Friday, November 28, 2014
Blog Page 26

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Photo courtesy of Jose Luis Villegas, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Jose Luis Villegas, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Jose Luis Villegas, Getty Images

There’s a headline we saw almost never (okay, maybe just never) last season – the Lakers led with their defense. And Coach Mike D’Antoni, for all the jokes he endures about being a purely offensively-minded coach, was emphatic in his show of disdain of the team’s lack of defense, spurring the great run in the end.

The Kings led by as much as 10 points, and won every quarter until the fourth. Going into the final quarter, the Lakers were down by just four points, and thanks to their intensified defense in the final stretch, they got the win, 106-100.

High Points
Team Effort – Highlighting a single player who impacted the game most is a losing battle. The Lakers have been so good at maintaining a balanced effort, especially in wins, that singling out one player is, at best, unfair. Again, they had multiple contributors tonight. Six players scored in double figures, every player who saw the floor, except for Shawne Williams, handed out an assist and everyone worked the glass (despite getting outrebounded 51-36). Leading the way offensively were Pau Gasol and Jodie Meeks, who each scored 19 points. Meeks went 5-6 from behind the arc, including two key threes in the waning minutes to seal the victory. The Laker bench, despite missing Jordan Farmar, still scored 31 points playing just four players led by SwaggyP’s 14 points, while the Kings’ reserves, having played six players, scored 37 points combined. Leading the way around the Laker offense was none other than Steve Blake, who raked in 10 assists and has contributed to the success of this team the way we all hoped, and still hope, Steve Nash would/will. Blake’s bounce passes leading to easy buckets has become his staple and his teammates are ready to cut when they know the pass is bouncing their way. Robert Sacre, getting his first start this season, was effective in his debut, chipping in 11 points on 5-7 from the field, grabbed five rebounds and blocked two shots. All that energy cheering from the sidelines was finally put to use out on the floor. A nice stat displayed during D’Antoni’s post-game interview sums up the team’s collective efforts thus far – the Lakers have handed out 20+ assists in 12 consecutive games, which is the longest streak in the league.
Defense – The Lakers got to an early lead to begin the game, but failed to stop the Kings until the final quarter. Small and speedy Isaiah Thomas had 14 first-half points and DeMarcus Cousins put in 13 himself. They gave up 12 points from nine turnovers in the first two quarters, and allowed Sacramento to score too easily at the rim, with points in the paint 26-16 in favor of the home team. Midway through the third quarter, however, the Lakers bared down their defense. Cousins went just 2-10 for his seven second half points, and in 10 minutes of second half action, Thomas went 0-4. The Kings’ 17 turnovers turned into 24 Laker points. Sacramento was forced into 10 turnovers in the fourth quarter alone. Leading the way defensively was Wesley Johnson. He blocked Thomas’ attempt to score on a floater late in the game, and with just a minute left in the fourth, managed to steal the ball from Ben McClemore, which resulted in Young’s jumper that gave the Lakers a 103-97 lead. Of the Lakers’ 10 steals, five belonged to Johnson.
Fighting Spirit – The injury bug seems to have hit the Lakers again, but instead of players putting their heads down to mope, they’re lifting each other up, picking up the slack when they can and helping their teammates move along. With both Nash and Farmar out, Blake played 39 minutes tonight, and despite being injured himself (sore elbow on his shooting arm), he did what he always does – run the floor. Going 5-13 was probably not his plan, but the 10 assists have become his regular expectation.

Low Points
The Lakers put in a great effort, despite falling behind. It’s hard to fault them after a win that took as much heart as tonight’s did.

Despite the inability to close in the first few games of the season, what the Lakers have developed over time is this “never say die” attitude. They may be down, but they don’t count themselves out and it begins and ends with how much they enjoy playing for each other.

As soon as Nick Young threw that behind-the-back pass to Pau Gasol for a top-of-the-key jumper, the Kings were gonners, and not just because of one Laker. The Kings fell at the hands of Jodie Meeks’ three pointers, Steve Blake’s assists, Wesley Johnson’s steals, Robert Sacre’s blocks, Gasol’s rebounds and Young’s confidence. With Kobe Bryant set to return to the active roster in Sunday’s game against Toronto, the Lakers can give their opponents another reason to fall.

Box Score

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Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Phtoo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Sacre, former 60th pick of the draft, aka Mr. Irrelevant, will start for the Lakers tonight in Sacramento.

