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Pau gasol

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Image: Ezra Shaw | Getty Images

Update (Feb 20, 12:00pm PST) – Pau Gasol, along with Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman, remains a Laker through the 2014 NBA Trade Deadline.

According to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, rival NBA executives believe the Lakers and Suns will resume trade talks, with Pau Gasol ultimately being traded to Phoenix.

Gasol, a free agent this off-season, has been looking into free agent destinations and is expected to leave Los Angeles this summer. Rival executives believe the Lakers will deal Gasol rather than lose him in the summer.

The Lakers have been looking for a first round draft pick in return for Gasol, as well as the expiring contract of Suns’ center Emeka Okafor.

With the NBA Trade Deadline less than 48 hours away, it will be interesting to see if Gasol is indeed finally traded this time.

Stay tuned to LakerNation.com for all the latest trade rumors and trade deadline news!

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Photo: Jared Wickerham | Getty Images

According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, the Lakers are putting together trade packages in an attempt to acquire all-star forward Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves:

“The Lakers and Mavericks are trying to assemble trade offers for prospective free agent Kevin Love, but thus far the Timberwolves have given no indication they’ll consider moving the All-Star forward by Thursday’s deadline, league sources told CBSSports.com.

Love will be a free agent in 2015, and it is widely known around the league that he and his agent, New York-based Jeff Schwartz, are determined to get him to a major market. The Lakers, Love’s first choice, “have the best shot” of landing the Southern California native, one person familiar with the player’s thinking said. There is no incentive in the CBA for Love to sign an extension with Minnesota before he has a chance to decline his player option and hit the open market in July 2015.”

Regarding what the Lakers would offer, Berger says:

“Any Lakers offer would have to include Pau Gasol, whose $19.3 million contract comes off the books this summer. Rival executives believe the Lakers’ best chance of moving Gasol is to a team that views him as worthy re-signing to a more reasonable deal this summer — not as a rental. The Lakers also can offer their 2014 first-round pick, which has value. With Kobe Bryant out indefinitely, the Lakers are tied for the fourth-worst record in the league.”

It should be noted that the Lakers cannot trade their 2014 first-round pick until they are officially on the clock in this summer’s draft.  The next first round pick that would be eligible to be traded by the Lakers would not be until 2019.  Although, IF the Lakers were to acquire a second first round pick in the next 48 hours, their own 2014 first round pick becomes eligible to be traded.

While it seems unlikely the Lakers could acquire Love at the deadline barring some sort of multi-team deal, fans should be excited that management looks like they are not waiting until this summer to bring this team back to the NBA’s elite going into next season.

The trade deadline is Thursday, February 20 at 12:00 PM PST.

Keep it locked to LakerNation.com for all the latest surrounding the Lakers’ trade rumors!

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Photo: Frederic J. Brown | Getty Images

February 4, 2014 — 5:00 PM (PST)
Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers (16-31) travel to Minneapolis to play vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (23-24) to start their 3-game road trip.

The good news?

All 3 point guards for the Lakers return tonight. Steve NashSteve Blake and Jordan Farmar will all return to the floor tonight. As this season has plummeted downhill for this team, having multiple players return from their various injuries might give their team a jolt of energy.

With the return of the three point guards, there is uncertainty about how PG Kendall Marshall will be used tonight. Despite a dismal January as a team, Marshall has played very well, scoring 10.5 PPG and dishing out 9.6 APG but has been replaced in the lineup by all 3 point guards. While outrage might occur if he does not play tonight, anything head coach Mike D’Antoni does with his rotation should not surprise Laker Nation.

The bad news?

C Pau Gasol will miss the road trip due to a bruised groin. Gasol, who has once again found himself in trade talks again, played spectacularly well throughout January, averaging 20.8 PPG and 11.9 RPG. He clearly labored up and down the court the last 2 games, so hopefully rest and recovery will get him back on the court soon.

Local UCLA product and all-star starter PF Kevin Love has dominated this season for the Timberwolves. Love has scored 25.5 PPG and grabbed 13.1 RPG. He can shoot from the perimeter while dominating in the low post at the same time, causing match up nightmares for anyone who guards him.

