Talking Point: What next for the Lakers?

Time to ponder: Tough times ahead for Mike D'Antoni?

Time to ponder: Tough times ahead for Mike D’Antoni?

No longer the best team in Los Angeles and no longer genuine Championship contenders.

Last season was far from satisfactory for the Lakers. Losing to their main rivals in February as the Clippers clinched their first ever Division title before being carried into the play-offs by Kobe Bryant only to lose their superstar to injury prior to a 4-0 first round defeat at the hands of San Antonio.

Dwight Howard was pleaded to stay but opted to join the Houston Rockets in search for a first ring before the Lakers decided to activate Metta World Peace’s amensty clause and release a key member of their 2010 winning roster. So who do they bring in?

Chris Kaman, Nick Young, Wes Johnson and the returning Jordan Farmar are the four players recruited by G.M Mitch Kupchak so far. Not exactly the caliber of players expected at a 17-time Championship winning franchise which speaks volume of the state of the Lakers especially given the fact that one of those joined the Purple & Gold of LA because of ‘no other options’.

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Knicks bring World Peace to New York

World Peace hits the Knicks

World Peace hits the Knicks

Metta World Peace confirmed yesterday that he has agreed a deal to  join the New York Knicks.

Speaking on TV, World Peace said: “The team is amazing, the players, I’m excited to play and hussle.”

The 33 year-old forward spent four seasons in L.A but found himself released by the Lakers last week after they decided to activate his amnesty clause.

World Peace will be the second major addition to Mike Woodson‘s side after the Knicks picked up Andrea Bargnani in a trade with Toronto which sent Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, Queintin Richardson and a selection of future draft picks the other way.

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Houston, I choose you!

Rocketman: Dwight chooses Houston

Rocketman: Dwight chooses Houston

Dwight Howard’s uncertain future finally became clear when he decided to sign with the Houston Rockets on a 4-year deal.

The 27 year-old leaves the Los Angeles Lakers after just one season and will now hope to revive his Championship dream in Texas. Howard was officially announced as a Rocket and said:

“I’m not going to say we’re going to win 5 Championships but if we really dedicate ourselves and sacrifice everything we’ve got then we give ourselves a chance at the end of the season.” Continue reading

Lakers close on play-offs but must battle on without Kobe

Kobe winces in pain after tearing his achilles

Kobe winces in pain after tearing his achilles

Kobe Bryant has been ruled out for between 6-9 months after suffering a torn achilles in the Lakers’ close-fought win against Golden State on Wednesday.

The Lakers have the advantage in the battle for the final play-off spot with Utah Jazz a game behind in 9th spot. However, Bryant has been the driving force in his side’s charge for the post-season whilst playing 40+ minues in his last seven games which could have contributed to the injury.

Bryant said about his injury: “It was a move I make a million times and it just popped,”

“I can’t walk! I just have to look about coming back quicker and healthier and start from there.”

The 5x time NBA champion has been inspired form, helping the Lakers to five wins in their last six with some incredible performances including a triple-double against Dallas and a 47 point haul on the road in Portland. ‘Kobe‘ averages 27.6 points per game this season having scored 30+ points in a game on an impressive 35 occasions whilst reaching the 40 point mark eight times.

Head-coach Mike D’Antoni must find a way to ensure his team complete the job of making the play-offs. Winning their last two games against San Antonio and Houston will be enough to finish the season as the 8th seed while Utah will still fancy their chances of making the play-offs as they hold the tie-breaker over the Lakers.

Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard have strenghtened their partnership in recent weeks and will hope this will continue as the team looks to cope with the loss of Bryant. The Lakers were beaten 4-1 by Oklahoma in the second round of the play-offs last season and a repeat clash is on the cards with the Thunder currently leading the Western standings.

LAKERS: v San Antonio tonight; v Houston Wednesday (LIVE on ESPNUK)
UTAH: @ Minnesota tomorrow; @ Memphis Wednesday (LIVE on ESPNUK)

Game Night! ft. NY Knicks @ OKC Thunder

Melo continues hot streak for Knicks while the Lakers faulter in play-off charge

Carmelo Anthony took his points total to 177 in his last four games with another 36 in New York’s 12th straight victory after beating OKC (56-21) 125-120. The Knicks 50-26) had a productive second quarter to inspire a 50th win this season with JR Smith netting some huge shots late on. Russell Westbrook had an impressive all-round performance for the Thunder with 37-11-8 although Oklahoma missed out on the chance to return to the top of the Western standings.

Knicks‘ centre Tyson Chandler (15pts) was delighted with the win:

“This was huge for us, it’s very hard to come into this building and get a win, I’m really proud of the way we kept fighting”

Serge Ibaka came out firing in the first quarter and had 9 points, 3 rebounds and 4 blocks after the opening 12 minutes as OKC opened up a slender 31-30 advantage. Chris Copeland came off the bench to score 11 points alongside Anthony in a dominant second quarter for the Knicks as they took control to lead 65-56 at the interval. OKC battled back and closed to within a point before Melo struck two triples late in the quarter and New York led 96-89 after three.

The hosts compiled a 13-4 burst in the final quarter capped by a Durant jumper as the Thunder took the lead at 105-104. Jason Kidd responded with his fourth 3-pointer of the game before soon after Westbrook took his tally to 30 points as OKC went up by one with 4:00 left. However, the visitors kept their streak alive with an 11-2 spell over the next three and a half minutes with Smith adding five points in quick succession before Melo sealed the win.

Anthony has now taken over as the leading scorer in the league with an average of 28.4 points per game

The Lakers (40-37) dropped outside of the play-off places after a 109-95 defeat against their LA rivals. CP3 (24pts/12as) and Blake Griffin (24pts/12rbs) both recorded double-doubles as the Clippers (51-26)completed a 4-0 sweep over the Lakers and won the Pacific Division title for the first time. Kobe Bryant did his best to lead his side to victory with 25 points and 10 assists while Dwight Howard matched his points haul in the absence of Steve Nash and Ron Artest.

Utah Jazz (41-37) capitalised on the Lakers’ defeat with a 97-90 win on the road against fellow play-off hopefuls, Golden State (44-33). Mo Williams led the way with 25 points while Steph Curry had 22 points for the Warriors as they missed out on a victory which would have secured their post-season spot. One team, in the West, already in the play-offs are Memphis and the Grizzlies (52-25) ground out a tough 89-87 on the road against Sacramento (27-50) after Marc Gasol (15p-10r) produced a late block to secure the win.

Dallas (38-39) kept alive their fading play-off hopes with a 97-91 victory against Portland (33-44), who launched a late fightback before falling short. The Mavericks were led by Chris Kaman’s double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds while Will Barton had a 22p-13r double-double for the Trail Blazers, who are already out of post-season contention following EIGHT straight defeats. Anthony Davis led the New Orleans Hornets (27-50) to a 95-92 win in Phoenix (23-54) with a 20 point haul.

Detroit (26-52) snapped an 18-game losing streak against the Chicago Bulls (42-34) with a 99-85 victory despite Carlos Boozer‘s 21p-10r double-double. The Bulls‘ defeat handed the Central Division title to the Indiana Pacers. Cleveland (24-52) used a strong final quarter to defeat Orlando Magic (19-59) 91-85 while the return of Paul Pierce inspired a 107-96 win for Boston (40-37) over the Washington Wizards (29-48).