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Tags Posts tagged with "Chris Kaman"

Chris Kaman

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Photo courtesy of Harry How, Getty Images

April 1, 2014 — 7:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers come off a very impressive win vs. Phoenix Suns this Sunday to end a 2-game winning streak. Now, they seek to carry Sunday’s momentum into tonight’s matchup vs. Portland Trail Blazers, a team the Lakers defeated in their last meeting.

Pau Gasol seeks to return to tonight’s matchup after dealing with a scary vertigo illness that caused him to miss this past week. Gasol, scoring 17.5 PPG and grabbing 9.8 RPG this season, highly desires to play the last 9 games alongside C Chris Kaman to finish the rest of this season, according to LATimes.com’s Eric Pincus.

Kaman, who Head Coach Mike D’Antoni has thrown to the end of the bench throughout this season for reasons unknown to any Laker fans, dominated the Suns Sunday night by scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. Kaman and Gasol showed that they could play well alongside eachother throughout the pre-season, but the twin-tower combination has barely stepped on the floor together this season.

The all- duo of F/C LaMarcus Aldridge and PG Damian Lillard lead the Trail Blazers into STAPLES Center tonight.  Aldridge, who has reached the prime of his career, comes into tonight’s game averaging a career high 23.2 PPG and 11.1 RPG by fully developing his all-around game.

Meanwhile, Lillard has become a star in only his 2nd NBA season. An example of a player who benefitted from playing in college for all 4 years, Lillard has become a household NBA name, averaging 20.9 PPG and 5.5 APG throughout this season.

Projected Starters

PG – Kendall Marshall  Damian Lillard [Advantage: Trail Blazers]
SG – Jodie Meeks / Wesley Matthews [Advantage: Trail Blazers]
SF – Wesley Johnson Nicholas Batum [Advantage: Trail Blazers]
PF – Chris Kaman / LaMarcus Aldridge [Advantage: Trail Blazers]
C – Pau Gasol Robin Lopez  [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Blazers: G Mo WilliamsDorrell WrightCJ McCollum, Thomas Robinson

Lakers: SG Kent Bazemore, PF Jordan Hill, Nick Young, G Xavier Henry

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Blazers: Out-C Joel Freeland

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Jordan Farmar, GTD-PG Steve Nash, GTD-C Pau Gasol, GTD-G Xavier Henry

Bottom Line

The Lakers have been a very mysterious team this season, winning vs. teams like TrailBlazers and Thunder, while getting swept by very bad teams like the Milwaukee Bucks this season. On April Fools Day, lets see if the Lakers can fool NBA fans and upset the TrailBlazers tonight. For that to happen, the Lakers have to play very good team defense and make a lot of their shots, similar to how well they shot vs. Knicks last Tuesday to blow them out.

Prediction

Trail Blazers: 117-104

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Photo courtesy of Bill Baptist, Getty Images

February 19, 2014 — 7:30PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / ESPN
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Former Lakers center Dwight Howard returns to STAPLES Center tonight as his Houston Rockets (36-17) face off vs. The Los Angeles Lakers (18-35) in their first game since the All-Star break.

All eyes are on Howard tonight, as he plays vs. Lakers at Staples Center for the first time since he left the Lakers. Fair or unfair, many have blamed Howard, who averages 18.8 PPG, 12.5 RPG, and 1.8 BPG this season, for last season’s debacle of a season. With this season’s disaster that the Lakers have faced throughout this season, we can sense that other major factors caused last season’s struggle and Howard’s eventual departure to the Rockets.

Meanwhile, very high probability exists that tonight will be the final game the Lakers roster would look like their current state. The Lakers will most likely make moves before tomorrow’s trade deadline, which would include getting additional picks for the upcoming NBA Draft, getting under the luxury tax threshold, or rebuild for another championship run with SG Kobe Bryant.

As usual, C Pau Gasol has once again been placed in the trade block, while PF Jordan Hill has been involved in many trade talks, notably Brooklyn Nets. Other candidates to get traded before tomorrow’s deadline include C Chris Kaman and PG Steve Blake, mainly since trading their contracts will get them much closer to get under the luxury tax threshold.

Ironically, the Lakers will be led by C Chris Kaman tonight, who for whatever reason Mike D’Antoni has placed at the end of the bench for the majority of this season. One of the most skilled center in the NBA on the offensive end, Kaman has been by far one of the most consistent Laker since finally receiving any playing time, scoring 22 PPG and grabbing 10.5 RPG in the last 4 games. If this is Kaman’s last game with the Lakers, he will definitely help another team’s cause at going for this year’s NBA Championship.

Projected Starters

PG – Patrick Beverly Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Rockets]
SG – James Harden / Steve Blake [Advantage: Rockets]
SF – Chandler Parsons Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Rockets]
PF – Terrence Jones Ryan Kelly [Advantage: Even]
C – Dwight Howard Chris Kaman [Advantage: Rockets]

Notable Bench Players

Rockets: PG Jeremy Lin, F Omri Casspi, G Francisco Garcia, Greg Smith, Omer Asik 

Lakers:  C Robert Sacre, F Jordan Hill, SG Jodie Meeks

Bench Advantage: Rockets

Injury List

Rockets: Questionable-PG Patrick Beverley, Questionable-F Greg Smith

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-C Pau Gasol, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-G/F Nick Young, Doubtful-PG Steve Nash, Doubtful-PG Jordan FarmarProbable-SG Jodie Meeks

Keys for Lakers Victory

Defense: The Lakers’ defense played well the 1st 3 quarters vs. Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, holding them to only 72 points in the first 3 quarters. Hopefully the Lakers will come with the same energy tonight, especially since Howard returns to Staples Center and this game will be broadcasted nationally. The Rockets have a lot of weapons other than SG James Harden and Howard; SF Chandler Parsons and PG Jeremy Lin have shown that they can also take over games if needed, so the Lakers have to play great team defense and communicate well in order to contain the Rockets lineup.

Bottom Line

I expect the Lakers to play very inspired basketball tonight especially during the 1st half. They have to play with the same energy they came out with vs. Thunder but maintain throughout the duration of tonight’s game. Unfortunately, the Rockets’ talent will be very tough to overcome for the very shorthanded Lakers tonight, especially as 4 of our 5 top players are not even in uniform tonight.

