Tag Archives: Thunder

Lakers 1 Win Away

(Getty Images/Stephen Dunn)

(Getty Images/Stephen Dunn)

By Kevin R. Linares

The Los Angeles Lakers find themselves just one win away from making the playoffs. The Lakers big win over the San Antonio Spurs without Kobe Bryant, who will be out for the season and playoffs, was one that was much needed as the Utah Jazz won against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Dwight Howard led the team in the game against the Spurs with 26 points. Steve Blake, who is starting for Steve Nash who is now expected to miss the last game of the season, scored 23 points providing a much needed spark.

The Lakers with just the final game left against the Houston Rockets can find themselves out of the playoffs, remain at the 8th and final spot or even move up to the 7th spot. With a win over the Rockets on Wednesday the purple and gold will find themselves at the 7th seed. If the Lakers were to lose against the Rockets, they would need the Utah Jazz to lose against the Memphis Grizzlies to remain at the 8th spot. If the Lakers were to lose against the Rockets and the Jazz beat the Grizzlies the Lakers would be out of the playoffs.

The Lakers will have a size advantage over the Rockets with both Pau Gasol and Howard. If the Lakers manage to get into the playoffs both Howard and Gasol will be their biggest weapons. The best outcome for Los Angeles would be to beat the Houston Rockets to climb up to the 7th seed and avoid playing the Oklahoma City Thunder. The match up against the Spurs would be better for the Lakers due to the size advantage. The Lakers beat the Spurs without Kobe Bryant and the other games played earlier in the season ended with L.A. losing but by a margin no greater than three. NBA fans will also be please to see the match up of the Thunder against James Harden and the Rockets as well. The Lakers are in control of their own destiny and will have to look to beat the Rockets because the Utah Jazz will bring a fight to Memphis because it is “Win or Go Home.”

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Filed under 2013 Playoffs Talk, Lakers 2013 season

Lakers In Tight Spot

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

By Kevin R. Linares

 

The Los Angeles Lakers find themselves in a tight spot trying to win the 8th and final spot of the western conference playoffs. Losing to their rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers, just made it worse. The Lakers lost to the Clippers 95 to 109 making it the first time the Clippers have won the season series against their rivals with a sweep. The Lakers played a good first half as they looked to go inside to Dwight Howard but they could not find success in the second half. Both Kobe Bryant and Howard led the team scoring 25 points each.

The win gives the Clippers their first division title in franchise history. With plenty of more important banners of their own, the Lakers had bigger problems to worry about than having their rivals win the division title. Kobe and the Lakers find themselves out of playoffs with only five games left in the season.

The Lakers are at the 9th spot right behind the Utah Jazz who would stay at the 8th playoff spot if the two teams were to tie. Steve Nash continues to be doubtful in returning for the next game which means minutes for Kobe Bryant will not be going down during their playoff push. Good news for the purple and gold is that Metta World Peace is having a very good recovery after surgery. It was announced that World Peace would be expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks but he is way ahead of schedule already being listed as game time decision in the team’s next game.

The Utah Jazz have four games left in the season. Their next opponent is the Oklahoma City Thunder who are in second place in the west. After the Thunder the Jazz play the Minnesota Timberwolves two times before taking on the Memphis Grizzlies to bring the regular season to an end. The Lakers will need to win all they can as they take on the New Orleans Hornets, Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets. Three of the next 5 opponents for the Lakers are currently in the playoffs. The Lakers take on the Hornets at Staples Center on Wednesday.

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Lakers Get Must Win, Look to Regain 8th Spot

(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

By Kevin R. Linares

The Lakers beat the Dallas Mavericks in the Staples Center 101 to 81 in a must win game for Los Angeles. Coming into the game the Lakers were a game and a half ahead of the Mavericks in 9th place and with the win are now 2 and a half games ahead. The Mavericks were making a late run to make it into the playoffs and with a win would have been a serious threat for Los Angeles.

The Lakers were without their point guard Steve Nash who is out with injury. Nash has two days to rest and will determine whether he will play Friday but is expected to give it a try. The purple and gold dominated most of the game and were led by Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant. Dwight Howard had a double double scoring 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Kobe had an impressive game with a triple double scoring 23 points, dishing out 11 assists and added 11 rebounds as well. Earl Clark played one of his best games after having somewhat of a slump and returning to the bench with Pau Gasol returning. He had 17 points and played well on defense blocking 5 shots. Pau Gasol had another solid game with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Only 7 games remain in the regular season and they find themselves out of the playoffs behind the Utah Jazz. They are tied with Utah but have lost the season series so need to finish with a better record than the Jazz. Both teams have similar schedules with the Jazz’s toughest opponents being the Thunder, Warriors, Grizzlies and Nuggets. For the Lakers the Spurs, Warriors, Clippers, Grizzlies and the Rockets. The Lakers take the floor again at the Staples Center on Friday against a tough team in the Memphis Grizzlies.

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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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