Monthly Archive for November, 2013

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Injury Update: Steve Nash

2013 Global Games - ShanghaiLakers Injury Report Point guard Steve Nash played just 13 minutes against Minnesota before the coaching staff elected to sit him after halftime because of back pain.

“I’m concerned,” coach Mike D’Antoni said postgame. “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.”

Steve Blake also expressed concern for his teammate.

“I hate to see him struggling like that with injuries,” Blake said. “Hopefully we can get him back (soon).”


Postgame, Nash addressed assembled media members and discussed his injury.

Nash has played in six of the team’s eight games this season, sitting out both times during the team’s two back-to-back contests. The 18-year NBA veteran has consistently acknowledged that he still deals with nerve damage from a lower leg fracture suffered last year at Portland.

Jodie Meeks, who finished with 16 points, started in place of Nash alongside Blake in the second half.

Lakers 90, Wolves 113: 11/10 Running Diary

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

Starters
Lakers: Nash, Blake, Young, Kaman and Gasol
Timberwolves: Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love and Pekovic


FIRST QUARTER


Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers
SECOND QUARTER



Continue reading ‘Lakers 90, Wolves 113: 11/10 Running Diary’

Lakers-Pelicans Postgame Numbers

Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans PelicansWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 96-85 loss at New Orleans:

32
Points for Anthony Davis, a career-high. He also tied a career-high with six blocks, to go along with 12 rebounds and three assists. Davis made a number of key defensive plays, including two swats late in the fourth to thwart any Lakers rally. Below is a shot chart of Davis’ performance, courtesy of NBA.com/stats.
blog_131108_davis

22
Fastbreak points for New Orleans, compared to just five for the Lakers. The Pelicans broke the game open with a 12-0 spurt late in the fourth quarter, nine of those points coming off of transition opportunities. “We just turned the ball over,” Steve Blake said. “It’s as simple as that. We just didn’t execute down the stretch, they got out in transition and were getting easy buckets. We can’t allow that to happen.”

13
Rebounds for Jordan Hill in 22 minutes off the bench, both season-highs. The only blemish for Hill was his 0 for 6 performance from the charity stripe. This season, the big man is averaging 14.1 points, 14.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per 36 minutes.

6
Three-point makes for the Lakers out of 19 attempts, both season-lows. L.A. was just 1 for 8 in the first half, yet only found themselves down seven at 55-48. Coming into the contest, they ranked ninth in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage (40.6) and third in makes at more than 11 per game.

3:39
The Lakers were held without a field goal from the 4:07 mark of the fourth quarter until 28 seconds remained in the game. During that span, L.A. missed four shots and turned the ball over three times, while the Pelicans extended their three-point lead to double digits to put the game out of reach.

LAL 85, Pelicans 96: 11/8 Running Diary


Below is a running diary of L.A.’s road contest at 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, Young, Kaman and Gasol
Pelicans: Holiday, Gordon, Aminu, Davis and Smith

FIRST QUARTER

SECOND QUARTER
Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Pelicans

Continue reading ‘LAL 85, Pelicans 96: 11/8 Running Diary’

Lakers-Rockets Postgame Numbers

Los Angeles Lakers v Houston RocketsWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 99-98 win at Houston:

54
Bench points for the Lakers, led by Jodie Meeks’ 18 and Wesley Johnson’s 16. Both were key down the stretch for L.A.: Johnson shut down James Harden during the final minutes, while Meeks drained a key triple (five overall in the game) to set up Steve Blake’s game winner.

52
Free-throw attempts for the Rockets compared to the Lakers 15. Harden attempted 16, including 13 in the second quarter, while Dwight Howard also attempted 16, with 12 of them coming in the fourth. L.A. elected to foul the big man down the stretch intentionally where he went 4 for 8. Overall, Houston only made 33 of their 52, a 63.5 percent clip.

16
Three-pointers made for the Lakers, the last one from Blake ultimately being the game-winner. Below is a shot chart of the Lakers performance from the three-point line, courtesy of NBA.com/stats. blog_131107lakersthrees

10
Rebounds for Chris Kaman in his first start as a Laker, with coach Mike D’Antoni choosing to play two bigs. The 7-footer recorded four points, five boards, two steals and one block in the first quarter to help pace the Lakers to an early double-digit lead. In all, L.A. owned a plus-three advantage on the glass and grabbed 13 offensive boards towards 13 second-chance points.

