Sunday, December 21, 2014
Blog Page 30

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The Lakers start the 2013-2014 campaign going .500 with wins against the Clippers and Hawks and losses to the Warriors and Spurs. With Kobe Bryant still sitting out with his torn Achilles, Coach D’Antoni has been playing a deep rotation with 11 players getting consistent playing time. Here is the season’s first edition of Top to Bottom:

TOP

Source: Lakers.com

1. Xavier Henry

The X-Factor. An early candidate for MIP, Xavier Henry has taken the opportunity the Lakers have given him and ran with it. Averaging a little over 14 points a game, Henry has lead the Lakers in scoring in 3 out of their first 4 games. Henry has proven his ability to get to the basket and to the charity stripe and impressed the coaching staff enough to steal Nick Young’s spot as the starting small forward.

2. Pau Gasol

With Kobe still out, Pau has been the go-to guy for the Lakers and has started looking like his former self again. Pau leads the team in scoring and rebounds averaging a double-double at 16.75 points and 11 rebounds a game highlighted by Sunday night’s performance against the Hawks where he went for 16 points,  13 rebounds and knocked down the game winning free throws with 6 seconds left. With no timetable for Kobe’s return, Pau will have to keep up his productivity if the Lakers want to win.

3. Jordan Hill

Despite his lack of playing time, Jordan Hill has made an impact every time he has stepped out onto the floor. Averaging only 14 minutes a game, Hill has managed to average 6 rebounds (3.25 offensive) a game to go along with 6.25 points. Hill has been buried deep in D’Antoni’s 11 man rotation, but without his game saving offensive rebound against the Hawks, the Lakers would be looking at a measly 1-3 record instead of the 2-2 record they have now. It seems to me that his hustle and energy deserves more minutes than he’s getting.

Honorable Mention: Jordan Farmar

I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen by Jordan Farmar so far this season. The Laker bench unit has been more productive than the starters and Farmar is at the point of that squad. It’s apparent that he has grown as a player and leader since the last time he wore the Laker uniform. Farmar has averaged 10 points and 4.5 assists a game while playing 22 minutes a game.

BOTTOM

Source: Lakers.com

1. Shawne Williams

Shawne Williams has been kind of a non-factor in the starting line up. Williams has been averaging only 3.25 points and 3.75 rebounds in 15.5 minutes a game in his first season with the Lakers. I haven’t seen anything that really impresses me about Williams on the floor and think his minutes could easily go to Hill and Kaman who have been more productive. I’m not exactly sure why he’s in the starting line up, but hopefully he’ll turn things around and prove me wrong.

2. Steve Blake

Steve Blake has had a rough start this season. Starting at the shooting guard position, Blake has only averaged 6.25 points shooting only 27% from the field. Blake’s best game of the season was in Golden State when he took over for Nash at the point where he scored 10 points but still only shot 30% from the field.

3. Nick Young

Nick Young hasn’t had a terrible week, but he hasn’t had an impressive one either. Young averaged 9.5 points on only 35% from the field. We saw a spark in Young’s game when he was moved to the bench against the Hawks for Xavier Henry. Young tied his season high of 13 points and had season highs in assists and rebounds with 4 each. I like Young coming off the bench and hope he can continue what we saw Sunday night.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

One week into the NBA season, the Lakers stand at .500 with a record of 2-2. Following a trump of the Clippers in the season opener, the Lakers were blown out the next night in Golden State. In the third game, the Lakers lost a 15-point lead to San Antonio and got their first loss at home. Next, they were able to hold off an Atlanta comeback in the fourth quarter behind big plays by Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill in the final seconds of the game. A roller coaster so far, to say the least.

Last season, after starting 0-3, the Lakers needed 10 games to hit the .500 mark. That team came into the season with very high expectations after the off-season acquisitions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. The ESPN Summer Forecast ranked the Lakers 2nd in the West. This year’s team, however, was ranked 12th in the same standings, which prompted this tweet from Kobe Bryant. The Lakers are expected to win 30-something games this season and were given a 4.2 percent chance of making the playoffs in ESPN The Magazine’s NBA preview.

Perhaps the low expectations are fueling the Lakers’ motivation. Despite playing without Bryant, this Lakers squad has shown hints of greatness in the first four games. In the season opener, the bench scored 76 points, allowing all five starters to rest the entirety of the fourth quarter en route to a victory over the Clippers. Reserve Xavier Henry led the team in scoring with 22 points.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
Photo Credit: Getty Images

The biggest surprise so far for the Lakers has been the play of Henry, who was signed by the team in September. Henry earned a spot in the starting lineup in Sunday’s game against the Hawks, replacing Nick Young. In that game, the Lakers shot 8-of-13 from the three-point line in the first half. In the second half, however, the Lakers only made 1-of-12 shots from the arc. They continued to shoot from the perimeter unsuccessfully and turned the ball over 9 times, allowing the Hawks to make a comeback and tie the game. The Lakers got away with a win after Gasol hit two free throws following an offensive rebound by Jordan Hill, then blocked Kyle Korver’s attempt on the other side.

The Lakers cannot afford to get comfortable with leads, especially without Bryant, one of the best closers in the game. They’ve done it in the last two games, allowing the opposition to get back in the game. Against San Antonio, the Lakers were down four with 20.9 seconds remaining in the game when Jodie Meeks turned the ball over, resulting in a San Antonio fast break dunk. Bryant would normally be the one with the ball in his hands in that situation. But with Kobe out indefinitely, this inexperienced squad has fewer options at the end of games. For this reason, the Lakers need to maintain the same level of energy and focus throughout the entire game.

For now, every Laker needs to contribute in order to keep this team afloat until Bryant returns. They won’t be shooting 48 percent from three, like they did against the Clippers, every game. It’s important to note that the Lakers have one of the best offensive big men in the league in Gasol. When the threes aren’t falling, Gasol will be able to create offense. Whether he takes the ball to the hoop or finds an open teammate, Gasol is a reliable offensive weapon which the Lakers have yet to exploit.

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Electric.IMG_1727

There are few other words to describe the ambiance of the Lakers’ Opening Night win over the Los Angeles Clippers than that. Not only was this game one of the most exhilarating in recent years, but I also had the special privilege of enjoying it from the most exclusive spot in the arena: Hyde Lounge STAPLES Center.