Projected Starters

PG - Steve Nash / Ricky Rubio [Advantage: Timberwolves]
SG - Steve Blake / Kevin Martin [Advantage: Timberwolves]
SF - Jodie Meeks / Corey Brewer [Advantage: Timberwolves]
PF - Ryan Kelly / Kevin Love [Advantage: Timberwolves]
C - Robert Sacre / Ronny Turiaf [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Timberwolves: F Dante Cunningham, G Alexey SchvedG JJ Barea, Chase Budinger

Lakers: Nick YoungG Jordan Farmar, F Jordan Hill,  PG Kendall Marshall

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Timberwolves: Out-C Nikola Pekovic

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-C Pau Gasol, Out-G Xavier Henry

Keys for Lakers Victory

Play Defense: Allowing 100 or more points in 19 out of the last 21 games will not win any team any games regardless of how proficient their offense is. Maybe having all their point guards return will help the Lakers exert more effort on defense. However, that seems very unlikely.

Bottom Line

The Lakers currently have a 7 game losing streak. Having their point guards all return tonight will help. However, the likelihood they will help solve their defensive rebounding and defensive issues seem very slim to none.

Prediction

Timberwolves: 114-103

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Photo: Christian Petersen | Getty Images

Feb 4th, 6:00pm PST – The Lakers do not believe trade talks with the Suns are over, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.  She also says to expect talks to continue with the Suns and other teams up until the Feb. 20 trade deadline.

Feb 4th, 5:30pm PST – The Phoenix Suns have stopped talks to acquire Pau Gasol because they feel the Lakers want too much for the veteran post player, according to the LA Times’ Mike Bresnahan.

The Lakers coveted one of following draft picks from Phoenix: the pick the Suns could potentially get from Minnesota or the one they might receive from Washington.

According to Bresnahan, the talks could resume before the February 20th trade deadline, but the Lakers were reluctant to deal Gasol without receiving what they felt was adequate compensation.

Feb 4th, 2:00pm PST – According to Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News, Gasol is expected to sit out at least two weeks with his groin injury.

There is no date as to when he will be reevaluated but Gasol is out for at least the next six games.

Feb 4th, 1:00am PST – While many were sleeping, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne was giving an update on the Gasol-to-Suns talk. 

According to Shelburne, the Lakers and Suns engaged in “fresh discussions” earlier in the day on Monday.  She says there is ‘substantial’ interest on both sides to complete a deal but the Suns reportedly want to see how Gasol returns from his groin injury before going further in talks.

Also on Monday, Gasol posted a picture of him receiving a PRP injection for his injury on Instagram:

“Today I got a PRP shot to help the healing of my groin injury,” Gasol wrote on Instagram. “I will work hard to be back with the team as soon as possible.”

Feb 3rd, 1:50pm PST – Mike Bresnahan says the main reason a trade has not been agreed upon is because the Lakers want a better draft pick than the Suns current position:

Should be noted that if the current pick being offered is currently 17th overall, that would be the Washington Wizards pick the Suns own.  The only other pick which is better than that particular one is the Minnesota T’Woves pick, which is top-12 protected.  With the T’Wolves out of the playoff picture at the moment, that belongs to them, not the Suns.

Feb 2nd, 8:00pm PST – Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times reported late Sunday night that the Lakers are now engaged in trade discussions with the Phoenix Suns on a Pau Gasol trade.

According to Bresnahan, “Gasol would be comfortable with a trade to the Suns, eager to prove himself in a new system on a better team, according to a person familiar with his thinking.”

Feb 2nd, 3:00pm PST – According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Phoenix Suns have explored a potential deal for Lakers center Pau Gasol.

The Suns (29-18) have had a surprisingly good season after expectations of being lottery bound and are looking to add a piece to help solidify their position in the playoffs.  With a young roster, Gasol would provide Phoenix with a veteran presence and championship experience.

But is a trade realistic between the two division rivals?

The Suns have the expiring contract of center Emeka Okafor to offer as well as some other assets including four first round draft picks in this June’s NBA draft.  Okafor has not played a game this season due to a herniated disk in his neck and is out indefinitely.

Just two weeks ago, the Lakers were engaged in trade discussions with the Cleveland Cavaliers for former center Andrew Bynum, but ultimately the Cavaliers did not want to part with any young players or first round draft picks the Lakers coveted in exchange for Gasol.  That move would have brought the Lakers below the tax threshold, something they are still aiming at doing to avoid a hefty tax bill this season.

