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Jose Calderon

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April 4, 2014 — 7:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Los Angeles Lakers return home tonight to face off vs. a Dallas Mavericks team who had a very impressive victory vs. Clippers last night in their first of two games at Staples Center.

PF Dirk Nowitzki has regained his old form after having a very poor season last year. Nowitzki, who has averaged 21.6 PPG, and 6.2 RPG, led the Mavericks last night by scoring 26 points and grabbing 11 rebounds to gain a crucial victory to stay alive in the playoff chase.

With PG Jose Calderon, SG Monta Ellis, and SG Vince Carter having the ability to drive to the basket and create their own shots, the Lakers have to make sure they stayed focused on the defensive end.

Meanwhile, the Lakers seem to always be short handed throughout the entire season. As this season winds down, more players will be sidelined.

C Pau Gasol and G Xavier Henry might be sidelined for the rest of this season due to Vertigo illness and a fractured wrist respectively.

Without Gasol available, C Chris Kaman and PF Jordan Hill will be counted on to fill in Gasol’s minutes.

Whenever PG Steve Nash cannot play due to his nerve issues, G Marshon Brooks might finally get some playing time at the point guard position since PG Kendall Marshall will be the only healthy point guard moving forward.

Projected Starters

PG - Jose Calderon Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Mavericks]

SG - Monta EllisJodie Meeks [Advantage: Mavericks]

SF - Shawn Marion Kent Bazemore [Advantage: Mavericks]

PF - Dirk Nowitzki Jordan Hill [Advantage: Mavericks]

C - Samuel Dalembert Chris Kaman [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Mavericks: G Vince Carter, F Brandon Wright, F Jae Crowder, PG Devin Harris

Lakers:  F Nick Young, C Robert Sacre, F Ryan Kelly, PG Steve Nash, F Wesley Johnson

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Mavericks: Out-G Gal Mekel 

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

Bottom Line

The Lakers can play inspired basketball tonight knowing that they can spoil the chances of one of their Western Conference foes from making the playoffs. However, they are outmatched talent-wise, so they have got to play very well on both ends of the floor, especially shooting the ball well and boxing out their players to grab rebounds.

Prediction

Mavericks: 110-98

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Pau Gasol / Dirk Nowitzki
Image: Ronald Martinez | Getty Images
Pau Gasol / Dirk Nowitzki
Photo: Ronald Martinez | Getty Images

January 7, 2014 —- 5:30 PM (PST)
American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Los Angeles Lakers (14-20) go on the road to battle the Dallas Mavericks (19-15) tonight and seek to shake off a very ugly loss vs. Denver Nuggets on Sunday. They gave up 137 points to the Nuggets. That number is unacceptable regardless of the opponent, especially the Nuggets who are not a very talented team this year in comparison to the rest of the Western Conference teams.

The Lakers will not win any games for the rest of the season if they continue to not put any effort on the defensive end. For Lakers fans, they find difficulty remembering the last time the Lakers scored 115 points in a game and still lose by more than 20 points.

The Lakers have also released F Shawne Williams today, in a cost-saving move to save the Lakers about $1 million.

However, the Lakers have many positive things working for them at this moment.

Lakers PG Kendall Marshall had another productive night, dishing out 17 assists while adding 9 points. Marshall has thrived in giving his teammates open shots and make great passes that only a true point guard can make.  Without another ball-handler available for the Lakers, they hope that Marshall will not get injured by playing too many minutes.

Also, the Pau Gasol trade rumor is finally over! For now. After multiple rumors that Gasol was headed to Cleveland Cavaliers for former Laker C Andrew Bynum‘s contract, the Cavaliers threw a major curveball, acquiring Chicago Bulls all-star Luol Deng.

Despite all the trade rumors, Gasol has looked much better on both ends of the floor, having more energy and looking as healthy as he has been in years. Forum Blue and Gold’s Darius Soriano mentioned that in Gasol’s last 10 games, he is averaging 18 PPG, 10 RPG, 4 APG, 2 BPG, with a solid 51% shooting percentage. Those numbers are very identical to his average during the Lakers’ championship run.

The Dallas Mavericks look to close out their 3-game home series on a positive note after losing their first 2 games. After overhauling their roster every season after winning the 2011 NBA Championship, the Mavericks have finally stabilized their roster by signing  starting PG Jose Calderon and starting SG Monta Ellis to multi-year contracts this off-season.

However, the Mavericks are still built around their franchise cornerstone, PF Dirk Nowitzki. Highly regarded as the best “stretch-4″ to ever play the game, Nowitzki has seemed to regain his old form after having a very poor season last year. Nowitzki has averaged 22.9 PPG, and 6.5 RPG, and shooting 49,8% from the field.

