Thursday, November 27, 2014
Tags Posts tagged with "Nick Young"

Nick Young

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The NBA trade deadline has passed and with it any semblance of the Lakers making any kind of big personnel moves this season. This year has been a tough season for Laker fans as their team and its superstar have been hobbled by countless injuries. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though. The Lakers go into this offseason with enough cap room to acquire a big name free agent. They did not trade Pau before the deadline, so the Lakers will either have a lot of cap room from Pau’s contract coming off the books, or they will be able to convince Pau to stay with the team for less money. That may seem like a long shot, but Pau loves the Lakers, he loves Kobe and he may also love their next head coach *wink wink*. They also have a first round draft pick that, given their abysmal record, will most likely be a top-5 pick. That means the Lakers will be able to sport a squad next season consisting of a Kobe, Pau, Big Name Free Agent X and Talented Draft Pick X core. That may not be enough to win a title next year, but it will absolutely be a contender if healthy and under the supervision of a new head coach. With all that said, here are some questions from LakerNation fans:

Q: Are we going to re-sign Nick Young next year?

- Jacob

A: If the Lakers are serious about contending immediately, they must re-sign Nick Young. Swaggy P has been one of the few bright spots this year for the Lakers as he earned the respect of Kobe and the rest of Laker Nation by competing every night. There are very few teams in this league that have a 6th man as effective as Nick Young. He is instant offense and his ability to draw foul calls on 3-pointers is uncanny. Young has always been capable of scoring, but he has an added intensity in his game since joining the Lakers this season. He knows what it takes to deliver for the Purple and Gold.

 

Q: How do you feel about the Lakers landing a big name free agent, this off-season with D’Antoni as the head coach?

- Jermaine

A: I feel very strongly about this issue, but I will do my best to keep it PG. THERE IS NO FREAKING WAY ANY BIG NAME FREE AGENT WANTS TO COME PLAY FOR A COACH THAT DOESN’T CARE ABOUT DEFENSE.  With the myriad of issues I have with Mike D’Antoni, the two I just mentioned take the cake. The man obviously doesn’t give a damn about defense when his team gives up an average of 105.9 PPG. That’s the 2nd worst in the entire NBA. Only the Philadelphia 76ers give up more points than us and they’re trying to lose every game this year! Let that sink in for a moment. D’Antoni may be a great offensive mind, but that does not make him a good head coach. I guarantee if Tom Thibodeau were coaching the Lakers, they would not be in the bottom half of the NBA in terms of defense. You want to talk about injuries? Look at the Chicago Bulls and their injuries. They rank 2nd overall in the league in terms of defense. Injuries are not an excuse for a lack of defense and effort. If the Lakers really want to land big name free agents this summer, Mike D’Antoni must be fired at the end of this season.

 

Q: Can we still get Love? Or Melo or even Deng? Please get them.

- Alexis

A: When you talk about Kevin Love, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and even Luol Deng, those guys want to win now. They don’t want to play for a coach with the same philosophies as Mike D’Antoni. Getting the right head coach will be step one. The second step will be finding out if Kobe is still Kobe. Make no mistake about it, if the Lakers didn’t have Kobe Bryant on their team, none of these free agents (except maybe Love) would even consider coming to the Lakers. Kobe must show that he is still one of the best basketball players in the world after coming off two of the worst injuries in his career.

 

Q: My question is, will the LA Lakers make it to the playoffs this season or next season, yes or no?

- Eyrika

A: I stated in my preseason article that the Lakers would not make the playoffs this season and that remains true. As for next season, it truly depends on a number of outcomes and possibilities. Who will be the new head coach? Will the Lakers land a top-5 draft pick this year? If so, who will they select? What free agents will be brought in? Which current players will stay with the Lakers? And, of course, what will the status of Kobe Bryant be? If Kobe is still Kobe, which I assume will be true, the Lakers will always have a shot. If the Lakers bring in one of the earlier mentioned big name free agents, that shot increases tenfold. My gut tells me the Lakers will get a new head coach, a lottery pick, land a big name free agent and the most underrated move they will make will be re-signing Pau Gasol. With that scenario, I believe the Lakers will be instant contenders next season and in the future. All things will be right in Los Angeles as the Lakers are at the top once again.

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Image: Kevin C. Cox | Getty Images

In what could potentially be the biggest setback for Kobe Bryant, it was announced that he will be re-evaluated in another three weeks as his pain and swelling in his left knee has not subsided.

