Sunday, November 23, 2014
Blog Page 15

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Image: Ethan Miller | Getty Images

In episode 1 of a recent documentary with GrantlandSteve Nash explains that this season may in fact be his last in the NBA.

The video, posted below, shows Nash’s vigorous rehabilitation process as he attempts to return from the nerve root issue he has been dealing with since last year. Clearly frustrated, Nash admits that retirement may actually be closer to reality than he would like.

“On one hand, I’m lucky I’ve gotten the better part of 18 years,” said Nash. “On the other hand, it will never be the same again.”

Watch the full first episode of the emotional Steve Nash documentary below.

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Image: Harry How | Getty Images

February 13, 2014 — 7:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TNT
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Both teams find themselves heading upwards as All-Star Break approaches upon them. The Oklahoma City Thunder (42-12) find themselves ascending in their winning percentage and now have the best record in the NBA without PG Russell Westbrook. Meanwhile, the Lakers (18-34) continually move up in the NBA lottery seed as they continue to lose games.

Thunder F Kevin Durant has dominated the NBA this season, scoring over 40 points 6 times and 30 or more points in 16 of the last 22 games. A favorite to win the MVP this season, Durant has put his entire team on his back without Westbrook with his scoring ability and has propelled the Thunder past all the Western Conference teams into first place.

Meanwhile, the same 3 point guards who returned last week vs. Minnesota Timberwolves have now re-injured themselves within this week.

PG Steve Nash unfortunately continues to deal with nerve root irritation and will not play tonight. Sadly, this might spell the end for Nash, whose nerve issues has not healed the way he wanted to regardless of how much time he spends in rehab.

PG Jordan Farmar also cannot play tonight as he tries to manage his hamstring that he has torn twice this season already. To make matters worse, PG Steve Blake will play tonight but still feels pain in his right elbow. Questions exist to why Blake wants to play tonight especially since the Lakers should not want to see Blake reaggravate his injury and miss the rest of this season.

Projected Starters

PG – Reggie Jackson / Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Thunder]
SG – Thabo Sefolosha / Steve Blake [Advantage: Thunder]
SF – KEVIN DURANT / Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Thunder]
PF – Serge Ibaka / Shawne Williams [Advantage: Thunder]
C – Kendrick Perkins / Chris Kaman [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Thunder: G Derek Fisher, G Jeremy Lamb, F Perry Jones III, F Nick Collison, C Steven Adams
Lakers: F Jordan Hill, C Robert Sacre, F Ryan Kelly

Bench Advantage: Thunder

Injury List

Thunder: Out-PG Russell Westbrook, Questionable-PG Thabo Sefelosha
Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Steve Blake, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-C Pau Gasol, Out-PG Jordan Farmar, Out-PG Jodie Meeks, Out-PG Steve Nash, Probable-Steve Blake

Bottom Line

The Lakers currently have trouble finding enough players to put on the floor. They only have 8 players available to play tonight. Irresponsible management of players playing times and injuries can be argued as one of the main causes of so many players going down with injuries. The Thunder should have no problem coming away with an easy victory tonight. Durant will most likely not score 30 or more points tonight since he can probably relax on the bench throughout the majority of the 2nd half of tonight’s game.

Prediction

Thunder: 129-98

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With the 2014 NBA All-Star game coming up this Sunday, our friends over at RareInk are having an unbeatable sale. RareInk is offering a 10-piece All-Star collection at 50%-off through All-Star Sunday, February 16th.

RareInk artwork is produced using archival materials and is offered as fine art paper prints (starting at $99), stretched canvases (starting at $159), and prints on metal ($499). Every piece is a hand-numbered, limited edition, with release numbers ranging from 50 to 250.

The 10-piece NBA All-Star collection is available exclusively at RareInk.com and features original artist works of LeBron James, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Kyrie Irving, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love and Stephen Curry.

A compilation of the discounted artwork is shown above and can be purchased here: http://bit.ly/1aStIzv

Although Kobe Bryant will be sitting out the All-Star game due to injury, RareInk has a fantastic signature print of Bryant available for 50% off. See what the piece might look like on your wall below!

Bryant2_Framed_Canvas

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Xavier Henry
Image: Kevin C. Cox | Getty Images

As if the Lakers’ injury news could not get any worse, guard Xavier Henry is expected to miss another four more weeks with his knee injury.

