Sunday, December 21, 2014
Blog Page 19

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While the Lakers were handed a last second loss to the Chicago Bulls late Monday night, Kobe Bryant made some noise of his own before tip off. By way of the LA Times’ Mike Bresnahan, Bryant expressed his dislike for the current state of the NBA and it’s “finesse” players.

“It’s more of a finesse game [now], it’s more small ball, which personally I don’t really care much for,” Bryant said Monday before the Lakers played the ChicagoBulls. “I like kind of smash-mouth, old-school basketball because that’s what I grew up watching.

“Some of the flagrant fouls that I see called nowadays just makes me nauseous. You can’t touch a guy without it being a flagrant foul.”

Being drafted into the NBA in 1996 Bryant entered a more physical league as driving the lane could land on you the free throw line or on your back. In today’s game some players, according to Bryant, can’t even be breathed upon hard otherwise a foul will be called.

“Nowadays, literally anybody can get out there and get to the basket because you can’t touch anybody,” he said. “Back then, guys put their hands on you, you had to have the skill to be able to go both ways, change directions and post up. You had to have midrange game because you didn’t want to go all the way to the basket because you’d get knocked [flat]. Playing the game back then required much more skill.”

Any way for the league to go back to those physical days?

“Kids might be a little too sensitive for that nowadays,” Bryant said.

Bryant did not stop there as he moved on to the NBA’s age limit restriction and stated he reservations. Kobe has always been a huge supporter of allowing high school seniors to declare for the draft as he did so and has since become very successful.

“If you do the numbers and look at the count, you’ll probably see players that come out of high school that were much more successful on average than players who went to college for a year or two years and left early,” Bryant said. “It seems like the system really isn’t teaching players anything when you go to college. You go to college, you play, you showcase and you come to the pros.”

“We kind of got sold on that [college] dream a little bit. Fortunately I didn’t really listen much to it,” Bryant said. “Neither did KG. Neither did LeBron. I think that worked out pretty well for all three of us.

“I’m always a firm believer in us being able to make our own decisions, especially as it pertains to going out and working and having a job.”

Finally, Bryant touched upon how he will fill the playing void once he retires. After playing basketball for over half of his life, he will need something to help him cope with not being able to put on a Laker uniform night in and night out.

“It’s in my blood so I’ll be involved in some capacity. It’s just who I am,” he said.

While it is always fun to analyze quotes from Bryant it would be much more appealing if he were on the court playing for the Lakers. Bryant believes that when he returns he will play with confidence and have no doubt that he will become the player he once was.

“There was [doubt] before I came back the first time because I didn’t know how my Achilles’ was going to respond to playing and change of directions,” he said. “The [last] game in Memphis, I had a pretty good feel for it. I was getting back to being able to do what I normally could do.

“So I feel pretty confident about it. I did play that second half on a fractured leg and a torn Achilles.”

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Photo: Stephen Dunn | Getty Images

Record: 16-26 (13th in Western Conference)

Pacific Division Record: 4-6; Conference Record: 9-18

Home: 8-11; Road: 8-15

FRONT COURT: C

One of the biggest issues regarding the front court is the lack of time for bigs in coach Mike D’Antoni’s system (Kaman 16.7 mpg, Hill 19.7 mpg, and Sacre 14.0 mpg). As a result, the performance of the front court has been average at best. Tied for 19th in rebounding and playing terrible defense in the paint, what used to be strengths of the Lakers are now weaknesses. The bright spot has certainly been Pau Gasol (16.4 points & 10.0 rebounds per game) and while his defense in the paint is not elite by any means, he is ranked 13th in blocked shots amongst centers.  Has Gasol’s recent stellar play done enough to save him from the trade deadline next month?  We’ll see.  Another player who has earned himself recognition and playing time is that of rookie Ryan Kelly. The second round pick out of Duke, Kelly has averaged 14.7 points a game over his last four games (34.2 minutes per game) and looks like a player who could be with the Lakers for some time. 

