Archive for April, 2013

Injury-Plagued, Shorthanded Lakers No Match for Spurs in Round 1 Playoffs Rout: 4-0

28 April 2013 Leave a comment

It was not how any fan of The Los Angeles Lakers wanted to see a season end: Dwight Howard ejected in the 3rd Quarter, The San Antonio Spurs winning easily with 6 of our top 8 players unable to finish the game – or even play. I would’ve preferred to see “Superman” handle the frustration from defensive pressure better, even fouling out from giving 110% before the game officially ended. But there wasn’t much that The Lakers did that The Spurs couldn’t handle – they’re so deep, they played 10 guys in the 1st Quarter! But credit The Lakers players, who never gave up trying to play their best: shots didn’t fall, and 22 turnovers didn’t give them much chance of a victory against a powerhouse team that might be the team to beat from the West!

Final Score: Spurs 103, Lakers 82 (Recap). Lakers lose Round 1 of 2013 NBA: 4-0.

Jordan Hill played admirably, when he finally entered the game in the 4th Quarter, and Pau Gasol played one of his better games this year – it just wasn’t near enough with an ensemble cast that didn’t even include Metta World Peace today. Fans cheered when Kobe Bryant hobbled to the bench on crutches from the locker room with a protective boot around his injured leg to join his teammates for the final quarter. There’s not much else to say: Goudelock started poorly, finished okay; bench scoring from Chris Duhon was better than it was from Antawn Jamison. It’s hard to say who will be returning next year from this roster: Mitch Kupchak watching from the shadows, possibly evaluating “heart” attitudes of players. Surprisingly, Rob Sacre was finally able to see some time on the court while Devin Ebanks seems like a bad disappearing act – still here, for some unknown reason (never utilized).

The San Antonio Spurs annihilated The Lakers, easily winning a game The Lakers couldn’t seem to do anything to overcome such an expected outcome – using a lineup that included DeJuan Blair, Matt Bonner, Gary Neal, and Cory Joseph to extend their lead in the 2nd Quarter. Manu Ginobli, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker were unstoppable. Tiago Splitter was replaced by some Baines (?) dude who had 4 of their first 7 points! This is probably one of those years that Gregg Popovich should’ve won Coach of The Year – and I really don’t like the guy all that much. But it’s so impressive how prepared, and how deep, The Spurs are – able to answer almost any matchup thrown at them. They’re going to be tough to beat. And we wanted to play them in the 1st Round? With Russell Westbrook out with a knee injury, this team looks to have the best chance to advance to The NBA Finals to try to snatch the title away from The Miami Heat!

Will Dwight Howard be back in a Lakers uniform next season? Will Kobe Bryant be anything resembling himself once he progresses through rehabilitation from his ruptured Achilles tendon? If Jordan Hill’s effort is any indication, and that of Metta World Peace as well, then I suspect due to the determination of Kobe Bryant to overcome such similar adversity that “we the fans” will see him back in form at the earliest opportunity. But who will comprise next year’s Lakers “team”? This injury-plagued season was grueling to observe from afar, and therefore worse to endure by the players themselves. You gotta give them credit for enduring to the end, making such strides to even make the playoffs when such a possibility seemed beyond Kobe’s “guarantee” at times…

Will Mike D’Antoni be back? If Mike Brown recently hired by The Cleveland Cavaliers gives ownership some financial ease, does that give them greater flexibility to make a coaching change than they might have exercised otherwise? So many questions. You’ve got yours. Mine would include: Will Phil Jackson ever be considered a potential “head coach” again, ever? Would it cost the family a percentage of ownership vs. high salary? Is Byron Scott an option? Once that gets figured out, maybe then some of the rest of the puzzle for next year will start to come together: Will Dwight Howard opt out? That means leaving $20 Million on the table: that’s a lot of dough! Would you? The word “Incomprehensible” comes to my mind. But, hey, the immaturity that was there all season long from Dwight Howard regarding ticky-tack fouls he never really was able to work through: Will he now? Or ever?

