Monday, December 22, 2014
Blog Page 44

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PhotoCredit:GettyImages
PhotoCredit:Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports
PhotoCredit:Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports

No one truly knows when Kobe Bryant will call it a career except Kobe himself, and that’s how it should be.  Kobe stated as a rookie that he didn’t plan on playing past 35 years of age, or until he could no longer play at the extremely high level he performs at, and he’s stuck to his guns up to this point in his storied career.  The Laker faithful would love to see him play until he can no longer walk or dribble a basketball, I think everyone would actually, the man’s a future Hall of Famer. He’s been with the franchise since he was traded to Los Angeles on draft day in 1996, and he has no plans on ever playing for anyone but the purple and gold.

Kobe doesn’t plan on leading everyone on until the final minute about his retirement plans so he’s given himself a deadline of this upcoming Summer for his decision to be final.  This via NBA.com:

“We’ll talk,” Bryant said after piling up 19 points, 14 assists against one turnover and nine rebounds while playing all but 23 seconds of the 103-98 victory over the Kings at Sleep Train Arena. “I’ll talk to my family and stuff and really see if I want to continue to sacrifice as much as I’m sacrificing right now. I’m putting my body through a lot to just try to get ready to play every single night. To do what I’m doing right now, it’s not easy. I’ll tell you, it’s taken a lot of commitment.”

People and fans everywhere don’t often take a moment to sit and think about what it takes to play basketball as marvelously as Kobe Bryant does, sure he has the talent to back it up, but to tap into the full potential of that talent takes sacrifice, commitment, and the strongest love of the game one can imagine.  Asked if he thinks next season will be his last, Bryant was short and to the point:

“As I sit here right now, yeah.”

Is there anything the Lakers can say that would make it more likely you play beyond next season?

“No,” Bryant told NBA.com. “It’s my decision. It’s really about what I want to do, if I want to train and be psychotic with my training. That’s what it comes down to. It’s really how I’m feeling physically.”

PhotoCredit:Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
PhotoCredit:Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Personally, I feel Kobe will continue beyond next season, or he’ll take a season off, realize he made a mistake and make a comeback much like Michael Jordan did.  However, Kobe would likely come back to Los Angeles and play for them again as opposed to another team, but this is all just speculation and again no one knows what will happen except Bryant himself.

We all have to take a minute and think about how hard Bryant has worked over the past 17 years in the NBA, and the kind of love and dedication to the game he has.  Doing that for another 3 years is quite daunting to think about and at 35 years old by the start of next season Bryant may just not have it in him.  This Summer will be highly intriguing for Los Angeles with the pending resigning of C Dwight Howard and what direction the Lakers organization would like to take the franchise based on Bryant’s imminent decision.  In the end it’s Bryant’s decision to make and no one else should have a say in it, he’s absolutely earned that.

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Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

After going 0-2 in very winnable games against Phoenix and Washington the week before, the Lakers went .500 this week going 2-2. The Lakers made a late push but couldn’t get on top of the Warriors, continued their win streak against the Timberwolves, gave up a 14 point lead to the Milwaukee Bucks, and battled from behind and got the win in Sacramento. The Lakers have 9 games left in the season including games against Dallas, San Antonio, and the Clippers. Here are this week’s Top to Bottom.

 

TOP

Photo: Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

3. Steve Nash

Steve Nash exited Sunday night’s game 2 minutes in with a hamstring injury, but still made the top list by averaging 17.6 points (up from his season average of 12.7) and 7 assists per game in the three games before that. Nash’s injury was re-evaluated and will sit out Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks.

2. Dwight Howard

Dwight averaged 18.75 points, 15.25 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks a game in the four games played this week. Dwight is currently on a 20 game streak pulling double digit rebounds and has had at least one block in the last 13 games. Howard’s play has definitely improved throughout the season and with Metta World Peace out a playoff spot still not certain, we’ll need him to anchor our defense in the last 9 games of the season.

1. Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant broke another career record this week when he passed Wilt Chamberlain for the fourth spot on the all time scorers list. Bryant averaged 29 points and6.75 assists a game this week. The week was highlighted on Saturday against the Sacramento Kings when he went for 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 14 assists. That marks the third time Kobe tied his career high in assists this year.