Henry had his right knee drained and received a cortisone shot on Wednesday. Henry, who has not played since December 30th against Philadelphia, will be reevaluated in four weeks.

According to the LA Times’ Eric Pincus, Henry’s absence is dearly missed by his fellow teammates.

“It’s tough because we could use the way he plays,” guard Steve Blake said. “He’s a tough, strong kid. He works hard and doesn’t really take plays off, attacks the basket, gets to the free-throw line. Those are all things we could use right now.”

Henry had been having a breakout year with the Lakers this season, averaging 10.1 pts, 2.8 reb, 1.2 ast, and 1.1 stl in 21.8 minutes per game.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

After exiting early for the second straight game with nerve irritation, it looks like Steve Nash may be out until after the All-Star break.

After Tuesday’s game vs the Jazz, Nash spoke very briefly to reporters, but did mention he might need some more time to get past this issue:

“I think I need a little more time to get over the hump,” he told the LA Times.

Head coach Mike D’Antoni was noncommittal in his post-game comments regarding his point guard, but at the time seemed like he did not know his status moving forward.

“I imagine it’s day to day. I don’t know anything else,” D’Antoni said of Nash’s status. “I haven’t really talked to him.”

It is definitely a concern that Nash says he needs a little more time to get over this injury considering he took nearly three months to return the court. At 40 years old, it is really hard to imagine this nerve root problem improving enough to where he could play multiple games in a row without setbacks.

Guard Steve Blake also shared his concern to reporters regarding Nash after the game:

“I’m pretty concerned. I know he’s dealing with a lot of pain.”

With Tuesday being Nash’s tenth game of the season, the Lakers cannot apply for the salary exclusion until one year after his final game, whenever that may be. There was talk of a potential medical retirement that would take Nash’s salary off the books, but that is no longer an option because of the number of games he has played in.

Had he retired before ten games, the Lakers could have applied for the salary exclusion 60 days after his final game, clearing his contract for the summer.

In simpler terms, Nash’s salary is on the books this season and next season barring some sort of trade, which is highly unlikely.

The Lakers using the stretch provision on Nash this summer seems more and more likely by the day.

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Photo courtesy of Noah Graham, Getty Images

17-33 – That was the Utah Jazz’s record coming into tonight’s game; a record similar to the home team’s 18-33. Despite Utah’s terrible record, however, this is the same team who most recently defeated the two-time defending champion Heat. Yes, those Heat.

In their third meeting of the season, the Jazz started the game well enough, getting to a 7-0 start before the Lakers went on a run to end the first quarter with an 11-point lead. It looked like they were in control going into the second, until Utah clobbered them 32-10 going into halftime. The second half was really just a formality, really. Despite the Lakers’ 23-20 third quarter, they folded in the final 12 minutes, getting behind by as much as 20 points…to the Utah Jazz…at home, and eventually lost, 96-79.

High Points
One Good Quarter – That’s it. The Lakers played one solid quarter in which they only allowed Utah just 35% shooting from the field while shooting 46% of themselves (including 4-5 from downtown). After being down 0-7 to start the game, they went on a 27-9 run, led by Shawne Williams and Chris Kaman, with eight points apiece. The Lakers had just a single turnover the entire quarter and led by as much as 15 points.
Chris Kaman – For a second game in a row, Kaman led the team. Tonight he went for 25 points on 11-24 from the field (missed a lot of bunnies at the rim, not to mention some mid-range jumpers he usually makes), grabbed a game-leading 14 rebounds, and tied Utah’s Derrick Favors with three blocks.
Shawne Williams and Wesley Johnson – Holding down the front court to start the game were Williams and Johnson, combining for 26 points and 12 rebounds. They were the only two players on the team, other than Kaman, who scored in double figures.

Low Points
It’s a familiar list of pain points from tonight’s game so let’s keep it brief:
Bench – Outscored by Utah’s reserves 51-21.
Lead Maintenance/Retrieval – They don’t know how to maintain a lead, nor retrieve it after they’ve lost it. Their 27-9 run in the first quarter was erased quickly with a 32-10 second quarter for the Jazz. Maintaining a lead and/or retrieving one requires a sustained active defense and a sustained ball-moving, high percentage opportunity offense…emphasis on the word sustained. The Lakers have had issues with that all season.
Three-point Shooting – The Lakers went 4-5 from downtown in the first quarter, and then 0-11 the rest of the game. Utah hit 6-17 from behind the arc.
Rebounds – 55-40 disparity in rebounds, 19-12 disparity in second chance points. The Lakers allowed the Jazz 15 offensive rebounds.
Steve Nash – Nash played just under 17 minutes in the first half, and never returned for the second; no doubt caused by nerve irritation again, same reason he didn’t finish Sunday’s game against the Bulls.