Prediction

Rockets: 112-97

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February 10, 2014 — 7:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers continue their 3-game home series before the All-Star break to play vs. Utah Jazz. This game feature two bottom-dwelling teams who find themselves destined for a high pick in the loaded 2014 NBA Draft.

Despite playing vs. a very shorthanded Bulls team on Sunday, the Lakers could not quite get over the hump after a 4th quarter comeback attempt.

In Sunday’s game, C Chris Kaman, scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as he led the Lakers throughout the game. That’s right, the same Chris Kaman who Head Coach Mike D’Antoni has benched for reasons only known to him. Arguably one of the most fundamentally skilled big man in the game, the former all-star Kaman could have actually helped the Lakers stay afloat throughout this season so Laker Nation would not have had to witness the current atrocity the Lakers currently sit themselves in.

Well, they unfortunately witness a team that currently sits in 13th place in the Western Conference only ahead of the Jazz and Sacramento Kings.

We can criticize D’Antoni for a lot of things, but we will wait to speak on that in another conversation.

Anyways, PG Steve Nash currently stands in a dicey situation once again, as he left Sunday’s game as a precaution to his nerve irritation issues. Nash practiced Monday and is currently slated to play tonight vs. Jazz.

“It’s a little irritated, the nerve, but I’m hoping I can be better tomorrow and can play,” Nash told ESPNLA.com’s Dave McMenamin.

Hopefully Nash’s nerve irritation will not flare up again tomorrow and in the future as he has done everything he could to recover from his injury issues when nobody else would have.

The Jazz’s season has been one to forget for them also. After going 43-39 last season and slightly missing the playoffs, the Jazz decided to completely rebuild, letting key players like C Al Jefferson and current All-Star PF Paul Millsap go via free-agency. Jazz F Gordan Hayward leads this rebuilding team, having a very solid season showcasing his all-around talents scoring a very solid 16.3 PPG, grabbing 5.5 RPG, and dishing out 5.0 APG this season. Jazz’s prized rookie PG Trey Burke who averages 12.7 PPG and 5.5 APG, will be questionable tonight vs. Lakers due to a score back. although he shot 3-15 vs the Lakers during their last meeting, Burke definitely has the potential to torch the Lakers tonight with his scoring ability.

Projected Starters

PG – Trey Burke / Steve Nash [Advantage: Even]
SG – Gordon Hayward / Steve Blake [Advantage: Jazz]
SF – Richard Jefferson / Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Even]
PF – Marvin Williams / Shawne Williams [Advantage: Even]
C – Derrick Favors Chris Kaman [Advantage: Jazz]

Notable Bench Players

Jazz: G Alec Burks, F Jeremy Evans, PG John Lucas III, C Enes Kanter
Lakers: F Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre, F Ryan Kelly, PG Kendall Marshall

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Jazz: Questionable-PG Trey Burke
Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, , Out-PG Steve Blake, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-C Pau Gasol, Out-PG Jordan Farmar Out-PG Jodie Meeks, Probable-PG Steve Nash

Keys for Lakers Victory

Feed the Big: The Lakers currently have only 9 healthy players at this current moment. Currently their most productive player, Chris Kaman just scored 27 points vs. a stout Bulls defense led by All-Star C Joakim Noah and PF Taj Gibson. in fact, Kaman actually leads current active Lakers in scoring per 36 minutes, scoring 19.5 PPG in that span. Jazz starting C Derrick Favors is talented, but small, so hopefully the Lakers and coach D’Antoni can take advantage of the mismatch in the post, resulting in more wide-open three-pointers and conserving the legs of Lakers players.

Bottom Line

Regardless of the talks of tanking, the Lakers have to continue to play every game with a lot of effort and execute on both ends of the floor. Most of the players on the floor currently do not play only for the Lakers, but also seek to impress General Managers and Scouts throughout the NBA to receive their next contracts. Despite the pessimism going into this game after losing vs. Bulls, the Lakers should have enough firepower to squeak past the Jazz to gain momentum until they have to play vs. F Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Prediction

Lakers: 103-98

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Image: Jeff Gross | Getty Images
Pau Gasol defends Blake Griffin
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

January 10, 2014 — 7:30PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: ESPN / Watch ESPN / TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Since both superstars and team leaders of their respective teams, SG Kobe Bryant for the Lakers and PG Chris Paul for the Clippers cannot play tonight, the media attention to this matchup is definitely as hyped as it should have. However, that does not deter away from how important this game is for both the Los Angeles Lakers (14-22) and the Los Angeles Clippers (25-13) tonight. The Lakers have to win tonight to finally lift their ship up from rock bottom after losing their last 9 of 10 games. Meanwhile, the Clippers have to make sure they maintain the 4th seed in the Western Conference while Paul recovers from his injury.

The only Laker who has played at a very high level during this losing streak is C/F Pau Gasol. Ever since fully recovering from his respiratory issues, Gasol has averaged 21.8 PPG and 11.6 RPG in his last 5 games. Gasol has shown what he can do when he is fully healthy and receives the ball near the paint where he can attack, without getting double-teamed.

The cause for C Chris Kaman not playing meaningful minutes has boggled all Lakers fans mind throughout this season however. Kaman has a high basketball IQ and similar to Gasol, has very crafty post-game and can shoot a mid-range jump shot well also. Per 36 minutes, Kaman has averaged 16.6 PPG and 11.9 RPG despite his limited minutes on the floor. Mike D’Antoni said this morning during his interview with Mark Willard and Mychal Thompson that he just does not have minutes to give Kaman right now. Well, since the Lakers have lost 9 out of their last 10 games without playing him, they might as well give him playing time, especially alongside, to try something different.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers come into tonight’s match-up as the overwhelming favorites vs. Lakers, something Los Angeles basketball fans are clearly not used to. Without, Paul, the Clippers are led by their 2 post players, All-Star PF Blake Griffin, and C DeAndre Jordan. Griffin has greatly improved in his all-around game, averaging 22.0 PPG and 10.3 RPG, but his improvement and on-court leadership skills will be greatly tested for this game and the upcoming weeks. Jordan has dominated on the defensive end, 13.5 RPG and 2.4 BPG, which are among the league leaders this season.

