Found December 18, 2012 on
Purple and Gold Blog:
Los Angeles Lakers
For the first time this season, the Lakers won back-to-back games on the road beating Washington and Philadelphia over the weekend. And that was also the first time in a long time Laker fans saw their team put together consistent quarters in a span of 96 minutes.
While the Lakers is still far from becoming a team we can all fully assess, gathering wins is as important as progressing as a team so far this season. Part of the team's struggles is not having Steve Nash and Pau Gasol at their disposal. That could change a bit starting tonight against the reeling Charlotte Bobcats (7-16) at Staples Center.
After practicing with his teammates for the first time in 2 weeks, Gasol is officially listed as a game-time decision. A lot of that has to do with the lack of pain in both of his knees. If there's no setback after today's shootaround, there's a good chance we'll see Pau back on the court.
Nash, also, is making a lot of progress and joined Gasol as a practice attendee working on strengthening drills, 1-on-1 and some running. After tonight's game, the Lakers will be off until Saturday when they go back on the road against the Warriors. Those 3 off days is going to be key for Nash, especially, since his targeted return on Christmas day will depend upon how his leg reacts to going through a full scrimmage in practice.
Although the Bobcats have lost their last 11 games, the Lakers haven't exactly dominated this team since their inception in 2004. Charlotte has taken 8 of the last 12 meetings against the purple and gold simply because the Lakers often get caught overlooking them. The unpredictability of how the Lakers approach each game this season, this matchup shouldn't be counted as a "W" for them until the final buzzer sounds.
Charlotte gets the bulk of their points from their 2 point guards. Former Laker Ramon Sessions is averaging 14.4 points in 26.7 minutes this season. He isn't shooting well (38.7%/27.3% 3-points), so he earns a lot of his points by attacking the rim. Sessions leads his team in free-throw attempts at 5.8 per game.
But the one guy the Lakers need to concentrate on is Kemba Walker. The former UCONN standout is tops in team points (18.1 PPG), assists (6.1 APG) and steals (2.0 SPG). He may not be that much better than Sessions from distance (30.4%), but he's definitely a more dangerous scorer anywhere inside the arc averaging 42.8% from the field. If the Lakers can control Walker for much of the game, they should be fine. That means they will have to continue playing together on the defensive end.
The Lakers forced a combined 37 turnovers from their opponents in their last 2 games. A lot of that has to do with being aggressive in their team defense and reading the passing lanes quickly. Of course, Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard had a ton of influence in their recent defensive improvements, but it's always been about how the Lakers, as a unit, help one another on that end of the floor.
If we see that again tonight regardless of the opposition, that would mean that the Lakers are finally finding their nitch as a defensive team. That's going to be key for them when they welcome Nash back since the offense will continue to be a work in progress for Mike D'Antoni to figure out how he can best incorporate all of his pieces without sacrificing too much of his up-tempo style.
Matchup of the Game
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. Kobe Bryant: Gilchrist will most likely move into the shooting guard position tonight since he's Charlotte's best answer for Kobe. That's because Bryant, not only is he the NBA's leading scorer (29.2 PPG) and has a career point average of 29.5 against the Bobcats, has only scored below 30 once in the month of December. But Bryant will need to keep Gilchrist away from the hoop while making sure he's sharp with his ball-handling against a solid defender.
Keys to the Game
> Contain Kemba: The first step to defeating a team is doing something about their best player. Kemba is the heart and soul of the Bobcats and has the ability to take over the scoring load for his team as evident in his 32-point performance in their last game against Orlando. Chris Duhon will have to make sure Kemba doesn't get a lot of open looks and will need to funnel him towards Dwight Howard on the drive. But the entire Lakers team need to help by crowding Walker in the paint and taking away passing outlets.
> Balanced Attack: Regardless of Charlotte being the worst defensive team in the league (103.9 PPG), there's absolutely no need for Kobe to continue to put up 30+ points tonight. If the Lakers want to seemlessly transition over to Nash taking over control of the offense, they will have to start involving everyone much like they did against Philadelphia.
> Consistency: There it is again. Yeah, they've done a good job the past 2 games in maintaining their focus and energy but that doesn't mean they can take the night off against the Bobcats. The goal this season hasn't changed for the Lakers. They can't accomplish that if they refuse to keep working at getting better and developing an identity.
Watch Out For
BOBCATS: Ben Gordon: Veteran players who can shoot coming off the bench have always given the Lakers fits historically. Despite being undersized at the 2 position, Gordon is still in the NBA because of his perimeter game. He's averaging 13.1 points on 43.4% shooting from the field and 43.9% from behind the arc for the Bobcats this year. That's some serious competition for Jodie Meeks to try to defend.
