Saturday, December 20, 2014
Blog Page 21

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Jordan Hill dunks vs Houston Rockets
Photo: Getty Images

Lakers Lose Third Straight Game to Rockets

Recap: Lakers dropped their third straight game to the Houston Rockets, 113-99. Los Angeles suffered another dismal third quarter, which ultimately lead to their demise as James Harden went for 38 points. Pau Gasol lead the way for the Lakers with a double-double (21 points & 12 rebounds).

Box Score

Next Game: Lakers return to STAPLES Center on Friday for a road game against the Los Angeles Clippers at 7:30 PM PST.

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Photo courtesy of Bill Baptist, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Bill Baptist, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Bill Baptist, Getty Images

January 8, 2014 — 5:00PM (PST)
Toyota Center, Houston, TX
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Los Angeles Lakers (14-21) come into tonight’s rematch vs. center Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets (22-13) with no momentum, especially after losing last night’s game vs. the Dallas Mavericks, 110-97. Their defense was not much better last night, allowing the Mavericks to shoot over 50% from the field goal in three of the four quarters

To make matters worse, G/F Nick Young struggled last night dealing with a back issue and his availability for tonight’s game is uncertain. If Young cannot play tonight, the Lakers are left with only eight healthy players available for tonight’s game.

The Lakers have been running their offense throught PG Kendall Marshall, and C/F Pau GasolMarshall did not have as good of a game last night as he did during his first 2 starts, scoring 18 points but only dishing out 6 assists and committing 6 turnovers. Gasol also struggled for the first time since he had a relapse from his sinus infection, scoring only 15 points on 5-14 shooting and grabbing 13 rebounds.

Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets come into tonight’s match-up looking to seek revenge from their last match-up when Lakers PG Steve Blake hit the game-winning 3 pt. shot. C Dwight Howard has had another all-star season from the Center position, averaging 17.4 PPG, 12.9 RPG, and 1.8 BPG. Howard still has offensive deficiencies at times, but has shown great defensive prowess for the Rockets this season, something the Lakers dearly miss. Another all-star, SG James Harden has definitely enjoyed his tenure for the Rockets, averaging 24.4 PPG while dishing out 5.2 RPG. Harden’s craftiness while attacking the basket will once again cause the Lakers a lot of problems tonight.

Projected Starters

PG – Jeremy Lin Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Rockets]

SG – James Harden / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Rockets]

SF – Chandler Parsons Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Rockets]

PF – Terrence Jones Pau Gasol [Advantage: Lakers]

C – Dwight Howard Robert Sacre [Advantage: Rockets]

Notable Bench Players

Rockets: PG Aaron Brooks, F Omri Casspi, G Francisco Garcia, Greg Smith 

Lakers:  G/F Nick Young, F Jordan Hill, Ryan Kelly

Bench Advantage: Even

Injury List

Rockets: Out-C Omer Asik, Out-PG Patrick Beverley, Questionable-SF Chandler Parsons, Questionable-F Greg Smith

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

Keys for Lakers Victory

Defense: The Lakers’ defense did not fare much better vs. Mavericks, allowing 110 points and allowing them to get easy shots up. Their defense will be exposed again, especially since both guards, Harden and PG Jeremy Lin, love driving to the basket and creating shots for themselves and their teammates. Gasol should not have too much trouble guarding Howard one-on-one, but the Lakers will be vulnerable guarding the other 4 players on the floor.

Shoot the Ball Well: Is taking a lot of three-point shots a recipe for a championship? Absolutely not. However, it could be the only recipe available for the Lakers to give themselves a shot to win tonight’s game. When the Lakers defeated the Rockets in their last matchup, the Lakers made 45.7% of their three-point shots. Since the Lakers have been devastated by numerous amounts of injury, players like SG Jodie Meeks have to shoot the ball extremely well tonight with confidence for the Lakers to even have a chance at the end to steal the game from the Rockets.

Bottom Line

Hopefully the Lakers will play as inspired tonight as they did during their last meeting vs. Rockets. However, the Lakers roster looks much different now, with all of their point guards who started off the season on the roster now out for the foreseeable future. With the Lakers’ ship sinking quickly the way it is, Laker Nation can only hope for the Lakers to keep themselves respectable vs. Rockets throughout tonight’s game.

Prediction

Rockets: 98-85

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Photo courtesy of Glenn James, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Glenn James, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Glenn James, Getty Images

How many ways are there to describe a Laker loss this season? Here’s version number 21: the Lakers kept it close until they didn’t, and then they lost.

It’s a sad, destructive pattern that has them at seven games under .500. Their worst record last season was eight games under .500 before the successful stretch they managed to end the regular season. Though there are still 47 games left to play this time around, a hole is a hole, and the Lakers have dug themselves a deep one.