Was this a meaningless game today? No! Goudelock, had he performed better, might have guaranteed himself a better shot of making the roster next year. Earl Clark is a free agent, and it’s not likely he will re-sign with The Lakers (imho) since he can – potentially – command a better contract from a team able to pay him more money that The Lakers just don’t have available to them right now. Darius Morris might have a better opportunity of sticking with the team than Chris Duhon does (I hope so!), but it’s likely that Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks will be back next season. Antawn Jamison? Pau Gasol? Should they be question marks? If I was the GM, struggling to put a team together after the Commissioner killed the Chris Paul trade, I might  – now – be willing to trade Pau Gasol straight up for Kevin Love or Zach Randolph – if Dwight Howard signs with us long-term. Otherwise, a trade (?) of Dwight Howard to The Brooklyn Nets for Brooke Lopez & Gerald Wallace would be acceptable. I don’t want to think about it, honestly. I’m just hopeful whomever The Lakers are able to put together as a team next season have a better opportunity to succeed without so many injuries than they had to endure this season. Bottom Line: I’d like to see Kobe Bryant win a 6th championship ring!

Until next year… y’all have a great off-season…

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120-89 ??? Lakers Lost by 31 Points? Aye, Carumba. Spurs Are Deep

27 April 2013 Leave a comment

A different dude off the bench for The San Antonio Spurs killed The Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of Round 1 in NBA playoff action: Casey Joseph? Cory, maybe. Yeah, that’s it: Cory Joseph. Wh… Wha… What? Who. I’m not kidding: Cory Joseph. Check it out for yourself.

Final Score: Spurs 120, Lakers 89 (Box Score).

The signature moments for me were Dwight Howard’s early 2nd Foul against Tim Duncan, who knows how to play smart – referee assisting smart NBA basketball, holding Dwight’s arm in place until they noticed it was a foul. Moments later, Darius Morris missed a shot wide left – which was after Chris Duhon through the ball away on the previous play. The Spurs were just better, more sound, in every way. Sure, The Lakers had multiple players in double digits. Dwight’s numbers look good, for totals. Pau Gasol had a triple-double – which only included 11 points.

In every way, The Lakers were outplayed, as you would expect a team which was outmanned to have to endure. The Lakers did win the 2nd Quarter, though: 26-25. Yippeee!!!! The Lakers, again, find themselves with their backs against the wall – a single game left in order to be eliminated from any further play this season. Maybe it’s best. I don’t know. I’d prefer to see The Lakers win a couple games, if that’s at all possible; but, suddenly, I like the chances of The San Antonio Spurs making it to the NBA Finals as the Western Conference representatives instead of The Oklahoma City Thunder.

Let’s go, Lakers! Let’s win a game – or two.

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Lakers’ Tough Season Getting Tougher

27 April 2013 Leave a comment

I was at 32,000 feet crossing the Mississippi River heading home from a great family vacation in Florida when I wrote the following, not knowing the outcome of Game 3 until about 11:30pm. As I copy & paste it now, I’m listening to Pau Gasol call it “a very disappointing loss” on AllSportsNet 360 Saturday morning:

The Lakers Keep Dropping Like Flies: Down to Spurs 2-0

First, The Los Angeles Lakers began their season with Dwight Howard miraculously playing (sooner than expected, recovering from back surgery); and, I really believe the team – especially the head coach at that time – was prepared to wait for his arrival in January by playing Pau Gasol at Center, utilizing a pick & roll with Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant as the ever-present threat (decoy? No.).

But then the walls began to cave-in, as Steve Nash ended up with a fractured fibula Game 2 of the season: I don’t believe he’s ever recovered completely from that injury, and I’m pretty sure his more recent issues have stemmed from trying to return sooner-than-appropriate for healing to take place. And it all just kept getting worse and worse…  Nash out, Mike Brown got canned. Should The Lakers have opted to put Bernie Bickerstaff at the helm of a wasted season?