Projected Starters

PG – Darren Collison Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Clippers]

SG – Jamal Crawford / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Clippers]

SF – Jared Dudley Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Clippers]

PF – Blake Griffin Pau Gasol [Advantage: Even]

C – DeAndre Jordan Robert Sacre [Advantage: Clippers]

Notable Bench Players

Clippers: F Matt Barnes, G Willie Green, F Antawn Jamison, G Darius Morris

Lakers:  G/F Nick Young, F Jordan Hill, Ryan Kelly

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Clippers: Out-PG Chris Paul, Out-SF Reggie Bullock, Probable-SG JJ Redick

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-PG Steve Blake, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-PG Jordan Farmar, Probable-G/F Nick Young

Keys for Lakers Victory

Defense/Rebound : The Lakers’ defense once again had a poor effort defensively, allowing 113 points, 61 of those points coming in the 2nd half to the Houston Rockets. To make matters worse, the Lakers allow the most offensive rebounds in the NBA, giving up 13 rebounds per game. Their exposure on the boards comes from not having enough players who are strong enough to battle in the post to grab rebounds and a lack of effort. Instead of going small all of the time, the Lakers have to change their rotation to get more players on the floor who are capable of stopping drives to the basket and grab rebounds. Tonight will not be easy at all, as they have to battle both Jordan and Griffin to grab as many rebounds as they can. Putting Kaman in the game will alleviate some of that issues. That, is if D’Antoni decides to play him.

Bottom Line

At this rate, the Lakers will not beat anyone anytime soon. Hopefully, the Clippers decide to not take the Lakers seriously tonight and play down to their level to give the Lakers a puncher’s chance at tonight’s game. However, too many injuries have hampered the Lakers to the point where their spirit has decreased significantly from the beginning of the season. The Clippers are in a battle for a high playoff spot, and it would be hard to think that a Doc Rivers coached basketball team will lay an egg once again vs. Lakers like they did during the opening night of the season.

Prediction

Clippers: 120-102

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Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty Images

January 3, 2014 — 7:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Many Lakers fans have gotten torn with this “million-dollar” question as the year 2014 begins.

Should the Lakers tank or not?

As our own Laker Nation columnist Johnny Navarrette stated exceptionally well in his piece “Struggling Lakers Face Critical January Schedule”, the Lakers have a high possibility of tanking, intentionally or not, thanks to a combination of multiple injuries and a very tough schedule moving forward.

The ship for the Los Angeles Lakers (13-19) is sinking quickly  as they face the Utah Jazz (11-24) tonight. The Milwaukee Bucks looked like the San Antonio Spurs during the New Years Eve beat down of the Lakers that many unfortunate Laker fans had to witness.  This will be the 3rd of a 4 game home series, which is supposed to be the easiest series for the Lakers on paper. However, the Lakers have already lost the first 2 games, so they would have to win these next 2 games to salvage this series.

To make matters worse, Lakers PG Jordan Farmar is now out for at least 4 more weeks tearing his hamstring again vs. Bucks. The injury to Farmar leads PG Kendall Marshall, who played in the D-League a month ago, to lead the Lakers as the only healthy ball-handler on the roster.

Tonight, expect the Jazz can cause the Lakers more problems tonight like they did during their last meeting a week ago. The Jazz outrebounded the Lakers 43-37 and held them to 30.4 % shooting from behind the 3 pt. line. Jazz F Gordan Hayward showcased his all-around talents vs. the Lakers, scoring 24 pts, dishing out 9 assists, and grabbing 5 rebounds  on the Lakers and has averaged a very solid 16.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 4.8 APG this season. With 1 healthy ball-handler available for the Lakers, expect Jazz rookie PG Trey Burke who averages 13.7 PPG and 5.0 APG, to go off for another career high tonight as the Lakers have been playing their worst basketball in ages.

Projected Starters

PG – Trey Burke / Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Jazz]

SG – Gordon Hayward Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Jazz]

SF – Richard Jefferson Nick Young [Advantage: Lakers]

PF – Marvin Williams Pau Gasol [Advantage: Lakers]

C – Derrick Favors Robert Sacre [Advantage: Jazz]

Notable Bench Players

Jazz: G Alec Burks, F Jeremy Evans, PG John Lucas III, C Enes Kanter

Lakers:  F Wesley Johnson, F Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman, F Shawne Williams

Bench Advantage: Jazz

Injury List

Jazz: None

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-PG Steve Blake, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-PG Jordan Farmar Probable-F Wesley Johnson

Keys for Lakers Victory

Play Relaxed: At this current moment, zero expectations exist for the current Lakers roster. Instead of trying really hard to live up to the “Lakers” name, the Lakers have to play relaxed, which should lead to a higher shooting percentage. Lately, the Lakers have not defeated any teams since their shots cannot fall through the rim. Furthermore, the Lakers have zero ball-handlers on the floor outside of Marshall. Hopefully, Lakers Head Coach Mike D’Antoni decides to run his offense mainly through C Chris Kaman and C/F Pau Gasol, who are now arguably the best play-makers on the Lakers right now. Lakers shooters, notably G Jodie Meeks, F Shawne Williams, and G/F Nick Young, should be able to receive uncontested shots if Gasol and Kaman can play well from the post and create open shots for the Lakers perimeter players.

Bottom Line

After the worst loss of the season for the Lakers, they are now officially in “rock bottom”. Fortunately, they cannot get any worse from their current state and only have room to improve. After 2 days off, look for the Lakers to come out with a lot of energy and prove that they are trying to win every game. Right now, difficulties exist for fans who try to make a case that the Lakers can come away with a victory tonight vs. Jazz. Hopefully, the Lakers can somehow play very relaxed tonight and come away with a victory to start the 2014 year right.

Prediction

Jazz: 95-85

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Source: Lakers.com
Source: Lakers.com
Source: Lakers.com

December 29, 2013 — 6:30 PM (PST)
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Los Angeles Lakers (13-17) head back home where they will play 4 consecutive home games starting tonight vs. Philadelphia 76ers (8-21), a team destined for the lottery this season. The Lakers let a very winnable game slip from them Friday vs. Utah Jazz despite great games from G/F Nick Young and C Chris Kaman. Young scored 21 points including 13of his points in the 3rd quarter but fouled out in middle of 4th quarter, which swung the momentum to Jazz’s favor, and Kaman scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as he replaced C Pau Gasol in the starting lineup.