As they have done often of late, they had a solid start. Despite allowing the Mavericks to shoot 60% from the field, they still ended the first quarter just two points behind the Mavs at 33-31. And although the inched their way back to keep the game competitive after every Mavs’ run, they still could never get over the hump and lost 110-97.

High Points
Jodie Meeks – Meeks didn’t shoot well from the field, just 4-11 from downtown and 6-16 overall, but he did some work at the free throw line going 8-9. He also had six assists, four rebounds and four steals, one of the few Lakers who played defense tonight. With Shawne Williams waived by the team today, someone had to take his shots and Meeks got the bulk of it. He finished with 24 points.
Wesley Johnson – 17 points on 50% from the field. It’s been a rough few weeks for Johnson offensively, but he appears to be getting into his groove. He shot 3-7 from behind the arc and 7-14 overall.

Low Points
Pau Gasol – After putting together some solid games in the previous two contests, Gasol shot just 5-14 from the field for his 15 points. He and fellow Euro, Dirk Nowitzki, usually have a good back and forth, but tonight, Germany beat Spain 27-15. Gasol didn’t score well, but he did lead the game with 13 rebounds.
Turnovers – It’s never a good thing to have 20 turnovers, especially when they lead to 25 points for your opponent. It was a beyond sloppy game, with point guard Kendall Marshall, who had just a single turnover in 40+ minutes a few days ago, committed a game-leading six turnovers tonight.
Free Throws – Yes, the Lakers got to the free throw line 26 times, but they also missed eight points worth.
Defense – The mother of all low points is the Lakers’ inability/unwillingness to defend the ball. Except for a 44% from the field second quarter, Dallas shot 50%+ in each of the other quarters. No one was helping or rotating and in effect, a 7-foot Nowitzki was sometimes left against the defense of 6’4” Meeks. Dallas had 17 steals to the Lakers’ six.

It’s getting so tired, the way the Lakers are playing and losing. It’s the same formula with every loss, except this time, the the margin of loss wasn’t more than just 13 points. It’s been so much worse this past season.

Up next is a rematch with the Houston Rockets. The Lakers got the better of their former teammate, Dwight Howard, in the last meeting, but we’re short one Steve Blake for a dramatic game-winning three pointer if it’s needed.

Box Score

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Pau Gasol / Dirk Nowitzki
Image: Ronald Martinez | Getty Images
Pau Gasol / Dirk Nowitzki
Photo: Ronald Martinez | Getty Images

January 7, 2014 —- 5:30 PM (PST)
American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Los Angeles Lakers (14-20) go on the road to battle the Dallas Mavericks (19-15) tonight and seek to shake off a very ugly loss vs. Denver Nuggets on Sunday. They gave up 137 points to the Nuggets. That number is unacceptable regardless of the opponent, especially the Nuggets who are not a very talented team this year in comparison to the rest of the Western Conference teams.

The Lakers will not win any games for the rest of the season if they continue to not put any effort on the defensive end. For Lakers fans, they find difficulty remembering the last time the Lakers scored 115 points in a game and still lose by more than 20 points.

The Lakers have also released F Shawne Williams today, in a cost-saving move to save the Lakers about $1 million.

However, the Lakers have many positive things working for them at this moment.

Lakers PG Kendall Marshall had another productive night, dishing out 17 assists while adding 9 points. Marshall has thrived in giving his teammates open shots and make great passes that only a true point guard can make.  Without another ball-handler available for the Lakers, they hope that Marshall will not get injured by playing too many minutes.

Also, the Pau Gasol trade rumor is finally over! For now. After multiple rumors that Gasol was headed to Cleveland Cavaliers for former Laker C Andrew Bynum‘s contract, the Cavaliers threw a major curveball, acquiring Chicago Bulls all-star Luol Deng.

Despite all the trade rumors, Gasol has looked much better on both ends of the floor, having more energy and looking as healthy as he has been in years. Forum Blue and Gold’s Darius Soriano mentioned that in Gasol’s last 10 games, he is averaging 18 PPG, 10 RPG, 4 APG, 2 BPG, with a solid 51% shooting percentage. Those numbers are very identical to his average during the Lakers’ championship run.

The Dallas Mavericks look to close out their 3-game home series on a positive note after losing their first 2 games. After overhauling their roster every season after winning the 2011 NBA Championship, the Mavericks have finally stabilized their roster by signing  starting PG Jose Calderon and starting SG Monta Ellis to multi-year contracts this off-season.

