Monthly Archive for December, 2013

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Lakers-Thunder Postgame Numbers

Los Angeles Lakers v Oklahoma City ThunderWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 122-97 loss at Oklahoma City:

59
Rebounds for Oklahoma City, including 20 on the offensive end. The Thunder held a plus-18 edge on the glass, had 19 second-chance points and improved to 14-1 this season when outrebounding their opponent.

31
Points for the NBA’s leading scorer, Kevin Durant, to go along with eight rebounds, five assists and four steals in three quarters of action. Durant was nearly perfect from the field (10 of 13 field goals, 8 of 8 free throws) and tied for a team-high plus-24 in 31 minutes. Below is a shot chart of his efficiency from the floor, courtesy of NBA.com/stats.
blog_131213kevindurant

22
Fastbreak points for the Lakers, a season high, despite not having a healthy point guard on their roster. Kobe Bryant tried getting his teammates easy opportunities in transition, particularly early in the game, but also turned the ball over seven times.

13
Assists from Bryant in 23 minutes. By default, he was the starting point guard with the Lakers missing Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar due to various injuries. Bryant came within two assists of tying his career-high (15) back in Feb. 2002 vs. Washington.

10
Different starting lineups the Lakers have used through 22 games thus far. Blake, out a minimum of six weeks with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, had started all 21 games until the beginning of the road trip. Pau Gasol remains the only player to start each game this year.

LAL 97, Thunder 122: 12/13 Running Diary

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

Starters
Lakers: Bryant, Meeks, Johnson, Hill and Gasol
Thunder: Westbrook, Roberson, Durant, Ibaka and Perkins

FIRST QUARTER



SECOND QUARTER


Los Angeles Lakers v Oklahoma City Thunder
THIRD QUARTER


Los Angeles Lakers v Oklahoma City Thunder
FOURTH QUARTER

Examining Jodie Meeks’ Shooting Efficiency

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles LakersSigned last offseason primarily to space the floor, Jodie Meeks shot just 38.7 percent on field goals (career-low) and 35.7 percent on three-pointers (second-lowest mark in his career) during the 2012-13 year.

“My shooting was up and down for whatever reason,” he said during his exit interview in April 2013. “Just take the summer to get a lot of reps up, be ready for next year and come back with a lot of confidence. I know this system fits me perfectly and (D’Antoni) has a lot of confidence with me.”

This year, that offseason work has paid off.

Meeks has shown a marked improvement in getting to the rim and finishing, while also converting at an all-time high from beyond the arc. Through 21 games, the sharpshooter is averaging 13.5 points on 50.0 percent field goals and 45.6 percent on three-pointers. All marks would be career-highs.

Below are shot charts and a breakdown of Meeks’s shooting efficiency this year.
*All information used is courtesy of NBA.com/stats.

2012-13 three-point shooting
Left corner: 20 for 58 (34.48 percent)
Right corner: 18 for 43 (41.86 percent)
Above the break: 84 for 239 (35.15 percent)
Total: 122 for 342 (35.7 percent)
2012-13meeksthrees
2013-14 three-point shooting
Left corner: 12 for 18 (66.7 percent)
Right corner: 4 for 12 (33.3 percent)
Above the break: 31 for 73 (42.5 percent)
Total: 47 for 103 (45.6 percent)
2013-14meeksthrees
2012-13 shooting near the rim
Restricted Area: 60 for 117 (51.3 percent)
- Driving Layup Shot: 16 for 29 (55.2 percent)
- Layup Shot: 19 for 51 (37.3 percent)
In the Paint (Non-RA): 5 for 25 (25.0 percent)
2012-13meekschart
2013-14 shooting near the rim
Restricted Area: 38 for 58 (65.5 percent)
- Driving Layup Shot: 14 for 18 (77.8 percent)
- Layup Shot: 11 for 23 (47.8 percent)
In the Paint (Non-RA): 7 for 14 (50.0 percent)
2013-14meekschart

A Look at LAL’s Line Up (Sans PG’s)

Charlotte Bobcats v Los Angeles LakersOn Thursday afternoon, we learned that Steve Blake will miss at least six weeks with a torn elbow ligament, joining already-injured point guards Steve Nash (nerve root irritation) and Jordan Farmar (torn hamstring) on the inactive list.

Mike D’Antoni was asked after Thursday’s practice if he’s ever seen a team with so many injuries at one position.

“Yeah, last year,” he said, pointing to a 2012-13 campaign in which he inherited a team without both Blake and Nash. “We’ve really had (many) good point guards, but the problem is (they) have been hurt for two years in a row. We’ll lick our wounds today, but tomorrow, we have to come out. Somebody else will have a great opportunity to step up, play more and get it done.”

Last season, Darius Morris and Chris Duhon* got some minutes at point, but Kobe Bryant ended up doing much of the playmaking, and that’s what we’ll likely see again with the following starting line up: Jodie Meeks, Bryant, Wesley Johnson, Jordan Hill and Pau Gasol.
*Neither player is currently on an NBA roster.

