Sunday, December 21, 2014
Tags Posts tagged with "Steve Nash"

Steve Nash

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Image: J. Alexander Diaz/Lakers.com

It remains to be seen if the Lakers will be a playoff contender this season, but if anything, it will surely be the best conditioned team in the league if day one of training camp is any indication.

On Tuesday, the Lakers held its first practice of the new season, getting a fresh start under new head coach Byron Scott, who gave the team a taste of what to expect under his watch.

“I want to be a great conditioned team. That’s the bottom line,” said Scott. “The thing that I told our guys, ‘We’re going to lose some games this year, but it’s not going to be because the other team is in better shape.”

Running was undoubtedly the word of the day as players went through conditioning drills throughout practice and finishing the day running suicides, leaving players, both veterans and rookies, bent over at the waist trying to catch their breath. At the very end, Nick Young tiredly took a seat under the basket, eventually asking rookie Jordan Clarkson to help him to his feet.

Kobe Bryant made his much anticipated return to the court, participating in an official practice for the first time since last December. According to Scott, Kobe went through three quarters of the practice before being asked to shut it down, despite Kobe’s wishes of wanting to continue.

“He wanted to go more, but right now it’s just a progression of going a little bit a day,” said Scott.

Despite Kobe sitting out the final 30 to 40 minutes of practice, the 36-year old admitted the running was more than he had experienced in his career.

“It’s probably the most running I’ve ever done in an NBA practice,” said Kobe. “Actually it is, for sure. I’ve never run this much.”

The good news for Lakers fans is despite the extra work, Kobe said he felt like himself and that the injuries are in the past. He understands that at an older age, he must monitor his activity level more closely in practice, in order to “have something left in the tank every single day.”

Defense was another focal point on the first day, which should not come as a surprise as Scott made it known in interviews that Lakers basketball must start on that end of the floor. The conditioning and defense are things that go hand in hand, according to Kobe.

“Running and conditioning, that’s the biggest part,” said Kobe. “Everybody wants to play defense, but when you’re not conditioned to play defense, you go back to your natural instinct which is to play offense first.”

On Wednesday, the Lakers will begin two-a-days which will include a scrimmage with game officials. Both Kobe and Steve Nash are expected to practice in the morning session, but not later in the day. Scott said Kobe would play in all eight preseason games, to get rid of the rust after playing in only six games last season.

The first preseason game will be Tuesday Oct. 6 in San Diego at Valley View Casino Center when they take on the Denver Nuggets.

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Getty Images

Selected 46th overall in the NBA Draft, Jordan Clarkson went from relative unknown to promising prospect in a matter of four months. As the rookie guard enters his first NBA season with the Lakers, he will now try and prove his worth as a productive NBA player.

During the Las Vegas Summer League, Clarkson posted averages of 15.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.2 assists, turning some heads considering he was a second round pick. Despite his impressive summer campaign, the guard out of Missouri says his expectations have not changed.

“Really no change for me,” said Clarkson. “Just trying to bring what I brought to the summer league to the regular season but there has not really been a change.”

In college, Clarkson was known for using his athleticism to get to the rim, an ability he has shown during the summer league as well as in workouts with his teammates. At 6-foot-5, he is considered a combo guard by scouts, but Clarkson says he is simply a “playmaker” and wants to make plays for his teammates while also scoring the ball.

Although he knows what type of player he is, Clarkson noted he wants to become a more complete player by defending positions one through three and knows in what areas he aims to improve in.

“Continuing making shots, showing my intensity on the defensive end, and really just getting better at playing the point position, making the right plays.”

Being drafted by the purple and gold, a unique opportunity presents itself for Clarkson who will have the chance to learn from veteran teammates such as Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, both of whom he has had a chance to play against in workouts. When asked what is the most important thing he can do playing alongside them, a student of the game attitude came out.

“Ask questions,” said the 22-year old. “They are two of the best, future hall of famers. Just try to pick their brains and learn as much as I can during this whole season.”

Asked how Kobe looked in 5-on-5 action, who Clarkson had the assignment of guarding in their first encounter on the court, much like the other reports about Kobe’s health Clarkson’s review was positive.

“Kobe has looked amazing,” said Clarkson. “I feel bad for anyone that gets in his way. He’s nasty, he’s real. He is one of the toughest competitors I have seen so it will be good to be around that every day.”