However, the Mavericks are still built around their franchise cornerstone, PF Dirk Nowitzki. Highly regarded as the best “stretch-4″ to ever play the game, Nowitzki has seemed to regain his old form after having a very poor season last year. Nowitzki has averaged 22.9 PPG, and 6.5 RPG, and shooting 49,8% from the field.

With Calderon, Ellis, and SG Vince Carter having the ability to drive to the basket and create their own shots, the Lakers have to make sure they stayed focused on the defensive end.

Projected Starters

PG – Jose Calderon Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Mavericks]

SG – Monta EllisJodie Meeks [Advantage: Mavericks]

SF – Shawn Marion Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Mavericks]

PF – Dirk Nowitzki Pau Gasol [Advantage: Even]

C – DeJuan Blair Robert Sacre [Advantage: Mavericks]

Notable Bench Players

Mavericks: G Vince Carter, F Brandon Wright, F Jae Crowder, C Samuel Dalenbert

Lakers:  F Nick Young, F Jordan Hill, F Ryan Kelly

Bench Advantage: Even

Injury List

Mavericks: Out-PG Devin Harris 

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, Defense, Defense: The Lakers failed on the defensive end vs. Nuggets allowing 137 points and clearly could not stop the fast break points, allowing 30 points, 22 of which came in the 2nd half. Now, we cannot expect the Lakers to give up 137 again, but if their defensive effort becomes as bad as it was on Sunday, tonight’s result vs. Mavericks tonight will result in a loss regardless of how well the Lakers play on the offensive end.

Bottom Line

Prediction

Hopefully the Lakers will play inspired basketball tonight knowing that Gasol’s still with the Lakers and that this season is not over yet. However, they are outmatched talent-wise by the opposing team again, so they have got to play very well on both ends of the floor, something they have not done so recently. Unfortunately, the matchup vs. Mavericks will not be much easier for the Lakers especially since the Lakers are trying to fix their defensive deficiencies.

Mavericks: 110-98

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Shawne Williams
Photo: Paul Buck / EPA

The Lakers waived forward Shawne Williams Tuesday, according a Lakers press release.

Williams averaged 5.2 points and 4.5 rebounds in 20.2 minutes per game this season for the Lakers. Considered a stretch four in coach Mike D’Antoni’s system, Williams failed to live up to that billing, shooting just 32% from beyond the arc.

Williams was the last non-guaranteed contract on the roster and had to be waived by today’s 5:00 PM EST deadline, or else his contract would become guaranteed for the rest of the season. According to multiple recent reports, the Lakers have been looking to get below the luxury tax threshold this season–which would explain this cost-cutting move.

The Lakers’ roster now stands at 14 players, leaving one spot open for possible future moves.

Below is the press release from the Lakers regarding Shawne Williams.

http://www.nba.com/lakers/releases/140107shawnewilliams_waived

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Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol
Image: Stephen Dunn | Getty Images

By: Alex Lambeth & Oren Levy

Mon., 9:50 PM PST — The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Andrew Bynum has been traded to the Chicago Bulls for Luol Deng, effectively ending the possibility of a Bynum-Gasol deal. Pau Gasol remains a Laker for the time being, with his name sure to emerge in trade rumors as the February 20th NBA Trade Deadline approaches.

Mon., 1:11 PM PST – ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne provides an update on the ongoing talks between the Lakers and Cavaliers–now in an “old-fashioned stare down.”

Although there was an unofficial deadline Sunday for the Andrew Bynum trade, due to his contract becoming guaranteed on January 7th, Shelburne explains theoretically the trade can still happen Tuesday if teams either waive physicals or get them done quickly.

Sun., 7:45 PM PST — Ramona Shelburne reports that the Lakers and Cavaliers failed to reach a deal by the end of Sunday’s deadline. Talks are expected to continue as the Cavs weigh other deals.

Sun., 6:30 PM PSTPau Gasol is in the starting lineup for the Lakers against the Denver Nuggets. It looks like the Cavaliers’ Sunday deadline will come and go with no deal in place.

Sun., 1:30 PM PST – Fox Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico reports the Lakers asked for the Cavaliers’ first-round pick, offered to swap first rounders, and also asked about Anderson Varejao. A deal has still not been met, despite Sunday’s “deadline.”

Also according to Amico, the Cavs scoffed at the notion of including guard Dion Waiters in any deal.

Sun., 11:15 AM PST — Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Cavaliers are refusing to include Dion Waiters in a potential Pau Gasol-for-Andrew Bynum deal.

The Lakers are clearly looking for a valuable asset in return for Gasol, besides the immediate financial relief that this move would bring for Los Angeles.

According to USA Today’s Sam Amick, the Cavaliers have put nothing more than Bynum and a second-round draft pick on the table so far.