Hyde Lounge STAPLES Center is by far the best value for any Lakers fans going out to a game. With affordable ticket packages, a full service bar, in-seat waitress service and the most comfortable seating in the arena, this experience is simply unbeatable.

On Opening Night, the Lakers started out slow, just staying within reach of the high-powered Clippers at halftime. L.A. fans, notorious for arriving late to sporting events, just finished trickling into Hyde Lounge by the start of the third quarter.

A closely contested third and all of Hyde Lounge was completely engaged with the action on the court by the start of the fourth quarter.

The Lakers began the fourth down by four points. The bench unit, however, quickly erased that deficit.

A few nifty moves by reserves Jordan Farmar and Xavier Henry got the Lakers within striking distance, but a Jodie Meeks and-one layup really ignited the crowd.

Fans in Hyde Lounge went wild; high-fives were dished out to anyone and everyone within reach. Lakers basketball was fun again, and those within Hyde Lounge were taking full advantage of this exciting revival.

The Lakers’ bench continued their quick attacks on both ends of the floor, clearly catching the Clippers off guard. A barrage of three-pointers (14 threes in total that night) and a career high 22 points from Henry later, the Lakers earned their deciding Opening Night victory over their co-tenant Clippers, 116-103.

Basking in the Lakers’ victory and falling streamers wasn’t all, however.

Now, the night really began. At Hyde Lounge, the experience doesn’t end with the final buzzer. As if an exhilarating victory over the Clippers was not enough, Hyde Lounge transforms into a full-fledged nightclub after each game.

Curtains are drawn after the final buzzer and a full service bar, live DJ and all that the world-famous Hyde Lounge has to offer is unlocked. For those looking for that “nightlife” experience, the post-game festivities are perfect considering you don’t even need to leave Staples Center to hit the club, and you get to beat all of that horrendous L.A. traffic after the game.

With the Lakers’ regular season now just beginning, I highly recommend attending future games in style at Hyde Lounge. Rather than buying a ticket to just watch the game in the 300 levels, you can instead receive a complete experience for just about the same price.

With Hyde Lounge, you will not be disappointed.

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Photo courtesy of Stephen Dunn, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Stephen Dunn, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Stephen Dunn, Getty Images

What do you call a win that is technically a win, but doesn’t feel like a win?

Okay, there’s no word for it, but watch tonight’s game and you’ll have all the explanation you’ll need.

After running over the Clippers, getting run over by the Warriors, and then losing a large lead and falling to the Spurs, the Lakers came into this game needing to put something solid together. 48 minutes of complete effort on both ends of the floor and, at the very least, a whole game’s worth of sound decision-making and focus.

In the first three quarters, it certainly looked like the Lakers were headed towards a good win. Xavier Henry, forehead all stitched up after Friday’s collision with Wesley Johnson’s knee, moved up to the starting line-up in Nick Young’s place and injected his typical energy onto the floor. The threes were falling, they were aggressive on the defensive end, and led by as much as 21 points…but then that blasted fourth quarter came and they fell apart.

Atlanta took advantage of the Lakers’ loss of focus and went on a huge run to tie the game in the closing minutes of the fourth. If not for a blocking call on Paul Millsap in the last few seconds, this game might’ve gone another way, but the Lakers managed to hold on 105-103.

High Points
Xavier Henry – From the pre-season and into the first four games for the real season, Henry has been the Lakers’ most consistent player. Today he was inserted into the starting line-up alongside Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Steve Blake and Shawne Williams. At first, it seemed almost a shame to take him away from the second unit, who have been such a highlight and energy-infuser for the team, but both Henry and Young (13 points on 5-9, four assists, four rebounds) thrived in their switched roles tonight so the Lakers’ coaching staff may stick to this line-up for awhile. Henry also hit some timely shots. With the Laker lead dwindling down to just seven points, Henry scored a three. When the lead went down even further to five points, henry hit a jumper. And when the lead was just a deuce, henry hit both of his free throws. He finished with 18 points on 5-11, 2-4 from downtown.
Jordan Hill – It’s a real mystery how a player with Hill’s energy, desire to collect rebounds and notable defensive efforts could only play 13:36 minutes. Hill’s prowess on the glass is reminiscent of Lamar Odom’s efforts as Laker. Like Odom, Hill seems to see the ball’s path and gets there in time to take it away from someone else. His last effort came in the final seconds of the fourth quarter when Gasol missed a hook shot. Fighting for the offensive rebound soon after was Jordan Hill, who popped up to put the ball in the hoop for a final attempt at winning the game. Hill’s basket didn’t count, and his stat line of six points, five rebounds, one assist and one block in 13 minutes of floor time doesn’t shatter any records, but his efforts in those 13 minutes on the floor are what made all the difference.
Assists (1st-3rd Quarters) – The Lakers handed out 27 assists in the game; 25 of which came in the first two quarters. It’s not surprising why they shot 50% for the game up through that point. It’s because they were sharing the ball, making plays and their turnover count was at a mere eight. 25:8 assist to turnover ratio.
Threeball (1st-3rd Quarters) – 9-18 from behind the arc by eight different players (including Gasol!). The three-point shot has actually been good to the Lakers thus far this season. They’re eighth in the league, in fact, from out there.

On-the-Fence Points
Pau Gasol and Steve Nash – It’s hard to place Gasol and Nash in either category. They both had productive games – the Spaniard with 16 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and a block that kept the Hawks’ hot-shooting Kyle Korver (22 points on 8-10, 6-6 3PT) from hitting the final shot; and the starting point guard with his most productive game this season, 13 points six assists, three rebounds, and zero turnovers. However, as a combo, they shot just 10-29 from the field (34%), and in that fourth quarter were a combined 1-8, Nash handed out just one assist and Gasol didn’t collect a single rebound. Without Kobe Bryant on the floor, Gasol and Nash are the leaders by default on this team, yet in the closing minutes of the game, the lead continued to dwindle during their watch and they couldn’t seem to figure out how to turn it around.

Low Points
4th Quarter Focus – …or lack, thereof. The Lakers were still ahead by 12 points after three quarters, but couldn’t handle 12 more minutes of solid play. They allowed the Hawks 50% shooting, and were outscored 27-17 in the the fourth quarter. It was bad enough they couldn’t stop Atlanta from scoring, but they themselves couldn’t put the ball in the hoop, shooting a pathetic 4-21 from the field, 0-7 from behind the arc. The only bright spot in the final quarter was the 9-10 free throws.

