Author Archive for Mike Trudell

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LAL 125, Pelicans 132: 3/4 Running Diary

New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles LakersBelow 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: Marshall, Meeks, Bazemore, Johnson and Gasol
Pelicans: Roberts, Gordon, Evans, Davis and Ajinca

FIRST QUARTER


New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers
SECOND QUARTER



THIRD QUARTER



FOURTH QUARTER

Lakers Better With Small Line Ups

Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles LakersThe Lakers have struggled through an injury-riddled season during which 212 games have been missed to players, led by Kobe Bryant’s 52 and 46 from Steve Nash, eliminating any real chance of competing in a loaded West in which the current No. 8 seed is nine games over .500.

With a 19-39 record, not many of the statistics look very good for L.A., but a look at the team’s 10 most commonly used line ups reveals a point that coach Mike D’Antoni’s been making all season: the Lakers have been considerably better when they go small.

“Going small” in the NBA essentially means using a “stretch four” instead of a power forward, the former of which for the Lakers has been either Shawne Williams, Ryan Kelly or (with the current line up) Wesley Johnson.

Here’s the plus/minus for those 10 most-used groups, adjusted per 100 possessions, with offensive and defensive ratings included:

Lineup: Marshall/Blake/Johnson/Williams/Kaman (SMALL)
Minutes: 53
OffRtg: 106.4
DefRtg: 100.3
NetRtg: +6.2*
*This group outscored opponents by 6.2 points per 100 possessions.

Lineup: Farmar/Meeks/Henry/Johnson/Hill (SMALL)
Minutes: 49
OffRtg: 112.8
DefRtg: 110.4
NetRtg: +2.4

Lineup: Marshall/Meeks/Young/Kelly/Gasol (SMALL)
Minutes: 69
OffRtg: 121.7
DefRtg: 120.4
NetRtg: +1.3

Lineup: Marshall/Meeks/Johnson/Kelly/Gasol (SMALL)
Minutes: 119
OffRtg: 102.3
DefRtg: 101.4
NetRtg: +0.9

Lineup: Nash/Blake/Young/Gasol/Kaman (BIG)
Minutes: 44
OffRtg: 92.7
DefRtg: 93.4
NetRtg: -0.6

Lineup: Blake/Meeks/Johnson/Hill/Gasol (BIG)
Minutes: 152
OffRtg: 100.4
DefRtg: 107.6
NetRtg: -7.3

Lineup: Marshall/Meeks/Bazemore/Johnson/Gasol (SMALL)
Minutes: 57
OffRtg: 90.3
DefRtg: 100.7
NetRtg: -10.5

Lineup: Marshall/Meeks/Johnson/Hill/Gasol (BIG)
Minutes: 56
OffRtg: 83.5
DefRtg: 104.9
NetRtg: -21.4

Lineup: Bryant/Meeks/Johnson/Hill/Gasol (BIG)
Minutes: 50
OffRtg: 84.1
DefRtg: 117.0
NetRtg: -32.9

Lineup: Marshall/Meeks/Johnson/Gasol/Sacre (BIG)
Minutes: 51
OffRtg: 91.8
DefRtg: 130.1
NetRtg: -38.2

Before L.A.’s game at Memphis, D’Antoni explained why he thinks the smaller line ups have been more effective:

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles LakersQ: On small vs. big line ups:
D’Antoni: We want a certain type of basketball, and we’re trying to establish that and we’re trying to put everything into it. It’s clear our that the numbers say when you spread the floor and move the ball and get up and down the floor, we have a lot better chance to win. That’s what we’re going to do. We can adjust during the game. For example, if David West was killing Wesley (Johnson) (on Tuesday night), then something’s going to happen. Wesley has to come out or we have to go big orwhatever. But Wesley played well and that did not hurt us last night. It gave us a chance to spread the floor, score at a good rate and stay in the game.When Wesley got in foul trouble and Ryan (Kelly) got in foul trouble and we went big, it all caved in cause they’re a better, bigger team than we are. You have to play a little different. If you’re over manned a little bit and you try to match up, it’s not going to work out.

Q: On what playing big does for the rest of the team if he were to start two bigs vs. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol instead of Pau Gasol with a stretch four (Johnson):
D’Antoni: Well, what will happen is our floor will be closed down and offensively we’re not going to be as good. You’re not going to stop Zach Randolph that much. He’s going to get his numbers. Marc Gasol is going to be good, and they’ll beat you. Plus we want to establish our identity. This is how we’re going to play and we’re going to get better at it and we’re going to push the ball and we’re going to evaluate talent and get better at it. It’s frustrating some players and I understand that obviously if you lose playing one way, let’s play the other way. So you can get killed the other way. We’re going by numbers, we’re going by feel, we want to establish an identity and we don’t want to be all over the board every night changing something up and matching up to other teams and then just grasping the straws.

Q: On how Johnson approaches defending (bigger guys):
D’Antoni: I thought Wesley played really well (at Indiana). He needs to keep doing that and being assertive and being quick and then we’ll see. If we can’t do that, we’ll have to get bigger and try to limit them as much as we can.

