Thursday, November 27, 2014
Blog Page 74

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(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The Lakers’ own personal haunted house continues to reside in Portland’s Rose Garden. Halloween night provided only tricks as the Lakers dropped to 0-2 on the season after a 116-106 loss to the Trailblazers.

Also, to literally add insult to injury, Steve Nash suffered a lower left leg contusion in a collision with Blazers rookie point guard Damian Lillard late in the second quarter. Nash tried to give it a go after treatment during halftime, but he obviously looked like he was having a difficult time pushing off of his leg.

Although the Lakers have received grief over their offense, the two things that killed them were turnovers & lack of defense. Not many teams win by giving up 116 points. Even fewer teams win by committing 24 turnovers. This team, although talented, is no exception to that. As Dwight Howard gets healthier and his explosion comes back, the defense should become more stifling.

Speaking of Dwight, his 3 for 14 night at the free throw line contributed greatly to the opening night loss to the Mavericks. When he shot 15 for 19 last night, it was a pleasant surprise. With that being said, shooting 21% one night and 79% the very next night is exactly how one ends up shooting 54.5% which (surprise, surprise) is right around his career free throw percentage.

I’m sure people are ready to hit the panic button. A two game losing streak to start the season MUST mean the sky is falling. Personally, I believe in optimism. This team was put together to win in June. As the great philosopher Shawn Carter once said, “Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week.” (I’m using that as a figure of speech for those of you without a sense of humor.) They have more enough time in these next few months to jell and put together the work of art that General Manager Mitch Kupchak had in mind when he assembled this roster. Remember, patience is a virtue. The best things come to those that wait. You can pretty much insert whatever inspirational quote you’d like in this instance.

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Noah Graham | NBAE | Getty Images

For everyone out there already calling them the Fakers, let’s get one thing perfectly clear, this edition of the 2012-2013 Lakers is still very much a lump of clay. It is up to Mike Brown to be the potter, & to take what doesn’t look like much right now, & turn it into a beautiful collectors piece by seasons end.

How exactly he does that is yet to be seen, but clearly, he has time on his side. I mean, he has Howard, Bryant, Nash, MWP, & Gasol as his starting point. It’s not as if he has nothing to work with. The way I see it, the key to making the Lakers into beautiful artwork, worthy of championship rings in June, starts with those 5 players. They either chart a course that will deliver them to the promised land, or they will end up ship wrecked on dry land.

Oh by the way, the guys sitting on the bench aren’t off the hook either. They must be the ingredients sprinkled in that help shape & mold the rest of the finished product. Ebanks, Jamison, Blake, & the rest of the crew, have got to step up & be able to blend in, as well as stand out & shine at times.

Keep the faith Laker Nation! It’s 2 games. This art project is going to be worth the wait.

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Photo by | Getty Images

Coming into the 2012/13 season, Lakers fans around the world such as myself had a lot to be excited about.

Great acquisitions in the offseason with the signings of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to their starting five; no significant losses (the loss of Andrew Bynum being the only one worth recognition); and the signing of a couple valid pieces to their bench (among which are: Antawn Jamison, Jodie Meeks, Chris Duhon, along with the continuation of Jordan Hill and Steve Blake). Sounds like a championship contestant roster if you ask me (!), so I do understand and support all the hype surrounding it. I mean, just imagine the highlights! ‘Nash dishes the ball to Pau off the screen who passes it to Howard for the Alley-oop throw down!’ Kobe doesn’t even have to be involved in the play for me to get chills of joy just thinking about it.

The truth is, the Lakers have achieved nothing but losses in the pre-season (0-8) as well as in the start of the regular season (0-2), which gives them a 0-10 record in games played since the summer. Now, as much as we, spoiled LA Lakers fans, try to deny it’s worrying at all, we still have to look at it and deep inside ask ourselves a big, fat capital: “WHY?”

