Thursday, December 18, 2014
Blog Page 51

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Duke or North Carolina? Both schools have storied traditions, outstanding coaches, and an atmosphere that other colleges can only dream of. Both schools figured that would be enough to bring Chris Paul into their basketball programs. Then Skip Prosser had something to say about it.

“Wake Forest beat Duke after a big game, and I was a junior or senior in high school,” Paul said. “And Skip Prosser came up to me and said, ‘See, we’re trying to build something.’ We wanted Wake to be like the Dukes and North Carolinas. Obviously we have a long way to go but that had a lot to do with why I went to Wake.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images

ESPNLA Writer Arash Markazi reported Chris Paul’s statements on his decision on Wake Forest and how it relates to Clipper mania. It revisited when David Stern decided against sending Chris Paul to the Lakers for “basketball reasons” but discussed that not many people know that Chris Paul wanted to go to the Clippers instead.

Some might think Paul is simply playing revisionist history, but he swears he always wanted to be a Clipper. Even while his trade to the Lakers was being worked out with a Clippers trade on the backburner, Paul said Thursday night, he always hoped the Clippers deal would happen instead of the Lakers deal.

“They were talking about the possibility of where I might be traded to,” Paul said. “I really hoped and wanted to come here and try to build something and do things that have never been done here.”

Kind of difficult to believe for someone that tweeted “WoW” minutes after it was reported that the trade was declined, yet to each their own. Since then the Clippers and Lakers have traded roles as franchises. The Clippers are one of the hottest teams in the NBA this season while the Lakers are attempting to reach .500 and make the playoffs. Even to this day people wonder how the Lakers would look if Chris Paul was inserted into their lineup. Everyone except Chris.

“Never,” Paul said. “I can’t. I’m in the moment and loving what I’m doing right now.”

During this All-Star break the Lakers have a chance to regroup and rest. With all the abuse they have taken this season, on and off the court, they certainly need it if the want to make a serious run at the playoffs after Sunday. I know for certain that something must also be done about merchandise sells in Los Anegels as well.

When Paul arrived in Los Angeles, he couldn’t find a single Clippers hat. He and his wife drove around the city, trying to find one hat to wear but continually came up empty. Fast-forward a year, and Paul was sent a picture of the Magic Johnson Sports store at LAX last week that was filled with more Clippers hats and shirts than Lakers merchandise.

Only a Laker turn around can fix this as soon as possible.

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Image Credit: Mark J. Terrill | AP
dwight-howard-no-headband
Credit: Getty Images

Let the drama in Laker-land continue.

According to sources, the Lakers have held preliminary discussions with the Boston Celtics regarding a trade that would include both Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo.

The NBA trade deadline of February 21st is quickly approaching, and it’s no secret that Danny Ainge has tried to move Rondo before. The Lakers have stated they have no interest in trading Howard before the deadline, but stranger and more unpredictable things have happened.

It remains unlikely that a blockbuster including the two stars would materialize over the next six days. However, on the heels of rumors that Dwight Howard may have his eyes set on the Brooklyn Nets during the off-season, it’s not out of the question that the Lakers would consider a hasty move (see: Mike Brown).

Dwight has remained vague and noncommittal to the Lakers beyond this season. While it’s hard to speculate exactly what the future holds, we can be certain the Lakers organization will shake things up if the team continues to struggle for the remainder of the season.

 

 

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PhotoCredit: BleacherReport.com
PhotoCredit: BleacherReport.com

Tired of hearing about the Dwightmare that seems to take a new turn every day?  Yeah, me too.  With the latest turn of events we see that Dwight Howard reportedly has said that he plans to play in Brooklyn next season.  This coming from a source close to ESPN basketball insider, Stephen A. Smith.  Here’s what the source said via BleacherReport:

A source close to the situation found that the Los Angeles Lakers center recently told Rudy Gay, “on the court,” that he made a mistake by getting traded to the Toronto Raptors.

D12 allegedly went on to say that the swingman “should have waited” until next year, when the two stars could have wound up in Brooklyn together.”

Notice the fact that the report says that Dwight spoke to Rudy Gay “on the court” regarding Brooklyn.  The Lakers haven’t played either The Grizzlies or The Raptors since the trade that sent Gay to Toronto went down.  This leads to questions of credibility about the source that gave out this kind of information.  Is it just another story to fire up the rumor mill? Does it have any clout in the sports world whatsoever?  These are questions that lead me to believe that these reports are highly exaggerated or fabricated entirely.

This was also taken from the BleacherReport article regarding Howard wanting to go to The Nets:

Ryan Ruocco, Smith’s co-host on the radio program, asked if Dwight was “delusional” by thinking he is still going to wind up in Brooklyn. Smith confirmed that D12 truly believes he will be a Net and that the star center thinks he can make something happen to get there in the near future.