LAL 103, Grizzlies 108: 2/26 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s road contest at Memphis 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
Grizzlies: Conley, Lee, Prince, Randolph and Gasol

FIRST QUARTER


Los Angeles Lakers v Memphis Grizzlies
SECOND QUARTER


Los Angeles Lakers v Memphis Grizzlies
THIRD QUARTER


Los Angeles Lakers v Memphis Grizzlies
FOURTH QUARTER

LAL 98, Pacers 118: 2/25 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s road contest at Indiana 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
Pacers: Hill, Stephenson, George, West and Hibbert 

FIRST QUARTER


Los Angeles Lakers v Indiana Pacers
SECOND QUARTER


Los Angeles Lakers v Indiana Pacers
THIRD QUARTER


Los Angeles Lakers v Indiana Pacers
FOURTH QUARTER

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

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.

Post-Break Injury Update

blog_injuryLakers Injury Report sponsored by UCLA Health SystemThe Lakers suffered a remarkable 191 games missed due to injury before the All-Star break, by far the most in the NBA:

Kobe Bryant: 47
Steve Nash: 41
Jordan Farmar: 30
Steve Blake: 26
Xavier Henry: 22
Pau Gasol: 9
Chris Kaman: 5
Jodie Meeks: 5
Nick Young: 4
Wesley Johnson: 1
Jordan Hill: 1
TOTAL: 191

On Tuesday in El Segundo, L.A. returned from the All-Star break; here’s an update on each player either returning from injury or still in line to miss games moving forward:

JODIE MEEKS:
Meeks sprained his ankle on Feb. 4 in the first quarter at Minnesota and missed the remaining five games prior to the All-Star break, but is the lone Laker expected to return from the pre-break injured list against Houston on Wednesday. Meeks said the ankle was feeling good, and he’s ready to play.

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.

PAU GASOL:
Gasol practiced in full on Tuesday, and said afterwards that he felt “a lot better,” if still not 100 percent in his first action in approximately two weeks. He’ll most likely be listed as “questionable” for Wednesday’s game, waiting to see how his body responds to Tuesday’s work out. Gasol underwent an MRI on Feb. 1, which revealed a strained right groin. He received a PRP injection on Feb. 3, but was sidelined for the team’s last six games before the All-Star break.

JORDAN FARMAR:
Farmar is listed as “doubtful” for Wednesday’s game despite practicing in full on Tuesday. He returned from a one-month absence at Cleveland on Feb. 5 before exiting with cramps in his calf. He was listed as day-to-day, according to coach Mike D’Antoni, but missed the final five games leading up to the All-Star break. Two separate hamstring tears kept him out of most of December and January, and the left hamstring got tight once again in that win at Cleveland. Post practice, Farmar acknowledged the hamstring “feels fine,” and remains optimistic he will be back on the court soon.

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 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 expected to be out a minimum of two weeks before being re-evaluated. Young was unable to practice on Tuesday, and will not play against Houston.

LAL 103, Thunder 107: 2/13 Running Diary

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

Starters
Lakers: Marshall, Blake, Johnson, Williams and Kaman
Thunder: Jackson, Sefolosha, Durant, Ibaka and Perkins

FIRST QUARTER


Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Lakers
SECOND QUARTER


Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Lakers
THIRD QUARTER



FOURTH QUARTER

LAL 79, Jazz 96: 2/11 Running Diary

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

Starters
Lakers: Nash, Blake, Johnson, Williams and Kaman
Jazz: Burke, Hayward, Jefferson, Williams and Favors

FIRST QUARTER



SECOND QUARTER


Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers
THIRD QUARTER



FOURTH QUARTER

Marshall’s Shooting Surprise

Los Angeles Lakers v Boston CelticsThe 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 23 games (15 starts) for the Lakers, Marshall is leading the entire NBA in three-point shooting. Not Kyle Korver (third), Kevin Durant (13th) or Klay Thompson (18th). Kendall Marshall.

Shotchart_1392017548923

Marshall has drained 44 of the 89 three pointers he’s attempted for that league-best average of 49.4 percent, and converted on 46.5 percent of his total field goals (92 of 198), tied with Chris Paul for second amongst point guards behind only Tony Parker (50 percent).

Coach Mike D’Antoni was asked if he expected anywhere near this level of shooting success from a guard picked up only after Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar went down with injuries.

“No,” D’Antoni said, shaking his head. “But Kendall is shooting the ball extremely well.”

What in particular has worked about Marshall’s shot?

“What works is it’s going in,” D’Antoni answered. “You’d have to ask him. He has to have his feet set, but that’s OK.”

So I asked Marshall.

“I think it’s the confidence to take the shot,” he said. “I used to be known as a shooter my whole life, but then I became a power point guard sophomore year in high school always trying to get to the rim.”

Marshall had grown a few inches and put on some muscle, and became more of a drive-and-dish player. But he never felt like his shot left him, and didn’t much change his form, aside from perhaps “getting a little more air under the ball.”

“I know I have a slow release and not a lot of motion,” he said. “Honestly, every coach I’ve had has told me I have a good form.”

So confidence it must be. And what helps with confidence more than anything else? Playing time.

Due to the rash of injuries for Los Angeles, Marshall averaged 38.5 minutes per game in January, and he benefited from the knowledge that he’d be on the court whether or not he made shots. Since Nash and Blake – and Farmar for a game – came back in February, Marshall’s kept that confidence in a reserve role, shooting even better in less time.

In 25.8 minutes off the bench in four February games, Marshall hit 14 of his 23 shots, including 9 of 12 three-pointers.

D’Antoni has asked for some improvement from Marshall on the defensive end, but couldn’t be much happier with the production on offense.

Marshall, after all, would rank second in the NBA in assists per game with his 9.3 per night if he’d played enough games to qualify … and his shooting has been notable enough that it took nearly 500 words to get to his passing.