Tag: la lakers
We all knew this was going to be an uphill battle for the LA Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs wanted to make it clear from the start. It doesn’t matter that the Lakers are going into the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs with three possible future hall of famers on their starting squad. Truth is that without their main man, Kobe Bryant, there is very little this team is going to be able to do to get Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. These guys might not have the best record in the league, as a matter of fact, they don´t even hold the best record in the western conference. It never seemed as if Manu Ginobili, who had missed the last 9 games of the season with an injury on his hamstring, was out for that long. He might not have the legs of the young athlete who made the headlines straight from Argentina, but he can still manage himself. With only 19 minutes in the court, Ginobili finished the night with 18 points and 3 rebounds.
This was an important win for this squad. The Spurs had lost their last three games of the regular season and a win was very important for this team in order to kick off the playoffs with a different rhythm. Tony Parker also scored 18 points and they never gave the Lakers a chance. From the first quarter on, the Spurs took a slight advantage and carried it until the end. “It was great to have Manu back,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said in the postgame press conference. “He does what he does. He makes big shots. He creates problems for the opponent and he’s got a great will, a great desire. I’ll worry all night about how he’ll feel in the morning. If he says he feels great, then that will be a good sign for our team.”
Manu has been dealing with a many issues with his legs in what is his 11th season as a pro. Still, coming off from the bench, Manu kept on going strong shooting 6 for 13 from the field and 3 for 5 on from behind the three-point arch. Veteran Tim Duncan added 17 points and 10 rebounds for the home team. Matt Bonner had 10 points and Kawhi Leonard had eight points and 11 rebounds to round up San Antonio’s first game of the postseason. “It was a very physical game,” Duncan said about the defense set upon the Lakers. “It was a good start to our playoff run. We shook off a lot of cobwebs we’ve had over the past 10 games or so. It was great to have everybody back out there together. It was a good start overall.”
The Lakers shot 35 percent from the field in the first half. They pretty much failed to score anything from beyond the 11 feet marc. Dwight Howard had 20 points and 15 rebounds, Steve Nash scored 16 points and Pau Gasol added 16 points and 16 rebounds for Los Angeles, but they lacked any presence in the post and that ultimately cost them the game.
For the first time in a very long time, the LA Lakers were going to have to play a vital must-win game without their biggest star and most iconic player, Kobe Bryant. This is the thing with this team, the heart and spirit of this squad has been Bryant, and now that he is gone for the rest of the season with a torn Achilles tendon, and the chances of making it to the playoffs are on the line, the Lakers had to take a win against the San Antonio Spurs. A team, that, on the other hand, is giving it all they’ve got to fight out the top seed in the Western Conference against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
At 58-22 for the season, the Spurs want to secure home-court advantage throughout the season, but a loss at the Staples Center could have cost them to top spot in the West. The Lakers, on the other hand, are battling out the 8th and last berth in the conference against the Utah Jazz, which are now two games behind the Lakers after they took a 91-86 win at home over the Spurs last night.
Considering that Kobe Bryant was out of contention, and that Steve Nash has been out for the last 7 games with an injury, all eyes were upon Dwight Howard. If someone was going to have to get at the helm and guide the Lakers out of this one, it had to be Howard and he was going to need all the help he could get from his teammates.
There is no beating a team like San Antonio unless you are a top of your game. Howard guided the Lakers efforts with 26 points and 17 rebounds while they got a phenomenal performance from Steve Blake who was filling in for Nash. Blake ended the night with 23 points and 5 rebounds. Reserve Antawn Jamison, scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, while Pau Gasol finished the game with 7 points and sixteen rebounds.
“We knew everybody doubted us, but that’s fine,” Howard said in the postgame press conference. “We’re going to push even harder. I told our guys before the game, ‘Nobody believes we can win. We’ve just got to go out there and play like it. We’re all professional athletes. We’ve all done some great things in our career, so why not just go out there and play hard, and let everything happen?’”
They certainly have plenty of space from improvement now that Bryant is going to be out not only for the rest of the season. He is expected to miss somewhere around 9 months as he recovers from reconstructive surgery he underwent on Saturday. The squad seemed a little clumsy at time. Gasol missed 12 of his first 13 shots and Howard was throwing bricks from the free throw line all game long. Now, the big question remains who’s going to be the man of the hour when it comes to clutch time. All fingers point at Howard, but is he really going to be able to deliver?