Just two games into his own comeback from (a major) injury, Bryant’s going to have to be up for increased responsibility.

“I don’t really have much of a choice right now,” he said. “I got to get out there and do a lot more than expected in terms of handling the ball and doing significantly more running.

“We have guys that can hopefully bring the ball up and just get us into some stuff and then save my legs a little bit by having me play from the elbow and from the post a lot more and being on top of the floor running screen and roll actions.”

D’Antoni expects Xavier Henry to continue the role he’s taken since Farmar went down of initiating the offense with a second unit that will likely include Nick Young, Shawne Williams, Robert Sacre and one of the starters. The only other healthy body right now belongs to rookie Ryan Kelly, who’s yet to crack any regular rotation minutes.

Nash’s return date is unknown; he’s heading back to Vancouver to work with his personal trainer/therapist while the team is away on the road trip, and is expected to rejoin his teammates subsequently.

Farmar is the closest of the point guards to a return, said D’Antoni, and he’s in line for the most playing time of his career once he’s medically cleared. The UCLA product and L.A. native is going on the team’s four-game road trip (Dec. 13-17) to continue to rehabilitate, and will be re-evaluated upon the team’s return to Los Angeles.

On Thursday, Farmar lingered after practice to work on his shot, and told me he’s already feeling much better. The tightness he’d been feeling in what was a very small tear of his left hamstring has gone away, though he conceded that he’s yet to do anything that might irritate the injury, like sprinting.

Until he’s ready, it’s going to be a big, unique line up for Los Angeles. Stay tuned.

Injury Update: Steve Blake

blakeLakers Injury Report sponsored by UCLA Health SystemWith Steve Nash (root nerve irritation) and Jordan Farmar (hamstring) already nursing various ailments, Steve Blake was the latest in line to be hit with the injury bug. He was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow after undergoing an MRI before Thursday’s practice, and is expected to be out a minimum of six weeks.

“I’m disappointed,” Blake said after Thursday’s practice. “It’s not something I wanted to go through right now, but crazy things happen. You have to try and stay positive. It’s a long season. I’ll eventually be back, and try to finish strong.”

Blake originally hurt the elbow in the second half of the team’s road contest at Washington on Nov. 26. In six games since, he was shooting just 34.6 percent field goals and 28.1 percent on three-pointers compared to 40.7 percent from the floor and 46.0 percent from the three-point line prior to injury.

“How tough is Steve Blake?,” Kobe Bryant said. “He’s played with it since D.C. He played phenomenally well with it. That’s incredible.”

Pau Gasol echoed similar sentiments.

“Playing through that elbow injury was incredible with what he’s been able to do,” he said. “He didn’t really take a practice off.”

On the year, Blake had been averaging a team-high 31.5 minutes, to go along with 9.8 points and 7.7 assists. He was shooting 40.0 percent from distance and ranked 20th in the league in three-point field goals made (40). The Maryland product had also recorded nine double-digit assist games, including a 16-assist outing against Detroit that tied his career-high.

“He’s worked so hard and he plays so hard,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “It’s really a testament to his courage and toughness. He practiced left-handed, but then he would play right-handed. We’ll have to close ranks and get it done.”

More than just missing Blake orchestrating the offense, Bryant realizes they’ll miss his presence on the defensive side of the ball.

“Steve’s really tough, really tough,” Bryant said. “He’s really solid defensively. He does a great job of staying in front of point guards. We have some adjustments to make. We have our work cut out for us.”

Lakers-Suns Postgame Numbers

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles LakersWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 114-108 loss against Phoenix:

56
Paint points for Phoenix, a team that ranked 17th in that category (40.3) coming into the game. Many of those came in transition (21 fastbreak points), as their starting backcourt – Goran Dragic (31 points, five assists) and Eric Bledsoe (18 points, nine assists) – pushed the ball at nearly every opportunity. In the last three games, the Lakers are allowing 55.3 points inside to their opponents. “Points in the paint right now are killing us,” coach Mike D’Antoni said postgame. “We just have to be able to be a little stiffer on defense, especially in the paint. It has hurt us all year and it’s killing us right now.”

20
Points for Kobe Bryant in his second game back from injury. He shot 6 of 11 from the floor, converted on all eight of his free throws and turned the ball over just three times in 29 minutes. “It’s a process,” Bryant said postgame. “You just have to figure out what you can and can’t do. Every game, just try and step out and do a little more and do a little more and go from there.”

10
Offensive rebounds for Phoenix – including a plus-10 advantage on the glass overall – that led to 14 second-chance points. The Suns grabbed three in the final quarter, the last one leading to two free throws for Dragic that pushed their lead back to eight points with 1:02 remaining.

9
Different starting lineups the Lakers have used this season through 21 games. The thinking moving forward, according to D’Antoni, is to create more spacing for Bryant and Pau Gasol to operate on the offensive end.