Clarkson also went on to say that he has had time to workout with Nash on the court and in the gym, saying Nash “really got after it” and has looked like himself pre-nerve issues.

With Nash, Jeremy Lin, and Ronnie Price at the point guard position, Clarkson could be in line for some meaningful minutes this season. As practice kicks off on Tuesday, Clarkson will get the chance to earn those minutes. What he will do during the regular remains to be seen, but with his attitude, Clarkson will be a player that is very easy for the fans to root for.

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Photo Credit to FoxSports.com

The past season for the Los Angeles Lakers has been nothing short of disastrous. From injuries to firings, the purple and gold remained relatively irrelevant in the eyes of many. The absence of expectations from a team that missed their leader, Kobe Bryant, was something that the Laker fan base came to painfully accept.

With a return looming and Bryant entering his 19th season, the Lakers cannot expect to lean on Kobe alone to carry the team on his shoulders. Coming in with thousands of miles on a thirty-six year old body, that has endured numerous injuries, the Lakers would need to look to another player to carry them in a talented Western Conference. With Pau Gasol’s summer departure, there is no doubt that Nick Young aims to be the player that the Lakers would need to rely upon outside their 36-year old superstar.

After stints with the Wizards, Clippers and 76ers, Nick Young has steadily developed and proven to be a talented offensive player. With his ability to put up great scoring numbers, critics have praised Young for his offense. With that, after Bryant went down in April of 2013, the Lakers severely needed to get a player that could provide them the scoring production to compensate Bryant’s absence. Fortunately for them, they were able to sign Young to a one year contract. Nick Young went on to post career scoring numbers for the depleted Lakers team, averaging 17.9 ppg amidst the franchise’s struggles.

With a summer that led to a new contract, Nick Young will be looked upon to take the next step in his development and maturity as a player, both on and off the court. The return of Kobe Bryant will be the push that Young needs to further improve as an all around player, particularly on defense. This lack of defense, which teams exploited consistently, aims to be the top priority for Young moving forward. This is a work in progress as Bryant and Young have reportedly been working together during the offseason, as a sign of their developing relationship and chemistry.

Another aspect that Young aims to develop is his decision making. With Nick Young’s scoring talent, critics have been very particular with him specifically on his shot selection. Young is sometimes known to take questionable shots that can impact the system that a coach is trying to implement. Last year, isolation plays were too common for Young which proved problematic for the team. Byron Scott’s system can hopefully be the way for him to improve on this, as Scott did with Keith Van Horn during his New Jersey days. By utilizing his offensive gifts, taking the right shots to help the team will be a positive note for the Lakers in the long run.

With the right mindset and focus, Nick Young’s breakthrough may soon be nearer than we expect. Coupled with the right environment and system around him, there is a bright future for Lakers fans after a season of doubt and despair.

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After a miserable 2013-14 season that led to an unusually long off-season, we finally have something to look forward to. Yesterday, the NBA released the 2014-2015 regular season schedule. After saying goodbye to Pau Gasol, Jordan Farmar, Jodie Meeks, and Chris Kaman (among others) the Lakers will begin the season with many fresh faces. Over the Summer, the Lakers added veterans Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer, and Ed Davis along with rookies Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson. They will join returning Lakers Xavier Henry, Jordan Hill, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly, Steve Nash, Robert Sacre, and Nick Young. Oh, and I forgot, after only playing 6 games last season, Kobe Bryant will be hungry and healthy to start the season. A sight that Laker fans sorely missed.

With training camp just around the corner… Here is a preview of the 2014-2015 Lakers Regular Season Schedule:

OPENING NIGHT:

Photo Credit: NBA
Photo Credit: NBA

In 1 of only 3 games on opening night, the Lakers will begin their season at home against Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets. After sitting out all but 6 games last season, this will mark the first time Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard face each other since Howard’s departure 2 summers ago. It will also mark the first time Jeremy Lin will face his former team after being traded this past summer to the Lakers. In 4 games last season, the Rockets took the season series from the Lakers 3-1. However, after losing key role players in Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons, and Omer Asik it remains to be seen how the Rockets will fare this season. After opening night, the Lakers and Rockets will meet again on Nov 19 (@HOU) and Jan 25 (@LAL).

