Tag Archives: Bulls

Better Team For Lakers to Face in Playoffs?

Image from google

Image from google

By Kevin R. Linares

With the Lakers beating the Chicago Bulls last weekend they have managed to do what many said they would not do. The Lakers sneaked into the playoffs, but the 8th playoff spot is still up for grabs. If the Lakers and the Utah Jazz win their next few games, they will go back and forth switching spots at 8th and 9th in the West.

There are four things that can happen for Los Angeles. First, the Lakers can get pushed out of the playoffs, disappointing their fans while opposing fans enjoy Lakerless playoffs which has not happened since the 2004-05 season when the the team roster included Stanislav Medvedenko, Chucky Atkins, Chris Mihm and lets stop there. The second, the Lakers just manage to hold on to the 8th and final playoff spot. Third, they move on up to the 7th playoff spot and fourth they somehow manage to have an incredible run and finish the season at the 6th spot.

Now assuming that the Lakers do stay in the playoffs who will they have to play in the 1st round? Not too long ago, Kobe Bryant said, in an interview with Jack McCallum from Sports Illustrated, “It’s not a question of if we make the playoffs. We will,” adding “And when we get there, I have no fear of anyone–Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Denver…whoever. I have zero nervousness about that.” A confident answer by Kobe indeed and so far his vow to make the playoffs is very well on track. Unfortunately, this is the Western Conference and although Kobe can be very convincing with his answers and confidence, the conference is full of difficult teams to get past.

Now it is pretty safe to say that the three possible opponents for the Lakers are the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Regardless of who it ends up being the Lakers will definitely have their hands full. All of these match ups will be very entertaining. The Battle of LA vs. the Clippers, the Rematch of the 2012 Western Conference Semi-Finals vs. the Thunder and   a series that would include two teams that together have won 9 out of the last 14 NBA championships vs. the Spurs.

Lakers vs. Spurs

11/13     SAS @ LAL     84-82         Loss
1/09      LAL @ SAS     105-108     Loss
4/14      SAS @ LAL     Next Game

In both games the Lakers were missing key players and their coach. In the first game Nash was out with a small fracture to his leg and the Lakers were waiting on coach Mike D’Antoni who was replacing  Mike Brown after being fired just five games into the regular season. In the second game they were without three of their big men. Dwight Howard with a shoulder injury, Pau Gasol with a concussion and Jordan hill with injuries to his hip and back. In both games the Lakers bench had trouble contributing but the bench has now improved. Considering that the Lakers were shorthanded on both nights and managed to only lose by two in one game and three points in the other, it has to be a good sign. L.A. and San Antonio play each other one last time in the regular season on April 14 at the Staples Center.

Lakers vs. Thunder

12/07    LAL @ OKC     105-122      Loss
1/11       OKC @ LAL     116-101       Loss
1/27      OKC @ LAL     96-105        Win
3/05      LAL @ OKC     105-122      Loss

In the win the Lakers’s bench was a big factor, which had Gasol and Jodie Meeks in double digits. Russel Westbrook did not go off only scoring 17 points, and do not get me wrong, to say someone had an off night and only scored 17 points is scary. In the three losses the Lakers had, Russel Westbrook was a monster scoring 27, 33 and 37. Lakers were missing Pau Gasol in all three of the losses and Jordan Hill in two.

Lakers vs. Clippers

11/02     LAC @ LAL     105-95         Loss
1/04       LAL @ LAC     102-107       Loss
2/14       LAC @ LAL     125-101        Loss
4/07      LAL @ LAC     Next Game

In all games either the Lakers or Clippers had a key injury whether it being Chauncey Billups, Grant Hill for the Clippers or Steve Nash, Pau Gasol for the Lakers. The Clippers proved to be one of the NBA’s deepest teams and had too much firepower for the Lakers. The Lakers bench played well in both games and need to continue if they were to meet. In the one game Gasol played he was not a factor and would need to be aggressive offensively if he is healthy when and if they meet. The next game between the L.A. teams will be on April 7th, an away game for the Lakers.

Looking at the results of the games that have been played the Lakers should try to avoid all three teams, but obviously that is not happening. The Clippers are the team I would have to say should be avoided as long as possible for the Lakers. The Clippers as I mentioned before have too much depth and firepower. If the Lakers continue to build their chemistry, stay healthy and look to play better defense maybe they can pull it off but it will be very tough to do so. Perhaps if they can win the first round against one of the other two teams and hopefully getting Gasol back only helps the Lakers, they will be better suited.

The Oklahoma City Thunder is a scary team, but even more scary when Westbrook is on fire. The Lakers can beat the Thunder and the key for them to do it is to try to contain Westbrook from going off. To beat the Thunder, L.A. would also hope to get Gasol back and hopefully he resumes his roll off the bench because that will be where they need him most. The only win the Lakers had vs. OKC in the regular was with Gasol giving a boost to the bench and with Westbrook scoring under 20 points. Athleticism will also be a big factor, one the Thunder will most likely win playing an older team in the Lakers.

Under Gregg Popovich the Spurs have been impressive for what seems forever. They are always under the radar and not given the respect they deserve. The Lakers in both regular season meetings with the Spurs could have won and ended in a shot for the tie by the Lakers that did not go down. The last regular season match up between the two will be a very important test because the team had major issues during the first two meetings and  those issues seem to now have been somewhat dealt with. The Lakers will have an important size advantage and even more so if Gasol is back in time. I believe their size will be the key to win this series.