 

 

BOTTOM

Photo: David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images

3. Lakers Defense

It’s been an issue all season long… the Lakers just can’t play consistent enough defense throughout a 48 minute game. Last week we saw the Lakers grab a 14 point lead to only let it slip away to the Milwaukee Bucks. The same story the week before when an 18 point lead turned into a loss to the Washington Wizards at home. We see it game after game when opposing teams are able to open the game with double digit leads or claw back into games just as the Wolves and Bucks did this week. Opposing guards are always able to find lanes to the basket once Howard sits down and Laker rotations just aren’t fast enough to find the open shooter. Now with MWP out for what will likely be the rest of the season, the Lakers need to find a way to tighten up their defense if they want to get into the playoffs, let alone make a run.

2. Jodie Meeks

Jodie Meeks finds himself on the bottom list again this week. Meeks took over the starter role left empty after MWP’s injury but hasn’t found the three-point stroke that the Lakers need from him. This week Meeks went only 28% from beyond the arch and 37% overall.

1. Earl Clark

Earl Clark has seen a significant decrease in playtime averaging only 15 minutes a game this past week. Clark went scoreless in three of the four games this week and averaged only 3 rebounds a game. With MWP out minutes should open back up for Clark but will he be able to show us the same productivity he did earlier in the season? Or is “Clarksanity” officially over?

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The Lakers need to do one of two things this offseason to have a chance at being a championship contender in 2013-14. STNTV’s Jason Riley explains.

The Lakers need to do one of two things this offseason to have a chance at being a championship contender in 2013-14. STNTV’s Jason Riley explains.

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Photo courtesy of Garrett Ellwood, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Garrett Ellwood, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Garrett Ellwood, Getty Images

They seem to slide in and out of contention each week, but you have to hand it to the Lakers – they never say die. Did they lose their 8th seed to the Jazz? Yes (indefinitely). Should they throw in the towel and call it a season? With Kobe Bryant on the team, are you kidding? With nine games left in the regular season, this team doesn’t have a lot of time to waste so they took care of business tonight up in Sacramento with a 103-98 victory.

HIGH POINTS:
Kobe Bryant – He played all but 22 seconds of the game, scored 19 points, handed out 14 assists, grabbed nine rebounds, had two steals, committed just a single turnover(!) and, oh yes, he passed Wilt Chamberlain to be the fourth leading scorer in NBA history. To say Bryant was busy would be the understatement of the evening. With Steve Nash only able to play about a minute and a half before checking out for the rest of the night, Bryant knew he had to do the extra heavy lifting and did so accordingly. He shot just 5-18 from the field, with a couple of spectacular you-can-call-me-old-all-you-want-but-I-can-still-dunk-on-you plays, but it was his guidance of the offense that tipped this game in the Lakers’ favor. Sacramento doubled Bryant almost every time he had the ball, and he made them pay by passing to a cutting Pau Gasol for a dunk, handing off to Dwight waiting at the rim and sending passes to guys on the perimeter who hit from downtown. The Lakers had 28 assists tonight and Bryant was responsible for half of those.
Dwight Howard – There’s not much left to say about his 4-10 from the free throw line, but Howard is so much more than that (thank goodness). Continuing his dominance on the floor, Howard showed off with another double-double – 24 points on 10-14 from he field, 15 rebounds, five blocks and a steal. He’s truly working his rear end off and it is paying in dividends. There wasn’t much that DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson could do to make the game hard on Howard. He reached out for rebounds, fought for loose balls and in one sequence, saved the ball from going out of bounds, then quickly sent a no-look pass to Earl Clark for an open dunk and his singular assist of the game.
Pau Gasol – A double-double isn’t a rarity for Gasol, but it usually involves points and rebounds. Tonight he scored 12 points on 6-11, but he also handed out 10 assists. Those who doubted the Gasol-Howard pairing before are probably resting somewhat easy now. The two Laker bigs are doing their jobs. Gasol’s two rebounds? Not a problem when Howard has gobbled up 15 boards. Like Bryant, it was Gasol’s playmaking that made a difference in this game. He is heralded as one of the best-passing big men in the league and for good reason. When he gets the ball inside and the defense collapses, he sees the open shooters. When he sees Howard, he sends over the lob. This is the ideal version of Pau Gasol that opposing teams have difficulty planning for, and hopefully this version remains for as long as he’s in a Laker uniform.
Bench Boys – The Laker reserves outscored the Kings’ bench 32-20, led by the sharp-shooting Steve Blake who went 5-8 from behind the arc for his 15 points. Antawn Jamison, still nursing that tear in his wrist, pitched in 10 points and seven rebounds and Earl Clark put in seven points, four rebounds and a pair of steals of his own.
Second Half – The Lakers allowed the Kings 57 points in the first half on 51% shooting. Sacramento got to the rim fairly easily and they shot 6-12 from three-point range. They even led by as much as 12 in the first 24 minutes. Luckily, the Lakers came out of halftime with more fervor on the defensive end. Sacramento was outscored 29-18 in the third quarter where the Lakers took over the lead, and for the second half, they shot just 39% from the field. The Kings played such a clean first and second quarters, but in the third quarter alone, turned the ball over seven times.
Turnovers –  Speaking of turnovers, the Lakers committed just four in the first half and only seven for the game…SEVEN TURNOVERS FOR THE GAME, which led to just six points for the Kings. It’s funny how much they can accomplish when they’re doing something as simple as taking care of the ball.

