In the wake of losing Kobe Bryant for six weeks and the complete lack of a point guard on the roster, the Lakers have signed point guard Kendall Marshall, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. Marshall was the 13th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft out of the University of North Carolina.
With Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar, and Steve Blake all out with injuries, the Lakers needed to reach out and sign a point guard desperately. In the meantime, Xavier Henry will run the point until Marshall is ready to take the court.
Marshall should be a great addition to a Lakers squad who could greatly use his youth and athleticism. Marshall has certainly improved by playing in the NBA Development League for the Delaware 87ers this season.
What do you think of the signing, Nation? Let’s hear your thoughts.
After playing just 6 games after returning from a torn Achilles, Kobe Bryant is out of the lineup once again with a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. Kobe is expected to miss six weeks.
Injury Update: Kobe Bryant has a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. He is expected to miss 6 weeks.
According to the LA Times’ Eric Pincus, Nash is starting to show signs of discouragement, despite working as hard as possible to physically become healthy enough to play.
“Hopefully that’s a really good timeline where I can get healthy and put my back in a position where it can protect itself and survive,” Nash said regarding his probable return period. “This has really been something I’ve faced since the end of March. The toughest thing has been emotionally and mentally. I’ve had a lot of down days.”
Along with Nash and Bryant, the two other Lakers’ point guards PG Steve Blake and PG Jordan Farmar are still out for the foreseeable future due to their respective injuries. The Lakers did sign PG Kendall Marshalltoday to a non-guaranteed contract to back up G Xavier Henry at the point gaurd position.
Nash has been limited to only 6 games this season, averaging 6.7 PPG and 2.8 APG in 22.5 MPG. For Nash and the Lakers, it has been very unfortunate since Nash suffered the freak leg fracture in their 2nd regular season game last season.
Hopefully Nash will make a full recovery and return to his old form, or some resemblance of it. His excellent work ethic and pride still gets him through the rehabilitation process.
However, due to the nerve issue and his age, it seems less and less likely that he can return to his old form as each day passes this season.
From one team trying to get by with injuries to another, the Lakers faced a different Memphis Grizzlies group from the one they met a month ago at Staples Center. Tonight’s version of the Grizz is missing two important players – Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, both of whom give the Lakers problems each time the two teams meet.
Without Conley and Gasol, the Lakers took advantage to start, gaining a 15-point lead early in the game. As has been their M.O., however, the lead depleted then turned into a deficit. The difference tonight is that the Lakers found a way to take the lead back and hang on until the final buzzer.
Led by the spirited play of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, the visitors took the 96-92 victory.
High Points Kobe & Pau – It’s the duo that, apparently, time has not forgotten. Getting past their troubling play lately, Bryant and Gasol played the way we have known them to play. Bryant, clearly getting his timing and conditioning up to speed, forgot about his terrible game against the Hawks last night and put on a show for the fans in Memphis. He was more aggressive than he has been since his return; driving to the basket to score and even hitting (finally) a three from about three feet beyond the arc. Bryant finished with 21 points on 9-18 from the field, added five rebounds, four assists and a block. The four turnovers didn’t help the team, but it’s half what he had in his first game back against Toronto. Gasol – the trade rumors will never go away…except maybe if he plays like he did tonight. This is the Gasol we wish would make a more consistent appearance. 21 points on an efficient 9-12 from the field, nine rebounds, two assists and three blocks. He was not only active on the offensive end, but alert on the defensive end as well. Gasol played a solid game against his old team, and here’s hoping it’s a version Nick Young – Instant Offense – that’s what SwaggyP’s nickname ought to be on this team. He started 4-4 from the field, but dipped down to just 2-7 the rest of the way. He did, however, shoot 3-6 from downtown. He finished with 18 points. Wesley Johnson and Robert Sacre – The impact of their presence may not be obvious at first look, but Johnson and Sacre did a lot of little things that helped get this win. Johnson, for starters, handed out six assists and collected five rebounds. Sacre, having played just over 18 minutes, hit 5-6 from the free throw line. Moreover, it is their energy on the floor that is the exciting part. Johnson lurks in the passing lanes, waiting for the opposing team to make a mistake, and Sacre has been a nice surprise off the pine, especially when it comes to defense. They’re truly unsung heroes of tonight’s game.
