Monthly Archive for November, 2013

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LAL 100, Kings 86: 11/24 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s home contest against Sacramento with comments drawn from Mike Trudell’s @LakersReporter Twitter account, to ensure you’re covered from start to finish:

Starters
Lakers: Blake, Meeks, Johnson, Hill and Gasol
Kings: Vasquez, McLemore, Mbah a Moute, Thompson and Cousins

FIRST QUARTER


Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers
SECOND QUARTER

THIRD QUARTER

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers
FOURTH QUARTER

Lakers – Kings Sideline Notes

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles LakersHere’s a look at everything you need to know about the Lakers (6-7) and their Sunday evening opponent, the Sacramento Kings (4-8):

KINGS NOTES
- Carl Landry is out with a tear of the left hip flexor muscle; rookie Ray McCallum was assigned to the Reno Bighorns.
- DeMarcus Cousins has been terrific this season, and is the only player in the NBA to lead his team in scoring (21.5 ppg on 46.4% FG’s), rebounding (9.9), steals (1.8) and blocks (1.4). He went off for 23 points, 19 rebounds, 7 assists and a steal in the narrow loss to the Clippers last night.
- SAC turns the ball over the fewest number of times per game, surprisingly, at (12.8); LAL are 15th (15.6).
- Isaiah Thomas is ranked second in NBA in bench scoring (18.4 ppg), trailing only NOP’s Ryan Anderson (19.3). Nick Young is third at 17.1 ppg (4th). Thomas also ranks first in NBA in fourth-quarter scoring (8.8 ppg, including 14 in the 4th Q against the Clippers on Saturday afternoon). The next 3 in 4th Q scoring: 2) Ryan Anderson (8.3 ppg); 3. Kyrie Irving (8.3 ppg); 4. Kevin Durant (8.2 ppg).
- Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was a college teammate at UCLA with Jordan Farmar (2005-06).
- Patrick Patterson scored 21 points off the bench on Sunday, with starter Jason Thompson playing only 10 minutes to PP’s 32.
- Greivis Vasquez has struggled some this season after a breakout 2012-13, reaching a new low with just 2 points and 2 assists in 15 minutes against the Clips. He’s averaging 10.5 points and 5.4 assists on the season, down from 13.9 and 9.0 in New Orleans last season.

LAKERS ARE THE LAST TEAM TO GET AN OPPONENT ON A B2B
For the first time this season, the Lakers will draw an opposing team that’s on the second game of a back-to-back. Every other team has been in that situation at least one time, making the Lakers the last squad to gain what’s typically an advantage, as the Kings lost a tight one to the Clippers (103-102) on Saturday afternoon.

According to NBA.com’s John Schuhmann, the average team drew an opponent on a back to back 19 times. The Lakers tied with the Spurs for the fewest, with just 12. Why? Likely a combination of number of times on national TV and having most weekend games on Sunday instead of Saturday (since most teams play Friday).

WHY L.A.’s 6-7 RECORD (WITHOUT KOBE) LOOKS BETTER
The average winning percentage of teams the Lakers have faced thus far is 59.2%, which ranks behind only the Memphis Grizzlies (60.3%) for having the league’s toughest schedule. Thus far, 12 of L.A.’s 13 opponents have been .500 or better, the 4-8 Detroit Pistons serving as the exception.

YET AND STILL … LAKERS ARE 13th in the CRAZY DEEP WEST
Only Sacramento (4-8) and Utah (1-13) have worse records than LAL’s 6-7 in the West, with the Suns, Pelicans and Nuggets all at 6-6 and every other team above .500. If the Lakers were in the East, they’d be sitting in the 7th playoff spot.

DOUBLE-DOUBLING:
In the last 5 games, three Lakers are averaging double doubles:

Pau Gasol: 17.0 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 3.8 apg
Jordan Hill: 17.0 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 1.6 bpg
Steve Blake: 10.4 ppg, 10.4 apg, 3.4 rpg

THE LATEST KOBE BRYANT INFO
After going full speed at practice on consecutive days (Tuesday and Wednesday), Kobe Bryant took Thursday off to recover, before returning to the court on Saturday to work out on his own. Mike D’Antoni told me that Bryant went through his own workout at the team’s facility before heading to the training room to do some further rehabilitation and management with the training staff (head physical therapist Dr. Judy Seto in particular).

