year before James signed, so we know this is in their playbook. And it’s not an unreasonable thing to want, either. What team wouldn’t want the league’s reigning MVP to hear good things about them from his younger brother?

But even if there is probably a kernel of truth to such speculation, we also know that the Lakers reportedly also see Kostas as a legit prospect, even if they also do hope he says good things about them to his brother. Decisions can be made with multiple motivations, and they wouldn’t have brought someone on if they weren’t at least close to being an NBA-caliber player, because that would be embarrassing for the organization. Kostas is at least on the fringes right now.

Kostas himself is probably working with just one driving force, though: To prove he’s more than just Giannis’ brother, and someone worth keeping around in their own right. Whether or not he can do so is what will make him interesting to watch this year, something that isn’t always said about two-way players on a contender.

Due to that contract status — and because the Lakers are loaded in the frontcourt — Kostas probably won’t see a ton of playing time on the parent roster this season, instead mostly plying his trade for South Bay in the G League.

And just as the Lakers will surely be trying to show Kostas they’re a first-class organization, they’ll also have an up-close-and-behind-the-scenes look at whether or not the 21-year-old big man can develop into a legit NBA player.

We recently had Mirin Fader of Bleacher Report, who wrote a must-read profile of the Antetokounmpo family last month, on our podcast. It’s worth noting that she spoke to Kostas before he was claimed by the Lakers, and how motivated he already was to step out of Giannis’ shadow and pave his own NBA path as a player teams want outside of any perceived connection to his brother.

Still, does this sound like the type of guy that would see all the jokes about the Lakers signing him just to tamper and not try to prove them wrong?

“There was so much pressure on him, there is so much pressure on him, and he told me he’s felt that since he was 12 (years old). People would always say in Greece ‘you’re not as aggressive as your two older brothers,’ so Giannis and Thanasis. (People would say) ‘you’re lazier than them.’ And that just used to drive him nuts, like that used to motivate Kostas so much, and he would just stay out there, and stay out there, and just shoot, and shoot, and shoot to just try to prove all of these people wrong.

“He has felt slighted since he picked up a ball, to be honest, and he still carries that with him now. And people always ask him all the time, ‘how do you deal with the pressure, how do you handled being third in line,’ … And Kostas was telling me, ‘I just look at it differently, pressure is a good thing. Pressure makes you work harder. When you’re scared, you push yourself beyond your breaking point.’ And he says pressure makes diamonds, you have to keep working. So he has that mentality about him.”

So this is where we have to offer the important disclaimer that Kostas is not Giannis. It is unlikely he’ll ever get anywhere in his brother’s stratosphere.

With that out of the way, we should note that Giannis wasn’t even Giannis at 21. He had shown more promise than Kostas has, and didn’t need to spend time in the G League, but I only bring this up to point out that some players take more time to develop than others. Kostas may not go from averaging 16.9 points per game to MVP-winner in four years (mainly because he’s not going to average 16.9 points per game this season), but he may be able to build on the skills he’s already shown, and seems to have the right mindset to do so.

Kostas averaged 1 point and 1 steal in two games for the Mavericks last season, production that does not portend a high-level of success in his sophomore year. He likely won’t even get many opportunities, outside of the G League. But if he can continue to hone the skills he showed in the G League while averaging 10.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 25.4 minutes per contest over 40 games for the Texas Legends last season, all while also improving his defensive awareness, he might be able to turn himself into a prototypical modern big.

For most second-year two-way players, even that kind of praise would seem lofty, but Kostas has the physical tools to make it happen. It sounds like he has the work ethic to put in the time on it, too. The only question remaining will be if the latter quality can allow Kostas to maximize the former, which is precisely what will make him an interesting Laker to watch this year.

Robert Horry Jersey Lakers

Robert Horry encerrou sua carreira em 2008, aos 37 anos. Ele nunca foi um astro ou algo parecido. Era um jogador esforçado, com boa capacidade nos arremessos de longa distância. Nada muito mais que isso, exceto pelo fato de ter sido campeão em sete oportunidades e por três equipes diferentes. Agora, Horry acredita na possibilidade de ser eleito para Hall da Fama.

“A coisa louca sobre o Hall da Fama é que se você olha para a história do basquete, você vai ver vários caras com estatísticas piores que as minhas”, disse ele. “Se eu não conseguir entrar, tudo bem. Se eu conseguir, tudo bem também. Metade dos caras no Hall da fama não conseguiu metade das coisas que consegui, então não estou preocupado com isso”.

Horry obteve o primeiro título em sua segunda temporada, pelo Houston Rockets. Na época, fazia parte de um elenco que tinha Hakeem Olajuwon e Clyde Drexler. No ano seguinte, ele venceu mais uma vez e foi trocado em 1996 para o Phoenix Suns, onde ficou por apenas um ano e depois foi negociado mais uma vez, para o Los Angeles Lakers. No time californiano, ele foi campeão três vezes.

“Parte de mim espera que eu não entre, porque se eu não estiver lá, ainda terá gente falando sobre você”, afirmou. “Assim que você fica mais velho, as pessoas esquecem de você. Mas no fim do dia, o que mais importa é que as cidades por onde joguei são conhecidas pelos títulos que levei e os colegas que tive sabem que eu fui o melhor colega que eles poderiam ter.”

Em 2003, Horry assinou com o San Antonio Spurs. Foram cinco anos no time texano e mais dois títulos.

