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The Lakers Might Have Discovered D’Antoni’s Value for The Team!

30 November 2012 Leave a comment

At 90-78, Dwight Howard was called for an “Offensive Goaltending” violation, stemming from a missed Kobe Bryant drive to the hoop off a stifling dribble: I had visions of losing to The Miami Heat flashing before my eyes! The Lakers as a “team” had been doing so many things so well, yet it appeared that Kobe Bryant wasn’t having much fun. There was a lot to like about how The Los Angeles Lakers played, in a beat down of The Denver Nuggets before a home crowd at Staples Center. Final Score: Lakers 122, Nuggets 103. (Recap)

It had appeared that The Lakers were turning things around as soon as Mike Brown was fired, and they played very well under interim head coach Bernie Bickerstaff while The Lakers front office tried to right the hopes of this season before they dug too deep of a hole. Even as they introduced some of Mike D’Antoni’s scheme into games, they had some success, but inconsistent play seemed to still haunt this team no matter what they tried. I can’t recall a more ugly game than the last game they played, Tuesday night vs. The Indiana Pacers. Yet, there were high hopes for a turnaround after beating The Mavericks in Dallas last Saturday. So, is tonight’s game another example of false hope? I don’t think so.

As much as “we the fans” may have enjoyed the cheerleading antics of Rob Sacre on the bench after great plays, seeing Dwight Howard on the bench cheering on Jodie M3333333ks was even more fun to watch! Pau seems lost, and I keep hearing: “When Steve Nash returns, everybody will play much better” – and, I want to believe it! I started writing blog comments after Lakers games last year, encouraged by Andrew Bynum’s improved play each year, belieiving he would eventually take center stage away from Kobe Bryant. I know: What was I thinking? Right? But it’s a moot point now that he’s been traded away – and a blessing in disguise that we get to watch the emergence of Dwight Howard, recovering from back surgery, and the emergence of his improved play with each passing game! Dwight capped the night with a 3-pointer as time was expiring, padding his already great numbers to end with 28 points and 20 rebounds! Un-believable! Magical! Dominating!

The flow of The Lakers offense was FAN-tastic tonight!

But nothing was more detrimental to The Denver Nuggets than their inability to stop our bench players from having a great night! Antawn Jamison was unstoppable, on both ends of the court! I had no idea he could rebound or play defense so well – he only showed his age and inability to compete under Mike Brown’s scheme, the lifeless “Princeton Offense” thankfully shelved – hopefully with the footnote of: Only use this offense with hapless, pathetic teams, like The Washington Wizards. That Jodie Meeks went off for 5 3-pointers in the 2nd quarter is as incredible to write as it was to watch! So, do we give Mitch Kupchak some credit now for off-season trades he promised would make the team better?

As Andrew Bynum was self-destructing at the close of last season, I became very excited by the passionate play that Jordan Hill was bringing to the court, every game! That late season victory over The Oklahoma City Thunder I will never forget – who can forget MWP smacking James Harden? But it was the play of Jordan Hill that changed the outcome of that game, and it’s because of his perofrmance in that game that he began to see more significant playing time into the playoffs and was signed to a new contract! Hill was great, before D’Antoni showed up – now, he seems as lost as Pau Gasol does. WIll Steve Nash make him a better player, too? Didn’t “we the fans” already give up on Jodie Meeks before tonight’s performance? After the game, Antawn Jamison remarked that this was probably the first game they played well for The Lakers. Jamison had begun to play somewhat better than earlier this season, with more confidence since D’Antoni arrived; but, if this is any indication of what we will soon see on a consistent basis, I like what I see! Don’t you?

What’s not to like about these new look Lakers?

A point a minute for Jamison and Meeks, off the bench? Should they start? Maybe not. I always liked Robert Horry off the bench, from which he provided a phenomenal effort – but as a starter, he usually played fairly flat, like Pau Gasol’s recently. Antawn was aggressive tonight. Chris Duhon played well enough he might strip away starting PG duties from Darius Morris. And whatever happened to Devin Ebanks? Yes, Steve Nash will make this team better; but, for now, Kobe Bryant can facilitate the offense – for the most part. But when he gets that itch to score, the ball doesn’t get passed around the court to teammates too much. Not knowing how plays are called, it seems hit-n-miss when/if momentum swings due to the way Kobe Bryant approaches the team’s offenseive sets occurs: The Pacers game isn’t a performance I ever want to watch him try to pull off, ever again – sure he got 40 points, in a loss, the team total of 77 embarrassing (especially if Mike D’Antoni is on the record saying there’s a problem if they’re not scoring 115 per night).