According to Stein, an Okafor/Gasol swap would bring the Lakers within $3 million of the tax threshold and another small deal at the deadline could be made to bring them completely under.

Currently, the Suns own four 2014 first draft picks from the following teams: Minnesota (top 13 protected), Washington (top 12 protected), Indiana (top 12 protected), and their own first rounder.   At 16-31, the Lakers will almost certainly be in the lottery come the draft and another first round pick in a highly regarded draft could pay dividends for the Lakers in June.

Should the Lakers trade Pau Gasol to the Phoenix Suns for an expiring contract and draft pick or should they allow Gasol to play out the season in Los Angeles?

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Update (Feb 1, 2:30pm) – Pau Gasol, who had been dealing with a sore right groin, had an MRI today which revealed a strained right groin.

Gasol will be out a minimum of a week and will be re-evaluated next weekend when the team returns from its three-game road trip.

Additionally, Lakers backup center Chris Kaman, who has a sore right knee, also had an MRI. Results of the MRI were negative and he is cleared to play.

– End of Update –

Over the past few weeks, Pau Gasol has played at an elite level–looking like the Gasol of old, all while battling a groin injury.

Unfortunately, the pain and discomfort has gotten to the point where Gasol will have an MRI Saturday to see what the extent of the injury is. ESPNLA’s Ramona Shelburne spoke with Gasol after Friday’s loss against the Charlotte Bobcats.

Gasol had himself a great month of basketball in January averaging 20.6 points and 12.1 rebounds per game.

For the Lakers, just when it looked like relief was coming on the injury front, this happens. All we can do is hope for the best regarding Gasol’s MRI results.

For as much criticism he has received and all the trade talk he’s been involved in the last few years, Gasol has been the Lakers’ best player this season and has continued to leave it all on the floor, despite the team’s struggles.

Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/ NBAE/ Getty Images

After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of January 26-February 1, over their 66-year history.

January 29, 1980

Norm Nixon set a then-NBA record for most minutes played in a single game with 64, when the Lakers fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers 154-153 in quadruple overtime. Nixon’s record was tied in 1987 by Sleepy Floyd of the Golden State Warriors, and later broken by Dale Ellis of the Seattle SuperSonics in 1989, when he played for 69 minutes in a five-overtime game against Milwaukee.

January 30, 1996

Magic Johnson shocked the NBA with his return to the league after having been retired from playing basketball since he announced that he had contracted HIV in 1992. In his first game back on the floor with the Lakers, Johnson scored 19 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and dished out 10 assists to help the Lakers defeat the Golden State Warriors 128-118 at the Great Western Forum. At 36 years old, Johnson played the final 32 games of the 1995-96 season, while averaging 14 points, seven rebounds, and six assists during that stretch. Johnson was an assistant coach with the Lakers in 1994 before returning to the hardwood. He retired from playing for good in 1996.

Dick Raphael /NBAE/Getty Images
Dick Raphael /NBAE/Getty Images

January 31, 2010

Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning shot over Ray Allen with 7.3 seconds left in regulation to lift the Lakers over the Boston Celtics 90-89 at the TD Garden. This victory marked Los Angeles’ fourth consecutive win, and third straight against Boston. Despite trailing by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter, the Lakers rallied behind Bryant and their big men down low, outscoring Boston 18-0 on points in the paint in the fourth quarter. Bryant finished the game with 19 points, while Andrew Bynum also dropped 19 points and collected 11 rebounds. Pau Gasol added 11 points and 11 rebounds. With his 19 points, Kobe Bryant moved within 28 points of Jerry West’s all-time Lakers’ record of 25,192, for most points scored in franchise history.

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Photo by Nick Laham | Getty Images

January 25, 2014 — 12:30 PM (PST)
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
TV: ABC
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Carmelo Anthony scored 62 points this past Friday vs. a top-10 defensive team in Charlotte Bobcats to single-handedly snap the New York Knicks’ 5-game losing streak.

Now, he and the rest of the Knicks (16-27) get to play vs. the Los Angeles Lakers (16-28), the NBA’s worst defensive team by a wide margin.

The Knicks might arguably be the most disappointing NBA team this season, with multiple locker room problems and playing without any team continuity. Despite the turmoil, Anthony has carried this dysfunctional Knicks all on his own back, scoring 27.0 PPG, grabbing 9.1 RPG, and dishing out 3.0 APG. He creates a matchup nightmare for the Lakers since the Lakers do not possess a player who has the size and strength to match up vs. Anthony.