With the news and timetable, the question becomes louder as to if Kobe will return this season.  While fans would love to see the Black Mamba return to the court, one has to wonder if the risk is worth it in a lost season.

For those wondering why the news is significant, three weeks will put his injury evaluation on March 14 which could possibly only result in Kobe being cleared for more activity, not necessarily for game action.

The best case scenario is for him to be cleared to play on that date, but even then it would take another two or three weeks for conditioning and practice, allowing Kobe to return with possibly 10 or less games in the season.

In other injury news, Nick Young has been cleared to play Sunday versus the Brooklyn Nets.  Young suffered a non-displaced fracture of the left patella back on Feb. 5 versus the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Meanwhile, Xavier Henry was also cleared to practice, but still cannot participate in 5-on-5 full contact activities.   Henry injured his right knee back on Dec. 29 versus the Philadelphia 76ers and was originally expected to miss 7-10 days.

All three players were examined by Lakers’ team doctor Steve Lombardo during the Lakers 101-92 victory over the Boston Celtics.

 

 

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Photo: Christian Petersen | Getty Images

The Lakers have announced that guard Nick Young will be out a minimum of two weeks after being diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture of the left patella and a bone bruise.

Young injured his knee in Wednesday’s game against the Cavaliers. An MRI Thursday showed the significance of the knee injury.

At this point, there are very little words to describe how much bad luck this Lakers team has had this season. Losing Swaggy P is a big blow to this team that continues to battle every night despite a depleted roster.  This season, Young is averaging 16.9 points in 28.8 minutes a game.

Fortunately, the Lakers have gotten back Steve Nash, Steve Blake, and Jordan Farmar, but it is terrible to lose yet another player. Earlier in the week, Jodie Meeks sprained his ankle and will be out until at least Sunday.  Kobe Bryant is still out for another two weeks before he is re-evaluated.

While the Lakers have announced Young is out at least two weeks, it should be noted that non-displaced fractures of the patella could take as long as six-to-eight weeks to heal. Let’s hope it doesn’t take that long for Swaggy P to return to the court.

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Photo: Mike Ehrmann | Getty Images

How did Manu Ginobili, Lamar Odom, Ray Allen, Jason Terry, and James Posey contribute to their NBA teams in the last decade?

The answer?

They all played the Sixth Man role and became some of the most important pieces to help their teams win an NBA Championship.

The Los Angeles Lakers have a huge opportunity offseason to negate the atrocity of this season, mired by injuries and turmoil, if they use their huge salary cap space this off-season to field a roster that can contend for another NBA Championship.

The good news? One crucial asset the Lakers must retain on their 2014-2015 team, outside of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, happens to be wearing a Lakers uniform this season.

Lakers Sixth Man Nick Young, or “Swaggy P”, has taken full advantage of his return to the City of Angels to play for the team he rooted for throughout his childhood.

Before he joined the Lakers, the 7-year NBA veteran Young fostered a negative reputation throughout the NBA as a low percentage, volume shooter who took too many difficult shots and became a defensive liability. However, Young has slammed the door shut on his critics so far this season and has become the Lakers’ MVP and a runaway winner of the “Sixth Man of the Year” award if the season concluded today and the Lakers had a winning record.

Young has lead the Lakers in scoring, averaging 17.1 PPG this season in only 28.7 MPG, including scoring 29, 31 vs. Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls this week.

Kobe Bryant and Nick Young’s Relationship

Photo: Andrew Bernstein/Getty Images
Photo: Andrew Bernstein/Getty Images

Bryant and Young each represent two completely different characters. Bryant, known as the “Black Mamba”, possesses the old-school mentality of striking for the kill every time he is out on the court and being dead serious both on and off the floor. Meanwhile, Young has become well-known for his “swagger” both on and off the floor–wearing ridiculous looking outfits and the displaying joy out on the floor.

Two different characters, yes. But they both play the same exact style of ball; both want the ball during crunch time and have no fear in taking any shots to try to lead their team to victory.

Young has mimicked Bryant as much as possible and has tried to pick up the slack of Bryant’s absence by being the go-to guy on the floor, pretending to be Bryant in pre-game interviews, debuting the Kobe IX this week against the Miami Heat, and even sporting a mini-afro that Bryant famously sported during his early years.

Also, we cannot help to notice that Young has clearly learned a few tricks from Bryant, including drawing multiple shooting fouls, something Bryant has been known for throughout his career.

