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Real Madrid's win over Atletico feels crucial in the La Liga title race

Real Madrid haven't won LaLiga yet but they easily beat Atletico. PLUS: The title race in the Premier League is going to be hot and Bayern are clearly pulling away in Germany. (Author: Gardener)

AtleticoEven before the chaos at the Champions League draw, the last 48 hours in the top leagues in Europe caused a lot of talk. Real Madrid's big derby win over Atletico Madrid feels crucial in the LaLiga title race, while Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea all won to keep all three teams at the top of the Premier League where they were before. Is Bayern Munich meanwhile on the way to another Bundesliga crown in Germany? - ESPN + Audience Guide: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, FA Cup and More There was also drama for Arsenal, Juventus, Milan and Paris Saint-Germain, as well as more concerns for Barcelona and new manager Xavi. Jump to: Real Madrid's derby win | Liverpool deserved to win | Inter Milan at the top of Serie A | Bavaria's comeback | Keep working for Man United | Disappoint Juve | Man City win | Xavis Barca trips | Milan is fighting? | Chelsea is running late | Does PSG's win play a role? | Dortmund Drop Points | Naples shouldn't panic | Arsenal win, Auba punished | Real Betis show their worth Some are poised to crown Real Madrid, who are now eight points ahead of Sevilla, who have one game in hand. I'm not ready to do that yet, but Sunday night's Madrid derby, which pushed 2-0 aside, looked like men versus boys after long stretches. Diego Simeone won't like this, but it felt like Real set the tone and pace and played with Atletico the rest of the way. Vinicius Junior was there to provide the kind of assists that seemed unthinkable a year ago when he was much more of a head-down player. And Karim Benzema was there to break the ice with a brilliant, technical finish before heading to the locker room at half time to rest his body. In some ways, Real Madrid is different from the top European teams. They sit on a lower block, they try to meet you in the transition, and they give their high quality players room to improvise. That's not how most big guys do it, but it seems like a choice rather than a necessity, something tailored for the opposition. And if they let Kroos and Modric do their thing and want to kill you, they can do that too. The main concern, of course, is depth. Carlo Ancelotti hasn't shown much appetite for rotation - other than Rodrygo / Marco Asensio - and you're wondering if they couldn't pay a price for it in the future. Benzema is 33, Kroos 31 and Modric 36: It has not escaped anyone's notice, but building up this league table should give the club the breathing space it needs to operate a certain load management later in the season. Fede Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga are young and full of energy: we might see a different Real Madrid on the pitch, but that suits Ancelotti well. Benzema is of course another topic again, after Luka Jovic's performance last week (and solid 45 minutes this week) he will be a useful substitute against many opponents. At Atletico Madrid it looked like the pieces didn't quite fit together and it's hard to tell what Simeone is up to. It didn't quite work because the midfield was overplayed and understaffed. Again, with hindsight at 20/20, you asked yourself whether maybe a real midfielder helping Koke and Rodrigo De Paul had no influence. Or maybe Thomas Lemar, who could have added a little creativity and allowed Atleti more initiative. Simeone has 15 or 16 great players, but very few automatic decisions. And when he makes changes, the guys are often very different. It won't matter much against most opponents as Jan Oblak makes (or, based on this season) excellent saves and there is enough talent to score one or more goals at the other end. But against quality teams, you either come up with a tailor-made setup to surprise them, or you often pay the price for the lack of chemistry. Steven Gerrard returned to Anfield with Aston Villa to defend and frustrate Liverpool. It worked for an hour, but the continued hitting game preached by Jurgen Klopp and performed by Liverpool eventually wore him down. The fact that it came from the penalty spot after Mohamed Salah confused Tyrone Mings doesn't matter. Liverpool were rested and that was evident. And when they are like that, they are very difficult to stop. It's not an experiment that we absolutely need to see again, but it was the kind of curve ball Klopp hits occasionally and a reminder that he's by no means dogmatic. It is, of course, all the easier if you can fall back on your first-choice midfield trio of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara. Liverpool doesn't look like they're leaving anytime soon. I was totally gloomy about Inter's chances of defending their Serie A title, but Simone Inzaghi makes me a believer. It's also not so much the gaudy 4-0 win over Cagliari that put them at the top of the league. (It ended 4-0 and it could have been more if Alessio Cragno hadn't put in a series of great saves and if Lautaro Martinez, who scored two goals, hadn't missed a penalty too) Inzaghi can't be praised enough for how smooth the transition went, not