Low Points Leads Lost – The Lakers led by 15 points in the first quarter, had a 12-point advantage in the second, and managed to rebuild with an 11-point lead in the final quarter. Unfortunately, none of these double-digit leads stuck. The Lakers seemed to use the possessions after creating these advantages as a time to experiment and stray from what got them those leads in the first place. Rebounding – The most glaring stat tonight was the rebounding. The Lakers were outrebounded by the Grizzlies 49-37. On offensive boards, the stat is even more disappointing. Memphis grabbed 18 offensive boards, awarding themselves with 16 second chance points as a result (18 offensive boards!) and the Lakers grabbed four offensive rebounds the entire game.
2-2, that’s what the Lakers will go home with after this road trip, and despite knowing they should have won last night’s game, it’s better than coming back to L.A. with no road wins at all. Next up is the second meeting with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.
After a very ugly and disappointing loss vs. Atlanta Hawks, the Los Angeles Lakers (11-13) look to finish out their 4-game road trip on a positive note vs. Memphis Grizzlies (10-13). The Lakers’ defense completely collapsed vs. Hawks in the 2nd half, allowing 67 points, allowing multiple 2nd chance opportunities, and countless amounts of uncontested shots.
G Kobe Bryant still shows rust with his left foot stemming from his achilles surgery, only scoring 8 points, 6 assists, and allowing 5 turnovers, although 4 of them came in the 1st quarter. The absence of the 3 point guards, PG Steve Nash, PG Steve Blake, and PG Jordan Farmar, showed the most last night. The Lakers offense became stagnant, taking highly contested low percentage shots and throwing low percentage passes which led to turnovers. G Nick Young was one of a very few Laker who shot the ball well, leading the Lakers with 23 points, while F Jordan Hill almost had another double-double with 21 points and 9 rebounds.
The Lakers now have to play the Memphis Grizzlies, who have been a disappointment so far after reaching the Western Conference Finals last season. Making things matter worse for the Grizzlies, 2 of their top 3 players will not play tonight. C Marc Gasol, brother of Pau Gasol, is still recovering from a sprained MCL, and PG Mike Conley, arguably the most underrated and improved point guard in the NBA, has now been officially ruled out due to a thigh bruise, according to the Grizzlies PR. Therefore, the Grizzlies tonight will rely heavily on PF Zack Randolph. Randolph, who both averages 16.0 PPG and 7.0 RPG, brings a very old school low-post game. Although he has trouble with verticality, he will back defenders down with his tremendous strength to score easily.
SG – Tony Allen / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Grizzlies]
SF – Tayshaun Prince / Wesley Johnson[Advantage: Even]
PF – Zach Randolph / Jordan Hill [Advantage: Grizzlies]
C – Kosta Koufos / Pau Gasol [Advantage: Lakers]
Notable Bench Players
Grizzlies: G Nick Calathes, G Mike Miller, F Jon Leuer
Lakers: G Xavier Henry, G/F Nick Young, F Shawne Williams
Bench Advantage: Lakers
Keys for Lakers Success
Defensive Rebounding: Not only did the Lakers defense give up a lot of wide open shots to the Hawks, but also allowed 15 offensive rebounds, many of which came in the 2nd half collapse. Since the Lakers defense has struggled significantly outside of their win vs. Bobcats, the Lakers cannot allow the Grizzlies to take more shots from extra possessions. Koufos and Randolph have 2.4 offensive RPG and 2.3 offensive RPG, so anybody near them have to make sure to box these two players out by using proper fundamentals since they both possess a significant weight advantage over any players on the Lakers.
Pau Gasol: I know I sound like a broken record, but C Pau Gasol absolutely has to have a huge night vs. the Grizzlies. C Kosta Koufos, who does not possess great defensive skills, will most likely guard Gasol throughout the game, so Gasol has to take advantage of this mismatch and be aggressive throughout the entire game. Although Gasol started very well vs. the Hawks scoring 10 points in first quarter, he struggled to get any shots afterwards, only scoring 6 pts for the rest of the game. That cannot happen tonight, especially as Bryant looks to force feed him the ball in the post due to the mismatch.