LOW POINTS:
9th Place – With all the efforts they made after the All-Star break to make it into the final seed, it’s disappointing to be left out of it again. With Utah and Houston both winning tonight, the Lakers still remain cut off from the playoffs at this point. Losing 4-5 before this game didn’t help, but obviously there’s no time to mull over it.

There are two and half weeks left before the end of the regular season, and the playoff hopes continue to hang in the balance. They’re still trying to get by with multiple injuries in the books, but Kobe Bryant summed up what should be the team’s state of mind as well. Asked by he played practically the entire game, he replied, “We’ve got nine games left, I can push through this thing.” They must push through this thing.

Box Score

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The Lakers gave up 95 points in the last 3 quarters of the Bucks game on Thursday night. 95 points! The worst part is that the Bucks, a perimeter shooting team, didn’t even go THAT crazy from 3(7 for 19).  Rather, the Lakers gave up points in every other way imaginable including put backs, transition opportunities off turnovers, layups off pick and roll, and…well you get the point.

Next up are the Kings, who are quietly playing well behind the inspired play of Tyreke Evans and Isaiah Thomas. The Kings pose several challenges for the Lakers. They have “bigs” who can shoot from the perimeter in Cousins and Patterson, guards who can get to the hole in Evans and Thomas, streak shooters who can get hot in Thornton and Fredette , and a generally athletic squad that can make the Lakers pay for their turnovers.  The Lakers are 73 games into the season and haven’t shown any signs of correcting their biggest deficiencies, turnovers and defensive cohesion, or lack thereof. With Kobe expected to play, but not close to 100%, expect him to be a liability on defense.  Injuries to Gasol and Nash should only exacerbate the problems the Lakers are having on defense.

As if there wasn’t enough glaring evidence, there are several trends that portend a shootout tonight.  The Kings are the quintessential “over” team. The total has gone over in 23 of their home 33 games this year and 16 of their last 22 games overall.  Meanwhile, the total has gone well over in the last 4 Laker games thanks to the abysmal Lakers defense.  Lastly, Kings/Lakers matchups traditionally trend towards the over as was the case in 34 of their last 50 matchups!

Play: Over 217

 

Disclaimer: LakerNation.com is not responsible for any decisions made, financial or otherwise, based on information or links provided within this article.

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Photo courtesy of Gary Dineen, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Gary Dineen, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Gary Dineen, Getty Images

“Lakers lost the lead,” is becoming the media’s mantra of late, and you have to wonder if the team is as sick of doing it as we are of saying it after every other game, win or lose. A once promising post-All-Star break Cinderalla story seemed so long ago. The Lakers came up from the ashes after being eight games below a .500 record, to suddenly competing for not just a playoff spot, but perhaps a higher seed. Even despite enduring the absence of both Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol for a stretch, they managed to keep rolling, running farther away from the Utah Jazz whom they overtook in the standings. And then a three-game slide came about, one against the lowly Wizards at Staples Center despite once leading by 18 points.