3:52
The Lakers held the Rockets without a field goal for the final 3:52 after choosing to foul Howard until the two-minute mark. In that span, Howard went 5 for 12 from the line, while Houston missed five field goals, including Patrick Beverley’s last second three-point attempt.

LAL 99, Rockets 98: 11/7 Running Diary

Los Angeles Lakers v Houston RocketsBelow is a running diary of L.A.’s road contest at Houston with comments drawn from Mike Trudell’s @LakersReporter Twitter account, to ensure you’re covered from start to finish:

Starters
Lakers: Nash, Blake, Young, Kaman and Gasol
Rockets: Beverley, Harden, Parsons, Asik and Howard


FIRST QUARTER


Los Angeles Lakers v Houston Rockets
SECOND QUARTER

Los Angeles Lakers v Houston Rockets
THIRD QUARTER

blog_131107gasol
FOURTH QUARTER


Lakers’ Offense Needs to Get on a “Roll”

Atlanta Hawks v Los Angeles LakersPerhaps the most basic and essential element of Mike D’Antoni’s – and really most of the NBA’s – offense is the screen-and-roll action, designed to force the defense into making a decision that leaves the offense with an open shot.

Five games into the season, the Lakers have not run it well. Too often, the big men are setting the screen and popping out for a jump shot instead of rolling to the basket, where they could either receive a pass with a chance finish or draw defensive attention that would produce open shots for teammates.

“(We need) more rolling, that’s what we want to do,” said D’Antoni after Wednesday’s practice in Houston ahead of Thursday’s game against the Rockets. “Mid-range shots aren’t the best thing in the world, so if that’s all you’re trying to get, that’s not a winning formula.”

I asked D’Antoni to what degree he’d prefer his big men roll, as opposed to pop.

“Almost 90 percent of the time we want you to roll hard, because we have another big that plays with (the roller) and he’d be the popper. You always have one shooter outside.”

And what is lacking?

“What we’re missing is a dynamic force going to the basket,” revealed D’Antoni. “Kobe (Bryant) would give you that, but we don’t have that force anywhere. So now we kind of play on the perimeter, and sometimes it works out a little bit, but that’s not what we need to do.”

“Sometimes we get too stagnant and we don’t create advantages,” said Pau Gasol when asked what L.A. needs to do better. “We have to create motion out of the pick and rolls, so that’s what we’re going to try and do more of from now on … (make) the defense move and for guys to be open from those actions. If we’re going to continue to run it, we have to do it more effectively. Hopefully when I roll, it’ll get me closer to the basket, too, and the ball might get there often, so that’s kind of the plan … our guards are not too fast, so we have to create advantages other ways.”

Gasol rolling to the hoop late in games after setting a screen for Bryant was L.A.’s bread and butter during the three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals from 2008-10, so he’s certainly capable and aware. Clearly, the coaches would prefer that he, Chris Kaman, Jordan Hill and even Wesley Johnson try and establish that “dynamic force” heading to the hoop after setting the screen. To what degree the bigs execute the plan remains to be seen.

Of course, there are two sides to the screen-and-roll, but on defense, the way the Lakers need to play the action is more simple.

“We just have to put the effort in mentally and focus on being gritty,” D’Antoni said. “For whatever reason, we have a hard time sustaining our effort mentally and focused in on being gritty … we’re not good enough to fall in like everybody else. Somehow we have to distinguish ourselves and that’s by grit and determination, and we’re not there yet.”

That grit was certainly lacking in Dallas, when Monta Ellis (30 points on 11 of 14 shooting, nine assists) got into the paint at will en route to the 123-104 blowout loss.

It’ll be just as much a focus in Houston on Thursday night, as the Rockets essentially run D’Antoni’s offense, with Omer Asik and Dwight Howard setting screens for James Harden and Patrick Beverley/Jeremy Lin. Howard did relatively little rolling to the hoop for L.A.’s offense last season, and D’Antoni hopes his bigs will begin to reverse that trend on Thursday evening.

Tip off is at 6:30 p.m. PST on TNT.

