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Lakers support Kentavious Caldwell-Pope through shooting struggles

first_img How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersA reporter asked Caldwell-Pope how he’s been keeping his spirits up: “Praying a lot.”It’s a rough start by many measures, and not just because the player known as “KCP” isn’t hitting 3-pointers. According to stat site Cleaning the Glass, Caldwell-Pope is just 10 for 21 in shots within four feet of the rim, which is in the bottom 10 percent of all wings in the NBA. There isn’t a shooting zone where he’s hitting above league average: He’s cold from everywhere.It was a welcome relief, then, when Caldwell-Pope finally had a good offensive performances to sit on Friday night against the Sacramento Kings, starting in place of Avery Bradley. He was 6 for 10, finishing with 16 points in a season-best night, including going 5 for 6 in the fourth quarter. In his previous five games, he had been 8 for 25.LeBron James, who typically is KCP’s partner in post-practice shooting contests, was ready to praise him.“He got the game ball tonight,” James said. “He just took advantage of the opportunity. … Yeah, he’s been struggling a little bit with his shot, but more importantly (he’s been) keeping his mind ready, keeping his mind fresh. He did that tonight.” Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed LOS ANGELES — It felt like a sign.Balls getting wedged between the backboard and the hoop are rare enough. But to do it from one foot out on Wednesday night – well, that’s just been Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s luck lately.At least one player probably hasn’t enjoyed the Lakers’ 10-2 start as much as his teammates. Caldwell-Pope, 26, is off to the worst shooting start of his career, just 39 percent from the field, and even his home fans haven’t let him forget it.It’s common at Staples Center home games to hear Bronx cheers, and even boos, for perhaps the most scrutinized Laker on the team. Internet memes decry him, accusing him of robbing the Lakers by receiving his paycheck. It’s the touchiest subject in what’s been a mostly upbeat locker room. Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions center_img On a roster stocked with mostly first- or second-year Lakers, Caldwell-Pope’s turbulent tenure over the past three seasons stands out. Rarely has a one-year contract been announced with as much pomp as his, when general manager Rob Pelinka struck out into biblical territory by comparing him to manna sent from heaven. Since then, his scoring average has dropped for three consecutive seasons, and his 3-point average has sunk from 38.3 percent in his first year with the Lakers to 29.6 percent now.There’s been an added sting to the decline for fans, who have bristled that the Lakers will shell out an estimated $38 million to Caldwell-Pope by the end of his current contract. He also missed games during the 2017-18 season due to a jail sentence he served for a DUI when he was with the Pistons. The perception that Caldwell-Pope is now, two contracts later, foisted upon the Lakers by Klutch Sports might be unfair, but it adds to the general sense of discontent.These factors have swirled together to create the perfect storm: a fanbase frustrated by undelivered promises, and a player still finding his fit on a team now replete with the established veterans the Lakers originally made him out to be.It might help that Frank Vogel can see Caldwell-Pope with a fresh set of eyes. He acknowledged the scoring hasn’t always been there for him, but during Vogel’s tenure, Caldwell-Pope has played with energy and intensity, which, he believes, is the most a coach can ask for.“The firepower of the league, with the style of play that this league plays with nowadays, you need as many perimeter defenders that you can trust and can get out and guard and have speed and containment ability as you can,” Vogel said. “And he’s one of those soldiers for us. I know he gets a lot of criticism for his offense, but he’s capable of knocking down big shots like we saw tonight and he brings consistent energy on the defensive end.”Numbers back up Vogel’s perception. The Lakers defense is about four points better per 100 possessions when KCP is on the court than when he’s off (96.6 defensive rating to 100.4). He’s had solid games against opposing guards, including helping shut down Buddy Hield in the latter half of the 99-97 win Friday.On the deciding inbounds play, Caldwell-Pope helped take away the initial 3-point option the Kings wanted to get to Hield. Interior defenders like Anthony Davis are only effective if perimeter players can keep shooters off the 3-point line.Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Alex Caruso, who has been showered with fan support in recent weeks, said Caldwell-Pope deserves some of that shine as well.“He’s been doing this for many years, before I have, and many more years than anybody who’s on Twitter or in the stands,” he said. “If they could do it, they’d be on the court doing it themselves. Never lost any confidence in him.”The most vocal person in Caldwell-Pope’s corner has been Dwight Howard, who knows a thing or two about underdelivering on overwhelming expectations. After delivering a heartfelt message saying, “We’re going to need KCP to win this championship,” Howard felt validated after Friday’s effort by his teammate.“We’re a family,” he said. “You don’t let nobody talk about your family. Laker Nation, we’re all a family. So we don’t talk about our own people. We lift each other up. That’s it.”last_img read more

‘Belichick & Saban: The Art of Coaching’ review: HBO documentary must-see for Patriots, Alabama fans

first_img“It’s hard to keep trying to achieve to the top level all the time,” Belichick shares with Saban. “It’s easy when you’re down to bounce back.”Based on their accomplishment on the sidelines, Belchick and Saban have strong cases to be declared the best all-time in their sports. “The Art of Coaching” makes you more greatly appreciate their personalities and how they consistently push the right buttons. Their families, their colleagues and their competitors help tell that story well, too.There forever will be a mystique about what Belichick keeps doing with the Patriots and what Saban keeps doing at Alabama. Thanks to NFL Films and HBO, the curtain gets pulled to understand more of the method to the magic. Bill Belichick and Nick Saban are the best two football coaches of the game’s modern era.It’s not fair to everyone else that Belichick, with his six Patriots Super Bowl rings, and Saban, with his six national championships from Alabama and LSU, are also good friends who keep sharing their ultimate winning ways with each other. Their unique, longtime relationship is at the center of HBO’s newest NFL Films-produced sports documentary, “Belichick & Saban: The Art of Coaching.”Given how both astute tacticians aren’t fans of inane media questions, going behind the scenes of their personal meetings gives real insight into what’s helped each man become so successful at his level of football, together and apart. That makes the 75-minute special, which debuts Tuesday night (9 p.m. ET) on HBO, required viewing for fans of the Patriots, Alabama and wannabe football geniuses alike.Watching the two legends talk football — almost all the time — is a treat. Belichick, 67, and Saban, 68, share a lot more than their age and acumen, including their Croatian ancestry, prodigious beginnings as sons of coaches, lifelong work ethic and attentions to detail.From their time in Cleveland together from 1991 through ’94 with Belichick as head coach and Saban as defensive coordinator, the documentary showcases how each leader learned how to win big: By preaching “do your job” and maximizing their personnel.They look back on their best moments and also aren’t afraid to talk about what they learned from the worst of losses — see the “Miami Miracle” and the “Kick Six.” The candid conversation gives an honest look at both coaches, better than any single interviewer could do for either.last_img read more