Rumors and speculations have swirled around Anthony’s potential destination including signing with the Lakers to team up with G Kobe Bryant. However, he currently wears a Knicks uniform and the Lakers have to figure out a way to contain him.

The Lakers, on the other hand, suffered a bad loss vs. Orlando Magic, 114-105 as a result of allowing 38 points in the 3rd quarter. C/F Pau Gasol, who had another double-double vs. Magic by scoring 21 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, seem to now arguably be the best offensive Center in the NBA during the month of January. Gasol needs to play like one today in order to offset Anthony’s probably scoring outburst.

Also, this would be the first time the Lakers will play vs. former Laker and 2010 NBA Finals hero F Metta World Peace, who the Lakers amnestied last offseason to clear cap space. World Peace’s playing status remains uncertain today due to a strained left knee.

Projected Starters

PG - Kendall Marshall / Raymond Felton [Advantage: Even]
SG - Jodie Meeks / Pablo Prigioni [Advantage: Lakers]
SF - Nick Young / Iman Shumpert [Advantage: Lakers]
PF - Ryan Kelly / Carmelo Anthony [Advantage: Knicks]
C - Pau Gasol / Tyson Chandler [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Knicks: G Tim Hardaway Jr.G JR SmithC Jeremy Tyler, Metta World Peace

Lakers: Wesley JohnsonG Manny Harris, F Jordan Hill

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Knicks: Out-F Kenyon Martin, Out-F Amare Stoudemire, Out-F Andrea Bargnani, Questionable-F Metta World Peace

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: No explanation nor analysis necessary. You can figure this one out.

Bottom Line

Hopefully the Knicks play like they have for the majority of this season that caused them to land in 10th place in the Eastern Conference. The Lakers need to win today’s game to salvage this roller-coaster Grammy’s trip, where they currently suffer a 2-4 record. The Lakers definitely possess better team chemistry than the Knicks, so they have to work as a team to grind out this game. Unfortunately, their defense will most likely haunt them, and the Knicks should win this game.

Prediction

Knicks: 116-107

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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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Courtesy: Getty Images

January 24, 2014 — 4:00 PM (PST)
Amway Center, Orlando, FL
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Now suffering from a two-game losing streak, the Lakers (16-27) seek to gain a victory tonight vs. Orlando Magic (11-32) to get to .500 on this Grammy’s trip. The Lakers played well at times vs. Heat, but once again could not play good defense, allowing 109 points last night.

Pau Gasol once again performed very well and seems to be in peak shape despite all the losses the Lakers have been piling up. Gasol scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, playing very effectively from the post, shooting 9-15 in the first half. Tonight, the Lakers need to continue to run the offense through him to finish tonight’s game unlike last night when the Lakers got away from their post game.

The Magic have been playing worse than the Lakers actually, losing 12 of their last 13 games, as they continue to find the right pieced to field a competitive team 2 years after C Dwight Howard left them for the Lakers.

Former UCLA Bruin G Aaron Afflalo leads these young group of Magic, scoring 20.2 PPG, grabbing 4.5 RPG, and dishing out 3.8 APG. He has a very solid all around game, playing both ends of the floor well, and would be a very good asset for a title contending team, but not as a go-to guy.

Projected Starters

PG - Kendall Marshall / Jameer Nelson [Advantage: Even]
SG - Jodie Meeks / Aaron Afflalo [Advantage: Magic]
SF - Wesley Johnson / Victor Oladipo [Advantage: Magic]
PF - Ryan Kelly / Tobias Harris [Advantage: Magic]
C - Pau Gasol / Glen Davis [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Magic: C Kyle O’QuinnG Doron LambC Mo Harkless

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

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Magic: Out-C Nikola Vucevic, Out-PG Ronnie Price

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: I know I am kicking a dead horse at this point. However, the Lakers really have to to find a Magic player to box out and then crash the boards to not allow extra possessions. The Lakers gave up 12 offensive rebounds to a Heat team which already average last in the NBA grabbing offensive rebounds per game. Momentum in a game can swing against the Lakers quickly if they allow extra possessions and have to play defense for more than one possession.