This game, similar to Friday’s contest against the Spurs, was a winnable game. Though the Lakers got the win this evening, it’s difficult not to see how they almost didn’t. They gave up a double-digit lead against San Antonio, similar to tonight when they lost all of a 21-point advantage. They got careless in the end, started freewheeling on both ends of the floor, and Atlanta was one Kyle Korver jumper from forcing overtime. We can say this now because it truly is – it’s still early, and all the issues that the Lakers are encountering can still be solved over the course of the season. However, best not to spend the entirety of the next 78 games trying to figure out.

Box Score

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Image: Noah Graham | Getty Images

Which bench player has impressed you the most so far?

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Image: Noah Graham | Getty Images
Image: Noah Graham | Getty Images

With contributions by Kanta Ito.

With Dwight Howard‘s departure, Lakers Executive V.P. of Basketball Operations Jim Buss and General Manager Mitch Kupchak faced a major task this past off-season. The Lakers’ decision-makers were tasked with filling plenty of holes, as evidenced by last season’s debacle.

After eight preseason games and three regular season games, one significant improvement is evident: the bench.

The Lakers have received a major sparkplug from the second unit this season, evidenced by their strong performances throughout the preseason and regular season. The second unit shocked the national audience by carrying the Lakers to an Opening Night victory over its co-tenant rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers, outscoring them 41-24 in the fourth quarter and scoring 76 points as a unit.

Albeit, the Lakers lost the next two games to the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers’ bench, however, has shown that it can carry a lot of the weight for the Lakers this season.

Jordan Farmar, a key bench player during the Lakers’ championship runs in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010, took a significant paycut to rejoin the Lakers after stint with the New Jersey Nets as well as overseas in Israel and Turkey. Farmar has gotten off to a blistering start, averaging 11.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game, including scoring 16 points to lead the Lakers over the Clippers.

Farmar’s maturity in becoming an effective floor general came from running the show for the Anadolu Efes Istambul in Turkey last season—leading them to a Euroleague playoff appearance.

“I just got a chance to play differeent styles of basketball. My whole professional career, I was in a triangle and I [was not] really running screen and rolls and making decisions and getting away from that. I finally got a chance to do that and learn on the job,” Farmar told NBA on TNT sidelines reporter Craig Sager after defeating the Clippers.

The biggest surprise for the Lakers has been Xavier Henry, who signed a non-guaranteed 1-year deal with the purple and gold. After subpar performances with the Memphis Grizzlies and the New Orleans Hornets during his first three years in the NBA, the 22-year old Henry has given the Lakers a guy who can create his own shots and play solid defense.

Henry, a former lottery-pick out of Kansas, has made a good first impression with the Lakers—scoring a career high 22 points versus the Clippers.

Although Henry scored only 3 points versus the Spurs, he has shown Lakers’ coach Mike D’Antoni that he can make a variety of aggressive moves towards the basket and hit some shots from behind the arc. With Henry’s defensive prowess and his surprising offensive game, he might become one of the biggest off-season acquisition steals for the Lakers.

The Lakers also signed another athletic guard-forward, Wesley Johnson. Johnson, like Henry, has not made an impact in the NBA during his past stints with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns.

Expect Johnson to make a significant impact on the defensive end by using his length and athleticism—especially in his current role as a “quick-4.” He has the ability to guard every position except for center. Despite being the fourth overall pick in 2011 NBA Draft, Johnson’s offensive contribution will be a bonus, as his main role is on the defensive end.

However, Johnson has scored 11 points and 12 points the past two games respectively, on 50% shooting from the 3-point line.

Johnson excitedly told our own Laker Nation columnists Alex Lambeth and Jory Dreher before training camp that he believes he can have a really good impact just for his length and speed.

“I can get in passing lanes and disrupt shots and bring a spark that will fuel the entire team,” Johnson said. “As long as everyone is on the same page defensively, I think we’ll be just fine.”

Another addition to the bench rotation this season is former NBA All-Star Chris Kaman. With his recent solid play, I expect coach D’Antoni to pencil him into the starting lineup very soon.

Kaman and Lakers’ star Pau Gasol have shown that they can play together. This combination has been much more effective than Gasol and Howard last year.

The combination of these three key additions to the Lakers bench, paired with returnees Jordan Hill and Jodie Meeks, give the Lakers the flexibility and youth to cause matchup nightmares for their opponents—something they have not had in recent years.

The new and improved bench can also help limit the minutes played by veterans Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, and most importantly, Kobe Bryant, once he returns to the lineup.

“We can go out there and take the load off some of those guys,” Johnson continued. “It will definitely be a relief off their shoulders knowing we’re going to compete just as hard as they are.”

With the combination of their depth, and the return of assistant coach and defensive guru Kurt Rambis, the Lakers have shown signs of improved team defense.

No one knows for sure if the Lakers’ bench can sustain this stellar play, but the Lakers’ front office should be given major credit for upgrading the bench under the tight circumstances they faced this off-season.

While the Lakers still have low expectations this season, expect the second unit to continue helping the Lakers make some noise this season and hold down the fort until Kobe returns to the lineup.

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Photo courtesy of Ezra Shaw, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Ezra Shaw, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Ezra Shaw, Getty Images

The Laker team from last night’s win against the Clippers wasn’t the team that we expected to see this season. On the other hand, the team that got run over by the Golden State Warriors tonight was precisely who everyone expected to see this season.

It happened in a blink of an eye. A minute and a half into the game, the Warriors led 5-4. Suddenly the Lakers were staring up from a 12-point deficit in the first quarter, which turned into 25 points in the second quarter, and ballooned to 34 points in the third. It’s a shame there’s no mercy rule in the NBA, because this would have been the moment to exercise it.

Golden State, led by the hot shooting of Klay Thompson, was just too good and the Lakers just couldn’t get themselves together long enough to fight back and they lost, 94-125.