Without Nash healthy, why bring in D’Antoni? When did any coaches named “Mike” ever have a successful go of it in Los Angeles? There were always those “silver lining” moments throughout the season where it appeared that The Lakers were piecing the puzzle together for this season to become a successful one. But injuries just kept the “reality check” in place that this fantasy team of formerly elite players advancing in age could actually make a legitimate run as a contender for the NBA championship this season.

And, so, here we are, fans of The Lakers left as disappointed as the players are, that this season wasn’t one that they could overcome by persevering through difficulties all teams have to struggle with at times: coaching changes, roster moves, injuries…  That Kobe Bryant went down with a ruptured Achilles tendon was grueling to watch – when it happened, as “tweets” suggested D’Antoni should be fired immediately for allowing him to remain on the court, to the point where Dwight Howard would be subbed out due to foul trouble with The Black Mamba still on the court!

You have to credit the heart, the desire, the ability that The Lakers have shown to overcome adversity, to play through pain, to struggle against all odds of even making the playoffs in hopes of somehow making a magical run deep into more than just a 1st Round departure… But even with the blessings of Earl Clark’s value discovered due to Pau Gasol’s plantar fasciitis earlier in the seaon sending him to the sidelines, and the remarkable ability of a supremely-conditioned Metta World Peace coming back so quickly from recent knee surgery, as well as Jordan Hill cleared to play now after hip surgery a few months ago… Wow!

The Los Angeles Lakers are playing against one of the top 3 teams in the league: The San Antonio Spurs are playoff-ready! These guys are very, very good. But how are The Lakers supposed to be able to measure up to them when Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol are still struggling to play together on offense and the rest of the roster is so banged up? Tonight, current starters like Steve Nash will likely not play – Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks are definitely out (last I heard). And I’m going to miss the game on TV and radio since I’m on a A319 heading home from a 2-week vacation in Florida with my wife & kids that made catching games difficult )to say the least!).

So, Wednesday’s loss to go down 2 games to none to The San Antonio Spurs looked potentially “winnable” again, at Halftime. But then the 3rd Quarter collapse happened at the hands of Tony Parker. Game 1, there was a Ginobli “explosion” in the 3rd Quarter. Bonner camping out at the 3-point arc isn’t helping our “team” defense to be effective. That coach of theirs is pretty darn good. And that’s in addition to the steady play of Tim Duncan plus a solid group that includes a massively-improved Tiago Splitter (from last year) and sharpshooters Daniel Green & Kawhi Leonard (who are also very solid defenders).

The Lakers “bench” is struggling because most of them are starters now! And these guys weren’t even getting any playing time from D’Antoni running a 7-man rotation (0ccasionally 8). Does anybody actually believe a starting lineup of D12, Pau, MWP can win with the back court filled out by Darius Morris & Andrew Goudelock? I think the world of Goudelock, and I couldn’t be happier for him that he won accolades in the D-League but… To go from D(evelopmental)-League to Desperation Time is cruel & inhumane! The lone backup in the back sourt will likely be Chris Duhon? Yeah, okay. Sure. The Lakers have a chance to pull off a win in one of these next 2 games – at home. But I seriously doubt those chances are very high in tonight’s game.

So, the rotation will be Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, Andrew Goudelock, Darius Morris as starters with backups being Earl Clark, Antawn  Jamison (wrist), Jordan Hill (limited minutes?), and Chris Duhon.? Who am I missing? Oh, yeah:  Rob Sacre! He might get some time on the floor tonight! With Stephen Jackson dismissed from The Spurs prior to the playoffs, just before The Lakers beat them at home in a regular season game, it appeared that playing against them in the 1st Round was a great opportunity for them to advance into deeper rounds! Until Kobe Bryant was lost (for 9 months). At least Dwight, Pau, Metta, Steve, Earl, and Antawn could still make a comeback or play through their injuroes – if they chose to do so. But Kobe shouldn’t have even been allowed to pay one more second from the injury he incurred after that last win vs. The Spurs.