Gasol, D’Antoni Address Media in Houston

Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas MavericksPau Gasol talked to assembled media members at the Toyota Center in advance of L.A.’s game vs. Houston on Thursday night. Gasol discussed Dwight Howard’s free agency decision, summarized L.A.’s 2012-13 season and the state of the Lakers offensively and defensively through five games. Below is a transcript:

Pau Gasol
Q: On if he was surprised or disappointed about Dwight Howard’s decision:
Gasol: I was kind of open to everything and anything, just like any other time. He made his decision and he thought that was the best choice for him. I respect him for it, and that’s it.

Q: On if he expects the atmosphere to be crazier in L.A. when they face Houston:
Gasol: I’m sure, I’m sure. I’m pretty positive it will be a little different on our court than here (in Houston). We have to worry about our situation and what we’re dealing with now and we have to play better on the road. Houston is playing really well, especially here at home. It’s going to be a tough game for us, so we have to be able to challenge them and play a good game for 48 minutes, and not have the breakdowns that we’ve been having, especially on the road, where we haven’t been successful.

Q: On if he feels everything that could go wrong did go wrong last season for the team:
Gasol: A lot of things went wrong last year, for sure. A lot of adversity and nothing really clicked. It was a tough year for everyone, not for one individual. Pretty much for the entire team, it was a tough year to go through. You have to understand in the NBA you have those types of years, and those years are the ones that make you grow and you can use those years to build on and to work even harder to achieve later success.

Q: On if anybody knew to an extent about where Howard’s body was really at last year coming off back surgery:
Gasol: Kind of hard to say, right? I can’t speak for a person’s body, how he’s feeling and what he’s going through. We knew he wasn’t 100 percent, that’s what he talked about and that’s what he shared. Then he had the shoulder issue as well, but we all had issues.

Q: On if it’s hard to reconcile that Howard did not see his future in L.A.:
Gasol: No, like I said, it was his first time being in a free agent position. He had the freedom to pick his future, and he picked it. It wasn’t with the Lakers. It was with the Rockets, so good luck and that’s it.

Q: On what he feels the future of the Lakers is:
Gasol: There’s a lot of question marks. We’re just trying to focus on our season and on our next game. It’s hard to say what’s going to happen next year, who’s going to be here and who’s not. We’re going to try and focus on what we can control, which is working hard every day to get better and have a better season.

Q: On the keys to going after Howard defensively:
Gasol: You have to be able to move him around. You can’t really overpower him, so you have to keep in constant movement and make him uncomfortable, get him out of position, get him to be late to rotate and things like that. That’s what you have to do to be successful against him.

Q: On his view about the dynamic between Kobe Bryant and Howard last year:
Gasol: There was definitely a lack of understanding and connection. I don’t know how much tension there was, but there were days it was fine and everybody was on the same page, and when things get a little rough, usually that’s when the tension came up. Like I said it was a rough year and a lot of things didn’t go our way, and that made it much more difficult.

Q: On if he follows the Rockets and what Howard does:
Gasol: I follow almost every team in the league, so I’m on top of what every player does, especially at my position. I follow the top players and I just follow the NBA. I follow what teams do, what players do and who’s doing well and who’s not.

Q: On if there was any period last year where the Lakers had fun playing:
Gasol: The last stretch was a little fun. That’s when we made that run to get into the playoffs. I think that was fun. The team competed, we were fighting to get in and that was fun. I think we had a couple games in there that we all kind of enjoyed playing together without too many issues, but for the most part, that wasn’t the case.

Q: On what he wants to see individually and from the team in pick-and-roll situations:
Gasol: Sometimes we get too stagnant and we don’t create advantages. We have to create motion out of the pick and rolls, so that’s what we’re going to try and do more of from now on. Keep our guys moving, (make) the defense move and for guys to be open from those actions. If we’re going to continue to run it, we have to do it more effectively. Hopefully when I roll, it’ll get me closer to the basket, too, and the ball might get there often, so that’s kind of the plan.

Q: On when he chooses to pop or roll on offense, or whether it’s based off reads:
Gasol: I’m going to try and read the defense, but most of the time, I’m going to try and get myself closer to the basket. Otherwise we get too stagnant at times and we’re not creating anything. Our guards are not too fast, so we have to create advantages other ways.