Most notably, when Young took over the game vs. the Chicago Bulls on Monday, we could not help but see Bryant with a huge grin on his face watching Young frustrate the Bulls by hitting shot after shot, and drawing multiple shooting fouls, which show similarity to Bryant’s style of attack on offense.

“I think he’s the guy that gets more fouls from the 3-point line than I’ve ever seen,” Gasol said to ESPNLA’s Dave McMenamin. “It’s incredible the way he gets fouled shooting 3s. I don’t know how that happens so often. But he does it really well, and I’m happy he plays well for us.”

Many players have not taken advantage of Bryant’s no-nonsense basketball lessons and advices in the past. However, Young seems to be one of the few players that has taken full advantage of learning from one of the NBA’s greatest player of all time.

“Kobe’s been a great mentor for me, just telling me all kind of things during the game,” Young said to McMenamin. “That’s been unbelievable for me this whole year, just learning from the greatest player to play this game. “Who wouldn’t want to learn from or have Kobe in their locker room?”

Bryant has seen Young progress in front of his own eyes, and loves what he stands for as a player; most notably when he called out his teammates for not having his back after being ejected vs. the Phoenix Suns.

“He’s bringing an edge to the game. He’s bringing a competitiveness that’s been missing,” Bryant explained to the LA Daily News’s Mark Medina. “The altercation in Phoenix brought things to a head to where ‘This is not OK.’ If you’re upset about something, you need to be upset about it instead of sweeping it under the rug.”

Although Young and Bryant play with a different mindset on the court, they both show killer instinct in different ways.

What the Future Holds

Image: Stephen Dunn | Getty Images
Image: Stephen Dunn | Getty Images

Although no definitive information currently exists regarding Young’s future with the Lakers, the Lakers’ management definitely prioritizes re-signing Young to a new long-term contract.

Young will most likely opt out of his player-option for next season and seek a long-term contract this off-season. A comparison could be found in the Clippers’ Jamal Crawford‘s contract in the range of four years and $25 million.

Although I agree that inadequate coaches and locker room turmoil doomed the Lakers from competing for the NBA Championships these past two seasons, one of the main reasons for the Lakers’ recent failures has been the non-existence of a solid bench unit after Lamar Odom‘s departure.

The Lakers have now found a solution and a foundation off the bench in Swaggy P.

Nick Young will certainly help limit Bryant’s minutes on the floor and guarantee the Lakers always have a go-to-guy on the floor at all times in the future.

Although this season has been a mess, look for Young to be one of the main foundations for another push at an NBA Championship before Kobe Bryant’s career comes to a close. If the Lakers can keep Young, Gasol and acquire a superstar this off-season, the Lakers will rise back to the top before the number 24 goes up into the rafters at STAPLES Center.

How critical is it for Lakers management to re-sign Nick Young this offseason?

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January 23, 2014 — 5:30 PM (PST)
American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL
TV: TNT
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers (16-26) suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss Monday night vs. Chicago Bulls after allowing a wide open layup off an inbound pass with 0.9 sec left on the game clock.

Players on the Lakers were clearly out of piosition, and we cannot decipher from our television screen whether it was the player’s fault or the coach’s fault for poor positioning.

Nevertheless, they have to move on and play the 2-time defending NBA Championships Miami Heat tonight in a nationally televised game.

The Heat have coasted through this season and have suffered a few losses versus very mediocre teams by playing down to their level. Still, the Heat seem to be destined for either of the top 2 seeds in the east and seem to only focus solely on the playoffs.

Without G Dwyane Wade‘s service tonight, the ball will mostly be in F LeBron James and F Chris Bosh will run the show tonight. James, who averages 26.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 6.5 APG, has dominated both ends of the floor and continues to improve every season, now shooting at a career high FG % of 58%. Unfortunately, we will not have a James vs. Bryant duel this season as G Kobe Bryant still recovers from his fractured knee.

F Chris Bosh continues to play like an all-star this season, averaging 16.7 PPG and 6.7 RPG. Without having to matchup with any legitimate post players besides C/F Pau Gasol, Bosh should score a lot tonight if he plays aggressively and continues to drive to the basket.

Meanwhile, 2 Lakers have been on a tear for the Lakers despite their roller-coaster season.

The real Pau Gasol has finally returned to the Lakers.

I know Gasol has worn the Laker uniform since 2008, but we have not seen Gasol play this dominantly since the NBA championship run from 2008-2010. It must be correlated with PG Kendall Marshall giving Gasol the ball in his sweet spot, and Gasol has played with more energy on both ends of the floor as a result. In his last 5 games, Gasol has averaged 22.0 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 3.0 APG and 1.8 BPG on 53.0% FG.