Somehow The Lakers found a will to win, without Kobe Bryant’s services. And they were playing good enough on offense to overcome defensive lapses. But it’s not working against the fire power and the defensive pressure that The San Antonio Spurs can bring to a playoff game. I’m hopeful  that The Lakers can pull off a surprise win for the home crowd. I just don’t expect it. But that’s when The Lakers have played their best basketball: with their backs against the wall. That’s tonight’s situation: If they go down 3-0 even more so. So, maybe I’ll step off the flight in Los Angeles and be pleasantly surprised! I hope so.

Go, Lakers!

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Lakers Start Playoffs with Loss to Spurs: Ginobli Ruined Comeback Effort

22 April 2013 Leave a comment

If you can’t score 80 points in an NBA game, chances are not good that you will pull out a win – no matter who you play (in the regular season, but especially in the playoffs): And so, The Los Angeles Lakers fell to The San Antonio Spurs in Round 1, Game 1.

Final Score: Spurs 91, Lakers 79 (Recap).

The recap above will be better than mine: It’s curious what Kobe Bryant “tweeting” will do for fans, for The Lakers – as far as players, coach, and the organization are concerned. The game was lost in the first 6 minutes: the comeback never happened – even though they came as close as 54-50 before a Ginobli explosion was dropped on them to end the 3rd Quarter. They traded baskets to the end. Did coaching strategy make a difference? Maybe. We shall see. I’m still hopeful adjustments can be made for The Lakers to advance to Round 2.

Go, Lakers!

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Let’s Go, Lakers, Let’s Go! Let’s Go, Lakers, Let’s Go!

21 April 2013 Leave a comment

The Los Angeles Lakers new partnership with Time Warner Cable has been enjoyable, even though the rollercoaster reality of a team in disarray (mostly due to injuries) isn’t exactly what any of us fans was desiring to experience. See Mike Trudell’s Playoffs Preview, if you haven’t already – he’s been doing great work all year long as the sideline reporter tweeting updates throughout each game, plus pre-game and post-game interviews, and probably much, much more. James Worthy & Coach Dave Miller have been great, joined by host of AllSportsNet “Geeter” McGee with guests Kurt Rambis & Robert Horry showing up regularly. Andy Adler has added a flare to the show, the best recently being the interview segment with Lakers fan and Coach Dave’s “Road Warrior” partner, Dr. Robert Klapper. 

“Deal, don’t dwell.”

The Lakers as a team have been able to push through adversity very well. Unfortunately, they have had more than their fair share of it to deal with. But to come to where they are now, with the opportunity finally available to them to not just make the playoffs but make a surge toward a possible championship run… Wow! This team passed the character test! Maybe I get “fan”-like suggesting that The Lakers are still the best team in Los Angeles, since The Clippers had such a great regular season – the best their franchise has ever had. But I don’t see The Clippers advancing through the playoffs with such an unbalanced team of individuals. Yes, the loss of Kobe Bryant is going to make any advances by The Lakers problematic, but this group has shown an ability to adapt to situations, to overcome adversity, to rise above circumstance… These Lakers are playing as a team – and this #countonteam effort just might be what is needed this year, more than any other year, in a league that has become dominated by individual statistics, the making of stars, for what? Branding? The Lakers “brand” is the best because the organization is top-notch, from top-to-bottom. Ownership. Trainers. All of them

Go, Lakers! Let’s get this party started!

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Wow! Lakers Enter Playoffs as 7th Seed? Without Kobe? Wow! Go, Lakers!

18 April 2013 Leave a comment

What a great win by The Los Angeles Lakers last night, the final night of the NBA’s 2012-2013 regular season!