Em pouco mais de 1.100 jogos, Horry obteve médias de 7.0 pontos, 4.8 rebotes, e um aproveitamento de 34.1% nos arremessos de longa distância.

Nick Van Exel Jersey Lakers

Nick Van Exel was drafted by the Lakers with the No. 37 pick in the second round in 1993 and played five seasons in L.A. before he was traded to Denver for Tony Battie and Tyronn Lue. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound guard went on to play 13 seasons with six NBA teams before calling it a career after the 2005-06 season. Van Exel ranks No. 14 on the NBA’s all-time 3-pointers made list with 1,528. He is now an assistant coach for the Atlanta Hawks and ESPNLA.com caught up with him before the Hawks played the Lakers earlier this week.

What’s your favorite memory from your time with the Lakers?
Nick Van Exel, now an assistant with the Atlanta Hawks, spent the first part of his NBA career with the Lakers from 1993-98. Brian Drake/NBAE/Getty Images

“Favorite memory? Hmm. I’ll probably say two. Just the draft night, being drafted by the Lakers was special coming from where I had come from — a small town in Wisconsin. It was a pretty big event for me. I’ll say three [memories]. Of course, making big shots in the playoffs, just the excitement, you hear the crowd and probably being on the team when Magic [Johnson] returned. That was special.”

You were a second-round draft pick, so there was nothing guaranteed to you. Looking back at that time, was there anybody in the organization that was really backing you or helping you and pushing for your success?

“Yes, the head man, Jerry West. The Logo. He was really a big fan. I can remember playing down in, I want to say Irvine, Calif., for the rookie summer league games and I played terrible. I played terrible and I thought, ‘Man, I may not make the team!’ I really didn’t know much about the NBA. I played so bad that they signed me after like the third or fourth game [because they kept waiting for me to play better]. I was playing so bad. Definitely Jerry West had my back.”

Through your scouting you might have heard of Andrew Goudelock, a rookie on this Lakers team. Your name has been attached to him a little bit in terms of being a high-scoring guard, a second-round draft pick with nothing guaranteed. Is there something about the character of a guy to be able to do that? To make it when the odds are against you?

“I really believe it’s just no fear, man. For me, I never thought I would fail. Every shot I took, I thought it was going in. Even when I was in the second round, a lot of people didn’t know if I would make it or not, I never questioned whether I would make it the team or anything like that. So, I think with him, it seems he has that no-fear attitude. When you can go out there and come off a pick-and-roll and just pull up for 3 when you got Kobe [Bryant] on the court with you, you’ve definitely got a no-fear mentality.”

Did you have any thoughts when you saw that Kobe passed Shaquille O’Neal on the all-time scoring list?

“The thought I had was, it was just when. When is he going to do it? The kid worked so hard coming in as a rookie. He definitely worked harder than anybody else. He has that kind of the Michael Jordan, the Magic Johnson, the Larry Bird, he has that ‘it’ about him. There’s not many guys that have that. Kobe has it and that’s why he’s special.”

Could you tell back then?

“Easy. You could tell he was going to blow the league away eventually because his mindset was, as an 18-year-old rookie coming in, was, ‘I’m the best one-on-one player in the league.’ Like, that’s what he thought when you had Michael Jordan, you had some great players [playing at the time], he felt he was the best player in the league at 18 years old.”

When you think back to those Lakers teams, unfortunately you didn’t get a chance to get a ring with those guys, but those teams had you, Eddie Jones, Kobe, Shaq … There was a really strong collection of talent. What do you think about when you think about those teams?

“Just young. We were just young. I was five [years] in the league when I got traded. Eddie was four, Shaq six, Kobe 2-3. We was just young. Young and dumb and just trying to find our way through it and unfortunately we didn’t get a chance, but there’s still some great memories.”

You played for Denver, you played for Dallas, you played for five or six teams, do you associate yourself with any one team? Do you think of yourself as a Laker? Do you get people coming up to you to reminisce about those days?

“I’ll say this, the most it happens if somebody comes up to me it’s, ‘Yeah, I remember you from the Lakers.’ They say that. You got the Dallas fans too, because I live in Texas, but you get mostly Lakers because the Lakers are who they are. Historical.”

Something I was always curious about as a fan growing up watching you: What was with your free-throw routine?

“(Laughing). My free throw was, I shot free throws so bad from the normal stripe, when I missed I always hit the back of the rim. So, I decided to move back a little bit and it just became a natural shot. That was basically telling me my midrange game wasn’t as good as Sam Cassell’s midrange game, so I had to move back a little bit.”

Editor’s Note: Van Exel finished with a 79.4 percent career mark from the foul line and had six seasons when he shot 80 percent or better.

Did you come into the league doing that? Or when did you make that change?

“I think I started it in Denver. But, I knew throughout my career, I was probably [shooting] in the 70s [percentage wise] from the line, so I knew I was a better free-throw shooter than that. I had to figure out someway so I moved back.”

And it went up once you did it?

“Yes, I think I finished around 80 [percent], so I could have been better if I was smart enough early on. Like I said, I was young (laughing).”

You did enough in your career that the name ‘Nick Van Exel’ is obviously part of NBA history, but is that funny to you to think that just your actual free-throw routine is one of the little quirks of the league?

“I don’t think about it. Everybody else might. For us, it’s just normal things we do. I don’t think much about it.”

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.