BACK COURT: B

You cannot talk about the Lakers backcourt without mentioning injuries and unfortunately there have been plenty of them (Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar, Xavier Henry). The biggest name on the injury list is that of Kobe Bryant. After returning from an Achilles injury after nearly eight months, Kobe was thrown right into the thick of things (29.5 minutes per game) and taking over point guard duties due to injuries. Did any of that have a direct result on Kobe and his fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his knee? Some say yes and some will disagree with that. When will the Lakers see any type of relief on the injury front? February seems like the best bet, but at the current moment, it looks like it may be too late to save the season.

OFFENSE: B+

Ranked 16th in the league with 100.6 points a game, the remaining Lakers have definitely done their part despite the rash of injuries plaguing the team. One of the biggest additions to the team has been Kendall Marshall (10.1 points and 9.1 assists per game) who helped stabilize the point guard position, well somewhat since he is the only healthy point guard. The biggest concern with the offense is they seem to live and die by the three point shot. It is a great thing to watch when they are hitting over 50% from beyond the arc but when they struggle, we’ve seen some of the worst Lakers performances in recent memory.

DEFENSE: F

Where do we start? Allowing 105.8 points per game (2nd worst in the league), this has been the biggest issue this season for the Lakers. Yes, injuries have played a part in it, but truth be told, this roster is not a defensive juggernaut when healthy. Pace on offense (third in the league) directly affects the defense, tired legs leading to bad transition defense for example. Interior defense has been horrible but the ironic thing is the Lakers are tied for 6th in the league in blocked shots. Worst stat on defense? Out of the 26 losses, 17 of those have seen the Lakers allow 110 or more points.

BENCH: A

Did you really think I was going to forget Swaggy P? Nick Young has been the life of the Lakers this season and has definitely shown he loves to wear the purple and gold. Despite coming off the bench, he leads the team in scoring at 17.1 points a game and has his name in the sixth man of the year conversation. The bench has been excellent this season, averaging 42.4 points a game, which ranks 2nd in the league. That is a huge improvement after the Lakers bench was ranked 28th in scoring last season.  Another thing to note, the bench players can all be brought back for cheap which will help as the Lakers move forward.

COACHING: D

No coach would do well with the amount of injures D’Antoni’s squad has suffered. The one thing that has been constant about D’Antoni is his ability to get role players to play at a high level due to his system not being restrictive. Although, there are many concerns regarding the second year Lakers coach such as upsetting veterans like Chris Kaman with lack of playing time, not utilizing his roster to the best of their ability, and of course the defense. After clashing with Dwight Howard last season which certainly played a factor in his departure, can D’Antoni’s team play well enough to save his job heading into a crucial offseason where the Lakers could acquire some big name players?  We are about to find out.

OVERALL: C

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Lakers come up short to the Chicago Bulls in overtime, and lose 102-100. Taj Gibson scored the game-winning layup at the buzzer.

Pau Gasol with a strong double-double performance of 20 points, 19 rebounds and 5 blocks. Nick Young also chipped in 31 points off the bench for LAL.

Lakers drop to 2-2 on the Grammy road trip and head to Miami to play the Heat on Thursday at 5:00PM (PST).

BOX SCORE

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January 20, 2014 — 5:00 PM (PST)
United Center, Chicago, Illinois
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers (16-25) now have a winning streak.

After beating the Toronto Raptors yesterday morning, the Lakers will play the Chicago Bulls (19-20) on the Bulls’ home court as they have their first winning streak since December 20th, when they had a 2 game winning streak.

G/F Nick Young came back from his 1 game suspension and played with excellent confidence, scoring a game-high 29 points, shooting 7-13 from the field and made 10-11 free throws. F Ryan Kelly thrived in his first career start, scoring 17 points and having confidence getting shots up. The Lakers now have to use these last 2 victories to fuel them in tonight’s game and play with confidence.

The Bulls have made a lot of roster turnovers and its management seems to be looking more into the future especially after superstar PG Derrick Rose tore a meniscus in his knee, ending his season. The Bulls traded all-star SF Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers a few weeks ago for 3 future draft picks and C Andrew Bynum‘s contract to free up their salary.