Also, we cannot forget about F Nick “Swaggy P” Young‘s dominance coming off the bench. A clear 6th man award winner and the team MVP if the season ended today, Young has scored 29 points and 31 points respectively in his last 2 games after coming off a 1-game suspension.

Projected Starters

PG – Kendall Marshall / Mario Chalmers [Advantage: Even]
SG – Jodie Meeks / Ray Allen [Advantage: Heat]
SF – Wesley Johnson / LeBron James [Advantage: Heat]
PF – Ryan Kelly / Shane Battier [Advantage: Heat]
C – Pau Gasol / Chris Bosh [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Heat: G Michael BeasleyPG Norris ColeC Greg Oden

Lakers: G Nick Young, G Manny Harris, F Jordan Hill

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Heat: Out-G Dwyane Wade

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

Rebounding: The Lakers absolutely have to limit the Heat to one possession and not allow offensive rebounds in order to have a chance at winning this match up. Allowing 19 offensive rebounds to the Bulls led to the Lakers’ eventual loss. Since the Heat already average last in the NBA grabbing offensive rebounds per game, the Lakers can absolutely ill-afford to let this team get extra possessions. We know when the Lakers are hot on the offensive end, they are very hot. However, the Lakers have to find a Heat player to box out and then crash the boards to not allow extra possessions.

Bottom Line

The Lakers should come out with a lot of energy tonight after 2 days of rest. However, since the Heat do not have Wade available tonight, expect the Heat to do so too. Hopefully, the Lakers play their game and do not let the Heat players intimidate them on both ends of the floor. If they keep the offensive rebounds allowed to a minimum, play good team defense, and shoot the ball well tonight, they will make tonight’s game competitive. If they do not, expect the Heat to dominate tonight at the Lakers’ expense

Prediction

Heat: 105-90

 

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Lakers come up short to the Chicago Bulls in overtime, and lose 102-100. Taj Gibson scored the game-winning layup at the buzzer.

Pau Gasol with a strong double-double performance of 20 points, 19 rebounds and 5 blocks. Nick Young also chipped in 31 points off the bench for LAL.

Lakers drop to 2-2 on the Grammy road trip and head to Miami to play the Heat on Thursday at 5:00PM (PST).

BOX SCORE

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January 20, 2014 — 5:00 PM (PST)
United Center, Chicago, Illinois
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers (16-25) now have a winning streak.

After beating the Toronto Raptors yesterday morning, the Lakers will play the Chicago Bulls (19-20) on the Bulls’ home court as they have their first winning streak since December 20th, when they had a 2 game winning streak.

G/F Nick Young came back from his 1 game suspension and played with excellent confidence, scoring a game-high 29 points, shooting 7-13 from the field and made 10-11 free throws. F Ryan Kelly thrived in his first career start, scoring 17 points and having confidence getting shots up. The Lakers now have to use these last 2 victories to fuel them in tonight’s game and play with confidence.

The Bulls have made a lot of roster turnovers and its management seems to be looking more into the future especially after superstar PG Derrick Rose tore a meniscus in his knee, ending his season. The Bulls traded all-star SF Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers a few weeks ago for 3 future draft picks and C Andrew Bynum‘s contract to free up their salary.

However, the Bulls have played well, going 5-2, since Deng’s trade. The Lakers cannot take them lightly and stay focused throughout the game. Without their best 2 players from the beginning of the season, the Bulls win a lot of their games on defense, allowing the 3rd lowest field goal percentage in the NBA at 43.0%. F Carlos Boozer leads the Bulls on the offensive end, averaging 15.0 PPG and 8.6 RPG. Boozer has played solidly despite the roster transactions in trying to keep the Bulls in a playoff position this season.

Boozer lines up next to All-Star C Joakin Noah to create a force on the front line. Noah, who averages 11.7 PPG, 11.0 RPG, and 1.3 BPG,  makes his name on the defensive end, being named on the NBA All-Defensive 1st team last season. Hopefully, C Pau Gasol can stay aggressively despite matching up with Noah at the Center position tonight to keep the Lakers in the game.