5
Triples made for the Lakers (a season-low) out of 19 attempts. L.A. ranked first in the NBA in makes per game (10.6) and third in three-point percentage (40.2) coming in. However, they failed to reach double-digit makes for the second straight contest and shot just 26.3 percent from distance.

LAL 108, Suns 114: 12/10 Running Diary

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

Starters
Lakers: Blake, Meeks, Bryant, Williams and Gasol
Suns: Dragic, Bledsoe, Tucker, Frye and Plumlee


FIRST QUARTER



SECOND QUARTER



THIRD QUARTER


Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers
FOURTH QUARTER

Monday Practice Report

Los Angeles Lakers PracticeNearly eight months after tearing his Achilles tendon, Kobe Bryant made his season debut against Toronto on Sunday evening. He played 28 minutes, but acknowledged his body felt fine on Monday post practice.

“It feels good,” Bryant said. “It feels really good, actually. I felt better after the game than I even did before.”

It has been a general progression for Bryant from nearly three weeks ago when he experienced “general soreness” after practicing hard two straight days to just last week to where his range of motion had improved considerably. Now it’s a matter of making adjustments on the floor as he continues to see more court time.

“You go out there and play, see what you can do, see where you’re at now and adjust accordingly,” Bryant said. “I made some pretty good reads and got my guys some pretty good looks, but as far as my floor game, it wasn’t as bad as I thought.”

He recorded nine points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals, but also committed eight turnovers. Bryant and the coaching staff both understand that it will take some time before he returns to his normal self.

“It’s going to be awhile,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He hasn’t played in eight months. It’ll take awhile for him to get on par, but he’ll get there. It takes everybody to get back in a groove and get his legs. He’ll definitely be better anytime he goes out.”

Along with Bryant still trying to find his timing, the team is also trying to integrate him into the lineup. Pau Gasol stated it would take time for him to be his normal self, too, and to also find a comfort level on the court amongst everybody.

“It’s just positioning and changing rhythms out there,” Gasol said. “I think mainly that’s what it’s going to take – understanding where he’s going to be, where the ball is going to go, the amount of plays and what type of plays we’ll run most often. That’s the bigger challenge we’re going to face.”

With the Lakers about to play five contests in one week, including a road trip that entails four games in five nights, Bryant has his mind set on what he wants to accomplish starting Tuesday night against Phoenix.

“Do the same thing I did in the first game, but just do it better,” Bryant said. “Keep those turnovers under control, get my guys in position to be successful and see if I can make a couple shots in a row.”

Injury Update: Jordan Farmar

Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn NetsLakers Injury Report sponsored by UCLA Health SystemJordan Farmar, who tore his left hamstring in the first quarter of a Dec. 1 loss to Portland, showed healing and improvement in the area in an additional ultrasound exam on Monday afternoon with Dr. Luga Podesta.

Farmar “still has a ways to go” before he returns to practice or games, according to team spokesman John Black.

Farmar will accompany the team on their upcoming road trip through Oklahoma City, Charlotte, Atlanta and Memphis from Dec. 13-17, getting treatment and doing rehabilitation work with the training staff throughout.

The UCLA product and L.A. native will be re-evaluated upon the team’s return to Los Angeles.

Lakers-Raptors Postgame Numbers

Toronto Raptors v Los Angeles LakersWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 104-96 loss against Toronto:

45,418
Regular-season minutes for Kobe Bryant after playing 28 in his season debut. He scored nine points, grabbed eight boards and dished out four assists, but also turned the ball over eight times. “I’m still kind of feeling things out still,” Bryant said postgame. I was pleased that I was able to move a little bit, turn the corner a bit, get into the paint, find guys a couple times … It felt good to get out there. Playing those (28) minutes took less of a toll on my body, so I feel fine … It’s a matter of getting those game legs back.”

62
Paint points for Toronto, who came into the game ranked 18th in that category (39.9 per game). Of their 82 field-goal attempts, 35 came from within eight feet or less, per NBA.com/stats. The Raptors recorded 19 fastbreak points and converted on numerous opportunities around the rim, in large part because of Amir Johnson’s play.

32
Points for Johnson, a career-high. The L.A. native also had 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Johnson shot 14 of 17 from the floor, with most of his attempts coming inside the key. Below is a shot chart of his efficiency, courtesy of NBA.com/stats.
blog_131208johnsonchart

5
Lakers bench players in double figures, led by Nick Young’s 19. The second unit – Young, Xavier Henry (17), Jodie Meeks (14), Jordan Hill (11) and Shawne Williams (10) – totaled 71 of the team’s 94 points on 26 of 47 field goals (55.3 percent), while combining for eight of the team’s nine three-point makes.

0
Times the Lakers led during the game. L.A. started slow from the opening tip, trailing by as many as 13 points in the first quarter and missing six of their first seven shots.