However, the Bulls have played well, going 5-2, since Deng’s trade. The Lakers cannot take them lightly and stay focused throughout the game. Without their best 2 players from the beginning of the season, the Bulls win a lot of their games on defense, allowing the 3rd lowest field goal percentage in the NBA at 43.0%. F Carlos Boozer leads the Bulls on the offensive end, averaging 15.0 PPG and 8.6 RPG. Boozer has played solidly despite the roster transactions in trying to keep the Bulls in a playoff position this season.

Boozer lines up next to All-Star C Joakin Noah to create a force on the front line. 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. Hopefully, C Pau Gasol can stay aggressively despite matching up with Noah at the Center position tonight to keep the Lakers in the game.

Projected Starters

PG – Kendall Marshall / Kirk Hinrich [Advantage: Bulls]
SG – Jodie Meeks / Jimmy Butler [Advantage: Bulls]
SF – Wesley Johnson / Mike Dunleavy [Advantage: Bulls]
PF – Ryan Kelly / Carlos Boozer [Advantage: Bulls]
C – Pau Gasol / Joakim Noah [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Bulls: G Tony SnellPG DJ Augustin, F Taj Gibson

Lakers: G Nick Young, G Manny Harris, F Jordan Hill

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Bulls: Out-G Derrick Rose

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-PG Steve Blake, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-PG Jordan Farmar

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 average the NBA’s 6th best 12.1 offensive rebounds per game, using their big man, Noah, Boozer, and 6th man F Taj Gibson to crash the offensive glass after every shot. This does not suit well at all for the Lakers, who allow the most offensive rebounds in the league by a wide margin at 13.1 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. Shooting very well like they did vs. Raptors will keep the Lakers in the game, but they need to maintain their energy for a full 48 minutes without allowing any lengthy

Prediction

Bulls: 98-89

 

Photo: Seymour Wally/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 January 19-25, over their 66-year history.

January 19, 1998

Legendary Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn broadcasted his 3,000th consecutive game, as the Lakers bested the Orlando Magic 92-89 in Los Angeles. His unprecedented streak ended on December 16, 2001 at 3,338 games. Hearn was the voice of the Lakers from 1961 until the end of the 2002 season.

January 20, 1952

George Mikan scored a career-high 61 points to lead the Minneapolis Lakers over the Rochester Royals 91-81 in double overtime. Mikan is known as the NBA’s first superstar, as he was a five-time BAA/NBA champion, four-time NBA All-Star, six-time All-BAA/NBA First Team honoree, and three-time NBA scoring champion.

January 22, 2006

Kobe Bryant had the best scoring performance of his career, as he dropped 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in a 122-104 Lakers win at the Staples Center. Bryant recorded the second highest single-game point total in NBA history with his 81 points, behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points for the Philadelphia 76ers in 1962. Kobe scored 55 points in the second half alone, and finished the game having shot 28 for 46 from the floor, while going 7 for 13 from beyond the arc and 18 for 20 from the charity stripe. With his 81 points, Bryant set a Lakers franchise record for points in a single game, surpassing Elgin Baylor’s 71 points against the Knicks in 1960.

Getty Images
Getty Images

January 23, 1959

Elgin Baylor won the MVP award at the ninth ever NBA All-Star Game, held in Detroit. Baylor shared the award with Bob Pettit of the St. Louis Hawks, as they collectively led the West team to a 124-108 victory over the East squad. Baylor scored 24 points and collected 11 rebounds, while Pettit had 25 and 16, respectively.

January 24, 1990

Pat Riley recorded his 500th career NBA victory, as his Lakers defeated the Pacers 120-111 in Indiana. As the 13th head coach in NBA history to achieve this milestone, Riley reached the 500-win mark faster than any other coach had done previously. Riley reached 500 wins in his 684th game as a head coach, surpassing Don Nelson, who reached 500 wins in 817 games.

January 25, 1998

At just 19 years old, Kobe Bryant was announced as a member of the 1998 NBA All-Star team. In his first ever All-Star Game, Bryant became the youngest All-Star Game starter in NBA history. When the game was played in February, he scored a team-high 18 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Western Conference squad at Madison Square Garden.