30 more games in two months – that’s what we have left of this NBA season, and the way it’s been for the Lakers, the end can’t come soon enough. Next up is a contest against the OKC Thunder, which should be a good game, let’s face it, for Kevin Durant and the Thunder.

Box Score

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February 10, 2014 — 7:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers continue their 3-game home series before the All-Star break to play vs. Utah Jazz. This game feature two bottom-dwelling teams who find themselves destined for a high pick in the loaded 2014 NBA Draft.

Despite playing vs. a very shorthanded Bulls team on Sunday, the Lakers could not quite get over the hump after a 4th quarter comeback attempt.

In Sunday’s game, C Chris Kaman, scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as he led the Lakers throughout the game. That’s right, the same Chris Kaman who Head Coach Mike D’Antoni has benched for reasons only known to him. Arguably one of the most fundamentally skilled big man in the game, the former all-star Kaman could have actually helped the Lakers stay afloat throughout this season so Laker Nation would not have had to witness the current atrocity the Lakers currently sit themselves in.

Well, they unfortunately witness a team that currently sits in 13th place in the Western Conference only ahead of the Jazz and Sacramento Kings.

We can criticize D’Antoni for a lot of things, but we will wait to speak on that in another conversation.

Anyways, PG Steve Nash currently stands in a dicey situation once again, as he left Sunday’s game as a precaution to his nerve irritation issues. Nash practiced Monday and is currently slated to play tonight vs. Jazz.

“It’s a little irritated, the nerve, but I’m hoping I can be better tomorrow and can play,” Nash told ESPNLA.com’s Dave McMenamin.

Hopefully Nash’s nerve irritation will not flare up again tomorrow and in the future as he has done everything he could to recover from his injury issues when nobody else would have.

The Jazz’s season has been one to forget for them also. After going 43-39 last season and slightly missing the playoffs, the Jazz decided to completely rebuild, letting key players like C Al Jefferson and current All-Star PF Paul Millsap go via free-agency. Jazz F Gordan Hayward leads this rebuilding team, having a very solid season showcasing his all-around talents scoring a very solid 16.3 PPG, grabbing 5.5 RPG, and dishing out 5.0 APG this season. Jazz’s prized rookie PG Trey Burke who averages 12.7 PPG and 5.5 APG, will be questionable tonight vs. Lakers due to a score back. although he shot 3-15 vs the Lakers during their last meeting, Burke definitely has the potential to torch the Lakers tonight with his scoring ability.

Projected Starters

PG – Trey Burke / Steve Nash [Advantage: Even]
SG – Gordon Hayward / Steve Blake [Advantage: Jazz]
SF – Richard Jefferson / Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Even]
PF – Marvin Williams / Shawne Williams [Advantage: Even]
C – Derrick Favors Chris Kaman [Advantage: Jazz]

Notable Bench Players

Jazz: G Alec Burks, F Jeremy Evans, PG John Lucas III, C Enes Kanter
Lakers: F Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre, F Ryan Kelly, PG Kendall Marshall

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Jazz: Questionable-PG Trey Burke
Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, , Out-PG Steve Blake, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-C Pau Gasol, Out-PG Jordan Farmar Out-PG Jodie Meeks, Probable-PG Steve Nash

Keys for Lakers Victory

Feed the Big: The Lakers currently have only 9 healthy players at this current moment. Currently their most productive player, Chris Kaman just scored 27 points vs. a stout Bulls defense led by All-Star C Joakim Noah and PF Taj Gibson. in fact, Kaman actually leads current active Lakers in scoring per 36 minutes, scoring 19.5 PPG in that span. Jazz starting C Derrick Favors is talented, but small, so hopefully the Lakers and coach D’Antoni can take advantage of the mismatch in the post, resulting in more wide-open three-pointers and conserving the legs of Lakers players.

