Monthly Archive for November, 2013

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Kobe Bryant Returns to Practice

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles LakersLakers Injury Report sponsored by UCLA Health SystemFor the first time since tearing his Achilles in April, Kobe Bryant returned to the practice floor with his teammates on Saturday afternoon in El Segundo.

It was a relatively light session for the Lakers, consisting mostly of 5-on-0 skeleton drills and some half-court work. Nonetheless, Bryant’s presence was more than a welcome sight for his teammates.

“He looked good and did a few moves I didn’t expect him to do right away,” said Pau Gasol. “I’m very happy for him and for us, and definitely looking forward to when he’ll play in a game.”

“We were just doing drills, nothing 100 percent, but he looked really good,” added Jodie Meeks. “After being out for seven months it’s amazing to see him our there like that.”

Bryant played alongside Steve Blake, Meeks, Wesley Johnson and Gasol in some drills, according to Meeks, and Bryant was doing everything from cutting side-to-side, shooting and running.

“He looked good doing it,” said Meeks. “He was making shots. He’s so intelligent that he helps guys get in the right spots and makes the game a lot easier not only for myself but for the whole team. He’s been in the league for almost 20 years, he knows it all inside and out.”

Perhaps more than anything else, Bryant filled the void he’s filled for several years as the leader of the team, asserting himself from the outset of practice.

“He’s the alpha dog,” Meeks explained. “He tells everybody where to go, gets everyone in the right spots and gives everyone confidence that our leader is coming back soon.”

How soon?

“I try not to ask him about it because I know everybody else is,” Meeks concluded. “When he comes back we’ll be happy to have him, but until then we’ll just have to keep fighting and try to win.”

Lakers-Grizzlies Postgame Numbers

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles LakersWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 89-86 loss vs. Memphis:

51
Rebounds for Memphis, who held a plus-11 advantage on the glass. The Grizzlies grabbed 10 boards on the offensive end that led to 10 second-chance points, while the Lakers only registered four offensive rebounds and two second-chance points.

30
Percentage of field goals made for the Lakers in the fourth quarter, including a 2 for 7 showing in the last five minutes. The Grizzlies, however, shot 52.2 percent in the final 12 minutes, with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph combining to go 10 for 13 towards 22 points.

28
Points for Randolph, a season-high. He scored 14 in the fourth quarter, including 12 of the last 14 for Memphis down the stretch to seal the victory. Prior to the game, Randolph had been averaging 12.6 points and 8.1 rebounds, but he more than doubled his scoring average and grabbed 11 boards. Below is a shot chart of his efficiency from the field, courtesy of NBA.com/stats. blog_131115randolph

5
Three-pointers for Jodie Meeks on his way to a season-high 25 points. Meeks carried much of the offensive load, particularly in the third quarter (12 points on 5 of 6 field goals). His five triples accounted for half the Lakers’ 10 makes, the sixth time in 11 games they’ve hit double digit three-pointers.

3
Straight games of double-digit assists for Steve Blake, who finished with 10. In the last four games, Blake is averaging 12.2 points, 9.4 assists and 4.0 rebounds on 45.7 percent field goals and 50.0 percent three-point field goals.

LAL 86, Grizzlies 89: 11/15 Running Diary

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles LakersBelow is a running diary of L.A.’s home contest against Memphis 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
Grizzlies: Conley, Allen, Prince, Randolph and Gasol

FIRST QUARTER

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Lakers
SECOND QUARTER


THIRD QUARTER


Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Lakers
FOURTH QUARTER

Lakers-Nuggets Postgame Numbers

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver NuggetsWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 111-99 loss at Denver:

60
Paint points for Denver, who held a plus-28 in that department over the Lakers. Ty Lawson repeatedly got into the teeth of the defense to create for himself or for his teammates (seven assists). Coming into the game, the Nuggets ranked 13th in the NBA in paint points per game (42.2), but 24 of their 40 made field goals came within five feet or less.

36
Second-chance points for the Nuggets, courtesy of 23 offensive boards. Kenneth Faried, J.J. Hickson and Timofey Mozgov combined to grab 14 of them, with Mozgov tying his career-high of 23 points off the bench in 29 minutes.

15
Rebounds for Jordan Hill, which tied a career-high. Hill battled foul trouble throughout the game, but his activity on both ends of the floor (eight offensive boards, three blocks, one steal) was evident in his time on the court.