Then there’s tonight – getting off to a quick start in the first quarter, then slowing down in the second, exchanging leads back and forth in the third, and then completely losing their grip on the game in the fourth. After allowing Milwaukee just 18 points in the first quarter, the Lakers were outscored 95-78 in the final three, en route to a 103-113 loss.

HIGH POINTS:
Good Start – The Lakers have had many good starts this season, but often can’t get the game to end well. Tonight, they allowed the Bucks to scored just 18 points in the first 12 minutes on 35% shooting. They shared the ball (six assists on nine made field goals) and were active on the glass.
Balanced Scoring – Again, there was a good distribution of points, as six Lakers were in double figures, led by Kobe Bryant’s 30 points. Steve Nash took over in the second quarter, going 4-5 from the field to score 14 of his 16 points.
Dwight Howard – Howard, for his part, continued with his consistent play. The game after a 25 point-16 rebound, 5 block, 5 assist game, he chipped in 15 points on 6-8 from the field, 15 rebounds and three blocks. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the opportunity to attempt more than that. Eight field goal attempts in almost 39 minutes of playing time. Th

LOW POINTS:
Turnovers – 21 turnovers last night and no improvement tonight with 18, which led to 22 Bucks’ points. Milwaukee knew how to play up to the Lakers’ weakness – fast breaks. With 18 miscues, the Lakers practically dared the Bucks to leave them in the dust as they scored easily on the other side, and they racked up 30 fast break points as a result.
Offense – Where to begin? How about their 5-20 from behind the arc. Or Howard’s 3-10 from the free throw line. Bryant’s 6-17 from the field. How about their ball movement, which was present in the first quarter and, for the most part, ended there. They handed out just 19 assists on 34 made field goals for the game, and in the end only shot 44%.

There isn’t much to say that we haven’t already said about this team, but if they continue on this “system” of play, they may not even get to keep their playoff spot. Dallas and Portland are creeping in, and the Lakers have to know that nothing needs fixing, but their effort and attitude. If they can’t figure that out by now, the won’t be going anywhere.

Box Score

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Photo by: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Photo by: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Photo by: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers suffered another big blow to their injury-plagued season on Monday against the Golden State Warriors, when starting small forward Metta World Peace torn the lateral meniscus in his left knee. This Thursday, as the Purple and Gold prepared to face the Milwaukee Bucks, MWP underwent a successful surgery back in L.A. However, he’s expected to miss at least the next six weeks due to the procedure.

Therefore, World Peace will not be able to play again in the regular season. The doctors’ timetable of six weeks might enable the man formerly known as “Ron Artest” to be back in the line-up if the Lakers advance to the second round of the Playoffs. But if the 33-year-old forward doesn’t manage to come back in time for another game this season, he might have already made his last appearance as a member of the Purple and Gold. World Peace, who has a player option for $7.7 million next year, can decide to hit the free-agency market on July.

It was the first serious injury suffered by World Peace this season, but the same cannot be said about the rest of the Lakers team. Almost every key player of LAL’s rotation was forced to miss games recently. Steve Nash was out for 24 contests due to a lower leg injury. Steve Blake was inactivated on 37 games after suffering a severe abdominal strain. Pau Gasol missed 33 with a concussion, knee tendonitis and plantar fascia tear. Dwight Howard wasn’t able to suit up for six games due to a torn labrum. A hip injury has forced Jordan Hill to miss 42 games, and he’s unlikely to return this season. Even Kobe Bryant, who is as tough as they come, had to be sidelined on two contests due to an ankle sprain.

I was hurt because Metta, he’s been strong all year. He hasn’t really had that many problems and then he gets hit with a serious injury. It just seems like all year when somebody comes out (off the injured list), somebody goes down. So, it’s kind of tough and to see Metta go down, it kind of hurt.

Dwight Howard, via USA Today

World Peace was averaging 12.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.70 steals this season, as well as often being designated to defend the opposing team’s best player. Also, L.A. had a +3.4 point differential with MWP on the court, as opposed to -5.3 when he was on the bench, a feat that no other Laker was able to match in 2012-13, as reported by Lakers.com’s Mike Trudell.

Head coach Mike D’Antoni has replaced Metta with Jodie Meeks in the starting line-up, moving Kobe Bryant to the starting small forward position.