It’s because of stories like this that make me nervous about where Dwight will be at the start of next season.  Whether or not the report is true about Dwight speaking to Gay on the court, it doesn’t cover up the fact that Dwight may very well have his sights set on Brooklyn and not Los Angeles.

PhotoCredit: BleacherReport.com
PhotoCredit: BleacherReport.com

That February 21st trade deadline is coming in hot, and who knows what moves (if any) Mitch Kupchak is going to make.  I feel if the Los Angeles front office isn’t at least 80% sure Dwight Howard will resign with The Lakers we need to trade him. The worst possible scenario would be Dwight leaving to free agency and Los Angeles getting absolutely nothing but the door shutting behind Dwight as he leaves Staples Center. However, it’s still unlikely that Mitch will make a move even if Dwight wants to leave due to the foot injury to Pau Gasol.  Gasol is still up to 7 weeks from returning to the lineup, and LA can’t afford to be without a big man until then.  The Lakers front office would have to trade Dwight for another big man such as Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets in order for a trade to work without leaving The Lakers in a situation where they lack a front court entirely.

Personally, I hope Dwight Howard stays with Los Angeles; sure he’s not been the power house Dwight Howard we all knew, but he has the potential to be. Once all this hype over The Lakers dissipates and Dwight continues to heal and move forward from his back injury last April, he’ll come back to being more of his former dominating self. One thing Dwight needs to know is that when Kobe Bryant retires (unfortunately, he has to at some point), Dwight will become the centerpiece of

PhotoCredit:Noah Graham:NBAE:Getty Images
PhotoCredit:Noah Graham:NBAE:Getty Images

Los Angeles, it will become his team.  Kobe could play a few more years should he so choose, but if The Mamba sticks to his guns he plans on calling it quits at age 35.  His 35th birthday would land right before the start of the next and possibly final season for Kobe Bryant.

Can Dwight wait that long? Does he even want to be King in LA?  More questions about the Dwightmare continue to circulate and won’t likely cease until Dwight lands somewhere and inks a long-term contract.  I want to hear what you think, where do you think Dwight will end up after this season?   I suppose only time can truly tell.

Where do you want to see Dwight Howard play next season?

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Bumbys-Lakers

A Fair and Honest Appraisal of: the Los Angeles Lakers.

C’mon, Lakers, get it the F*&% together!! You guys are like the Bad News Bears if the Bad News Bears got paid the equivalent of the GDP of a moderately-sized island nation. Ol’ man Kobe Bryant is complaining about kids these days, Dwight Howard’s like that girl at my high school who was always on crutches because it got her attention, Metta World Peace just hired a donkey as his personal trainer, Steve Nash somehow looks even weirder WITHOUT his butt cut, and Mike D’Antoni just looks like a giant mouse. Y’all are the BLUE CHIPS BASKETBALL TEAM, not a quirky bunch of ragtag underdogs!! Big I guess if the playoffs don’t work out this year (and they’re totally not gonna) you can always play exhibition games against the Washington Generals — it’s not a guaranteed win, but it’s a start.

Overall rating: 4.5

More about the Bumby’s:

Anonymous performance artists Gill & Jill Bumby provide “Fair and Honest Appraisals of Your Appearance” with nothing more than their manual typewriters and charming wit.  It’s as simple as it sounds – you stand front and center and they type you a personalized assessment of what they think your look says about you.

Check them out on Facebook and Twitter, and be sure to stop in and get your personal assessment next time they’re in your area.

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The Lakers have stumbled into the All-Star break at 25-29, good for 10th in the West. The acquisition of Dwight Howard, to go along with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, was supposed to make the Lakers championship contenders. So far, Howard hasn’t shown that he’s up for the task. Does he deserve all the criticism he’s been getting from fans and the media?

Our own David Brickley and Jason Riley discuss on the latest edition of Voice of the Nation: Fastbreak.

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Photo courtesy of Frederic J. Brown, Getty images.
Photo courtesy of Frederic J. Brown, Getty images.
Photo courtesy of Frederic J. Brown, Getty images.

The Lakers handed out t-shirts at tonight’s game that say, “I LOVE MY LAKERS” on the front in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, no matter how much the Laker faithful love this team, this team can’t seem to love themselves. That is, love themselves TOGETHER.

There are some games where the Lakers are operating as a sum of their exceptionally great parts (i.e. Christmas Day against the Knicks, their last meeting against OKC, the road game with the Brooklyn Nets, etc.). And then there are games like tonight, against a team they have yet to beat this season, where they look absolutely broken and confused.