Projected Starters

PG – Kendall Marshall / Kirk Hinrich [Advantage: Bulls]
SG – Jodie Meeks / Jimmy Butler [Advantage: Bulls]
SF – Wesley Johnson / Mike Dunleavy [Advantage: Bulls]
PF – Ryan Kelly / Carlos Boozer [Advantage: Bulls]
C – Pau Gasol / Joakim Noah [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Bulls: G Tony SnellPG DJ Augustin, F Taj Gibson

Lakers: G Nick Young, G Manny Harris, F Jordan Hill

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Bulls: Out-G Derrick Rose

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

Rebounding: The Lakers absolutely have to limit the Bulls to one possession and not allow offensive rebounds in order to have a chance at winning this match up. The Bulls average the NBA’s 6th best 12.1 offensive rebounds per game, using their big man, Noah, Boozer, and 6th man F Taj Gibson to crash the offensive glass after every shot. This does not suit well at all for the Lakers, who allow the most offensive rebounds in the league by a wide margin at 13.1 offensive rebounds per game. Instead of having the guards leak out after every Bulls shot, all 5 Lakers have to find a Bulls player to box out and then crash the boards to not allow extra unnecessary possessions.

Bottom Line

The Lakers do not match up well vs. the Bulls at all. The Bulls play very physical on both ends of the floor under Head Coach Tom Thibodeau‘s leadership, especially since they do not possess as much talent compared to previous years. Shooting very well like they did vs. Raptors will keep the Lakers in the game, but they need to maintain their energy for a full 48 minutes without allowing any lengthy

Prediction

Bulls: 98-89

 

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January 17, 2014 — 4:30PM (PST)
TD Waterhouse Garden, Boston, MA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Los Angeles Lakers (14-25) travel to Boston to play the Boston Celtics (14-26) tonight in a rivalry game.

The catch?

Most fans will not recognize the players who will wear the Lakers and Celtics uniform tonight; both teams have completely overhauled their team since their title runs during the last 2000’s and the early 2010’s.  The only players most fans will recognize tonight from the championship eras would be C/PF Pau Gasol and PG Rajon Rondo, who will make his season debut tonight after recovering from a Torn ACL suffered last season.

For the Lakers, team chemistry seems to be falling apart also. The NBA suspended G/F Nick Young for tonight’s game stemming from his scuffle with all 5 Suns, which included shoving Suns PG Goran Dragic‘s face, while Young’s teammates on the floor did not come to his defense, leaving Young very vulnerable.

Young clearly did not appreciate what transpired on Wednesday, calling out his teammates for not having his back.

“What I was mad about is it was one-on-five,” said Young, who has posted nine points on 4-of-8 shooting before his ejection. “If somebody had gotten in the middle, it wouldn’t have escalated that much.”

Without Young and chemistry issues starting to brew, the Lakers look to claw and fight for a much needed victory tonight, especially after losing 12 of their last 13 games.

Without Young, the Lakers seek immediate spark from SG Manny Harris, who just signed a 10-day contract with the Lakers yesterday. Harris has scored at will for the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Lakers D-League affiliate, averaging 30.6 PPG and 6.5 RPG. Harris has drawn attention from NBA scouts recently, scoring 43.0 PPG in his last 3 games.

As previously mentioned, Rondo’s return will spark some what of a buzz in what happens to be otherwise a meaningless game between 2 lackluster teams who look to find themselves in the NBA Draft lottery. The Celtics just traded away SG Jordan Crawford and SG Marshawn Brooks to the Golden State Warriors while acquiring Joel Anthony in a cost-saving move.

Projected Starters

PG – Kendall Marshall / Rajon Rondo [Advantage: Celtics]
SG – Jodie Meeks / Avery Bradley [Advantage: Celtics]
SF – Wesley Johnson / Jeff Green [Advantage: Celtics]
PF – Jordan HillKris Humphries [Advantage: Celtics]
C – Pau Gasol / Jared Sullinger [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Celtics: F Brandon Bass, F Gerald Wallace, G Jerryd Bayless

Lakers: G Manny Harris, C Robert Sacre, F Ryan Kelly, C Chris Kaman

Bench Advantage: Even

Injury List

Celtics: Out-G Keith Bogans PROBABLE-PG Rajon Rondo

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

Keys for Lakers Victory

Defense: Despite scoring 114 vs. Suns on Wednesday, the Lakers defense failed them again, allowing 121 points to Suns. The Lakers have allowed 120.6 PPG during their losing streak, a liability nearly impossible to overcome to obtain a victory. Although Rondo will make his season debut tonight, even a shell of Rondo would torch this current Lakers defense by driving to the basket and creating open shots for his teammates.