According to a person with knowledge of the talks between the two teams, the only asset Cleveland has offered as of Saturday night is a second-round pick, and that won’t be enough to get this deal done.

Sun., 10:00 AM PST – After Saturday night’s premature news break by Rick Schwartz, Pau Gasol remains a Los Angeles Laker for the time being. Schwartz reported late Saturday night that Gasol had been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for former teammate Andrew Bynum.

Here is Schwartz’s original tweet breaking the news.

ESPN 710, the flagship radio station of the Lakers, also picked up the story Saturday night, but has since apologized for the premature reporting.

ESPNLA’s Ramona Shelbourne shot down all rumors, saying the Lakers deny that the deal is done. She has been covering the story throughout the week.

Despite Ramona and others hearing otherwise, Schwartz continues to insist the deal is done.

As of now, Gasol is still a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. But, according to earlier ESPN reports, the Cavaliers hope to have a Bynum deal in place and finalized by Sunday.

A trade still may be coming, and if the deal does go through, the Lakers are expected to waive Bynum before his contract becomes fully guaranteed on January 7th in order to get below the luxury tax threshold.

The Lakers and Cavaliers had been negotiating throughout the past week, with the Lakers looking to acquire an asset in addition to Bynum’s contract. This deal will save the Lakers in excess of $20 million dollars while helping the Cavaliers push for the playoffs with Gasol.

If the trade is to be executed, at least one more Cavaliers player would have to be involved to make the salaries match up.

Stay tuned to LakerNation.com for the latest on this developing story!

Sat., 9:50 PM PST – According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne, the Lakers and Cavaliers made significant progress Saturday, on a deal centered around Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

According to the report, the Cavaliers hope to have a Bynum deal in place and finalized by this Sunday. The Cavaliers want to execute a trade by Sunday so that it can be completed ahead of Tuesday’s deadline for Bynum’s contract to become fully guaranteed—trades need 48 hours to be finalized so players can have physicals.

Sources say the Lakers are seeking a package in return for Gasol that would include a young player or a draft pick.

A Gasol-for-Bynum trade would certainly help the Lakers escape the luxury tax and, more important than the $20 million in instant savings, the Lakers would be easing the pressure of going into the repeater tax in either 2015 or ’16. If a team is in the luxury tax in four out of any five years, it triggers the repeater tax.

Whether Bynum returns to Laker Land, or Gasol dodges yet another trade rumor, it sounds like a resolution is coming on Sunday, one way or the other.

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Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty Images

Tonight’s game was played by two completely different Laker teams in two completely different halves.

The team that played in the first two quarters were lively, played with their senses in tact and, as a result, built confidence on top of confidence.

The team in the third and fourth quarters looked lazy, careless, and, in effect, lost control of the game quickly. As a result, a 137-115 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

High Points
First Half – The way the Lakers played the first and second quarters, a win was more than attainable against a sub-.500 Denver team. Pau Gasol got off to an excellent start, leading the game with 15 points, six rebounds, five assists, a steal and three blocks. He scored 12 of those 15 points in the first quarter; showing his professionalism yet again after a weekend of front office discussions with the Cavaliers to ship him off to Cleveland.
Kendall Marshall wasn’t the scoring machine he was a couple of days ago, but he is still a point guard – that he made perfectly clear. Just three points in the first half for Marshall, but he owned nine of the Lakers’ 17 assists (he had 15 in Friday’s game).
The Lakers shot 53% from the field and allowed Denver 46% shooting. Despite allowing the Nuggets eight offensive boards, the difference between the second chance points that resulted was just two points.
The home team also played a very clean game in that first half, turning the ball over just four times. They led by as much as nine points and led 61-60 at the break. Also, three Lakers had already scored in double figures by halftime – Gasol’s 15, Jodie Meeks with 14 and Nick Young with 13.

Low Points
Second Half – As well as the Lakers played the first half, they played the second equally…bad. Gone was efficiency on offense, and along with it, the energy to defend.
Gasol played nine minutes in the third quarter and scored just two points on 1-5 from the field. Despite finishing the game with a double-double, 25 points and 10 rebounds, his second half produced just four rebounds and zero assists.
After a 17-assist on 25 field goals kind of first half, the Lakers handed out just nine dimes, eight of which were Marshall’s. The ball movement disappeared in the final two quarters and, as expected, so did the efficient offense. The three wasn’t falling tonight, but the Lakers continued to shoot it anyway, hitting just 3-21 for the game, and just 1-12 in the last two quarters. While Denver went 61% from the field in the second half, pounding the paint to the tune of 34 points, the home team handily shot themselves right out of the game.
With just four turnovers in the first two quarters, a clean night on the floor seemed within reach, but the Lakers had 11 turnovers in the second half, which resulted in 23 points for Denver. Moreover, this carelessness also allowed the Nuggets to run, and they scored 22 fast break points (compared to their first-half eight points) as a result.
Denver’s second, third and fourth quarter tallies are as follows: 34, 33 and 44. 44 fourth quarter points! Seven Nuggets scored in double figures by the game’s end.

