Saturday, December 20, 2014
Blog Page 65

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AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian
AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian

“To the left goes Magic…he’s got it. He didn’t shoot it…five seconds left. Magic down the middle, just what I thought. A hook shot at twelve, GOOD! Two seconds left! The Lakers take the lead on Magic Johnson’s running sky-hook! Hooie!”

Don Draper once said, “In Greek, nostalgia literally means the pain from an old wound. It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone.” This is the sensation Lakernation feels when it reminisces about the late great Chick Hearn(November 27, 1916-August 5, 2002). We get a little misty eyed whenever we think about the great times we had with Chick in our living rooms. That place and those times can never be brought back but only remembered and shared with fellow Laker fans.

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Photo Courtesy of Harry How, Getty Images

Antawn Jamison is finally showing the basketball world why the Los Angeles Lakers pursued him in free agency this summer. Many thought the Lakers would never be able to replace versatile forward, Lamar Odom, but apparently GM Mitch Kupchak is proving the doubters wrong AGAIN.

Jamison, the 36-year old forward, may be a little long in the tooth, but he has been on a tear lately since playing primarily in the power forward spot. Jamison’s recently found aggressiveness will bode well for the Lakers as they move further into the season, as Jamison is providing a much needed shot in the arm to an otherwise inconsistent bench.

Scoring 19 points in the Lakers’ win over the Dallas Mavs this past Saturday, Jamison ran the floor, played good defense, and grabbed 15 rebounds. The previous night against Memphis, Jamison went for 16 points, along with seven rebounds. Jamison’s performance in those two games have definitely been Odomesque to say the least.

With Jamison putting the ball on the floor, running and cutting to the basket, and hitting timely three pointers, it may be safe to say the Lakers have found their new 6th man. What has been key to Jamison’s success could be Mike D’Antoni’s willingness to play him at power forward, even at the expense of Jordan Hill. This is something Mike Brown did not do, but instead elected to play Hill and Jamison together with Jamison as the small forward. In this position, Jamison seemed both out of place and timid, but not so under D’Antoni where he is flourishing.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Dwight Howard comes under fire in GQ’s humor piece entitled The Least Influential People of 2012. The Laker Center was included in the publication’s “collection of people so uninspiring that we should round them all up and stick them on an iceberg.” Ouch.

So what makes Howard one of the least influential people of the year?  GQ cites his back and forth trade discussions with the Orlando Magic as his offense.

“I’ll stay in Orlando if you fire my coach! Or maybe I won’t. Or maybe you could fire the coach and then build a statue of me made out of frozen butter,” said GQ’s parody Howard.

GQ can have their laugh. Dwight Howard and his fans will wait until the NBA playoff season in 2013. We’ll see who’s laughing then.

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Photo Credit: Reuters
Getty Images

Like little kids anxiously awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus at Christmas time, & all the gifts he will unload from his sleigh & into their stockings, Laker Nation has been just as childlike when their thoughts turned to the new season. Surely, we had been nice & not naughty, especially after enduring the painful end of last year & that lump of coal served up by the OKC Thunder.

Visions of sugar plums started dancing in our heads, with the news that Dwight Howard was coming to town. Follow that with the acquisition of Steve Nash, & Antawn Jamison, & the return of Kobe, Pau, & MWP (the artist formerly known as Ron Artest). Why that was enough to make Laker Nation giddy again. It was as a calm had come over the city of Angels. There was something different in the air. It was the smell of new. New, like that new car smell. New, like nothing that went wrong last year mattered anymore.

This was a great package delivered by old Saint Mitch. Once unwrapped, this box of new toys & gadgets was surely going to give us the best season EVER. Laker Nation was new & soon to be relevant sooner than anyone could ever imagine. We just knew the new was definitely going to be better than the old.

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Image Credit: David J. Phillip | AP

For now.

According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, Lakers’ starting power forward Pau Gasol is not on trading block at this time. Gasol’s recent struggles in coach Mike D’Antoni’s “run and fun” offense have been well documented, but the Lakers seem content in being patient.

With Gasol’s struggles on the court, it seems the collective patience of Lakers fans is growing thin. Not only have Gasol’s statistics drastically declined this season, but his conditioning has also come into question. Gasol has been playing with sporadic effort lately and looks winded at times. The knee tendinitis Gasol has been experiencing recently may have something to do with his inconsistent play, but it may also be contributed the new offensive system.

D’Antoni’s system requires players to play in an up-tempo manner, but Gasol has been unable to do that consistently throughout each game. Gasol is still one of the most skilled big men in the NBA, but will he be able to effectively fit into this system going forward?

