Archive for December, 2012

A Great New Year’s Resolution for The Lakers Would Be to Go On A Long Winning Streak

31 December 2012 Leave a comment

As I reflect back on the efforts to put a winning team on the court by The Los Angeles Lakers as an organization in 2012, I believe they all deserve 2 thumbs up!

Kobe Bryant is playing at such a high-level I don’t even know how to express his value to this team, and the league, by the things he does from game to game. This guy is uncanny in his ability to play through pain, to play tenaciously from a double-digit deficit into an ability to bring victory from sure defeat, and the mastery he exhibits in showing a work ethic to make shots you just know are going in that nobody else would ever even attempt to shoot… Wow! Kobe Bryant is amazing! Some fans rip him for going off at 30+ or 40+ points in a contest, as if that’s what caused The Lakers to lose – but that’s ridiculous! If you want to win, sometimes you have to put your team on your back and carry them to victory, because your teammates just don’t have their game faces on that day. If The Black Mamba was shooting 3-pointers at a similar rate as Chris Duhon, then I might request that he stop shooting them. But that’s not the case: he is shooting FGs at a 47.8% clip for the season, leading the league in scoring, because our options have been few. What more could you ask for? Remember, he is a Shooting Guard – not a Point Guard… Just sayin’! Listen when somebody speaks of the conversation Kobe Bryant had with Jodie Meeks about shooting the ball since “you were hired as a Shooting Guard” – it’s hilarious! But it’s also profoundly valuable to understanding the psyche of Kobe Bryant himself, as a Shooting Guard. What Kobe Bryant is not is a Point Guard – “no duh, ya think” is the response I would expect from that statement.

The Lakers hired Mike Brown to coach the team during the lockout-shortened season last year and he did an admirable job of getting the team into the playoffs where they played The Oklahoma City Thunder very tough and could have easily won the series if not for a few “hiccups” (It’s a “Twitter” thing, between me and another guy: “hiccups.”). Anyway, what The Lakers did last year, especially with an ineffective bench, probably wouldn’t have been much better even if Lamar Odom hadn’t been traded away (where he did nothing for The Dallas Mavericks, as if you needed to be reminded). And, what The Lakers got in return for that deal was an ability to sign Steve Nash to a 3-year contract! So, I like our current roster – a lot! If Steve Nash hadn’t become injured early in the season, Pau Gasol may have been able to find his way into a more prominent role on the team early on – but that probably would have saved Mike Brown from getting fired! So, the injury to Steve Nash, in the perspective of what is best for the “long-term” success of The Lakers, as we all move forward into 2013, is a blessing in disguise! Isn’t it? Obviously, I think so! We have a Point Guard who is a “game changer.” We have another legitimate scoring threat to spread the floor, to keep the defense honest – and who better than Steve Nash? He is a career 50-40-90 guy: he hits 50% on FGs, 40% from 3PT range and a mind-boggling 90%-plus at the charity stripe! We want this guy on the floor at the end of games!

But the real question is: Can Dwight Howard reach a place, physically, that closely resembles 100% improvement, I mean truly healthy, from back surgery last April 20th that will allow him to be the amazing defensive stopper in the paint that we have only seen glimpses of so far this season? We have seen here a little, there a little, bits of success from 3 different coaches trying to find some combination of players that will work well together – and… It appears that Mike D’Antoni may have found the recipe for success! “We the fans” of The Lakers should be thankful for the hard work Mitch Kupchak went through during the off-season to improve the roster from last season: He has done an incredible job! Antawn Jamison was a great pick-up, if you consider him as I do to be an insurance policy – especially at his age, and his inability to play defense adequately to be a starter anymore. His greatest value is as a scorer, off the bench; but, with Nash back and Kobe moved to Small Forward for Darius Morris to play tough defense against opposing faster guards that Nash can’t defend anymore, there wasn’t any room for Jamison – or even Metta World Peace! What we don’t need right now is another scorer on the floor. What is needed from The Lakers is a more consistent effort on defense. The offense is about to become spectacular! I can’t wait…

I can’t believe this newest starting lineup without Metta World Peace in it is working as well as it is! The options that Mike D’Antoni has now are numerous: We can play half court, we can play small ball and run with faster teams when necessary. But come crunch time, with the game on the line, we don’t have to worry about guys who might be in foul trouble or not because of a bench like we have now! MWP & Jordan Hill coming in to play defense, to rebound, they’re very effective! Jodie Meeks is an awesome addition to the team, even if he was a second choice to making an effort to bring Jamaal Crawford here from Portland (He chose to play with Chris Paul across the haul, instead: Oh well.); I believe Meeks to be a better defensive player, although Crawford creating off the dribble is nothing short of amazing. But they are both of equal value shooting – so, The Lakers have a guy they needed more than the guy they wanted. Yes, it’s merely an opinion: I get it. Feel free to mention yours.