Sacre improved his shooting and defensive skills quite a bit over the summer, and turned himself from a fringe player to a legitimate NBA big man. In his most recent game with the Lakers, Robert shot 5-8 for 12 points. He added 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals without recording a turnover in 24 impressive minutes.

Sacre replaces Jordan Hill in the starting lineup, and coach D’Antoni hopes to Hill will be more successful as a spark plug off the bench.

Robert has certainly earned his opportunity, and Mike D’Antoni is giving it to him. Now Sacre needs to take advantage facing a tough Kings frontcourt featuring DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson. Tip off at 7pm on Time Warner Cable SportsNet.

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DeMarcus Cousins shoots over Pau Gasol.
Source: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

December 6, 2013 — 7:00 PM (PST)
Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA
TV: Time Warner Cable SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Los Angeles Lakers (9-9) travel to the California state capital for a very quick trip to play their inter-state rival Sacramento Kings (4-12), who currently have a 5 game losing streak coming into tonight’s game. The Kings’ losing streak clearly does not represent how they have been playing recently; they have lost their last 3 games by a combined 10 points versus 3 very tough Western Conference teams: Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, and Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Kings are led by C DeMarcus Cousins, one of very few talented big man in the NBA.  Cousins, who returns to the floor after missing last game versus Thunder due to a sprained ankle, comes into tonight’s game averaging a career high in points and rebounds, averaging a double-double 21.7 PPG and 9.6 RPG.

The Lakers, who should play their last game without superstar G Kobe Bryant, come into Sleep Train Arena after not playing a game since Sunday. The Lakers lost their last game vs. Portland Trailblazers, who held off a miraculous comeback attempt against the Lakers bench, led by G Xavier Henry, who played point guard and scored 27 points.

Key Matchup: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Pau Gasol

This game will once again come down to the battle of the bigs, notably between Cousins and Lakers C Pau Gasol. In their last matchup, Cousins scored 17 points and had 8 rebounds, while Gasol and the Lakers had the upper hand, scoring 20 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double.

Cousins possesses a combination of strength and skills necessary to score versus any big man who guard him. Cousins looks to become a more mature player to turn around the Kings franchise and eventually lead the Kings to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

Gasol, on the other hand, showcases a variety of post moves that comes at a premium in today’s NBA. Gasol, who has struggled with conditioning and leg issues throughout this season, looks to return to bounce back from a terrible game after the Lakers have not played since Sunday’s game.

Both players have been battling sprained ankles. Cousins, as previously mentioned, missed Tuesday night’s game vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, while Gasol struggled mightly playing through a sprained ankle vs. Trailblazers, scoring only 6 points on 3-15 shooting.

If Gasol can out duel Cousins and return to a performance level he showed the last 8 games before Sunday’s game, the Lakers will have a great chance defeat the Kings, despite this game being a “trap-game” especially right before Kobe’s season debut.

X-Factors

Kings: F Derrick Williams- who joined the Kings last week after the Kings acquired him from Minnessota Timberwolves for F Luc Richard M’Bah Moute, seems to have found a new home in his first 3 games for the Kings. After falling out of the Timberwolves rotation, Williams has started his first 3 games for the Kings, averaging 9.7 PPG and 4.3 RPG. Although Williams has shown flashes of great skills and talent, he has been very inconsistent so far in his career, which caused him to get traded from Minnesota.

Lakers: G Xavier Henry - who filled in at the Point Guard position to replace PG Jordan Farmar, surprised everyone with how well he handled the ball. As previously noted, Henry scored 27 points on 9-12 shooting. Without a healthy PG for tonight’s game, Henry looks to fill a major hole again and handle the ball the majority of the time. Although Henry has performed will this year due to his aggressive nature to drive to the basket and playing solid defense, Henry’s lack of handling the ball too well with his off-hand and his ability to pass the ball while driving to the basket might be a concern. Hopefully, Henry can hide his deficiencies again and perform as well tonight as he played vs. Trailblazers.

Projected Starters

PG – Greivis Vasquez / Steve Blake
SG – Ben McLemore / Jodie Meeks
SF – Derrick Williams / Wesley Johnson
PF – Jason Thompson / Robert Sacre
C – DeMarcus Cousins / Pau Gasol

Bottom Line

Although the Lakers easily defeated the Kings in their last game, 100-86, without a healthy point guard available for tonight’s game vs. Kings, this matchup in Sacramento will not be as easy. Most importantly, the Lakers do not have a healthy point guard. Steve Nash is still recovering from nerve issues and PG Jordan Farmar is now out for 4 weeks after tearing his left hamstring. Starting PG Steve Blake, who will play tonight, is currently battling a hyperextended right elbow, which will limit his shooting abilities tonight. Hopefully Henry can hold his own again vs. Kings and run the Lakers offense very well without committing any turnovers.

