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’.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Game Night! ft. Chicago @ LA Lakers

LAKERS INTO 8TH SPOT; HEAT STREAK AT 18 AND THUNDER CLOSE IN ON SPURS

The Los Angeles Lakers (33-31) moved into the play-off positions courtesy of a 90-81 home win against the Chicago Bulls (35-28) to take their current win streak to three games. Kobe Bryant didn’t replicate the 40+ point performances in his last two outings but still led his side with 19 points and 9 assists while Dwight Howard had a big impact with 21 rebounds complementing 16 points. Chicago have now won just four of their last TEN and face pressure from Atlanta and Boston below them in the Eastern standings as they compete for home advantage. Joakim Noah led the Bulls in this defeat with an 18p/17r double-double although Nate Robinson took the scoring honours with an extra point.

OKC Thunder (47-16) moved to within a game of Western conference leaders, San Antonio, after recording their 5th win in a row after beating the Boston Celtics (34-28) 91-79 in the first game of the NBA double-header on Sky Sports in the UK. Kevin Durant top scored with 23 points as Oklahoma broke clear in the fourth to tie the series at 1-1 with the Celtics, who were led by Paul Pierce’s 20 points.

Miami Heat (47-14) took their franchise-record win streak to 18 games after comfortably defeating conference rivals Indiana Pacers (39-24) 105-90. Chalmers was ‘Super Mario’ for the night with a game-high 26 points with Chris Bosh (24p) and Dwyane Wade (23p/6st) adding valuable support while LeBron James chipped in with 13 points, six rebounds and SEVEN assists on a ‘quiet night’.

LA Clippers (45-20) powered past Detroit (23-42) in a 129-97 victory to reclaim third spot in the Western conference. The home side shot an impressive 62% from the field as Blake Griffin led the way with 22 points and Chris Paul had 20 points and dished out 14 assists. Jose Calderon top scored for the Pistons with an 18 point haul as the visitors fell to a fifth straight loss. Meanwhile Dallas (29-33) handed out a 100-77 beating on the Minnesota Timberwolves (21-39) on the road with Vince Carter leading the Mavericks with 22 points.

Milwaukee Bucks (32-29) maintained 8th spot in the East with a narrow 115-113 win on the road against the Sacramento Kings (22-43). The visitors survived a fourth quarter comeback from the Kings and Monta Ellis (29p) and Brandon Jennings sealed the win from the line. New Orleans (22-43) enjoyed a tense 98-96 win over the Portland Trail Blazers (29-33) with Ryan Andersen securing the victory late on with a three point play.

Despite the absences of Rudy Gay and Andrea Bargnani, the Toronto Raptors (25-39) came through against the Cleveland Cavaliers (21-42) 100-96 although they are 8.5 games behind the play-off spots. Amir Johnson was the star with 17 points and 16 rebounds while the Cavs were left worrying over the injury suffered by Kyrie Irving as he left the game in the third. Orlando Magic (18-46) inflcited a fifth straight loss on the Philadelphia 76ers (23-39) as Jameer Nelson starred with 24 points and 10 assists in the 99-91 home win.

Check-out this top dunk from DeAndre Jordan for the Clippers: (NBA)

Game Night! Miami @ Oklahoma

MIAMI LEAD FROM TIP TO BUZZER AGAINST OKC AS LBJ & KD DO BATTLE WHILE THE CLIPPERS WIN THE BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES

LeBron James dropped 39 points on Oklahoma (39-14) as Miami (36-14) recorded a 110-100 victory in a repeat of last year’s NBA Finals. Chris Bosh added 20 points and 12 boards while Kevin Durant produced a game-high 40 points for the Thunder despite missing his first seven attempts from the field. The teams were evenly matched early on before LeBron added six points after an Oklahoma time-out as the Heat embarked on a 11-0 run to take control in the first. Norris Cole completed a lay-up on the buzzer to give Miami a 32-17 advantage at the end of the opening quarter. Durant finally made a field goal drop in the second when he netted a triple although Miami‘s lead continued to rise. James scored ten points in a row for Miami while Russell Westbrook (24p, 10a) added nine for the hosts before Bosh finished the half with a dunk to make the score 63-46 in favour of the visiting Heat. The lead peaked at 73-50 on a Mario Chalmers 3-pointer before Reggie Jackson helped Oklahoma narrow the deficit with seven points. Shane Battier scored his first points of the night with a three to give Miami an 88-69 advantage after the third. Durant and Kevin Martin combined to make it 94-82 before LeBron nailed a dagger three. The home side managed to cut the gap into single figures after Dwayne Wade (13p, 8a) had fouled out but it proved too little too late as Ray Allen (13p) secured the win with a pair of free throws.