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Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Lakers should have won going away last night, but that’s just not the Laker way now is it? Instead the Lakers held off a late-game flurry from the Wolves to earn the 120-117 victory, going “over” the total but not covering the -4.5 handicap. They don’t have much time to enjoy the victory with the next game coming up tonight against the Bucks in Milwaukee.

The Lakers have been a dubious proposition in back to back games all season, never having swept both nights all year. With a shortened rotation that led to the starters logging 35+ minutes last night, the Lakers will surely be in for a test tonight. The Lakers have gone “under” in 9 of the 12 times they’ve been placed in this back to back predicament, shooting poorly in many of those games. Moreover, the Lakers shot exceptionally well last night going 10 for 22 from the 3-point line. That level of shooting efficiency most likely won’t continue.

On the other side, the Bucks played big minutes last night as well because of Frank Boylan’s decision to bench Brandon Jennings for a significant portion of the game. Rarely showing any restraint, the Bucks are primarily a jump shooting team with Jennings, Ellis, Redick, and Dunleavy frequently hoisting 3s throughout the game. That looks to hold up tonight as the Lakers bigs prefer to play in the paint instead of chasing guards outside.

Add it all up, and this game has the makings of going under.

Play: Under 209

Disclaimer: LakerNation.com is not responsible for any decisions made, financial or otherwise, based on information or links provided within this article.

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PhotoCredit:Chris Graythen/Getty Images
PhotoCredit:Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant is a scorer, he’s said so himself, that’s just how he plays the game, to score the rock.  So it’s no surprise to hear the greatest scorer in the game is climbing the ladder to the top where the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar rests upon his throne.

At the end of tonight’s emphatic win at Minnesota Bryant scored 31 points putting him at 31,385 career points, good for fifth all-time which he’s held since February 2012.  Wilt Chamberlain sits right above him at 31,419 career points, which means Bryant is a mere 34 points away from the record itself and 35 points away from keeping fourth place all to himself.

Barely ahead of fourth place is the illustrious Michael Jordan at 32,292 career points.  Kobe is 908 points away from breaking that record and currently Bryant is averaging 27 points a game, at that pace it would take him about another 34 games to take over Jordan for third place.  More than likely Jordan is who Bryant is aiming at, just as he’s aiming at that elusive sixth ring that Jordan holds so dear.

Distancing himself from third-fifth place is Karl Malone at 36,928 career points.  Bryant would need about 205 games at 27 PPG to take over second place on the list, still attainable for Bryant as this is about two and a half more full seasons.

38,387 points is perched at the top by some guy named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and that milestone may never be eclipsed.  Bryant, at 27 PPG, would have to play 259 more

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

games at that pace to take out the all-time leader.  That number marks just over 3 more seasons of Bryant playing at the level he’s currently at, not impossible for a player such as Bryant, but at 37 years old it’s a lot to ask.  That’s also assuming he plays that long, and doesn’t miss any time to injury. Bryant has previously said he has no desire to play past his prime or the high level he and everyone around him has been so accustomed to seeing night in and night out for the past 16 years.

Bryant deserves to go down as the greatest scorer the NBA has ever seen, even if he falls short of Kareem’s highly esteemed record. However records are meant to be broken, and records are never completely safe, so Laker Nation I ask you this: Will Kobe eclipse Kareem and become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer before his career is finished?

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Photo courtesy of David Sherman, Getty Images.
Photo courtesy of David Sherman, Getty Images.
Photo courtesy of David Sherman, Getty Images.

Tonight was all about streaks. The Miami Heat’s winning streak ended at 27 in Chicago, keeping the ‘71-’72 Lakers’ 33-game winning streak safe and sound. The Lakers arrived in Minnesota and ended a three-game losing streak with their 22nd win in a row over the Timberwolves. Despite this dominance over one team, however, with the way the Lakers’ have been playing, not to mention the bad run of injuries that they are continually forced to endure this season, even a win in Minnesota wasn’t a sure thing. Fortunately, the victory came anyway.