CHRISTMAS IN CHICAGO:

(Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports)

December 25th wouldn’t be Christmas without a little Lakers basketball. However, we’ll have a change of scenery this Christmas when the Lakers play their first holiday game away from Staples since 2006, when they played against Shaquille O’Neal and the Miami Heat. This year, Kris Kringle reunites us with a familiar face when the Lakers go up against Pau Gasol and the Chicago Bulls. This will be the first time Gasol and Carlos Boozer face their former teams after swapping places this Summer. It will also be the first time the Lakers will meet Derrick Rose after sitting out almost 2 full seasons due to injury. The two teams will meet again on Jan 29 when Gasol makes his Staples Center return.

GRAMMY ROAD TRIP:

This season’s Grammy trip seems fairly tame compared to those in years past. In previous seasons, the Grammy trip has lasted as long as 7 games in 12 days. This season the Lakers will only visit 4 cities in a 9 day span. The trip will begin in New York when the Lakers face the Knicks for the first time on Feb 1. Then we head to Milwaukee (Feb 4), where Julius Randle and the #2 overall pick, Jabari Paker, will meet for the first time in the NBA. The trip continues in Orlando (Feb 6), where Randle will go up against another lottery pick, Aaron Gordon (#4 overall). The trip will conclude when the Lakers visit Coach Scott’s former team to take on LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, (Kevin Love? Andrew Wiggins?), and the Cavs in Cleveland on Feb 8.

Last season, the Grammy trip was a 7 game trip where the Lakers went 2-5. This season, being an unusually short trip with no back-to-backs, the Lakers should end the road trip with a winning record. I don’t see Milwaukee or Orlando being much of a threat and we all know how much Kobe loves playing in Madison Square Garden. I expect the Lakers to come away from the Grammy trip going 3-1.

BACK-TO-BACKS:

This season, the Lakers will play a total of 16 pairs of B2B games. They’ll start the season right off the bat playing their first 4 games in 2 sets of home/away B2Bs against the Rockets/Suns and the Clippers/Warriors. The Lakers will be the visiting team for a majority of the games in these B2Bs. They will only play 8 of the 32 games at Staples (one will be an away game against the Clippers), all 8 occur on the first night of the B2B. And of course, as it seems to happen every season, the Lakers will play against the Denver Nuggets in the Mile High City on the second night of a B2B following a Clipper home game on April 8th. The Lakers seem to always struggle in this category, in 38 B2B games (19 pairs) last season, the Lakers ended with a record of 11-27, never winning a set of games. They’re going to need to turn that around this season if they expect to improve.

The 16 B2B match-ups will be against:

10/28-29: HOU/@PHX                    10/31-11/1: LAC/@GSW                11/11-12: @MEM/@NOP

11/18-19: @ATL/@HOU                 12/2-3: @DET/@WAS                    12/14-15: @MIN/@IND

12/25-26: @CHI/@DAL                 1/4-5: IND/@POR                            1/15-16: CLE/@UTA

2/10-11: DEN/@POR                      3/3-4: @CHA/@MIA                       3/15-16: ATL/@GSW

3/24-25: @OKC/@MIN                  3/29-30: @BKN/@PH                     4/7-8: @LAC/@DEN

4/12-13: DAL/@SAC

BATTLE FOR LA:

Photo courtesy of Frederic J. Brown, Getty images.

Fresh off the Donald Sterling fiasco, new Clipper owner, Steve Ballmer, and the rest of the Clipper team will almost certainly have some extra spark this season. Especially after newly appointed Lakers head coach (and former head coach of Clippers superstar Chris Paul), Byron Scott, declared that LA was still a Laker town. The Lakers will face the Clippers the usual 4 times (2 home, 2 away) this season, with the first match coming early in the season on Halloween night as a Laker home game. The remaining match-ups will take place on Jan. 7 (@LAC), Apr. 5 (@LAL), and Apr. 7 (@LAC).

After losing the season opener to the Lakers last season, the Clippers dismantled the Lakers by an average of 36 points in the remaining 3 contests and ended up taking the season series 3-1. The hallway series doesn’t get any easier for the Lakers this season after the Clippers added former Laker Jordan Farmar and Spencer Hawes to their depth chart.