“(Bryant) will amp it up as much as he needs to,” D’Antoni explained. “It’s not soreness of the Achilles, just general soreness. He hadn’t played since April and he went hard, and you just feel sore and sluggish. It’s a normal thing. He didn’t have to back off because of injury.”

Bryant had previously acknowledged the possibility of returning in November, which leaves the 26th, 27th and 29th (a three-game trip through D.C., Brooklyn and Detroit), but that’s by no means a prediction as to his actual first game action.

LAKERS IMPROVEMENT ON DEFENSE CONTINUES
Since Jordan Hill and Wesley Johnson entered the starting line up, the Lakers are playing considerably better on the defensive end:

First eight games: 106.5 ppg, 46.4% FG’s, 40.2% 3-PT FG’s
Last five games: 97.8 ppg, 42.7% FG’s, 30.3% 3-PT FG’s

Here’s what Mike D’Antoni said: “Guys are starting to get into rotations and how we do things without thinking so much that it becomes a habit, and that way you can react quicker and they react quicker to the ball and different situations. As a young team, that takes time, but it’s starting to settle in a little bit.”

RELATED: LAKERS ACTUALLY UP IN DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY
LAL are up to 15th in defensive efficiency, not terrible considering their rough schedule. They were 18th last year with Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace. On the other hand, The Lakers were 8th in offensive efficiency last year thanks in no small part to Kobe’s outstanding offensive season. This year, they’re only 21st through 13 games.

LAKERS BOMBING THREES, MAKING 2nd MOST IN NBA W/5th BEST %
After draining 11 more triples against the Warriors, the Lakers are up to 5th in the NBA in 3-point percentage, hitting 41.0% on the young season, way up from their 35.2% mark in 2012-13 (20th in the NBA). They’re also making more than any other team but Golden State, connecting on 10.2 per game. Jodie Meeks ranks 10th in the NBA in 3-PT FGM (32), and Steve Blake ranks 15th (28). At 48.5%, Meeks ranks 14th in the NBA in accuracy, while Blake’s 47.5% puts him at No. 23. Below is a shot chart of the team’s efficiency from beyond the arc, courtesy of NBA.com/stats. blog_131124lakersthrees

JORDAN HILL EXCELLING AS A STARTER
In his five games as a starter Jordan Hill is averaging 17.0 points, 11.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks on 59.6% FG’s and 89.5% FT’s, earning walk off interviews in two of the last three home games. His minutes increased from 16.1 (first eight games) to 31.2. He posted career-highs of 24 points and 17 boards in last Sunday’s win over Detroit. Hill ranks second behind only Detroit’s Andre Drummond in field goal percentage this season at 60.9%.

Here’s what Kobe Bryant said about Hill: “Tremendous. He really worked hard this summer and got himself into good shape, shed some weight; he’s extremely strong, (has) long arms, athletic. He has a knack for the ball and is great around the rim. He has a great touch on the low post and a great touch on the perimeter. He’s been a pleasant surprise.”

YOUNG CONTINUES TO SHINE OFF THE PINE
When coming off the pine, Nick Young is averaging 17.1 points per game, which ranks third behind only SAC’s Isaiah Thomas (18.4 ppg) and NOP’s Ryan Anderson (19.3 in two games). As a reserve, Young is shooting 52.3%, compared with 33.3% as a reserve, and is hitting 40.0% from three compared with 23.5% as a starter:

STARTS (6): 21.5 mpg, 9.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.7 spg, 33.3% FG’s, 23.5% 3’s
BENCH (7): 26.9 mpg, 17.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.0 spg, 52.3% FG’s, 40.0% 3’s

Perhaps related: Young’s taking better shots, closer to the hoop, taking 6 percent more shots in the paint in his last five games. He also said he heard Rihanna shout “Swaggy P” during Friday’s win over GSW, which is nice.

Harris, Kelly Play In D-Fenders Home Opener

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles LakersDespite key performances from Lakers assignment players Elias Harris (18 points two rebounds, two assists) and Ryan Kelly (24 points, nine rebounds), the D-Fenders dropped their season opener against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers 124-114.

