Sunday, February 7, 2016
Blog Page 40


After going down 0-2 against the San Antonio Spurs, can the Los Angeles Lakers come back and win the series? We give you the percentage chance of the Lakers coming back.


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Photo: Tom Szczerbowski | USA TODAY Sports
Photo: Tom Szczerbowski | USA TODAY Sports
Photo: Tom Szczerbowski | USA TODAY Sports

Another day, another myriad of injuries for the Los Angeles Lakers.

After yet another grueling loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2, the Lakers returned to Los Angeles today in danger of losing three more key players to injury.

According to the Lakers’ official Twitter account, Steve Blake is ‘out indefinitely’ with a moderate strain of his right hamstring:

After re-aggravating previous hip and back injuries in the second half of Wednesday’s game, Steve Nash is now ‘doubtful’ for Game 3:

Guard Jodie Meeks, who did not play in Game 2, will have an MRI this afternoon on his sprained left ankle. His status for Game 3 is also ‘doubtful':

With Kobe Bryant out until next season, and this recent wave of injuries, the Lakers’ guard rotation may now be down to just Chris DuhonDarius Morris and Andrew Goudelock.

Stay tuned for any more injury updates as they roll in.

AP Photo
AP Photo

Game 1 of this series was lost when it was obvious that Steve Nash was unable to hit shots that he would usually knock down with his eyes closed. Game 2 was lost the moment Dwight Howard picked up his 4th personal foul with just under 9 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. The Lakers went on to get out-rebounded and out-muscled down low in the paint by San Antonio.

Dwight Howard, in his 9th year in the league, should know by now that a.) He will be called for ticky tack fouls when trying to gain post position and b.) He is the most important player on the court and cannot miss an entire quarter when his teammates are fighting for their playoff lives.

The Lakers have shown grit and heart by staying in games and battling through numerous injuries that continue to pile up. The series is not over yet as the Lakers can defend their home court and win the next 2 games to tie the series at 2-2. This will not happen if Howard continues to commit bone headed fouls and has to sit down for long stretches of games.

The Lakers saw some nice things from playing Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock, and Jordan Hill in garbage time last night as the team was able to show some resemblance of athleticism on the perimeter and even gave San Antonio a mini scare as they cut the 17 point lead down to 9 with just under 3 minutes left. We’ll see how Coach D’Antoni chooses to implement some of those guys in the next 2 games; here are the grades for last night’s L:


Steve Nash: B-

Gotta give Nash credit for playing through obvious pain, but he was virtually ineffective against the stingy San Antonio defense. Unless his hamstring can heal before Game 3, it wouldn’t be too farfetched to see Morris or Goudelock get more playing time next to Steve Blake (if he’s healthy) because of their athleticism and Nash’s mediocre offensive output.


Steve Blake: B+

Steve Blake has shown the most heart out of any Laker since Kobe’s injury and Game 2 exemplified that fact even more as he continued to hit tough shots for the Lakers. He injured his hamstring late in the game and will need an MRI to see what the damage is, but let’s be very clear about something: if Steve Blake is going to miss any of the next 2 games the Lakers can go ahead and kiss their playoff chances goodbye. Blake has been our only real effective perimeter player and if he’s unable to go then San Antonio won’t have to worry about anyone on the outside any longer.


Metta World Peace: F

I’m not sure if it’s the knee injury or if there’s just nothing left in the tank, but Kawhi Leonard, who is basically a young Ron Artest, is making Metta look like a shell of himself out on the court. Metta’s stats won’t tell the entire story, but he continues to take unnecessary shots early in the shot clock and continues to miss said shots. Usually, Metta can counter his ineffective offensive nights by hustling and harassing the opposition on defense, but he has been dominated by Kawhi Leonard in the hustle department and he has looked like an old man when trying to check Tony Parker (which is an almost impossible task anyway).