A NEW STORY FOR AN OLD RIVALRY:

Photo: Jason DeCrow AP
Photo: Jason DeCrow AP

The Lakers/Celtics rivalry is a part of NBA history, even though it may not be as enticing these days as they were in the past, regardless if it’s for championships, regular season records, or lottery picks, there will always be a certain buzz surrounding a Lakers/Celtics match-up. This season’s match-ups could be the start of a new story when rookies Julius Randle and Marcus Smart take their places in this historic rivalry. Smart was taken by the Celtics with the 6th pick in the draft, one ahead of Randle. After being drafted, Randle said that he felt he should have been drafted higher. “The teams that passed on me will regret it” he said. Let’s hope he starts when the Lakers face the Celtics on Dec. 5 (@BOS) and Feb. 22 (@LAL).

NEW YORK, NEW YORK:

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

I wouldn’t normally consider a Lakers/Knicks game to be a “notable” game at the beginning of the season, but this year there are too many stories to ignore. Most of LA is still coping with the fact that Phil Jackson agreed to become the President of Basketball Operations for the Knicks last season, but this season we get the added bonus of seeing the team coached by Kobe’s longtime sidekick, Derek Fisher. Not to mention, there’s that Carmelo Anthony guy who turned down a max contract from the Lakers to re-sign with the Knicks this summer. We can watch all this drama unfold when the Lakers and Knicks faceoff on Feb 1 (@NYK) and Mar 12 (@LAL).

Also, the Brooklyn Nets will be in town to play the Lakers at Staples on Feb 20. Why do I consider this game “notable” you ask? It will be the Lakers first game after the Feb 19 NBA Trade Deadline. It’s never too early to speculate last minute trade deadline deals is it?

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES:

– The defending champion San Antonio Spurs will face the Lakers 3 times this season on Nov 14 (@LAL), Dec 12 (@SAS), and Jan 23 (@SAS).

– LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and the Cleveland Cavaliers will make their first trip to LA on Jan 15 and the Lakers will head to Cleveland as the last stop in the Grammy road trip on Feb 8 for their only 2 meetings of the season.

– Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will also face Kobe and the Lakers 3 times this season beginning on Dec 19 (@LAL), Mar 1(@LAL), and Mar 24 (@OKC).

– And finally, after all of that, the Lakers will conclude the 2014-2015 regular season with a home and home against the Sacramento Kings on Apr 13 (@SAC) and Apr 15 (@LAL).

It’s obviously too early to tell what kind of success, if any, the Lakers will have this season, but there are encouraging signs. Less back-to-backs than last season along with a shorter Grammy trip will benefit the health of our team. Also, an extended All-Star break will allow the team to rest up to make a push in the second half of the season. If Laker fans have learned anything from the past 2 seasons it’s that health will play a tremendous role in the success of this team. And with a healthy Kobe Bryant ready to start the season, we’re already a leg up over last year.

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Photo by Steve Boyle

With the NBA draft less than a week away, the rumor mill is picking up momentum and as is the case more times than not, the Lakers are involved.

The latest rumor from Ryen Russillo of ESPN has the Lakers trading away the #7 pick and Steve Nash to the Philadelphia 76ers for Michael Carter-Williams and Thaddeus Young:

The deal would be fantastic for the Lakers. Carter-Williams was last season’s Rookie of the Year, averaging 16.7 points, 6.3 assists, and 6.2 rebounds. The 6’6 point guard was the Sixers 11th pick in last year’s draft out of Syracuse.

Young is a power forward but is considered undersized at 6’8. Last season, Young averaged 17.9 points and 6.0 rebounds. Depending how free agency goes starting on July 1st, the Lakers could go forward with Young or he can be used in another trade for additional pieces.

Trading Nash would be a plus for the Lakers for the sole reason that there remains doubt that the point guard will ever play again. If he doesn’t, the Lakers will have $9.7 million sitting on the bench until his contract expires at the end of next season.

Once again though, this is only a rumor at the moment. It could be a case of the Sixers leaking the information to let teams know that Carter-Williams is available. Whatever the case may be, expect trade talks with the Lakers and the #7 pick to intensify over the coming days.

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Photo courtesy of Robyn Beck, Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers forward/center Pau Gasol has been a steady rock. Ever since the infamous trade that shipped out Kwame Brown and others for him back in the 2007-2008 season, Gasol has thrived as the second star behind Kobe Bryant. However, age and ever-changing roles for the past three years have seemingly lacerated Gasol to the point where he may never return to his original and consistent form in a Lakers uniform.