LAKERS: Metta World Peace: MWP has flown under the radar a bit during all of the team's struggles and Kobe's offensive barrage of late. But in the last 5 games, Metta is averaging 16 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2 steals while shooting 51% from the field and 40% from distance. Not to mention that he's been their lone consistent force on both ends of the floor the entire season. Look for him to be a major thorn for the Bobcats again.
Tonight vs. Charlotte Bobcats
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. (PST)
TV: TWC SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN/1330 KWKW
LAKERS: Jordan Hill (back – listed as Day-to-Day), Steve Nash (leg – out until possibly next week), Steve Blake (abdomen – out until January) and Pau Gasol (knees – game-time decision)
BEST OF MAXIM
The Lakers received a bit of good news Monday as Pau Gasol and Steve Nash participated in a light, noncontact practice.
Gasol (knee tendinitis) isn't officially cleared to play Tuesday night when the Lakers host the Charlotte Bobcats, but he should be able to return from an eight-game absence if he suffers no ill effects from Monday's workout.
Nash is shooting to play in...
Pau Gasol returned Tuesday night from an eight-game absence as the Los AngelesLakers host the Charlotte Bobcats at Staples Center.
Gasol, who struggled with knee tendinitis through most of the early part of the season, has been given the green light to play without restriction.
"The sky is the limit, 48 (minutes), if overtime 50," joked Gasol.
The Lakers have struggled...
The Los Angeles Lakers could get Pau Gasol back today. That in and of itself could be a nice boost for the struggling team. But they could get an even bigger boost as Steve Nash eyes a return. He was able to practice yesterday meaning he is drawing closer to a return to game action. According to Shahan Ahmed of NBC Southern California, Nash was not expected to practice yesterday...
Gasol had an impact in a variety of ways even while struggling with his shooting touch. He finishing with 10 points on three-for-10 shooting to go with nine rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes after missing the previous eight games to let the tendinitis in his knees subside. He was not on the court at the end of the game, with D’Antoni saying his conditioning was a factor....
Struggling mightily in Mike D’Antoni’s offense, rumors persist that the underachieving Los Angeles Lakers may trade four-time All-Star power forward Pau Gasol to the New York Knicks for six-time All-Star and 2007 All-NBA First Team selection Amar’e Stoudemire. The Lakers, … Continue reading →
Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty ImagesIt’s no secret the Lakers 11-14 start is, well… let’s just call it surprising. Just less than a third of the season is in the books, and you have to scroll down the western conference standings to even find the pre-season favorites at number 12.Yesterday, the Lakers looked under their Christmas tree to find reports that Pau Gasol could play...
Pau Gasol had a successful workout on Saturday.
Photo Credit: ESPNThe start to the NBA season has not been kind to the Lakers and their fans. Injuries to Steve Nash, Steve Blake, and Pau Gasol have hampered chemistry and the firing of Mike Brown hasn’t produced a whole lot of optimism. The Lakers have looked old, slow, and unorganized on both the offensive and defensive ends. Their new coach, Mike D’Antoni, talked during his...
Image Credit: Noah Graham, Jeff Gross | Getty ImagesPau Gasol finally made his return to the Lakers’ starting lineup Tuesday night, after missing the past eight games with knee tendinitis, but that was not the only change in the Lakers’ rotation.Metta World Peace:Along with Gasol returning to the starting lineup, Coach Mike D’Antoni decided to move Metta World Peace to the...
Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum, whose been battling knee problems since his trade to Philadelphia, believes he's the best center in the NBA, and has some advice for his former team.
"I don't regret anything. Personally, they traded No. 1 for No. 2 and that is what happened," said Bynum, referring to the four team trade that sent him to Philly and Dwight...
Steve Nash is looking to return to the court for the Lakers on Saturday.
“Pau Gasol has given the Lakers a lot and I don’t feel he’s getting enough in return, especially as far as confidence,” Rubio said in a conference call earlier today. “But he’s a pro. If he goes to another team, I think he would make a contender out of that team. Wherever he goes, he’s going to be fighting for the title.”
AP Photo/Chris CarlsonThe Lakers were able to defeat the Charlotte Bobcats and extend their winning streak to 3 games. With Pau back in the lineup the team was still not able to successfully run their half-court offense when both Pau and Dwight were in the game together. They got away with doing that tonight, but if the Lakers really want to win a championship they will need to find...
The Lakers are on the hook for about 30 million in luxury tax this season. Compared with what they may pay next season, that's almost nothing.
The league's new collective bargaining agreement includes a graduated tax that kicks in for the 2013-14 season. For every additional 5 million the team is over the tax threshold, the rate increases.
Naturally the team has every hope...
In this weeks five random sports videos I give you a kid that is best in the world at the most useless thing ever, a bone crushing Adrian Peterson hit from a few years ago, old school Steve Nash dishing out a sweet dime, two guys that would destroy you at ping pong, and a guy that tries really hard at racquetball.
Kid amazing at speed stacking cups:
Batting Stance Guy says that...