Bottom Line

Regardless of the talks of tanking, the Lakers have to continue to play every game with a lot of effort and execute on both ends of the floor. Most of the players on the floor currently do not play only for the Lakers, but also seek to impress General Managers and Scouts throughout the NBA to receive their next contracts. Despite the pessimism going into this game after losing vs. Bulls, the Lakers should have enough firepower to squeak past the Jazz to gain momentum until they have to play vs. F Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Prediction

Lakers: 103-98

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Image: Jeff Gross | Getty Images

Update: The LA Daily News’ Mark Medina reports that Steve Nash has no plans to retire.

“I work as hard as I can everyday to perform and keep going until I’m not playing anymore,” said Nash. “But right now, I have no intentions to stop playing.”

Head coach Mike D’Antoni also chimed in on Nash’s rumored retirement.

“It’s too early for him,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said about Nash’s possible retirement. “He’ll have to decide that. He’ll feel it in his heart and his head. I’m sure he’s getting good advice. Right now we’re trying to get to the next game and play well.”

According to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News, Lakers guard Steve Nash has told friends he plans to retire this summer:

“Steve Nash finally made it back to the Lakers and has told a few friends this is going to be it, even though he has one season to go on his contract, at $9.7 million. Nash, who turned 40 Friday, doesn’t expect to help much, but that’s been the story of his injury-plagued Laker career. He really missed the camaraderie with his teammates when he was out for three months with a nerve injury in his back, and says he wants to experience that for at least the last part of this season before he calls it a career.”

Still two months away from the end of the regular season, there are plenty of questions that need to be answered regarding the direction of the Lakers, but Nash’s future may be one of the bigger ones.

While many do not know the true intentions of Nash, it is not unreasonable to think he could call it quits this season.  Nash has one more year remaining on his contract worth $9.7 million.  It is difficult seeing him being able to go through offseason workouts, training camp, the grind of another 82 game season and potentially additional games in the playoffs but being the competitor that he is, Nash is not going to give up without exploring all avenues to continue playing at an elite level.

The 40-year-old point guard has not enjoyed a successful stint with the Lakers. Affected by nerve problems in his left leg, Nash has played in just 59 games over two seasons.  This season, he has played in only nine games before having to come out of Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bulls with nerve irritation.

On Monday, Nash did go through practice with the team which is a good sign, but it is important to keep a close watch on his health over the final 31 games of the season.  The Lakers say that Nash is probable for Tuesday’s game vs the Jazz.

 

 

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Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty Images

Win back-to-back road games…lose first home game back. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but neither does this Laker team. After a thrilling win in Cleveland, followed by a come-from-behind victory in Philadelphia on Steve Nash’s 40th birthday, the team returned to Staples Center and started the game flat against a Chicago Bulls team who they almost defeated if not for a buzzer-beating Taj Gibson layup.

Just two games ago, the Lakers hit18 three pointers against the Cavaliers, followed by a game against the Sixers in which they only allowed 21 points in the second half. Today, the Bulls started the game 10-0, with the home team needing four minutes and six attempts to get in their first pair of points.

Chicago led by as much as 15 points in the first half before the Lakers cut it down to six by halftime. That dreaded third quarter, however, found the home team down by 19 and despite a fourth quarter in which they only allowed the Bulls 15 points on 27% shooting, it was too late. Steve Nash didn’t even play the fourth quarter due to nerve irritation and the Lakers took in their 33rd loss of the season, 92-86.

High Points
Laker Bench – Four players came off the bench and outscored Chicago’s reserves 62-19. The player who led off the pine was seldom-used-but-now-often-depended-on Chris Kaman. Despite the hilarious memes out there showing him stretched across the empty bench in Cleveland, Kaman didn’t spend today’s game lying down. He led the game with 27 points on 13-23 from the field, 10 rebounds, a trio of assists and a pair of blocks. After the Lakers found it hard to scratch in the first quarter, Kaman put up eight points in four and a half minutes of play. If he had started the game in place of Robert Sacre, the team may not have taken so long to put up some points.
Helping off the bench was, and still remains since he was acquired, Kendall Marshall. With Steve Nash and Steve Blake clearly affected by their numerous injuries, Marshall has stepped in to carry their load. He handed out 11 assists and scored 13 points on 5-6 from the field, including 3-3 from downtown.
Jordan Hill had another good game, scoring 15 points on 6-12 and grabbing nine rebounds and two steals in the process.