Kelly scored 21 of his points in the second half after battling foul trouble in the first two quarters.

“It took me awhile to get adjusted,” Kelly said. “I just had to figure things out and continue to be aggressive.”

Meanwhile, Harris helped paced the D-Fenders in the first half with 15 points before fouling out early in the fourth quarter.

Postgame, the Gonzaga product believed he could have played much better in all aspects of his game, particularly on the defensive end. When on assignment, Harris sees this as a time to craft the work he puts in with the Lakers development coaches.

“With the Lakers, we work a lot individually and it’s a perfect time to try it in the game and see if it works for me or not,” Harris said. “It’s a good experience for me here in the D-League.”

Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State WarriorsFor Kelly, it was his first look at extended game action since his senior year in college after sitting out all of summer league and playing a total of 33 minutes during the preseason, and seven minutes through the team’s first 13 contests.

Overall, he said he felt fine physically and sees this as a chance to work on different parts of his game.

“It’s a matter of getting minutes on the floor and having an opportunity to work on my game and get better in every aspect,” he said. “I have a set role with the Lakers, and I want to continue to grow in that. But when I step on the floor with the D-League team, I can look to create more and be a little of a different player – the player I want to be eventually for the Lakers.”

Saturday Practice Report

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles LakersAfter Kobe Bryant sat out Thursday’s practice because of “general soreness,” he went through his own workout while the rest of the team participated in a light session.

“(Bryant) will amp it up as much as he needs to,” coach Mike D’Antoni explained. “It’s not soreness of the Achilles, just general soreness. He hadn’t played since April and he went hard, and you just feel sore and sluggish. It’s a normal thing. He didn’t have to back off because of injury.”

The Lakers will embark on a three-game road trip next week, where practice time will be limited. But D’Antoni stated Bryant will be with the team and participate in shootaround. There is still no definitive timetable for his return, however.

“We look at the calendar and we say we’ll get practice here and you need to amp it up here,” D’Antoni said. “But how he responds to that is when he’ll be able to play, so we don’t know how that’ll be.”

Until Bryant returns, Pau Gasol believes the team should be focused on what they can do and build upon their play the last couple of games.

“We can’t really anticipate too much or stress about it,” Gasol said. “He’s going to come back when he comes back. Whenever that is, we’ll be happy and excited. But at the same time, we have to continue to play with the intensity and focus we have been playing with the last few games.”

With the team afforded more practice time over the last week, the 7-foot Spaniard, who finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds vs. Golden State, has seen a difference on both the offensive and defensive end.

“We have improved on both ends of the floor,” Gasol said. “We’ve developed our offensive game, but defensively, I think we’re hustling, we’re working together, we’re coming up with big stops and (creating) a bond that’s needed for our team to be successful.”

Lakers-Warriors Postgame Numbers

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles LakersWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 102-95 win against Golden State:

.592
The average winning percentage of teams the Lakers have faced thus far. L.A. has played the second-toughest schedule in the league – they trail only the Memphis Grizzlies (.603) – with 11 of their 13 opponents being .500 or better.

41.5
Percentage of field goals made for Golden State, which included a 6 for 20 shooting night from Klay Thompson. In the last five games, the Lakers are holding opponents to just 42.7 percent shooting overall and 30.3 percent from beyond the arc.

24
Points for Pau Gasol, a team-high, to go along with 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block. Gasol pledged $1,000 per point towards typhoon relief in the Philippines. “Once I started knocking down those outside shots, it opened things up for me because then I could attack off the dribble,” Gasol said. “(The Warriors) didn’t know what was going to come to them. I had an effective night, especially in that first half. I was happy to get the win first, but also to score all those points for a really good cause.”

21
Plus-rating for Jordan Farmar, a team-high. After recording 16 points in the previous four games, Farmar scored 14 and dished out a eight assists, which tied a season-high. “It’s important for me to try to (get into a rhythm), just try to be aggressive and get myself going as well as get everyone else involved,” Farmar said. “Tonight, I felt good.”

3
Three-pointers made for Nick Young towards 21 points. As a team, the Lakers hit 11 triples, the eighth time in 13 games they’ve had double-digit makes from beyond the arc. In the last five games off the bench, Young is averaging 17.2 points on 49.2 percent field goals.