However, the Lakers tonight will play tonight without Gasol due to an upper respiratory infection. To make matters worse, Chris Kaman suffered a sprained ankle during Friday’s game and his availability for tonight’s game is uncertain. The Lakers will have to finish at least 3-1 during this 4-game home stretch since they should defeat these next 4 opponents. They are currently suffering a 4-game losing streak, so getting these victories are very crucial to give themselves an opportunity to make a run at a playoff berth.

Meanwhile, the 76ers basically waived the white flag before the season even began, trading all-star PG Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans for C Nerlens Noel, who still is recovering from a torn ACL suffered last January at University of Kentucky. However, the 76ers can definitely still make the playoffs this season in the very abysmal Eastern Conference especially with the play of their rookie PG Michael Carter-Williams. Williams, a 4th overall pick from University of Syracuse, will win the Rookie of the Year award if he stays healthy, averaging 18.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 7.7 APG. The 76ers lost 7 straight games during the beginning of December when Carter-Williams was recovering from a freak bacterial infection in his knee.

UPDATE: Kaman will play tonight (sprained ankle), but C/F Jordan Hill will now start at the Center position.

Projected Starters

PG – Michael-Carter Williams Jordan Farmar [Advantage: 76ers]

SG – Evan Turner / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: 76ers]

SF – Hollis Thompson Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Even]

PF – Thaddeous Young Shawne Williams [Advantage: 76ers]

C – Spencer Hawes Jordan Hill [Advantage: Even]

Notable Bench Players

76ers: G Tony Wroten, James Anderson, Elliot Williams, C/F Lavoy Allen

Lakers: G/F Nick YoungXavier Henry, F Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Keys for Lakers Success

  1. Make Open Shots: The 76ers allow the 3rd highest FG % at 47.1% and the 4th highest 3pt % allowed at 38.3%. If the Lakers shooters, notably G Jodie Meeks, F Shawne Williams, and G Nick Young, can make open shots tonight, the Lakers will come away with an easy win tonight. This matchup is very advantageous for Mike D’Antoni’s fast paced offense since they should have great wide open shots especially on fast breaks. Furthermore, the 76ers have nobody who can protect the basket, so expect the Lakers, especially PG Jordan Farmar, to drive to the basket very often and attack the paint so either he can get a layup or wait until the defense collapses on him so he can kick the ball out to all the Lakers shooters.
  2. Stop Michael Carter-Williams: Since Evan Turner’s ability to play tonight at full strength is uncertain, all 5 defenders have to keep their eye on Carter-Williams. With Carter-Williams on the floor, the 76ers play much better, having a 7-10 record. The Lakers have had a lot of problems keeping guards in front of them on defense, causing big men like Kaman and Gasol to help out, leading to wide-open dunks. Since Farmar is back however, they should not have as much trouble keeping players like Carter-Williams in front of them and contain them.

Bottom Line

This game is a must win for the Lakers. Why? Because the 76ers are one of the few NBA teams that should be an easy win for the Lakers on paper. Although the 76ers have more talent than the Lakers on the starting lineup, the Lakers clearly have a much better chemistry and play better together than the 76ers. Also, PG Jordan Farmar‘s return makes the Lakers’ offense and defense much better since he’s a natural vocal floor leader for the Lakers. Lets hope that the Lakers can come away with a stress-free victory tonight to finally snap their 4-game losing streak.

Prediction

Lakers: 114-97

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Photo courtesy of Noah Graham, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Noah Graham, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Noah Graham, Getty Images

Add this game to the top of disheartening losses this season. What a game.

The Portland Trail Blazers came into Staples Center with the second best record in the Western Conference. Naturally, the Lakers were not favored to win tonight and it appeared to be an easy game to call when the home team fell behind by 17 points halfway through the first quarter. The Lakers managed to catch up, however, going into halftime just three points down. It looked like the home team was giving themselves a chance to win…and then the third quarter came.

The Blazers outscored the Lakers 41-24. Again, it looked like they’d be taking this game all the way when they led by as much as 20 points. The Lakers, however, continued to fight, getting to within a single point with still under three minutes left in the game. Unfortunately, They couldn’t stop Portland from scoring and the single-digit deficit became more than the Lakers could overcome with so little time left, so they took the loss, 114-108.

High Points
Backcourt Brothers – The Laker guards really took this game and put it over their shoulders tonight, and it started with Xavier Henry. He contributed 27 points on 9-12 from the field and was the focal point of the Lakers’ two big runs tonight. In the first quarter, he chipped in nine points that helped fuel the come from 17 points down run. In the fourth quarter, he put in 11 points to help the team catch up from a 20-point deficit, highlighted by his four-point play. He’s so good at getting himself to the free throw line where he went 7-11 tonight, and he’s fearless at getting to the rim no matter how much traffic there is to barrel through. He finished the evening with a game-high +23. Jodie Meeks, the team’s leading scorer, put in 20 points of his own. Nick Young was the other bench player who fueled the first scoring run that got the team over the 17-point hole. He finished with 17 points on 7-14 from the field. And of course, there’s Steve Blake, who had to put in double-duty tonight when Jordan Farmar left the game in the first quarter. He finished with 13 points and nine assists.
Attitude – It would have been so easy for the Lakers to just roll over and let Portland have their way with them, but they wouldn’t let up. They came up from being behind by double digits twice in one game. It’s hard to consider moral victories, but this game really showed a lot of grit from this Lakers’ team. It’s an attitude that surely their captain, Kobe Bryant, would appreciate.