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Image Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein | Getty Images

January 19, 2014 — 10:00 AM (PST)
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Canada
TV: TWC SportsNet / NBATV
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers (15-25) got a much needed win vs. their arch-rival Boston Celtics  Friday, snapping a very dismal 6-game losing streak. Despite G/F Nick Young‘s absence due to his 1-game suspension, the rest of the Lakers found a way go gut out an impressive victory. F Ryan Kelly had a breakout game, scoring a career high 20 points, while F/C Pau Gasol has been playing like the Gasol of old, contributing 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists. Now, the Lakers have to carry their momentum across the border to play the Raptors in an early-morning game.

The Raptors come to today’s game as the 3rd place team in the Eastern Conference. Yes, you did not misread my statement. Since the SF Rudy Gay blockbuster trade that occurred between the Raptors and the Sacramento Kings, the Raptors have completely turned their fortune around, going 14-6 since the trade occurred. The Raptors will be led by G Demar Derozan and PG Kyle Lowry. Derozan, a local product out of USC and Compton High School, has seemed to finally use his raw athleticism efficiently, leading the Raptors in scoring at a career high 21.2 PPG. Lowry has become very crucial in the Raptors recent success, averaging 16.2 PPG and 7.2 APG. Lowry seems to have eliminated himself from the trade block due to the Raptors recent success.

Projected Starters

PG – Kendall Marshall / Kyle Lowry [Advantage: Raptors]
SG – Jodie Meeks / Terrence Ross[Advantage: Even]
SF – Wesley Johnson / Demar Derozan[Advantage: Raptors]
PF – Ryan Kelly / Jonas Valanciunas [Advantage: Raptors]
C – Pau Gasol / Amir Johnson [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Raptors: F Patrick Patterson, F Chuck Hayes, PG Greivis Vasquez, F John Salmons

Lakers: G Nick Young, C Robert Sacre, F Ryan Kelly, C Chris Kaman

Bench Advantage: Even

Injury List

Raptors: Questionable-F Tyler Hansborough, Questionable-F John Salmons

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-PG Steve Blake, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-PG Jordan Farmar

Keys for Lakers Victory

Defense: Despite their victory vs. Celtics, the Lakers still have major problems on the defensive end, allowing 104 points. They should have easily defeated the Celtics especially since they shot 60% from behind the 3-pt line. If the Lakers cannot shoot as well today, they will be in a lot of trouble from the start, especially since the Raptors have been playing with a lot of confidence. By the way, lets hope C/F Amir Johnson does look like the second coming of Hall of Fame C Hakeem Olajuwon again vs. the Lakers after he torched them, scoring a career high 32 points.

Bottom Line

The rosters for both the Lakers and the Raptors have make a complete overhaul since their last matchup on December 7th. The Raptors have skyrocketed through the Eastern Conference into the 3rd seed, while the Lakers have crashed into the cellar of the Western Conference. With a victory to make the Lakers feel good, lets hope they use that victory to play inspired basketball instead of playing lethargically especially on the defensive end. However, the Raptors look like a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference, so heart and effort might not even be enough for these Lakers today.

Prediction

Raptors: 110-98

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Photo courtesy of Jared Wickerman, Getty Images.

If you’re going to break a losing streak, why not do it in your most heated rival’s house? Especially when that heated rival is going through the same, painful, losing season?

Going into tonight’s contest, the Lakers and Boston Celtics had almost identical records: 14-25 for the purple and gold, 14-26 for the green and white. With Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce shipped to the Nets, and Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash physically unable to play, and Rajon Rondo coming in after a long absence due to injury, this game didn’t have the same gravitas that it would have in years past.

With that being said, this game was still a competitive one with the Lakers getting the best of the Boston, 107-104.