With Calderon, Ellis, and SG Vince Carter having the ability to drive to the basket and create their own shots, the Lakers have to make sure they stayed focused on the defensive end.

Projected Starters

PG - Jose Calderon Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Mavericks]

SG - Monta EllisJodie Meeks [Advantage: Mavericks]

SF - Shawn Marion Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Mavericks]

PF - Dirk Nowitzki Pau Gasol [Advantage: Even]

C - DeJuan Blair Robert Sacre [Advantage: Mavericks]

Notable Bench Players

Mavericks: G Vince Carter, F Brandon Wright, F Jae Crowder, C Samuel Dalenbert

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

Bench Advantage: Even

Injury List

Mavericks: Out-PG Devin Harris 

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

Keys for Lakers Victory

Defense, Defense, Defense: The Lakers failed on the defensive end vs. Nuggets allowing 137 points and clearly could not stop the fast break points, allowing 30 points, 22 of which came in the 2nd half. Now, we cannot expect the Lakers to give up 137 again, but if their defensive effort becomes as bad as it was on Sunday, tonight’s result vs. Mavericks tonight will result in a loss regardless of how well the Lakers play on the offensive end.

Bottom Line

Prediction

Hopefully the Lakers will play inspired basketball tonight knowing that Gasol’s still with the Lakers and that this season is not over yet. However, they are outmatched talent-wise by the opposing team again, so they have got to play very well on both ends of the floor, something they have not done so recently. Unfortunately, the matchup vs. Mavericks will not be much easier for the Lakers especially since the Lakers are trying to fix their defensive deficiencies.

Mavericks: 110-98

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Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Seven
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Since the 2012-2013 NBA season kicked off, Lakers fans have been on a weekly roller coaster ride. From Opening Night onwards, we’ve seen some good, some bad, and even some ugly. The Laker season has played out like a cheesy day-time soap, changing dramatically from day-to-day, keeping Lakers fans everywhere on their toes.

There is so much going on weekly with this team that it sometimes becomes exhausting trying to keep up with everything. So how do we keep track of all the weekly events in Laker Land?

Simple, by tracking all of the ups and downs of the past week. Without further ado, here is the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from the last week of Lakers action.

Good – Lakers Ball Movement.

While much of the attention has gone to Kobe Bryant’s new found “Magic Mamba” persona, the Lakers as a unit have really been moving the ball well in the past six games. That was apparent this week during hot stretches against New Orleans, Phoenix, Minnesota and Detroit when the Lakers were getting good looks and easy shots, which lead to them building double-digit leads in each contest.

Side-note: Speaking of ball movement, that Kobe to Clark alley-oop to end the first half in Detroit was absolutely gorgeous.

Bad – Dry Spells.

However, with all of that great ball movement comes one major concern; over-passing the ball. There were a couple of really bad Laker dry spells in the past couple of games where guys became a little too pass-happy. Passing up some good looks leads to bad shots at the end of the shot-clock and also turnovers, which adds up to terrible stretches of play for the Lakers. While the Lakers were able to hold on after nearly blowing leads of 29, 18 and 16 in three wins this week, they were bitten in Phoenix where a 13-point lead was lost in defeat.

Ugly – Metta World Punch?

Things got a little chippy in Detroit for the man formerly known as Ron Artest, again. While this wasn’t as bad as the Malice at the Palace, Metta got into a scuffle with second-year Pistons guard Brandon Knight towards the end of the second quarter. Both players got tangled up going for a rebound, and in the ensuing sequence Metta seemed to throw a slight jab at Knight. World Peace was assessed a flagrant-1 foul on the play. But if you ask Knight, that wasn’t enough of a punishment.

The play needs to be reviewed because he definitely threw a punch. It felt like he threw a punch. That’s why I reacted the way I did.

It will be interesting to see if the league does indeed take a look at the play for any further disciplinary action.

UPDATE – The NBA has suspended Metta for one game following his altercation with Knight.

Bad – Dwight Howard’s Shoulder, Again.

In what is becoming a recurring theme for the All-Star big man, Howard aggravated the torn labrum in his right shoulder again during the Lakers collapse in Phoenix. Howard flew back to LA for treatment, and has since rejoined the team, and is currently day-to-day after sitting out the past two Laker road games. This is an injury that Lakers fans will have to worry about for the rest of the season. Something as serious as a torn labrum will not be completely healed until Howard is able to have surgery performed on it. With Dwight trying to avoid going under the knife during the season, the organization will have to wince and pray every time a defender takes a whack at D12 for the rest of the season.

