Jan 22, 2013, 1:01 AM EDT
The latest drama surrounding your 2012-13 Lakers unfolded before the game in Chicago even began on Monday. But it was merely a distraction, and a meaningless one at that in the grand scheme of what is becoming more evident with each passing game that is lost.
The Lakers are getting worse, not better. And all of their flaws were on display simultaneously during a 95-83 loss to a Bulls team that was playing without its leading scorer.
L.A. is now just 17-24 on the season, and four games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings.
Pau Gasol returned to the bench, head coach Mike D’Antoni announced before tip-off, in an effort to go with a smaller lineup that theoretically would be more conducive to running his offensive system.
As he did in Gasol’s first game back from a concussion that sidelined him for five games, D’Antoni played Gasol with the rest of the starters for the entire fourth quarter, so the thing about he and Dwight Howard being unable to play together clearly wasn’t what drove that decision.
Gasol was aggressive if nothing else, and provided a decent offensive spark while finishing with 15 points and 12 rebounds in 25 minutes of action. Earl Clark, who got the start in place of Gasol, finished with 12 and eight in almost 35 minutes.
On, then, to Howard, who gave the Lakers less than nothing on either end of the floor. He seemed to be laboring to get around all night long, with nonexistent defensive rotations and an offensive game that saw him stripped or unable to finish through contact time and again. Howard finished with eight points, nine rebounds, and two blocked shots in 30 minutes, but it’s hard to stress just how ineffective he was in this one.
Luol Deng was forced to miss Monday’s game for the Bulls with a hamstring strain, but Chicago didn’t miss his team-best 17.4 points per game. That’s because Kirk Hinrich got loose for a season-high 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting, thanks in large part to pick and roll situations where Steve Nash continually got lost defensively.
It’s silly to pick on Nash individually, though, when the team defense overall was once again a real issue. The rotations and closeouts were brutal, and Chicago was able to knock down over 52 percent of its attempts from three-point distance because of it.
Add in another miserable shooting night from Kobe Bryant, who finished 7-of-22 from the field, including making just one of his seven attempts in the fourth quarter, and you have the game’s ultimate result.
The Gasol issue will play itself out one way or another; either he’ll come to terms with the way D’Antoni is currently choosing to use him, or he’ll cause problems to the point where the Lakers will have no choice but to deal him at the deadline.
But when peering through this mess of a season in Los Angeles, remember that these smaller issues are just a diversion from the greater one, which is this: The Lakers are getting worse, not better. And eventually, they will have to do something about it.
May 18, 2013, 9:30 AM EDT
The NBA has had a concussion policy in place for the past 18 months, and while all teams have been made aware of the details, they haven’t been publicly available until now. With the recent concussion that kept George Hill out of the Pacers’ Game 5 loss to the Knicks (and may sideline him even…
May 18, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT
To quote the great Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Nicole Muxo took a shot. The high school senior at Archbishop Coleman Carroll put a video on YouTube asking Dwyane Wade to be her date for her senior prom. Friday night, he showed up, reports NBCMiami.com. Muxo, who attends…
May 18, 2013, 2:51 AM EDT
Here is the reality of the NBA Draft Combine: It doesn’t matter that much. It’s one small piece of a big puzzle. This isn’t like the NFL draft where a good or bad combine can really move a guy on draft boards. The reason is pure numbers — in the NFL every year more than…
May 17, 2013, 10:45 PM EDT
Phil Jackson has a new book coming out, so he will be spending plenty of time talking it up at various media outlets in the coming weeks. The tour has begun in earnest, and the juiciest quotes from the book are beginning to be released. If there’s one subject Jackson can speak on with absolute…
May 17, 2013, 9:33 PM EDT
Vinny Del Negro coached the Clippers to a franchise-best 56 regular season wins, yet he is a man without a contract for next season. It’s been widely assumed that the team would go in another direction after L.A. was bounced from the playoffs in the first round, especially after getting out to a two games…
May 17, 2013, 8:07 PM EDT