Tonight’s contest: There were a lot of 3-point shots, a lot of dunks – highlight-reel stuff for both teams, defense sometimes lacking. But it’s hard to be anything but overjoyed by a Lakers victory where they scored 122 points! And Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol weren’t even in the top 3 of highest scoreres for their own team! What? Is that possible? For all those who think this is bad for Lakers hopes, it’s not. Kobe Bryant will, again, someday soon, be a prolific Shooting Guard. But until Steve Nash reappears on the court, The Black Mamba has PG duty. He did it pretty well tonight. Dwight Howard ran the floor, and his defensive presence was enormous – the block frm behind of Faried causing his to chuckle. He was hooting & hollering all night long! Metta World Peace seemed to have a streaky game: he hit some shot shots, even some 3s. But what anybody who watched this game will take away from the victory is the emergence of Antawn Jamison & Jodie Meeks as valuable pieces to a puzzle Kupchak put together with other Summer acquisitions of Dwight Howard & Steve Nash that should secure us a great opportunity of getting The Los Angeles Lakers back to the championship round this year!

Go, Lakers!

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The Lakers Will Improve, Won’t They?

29 November 2012 Leave a comment

Just when it feels like The Los Angeles Lakers have found themselves, something goes haywire again. Take, for instance, the Tuesday Night loss at Staples Center vs. The Indiana Pacers: a 79-77 loss. Kobe Bryant is playing with flu-like symptoms, or the flu? Of course, as is the case normally, he plays well when he’s sick – at least his total points are generally huge. He did score 40, but it’s the 10 turnovers that really stand out – not to mention the inability of his teammates to show any life of their own on the basketball court.

Maybe it is as simple as the article I just read this morning (SEE Article). Maybe the trouble really is the fact that The Lakers are playing in a non-“Triangle” offense (an offense which doesn’t really need a true PG to make it work), and that playing a typical NBA-style set with a traditional PG is why we’re suffering: maybe trying to play without your 1st string PG, or your 2nd string PG, and opting to have your SG (Kobe Bryant) run the offense instead of your 3rd string PG (who is being backed up by a 4th string PG you’d prefer wasn’t even on the roster!) who is used mostly for defensive purposes is the problem.

“I think they can, I think they can” is being replaced by uncertainty, it seems (via my interpretation of Twitter comments); but, as ugly and as disgusting as they have played in some games, The Lakers do show some life, if you care to pay attention through the stream of their inconsistent play. It does appear that this grouping together of future Hall of Famers, of annual All-Stars, will be better at some future point when they get Steve Nash back. And, right now, I would settle for getting Steve Blake back! I know: I can’t believe I wrote that, either.

I hope I am not insane thinking that The Lakers actually have an opportunity to do something really special this year. I keep watching The Lakers because I am that much of a fanatic! I keep hoping there is some internal fortitude that will just click mysteriously and they will be off & running in a new gear. But they seem to keep mis-shifting, getting stuck in neutral, sometimes even going in reverse. Hopefully one of the “Steve’s” can get The Lakers powered back up, and push them into overdrive – quick!

Go, Lakers!

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The Lakers Play Was More Flu-Like Than Kobe-Like Tonight

27 November 2012 Leave a comment

The almost ugly win wasn’t meant to be as Lakers fall to Pacers, at home, 79-77 – George Hill the hero for the visiting Pacers, Kobe Bryant with as many turnovers as Dwight Howard missed free throws. For a guy to play with the flu, Kobe Bryant was amazing! But, that game isn’t worthy of watching the replay of to break down what went wrong (Recap). Next!

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Will Lakers Firing of Coach Brown Be An Example To Clippers After Last Night’s Loss?

27 November 2012 Leave a comment

Why was I, a fan of The Lakers, watching a replay of The Clippers game? Yes, you guessed it: I was up late, doing some research on the internet (deciding on what new car to purchase), and I found a channel with some acceptable viewing for moments when pages loaded slowly! I had the mute on, captions on, and I was fully aware of Caron Butler having a highlight-reel type game, filling it up from 3-point land.

The Hornets just shot 3s in this game for a greater quantity! “THE STAT:  The 33 combined 3-pointers by the Hornets and Clippers is the second-most in NBA history and the most for a regulation game. The Clippers made a franchise-record 18 baskets from beyond the arc on 37 attempts (48.6 percent). Butler, in his 11th season, established a career best and franchise mark by making nine 3s on 15 tries. Unfortunately for the Clippers, the Hornets were even more efficient from 3-point distance, going 15-for-25 (60 percent). Greivis Vasquez (5-for-8), Ryan Anderson (5-for-9) and Austin Rivers (3-for-4) were the main sharpshooters for New Orleans.”