After such a solid win on Friday night, which broke a long losing streak, the hope was that the Lakers would start the year anew; perhaps start a winning streak for a change. Sadly, they let another winnable game go, and now they’ve got three road games ahead – Dallas, Houston and the Clippers.

Box Score

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Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Doug Pensinger, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Doug Pensinger, Getty Images

January 5, 2014 — 6:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Los Angeles Lakers (14-19) face the Denver Nuggets (15-17) tonight to cap off a 4-game home series before the Lakers head off on a 3-game road trip. Both teams won their last game after suffering long losing streaks. The Lakers look to build off their win after snapping a 6-game losing streak

Lakers PG Kendall Marshall had a career night last game, scoring 20 pts. and dishing out 15 assists, both a career high in a much needed 110-99 victory over Utah Jazz. Marshall seemed completely comfortable for the first time wearing a Laker uniform since he realized he is now the only ball-handler on the team. For one game, he perfectly fit the prototypical Mike D’Antoni style point guard, always keeping his head up when pushing the ball and helping his teammates get wide-open shots. Marshall also made 2 big plays as he got Jodie Meeks a wide open three by making a cross-court pass and hitting his own three pointer to close out the game vs. Jazz.

Center Pau Gasol, who has once again found himself in the middle of trade rumors, had his best game this season, scoring 23 points, grabbing 17 rebounds, and dishing 8 assists. Outside of driving aggressively to the basket, many of Gasol’s jump shots were in the right mid-range area after running the pick and pop action with Marshall, where he is currently shooting 51.4% this season.

The Denver Nuggets, who snapped their 8-game losing streak during their last game, look to build off their win also as they come into Staples Center. Former Lakers guard and assistant coach Brian Shaw now coaches the Nuggets after replacing former head coach George Karl. as with previous teams, this version of the Nuggets depend on a balanced attack, led by PG Ty Lawson. Lawson, who averages 17.4 PPG, 8.1 APG, and 1.4 SPG, has caused the Lakers major problems throughout his career, quickly pushing the ball down the floor for easy fast break points and driving aggressively off on-ball screens. The Nuggets have suffered from major off-season losses, losing F Andre Iguodala, G Corey Brewer to free agency and F Danilo Gallinari to a torn ACL last season.

Projected Starters

PG – Ty Lawson / Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Nuggets]

SG – Randy Foye Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Nuggets]

SF – Wilson Chandler Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Lakers]

PF – Kenneth Faried Pau Gasol [Advantage: Lakers]

C – JJ Hickson Robert Sacre [Advantage: Nuggets]

Notable Bench Players

Nuggets: G Nate Robinson, F Jordan Hamilton, F Darrell Arthur, C Timofey Mozgov

Lakers:  F Nick Young, F Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman, F Shawne Williams

Bench Advantage: Nuggets

Injury List

Nuggets: Out-F Danilo Gallinari, Out-C Javale McGee, Out-G Andre Miller

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

1. Stop Fast-Break Baskets: Although the Nuggets are 15th this season in fast break points after ranking 1st in that category for the last 2 seasons, they are still capable of pushing the ball down the floor. The Lakers have to start the game very aggressively and not be lethargic and lazy sprinting back on defense. Since the Lakers shoot a lot of jump-shots, they should always have at least 2 players back on defense as soon as the Lakers shot goes up to prevent any easy fast-break points.

2. Play Relaxed and Shoot Well: The Lakers seemed to be playing much more relaxed last game, and it showed in their shooting percentage. The Lakers shooters, notably G Jodie Meeks, F Shawne Williams, did not hesitate to shoot the ball last night, resulting in shooting 41.7 % from behind the 3 point line. Marshall and Gasol, who combined for 23 assists vs. Jazz, should once again handle the ball the majority of the time and give teammates more open shots tonight.

Bottom Line

With all the trade rumors clouding the future of the Lakers, they look to ignore that and stay focused for another crucial game tonight. Hopefully the Lakers can start the game very strong and stay focused without letting the Nuggets go on a lot of runs. After a very encouraging win on Friday, expect the Lakers to come away with a close victory tonight vs. Nuggets.

Prediction

Lakers: 105-103

Getty Images
Getty Images
Photo: 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 5-11, over their 66-year history.