I am leaning heavily on the fact that Mitch Kupchak knows maybe just a small smidgen less about basketball than his mentor, Jerry West! Of course, that’s much, much more than the most devoted fans of any team. I trust The Lakers to make smart personnel decisions: don’t you? I believe that The Lakers have the players they need to make a run at the title this year! If you don’t, then root for The Clippers! Or, whomever else you want to root for: Miami, OKC, Memphis, New York… Does any other team really have a chance to get to The Finals? Maybe The Spurs? Take your pick. I will forever choose to be a Lakers fan, and there is no reason to give up on this year’s players. They have been through 3 coach changes, injuries to all of their key players except Metta World Peace & Jodie Meeks. What else do you want them to do? If it’s “Just win, baby!” then hold onto your hats! The play of The Los Angeles Lakers is about to hit a new gear!

Happy New Year, Lakers fans!

Thanks, Buss family for the persistent effort to bring a winning team to the Staples Center floor every year for so many years! Let’s go, Lakers! Get the steamroller started! It’s time for The Lakers to shine! A nice, long winning streak would be FAN-tastic! To the All-Star Break, and beyond! Have a great new year, everybody! Welcome to 2013!

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Lakers Climb Back to .500 Again, 15-15 Record Approaching New Year’s Day

29 December 2012 Leave a comment

This game last night by our beloved Los Angeles Lakers was their finest effort of the year! Did I say that after they beat The New York Knicks on Christmas Day, too? But that last game of 2012 last night against the team with the last seed in the playoffs was silky smooth on a night when Jamaal “Silk” Wilkes was honored by his jersey (#52) being retired, forever to hang from the rafters at Staples Center! He was able to be gathered by other Lakers “greats” for the occasion: Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, and teammates Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy.

I know the intent was for Lakers management to review the record of the team after 20 games, and after they then fired Mike Brown with a 1-4 record I thought I would still make such a review. But, with the loss of Steve Nash, the injury issues of Pau Gasol, the inconsistent play as starting rosters have been adjusted regularly, I decided to move that review back to today. Happy Birthday, Mike Cocco! Our Lakers look like they’re about to launch into a new phase, a winning phase! Their brief 5-game winning streak that began with the least of the NBA was capped with a win over The Golden State Warriors and the league’s best team at the time, The New York Knicks! But those close wins over the likes of The Washington Wizards and Charlotte Bobcats weren’t very impressive. Worse, the game they lost in Denver the day after Christmas was mindblowingly awful – and the news of Pau Gasol now dealing with plantar fasciitus was disheartening – to say the least.

What else can go wrong?

That was beginning to be the cry of Lakers fans, wasn’t it? Could NBA fans of Southern California really gravitate to becoming fans of The Los Angeles Clippers? Say it ain’t so! Instead of “What else can go wrong?” it is my belief that we the fans of these often great teams wearing Lakers uniforms will now rise from the ashes of this young season and proceed toward the playoffs with an amazing consistency of effort on defense that nobody has ever attributed to a Mike D’Antoni coached team ever before!

Look at everything that is starting to go right!

Yes, there was a dip in defense by The Lakers to begin the 2nd Quarter last night, but whether LaMarcus Aldridge finished the game or not wasn’t going to make any difference in the outcome of that game. Final Score: Lakers 104, Blazers 87 (Recap). I was so happy about the win, I finally updated mySportspage on this website! (Click the “Sports” TAB above). However, “Hack-a-Howard” didn’t work in the game last night, since Dwight hit 4-4 FTs during that stretch; for the game he finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds! But Dwight’s best effort on defense for the year was by far this game last night: after the game, he seemed to understand that a FF2 like he got in Denver was only damaging the team from being able to win consistently. The energy, the effort, the focus, of the entire team that was able to see time on the court last night was exceptional!

Questions still remain over the non-use of Antawn Jamison. Steve Blake will apparently be returning to the roster sooner than expected, shortly. But if anybody really believes that The Lakers are actively seeking to trade Pau Gasol away, I think they need to have their heads examined! Steve Nash said: I wouldn’t have signed with The Lakers unless they were committed to keeping Pau Gasol. Now that Steve Nash is back, it appears that the inclusion of Pau Gasol in a significant role of the way the offense is being run is materializing. Interior passing by Pau Gasol is a huge part of his game, and it was exciting to watch him allowed to be utilized that way last night!

