Can Lakers impress Phil Jackson?
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
Three story lines to watch for Sunday’s five-game NBA slate (all times p.m. Eastern):
Can the Los Angeles Lakers put on a show for Phil Jackson?
Sacramento Kings at Lakers, 9:30: The Lakers’ players and management want Jackson to be their new head coach, USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick reports. But here’s the rub: Phil Jackson isn’t coming back for a losing team. Along with other issues the 12-time NBA champion (one as a player, 11 as a coach) is discussing, another ring is a key selling point. The Lakers have two 20-plus-point wins in their past three games and are 1-0 under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff. If Kobe Bryant makes plays the way he did in those two games, in which he totaled 15 assists, Los Angeles will be fine. And Jackson will be able to feel comfident he can come back. The Kings are not very good. Their defense has improved from last year as they play at a slower pace, but they’re 29th in the NBA in points per possession. The shaky Lakers defense should have no problem shutting down the selfish Kings and rolling to another win.
Has the magic run dry for Orlando?
Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets, 3: The Magic started 2-0 with Glen Davis playing like an elite offensive power forward. He scored 51 points in those two wins. But he has scored 28 points in three games since, all losses. Orlando isn’t very good. The roster lacks depth and talent. There are a few building blocks, led by Arron Afflalo and Davis, but the post-Dwight Howard always was going to be a rough ride. Then point guard Jameer Nelson and small forward Hedo Turkoglu, the teams foremost veterans, went down after playing in one game. The Nets won 107-68 Friday in Orlando. They dominated every statistic, from rebounding advantage (48-35) to turnovers (18-11) to shooting percentage (50.0% to 42.9%). Now the game moves to Barclays Center. Next up for Orlando: the red-hot New York Knicks.
Can LeBron James’ teammates start rebounding again?
Miami Heat at Memphis Grizzlies, 6: The Heat have the best offense in the NBA and … [For more on Tonight's NBA schedule: Can Lakers impress Phil Jackson?, click here.]