Sports Illustrated reporter Chris Mannix recently wrote about Gasol in regards to what he has withstood and what may come next,

“I want to be in a team that is going to be built to win a championship,” Gasol said. “That’s my top priority. Money won’t be the main priority. Length and money are factors, but we’ll see. Until I know all the options, I won’t be able to measure them. But we’re getting close to the end of my career. I want to be in a good situation. It’s an important decision to make.”

Gasol’s contract expires at the end of this season and it seems as if the Lakers may be looking past him to move forward. Players like Gasol are a rarity in today’s NBA in terms of skillset. His numbers have gone down in the past three seasons and there is no debating that he has lost a step. Despite that, he still can be extremely effective when playing within a system where he feels comfortable. When Mike D’Antoni has slowed the offensive pace this year Gasol has performed better both offensively and defensively. When the offensive pace has increased, his play has suffered as his body is unable to withstand that much movement. Even if his skill set is being used correctly in LA, teams across the league are anticipating the chance to capitalize.

“There are a couple thoughts out there on Pau,” says an Eastern Conference executive. “Some people say he is worn out, that he is too far past his prime to really help a contender. There are others that think that LA, that environment the past two season, that style of play has destroyed him and if he goes somewhere else, plays with a different coach, he might be rejuvenated. I could see someone who thinks the latter paying him $10 million a year.”

Another factor that has contributed to Gasol’s decline is the numerous role changes he has had to undergo in the past four seasons. After winning multiple championships he was forced to accept a lesser offensive role to then developing Andrew Bynum. With no complaints he accepted the role and played within himself and the system. Next he was almost traded to the Houston Rockets until then Commissioner David Stern nixed the Chris Paul deal. His role in Houston certainly would have been similar to his championship one had he gone, yet he remained in Los Angeles and became even more humble having to return to the team that signed off on trading him.

While the trade to Houston did not go through he still had to accept a lesser role when the Lakers traded for center Dwight Howard and point guard Steve Nash. At this point he had gone from a championship winning, secondary role with the team to a fourth wheel who would be incorporated only on occasion. All with minimal complaints.

Gasol’s frustrations this season may not make Lakers fans content but nonetheless they make sense. After giving your all to an organization and displaying minimal signs of frustration, it is only a matter of time before it all becomes too much to bear. If Gasol ultimately decides to leave it would be a definite loss to the Lakers organization. He has brought consistency, a humble attitude and personality, as well as monumental contribution in multiple championship runs. However, in staying, Gasol would again add testament to his character by proving that he is more reliable than what you previously believed.

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Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty Images

April 8,2014 — 7:30PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TNT
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Coming off a very poor performance vs. the Los Angeles Clippers, the Lakers will attempt to even up the season series vs. the Houston Rockets.

Despite another loss, C/PF Jordan Hill continue to show his worthiness to stay on the Lakers roster following season. A player who provides the “Dennis Rodman” effect without all the crazy antics, Hill scored 22 points and 9 rebounds vs Clippers, and has averaged a career high 9.2 PPG and 7.3 RPG this season.

Unfortunately for fans who purchased tickets to boo former Lakers center Dwight Howard tonight, he will not be available tonight, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.

Howard’s service will most likely not be necessary since C Omer Asik can fill in nicely and the Lakers simply do not possess enough talent to defeat the Rockets.

SG James Harden has enjoyed life as an NBA starter after the Rockets acquired him from the Oklahoma City Thunder right before the 2012-2013 season, becoming the best NBA Shooting Guard this season due to the unavailability of superstar SG Kobe Bryant. Harden has averaged 25.4 PPG and 5.8 APG this season, hoping to carry the Rockets far into the playoffs in a few weeks.

Projected Starters

PG – Jeremy Lin Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Rockets]
SG – James Harden / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Rockets]
SF – Chandler Parsons Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Rockets]
PF – Terrence Jones / Ryan Kelly [Advantage: Even]
C – Omer Asik Jordan Hill [Advantage: Rockets]

Notable Bench Players

Rockets: G Jordan Hamilton, F Omri Casspi, G Francisco Garcia, Greg Smith,

Lakers:  C Robert Sacre, F Wesley Johnson, PG Steve Nash, PG Jordan Farmar

Bench Advantage: Rockets

Injury List

Rockets: Out-PG Patrick Beverley, Out-C Dwight HowardQuestionable-F Greg Smith

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-C Pau Gasol, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-G Kent Bazemore, Out-C Chris Kaman

Keys for Lakers Victory

Hit Open Shots: Without any defensive skills, talent, or chemistry with multiple injuries, the Lakers need to like they did when they scored 51 points on the New York Knicks a few weeks ago. SG Jodie Meeks, who has progressed extremely well this season, will be heavily relied upon to fulfill that task, along with F Ryan Kelly, and F/G Nick Young.