Normally, The Blazers give The Lakers grief wherever they play each other – whether in The Rose Garden up in Portland or here in Los Angeles at Staples Center. The wobble by The Lakers to begin the 2nd Quarter only produced that awful thought: “Uh-oh.” But I really do believe that if we are patient that “we the fans” of The Los Angeles Lakers will see and hear the “oohs” and “aahs” of The Clippers that are being whispered across the league right now return to their rightful place in SoCal with our legendary franchise! The Clippers are relying on a bench made up of mostly former Lakers players – not necessarily Lakers “rejects,” but… Matt Barnes was never anything but inconsistent or injured for us. Lamar Odom… I don’t have a current opinion of his value, other than that I believe Mark Cuban fixed a mistake by getting him off The Dallas Mavericks roster. Rony Turiaf was always a high energy guy, like his Gonzaga alum we now have – Rob Sacre. I like Sacre better!

What really makes The Clippers work is Chris Paul, and Jamaal Crawford’s scoring off the bench without these 2 guys, there’s no way that DeAndre Jordan & Blake Griffin are half as effective as they have been thus far. Of course, the steady play – of a former Lakers player – Caron Butler does keep them even-tempered. Their win last night at Utah, after going down by nearly 20 points, was amazing! A former Clippers player now with The Jazz almost killed them – Randy Foye. But he missed a last second, desperation shot. It’s those considerations I seek to make sense of as people talk about strengths & weaknesses of likely NBA finalists. Last year, DJ & Blake were shut down in the playoffs. This year, they still have Chauncey Billups & Grant Hill in street clothes, and the question remains whether or not there are enough minutes in a game to satisfy all of the players of an ability for their coach (VDN ?) to figure out how to make them into a lean, mean, fighting machine!

Enough about The Clippers! But the parallels are worth considering as we look back at all of the lineup adjustments that The Lakers 3 coaches have made this season, trying to find combinations of personnel that work most effectively together. Jodie Meeks was a guy we probably pursued, only because Crawford turned us down – Crawford is a better dribbler, but they are both great shooters, and I would give Meeks the edge in defensive ability. So, Meeks works out well for us. Antawn Jamison was always a defensive liability, before the season began – but scoring punch, off the bench, sorely needed last year – the trade made sense, didn’t it? The Lakers needed to fix their deficiencies: we can at least agree that they addressed those concerns. Who else would you have tried to get, instead? Grant Hill? Old guy. With Clippers. Still in street clothes.

The key to The Lakers being a dominant team always rested on them becoming better, defensively. Dwight Howard was supposed to make us better than playing Andrew Bynum at the Center position. Steve Nash was supposed to be an upgrade at Point Guard: he is! We just needed to patiently await the arrival of a Steve Nash -led team. Kobe Bryant will always do whatever it is that needs to be done at critical points in games to work towards securing a win: he always has, he always will, that’s just “Kobe being Kobe.” If his scoring bothers you, I’m sorry. I don’t like ballhog moments of any players, but when Kobe scores in bunches, sometimes that’s because teammates are just standing around, confused, lethargic, incapable of creating their own shot, and the clock is clicking down to zero! Who else ever takes last second shots? Maybe Steve Nash will, now. Jodie Meeks has the confidence of teammates, now, to be given such opportunities.

This lackluster start to a Lakers season is about to change gears: Are you ready? Pau Gasol seems engaged in the offense, again. Now. Finally. Jordan Hill gives us energy, effort, defense, off the bench. This Lakers team looks like it’s about to start a steamroller effect that will match, and possibly supersede, the winning ways of their stable mates! No, I may not be able to speak of that other L.A. team that plays at Staples Center without mentioning their name, but, yes, I’m going to try to refrain from doing so!

Let’s go, Lakers! Let’s go!

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Lakers Night Off? Road Game @ Denver a Complete Disaster, Losing 126-114

26 December 2012 Leave a comment

I’m sure most of the players for The Lakers wanted to win last night, to keep their streak alive. But, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” are just amazingly great lyrics of a Rolling Stones song that has transcended generations of music. Those words were never more true than last night. I wanted to be home to watch a game I had expected to find indicative of a Lakers pursuit for the playoffs that would be evident to the world in their persistent, persevering new effort on defense they showcased on Christmas Day (yesterday) vs. The New York Knicks @ Staples Center to extend their winning streak to 5 games! But…

Not meant to be. I wanted to see The Lakers play – “live.” I will still watch the Time Warner replay later! Believe it (I’m editing these comments now, after watching the encore performance of the train wreck last night. Time: 2012:12:27:1015). But I was called away to other matters, by the Big Man Himself! I always expected I might only see the 2nd Half of the game, as our family “plan” was to spend a significant part of today with my wife’s mom, who is in a Board & Care facility – she would have been confused, flustered, lost in the shuffle of 25 people here yesterday. So, a smaller Christmas gathering with her seemed best – but even that visit was shortened today, due to fatigue, confusion (dementia is awful). The Lakers biggest problem last night? Indifference. I am so glad I resisted the temptation to selfishly demand my right to be a total do-nothing, stay home, and watch a Lakers game that was so depressing.