only given the difficulty of replacing Antonio Conte, Romelu Lukaku, Achraf Hakimi and Christian Eriksen, but also given the cost savings and the club's enormous financial difficulties. It's like they've retained the confidence Conte gave them last season while adding even more creativity and unpredictability. And they are better able to deploy the entire squad and involve more than the 13 or 14 core players. Conte is now with Spurs, of course. At halftime on Saturday Bayern were one goal behind at home, and rightly so. Mainz's steadfast defense had denied them opportunities; Corentin Tolisso's unpredictable passing game (and some subsequent defensive chaos) had given the guests a goal. Bayern came back to win because, well, Bayern want Bayern, but it was a reminder that this team is far from where it could be now. (And yet you have six points ahead of the Bundesliga top: do what you want with it.) The absence of Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich in midfield weighed heavily. Jamal Musiala is only 18 years old and his future lies ahead - his sweet winning goal was further proof of that - and Tolisso will rightly find a new club in June. The "three-and-a-half at the back" still have to be filed and at the front it took Bayern far too long to get going. Bayern have scored 12 points out of 15 in their last five Bundesliga games, but all four wins came from a single goal and during that time their xG has dropped from 2.81 to 2.09. Maybe it's not entirely by chance that Kimmich missed the last four league games. Julian Nagelsmann is unlikely to find any relief in the transfer window this January, so he'll have to fix this internally. That six point lead gives him the leeway to do so. After Manchester United's 1-0 win in Norwich, Ralf Rangnick said David De Gea was his man of the game and that he wanted his attackers "to have more intensity, physicality and a willingness to win one-on-one duels" . He's right: the difference between the two teams consisted of a penalty won and converted by Cristiano Ronaldo and some extraordinary saves by De Gea. - De Gea the hero in the narrow victory over Norwich The thing is, Rangnick was always more of an agent of change than a quick fix. Or rather, it was a quick fix because the bar was set so low by its predecessors. Appointing Rangnick means, above all, doing things differently. There's a reason very few teams play a 4-2-2-2 formation: it's difficult, it's tiring, and it can take players some time to learn. This is the path the club has chosen (at least until June) and they just have to give it time. But unlike others, this system only works if you press effectively and intensely. Until you get this right - and it won't be overnight - you will always be vulnerable, both in width and in lines. Nonetheless, the result, which was a 1-1 draw that put them in sixth place, eight points behind Champions League places, a whopping twelve behind Inter and their worst start in 23 years. And of course, they lost Paulo Dybala after 12 minutes, and they also had to do without Federico Chiesa and Dejan Kulusevski. Most annoying is the demeanor they displayed; Most disturbing are Max Allegri's words after the game. Allegri said they "failed to take the lead" after taking the lead. But Venezia, who didn't act particularly well, equalized in the 10th minute of the second half, leaving Juve only 23 minutes ahead. Juve showed little of the aggression and forward thinking expected from a modern game. They had their chances, but they didn't come from pressing or playing patterns, but from individuals. It's a formula that might have worked a decade ago but no longer works today. You have to do better. Manchester City's 1-0 win over Wolves to stay at the top of the Premier League depended on two big calls. It came at the end of a first half in which City was defeated by Bruno Lage's wolves. The expulsion changed the game. After the break and with the man advantage, City managed enough to win the game on points if there had been a jury like in boxing. Football doesn't work that way, however, and it took a terrible penalty for Raheem Sterling to convert. Moss thought it was going to hit his arm (understandable if you're generous), the VAR was unsure according to a statement released later and couldn't find a clear reproduction image and so it wasn't there (which, frankly) is unacceptable, assuming , he had the same food as everyone else). City deserved the win, albeit with a dash of luck, but Guardiola will have a few things to consider based on the first 45 minutes. This side continues to wobble, there are still too many square vortices in round holes and De Jong looks overwhelmed, at least in the current line-up. Still, this is growing rebuild pains, and in many ways, aside from the results - although that's also important as they continue their unlikely chase for a top 4 finish - Xavi won't be dissatisfied with what he's seen. Either I win or I learn. ”As cheesy as it sounds, that has to be his mantra at the moment. Zlatan Ibrahimovic needed an added-time goal (with a pretzel that few 40-year-olds can manage) for Milan to avoid losing to a Udinese side that had just sacked their manager. That goal was also the club's first (and only) shot on goal, while they are second after the draw, one point behind