Monday, December 22, 2014
Blog Page 67

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Image Credits: A.P. & Stephen Dunn | Getty Images
Image Credits: A.P. & Stephen Dunn | Getty Images

As was reported earlier, Coach Mike D’Antoni is expected to make his long anticipated debut on the bench for the Lakers tonight. If tonight’s game against the Brooklyn Nets (7:30PM PST on TWCSN & NBATV) didn’t already have enough drama leading up to it, a quote from yesterday’s media session may have added even more:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/mcten/status/270646266931855360″]

This past summer could certainly be dubbed the “Dwight Howard Saga” as the uncertainty of the center’s future lasted until August, when he was finally traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Prior to the trade though, Howard’s desired destination had always been the Brooklyn Nets. When that failed to materialize after multiple trading attempts by the Nets, Brooklyn decided to go a different direction.

According to USA Today, Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams advised Brooklyn management this past summer against pursuing Howard: “Please just don’t wait on Dwight. We can’t wait and not have a team.” After the attempts to land Howard failed, this statement as well as the subsequent moves for Joe Johnson, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez ultimately led to end of Brooklyn’s pursuit of Howard.

Now in Los Angeles, Howard will face Williams tonight for the first of two meetings this season. After Howard’s quote about their friendship from yesterday, it will be interesting to see if there is any sort of “bad blood” between the two superstars on the court. Obviously, it seems that Howard does not care whether or not Williams is upset by him not joining the Nets this past off-season. Howard is currently working on putting the past behind him and is focused on moving forward, but this recent quote could make things awkward between the two, both on and off the court.

The Brooklyn Nets (6-2) enter Staples Center tonight riding a 5-game winning streak. With D’Antoni now permanently at the helm, the Lakers will need another solid performance from Howard to push past the Nets and end the Lakers home stand on a positive note. Hopefully Howard will use this volatile relationship with Williams as motivation and continue his stellar play as he works himself back into full strength.

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Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Joe Johnson, Russell Westbrook, and Dwyane Wade are featured in a new NBA ad showcasing the league new set of Christmas Day jerseys.

The Lakers are set to play the New York Knicks on Christmas Day in Los Angeles.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

I’m 24 years old, born and raised in Portugal, that tiny bit of land right next to Spain. Basketball isn’t that big over here, soccer is. That made me really not aware of the orange ball game till I was probably 8. That’d be 1996, the year the man that made me fall in love with the game and that purple and gold uniform came into the NBA.

At my grandma’s house on Sundays we used to watch TV in the living room after lunch. There was no cable or any international channels available so we stuck to what was on, 4 tv channels. On channel 2 they used to broadcast bits and pieces of that week in the NBA exactly on that day of the week.

I’d always look forward to watching it. Absolutely loved to see the dunks and the amazing plays as any kid anywhere in the world would. The first couple of years I didn’t really noticed the Lakers much. Whoever selected the highlights would show major love to teams like the Bulls, the Jazz or the Knicks… and that was fine I guess…I just didn’t know better. 1996 was also the year Space Jam came out and that marked a generation of basketball playing kids in Portugal, kids such as myself.

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Photo: Associated Press

The Lakers improved to 5-5 on the year as they defeated the Houston Rockets Sunday night in what was the most entertaining 48 minutes the Lakers have played all season. Kobe Bryant stole the spotlight of Pau Gasol’s 15,000 point milestone by registering his 18th career triple-double.

The Lakers looked very fluid on offense and were crisp on their rotations on the defensive end as well. Coach D’Antoni’s debut was postponed due to his knee injury, but he should be on the bench for Tuesday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets. Many analysts don’t believe this Lakers team can run up and down the court like the Phoenix Suns used to with Nash and D’Antoni, but they sure looked like they could last night against a much younger Rockets team.

Only two negatives from last night’s contest: Starters should have been subbed out earlier in the 4th quarter and, of course, no tacos for the Staples Center faithful. It’s gonna be tough to get tacos from here on out with this new system, but I know Laker Nation values the Larry O’Brien trophy over two free Jack-in-the-Box tacos……maybe. Regardless, here are the grades for last night’s game:

 

Darius Morris: B+

Great game from Darius last night as he matures into a solid point guard. Darius is playing with so much more confidence than he was early on in the season and his teammates will attest to that as well. Curious to see how he fits into this team once the Steve’s come back, but I for one would love to see Darius get to play more when we need a defensive energy boost against teams.

 

Kobe Bryant: A

Kobe messed around and got a triple-double last night against a solid defender in Chandler Parsons. As I’ve said before, Kobe just has a feel for this squad like he’s never had for previous teams. Really hope he can keep it up once Nash comes back and starts running the show; should be interesting nonetheless.

 

Metta World Peace: B+

Laker fans know how much better Metta is playing this year compared to last year now that he is in great shape. You can see the explosiveness and hustle that made him an NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

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Photo Courtesy of ESPN.Go.Com

It was a busy night for the City of Angels.  The music industy celebrated as the industry’s best put on a show at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theater.