Pau Gasol: B

The only Lakers starter that did not turn the ball over and the only big man that can dominate down on the block; it’s funny, and also quite sad, that after all this time the Lakers still only manage to give Pau about 2 or 3 possessions when he is down on the block instead of Dwight Howard and almost every time that phenomena occurs Pau either scores, draws a foul, or sets up an open teammate for an easy bucket. Instead, Coach D’Antoni chooses to have Pau set screens and camp at the elbow to take jump shots or throw a lob for a Howard alley-oop. Just remember that when the Lakers were winning championships with Pau he was always down low causing havoc for the opposition, he was never taking 20 foot jumpers, because Phil Jackson knows how to set up players to succeed.


Dwight Howard: F

Throw away the stats because Dwight Howard threw himself out of this game when his team needed him most. With all the talk of wanting to be the leader and the number one offensive option, Dwight has shown us absolutely nothing in either of those two categories. What kind of leader picks up his 4th personal foul on a bone headed offensive foul out of frustration? What kind of number one offensive option has almost as many turnovers as he does field goals made? What kind of champion constantly takes himself out of crucial games and situations by making foolish decisions? None. That’s why I still believe Dwight Howard will never win a championship if he is the best player and number one offensive option on the team.


Antawn Jamison: C+

Tough to pile on Antawn when he’s obviously playing through a right wrist injury that’s going to need surgery in the offseason, but he had some rebounds slip through his grasp and committed some fouls that really deflated the Lakers when they were making a run in the second half. Other than Steve Blake he’s really been the only other player that can knock down 3’s for the Lakers.


Earl Clark: C+

It still confuses me why EC gets only 13 minutes of playing time when Metta has been so ineffective throughout the past 2 games. Clark has proven he can knock down open shots and his athleticism is much needed against a Spurs team that has athletic wing players.


Darius Morris: B-

Look for Morris to get more playing time now that the Steve’s are basically out of commission with their hamstring injuries. Morris showed he can hound Tony Parker about as well as you can while fighting through numerous screens and he can push the ball in transition to try and get some easy baskets for himself or teammates before the Spurs are set on defense.

Photo courtesy of Ronald Martinez, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Ronald Martinez, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Ronald Martinez, Getty Images

The Lakers have had chances – two in fact – to beat the Spurs in San Antonio. Their problem is, when they start a run, get close or move ahead, their focus is displaced, as if it was on loan for only so many possessions. Uber disciplined teams like the San Antonio Spurs eat up these momentary lapses and blow it up in their opponent’s faces. One minute, the Lakers have overcome an eight-point lead late in the second quarter; and the next minute they’re suddenly down by eight again going into halftime.

Dwight Howard encountered foul trouble, giving his teammates the opportunity to do some heavy lifting on the defensive end, but they could do little to stop the home team from going off. Tony Parker was a blur, Tim Duncan was Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli was opportunistic and the Lakers? They couldn’t sustain their fight, nor their senses, and as a result are now 0-2 in the series with this 102-91 loss.

Dwight Howard – It would have been nice had Howard grabbed more rebounds. He had nine in 34 minutes of playing time. He finished with 16 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and a steal, which isn’t a stat line to scoff at. Defensively, he was solid and he went 7-12 so he got a good amount of touches. The five fouls and five turnovers he collected, however, certainly didn’t help.
Steve Blake – Probably the most consistent Laker in the last few weeks, Blake has been a revelation. Tonight he put in 16 points, including 3-7 from downtown, collected six rebounds and has been an intense competitor in this series. He’s been charged with the difficult task of manning Tony Parker, and other than Howard, seems to be the most determined on the team. Blake has also shown a lot of passion in his play. Towards the end of the second quarter, he committed consecutive turnovers which fueled the Spurs’ run and, frustrated with himself, returned to the bench during a timeout and kicked one of the chairs. If only the rest of the team were this accountable of their own mistakes on the court.
Steve Nash – Nine points and six assists do not a victory make, but Nash is to be commended for the pain with which he is choosing to play. Of the tough-minded, old school ilk from where Kobe hails, Nash’s attitude seems to be, if he can move, he can play, and that’s what he did tonight.