Inter. Stefano Pioli can take on injuries and absenteeism - especially the wrong kind of injuries Ibrahimovic left as the only fit striker - but it goes way beyond that. In fact, they have only won three out of nine games since Halloween, which was their only really convincing performance against a top opponent, while the other two were against Genoa and Salernitana, the last and penultimate in Serie A. Sure, in Pioli's starting eleven Half a dozen players were missing and when Ibrahimovic is up, you will of course play differently when you have Ante Rebic or Rafael Leao. Anyway, Milan doesn't want to be here at the moment. Not with a big game against Napoli next weekend. The hop is back and so are the converted penalties. Jorginho had two - both were won by Antonio Rüdiger of all people - and the second was only awarded in stoppage time to give Chelsea a 3-2 win over an injury-ridden Leeds team that enabled Thomas Tuchel to step up with the teams hold up. Chelsea aren't playing well - that much is obvious - but conventional wisdom could bark the wrong tree. There is a feeling that this team is losing too many goals and this is due to the absence of N'Golo Kante. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Chelsea are better with a fit and productive edge, but it's not at all clear that Chelsea are suddenly sort of like a sieve defensively. They conceded 0.69 goals per game in the Premier League, which is basically the same as last season after Tuchel's takeover (0.68). Expected goals without a penalty tell a slightly different story - last year it was 0.56, this year it is 0.88 which is higher but still the second best in the league - but it probably has little to do with Edge . The Frenchman only started six of 16 league games this season, but only seven out of 19. Last year, when Tuchel took over, it was just seven out of 19. Aside from a few single mistakes (like we've seen against West Ham), that's probably what's above happens. The defense starts over, and as long as there's a rotating cast of characters in the top three it's difficult to build the chemistry needed from the ball. Two goals from Kylian Mbappe gave Paris Saint-Germain a 2-0 win over Monaco and underpinned their supremacy in Ligue 1, where they are 13 points behind runners-up Marseille (although l'OM has a game in hand ). I say "domination" because PSG are winning games without necessarily performing. Monaco hit the post, came close several times and finally succumbed to a (generous) penalty from Angel Di Maria and a single mistake that led to a counter goal. Either you keep your job and your authority over this club in two ways: by winning the Champions League or by improving the team. The latter should happen, but it isn't happening right now. A big part of winning titles is how you react to adversity. The 5-0 win against Besiktas on Tuesday may have been meaningless in the context of the Champions League, but it showed that Borussia Dortmund's heads were anything but bowed after the bitter defeat against Bayern the previous weekend. They had a similar spirit to Bochum and generally played out the opponent, but a bad decision by Gregor Kobel led to a penalty against them, Marius Wolf was not recognized a late goal (rightly) and they had to score 1-1. Make up for a draw. If you consider that Bochum has only lost at home once in the last nine months, rationally that is not a tragedy. When you consider that they are chasing Bayern, it must hurt. Naples' home defeat to Empoli is the kind of result that creates doom and darkness. You have taken a point from the last three games. They have moved from being three points ahead of the Serie A leaders to fourth place, four points behind. Coach Luciano Spalletti himself read the riot and spoke after the game about the need for hard work and humility. Despite all their absences, they created tons of chances, hit the wood twice and got only one of the most bizarre goals you are likely to see. Luck is part of the game. Next up is a huge game against Milan; The last thing they need is to go into this game with their head down. Arsenal are rebuilding, so performance counts more than results. On Saturday they did a great job against Southampton and won 3-0 without Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, their highest paid player and team captain. Mikel Arteta confirmed he was disfellowshipped on "disciplinary grounds" but in his absence the rest of the team looked good, which matters. Arsenal pledged huge funds to Aubameyang in September 2020. Some of us questioned the move at the time, just as we questioned the expensive signings of Willian and Thomas Partey: it's what you do when you try to win now, not when you build. In retrospect, of course, that suggests it was a mistake. I would also ask what role Aubameyang should play in the future. It's now four wins in a row for Manuel Pellegrinis Betis and especially the most recent - Real Sociedad's 4-0 defeat on Sunday - was a six-point win that put a direct rival in the top four. It took Pellegrini a while to get going and, in particular, to make this side less dependent on Nabil Fekir. But in Juanmi, who has scored six goals in the last four games, he has found a striker with a hot hand and a desire for relaxation and he is getting the most out of his experienced squad.