Good – Pau Gasol’s Aggression.

It’s hard to take positives from an injury like Howard’s, but one good thing to come from him missing a few games is the re-emergence of Gasol. Pau has been the starting (and only) center for the Lakers since Dwight went down, and he has been a revelation in the past two games. Against the Pistons, Gasol had 23 points, 10 boards and 3 assists to follow up a game in Minnesota that was much more dominant than his 22 point, 12 rebound stat-line would suggest. It’s been good to see the Spaniard once again playing like Laker fans are accustomed to seeing. The hope is that he can keep his production up when moved back to his sixth man role.

Ugly – Fourth Quarter Collapses.

Starting with the near collapse against the Pelicans Hornets on Tuesday, the Lakers were anything but solid in the fourth quarter this past week. Los Angeles completely blew a big lead in a road-loss to Phoenix that gave the Lakers what was at the time their eighth straight road loss. The fourth-quarter bug almost bit the team again in Detroit with Earl Clark and Steve Nash (no, really) each missing two free throws in the final 20 seconds of what turned out be a very uncomfortable one-point victory. Against better teams, these lethargic fourth quarters will not get it done, especially come playoff time.

Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Image
Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Image

Good – The Continued Emergence of Earl Clark.

While this is something that has not been limited to the past week, the emergence of Earl Clark has really helped the Lakers on both ends of the court. Clark is a stretch-four who can play opposite both Howard and Gasol, and considering the troubles those two have had co-existing, that has turned into a great luxury for the Lakers to have. Defensively, Clark has spent time doing everything from trying to slow down the other team’s best player like Lebron James, to guarding the other teams hottest player like Will Bynum in Detroit. He has really helped boost the Lakers on both ends with his versatility and athleticism.

Bad – Mike D’s Rotation Minus Dwight.

If you looked at the Laker line-up to start the second quarter against Detroit or Minnesota, you may have been surprised to notice that Metta World Peace or Antawn Jamison were playing center for the Lakers. You also may have noticed the Pistons and T’Wolves scoring at will in the paint with those two playing the center position while Pau gets a breather. This line-up really has some Laker fans scratching their heads. As we all know, D’Antoni is generally an offense-first coach, but to oplay no big men at any point in an NBA game is kind of ridiculous. Getting Robert Sacre some minutes is a much better option for LA because not only does he give you some type of size inside, he offers some type of resistance at the rim.

Good – Steve Blake Sparking the Bench.

Finally, the missing piece to the championship puzzle returned to action this past Tuesday against the Pelicans Hornets. Okay, so that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the return of Steve Blake has undeinably impacted the Lakers bench. Blake is doing a good job of getting guys running and involved in a way that Chris Duhon simply couldn’t. Having Blake running the show for the second unit will only benefit the Laker bench, especially Gasol. Blake has played in this system longer than Duhon and Nash, and is comfortable getting Pau the ball in places where he can go to work in the post. This could help the Lakers stem some of the runs made by other teams that have plagued them when the bench is in the game.

Ugly – Creating All-Stars

One thing that has killed the Lakers all season is the fact that almost every game, a role player on the opposing team tends to have an All-Star kind of night. The Lakers have been beaten by guys like Jose Calderon, Greg Smith, Toney Douglas and most recently Michael Beasely this season. They have also nearly blown games to guys like Charlie Villanueva, Will Bynum and Gerald Henderson. Things have gotten so bad for Laker fans that when a guy like Villanueva checks in you automatically have two reactions. One is shock that he is still in the league. The other is the fear that he is about to light the Lakers up. This is especially frustrating when you see that a guy goes right back to doing nothing in his next game. It’s alarming that the Lakers haven’t been able to put a stop to this disturbing trend yet this season, and it’s definitely something to watch for as we approach the postseason.

Good – Magic Mamba

What? You thought I was going to do a whole article and not mention Kobe? Bryant has dished out at least eight assists in five of the past six games, including five straight for the first time in his career. It really has been remarkable to watch Kobe adapt and get his teammates involved. In the past six games alone, Mamba has made some of the nicest passes of his career. While he does have a tendency to revert back to his hero-ball ways (see: 4th quarter, Phoenix), Kobe and the Lakers seem to be realizing that the best way to hurt a team is by having them have to guess whether or not Kobe is going to score or pass. This works much better than the old way, where teams just figured Bryant was going to shoot. It will be very interesting to see if the Kobe can keep this up for the rest of the season. The Lakers are clearly a much better team when Magic Mamba is on the court.

 

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Wearing both #8 and #24 throughout his career, which of Kobe Bryant's numbers should the Lakers retire?