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Los Angeles Lakers Blown Out by Phoenix Suns in Game 5, One Loss from Elimination

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The Phoenix Suns trampled the Los Angeles Lakers 115-85 in Game 5 of the Western Conference first-round series. The Lakers, despite winning last year’s NBA Championship, cannot afford to lose one more game.

What We Know:

  • The Suns used Anthony Davis’ absence to their advantage in the first quarter. During that period, the team scored 16 points, while the Lakers received none. By the second quarter, the Lakers finally scored 10 points, but the Suns had already made 32. Unfortunately, once halftime arrived, the Suns dominated the Lakers 66-36.
  • During the second half, Lebron James scored 24 points on the 9-for-19 shooting. He also acquired seven assists and 17 of those points during the third quarter; it gave the Lakers some advantage. However, James and the rest of the first unit did not play in the fourth quarter, so the other members could not compete with the Suns.
  • James was the only player who did not struggle. Throughout the game, Dennis Schroder went 0-9 for zero points and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed his only shot before a sore knee ended his participation early. Alongside Schroder and Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, Wesley Matthews, and Ben McLemore united to shoot 3-for-18.
  • ESPN notes that the 30-point margin represented James’ greatest halftime deficit during a postseason. The loss also constituted the first time James’ team lost two consecutive first-round playoff games. Additionally, the 66-36 intimidation marked the second-largest halftime deficit of the Lakers’ playoff history.

“We got our a** kicked. It’s just that simple… they got to whatever they wanted to get to in this game. We got to be better, obviously, if we want to force a Game 7,” said James.

  • For the Lakers to continue in the playoffs, they must win two consecutive games, starting with Thursday’s Game 6. Despite the significant challenge the seventh-seeded Lakers face against the second-seeded Suns, ESPN writes that the former team already has an advantage because James is on their team. Currently, James holds an average of 33.7 points per game in postseason elimination contests, the highest ever seen in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
  • In 2020, the Los Angeles Lakers made history by winning their 17th championship title during a stressful year. The team dedicated the win to Kobe Bryant, the legendary Laker who lost his life in a January 2020 helicopter crash. Bryant assisted the team in winning their previous championship in 2010.

The Lakers want to keep Bryant’s legacy going by advancing to the next round.

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ESPN Cancels Rachel Nichols Show After Racist Comments About Maria Taylor

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In addition to cancelling The Jump, ESPN also removed Rachel Nichols from NBA coverage.

What We Know:

  • The network confirmed Nichols’ departure on Thursday. ESPN’s Senior Vice President of Production David Roberts declared in a statement that Nichols and ESPN mutually agreed that ending her time with the channel was the best approach for NBA coverage. Roberts went on to call Nichols “an excellent reporter, host, and journalist;” he also thanked her for her contributions to NBA content.
  • Nichols confirmed her time with the sports network ended on Twitter. On social media, she thanked The Jump’s production crew for assisting her for the past five years and declared there was “more to come.”

  • Nichols’ deadline with ESPN comes after The New York Times released a recording of her bashing coworker Maria Taylor. In a conversation with Lebron James’ adviser Adam Mendelsohn and agent Rich Paul, Nichols implied ESPN only selected Taylor to host  NBA Countdown during the NBA finals because of her skin color. Nichols stated the channel would not take her “thing” away because officials felt pressure about their “crappy longtime record on diversity.”
  • After her comments became public, ESPN removed Nichols from her NBA Finals assignment. She also apologized for her statements on The Jump. Nichols affirmed she respected her colleagues and apologized for disappointing anyone she hurt, especially Taylor.
  • Despite the apologies, Taylor quickly left the channel. After she and ESPN could not reach an agreement on her salary, Taylor proceeded to host the 2021 Tokyo Olympics with NBC Sports. Taylor will also cover Football Night in America, the Super Bowl, and Prime Plus with Mike Trico.

ESPN will continue producing episodes of The Jump without Nichols for the next few weeks. After its run, ESPN will replace it with a new afternoon NBA show.

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Michael B. Jordan Launches Basketball Showcase for HBCU Athletes

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The “Hoop Dreams Classic,” a one-night event in Newark, New Jersey, will feature the nation’s top Division 1 HBCU men’s and women’s basketball teams.

What We Know:

  • HBCU Gameday reported that Hoop Dreams Classic would include two games featuring the teams with the biggest HBCU basketball rivalries. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University will play against Howard University, and North Carolina Central University will go against Hampton University.
  • The showcase will also celebrate HBCU culture and tradition through live musical performances, a Battle of the Bands competition, and film festivals. It will also provide educational resources for students to learn more about opportunities for college and career advancement.
  • Actor Michael B. Jordan first announced the basketball showcase in December 2020. The Black Panther actor stated he felt inspired to put on the event following the increased global awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement, especially after the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, among others. In a statement, Jordan wrote 2020 was a “tipping point” for many, including himself, who is “revving up support” for the Black community. He further said as a Newark native, he feels committed to bring change to the community and will do so with the Hoop Dreams Classic.

“Through our shared love of basketball, I look forward to bringing the communal spirit of HBCUs to the city that helped shape me into the man I am today,” said Jordan.

  • In addition to the event, Jordan amplifies Black voices and stories through his #ChangeHollywood initiative. This movement aims to hold Hollywood accountable for showcasing Black stories and hiring Black creators.

The Hoop Dreams Classic will take place at Newark’s Prudential Center on December 18, 2021. In addition, a percentage of the proceeds will go to organizations working to advance HBCUs in the area.

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Olympics: Simone Biles out of team gymnastics final ‘due to medical issue,’ officials say

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((BREAKING NEWS))

Biles withdrew due to a medical issue, according to a statement from USA Gymnastics.

“She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions,” officials said in the statement.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist competed in Team USA’s first rotation on vault Tuesday, bailing out of her Amanar and only completing a 1.5 twist on a 2.5-twisting Yurchenko, then taking a big stumble backward on the landing.

She scored a 13.766 and was seen walking off the floor with her bag and a trainer.

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