None of what I wanted to have happen happened, however, before one of life’s little ironies played out in our lives. I’m good with that: I get accused of being spontaneous all the time. I like unplanned moments in life. But where irony occurs, God is usually involved in making something special happen – if you’re paying attention. The blessing was that a miracle of God happened right before our eyes, and we were able to participate in a small part of it, helping a young lady find shelter, food & safety tonight – as we inch closer to temperatures that could bring a bit of snow tomorrow or the next day. What none of us as fans of The Lakers seem to be able to do is to will on our team to playing better, night in, and night out.

Irony further explained: As a good union member, I try to only browse in Super WalMart stores; instead, I bring my daughters there to teach them to plan, prepare, consider, wonder, dream – mostly it’s “eyes, no fingers.” I hate crowds, and I’m claustrophobic; however, I was suddenly compelled to get our 2 girls out of the house so my wife could wrap more presents – believe it! –  in peace & quiet! I was in electronics first, toys next, women’s clothing last – it could’ve happened in reverse order! But suddenly a young lady is seeking help from anybody who could help her – desperate, but not begging, expecting no assistance but hopeful nevertheless. It was “a God moment”!

Pastors from our church will help her out tomorrow, during daylight hours, to get her the assistance she needs, as I go to work. But I am thankful to have missed The Lakers game tonight in order for God to be able to better utilize my time unto His own purposes. It was a thrill to be able to assist, in the moment. Watching the repeat of the game to figure out how the train derailed wasn’t that much fun. Dwight & Steve sniping at each other early, Kobe disagreeing with Dwight after the game on whether or not the flagrant 2 was appropriate isn’t going to help, either. I’m not sure who can help The Lakers become better-focused, more highly-committed to reaching any perceived goal of winning a ring – that seems very unlikely this year, at this moment (It’s sad to say, but The Clippers seem to have a better shot at being successful in the playoffs than The Lakers right now.).

It appears most fans would have liked to have taken tonight off (my take on “tweets” I have been reading), since it appears that The Lakers did – well, Kobe Bean Bryant popped off for another 40 points. Amazing! But the chemistry of The Denver Nuggets that says is still “incubating” is meshing far better than what The Lakers have developed so far this season. The collective ability of The Lakers to win has improved, with the emergence of Steve Nash back onto the hardwood. But their weaknesses were exposed last night: Defense was missing, lapsed, late… (Recap) smh

Not meant to be: No excuses, but… I get the feeling that The Los Angeles Lakers are a bit tired of these ridiculous, annual trips to Denver of back-to-back games ending with fatigue from travel and inefficient play due to breathing issues at high altitude – unable to arrive a day early to get acclimated to being so near to Denver’s Mile High Stadium (where some football players are known to be unable to travel to due to medical reasons). They looked lethargic, lacking that crisp effort they had shown a day before in Los Angeles. But Denver played at Staples Center the night before losing badly to The Clippers, not the noon time slot that The Lakers enjoyed. Like I said, no excuses – except perhaps that The Nuggets are more conditioned to play there since it’s their home court… Scratch that: The NBA has had them on the road most of the season, so far – oddly enough. Anyway… Not much irony. No lack of understanding. The NBA is just stupid setting up teams for failure like that – certainly more understanding can be brought into the effort of developing a season schedule. Or not. If it happened occasionally, fine; but, when it happens every year? No. Gimme a break.

But Dwight Howard found a way to stop the madness, getting a Flagrant 2 called against him – sending any hope of a Lakers effort to mount a comeback, to once again snatch victory from defeat, tonight out the window. Metta World Peace almost had the lead down to 5 points late in the 4th Quarter! But he missed the layup… Ridiculous. Gallinari 3-pointer, and the outcome wasn’t up for grabs any longer. MWP then fouled out, leaving what few pieces resembling any ability by The Lakers to be able to play defense in ruins. Apparently Corey Brewer killed us, off the bench. Kenneth Faried dominated the paint. I mostly saw silly shots by Andre Miller and poor play by Andre Iguodola overcome by whomever else was on the court for Denver. Nothing that The Lakers tried late held much promise of creating a momentum shift that would close the gap, after MWP’s miscue.


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The Lakers Beat The NBA’s Best! Knicks Lose to Lakers, 100-94

25 December 2012 Leave a comment

What a difference home court makes! The Lakers were crushed by The Knicks, the last time we lost a game. The Los Angeles Lakers now have a 5-game winning streak! They now enjoy a 14-14 record. Incredible! Merry Christmas, Lakers fans! Final Score: Lakers 100, Knicks 94 (Recap).