11
Dimes for Steve Blake, to go along with 15 points and six rebounds. He recorded his second straight game of double-digit assists and drilled two more three-pointers to bring his season total to 24, tied for second in the NBA.

4
Three-pointers for Wilson Chandler, who made his season debut after recovering from a hamstring injury. He finished a game-high plus-12, and his two triples during a 90-second span in the fourth helped push Denver’s lead to double digits, essentially sealing the win for the home team.

LAL 99, Nuggets 111: 11/13 Running Diary

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver NuggetsBelow is a running diary of L.A.’s road contest at Denver 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
Nuggets: Lawson, Foye, Hamilton, Faried and Hickson

FIRST QUARTER

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets
SECOND QUARTER


Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets
THIRD QUARTER

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets
FOURTH QUARTER

Lakers – Nuggets Sideline Notes

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles LakersHere’s a look at everything you need to know about the Lakers (4-5) and their Wednesday evening opponent, the Denver Nuggets (2-4):

NUGGETS NUGGETS
- Ty Lawson leads Denver in scoring (21.7 points, T-13th in NBA), assists (7.3, T-10th), minutes (36.9), three’s made (10 total, tied with Randy Foye), free throws made (34, 81.0 percent) and steals (1.3, also tied with Foye). No other Nugget is averaging more than 10.3 points per night (Jordan Hamilton).
- Wilson Chandler has not played this season, but is listed as a game-time decision with his hamstring strain and could make his debut. He was one of Denver’s three best players not named Ty Lawson last season who’s either been hurt (Danilo Gallinari, torn ACL) or changed teams (Andre Iguodala). If he doesn’t play, Jordan Hamilton should get more SF minutes (he started the last two games and had career highs of 19 points and nine boards at Phoenix on 11/8.)
- JaVale McGee is out indefinitely with a left tibia stress fracture; Timofey Mozgov is the likely starter in his place unless coach Brian Shaw goes with J.J. Hickson.
- The Nuggets rank just 11th in the NBA in fast break points (15.5 per game), and 13th in points in the paint (42.2). That’s quite a difference from last year, when they led the NBA in FB points (19.7 per game) and also points in the paint at 57.3 a contest. New coach Brian Shaw is trying to establish them as more of a balanced team that can post up, which is going to take some time.
- Denver owns the second best home court record in the NBA since 2007-08 at 191-49 (.796), trailing only San Antonio’s 187-47 (.799). The Lakers are third at 182-52 (77.8%).
- Kenneth Faried broke out of a slow start to the early-season (in part minutes related) with 15 points and 13 boards in Monday’s win at Utah.

THE (DREADED) SECOND NIGHT OF A BACK-TO-BACK IN DENVER:
The Lakers are 16-16 (.500) all-time when playing at Denver in the second of a back-to-back, which is actually pretty surprisingly good, because all-time, teams are just 160-376 (.299) when playing in the mile-high city in the second of a back-to-back.

This is less surprising: Since the 2003-04 season, the Lakers are 1-7 (.125) when playing at Denver in the second of a back-to-back. The combined league record since 2003-04 when playing at Denver in the second of a back-to-back is 27-118 (.186)

In related news: the Nuggets were a much better team, overall, after 2003-04 (when Carmelo was drafted) than prior to that time.

YOUR 2013-14 LAL LEADING SCORER IS … JODIE MEEKS?
Perhaps nobody has improved his game more this season from last than Jodie Meeks, who scored 15 more points on Tuesday on 5-of-7 FG’s (3-of-5 3’s) with three boards and a steal in LAL’s 116-95 W over New Orleans. As such, he improved to 13.0 ppg on the season, which leads the Lakers through nine games, thanks to 52.6% FG’s and 47.6% from three.

The Kentucky product is currently seventh in the NBA in adjusted field goal percentage (where three’s weigh more heavily than two’s) at 65.8% and eighth in true shooting percentage at 69.0%.

BLAKE CONTINUES STRONG PLAY
Steve Blake came into the game vs. New Orleans averaging 15.3 points, 6.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds on 50.0% FG’s (16/32), 61.1% 3-PT FG’s (11/18) in his previous three contests, and while he took only four shots (making one, a triple) against the Pelicans, he led the Lakers with 10 assists to just two turnovers in a solid floor game. He was consistently setting up Jordan Hill and Pau Gasol inside and Meeks outside, setting the tone for good ball movement all evening (33 assists on 44 field goals for the team).