High Points
Klay Thompson – This kid is unreal. He had 11 points after one quarter, 27 after one half, and he finished with a career-high 38 points on 15-19 (!) from the field, which included 5-7 from downtown. He also only had a single turnover, which makes sense because the second he has the ball in his hands, he immediately exchanges it for points.
Warriors – The league better be ready for this team, because they’re coming after everyone this season. They shot 54% from the field, hit 15-27 from behind the arc, assisted on 34 of their 46 made field goals, outrebounded their opponents 48-39 and bullied the Lakers into a pathetic loss that has wiped out all the joy from yesterday’s victory over the Clippers. Yes, it was their season opener so spirits were riding high, but they disarmed their opponents completely in the process.
Bench – They scored 52 of the Lakers’ 94 points and their efforts, despite its futility, were still there. Xavier Henry tied Jodie Meeks (who started tonight) to lead the team in scoring (14 points). He managed to get to the line nine times and hit six of his free throws, and played the most minutes, 35:31. Four reserves scored double figures.

Low Points
Pau Gasol – If ever the Lakers needed Gasol to step up, tonight would have been a great opportunity for the co-captain to do some leading. Instead, he settled for jumpers when he should have been pushing it inside to score. He shot just two free throws, collected just seven blocks and, clocking in at just over 23 minutes, didn’t even play enough minutes. It is times like this when Gasol’s leadership is in stark contrast to Kobe Bryant’s. Bryant would have probably insisted on staying on the floor as much as he needed to; to try more, to do more, to give the team just even a chance to fight back and perhaps win. When Bryant isn’t there to push Gasol, why can’t Gasol push himself? Even if he were to simply create more plays, the Lakers would have been in a less compromised position.
Offense – The Lakers shot 28% (!!!) in the first quarter, 33% for the first half, and 33% in the third. They shot 59% from the field in the final quarter, but by then, it was much too late. The ball movement was non-existent. They had just 19 assists for the entire game. For an equal opportunity offense such as D’Antoni’s, ball movement is essential. The Warriors, to their credit, did a good job closing in on the Lakers; contesting every shot and keeping watch of the passing lanes. The Lakers turned the ball over 17 times, resulting in 22 Warriors points.
Defense – As atrocious as their offense was, their defense was just as awful. It was as if they were playing Golden State for the first time, instead of the fourth time in a month. The Warriors’ strategy hasn’t changed, yet the Lakers still haven’t figured out how to defend them. Or perhaps they are aware, but can’t seem to execute the contingency plan when Warriors go on their ridiculously hot scoring runs.

Ragged and system-less offense, half-hearted efforts on defense – how else was this game supposed to end? The Lakers have a day off to think quickly before their next challenge. And it will, indeed be another challenge. The defending Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs are rolling in on Friday, and despite a system on the opposite end of Golden State’s, the Lakers still have to find a way to stop them and score on them. This game was just a reminder, in case we were still swimming in the glow of last night’s victory, that the Lakers have a lot of work to do.

Box Score

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After a summer of being rejected, called out, and insulted, the Lakers reminded the world that they will not fade quietly into cellar of the NBA.

After Dwight Howard left for his “best chance to win a title,” ESPN ranked the Lakers 12th in the West, estimating 33 wins for the purple and gold. The Clippers added insult to injury by bringing in a famed Celtic coach, Doc Rivers, who elected to cover the Lakers’ championship banners and retired jerseys during Clipper home games.

The basketball landscape in LA was shifting. Kobe Bryant was hurt. Uncertainty clouded the Lakers. The Clippers seemed poised to make a statement.

On October 29th, the basketball world expected the Clippers to make a statement at Staples Center. The Lakers were supposed to be a springboard for the Clippers to hurtle over, much like Blake Griffin’s dunk contest props, and scream, “we have arrived!”

Instead, the Lakers delivered a message.Xavier Henry

“If you want one of those banners, little brother, you’re going to have to do alot more than cover ours up.”

Lakers champion point guard Jordan Farmar led a bench unit of NBA castoffs as they ran circles around the Clippers in the fourth quarter.

Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson, Jodie Meeks, and Jordan Hill did battle with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and company in crunch time, and won.

Kobe watched the game in a suit, and his fellow starters enjoyed the fourth quarter onslaught from the bench alongside him.

The Lakers spent the summer hearing about Dwight’s departure diminishing their luster, watching their banners become hidden behind portraits of current Clippers players, and listening to reports that they were “on the history channel.”

On opening night, the Lakers showed the world that they have no intention of becoming ancient history.

They remain relevant. They remain exciting. They win.

Tune in.

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Photo courtesy of Jeff Gross, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Jeff Gross, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Jeff Gross, Getty Images

Under-promise. Over-deliver. That’s what the Lakers did in this first game of the regular season. NBA analysts, Vegas, even some Laker fans, picked the purple and gold to fall to the red, white and blue. On paper (a popular reference in sports), the Clippers SHOULD have won this game. That’s the thing with predictions though – sometimes they’re wrong and tonight was the perfect example.

The Clippers, led by former Orlando Magic guard, J.J. Reddick, exploded out of the gate early, shooting the lights out in the first quarter with 59% from the field. The Lakers, led by Pau Gasol, hung in there, however, answering every Clipper run with a run of their own. It was a competitive game for the first three quarters…until the Laker bench took over.

The fourth and final quarter was all BenchMob, from beginning to end. The Clippers couldn’t keep up and the Lakers took the game, 116-103.