Low Points
Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill – The Blazers and the Lakers shot at about the same percentage. They had close to the same number of assists, the turnovers weren’t out of control for either team and the Lakers even blocked seven shots to the Blazers’ one. The glaring stat disparity? Rebounds. Portland outrebounded the Lakers 52-41, 15-9 on the offensive glass. While rebounding should be a team effort, the Lakers’ leading rebounders didn’t do much to help their situation, combining for just 11 boards for the whole game. Their struggles tonight may be due in large part to a sprained ankle, which each player is nursing.
Spotty Defense – Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not. And it’s hard to tell when the Lakers will decide to play any. One quarter, they’re allowing Portland to score 41 points. The next quarter, they go on a 24-5 run. Sustaining their efforts on either end of the court is this team’s weakness so far this season, and it’s cost them a lot of close, winnable games.
Chris Kaman – It’s nice to see Robert Sacre on the floor playing some significant minutes, and he was productive tonight with his 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks, but Kaman has been available to play for some time now and hasn’t seen the floor in a couple weeks. It’s not something that’s been given much attention, but with Jordan Hill playing with a sprained ankle, seems logical to bring Kaman in.
Jordan Farmar – After playing for only 56 seconds, Farmar had to leave the floor and was later diagnosed with a left hamstring strain. He left in the first quarter and never returned. Hopefully the next four days off will aid in a quick recovery.

The Lakers’ next game isn’t until Friday against the Sacramento Kings. After a weeklong road trip, it may just be what they need to recoup. Kobe Bryant is scheduled to practice with the team this week and there’s a possibility he’ll play against the Kings if the practices don’t cause any pain. Here’s hoping!

Box Score

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Courtesy: Getty Images

Mike D'Antoni

Five games into the 2013-14 NBA season, most teams know for the most part which players will be in their eight or nine-man rotations. At this point, the Lakers are definitely not one of those teams. Coach Mike D’Antoni has been tinkering with rotations and player combinations to the extreme, going with an 11-man rotation thus far that has already produced over 34 player combinations. As can be expected, results have been far from consistent. As Steve Nash put it:

“We’re not a well-oiled machine. We don’t even know what line-ups suit us best yet, let alone what each other are going to do.”

Clearly, D’Antoni is going to have to eventually slim the rotations down. Because of the depth of this roster as well as the uncertainty of the bench pieces, the Lakers are likely to go to a nine-man rotation as the season wears on. So what can we expect to see on the court in the coming months? Let’s take a look at the likely line-ups the Lakers will employ the rest of the season.

Starting Line-Up:

PG – Steve Blake

Probably not the Steve you were expecting huh? Five games in, it’s clear that Steve Nash is still dealing with nagging injuries and adjusting to age. Blake, not Nash, is best suited to lead the starting unit because of his aggressiveness on defense and because he has simply looked better on the court than Nash.

Courtesy: Getty Images
Courtesy: Getty Images

SG – Xavier Henry

On a roster full of question marks, Henry has emerged as a breakout player so far this season for the Lakers. His aggressiveness on both ends of the court fits well in LA’s fast-paced system, and he seems to have all but locked up a starting spot for the foreseeable future. He can also slide down to the small forward position in smaller line-ups with a two point-guard backcourt.

SF – Kobe Bryant

When the Mamba returns, he will obviously be a fixture in the starting line-up. There has been talk for a while of Bryant sliding down to the small forward position, and upon his return that is where he’s expected to be. It will be interesting to see how Kobe plays in the uptempo system that places a premium on ball movement, but knowing the veteran I’m sure (hoping) he’ll fit in just fine.

PF – Jordan Hill

On a roster filled with guys who like to (try to) be scorers, the rebounding machine that is Jordan Hill is a perfect fit for this Laker team. Hill has a constant motor and is always around the basketball at every rebound opportunity. He currently sits in the top 20 for rebounds per 48 minutes and should be there all season long with the rebounding opportunities this team can present.

C – Pau Gasol

With the departure of He Who Shall Not Be Named to Houston, Gasol has been able to move back to his more natural position of center. As the man in the middle of a team surrounded by shooters, Gasol will be able to display his passing skill and low post repertoire in the paint. While the relationship between Pau and D’Antoni is up and down to say the least, Gasol should get plenty of opportunities to go to work with this roster.

Bench:

G – Steve Nash

Aside from Bryant, Nash is currently the biggest question mark on the Laker roster. Is he aging and no longer capable of being the player he once was? Or, as Nash believes, does he just need to shake a few lingering injuries before being back to normal? This storyline will only grow as the season moves on, especially as trade rumors continue to grow louder and louder.

Courtesy: Getty Images
Courtesy: Getty Images
G – Jordan Farmar

When the Lakers signed Farmar, many people thought it was nothing more than a nostalgia signing on the cheap. But through five games this season, Jordan has been the Lakers best point guard averaging 10 points and 5 assists in under 23 minutes a game. Farmar’s energy and aggressiveness will be key to sparking the second unit all season long.

F – Nick Young/Wesley Johnson

Johnson and Young are the two bench players whose minutes will most likely fluctuate all season long. Because they bring two completely different elements to the court, their minutes will be based on what is needed on a game-to-game basis. When starters are struggling to get buckets, Young will be called upon to provide a scoring spark. When the offense is clicking, it’s likely that D’Antoni will want to use Johnson for his defensive prowess to slow down opponents. Either way, it will be interesting to see these two young forwards try to separate themselves from one another.

C – Chris Kaman

Kaman is more of a fit due to need rather than what he provides on the court. While he can hit an open midrange shot and crash the boards, the Caveman will get minutes due to the fact that he provides size to back up Gasol and Hill. Shawne Williams is also an option here, however he is more of a stretch four who provides shooting that is not a major need on this second unit.

Odd Men Out:

Jodie Meeks

Shawne Williams

Needless to say, I do not envy the decisions that Mike D’Antoni will need to make dividing up the minutes amongst his players. There are sure to be questions, confusion and discontent amongst players as the season wears on and minutes are cut. But when looking at the lack of depth last season, it is a good problem for Coach D’Antoni to have. At least until a few tough losses and people start calling for his job. Oh wait that already is happening? This is going to be one very interesting season.

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Image: Noah Graham | Getty Images

Which bench player has impressed you the most so far?

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Image: Noah Graham | Getty Images
Image: Noah Graham | Getty Images

With contributions by Kanta Ito.

With Dwight Howard‘s departure, Lakers Executive V.P. of Basketball Operations Jim Buss and General Manager Mitch Kupchak faced a major task this past off-season. The Lakers’ decision-makers were tasked with filling plenty of holes, as evidenced by last season’s debacle.

