Monthly Archive for February, 2014

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Olympic Gold Medalist David Wise at Lakers Game

In a city where some of the biggest stars frequent Laker basketball games, there was another special visitor that came to town on Sunday: Olympic gold medalist, David Wise.

Wise, 23, won his event’s first gold medal in the men’s freestyle skiing competition at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. The Reno native said he’s been skiing his entire life and competing in halfpipe for 10 years.

“It was unreal,” he said. “It’s still settling in that I actually won.”

As for a repeat in the next Olympic games?

“I’m hoping to be representing Team USA again and doing the best I can.”

*Wise is on Twitter and Instagram. He participated in the Bellagio Big Shot Jackpot Challenge at the conclusion of the third quarter.

Injury Update: Kobe Bryant

2014 NBA All-Star GameInjury ReportKobe Bryant addressed the media prior to the 2014 All-Star Game and remained optimistic there would be “some improvements” when he returned to Los Angeles. At the same time, he acknowledged: “It’s been a slow process.”

On Friday at STAPLES Center (Lakers hosted Boston), Dr. Steve Lombardo examined Bryant:

The 16-time All-Star last played on Dec. 17 at Memphis, where he suffered a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau of his knee.

Bryant missed the team’s first 19 games of the season after recovering from a torn Achilles. He returned on Dec. 8 vs. Toronto and played in six contests before going down with the knee injury.

Lakers-Nets Postgame Numbers

Brooklyn Nets v Los Angeles LakersWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 108-102 loss against Brooklyn:

63
First-half points for Brooklyn on 57.9 percent field goals. Coming into the game, the Nets ranked 22nd in the league in points per game (97.2), but they started hot from the floor and raced out to a 19-point lead at one point. “We let them get in charge too comfortably,” Pau Gasol said. “And (our) transition defense did not have enough communication in that guys were getting wide-open shots.”

20
Minutes for Nick Young in his first game action since Feb. 5 at Cleveland. Young nailed his first jumper upon his return and finished with 10 points.

16
Different Laker players have started a game this year. Newly acquired Kent Bazemore made his first career start and posted a new career high with 17 points, two nights after scoring 15 in his debut vs. Boston.

9
Missed free throws for the Lakers, including five in the fourth quarter. Each player that went to the charity stripe – Bazemore, Gasol, Jodie Meeks, Jordan Hill, Nick Young and Chris Kaman – missed at least one.

6
Steals for Deron Williams, a career high. He poured in 30 points, to go along with seven assists and five rebounds. Williams, along with Paul Pierce (25 points, seven boards, four dimes), carried Brooklyn all game to help snap an 11-game losing skid against L.A.

LAL 102, Nets 108: 2/23 Running Diary

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

Starters
Lakers: Marshall, Meeks, Bazemore, Johnson and Gasol
Nets: Williams, Johnson, Pierce, Kirilenko and Plumlee

FIRST QUARTER



SECOND QUARTER


THIRD QUARTER



FOURTH QUARTER

Cooking Lessons with Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol is indeed multi-faceted.

Bazemore, Brooks Impress in Laker Debuts

Boston Celtics v Los Angeles LakersNewly acquired Lakers, Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks, both played big roles in helping L.A. snap an eight-game home losing streak with a 101-92 win over Boston.

In particular, coach Mike D’Antoni was pleased with Bazemore’s play on the defensive side of the ball.

“Biggest thing was his energy on defense, his disruptability and all that, getting out on the break, running the wings like we told him,” D’Antoni said. “He did everything we talked about. Then he added his confidence and making big shots and making big plays.”

The Old Dominion product finished with a career-high 15 points, to go along with four assists, three rebounds and two steals. He also logged a career-high 33 minutes.

“I was able to get the mistakes out of the way, get in the game flow, knock the rust off a bit, get into a rhythm,” Bazemore said.

Brooks, meanwhile, scored a season-high 14 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter to spearhead L.A.’s comeback from an 11-point deficit.

“He got us back in the game,” D’Antoni said. “He came up with the big steals. He was very instrumental in winning the game.”

Known more for his scoring ability coming out of college, the former first-round pick of the Celtics was also a difference maker on defense (three steals).