Bottom Line

Both the Lakers and the Celtics have almost identical records. Despite losing 9 straight games before finally winning on Wednesday vs. Raptors, the Celtics find themselves still in the playoff hunt by accident, trailing the 8th seeded team in the Eastern Conference by 3 games. Meanwhile, the hopes for the Lakers to squeeze into the playoffs this season seems to be all but gone, especially without Kobe Bryant. If experts can predict 1 or 2 games the Lakers might have a chance to win during this Grammy’s road trip, it would be tonight. However, Rondo’s return and the surrounding pieces for the Celtics will most likely pose the Lakers too much problems and would be difficult once again for the Lakers to steal a victory tonight.

Prediction

Celtics: 123-104

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Sports Illustrated

A couple days after Nick Young’s ejection and criticism of fellow Laker teammates, all seems well as the team prepares to face the rival Boston Celtics.

According to LA Daily News reporter Mark Medina, the Lakers held a team meeting after Young’s post-game comments which implied his teammates did not have his back as multiple Suns’ players surrounded him after Young shoved Suns’ center Alex Len due to a hard foul.  Young was suspended without pay for Friday’s game versus Boston.

“We just talked. We’re all on the same page now. It’s just a misunderstanding,” Young said after the Lakers’ morning shootaround at TD Garden. “We all know what to do now in situations like that. Once we talked we air everything out, we’re all good.”

The teammate at the center of the controversy was guard Kendall Marshall, who responded to Young’s comments by saying that Young “wanted to see what he wanted to see” at the time.  After pictures were posted on Twitter and Instagram (which Young “liked” then “unliked” showing Marshall standing at the three point line while the altercation was occurring, he took blame for his non-actions and comments.

“I take full blame being that I was on the court and being a point guard, I should’ve been the first one over there to pull him out there with what was going on, regardless of what I thought was happening,” Marshall said. “He had every right to get upset. It’s our job as teammates to be there for each other. I went up to him, squashed it and told him it will never happen again.”

With the situation seemingly behind them, the Lakers are focused on moving forward and say they know how to handle any future situations like the one in Phoenix.

“You have to get in. You don’t have to fight,” Young said. “You just have to step in between. Nobody wants to fight. Nobody wants to get beat up on national TV.”

Meanwhile, Marshall threw in some humor about what would happen if Young were to get into a scuffle again.

“We’ll run over there, have 15 guys pick up Nick and carry him away.”

At 14-25 (second worst in the Western Conference), the Lakers desperately need to get back on track.  Boston (14-26) have had struggles of their own and both teams are far different than when the two teams met in the Finals a few seasons ago.  Despite that, the team continues to shed positive light on the team’s current state.

“When you’ve lost 12 of 13, if you don’t have a little adversity, something is wrong,” Marshall said. “I think it’s good for [Young] to get upset with us over that and show some passion. Maybe it will light a fire under all of us and we can build on it.”

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Credit: TWC Sportsnet

UpdateNick Young has been suspended one game due to the punch he threw at Suns G Goran Dragic. As a result, Young will miss the Lakers’ game at the Boston Celtics on Friday.

The Lakers dropped their sixth straight game, falling to the Phoenix Suns 121-114, but the story of the night was the ejection of Nick Young and his comments following the game–calling out his teammates for the lack of the support during the scuffle that led to his ejection.

Here is the video of the altercation:

“What I was mad about is it was one-on-five,” said Young, who has posted nine points on 4-of-8 shooting before his ejection. “If somebody had gotten in the middle, it wouldn’t have escalated that much.”

It is pretty evident in the video that his teammates did nothing to come to his defense as he was immediately surrounded by five Suns’ players.

While rookie Ryan Kelly attempted to help, it was not until assistant coach Dan D’Antoni came and pulled Young away from the situation that things started to calm down.

The Lakers (14-25) chemistry has been praised since training camp, but frustrations seem to be boiling over after losing 12 out of their last 13 games.  The locker room seemed divided over the issue as Kendall Marshall disagreed with Young’s comments.

“I understand where Nick is coming from. He did get fouled hard. It wasn’t a basketball play by any means,” said Marshall, who had 10 points on only 4-of-16 shooting and 13 assists. “But at the same time, we have to understand you have to win some and lose some. I don’t know if that was the smartest play at the time.”

That same sentiment was shared by coach Mike D’Antoni.