Down the way at Staples Center, the Lakers were putting on a concert of their own.

Draped in their Sunday whites, the choir known as the Los Angeles Lakers, harmonized to the tune of 54 percent shooting as they outperformed James Harden and the visiting Houston Rockets 119-108.  This was the second game in which the Lakers displayed their high octane offense orchestrated by their new Head Coach, Mike D’Antoni, although he was still unable to take on game duties due to rehabilitating from knee surgery.  This gave interim Head Coach, Bernie Bickerstaff, the opportunity to increase his record as Lakers coach to 4-1.

Dwight Howard headlined in this gig, scoring 28 points on 11 for 18 shooting and grabbing 13 rebounds, as the Rocket’s big men couldn’t find an aswer for him defensively.  Kobe Bryant also tantilized the crowd with his solo performance, collecting his 18th career triple-double with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.  Pau Gasol added 17 points, etching his name in NBA history by becoming only the 10th foreign born player to score 15,000 career points.   Metta World Peace and Darius Morris completed the double-digit scoring for the Lakers starters, providing 15 and 12 points respectively.

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It’s impossible to imagine a Lakers team without Kobe Bryant, especially if he’s been there for almost the entirety of your lifetime. Kobe hasn’t decided when he’ll retire for sure just yet, but he has said on a number of occasions that it very well may be after his contract expires at the end of next season. That means that Kobe has two years, possibly more, to add more rings to the five he already has.

Photo Courtesy: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

In a radio interview with Ryan Seacrest on Nov. 16, Kobe was asked whether the Lakers are going to win a championship this season. “We better,” he said, then he started to laugh. He went on to say, “I don’t know how many years I got left, let me have one more.”

The Lakers have now won the last four of five games, the lone loss being the two-point defeat to San Antonio. Even in that game, the Lakers showed some promise.

In their win against Phoenix on Friday, the Lakers shot nearly 50% en route to 114 points. The offense seems to be falling into place just as Mike D’Antoni prepares to take over coaching duties sometime this week.

As the players start getting used to D’Antoni’s offense, they’re going to start winning more games, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any more losses. Nobody expected this team to go 82-0 in the first place. Losses happen in the regular season. The 2010 Lakers team had a 57-25 record, ending the season losing the last 7 of 11 games. They went on to win the NBA Championship.

“I don’t care what happens in November, December, January. Come June, there better be a parade on Figueroa,” Kobe said.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint, right? And after 17 seasons in the NBA, Kobe must know what he’s talking about.

For now, let’s take one game at a time. Regular season losses are just that: regular season losses. The Lakers have grown so much in just nine games, and the Playoffs are more than five months down the road. That’s a lot of time for them to continue to up their play and get to a level where they can compete for the Larry O’Brien trophy come June.

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Taiwanese animation studio New Media Animation have shared their hilarious depiction of the Lakers’ hiring of Mike D’Antoni. NMA has been known for its sarcastic takes on NBA news stories, previously depicting Amare Stoudemire punching a fire extinguisher.

The video ruthlessly riffs on the Lakers’ hiring of D’Antoni instead of Phil Jackson. Jackson is shown serenely levitating in a room with multiple championship trophies. As Jackson shows off his 10 rings, the narrator says, “Anyone with half a brain would have hired Phil Jackson to coach the Lakers.”

Jim Buss rides a school bus named “Short Buss” and picks up D’Antoni (who is using a walker) at a nursing home. They arrive at the Staples Center with fans demanding Phil Jackson.

Once inside Staples, the Laker players are described as “aging” by the narrator and are slowly making their way across the court using walkers.  In its conclusion, Metta World Peace beats up a fan after being pelted with a tomato.

It is no doubt that Laker fans have been on a roller coaster with the slow start to the season, the firing of Mike Brown and the hiring of Mike D’Antoni. For now, at least they’ll now have something to laugh about.

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SportsAgentBlogs.com

After the Lakers win on Sunday night, Dwight Howard was asked about his electric dunks that had the Lakers bench going crazy. No bench player was more excited then backup center Robert Sacre.

Here is what Howard had to say when he found out Sacre was cheering him on from the bench:

Howard: Baby Joker was going nuts? Sacre is Baby Joker from Friday

Interviewer: Why do you call him Baby Joker?

Howard: Have you seen Friday? “No more locked doors”. Yeah that’s Sacre!

So what do you think? Does Sacre look like “Baby Joker”?

Watch Howard’s explanation at 1:58 over on NBA.com

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Photo courtesy of Jeff Gross, Getty Images

 

Bernie Bickerstaff with the 4-1 record – how about that? It was a good night (perhaps weekend, even)  for the purple and gold. Despite the absence of their new head coach and both their primary point guards, the Lakers continue to rise above the turmoil that has been their early season, in order to play their best on the floor.