Bottom Line

Hard to believe the Lakers finally can match-up vs a team with as bad of a record as the Lakers over the last month. However, the Lakers, notably Gasol, have been playing much better in the last 4 games and need to start building multiple-game winning streaks before all of their injured guards return to the line up. Expect the Lakers to compete well tonight and get a much needed victory tonight.

Prediction

Lakers: 109-104

 

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Photo: Ronald Martinez | Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Despite only playing in six games this season, Los Angeles Lakers SG Kobe Bryant has been voted to represent the Western Conference in this year’s NBA All-Star Game.

Bryant, who finished with 988,884 fan votes, will appear in his 16th-straight All-Star Game–if he is healthy enough to play, of course.

Bryant, playing in his 18th season, is a 4-time All-Star MVP. The 5-time NBA champion is the only player in NBA history to be selected to 16-straight NBA All-Star games.

Despite being voted as an All-Star this season, Bryant said he does not want to play in the game, according to the LA Times’ Mike Bresnahan.

Kobe says he appreciates being voted an All-Star but “with all due respect” doesn’t want to play in the game.

Other notables: Pau Gasol finished 10th in the Western Conference front court voting with 247,323 votes.

Bryant will be joined by Stephen CurryBlake Griffin, Kevin Durant, and Kevin Love in the West’s starting lineup.

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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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Image Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein | Getty Images

January 19, 2014 — 10:00 AM (PST)
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Canada
TV: TWC SportsNet / NBATV
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers (15-25) got a much needed win vs. their arch-rival Boston Celtics  Friday, snapping a very dismal 6-game losing streak. Despite G/F Nick Young‘s absence due to his 1-game suspension, the rest of the Lakers found a way go gut out an impressive victory. F Ryan Kelly had a breakout game, scoring a career high 20 points, while F/C Pau Gasol has been playing like the Gasol of old, contributing 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists. Now, the Lakers have to carry their momentum across the border to play the Raptors in an early-morning game.

The Raptors come to today’s game as the 3rd place team in the Eastern Conference. Yes, you did not misread my statement. Since the SF Rudy Gay blockbuster trade that occurred between the Raptors and the Sacramento Kings, the Raptors have completely turned their fortune around, going 14-6 since the trade occurred. The Raptors will be led by G Demar Derozan and PG Kyle Lowry. Derozan, a local product out of USC and Compton High School, has seemed to finally use his raw athleticism efficiently, leading the Raptors in scoring at a career high 21.2 PPG. Lowry has become very crucial in the Raptors recent success, averaging 16.2 PPG and 7.2 APG. Lowry seems to have eliminated himself from the trade block due to the Raptors recent success.

Projected Starters

PG - Kendall Marshall / Kyle Lowry [Advantage: Raptors]
SG - Jodie Meeks / Terrence Ross[Advantage: Even]
SF - Wesley Johnson / Demar Derozan[Advantage: Raptors]
PF - Ryan Kelly / Jonas Valanciunas [Advantage: Raptors]
C - Pau Gasol / Amir Johnson [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Raptors: F Patrick Patterson, F Chuck Hayes, PG Greivis Vasquez, F John Salmons

Lakers: G Nick Young, C Robert Sacre, F Ryan Kelly, C Chris Kaman

Bench Advantage: Even

Injury List

Raptors: Questionable-F Tyler Hansborough, Questionable-F John Salmons

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: Despite their victory vs. Celtics, the Lakers still have major problems on the defensive end, allowing 104 points. They should have easily defeated the Celtics especially since they shot 60% from behind the 3-pt line. If the Lakers cannot shoot as well today, they will be in a lot of trouble from the start, especially since the Raptors have been playing with a lot of confidence. By the way, lets hope C/F Amir Johnson does look like the second coming of Hall of Fame C Hakeem Olajuwon again vs. the Lakers after he torched them, scoring a career high 32 points.

Bottom Line

The rosters for both the Lakers and the Raptors have make a complete overhaul since their last matchup on December 7th. The Raptors have skyrocketed through the Eastern Conference into the 3rd seed, while the Lakers have crashed into the cellar of the Western Conference. With a victory to make the Lakers feel good, lets hope they use that victory to play inspired basketball instead of playing lethargically especially on the defensive end. However, the Raptors look like a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference, so heart and effort might not even be enough for these Lakers today.

Prediction

Raptors: 110-98

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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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Former number two overall NBA draft pick Michael Beasley worked out for the Los Angeles Lakers for a second time Wednesday.