Bottom Line

Since the Rockets currently have the 4th seed with a few games remaining, this game means significantly more for the Rockets and Lakers. Therefore, getting off to a quick start for the Lakers seems very unlikely. The only entertaining value from the Laker’s fan’s point of view will be the play of PG Steve Nash who ac tually has played well in limited role and might consider retirement following this season.

Prediction

Rockets: 117-110

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April 6, 2014 — 12:30PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: ABC
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers (25-51) take on the Clippers (54-23) in front of a nationally televised audience on ABC today. Yes, in case basketball fans have been stuck a cave for the past few season, the team record shows accuracy; the Clippers now currently sit in the playoff position while the Lakers seek to rebuild.

One would hope that the Lakers will not play as bad as they did during their last meeting vs. Clippers when they lost by 47 points.

Nick Young and Jodie Meeks must shoot the ball well while they are on the court for the Lakers to even have an opportunity to stay within striking distance. Without the ability to run their offense through C Pau Gasol due to his illness, the offense will definitely run through these two players who have enjoyed very successful individual numbers this season.

For basketball, today might be the game PG Steve Nash passes current Warriors Head Coach Mark Jackson for 3rd place in all-time assist leaders. A future 1st ballot hall-of-fame basketball star, Nash only needs 5 more assists to pass Jackson’s mark of 10,334 assists.

Clippers’ PF Blake Griffin will seek opportunities to wreak havoc tonight using his improved all-around post game. Griffin, scoring a career high 24.1 PPG this season, has propelled the Clippers into the 3rd seed in the Western Conference and seek to catch Oklahoma City Thunder for the 2nd seed. Griffin clearly would have won the January MVP award if it existed as he matured and became a team leader during PG Chris Paul‘s absence due to injury.

Projected Starters

PGChris Paul / Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Clippers]

SG – Darren Collison / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Lakers]

SF – Matt Barnes Kent Bazemore [Advantage: Clippers]

PFBlake Griffin / Ryan Kelly [Advantage: Clippers]

CDeAndre Jordan / Jordan Hill [Advantage: Clippers]

Notable Bench Players

Clippers: F Jared Dudley, G JJ Redick, F Glen Davis 

Lakers: PG Steve Nash, C Robert Sacre, G/F Nick Young

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Clippers: Out-G Jamal Crawford, Out-F Danny Granger, Probable-PF Blake Griffin

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

Bottom Line

This seems to be a huge mismatch on paper that was scheduled on ABC due to the assumption that SG Kobe Bryant will be fully healthy at this point of this season. The Clippers seek to prepare for the playoffs, while the Lakers seek to prepare for the lottery. The only chance for the Lakers to win tonight is to play absolutely perfect defensively and hit a lot of their three-point shots. Even if they do that, difficulties still exist for the Lakers to come away with an upset due to the lack of talent compared to the Clippers.

Prediction

Clippers: 121-106

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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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Photo courtesy of Jose Luis Villegas, Getty Images

April 2, 2014 — 7:00 PM (PST)
Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

After a tough loss vs. the Trail Blazers, the Lakers (25-49) make a very quick trip to the state capital to face off vs. Sacramento Kings (26-48).

In last night’s loss, F Nick Young came off the bench red hot, shooting 8-8 from the field to start, ending up scoring a season-high 40 points when the game was all set and done. Despite Young’s contribution, the Lakers lacked the defensive intensity necessary to hold off the Trail Blazers.

Tonight, Young and the rest of the Lakers will have to play with much better effort on the defensive end to have a chance of winning tonight. Fortunately, the Kings do not share the ball well, averaging only 18.9 APG as a team, which is the worst in the NBA.

PG Steve Nash will likely not play tonight. Despite playing very well, scoring 10 points and dishing out 10 assists while playing limited minutes, Nash injured his ankle and reaggravated his back injury that he has been fighting for a long period of time.

Kings’ C DeMarcus Cousins comes into tonight’s game averaging a career high in points and rebounds, averaging a double-double 22.3 PPG and 11.7 RPG. Many consider Cousins to possess one of the best low-post games in the NBA. Now that he has the individual skills to become an all-star, Cousins now has to become a vocal team leader and help create a team chemistry necessary to lead the Kings back into the playoffs moving forward.

