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
Since injuring his Achilles there have been many reports of Kobe Bryant being well ahead of schedule. The normal time table for a player coming back from an Achilles injury is 9 to 12 months and so far Kobe has shown great signs of recovery since the injury that took place in the final week of the regular season back in April against the Golden State Warriors.
Bryant has allowed fans to view some of his progress on social media website Instagram. He posted a video of him doing toe curls using marbles and of him running on a anti-gravity treadmill. Now he has posted his first Vine video: https://vine.co/v/hiYWqAIuLlB . The video shows Bryant jumping off a diving board which again indicates how far he is coming along during his rehab.
With the NBA season approaching it is a great sign to see Bryant’s recovery come along quickly but it is still not certain that he will be ready for the preseason or even the first game of the regular season that will take be against none other than the Los Angeles Clippers. A game that he will more realistically be and definitely want to be ready for is against Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets in November.
Whenever it is that Bryant returns to the court it will be best that he makes sure he is fully recovered. Bryant is now 35-years old and next season will once again join teammates Pau Gasol and Steve Nash who were not 100 percent last season. With the Lakers picking up younger players this free agency it will be interesting to see if Kobe will continue to try and average the same minutes he has been in games or if he will allow for his minutes to be slightly reduced.
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.
By Kevin R. Linares
The Houston Rockets were believed to be the front runners all along in the convincing Dwight Howard that they are the best choice for him and it appears they are indeed. After it being reported by Sam Amick from USA Today that Howard had chosen to sign with the Houston Rockets, Dan Fegan, Howard’s agent, said that there was no decision made yet. There were also reports about Howard taking a plane to meet with Lakers’ general manager Mitch Kupchak and he was still split between the Rockets and the Lakers but Howard has now told Kupchak that he would not be returning to the Lakers.
“We have been informed of Dwight’s decision to not return to the Lakers.” Kupchak said in a statement confirming that Dwight would indeed join the Rockets, his third team in three years. What does this mean for the Lakers? They will have to look forward to 2014 when they will have plenty of cap space to find one of the many free agents. They will have to rely on Pau Gasol to play center again, Kobe Bryant to recover continuing to play at a high level and have the rest of the team to do their part in competing in the 2013-2014 season.
Although it will be an old team and without Howard, the Lakers still have enough to compete for playoff position. There will be some small moves made by the Lakers to replace Earl Clark and Metta World Peace if amnestied as well as other fill ins.
The Houston Rockets made some noise in the playoffs last year but will do more than just that next season. With Howard and James Harden the Rockets have a great duo who can compete for at least the fourth spot in the Western conference playoffs. There are reports that Omar Asik does not want to play behind Howard and there might be a trade for Josh Smith with the Atlanta Hawks or the New Orleans Pelicans for Ryan Anderson but nothing official has been reached.
With this being his third team in three years Dwight has to prove he is worth all of this. He left the Orlando Magic, a team he went to the NBA finals with, he left one of the most successful franchises in the world in the Lakers and now will join the Rockets where he has an opportunity to once again become the top big man in the league and immediately compete for a championship. Win and he will look at this as one of the best decisions he has ever made. Lose and he will be looking back at the options that he had and what could have been if he had chosen to go down a different path.