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Manchester United face Atlético and not PSG after the Champions League re-draw

Manchester United face Atlético Madrid in the Champions League after a re-draw was triggered by an exceptional mistake left with a game against PSG (Author: Gardener)

the Champions LeagueUefa had to redraw the last 16 of the Champions League after a flawed first attempt in which Manchester United incorrectly played against Villarreal, excluded from a possible duel with Atlético Madrid and paired with Paris Saint-Germain, before Ralf Rangnicks team Atlético landed at second attempt. The European Football Association blamed the "software of an external service provider" for an embarrassing episode in which the first draw was declared invalid almost three quarters of an hour after it began. United were ultimately spared a round of 16 game against Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Mauricio Pochettino, who is keen to coach next summer, when they played with Diego Simeone's side in an accident-free second draw. Liverpool face Italian champions Internazionale, who initially received a cheaper draw against RB Salzburg, while Manchester City swapped Villarreal for Sporting. The problems started when United faced Villarreal, whom they met in the group stage and therefore could not play in the round of 16. UEFA officials corrected the mistake and Andrey Arshavin pulled City's name out of the bowl instead. But during the draw for the next draw against Atlético, Uefa's deputy general secretary Giorgio Marchetti incorrectly stated that United had already been drawn and their ball was not placed in the bowl with the teams qualified for the Spanish champions. Video evidence also showed that Liverpool had been mistakenly placed in the bowl to face Atlético when the teams were ineligible because they were in the same group. United didn't question the botched draw despite a daunting task against PSG and left Uefa to consider their options. Atlético, who initially felt attracted to Bayern Munich, announced that they would be in talks with Uefa "to ask for explanations and a solution after the mistakes they made". Shortly afterwards, the governing body of European football published a statement that read: “After a technical problem with the software of an external service provider instructing the officials which teams are eligible to play against each other, a major flaw occurred during the draw the draw will be declared invalid and will be repeated in full. "Jürgen Klopp insisted that it was the right course of action, the Liverpool manager said:" I saw it live and thought: 'You can't leave it like that, there aren't any Chance.' In any case, they had to do it again. " Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola said at a press conference between the two draws: “I think it's fair [to the reroll]. Their first draw was against Benfica, but in the second they ended up with PSG, which brought coach Carlo Ancelotti a reunion against one of his former clubs and brought Sergio Ramos back to the club where he won four Champions League titles. Commenting on the draw, Real’s Director of Institutional Affairs Emilio Butragueño said: "It was surprising, deplorable and very difficult to understand when you consider that millions of fans and the world of sport have been waiting for the draw." Bayern will meet Salzburg instead of Atlético, Benfica will meet Ajax, who ended up in their first draw against Internazionale, and Juventus opponents will be Villarreal and not Sporting. Despite the controversy, Klopp welcomed a return to San Siro, where Liverpool beat Milan last week and became the first English team to win all six games in a Champions League group stage. "I had to wait 54 years to play at the San Siro for the first time and now it's going to be twice in three months so that's good news," he said. Of course it's a tough lot. They are the leaders in Italy; a good team at a good moment. Simone Inzaghi is here, his first year, last year they were champions but it's the Liverpool way - it's never easy but still possible so let's try it. It's a real Champions League draw and I'm really looking forward to it. "

