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Lakers Escape Detroit with a Late Rally Against All Odds!

30 November 2013 Leave a comment

Where does a real sportswriter begin when trying to explain this crazy game tonight between The Los Angeles Lakers and The Detroit Pistons? Fastbreak points, and points in the paint for Detroit were ridiculous! Which also expresses The Lakers ability to defend them; but, somehow, some way, they kept the game close. At 64-64, in the 2nd Half, Detroit scored their first 2 points outside of the paint! The Pistons eventually got tired (ran out of gas?) is perhaps the only way to explain this victory for L.A. – and The Lakers bench, which has carried them much of this year, was forced to do so tonight, because Jordan Hill was lost early in the 2nd Half to an ankle injury. Really? Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, and Josh Smith could do whatever they wanted – in the paint. They out-rebounded The Lakers by 10 offensive putbacks! Somehow, as ragged as L.A. played defensively, they saved their best effort for the 4th Quarter – The Pistons, who scored over 30 points in the 1st & 3rd Quarters only managed 15 points in the final period!

Lakers 106, Pistons 102 (Recap).

So, what was the difference? I’m new to Smartphones, and I love the Lakers App – it breaks down overall stats really well. For instance, Detroit took 20 more shots than Los Angeles! (100-80); but, The Pistons made 44, and The Lakers 36. So, how do you win by 4 points when you make 8 fewer shots? You make them count: 3-point shots fell for The Lakers, to the tune of 14-31; Detroit, however, as successful as they were with fastbreak points and short shots in the key could only come up with a 1-8 effort beyond the arc. Differential: Lakers came up with 13 extra points! But hat still leaves a scoring deficiency of 7 points to account for. Anybody? Free Throws? That was an adventure for both teams. Steals & Turnovers were fairly even, but Bench Scoring favored The Lakers 52-37. Jordan Farmar was asked about the success of The Lakers bench to pull out victories: “Progress.” He attributed wins during games to efforts made during practice, as players on the team continue to develop confidence in their shots, and become more comfortable playing with each other.

To the human eye, Pau Gasol & Jordan Hill couldn’t seem to do anything right all night long – defensively. Down 10 points after 3 quarters, it looked bleak for The Lakers. Rodney Stuckey was taking them apart in the 3rd Quarter. But, somehow, Detroit’s motor started to sputter at the worst possible time (for them). Maybe their head coach Maurice Cheeks was being told to allow Brandon Jennings to reassert himself at Point Guard down the stretch. It was weird: it was like their starter went bad. You know that awful noise you hear when you turn the key in your ignition switch and nothing happens? That sound. Yet, The Lakers super-subs just kept on pressing the issue, looking for a way to pull off an unexpected win. I mean, really, Byron Scott & James Worthy were just laughing, shaking their heads (during timeouts, when commentators would look to fill “air time” with their expertise), resigned to a Lakers road loss that seemed more likely than not.

Fortunately, the injury to “Swaggy P” (Nick Young, wrist) in Brooklyn wasn’t too serious, but he found the most unusual way to make his biggest impact on the game: Defense! After the game, Farmar said it might be the first defensive stop Young ever had in his life! Worthy & Scott were calling him “Swaggy D” after the game, taking a charge vs. Josh Smith as the final seconds of the game neared. There were way too many referee reviews in the last few minutes, but through it all, Jordan Farmar, Xavier Henry and Pau Gasol found themselves on the Free Throw line with opportunities to “ice” the game, but continued to leave the gate open for The Pistons to stay alive just a little bit longer. The steady play, however, of Shawne Williams (20 points, 9 RBs) & Wesley Johnson (27 points on 9-11, 6-7 from 3; 6 RBs, 3 Blks) on offense saw The Lakers through to victory! Steve Blake just didn’t seem to have “it” tonight (although he still managed 10 assists in limited duty); and Jodie Meeks wasn’t as instrumental in this game as he has been in most of the games this season – so far. As poorly as both teams shot Free Throws that was the final piece to the puzzle, statistically, of who came out of the contest as the victor: Lakers 20-30 vs. Pistons 13-25 answers the question where to find the differential of 7 points from everything else that happened.