LAL 102, Warriors 95: 11/22 Running Diary

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles LakersBelow is a running diary of L.A.’s home contest against Golden State with comments drawn from Mike Trudell’s @LakersReporter Twitter account, to ensure you’re covered from start to finish:

Starters
Lakers: Blake, Meeks, Johnson, Hill and Gasol
Warriors: Igoudala, Thompson, Barnes, Lee and Bogut


FIRST QUARTER



SECOND QUARTER


Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers
THIRD QUARTER



FOURTH QUARTER

Thursday Practice Report

ts_131121practice670After going through two straight practices on Tuesday and Wednesday, Kobe Bryant skipped Thursday’s session, as he works his way back from the Achilles tear he suffered in April.

“It’s just precautionary,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I know everybody is eager but it’s going to be a little bit of a process to make sure he’s healthy when he comes back.”

Aside from Bryant’s ongoing process to return to the floor, Steve Nash also continues to rehabilitate after missing the last 10 days because of nerve root irritation.

“Steve is progressing,” D’Antoni said. “He’s still in the process of working out and getting back his conditioning, trying to get over the nerve (issue) and get his body aligned. It’ll probably be another week or 10 days, and he’ll try it. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, he’ll go back and try again.”

Lakers.com’s Mike Trudell reported the plan for Nash is to fly to Vancouver next week while the team is on their three-game road trip at Washington, Brooklyn and Detroit. He will rejoin the club when they return on Saturday, Nov. 30.

The three practices in the last week for the team is an NBA rarity, as the club had played 12 games in 20 days prior – the most of any club in the league – including three sets of back-to-back contests. In advance of Friday’s tilt against Golden State, the coaching staff emphasized particular defensive schemes to counter the Warriors’ high-powered offense.

“We just worked on a lot of their sets and what they do; pick and roll defense, getting out to their three-point shooters, making sure we run them off the line,” D’Antoni said. “It’s normal stuff we do against every team except Golden State does it as good as anybody.”

The Warriors rank first in the league in three-pointers made per game (10.6) and rank second in three-point field goal percentage (44.9). In particular, Klay Thompson leads the league in three-pointers made (40), while shooting 48.8 percent from distance. Thompson scored 38 points against the Lakers in Golden State’s home opener on Oct. 30, and is averaging a career-best 20.6 points per game this year. Stephen Curry, who missed the team’s last game because of a concussion, also ranks among the league leaders in three-pointers made and three-point field goal percentage. He is expected to play on Friday, according to the team.

The Lakers defense, however, has improved over the last four games, in large part because of the play of Jordan Hill. Opponents are averaging 98.5 points on 43.0 percent field goals and 26.9 percent on three-pointers in that span, compared to the first eight games when teams put up 106.5 points and shot 46.4 percent field goals and 40.2 percent from distance. Wesley Johnson’s length at the starting three has also keyed the team’s success on the defensive end.

“We’re much more comfortable defensively and what we’re trying to do, and they’re reacting without thinking,” D’Antoni said. “We got the rotations down a little bit better, guys are more comfortable, we have guys that are playing really well.”

Jordan Hill Seizing The Opportunity

blog_131120hillOne of the more pressing questions coach Mike D’Antoni faced early in the season was figuring out a set rotation. Through the first eight games, the Lakers used five different starting units, while 11 players averaged at least 15 minutes. Against New Orleans, the coaching staff once again shook up the lineup again, inserting Jordan Hill at the starting four spot.

“We switched up the lineup to get a little more energy in there,” D’Antoni said pregame. “He brings energy and hopefully we can start off a little (better).”

Hill responded with a career-high 21 points and 11 rebounds in his first start to key the Lakers 116-95 win that night. In Sunday’s 114-89 win against Detroit, he posted new career-highs of 24 points and 17 rebounds against a frontcourt that featured 7-footer Andre Drummond, 6-foot-11 Greg Monroe and 6-foot-9 Josh Smith.

“That’s just will and effort,” Wesley Johnson said of Hill’s rebounding ability. “I know that he has a nose for the ball and he definitely doesn’t stop.”