But, Matt Barnes almost single-handedly pushed the referees so far that his conduct became detrimental to the team winning. It was something like 70-68, advantage Hornets, and next thing you know, there’s a skirmish, Barnes shaking his head, technical free throws shot, flagrant foul, another technical foul (on del Negro?), and it’s 81-70 to the favor of The hapless Hornets. Game over. Clippers lost 105-98. (Recap)

These amazing stablemates of The Lakers at Staples Center are now leading The Lakers in the Pacific Division Conference by only one game!

I had always hoped Caron Butler would have a great NBA career, and after he was stupidly traded away to The Washington Wizards in a deal to acquire Kwame Brown (yes, I admit to a rare Lakers blunder) he was fortunate to be traded again and win the championship the year he played with Tyson Chandler for The Dallas Mavericks alongside Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry & the rest.

But these Clippers should be better than this, shouldn’t they? After all, The Clippers at their core have a very good nucleus of players, don’t they? I mean, The Lakers wanted Chris Paul at Point Guard and The Clippers lucked out to get him, instead. And Blake Griffin is great, right? Maybe not. DeAndre Jordan is being spoken of as much improved, Caron Butler is steady, Jamal Crawford provides a spark off the bench. So, why are they struggling?

It seemed to me that my least favorite, former Lakers player (of all-time?), Matt Barnes, killed any chance of them winning when he appeared to get stuck in an enforcer mode. And Clippers Coach Vinnie del Negro left him in the game, even though it appeared that The Hornets did nothing wrong and Caron Butler had to step into the middle of things to break things up, in order to keep matters from escalating. But, like games of Lakers losing seasons,, when Kobe Bryant would just shoot randomly all game long, The Clippers players seem to be acting similarly with Caron Butler last night (9 3-pointers, 33 points). Blake Griffin shot 1-9, DeAndre Jordan only played 15 minutes – ineffectively. Worse, Lamar Odom played for 19 minutes and took no shots at all!

It wasn’t a great game for Chris Paul, or even a good game for Jamal Crawford, at all. After the game, VDN didn’t appear all that interested in answering questions, but I didn’t have any interest in paying much attention at that point. I’m just shaking my head (still!) that so many people have given “the keys of the city” to The Clippers already, expecting them somehow to be better than The Lakers at season’s end! If last night’s any indication, my previous prognostication about their season is coming true.

If The Clippers can’t hold onto a lead over The Los Angeles Lakers, with such an awful start that resulted in Mike Brown being fired, I can’t imagine Vinnie del Negro surviving this season with more fire power on the team than last year’s much-improved, but still not good enough, squad of Clippers players. I still say it’s a gimmick team with a below average ability to play defense: To play a starter at Shooting Guard “only” for the purpose of using Jamal Crawford off the bench is crazy! Griffin is too short to play effectively against premier teams, especially in the playoffs. Unless Caron Butler stays healthy, and DeAndre Jordan plays focused, inspired ball there isn’t anything Chris Paul will be able to do to overcome guys like L.O. who just don’t seem to bring it anymore.

Thankfully, The Lakers will be playing tonight, after a road trip that started poorly but ended on a high note! If The Lakers can play with such energy as they displayed in Dallas Saturday night, consistently, then this season may begin to look bright for hopes of Lakers fans everywhere! Maybe Jamison should start, and Pau Gasol could lead a 2nd unit like Lamar Odom used to do – not playing Dwight Howard & Pau Gasol at the same time, since they are more productive from the same low post area on the court. Tonight’s opponent, The Indiana Pacers. Go, Lakers!

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Did The Lakers Finally Find Their Identity Tonight?

25 November 2012 Leave a comment

What in the world is this reality television show “we the fans” of The Los Angeles Lakers have been enduring this season? Who are these guys? There have been signs of future greatness from this squad, through some inconsistent play of various “stars.” For instance, last night was an embarrassing 4th straight road loss – but, The Memphis Grizzlies are a very, very good team! Tonight, we came up against the team that beat us at home, in the 1st game of the season, and after last night did any of us truly expect The Lakers to beat The Dallas Mavericks on their court?

If I have learned anything from watching The Lakers this season it is this: Expect the unexpected!