The Lakers come home now to play a division matchup against a team surprisingly surging out to challenge the elite teams of the Western Conference: The Portland Trailblazers (13-3). Once again, The Lakers have yet another “test” to overcome, as the league is hopefully beginning to take notice of this team’s growing confidence to win against anybody, at home or on the road. The other “Big City” teams, from New York and Chicago, are playing poorly; unfortunately, The Clippers are playing well – up to expectations (?). Hopefully, for The Lakers sake,  the ankle injury to Jordan Hill isn’t too severe (minor sprain, able to play Sunday?); perhaps Chris Kaman is able to play more minutes, as I’m not convinced Rob Sacre should be used too early in games, if tonight’s game is a fair example of his ability to contribute – still mostly a “garbage time” guy, it appears. The Lakers could definitely use one more quality big man, but it’s not looking like that’s in their plans. Kobe Bryant is still a few weeks away from returning, by the sounds of it. The Blazers do something similar to what The Lakers are doing, playing inside out with Damian Lilliard and LeMarcus Aldridge and kicking the ball out to guys who have been hitting their open shots at a good clip: Wesley Mathews (50% TPA), Nicolas Batum…

Let’s go, Lakers! They’re now above .500, at 9-8. Keep on rollin’!

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Lakers Off to “Motor City”: Do We Still Refer to Detroit That Way?

29 November 2013 Leave a comment

The Lakers had an opportunity to run a winning streak out to 5 games that began with a win over Detroit at Staples Center two weeks ago, today. But they faltered in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday before a stronger, focused effort on Wednesday in Brooklyn. Today, if they win in Detroit, that would mark a 6-Game winning streak of a team still performing without its star player. Don’t you think that would’ve caused a buzz across the NBA if they had accomplished such a feat? Instead, if they lose today, they’re just an inconsistent team with moments of intrigue. Nothing special. Like Motor City these days, a shadow of what they once were. Some fans think of The Lakers that way, these days. But I think they are special! I think these Lakers are about to do the unexpected. I think this group of Lakers players are about to prove to the league they are for real. Let’s go, Lakers!

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Lakers 8-8, After a Nice Win in Brooklyn: That Ain’t Bad!

28 November 2013 Leave a comment

The Los Angeles Lakers are still an adventure involving inconsistent play at times, but after a disappointing loss vs. The Washington Wizards on Tuesday, to then bounce back from that and beat a better team tonight, on the road, in New York, that is, The Brooklyn Nets, it was a major accomplishment! It was weird watching them playing against Kevin Garnett & Paul Pierce, at first. This new “super team,” of over-priced players reminds me of last year’s Lakers team… Maybe The Knicks will end up with a better record than this other team that crowded into their city by the end of the season. Who knows?

The halftime lead at 54-40 made it seem like The Lakers could coast to a victory against a team that seemed lifeless, dead; but, somehow The former Celtics rallied within The Nets squad to resume their hatred and disgust for all things Lakers and almost pulled off an amazing magic trick! At 92-92, it appeared as if The Lakers were going to fold, again, without a player the caliber of Kobe Bryant to will them to victory. Instead, The Lakers showed a better resilience to an amazing pressure defense by The Nets that tested The Lakers ability to limit turnovers and protect the ball (something they didn’t do the night before).

The Lakers finished the game very, very well! They had their head coach, Mike D’Antoni, pacing the sidelines, though. He didn’t try any tomfoolery, like Jason Kidd did, spilling a Coke on the floor at a strategic moment – He was trying to “ice” our best free throw shooter? Silly. Jodie Meeks sunk both of them, and the Lakers held on for a 99-94 victory. Xavier Henry hit 2 more free throws, after Meeks, in the game for Nick Young who appeared to hurt his wrist late – after a stellar shooting night that really paced the Lakers to victory. It was a nice win before celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving, Lakers fans!

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Lakers Lose a Winnable Game vs. Wizards Due to Turnovers, Sloppy Play

27 November 2013 Leave a comment

I wrote on a friend’s Facebook wall who is an avid Lakers fan, the following:

So, The Los Angeles Lakers: I love my team! But, like students, co-workers, friends, relatives, neighbors, they are human! We all disappoint each other, at times. Forgive & forget, right? Last night’s loss, like every other loss this season, with or without Kobe Bryant, was an example of how to lose a winnable game! Breakdowns defensively led to easy, I mean really, really, easy points for Nene Hi…lario. It was not hilarious! It was frustrating to watch, as efforts at defense didn’t include any communication – why the silence? #smh And the turnovers? Pau Gasol & Steve Blake were passing the ball without a focused, confident thrust – just a mamsy, pamsy ease that turned into fastbreak layups for the other team! And, in the end, The Lakers were up 108-107 vs. the lowly Wizards in our nation’s Capitol… where, in the last 2 minutes, Jordan Hill misses a dunk and we commit 2 more costly turnovers? Frustrating loss. They had it, if only they had followed through with a from of team chemistry they had developed on their home court the last 3 games. Balanced scoring, but… a string of efforts to keep teams under 100 points was ruined by sloppy play. The Lakers are better than this, but, alas, every NBA team seems to struggle on the road – for whatever reason. Takeaways: Pau had 8 assists! Wesley Johnson found his stroke, Farmar continues to attack. Hopefully the gang reassesses their focus on the prize of being a respected, respectable team and starts playing like it again. Soon!
Happy Thanksgiving, fellow Lakers fans!
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Lakers Win 3rd Straight to Get Back to .500 at 7-7

25 November 2013 Leave a comment

It was a nice win for The Los Angeles Lakers last night, causing The Sacramento Kings to lose games on back-to-back night’s at Staples Center. There were some scoring lapses, at times, by both teams – seemingly simultaneously. But The Lakers won every quarter, and their defense was strong – especially during the 3rd Quarter.