This game will be another low-scoring outing especially playing vs. Grizzlies, who run a very slow paced game. Hopefully, the Lakers play with as much energy as they would if the Grizzlies had Gasol and Conley available. With SG Tony Allen, who many can argue as one of the best perimeter defenders in NBA, guarding Bryant today, the rest of the Lakers have to be ready to catch the ball cleanly and make their shots. With the injury bug hitting the Grizzlies, the Lakers should come away with a victory tonight to finish 2-2 on their road trip.
The NBA world isn’t just about what you do on the court. We scoured the web for Lakers-related quotations to provide you with the 10 best quotes from the past seven days:
“Not on purpose, but you know to space out and get him the ball when there’s 10 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. You have to wait to see if he will pass you the ball or be Kobe. It’s going to be the Kobe show in the fourth quarter, but you still have to stay ready.”
“It’s been difficult for him to persevere through all the different stages of rehab that he’s gone through just so he can come back. Now that he’s back on the court, I think there’s a new beginning. This is the first step. I see a very strong trajectory going up in the near future. When the switch goes on, it will go on to the way people are accustomed toward seeing Kobe Bryant play. It’s just a matter of time before that happens.”
“It’s absolutely not what I was looking for. It’s not really in my control. I just try to keep working hard and be ready if the time comes. And if it doesn’t, then it just wasn’t meant to be. Never did I think I would come here and not play, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have come. I had a bunch of other options, but I saw opportunity here.”
“He threw Shaq under the bus. He is somewhat confused about culture because he was brought up in another country so it doesn’t quite fit (with) what’s happening in America. In the days when we had a summit and we called the top black athletes together to talk to Muhammad Ali about his status with the armed forces, there were some athletes we didn’t call. So if I had to call that summit all over, there would be some athletes I wouldn’t call. And Kobe would be one of them.”
“It surprised me in a sense that it came out of left field. I mean, I’ve never even met him, so it came out of left field but I do think it’s a great opportunity to have these conversations, to have this discussion. I think no matter where you come from, whether you come from Italy, whether you come from Inglewood [Calif.], whether you come from London, it doesn’t matter. Ultimately, the conversation is that it doesn’t matter what color skin you are to begin with. But, I think it’s a good place to start to have a good conversation and try to educate one another and try to improve as a society from it.”
Kobe Bryant, in response to Jim Brown’s comments, via ESPN
“The fact that I’m not getting the ball in the post affects directly my aggressiveness. When I’m not getting the ball where I want to, where I’m most effective, where I can bang guys and utilize my skill, that affects my aggressiveness and overall intensity. This year hasn’t been ideal, certain things are not ideal for me, but that’s not going to change any time soon. I’m not going to say anything, but it’s easy to see. You see a guy with a certain skill set, where does it fit better, where it doesn’t.”
“The more energy you bring to the game, the more you’re going to get the ball. That’s always been the case, and if you don’t have the energy, then you probably won’t get the ball much. (…) He’ll get through it. The message is the same to everybody: Just play hard, and we’ll figure it out. If you don’t play hard, it’s hard to figure out because you don’t know what works and what doesn’t. I think everybody has the same message, and we keep beating it in during practice. Every film session we show them what we want, and hopefully they’ll do it. (…)It’s also a nice excuse to not play hard. That’s a classic: ‘Well, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.’ Well, you don’t have trouble getting up to the pay stub line. They know what to do there to get the check. So, obviously, you know what to do.”
As good as it felt for the Lakers to finally get a win since Kobe’s return a couple of nights ago in Charlotte, it feels equally bad that they led for a good part of tonight’s game, only to fall apart in the end.
The Lakers were playing well to start, shooting 52% from the field in the first quarter, while only allowing the Hawks to shoot 41%. Three-point specialist, Kyle Korver was 0-4 from downtown for the first half, and after leading by as much as 10 points, the visitors went into halftime with a nice seven-point advantage.
The second-half effort, unfortunately, did not surpass nor equate that of the first two quarters. Atlanta got hot from behind the arc and the Lakers did little to abate their success. After getting outscored 67-46 in the final two quarters, the Hawks took the win, 114-100.