High
Bench – The Laker reserves scored 72 points a couple of games ago during the pre-season, but at the time, it seemed like a novelty. Of course they scored that many points – the starters didn’t play most of the second half. Tonight, the starters didn’t play a single second of the final 12 minutes because, well, they didn’t have to. Jordan Farmar, Jodie Meeks, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill took a four-point deficit to start the fourth and turned it into a 17-point lead, the largest lead in the game. There is simply a different energy when the reserves are on the floor. During the Lakers’ last two championship seasons, Phil Jackson referred to the bench players as minute men because they could enter the game and instantly change the pace. That’s what this season’s reserves are – game changers. For three quarters, the Lakers and Clippers were playing at the same level, making the same mistakes and each capitalizing on them. The Clippers were shooting a consistent 50% and the Lakers were getting by on 39% shooting. When the reserves checked in, they were more energetic on both ends of the floor, shooting 65% from the field in the fourth quarter for their 41 points to the Clippers’ 24 points on 47% shooting. Of the seven Lakers who scored in double figures, five were reserves, with Xavier Henry’s 22 points on 8-13 from the field leading all scores. The bench scored 76 of the Lakers’ 116 points. +/- leaders in tonight’s game: Meeks +19, Farmar/Henry/Johnson +15, Hill +17.
Jordan Farmar – His line of 16 points on 6-10 from the field, 2-3 from 3PT, four rebounds and six assists is solid, but what Farmar brings to the team goes beyond his stats. He is a true leader off that bench. With Steve Blake joining the starting backcourt with Steve Nash, Mike D’Antoni has entrusted the reserves or any combination of players to put on the floor with him, with Farmar. Just based on the pre-season games in which he played, and tonight’s contest, it appears that Farmar has not only accepted this challenge, he’s relishing in it, taking pride in his position on the pine, and that is key. Knowing his role, and the bench’s role, in the success of this team and taking off with it, is what will help this Laker team.
Pau Gasol – Hoping for a redemptive season, Pau Gasol grabbed hold of tonight’s game from the opening tip, scoring 11 of his 15 points in the first quarter alone. With Kobe Bryant out indefinitely, and Nash seemingly nursing a new body part each week, Gasol must be the captain, the anchor, the foundation of this Laker team. He got his double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds, not to mention four assists, but it wasn’t his production alone that was gratifying. It was how free, comfortable and loose Gasol played out there. He even hit the first three of the season for the team. If that’s not a good sign for the Spaniard, what is?
Rebounds – The Lakers were lacking in the glass department all pre-season, but they sure chose a good place to start changing that. They outrebounded the Clippers tonight 52-40, led by Gasol’s 13 boards. Their 18 offensive rebounds led to 30 second chance points, 14 more than the Clippers.
Threeball – Against a team full of shooters, the Lakers say, “touché.” 14-29 from downtown for the purple and gold, which kept them in this game.
Rest for the Starters – No starter played more than 24:29 minutes (Gasol), which is a good thing since the Lakers are back at it tomorrow night against the young Golden State Warriors.

Low
Nick Young and Shawne Williams – Nick Young had a slow start tonight, and ended up with 13 points, but as a combo, the two new Lakers went just 4-15 from the field to scored their combined 16 points.
Defense – Offensively, the Lakers appear to be covered, but there were times tonight when they looked scatterbrained and just plain lost on the defensive end. They were constantly left to eat Clipper dust. If not for the Clippers’ lack of half-court play, this game might’ve been different.

It’s only the first of 82 games, but it was a game that many predicted would be a relatively easy victory for that other L.A. team. With the departure of Dwight Howard in the summer, the still-rehabbing Kobe Bryant and the slew of new players on single-year contracts, it wasn’t difficult to guess who would have a tougher start to the new season. After all, the Clippers now have former Boston Celtics championship-tested head coach, Doc Rivers leading the way and the majority of last year’s team is still here. Fortunately for the Lakers, none of that mattered tonight.

The Lakers are the underdogs this season, but it has been an identity they have embraced since before training camp even began. They know that no one is expecting much of anything from them. Truth be told, they know that they’re expected to make very little noise at all. When you’re expected to be quiet, however, the noise may just be that much louder to anyone who doesn’t expect to hear it.

Box Score

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Chris+Paul+Steve+Nash+Los+Angeles+Lakers+v+GfS0ma3gqs2x

Another journey begins on October 29th, 2013. The Los Angeles Lakers will kick off another season, but something feels very different this year. No number 24 in the starting line up due to an Achilles injury, and no Dr. Buss in the front office. A bunch of new faces are walking around Laker town like Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, and former Clipper center Chris Kaman. Even Mark “Mad Dog” Madsen is back. This season is what critics call a “toss up” season. The Lakers aren’t expected to make it to the Finals, let alone the playoffs, something we have not seen since 2005.

The Lakers will start the year off against the hometown rivals, Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers made an early exit last season as did the Lakers in a first round bounce. The Clippers have a new attitude and identity, just ask Laker fans how they felt when the Clippers covered the Lakers championship banners. Coach Doc Rivers brings an aggressive coaching style and may arguably be the best head coach in the league. The Clippers have always been the smaller brother in Los Angeles, but behind a new coach, they look to take over Los Angeles and give the Lakers a sour season opener.

What To Look For? 

What will most intrigue Laker fans is the starting line-up, and how effective the new look Lakers will play together. Rumors are Steve Nash and Steve Blake will take care of the back court, Nick Young on the wing, along with the surprise of the preseason Shawne Williams at forward. Pau Gasol will move back in the post at center, which is his most effective position.  Keep an eye out for Coach D’Antoni’s rotation of players like Chris Kaman, Wesley Johnson and Xavier Henry.

Defense, Defense, Defense. The old saying is “defense wins championships” and the last time the Lakers won a championship, it was because of their defense. Last season the Lakers struggled especially in transition defense. Let’s see how effective the new and youthful Lakers can be on the perimeter and inside. Ball movement and shot selection are very important.

What To Expect? 

A young, energetic group of Lakers will be willing to run back and fourth with the Clippers, and for that matter, all season. The Lakers seem to have lakers-bannersslightly gotten better on defense, but expect them to put up a 1oo plus points every night due to Coach D’Antoni system. Every season is a new season and after watching the last couple of pre season games, the Lakers can go on scoring bursts. This team has fire power, especially in the back court. Turnovers will happen. How often they happen will be up to this team and its discipline. The Western Conference is going to be extremely competeive this year.

Kobe Bryant?

Image: AP
Image: AP

The Lakers will be without their leader Kobe Bryant to start the year. In Los Angeles, we have never had an issue on whose taking the last shot, it was always Bryant. Bryant would deliver in crunch time situations and pick his team up from deficits. That will now be a concern since he is not available in the line up. We have no official timetable for when the Mamba plans to return, but in all honesty, it won’t be soon. Bryant is not in shape and has yet to even practice in full contact with his team. Speculation is that Bryant will sit out the whole year; others have set a date for Christmas. The most important element is him being at 100%. A torn Achilles is not an easy injury to overcome and age is not on Bryant’s side.

If the Lakers start fast and stay strong defensively, expect a 1-0 start for the Lakers. If it is a close game, hold your breathe Laker fans. The Lakers need to be a lot more aggressive than the Clippers. They need to be mentally and physically tougher than them, especially in the low post area. Nash and Gasol must keep this young team focused and on schedule. The Clippers vs. Lakers rivalry will continue another season. Let the battle of Los Angeles begin.