After eight preseason games and three regular season games, one significant improvement is evident: the bench.

The Lakers have received a major sparkplug from the second unit this season, evidenced by their strong performances throughout the preseason and regular season. The second unit shocked the national audience by carrying the Lakers to an Opening Night victory over its co-tenant rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers, outscoring them 41-24 in the fourth quarter and scoring 76 points as a unit.

Albeit, the Lakers lost the next two games to the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers’ bench, however, has shown that it can carry a lot of the weight for the Lakers this season.

Jordan Farmar, a key bench player during the Lakers’ championship runs in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010, took a significant paycut to rejoin the Lakers after stint with the New Jersey Nets as well as overseas in Israel and Turkey. Farmar has gotten off to a blistering start, averaging 11.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game, including scoring 16 points to lead the Lakers over the Clippers.

Farmar’s maturity in becoming an effective floor general came from running the show for the Anadolu Efes Istambul in Turkey last season—leading them to a Euroleague playoff appearance.

“I just got a chance to play differeent styles of basketball. My whole professional career, I was in a triangle and I [was not] really running screen and rolls and making decisions and getting away from that. I finally got a chance to do that and learn on the job,” Farmar told NBA on TNT sidelines reporter Craig Sager after defeating the Clippers.

The biggest surprise for the Lakers has been Xavier Henry, who signed a non-guaranteed 1-year deal with the purple and gold. After subpar performances with the Memphis Grizzlies and the New Orleans Hornets during his first three years in the NBA, the 22-year old Henry has given the Lakers a guy who can create his own shots and play solid defense.

Henry, a former lottery-pick out of Kansas, has made a good first impression with the Lakers—scoring a career high 22 points versus the Clippers.

Although Henry scored only 3 points versus the Spurs, he has shown Lakers’ coach Mike D’Antoni that he can make a variety of aggressive moves towards the basket and hit some shots from behind the arc. With Henry’s defensive prowess and his surprising offensive game, he might become one of the biggest off-season acquisition steals for the Lakers.

The Lakers also signed another athletic guard-forward, Wesley Johnson. Johnson, like Henry, has not made an impact in the NBA during his past stints with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns.

Expect Johnson to make a significant impact on the defensive end by using his length and athleticism—especially in his current role as a “quick-4.” He has the ability to guard every position except for center. Despite being the fourth overall pick in 2011 NBA Draft, Johnson’s offensive contribution will be a bonus, as his main role is on the defensive end.

However, Johnson has scored 11 points and 12 points the past two games respectively, on 50% shooting from the 3-point line.

Johnson excitedly told our own Laker Nation columnists Alex Lambeth and Jory Dreher before training camp that he believes he can have a really good impact just for his length and speed.

“I can get in passing lanes and disrupt shots and bring a spark that will fuel the entire team,” Johnson said. “As long as everyone is on the same page defensively, I think we’ll be just fine.”

Another addition to the bench rotation this season is former NBA All-Star Chris Kaman. With his recent solid play, I expect coach D’Antoni to pencil him into the starting lineup very soon.

Kaman and Lakers’ star Pau Gasol have shown that they can play together. This combination has been much more effective than Gasol and Howard last year.

The combination of these three key additions to the Lakers bench, paired with returnees Jordan Hill and Jodie Meeks, give the Lakers the flexibility and youth to cause matchup nightmares for their opponents—something they have not had in recent years.

The new and improved bench can also help limit the minutes played by veterans Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, and most importantly, Kobe Bryant, once he returns to the lineup.

“We can go out there and take the load off some of those guys,” Johnson continued. “It will definitely be a relief off their shoulders knowing we’re going to compete just as hard as they are.”

With the combination of their depth, and the return of assistant coach and defensive guru Kurt Rambis, the Lakers have shown signs of improved team defense.

No one knows for sure if the Lakers’ bench can sustain this stellar play, but the Lakers’ front office should be given major credit for upgrading the bench under the tight circumstances they faced this off-season.

While the Lakers still have low expectations this season, expect the second unit to continue helping the Lakers make some noise this season and hold down the fort until Kobe returns to the lineup.

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Chris+Paul+Steve+Nash+Los+Angeles+Lakers+v+GfS0ma3gqs2x

Another journey begins on October 29th, 2013. The Los Angeles Lakers will kick off another season, but something feels very different this year. No number 24 in the starting line up due to an Achilles injury, and no Dr. Buss in the front office. A bunch of new faces are walking around Laker town like Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, and former Clipper center Chris Kaman. Even Mark “Mad Dog” Madsen is back. This season is what critics call a “toss up” season. The Lakers aren’t expected to make it to the Finals, let alone the playoffs, something we have not seen since 2005.

The Lakers will start the year off against the hometown rivals, Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers made an early exit last season as did the Lakers in a first round bounce. The Clippers have a new attitude and identity, just ask Laker fans how they felt when the Clippers covered the Lakers championship banners. Coach Doc Rivers brings an aggressive coaching style and may arguably be the best head coach in the league. The Clippers have always been the smaller brother in Los Angeles, but behind a new coach, they look to take over Los Angeles and give the Lakers a sour season opener.

What To Look For? 

What will most intrigue Laker fans is the starting line-up, and how effective the new look Lakers will play together. Rumors are Steve Nash and Steve Blake will take care of the back court, Nick Young on the wing, along with the surprise of the preseason Shawne Williams at forward. Pau Gasol will move back in the post at center, which is his most effective position.  Keep an eye out for Coach D’Antoni’s rotation of players like Chris Kaman, Wesley Johnson and Xavier Henry.

Defense, Defense, Defense. The old saying is “defense wins championships” and the last time the Lakers won a championship, it was because of their defense. Last season the Lakers struggled especially in transition defense. Let’s see how effective the new and youthful Lakers can be on the perimeter and inside. Ball movement and shot selection are very important.

What To Expect? 

A young, energetic group of Lakers will be willing to run back and fourth with the Clippers, and for that matter, all season. The Lakers seem to have lakers-bannersslightly gotten better on defense, but expect them to put up a 1oo plus points every night due to Coach D’Antoni system. Every season is a new season and after watching the last couple of pre season games, the Lakers can go on scoring bursts. This team has fire power, especially in the back court. Turnovers will happen. How often they happen will be up to this team and its discipline. The Western Conference is going to be extremely competeive this year.