LA Clippers (39-17) defeated the Lakers (25-29) 125-101 for their fourth win in a row to match OKC‘s win tally for the season. The Clippers were led by their All-Stars as Chris Paul top scored with 24 points as well as 13 assists while Blake Griffin had a 22-10 double-double.  They were officially the visitors at Staples Centre and used a strong start once again to power away to victory. A 31-17 opening quarter was supported by a dominant third quarter as the Lakers struggled to compete. Kobe Bryant recovered from his blip against Phoenix to lead the ‘hosts’ with 20 points whilst providing 11 assists. The Lakers remain outside the play-off positions as it stands with Houston (29-26) currently occupying the eighth spot.

Check-out the duel between LeBron and KD in Oklahoma: (NBA)

Game Night! Toronto @ NY Knicks

KNICKS FALL FURTHER BEHIND MIAMI; SAN ANTONIO LEAVE IT LATE & BOSTON EDGE LOW-SCORING THRILLER

Toronto (21-32) continued their winning streak with a 92-88 success over the NY Knicks (32-18). Heading into the game, Rudy Gay and Carmelo Anthony were the form players for their respective sides but had a poor shooting night with Gay 4-21 for 11 points and ‘Melo’ 5-24 for 12. Instead the Raptors were led by Alan Anderson‘s 26 points from the bench while J.R Smith top scored for the Knicks with a game-high 28 points. New York jumped out to an early lead and had an 18-14 advantage despite a late three from Anderson before the gap reached double-digits following a trio of triples from Steve Novak. Anderson got the Raptors back on track with two more of his own and the deficit had been halved by half-time at 42-37. Yet another three from Anderson late on in the third gave Toronto a lead they would relinquish. The visitors began to pull away in the fourth but a trey from Anthony made it a one possession game only for Toronto to seal the win from the free throw line despite two late triples from Smith.

STAT: Anderson made 6/8 from 3-point range for a career best night from beyond the arc while DeMar DeRozan made 10/10 from the FT line.

San Antonio (42-12) snatched a 96-95 victory in Cleveland in the dying seconds as Kawhi Leonard fired in a 3-pointer to deny the Cavaliers (16-37). Tony Parker top scored with 24 points as the French international returned alongside fellow All-Star Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobilli. Cleveland opened up an 8-2 lead which became 22-21 at the end of the first before extending that advantage at the half to 54-46. The visiting Spurs tied the game with the first eight points when play resumed and took the lead at 62-60. The hosts responded and regained the lead before seeing a five point advantage wiped out in the closing stages. Dion Waiters went to 20 points with a late basket to make it 95-93 with ten seconds remaining before Leonard‘s winner.

Boston (28-24) defeated Chicago (30-22) 71-69 in a game where both teams shot a sub-standard 36% from the field. Brandon Bass top scored for the Celtics while Kevin Garnett added a 12-11 double-double and Joakim Noah had 16 rebounds for the visiting Bulls. Chicago outscored their opponents 13-8 in the third period to establish a six point advantage heading into the fourth. Bass started a 10-0 run for the Celtics, in the fourth, with consecutive baskets as the momentum swung in favour of the hosts. Monta Ellis had a 27 point haul to lead the Milwaukee Bucks (26-25) to a 94-92 win against the Philadelphia 76ers (22-29). Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson combined for 41 points in another close-fought game as the Utah Jazz (30-24) earned a 97-93 win on the road in Minnesota against the Timberwolves (19-31).

A blistering opening quarter powered the LA Clippers (38-17) to a 106-96 victory at home to the Houston Rockets (29-26). Blake Griffin had a double-double of 20 points and 11 boards and Chris Paul had 10 points and 11 assists against a Rockets side without James Harden. The hosts raced out of the blocks to open up an incredible 46-28 lead after the opening 12 minutes with Caron Butler scoring 17 of his 19 points in that period. The lead peaked at 23 points in the second as Jamal Crawford added eight points early on before Chauncey Billups fired in two 3-pointers. Houston salvaged some pride in the second half as they managed to outscore the Clippers 47-37 to cut the losing margin to ten points.

STAT: LA Clippers‘ 46 points in the first quarter was one short of their best total in a quarter (47).