Pau Gasol & Jordan Hill are playing really well together (imho), unlike the unsettled front court issues the team struggled.with last year. Shawne Williams off the bench had a great game, too. Steve Blake had another great night with assists, and the bench gave us a lift moreso from Xavier Henry than a recent string of great games by Nick Young.

Everywhere you look, even if guys like Jodie Meeks and Wesley Johnson aren’t scoring effectively they seem to find a way to make positive contributions: defense, rebounding, blocked shots…

Welcome back to .500, Lakers! Thank you. Keep up your winning ways! Lakers 100, Kings 86 (Recap).

It seems to me that The Sacramento Kings are playing with a certain degree of uncertainty. On paper, they should be better. Of course, that same thinking caused many to believe The Lakers were heading to The Finals last season as the team to beat. So, such logic lends to disappointment, misunderstandings, dissension… The Kings look like they still have internal issues left unspoken, unchecked. So, why did DeMarcus Cousins sign a new contract to stay with them? Who knows. I should care, perhaps?

Vazquez, McLemore, Thomas in the back court should make The Sacramento Kings more competitive, consistently; but, an aging, average player in Jason Thompson & newly-acquired M’bah a Moute having seen his best days behind him (years ago, at UCLA), I’m not convinced this year’s version of The Kings “team” is going anywhere – yet.

The Lakers, on the other hand (unlike The Kings, if last night is a true representation of what they’re capable of), have a more prosperous future ahead of them that is  filled with hope, with promise, with potential – anticipating the arrival of Kobe Bryant (and his new 2-year contract extension worth $48.5 million!) to join a group of guys who play and act as a “team.” They seem to be getting better & better with each passing game.

Can The Lakers still attain to a record of 51-31 that I predicted back in August by the end of the season? Maybe not, but I wouldn’t dismiss it as a possibility quite yet. Is 44-24 really that unrealistic if you add one of the best players in the history of the NBA to a group of guys who have been playing solid defense and seem to be coming into their own with a scoring punch team’s might once again fear again? I hope so! Gotta silence all those Lakers haters, like the Wizards fans posting stupid stuff on the Yahoo! Sports pre-game analysis of tomorrow’s road game. Check it out: Lakers @ Wizards, Tue 26 NOV 2013. John Wall has scored well in the last 2 games, including a nice win vs. The New York Knicks last Saturday; but, in those games his team is 1-1. So much for superstars – we had a guy last year that was overrated: What was his name again?

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Lakers Going For 3-Game Winning Streak!

24 November 2013 Leave a comment

I must say, a 4-day rest for The Los Angeles Lakers to begin a winning streak was just what they needed – beating The Golden State Warriors, no less! Yes, they did it against a team playing without an actual point guard – Steph Curry nursing a mild concussion, the team not electing to hold onto a Lakers killer, Jarrett Jack, on their roster last year. But they killed us in Game 2 this season at the hands of a red hot Klay.Thompson. Andre Iguodola left in the 3rd Quarter with a hamstring injury…

But The Lakers played great! Nick Young was amazing, off the bench. But Pau Gasol played one of his best games of the last 3 seasons! Go down the roster, there were strong efforts by every Lakers player – meaning it’s highly probable they could have beat anybody at home with 4 days of preparation like they did Friday night!

Next up: The Lakers play The Sacramento Kings, with DeMarcus Cousins & Crew coming off a 1-point loss at Staples Center last night at the hands of The Los Angeles Clippers, who were barely able to hold onto a win after running out to a 20-point lead. The Kings are a legitimate threat to make the playoffs this year – at the expense of The Lakers? No way!

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

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The Lakers: Will Kobe Stabilize a Team That Goes Hot & Cold?

18 November 2013 Leave a comment

I left my parent’s house about halftime, during The Lakers game last night at Staples Center vs. The Detroit Pistons (we were there to celebrate my wife’s birthday with our 2 girls). The game seemed to actually go Detroit’s way, from the beginning with The Lakers trying to scrap something together to keep the score within striking distance. But will this continue to be a recipe for success, or is it just a coin flip who ends up winning this regular season games? Yes, there needs to be preparation, effort, motivation, teamwork – all of those things. But is there a will to win? What is it that brings out an extra effort, an attitude of persevering through pressure, of making the best decisions to help the team win, whether that’s defensive effort and/or making a tough shot (or, better, a critical pass to an open teammate!)?