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Photo Cred: Mike Ehrmann/Ghetty Images

With the NBA’s regular season rapidly approaching, many teams have new faces on their rosters. This is especially true for the 2013-2014 version of the Los Angeles Lakers.

After the debacle that was last season, the Lakers are seeking to move past the Dwight Howard era and turn a new leaf with a rejuvenated roster.

For the first time since the Kwame Brown and Smush Parker days, the majority of fans expect next to nothing from this Laker team. Yes, you heard correctly, nothing. This season, the record winning streaks, breezing through the playoffs and dethroning the back-to-back NBA Champion Miami Heat, are not even realistic thoughts.  Of course, this should not be a news flash, but let’s face it, this is a rebuilding season.

Last year, the Lakers were old and slow; it seemed as if even a Space Jam halftime speech could not motivate this team to come together. It was clear, the Lakers’ personnel could not run an efficient Mike D’Antoni coached team. Between learning a new system, a plethora of injuries, the perennial “star” carrying stat sheets around the locker room, the Lakers were dead in the water before they could even try and swim.

Rinse that bad taste in your mouth because this is a new year, a new season, and a much needed fresh start.

The Lakers are looking to use this season to gauge and develop their youthful talent. In doing so, they will be poised and prepared to fill the voids when the huge 2014 free agency period comes around.  The Lakers will have plenty of cap space and can dance with the superstar of their choice. With names such as Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James on the market, the Lakers have strategically positioned themselves to make the moves that will get this team back to the promise lands.

Now, as bright as next summer sounds, Laker Nation can still look forward to this season. To some fans, a study guide may be necessary for the Lakers’ roster, since the team has become one big game of “guess who.” Players like Shawne Williams, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson and Nick “Swaggy P” Young are some of the new faces in town. These guys have bounced around the league and are eager to make a name for themselves.

What better opportunity and motivation for these players to put their names on the NBA’s map than with this prestigious franchise?

Thus far, the team as a whole has looked good in preseason. But again, it’s just preseason. The real test will come when the regular season kicks off Tuesday night against the rival Clippers.

Just prepare yourself. The Lakers will not be playing the same basketball as last year. The headaches of trying to get the ball to Dwight Howard in the paint or forcing Pau Gasol to shoot 15-footers every night are over. The Lakers can especially look forward to not being run off the floor every night by younger, more athletic teams. D’Antoni’s system screams “run and gun,” which has been crystal clear in the preseason.

It’s sad to say, but it appears as if more fast break buckets have been scored this preseason than all of last season. This style of play is going to lead to easy baskets, transition-scoring opportunities and forcing opposing defenses to guard the Lakers’ athleticism for once.

Although a D’Antoni run team is all about the offense, Kurt Rambis is now a member of the coaching staff and has addressed fixing the Lakers’ horrendous defense from last season. Luckily, the Lakers have upgrades in speed and youth to help with the transition and perimeter defense.

On the other side, the Lakers have downgraded their interior defense with Howard’s departure. With Kaman, Gasol, Hill and Sacre holding down the fort, it will be interesting to see how the Lakers can adjust to not dominating the paint, as they have in past seasons. The Lakers also need to factor in a little time to adjust the team chemistry once Vino returns to a normal playing rotation.

So let’s break it down:

With players now capable of keeping up with the speedy and athletic model most NBA teams are molding into, the Lakers should be set this season, right?

In a perfect world, yes, the Lakers would return to their elite status. But that is not this team. Are they the worst team in the Western Conference? No. But are they the best? Definitely not.

That leaves the Lakers in the same position as last season. What is the point of clawing away for an 8th seed in the playoffs? No one wants to see the Lakers dismantled in the first round by San Antonio again.

Why don’t the Lakers develop players all year, while putting themselves in a position to help the near future? Excellence is defined as purple and gold, but wouldn’t the Lakers be better off bringing in a top 10 draft pick next season? This would help prepare the passing of the torch for the post-Kobe era, all while helping the franchise’s cause for next summer.

You could put a little more thought into that scenario if you didn’t have one of the greatest competitors ever in Bryant, making his return tied in with an ingenious General Manager. Every Laker fan knows Bryant is looking to make the world pay for ever doubting his return to greatness. Tanking games is never acceptable, but it is still an interesting topic to ponder.

The season will be an intriguing one, almost as interesting as last year. For once though, aside from having a team that could potentially contend for a NBA title, it is kind of nice not having such high expectations coming into a season. The Lakers are accustomed to winning and they have problems smaller market teams wish they had.

Give it a little bit of time, Laker Nation. Breathe and be patient for once. The future is bright in Los Angeles and after this rebuilding season, the Lakers will have the pieces to make a lot of noise in the league for many years to come.

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NBA: Los Angeles Lakers-Media Day

The Lakers begin their 2013-14 NBA season Tuesday night against the team that is trying desperately to overshadow their fellow Staples Center tenants –the Los Angeles Clippers. It’s a new season and a fresh slate for a Lakers team looking to avenge the disappointment of last year’s drama-plagued “Dwightmare”. Nobody is sure exactly how long the Purple & Gold will be without their captain, Kobe Bryant, but it’s a safe bet to assume he will be gone until at least mid-December, while still recovering from a torn Achilles.

There is a nice combination of new (8) and returning (7) players this year, which on top of a full training camp under head coach Mike D’Antoni, should bring some much needed youth, athleticism, and energy to a Lakers squad that struggled finding easy points last season. Newcomers Nick Young, Xavier Henry, and Wesley Johnson should provide length and quickness on the perimeter, something the Lakers could have really used last year. Jordan Farmar returns to Los Angeles to help Steve Nash and Steve Blake shore up the point guard position; and Chris Kaman will help fill the void left by Dwight Howard alongside Pau Gasol. With all that being said, here are 14 Bold Predictions for the 2013-14 Lakers season:

1.   Kobe Will Return On or After Christmas.

There has yet to be a confirmed date as to when #24 will return to action, but we do know he is taking it easy on the Achilles, after finally being able to do some light cardio work. Coming back around Christmas will still shatter the mold in terms of the rehab length for athletes who have tried to come back from this particular injury.

2.   Steve Nash Will Play Less Than 41 Games.

The season has yet to begin and there are already concerns about the soon to be 40-year old point guard. The signing of Jordan Farmar definitely helps lessen the work load on Nash, but he seems to be much more brittle since leaving the magical training staff of the Phoenix Suns.

