Lakers Round Up

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles LakersHere’s a look at the latest information on the Lakers, who resume their post All-Star break schedule with the Celtics on Friday:

INJURY REPORT:
IN: Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks, Jordan Farmar, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly, Robert Sacre, Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman
PROBABLE: Pau Gasol
OUT: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Xavier Henry, Nick Young
AVAILABLE: Kent Bazemore, MarShon Brooks*
*Bazemore and Brooks are expected to be available at Mike D’Antoni’s discretion.

WHO STARTS VS. BOSTON?
With Mike D’Antoni suggesting that Jordan Farmar’s minutes could be limited for a spell – he played just 20 against Houston – as he continues to try and fully get over his problematic left hamstring, the starting PG slot will likely go to Kendall Marshall, at least on Friday. Steve Blake is in Golden State, and Steve Nash remains “day to day” with his nerve issues.

Pau Gasol is expected to make his return to the starting line up, joining Marshall, Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson and Ryan Kelly. As has been the case so often in 2013-14, this line up could change by game time.

BLAKE’S DEPARTURE BRINGS BAZEMORE, BROOKS TO L.A.:
Bios on the two newest Lakers from LAL’s press release:

Kent Bazemore, 24, has appeared in 44 games for the Warriors this season, averaging 2.3 points in 6.1 minutes per game. In his two NBA seasons (both with the Warriors), the Old Dominion product holds averages of 2.1 points in 5.1 minutes per game over 105 contests. After not being selected in the 2012 NBA draft, Bazemore was signed by the Warriors as a free agent on July 26, 2012. Bazemore was awesome in the Las Vegas Summer League, but hasn’t been able to find court time for the full side.

MarShon Brooks, 25, has appeared in a combined 17 games with Golden State and Boston this season, averaging 2.6 points and 1.4 rebounds in 5.2 minutes per contest. Originally drafted by the Celtics with the 25th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Brooks owns career averages of 7.8 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 146 games (49 starts) over three seasons with the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets, Boston and Golden State. As a rookie with New Jersey in 2011-12, the 6’5” swingman averaged 12.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 56 games (47 starts), earning All-Rookie Second Team honors.

Charlotte Bobcats v Los Angeles LakersTHE SPANIARD REMAINS IN PURPLE AND GOLD:
Surviving another trade deadline despite myriad rumors that have subsisted for three years now, Pau Gasol is set to return from a strained groin that’s kept him out of action since Jan. 31. His production was elite in January — 20.8 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.7 blocks on 51 percent field goals and 77 percent free throws — and he expects to return to similar form.

Gasol said after Thursday’s practice that he feels pretty well, and has suffered no setbacks through full contact sessions. Of course, if he wakes up and responds poorly on Friday morning, his status could change. Meanwhile, Gasol’s nutshell take on not being traded: ultimately he’s happy to still be in Los Angeles, and is pleased the Lakers turned down what he said he expected were various offers for his services. Of course, Gasol plans on taking a full and open look around the league when he becomes a free agent over the summer. Mitch Kupchak said the Lakers will “absolutely” consider bringing him back, but many factors will come into play.

MARSHALL BACK ATOP THE NBA IN 3-POINT PERCENTAGE:
The knock on Kendall Marshall heading into his NBA career, and into the 2013-14 season with the Lakers after his D-League call up, was that he couldn’t shoot at an NBA level. Known for his passing at the University of North Carolina, Marshall struggled with his percentages in limited playing time as a rookie for the Suns. In 14.6 minutes a night in 48 games (three starts), he shot 37.1 percent from the field (56 of 151) and 31.5 percent from three (23 of 73).

But in his 26 games (17 starts) for the Lakers, Marshall leads the NBA in 3-point percentage, hitting 50 of 105 for a 47.6 percentage, ahead of more well-known sharpshooters Anthony Morrow (47.5), Kyle Korver (47.3) and Marco Belinelli (45.6).

Marshall simplified his reason for success: confidence. Certainly, being the only health point guard on the roster in January, thus assuring minutes, helped bring that about.

SPEAKING OF MARSHALL … HOW ‘BOUT THAT PASSING:
In his 17 starts, Marshall is averaging 12.2 assists (with 12.5 points), a mark that would easily lead the NBA. Chris Paul is the only player averaging double digit assists (11.1), with Stephen Curry’s 9.0 ranking 2nd. The former Suns lottery pick has had at least 14 assists seven times this season, tied for the most in the NBA, including his 16 against Houston.

While tossing dimes, Marshall’s also taking care of the basketball, currently ranking 5th in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.5) among all guards, behind only Pablo Prigioni (4.5), Paul (4.4), Nate Wolters (3.9) and Jose Calderon (3.8).

INJURIES STILL RIDICULOUS
The Lakers suffered a remarkable 191 games missed due to injury before the All-Star break, by far the most in the NBA:

Kobe Bryant: 48

Steve Nash: 42

Jordan Farmar: 30

Steve Blake: 26

Xavier Henry: 23

Pau Gasol: 10

Chris Kaman: 5

Jodie Meeks: 5

Nick Young: 5

Wesley Johnson: 1

Jordan Hill: 1

TOTAL: 196

Here’s a player-by-player update on the players with ongoing issues:

KOBE BRYANT:
 According to the Lakers, Kobe Bryant continues to have swelling and pain in his knee, and thus does not have an MRI scheduled in the immediate future. Bryant was last examined prior to the Lakers vs. Pacers game on Jan. 28, when a similar conclusion on the left knee where he suffered a fracture at Memphis on Dec. 17 was reached. His subsequent rehabilitation has been limited mostly to work on a stationary bike. Bryant recently addressed the media in advance of the 2014 All-Star Game on Sunday and gave another general update on where he’s at in his recovery and rehab process.

XAVIER HENRY: 
Henry had his right knee drained of fluid and received a cortisone shot on Feb. 12, and expected to be out another four weeks. He originally injured his knee on Dec. 29 vs. Philly, but continues to work out primarily on his own or with assistant coaches, and is expected to be re-evaluated on Friday.

NICK YOUNG: 
Young injured his left knee at Cleveland on Feb. 5 and underwent an MRI the following day in Philly. He was diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture of the patella and a bone bruise, and was expected to be out a minimum of two weeks before being re-evaluated. Young practiced in limited fashion on Thursday and is making progress towards a return, but won’t play on Friday.

KAMAN TO SEE REDUCED ROLE?
In Pau Gasol’s absence, the minutes had increased for Chris Kaman, and he took advantage by putting up some good numbers particularly in the four games prior to Wednesday’s loss to Houston: 22.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.3 blocks per game.

However, Kaman appeared to grow tired with the Rockets repeatedly force-feeding a hungry Dwight Howard early, and managed only nine points on 4 of 11 FG’s with four boards in 22 minutes.

With Gasol’s return, his minutes are likely to decrease, as Kaman averaged 25.4 in February (sans Gasol) but only 13.6 in January.

JOHNSON FINDING HIS OFFENSE:
Wesley Johnson took advantage of an increased role in the absence of so many wing players, and is averaging 16.6 points per game in his last seven, hitting 52.2 percent of his field goals and 52.0 percent of his triples. Meanwhile, he’s grabbing 5.4 rebounds with 1.1 blocks, and had 24 points on 9 of 13 shots against Houston.