High Points Jordan Hill – Hill has been due for a big game. It’s been some time since we’ve seen him put in this type of effort. He was a perfect 8-8 from the field and 5-6 from the freethrow line for his 21 points. Add to that nine rebounds, a block and zero turnovers. He took initiative, as we’ve seen from him before, near the rim, where he waited for missed shots to convert into offense rebounds resulting in points. He scored 13 of his point total and grabbed six of his nine boards in the first half. Had he duplicated his first-half efforts, the team would have looked a lot different in the second half. Nick Young – Score. Score. Score. Young is the Lakers’ cash cow when it comes to points, because he can shoot from just about anywhere. Tonight’s efforts resulted in 23 points on 7-14 from the field, including 5-7 from behind the arc and a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line. Young was the only player on the team whose threeball was falling tonight and had the defensive effort of his team manage to transfer over to the third and fourth quarters, those 23 points wouldn’t have been produced in vain. Xavier Henry – It’s been noted, often, that Henry is not a good player on the road; that his success hangs in the Staples Center rafters. Tonight, however, he was solid on the floor, finishing with 18 points on 6-14 from the field. Like Young, Henry is able to create his own shot, and moreover, is apt at driving to the hoop to score on circus-like attempts and drawing the foul to get to the free throw line, where he went a flawless 6-6. First Half – The Lakers were solid on both ends of the floor in the first two quarters. Aside from going just 2-9 from three point land, they looked like they were headed for a win. They outrebounded the home team 28-17, beat them in points in the paint 28-20, and three players had already scored in double figures. They did a good job keeping Atlanta to just 3-11 from downtown and only five attempts at the charity stripe.
Low Points Second Half – …and then halftime was over. The Lakers lost this game in the third quarter, where they looked and played nothing like the team in the first half that led by 10 points. In the first 12 minutes following the break, the Laker defense did nothing short of dare Atlanta to shoot themselves out of their three point slump in the first half. The Hawks went 4-9 from downtown, outrebounded the Lakers 16-7, and forced four turnovers while committing none themselves. In the second half, the Lakers allowed the Hawks to shoot 52% from the field, 50% from downtown, and outrebound them 27-15. Atlanta beat their visitors 18-4 in second chance points and led by as much as 15 in the game. The Lakers had a nine-point lead some time in the final 24 minutes of the game, and couldn’t sustain the effort to extend their advantage. Kobe Bryant – Bryant was 3-6 in the first half for his six points, in addition to three assists. Unlike the game against the Bobcats where he scored 21 points, tonight would have a different, and more disappointing ending. 4-14 from the field, 0-5 from three and he missed the one free throw attempt he got. He handed out three more dimes in the second half, but he also finished with five turnovers. Eight points – that’s all Bryant could muster tonight. Pau Gasol – Following suit in unfortunate second halves was Gasol, who had an exceptionally active first half, scoring 11 points on 5-6 from the field, and grabbing nine rebounds in just under 16 minutes of playing time. His next 16 minutes, sadly, produced just five points on 2-3 from the field, and one rebound. ONE REBOUND…in 16 minutes. Gasol’s double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds Jodie Meeks – Talk about slump! In the last three games, including tonight, Meeks is a combined 5-28 from the field. Citing Bryant’s return as a cause is easy to insinuate, if not for the 28 attempts that Meeks has gotten. Most of his shots are wide open too, which makes this all the more disappointing. Shawne Williams – Except for one good game against the Pistons, where he scored 20 points on 7-13, Williams’ presence on the floor is always baffling. His minutes should be going to someone who is more effective, like Wesley Johnson. 13 minutes isn’t a lot, and it’s understandable since the roster is so depleted, but he needs to find a way to produce on a more consistent basis.
Aside from a Ryan Kelly sighting in the second half, nothing we saw from the Lakers tonight is surprising. They’ve done this to themselves a number of times this season – playing well enough for a portion of the game, and then letting up for no comprehensible reason. A .500 record may be good enough for a third seed in the Eastern Conference, but it’s barely good enough for 10th place in the West. The Lakers sit two slots further down, at 12th.
An ugly win? Yes. Does it matter how we win? Not at this moment. After a tumultuous week, which included a 3 game losing streak and a conflict between the head coach and the Lakers main post player, the Los Angeles Lakers (11-12) beat the Charlotte Bobcats to get a win they needed in the most desperate fashion.