Projected Starters

PG – Kendall Marshall  Isaiah Thomas [Advantage: Kings]

SG – Jodie Meeks / Ben McLemore [Advantage: Lakers]

SF – Kent Bazemore Rudy Gay [Advantage: Kings]

PF – Jordan Hill / Jason Thompson [Advantage: Even]

C – Chris Kaman DeMarcus Cousins  [Advantage: Kings]

Notable Bench Players

Kings: PG Ray McCallumReggie EvansDerrick Williams

Lakers: PG Xavier Henry, Nick Young, Jordan Hill, F Ryan Kelly

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Kings: Out-G Jason Terry, Out-F Carl Landry, GTD-PG Isaiah Thomas

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

Bottom Line

Despite playing for the 2nd night in a row, the Lakers should stay competitive vs. Kings. Theoretically, many Lakers fans might possess uncertainty on whether or not they want the Lakers to win tonight. the Kings currently are 1 game ahead of the Lakers, which means the Lakers will have a higher possibility of winning the lottery if season ended today. Regardless, the Kings are still our rivals stemming from the early 2000’s era and any victory vs. Kings will be pleasant.

If the Lakers can cut off the passing lanes on the defensive end and play with a lot of energy, they should come away with a victory tonight.

Prediction

Lakers: 105-97

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Image: Garrett Ellwood/ Getty Images

With many questions regarding the Lakers needing to be answered this offseason, it looks like two point guards will continue to don the purple and gold next season while the head coach’s future in Los Angeles remains a mystery.

According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, both Steve Nash and Kendall Marshall will both be brought back by the team.

For financial reasons, the Lakers currently plan to keep (Nash) next season, The Times has learned, eating the remainder of his contract ($9.7 million) in one swoop instead of waiving him and spreading the money out over three years…  They also plan to keep Marshall, the 13th selection in the 2012 draft, whom they signed as a free agent a little more than three months ago.

A few months ago, it seemed as if it were going to be a foregone conclusion the Lakers would waive Nash using the stretch provision, but now it seems as if the team would rather wait and allow all of Nash’s salary to come off the books next summer, opposed to paying his contract over the next three years.

Marshall has a non-guaranteed option worth $915,243, so it makes sense to bring him back regardless of his role moving forward.   Marshall does average 8.9 assists, but his shooting ability has declined every month since joining the team in December.

As for Mike D’Antoni, his future will reportedly be decided immediately after the season ends in April:

The Lakers have a dilemma with D’Antoni, who coached the Suns for five successful seasons. They still owe him $4million next season and don’t want to look like a franchise with a coaching turnstile.  But Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol don’t support his small-ball offense and Lakers fans don’t support him, period.  So the team will decide fairly quickly after the April 16 regular-season finale — pay him to not coach the team, just like Mike Brown, or try to make it work next season….

Despite the injuries, it is very difficult to see the team bringing back D’Antoni after one of the worst seasons in Lakers history. His poor game-management, troubled relationships with veteran players, and lack of defensive system are just some of the reasons working against the coach.

His job security was in question even before reports of Kobe being against retaining the coach due to offensive system preference and as Bresnahan says, the fans are not very fond of him either.

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Image: Associated Press

March 23, 2014 — 6:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

In what could become the worst season in Lakers history, the Lakers will try to gain a victory tonight vs. Orlando Magic (11-32) in a dual between the two teams which lost C Dwight Howard. Both teams will be in the upper echelon of the upcoming NBA draft as they have two of the worst records in NBA this season.

The Lakers, who suffered another loss vs. Wizards on Friday, got solid contributions from a few returnees from injuries. F Nick Young returned from injury to score 21 points, leading the team in that category with SG Jodie Meeks. PG Steve Nash dropped 11 assists despite only playing in 18 minutes, while F Jordan Hill looked excellent. Although Hill was ejected for getting involved in a scuffle with Wizards C Drew Gooden, he still managed to grab 14 rebounds and be a spark plug off the bench.

Former UCLA Bruin G Aaron Afflalo leads these young group of Magic players, scoring 19.3 PPG, grabbing 3.9 RPG, and dishing out 3.5 APG. He has a very solid all around game, playing both ends of the floor well, and seeks to be one of the key players that will stay on the Magic roster after they finish rebuilding their team.