What a difference a player makes! Steve Nash and Darius Morris were completely capable of keeping pace with the likes of Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd. I wonder if Amare Stoudemire will finally be thrust back into action, since he is supposedly cleared to play? He can still play, right? But today, he was just sitting on the bench in street clothes. Whatever. The life of a NBA head coach is filled with difficult decisions, apparently. D’Antoni seems to be making some good choices, as of late.

What a difference a timely substitution makes! Why didn’t Metta World Peace start? I have no idea. But I am trying not to be a hyper-critical “fan” of The Lakers and just enjoy the adjustments the team is going through, and roll with the decisions the new head coach is selecting along the journey to success!

I’m not sure if Mike D’Antoni was aware of the battle that has been on-going, for years, between Carmelo Anthony and Metta World Peace – or not. But, once MWP came into the game in the 1st Quarter, the duel between him & Melo was renewed! It was worth the price of admission just to watch those 2 guys square off against each other! What was D’Antoni thinking, not starting World Peace on him? Oh, check that: eventually Metta fouled out. My bad. Maybe the psychology of respecting/disrespecting a player you as a coach have had history with having coached him twice previously leads you to such decisions. Today, The Los Angeles Lakers win! So, D’Antoni looks like a genius!

Of course, the difference a healthier Steve Nash makes, even if he is playing through “manageable pain,” is obvious to everybody who claims to be a fan of The Lakers! There is a night & day, huge difference between what Steve Nash can do with a basketball, and anything attempted by the likes of Darius Morris, Chris Duhon, Steve Blake, Ramon Sessions, or even Derek Fisher or Kobe Bryant! Nash is simply awesome when it comes to improving the trajectory of this team, as it seeks a better position in the playoffs.

Nash: 7-12. 11 assists. Thank you, Steve!

Bryant: 13-23. 30+ points, again? 34 points Saturday on 16-41 shooting? 34 points off a 13-23 effort like today’s game preferred.

D12: 6-9, from the charity stripe – excellent! Tyson Chandler is very good, but Dwight Howard is better. Lakers win with defense, better shot selection, fewer turnovers, but bench less active today – of course, without MWP playing crisply on both ends of the court, it’s not likely this game would’ve ended up in the win column. Steve Novak for The Knicks was ineffective, as was Jodie Meeks for us. But J.R. Reid provided some scoring punch off the bench for The Knicks. But Melo? Carmelo Anthony was unstoppable, except when MWP was guarding him in the 1st Half, or in response to ankle injuries. Apparently he has a knee injury now? I missed that (Reviewing video, it appears he may have injured his knee due to “friendly fire,” when Marcus Camby fell and rolled into Melo’s legs, causing him to back away – grimacing, trying to walk it off.). Skirmishes were not a rare site today, though. It’s not surprising some injuries occurred on the court today. Felton, again, I felt did a poor job of running The Knicks offense – his shot selection alone was problematic in both games. But Carmelo Anthony is masking that inefficiency by a “Player of the Year” performance, so far, this season.

Dwight Howard’s dunk, before a second attempt to dunk when Chandler fouled out, was magical! But the best dunk of the night, by far, was the one by a quick Pau Gasol, cutting down the lane late in the contest from the 3-point arc! A few less 3-point shots by Pau Gasol would be preferred, especially if he can bring it like that. Wow!

What will Magic Johnson have to say about it?

In the end, Steve Nash was able to control the tempo of the game, and he put the seal on the win himself, not to mention a closeout quarter by a Lakers defense that stopped The Knicks at a 4th Quarter total of only 16 points! Unbelievable! Fantastic! Gotta love it!

Go, Lakers! Who’s next?

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Will Pau Gasol Be Better with Steve Nash? How Quickly Does it Happen?

24 December 2012 Leave a comment

The Los Angeles Lakers have won 2 championships with Pau Gasol, back in a day when he was confident in his shot, rarely out of position, and a feared player by other teams that had to devise a way to stop him. Kobe Bryant has nothing but praise for Pau Gasol. And Steve Nash is on the record as having said he would not have signed with The Los Angeles Lakers last Summer if they were planning to trade Pau Gasol away. So, what is it about the game of this elite big man in the NBA that doesn’t seem so attractive anymore?

Is the loss of Lamar Odom to blame for the inconsistent play of Pau Gasol these last 2 seasons? I actually believe it began during the playoffs the previous year, when Phil Jackson was still coaching the team: The team chose to play Andrew Bynum as the 2nd scorer behind Kobe Bryant, instead of continuing with Pau Gasol in that capacity. Why? I don’t know. There are lots of guesses as to “why.”