High Points
Ryan Kelly – Ever since his playing time became increasingly regular, we’ve been waiting for Kelly to have that game; the game that showed he was more than a rookie taking up a spot on the roster. In his previous nine games before tonight, he scored regularly, but hardly made a dent into the team’s offense. Six points here, nine points there, but nothing game changing. With the loss of Shawne Williams from the rotation, however, Mike D’Antoni has looked to Kelly to bring up his game. Williams wasn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut, but his occasional threes never hurt, and that’s a range Kelly is not intimidated by. He finished with the best game of his NBA career thus far – 20 points on 6-12 from the field, 2-4 from three, three rebounds, an assist and one block. Best part of the Ryan Kelly show tonight? Two clutch free throws at the end of the game that iced the win.
Pau Gasol – Good leaders lead from the front, not dictate from the back, and Gasol made a good example of it tonight. By halftime, he was two rebounds away from a double-double already, and he chipped in a solid 24 points on 9-15 from the field, 13 rebounds, six assists, and zero turnovers. The Lakers had 20 turnovers in the game and Gasol didn’t contribute a single one of his own. This is a stat line that he must produce with regularity if the Lakers have any hope of surviving this season with the least bit of pride. With Kobe Bryant on the sidelines, this is HIS team (trade rumors and attempts aside of course). If he is not the type of leader who speaks up, then he must lead with his performance, which is what he did tonight.
Jodie Meeks – The Lakers’ most consistent scorer, Meeks has been ol’ reliable in this uncertain (okay, it’s pretty certain) Lakers’ season. 17 points on 6-13, 2-4 from beyond the arc, seven rebounds, three assists and a steal. He finished with a +19, the highest in the +/- column.
Ball Movement – The Lakers handed out 27 assists on 37 made field goals, and Kendall Marshall was responsible for 14 of them. In his last four games, he handed out 10,16,13 and 14 dimes. In a loss to Denver a week ago, he doled out 17 assists. To think that after the team’s three point guards went down, shooting guard, Xavier Henry was charged with this position, and it’s a little mindboggling to think he could produce the type of game that Marshall does, a true point guard. By the way, Marshall also scored 19 points on 7-11 from the field, 4-5 from downtown.
Score Score Score – The Lakers were just 1-5 from downtown during the entire first half, but they finished 12-20 for the night compared to Boston’s 7-23. They also got to the free throw line 28 times and converted 21, while only allowing the Celtics 11 attempts from the charity stripe. They ended the game on an 11-0 run and shot 50% for the game overall.

Low Points
Turnovers – 20. It’s hard to believe the Lakers managed to win a game after such a sloppy performance. Those 20 mistakes cost them 30 Celtics points, while Boston’s eight turnovers produced just six Lakers’ points. This turnover issue has been the team’s Achilles heel (in addition to many others), because it’s compounding into other issues. Turnovers turn into fast breaks, which forces the Lakers’ transition defense (another Achilles heel) into effect. It’s a slippery slope when you’re giving the ball away to the other team constantly. The Lakers are fortunate to have gotten out of this game with a win
Points in the Paint – 54-38, Celtics. The Lakers need to get better defending the paint. Boston scored half of their points inside and the Lakers’ interior defense continues to be porous.

It’s hard to make a list of woes after a victory, especially when it came after overcoming a 13-point deficit. With Nick Young serving his one-game suspension for throwing a punch at the Suns’ Alex Len, having yet another player unavailable didn’t make the Lakers’ chances of winning any better, regardless of the opponent’s record. But they did win, and until Sunday’s game against the Toronto Raptors, let’s just enjoy this feeling while it lasts.

Box Score

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January 17, 2014 — 4:30PM (PST)
TD Waterhouse Garden, Boston, MA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Los Angeles Lakers (14-25) travel to Boston to play the Boston Celtics (14-26) tonight in a rivalry game.

The catch?

Most fans will not recognize the players who will wear the Lakers and Celtics uniform tonight; both teams have completely overhauled their team since their title runs during the last 2000’s and the early 2010’s.  The only players most fans will recognize tonight from the championship eras would be C/PF Pau Gasol and PG Rajon Rondo, who will make his season debut tonight after recovering from a Torn ACL suffered last season.