George Hill played 37 minutes in the Pacers’ Game 4 win over the Knicks, and led the team in scoring with a game-high 26 points. So when the news broke shortly before tip-off of Game 5 that he had been ruled out due to a concussion, the collective head-scratching of when this might have happened…
May 17, 2013, 7:41 PM EDT
In 2009, Greg Oden averaged 16.7 points, 12.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per 36 minutes. After injury, Oden finally looked like the No. 1 pick (at least when not compared to Kevin Durant), and people were getting excited. Of course, you know how the story ends. More injuries for Oden, who hasn’t played since. Well,…
May 17, 2013, 7:24 PM EDT
As my friends can attest, I’m not always the smoothest guy around. But even I know to make a little small talk before trying to score a number. Apparently, the Spurs just rushed to the point when they were set up with Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas. Jason Lloyd of Ohio.com: Thomas said teams asked him…
May 17, 2013, 6:53 PM EDT
Jerry Sloan is 71 years old. He’s a Hall of Famer. He spent 21 of his last 23 seasons coaching with either John Stockton or Deron Williams as his point guard. You think he wants to coach a team that’s hoping Brandon Jennings is its point guard next season? In the nicest terms possible –…
May 17, 2013, 6:19 PM EDT
It’s been a while since someone notable has weighed in on Derrick Rose’s decision not to return from his ACL injury this season, and I figured it his name would stay out of the headlines a little longer, considering the Bulls’ next game is in October. But Bradley Beal stepped up and filled the Rose-less…
May 17, 2013, 5:06 PM EDT
Phil Jackson has a book to sell — “11 Rings” out May 21 (so he doesn’t count the two as a player with the Knicks?) — so you’re going to see a lot of him in your media space ver the next few weeks. The man knows how to be a salesman. As part of…
May 17, 2013, 4:23 PM EDT
Harrison Barnes had a solid regular season, making the All-Rookie first team as a debatable choice for that honor. He started 81 games for the playoff-bound Warriors, but Barnes took a back seat to Stephen Curry, David Lee, Klay Thompson, Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry and, when healthy, Andrew Bogut. Again being the seventh banana on…
May 17, 2013, 4:14 PM EDT
Generally, the cure for plantar fasciitis is rest. As in stay off your foot for a while. Which really didn’t work for Joakim Noah in the playoffs. But now that the Bulls are eliminated there is a question about whether it is just rest and some treatment that he needs, or whether surgery is an…
May 17, 2013, 2:55 PM EDT
The puzzle pieces have changed, but the picture of the sailboat they form has not. Under Frank Vogel, the Pacers have relied heavily on their starters. Between them, George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert excel in all areas of the court, offensively and defensively, and really balance each other. But…
May 17, 2013, 2:28 PM EDT
It was a throwaway line Zach Randolph said himself after a physical game early in the season against the Thunder and Kendrick Perkins, “I don’t bluff.” My first thought when I heard it was “wish I was playing poker against him.” But the line caught on to describe the them, and it’s now the chorus…
May 17, 2013, 2:10 PM EDT
No big man is going to be battling in the paint with Roy Hibbert and the physical front line of the pacers and not get a little banged up. After the Knicks win in Game 5 center Tyson Chandler said his back and his knee were bothering him. But this isn’t the time of year…
May 17, 2013, 1:35 PM EDT
Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins is not under contract for next season. As much as the Brooklyn Nets would like to have a shot at Hollins, both sides expect he will come back to Memphis next season. Hollins talked about that on the Dan Patrick show Friday. He also talked about the San Antonio Spurs…
May 17, 2013, 1:07 PM EDT
Whatever happened with the sale of the Kings, one thing was a lock — big front office changes and a coaching change were on the way. Now that the deal is done and the Kings will be staying in Sacramento, don’t expect it to be long before you see changes — Geoff Petrie and Keith…
May 17, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT
There are not a lot of iconic shots unique to players in the NBA. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Skyhook comes to mind. So does Dirk Nowitzki and the one-legged fadeaway jumper — a shot that gets big time treatment in the latest NBA playoff ad. You’ll see a lot of this one on your television…
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