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Several teams are interested in trading with Talen Horton-Tucker

The 21-year-old LA swingman will be trading on January 15th. (Author: Gardener)

Talen Horton-TuckerThe 21-year-old LA swingman will be trading on January 15th. The Los Angeles Lakers' most intriguing young player, Talen Horton-Tucker, is also one of the team's most tradable assets. Boardroom's Jordan Schultz reports that up to seven teams could be interested in acting for Horton-Tucker. After missing the first 13 games of the year due to offseason surgery on his right thumb, Horton-Tucker got off to a quick start when he was finally fit for Los Angeles. In his first three games that season he averaged 23.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, two assists and 1.3 steals. The 6'4 "Iowa State product averages 11.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per night. It shoots 40.6% off the field, 27.8% off the three-point range, and 82 , 8% from the Charity Stripe. It was reported Today that Horton-Tucker tested positive for COVID-19 and could fail in the short term but is otherwise healthy and hopefully will be back and available soon. The Lakers could be a more reliable offensive contributor on Perimeter, and THT's highly negotiable, $ 30.8 million three-year deal could be the club's best way to upgrade without its top three stars in striker LeBron James, Big Man Anthony Davis and point guard Russell Westbrook. Tucker would likely be the Pistons' winner in such an exchange between the two cadres. After signing his new contract extension with Bird Rights this summer, the 21-year-old will be the LA swing man traded in January 15. 1 r the rest of the league's free agent signers.

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LeBron James heats up when Lakers visit Mavericks

Los Angeles Lakers 'title hopes may ultimately depend on star LeBron James' sleep patterns. When the four-time MVP is rested, the Lakers look like legitimate contenders. (Author: Gardener)

LeBron JamesLos Angeles Lakers 'title hopes may ultimately depend on star LeBron James' sleep patterns. When the four-time MVP is rested, the Lakers look like legitimate contenders. James has scored at least 30 points in seven of his last eleven games for the Lakers, who embark on a three-game road trip against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. Los Angeles has won two straight wins, five out of seven, with the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week ahead. James recorded his 101st triple-double of his career with 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in Sunday's 106-94 win against Orlando Magic. "The effort with which he plays inspires our whole group," said Lakers coach Frank Vogel. "Our team plays extremely hard, defends and runs the floor. The Lakers have won nine of the last 12 games against Dallas, which could do without star guard Luka Doncic on Wednesday. Doncic, who averaged 22.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 8.1 assists in 10 career games against the Lakers, has missed the last two games with pain in his left ankle and is listed as day-to-day. The Mavericks were 0-4 without their two-time All-Star before taking a back-to -back and ended Saturday with a 120-96 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday. Kristaps Porzingis had 24 points and 13 rebounds against the Hornets when Dallas won straight games for the first time since mid-November. "He was from the start great on the defensive, great at helping and protecting the edge, "said Dallas coach Jason Kidd. The Mavericks received a welcome spark from keeps Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Josh Green, who together for 48 points vo n came to the bank. "That second session was great," said Kidd. "Trey was at an all-time high for us. That group moved the ball. Dallas could face an understaffed Lakers team after security guard Talen Horton-Tucker was inducted into the league's health and safety protocols. Los Angeles" on Tuesday cancel training on Tuesday while the team took two COVID tests. Horton-Tucker, who has started the last six games, scored 19 points in Sunday's win and a career high of six steals. "He's really coming," said Vogel. The Lakers are also watching the status of striker Anthony Davis, who has missed the last two games with a pain in his left knee. Davis averaged 24 points and 10.2 rebounds for Los Angeles, which climbed two games over .500 for the first time in four weeks.