January 7, 1972

The Lakers won their NBA record 33rd straight game by defeating the Atlanta Hawks 134-90 in Atlanta. The team went a combined 30-0 during the months of November and December. Over the course of the streak, Los Angeles was led by Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Pat Riley, Gail Goodrich, and Jim McMillian. The Lakers finished the 1972 regular season with a then-all-time best NBA record of 69-13, which was later eclipsed by the 1995-96 Bulls. This record-breaking season culminated in the franchise’s first NBA Championship since moving from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in 1960. The Lakers still hold the longest winning streak by any team in the history of American professional sports.

January 7, 1998

Shaquille O’Neal blocked three shots in a 114-102 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks to adjust his career mark to 1,002. Shaq also scored 38 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the win. O’Neal finished his career in 2011 with 2,732 career blocked shots, which currently ranks seventh on the NBA all-time list.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

January 8, 1997

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the first NBA season, commissioner David Stern announced the list of the Top Ten Teams in NBA History. The Lakers appeared on the list twice, with the 1971-72 and 1986-87 teams being featured. Also making the cut were the 1964-65 and 1985-86 Celtics, 1966-67 and 1982-83 76ers, 1969-70 Knicks, 1988-89 Pistons, and 1991-92 and 1995-96 Bulls.

January 9, 1972

The Milwaukee Bucks snapped the Lakers’ unprecedented 33-game winning streak with a 120-104 win in Milwaukee. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar dominated the Lakers as he led Milwaukee with 39 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 blocked shots against his future team.

January 10, 1986

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored his 34,000th career NBA point, a mark that has only ever been surpassed by Karl Malone, in a 124-102 victory against the Indiana Pacers at the Forum. Abdul-Jabbar entered the game needing 14 points to reach the plateau, and finished with 31 points to bring his career total to 34,017. This game marked the sixth time during the 1985-86 season that Abdul-Jabbar scored at least 30 points, and the 22nd time that he scored more than 20. Abdul-Jabbar finished his career in 1989 with 38,387 total points, good enough for first all-time among NBA players.

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Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty Images

A win.

A wire-to-wire win…and by double digits.

It’s been so long since the Lakers have met any of those criteria, dropping six games in a row to end a most unfortunate year. In their first game of the new year, however, they didn’t resemble the team that looked wounded and hopeless in those losses. Tonight, they played with energy, resolve and a whole lotta fight.

After one quarter, they led 30-12. At one point in the second quarter, they had a 20-point advantage. They shot 55% in that first half and only allowed Utah to shoot 36% from the field. Leading the charge was starting point guard, and newest member of the team, Kendall Marshall and a rejuvenated Pau Gasol.

They led by as many as 21 points, and, despite allowing the Jazz to get within four points of the lead, they never stopped fighting back and in effect got their first win of 2014 – a 100-99 victory.

High Points
Kendall Marshall – What a way to debut in a starting role for the former Tar Heel! Marshall showed no hint of jitters, opening the game with a three-pointer, two free throws and an assist to Gasol. With the Lakers’ three point guards sidelined, Xavier Henry (a dynamic player but not a point guard by any stretch of the imagination), was handed the responsibility of floor general and it just didn’t fit. Simply put – it’s not his true position. Marshall, however, is a pure point guard, learning in just a couple of weeks since his arrival, his teammates’ idiosyncrasies on the floor. Hitting Jodie Meeks and Shawne Williams with long passes down the court or across the arc so they could shoot from their sweet downtown spots. Getting the bigs the ball in just the right areas in the paint so that all they have to do is catch and shoot. Marshall finished with an impressive and new career-high 20 points on 8-12 from the field, 15 assists, six rebounds and a single turnover. One turnover in almost 41 minutes of playing time.
Pau Gasol – Appearing to have recovered from his upper respiratory infection, the resident Spaniard showed tonight what he can still do, and he can do A LOT. 23 points, 17 rebounds, three blocks and just two turnovers – that’s what Gasol offers this team. It’s games like tonight that make you wish you could copy his performance and paste it onto the next game and every game after that. He had the energy to clear the glass and play active defense. He shot with confidence, and in effect, accuracy. He led the game with a +18.
Starters – Led by Marshall and Gasol, the starters really got the job done. Rarely do they overshadow the reserves this season, but being that the starting five is made up of usual bench players (Nick Young, Robert Sacre, Jodie Meeks, Kendall Marshall), it makes sense they impacted the game the way they did. Young scored just five points entering the last quarter, and then exploded for 11 points to close the game. Sacre only scored four points, but grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked a shot. Jodie Meeks was just 3-10 from behind the arc, but he chipped in 18 points, not to mention six assists and three rebounds. He was also responsible for the play of the game, in which he grabbed the defensive rebound, fell to the floor and, despite Richard Jefferson and Enes Kantar toppling over him to grab the ball, Meeks managed to slide it from under the dogpile to pass it to Young, who dunked it on the other end…and-1!
Wesley Johnson – 11 points on a perfect 5-5 from the field. Boy was Johnson due for a good offensive game. Add to that a block and two steals for a well-rounded night.
Defense – Their four steals and six blocks are just part of the story. In a defensively-solid performance, the stats are just the fruits. The energy, the spirit, the determination – these are the seeds. Johnson’s steal that ended with his basket on the other end; Sacre’s block of Gordon Hayward’s layup; Young, Marshall and Meeks with the full-court press that ended with a Jazz turn over – all are the results of playing defense from the beginning, with the right attitude and the right energy.
Victory – There’s no telling whether this is the beginning of a winning streak, but that it ended a losing streak is something.