Jim Buss doesn’t like the “Triangle” as a philosophy on offense, I get it: We heard that “loud & clear,” last season, after Phil Jackson retired, and then Lamar Odom & Derek Fisher left almost every trace of that approach to playing in the NBA for only historians to find in video archives. So, Mike Brown is “fired” before coaching 20 games and reviewing the success of a new offense this season that just wasn’t ever going to work; and, in an act of desperation, The Lakers “toyed” with  the idea of bringing back their most recent successful coach to the bench (Was that mostly a Mitch Kupchak idea?) – but, instead, Jerry Buss steps in and says: No!

Say what? Mike D’Antoni is our guy; Mike D’Antoni will return this franchise to an up-tempo style, a return to “Showtime,” perhaps – and, the players seemed to catch the enthusiasm of an opportunity to play a more freestyle offense, even playing better defense for a few games (mostly while Bernie Bickerstaff was running the team). But after Mike D’Antoni won with this rebuilt Lakers lineup, when they went up against The Brooklyn Nets last Tuesday, it wasn’t due to a great explosion on offense but instead a strong effort on defense!

A D’Antoni team played “defense” to win? Yep. Last Tuesday – and again tonight, 3 games later. I hope that’s not a consistent trend!

No, the defense didn’t last: The next night, in Sacramento, The Lakers didn’t seem to play any defense at all. Where they were able to close out each quarter very well against The Brooklyn Nets  at Staples Center, it was The Sacramento Kings (with a newly configured lineup) who closed out that game Wednesday night with a 40-point 4th quarter! That loss was so embarrassing that it seemed more likely than not that The Lakers would play a strong game against The Memphis Grizzlies, our Pau Gasol going against their Marc Gasol; that’s what you would expect, right?

We’re all getting accustomed to that phrase, “Expect the unexpected,” right?

Instead of winning that next game in Memphis to prove to the new coach that they’re capable of better play, even on defense, even after stuffing themselves Thanksgiving Day, only our “stars” to solidify this year’s bench played well: Antawn Jamison & Jodie Meeks.

I know what you’re thinking: “It’s about time!” After the game, James Worthy said: “I haven’t smiled this much in a long time.” Robert Horry likes Metta: “I have fallen in love with this guy!” He was knocking down 3s from everywhere, all night long! So was Jodie Meeks!

I know what else you’re probably thinking: “I hope they’re able to continue doing that on a consistent basis.” Well, Jamison hit for 19 points and 15 rebounds tonight! So, any guesses to a final score? (How could you be a Lakers fan and not know already?) Pau Gasol got benched (for playing lethargic?), in favor of Jamison, last night – down the stretch; and maybe that was enough for him to come out & play more aggressive tonight. Not only was The Lakers scoring where Mike D’Antoni expects it to be, on a regular basis (115 points); but, The Lakers also played very well, defensively – only giving up 89 points! Nowitzki is still out, of course, recovering from knee surgery; but, The Mavericks have seen great play from O.J. Mayo this season, and they have scoring threats like Vince Carter & Shawn Marion on the roster. Chris Kaman was inactive in their win against The Lakers back in October, but he played tonight. Collison is a top-tier Point Guard, so they have a strong cast of players.

Besides Pau Gasol playing a more spirited game tonight, Metta World Peace came through with another solid performance! MWP may be our MVP, so far, this season. Tonight, Metta hit 6-6 FGs, 4-4 from 3-point range – until he missed a 3 at the buzzer to end the 1st quarter! I know, right, how stupid is that to say or write with Kobe Bryant leading the team in the absence of Steve Nash, as Darius Morris & Chris Duhon struggle to figure out how to lead the team from the Point Guard slot (Steve Blake is supposed to return to the active roster shortly, but Steve Nash’s return has been delayed.). But even though Kobe played great, along with Jodie Meeks, in Sacramento, the performance last night wasn’t his best: 7-23, from the field.