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Nets place James Harden and 6 others in COVID logs; Lakers cancel training as league problems persist

Several Brooklyn Nets players landed in the league's health and safety protocols Tuesday morning, and the Los Angeles Lakers canceled training ahead of their trip to Dallas. Seven Nets players are now on health and safety logs, the team said Tuesday morning, making Brooklyn the third organization with a significant outbreak in the entire league. LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre ’Bembry, James Johnson and Jevon Carter all made the list ... (Author: Gardener)

James HardenSeveral Brooklyn Nets players landed in the league's health and safety protocols Tuesday morning, and the Los Angeles Lakers canceled training ahead of their trip to Dallas. Seven Nets players are now on health and safety logs, the team said Tuesday morning, making Brooklyn the third organization with a significant outbreak in the entire league. On Tuesday afternoon, Nets stars James Harden and Bruce Brown were added to the list, per Shams Charania from The Athletic. Though the Nets are extremely limited, Kevin Durant was released against the Toronto Raptors Tuesday night after battling right ankle pain - which officially gave them eight available players, the league minimum. The Nets outbreak comes more than a week after the Chicago Bulls game that featured 10 players and two games this week were postponed due to their own outbreak. Chicago's breakout came after a game against the Charlotte Hornets, who also lost five players to logs. The Nets are slated to face the Raptors on Tuesday before the Philadelphia 76ers game. It is unclear how long any of the seven players will be out. Lakers guardian Talen Horton-Tucker tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday and entered the league's health and safety logs, the team said. As a result, the Lakers canceled Tuesday's training and instructed all players and staff to perform both a rapid test and a PCR test, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin. After the players returned a negative test, they were scheduled to meet at the airport for their trip to Dallas for Wednesday's game against the Mavericks. Horton-Tucker has averaged 11.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game this season, his third in the league. How long the 21-year-old will be out is unclear. The Lakers will embark on a three-game road trip, with the team playing in Minnesota on Friday and then Chicago on the Sunday after the Dallas game. Talen Horton-Tucker landed in the NBA's health and safety protocols on Tuesday. Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo entered health and safety logs Tuesday night, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. Antetokounmpo was removed from the game against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday. How long he will pause is unclear. Antetokounmpo has averaged 27 points and 11.6 rebounds so far this season, his ninth at the Bucks. After the Pacers, Milwaukee will face the Pelicans on Friday before the Cavaliers on Saturday. The NFL hit a new high on Monday when 36 players and one staff member tested positive in a single day. The employee also reportedly tested positive for the Omicron variant, the first known case of this variant in the league. The NFL officially announced to teams on Monday that Tier 1 and 2 employees must receive their booster shots by December 27th. About 100 players were on the league's COVID list on Tuesday. The NHL had more than 30 players on their COVID logs as of Tuesday afternoon, and both the Carolina Hurricanes and Calgary Flames have postponed games in the past two days. As of Tuesday afternoon, the United States saw an average of more than 120,000 new cases of the coronavirus each day - an increase of nearly 50% over the past two weeks, according to The New York Times.

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Lebron versus Lukas

Luka Doncic won't compete against his childhood idol, Lakers star Lebron James. (Author: Gardener)

LebronDALLAS - The Dallas Mavericks will host the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night, but the highly anticipated match will go without at least one star ... Luka Doncic won't be playing against childhood idol, Lakers star Lebron James. Doncic struggling with ankle pain. Luka will miss his third game in a row. The Mavs are 2-4 without Doncic this season after recording consecutive wins against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Charlotte Hornets. The Lakers, who have won five of their last seven games, could do without Anthony Davis. Davis is questionable with knee pain that has kept him from playing the last two games. A. had to cancel a training session that was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon before his flight to Dallas. The Lakers have a lead of one game over the Mavs in the Western Conference standings. Without Doncic, the Mavs need someone else to produce magic and claim victory on Wednesday. FUN FACT: This is the first meeting between Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd and the Lakers after Kidd spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach in Los Angeles (2019-21) and helped the franchise to the 2020 NBA title. INJURY REPORT: Mavs: Sterling Brown (left foot sore) is questionable; Willie Cauley-Stein (personal reasons) fails; Doncic (left ankle wound) is out. NEXT: Dallas has a few days off before heading out to play the Minnesota Timberwolves at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday. CT. "I love every guy that is in this locker room and I believe in what we can," said LeBron. The front office put this team together and we are looking forward to the journey ahead. "

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Lakers' Talen Horton-Tucker says he's comfortable as a starter