3.   Pau Gasol Will Average At Least 20 PPG and 10 RPG.

Pau has never averaged more than 18.9 PPG as a Laker, but he will now be the first offensive option due to the unknown status of Kobe. On top of that, Pau will no longer have to give up his post position to the likes of Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard. Chris Kaman may play alongside Pau at times, but they seem to be meshing together well regardless.

4.   Nick Young and Kobe Bryant Will Have At Least 1 “Dylan-Wyclef” Moment About Shot Selection.

Chappelle fans know what I’m talking about. Although I’m not too sure who’s Wyclef and who’s Dylan.

5.   The Lakers Will Finish Higher Than 10th in Team Offense.

From the Princeton offense, to the injuries, to the lack of chemistry and shooting, the Lakers’ offense looked anemic last year (even though they finished 6th in total offense). While it can’t get much worse this season, I do like the combination of youth, athleticism, and shooting under the Mike D’Antoni’s offense, and believe they should score over 100 PPG consistently.

6.   The Lakers Will Finish Lower Than 20th in Team Defense.

While the team may be able to score a lot, they will not be able to defend above-average offenses this year. The Lakers were far worse defensively without Dwight in the game last season, and now they must rely on Pau and Kaman as their rim protectors. Uh-oh.

7.   The Clippers Will Sweep the Lakers in the Regular Season. Again.

After it was announced that the Clippers will be covering up the Lakers’ championship banners and retired numbers during homes games, it should be obvious that new Clippers head coach Doc Rivers wants his team to dominate their big brother in every way imaginable.

8.   Nick Young Will Eclipse His Highest Single Season Scoring Average of 17.4 PPG.

There is one thing Swaggy P can do well, and that is score. He may not be very efficient, but Young can definitely get hot and when that happens, it’s HEAT CHECK TIME.

9.   Pau Will Be in Trade Rumors All Year.

Another season means another year full of rumored Pau Gasol trade scenarios. Unlike past seasons, however, this season just might be the season a trade actually happens. Pau will be a free agent this summer and his skills, as well as his expiring contract, look very appealing to other teams around the league. If the Lakers can’t acquire draft picks and/or young assets for Pau, look for them to hold onto his expiring contract so they have maximum cap space for free agency next summer.

10.    Kobe Will Become a Free Agent.

There are rumors going around that Kobe and the Lakers will work out a contract extension some time before he becomes a free agent next summer. Why would Kobe do that? Why wouldn’t he wait until he sees which free agents the Lakers can get and then adjust his salary to what the team has left over? It would make zero sense for a smart businessman like Kobe to blindly place his short NBA future in the hands of Jim Buss.

11.    Mike D’Antoni Will Not Get Fired.

This will probably anger most of Laker Nation, but I just don’t see why the Lakers would fire D’Antoni before the season is over when the expectations are so low. Plus, D’Antoni does have a track record of bringing the best out of sub-par players through his system. Doesn’t that sound exciting?!

12.    The Lakers Will Miss the Playoffs.

A lot of experts and pundits have gone on record saying the Lakers will be better than they were last year because they seem to have much better team chemistry now and they won’t have to deal with the “Dwightmare” saga. Really? So you lose arguably the best center in the NBA and you won’t have one of the greatest scorers of all-time for a quarter of the season, and you’re supposed to be better? I enjoy optimism as much as the next fan, but there is a reason Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson, Shawne Williams, Chris Kaman, Elias Harris, and Jordan Farmar were all available for next to nothing deals: BECAUSE NOBODY ELSE WANTED THEM.

13.    Kobe Will Average 25+ PPG This Season.

I believe Kobe will have one goal on his mind when he returns from his Achilles injury: break the All-Time NBA Scoring Record. He is currently 6,770 points shy of tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record of 38,387 points. I can see Kobe reverting back to his 2006 season and jacking up as many shots as humanly possible, just so he can inch closer to that record and add to his legacy in case he doesn’t win another title.

14.    This Team Will Be Fun to Watch.

This may sound like a negative, pessimistic, down-in-the-dumps list, and that’s because it is. Lakers fans are accustomed to being contenders year in and year out, but this year will not be one of those years. I refuse to sugar coat it for those with weak stomachs. The Lakers will not win many games, but at least they’ll be fun to watch as a typical run-n’-gun, no defense playing Mike D’Antoni team should be.

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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

4-4.

Not bad for a pre-season, especially when the most recent reference was 0-8. Tonight the Lakers played their eighth and final game before the wins and losses finally begin to count. And unlike last year’s team, this year’s group showed a lot more progress and, dare we think it, a lot more promise.

Steve Nash and Pau Gasol played almost 29 minutes, which will probably be their average this season. They didn’t exactly break the box score with their production, but they did some good things. Besides, they’re surrounded by a group of young players who appear to enjoy playing together and for each other. THERE’S another difference compared to last season’s team.

The Jazz went on a few scoring runs, took advantage of the Lakers’ sometimes spotty defense, but in the end, the gold jerseys took the win, 111-106.

High Points:
Bench – They didn’t match their 74 points from the last game, but 42 points as a unit is nothing to scoff at. The five players off the pine averaged about 20 minutes of playing time, and three managed to score in double figures. Jordan Farmar ran the floor and chipped in 11 points on 4-8 from the field, including 2-3 from behind the arc. He also handed out six assists and managed two steals. Xavier Henry has been able to maintain his production, scoring 13 points, including 6-8 from the free throw line. And Jordan Hill, Mr. Energy, put in 10 points, including two put backs and monstrous dunk that had everyone on the bench and the bleachers jumping up and down. Who knows how deep Mike D’Antoni’s rotation will run during the regular season, but based on the play of the reserves this pre-season, he should be confident in his number of options.
Steve Blake – Playing alongside Steve Nash at the two or subbing in for him at point, it doesn’t matter to Blake because when he’s on the floor, he’s one of the smartest and most capable players there. Tonight he went a perfect 7-7 from the field, including 5-5 from behind the arc for his game-leading 19 points (16 of which came in the third quarter). He simply couldn’t miss from any spot. Add to that seven rebounds and four assists and you’ve got a well-played game.
Nick Young – Young has easily become a favorite player for many fans this season, and it isn’t only because of his personality or humorous antics off the court, it’s his liveliness on it. He enjoys the game, enjoys playing, and it’s apparent when he has nights like tonight – 16 points on 6-10 from the field, including 2-5 from three. As soon as the opposing team misses a shot, he’s off to the other end of the court, putting himself in the perfect spots to receive passes. The team is down a few points, he can score whenever and from wherever.
Pau Gasol – When your center leads the game in assists, you’re doing something right, especially when that center is Gasol. His 16 points, eight rebounds and three blocks aside made for a great game, but he also had seven assists, including a pretty bounce pass to a cutting-to-the-basket Nash. This is one of Gasol’s greatest strengths – his ability to see the floor from an advantageous perspective and make plays based on what he sees. If the Lakers continue to play through him, as they should have been doing the last few seasons, the chances of winning more often can only get better.