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Image Credit: AP
Image Credit: AP

When Mike Brown was fired as the Lakers’ head coach after just five games, the collective sense around Los Angeles was that Phil Jackson would return once again. Not only did fans chant, “We want Phil!” at Lakers home games, but there was also, as Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times put it, “a 95% chance Phil Jackson will return.” Around midnight of November 11th, those hopeful for a Jackson return were disheartened as Mike D’Antoni was hired as the 24th coach in Lakers history.

According to sources, after an interview with the Lakers’ front office Saturday morning, Jackson undoubtedly felt the Lakers’ coaching vacancy was his for the taking. Jackson had informed the Lakers he would take the weekend to mull over the opportunity and be ready with a decision the following Monday.

Instead, the Lakers quickly made their decision before that Monday deadline and passed on the eleven-time champion coach in favor of the more “up-tempo style” of D’Antoni. The following is Jackson’s side of the story as told by HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel correspondent Andrea Kremer in an exchange with host Bryant Gumbel:

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

The question isn’t, “what factors led to the Lakers’ loss?” The question is, “what factors DIDN’T contribute to this Lakers’ loss?” And the answer is – not a whole lot.

After thumping the Mavericks in Dallas, the Lakers cited energy as their leading source for playing such an efficient game. It was the best they’d played all season, and some even suggested that the team had finally figured things out, even with Steve Nash and Steve Blake on the sidelines.

Boy do the Lakers have short-term memories, because that game in Dallas (a mere three days ago) became a distant afterthought once the clock started running against the Indiana Pacers tonight. Despite Kobe Bryant being the one fending off flu-like symptoms, he seemed to be the player with the most fight.

Energy was amiss for most of tonight’s contest, as was ball movement, efficiency, teamwork – the list goes on. The quick whistles aside, the Lakers didn’t play their best, but the game never appeared out of their reach. They fell behind by double-digit points on a few occasions, but always somehow managed to catch up. They were given multiple chances to win in the waning minutes, but the misfortune throughout the evening had just compounded by game’s end and they never fully recovered…and on Chick Hearn’s birthday!

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AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

What an ugly game that was to watch. The Lakers fell below .500 once again this season as they lost to the Indiana Pacers Tuesday night and now have a 7 – 8 record to show for it. Some might credit the defensive efforts of both teams, but it was obvious that these two ball clubs were just flat out missing their shots.

On the night of Chick Hearn’s 96th birthday, the Lakers laid an egg from beginning to end in this ball game. As bad as the Purple and Gold played, they still had a chance to take the lead with just around a minute left in the 4th quarter, but both Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace missed their two free throw attempts.

This team desperately needs Steve Nash to come back and direct this offense; 12 points in the 2nd quarter is abysmal for any NBA team, let alone one with Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard in the starting lineup. The Denver Nuggets will march into the Staples Center on Friday night seeking revenge for last year’s playoff exit at the hands of the Lakers. Let’s hope this team is ready. Here are the grades for tonight’s atrocious loss:

Darius Morris: C-

The young fella needs to start hitting his free throws or else it won’t matter how much energy he brings to the court because he will not play.

Kobe Bryant: A-

Kobe showed off the clutch gene once again when he hit a tough 3-pointer to tie the ball game with under a minute left. On a night where he was suffering from the flu, Kobe still had to carry this team just to stay competitive. Not a bad shooting night, but the 10 turnovers were very costly in this tight ball game. I still don’t understand why Coach D is playing Kobe so many minutes when he should be the one player getting the most rest during games.  Let’s hope our coach knows what he’s doing and the effect it will have come playoff time…

Metta World Peace: B-

Metta was getting robbed on almost every shot attempt by the rim tonight. Even though the shots weren’t falling, Metta once again brought the hustle and defense that this team needs from him. Still, missing both his free throws at the end of the game is embarrassing and played a large part in the Lakers losing this game.

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(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Its only November, that’s what I keep telling myself. 14 games into a chaotic season and the Los Angeles Lakers look more like a reality show than a professional basketball organization at times. From the early season woes running the Princeton offense to Phil Jackson being dangled and then snatched from our grasp, the Laker Nation is impatient and want results… and we want them now!

Enter Mike D’Antoni. Four games into his Laker career and we have seen glimpses of the pure dominance this Laker team can impose, but also how lackadaisical our unit can be. I had mixed emotions when I first heard D’Antoni would be the Lakers coach; looking at the arguments from both sides, one thing was for certain, D’Antoni’s offense is going to flat out score. We have already seen a huge difference defensively with the addition of Dwight Howard holding down the paint. As long as our team plays with intensity, things will work themselves out on the defensive end. The key now is to grasp D’Antoni’s system and play at a consistently high level throughout the season into the NBA Finals.