For the Lakers, team chemistry seems to be falling apart also. The NBA suspended G/F Nick Young for tonight’s game stemming from his scuffle with all 5 Suns, which included shoving Suns PG Goran Dragic‘s face, while Young’s teammates on the floor did not come to his defense, leaving Young very vulnerable.

Young clearly did not appreciate what transpired on Wednesday, calling out his teammates for not having his back.

“What I was mad about is it was one-on-five,” said Young, who has posted nine points on 4-of-8 shooting before his ejection. “If somebody had gotten in the middle, it wouldn’t have escalated that much.”

Without Young and chemistry issues starting to brew, the Lakers look to claw and fight for a much needed victory tonight, especially after losing 12 of their last 13 games.

Without Young, the Lakers seek immediate spark from SG Manny Harris, who just signed a 10-day contract with the Lakers yesterday. Harris has scored at will for the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Lakers D-League affiliate, averaging 30.6 PPG and 6.5 RPG. Harris has drawn attention from NBA scouts recently, scoring 43.0 PPG in his last 3 games.

As previously mentioned, Rondo’s return will spark some what of a buzz in what happens to be otherwise a meaningless game between 2 lackluster teams who look to find themselves in the NBA Draft lottery. The Celtics just traded away SG Jordan Crawford and SG Marshawn Brooks to the Golden State Warriors while acquiring Joel Anthony in a cost-saving move.

Projected Starters

PG – Kendall Marshall / Rajon Rondo [Advantage: Celtics]
SG – Jodie Meeks / Avery Bradley [Advantage: Celtics]
SF – Wesley Johnson / Jeff Green [Advantage: Celtics]
PF – Jordan HillKris Humphries [Advantage: Celtics]
C – Pau Gasol / Jared Sullinger [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Celtics: F Brandon Bass, F Gerald Wallace, G Jerryd Bayless

Lakers: G Manny Harris, C Robert Sacre, F Ryan Kelly, C Chris Kaman

Bench Advantage: Even

Injury List

Celtics: Out-G Keith Bogans PROBABLE-PG Rajon Rondo

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-PG Steve Blake, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-PG Jordan Farmar, Out-G/F Nick Young

Keys for Lakers Victory

Defense: Despite scoring 114 vs. Suns on Wednesday, the Lakers defense failed them again, allowing 121 points to Suns. The Lakers have allowed 120.6 PPG during their losing streak, a liability nearly impossible to overcome to obtain a victory. Although Rondo will make his season debut tonight, even a shell of Rondo would torch this current Lakers defense by driving to the basket and creating open shots for his teammates.

Bottom Line

Both the Lakers and the Celtics have almost identical records. Despite losing 9 straight games before finally winning on Wednesday vs. Raptors, the Celtics find themselves still in the playoff hunt by accident, trailing the 8th seeded team in the Eastern Conference by 3 games. Meanwhile, the hopes for the Lakers to squeeze into the playoffs this season seems to be all but gone, especially without Kobe Bryant. If experts can predict 1 or 2 games the Lakers might have a chance to win during this Grammy’s road trip, it would be tonight. However, Rondo’s return and the surrounding pieces for the Celtics will most likely pose the Lakers too much problems and would be difficult once again for the Lakers to steal a victory tonight.

Prediction

Celtics: 123-104

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Sports Illustrated

A couple days after Nick Young’s ejection and criticism of fellow Laker teammates, all seems well as the team prepares to face the rival Boston Celtics.

According to LA Daily News reporter Mark Medina, the Lakers held a team meeting after Young’s post-game comments which implied his teammates did not have his back as multiple Suns’ players surrounded him after Young shoved Suns’ center Alex Len due to a hard foul.  Young was suspended without pay for Friday’s game versus Boston.

“We just talked. We’re all on the same page now. It’s just a misunderstanding,” Young said after the Lakers’ morning shootaround at TD Garden. “We all know what to do now in situations like that. Once we talked we air everything out, we’re all good.”