The Clippers have owned the Lakers (and many other teams) this season. The reversal of roles as the dominant L.A. team has been an uncomfortable one for the Lakers and their loyal fans to swallow. After a somewhat successful road trip, a win against Phoenix two days ago, and a short break for All-Star weekend coming up, a win tonight would have been pivotal, another step in the right direction. Unfortunately, when the Clippers jumped to a 15-0 start, it was clear where this game was headed – another Laker loss (a big one), 125-101.

HIGH POINTS:

Kobe Bryant – Darned if he didn’t do it all again tonight. Despite the -35 in the +/- column and the six turnovers, Bryant had the most balanced game of anyone on the team. 20 points on 7-13, a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line, five rebounds, 11 assists. But no matter how much Bryant has had to adjust his game this season (and he has done so often), it still doesn’t compensate for what the rest of his teammates are lacking. Said Bryant in the locker room after the game, “I’m not very happy right now. Hopefully my teammates feel the same way.” Asked what he’d like his teammates to work on during the break, he said, “Just focus on how bad you want it and how important this is.” It’s all mental for Bryant. It’s not about the perfect follow-through, or how high you can jump to convert a lob. It’s about how badly you want that championship at the end of the season, and as far as he, or any of us can tell, not everyone in the locker room seems to want the same thing as badly as he.

Laker Support – Down by 14 points after the first, it was the Laker supporting cast that chipped away at the deficit with a 14-3 run. Antawn Jamison, Steve Blake, Metta World Peace, Jodie Meeks and Earl Clark got the comeback game going. The Lakers shot 71% in that second quarter. If they were going to take this game, that would have been the perfect time to execute. Mike D’antoni should have just kept this line-up on the floor, because when the starters returned, it was turnover after turmover.

LOW POINTS:

Defense – By halftime, the Clippers had shot 7-15 from three. They hit 16-30 for the game. I’ll save you the trip to grab the calculator – that’s 48 points. Maybe it was a just good shooting night for the Clippers, but when a team hits close to 50% in the first half from downtown, there should be a game plan for the second half. But as soon as the third quarter began, the Clippers scored on three consecutive three-pointers and the Lakers never figured out how to battle it.

Outrebounded – again. After grabbing 16 rebounds in the game against the Suns, Dwight Howard grabbed eight boards tonight. The sad part is, he grabbed six of those eight in the first half. On almost 15 minutes of playing time in the second half, Howard grabbed just a pair of rebounds. Two rebounds. Is he the only player allowed to rebound? Of course not, and for the most part, the rest of the Lakers did what they could on the glass, but collecting 16 rebounds in one game and the following that with an eight-rebound night as Howard did? It’s disappointing because he’s proven, again, that he can be a force to be reckoned with when he so chooses. Unlike Howard, Bryant only has one mode – GO. Unfortunately, not every player is built with this will to win and Howard, no matter how often we overlook his misgivings, is encouraging more doubt than not.

Earl Clark – Even double-double machines have their troubles, and tonight was Clark’s turn. He had just four points on 2-10 from the field, seven rebounds and three assists.

Massacre – The Clippers, at one point, led by 28 points. Not much else can be said about that.

It would have been a great game to win, to silence all the critics, perhaps silence the Clippers themselves, and obviously gain some traction in the race for the final playoff spot. But now the Lakers are 25-29 for the season and there’s no telling what will happen next. At least there’s an All-Star Game this weekend that should provide a distraction.

Box Score

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I have never been much for looking in the rear view mirror, but every once in awhile I find bringing things to remembrance can be a soul cleansing experience. That is, of course, as long as you don’t dwell too long on the past events, even the good ones. Doing something like that can be a dangerous thing my friends. Too much focus on the negative can lead to a bad case of post game depression, and hanging on to all the feel good stuff just makes for  unrealistic expectations such as the Lakers hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy ever single year. And so, we begin this journey into the week we just left behind, but we will do so with extreme caution and harnessed emotion. Let’s take a peek into the past shall we?

As far as I am concerned, the games the Lakers played last week brought to mind a few observations I would like to share with you. Now keep in mind, these are merely my opinions, nothing more and nothing less.

Lakers vs. Nets

Photo: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images
Photo: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

Let’s start with the game against the Brooklyn Nets last Tuesday. Were it not for the Nets generosity of poor game planning, lousy match-up recognition, and Brook Lopez missing key shots late in the 4th quarter, this should have been an easy win for them. Now I’m not taking anything away from the Steve Blake heroics or the solid defensive effort, but come on now. Pau Gasol hurts his foot, leaves the game early, and the Lakers were already without Howard and Metta. Someone please explain to me how else the Lakers got out of there with the win.