Thus far, D’antoni has made a number of interesting tweaks to the team, although some have drawn red flags. Despite low numbers thus far, Dantoni’s decision to increase Antwan Jamison’s minutes off the bench has given Jamison a boost of confidence and he has taken full advantage of the opportunity averaging 17.5 ppg.  Jamison seems to have found his place in the Lakers offense, a step closer to helping the Lakers bench find its identity.

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Courtesy of US Presswire

We can argue that the Lakers got caught slipping against Sacramento on the second of a back to back which happened to be the night before Thanksgiving. Then the following game against Memphis was one where our bigs were a nowhere to be found and Kobe went 7-23. But the beatdown we put on the Dallas was inflicted by a rejuvenated team that seemed to have a fire lit under them.

The Lakers must find a way to win consistently. But these Jekyll and Hyde showings the Lakers put on makes one wonder if this is the old “flipping the switch” that use to happen during our run to back to back titles. Or is this just a highly overrated team that took advantage of a Dirk-less Dallas squad?

 

 

 

 

 

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Source: Unknown

As reported by Marc J. Spears and Adrian Wojnarowski from Yahoo! Sports, the Los Angeles Lakers have expressed interest in free agents Mickael Pietrus and Raja Bell.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/SpearsNBAYahoo/status/272399309327171584″]

With new head coach Mike D’Antoni implementing his new system the Lakers have been looking for players who can run the ball. Both Pietrus and Bell have experience playing along side Steve Nash, while Bell also has experience under D’Antoni and Pietrus was a former teammate of Dwight Howard in Orlando.

Both players would help the Lakers bench depth both on offense and defense. Both players are capable of keeping up with the fast paced nature of D’Antoni’s system, capable of playing defense, and are known to be able to hit the open three point shot that will be available to them in this system. Pietrus has a career average of 8.4 ppg and Bell has a career average of 9.9 ppg.

With a full roster, the question remains who would be waived if the Lakers decided to sign either of these free agents. Rookies Darius Johnson-Odom and Robert Sacre are on non-guaranteed contracts and would be likely choices, but Earl Clarke may also be on the chopping block if space were needed.

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As last night’s game in Dallas wound down, I couldn’t help but notice the empty seats in the stadium. Of course the game was more or less decided in the first half, as the Lakers held a 20+ point lead throughout the third and fourth quarters. It seemed as though the only fans that stayed the entirety of the game were Laker fans.

Photo Credit: The Sideline Agenda

Then something strange happened: a “Let’s go Lakers” chant broke out in the American Airlines Center, much to the displeasure of Mark Cuban.

This isn’t the first time the Lakers have received praise from the crowd in a road game, and no, I’m not talking about when they play the Clippers “on the road.” Remember Boston, 2007? The Boston Celtics, as in the Lakers’ biggest rivals in history, heard “MVP” chants for a Laker in their arena. Surely, a few short years later, it turned into this.

But what is it that attracts so many people across the nation, even the world, to be fans of the Lakers? Is it because of the team’s winning tradition? Or is it the big names that have played for the organization? Is it because the Lakers know how to win? Because they’re good?

For people who live in Southern California, where the Lakers have been for 52 years, it’s our home team. Some people are born into a Lakers family; they’re raised as Laker fans. Others have a patriotic devotion to the home team.

My question is for those Laker fans who are born and raised outside of Southern California.

And a similar question applies to people who are born and raised in Southern California, but hate the Lakers. Why?

Why are you a Laker fan?

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Although we are only a week into the Mike D’Antoni era and have had some frustrating losses recently, including one against a subpar team in the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night, we have seen exciting glimpses and stretches that illustrate the advantages of the new up-tempo system.

“You have the best team, so why not play the most possessions you can play if you’re the best defensively and offensively? Anytime possessions are cut down, then a bad call, a missed shot then you have a chance to lose. If we keep possessions up here, then statistically, we have a lot better chance to win. That’s what we’re going to try and do. Whatever comes out, it’s going to be an efficient offensive team and an efficient defensive team,” said D’Antoni of his basketball philosophy.

D’Antoni’s overly ambitious statement about being the best defensive team could be considered a really good joke, at least for now. The Lakers backcourt of Kobe and Nash will struggle to keep up with younger, quicker guards no matter how much penetration Dwight Howard cleans up. The truth is that the Lakers defense does not have a very high potential outside of Dwight Howard’s impact in the interior and will be a huge obstacle come playoff time.

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With the Lakers off to a poor start, trade rumors have begun to swirl around Kobe Bryant, leading many to speculate if he'll leave for greener pastures. Kobe puts those rumors to rest in his interview with Yahoo Sports.