In Saturday’s game, G Kobe Bryant resembled the Kobe Bryant prior to his injury. Bryant led the team for their Saturday win, scoring 21 points, having 7 rebounds, and 8 assists as the point guard. However, his true-telling sign that he’s back did not come from that. Bryant got C Pau Gasol’s attention by yelling at him for not handling the ball during the Lakers’ timeout in the 3rd quarter, causing at least half of Bryant’s turnovers. It showed everyone that Kobe’s on-court edge has returned. Although Gasol seems to tune out Head Coach Mike D’Antoni whenever he criticizes Gasol, Bryant knows the right buttons to press to get Gasol’s attention.
That being said, the Lakers face another tough road battle versus the Atlanta Hawks (12-12) tonight. The Hawks are led by the 2 big men C/PF Al Horford and former Utah Jazz F Paul Millsap. Horford has had a great season so far, averaging a career high in scoring at 17.7 PPG while averaging 8.3 RPG, while Millsap has performed well replacing now Pistons F Josh Smith, averaging 16.5 PPG and 8.0 RPG. Outside of Horford and Millsap, the Hawks are a well-balanced team, with each player having a solid role in their team.
PG – Jeff Teague / Kobe Bryant [Advantage: Lakers]
SG – Kyle Korver / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Even]
SF – DeMarre Carroll / Wesley Johnson[Advantage: Hawks]
PF – Paul Millsap / Jordan Hill [Advantage: Hawks]
C – Al Horford / Pau Gasol [Advantage: Even]
Notable Bench Players
Thunder: G Lou Williams, F Cartier Martin, G Shelvin Mack
Lakers: G Xavier Henry, G/F Nick Young, F Shawne Williams
Bench Advantage: Lakers
Keys for Lakers Success
Keep Guards Away From Paint: The Lakers have major problems keeping guards away from the paint, letting them get high percentage shots for themselves or an open teammate. Tonight’s matchup will not me easier, as they try to keep PG Jeff Teague, who averages 15.9 PPG and 7.9 APG, outside of the paint. Without a rim protector and a slow Pau Gasol as our center, the guards have to make the offensive players feel more uncomfortable while dribbling the ball and cause turnovers. Despite not having a point guard, guards like Meeks, Johnson, Nick Young, and Xavier Henry are all interchangeable skill-wise, so an excuse to play intense defense and show great communications cannot be plausible for this group.
Continue to Feed Gasol: Despite a poor offensive performance by Gasol on saturday, the Lakers have to continue to feed him the ball. Kobe Bryant knows, D’Antoni knows, the rest of the Lakers know, and the Laker Nation knows that for the Lakers to have any chance at success moving forward, Gasol needs to play close to an all-star level again. Hopefully with Kobe Bryant on the floor at all times with Gasol lately, we will not have to worry about Gasol complaining about not receiving any touches in his sweet spot since Kobe has audibled out of the regular offensive system to force feed Gasol the ball inside.
Stop Kyle Korver: Hawks SG Kyle Korver has always caused the Lakers defense problems, swishing three-pointers at the most inopportune time, including scoring 22 points in the Lakers last meeting vs. Hawks. Korver now owns the NBA’s all time record for the most consecutive games with a 3-point make, which now stands at 92 games. The Lakers have to go above both on-ball and off-ball screens whenever they guard Korver. Furthermore, whoever guards Korver should not worry about helping off of Korver since everyone on the Hawks know to rely on him whenever he has an open 3-pointer. Watch for Korver to make the Lakers pay again if their attention slips again at paying attention to Korver at all times.
With Bryant getting his mojo back and with positive momentum carrying the Lakers, they have a good shot at beating the Hawks tonight. However, the Lakers have to play with a lot of effort tonight on the defensive end to prevent any easy buckets or a wide open three-point shot from Kyle Korver. While this game will be another low-scoring outing by both teams, the Lakers now have the cleaner in Kobe Bryant, which should propel the Lakers to another nail-biting victory.
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 December 15-21, over their 66-year history.