The teammate at the center of the controversy was guard Kendall Marshall, who responded to Young’s comments by saying that Young “wanted to see what he wanted to see” at the time.  After pictures were posted on Twitter and Instagram (which Young “liked” then “unliked” showing Marshall standing at the three point line while the altercation was occurring, he took blame for his non-actions and comments.

“I take full blame being that I was on the court and being a point guard, I should’ve been the first one over there to pull him out there with what was going on, regardless of what I thought was happening,” Marshall said. “He had every right to get upset. It’s our job as teammates to be there for each other. I went up to him, squashed it and told him it will never happen again.”

With the situation seemingly behind them, the Lakers are focused on moving forward and say they know how to handle any future situations like the one in Phoenix.

“You have to get in. You don’t have to fight,” Young said. “You just have to step in between. Nobody wants to fight. Nobody wants to get beat up on national TV.”

Meanwhile, Marshall threw in some humor about what would happen if Young were to get into a scuffle again.

“We’ll run over there, have 15 guys pick up Nick and carry him away.”

At 14-25 (second worst in the Western Conference), the Lakers desperately need to get back on track.  Boston (14-26) have had struggles of their own and both teams are far different than when the two teams met in the Finals a few seasons ago.  Despite that, the team continues to shed positive light on the team’s current state.

“When you’ve lost 12 of 13, if you don’t have a little adversity, something is wrong,” Marshall said. “I think it’s good for [Young] to get upset with us over that and show some passion. Maybe it will light a fire under all of us and we can build on it.”

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@jcandrade21 on Instagram

While the Lakers get ready to take on the equally struggling Boston Celtics on Friday, Kobe Bryant decided to spend his downtime in an interesting way.

Kobe sat in on a few marketing classes in Boston College. It’s no secret that he has a deep interest in marketing. Could he be preparing himself for his post-basketball career?

So colleges of America, here’s your second chance to woo Kobe Bryant. Let the school with the best marketing program and most convenient helipads on campus win.

Needless to say, students went nuts to see a basketball legend casually sitting in on a regularly boring class.

 


 


 


 


 

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Photo: Getty Images

Magic Johnson might have sold his share of the Lakers franchise a little over three years ago, but he still likes to share his opinion when it comes to his old team.

According to Mike James of the LA Times, during a meeting with Dodgers officials and media members, Johnson gave his two cents:

“This is what happens when you make the wrong decisions, two coaching wrong decisions, giving Steve Nash that deal, it’s backfired,”

“The biggest problem they’re going to have right now…you’ve got to get a guy like Jerry West to be the face of the team…you’ve got to have someone helping Jim. He’s got to quit trying to prove a point to everybody that he can do it on his own, get his ego out of it, and just say, ‘Let me get someone beside me to help achieve the goals I want.’ Dr. Buss was smart, he said, ‘I’m going to get the best dude, Jerry West, and he helped me achieve my goals. Then I went and got the best coach [Phil Jackson].’ He wanted to work with the best.”

Jerry West is currently a consultant for the Golden State Warriors, but Lakers fans may be asking themselves, ‘what about Jim’s General Manager, Mitch Kupchak?’

“Mitch is great,” Johnson said, “but he doesn’t have the power…you need to get someone like Jerry to be the face, so agents are comfortable, players are comfortable, knowing the Lakers are going for a championship…look what Pat Riley did in Miami…if Pat Riley’s not there, you don’t get LeBron to buy in.”

Johnson also lamented the idea that free agents haven’t been pining to come to the Lakers like they used to.

“Everybody’s telling me free agents don’t want to sign [with the Lakers]…they’re looking at the Lakers now as a team that’s dysfunctional; who’s their leader, who’s the guy?”

Johnson brings up a very good point. The Lakers used to bring in talent easily because they had the resources to attract the star power. What Magic fails to realize is that there is a new CBA in place and things just aren’t the same as they used to be. Especially not for the Purple and Gold.

Johnson also seems to be back tracking from his thoughts of Jim Buss after the Lakers landed Nash and Dwight Howard last summer.

“I love it. Jim, you look like your father; I’m proud of you. He’s definitely the guy now to win the NBA executive-of-the-year award.”