Low Points
Starters – Unlike their teammates off the bench, the Laker’s starters were not as effective and productive, which explains their slow start. Nash, Blake, Sacre, Wesley Johnson and Ryan Kelly scored just 24 points as a unit. Kelly was 0-5 and didn’t score at all. Blake played the most minutes on the team, 40:18, and was only able to produce eight points, on 3-12 from the field, 2-6 from behind the arc, and hand out four assists. He did have three steals, but he also had five turnovers. He’s nursing countless ailments and after having played as much as he has the last couple of games, his still recovering body was bound to catch up with him.
Discontinued Efforts – The Lakers allowed the Bulls to shoot almost 60% from the field in the first quarter, but still managed to shoot 50% themselves. In the second quarter, they only allowed Chicago 38% shooting and in the final quarter, just 27%. If they could only sustain their defensive efforts over consecutive quarters, or throughout the game in general, they wouldn’t need to perform just last-second heroics to pull out a victory. They almost won in Chicago and they almost won this afternoon. But “almost” never got anyone anywhere.
Steve Nash – Nash played just over 21 minutes tonight, and after stating how happy he was in the last couple of games to be able to move so freely about the court, the irritation in his nerve has returned. He says he wants to play this week, but there’s no telling what his body will allow him to do much longer.

Up next is Tuesday against the Jazz, a team who, despite their struggles, has managed to beat these Lakers, not to mention the defending champion Miami Heat most recently. They have almost the same record as the Lakers (17-33), but with this Laker team, opponents’ records rarely matter. Let’s just hope they have enough players to play.

Box Score

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of February 9-15, over their 66-year history.

February 9, 1992

Magic Johnson was honored for the second time in his illustrious career as the MVP of the NBA All-Star Game, as he dropped a game-high 25 points and dished out nine assists to lead the West to a 153-113 victory over the Eastern Conference squad. This game was Johnson’s first time back on the hardwood since announcing his retirement from the NBA on November 7, 1991.

February 10, 2002

Kobe Bryant was named the MVP of the 52nd NBA All-Star Game after scoring 31 points in 30 minutes of action for the Western Conference team, as they defeated the East 135-120 in Philadelphia. This game marked the first of four times that Bryant would win the All-Star Game MVP award in his career.

Andy Hayt/ NBAE/ Getty Images
Andy Hayt / NBAE / Getty Images

February 13, 2000

Shaquille O’Neal shared the All-Star Game MVP honors with Tim Duncan after scoring 22 points in 25 minutes, as the West held off the East 137-126 at The Arena in Oakland. The powerful Western Conference starting frontcourt, including O’Neal, Duncan, and Kevin Garnett, tallied 70 total points and grabbed 33 rebounds collectively.

February 13, 2001

Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning layup with 4.8 seconds left in overtime, and then hit a free throw to complete the three-point play after getting fouled on the shot, to lift the Lakers over the Nets 113-110 in New Jersey. Bryant’s game-winner overshadowed Stephon Marbury’s game-high 50 points for the Nets. Bryant finished the game with a team-high 38 points, while Shaquille O’Neal contributed 32 for the Lakers.

February 14, 1986

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the NBA’s all-time leader for total minutes played in a career, as he surpassed Elvin Hayes’ previous record of 50,000 minutes in a 141-117 win over Atlanta. Abdul-Jabbar finished his career with 57,446 total minutes played, which still holds as the NBA record.

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Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty Images

February 9, 2014 — 12:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: ABC
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers (18-32) play vs. Chicago Bulls (24-25)  in front of national audience broadcast on ABC. They come off a solid victory vs Philadelphia 76ers, 112-98. By the way, the actually allowed less than 100 points for the first time since their January 3rd victory vs. Utah Jazz.

Steve Nash looks back to normal for the time being, playing similar to how he played during his days at Phoenix. Nash definitely showed youth in his steps on his 40th birthday, scoring 19 points and dishing out 5 assists while dissecting the Philadelphia 76ers defense en route to a victory.

Without the services of the Lakers top 3 players, SG Kobe Bryant, C Pau Gasol, and F Nick Young, the duration of Nash playing at a high level seems very uncertain due to nerve issues he has tried to heal for the past year.