Lakers vs. Celtics

Thursday found the Lakers in Beantown doing battle with arch enemy of the East, the Boston Celtics. This is the one the Lakers were SUPPOSED to win. They come in after a night off, the Celtics had played the night before, & this was gonna be like butter melting over top of fresh popcorn right? WRONG! What a painful display of basketball the Lakers put on. I mean this game reminded me of the time Mike Tyson clocked Michael Spinks in the first 30 seconds of their heavyweight championship boxing match. By the time this one ended the Lakers were the ones with the proverbial two black eyes, swollen lips, & carved up cheek bones. The one saving grace about this game? Everybody in their right mind went to bed by the end of the 3rd quarter and woke up rested with just the bad memory. No Rondo? No problem for Celtics.

Lakers vs. Bobcats

The following night, the Lakers were in town to take on the mighty Bobcats of Charlotte. Michael Jordan vs Kobe Bryant. Yes I know Jordan is retired, but Kobe always seems to elevate his play when confronted by the superstars of the league. No reason to think he wouldn’t put on a show for MJ’s benefit. Kobe ended with 20 points. The exact number the Lakers trailed by at one point in the game. I’m not making this stuff up folks. The road trip was taking a serious toll, but this was supposed to be a Lakers laugher. This was supposed to allow the starters an early exit with an easy victory in the column, and a little extra rest before heading to South Beach to take on the Heat. Well, the boys were already laying on the beach before they took the court to play, and had to rely on a frantic comeback to get the win. As I like to say from time to time, they really stunk up the joint.

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Lakers vs. Heat

Sunday in South Beach, and the Lakers fought and scratched, but just couldn’t overcome the 4th quarter turnovers. The fact they let the Heat push and punk them on the glass all day long was enough to turn my stomach. In my demented mind, the Lakers should have won both games they played this year against LeBron and the gang. The problem is, you can’t make that many mistakes against a team of that caliber and expect to get away with it. This isn’t the Nets we are talking about, it’s the defending champions, who just so happen to have the baddest man on the planet playing for them. Yes, I said it. King James is the best player in the NBA today. Sorry, but that’s just the way I see it.

Lakers vs. Suns

The foe on Tuesday was the lowly Suns of Phoenix. The bottom feeders of the Western Conference came into Staples Center a much welcomed sight. Dinner was about to be served, and they were going to be the main course. I was wrong again. The Lakers once again let the Suns hang around, let them start believing they were actually a good team, and led them to believe they were going to win. The Lakers had just enough in the tank to turn the Suns into the Duns and record the victory. If you are trying to lower your blood pressure, looking for anger management, or trying for more serenity in your life, you picked the wrong season.

Yesterday was Valentines Day. This was the day where things of the heart are the theme. Heavy hearts for Dr. Jerry Buss, owner of the Lakers, and news of his cancer; yet hopeful hearts, as we looked toward the battle with our little brother the Clippers. Last night, of all nights, I expected to see nothing less than a Lakers team full of heart and ready to send a message. My heart said it would happen. My head? Boy the Clippers are good.

But we’ll save that story for next week…

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Image Credit: Wally Skalij | Los Angeles Times

RadarOnline.com was first to report, and Kevin Ding of the OC Register is now also reporting, that Los Angeles Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss is dying of cancer.

Dr. Buss is currently at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles surrounded by family and friends at his hospital bedside.

Apparently Dr. Buss is in grave condition:

A source close to the situation tells RadarOnline that Lakers players have been calling with well-wishes and even stopping by to see him in what they expect to be his final days.

“Jerry isn’t doing well and it’s quite sad, but he’s surrounded by loved ones,” the insider told RadarOnline.

“The cancer is just too much and it looks like this is the end for him.”

Dr. Jerry Buss purchased the Lakers in 1979 and has since won 10 NBA championships. He was also inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

Riddled with health issues for the last few years, Dr. Buss was hospitalized in 2011 with a blood clot. He then had surgery in August 2012 for an undisclosed reason, but was expected to make a full recovery.

Dr. Buss turned 79 this past January 27th, and unfortunately, he has not attended a Lakers game during the 2012-13 season because of health concerns.

Let’s all keep the greatest owner in sport’s history in our prayers!

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In honor of the single guys on Valentines Day, and Sports Illustrated’s recent announcement of its landmark 50th swimsuit issue, we decided to countdown the Top 10 sexiest Sports Illustrated Models of all-time.

We get it. This has nothing to do with the Lakers. However, are you really going to complain?

Countdown #10 all the way to #1 with the hosts of STNTV.

Do you agree with the list? Who do you think is the hottest? Comment below!