December 16, 2009
Kobe Bryant lifted the Lakers in overtime with a buzzer-beating jump-shot over Charlie Bell to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 107-106 in Milwaukee. Bryant led the Lakers with 39 points in 50 minutes of action, while Pau Gasol had a monster game with 26 points and 22 rebounds.
December 19, 2003
Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning, buzzer-beater at the end of regulation, when the Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets by a score of 101-99 at the Staples Center. Bryant’s fade-away over Jon Barry counted for two of his 13 points on the day. Shaquille O’Neal led Los Angeles with 26 points in the win.
December 20, 2001
Lakers’ play-by-play announcer Chick Hearn missed his first broadcast in 36 years and 3,338 games, when the Lakers took on the Houston Rockets in Texas. At this time, Hearn was recovering from cardiac bypass surgery, but returned to the booth later in the 2001-02 season. Hearn’s last broadcast occurred during Game 4 of the 2002 NBA Finals, when the Lakers beat the New Jersey Nets to win their third straight NBA Championship. Hearn is known for coining popular basketball phrases such as “slam dunk,” “air ball,” and “no harm, no foul.”
December 21, 1980
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored a season-high 42 points to surpass 25,000 career points, in a 135-102 Lakers victory over the San Antonio Spurs. On this date, Abdul-Jabbar became just the fifth player in NBA history to reach the 25,000-point milestone.
December 21, 1985
The Lakers won their NBA-best 24th game of the season, raising their record to 24-3, when they defeated the Washington Bullets 96-84. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led the scoring attack with 29 points, while Magic Johnson followed suit with 15 points and 13 rebounds. The Lakers finished the 1985-86 regular season with 62 wins, making it one of 11 seasons in team history with 60 or more victories.
December 14, 2013 — 4:00 PM (PST)
Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
After a disappointing, albeit expected blowout loss vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers (10-12) look to bounce back tonight vs. Charlotte Bobcats (10-13) and return to their winning ways. Once again, the Lakers come into tonight’s game without a point guard. The three Lakers point guards, PG Steve Blake, PG Steve Nash, and PG Jordan Farmar, all expect to miss games for the foreseeable future due to various injuries. G Kobe Bryant, who once again will start the point guard position, looks to continue to keep his teammates involved and not prioritize as high on scoring.
More importantly, the Lakers defense has been atrocious to say the least. They let Toronto Raptors C Amir Johnson, who doesn’t have any low post moves whatsoever, score a career high 32 points of 14-17 shooting without any resistance, let Phoenix Suns PG Goran Dragic, who also scored a career high 31 points, and PG Eric Bledsoe run around in circles around the Lakers defense, and let the Oklahoma City Thunder run the Lakers out of the building scoring 122 points.
Meanwhile, the Charlotte Bobcats have players who can cause a lot of problems for the Lakers again, especially on the defensive end. PG Kemba Walker and former Utah Jazz C Al Jefferson lead the Bobcats team who has shown improvement and would be the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference if season ended today. Walker, who led the Connecticut Huskies to a NCAA Championship in 2011, leads the team in scoring at 17.0 PPG while dishing out 4.5 APG, while Jefferson brings a veteran presence to a team that has been lacking that asset for years, averaging 15.1 PPG and 9.2 RPG. To close out the 4th quarter, we expect to see a combination of former Laker PG Ramon Sessions and Kemba Walker to finish out the game in back court, which hopefully would not cause the Lakers defense as much turmoil as the Phoenix Suns’ back court of Dragic and Bledsoe
SF – Jeffrey Taylor / Wesley Johnson[Advantage: Even]
PF – Josh McRoberts / Jordan Hill [Advantage: Lakers]
C – Al Jefferson / Pau Gasol [Advantage: Even]
Notable Bench Players
Thunder: G Ramon Sessions, F/C Cody Zeller, G Ben Gordon
Lakers: G Xavier Henry, G/F Nick Young, F Shawne Williams
Keys for Lakers Success
Keep Guards Away From Paint: The Lakers have major problems keeping guards away from the paint, letting them get high percentage shots for themselves or an open teammate. Without a rim protector and a slow Pau Gasol as our center, the guards have to make the offensive players feel more uncomfortable while dribbling the ball and cause turnovers. Despite not having a point guard, guards like Meeks, Johnson, Nick Young, and Xavier Henry are all interchangeable skill-wise, so an excuse to play intense defense and show great communications cannot be plausible for this group.