Talen Horton-Tucker, Guardian for the Los Angeles Lakers, spoke about how he's got used to his role in the starting XI. (Author: Gardener)

Talen Horton-TuckerTalen Horton-Tucker had high expectations when he signed a three-year extension with the Los Angeles Lakers over the summer. The third year player was once a combo guard for the team but is now charged with evolving into a 3-and-D wing due to his 7-foot wingspan. After missing the first 13 games due to a thumb injury, Horton-Tucker came back averaging 23 points in his first few games and was the best Laker in the process. He has now played a 19-point, six-steal game against Orlando Magic, his best two-way game of the year. "I'm just fine now," said Horton-Tucker. Just trying to figure out where my shots are coming from and doing the things that I can do defensively will come. Try to give me my time and I feel like we'll keep getting better as the season goes on. ”Horton-Tucker went on to try to improve his 3-point percentage, which is currently at 27, 8% lies. Against the magic, he shot 3-out-of-6 (50%) from below. “I just want to stay aggressive and catch and shoot. I was a little hesitant at first because I didn't know what was going to happen afterwards, but just being aggressive, sticking to my attitude and trusting my work is something I kind of wanted to focus on. ”Horton-Tucker is inclined Clogging lanes to the edge because the defense doesn't fully respect his shooting skills, but if the 21-year-old wing can increase his 3-point percentage to around 34-35% his fit will be better smooth.

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Nets add 5 players to health and safety logs, Lakers drop out of training as COVID issues persist

Several Brooklyn Nets players landed in the league's health and safety protocols Tuesday morning, and the Los Angeles Lakers canceled training ahead of their trip to Dallas. Five Nets players are now subject to health and safety protocols, the team said Tuesday morning, making them the third organization to have a major outbreak across the league. LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre ‘Bembry, James Johnson, and Jevon Carter were all featured in the ... (Author: Gardener)

5Several Brooklyn Nets players landed in the league's health and safety protocols Tuesday morning, and the Los Angeles Lakers canceled training ahead of their trip to Dallas. Five Nets players are now subject to health and safety protocols, the team said Tuesday morning, making them the third organization to have a major outbreak across the league. The Nets outbreak comes more than a week after playing the Chicago Bulls which featured 10 players and two games postponed due to their own outbreak. Chicago's breakout came after a game against the Charlotte Hornets, who also lost five players to logs. The Nets meet on Tuesday before the game against the Philadelphia 76ers against the Toronto Raptors. It is unclear how long any of the five players will be out. Lakers guardian Talen Horton-Tucker tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday and entered the league's health and safety logs, the team said. As a result, the Lakers canceled training entirely on Tuesday and directed all players and staff to perform both a rapid test and a PCR test, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin. After the players returned a negative test, they were scheduled to meet at the airport for their trip to Dallas for Wednesday's game against the Mavericks. Horton-Tucker has averaged 11.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game this season so far this season, his third in the league. How long the 21-year-old will be out is unclear. The Lakers will embark on a three-game road trip, with the team playing in Minnesota on Friday and then Chicago on the Sunday after the Dallas game. Talen Horton-Tucker landed in the NBA's health and safety protocols on Tuesday. The NBA is nowhere near alone in dealing with a new outbreak. The NFL set a new all-time record on Monday when 36 players and one staff member tested positive in a single day. The employee also reportedly tested positive for the Omicron variant, the first known case of this variant in the league. The NFL officially announced to teams on Monday that Tier 1 and 2 employees must get their booster vaccinations by December 27th. About 100 players were on their COVID list on Tuesday. The NHL had more than 30 players on their COVID logs as of Tuesday afternoon, and both the Carolina Hurricanes and Calgary Flames have postponed games for the past two days. As of Tuesday afternoon, the United States saw an average of more than 120,000 new cases of the coronavirus each day - an increase of nearly 50% over the past two weeks, according to The New York Times.

