Lakers Have Something To Prove In Spain
BARCELONA -- When the NBA hands the Larry O'Brien trophy over to its title winner every June, it doesn't dub the team as "American champions" or "champions of the United States," it calls the team the "world champions."
Because of that distinction, the back-to-back world champion Los Angeles Lakers feel a twinge of extra pressure headed into Thursday's preseason game with the 2010 Euroleague champion, Regal FC Barcelona.
Normally, the outcomes of preseason games don't matter much. Remember, the 2008 Detroit Lions were a surprisingly delightful 4-0 in the preseason and a historically dismal 0-16 in the regular season. But the outcome of this game matters more than a little bit more for the Lakers for three reasons:
They want to win it for Pau Gasol in his homecoming game against his former team.
They want to win it for the NBA, to show that, even with an injured Andrew Bynum and a severely limited Kobe Bryant, the NBA produces a better champion than the Euroleague does and thus remains the premier basketball league in the world.
And they want to win it so they can salvage a Europe Live trip that got off to a dubious start with a sloppy 111-92 loss to the rebuilding Minnesota Timberwolves in London on Monday and not return to Los Angeles winless to start their march toward a three-peat title.
Chandler Gives Good First Impression
DALLAS -- It's probably premature to stir up a starting center controversy. After all, we've seen only one preseason game.
But Tyson Chandler looked pretty darn good in the Mavs' 97-94 loss Tuesday to John Wall's Wizards.
The Mavs made it a game with a 14-0 run during garbage time. The high-flying 7-footer was by far the home team's biggest bright spot when rotation players were on the court.
After two injury-marred seasons, Chandler is healthy again. He looked a lot like the dude who averaged a double-double for the Hornets in 2007-08 during his debut in a Mavs uniform. He finished with 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting (including one oooh-inducing alley-oop), nine rebounds and two blocked shots in 17 minutes.
"I loved Chandler [Tuesday], and I've loved him every day of training camp," coach Rick Carlisle said. "He's really bringing not only energy, but he's bringing some vocal leadership and personality to our team, which we need. He's a very, very welcome addition."
Starting Lineup: Oct. 7
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Pau Gasol returns home to Spain with the NBA champion Lakers to face Ricky Rubio and 2010-11 EuroLeague winner FC Barcelona.
2010-11 NBA Preview Pages
Bulls Will Miss Boozer
If he misses exactly eight weeks from Oct. 3, Carlos Boozer would miss the first 15 games of the season. While 15 games might not seem like much, consider this: Nine of those are against teams that won 50 games last season, including a brutal stretch of five straight road games against Western Conference 50-win teams.
If you assume he takes six games to get back up to his normal production, five of those first six back will be against 50-win teams from last year with the other against a 42-win Houston Rockets team. So in the first 21 games of the season, Chicago plays a schedule that went .561 last season, including 14 games against 50 win teams (only one against the Cavaliers, for those wondering).