Kobe Bryant?

Image: AP
Image: AP

The Lakers will be without their leader Kobe Bryant to start the year. In Los Angeles, we have never had an issue on whose taking the last shot, it was always Bryant. Bryant would deliver in crunch time situations and pick his team up from deficits. That will now be a concern since he is not available in the line up. We have no official timetable for when the Mamba plans to return, but in all honesty, it won’t be soon. Bryant is not in shape and has yet to even practice in full contact with his team. Speculation is that Bryant will sit out the whole year; others have set a date for Christmas. The most important element is him being at 100%. A torn Achilles is not an easy injury to overcome and age is not on Bryant’s side.

If the Lakers start fast and stay strong defensively, expect a 1-0 start for the Lakers. If it is a close game, hold your breathe Laker fans. The Lakers need to be a lot more aggressive than the Clippers. They need to be mentally and physically tougher than them, especially in the low post area. Nash and Gasol must keep this young team focused and on schedule. The Clippers vs. Lakers rivalry will continue another season. Let the battle of Los Angeles begin.

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Image: Noah Graham | Getty Images

All week long, our staff writers will chime in on a series of topics, rumors and storylines leading up to the start of the season. In today’s edition of State of the Nation, our writers highlight which player has surprised them the most thus far:

Felipe Amaral // @F_Amaral

Chris Kaman. He displayed great chemistry with Pau Gasol right off the bat and that looks to be a good building block for the team in the upcoming season. The Lakers have had success in recent years with two skilled seven-footers sharing the court and that might happen again with Gasol and Kaman.

Jordan Grant // @JordanGrant90

Xavier Henry has been the biggest surprise this preseason. Perhaps it’s more surprising that I’ve never seen a player refuse to pass the ball under any circumstances. Nevertheless, he has proven that he has some great skills and can be a valuable asset to the team. Hopefully Kobe, of all people, can teach him a thing or two about sharing the rock.

Jon Gaffer // @jewelslamo

Steve Nash has surprised me the most in the preseason. He’s already nursing injuries. I thought he would at least get about 15 games under his belt before he blew a tire.

Mark Awad // @MarkeyTheBoss_

No doubt Chris Kaman. Averaging nearly a double-double in the preseason, Kaman seems to have found his groove with fellow big Pau Gasol. No attitude or demand from Kaman, he just does as the coaches tell him with no pressure at all.

Robert Benitez // @beeb0

I’ve been impressed with the entire team so far this preseason, but Nick Young tops the list. Young has been a consistent scorer and has moved the ball efficiently, as well. He also has the skill to get to the basket and create shots for himself, as well as his teammates.

Bummi Anderson // @BummiNAnderson

Pau Gasol. Gasol has struggled mightily the last two seasons while accommodating Andrew Bynum & Dwight Howard. His health has also declined, particularly this past season. Gasol has come out this preseason looking healthy and more aggressive, and it has translated into him having a very good preseason.

Oren Levy // @LakersOren

Wesley Johnson. With his length and athleticism, I expected him to succeed early and often in coach Mike D’Antoni’s system. Instead, he looked hesitant in early preseason action before injuring his foot and missing time.

Alex Lambeth // @AlexLambeth

Chris Kaman. Kaman’s ability to score both inside the paint and from the mid-range has particularly surprised me. Also, his ability to mesh with Pau Gasol has been a welcomed sight thus far. Perhaps Kaman has been injured these past few years, because he certainly looks like the productive Kaman of old.

Garrett Garcia // @GarrettGarcia

Chris Kaman.  Kaman has come into his own with the Lakers and is playing a solid role as center.  He comes without the drama and superstar treatment Howard demanded, and he goes out and plays hard, doing what the coaching staff asks of him.

Melvin Taylor // @MelvinTaylorII

The player that has surprised me most this preseason is Chris Kaman. Playing alongside Gasol has looked almost effortless for him. There will be defensive lapses because of their ages, however, they could become a great duo if Kaman continues to elevate his game.

 

Next Question Tomorrow: What are your thoughts on Kobe Bryant being ranked as the NBA’s 25th best player by ESPN, and what type of season do you see him having?

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Photo courtesy of Noah Graham, Getty Images.
Photo courtesy of Noah Graham, Getty Images.
Photo courtesy of Noah Graham, Getty Images.

It’s been a long off-season for the Lakers. It’s been a long off-season every year since, let’s face it, the last championship in 2010. As badly as the 2012-2013 season ended, however, there’s always the promise of new beginnings.

After last weekend’s media day and the week’s worth of training camp, the team had tonight’s game against the Golden State Warriors to play out their new beginning – new coaching staff, new players, re-newed system. With the Big Three of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol sitting out, the new guys got a run and did not disappoint.

HIGH POINTS:
Xavier (pronounced ZAH-vee-yay) Henry – Talk about first impressions. Signed as a free agent after being selected by the Memphis Grizzlies back in 2010, and then most recently playing for the then New Orleans Hornets, Henry is a hopeful for an already crowded backcourt for the Lakers, and tonight he showcased his value. 29 points on 9-15 from the field, 9-11 from the free throw line, 2-4 from three, seven rebounds and a pair of steals – not bad for your first game in the purple and gold. And the half-court buzzer beater to end the first half? Not a bad way to get the fans on your side. If Henry continues this play, he may just make the final cut and help the bench’s ability to contribute more consistently. He lead the game with a +21.
Nick Young – Nothing seems to get in the way of Nick and his swag; not a recently sprained ankle from practice, nor foul trouble (he finished with five). Young poured in 17 points in his Laker debut. He went 4-9 from the field and went a perfect 8-8 from the charity stripe. His box score leave a lot to be desired, but despite not filling it up to reflect a more well-rounded game, Young was part of the Lakers’ active defense, even grabbing a steal in the process.
Chris Kaman – Kaman played just over 21 minutes, but did enough to show why he was on the team’s radar. Going into his 11th year, Kaman is just as comfortable in the post as he is shooting 18 feet away. He’s also a solid passer, like Gasol. He finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
Honorable High PointsJordan Farmar looks great in his old jersey, and the fans in the arena gave him the loudest cheers of the evening when he checked into the game. He scored only nine points, but led all players with his seven assists and three steals. • Defense. Yes, a team under Mike D’Antoni can play defense, and according to all the players, it’s been a focus in training camp this year. The Lakers didn’t become the Detroit Pistons of the 80’s, but the defense was noticeably more active in this game than it was last season, even with a three-time defensive player of the year on it. Efforts to contest shots, run back on defense, etc. were shown by the Laker tonight, causing the three-point happy Warriors to shoot just 5-21 from their sweet spots behind the arc and just under 40% from the field.
Win – Despite it being a mere pre-season game, having gone 0-8 in the last pre-season, this victory just feels encouraging.