Q: On coming to Houston last season in early January and if it was a low point with all three big men (himself, Howard and Hill) injured:
Gasol: It was a tough winter. I think we played San Antonio, Houston and then New Orleans – a similar trip to this one. Injuries just came together that way and we were super short handed. It was not easy for us and not ideal for us. It was the kind of year that it was. Sometimes it goes that way. It’s not going to be sunny all the time.

Q: On what he expected when Steve Nash and Howard came to L.A.:
Gasol: I was definitely hopeful. But I knew there was a lot of work to do. You don’t win games by showing up on the court and wearing a certain number or certain name. You have to work and you have to create chemistry, you have to create certain habits on the floor, understand your strengths and weaknesses and work on them every single day. We had a coaching staff change and a totally different system came in – a system that probably didn’t fit our personnel. It was a lot of stuff. I’m sure you grasp some of it, but as you go through it, you don’t understand how much stuff we had to go through.

Q: On if he felt Howard didn’t give it his all because he knew he wasn’t going to be here:
Gasol: I don’t think so. I think he had certain expectations and certain demands as far as the game that probably weren’t fulfilled. It was also a big job of adjusting. We all had to adjust. He had to adjust and keep up and (we had to) sacrifice ourselves for the betterment of the team. ‘How much are you willing to sacrifice yourself for the betterment of the team? Understand what it takes and what the team needs from you specifically, not what you would like to give in particular.’ Those are some of the questions individually we all should have asked ourselves and worked on from there on out. You live and you learn. It just didn’t work out. We’re trying to work this out right here and this is enough of a challenge right now.

Q: On his thoughts on the team’s defense thus far:
Gasol: Inconsistent and not enough. We just have to be engaged defensively, we have to be more active and we have to communicate. We don’t communicate and we don’t create energy for ourselves and that puts us in big trouble. That’s what we have to do whoever is out there regardless of the lineups, we have to establish a communication and connection amongst the players that are on the floor. Otherwise, we’re going to struggle. Teams are too good offensively and we have to understand that.

Q: On what makes it harder this year with Howard not in the middle:
Gasol: You don’t have a shot blocker back there that will bail you some of the time, that will protect the rim like Dwight can with his athleticism. He also is a guy that gets his hands on ball and he’s aggressive. He gets a couple steals a game. Those are extra possessions. We have to make up for that in different areas. We have smaller guys that are quicker and more athletic and we have to utilize that.

Mike D’Antoni
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni talked to the media about Howard’s free agency decision, what specifically he would like to see from his team out of pick-and-roll situations on offense, Xavier Henry’s play and his thought process behind whether choosing to play big or small lineups. Below is a transcript:

Q: On Howard’s decision to go to Houston:
D’Antoni: It’s too bad. We would have loved for him to have been here in L.A. It didn’t work out. We turned the page and you go on. We knew there were some problems and we didn’t know which way he’d go. He picked Houston and I’m sure he’ll make the best of it, and we’ll make the best of it.

Q: On if Howard was the one that got away from them:
D’Antoni: When you’ve been around long enough, there’s a lot that got away. I was in New York and we tried to go after some high guys, and there’s a lot that gets away. That’s the business you’re in. You just have to retool and do it. Everybody does what’s best for them and Dwight (Howard) did what was best for him. There’s more ways to get where you need to get.

Q: On what he’s expecting from a defensive front line of Omer Asik and Howard:
D’Antoni: They’re good. They do a lot of pick and rolls and run the floor. Obviously their defensive presence is good. You have to try to spread them out and do as well as you can.

Q: On his view on the Howard and Bryant dynamic:
D’Antoni: Everybody wanted to win a championship. Some people weren’t healthy. Sometimes it gets complicated and personalities get complicated. It was a situation where it didn’t’ work out to a certain degree. I thought towards the end, they were good. They were good together. Like I said, everybody chooses what’s best for them personally and family, and everything else. Nobody knows the total decision why and you just have to play off of it.

Q: On if he thought towards the end of the year that it could work out with Howard:
D’Antoni: 50-50. It was one of those things you didn’t know. You never know what people are thinking, and again, you never know someone’s personal life and what they want or looking for. You just don’t know.