Tonight, putting in their best appeared to be a common theme. From Kobe Bryant’s 18th career triple double, to Pau Gasol’s 15,000-point milestone, to Dwight Howard’s monstrous double-double and continued endurance, not to mention a solid game from second-year, Darius Morris – the entire team was all in from beginning to end, and no Linsanity could deter them, nor did they fear the beard.

They scored a season-high 119 points (after scoring 114 points against the Suns this past Friday), they kept their turnovers to a minimum, all five starters scored in double figures, and best of all, they looked like they knew what they were doing out there. Don’t look now, but the Lakers are starting to resemble a TEAM.

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Photo Credit: ExpressNBA

The Los Angeles Lakers never seem to escape the limelight.  As if the Lakers haven’t been in the news recently due to the recent firing of Coach Brown, and the subsequent search, but now there are rumors of the Lakers attempting to acquire Josh Smith.  Smith currently plays in Atlanta, and has proven to be a very good player to date with career averages of 15 points and 8 rebounds a game.

Smith has also long been rumored to want out of Atlanta, and would welcome a trade if the right one came along.  However Atlanta has been clear that they do not want to trade the young forward.  Rumors from Real GM state that the Lakers would likely be choosing to trade away Pau Gasol for the young Smith, but the Hawks state they have no interest in that.  Despite Gasol averaging nearly 19 points and 9 rebounds a game for his career, his production has been declining the last few years and he is not the Pau Gasol many fans are accustomed to.

Smith is due to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and with his history of wanting out of the ATL, Smith will likely sign elsewhere.  If Atlanta can make a trade for him now, they’ll at least receive something for him before he leaves them with nothing.

If the Lakers manage to pull off yet another headline trade, I believe this would be another great piece to help our championship caliber team.  Smith is younger, more athletic and a bit more aggressive than Gasol is, however Gasol has also proven invaluable in the past during our championship runs.

I believe Smith will make the entire team more athletic and able to flourish in a D’Antoni type of system. Atlanta does not want to get older at their forward position, so they likely will attempt to receive a better end of the deal than the Lakers can offer.  However, The Lake Show is what it is today because of things like this, so a Smith to LA trade isn’t unlikely.

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(Juan Ocampo/NBAE/Getty Images)

This season seemed to start off well when the Lakers acquired Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. Then Mike Brown decided that this group of players would be a good fit for a little thing called, “The Princeton Offense”. Well after a 1-4 start to the season, it was clear to see that Brown and his coaching style had to go. With Brown out the door, the typical L.A. Soap opera has taken center stage and not disappointed. So here we are: a new coach, a new style, and a new hope.

Despite these Lakers changes, the only thing that hasn’t changed through out all of this is our actual team roster. We still have the L.A. version of the Big 3 with the Big 4 of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. One of the benefits of having such dominate players starting for our team is that each one demands the respect of the defense. This causes defenses to try and double-team these players at multiple points during each game. These situations can create an opening for our team to grow into one of the best teams in the NBA. However, with Steve Nash now injured, Steve Blake is seeing the majority of point guard time. The cascade effect of this is that our bench will get more playing time as well. Our bench and our role players will be crucial to the overall success of our team.

One of the biggest frustrations I have this year is when Lakers players either hesitate or miss open shots. We have six players on our team that have led their previous teams in scoring or provided key leadership: Pau, Antawn, Kobe, Dwight, Steve, and Metta. On the bench we have three competent three-point shooters in Steve Blake, Chris Duhon and Jodie Meeks. All 3 should leave us with no excuse for hesitated or missed open looks. These players have the responsibility to step up and capitalize on their shot opportunities.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Lakernation loves Dr. Buss for his ingenuity as one of the most successful sports franchise owners. Lakernation loves Phil for his calming demeanor on the way to five championships. Lakernation loves Jerry and Mitch for getting us Shaq, Kobe, Pau, Dwight, and Steve Nash.

But how does Lakernation feel about the reclusive Jim Buss? For sometime now, he has been the top shot caller for the Laker front office and several of his moves have been called into question. Most recently, hiring Mike Brown without Kobe’s consent was met with sharp criticism from fans and media.

 

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Michael Owen Bake/San Gabriel Valley Tribune

NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was finally immortalized with a statue of his own outisde Staples Center Friday night.

The statue was unveild in a ceremony prior to the Lakers’ game against the Suns. It will join other iconic monuments of former Laker legends including Magic Johnson, Jerry West and play-by-play commentator Chick Hearn in Star Plaza.

Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leader in points with 38,387. He averaged 24.6 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game in his 20-year career.

Kareem has long demanded for a statue of his own and Firday night, Jabbar’s wish was granted.

“I can understand now what a man like Lou Gehrig means when he considers himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth,’’ Abdul-Jabbar said. “When you’re fortunate enough to be honored in this way, it’s a very humbling experience.”

Former “Showtime” Lakers Magic Johnson and James Worthy were also in attendance during the ceremony.

 

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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.