Pau Gasol – 13 points on 5-14 from the field, nine rebounds, four assists, one block and zero turnovers – Aside form the less than stellar shooting percentage, Gasol’s stat line is relatively solid. He appeared, however, reluctant on the court, settling for jumpers rather than driving into the lane and giving the Spurs’ defense something to do. And that is where it’s hard to glean a positive from such negative play. Gasol’s advantage is a lefty hook shot from the block, not a jumper from the top of the key. What happened to the player who managed back-to-back triple doubles? With Kobe Bryant at home, Howard sitting on the bench from foul trouble, and Matt Bonner on the court nowhere near resembling defensive player of the year qualities, Gasol had chances to put his skills on display to carry the team, but held back.
Metta World Peace – 13 points on 5-13 from the field, five rebounds, a pair of assists, one steal and a block – Another solid stat line, especially since it’s been a while since MWP had double-digit scoring, but his decision-making when the ball is in his hands is questionable at best. If he’s not going directly to the rim for a dunk or a layup, or isn’t lights out from behind the arc, the ball shouldn’t be in his hands for more than three seconds…if that.

Ball Movement – 18 assists on 37 made field goals and 13 turnovers. The ratios aren’t exactly stunning. There was too much dribbling and not enough passing and playmaking. Too many times did the ball travel around half the court, only to be handed over for a shot with little time left on the shot clock. Attempts were rushed and shooting percentages plummeted. It’s the mathematics and science of basketball and the Lakers need another remedial reminder course on it.
Injuries – It’s reported that Nash is scheduled for another epidural on Thursday, Jodie Meeks will undergo an MRI on his ankle on Friday, and the latest injury – Blake will receive an ultrasound on his right hamstring. The only area where the Lakers have had any consistency this season are their in-game visits to the locker room after a sudden injury on the court.

Up next are two games at Staples Center where the Lakers will try to even the series. Hopefully the home crowd can provide some energy for this team because, as a whole, they’re not exuding much, and they need every ounce to stand a chance against the Spurs.

Box Score


Kobe joins Instagram, discontinues tweeting, and I tell you what athletes have had successful returns from Achilles surgery. That and more on the Kobe Minute.




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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:


It is a totally different team. Obviously everything is going through Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. They try to play inside a lot so it is a big series for us to play great defensively and control the boards. We have to double-team and triple-team as much as we can.

Spurs’ Tony Parker on the Lakers without Kobe Bryant, via the Daily News’ Mark Medina


As the series goes on, those (Spurs’) bigs will wear down from trying to fight every possession. We want it, we got to go take it.

Dwight Howard, via Sports Illustrated


Defensively isn’t necessarily my ‘A’ game. I don’t think the coaches have been pleased with my defense this year. But it’s something I always have to work extra hard at, but offensively is where I think the team is really going to need me. I have to be up to par there or else I have to turn it over to someone else if I’m not able to do it.

Steve Nash, via the Daily News


I just want to win, plain and simple. A lot of people are counting us out and they’re doubting our talent and our team, but I just want to win and I’m going to do whatever I can to help this team win. It’s not about me having 30 points a night, but just me dominating the game. That’s what I want to do.

Dwight Howard, via ESPN


To be honest with you, it’s been a tough year for me obviously breaking my leg in the second game and having this injury, but when I’ve been healthy, I’ve felt great, as good as I’ve ever felt. The biggest issue for me this year was just trying to find a niche playing alongside Kobe (Bryant) and playing with new teammates. I feel like that really started to come for me in the last month and a half or so. I was feeling a lot more confident and comfortable on how I should approach and attack. So, never did I ever feel anything but optimism going forward, but just frustration in the moment.

Steve Nash, via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin


I see my tweeting during the game is being talked about as much as the game itself. To tweet or not to tweet… I choose not to. Focus should be on the team, not on my insight.

Kobe Bryant, via his personal twitter account


He’s a fan right now. He’s a fan, and you guys put a little more importance on that kind of fan. But he’s a fan. He gets excited and he wants to be a part of it so that’s good.

Mike D’Antoni on Bryant’s tweets during the Lakers loss to the Spurs, via ESPN


If they want to do that the whole series, God bless them. There’s nothing I can do about it but go up there and shoot the free throws. Even if I make them, they’re still going to do it. So, that’s not my concern. My concern is what I can control on the defensive end and then on the offensive end, just dominate. If they foul me, they foul me. We’re going to make them pay.