Of Blake’s 29 field goals made this season, 22 have been 3-pointers. He ranks 5th in the NBA with the 22 makes, trailing only Damian Lillard (25), Kevin Martin (24), Steph Curry and Klay Thompson (24) apiece. Below is a shot chart of his efficiency from three-point range, courtesy of NBA.com/stats.
blog_131112blakethrees
“FLUCTUATION” THE OPERATIVE WORD FOR LAL’s LINE UPS
Through nine games, the Lakers have utilized six different starting lineups, and nine different players have started a game. With Nash out, we saw what may be a regular rotation for a few weeks:

Starters: Blake, Meeks, Johnson, Hill and Gasol
Bench: Farmar, Henry, Young, Williams and Kaman

Williams only played about 13 minutes against New Orleans, however, as Hill and Wesley Johnson may get some of those reserve minutes at the four spot.

D’Antoni would like to establish an identity ASAP, as he said at practice on Monday: “One thing we have to do is find our identity. We don’t play slow or fast, we don’t do anything with a purpose and we’re trying to get that. We’re trying to clarify what playing hard means because sometimes I misconstrue that in the press. Being able to anticipate what’s happening, being mentally alert. They’re all trying but a lot of time they’re one step or two steps behind because we didn’t anticipate or get to a spot. We need to get there to be able to benefit from playing hard. It’s not a character issue, it’s a matter of an execution thing.”

BOMBING FROM THREE CONTINUES:
For the second time this season, the Lakers hit over 50% of their three-pointers, sinking 11 of 20 against New Orleans to improve to 40.9% on the season, good for 7th in the NBA. They’re making 10.4 per game, good for 3rd in the league (Washington and Golden State rank 1st and 2nd, respectively). The Nuggets shoot the three well also. Though they make only 7.8 (13th), they’re hitting 40.5%, just behind the Lakers for 8th.

Steve Blake leads the Lakers at 48.9%, with Jodie Meeks close behind at 47.6%, the starting backcourt getting the job done. Xavier Henry is up to 44% after sinking all three of his triples against the Pelicans.

HENRY SNAPS HIS SLUMP IN STYLE
Tuesday night was a much-needed boost for Xavier Henry, who put up 15 points on 6-of-8 field goals and 3-of-3 three-pointers plus three steals to break out of a four-game slump. In the previous four, he’d really struggled, both by the eye test and the numbers: 4.0 PPG, 6-of-26 FG’s (23%), 0-for-4 threes, 11 rebounds (season-high 8 vs. MIN). Meanwhile, his monster jam over University of Kansas teammate Jeff Withey was ridiculous, and had Staples Center rocking.

Continue reading ‘Lakers – Nuggets Sideline Notes’

Lakers-Pelicans Postgame Numbers

New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles LakersWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 116-95 win against New Orleans:

55.7
Percentage of field goals made for the Lakers towards tying a season-high 116 points. The team also shot 11 for 20 (55 percent) from distance and 17 for 21 from the charity stripe (81 percent). Below is a shot chart of their efficiency from the floor, courtesy of NBA.com/stats. blog_131112lakerschart

53
Rebounds for the Lakers, who held a plus-22 edge on the glass. Four players grabbed at least seven boards, led by Jordan Hill’s 11 in his first start this season. It was the first time this season a team had at least 20 more defensive rebounds than the opposition, and the second time a team had at least 20 more total rebounds than an opponent (TOR vs. MIL, 11/2).

33
Assists for the Lakers, led by Steve Blake’s game-high 10. In his last three games, Blake has averaged nearly nine dimes. Postgame, the Maryland product was pleased with the ball movement from the entire team. “I think the chemistry was really there,” he said. “We read each other where we were supposed to be, we were getting into the pockets, guys were making the extra pass and we were making shots.” L.A. came in averaging 22.6 to rank 12th in the NBA, but improved to 23.8 to bump up to ninth.

21
Points for Hill – a career-high – to go along with 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block. He sparked the Lakers to an early lead that would swell to as many as 28 points with his activity on both ends of the floor. “I think Jordan Hill being in that first group helped with his energy, and Wesley Johnson (too),” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I thought they set the tone defensively, and then everybody picked it up.”

20
Plus-rating for Xavier Henry, a team-high. Henry shot 6 for 8 from the floor, including 3 for 3 from beyond the arc towards 15 points. The highlight of the night came from his one-handed dunk over former college teammate Jeff Withey.