Prediction

Kings: 96-88

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Image: Jeff Gross | Getty Images
Image: Getty Images
Image: Getty Images

Sunday is the day.

Kobe Bryant and the Lakers posted a video on their respective Facebook pages Friday announcing the return of Bryant.

The video, titled “Season of Legends”, continues building the already crazy hype around Bryant’s inevitable return from his torn Achilles.

The Lakers play the Toronto Raptors at STAPLES Center on December 8th and, according to the dramatic video below, expect to have #24 back in the lineup.

VIDEO: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10153631619540341

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Image: Andrew D. Bernstein | NBAE

Kobe Bryant sat down with former teammate Gary Payton for a quick 1-on-1 on FOX Sports Live. Payton asked Kobe everything from his health, his contract extension, to the Clippers and ended with a rapid fire of who Kobe thinks is the best in the league… None of us should be surprised by his answer…

Kobe’s return to the court is still up in the air, but ESPN’s Dave McMenamin tweeted earlier that his comeback just days away:

With Kobe ruling himself out for Friday’s matchup against the Kings in Sacramento, a Sunday return at Staples against the Toronto Raptors could be a possibility, McMenamin reports:

 

 

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Photo Credit: Mike Bresnahan

 

Photo Credit: Mike Bresnahan
Photo Credit: Mike Bresnahan

While he is not playing Friday night, Kobe Bryant feels “close” to a return, agreeing that he is gauging his health with a “game to game” mentality.

Kobe sat down with ESPN’s Dave McMenamin Wednesday and discussed his recovery, the “glitches” in ESPN’s player ranking system, and the process of self-discovery that he had following his Achilles injury.

Kobe talking to the media about a return being very close is a good sign. With the Lakers standing at 9-9, they’ve certainly hung tough without Kobe. Once he returns, Laker Nation will have a chance to see this team’s real capabilities.

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Photo Credit: Lang Whitaker
Photo Credit: Lang Whitaker
Photo Credit: Lang Whitaker

Nike and Kobe Bryant unveiled the Kobe 9 signature shoe today. For the first time since before the Zoom Kobe IV, Bryant’s signature shoe will not be a low top. In fact the Kobe 9 has a higher top than most basketball shoes. While Bryant’s previous low cut sneakers were inspired by soccer shoes, Kobe and Nike have taken inspiration from Manny Pacquiao and boxing shoes to create the new Kobe 9.

Check out some photos below:

The stitches on the back of the shoe represent the stitches in Kobe’s Achilles.

Here’s a photo of Kobe rocking the 9s in practice today.

The shoe will be available to the public on 2/8/14, and will retail for  $225.

What do you think, Laker Nation? Do you like the new style of Kobe’s kicks?

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Photo Credit: Getty Images
Photo by: Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Photo by: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

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:

#10:

“This is Hollywood nights, baby. It’s my life, baby. Hollywood. I like these all-black jerseys. It’s mean.”

Nick Young on the Lakers’ new black alternative uniform, via ESPN

#9:

“I think he’s really matured. He’s got great confidence in his game. He makes better decisions, I believe. I think he’s more of a point guard now than he was before. I’ve really enjoyed his improvement as a player.”

Pau Gasol on Jordan Farmar, via ESPN

#8:

“It’s not what you do offensively. Most people look at the box score and see 1-for-5 and they go, ‘Oh, s—.’ I think his defense, his rebounding, his effort, his shadow — you know, when we press the whole court it gives the whole team more of an energy boost. So, some of the things you just can’t look at the stat sheet and say good or bad. He just infuses energy into the team and that’s what we need. I think he’s been doing that. Now, you add on five or six 3s that he makes? Now he’s had a great game.”

Mike D’Antoni on Shawne Williams, via ESPN

#7:

“This team is so great with one another that we look for each other and you never know who is going to be the high scorer for the game and who is going to be the guy every night. I think once we add Kobe to it, it’s the cherry on top.”