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Image Credit: Jed Jacobsohn | Getty Images
Image Credit: Jed Jacobsohn | Getty Images
Image Credit: Jed Jacobsohn | Getty Images

Kobe Bryant or LeBron James?

This ‘present vs. future’ argument continues to spark debate between basketball enthusiasts.

Well, according to the Sun SentinelMichael Jordan would rather have Kobe.

When asked who has had the more successful career to this point, Jordan had this to say:

“If you had to pick between the two, that would be a tough choice,” Jordan said.

“But five beats one every time I look at it.”

Bryant is currently sitting on five rings in Los Angeles, while James just won his first championship last season with the Miami Heat.

Jordan continued to explain his reasoning:

“And not that he won’t get five,” Jordan said of James. “He may get more than that, but five is bigger than one.”

LeBron James then responded to Jordan’s choice:

“That doesn’t matter to me,” James said. “If you take Kobe one and then I go second . . . it doesn’t matter. I don’t really get too involved about what guys say about me, or if you take Kobe or if you take LeBron.

“As long as I’m on the floor and I try to make plays for my teammates, I don’t do what I do for other people’s approval.”

As shown by his decision, it’s still championships over everything for Jordan.

Jordan certainly respects James as one of the best players in the game today, but as for whom he would choose?

His choice is clear: Kobe Bean Bryant.

Who is it for you Laker Nation? Would you also pick Kobe over LeBron?

Make your opinion count in the poll below!

 

Do you agree with Michael Jordan picking Kobe Bryant over LeBron James?

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Credit: ESPN LA
Credit: ESPN LA

The majority of the Lakers’ Tuesday night victory over the lowly Suns was a snooze fest, but there was still some entertainment to be had from the Staples Center crowd, led by a few celebrity guests.

One play in the second quarter illustrates the lack of buzz inside Staples Center on Tuesday. Steve Blake made a great hustle play, leaping over courtside seats to save a ball inbounds and give the Lakers possession. Problem was, the courtside seats were empty. Ouch.

For a team famous for the high price and status that comes with its courtside seats, empty primetime seats is not a good sign.

However, it wasn’t all bad, as Shaq and Will Ferrell were courtside, and much like they did many years ago on Saturday Night Live, they provided world-class entertainment.

Always a performer, Shaq sat courtside and appeared on the kiss cam…next to an unsuspecting spectator. Shaq grabbed the man by the mouth and smooched (his own hand) all over the guy.

Meanwhile, Will (and his spectacular mustache) noticed some lapses in security, and decided to take matters into his own hands.

After guarding the Lakers’ home court for three quarters, Will apparently decided he had seen enough of the Big Diesel, and took him outside.

Even when the game is underwhelming, its always fun to be at Staples when the Lakers are in town.

Oh! And Mila Kunis was at the game!! (with Ashton Kutcher). I’ll save you the time and link to her Google image search results here.

High Point:

Back to back effort plays by Metta World Peace.

After scoring on a third-chance opportunity, Metta stole the ball from Michael Beasley and drew a foul at the other end on one of his frantic one-man fast-breaks  – punctuating an early 4th quarter run that got the Lakers, and the fans, back into the game.

Low Point:

The entire third quarter. The Lakers mustered only nine points, and there were probably fewer than nine fans cheering.

Sign Watch:

One fan held up a picture of Earth in one hand, and a Peace Sign in the other – waving them around whenever Metta World Peace shot free throws. Only in LA.

Fan of the Night:

Sitting the back row of the nosebleeds, and on his feet for most of the night, this fan was engaged for 48 minutes.

He defined “homer.” After a timeout, Nash drilled a practice three, and this fan yelled “And 1!”

A foul call on the Lakers prompted yelling at the ref! “This guy! Man, this isn’t the WNBA!”

The man screamed “Defense” and “Let’s Go Lakers” from the back row of the building all night, despite the rest of the crowd’s silence. Finally, after hours of shouting, when Kobe checked back into the game in the fourth, this fan’s voice cracked, and he squealed, “I love you Kobe!!” to the delight of everyone in the section.

With his entertaining color commentary, and never wavering support for the boys in Purple and Gold, this fan deserves the fan of the night.

 

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PhotoCredit:Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
PhotoCredit:Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Photo by Jed Jacobsohn | Getty Images

It’s not a secret that Kobe and Shaq had their differences when they played with each other.  With the Lakers having so much success during that perioid one wouldn’t believe that there could be any problems between players, right? Well, Shaq and Kobe had some of the biggest problems in sports, and it was definitely made public.  However they seemingly have fixed that poor relationship they once had and now are good friends again, here’s what Kobe said after seeing Shaq at last night’s game (via ESPN.com):

“It was good to see him,” Bryant said after O’Neal sat in courtside seats for the Lakers’ 91-85 win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. “I had a chance to kind of catch up with him a little bit after the [Miami] Heat game here at Staples [on Jan. 17], and tonight we got a couple good laughs, a couple good inside jokes.”