In four starts this year, the Arizona product is averaging 18.8 points, 12.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks on 61.7 percent field goals. According to NBA.com/stats, the 6-foot-10 forward has converted on 69.2 percent of his attempts from eight feet and in. And in a small sample size, Hill is 3 for 6 on jump shots from 16-24 feet, something he’s acknowledged he worked on during the offseason.

“Tremendous,” Kobe Bryant said of Hill’s play thus far. “He really worked hard this summer and got himself into good shape and shed some weight. He has a knack for the ball and is great around the rim. He has a great touch on the low post and a great touch on the perimeter. He’s been a pleasant surprise.”

Aside from his individual statistics, Hill’s play has aided in an improvement on the defensive end for the Lakers. In the last four games, opponents are averaging 98.5 points on 43.0 percent shooting compared to the first eight games where teams put up 106.5 points per game on 46.4 percent field goals. Along with Hill, the continuity in the lineup the last four games has played a key role in the team’s defensive success.

“Playing Jordan Hill gives us a little more length at the four,” D’Antoni said. “And guys are starting to get into rotations and how we do things without thinking so much that it becomes a habit, and that way you can react quicker and they react quicker to the ball and different situations. As a young team, that takes time, but it’s starting to settle in a little bit. Hopefully we can keep on that right path.”

With Bryant’s return on the horizon as he continues to practice with the team, the forward maintains he’ll continue to do what he does best: rebound and bring energy to the court. D’Antoni believes that his recent string of success is not a fluke.

“(He’s) not only (bringing) energy, but he’s averaging (a double-double),” D’Antoni said. “He’s playing at an All-Star level. What he’s doing is remarkable. There’s no reason why he can’t keep that up.”

Lakers-Pistons Postgame Numbers

Detroit Pistons v Los Angeles LakersWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 114-99 win against Detroit:

36.2
Percent field goals for the Pistons in the second half after converting at a 62.5 percent clip in the first 24 minutes. In particular, the Lakers erased a six-point halftime deficit in the third quarter by outscoring Detroit 29-15 and limiting them to 7 for 25 shooting.

17
Rebounds for Jordan Hill, to go along with 24 points – both career-highs. In four starts this season, Hill has recorded three double-doubles and is averaging 18.8 points, 12.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks on 61.7 percent field goals. “That’s just will and effort,” teammate Wesley Johnson said of Hill’s rebounding ability. “I know that he has a nose for the ball and he definitely doesn’t stop.”

16
Dimes for Steve Blake, a season-high. The combo guard now has four straight games with double-digit assists, the first time in his career he’s had such a streak. As a team, the Lakers finished with 33 assists on 47 made field goals. Postgame, Blake credited the coaching staff and his teammates for his recent success. “I think it starts with coach (Mike) D’Antoni putting me in a good system in the right places and our teammates getting used to each other,” he said. “The chemistry and the most important thing with assists is that your teammates make shots, so I give them all the credit for helping me get them.”

13
Plus-rating for Nick Young, tied for second-best on the team. A personal 8-0 run from Young that included back-to-back triples towards the end of the third quarter gave the Lakers the lead for good. In six games coming off the bench, Young is averaging 16.5 points on 53.5 percent field goals and 39.1 percent three-point field goals.

4
Three-pointers made for Jodie Meeks towards 19 points. He ranks second in the league in three-point field goals made (30), trailing only Golden State’s Klay Thompson (35). In the last four games, Meeks is shooting 56.2 percent from the floor and 54.2 percent from beyond the arc. Below is a shot chart of his efficiency, courtesy of NBA.com/stats. blog_131117meeks

LAL 114, Pistons 99: 11/17 Running Diary

Detroit Pistons v Los Angeles LakersBelow is a running diary of L.A.’s home contest against Detroit with comments drawn from Mike Trudell’s @LakersReporter Twitter account, to ensure you’re covered from start to finish:

Starters
Lakers: Blake, Meeks, Johnson, Hill and Gasol
Pistons: Jennings, Caldwell-Pope, Smith, Monroe and Drummond

FIRST QUARTER



SECOND QUARTER


Detroit Pistons v Los Angeles Lakers
THIRD QUARTER

Detroit Pistons v Los Angeles Lakers
FOURTH QUARTER