Robert Sacre, via ESPN

#6:

“He can give us something that we need. He gives us great interior defense. He’s a big body. He’s worked his behind off and he’s getting more athletic. We’ve been talking about it for two weeks — he can play. I’ve got to have enough courage to go ahead and [play him] and he earned to play again.”

Mike D’Antoni on Robert Sacre, via ESPN

#5:

“You expect that out of a young team and a pretty new team. We don’t expect to have a great record on the road at this point.”

Pau Gasol, after the Lakers loss to the Wizards in Washington, via the Daily News

#4:

“He should have taken the money. God damn, Kobe, take the money. Take it and run. He should have let me negotiate for him. I would have said, ‘Hey, Mitch, c’mon, make it happen. Make it happen.’ The standard cut is 4 percent, but I would have taken 10. He’s a five-time champion, is hungry, has a killer instinct. Everybody has flaws. We all know this. Even the greatest person, except Gandhi; I don’t think Gandhi had flaws. Did Gandhi have flaws? What about the Dali Lama? They had no flaws. So there are a few people with no flaws.Kobe has a few flaws, but he has some good things about him also. He has a killer instinct and sometimes he channels it in a way that’s not relatable. But at the same time he has this drive that he wants to win.”

Metta World Peace on Kobe Bryant’s new contract, via ESPN

#3:

“I thought I was playing pretty well before I got sick and then I come back and things are kind of changed for me. I didn’t plan on getting sick, it just happened. And then at the start of the regular season I thought I played pretty well and then we change all the lineups around. I haven’t had any conversations about it. I just kind of keep going with it however it goes. I don’t know, what am I going to say? ‘Play me more’ or ‘Let me play’? I mean, if [coach D’Antoni] wants to play me, he’ll play me. He knows what I can do. Maybe he doesn’t know what I can do. I don’t know. I think he’s just kind of going with what’s been working the last four or five games. It’s obviously frustrating for me, but I’m just going to keep being positive and if I got to be a cheerleader, I’ll be a cheerleader. I’m not trying to steal nobody’s minutes. That’s not my thing. I was told certain things, but, it doesn’t always work out that way. I came here for a reason and I want the opportunity to fulfill that.”

Chris Kaman, via ESPN

#2:

“Obviously, [Kobe Bryant] took a pay cut. A substantial pay cut. A lot of people look at it and say, ‘Well, that’s not a huge financial pay cut,’ but it was a negotiation that we felt like was pretty quickly accomplished and fair on both sides. (…) We have not had any discussions with Pau [Gasol]. I’m sure I will. Where that leads, I’m not sure right now. A lot has to do with different variables. I’m not saying something won’t be considered. I’m not saying something will be. I’m just saying it’s not something that has come up.”

Lakers’ General Manager Mitch Kupchak, via the Daily News

#1:

“As far as me, or the team which is I’m most concerned about, how can you add other pieces around [Kobe Bryant] and valuable pieces so we can win a title. But that’s the only concern. I’m not good with the mathematics and the numbers of the equation here, but that’s the only concern. Generally speaking, I guess we all at some point have to make sacrifices. But we’ll see. I don’t know what my situation is going to be or the team interest going forward. That hasn’t been expressed to me as much as I’m sure it has been expressed to (Bryant) and shown to him at this point. So, I’m just going to focus on continuing to play.”

Pau Gasol, via ESPN

What is your favorite one? Do you think any quotations got snubbed? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Today, Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi are two of the world’s most revered athletes, and it makes sense to pit them against each other in a new commercial ad for Turkish Airlines.

Turkish Airlines sponsors both Messi and Bryant and putting those two athletes in the same commercial is sure to attract more business for the airline.

Check out the video below and let me know what you think about it?

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Image: Getty Images
Getty Images
Image: Getty Images

No one knows when Kobe Bryant will return from his torn left Achilles tendon. No one knows how Kobe will play when he returns from his Achilles tendon except for Kobe himself…as well as an NBA Hall of Famer who went through almost the exact same process as Kobe.

Dominique Wilkins knows.

Wilkins, known as “The Human Highlight Film”, tore his Achilles tendon at the age of 32 while playing for the Atlanta Hawks. Skeptics didn’t think a player whose game was predicated on athleticism could come back from such a crippling injury and still be an effective player at the highest level. Wilkins came back the next year and had one of his best all-around seasons while proving all the doubters wrong.

So what exactly fueled Dominique Wilkins to come back even better?

