Get two players back from injury in one game…lose three players in same game. That’s the quintessential Lakers’ season for ya’.
With Pau Gasol staying behind to have some PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) treatment done to his injured groin, the Lakers got Steve Nash and Steve Blake back, in the starting line-up, no less. To the bench went Kendall Marshall, and in his place, a very spry Nash.
The first half looked to be a close game at first (as most Laker games tend to begin), but at the break, the Minnesota Timberwolves had a 16-point lead that was, at one point in the second quarter, a 25-point advantage.
In the third quarter, usually worth 12-minutes of torture for the purple and gold, the Lakers actually played well, outscoring Minnesota 26-21 on 47% shooting, while the home team shot just 37% from the field. The Lakers went into the fourth with just an 11-point deficit to erase, and they got as close as seven points, before the Wolves packed it in and took it home, led by their two Kevins – Love with 31 points and 17 rebounds and Martin with 32 points. Lakers took yet another hit – 109-99 loss.
Steve Nash – Nash played just under eight minutes in the first quarter, per Coach Mike D’Antoni’s plan, but his intention was to play Nash 10-15 minutes for the entire game(!). Reports during the broadcast noted that Nash told his old coach that he felt good and wanted to continue so he played almost another nine minutes before halftime. He played a total 24:37 minutes, and produced seven points on 3-6 from the field, including 1-2 from downtown, handed out nine assists, grabbed a steal, and only turned the ball over a pair of times. It’s clearly not a stat line for what we’ve known Nash to be, but for someone getting back from sitting out half the season, he said he felt great. “I don’t mind some pain and some discomfort,” Nash said postgame in the locker room. “…as long as I can move well and recover, and I don’t get to that point where it’s a slippery slope.” There’s no telling how Nash will feel tomorrow morning, but it was nice to see him out there nonetheless.
Robert Sacre – The young Gonzaga man didn’t produce what Pau Gasol has the last few games, but he did some good things out there as the Lakers’ 1 of 2 available big men (Jordan Hill was hit in the face by teammate, Chris Kaman in the first quarter and never returned). Sacre chipped in 14 points on 5-8 from the field, four rebounds, a steal and a block.
Bench – The Laker reserves outscored the Minnesota bench 72-29, led by Nick Young’s 24 points. Young shot just 4-12 from the field, 3-7 from behind the arc, but he made 13-14 free throws. The man finds a way to score. Behind him was Manny Harris with 19 points on 8-11 from the field and 2-3 from downtown.
Injuries – 74 seconds into the game, Jodie Meeks, rose for a three-pointer, landed on Corey Brewer’s foot and sprained his right ankle. Jordan Hill, in the same quarter, was hit by teammate Kaman and, like Meeks, sat out the remainder of the game. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reports that Hill experienced “a headache and cervical strain in his neck.” To further this seemingly infinite list of ailments, Steve Blake suffered a ruptured eardrum after contact with Minnesota’s Dante Cunningham. In unrelated, though somewhat related news, two weeks ago, Kobe Bryant’s wife, Vanessa Bryant (via Instagram), showed that she sprained her right ankle and overstretched two ligaments. These Laker injuries are stretching beyond the locker room and into a player’s home life – that’s how unbelievably ridiculous this season is getting. (For anyone who doesn’t follow Vanessa Bryant, the swelling has reduced and she seems to be doing better) This Laker team, on the other hand, has suffered incomprehensible bad luck and there’s no telling when, or if, it will improve anytime soon.
Kendall Marshall – With the two Steves back in the line-up, the player affected most was Marshall. The young guard, who, let’s face it, has been the Lakers’ offensive backbone the last few weeks, played just eight seconds short of 21 minutes, while Nash played almost 25 and Blake surpassed the 32 minute mark. With Meeks going out in the first quarter, and the two players just getting in their first game after sitting out for son long, playing Marshall closer to his regular minutes would have been a logical step. He might’ve been able to do more being the healthiest of the three point guards available.
Another loss – That makes their record16-32.
So apparently, not even a Steve Nash and Steve Blake return could help the Lakers add to the dust-collecting, win column. They now have exactly twice as many losses as they do wins, and with the added injuries from tonight’s game, it may very well triple before season’s end.