I must say it’s nice to hear Kobe and Shaq have repaired their relationship.  They were THE DUO back in 1996-2004, and no one even came close to their

PhotoCredit:Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
PhotoCredit:Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

caliber of play during that time in the NBA, and it’s great to hear they are back to having a close bond.

“Shaq and I have a really, really good relationship now,” Says Kobe about his dominant partner in crime, Shaquille O’Neal.

“I think we appreciate each other more now than ever,” Bryant said. “I think the further you get away from the history that you had together, the more you put perspective on it on how dominant we were.

It’s interesting to think their relationship got better because of the passage of time and how they can look back at their championship runs and reminisce.  More from what happened at the game including how Howard felt about Shaq being there can be read here.

Kobe was recently caught saying he was going to “force Shaq” to present him at his retirement.  With Shaq’s retirement game coming up on April 2 against the Dallas Mavericks, one can only be relieved to hear the best duo in sports history have a great relationship again, and maybe, just maybe Kobe won’t have to “force” Shaq to present him now at his future retirement.

 

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

There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home…

After two weeks and seven games on the road, the Lakers returned to the comforts of Staples Center to face a Phoenix Suns team who recently rallied in the final minutes of their last contest to beat them in the end.

Looking determined to prevent the same ending, the Lakers got off to a hot start in the first quarter to take a 30-22 lead, in which they shot 60% from the field. They finished the first half shooting 54% and led 56-47. Metta World Peace looked like he’d gotten his shooting touch back, Dwight Howard was dominant on both ends, and the team handed out 18 assists on 22 made field goals. It was a recipe for success that should have been followed in the second half.

Unfortunately, the exact opposite occurred and the Lakers played probably their worst quarter of the season, scoring just nine points to the Suns’ 24 in the third. Luckily, a collective effort in the final 12 minutes got them over the hump to win, 91-85.

HIGH POINTS:

Dwight Howard – 19 points on 8-15 from the field, 18 rebounds, a steal, two blocks and just a pair of turnovers in almost 41 minutes? THIS is the version of D12 the Lakers need to survive the rest of this season. He was a force tonight with whom the likes of Marcin Gortat and Jermaine O’Neal could not compete. It wasn’t just his offense that helped win this game. Howard was huge on defense, protecting the paint, altering shots, blocking shots – he did a little bit of everything tonight. How about he plays WITHOUT a headband for awhile?

Antawn Jamison – Tied for leading scorer of the game, Jamison poured in 19 points on 8-16 from the field, grabbed 10 rebounds and injected a whole lot of energy into the game and eventually into his team. Jamison is an opportunistic scorer, getting offensive rebounds to increase the chance of scoring, and tonight he led the team in this stat (four off reb). He was also the finisher of the play of the game, with Kobe Bryant grabbing a rebound off a Phoenix missed shot, and sending a diagonal pass to a running Jamison who dunked to finish the first half on a high note.

Metta World Peace – If anyone was due for a good game, it was MWP. He scored 17points, 2-3 from downtown, had eight rebounds, four steals and a block. In one sequence, he literally just took the ball away from Michael Beasley and ran off with it.

LOW POINTS:

Kobe Bryant – Eight assists in the first half despite zero attempts from the field is an odd stat line for Bryant, but that those eight dimes helped the team stay involved and engaged was the perfect contribution. Bryant may have over done it a smidge with the passing frenzy though, because he racked up eight turnovers as a result. He also only handed out a single assist in the second half, and finished with just four points. When the Lakers had their scoring drought in the third quarter, Bryant was 0-5 from the field.
Steve Nash – Nash didn’t have a terrible game. He had an almost double-double, in fact, with 10 points and eight assists. If only he’d punish the opposing teams more.

Turnovers – Granted, Phoenix had the same amount of turnovers, but 19 giveaways is absolutely not the way to win a game. Those 19 turnovers turned into 27 Suns points.

3rd Quarter – It was as ugly as the box score says it was. The Lakers scored just nine points on 3-20 from the field for 15% FG, handed out just a pair of assists and gave up an 11-point lead that turned into a 6-point deficit. It was as if the first two quarters never happened, the way the game plan was just completely abandoned.

It’s Phoenix – A team who is 17-36 for the season shouldn’t be giving fits to a Laker team with as much talent and skill as this team does. Phoenix has solid players, but they are a bad team who the Lakers should have put away early.

