Not even the refs could beat the Lakers

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We have that and more in Friday’s NBA newsletter.

There’s been a lot of weird basketball this week. Thunder vs. Lakers on TNT Thursday was no exception. The Lakers -- still without LeBron James -- beat the struggling Thunder in OKC. L.A. shot a strong 19-40 from long-range, and OKC went 22-54. These are two of the worst shooting teams in the league, and they each went 40 percent on lots of attempts from deep.

Russell Westbrook himself went 5-12 from deep and 2-18 on two-pointers, missing just a ton of layups. Ivica Zubac had 26 and 12 off the bench, and Kyle Kuzma sprung for 32. But what really put this game over the top was the end of regulation.

As the teams fought back and forth, the Thunder trailed by three with five second to go. Lonzo Ball tried to foul Westbrook before he got a shot up, but the savvy Westbrook did that whole Chris Paul thing and went into a shooting motion as soon as he got touched. The ref called a three-point shooting foul, and that’s not reviewable. (Only whether Westbrook was behind the line would be reviewable, and that wasn’t in question.) LeBron made a timely tweet about the questionable call; the Lakers bench was livid.

Westbrook, who has struggled from the line all season, hit all three clutch free throws to send the game to overtime (after a missed Lakers desperation at the buzzer).

L.A. dominated in overtime for the win, but there should not have been an overtime. The referees admitted the blown call after the game. Had the Thunder won in overtime, this would have weighed really heavy on a season with so many teams on the fringe of the playoffs bunched up together.

Scores

Knicks 100, Wizards 101
Kings 95, Hornets 114
Sixers 120, Pacers 96
Suns 109, Raptors 111
Bulls 105, Nuggets 135
Lakers 138, Thunder 128 (OT)

Schedule

Here’s the national TV schedule for the weekend. All times Eastern. Full, bulbous schedule here.

Friday:
Spurs at Timberwolves, 8, ESPN
Warriors at Clippers, 10:30, ESPN

Saturday:
Thunder at Sixers, 3:30, ABC
Lakers at Rockets, 8:30, ABC

Links

Caitlin Cooper on the basketball reasons the Pacers are legit.

LMAO the Knicks lost to the Wizards in London on a game-winning (game-losing?) goaltending call.

So those rumors that Gregg Popovich might retire from the NBA this summer have some more power because Popovich is openly questioning whether he’ll be back.

Milwaukee’s stellar defense is built around ... Brook Lopez?

Dan Devine on Kyrie Irving and growing up.

Kudos to Reggie Bullock for his continued transgender issues advocacy.

Should Zion Williamson sit out the rest of Duke’s season to avoid injury since he’s pretty clearly the frontrunner for the No. 1 pick now?

Kevin Garnett keeps welcoming WNBA stars into his TNT studio and talking about the women’s league. Matt Ellentuck talks to KG about why it’s so important to him.

Jonathan Tjarks suggests a C.J. McCollum for Aaron Gordon swap and you know, I like it.

On Steven Adams’ strength.

C.J. McCollum tried to be a good teammate and got a towel in the face for his trouble.

DeMarcus Cousins is back on Friday night. He rehabbed in the G League. Will that start a trend among NBA stars?

What it would take for Great Britain to embrace basketball in a real way.

Explaining everything goofy about that bizarre Nets vs. Rockets game.

Spread love and be excellent to each other.

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