As we left, my mom said the funniest thing: “I never knew I could be such a fan of a guy who wears dreadlocks.” In addition to being a Lakers fan, I am a 49ers fan, and a Dodgers fan – it’s been very interesting to see how new players, like Jordan Hill, Colin Kaepernick and Yasiel Puig have captured the hearts of their respective teams fanbase! The common denominator is, of course, that they play with an exceptional level of passion! And excellence! They give 100% every moment of every game: That’s easy to enjoy! It’s so… unusual – these days. Just among NBA players, who does that? Consistently?  Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, James Harden, Chris Paul, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodola, Jordan Hill, Kobe Bryant, Paul George, Kevin Garnett (perhaps) and very few others…

If we are to focus on a roster of guys that make up The Los Angeles Lakers squad this season, then it should be recognized that we have a group of guys who are humble enough to recognize they are being given a second chance – an opportunity to overcome the missed realizations of greatness they had hoped to showcase as rookies, which they never seemed to develop. Don’t get me wrong: I love the play of Pau Gasol, in his first years as a Lakers starter – but even he is struggling to gain a reputation back from the ashes of playing behind Dru & D12. Chris Kaman is an adequate player, a decent backup to Pau; but, to ever start in the NBA again is unrealistic. Jordan Hill makes our team click on all cylinders! His ability to adapt quickly to a pick-n-roll style of play that Mike D’Antoni tried to get an unwilling Dwight Howard to do last year is working out very well! 24 points, 17 rebounds last night? Way to go, Jordan Hill!

The consistency of Jodie Meeks as a scorer and a defender has been a beautiful thing! He wasn’t  consistent at either aspect of his game last year, and we needed him to be; but, this year he’s doing those things very well – and, I must admit, his dribbling has made it to adequate (and beyond?) as well! The new lease on life he has been given with a full training camp to integrate into D’Antoni’s system has done wonders for the team. Like Brandon Jennings for Detroit last night (23 points off 22 shots – yikes!), the offensive abilities of Nick Young & Wesley Johnson haven’t become clearly known – yet. Wes seems to play a reasonable defensive game, much like that of Shawne Williams; but his scoring is less than best. Williams is actually a better shooter, which has surprised me – but we need their presence on the court, especially on defense, at the Small Forward position. Meeks at Shooting Guard is working out well with Steve Blake running Point Guard duties in the absence of Steve Nash (and Jordan Farmar is possibly beginning to play better with more minutes – he was sure a catalyst for the team transitioning from the 3rd to 4th Quarters).

So, the question remains: What will The Lakers look to do when Kobe Bryant returns to build on the momentum, the consistency that has developed on the roster at some positions and not others? I assume The Black Mamba will come back to his role as our starting Shooting Guard, but what will that do to the team chemistry developed with Jodie Meeks playing that position so well and working together with Steve Blake so effectively? Might D’Antoni experiment with the idea of playing him at Small Forward? Might that help/hinder ACL concerns, in terms of keeping him out of harm’s way vs. opposing team’s key players – some days starting at Small Forward, others at Shooting Guard. It’s an interesting problem, but the biggest problem right now for The Lakers is playing consistently well enough to win 2 games in a row! They haven’t been able to do that yet. Not finishing well vs. The Memphis Grizzlies last Friday ruined the opportunity this past weekend of completing such a task, beating Detroit on Sunday night (last night). And now The Lakers are off until… Friday? They played so many games over a short period of time to start the season it is a bit weird to now have such a long break before their next game, isn’t it?

Winning 2 games in a row will not be easy this week, since the next game is against The Golden State Warriors at Staples Center – who beat us soundly the 2nd game of the year, after a great start to the season with a win over The Clippers! No, it’s highly unlikely that even with Kobe Bryant practicing with the team last Saturday, and throughout this week, that he will play – even if he did say that if it were a playoff game that he could play. Yeah, if anybody can play through pain, or come back from an injury sooner than the next guy, that’s Kobe Bryant. Definitely. But it’s highly improbable. If Blake can keep things rolling with assists to the likes of Meeks & Hill, then for us to augment that with a stronger defensive effort than we played with the last time we played The Warriors a victory is possible. I haven’t heard of another game this year where Klay Thompson blitzed an opponent like he did The Lakers that last meeting. And it’s highly unlikely he will do it again, unless there is an exposed weakness in our roster where we don’t have the height & length necessary to keep him from successfully shooting over our defenders.

Enjoy the week of rest from Lakers basketball, everybody!

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