It was a good half and one quarter for the Lakers tonight, but this turning the focus on and off is a tired and wasteful habit. The team coming in on Thursday is nothing like the Phoenix Suns, and it would bode well for the Lakers to stay engaged the entire game if they want to give themselves any chance of winning, and at this point, EVERY game is a must-win if they want even a glimmer’s hope of making the playoffs.

Box Score

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Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash
Courtesy: Getty Images

Breathe in, breathe out, repeat. Another week in Laker Land has come and gone, and once again, fans are having to remind themselves to stay calm and carry on. As has been the norm this season, the past week was filled with some great highs and some horrible lows.

From injuries, to short-handed victories, to parental guidance, here is a recap of the Lakers past week.

Good – Winning in Brooklyn with no Front-Court.

The week started out pretty well for the Lakers. They went into Brooklyn short-handed knowing Dwight Howard was out with an injury and that Metta World Peace was suspended for the game. Things got worse from there as Pau Gasol was injured with about five minutes left in a tightly-contested game (more on that later). This left the Lakers with Earl Clark and Antawn Jamison as their only front-court players to try and close out a key game on the roadtrip.

From everything we’d seen this season, there was no reason to think the short-handed Lakers would go on a 10-0 run to close the game against a quality opponent on the road, but that’s exactly what they did. The impressive 92-83 win was a great confidence-boost for a team desperately in need of one.

Bad – Ow Gasol.

Not everything that happened in Brooklyn was positive for the Lakers. Unfortunately, recently demote big-man Pau Gasol suffered a partially torn plantar fascia in his already injured right foot. Gasol is now expected to miss six to eight weeks, but was trying to look at things positively when he took to Twitter to discuss the injury:

@PauGasol: I’m hoping to recover asap so I can be back with the team and keep fighting until the end of the season. #GoLakers #AlwaysPositive

Pau was considered a near-lock to be traded at the deadline, due mainly to the fact that Coach D’Antoni can’t figure out his rotation or how to get his two talented bigs playing together. However, this injury should put a stop to any trade talk involving the Spaniard. The Lakers up-hill climb into the playoff picture becomes even more difficult with the former All-Star sidelined.

Ugly – MWP is MIA.

One of the things that has really stood out in the past couple of Laker games, especially the losses, is just how much Metta World Peace is struggling lately. In three games this week (MWP was suspended for the fourth), the man formerly known as Artest has shot a horrendous 10-38 (26%) from the field. MWP also had just ten rebounds in those three games, a paltry 3.3 per game average for the Lakers starting forward.

Defensively, Peace hasn’t been much better. While getting torched by Lebron James doesn’t make him any different than any other defender in the league nowadays, Metta struggled mightily against Paul Pierce in Boston. Wheelchair Paul was able to get rolling early on offense and ignite the Celtics in their blowout win over the Lakers. Speaking of Boston…

Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Ugly – The Entire Boston Game.

If you wanted to find a reason for this particular Laker loss, you could probably choose from one of fifteen or so. Porous defense? Check. Lack of rebounding? Definitely. Zero energy from your All-Star Center who may have only been playing to shut your All-Star Shooting Guard up? Checkmate.

The worst part of this game was probably the fact that Boston of all teams was the squad who go to enjoy beating down the Lakers. Let’s just chalk this up to being a bad game on a long roadtrip and forget it ever happened. Any objections? Didn’t think so. Moving on.

Good – The Charlotte Comeback.

Now I know a lot of people really look at this win as a loss and find it hard to look at anything positively in a game that the Lakers trailed by 20 against the lowly Bobcats, but hear me out people. First off, a 20-point comeback in the sixth game of a seven game roadtrip is not something you should dismiss, no matter the opponent. This is the NBA after all, so most of these teams are talented enough to win a couple of good games and (almost) nobody is expected to blow a 20-point lead at home.

The Lakers really looked great for most of the second half, with Kobe dissecting the defense with his shot and passing ability, and Dwight Howard dominating the fourth quarter defensively for what seemed like the first time as a Laker. Criticize the effort all you want, but a win is a win, especially this season for the Lakers. With all that being said…

Bad – Being Down 20 in Charlotte.

Okay, now that the optimist got his point out I’d just like to state the Bobcats are probably the only team in the league you expect to blow a 20-point lead. Which means they’re terrible. Which means that even though a comeback like that is great, being down 20 to a team like Charlotte just shows how bipolar this Laker squad can be. This was the second time this season the Bobcats gave the Lakers a win in a game they had a huge lead, meaning the already bad Laker record could look much worse.

Bad – Mike D’s Rotation, Again.