“I like that he cracked back a couple times and showed some energy on defense,” D’Antoni said. “He showed some willingness to concentrate on defense.”

Pau Gasol echoed similar sentiments about his new teammates.

“They just brought energy,” he said. “They both were aggressive and played with confidence. I think they were excited about the opportunity, so I’m sure it felt good for them.”

Gasol also returned to the starting lineup after nursing a strained groin for three weeks. In his first game action since Jan. 31 vs. Charlotte, the Spaniard notched 16 points, seven boards, three assists and two blocks in 22 minutes.

“I feel good,” he said post practice. “Now the rest of the body has to wake up and get back to being on the floor. The groin is good and hopefully it stays that way.”

Along with Gasol feeling better by the day, the Lakers will also get Nick Young (knee) back on Sunday vs. Brooklyn. The USC product has been sidelined the last six games with a non-displaced fracture of the patella and a bone bruise.

“I didn’t think it was going to be this long, to tell you the truth,” he said. “I’m just happy to be back. I can’t wait to get out there tomorrow.”

Xavier Henry, who was cleared to practice on Friday, went through team drills today. He’s been out of action since Dec. 31 with a bone bruise, but D’Antoni acknowledged he’s at least a week away from returning to game action.

Lakers-Celtics Postgame Numbers

Boston Celtics v Los Angeles LakersWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 101-92 win against Boston:

63
Bench points for the Lakers, with 38 of them coming in the fourth quarter from a unit of Jordan Farmar, Kent Bazemore, MarShon Brooks, Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman. L.A.’s reserves erased a double-digit lead at the start of the final frame with a 15-5 run and led the remainder of the game. That lineup shot 16 of 23 from the floor (69.6 percent), while holding the Celtics to 8 of 24 field goals (33.3 percent).

22
Minutes for Pau Gasol in his return from a strained groin. The Spaniard recorded 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Postgame, he acknowledged he felt fine. “The main thing that I wanted to accomplish was to get through the game without any soreness or discomfort in the groin and I did that,” Gasol said. “So I’m glad I was able to be out there again and be effective.”

21
Plus-rating for Brooks, a team high. Acquired from Golden State on Wednesday, Brooks scored a season-high 14 points and added three steals. He opened the fourth quarter with six straight points to key L.A.’s rally and had 10 overall in the final 12 minutes.

15
Points for Bazemore in his Laker debut, a career high. He also added four assists, three boards and two steals, and was part of the bench unit in the fourth that helped erase an 11-point deficit at the start of the quarter.

0
Wins for Boston against Western Conference opponents this season out of 11 games. The Lakers also snapped an eight-game home losing streak, as their last victory came on Jan. 3 against the Utah Jazz.

LAL 101, Celtics 92: 2/21 Running Diary

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

Starters
Lakers: Marshall, Meeks, Johnson, Kelly and Gasol
Celtics: Rondo, Wallace, Green, Bass and Sullinger


FIRST QUARTER



SECOND QUARTER



THIRD QUARTER



FOURTH QUARTER

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.

Lakers-Rockets Postgame Numbers

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles LakersWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 134-108 loss against Houston:

32
Three-pointers made between the two teams, with the Lakers converting 14 of 27 (51.9 percent) and the Rockets draining 18 of 35 (51.4 percent). Each player in the starting lineup (outside centers for both teams) made at least one, while 10 different players drilled two on the evening.

28
Different starting lineups the Lakers have used through 54 games. Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly and Chris Kaman was the team’s seventh different starting unit in the last eight games.

26
Second-chance points for Houston, compared to just four for L.A. In total, the Rockets outrebounded the Lakers 56-32 and held a 19-3 advantage on the offensive glass.

24
Points for Johnson on 9 of 13 field goals and 4 of 6 three-pointers. It was Johnson’s sixth double-digit scoring effort in seven February games. During this stretch, he is averaging 16.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks, while shooting 52.2 percent from the floor overall and 52.0 percent from beyond the arc.

12
Double-doubles for Marshall in 26 contests. Marshall recorded 20 points and 16 assists in a team-high 43 minutes, his seventh game with at least 14 dimes (ties Chris Paul for most such games this season).