“You don’t fight in this league,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “It wouldn’t help us to lose two or three more guys. I hate that Nick feels that way, but I’m sure at the moment he’s just talking.”

Meanwhile, Pau Gasol, who finished the game with 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists, backed Young’s comments.  It should be noted that Gasol was on the bench at the time and any player not in the game would be suspended if they stepped on the court.

“Unfortunately we didn’t get a guy in between Nick and the three or four guys going at him,” said Lakers forward Pau Gasol, who posted 24 points on 10-of-20 shooting. “That was a first mistake or slow reaction on our part. We should’ve protected Nick there.”

Will this situation carry over past tonight? It’s hard to say.  While everyone will have an opinion on this, Young’s teammates on the court could have come and pulled him away which did not happen.

Having a teammate’s back does not mean that you have to throw punches, but it would have been good to see players attempt to help “Swaggy P”, instead new issues have poked their ugly head as the Lakers’ continue to free fall in the standings.

With a more than likely suspension looming for Nick Young and possibly Jordan Hill, who stepped onto the court slightly during the chaos, the Lakers could suit up just seven players Friday versus the Boston Celtics.

For more comments on tonight’s situation, here is Mark Medina’s article on tonight’s game.

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Image: Jeff Gross | Getty Images
Image: Jeff Gross | Getty Images
Image: Jeff Gross | Getty Images

December 31, 2013 — 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 (13-18) will play the second of their 4-game home series vs. Milwaukee Bucks (6-24) tonight as they try to snap their 5-game losing streak. The Lakers suffered a very ugly loss vs. Philadelphia 76ers this Sunday as they were clearly not in sync at both the offensive and defensive ends.  G Nick Young led the Lakers, scoring 26 points including making all 12 of his free-throws. However, Young clearly showed frustrations on the court and seemed to be playing out of rhythm, which resulted in a poor 6-21 shooting night and committed 6 turnovers.

The Lakers also suffered more bad injury news as G Xavier Henry is now out for at least 7-10 days after MRI showed a bone bruise in his right knee. However, The Lakers will finally have Pau Gasol’s services available for tonight’s game after feeling better from an upper respiratory infection.  Gasol still seemed very sick and fatigued following practice, which will most likely affect the amount of minutes he can play tonight. Also, 6th Man of the Year candidate G Nick Young will replace F Wesley Johnson tonight since Johnson will miss tonight’s game due to gastroenteritis.

The Milwaukee Bucks, on the other hand, come into STAPLES Center losing 8 of their last 10 games. Like the 76ers, the Bucks’s intentions to try to receive a high pick for the 2014 NBA Draft is very clear. The Bucks are led by a very quick and talented PG Brandon Knight. Knight, who has averaged 14.0 PPG and 4.5 APG, looks to take advantage of the poor Lakers defense by driving to the basket. Since Lakers PG Jordan Farmar might  be tentative with his hamstring, Knight should have an excellent night considering the lack of defense and effort the Lakers have been playing with recently.

Projected Starters

PG – Brandon KnightJordan Farmar [Advantage: Bucks]

SG – Khris Middleton / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Even]

SF – Larry Sanders Nick Young [Advantage: Bucks]

PF – Giannis Antetokounmpo Shawne Williams [Advantage: Bucks]

C – Ersan Ilyasova Pau Gasol [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Bucks: G OJ Mayo, SF Caron Butler, Gary Neal

Lakers:  F Wesley Johnson, F Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman, PG Kendall Marshall

Bench Advantage: Bucks

Injury List

Bucks: Out-G Carlos Delfino, C Zaza Pachulia, F John Henson, Questionable-G Gary Neal

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

Keys for Lakers Victory

Make Open Shots: Regardless of who the Lakers play against, the Lakers will not beat anybody if they cannot shoot the ball well. Period. When the Lakers shoot the ball well especially from behind the 3-pt line, they always have a chance to compete an win. However, if they shoot poorly like they have for the majority of their last 5 games, the Lakers will not beat anyone. Lakers shooters, notably G Jodie Meeks, F Shawne Williams, and G/F Nick Young, have to start making open shots more consistently to keep themselves in the game. Once again, the Lakers are outmatched talent wise, so they have to create wide-open shots not only for themselves, but for their teammates too.

