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Magic Johnson says Lakers should play inside game

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Magic Johnson says Lakers should play inside game

LOS ANGELES (AP) Magic Johnson questioned new coach Mike D'Antoni's system with the slumping Los Angeles Lakers, saying ``it doesn't fit the talent the Lakers have.''

The Lakers (9-12) fell to 4-8 in the 12 games since D'Antoni took over from the fired Mike Brown with a 100-94 loss to the Cavaliers on Tuesday night in Cleveland.

``I'm not down on him yet as a coach,'' Johnson said earlier in the day at a Dodger Stadium appearance, although he criticized D'Antoni's plan to make the Lakers into a running team.

``You can't run with these guys,'' he said. ``There's one guy who can get up and down the court and that's Kobe (Bryant). You've got to take that ball inside. That's how you win games.''

Johnson said the Lakers have two of the best 7-footers in the NBA in Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard, and the offense should revolve around Gasol, who missed his fifth straight game Tuesday night with tendinitis in his knees. Point guard Steve Nash has missed 20 games with a broken left leg he sustained on Oct. 31.

Johnson called Gasol ``the best passing big man in the NBA.''

``His game is catch it on the low block and face his man,'' the former Lakers star said. ``The first question should've been, `Where do you like it because that's where I'm going to give it to you.'''

When it comes to the Lakers' dismal defense, Johnson agrees with D'Antoni and Bryant.

``We can score points but the defense is breaking down,'' he said. ``We have to correct our defense. Every night guys have to come with passion and urgency.''

Johnson said he thinks that once Gasol starts playing well, the Lakers will follow suit with Nash's help.

``This is one of the most challenging stretches of my 17 years, and the most baffling, too,'' a puzzled Bryant said after losing to the Cavs. ``We have the talent and personnel to do it, but we're not, and it's baffling. It's extremely frustrating.

``It doesn't make any sense. We're still finding ways to lose games.''

VCU loses fourth consecutive game to St. Louis

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VCU loses fourth consecutive game to St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Javonte Perkins had 25 points as Saint Louis topped VCU 80-62 on Friday night.

Hasahn French had 18 points for Saint Louis (19-8, 8-6 Atlantic 10 Conference). Terrence Hargrove Jr. added 11 points. Jordan Goodwin had 10 points.

Marcus Santos-Silva had 11 points for the Rams (17-10, 7-7), who have now lost four consecutive games. De'Riante Jenkins added 10 points.

Saint Louis plays Saint Joseph's at home on Wednesday. VCU faces UMass on the road on Wednesday.

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Tristan Thompson calls Bradley Beal one of the best shooting guards in the league

Tristan Thompson calls Bradley Beal one of the best shooting guards in the league

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson spoke with reporters after the team's victory over the Wizards Friday night, praising Bradley Beal, who was snubbed from All-Star consideration this season despite averaging nearly 30 points-per-game.

The Cavaliers held the Wizards to just 21 points in the fourth quarter, and Thompson said their main focus was neutralizing Beal.

"The Wizards are really good offensively when they are making their runs," Thompson said postgame. "Bradley Beal is an All-Star in our league. One of the top-three two-guards in our league right now, so we were just trying to make it tough for him."

Beal finished the night with 26 points, but struggled from the floor. Beal shot 9-for-28 from the floor and the Cavaliers' stingy defense was clearly a factor.

Beal and the Wizards will have a chance to get back on track on Sunday night at Capital One Arena when they host the Chicago Bulls for the final time this season.

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