Defensively, Metta World Peace is far and away our greatest asset; hopefully Dwight Howard is continuing to improve from his back surgery last April 20th, and he will return to form as the league’s premier defensive player before too long: Is the start of the playoffs soon enough, or perhaps the All-Star break? I’m starting to believe Christmas might be too early to expect D12 to be at 100%. Kobe Bryant will also play tough defense on guys, most games, but he seems to be running the offense with so much concentration that his presence on defense hasn’t been as good this season as he has played in the past. I assume he will return to “playoff form” soon enough, and perhaps as soon as the return of Steve Nash to the starting lineup. Kobe can do whatever needs to be done – he’s trying to be patient, to let the team come together, but then there are those times like that Kings game where he chooses to try to win a game “all by himself,” and it almost worked! It almost worked because Meeks & Jamison showed up when Pau & Dwight weren’t playing aggressively enough

The Lakers led The Mavericks 36-23 at the end of the 1st Quarter, and Jodie Meeks hit a 3-pointer to start the 2nd Quarter. It just stretched to a crazy lead after that. The Lakers were running on all cylinders, and the struggles that The Lakers have had recently seemed to find their way into whatever was the approach of The Dallas Mavericks tonight. I don’t know if Rick Carlisle is struggling to find a lineup that works still, or what the story is for The Mavericks; but, bot teams now have a record of 7-7 to start the season. O.J. Mayo couldn’t hit open shots, and he seemed annoyed at being assigned to guard Kobe Bryant – just losing it, 3 minutes into the 2nd Quarter. There were a whole lot of things to be encouraged by in tonight’s game – not the least of which was Jamison’s double-double at halftime!

Keep it rolling, Lakers! (Recap)

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D’Antoni’s 1st Back-2-Back Experience with Lakers Flops in Sacramento

21 November 2012 Leave a comment

The Los Angeles Lakers played great – last night, showing the league who is monitoring their rise in the NBA Power Rankings that  they can actually play defense when they put their heart & soul into it. Unfortunately, that effort last night couldn’t be sustained indefinitely – or even an extra 24 hours, traveling to play The Sacramento Kings in the State Capitol after completing a 6-game homestand. James Worthy said it best after this game ended, on the SportsNet Post Game Show: “The Lakers were disgusting tonight.” Okay, so toss out the best & worst games of a season and we won’t be talking about this game at the end of the season – or will we? Jodie Meeks found his shot tonight! Kobe Bryant played well, scoring early & often to total 38 by the final buzzer. But the game was over back at 90-85 when they just seemed to unravel. The Lakers started off well, again – leading 5-0, and 10-6. But why didn’t Dwight Howard take more shots? He didn’t even get to the free throw line until 7:07 left in the fourth quarter! And, almost unbelievably, he made both shots from the charity stripe! Just weird. Who knew?

The Game Notes prior to tip-off are interesting.

The Recap | Box Score if you want more information is always available.

Lakers, 6-6; Mike D’Antoni, 1-1.

Final: Kings 113, Lakers 97.

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Who Ever Said D’Antoni Teams Don’t Play D? Lakers Didn’t Win Tonight Without It!

21 November 2012 Leave a comment

Of all the things to go wrong, the first night our newest Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni walks onto the court, what happens? The Lakers played tight, offensively! But defensively, The Lakers played great! They were especially spectacular as they closed out the 4th Quarter in a come-from-behind win, with a 16-6 surge for the victory!

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How strongly The Nets battled to trade Brooke Lopez after last season for Dwight Howard made the battle tonight between them very interesting: both centers scored 23 points, but Dwight Howard had a better all-around game (despite the missed free throws) when you consider rebounds, blocked shots, and a defensive posture that alters shots or causes a player to pass it out to a teammate – sometimes  leading to a fastbreak opportunity off a turnover due to being startled, etc. Tonight, for instance: Dwight Howard 4 blocks, 15 rebounds; Brooke Lopez zero blocks, 7 RBs.

As the game had drawn to a close, “real-time,” The Brooklyn Nets head coach Avery Johnson started playing “Hacka-Dwight” – and it might have worked if he did it every time that The Lakers brought the ball up the court. But when Metta World Peace hit a 3-pointer to bring it close, The Lakers still trailing 84-82… It just left you scratching your head wondering why they would resort to such tactics at all if they weren’t going to continue to do it every time up the court. Weird. But here I am watching the game on replay, now in the 2nd Quarter, and the play-by-play announcers aren’t bothered – yet – by Dwight Howard missing shots at the charity stripe with the score tied, 46-46. When will they begin to consider it a problem?

 

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It wasn’t an up-tempo game at all for The Los Angeles Lakers like their last win, Sunday night, when they put 114 points on the board aganst The Phoenix Suns. This game was a defensive struggle, after The Lakers began the game up 10-0… The Lakers are now above the .500 mark, 6-5. Way to go, Lakers!

Final: Lakers 95, Nets 90. (Recap)

You’re on a roll, Lakers! Keep it going!

Next stop: Sacramento, Wednesday Night. They might be there already: goodnight!

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