Bottom Line

If a more extreme term for a “must-win” regular season game for the Lakers exists, it would be tonight. The Bucks are by far the worst team in the NBA, so another loss will become catastrophic for the Lakers and the championship hopes. Hopefully, the Lakers will prevail and show a sense of urgency and play with not only effort, but also play efficiently and effectively. The Lakers’ effort cannot be questioned, but they have to execute better especially on the defensive end. If they continue to breakdown on defense and allow offensive rebounds, it might become a long night for the Lakers. However, the Lakers should finally snap their 5-game losing streak and come away with a victory tonight to end the 2013 year on a positive note.

Prediction

Lakers: 104-98

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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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Courtesy: Getty Images
Courtesy: Getty Images
Courtesy: Getty Images

December 27, 2013 — 6:00 PM (PST)
Energy Solutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Los Angeles Lakers (13-16) travel to the Salt Lake City for a very quick trip to play Utah Jazz (8-23), who are not a very good team and seems to be preparing for a high draft pick for the 2014 NBA Draft. Like the Lakers, the Jazz will have the ability to sign high-priced free agents this off-season by making off-season trades to clear their salary cap.

However, Jazz can cause the Lakers’s defense a lot of problems. Regardless of who plays on the Lakers, the Jazz have always marked the Lakers on their calendar and we should expect them to play with a lot of passion and energy. Jazz rookie PG Trey Burke has played exceptionally well after missing the first 12 games recovering from a broken finger, averaging 13.5 PPG and 4.9 APG. Also, the Jazz have F Gordan Hayward, who has the skills to shoot over smaller defenders and drive to the basket, has averaged a very solid 15.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 4.7 APG. Hayward will become a free-agent following the season, and I expect a lot of NBA teams offer him a long-term contract.

The Lakers are coming off a very tough loss vs. Miami Heat after playing with a very good spirit and a lot of energy to stay close. G/F Nick Young has led the way for most of the season coming off the bench by having the ability to create his own shot and has averaged a very solid 15.7 PPG, which leads all NBA 6th man, this season. However, the Lakers will be without the services of C Pau Gasol tonight due to an upper respiratory infection that has still caused him problems stemming from last Saturday. Gasol will definitely be missed by the Lakers tonight after playing very solidly recently, becoming more aggressive and looking much slimmer compared to the beginning of the season. Look for C Robert Sacre and C Chris Kaman to fill in Gasol’s role tonight despite Head Coach Mike D’Antoni proclamation that Ryan Kelly will take both of their minutes to spread the floor even more.

Projected Starters

PG – Trey Burke Jordan Farmar [Advantage: Jazz]

SG – Gordon Hayward / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Jazz]

SF – Richard Jefferson Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Even]

PF – Marvin Williams Pau Gasol [Advantage: Jazz]

C – Derrick Favors Chris Kaman [Advantage: Even]

Notable Bench Players

Jazz: G Alec Burks, Jeremy EvansPG John Lucas III, Enes Kanter

Lakers: G/F Nick YoungXavier Henry, F Jordan Hill, Ryan Kelly

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Keys for Lakers Success

  1. Keep Guards out of the Paint: Although it might seem like kicking a dead horse at this point, the Lakers need to stop letting opposing guards drive to the basket without any resistance and let them get high percentage shots for themselves or an open teammate. Tonight’s match up will not be much easier, as they try to keep both Burke and Hayward outside of the paint. The guards have to make the offensive players feel more uncomfortable while dribbling the ball and cause turnovers. This is also the main cause for opposing post players to have career highs vs. Lakers continuously this season.
  2. Do Not Allow 2nd Chance PossessionsThe Lakers have been struggling a lot at boxing out their players and allowing easy 2nd chance baskets. Their defense has played fairly well recently, but allowing offensive rebounds causes their defense to become very disorganized, causing them to lose their players they matched up with. This is another factor that results in career high performances from non-superstar players from opposing teams. With D’Antoni sitting out their post players like Kaman and Sacre and prioritizing 3-point shooting more, proper fundamentals to box out opposing players like C/F Derrick Favors and C Enes Kanter becomes a high priority since they both possess a significant weight advantage over whoever the Lakers will put out on the floor tonight.

Bottom Line

The Lakers have to have their head on straight and play with good fundamentals and high energy tonight to defeat the Jazz. Once again, the opposing team has more talent than the Lakers at least in the starting lineup, so the Lakers cannot rely on talent and play complacent to win tonight. However, PG Jordan Farmar‘s return should once again stabilize the Lakers’ offense and defensive ends as a vocal floor leader for the Lakers. If they play with as much energy and passion as their last game, Laker Nation should be in a good mood after tonight’s victory.

Prediction

Lakers: 99-96

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