Projected Starters

PG – Kendall Marshall / Victor Oladipo [Advantage: Magic]
SG – Jodie Meeks / Aaron Afflalo [Advantage: Magic]
SF – Wesley Johnson / Mo Harkless [Advantage: Even]
PF – Pau Gasol /Nikola Vucevic [Advantage: Lakers]
C –  Robert Sacre Kyle O’Quinn [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Magic: F Tobias HarrisG Doron LambG Ronnie Price, C DeWayne Dedmon

Lakers: G Nick Young, PG Steve Nash, F Jordan Hill, Kent Bazemore

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Magic: GTD-PG Jameer Nelson 

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

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 received help from Hill, Young, and Nash’s return, hoping they can help salvage their season as it winds down the homestretch. The match up actually favors the Lakers tonight, so they should be able to come away with a victory tonight.

Prediction

Lakers: 115-108

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

March 21, 2014 — 7:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Stuck in a mud of another losing streak, the Lakers seek to snap their 3-game losing streak tonight as they face off vs. Washington Wizards. After competing hard vs. Spurs on Wednesday night, the Lakers simply ran out of gas, suffering a 109-125 loss.

However, help is on its way for the Lakers at least for tonight. PG Steve Nash, F Nick Young, and F Jordan Hill, will all return tonight after they were recovering from their various injuries. Nash, who has not played in 5 weeks from nagging nerve issues, will come off the bench tonight and be on a minutes restriction, according to Head Coach Mike D’Antoni.

Young, who was one of front-runners to win the 6th man award this season before suffering a knee injury, seek to jump start the Lakers who have not won consistently since December.  However, F Wesley Johnson will sit out tonight’s game due to illness

Meanwhile, the Wizards seek their first playoff appearance since the 2007-2008 season, seem to be on their way after years of rebuilding and developing their roster. All-Star PG John Wall has stepped up as the team leader, scoring a career high 19.8 PPG and dishing out a career high 8.8 APG. Wall has tremendous athleticism and seems to have controlled it very well this season, becoming a much efficient player.

However, the Wizards might will be without their top 2 post players tonight. Former Nuggets C Nene will be out tonight trying to recover from a Sprained MCL he suffered last month, while C Marcin Gortat is currently a game time decision due to back issues.

Projected Starters

PG – John Wall/ Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Wizards]
SG – Bradley Beal / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Wizards]
SF – Trevor Ariza /  Kent Bazemore [Advantage: Wizards]
PF – Trevor Booker / Ryan Kelly [Advantage: Even]
C – Kevin Seraphin / Pau Gasol [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Wizards: F Martell Webster, G Andre Miller, C Drew Gooden, F Chris Singleton
Lakers: PG STEVE NASH, G Nick Young, C Robert SacreXavier Henry

Bench Advantage: Wizards

Injury List

Wizards: Out-C Nene, Out-F Glen Rice Jr, GTD-C Marcin Gortat
Lakers: Out-F Wesley Johnson, Out-PG Jordan Farmar, Out-G Kobe Bryant,   Probable-F Jordan Hill, Probable-F Nick Young, Will Play-PG Steve Nash,

Bottom Line

With uncertainties existing for the Wizards front-court rotation, the Lakers have to utilize C Pau Gasol throughout the entire game. The Wizards currently have nobody who could match-up well with Gasol, so the Lakers best chance to win will be to run their offense through him. The Lakers actually match-up decently vs. the Wizards back-court so they can definitely come away with a win tonight if they stay focused.

Prediction

Wizards: 113-111

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Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty Images

One day after announcing Kobe Bryant‘s season is done, Steve Nash has also been officially ruled for the season. Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times reported earlier today:

Nash began this year still dealing with issues that resulted from his fractured leg that happened early last season. After only six games, Nash left the team in an attempt to rehab his injuries.

Nash has a long history of back issues and the nerve root irritation from his leg left him sidelined from November to February. He returned to the lineup for only four games in February before his injuries flared up again.

The news of Nash’s season ending comes at no surprise to anyone. With the Lakers sitting at 22-42, there is no need to risk further injury to the 40-year-old point guard.

In ten games this season Nash has averaged 7.6 points and 4.7 assists.

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With the Lakers off to a poor start, trade rumors have begun to swirl around Kobe Bryant, leading many to speculate if he'll leave for greener pastures. Kobe puts those rumors to rest in his interview with Yahoo Sports.