Dwight Howard, on possibly being intentionally fouled by the Spurs, via ESPN


We’re not going to do it without him. He’s not having the explosive stuff he has, but he’s always a threat on the perimeter. He has a better shot at shooting well than anyone else I know.

Mike D’Antoni on Steve Nash, via the L.A. Times


I just feel fortunate I can play and try to help my team. [My health] is not great. It’s not going to be great. But I have to worry about what I can do. I love to play and I love this team. We had a lot of ups and downs and a lot of tough nights. I want to turn that around and be a part of helping these guys enjoy this. I’m still thrilled to get a chance to play in the series. I’m thrilled to fight for my teammates and try to make something come out of all this.

Steve Nash, via the Daily News

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


With the sudden loss of the long time Los Angeles Laker owner Dr. Jerry Buss, his Lakers found themselves in a uphill battle for playoff position. Relive the journey. This is their story. This is their journey. Their quest. For Buss.

Director/Editor: Troy Cruz
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Photo courtesy of Ronald Martinez, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Ronald Martinez, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Ronald Martinez, Getty Images

Get the 7th seed, they said. You’ll have a better chance at defeating the Spurs, they said. Well, not today.

Looking at the game’s stats, the Lakers could have won this game. Both teams’ shooting percentage (neither one impressive) was even at the half, and the Lakers shot better in the final two quarters. They outscored the Spurs in the paint, had a foursome of double-digit scorers and Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol finished with another set of double-doubles to add to their collections. But as has been their demise all season, they punched a one-way ticket to their demise with 18 turnovers.

The Spurs led by as much as 16 points late in the game, and at that point, it was too late for the Lakers to recover. In a 97-79 loss, the Lakers are down 0-1 to start the series.

Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol – The two combined for 36 points on 15-28 from the field and 31 rebounds. Howard did most of his damage in the first half, scoring 14 of his 20 points. Gasol did most of his work in the second half, scoring 10 of his 16. Unfortunately, they were responsible for 10 of the team’s 18 turnovers.
Tim Duncan – With all the flash, flair and power of young forwards in the game, Duncan is often overlooked because his game isn’t exciting enough. But he’s not nicknamed the “Big Fundamental” for no reason. Duncan’s game, similar to players of his generation (Kobe Bryant, for example) are still privy to the basics of the game, which is why their skill level and abilities this late in their careers is still so sound. Duncan went 6-9 for his 13 first-half points, helping the Spurs get to an early lead going into the break. Save for Manu Ginobli and Cory Joseph who each shot 50% from the field, everyone else in a Spurs uniform was having a poor shooting game.

Bench – 10 points on 2-8 from the field – that’s all the Laker reserves contributed to this game. San Antonio’s bench produced 40 points, led by Ginobli’s 18. The Spurs have a dependable, and most importantly, consistent bench. Antawn Jamison has produced numerous strings of solid games this season, but when he has a bad game, he really has a bad game. Jodie Meeks is no more than a streaky shooter. When he gets going from downtown, he can’t stopped. He went just 1-4 today, and in his last three games, he is just 3-15 from three.
Ball Movement – Gasol led with six assists, but for the whole game, the Lakers could muster up just 15 dimes (of 30 made field goals). 10 of those were from the first half, which means they handed out just five assist for the final two quarters. Steve Nash and Steve Blake had only three apiece.
Turnovers – 18 Laker turnovers led to 14 Spurs points.
Offense – It wasn’t pretty for either team. Since Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon in the Golden State game (where the Lakers shot 51.5% from the field), the Lakers’ shooting percentage has dropped. Before the win against the Warriors, the Laker shot an impressive 58.9% and got a victory. After Golden State, however, the Lakers have gone 36.5% (vs. the Spurs) and 36.7% (vs. the Rockets). In the last two games, Dwight Howard stated that defense was their key to victory. Today, however, the Spurs shot just 37.6% for the game and the Lakers still couldn’t get the win.

This series wasn’t meant to be a cake walk. Had the Lakers shot better, had they avoided making so many mistakes, this game might’ve had a different outcome. They’ll get another chance (actually three more chances) to figure it out.