While appearing as a guest on ESPN’s “First Take”, Wilkins shed some light on what motivated him throughout his rehab: “I was very determined. You had all the doubters saying, you know, ‘He’s done. It’s over with. He’s too old. And if he comes back, he won’t be the same’. And I remember saying, you know what, not only am I going to come back, but I’m going to be better than ever.”

Sound familiar?

Wilkins echoed the same sentiment that many NBA legends have stated before regarding Bryant, “Kobe, he’s got a competitive nature that you just don’t see anymore. So I think he’ll come back and he’ll do well”

Kobe will be entering his 18th season in the NBA. How in the world is he going to be better than he was before? According to Wilkins, Kobe is already ahead of the curve: “That Achilles tendon injury forces you to play on the ground as well as in the air and that means becoming more fundamentally sound. And Kobe being a fundamentally sound guy anyway, it’s going to be easy for him to make the adjustment.”

The fundamentals will obviously be there for Kobe, but what about his explosiveness? “The explosion will be there,” claimed Wilkins, “especially if you really rehab it and strengthen it like you should.”

 

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Lakers fans will be happy with today’s news coming out of practice regarding Kobe Bryant. #24 practiced with the team and went full speed today in their scrimmage.  Interesting to note that Kobe was seen as being more of a facilitator rather than looking for his own shot.   He was able to cut, go around screens, and did not look limited.

What was the most exciting part of the scrimmage? The ending. That’s when Kobe finished the game with a dunk, showing that he is comfortable exploding off the Achilles.

The next step is to see how Kobe’s Achilles responds after practice and tomorrow, when the Lakers practice again.  It’s positive news for the Black Mamba as he nears his return to the court.

Pau Gasol was on the floor as well so it does not look like he will miss any time with his sprained right ankle.  He commented on Kobe’s day of practice, offering positive words for Lakers’ fans.

In another significant injury update, Steve Nash returned to the floor today and practiced before the media was allowed in.  He did not participate in the 5-on-5 scrimmage because of a sore back.  From the sound of things, it was baby steps for Nash and it could be days and possibly weeks until we see him back in game action.  There’s plenty of concern from Nash and it’s important the Lakers do not rush him back to the court.

The Lakers will travel to Sacramento on Friday to take on the Kings.  Kobe’s return could not come soon enough after Jordan Farmar’s hamstring injury depleting the point guard depth.  Steve Blake practiced, despite a hyper-extended elbow, and is the lone point guard at the moment.  The expectation is that Kobe will play more of a facilitator role upon his return.

Xavier Henry also played some point guard in the scrimmage so there is a chance that if Kobe does not make his return Friday, that Henry could see some time at the back-up point guard position.

Here is the InstaVid from the Lakers of Kobe’s left-handed dunk today:

Also, Gasol had this to say on Twitter after practice.

Stay tuned with LakerNation.com for more news and injury updates!

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Image: Getty Images

Last week’s POW: Pau Gasol

This was certainly an interesting week for the Los Angeles Lakers as they had a few key players dealing with injuries which led to others having to step up.  Gasol dealt with an ailing ankle and sprained left hand which clearly had him at less than 100 percent on the court.  No one really performed at an outstanding level on a consistent basis all week but one player definitely earned player of the week honors for his powerful performance against Detroit.

Wesley Johnson

Photo Credit | Getty Images

Wesley Johnson averaged 12.3 PPG this past week adding nearly two blocks and six rebounds over that span.  Johnson’s best game was against Detroit where he torched them for 27 points on 9/11 shooting (6/7 3Pt) adding three blocks and six rebounds en route to a 106-102 road win for the Lakers.  Johnson hasn’t been a gaudy stat guy all season but this performance should stand out because without Johnson the Lakers would likely have fallen to Detroit.

Johnson has quietly made a name for himself in Los Angeles and has definitely produced greater numbers than he has in the past for his other teams. Johnson can catch fire on any given night and his scoring numbers will greatly help a .500 Lakers squad.

 

Be sure to check back next week for another player of the week!

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Courtesy: Getty Images

Tough news for the Lakers today as it was announced that Jordan Farmar‘s hamstring injury is more severe than originally expected:

Farmar has averaged 9.2 ppg and 4.4 apg in 18 games this season.  With Nash already out, this injury will affect the point guard situation as Steve Blake is the lone point guard on the roster.  With Kobe Bryant’s return on the horizon, he will help the burden of ball handling duties as he has done throughout his career but it remains to be seen how much the Lakers want Kobe to burden as he returns from the Achilles injury.

