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The Morning Column: January 5, 2022
Russell Westbrook had zero turnovers! Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell at you today but that’s a sentence I didn't expect to type this season. Shoot, it's a sentence that hasn’t been written since 2016.
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1. Russell Westbrook had zero turnovers! Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell at you this morning but that’s a sentence I never expected to type this season. Shoot, that’s a sentence that hasn’t been written since March 14, 2016.
Westbrook finished with 19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and most importantly ZERO turnovers in the Lakers’ 122-114 win over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night. Westbrook’s turnover-free game snapped a streak of 407 games with a turnover, which was the longest since they started tracking turnovers in 1977-78, according to ESPN Stats & Information. As a team, the Lakers had just five turnovers, which was their fewest in eight years, and quite a turnaround from Sunday when Westbrook accounted for half of the Lakers’ 18 turnovers.
2. After the game, Westbrook channeled his inner Marty McFly when he said, “It shows that when we put our mind to it we can do it as a team.”
Does that mean Westbrook is done turning the ball over this season? Of course not. But if he can take care of the ball better and not have careless turnovers and put the Lakers in position to get good shots on goal (even if they don’t go in), it will have a trickledown effect and maybe, just maybe, the Lakers will start playing like the team their fans expected to see at the beginning of the season.
“When we get shots at the goal, we can be very dangerous,” LeBron James said after the game. “We weren't shooting the ball well at all (but) because we didn't turn the ball over, we caught fire. We caught fire, because we got shots at the goal and we didn't turn the ball over.”
3. The victory pushed the Lakers above .500 (20-19) for the first time in 2022 and puts them in a virtual tie for the fifth seed in the Western Conference along with the Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets. The Lakers will play the Atlanta Hawks at home on Friday before taking on the Memphis Grizzlies in what could be a preview of a 4-5 first round match-up on Sunday at Crypto.com Arena.
I know I mention these projections all the time but FiveThirtyEight and Basketball Reference are still projecting the Lakers to finish below .500 and are giving them a less than 50% chance to make the playoffs. ESPN’s projections have finally changed and they now have the Lakers finishing 41-41 with an over 65% to make the playoffs. That sounds about right. Let’s also not forget, the Lakers are hoping to get Anthony Davis back by the end of the month.
4. As great as the win was for the Lakers, excuse me if I’m not as thrilled as others with LeBron James screaming, “I’m a motherfucking problem!” at the Kings bench in the final seconds of a comeback win over the 16-23 Sacramento Kings. Let’s maybe save that for a team above .500 or maybe a game in the postseason.
5. Kudos to Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who said any receiving records he breaks during the league’s first-ever 17th game this Sunday deserves an asterisk of some sort. "What those guys did in 16 games, it wouldn't seem right for those (records) to be broken in 17 games," Kupp told ESPN. "It wouldn't hold the same weight to me as it does for guys that have done that in a 16-game season and the accomplishments those guys had and the seasons they put together. Those are incredible things, incredible accomplishments. You kind of have to separate the two."
Kupp is leading the league in receiving yards (1,829), receiving touchdowns (15) and receptions (138) and he has a chance to at least tie the NFL single-season records in receptions and receiving yards if he finishes with at least 11 catches and 135 yards.
6. Most of the big on-site Super Bowl parties were cancelled last year in Tampa due to COVID-19 and while some may once again get shelved this year, Shaquille O’Neal announced Wednesday that he is bringing his annual “Shaq’s Fun House” to the Shrine Auditorium on Feb. 11 before Super Bowl LVI takes place at SoFi Stadium.
“It's always great to come home to my favorite city, Los Angeles, and I couldn't be more excited to kick-off the biggest weekend in sports with our most over-the-top edition of Shaq's Fun House to date,” O’Neal said in statement . “Los Angeles, you have my word that Shaq's Fun House will go down as our fourth championship we have won together!”
7. Here are some odds if you’re thinking about placing a wager today brought to you by Circa Sports.
8. Here’s the local pro sports schedule for Thursday (no games today) brought to you by Yaamava’.
7:00 p.m. LA Clippers at Phoenix Suns – Bally Sports West, TNT
7:00 p.m. Detroit Red Wings at Anaheim Ducks – Bally Sports SoCal
7:30 p.m. Nashville Predators at LA Kings – KCOP 13
9. Here are the “get in” prices for tickets locally on TickPick if you’re thinking about going to a pro sports game on Thursday.
Detroit Red Wings at Anaheim Ducks – $25
Nashville Predators at LA Kings – $13
10. On Tuesday’s The Arash Markazi Show, we talked about the Clippers getting crushed at home and the Rams and Chargers prepping for a big weekend.
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That’s it for today. Talk to you on Friday.