Box Score


After the tumultuous journey that was the Lakers 2012-2013 regular season, we finally arrive exactly as we planned…on the road at San Antonio without the services of the man most responsible for getting the Lakers there. OK, so maybe Laker fans imagined it going a little bit differently entering the season.

Despite the loss of their star guard, the Lakers have several reasons to be optimistic. The return of Steve Nash provides the Lakers with another shooter along the perimeter to space the floor, which is imperative for a team who will now look to create shots from the post. Expect him to be paired with Steve Blake, who has admirably picked up the slack in the backcourt with his terrific 3 point shooting. Unfortunately, the inclusion of Nash involves his defense as well. Nash’s limited mobility will undoubtedly be tested by the cagey Popovich. Pau Gasol has embraced his newfound responsibilities  in the offense and now is a bonafide triple double threat.

The Spurs struggled to score last time, but several factors work in their favor this time around. Tim Duncan, who has been well rested throughout the year, figures to play 5-7 more minutes than usual. Given his proficiency as a mid range shooter and a defensive scheme that will likely concede those open jump shots, the Spurs are less likely to experience any such drought this time around. While many pundits believe that either Howard or Gasol can match up with Duncan, that likely won’t be the case. Duncan looks revitalized while Gasol still struggles moving laterally. Expect that advantage to be pressed throughout the afternoon. Should Howard guard Duncan, that may lead to foul trouble for the foul-prone center, which would have a catastrophic effect on the Lakers defense.

When a poor shooting big man is on the floor, we can fully expect the fouling strategy to come into play. The strategy has some subtle implications. For all of his struggles at the line, Howard has demonstrated that he’s capable of hitting several free throws in a row. Moreover, even if he just shoots his average, the strategy amounts to 1 point per possession which is essentially the same thing as shooting 50% from the field. Assuming the Spurs do it over the course of say 4 total minutes in the game, the Spurs would get maybe 8 extra possessions.

Add it all up, and I see a high scoring battle where the game could get away from the Lakers.

Play: Over 190.5

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Courtesy: Getty Images
Photo by: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Photo by: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Good news came out of the Los Angeles Lakers headquarters this Saturday. Steve Nash fully participated in the Purple and Gold’s scrimmage today and will be available for the team’s post-season debut tomorrow against the Spurs at San Antonio.

Nash has been dealing with soreness on his hamstring, hips and back, which has sidelined the 39-year-old for the past eight games. The former two-time MVP’s last appearance happened against the Sacramento Kings on March 30th, when he was reduced to a little less than two minutes before being forced to leave the court. But an epidural shot taken on Tuesday has allowed the point guard to get back into playing shape, as stated by Nash himself to

I plan on playing unless there’s a setback between now & then. So far so good.

The possibility of Nash coming back as soon as tomorrow was acknowledged by Mike D’Antoni, who told ESPN’s Dave McMenanim that “he’s ready to roll”. However, the head coach didn’t commit to any predictions regarding the guard’s minutes after the layoff. As stated by D’Antoni to the Daily News’ Mark Medina:

Obviously he’s not going to play a lot of minutes. Whatever he can give us will be great. We’ll play it by ear. As the series goes on, he should get stronger.

Nash has averaged 12.7 points and 6.7 assists per game while appearing on 50 games, all of them as a starter, in his first season as a member of the Lakers. He’s just missed another “180 shooting” year after hitting 43.8% from beyond the arc, 92.2% from the free throw line, but 49.7% from the field.

In other news, Lakers’ forward Jordan Hill appears to be one step closer to his return after undergoing a left hip surgery on January 23rd. The 25-year-old power forward participated in a full-court drill, but without contact, as noted by McMenamin. Hill is expected to need another three to four weeks before being ready to play again, so any comeback hopes rely on the Lakers’ ability to go deep into the playoffs.

The Lakers will initiate their post-season journey tomorrow against the Spurs in San Antonio at 12:30 P.M. (PDT).

PhotoCredit:Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
PhotoCredit:Jae C. Hong:Associated Press
PhotoCredit:Jae C. Hong:Associated Press

After such a tumultuous season, the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers with a starting lineup consisting of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard have managed to will their way into the playoffs having secured the 7th seed and a first round matchup with the San Antonio Spurs.  This season was likely the most difficult, frustrating, and emotionally draining season for many, if not all, of the Lakers.