It wasn’t the smoothest, nor was it the cleanest game. Neither team handled the ball very carefully, collectively accumulating 36 turnovers. The Lakers, however, playing without Metta World Peace who had surgery today on a torn lateral meniscus on his left knee, played as they should for a good three quarters and change; distributing the ball, playing defense and keeping the Timberwolves at bay. As per usual, however, the fourth quarter Achilles heel reared its ugly head and a nail-biting last few minutes (that didn’t need to be nail-biting had they maintained their largest lead – 15) ensued. In the end, however, the Lakers got the 120-117 W.

HIGH POINTS:
Balance & Ball Movement – When the Lakers have won a game this season, more often than not, good ball movement, which causes balanced scoring, is a factor. Against the Warriors, the ball moved between baskets for the Lakers, but rarely did it move between players on the one side. Tonight, the offense was more fluid, more precise (save the 21 turnovers of course) and it led to higher percentage shots. 40% of the Lakers’ final score was done on the inside, thanks in large part to Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, who’s shaken off quite a bit of rust after missing a month and half of action. The Lakers handed out 27 assists, led by Steve Nash’s eight dimes and Kobe Bryant’s seven. Five players scored in double figures, including 18 from Antawn Jamison off the bench, despite the wrist injury he is still nursing.
Dwight Howard – Still questionable in late-game situations at the free throw line, but aside from that, Howard was a monster in every other case. He got into early foul trouble, entering halftime with three fouls and picking up his fourth just three minutes into the third. He had to sit out the rest of the quarter, but came back into the final 12 minutes and went 4-5 for 11 points, grabbed four rebounds and picked up a pair of steals. He finished the game with 25 points on 9-13 from the field, 16 rebounds, five steals and five blocks.
Third Quarter – The Lakers might have had to play without their defensive anchor, Howard, in the third quarter, but they retaliated with their offense. They allowed the Timberwolves to scored 33 points on 65% shooting (!), but the purple and gold poured out 41 third quarter points on 72% from the field. Bryant had 16 points on 7-9. Apparently if you can’t defend them, outscore them.

LOW POINTS:
Turnovers – The Lakers had 15 turnovers in the first half. Fortunately for them, the Timberwolves only scored 13 points from their miscues. They cleaned it up in the second half, committing just six turnovers, but 21 for a game is too much. Had they cut those mistakes in half, their largest lead would have been more than just 15 points.
Fourth Quarter – The fourth quarter was as bad as the third quarter was good. That’s the most accurate way to describe what the Lakers put themselves through with just 12 minutes left to play in the game. They entered the fourth quarter with a 12-point lead after having just shot 72% from the field in the third. Minnesota outscored the Lakers 38-29, shooting 52% while the Lakers could muster up just 40% shooting. With three minutes left in the game, and the purple and gold  hanging on to that 12-point lead, Minnesota went to work, hacking Howard into eight trips to the free throw line, of which he hit two. On the defensive end, the Lakers left Dante Cunningham, who went for 18 points tonight, open for jumper after jumper and let Chase Budinger and Ricky Rubio get to the hoop with little resistance. It was literally a fight to the finish, but it’s been the case often this season with these Lakers.

With this win, the Lakers remain attached to that eight seed and have a chance to sweep their first back-to-back of the season tomorrow in Milwaukee. With Gasol and Bryant back, perhaps the back-to-back won’t hurt as much with the nine, instead of seven, man rotation.

Box Score

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Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix SunsThe Lakers are now on a three game losing streak. From the second half of the Wizards game through the first half of the Warriors game, the Lakers were outscored 125-83. Over that stretch, the Lakers have particularly been killed from the 3, rarely contesting anything on the perimeter over that stretch. While Dwight Howard has been in good form, his efforts are ultimately futile if his teammates don’t “help the helper” which the Lakers have been guilty of all season. To make matters worse, the Lakers also lost one of their better defenders(although that’s not saying much) with World Peace expected to miss some time.

The injury leaves the door open for Jodie Meeks to enter the starting lineup. After a good start to the season, MWP has been terrible from the 3-point line. The hope is that Meeks will pose a much greater shooting threat on the perimeter over Peace and a quicker lineup capable of getting easier shots in transition.