The Bulls come into today’s game vs. Lakers currently sitting in 5th place in Eastern Conference despite having a sub .500 record. After superstar PG Derrick Rose tore a meniscus in his knee, sidelining him most likely for the test of this season, and trading all-star SF Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Bulls seek to qualify for the playoffs and to make a run at the top free agents this off-season.

Furthermore, the Bulls will most likely be without the services of F Carlos Boozer today due to a strained left calf.

Without Boozer, All-Star C Joakin Noah will anchor the Bulls today. Noah, who averages 11.7 PPG, 11.0 RPG, and 1.3 BPG, makes his name on the defensive end, being named on the NBA All-Defensive 1st team last season. His athleticism and energy on the defensive end clogs up driving lanes by covering a lot of ground in the paint.

Projected Starters

PG – Steve Nash / Kirk Hinrich [Advantage: Lakers]
SG – Steve Blake / Jimmy Butler [Advantage: Bulls]
SF – Wesley Johnson / Mike Dunleavy [Advantage: Bulls]
PF – Ryan Kelly / Taj Gibson [Advantage: Bulls]
C – Robert Sacre / Joakim Noah [Advantage: Bulls]

Notable Bench Players

Bulls: G Tony Snell, PG DJ Augustin, C Nazr Mohammed

Lakers: PG Kendall Marshall, C Chris Kaman, F Jordan Hill, F Shawne Williams

Bench Advantage: Even

Injury List

Bulls: Out-G Derrick Rose, Out-F Carlos Boozer

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-SG Jodie Meeks, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-PG Jordan Farmar, Out-G/F Nick Young, Out-C Pau Gasol

Keys for Lakers Victory

Rebounding: The Lakers absolutely have to limit the Bulls to one possession and not allow offensive rebounds in order to have a chance at winning this match up. The Bulls, who averages the NBA’s 6th best 12.1 offensive rebounds per game, used their big man, Noah, Boozer, and 6th man F Taj Gibson to grab 19 offensive rebounds vs. Lakers to win in their last matchup.. This does not suit well at all for the Lakers, who allow the most offensive rebounds in the league by a wide margin at 13.3 offensive rebounds per game. Instead of having the guards leak out after every Bulls shot, all 5 Lakers have to find a Bulls player to box out and then crash the boards to not allow extra unnecessary possessions.

Bottom Line

The Lakers do not match up well vs. the Bulls at all. The Bulls play very physical on both ends of the floor under head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s leadership, especially since they do not possess as much talent compared to previous years. Simply speaking, if the Lakers rebound the ball well, they win. If they don’t, they will not win.

Prediction

Bulls: 104-98

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Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

February 7, 2014 — 4:00 PM (PST)
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN

The Lakers (17-32) finished Wednesday’s game vs. the Cavaliers with only four eligible players on the floor.

Starting with only 8 available players on the floor, F Nick Young suffered a non-displaced fracture of the left patella and a bone bruise, while PG Jordan Farmar insured his lower left leg during the game. They ended up with only four eligible players since C Chris Kaman and C Robert Sacre both fouled out of the game.

Chris Kaman lying down on the bench chairs for a brief moment to take advantage of nobody sitting on the bench and PG Steve Nash changing from his street clothes into his uniform symbolizes the disaster that is the Lakers this season.

Despite all of that, the Lakers finally snapped their 7-game losing streak by defeating the Cavaliers 119-108 by making a franchise record 18 3-pointers.

PG Steve Blake led the way with a triple double, scoring 11 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and dishing out 15 assists.

Also, F Shawne Williams returns to the Lakers after the Lakers signed him to a 10-day contract to help contribute from the bench again.

They now seek a 2-game winning streak as they play vs. Philadelphia 76ers (15-35) tonight. As a result of suffering a 3-14 record in the last 17 games, the 76ers currently have the 2nd worst NBA record, finding themselves in the running for the 1st overall pick in this upcoming NBA Draft.