LOW POINTS:
Sloppiness – The two teams combined for 43 turnovers in the game, which says volumes. That the Lakers could even keep up with the fast-paced play of the Warriors shows their young side this season, but 20 turnovers in the pre-season means far less than it will when the wins and losses begin to count.

Well, so far so good. D’Antoni didn’t empty the bench, but there are seven more pre-season games to do that. He said his goal is to finalize some sort of rotation before the regular season begins, so expect more permutations of players on the floor. Both Gasol and Nash are expected to play Sunday against the Denver Nuggets.

Box Score

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Photo courtesy of Ronald Martinez, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Ronald Martinez, Getty Images

With key departures in starters Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace, the Lakers starting line up is a mystery. We know 3 positions will be locked, the point guard in Steve Nash, Shooting guard Kobe Bryant and either Center/Power Forward Pau Gasol. The two positions up for grabs will be the small forward and power forward positions. In Coach Mike D’Antoni system, you sometimes just don’t know what to expect. Will D’Antoni run and gun or will we see a slower pace offense like towards the end of the year when Kobe got hurt. Until then, we can play around with different scenarios for starting line ups and take a couple shots at who we think might start. Lets take a look at the two highlighted positions on the Lakers roster, the power forward and small forward.

Power Forward:

Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman will be the lead candidates for the starting power forward/center job. We know what Jordan brings, toughness, great rebounding and defense. This summer Hill asked Coach D’Antoni how he can improve his game and has reportedly been working on his 15-18 foot jump shot. Kaman on the other hand is veteran thats been in the league for a while. Chris too can pick and pop and play down low. I personally would love to see Jordan start and Kaman off the bench because that would give us a solid center off the bench. Pau Gasol is an extremely gifted player and many fans forgot how talented he is in the post with both hands. Critiques will say he’s soft and can never bang down low, thats a false statement. Gasol wont give us breathe taking dunks but he’ll get the job done. If Pau Gasol can go back to his 09-10 season, in which he was dropping close to 19 points and grabbing 11 rebound, he will be feared again.

Small Forward:

The small forward position for the Lakers is very tricky. We’ve had many good players in the past like Trevor Ariza, Metta World Peace, Rick Fox and “Big Game” James Worthy. If the Lakers went up against Carmelo, Lebron, Kevin Durant we knew we had that stopper on defense, that would be able to somewhat slow them down and take the load off Kobe and company defensively. This position should have more of a scoring punch with Wesley Johnson and Nick Young, but there are definite questions on the defensive end. Wesley is long and can shoot the 3 ball, and should fit well in D’Antoni’s system. Nick Young can score in bunches from almost anywhere on the floor and he loves attacking the rim. I personally think who ever stands out defensively from the two will be grab the most playing time.

Projected Starting Line up: 

Point Guard: Steve Nash will control the rock at the point guard, he’s getting old but his shooting off Kobe double teams and intelligence at the position is rare and what the Lakers need. Nash needs to be more aggressive this upcoming season, more scoring than facilitating.

Credit: SI.com
Credit: SI.com

Shooting Guard: If Kobe is a no go season opener, Jodie Meeks will get the start untill the  Mamba comes back.(Get Ready)

Credit: AP/Danny Moloshok
Credit: AP/Danny Moloshok

Small Forward:NBA: Phoenix Suns-Media Day The small forward position will go to Wesley Johnson, he’s a sniper from outside and plays good perimeter defense. I won’t be suprised if Nick Young gets a couple starts this year or even ends up starting. Nick Youngs offensive explosions would be much appreciated off the bench either subbing in for Kobe or Wesley.

 

 

 

Power Forward: The Power Forward position is a toss up, I want to see Jordan hill start  so Chris

Credit: SI.com
Credit: SI.com

Kaman can give us a solid punch off the bench but wouldn’t be surprised to see it work out the other way. Kaman might just start to help Gasol spread the floor and give him space inside to dominate.

Center: Pau Gasol period. This is his year to dominate, the paint belongs to him. I am extremly eager to watch Gasol this year who I think will have one of his more dominant seasons, and needs to. If Kobe is a no go season opener, Gasol you are the best player on this roster and need to carry this team. I expect more touches for Pau and more Pick and roll situations with Nash and Kobe. With the departure of Dwight, we have to feed the spaniard down low. Laker fans get ready for a great 2013-2014 Season.

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

 

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Image: Jared Wickerham | Getty Images
Image: Jared Wickerham | Getty Images
Image: Jared Wickerham | Getty Images

According to the OC Register’s Kevin Ding, the Lakers plan on using their one-time amnesty provision on small forward Metta World Peace:

This comes as little surprise, considering the Lakers’ current financial situation for next season.

With the new “repeater luxury tax” penalizing tax-paying teams, the Lakers’ decision to amnesty World Peace is purely financial.

Even with Dwight Howard bolting to Houston and the inevitable use of the amnesty clause, saving the Lakers about $14.355 million in payroll, the Lakers will still be over the 2013-14 NBA salary cap.

As reported today, the Lakers have agreed to use their taxpayer’s mid-level exception in signing free agent center Chris Kaman, which leaves them with only veteran minimum contracts to fill out the rest of the roster.

One option in filling World Peace’s void is simply moving Kobe Bryant to the small forward position.

The Lakers, however, have also been rumored as having interest in a few free agent wing players.

Stay tuned for official word on the Lakers using their amnesty provision, as the NBA amnesty period runs from July 11 through July 17 of this year.

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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.