Q: On what he would like to see from the team in the screen and roll action:
D’Antoni: We just have to put the effort. For whatever reason, we have a hard time sustaining our effort mentally and focused in on being gritty. We’re not there. We’re kind of playing in the old NBA trot. We’re not good enough to fall in like everybody else. Somehow we have to distinguish ourselves and that’s by grit and determination, and we’re not there yet.

Q: On if he would like to see more rolling action to the basket on offense:
D’Antoni: More rolling. That’s what we want to do. Again, mid-range shots aren’t the best shots in the world. If that’s what you want to get, that’s not a winning formula.

Q: On if he gives his players the option to either pop or roll:
D’Antoni: Almost 90 percent of the time, we want you to roll hard because we have another big (out there) and he’ll be the popper. You always have one shooter outside. What we’re missing is a dynamic force going to the basket. Kobe (Bryant) would give you that but we don’t have that force anywhere. So now we kind of play on the perimeter and sometimes it works out a little bit. But that’s not what we need to do.

Q: On if he knew the extent of Howard’s health last year:
D’Antoni: Yeah, he said he wasn’t healthy all the way until February or so. You could see it. It just complicated a lot of stuff.

Q: On Xavier Henry’s play thus far and where he needs to improve:
D’Antoni: Just getting his consistency. He’s a young player at 22 years old and hasn’t had much playing time. All of a sudden, he’s in the Lakers starting lineup. It’s tough, and tough to handle all that. He’s not a great shooter some nights, but I think still he’s positive when he’s on the floor. He’s running the floor well, playing good defense, so I think he’ll even (it all out), and he’ll keep getting better as a shooter.

Q: On his sense of when he’s looking at whether to play big or small lineups:
D’Antoni: My message was we’re not sustaining our energy to where we can make an intelligent decision. If you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, and we don’t run back and we don’t have grit, how do we know if something works or not? It’s almost like: ‘Oh that doesn’t work.’ Well, let’s show it. Let’s see it. If we all play hard, then we’ll make a decision. Again, a little bit of the responsibility is players have to separate themselves. They have to show everybody this is the way to go. Right now we’re trying to grasp at straws now and we just can’t do that.

Lakers-Mavs Postgame Numbers

blog_131105farmarWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 123-104 loss at Dallas:

52
Paint points for Dallas, as their guards consistently broke down the Lakers defense and made their way to the rim. The Mavs also grabbed 10 offensive rebounds and had 12 second-chance points that allowed them to get easy buckets near the hoop.

30
Points for Monta Ellis, to go along with nine assists on 11 of 14 field goals and 8 of 8 free throws. Ellis, in particular, routinely got to the basket whether it was for himself or setting up his teammates. Below is a shot chart of Ellis’ performance, courtesy of NBA.com/stats. “He’s just a different kind of weapon,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said of Ellis. “His catch-and-go ability, his speed in transition, his ability to change direction and attack the rim is unique in the league.”
blog_131105montaellis

12
Triples for the Lakers, with eight of them coming in the second half. In three of five games this season, L.A. has made double-digit three-pointers. For the season, they are shooting 39.2 percent from deep, ninth in the NBA.

9
Third-quarter minutes for Jordan Hill, who started the second half in place of Shawne Williams. Postgame, however, coach Mike D’Antoni acknowledged he is still looking for the best lineup combinations, whether the Lakers go with a more traditional lineup with two big men or a big and a stretch four.

7
Assists for Jordan Farmar, a season-high, as he directed a second unit that made a late push in the third quarter. The lead, though, would not get any closer than 15 points. Through five games, Farmar leads L.A. in dimes with 5.5 per contest.

LAL 104, Mavs 123: 11/5 Running Diary

blog_131105gasolBelow is a running diary of L.A.’s road contest at Dallas with comments drawn from Mike Trudell’s @LakersReporter Twitter account, to ensure you’re covered from start to finish:

Starters
Lakers: Nash, Blake, Henry, Williams and Gasol
Mavs: Calderon, Ellis, Marion, Nowitzki and Dalembert

FIRST QUARTER

Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks
SECOND QUARTER



THIRD QUARTER



FOURTH QUARTER