The question now is whether or not Steve Nash can rediscover the greatness within Pau Gasol: How many games might that take? My belief is Steve Nash can turn either Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol into another Amare Stoudemire – who led the league in free throw attempts back on those Mike D’Antoni led Phoenix Suns teams that ran his “Score in 7 Seconds or Less” offense. I would be surprised if Steve Nash can turn 2 players into such a dominant force! But I’m willing to standby & watch!

If “we the fans” of The Los Angeles Lakers wouldn’t have had to endure some bad basketball during the 24 game absence of Steve Nash with his fractured fibula that still is problematic for him, but which he says causes only “manageable pain,” then I believe he could have saved Mike Brown’s career as well. The intent was for The Lakers to run the “Princeton Offense” and review after 20 games if it was working out satisfactorily. Well, if Steve Nash had been playing in those games, I believe “we the fans” of The Lakers would have seen a more effective Pau Gasol than what we have had to continue to endure with non-starters filling in at the Point Guard position.

That said, how many games do The Los Angeles Lakers give Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash to turn things around? Yes, the win over The Golden State Warriors was a nice win in the face of Kobe Bryant chucking up way too many shots and taking away any ability for Steve Nash to get other players involved in the offense. And that includes any ability he might have to resurrect the career of Pau Gasol. If it is Kobe Bryant’s desire to see the game of Pau Gasol reach previous heights of success then he will need to do a better job of being patient, and allow Steve Nash to do only that which he can do. Yes, Magic Johnson was correct in his latest assessment of The Lakers: Steve Nash provides the “missing leadership” they need to be successful.

Bottom Line: If Pau Gasol isn’t traded before the trade deadline this season, I would be surprised. But if Steve Nash can accomplish the goal of bringing back to glory the game of Pau Gasol then why not let him try? If The Lakers have as their plan a “Win Now” philosophy, then that probably requires an ability to get Pau Gasol more involved in the offensive flow of the game. Were The Lakers to trade him, then we’re probably looking at a “Wait Till Next Year” approach at returning to greatness before Kobe Bryant retires. But that might not even happen if we don’t sign Dwight Howard to a long-term contract.

So, our General Manager Mitch Kupchak finds himself with a lot of work to do, still! What an amazing Summer of acquisitions he made to try to return this storybook franchise, The Los Angeles Lakers, to new heights of grandeur! Were we really that close to attaining it? Were we just a coach away? Or a player away from being that dominant team that brought fear into their opposition before either team took to the hardwood? Perhaps we were only one step away: the consistent availability of Steve Nash to guide the team to victory after victory!

The Lakers have a much better benchplayer crop than last year.

Kobe Bryant can still shoot with the best of what the NBA has to offer: He’s the league’s leading scorer!

Dwight Howard is still rounding into shape, and he’s averaging something like 18 points and 12 rebounds!

Steve Nash is back!

I am not a “What if…” guy, by any means. I mostly believe that life is a series of choices – as an Air Traffic Controller, I have learned that how quickly you recognize mistakes and correct them is a huge key to success and less stress in life. Hopefully what The Lakers did in firing Mike Brown as the head coach of this team was a corrective decision! Hopefully they weren’t making a knee-jerk decision that will only lead them into having to overcome a series of mistakes that they didn’t expect to deal with. Hopefully Steve Nash, even beyond his prime, still has the proper instincts, the ability – like our “old fart” Kobe Bryant does – to will this team to victory! His last 2 shots were key in the victory over The Golden State Warriors!

For The Los Angeles Lakers to enjoy success over The New York Knicks on Christmas Day (tomorrow) at Staples Center, we may need to see more improvements to how the team tackles the problem of getting Pau Gasol more involved in the offense. The last thing I want to see is Kobe Bryant throwing up 41 shots again. If Steve Nash can be utilized, with more patience by the rest of the team (throwing the ball back out to him to reset the offense when they’re well-defended, for instance), then I would be ecstatic! Of course, Dwight Howard shooting 20-29 from the free throw line in recent games has me ecstatic, so maybe I’m too easy to please!

If my suspicions are accurate, then I believe Steve Nash has about 10-14 games to find a way to salvage the career of Pau Gasol. Without him, I am more inclined to believe that The Lakers would continue with Metta World Peace at Power Forward, as a starter again, with Jordan Hill and Antawn Jamison being those who relieve MWP and D12. If that’s what is being considered during the Lakers practices, then finding a quality backup Point Guard to Steve Nash is the likely direction that The Lakers will proceed with. I like Pau Gasol, the confident & successful version of him. What an amazing Christmas “gift” to the fans of The Lakers it would be to see him have the game of his life tomorrow!

Go, Lakers!