Just when I began to believe they play their best basketball with their backs against the wall, there they were with a loss by The Utah Jazz in a position to relax, knowing that they were in the playoffs! On the last day of the regular season, they finally did something they hadn’t done all year long: They won a game when they had nothing to worry about. No! That’s ridiculous, right? They had EVERYTHING to prove by winning Game #82 of the regular season: They have had to reconfigure the starting lineup throughout the season. And… they are on a winning streak, peaking at the right time! If only The Black Mamba hadn’t ruptured his Achilles tendon… But they are moving forward with a new vision, a renewed spirit, a gameplan that is working: a persistent, 48-minute effort on defense (?) – say it ain’t so! – that puts the opposition in foul trouble and allows them to comeback from 5-10 points down with coaching changes at Halftime (?) – Did I just give some credit to Mike D’Antoni? – and, well, the results are self-evident! They’re winning! They’re beating playoff-caliber teams! They didn’t need to win: the 8th seed was given to them on a silver platter. Instead…

The Los Angeles Lakers beat The Houston Rockets, in overtime, after a miscue at the end of regulation (forgetting they had a foul to give, but otherwise playing decent defense) – as Chandler Parsons hit a frozen rope 3-point shot as the clock expired that didn’t even look like it went in, the first time I saw it. Even the 2nd time I watched it, it seemed… impossible. Impressive. Lucky? Take your pick. However, The Lakers took control late (2nd Half, alright, 4th Quarter), losing early (1st Half) – on the ropes, except for the steady play of Steve Blake and the persistent Pau Gasol leading them forward. Dwight Howard’s presence in the paint was too much for The Rockets. Metta World Peace was pesky, brilliantly so. Defense & rebounds seemed to control tempo, and The Lakers wore down the fast pace style of play The Rockets tried to use to pummel The Lakers into the ground. But there was such persistent play, grit, determination, non-stop effort, by The Lakers that they were not going to be denied this victory that it became… thrilling! Fantastic! Awesome! Inspiring. Maybe they were playing for something: They recently beat The San Antonio Spurs, so a victory would match them up against them in the 1st Round of the playoffs. Since The Houston Rockets lost, they will play against The Oklahoma City Thunder. #goodluck

Final Score (OT): Lakers 99, Rockets 95 (Recap)

James Harden & Crew just didn’t have enough left in the tank at the end to compete with The Lakers’ physical style of play. Antawn Jamison was contesting rebounds, Jodie Meeks was doing whatever he could do to help out. Even Darius Morris was given a few minutes on the court to do something special off the bench: contribute to a team win! Lakers fans on Twitter have taken to calling Steve Blake “TheBlakeMamba,” and many are hoping since The Lakers signed Andrew “TheMiniMamba” to join the team for the playoffs: neither can take the place of TheBlackMamba, of course. But finding a way to shuffle the deck, make roster adjustments, waiting with hopeful expectation for a Steve Nash return, The Lakers do pose a serious threat to make some progress in the playoffs this year. Win the championship? Maybe not; but… I bet The Los Angeles Lakers end the playoffs more successfully than will The Los Angeles Clippers! The Lakers are balanced, The Clippers are not. The Lakers must play team basketball, The Clippers still have a collection of “stars” who think 1-on-1 is an acceptable way to play. The Lakers have height & length, speed & accuracy – well, speed is a concern (unless Darius Morris & Andrew Goudelock get tome on the court!). You could highlight the fact that Pau Gasol had a triple-double, but he’s the guy tweeting after the game saying it was a great team win the loudest: #countonteam

Way to go, Lakers!

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Lakers Continue Toward Playoffs without Kobe w/Big Win vs. Spurs!

15 April 2013 Leave a comment

The Los Angeles Lakers won without Kobe Bryant playing one single minute Sunday night at Staples Center vs. The San Antonio Spurs? No way, right? I mean, the chances of The Lakers making the playoffs is based on The Utah Jazz losing – isn’t it? As if I needed to tell you by looking back on my life that there is a God and He is amazing, and crazy things happen all the time, that are inexplicable: Yes, The Lakers won a game against a great team – without the NBA’s best player, ever! – while not shooting all that great!  But what they did do is play better defense than they have played most of the season. Dwight Howard dominated the game, with 26 points & 17 rebounds – as The Lakers’ “bigs” outplayed Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter.