Low
Defense – Utah only shot 45% from the field and 42% from three, but the Lakers still need to work on their perimeter defense. Rotating to the shooter is still a weakness for this team and this was only Utah. They were killed against teams like the Golden State Warriors. They don’t have any lock down defenders, so they have to play defense as a team if they’re going to give themselves a chance to win at that end of the court.

The Lakers shot 50% for the game, 45% from three, handed out 28 assists to 18 turnovers. They were still outrebounded, but not by a lot. For a team with this many new players, it wasn’t a bad way to end the pre-season.
It’s safe to say that Laker fans are operating on reserved optimism. No one knows when Kobe Bryant will be back, how much of the season Steve Nash can handle on his almost-40 year old body, not to mention whether Pau Gasol can return to true form. But one thing is providing some encouragement, however, and that’s the chemistry of the team, new and current players. The regular season will provide new challenges that will test this chemistry, but the consensus is that anything is better than the Dwightmare of last year. This is a new team, with a new set of obstacles and goals.

2013-2014 season – here we go.

Box Score

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kobechip
Image: Getty Images

 

While rehabbing his torn Achilles, getting ready to play in his 18th season, and having only the NBA scoring record to chip away at this year, it should come as no surprise that Kobe Bryant is already looking ahead to the summer of 2014. Of course, we have no proof of this, but why would we? Anyone who believes Kobe would publically admit defeat, at any point, has not followed this man’s career–he has too much pride and competitiveness to ever reveal that he does not believe his team can win it all. Simply put: Kobe Bryant is an alpha-male, and alpha-males tend to have enough self-confidence to supply every living beta on Earth.

Having said all this, Kobe is not dumb. He knows that his time is running out. He knows he’s facing an injury that would end the careers, let alone the productivity, of almost any player his age. He knows the third best player on the current Lakers roster after himself and Pau Gasol is either a soon-to-be 40-year old point guard, who is obviously breaking down, or a 28 year-old NBA journeyman on his 4th team in 7 years by the nickname of Swaggy P.

Once again: Kobe Bryant is not dumb. He understands that even if he were 100% healthy by opening night, this team as currently formulated has absolutely no chance of winning anything this year, other than a first round exit or a couple extra ping pong balls.

So the question becomes, what is Kobe’s mindset going into this season? Let’s assume he fully recovers from his Achilles injury and returns to the team around Christmas. The season would be about a quarter of the way through and the Lakers will most likely have a below .500 record. Kobe will join the team and they will win a few games they should have lost, due to the confidence builder of having one of the greatest players of all-time back on the team. Regardless, the team will flutter down the standings and finish around the 9th or 10th seed in the Western Conference (otherwise known as Basketball Purgatory: too good to be a lottery team, not good enough to be a contender).

Now what? Will the Lakers’ front office make a blockbuster trade or free agent signing like they did under Dr. Jerry Buss? Or, will they stand pat and try to rebuild via the draft and acquire assets like other teams in the league? The better question is how does this affect the decision of Kobe, who will become a free agent once this season is over? Apparently, Kobe is willing to take a pay cut if it means the team will sign a big name free agent, or two, such as Carmelo Anthony (possible) or LeBron James (near impossible).

But what if they don’t? What if Jim Buss decides he wants to stay under the luxury tax and build this team through draft picks and expiring contracts? Will Kobe stick around and watch the chances of his career ending without another title fade away faster than Steve Nash’s game? (Sorry, I had to). The answer is not just no, but hell no. Kobe may love the Lakers and all the fans, but he loves two things even more: his legacy and winning. Two things that are intertwined and completely dependent on one another. You cannot have a supreme legacy and not win. There’s a reason Jerry West aka Mr. Clutch aka The Logo is seldom brought up in discussions of who is the best of all-time (the usual suspects are MJ, Russell, Magic, and Bird). It’s because he went to nine NBA Finals and only won once.

Should Lakers fans be upset if Kobe ultimately leaves to join forces with another star, because the Lakers just don’t have the talent to compete for a title? Absolutely not. Kobe has worked his ass off for 18 years with this franchise with the only goal being to win championships. His mindset will ultimately always be about winning, regardless of where that takes place. Kobe Bryant understands that 10, 20, 30 years from now the only number that will mean anything to his legacy will be the amount of championships he won.

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Image: Kevork Djansezian | Getty Images

Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson will appear in an upcoming interview to be aired on CampusInsiders.com on October 28 and November 1 at 10:30 a.m. PT. In the interview with Seth Davis, Jackson reflected on numerous basketball-related topics.

Stemming from last season’s “midnight coaching decision,” Jackson explained that he probably would not have even coached the Lakers last season:

“I probably would’ve made a decision not to coach the team anyway because of my health,” Jackson told Davis.

“I was like, ‘It’s midnight. Let me sleep on this one.'”

Jackson’s hesitance ultimately led to the Lakers choosing Mike D’Antoni to fill the coaching vacancy.

Jackson also addressed whether or not he’s done with coaching in the NBA:

“I’m realistically thinking about the fact that I probably won’t be able to physically coach again,” Jackson explained.

Another hot topic over the past few months has been none other than former Laker Dwight Howard. Host Seth Davis doubts you can with a championship with Howard as your center; Jackson, however, disagrees:

“I think you’re wrong. I’ve had those type of feelings that you’ve had for years, about various players in the league,” Jackson said.

In addition to Lakers-related topics, Jackson also reflected on how Michael Jordan demoralized his teammates in practice, Jordan’s Hall of Fame speech, his response to Kendrick Lamar’s jab in Big Sean’s song ‘Control’, among other topics, in his upcoming interview with CampusInsiders.com.

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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.