Despite the up’s and down’s of this season however, the Lakers managed to will their way into the playoffs winning a rather favorable matchup against the sliding San Antonio Spurs.  San Antonio is 3-7 in their last 10 games dating back to their final game in March.  They also have been dealing with injuries as of late to Manu Ginobili and their star Tony Parker, which have clearly affected their performance as of late.  Facing a beat up Spurs team is the best matchup in the West that Los Angeles could have asked for, as San Antonio isn’t young or fast enough to run LA out of the building much like OKC could do.

This brings me to what these playoffs actually mean for the Los Angeles Lakers, more than just winning and attempting to make a deep run.  These playoffs could truly decide the future of the Lakers and what should happen to them after this season is over. Without their fearless leader, Kobe Bryant, this years playoff team lacks a huge component, so big in fact many fans doubt their chances to even move past the first round.  Without Kobe, Los Angeles’ journey will certainly be more difficult, but it won’t be impossible, not if certain players step up and try to fill those shoes. This years playoffs could decide whether Dwight resigns, this years playoffs could decide what the Lakers front office does about Kobe Bryant, it could be the difference between the Lakers being a decent team for years to come, or a great one.

I’m pointing my finger directly at Dwight Howard.

Dwight Howard’s time to show LA what he’s all about, and what he is truly capable of is right now. If he wants fan support, front office support, and an overall sense of accomplishment, he’ll put his best games on the court now for the playoffs.  Dwight has said the weight shouldn’t fall all on his shoulders, and he’s right, but a large amount of it should because Dwight is a superstar and he needs to perform like one. As of late, him and Pau Gasol have found that elusive chemistry they had longed for since the start of the season.  This tandem out on the court is hard to beat especially when they’re playing at their best, an example would be the Lakers last win of the season against the Houston Rockets, Pau and Dwight combined for 38 rebounds, with Pau achieving a triple-double.

The Lakers will have to rely heavily on their front court because of the injuries to their backcourt of Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. Granted, Steve Blake and Jodie

PhotoCredit:Stephen Dunn:Getty Images
PhotoCredit:Stephen Dunn:Getty Images

Meeks have stepped up to fill the void, there’s only so much they can do. With Pau and Dwight at their best, and the rest of the Lakers role players stepping up, Los Angeles will be a difficult opponent for anyone in the Western Conference.

This year means more than just winning to win.  This year means winning for the late Dr. Buss.  This year means winning for Kobe Bryant, who did all he could to get the Lakers to this point in the season before that untimely achilles tear.  This year means winning for the fans of the Los Angeles Lakers who have stuck by the side of the Lakers since the start despite this roller coaster of a season. Dwight’s moment to step into the bright spotlight of Los Angeles is right now, and he couldn’t ask for a better moment.

We can’t predict the future or what will happen at the end of the season, we can only plan for right now and right now is the time to take action. This year will test the will power of the Lakers without their fearless leader being able to build up their spirits in times of hardship, but they’ve shown what they’re capable of these past couple games without him. Here’s to a deep run LakerNation, let’s go.

Photo courtesy of Noah Graham, Getty Images

Have you ever had a recurring random thought about something bad happening ? What about a dream so vivid and real that it wakes you up from a deep slumber and you don’t want to go back to sleep for fear of re-entering the very same scenario? I have a feeling the rest of the playoff participants from the Western Conference have been experiencing something like this for awhile, even more so, the last few weeks of the season. Players from those teams may deny it, but I believe it has happened. As the season has played out for the Lakers, they have been in one must win game after another, their playoff hopes hanging in the balance with every move they made or didn’t make on the court. This Lakers team has been many things to many people this year, but at the end of the regular season, you have to say they have been resilient if nothing else.

When Kobe blew out his achilles, this team was faced with an adversity unlike any other they had been asked to endure all year. Each player on the team had to look at themselves both individually and collectively and ask the question. Are we going to regroup and try to salvage a playoff berth or retreat into the summer and worry about it later? The answer was emphatically we are going to regroup. The Lakers answered the challenge, and with the help of the Utah Jazz losing their last game of the year, find themselves with the golden ticket in their hands. This is bad news for the rest of the West. The Lakers have new life, new energy, and the most dangerous thing of all, new belief in themselves.