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Still Stunned by Lakers Win Last Night & 4-Game Winning Streak? Don’t Be

23 December 2012 Leave a comment

The competitive edge that Kobe Bryant brings to every game that The Los Angeles Lakers play is obvious to fans and players alike, but that competitiveness of elite NBA teams just improved last night for the Lakers with the return of Steve Nash to the starting lineup! If/when ever Dwight Howard were to be able to play at full strength, watch out!

I have now watched last night’s game 3 times! I have reviewed recaps by others, I have scoured the box score, seeking answers to how The Lakers were able to snatch victory from defeat – on the road! And they played against a very good team, on the rise, but playing without 2 key players: Andrew Bogut & Brandon Rush – not to mention Richard Jefferson. Jerry West helped build The Lakers into an unbelievably successful organization as the General Manager during Jerry Buss’ reign of owning the team, and now he’s trying to do it again for The Golden State Warriors! He’s off to a good start.

The Warriors have come out of the gates during this 2012-2013 season very strong! The Lakers? Not so much. Another team in the Pacific Division that is making some noise, finally, is that other SoCal team, The Los Angeles Clippers! The Lakers are in 3rd Place, behind them. Steve Nash is right: “Every game is like a playoff game now,” because for “we the fans” to see The Lakers make it into the playoffs their ability to lose many more games would bring that into doubt.

So, what are “takeaways” from last night’s game?

1) The Lakers can win if Kobe Bryant scores more than 30 points;

2) The Lakers can win when Kobe Bryant chucks up 41 shots;

3) The Lakers can win, even if they’re down by 14 points late in the 3rd Quarter;

4) The Lakers can win if they persevere through adversity, play defense, and limit mistakes.

5) Jordan Hill does a lot defensively to limit the ability of an opposing team to get easy basket; he seemed best utilized this year with Dwight Howard, allowing our starting Center to stay in the game during the 4th Quarter with 5 fouls by taking the brunt of the heavy-lifting down low.

6) The Lakers have a bench that can play better this year than what we had from an inconsistent group of guys last year!

7) And, finally (but possibly most importantly), The Lakers could potentially lead most games if Steve Nash takes as many shots as Kobe Bryant – which doesn’t mean either player should ever shoot more than 25 times per contest!

The Lakers can win, they have a competitive spirit that wants to win, they have players who know how to win, to pluck victory from defeat, to overcome adversity. And, they’re going to need to rely on all of those things to beat The New York Knicks, the class of the NBA this year, if they’re going to be able to beat in 2 days – on Christmas Day.

The Lakers overcame a 14-point deficit to beat The Warriors last night. But The Lakers also overcame a 26-point deficit vs. The Knicks at Madison Square Garden where they last lost a game before their current winning streak, whittling away at that deficit to only be down 106-99 at one point! That represents a 19-point swing! And that was without Steve Nash. Of course, the Knicks lost Carmelo Anthony for the 2nd Half of that game, due to injury.

But, all things considered, Mike D’Antoni has worked through various lineup options to come up with a strategy that worked, for the most part, last night. I am eager to see his gameplan at work against not only a top team from the same division but now the top team in the entire league! With Steve Nash healthy, and playing (effectively), all things are possible for The Lakers!

The Lakers can win with Steve Nash on the court because defenses have to play each of our players honest now, not flaring out to double cover somebody else who is hot but staying with their own assignment. Given the opportunity to run the offense properly, by Kobe Bryant passing the ball back to Steve Nash when he is well-guarded, then the ability of Steve Nash should become apparent to “we the fans” of The Lakers by recognizing how well he will now be at getting easy scoring opportunities for other players – like Dwight Howard & Pau Gasol.

If only Pau Gasol & Antawn Jamison would figure into the success of this team, then wouldn’t everybody be happy? That should tell you that the dysfunction of Pau Gasol is troubling, and the non-use of various players – especially Antawn Jamison, who was effective in D’Antoni’s system when he first arrived on the scene – is alarming. Devin Ebanks starts one game, doesn’t even play in the next? Obviously, The Lakers are still a work in progress; but, I like what I have seen during the winning streak. And, yes, Mike D’Antoni was right: His scheme works best run through the hands of a 6′-3″ Canadian!

C’mon, Lakers! Keep up the good work! Make Christmas a great day to celebrate being a Lakers fan!

Categories: Uncategorized

Lakers Extend Win Streak to 4 Games with Return of Steve Nash!

22 December 2012 Leave a comment

“What an exciting game tonight! Wow! Lakers cruised to an easy win…” Nope. Nobody can start a “Lakers Recap” with such a statement this year: not yet! I wrote a “Preview” for the game, and at the half, I predicted by text with 2 friends that The Los Angeles Lakers would beat The Golden State Warriors 115-114: I was pretty close! Final: Lakers 118, Warriors 115 (OT).