The move will lead to Kobe playing at the 3 spot along with more minutes. Minnesota has been beset with injuries and does not boast the type of players that Kobe will take seriously(i.e. Ridnour, Kirilenko, Shved). The result will likely be a lot of open 3s and backdoor cuts for the Wolves role players at Kobe’s expense as he tries to conserve energy on that end. Combine that with the faulty rotations that Rubio and Barea will exploit in the pick and roll and drives to the basket, and it seems like the Wolves will have no problems putting up points tonight. In their last 10 games, the Wolves haven’t had problems scoring aside from the games when they were matchup up with elite defenses(i.e. Memphis, Chicago, Indiana)

Add it all up, and it looks like this game is going over.

Play: Over 203

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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:

 

#10:

He got away with a shot. I’ll remember this game. He said he wasn’t trying to do it. You can look at the play and see for yourself. I’ll take care of it later.

Dwight Howard, on getting elbowed by Warriors’ David Lee, via the Daily News

#9:

Better player means slowing down and taking what the defense gives you. Although he’s big, strong and explosive, you don’t have to overpower everybody on every trip to get a shot. Sometimes you can catch it. If you’re open, shoot it. If not, take one dribble and jump over the guy. That’s still a good shot. Proving how good you are doesn’t mean proving how strong you are.

Lakers’ assistant Chuck Person on Dwight Howard, via the Daily News

#8:

If we make the playoffs and lose in the 1st round, it’s worthless and we failed.

Pau Gasol, via ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne

#7:

You’re not going to do any damage in the playoffs unless those two guys are on the floor.

Mike D’Antoni on Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, via the Daily News

#6:

Kobe will tell you. He’s like, ‘Look, you guys as my teammates, yell at me. Let me know that you’re open because I’m so programmed,’ and this guy has told me this, ‘I see nothing but that basket. You could be open, there could be three guys on me, but the only thing I see is that basket so you have to tell me, Look, I was open. Or yell at me mid-play. That doesn’t affect me at all and I respect that.’ It’s great to be with him. I love a guy who expects so much from his teammates. I mean, this guy eats, sleeps basketball and the only thing he wants to do is to win another championship and I’ve never seen anybody as focused, as dedicated as Kobe.

Antawn Jamison on Kobe Bryant, via ESPN

#5:

As long as it’s mathematical, it’s possible. If we just win all our games, then it’s possible. But, again, you got to be a little realistic. Will it be hard? Yes. And, will I be happy with (the eighth seed)? Yes. I’ll be happy getting in the playoffs. I don’t care where it is right now.

Mike D’Antoni on possibly clinching the 6th seed, via ESPN

#4:

We put our hands in (the huddle), and you’ve guys have probably seen it, we say ‘Championship!’ and go out. That’s laughable. Championship? You gotta be kidding me. If we don’t change, we obviously won’t make the playoffs. But even if we do, then we’ll get blown out.

Mike D’Antoni, after the Lakers loss to the Wizards, via CBS Sports

#3;

I don’t think it’s time to get emotional. We got to just maintain our poise and just think about what are we going to do. It’s really not an emotional thing. It’s just X’s and O’s.

Kobe Bryant, following the Lakers loss to the Warriors, via ESPN

#2:

If our minds and our hearts are really into it, we can be a heck of a team. We can beat anybody. When we move the ball, we’re hard to beat.

Pau Gasol, via the L.A. Times

#1:

Am I talking about Kobe? I’m talking about Kobe, I’m talking about me, I’m talking about Dwight Howard, I’m talking about Steve Nash, I’m talking about everybody. Now, to say one is more guilty than the other? No. It doesn’t really matter. It’s, ‘The Lakers screwed up.’ And the Lakers are going to go forward and try to fix it. I’m mad at myself, I’m mad at the coaches, I’m mad at the players, we’re all mad and we all have to do a better job. You try to pick spots (to get angry) because you can’t just be a mad man the whole time. Sometimes adrenaline gets to you and gets a little bit of the best of you, but at the same time players have to know that, ‘Hey, we just messed up royally’ — coaches and the players (have to know that) — and hopefully the message gets through.

Mike D’Antoni, via ESPN

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

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

The Warriors hadn’t beaten the Lakers since April of 2011. Tonight, they beat them and beat them well and good. This is one of those games where the final score, 103-109, doesn’t come close to telling the whole story. That six point advantage in the end was as high as 25 and, unlike their opponents, Golden State knows how to keep a lead.