And that is why I’m going to try and (ambitiously) justify it in 5 concrete points from where I stand:

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Photo by Associated Press

The Lakers fell to 0-2 on the season after another sub-par performance against an inferior opponent. Turnovers, turnovers, and more turnovers. That basically summed up the night for the Lakers as they coughed up the ball a staggering 25 times which translated to 28 points for the Blazers. The Lakers need to protect the rock like it’s their newborn baby. Last night we saw far too many lazy passes from guys who are usually clean (i.e. Kobe).

On top of the turnover woes was the defense, or lack thereof. I understand that the offense might take some time to function properly and smoothly, but Mike Brown was brought in here as a defensive specialist and last night’s defensive performance/effort was putrid to say the least. Half of that is on Coach Brown, but the other half has to be on the players and the effort they’re giving.

Kobe Bryant is a first ballot Hall of Famer, but there was a play in the first quarter when Metta lost control of the ball and Kobe never even moved in an attempt to get back on D. That, my friends, is losing basketball. The Lakers are a team of veterans who should know by now that this journey will not be easy whatsoever. They will have the bullseye on their backs all year and teams will be putting maximum effort into the game in hopes of spoiling the Lakers’ season.

The Lakers gave up 30, 32, and 30 points in the first three quarters, respectively. Now most of the blame can be put on the 25 turnovers, but at the end of the day it will be the Lakers defense that will determine whether or not they’re hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy in June. Another issue that needs to be shored up is the amount of offensive rebounds the Blazers got last night which is disgraceful when you think about who is out there. Pau Gasol needs to understand that Dwight is not 100% no matter how good he looks.

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Photo by Getty Images

Last night was an embarrassment, plain and simple. With that said, it’s only one game and there were some things the Lakers did that should get fans excited, but there were many more flaws that will get all the attention. Tonight the Lakers look to redeem themselves against a Portland Trailblazers team that most analysts expect to miss the playoffs. If their sensational rookie point guard, Damian Lillard, continues to produce as he did in the preseason then I can see them sneaking into the playoffs with the 8th seed. Another newcomer to Portland is their head coach Terry Stotts who previously held NBA head coaching gigs in Atlanta and Milwaukee. His most recent stint was with the Dallas Mavericks as an Assistant coach to Rick Carlisle, as he helped orchestrate the Dallas offense during the Championship run they had two seasons ago. Tonight’s game will be tough; the Lakers are 10-8 against Portland since the Kobe/Pau era and have always had a tough time at the Rose Garden. And after last night’s performance I am not very confident in the Lakers pulling this one out.

This Lakers squad will obviously look much better as the chemistry builds throughout the regular season. My guess is that by All-Star Weekend, barring any major injuries, the Lakers will be clicking on all cylinders. However, something must be done about this Princeton offense because the only players benefiting are Pau and Kobe.

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Photo by Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers host the Dallas Mavericks in what is sure to be the most intriguing NBA season in the past 20 years. The Lakers come into the season with a problem that most teams would love to have: How will their new two-time MVP point guard and three-time Defensive Player of the Year center mesh with their already star studded core of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Metta World Peace?

The journey to that answer and banner #17 begins tonight in the Staples Center as a depleted Mavericks team travels to L.A. without their superstar Dirk Nowitzki who is rehabbing his recently surgically repaired right knee. Joining Dirk in a suit on the bench will be starting center Chris Kaman who is dealing with a right calf strain. Starting in his place will be none other than everybody’s favorite NBA punch line, Eddy Curry. Curry is a big body looking to make the most of his latest opportunity and could have some decent numbers against a Lakers squad still trying to find its identity. However, this is a Lakers team itching to jump out of the gates quickly now that the Wild Wild West has become wide open.