Get Pau Gasol Involved: Who knows what the fallout will be from the drama between Gasol and Lakers Head Coach Mike D’Antoni will become moving forward. However, if D’Antoni meant to press a button to jump-start Gasol at least on the offensive end, it might have worked. Offensively, Gasol scored 19 points off 6-11 shooting, the first time Gasol shot over 50% from the field since they played the Brooklyn Nets on November 27th. With Bryant continuing to get his body reconditioned to regain his form as an elite scorer, he seems more interested in jump starting Gasol, evidenced by Bryant’s 13 assists. Bryant knows, D’Antoni knows, the rest of the Lakers know, and the Laker Nation knows that for the Lakers to have any chance at success moving forward, Gasol needs to play close to an all-star level again.
Hopefully a back to back game, especially for Bryant and Gasol, would not be an issue, since they each only played 23 minutes. After an embarrassing loss vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, I expect the Lakers to play with effort and efficiency and find a way to close out the Bobcats in a closely contested game tonight.
The Lakers had a good start; got off to a 13-7 lead early in the first quarter. Unfortunately, good starts don’t always have good endings, especially when everything in between is nothing but awful.
After a timeout by OKC early in the game, the chance to win was as good as gone for the visitors. No combination of players on the floor seemed to produce anything to match the Thunder, not even an appearance by Chris Kaman, who racked up a pile of DNP-Coach’s Decision statuses the last few weeks.
Kobe Bryant sat on the bench with a blank look on his face in the fourth quarter. His team, depleted due to injury (yet again), was down 30 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was an inevitable end though, was it not? Who didn’t think the Lakers would get stomped by a team who has a 17-4 record coming into tonight’s game? And it was a stomping; a 122-97 type stomping.
High Points Kobe Bryant – His final stat line is the oddest it will ever look. Four points on 2-6 from the field, zero free throw attempts, zero threes attempted and 13 assists. Obviously, this isn’t the stat line that has helped Bryant win games in his career, but he was charged to do a job, and he did it. The seven turnovers aside, he was asked to play a facilitator role, and facilitated in the form of 13 dimes in 23 minutes of playing time. Pau Gasol – He’s been complaining about running the offense through the inside again; through him, and Mike D’Antoni said that Gasol could have the post if he wanted. He went 6-10 for his 14 points tonight, but like we’ve desired from Gasol the last few years, he really could have done more. Bench – Win or lose, the bench seems to be the most consistent part of the Lakers’ play this season, regardless of how often the members off the pine change. Tonight they outscored OKC’s bench 51-45, led by Nick Young’s 17 points on 6-13, 4-7 from behind the arc; and Xavier Henry’s 15 points. Henry got to the free throw line 16 times.
Low Points Free Throws – The Lakers got to the line eight more times than OKC, but missed almost half of their attempts. 18-31 from the charity stripe compared to the Thunder’s near-perfect 20-23. Rebounds – A 59-41 disparity on the glass. The rebounding has been a real issue for this Laker team. In the good ol’ days (when the Lakers were at the top of the heap), rebounding was a high priority, because it reflected something simple, yet significant – effort. The Laker big men – Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre and Kaman – combined for 20 rebounds, and the remaining seven players combined for just 21. Sacre led the team with eight. Threeball – The Lakers are “lucky” that OKC shot as badly from behind the arc (8-25) as they did (7-25). Otherwise, that 30 point lead in the fourth quarter might’ve been much larger. Jodie Meeks, who was the Lakers’ leading scorer and one of the most efficient from three on the team, went just 2-7 from downtown tonight and Wes Johnson just 1-6. Turnovers – 19 turnovers turned into 31 points for OKC.
The Lakers needed to play a near-perfect game in order to compete with the Thunder. Looking at the stat sheet, there were areas that OKC did not completely dominate. Points in the paint were just 56-50 (OKC), second chance points just 14-19 (again, OKC), and the Lakers even outscored the Thunder 22-18 in fast break points. There were, however, just too many low points.
The Lakers allowed OKC to finish the first quarter 38-28, but in the quarters thereafter, their point-totals were identical – 28-23. As delusional as it is to even think this, had the Lakers’ good start lasted longer than four and a half minutes, this game might’ve had a less severe ending.