G Evan Turner and rookie PG Michael Carter-Williams lead this struggling 76ers team. Turner, an all-around guard, has played very well statistically this season scoring a career-high 18.2 PPG, while grabbing 6.1 APG and dishing out 3.9 APG. Carter-Williams has regressed after taking the NBA by storm in his first month as an NBA player. He currently scores 17.2 PPG while having 6.8 APG, but he has struggled with his shots, shooting at a dismal 39.8 FG

Projected Starters

PG – Michael Carter-Williams / Steve Nash [Advantage: Lakers]
SG – Evan Turner / Steve Blake [Advantage: 76ers]
SF – James Anderson / Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Lakers]
PF – Thaddeus Young / Ryan Kelly [Advantage: Even]
C – Spencer Hawes / Robert Sacre [Advantage: 76ers]

Notable Bench Players

76ers: F Lavoy Allen, G Tony Wroten, F Hollis Thompson, G Elliot Williams

Lakers: PG Jordan Farmar, PG Kendall Marshall, F Shawne Williams, C Chris Kaman

Bench Advantage: Even

Injury List

76ers: Out-C Arnett Moultrie, SG Jason Richardson,  F Brandon Davies,  C Nerlens Noel

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-C Pau Gasol, Out-G Jodie Meeks, Out-G/F Nick Young, Out-PG Jordan Farmar, GTD-G Steve Blake 

Keys for Lakers Victory

Outscore the 76ers: Laker Nation will double-take the fact that the 76ers can claim themselves as the only team that have actually allowed more PPG than the Lakers this season. Therefore, the Lakers have to take advantage of this situation and score at will, similar to what they did during the first half vs. Cavaliers, which lead to more than a 20 point lead at some points during the 1st half. Everybody know at this point, the Lakers’ defensive situation finds itself in a lost cause, so this would be an opportunity for the Lakers to be aggressive on the offensive end of the floor.

Bottom Line

Both the Lakers and 76ers find themselves in a battle for the NBA Draft lottery position. However, they both still have games to compete in, and the Lakers have to continue to play for the name on the front of their jersey and play to win. Hopefully, the Lakers come out very strong lead by Nash and open up a big lead so they won’t have to suffer from an eventual 76ers run. They should come away with a victory tonight to finally have a winning streak.

Prediction

Lakers: 124-120

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Photo: Getty Images

At the risk of offending Captain Obvious, I must say the Lakers are really a lousy team this year. There may be a handful of fans out there that have enjoyed watching this brand of basketball, if that is what you can actually call it. Some may say it is fun watching these young guys get a chance to play meaningful minutes in an NBA game–as opposed to a developmental league. Heck, 17 wins is pretty good for a bunch of rag tag castoffs from other teams. Afterall, we have more wins than five other teams at this moment in time. Four of them happen to be in the Eastern Conference, if that tells you anything about this stellar season. I will save you the time of looking them up. They are Cleveland, Philadelphia, Orlando, and Milwaukee. The lone representative from the Western Conference being Utah.

If the Lakers were a cereal that was sitting on the shelves of local grocery food chains, I imagine the boxes would have been pulled right about now due to lack of interest from the consumers. At the very least, they would have been shoved behind the fan favorites, not easily accessible. Someone would really have to love them, to go through the trouble of getting their hands on them. As a long time Lakers lover, I find myself continually reaching for that box of stale product this year. I can’t help myself, because they are my team no matter what. I have to live inside the recurring nightmare of this Lakers season, in hopes that the episode that keeps repeating itself in my sleep will someday have a better ending.

You must understand that my odyssey with the Lakers began a long, long, time ago. I was along for the ride when Bird and Magic forever changed the landscape of the NBA as we know it today. I was a witness to those epic NBA Finals battles with the Celtics, when the last team standing won the ring, but not without enduring a knock down, drag out brawl to earn it. Ask Kareem and Robert Parrish, Kevin McHale and Kurt Rambis, or Michael Cooper and Danny Ainge.  I have been there for the Kobe and Shaq years. Big shot Rob, Derek Fisher, and the threepeat. Those are the things that keep me coming back for more.lakers-banners

With this season almost halfway over, I am beginning to see the rainbow, even though it continues to rain on the Lakers. There will be a day when the Lakers will stop being a tryout camp for players looking to catch the eye of another team to play for next year. The Lakers will once again find value in playing team defense, and fighting for the cause. Players will want to be Lakers, because they want to win rings, and carry on the traditions of the champions that played before them. The head coach will be someone who has championship pedigree, and a hunger to teach the fundamentals of this great game of basketball. For now, it is what it is. Will someone please wake me when it’s over?

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With the Lakers off to a poor start, trade rumors have begun to swirl around Kobe Bryant, leading many to speculate if he'll leave for greener pastures. Kobe puts those rumors to rest in his interview with Yahoo Sports.