LAL 116, Pelicans 95: 11/12 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s home contest against New Orleans 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
Pelicans: Holiday, Gordon, Aminu, Davis and Smith



FIRST QUARTER


New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers
SECOND QUARTER


THIRD QUARTER

New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers


New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers
FOURTH QUARTER

LAL Draw Davis, Pelicans Again

Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans PelicansOn Friday evening in New Orleans, the Lakers got a heavy dose of Anthony Davis, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 Draft, who posted the following line:

Davis vs. LAL on Nov. 8: 32 points on 12 of 18 field goals and eight of 11 free throws; 12 rebounds; six blocks; three assists and one steal in 37 minutes.

“He’s very talented and he’s becoming the go-to guy for them,” said Steve Blake, who drained five threes towards 19 points against Minnesota. “He’s young and athletic, but there were times where we could have made adjustments and a lot of his baskets were out in the open floor where we turned the ball over. If we could have made him play in the half court more we would have been more successful.”

Davis outplayed Pau Gasol, who appeared fatigued on the second of a back-to-back after Thursday’s win at Houston, the Spaniard making only 3 of his 12 attempts. Gasol didn’t have his best game on Sunday against Minnesota, either, scoring 11 points with 11 rebounds in a second consecutive loss. He did, however, say he’s improving his conditioning, which has been behind this season after he took the summer off from basketball to rehabilitate from a procedure on both knees.

While the Davis-Gasol matchup will be in focus, the Lakers will need to play far better as a team than they did at New Orleans or against Minnesota. They did hold the Pelicans to 43.7 percent shooting in the 96-85 loss, but were outrun 27-19 in the fourth quarter. Coach Mike D’Antoni thought the effort was questionable from the outset.

“I thought we came out and we weren’t ready to play,” he said after the contest. “We didn’t play with intensity. In the beginning, we were behind. The second unit came out and gave us a nice burst, and the first unit did pretty good in the second half. Then at the end, we didn’t have it. We didn’t play with the right energy. They just outran us and outplayed us. We needed everybody to be present and they weren’t.”

Furthermore, L.A. has yet to establish a firm identity, still dealing with not only Kobe Bryant’s continued absence from his April surgery on his Achilles, but Steve Nash’s ongoing nerve issues related to his back, hamstring and hips. Since those two players are L.A.’s best playmakers when healthy, it’s been difficult for the team to establish a solid foundation.

“One thing we have to do is find our identity,” D’Antoni explained. “We don’t play slow or fast, we don’t do anything with a purpose and we’re trying to get that. We’re trying to clarify what playing hard means because sometimes I misconstrue that in the press.

“Being able to anticipate what’s happening, being mentally alert. They’re all trying but a lot of time they’re one step or two steps behind because we didn’t anticipate or get to a spot. We need to get there to be able to benefit from playing hard. It’s not a character issue, it’s a matter of an execution thing.”

As such, we may see another starting line up on Tuesday. Nash – who missed Friday’s game against New Orleans – will unlikely play. Whether the group of Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, Chris Kaman and Gasol (who started on Friday) remain has yet to be announced.

Lakers-T’Wolves Postgame Numbers

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles LakersWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 113-90 loss vs. Minnesota:

47
First-quarter points for Minnesota – a franchise-high – on 76.2 percent field goals. Kevin Love and Kevin Martin led the way, combining for 34 points on 12 of 14 field goals overall and 6 of 7 on three-pointers. Below is a shot chart of the team’s offensive performance in the first quarter, courtesy of NBA.com/stats.
blog_131110wolvesfirst

22
The Lakers 22-game winning streak over Minnesota was snapped. The last time the T’Wolves defeated L.A. was Mar. 6, 2007 when Kevin Garnett, Ricky Davis and Troy Hudson headlined their starting unit.

14
Assists for Ricky Rubio, to go along with 12 points, 10 rebounds and five steals towards his second career triple-double. The Spaniard set the tone early with seven dimes and three steals in the first 12 minutes to pace Minnesota to an early 47-23 advantage.

13
Minutes for Steve Nash before he was pulled after halftime because of back pain. Jodie Meeks, who finished with 16 points, started in his place to start the second half. “I’m concerned,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He was struggling physically tonight. You could just see it on his face and that’s why I took him out. We shut him down more or less. He was struggling.”

5
Three-pointers for Steve Blake, who finished with a team-high 19 points. Blake now ranks third in the league in three-point field goals made (21), behind Golden State’s Klay Thompson (22) and Stephen Curry (22).