I know I ranted on this last week, but I still for the life of me cannot understand the thought process Mike D’Antoni must go through with his rotations. How does a head coach in the NBA not realize that size is important in this league? How does Mike not think about putting Robert Sacre into a game when Dwight Howard sits, even after the Celtics and Heat are pounding the Lakers on the glass? Boston and Miami are two of the worst rebounding teams of all-time.

D’Antoni also has a penchant for leaving the bench in about a minute or two too long when they play well, giving them just enough time to undo all of their good work. It’s beyond frustrating and this is more a venting than anything, but I think most Laker fans would agree that Mike D might not have any clue what he is doing sometimes. Hopefully he realizes sooner than later that this isn’t NBA 2K13, and offensive-minded units won’t win you games against good teams.

Ugly – The 4th in Miami.

Speaking of Mike D’s rotation issues, the fourth quarter against the Heat was a prime example of leaving bench player in for too long. In what was essentially a must-win for the Lakers, D’Antoni went with his second unit for a few minutes longer than he should have, allowing Miami to seize control of the game. The Lakers started the fourth turning the ball over multiple times, and it didn’t help the cause that the starters came back into the game and started doing the same.

In the end, Los Angeles committed a whopping eight turnovers in the fourth, while forcing Miami into exactly zero. That’s not going to get it done on the road against the defending Champs. The fourth quarter also saw the Lakers go back to the hero-ball offense that grinds everything to a halt and makes this team almost unbearable to watch in the half-court. Just like the game in Boston, the fourth quarter against the Heat is something to forget.

Good – Surviving the Grammy Trip.

While most Laker fans and pundits agree Los Angeles needed a 5-2 record for the annual Grammy roadtrip to be a success, the Lakers came out with a 4-3 record. In past seasons, this trip has been an indicator of what we can expect from the Lake Show the rest of the season. While this season’s trip was up and down, a winning record on a road trip is a step in the right direction for a team that has struggled away from home all year. The Lakers are going to have to win games on the road to just make the playoffs, and hopefully to make some noise once they get there.

Teams need success they can draw from once the playoffs arrive, and games like the comeback in Charlotte and the short-handed Brooklyn victory should give the Lakers some confidence.

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

Ugly – Kobe, Dwight and Papa Howard.

One of the most interesting things from the roadtrip was the drama surrounding Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard. After Pau went down with his injury, the sense of urgency surrounding the team was greater than it had been all season. Kobe came out and basically said that the Lakers didn’t have time to wait for Dwight to recover, followed by Dwight coming out and saying Kobe isn’t a doctor, all while Laker fans everywhere rolled their eyes at the soap opera.

This time, instead of just going away like most other Laker stories this season, the Bryant/Howard issue took a left-turn into the land of comedy. Dwight Howard Sr. spoke with the Atlanta Constitution-Journal, saying among other things that his son and Kobe needed to have a sit down to discuss their issues. Howard Sr. also went on to blame Coach D’Antoni for not controlling things and keeping all the drama in-house. I think it’s safe to say that we can all agree this is getting to the point of embarrassment for the Lakers. Here’s hoping the drama goes away, Dwight plays like the old Dwight, and Mike D’Antoni gets fired.

Wait what?

Since returning from injury in the Boston game, Dwight Howard has been a shell of the shell of himself that he was originally this season. Get all that? Don’t get me wrong, even at 70% Howard is still the most intimidating center in the league. However, it’s impossible not to notice the drop-off in his game this season as compared to what fans were used to prior to his back injury.

That drop-off has gotten even worse since Howard’s return from injury. In three games since his return, Howard is averaging 12 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. Solid numbers, sure, for Emeka Okafor. But this is Dwight Howard we’re talking about. The main issue with Howard seems to be that he lets his offense predicate how he plays. When Howard gets touches early, he tends to try harder to dominate defensively.

The Lakers have realized this, force-feeding the big man inside even if it’s to the detriment of the team, in hopes that it will inspire him to play defense. But when Dwight doesn’t get shots, well Dwight doesn’t really care. This all sound familiar? It should, because it is the same problem the Lakers had thought they solved by trading away Andrew Bynum. It will be interesting to see if Dwight can tough through this injury and be the player the Lakers need him to be to have any success this season.

Good – Kobe Turning the Clock.

By now, everyone has seen Kobe’s thunderous slam over Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace in the fourth quarter of the Mamba’s first game in Brooklyn. ESPN has shown it on a continuous loop since it happened, and the video has probably been retweeted a million times by now. If you are one of the three people who haven’t seen it yet, all you neeed to know is the fact that a 34-year old in his 17th season can do this in the middle of a game is absolutely incredible.

That dunk was just another reminder that we need to enjoy watching Kobe on the court, because sooner rather than later, his highlights will be just a distant memory.

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