The injury happened in Sunday night’s game versus the Portland Trailblazers as Farmar was running down court but pulled up grabbing the hamstring and immediately asked to be taken out of the game.

In related injury news, Pau Gasol also had an MRI this morning on his troublesome right ankle:

It has not been said if Gasol will miss any time, but since the results are seen to be minor, do not be surprised to see Gasol on the court Friday in Sacramento versus the Kings.

Also, Steve Blake has been dealing with a hyper-extended right elbow:

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Photo courtesy of Noah Graham, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Noah Graham, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Noah Graham, Getty Images

Add this game to the top of disheartening losses this season. What a game.

The Portland Trail Blazers came into Staples Center with the second best record in the Western Conference. Naturally, the Lakers were not favored to win tonight and it appeared to be an easy game to call when the home team fell behind by 17 points halfway through the first quarter. The Lakers managed to catch up, however, going into halftime just three points down. It looked like the home team was giving themselves a chance to win…and then the third quarter came.

The Blazers outscored the Lakers 41-24. Again, it looked like they’d be taking this game all the way when they led by as much as 20 points. The Lakers, however, continued to fight, getting to within a single point with still under three minutes left in the game. Unfortunately, They couldn’t stop Portland from scoring and the single-digit deficit became more than the Lakers could overcome with so little time left, so they took the loss, 114-108.

High Points
Backcourt Brothers – The Laker guards really took this game and put it over their shoulders tonight, and it started with Xavier Henry. He contributed 27 points on 9-12 from the field and was the focal point of the Lakers’ two big runs tonight. In the first quarter, he chipped in nine points that helped fuel the come from 17 points down run. In the fourth quarter, he put in 11 points to help the team catch up from a 20-point deficit, highlighted by his four-point play. He’s so good at getting himself to the free throw line where he went 7-11 tonight, and he’s fearless at getting to the rim no matter how much traffic there is to barrel through. He finished the evening with a game-high +23. Jodie Meeks, the team’s leading scorer, put in 20 points of his own. Nick Young was the other bench player who fueled the first scoring run that got the team over the 17-point hole. He finished with 17 points on 7-14 from the field. And of course, there’s Steve Blake, who had to put in double-duty tonight when Jordan Farmar left the game in the first quarter. He finished with 13 points and nine assists.
Attitude – It would have been so easy for the Lakers to just roll over and let Portland have their way with them, but they wouldn’t let up. They came up from being behind by double digits twice in one game. It’s hard to consider moral victories, but this game really showed a lot of grit from this Lakers’ team. It’s an attitude that surely their captain, Kobe Bryant, would appreciate.

Low Points
Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill – The Blazers and the Lakers shot at about the same percentage. They had close to the same number of assists, the turnovers weren’t out of control for either team and the Lakers even blocked seven shots to the Blazers’ one. The glaring stat disparity? Rebounds. Portland outrebounded the Lakers 52-41, 15-9 on the offensive glass. While rebounding should be a team effort, the Lakers’ leading rebounders didn’t do much to help their situation, combining for just 11 boards for the whole game. Their struggles tonight may be due in large part to a sprained ankle, which each player is nursing.
Spotty Defense – Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not. And it’s hard to tell when the Lakers will decide to play any. One quarter, they’re allowing Portland to score 41 points. The next quarter, they go on a 24-5 run. Sustaining their efforts on either end of the court is this team’s weakness so far this season, and it’s cost them a lot of close, winnable games.
Chris Kaman – It’s nice to see Robert Sacre on the floor playing some significant minutes, and he was productive tonight with his 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks, but Kaman has been available to play for some time now and hasn’t seen the floor in a couple weeks. It’s not something that’s been given much attention, but with Jordan Hill playing with a sprained ankle, seems logical to bring Kaman in.
Jordan Farmar – After playing for only 56 seconds, Farmar had to leave the floor and was later diagnosed with a left hamstring strain. He left in the first quarter and never returned. Hopefully the next four days off will aid in a quick recovery.

The Lakers’ next game isn’t until Friday against the Sacramento Kings. After a weeklong road trip, it may just be what they need to recoup. Kobe Bryant is scheduled to practice with the team this week and there’s a possibility he’ll play against the Kings if the practices don’t cause any pain. Here’s hoping!

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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.