PORTLAND, Ore. -- Steve Kerr's influence on the Golden State Warriors will be felt no matter how much of the postseason he misses. He has coached everyone on this team, including the man who will take his place, Mike Brown.
Brown arrived in Oakland this year in place of Luke Walton, who rode his 39-4 record* (*the wins officially went on Kerr's tab) to a job with the Los Angeles Lakers. Brown found Kerr's coaching style to be a revelation. Kerr was so open, so receptive to his players that it made Brown think back to the way he ran things as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Lakers and realize that he had driven his teams too hard. Now, he'd seen the light. When Brown met with the ESPN broadcast crew before Game 3 on Saturday night, after the Warriors announced Kerr was ill and Brown would take his place, Brown marveled about how much he had learned from Kerr even though Brown has coached more than twice as many NBA games as him. He vowed to coach as Kerr-like as possible.
INDIANAPOLIS -- LeBron James might have some work left to do to catch Kobe Bryant's five championships, but he now has eclipsed the former Los Angeles Lakers star in another statistical category that defined Bryant's career: playoff points.
With James' and-one shot in the lane and ensuing free throw with 7:26 left in the second quarter of the Cleveland Cavaliers' 119-114 win in Game 3 of their first-round series against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, James eclipsed Bryant for third place on the NBA's all-time postseason scoring list. The old-fashioned three-point play gave James 13 points for the game and 5,641 points for his playoff career. He finished with 41 points in the win.
James reached the mark in his 202nd career playoff game. Bryant played a total of 220.
James, a 14-year veteran, is seventh in regular-season scoring with 28,787 points. Bryant, who retired last season after his 20th year in the league, is third in regular-season scoring with 33,643 points.
James also Thursday night passed Bryant for fourth place on the all-time playoff 3-pointers list.
When Bryant announced his intent to retire in November 2015, James spoke of the impact the fellow prep-to-pros baller Bryant had on his career.
"It was someone that I always knew I had to be in the gym," James said. "I knew I had to be better because of Kobe Bryant. I knew he was in the gym, and I knew he was working on his game. And I knew he was great. So every day that I didn't want to work out or every day I felt like I couldn't give more, I always thought of Kobe. Because I knew that he was getting better and I was like, 'Man, if you take a day off, he's going to take advantage of it. You cannot take a day off. You cannot take a day off.' And I used him for my motivation throughout my career because I always knew that he was working on something. So that part will be missed a little bit."
James also passed Wes Unseld for seventh on the all-time playoff rebounding list with his fourth board on Thursday. James ranks third in playoff assists, trailing only Magic Johnson and John Stockton
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- May 16 could be disastrous for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Or it could be the best day of their year, by far.
On that day, the NBA will hold its annual draft lottery in New York City to determine the order of the June draft. The Lakers hold a top-three protected pick, which will go to the Philadelphia 76ers if it falls outside the first three spots.
According to ESPN's Basketball Power Index, the Lakers have about a 47 percent chance of their pick falling among the first three slots, allowing them to keep it.
The Lakers would've had as much as a 56 percent chance of keeping their pick had they finished with the NBA's second-worst record, which they were on pace to do until they won five of their final six games to end the season, meaning they finished with the third-worst record instead.
"Listen, I think you have to be prepared for whatever scenario when you're looking at a random event like the lottery," Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said Thursday during exit interviews at the team's practice facility.
"People are asking, 'Do you guys have to have to that pick?' That's something that I get asked at every single game. I think we're prepared to have it, and we also have a plan if we don't."
The NBA season ended Wednesday, concluding a tumultuous year for the Los Angeles Lakers (albeit one that ended with five victories in their final six games). But before we move on to the playoffs, let's look back at the Lakers' season and think about what they might do this offseason.
An interesting offseason awaits the Lakers, as new team president Magic Johnson will look to shape the franchise but may have to do it without the team's first-round pick, if it falls out of the top three. Either way, the future is bright in Los Angeles thanks to coach Luke Walton and a roster loaded with young talent.
-- Sam Henken
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Kevin Durant had 29 points, eight rebounds and five assists in his final playoff tuneup, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Los Angeles Lakers 109-94 in both teams' final regular-season game Wednesday night.
Stephen Curry added 20 points, eight assists and five rebounds for the playoff-bound, top-seeded Warriors (67-15), ready for what they're counting on being another deep postseason run.
Jordan Clarkson led all five Lakers starters in double figures with 17 points.
A day after a fierce and fun 3-point shootout following practice, Durant said before the game he hoped to have found his shooting touch after recently missing 19 games with a left knee injury. KD shot 11 for 16 and made 5 of 7 3s, while Curry also hit five from deep.