Washington (15-36) saw their four game win-streak end in Detroit as the Pistons (21-33) won 96-85. Jose Calderon had a season-high 24 points including 6/9 3-pointers while Will Bynum added a 20 point haul to halt the Wizards‘ charge. Josh Smith inspired a dominant Atlanta Hawks (29-22) win with a 30 point haul in the 108-76 thrashing at Orlando Magic (15-37). Indiana (32-21) matched NY Knicks‘ win tally for the season with a 101-77 victory at home to the Charlotte Bobcats (12-40). Paul George recorded a triple-double with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists as the Pacers produced a strong finish to collect a comfortable finish.

STAT: It was the first time this season that George had double-figures in assists as he recorded a triple-double.

Brooklyn Nets (31-22) used a profitable third quarter to carry them to a 119-108 win against the Denver Nuggets (33-21). Despite the defeat, Ty Lawson had 26 points on 5-5 shooting from 3-point range with Joe Johnson and C.J Watson combining for 51 points in the Nets‘ victory. New Orleans (19-34) eased to a 99-63 triumph against the Portland Trail Blazers (25-28) with Anthony Davis posting a 21-11 double-double for the Hornets. In the final game, Dallas Mavericks (23-29) enjoyed a 123-100 win over the Sacramento Kings (19-35) as Vince Carter became the 26th all-time leading scorer in the NBA; passing Larry Bird with a 26 point haul.

STAT: Denver made 12/17 3-pointers (70.6%) while Brooklyn made 16/27 (59.7%)

Check-out Kawhi Leonard‘s game-winner in Cleveland for the Spurs: (NBA)

Game Night! San Antonio @ Chicago

BACK-TO-BACK ROAD WINS FOR SPURS; BOSTON LOSE TO CHARLOTTE & CLIPPERS FINDING THEIR FORM AGAIN

San Antonio (41-12) made it back-to-back road wins with a 103-89 victory against the Chicago Bulls (30-21) to move two games clear of Oklahoma. Kawhi Leonard had a career-high 26 points as the Spurs were without Tony Parker, Manu Ginobilli and Tim Duncan but still managed to get the win.  Nate Robinson led the Bulls with 20 points and 7 assists with the home side out-rebounding their opponents 49-26 with 15 coming from Joakim Noah. Chicago enjoyed an early seven point lead but the Spurs came to life in the second quarter to establish a double-digit lead before powering to victory.

STAT: Chicago made just 2/12 from 3-point range while the visitors shot 50% as they made 8/16.

Boston‘s seven game win streak came to an end as they suffered a 94-91 defeat at home to the Charlotte Bobcats (12-39). Ramon Sessions nailed a late jumper to seal the victory with Byron Mullens producing a huge double-double of 25 points and 18 rebounds. Jeff Green led the Celtics (27-24) with 18 points off the bench while KG added a 16-13 double-double. The win is just Charlotte‘s 12th of the season having come close to beating the Lakers last week. Atlanta (28-22) remain ahead of Boston in the Eastern standings after a 105-101 victory on the road in Dallas. Josh Smith led the way for the Hawks with 26 points and 13 rebounds while Dirk Nowitzki had 24 for the Mavericks (22-29).

LA Clippers (37-17) shot an impressive 58% from the field as ‘Lob City’ turned in an impressive performance in Philadelphia. Chris Paul top scored with 20 points whilst dishing out 11 assists with Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford two beneficiaries as they both recorded 20 point games. Nick Young led the 76ers (22-28) with his second-best points tally of the season with 29. Minnesota (19-30) ended their losing streak of eight games with a 100-92 win on the road against Cleveland (16-36). Ricky Rubio reached double-figures in points for the third consecutive game for the first time this season whilst providing ten dimes.

STAT: This was CP3‘s first double-double since Jan.19th v Washington due to being out in recent weeks because of injury.

Indiana (31-21) suffered another overtime heart-break on their home court with Brooklyn (30-22) taking the win on this occasion; 89-94. Brook Lopez had 25 points for the Nets in the absence of Deron Williams while Reggie Evans pulled down an incredible 22 rebounds. Ryan Anderson led the Hornets (18-34) to a 105-86 win in Detroit (20-33) with his third 30+ point game of the season. New Orleans outscored the Pistons in every quarter on their way to a dominant win. The final game saw Washington (15-35) record their fourth straight win, beating Milwaukee (25-25) 102-90 with rookie Bradley Beal producing his NBA best points tally of 28 off the bench.

Watch Blake Griffin’s incredible left-handed slam amongst others as the Clippers turn it up in Philadelphia (NBA):