They are short-handed, to say the very least. It’s bad enough to be missing three rotation players at one time, but to lose three in the same position? What cruel world would allow a team to have such a positive start, only to take it away so abruptly 25% into the season?
Tomorrow they get another crack at a victory, but so far, the Kobe return has been 0-3.
December 13, 2013 — 5:00 PM (PST)
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
TV: TWC SportsNet / ESPN / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
The Los Angeles Lakers (10-11) make their first stop in their four-game, five-day road trip against Oklahoma City Thunder (16-4) after another very disappointing loss vs. Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. The Lakers come into tonight’s game with major issues. According to LA Times Bill Plaschke, the tension between C Pau Gasol and Head Coach Mike D’Antoni leaked into the public yesterday after they both made very critical comments against each other to Plaschke. Furthermore, the Lakers are without a Point Guard for tonight’s game. Lakers starting PG Steve Blake is now out 6 weeks due to a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, joining PG Steve Nash and PG Jordan Farmar on the injury list.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder have been breezing through their schedule so far this season, going 11-1 their last 12 games. The Thunder are led by the 1-2 punch of PG Russell Westbrook and SF Kevin Durant. Westbrook has recovered well from a meniscus tear in his right knee, averaging 21.9 PPG, 6.4 APG, and 4.9 RPG . Meanwhile, Durant has had another typical superstar season, average a NBA leading 28.4 PPG and 8.4 RPG. The speed and athleticism of Westbrook and the length of Durant will cause a tremendous amount of problems tonight for the Lakers, who don’t have any ideal players to guard these 2 superstars. In fact, Bryant, who still tries to return to game shape, will now have to match up vs. Westbrook at the point, according to coach Mike D’Antoni, due to the depleted guard situation for the Lakers. Durant and Westbrook look to lead their team not only to tonight’s win, but to make another run at an NBA championship together.
As a result of Blake’s recent injury, Mike D’Antoni has now inserted G/F Wesley Johnson starting lineup, while F Jordan Hill replaces F Shawne Williams in the starting lineup. Johnson will guard Durant tonight and he looks to use his own athleticism and quickness to keep Durant away from the basket and force him to settle for contested jump shots.
PG – Russell Westbrook / Kobe Bryant [Advantage: Even]
SF – Kevin Durant / Wesley Johnson[Advantage: Thunder]
PF – Serge Ibaka / Jordan Hill [Advantage: Thunder]
C – Kendrick Perkins / Pau Gasol [Advantage: Lakers]
Notable Bench Players
Thunder: G Reggie Jackson, F/C Nick Collison, G Jeremy Lamb
Lakers: G Xavier Henry, G/F Nick Young, F Shawne Williams
How Lakers Can Win
3-point Shooting: The Lakers have to spread the floor tonight and shoot a lot of threes to have any shot at marginalizing the superior talent of the Thunder. With a lack of a point guard for the Lakers tonight. The Lakers are currently 4th in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage at a very high 39.7%. The Lakers have defeated great teams like Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers by making a lot of shots from behind the arc.
Bench Play: The Lakers have a clear advantage in one aspect vs. Thunder: the bench. For the Lakers to have any shot at winning tonight, they would have to depend on the bench players to have another productive night. Leading the NBA in bench scoring at 47.8 PPG, the bench has won the majority of the games this season. The bench is lead by G/F Nick Young, who is 2nd in scoring for the Lakers at 14.3 PPG.
Kobe Bryant’s Passing: When the Lakers had their one win vs. Thunder last season, Kobe Bryant chose to create shots not for himself, but his teammates, catching the Thunder very off guard. Bryant dished out 14 assists and only shot 12 times to dissect the Thunder defense that clearly focused on Kobe. Unfortunately, the Thunder will not have to have all 5 of their players on the floor focus on Bryant since he still tries to regain his superior conditioning after returning from a torn achilles.
Let’s face it Laker Nation, the Lakers will need a miracle to defeat the Thunder tonight. The Thunder will try to turn this game into another track meet, similar to what the Suns did vs. the Lakers last game, forcing the Lakers to play catch-up for the entire game and run them out of the gym.
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.