It was easily one of the “Top 10” best Lakers games of the year! With or without Kobe. Steve Blake had a career night: he played great! Dwight Howard played very well. Pau Gasol? Not so much. Duhon: 4 minutes, 3 turnovers? (1st Half, not used 2nd Half) Kawhi Leonard and Daniel Green have played much more effectively against us in previous matchups this season. But, a win is a win! I’ll take it! Go, Lakers! Maybe that bench of ours should have been given more minutes to work out the rust in their arms & legs… Maybe Kobe’s Achilles tendon would have survived on more rest than playing more minutes/game at 35 years old than anybody else has ever attempted before… Maybe life goes on for The Lakers organization without him, after all: somehow, I doubt it. I want to believe The Lakers will go far in the playoffs. But, my logical mind just doesn’t see the “possibilities” right now… #sorry

Thankfully, The San Antonio Spurs were… not that great Sunday night! They are one of the very best teams in the league, but their coach may have made the biggest blunder of his career by unsettling his players with the recent release of Stephen Jackson. Popovich chose to sit an ineffective Tony Parker for the 4th Quarter, for some reason. Tony Parker was most definitely as awful to start the game as Pau Gasol was: Pau was 1-10 through 2 quarters and started the 3rd 1-4, but finished with 16 rebounds. #dreadfulshooting

Final Score: Lakers 94, Spurs 86 (Recap).

Kobe Bryant: Be persistent in your rehabilitation to do whatever it takes to get back on your feet. You are still the heart & soul of this team. But your teammates appear to have a new reason to win: The Lakers seemed to come together when Jerry Buss passed away, somewhat expectedly in recent months (poor health for a long time). They seem to want to prove to naysayers that they are better than everybody realizes. I’m willing to watch them prove it. First, you all turned a corner together not that long ago – #Win4Jerry #JB Jersey Logo

Then, Kobe Bryant goes down and fans are calling for MDA’s head, for Mitch Kupchak or Jim Buss to fire him with each passing second that Kobe Bryant was left on the court… That was Friday night (vs. Golden State). Sunday night, a persistent, tenacious Steve Blake took the team on his shoulders and had a great game! That may have been the best performance of Steve Blake’s career! And the team – finally! – rallied behind him in the 4th Quarter to work out a win! Possibly Earl Clark & Antawn Jamison should get more press than they have received, due to their efficiency ratings suggesting their contributions – defensively? – made a bigger impact in the outcome of the game than initially recognized. Besides the marksmanship of Blake, Jamison was the only other player to score with confidence, but Jodie Meeks with 2 late 3-point shots on an otherwise poor shooting night came up huge when it mattered most! #clutch

It looked like “Mini Mamba” Andrew Goudelock might finally catch his big break with the loss of Kobe Bryant to finish the season: they signed him to leave him stranded on the bench? Behind Chris Duhon & Darius Morris? #idontgetit Goudelock recently scored 40 points in a D-League game. Duhon & Morris haven’t scored 40 points – combined! – in months! #whatever

Go, Lakers!

With a win over The Houston Rockets, The Los Angeles Lakers are in the playoffs! Matter of fact, if they win, they’ll move up to 7th Place! If they lose, they could drop to 9th Place, and out of the playoffs completely – if Utah wins. If they lose Wednesday night then it will only be due to scoreboard-watching that they will know if they’re in or not: The Utah Jazz have to play The Memphis Grizzlies in a game that starts 2-1/2 hours sooner…

C’mon, Lakers! You can do it!

D – E – F – E – N – S – E ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

You beat The San Antonio Spurs! That’s a quality win vs. playoffs teams, twice-in-a-row! First, The Golden State Warriors in a game of wearing down the opponent by crushing them inside, getting them into foul trouble; then, secondly, you apply constant pressure on The San Antonio Spurs – potentially the best team in the West! – for 4 quarters and win the game without Kobe Bryant? #awesome #amazing #unomas

Beat Houston! Beat Houston! Beat Houston!

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