Flip. Flop.

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NBAE/Getty Images

To help with their depleted roster, the Lakers have signed Los Angeles D-Fenders guard Manny Harris to a 10-day contract.

In 13 games with the D-Fenders, the 6’5″ guard has averaged 30.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. In his last three games, Harris averaged 43.0 points on 60 percent shooting.

Just a few days ago, Harris was named the NBA Development League Performer of the Week. On January 10th, Harris set a D-Fenders single game scoring mark, scoring 49 points to go with six rebounds and three assists, in a 133-124 victory over the Idaho Stampede. It was his second consecutive Performer of the Week award and the fourth of his career.

Harris entered the 2010 NBA Draft after forgoing his senior season at the University of Michigan, but went undrafted before signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He has played in 80 NBA games over two seasons, averaging 6.2 points a game.

Harris will wear #3 for the Lakers and join the team in Boston.

You can follow Manny Harris on Twitter @313MannyHarris.

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Photo courtesy of Christian Petersen, Getty Images

Save for two ejections, tonight was your run-of-the-mill Laker game.

Remaining competitive against the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers got their second wind in the second quarter, following Nick Young’s ejection after retaliation caused by a hard foul from Alex Len. The score was 36-35 before the incident, until the Lakers went off on an 20-8 run to gain a 13-point lead.

Unfortunately/As usual, it was followed by an 11-2 Phoenix run that cut the lead to four points going into halftime. And then, like clockwork, it was a slippery slope to yet another loss when the third quarter began. Tonight the game ended in a 121-114 disappointment.

High Points
Despite these losses, there are sometimes bright spots that most nights aren’t considered so because the end result was a loss. This, however, is what makes this team so frustrating to watch. There is potential to win some games, even despite the injuries (at least against the bottom-dwellers of the league), and the Lakers can’t seem to figure out how. Wes Johnson, for example, has finally been able to kick off a productive string of games. Tonight he had 22 points on 7-14 from the field, 6-7 from the free throw line, five rebounds, two steals and even had a block and assist. Pau Gasol led the team with 24 big points on 10-20, nine rebounds, five assists and a block. Chris Kaman, getting in some playing time over Robert Sacre, chipped in 18 points on an efficient 6-7 from the field and a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line. He and Young were the only players on the team to finish with a positive under the +/- column. As a team, the Lakers shot an excellent 22-24 from the charity stripe, moved the ball well (26 assists on 43 made field goals – still more than the Suns) and had a chance to prove themselves after Young was ejected. They led by 13 points, which was the biggest lead in the game, but they are missing something vital.

Low Points
The Lakers are finding it hard to get through close games, blowouts, etc. because they have no identity. They don’t know who they are and what their game is because their layers of self have been stripped all season long. One by one, they watched as the center of their offense (point guard play) walked away from the court and donned a suit. They have no identity because they have no leader by their side; on the floor or the locker room. Pau Gasol likes to lead by example, but as one of he team captains, and veterans, he has a responsibility to speak up, defend or advise his teammates in games like tonight when tensions are so high. As for Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, they can only instill so much inspiration sitting on the bench or practicing with the team. Who else is telling this group of downtrodden players, during the course of the game, that they have a choice when they’re faced with adversity on the court. Who is telling them to chase after rebounds so that the opposing team doesn’t take advantage to the tune of 23 second chance points. Who is reminding them to take care of the ball instead of turning it over 17 times and giving the Suns 37 fast break points? Pau? Kendall Marshall? Coaches?

After the game, Nick Young couldn’t help but call his teammates out, saying he felt like it was 1-5 at the end of the court when he fell after the hard foul and had to face Len and the rest of the Suns on the floor. Rookie, Ryan Kelly, was the only one there who tried to keep Young at bay, but he failed to keep his teammate from throwing a punch that may result in his suspension. It’s a telling incident. After a start of a season that began so promising, with a squad whose great chemistry was clear as day, these losses are certainly taking a toll on this team. And without a leader to gather the troops, how many battles can they win?

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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.