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Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP

The 2012 tip-off is just around the corner and this might be one of the most anticipated seasons that we had in the past few years. Lakers made some big moves in the off-season by adding an all-star point guard Steve Nash and arguably the best center in the league – Dwight Howard. They also acquired few very solid bench players like Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks. They might have the best team on paper right now in the NBA, but after 8 losses in 8 preseason games, people started doubting their chemistry. Once the season begins it should all click, because the players are quite experienced and when you have a guy like Steve Nash as your point guard, who made Marcin Gortat a double-double player last year, you shouldn’t be worried about that.

The Dallas team, that Lakers are facing tonight, is almost a totally new team from last season’s. There is no Jason Terry, they waived Delonte West a day ago and Dirk Nowitzki won’t be playing, because of his knee injury. This doesn’t mean the Lakers are allowed to underestimate them, it only means that they could have a little easier opponent for the season opener. Mavericks still have some good players such as Chris Kaman, O.J. Mayo and Shawn Marion.

What can we expect from the Lakers tonight? First of all, everyone who thinks Kobe isn’t going to play is wrong. He will play. He stated that he is 85% ready to play, which should be enough for Kobe. What you can expect is a lot of dunks from Dwight Howard. He is going to be pumped up and ready to go, ready to excite the Laker fans. We can also expect a lot of different scorers for the Lakers, because of Steve Nash’s contribution to his new team. Steve has finally found a team where he has serious chances of winning his first NBA title. He has already got used to Hollywood, just look at his new haircut. Metta World Peace is excited about his new teammates and is said to be in the best condition since his Indiana days. It seems like everything’s coming together for the Lakers this year. The only concern is if they can stay healthy throughout the whole season and mostly in the playoffs.

The best thing they can do is just play relaxed and not care about the pressure media are putting on them. We don’t want to see them play like Miami in the 2010-11 season when they were just trying to show everyone that they aren’t the league’s villain. The only thing they should care about is their game. If they do that, they’ll be fine.

So, let the quest for the 17th title begin!

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According to Lakers Head Coach Mike Brown, due to his strained foot,  Kobe will be a game decision for opening night against Dallas.

He has not practiced for the  past week.

Either way, the journey for banner #17 starts tomorrow.

 

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Courtesy of Stephen Dunn | Getty Images

Having a veteran, All-Star studded starting five is a beginning – an unbelievable, can-you-believe-who’s-on-this-team-caliber beginning, but five players do not an NBA Championship make. Despite an opening line-up so dominant (no longer “on paper” or “in theory” since Dwight Howard’s debut this past Sunday gave us a preview) that it angers the rest of the league, the Lakers are still engrossed in a dilemma they’ve been unable to solve since their last title in 2010 – gathering a dependable set of reserves.

In the last two seasons, as the likes of Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton and Lamar Odom began flying off the roster, the Laker coaching staff have been forced to run their starters ragged with imbalanced playing time; unable to place greater responsibility on bench players who lack leadership and direction off the pine, whose chemistry has yet to brew and whose expectations are so much higher now than they were because the starting line-up is, well, what it is.

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The annual NBA GM Survey was released, and some of the results were quite interesting. Some highlights below, but you can check out all the results HERE

– HEAT will beat the Lakers in the NBA Finals

– Durant tops Kobe with who they choose to take the last shot

– Howard ranked #3 in player you would most want to start a franchise

– Kobe considered to be the toughest player in the NBA

– For 11 Straight seasons, Kobe ranked best SG

– Steve Nash ranked #1 in Basketball IQ

 

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Dwight Howard – Sore back from yesterday’s game but no setbacks.

Kobe Bryant – Bruised Right foot from yesterday’s game. Sat out practice today and is listed day to day. Not considered serious.

Metta World Peace – Dislocated finger on shooting hand from yesterday’s game. Expected to wear a splint and not  to miss any time.

Steve Nash – Ankle sore from rolling it in yesterdays game. Not considered serious and not expected to miss any time.

Jordan Hill – Herniated disc recovering. Has been practicing and is on schedule to be ready for opening night.

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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.