HIGH POINTS:
Turnovers – The Lakers had just nine turnovers for the game, to the Warriors’ 11. Unfortunately, they didn’t take enough of an advantage, only gaining 10 points from Golden State’s miscues.
Misc. Stats – The Lakers were actually even with the Warriors in points in the paint (40 points), scored more second chance points (17-8) and even had more fast break points (17-9). They also outrebounded Golden State, had double the steals of the home team, and was just five dimes short of the Warriors’ assist total. They attempted and converted on more free throws (25-36) than the home team (13-19) and made just four less three pointers. The Lakers had four players in double figures and Dwight Howard grabbed 15 rebounds to lead the game. The difference was the defense.
Warriors - The rest of the high points in tonight’s game were sponsored by the Golden State Warriors. They had five players in double figures, with David Lee (25 points, 12 reb), Steph Curry (25 points, 10 ast, 7 reb) and Klay Thompson (22 points, 4 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl, 1 block) leading the way. Golden State also hit 10-23 from beyond the arc and every Laker mini-run, was answered quickly by a Warriors run.

LOW POINTS:
Defense – Short-term memories, these Lakers; as if they’d forgotten already how the Wizards lit them up in the second half just two nights ago. Tonight they allowed the Warriors a 63-point first half, while only able to score 40 themselves. The Lakers returned the favor in the second half, going for 63 points led by Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. They managed to keep Golden State at 40% shooting and only allowed them 46 points for the second half, but trying to pull themselves out of a 25-point deficit (again) is still a tall order in the final 12 minutes of any game. The Lakers didn’t have to fall so far behind, but their defense didn’t kick in until the last few minutes of the third quarter and into the fourth. Unfortunately, there isn’t a heroic comeback hidden in every game, which is unfortunate because the Lakers could have really used one tonight.

Those comeback wins not so long ago – they were punctuations to an exciting time this season. Kobe Bryant was in beast mode, Dwight Howard was healthier, the bench was contributing regularly, the team was climbing out from beneath the 8th seed, and the Lakers just looked like a group of players who were coming together. They had that us-against-the-world swag about them and finally, we all thought, the road ahead looked straight…and then there are moments like this – a three-game losing streak and the teams below that final playoff seeding chomping at the Lakers’ heels, and the Lakers appearing to have hit yet another wall.

Box Score

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FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

The Lakers are coming off one of their more disappointing losses of the year and that’s saying something) after blowing a 17-point lead in the second half to the Wizards.

Meanwhile, the Warriors dispatched that same Wizards team a night later to give Golden State a 3.5 game lead over the Lakers for the sixth seed. The loss and the fallout after the D’Antoni post game press conference overshadow reasons for optimism in Laker land. While most would point to the return of Pau and Kobe, the resurgence of Dwight Howard might be more important than anything.

Howard is starting to resemble the player who garnered 3 consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards. Do they get off to slow starts? Of course. Do they lose focus when they have big leads? You bet. But when they are locked in, especially Kobe, they’ve been much more effective on that end.

The Warriors have generally sputtered over the last month and a half. They had an impressive, albeit overdue, victory over the Rockets, and a few other bright spots (I.e. home win over Spurs), but in general have been the weakest of the Lakers/Rockets/Warriors trio jockeying for 6-7-8 seeding in the west. They’ve struggled to score of late with teams getting more physical with Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson’s shooting being more off than on this year.

Add it all up and you have a toss up game (not a surprise considering the spread is Warriors -1) where there is no real compelling side play. However, there is indeed some value on the total. Note that the Warriors have gone under the total in 8 of their last 10 games, while the Lakers have gone under in 5 of their last 7. It’s also important to note that Kobe still isn’t healthy, but that won’t stop the Lakers from forcing the ball to him as the game tightens up.

Pau will take some time to get back to speed so we shouldn’t expect him to play well and Jamison’s shooting (a bright spot of late) could be compromised because of a recent wrist injury. On the other end, the Lakers should be especially focused after giving up 62 points in a disastrous second half on Friday.

Play: Under 204.5

Disclaimer: LakerNation.com is not responsible for any decisions made, financial or otherwise, based on information or links provided within this article.

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