Low Points
Second Chance Points – Though the Lakers outrebounded Utah, they still gave up 12 offensive rebounds that resulted in 25 second chance points.

The Lakers may be missing six players due to injury, but they didn’t play like it tonight, and hopefully they’ll continue to play as such for longer than just one game. So far, it looks like Kobe Bryant’s Tweet holds true – 2014 > 2013.

Box Score

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L.A. hoop heads, 6 of the top 25 Southern California High School teams are taking part in the Take Flight Challenge this Saturday, January 4th at Redondo Union High School.

The Jordan Brand Flight Truck will be on site to get you geared up with t-shirt, sock and hat customizations.

Get your weekend hoops fix and catch some of the next wave of up and coming basketball stars.

 

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Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty Images

January 3, 2014 — 7:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Many Lakers fans have gotten torn with this “million-dollar” question as the year 2014 begins.

Should the Lakers tank or not?

As our own Laker Nation columnist Johnny Navarrette stated exceptionally well in his piece “Struggling Lakers Face Critical January Schedule”, the Lakers have a high possibility of tanking, intentionally or not, thanks to a combination of multiple injuries and a very tough schedule moving forward.

The ship for the Los Angeles Lakers (13-19) is sinking quickly  as they face the Utah Jazz (11-24) tonight. The Milwaukee Bucks looked like the San Antonio Spurs during the New Years Eve beat down of the Lakers that many unfortunate Laker fans had to witness.  This will be the 3rd of a 4 game home series, which is supposed to be the easiest series for the Lakers on paper. However, the Lakers have already lost the first 2 games, so they would have to win these next 2 games to salvage this series.

To make matters worse, Lakers PG Jordan Farmar is now out for at least 4 more weeks tearing his hamstring again vs. Bucks. The injury to Farmar leads PG Kendall Marshall, who played in the D-League a month ago, to lead the Lakers as the only healthy ball-handler on the roster.

Tonight, expect the Jazz can cause the Lakers more problems tonight like they did during their last meeting a week ago. The Jazz outrebounded the Lakers 43-37 and held them to 30.4 % shooting from behind the 3 pt. line. Jazz F Gordan Hayward showcased his all-around talents vs. the Lakers, scoring 24 pts, dishing out 9 assists, and grabbing 5 rebounds  on the Lakers and has averaged a very solid 16.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 4.8 APG this season. With 1 healthy ball-handler available for the Lakers, expect Jazz rookie PG Trey Burke who averages 13.7 PPG and 5.0 APG, to go off for another career high tonight as the Lakers have been playing their worst basketball in ages.

Projected Starters

PG – Trey Burke / Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Jazz]

SG – Gordon Hayward Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Jazz]

SF – Richard Jefferson Nick Young [Advantage: Lakers]

PF – Marvin Williams Pau Gasol [Advantage: Lakers]

C – Derrick Favors Robert Sacre [Advantage: Jazz]

Notable Bench Players

Jazz: G Alec Burks, F Jeremy Evans, PG John Lucas III, C Enes Kanter

Lakers:  F Wesley Johnson, F Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman, F Shawne Williams

Bench Advantage: Jazz

Injury List

Jazz: None

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

Keys for Lakers Victory

Play Relaxed: At this current moment, zero expectations exist for the current Lakers roster. Instead of trying really hard to live up to the “Lakers” name, the Lakers have to play relaxed, which should lead to a higher shooting percentage. Lately, the Lakers have not defeated any teams since their shots cannot fall through the rim. Furthermore, the Lakers have zero ball-handlers on the floor outside of Marshall. Hopefully, Lakers Head Coach Mike D’Antoni decides to run his offense mainly through C Chris Kaman and C/F Pau Gasol, who are now arguably the best play-makers on the Lakers right now. Lakers shooters, notably G Jodie Meeks, F Shawne Williams, and G/F Nick Young, should be able to receive uncontested shots if Gasol and Kaman can play well from the post and create open shots for the Lakers perimeter players.