So who is it the Lakers would have a better chance of beating in the 1st round? Spurs and Thunder are the teams that the Lakers will have a better chance at beating if they were to meet in the playoffs. From the Thunder and Spurs? San Antonio. Judging by the close games with a shorthanded team, if the Lakers can keep improving their chemistry, defense and bring back Gasol in time with him being effective, they can pull an upset over the Spurs. Obviously all this will be a tough ride but what a story it will make if the Lakers were to pull it off. What team do you believe the Lakers have a better chance at beating in the first round if they do end up in the playoffs?

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Filed under 2013 Playoffs Talk

Lakers Take 8th Spot, Can They Hold On?Move Up?

Image from ESPN

Image from ESPN

It seems like it was just yesterday when Charles Barkley would roll his eyes and say that the Los Angeles Lakers would not make the playoffs this year. Fans were losing hope, waiting for Mitch Kupchak to have yet another trick up his sleeve. Many opposing fans were enjoying their time as they watched the team they despise have a terrible season.

The Lakers have finally set a foot inside of the 2013 playoffs after defeating the Chicago Bulls, who sit at the 5th spot in the East, at the Staples Center 90 to 81. This time there was no dramatic comeback as the Lakers led and had control of the game most of the way. After a great performance by Kobe Bryant against the Toronto Raptors, he did not score 40 or 30 points. This win was an overall team effort, which is what the Lakers will need the most if they stay in the playoffs.

It was a convincing win by the Lakers over the Bulls with a total of six players in double digits. Kobe led the way with 19 points  and 9 assists. Both Dwight Howard and Steve Nash had 16 points each. Metta World Peace added 12 points and Earl Clark seemed to have found his groove again having 11 points. From the bench it was Jodie Meeks who delivered 10 points. With the win the Lakers are now half a game in front of the Utah Jazz.

The Utah Jazz have fallen out of the playoffs but they have not said goodbye. They are still in position to take their playoff spot back. The Lakers need to continue winning to avoid finding themselves outside of the playoffs again. Los Angeles can also look to maybe go up to the 6th or 7th seed. The Houston Rockets are currently at the 7th seed only a game ahead of the Lakers while the Golden State Warriors are the the 6th spot, just two games ahead. The Warriors and Rockets both have their next games at home. Warriors play the New York Knicks and the Rockets take on the Phoenix Suns.

Lakers take the floor again when they visit Dwight’s formal team, the Orlando Magic on Tuesday. It will definitely be interesting to see the reception Dwight will receive from the fans. Will Dwight receive a Lebron James type of reception when he returned to Cleveland? Or will Dwight receive a reception that is better or worse?

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Filed under 2013 Playoffs Talk, Lakers 2013 season

Lakers Beat Raptors In Dramatic Fashion

By Kevin R. Linares

image from bleacherreport.com

image from bleacherreport.com

The Lakers seem to enjoy leaving their fans crossing their fingers on the edge of their seats because they have won another game in dramatic fashion. As long as they continue to win, fans certainly do not mind. The Lakers trailed the Toronto Raptors almost the whole game and showed some flashes of the 1st half from the last game against the Hornets playing poor defense and letting their opponent have their way. Little did we know that the Lakers had another come back led by none other than Kobe Bryant, again. With 17 years in the league, playing at a high level and witnessing some of the greatest basketball ever we cannot be too surprised with what Kobe does night in and night out but at this age? He continues to make peoples’ jaw drop.

The Lakers were down as much as 15 points before taking the game to overtime and winning it there. Kobe Bryant had another impressive game with 41 points and 12 assists. He continued to score at a high level with some incredible dunks and shots even after back to back games against the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Hornets. Kobe played 44 minutes in this game and looked very tired at the end as reporters were talking to him while he was bending over exhausted. Bryant hit some amazing 3 pointers in the fourth, with the more important one coming with just five seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime. With 10 seconds left in overtime he went in for the dunk scoring the basket that would put his team ahead and eventually win. “#VinoUncorked” is what Bryant tweeted after the game as he continues to show that he really is playing better with age.

The Lakers bench had a quiet night with Antwan Jamison scoring the most with 9 points but Dwight Howard and Steve Nash made up for it. Dwight Howard was impressive on defense tonight with a total of 5 blocks to go along with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Nash had a season high with 22 points hitting a few important 3 pointers of his own. For the Raptors DeMar DeRozen led the way with 28 points. The Lakers caught a break with Andrea Bargnani having to leave the game due to an injury to his right elbow.

The Lakers have a day to rest before they take on the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center early on Sunday. The Bulls are currently sitting in the 5th playoff spot in the East and are coming off a win against the Utah Jazz which is a game the Lakers and their fans were keeping an eye on. With the Jazz losing they are now just half a game ahead of Los Angeles. Utah has a tough game on Saturday against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden and with a loss there the Lakers chances of making the playoffs are very much alive. It is just up to them to continue to win and put Utah in their rear view.

The win at home tonight also puts the Lakers over the .500 mark. It has been about three and a half months since that has happened. Now that they are over .500 and looking to put a foot in the playoffs there are headlines to look out for ahead, will Utah lose to the Knicks tomorrow? More importantly if Utah loses, will the Lakers take advantage and beat the Bulls on Sunday to continue their playoff push?

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Filed under Lakers 2013 season