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LeBron on trade rumors ahead of Mavs visit

"I love every guy that is in that locker room and I believe in what we can," says LeBron. (Author: Gardener)

LeBronDALLAS - At DFW, we're Dallas Mavs-centric when it comes to experimenting with retail concepts that would cause the locals led by Luka Doncic to rise past the .500 mark where Dallas is currently showing up. The Los Angeles Royal Lakers - Wednesday night attendees of the AAC - don't seem to be any different. For example, has LeBron James seen enough? "So it's impossible for me to say, 'OK, when do we get to a point where we need to change something? - If the Mavs somehow win Wednesday's game, both teams will have 15 wins. (The Mavs would be at 15-13, the Lakers at 15-14.) Both teams would stay in the sixth and seventh spots in the west, but at this point the Mavs - who have won twice in a row without the limping Doncic (knee), are hoping for Bring him back for Wednesday - it might feel like finishing sixth is an accomplishment (with all due respect to Kristaps Porzingis, who rose in place of Lukas). LA is not really designed as a second-tier team. James pointed out that the Lakers need more time together, praising the current lineup, noting that he “loves every guy that's in that locker room.” Times Mavs fans can empathize, as is owner Mark Cuban's general position with his cadres gedu To be ldig ... However, Dallas manager Jason Kidd has given clues about the limitations of his squad by calling it not "built for defense" and noting that the Mavs are "a jump shooting team". Do the Mavs need more time? Do the Lakers need more time? "I love every guy that is in this locker room and I believe in what we can," said LeBron. "I love what ... the Front Office did to put this team together and we look forward to the journey ahead." LeBron's journey continues on Wednesday in Dallas, a night when two teams try to "trust" juggling about where to go with "honesty", how hard it could be to get there.

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Lakers spoke about Russell Westbrook Trade

The Lakers have had talks about leaving their ex-all-star point guard. (Author: Gardener)

Russell Westbrook TradeThe Russell-Westbrook experiment has been pretty disappointing for your Los Angeles Lakers so far. LA is currently at a mid-15-13 after removing much of its forward depth (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, and Montrezl Harrell to be precise) to the 33- year-old ex-alli to include -Star Point Guard. Westbrook also has $ 47.1 million that he is likely to wield as he may be struggling right now to make half of this year on the open market. Let the records show this writer was ready to leave Westbrook after the first game of the 2021-22 Lakers season. His scoring stats are still impressive and he has played more control than in previous years, but he seems to have lost half a step athletically and is fighting defensively. His free throw shooting is well below his career average of 78.8%, which has been the trend since his 2016-17 MVP season. His 32.4% three-point shooting is actually the second best of his career, although unfortunately for some reason he still takes 4.0 tries per game, way too many looks for a guy who can't hit them. A notable plus in his game this season is his shot distribution. Westbrook shoots significantly more shots within 3 yards than last season (51.6% of all his field goal looks are within this range, compared to just 35.4% last year). While this clogs the lane a bit for All-Star Lakers striker LeBron James, this is where Westbrook works best. He has moved away from long jumpers (defined as shots over 4.50m but within the three-point line) and has largely replaced this distribution with threesomes, theoretically good practice should he start doing more threesomes. Long two-pointers only make up 14.4% of his shot diet this season. Last year at the Washington Wizards, 22.4% of Westbrook's shots came from this inefficient range. If he were, say, another Lakers in the 2021 offseason targeting DeMar DeRozan, it would be okay to see him do so many mid-range looks. Brodie's defense, inefficient jump shooting, and head-scratching late-game decisions confused LA fans. Those liabilities make him an awkward fit alongside James and his fellow All-Star colleague, tall man Anthony Davis, who is currently out with a knee injury. A potential trade between Ben Simmons and Russell Westbrook was mentioned yesterday that would at least make some sense to both parties. Simmons is also a better player than Westbrook, but a worse fit with his own team. Westbrook is a great lead ball handler and still a senior finisher and above average rebounder for his position him, warts and everything, all over again. Given that James is such a high profile passer and essentially acted as LA point guard during his final championship run in the 2019-20 season, the player LA might get in return doesn't necessarily have to be a point guard, though the team could certainly benefit from another senior perimeter player. There might be an opportunity for the Lakers front office, led by team president Rob Pelinka, to leave Russell Westbrook this season, but it won't be easy.

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