Bottom Line

After the worst loss of the season for the Lakers, they are now officially in “rock bottom”. Fortunately, they cannot get any worse from their current state and only have room to improve. After 2 days off, look for the Lakers to come out with a lot of energy and prove that they are trying to win every game. Right now, difficulties exist for fans who try to make a case that the Lakers can come away with a victory tonight vs. Jazz. Hopefully, the Lakers can somehow play very relaxed tonight and come away with a victory to start the 2014 year right.

Prediction

Jazz: 95-85

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Noah Graham/Getty Images
Noah Graham/Getty Images
Wesley Johnson, Jordan Farmar, Jodie Meeks & Jordan Hill
Noah Graham/Getty Images

To say 2013 was not the Lakers’ year would be an understatement. From the passing of owner Dr. Jerry Buss to franchise players suffering major injuries to big name players opting to leave Los Angeles, it was a year to forget for the purple and gold.

Although it seemed fitting that 2013 ended on such a negative note as the injury-riddled Lakers finished the year with six straight losses, including three in a row to the Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers, and Milwaukee Bucks, teams considered to be the worst in the NBA.

As a result, the Lakers will start 2014 with a 13-19 record and unfortunately for the team and fans, things will not get easier in January.

This month, the Lakers will play 15 games, starting this Friday with a home matchup versus the Jazz and Sunday as they host the Denver Nuggets.  From that point on, they will hit the road for 10 out of their next 11 games with notable match-ups against the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat.  Those 10 road games include the seven game Grammy road trip.

When the Lakers return home on January 28, the Indiana Pacers await them, and then will finish off January versus the Charlotte Bobcats at home.

Six games under .500 with a depleted squad that once again lost point guard Jordan Farmar due to another tear in his left hamstring, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel for the team, which is again dealing with trade rumors involving disgruntled Pau Gasol and unhappy veterans such as Chris Kaman.

With 50 games left in the season, the Lakers need to start winning games immediately if they have any hopes of making the playoffs.   The Western Conference is once again strong and teams will need to be north of .500 to get into the playoffs, unlike in the Eastern Conference where the current fourth seed, Toronto Raptors, are 14-15 while the eighth seed Celtics are 13-18.

Since 2008 (excluding the lockout season), the minimum number of games to reach the playoffs was 45 wins.  If that continues to stay true, the Lakers will need to go 32-18 over the final 50 games just to reach that number.

January is a make or break month for the Lakers.  Last year, this team made a run towards the playoffs, which coincidentally started in January but this time around, it will be even more difficult with even more injuries, inconsistent offensive, poor defense and questions as to when Kobe will return and if Steve Nash will play again this season.

A few games ago, head coach Mike D’Antoni said this team was ready to turn the corner, then they proceeded to lose to three of the worst teams in the league.  With a 6-10 road record, 10 out of 15 games on the road will be a challenge that needs to be met if this season is to be salvaged.

If the losing continues, the Lakers will miss the playoffs for only the sixth time in their history and will be trying their luck in the NBA Draft lottery come June.

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JANUARY SCHEDULE:

Fri, Jan. 3 – vs Utah Jazz

Sun, Jan 5 – vs Denver Nuggets

Tue, Jan 7 – @ Dallas Mavericks

Wed, Jan 8 – @ Houston Rockets

Fri, Jan 10 – @ Los Angeles Clippers

Tue, Jan 14 – vs Cleveland Cavaliers

Wed, Jan 15 – @ Phoenix Suns

Fri, Jan 17 – @ Boston Celtics

Sun, Jan 19 – @ Toronto Raptors

Mon, Jan 20 – @ Chicago Bulls

Thu, Jan 23 – @ Miami Heat

Fri, Jan 24 – @ Orlando Magic

Sun, Jan 26 – @ New York Knicks

Tue, Jan 28 – vs Indian Pacers

Fri, Jan 31 – vs Charlotte Bobcats

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Image: Andrew D. Bernstein | Getty Images
Jordan Farmar
Image: Andrew D. Bernstein | Getty Images

The injury blows continue for this depleted Lakers team.

According to a Lakers’ press release, an ultrasound Wednesday showed point guard Jordan Farmar has a tear in his left hamstring. The tear is expected to keep Farmar out for at least four weeks.

Farmar injured his hamstring in the Lakers’ loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on New Year’s Eve.

The tear, however, is in a different location than the one that Farmar suffered on December 1st.

PG Kendall Marshall is now the lone healthy point guard remaining on the Lakers’ active roster.

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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.