I purposely stayed off Twitter until after the game was over, not wanting to be hyper-critical of Mike D’Antoni’s latest version to a starting lineup for The Lakers. He may not have designed it for the purpose of hedging against players getting into early foul trouble, but Metta World Peace coming in maybe even earlier than expected for Dwight Howard was a key substitution in the 1st Quarter for us staying with a team with young legs like The Warriors that likes to play fast & loose. They were streaky good all night long, but patience (or lack of it) drew them into turnovers and poor shot selection. But Jarrett Jack was un-be-lievable! That guy almost won the game for them, as Kobe Bryant was trying to do for The Lakers – The Black Mamba chucked up 41 shot attempts tonight! smh

Jarrett Jack 13-19 FGs for 29 points plus 11 assists – off the bench!

Kobe Bryant 16-41 FGs for 34 points plus 10 RBs

I thought Steve Nash was supposed to stabilize the team, help everybody play better, and the spacing on the floor was better, plus he hit 2 key shots to win it in overtime that were nothing short of huge! But Kobe shot 41 times! That’s incredible. But which guy was more valuable to his team? Jarrett Jack or Kobe Bryant?

That Steve Nash played more than 24 minutes of regulation was unexpected: I didn’t even believe he was going to play! And if he played, I was certain he would have limited minutes. But then D’Antoni comes up with this idea to start Darius Morris AND Steve Nash to stay up with the speedy Warriors and it almost worked. Some we had people in foul trouble all night long, yet referees seemed to just let the game go with a hands off approach to calling a reasonable game. Morris had 2 fouls early, but Dwight Howard had 2 too early also. That blessing in disguise brought MWP into the game, able to harass players on defense, stealing the ball away, messing with their minds, drawing them into mistakes…

The Lakers have a bench!     The Lakers have a bench!     The Lakers have a bench!

Coming off the bench with Metta World Peace and Jordan Hill and Jodie Meeks turns out to be a great move by Mike D’Antoni. I have wanted to see Jodie Meeks start, and maybe he will, beside Steve Nash, moving Kobe Bryant up to Small Forward just like what we saw tonight… Most of the time, Jodie Meeks will likely score the most for us off the bench, but tonight his production (12) was mostly felt on defense, MWP finishing with 20 points, and Jordan Hill chipped in with 14! Somehow, Metta, Jordan & Dwight were the only Lakers players with a +/- on the upside! Kobe’s rating was a zero, Darius -1, Pau -2, Nash -3.

So, how did we win this game? I mean, The Lakers played a nice 1st Quarter. But that 3rd Quarter, after going down 61-53 at halftime, it was miserable. I had projected a Lakers 115, Warriors 114 final at halftime, which left me with a 4th Quarter necessity of The Lakers outdueling The Warriors 41-27! Not good odds. But to outscore them 34-21 could only be attributed to the intensity that The Lakers chose to play defense at in the final 12 minutes of regulation – led by Metta World Peace. MWP was everywhere. Dwight Howard was altering shots. And Jodie Meeks seemed to shoot his way out of a funk he seemed to be in for most of the game hitting a key shot down the stretch. The Lakers were down by double digits in the 3rd and never led by more than 5 in the 1st Half, and only built a 6-point lead in overtime.

It seemed to me that The Warriors lost the game due to poor shot selection and committing too many turnovers.

The Lakers had the same problems, but they won the game by keeping the defense of The Warriors from being able to harass our shooters. Most teams have been able to do that, sending an extra defender to pressure the ball, but we now have a Point Guard on the floor that is a threat to score at any time! Steve Nash should shoot more than he does. Steve Nash is a good enough shooter that Kobe Bryant should never again feel the need to chuck up 41 attempts! Steve Nash needs to be able to get the ball back when plays disintegrate and start the offense over again, instead of letting guys go 1-on-1 with the ball, dribbling off the last 8 seconds and putting up clumsy, bad shots! But our shot selection was reflective of The Warriors, so in the end, the difference was… Rebounding? Yep. We were able to take 4 more shots. Otherwise, across the board, nothing else really stands out: turnovers the same, 3-pointers the same, benchscoring similar, free throw shooting similar… Steve Nash hit a 3-pointer late, added a runner in the lane, unguarded, with 17 seconds to go – that was ball game. (BoxScore)

The Lakers now own a 4-game winning streak!

Let’s go, Lakers! Let’s keep the winning streak alive!

Next Game: Lakers vs. Knicks, Christmas Day, If The Lakers can pull off a victory vs. The New York Knicks, who are the class of the NBA this year, they will back at .500, with a 14-14 record with teams looking at them differently now with Steve Nash as our floor general. The playoffs picture is beginning to look better already!

Categories: Uncategorized