The LA Lakers have been able to turn a very mediocre first half of the season and managed to qualify into the postseason. Most of that success can be traced down to one phenomenal player, the veteran Kobe Bryant. He has played many minutes, averaging 35 plus minutes per game in the last few weeks. And because of that, and his ability to score under pressure, the Lakers are now 43-37 for the season. On LA’s latest win, Bryant had 34 points and 5 rebounds, but even though he pushed his body to it’s limits, pretty much playing all of the second half with obvious pain in his left leg. But with 3:06 to go in a game where the home team took a 118-116 win over the Golden State Warriors, Bryant’s Achilles tendon gave in, and he had to be carried out of the court after shooting a pair of free throws with one leg.
Before that injury, however, Bryant hyperextended his left knee early in the third quarter. He managed to come back and keep on giving his team a good fight, as the Lakers are fighting it to the end with the Utah Jazz for the last spot in the playoffs in the Western Conference. But in what seemed to be an easy drive into the paint, Bryant went to the ground, holding his ankle. After the game, Bryant could be seen talking to the press, on crutches, as he left the Lakers locker room. Bryant called it the most disappointing injury of his career “by far.” He even said that at one moment he tried to put some weight on his left leg, to see if maybe he could walk. It became evident to him right there that this one was going to cost him the rest of the season. “We worked so hard to put ourselves in position and control our fate,” he said in an impromptu press conference on his way out of the Staples Center. “I certainly have done a lot of work to prepare myself. It’s just bad luck.”
This is one though player. No one doubts that this is serious. After all, Bryant is the man behind this steam. He is the man who makes this engine works. Forget the other Lakers stars, truth is that while Pau Gasol and Steve Nash have missed long stretches of play with injuries this season, and while Dwight Howard struggled to recover completely after last year’s back surgery, it was Kobe who kept this boat from sinking. Bryant played through a sprained ankle and countless minor woes to keep the Lakers chances of making it into the playoffs alive. They are there now, but without Kobe, they might as well just call it a season when the regular season ends.
“MRI, surgery and then recovery,” Bryant said to the press before undergoing surgery this Saturday in the afternoon. He is expected to be out anywhere from 6 to 9 months. “I was really tired, man. Just tired in the locker room and dejected and thinking about this mountain to overcome. I mean, this is a long process and wasn’t sure I could do it. Then your kids walk in and you’re like, ‘I need to set an example. Daddy is going to be fine.’ I can do it. Work hard and just go from there.”
Golden State was able to open up a 23-point wining margin by the halftime break. And they never looked back. The Warriors were able to rely heavily on Steve Curry and his healthier ankle as he guided the team with 25 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists to take a 109-103 win over the Lakers. LA gave it all they had, including a phenomenal second half effort from Kobe Bryant, who guided the Laker with 36 points and 8 rebounds. But it certainly wasn’t enough. The Lakers got 21 points, 9 rebounds and seven assists from the veteran Steve Nash, but that was about all these two guys got from the rest of the Lakers. Coming back from a foot injury, Pau Gasol was non-factor all game long. He could have easily won the least valuable player award for his lackluster effort. The Spaniard finished the night with seven points in a below average 3-for-8 shooting effort. He also recorded eight rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes.
It seems as if the Lakers go into real trouble when they start all of their stars. At least in paper a team that plays with Bryant, Gasol, Nash and Howard as starters should be a powerful and dangerous squad. Well, it seems that individually these guys are phenomenal, together, however, it just doesn’t work. And this is something that by all means has to be figured out by the Lakers head coach Mike D´Antoni. Even Kobe Bryant acknowledges the issue. “We just got to maintain our poise and just think about execution and what we’re going to do,” Bryant said in the postgame press conference after the Lakers dropped their third straight game. “You got to look at what teams are doing against us in terms of spreading us out and rolling the big, and now we collapse and we’re releasing the shooters. This is about the third game in a row that that’s happened to us. Not get overly emotional. Just look at what’s going on and just make adjustments.”
The Warriors also got a great performance from David Lee who chipped in with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Klay Thompson scored 22 in a game were the Lakers were going up-hill since the start and never got closer than 6 points. The Warriors are now 41-31 for the season and are on a game ahead of the Houston Rockets at 39-31 for the season and 4½ games in front of the Lakers (36-35) for sixth place in the West. The Lakers, however, are now only 1 game ahead of the Utah Jazz, which took a 107-91 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in Salt Lake City earlier Monday night.
The Lakers big men were a non-factor. We already talked about Gasol, but Howard was not that much of a threat either. He finished the night with a technical foul, a bloody nose and only 11 points and 15 rebounds. He got in a small fight with Lee and said that he would seek revenge at some point. D’Antoni, on the other hand, knows quite well what’s at steak here. “We’re trying to get into the playoffs right now. That’s more of a disappointment,” D’Antoni said. “But we still have time to figure it out. Still have time to get into the playoffs, still have time to make an impact. But time is running out.”