By Kevin R. Linares
The Los Angeles Lakers played Dwight Howard and his new team for the first time since he left the team in free agency and it ended in Hollywood fashion. The Lakers beat the Houston Rockets 99-98 off a big shot by Steve Blake with one second remaining.
The Lakers had a great first half leading by 14 points and shot 11 of 14 from the three but they could not keep it consistent in the second half. Rockets slowly brought the game closer and closer until it was finally a game for the Rockets to win. Turnovers became a big issue for the Lakers having a total of 24 tonight. James Harden led the Rockets with 35 points while Howard scored 15 but could not score free throws that could have put the game away for his team when the Mike D’Antoni chose to go with “hack-a-howard.”
Pau Gasol had a horrible game shooting 1 for 10 ending the night with only two points. Jodie Meeks led the Lakers in scoring with 18 points and was 5 for 7 from the three point line. Wesley Johnson had his best game as a Lakers with 16 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks. A total of six Laker players ended the game in double digits. The play of the night went to Blake who hit the game winning shot over his former teammate Howard. Blake finished the night with 14 points and 2 assists.
The Lakers will play another game tomorrow night against the New Orleans Pelicans in what will be a tough match up with a team full of young and athletic players. The Lakers will be without Steve Nash who will be resting on back to back games this year. With a big win tonight it will be interesting to see if the Lakers will carry over the energy into tomorrow’s game or if they are left without energy on back to back games.
By Kevin R. Linares
The Los Angeles Lakers entered this season with a lot less expectations than they faced last season. Dwight Howard is in Houston, Metta World Peace is in New York and Kobe Bryant is still recovering from his injury. Many people were just hoping the Clippers would not embarrass the Lakers on opening night. A starting line-up that featured a player that did not play at all last season and an aching Steve Nash would be no match for stacked team in the Clippers.
When the final buzzer went off and you looked at the scoreboard it said 116-103, in favor of the Lakers. A line-up that did not have the big names (other than Gasol and Nash) some might have hoped it would but had plenty of young players wearing the purple and gold for the first time had Laker fans smiling and Doc Rivers frowning. The Lakers bench was a big factor in the game scoring a total of 76 points, the third highest in team history. New Laker Xavier Henry led the team in scoring and posted his career high with 22 points coming off the bench. The next player with the most points was Jordan Farmar with a total of 16 points adding six assists.
The team came into the game playing with fast pace but the Clippers were looking like they could control the game. Blake Griffin was a handful and with a smaller starting line-up the Lakers were having trouble getting rebounds and protecting the rim. The game stayed close the whole way and it seemed as if perhaps Chris Paul will just take over the game and the Clippers would walk away with the win. Pau Gasol, who finished the game with 15 points, seemed to be the only player in the starting line-up to have a good game going leading to Mike D’Antoni giving the bench players an opportunity they gladly took. All of the bench players that played scored, five of them finished the game in double digits.
Nick Young struggled offensively in the first half but found his rhythm as the game went on scoring 13 points. Wes Johnson, who is expected to play an important role off the bench this season did not have a big impact in the game only scoring 3 points but it did not matter because his teammates picked it up. Farmar showed he can take control of a game as he did a few times in the preseason having a few big plays.
The Lakers will take on the Golden State Warriors tomorrow in what will be a similar match up as the Clippers in terms of their roster and style of play. The purple and gold will look to continue with the same energy and aggressiveness they had today and beat another team that is expected to be in the top of the Western Conference standings.
(US Presswire/Mark L. Baer)
By Kevin R. Linares
The Los Angeles Lakers have signed shooting guard Nick Young. There were earlier reports that the Lakers and Young had mutual interest but it was not clear if he would take the veterans minimum contract if there were other lucrative offers to him but he has now decided on the Lakers. His agent Mark Bartelstein said it was always a dream of Young to become a Laker.
The Lakers are full of guards now and Young is one that can play at small forward with his size if needed. Young will be a great addition bringing in youth and athleticism to a team that really needs it. The former USC Trojan was drafted by the Washington Wizards in 2007 and has played for the Los Angeles Clippers and most recently with the Philadelphia 76ers. Last season with the 76ers Young averaged 10.6 points per game and has a career average of 11.3 points per game. He is known to be a weapon offensively but has needed a lot of work on his defensive game.
Young will be the second player and second former Clipper that the purple and gold will bring in after signing center Chris Kaman to a one year deal with their mini mid-level exception. The Lakers still intend to sign point guard Jordan Farmar but are still negotiating a buyout with his team Anadolu Efes from the Turkish Basketball League.
There has still been no final decision made on the Lakers using their amnesty clause on Metta World Peace who has been linked to the New York Knicks if he were to be amnestied. Another free agent the team was reportedly targeting is former Laker Lamar Odom but chatter on that possibly happening has died down. Although he has not played the same since being traded by the Lakers to the Mavericks in the aftermath of the vetoed trade for Chris Paul he would be a great pick up for the team because of his ability to play more than one position.
An interesting perspective of these last three moves by the Lakers is that Dwight Howard left the team and money on the table for the Houston Rockets. Kaman, Farmar and Young have all chosen to come play for the Lakers with them having the possibility to make more money elsewhere.
By Kevin R. Linares
The Los Angeles Lakers lost some size when Dwight Howard decided to sign with the Houston Rockets and have found someone to replace some of that size for the 2013-2014 season. The Lakers have agreed to sign center Chris Kaman on a one year deal using their mini midlevel exception. Last year Kaman played for the Dallas Mavericks where he averaged 10.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
The 31 year old center was being looked at by several teams that include the Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings and the New York Knicks before signing with the Lakers. With this signing the Lakers have the option to still look to use Pau at the center in the starting line up, bringing in Kaman as a back up center or having him in the starting line up along side Gasol. Prior to playing with the Mavericks Kaman had played with the Clippers for his first 8 seasons in the NBA and the New Orlean Hornets, now known as the Pelicans…
It has been the Clippers who have been signing former Laker players that include Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Ronny Turiaf and there are now reports that the hometown rivals are having discussions with Antawn Jamison who played for the Lakers this past season. Other NBA free agents that the Lakers are reportedly looking at include Anthony Morrow, Nick Young, Elton Brand, Sasha Vujacic and Lamar Odom. Elton Brand also played for the Mavericks last season along side Kaman. Both Kaman and Brand played together with the Clippers as well. Odom and Vujacic won championships with the Lakers before they were both traded. Like Kaman and Brand, Odom played with the clippers earlier in his career including last season and it would be interesting to see him along side Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol for one last ride.