The Lakers will enter the playoffs on a serious roll. As their season was winding down, they were playing every game with a heightened intensity and kicked into survival mode. That is what a team has to do in the playoffs. They have to overcome obstacles, rise above, and survive to play another day. The Lakers have been doing that for the last two weeks, and will coming riding into their first round match up with the Spurs battle tested and confident. It is my opinion that teams should have finished the Lakers off when they had the chance. The failure to do so has now given life to what once looked like a near extinct creature. The Lakers are alive and well, and they are headed into San Antonio to wreak havoc. There is nothing more dangerous than a team that wasn’t supposed to be in the playoffs, suddenly finding themselves with the same opportunity as every other team. The chance to hang a banner, get fitted for rings, have a parade. Oh and by the way, I think this team may have done that a couple times before. Los Angeles Lakers v Los Angeles Clippers

Starting on Sunday the Lakers will have a chance to serve notice to the rest of the league that the purple and gold monster is alive and well. Many teams have been dreaming of what the playoffs would be like without the Lakers. Countless Lakers haters have been waiting anxiously to declare the Clippers as the new kings of L.A. Funny thing happened on the way to the end of the season. The dreams turned into nightmares, and the Lakers crashed the party. Get ready Spurs. The Lakers are coming! The Lakers are coming!

Photo: Doug Pensinger | Getty Images
Photo: Doug Pensinger | Getty Images
Photo: Doug Pensinger | Getty Images

According to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, Dwight Howard is focused on making the San Antonio Spurs pay for the ‘Hack-a-Howard’ strategy.

In the most recent Spurs-Lakers matchup on April 14th, Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich implemented the ‘Hack-a-Howard’ scheme late to take advantage of Howard’s poor free-throw shooting.

Prior to the start of this upcoming playoff series, Howard issued a stern warning to Popovich and the rest of the Spurs:

“If they’re going to do that the whole series, God bless them,” Howard said. “There’s nothing I can do about it but go up there and shoot the free throws. Even if I make them, they’re still going to do it. So, that’s not my concern.

My concern is what I can control on the defensive end and then on the offensive end, just dominate. If they foul me, they foul me.

We’re going to make them pay.”

During the regular season, Howard shot a miserable 49.2% from the free-throw line. The Lakers certainly hope his efficiency from the charity stripe increases in the playoffs.

The ‘Hack-a-Howard’ strategy was somewhat effective in the last meeting between the Spurs and Lakers, in which Howard shot just 8 of 17 (47.1%) from the line.

Despite the strategy’s past success, coach Mike D’Antoni expressed similar confidence in Howard:

“I’m sure they’ll try it,” D’Antoni said. “We worked on Dwight being evasive out there today so they couldn’t catch him. But we’ll just deal with it. He’s going to make shots and he’ll make his foul shots.”

Like many around the NBA these days, D’Antoni despises the rule and hopes for a change in the future:

“I know when they vote, I guarantee I’ll vote yes,” D’Antoni said. “But the league will look at it. They look at everything, always. They just want to get it better. If it’s better for the game, then great. But, it’s not me to say when you have guys that they’re doing it to [ban it].

I’m sure it will happen [this series], and Dwight will step up and knock them down.”

Whether the ‘Hack-a-Howard’ strategy will be implemented and actually work in this year’s playoffs remains to be seen.

But, if Howard can capitalize on the extra opportunities at the line, it may give the underdog Lakers an added advantage as they look to upset the #2 seeded San Antonio Spurs.


#Vino Kobe T-Shirts from 24 Threads.

Congrats to Steve S. for winning our 24 Threads #Vino T-Shirt contest! He almost nailed Dwight Howard’s exact stat line (points, rebounds and blocks) in the Lakers huge win over the Houston Rockets at Staples Center on Wednesday.

For the rest of us that didn’t win, be sure to grab one of these great Vino Kobe shirts from the 24 Threads store, and you can always keep up with their latest gear by liking them on Facebook, and following them on Twitter.



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.
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