Today’s episode, to no one’s surprise, dealt with the fall-out of the Lakers vs. Clippers showdown, and where it leaves the Lakers moving forward.
The 2012 calendar year has come and gone, and even though a 17th NBA title wasn’t brought to Los Angeles, the Lakers still provided Lakers Nation with plenty of drama, news, and headlines. As the year began, the Lakers were still reeling from the disappointment of the
stolen failed attempt to obtain PG Chris Paul. They were struggling to learn and adjust to (then) new head coach Mike Brown’s first system, attempting to adapt to life without Phil Jackson (again), and trying to locate and establish a new identity.
10. January 3, 2012: Lakers- 108 Rockets- 99
Kobe Bryant notched 37 points, eight rebounds, and six assists, but the story of the game was ex-Laker Andrew Bynum’s first 20/20 (21 points, 22 rebounds) performance of his career. After a detailed off-season workout regiment that included workout sessions with legendary boxing trainer Freddie Roach that saw his body fat percentage reportedly cut in half (down to 5 percent), Bynum was a man on a mission for large portions of the 2011-12 season….
Please click the link for the full story on www.LakersNation.com
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 14,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals
I’m not certain about each of you, but even though there was disappointment following last night’s road loss at the hands of the Denver Nuggets, I wasn’t left with that overwhelming sense of discouragement that seemed to follow a majority of the other losses this season.
Part of that, admittedly, is because it came on the heels of the first 5-game winning streak of the season. Part of it, obviously, is because the additions of a healthy Steve Nash and Pau Gasol has led to a better brand of basketball out of the Purple and Gold. There should be no disillusion, the Los Angeles Lakers still have plenty of room to grow and develop. Trouble is, the pressure remains, as they don’t have much time to do so. As has been oft-discussed, this team must find a way to improve while on the fly. Not only must they find an immediate understanding of D’Antoni’s offense, but they have to develop the type of chemistry, trust, and accountability this team simply hasn’t been able to cultivate over the…
Click the link above for the full story.
The Chicago Bulls may have momentarily slipped out of the top-10, but they will remain on the radar until we see what Derrick Rose looks like upon returning. If Rose is able to rekindle even 80 percent of what he had going just two seasons ago, the Bulls could be a darkhorse candidate in the East Conference. They may not have enough on the roster to win an outright title, but Coach Thibodeau’s squad may be able to play the role of ‘spoiler’ once we get to playoff basketball.
The Los Angeles Lakers are getting healthy (Nash/Gasol return), and it is by no coincidence they are finally showing signs of life. They’ve won 5-straight, while Bryant is up to 9-straight 30+ PPG, and fans in LA are finally seeing slivers of a team that entered the 2012-13 season with the highest level of expectation in recent years. Watch out for the Lakers and Boston Celtics lurking their way(s) up the rankings as each team gets healthy and settles into the New Year. Don’t even talk to me about Brooklyn. They struggled without Brook Lopez, but are suddenly continuing to struggle now that he has returned. They’re 3-9 over their past 12, and Avery Johnson could be next on their star point guard’s coach killer list.
#1 Los Angeles Clippers 22-6 (Last week- 2): No more 1-liners about how different this team looks, no more speculation over if they could maintain the pace, and no more references to the “Clippers Curse”…unless (until) it rears its ugly head. Lob City is the deepest team in the league, hits you with waves of talent, and comes to play on a nightly basis.
#2 Oklahoma City Thunder 21-6 (1): The back-to-back road losses to Minnesota and Miami were the first consecutive losses for the Thunder all season. Something tells me they’ll be okay. One question has resurfaced: Beyond Durant/Westbrook, where will they turn to for play-making ability in a tough series vs. the better teams? They should be fine for now, but will need to answer that question in the postseason.
#3 Miami Heat 19-6 (4): The Heat won the first installment of the 2012 Finals rematch, and ran their current streak to five games. Not only five-straight wins, but four of the five by double-digits. The Heat’s near month-long stay-cation in Miami is over, and they’ll have to utilize that new-found health while battling through 10 of the next 13 games being on the road.
#4 New York Knicks 20-8 (3): No shame in dropping one (on the road) to a surging team, but the Knicks need to settle it down. With multiple reports of their attempts to move injured PF Amar’e Stoudemire recently surfacing, we are all eager to see how coach Woodson is able to work Stoudemire (soon to return) back into the mix without off-setting their positive flow/balance.
#5 San Antonio Spurs 21-8 (5): The Spurs look as though they’ve ended their rare and momentary funk, as they’ve followed up losing four of five with consecutive wins. They’ll hover around, as they normally do, before taking off around the annual Rodeo Trip. Health, like any other year, will be their ultimate determining factor.
#6 Memphis Grizzlies 18-7 (6): They may have taken a 20+ point loss at the hands of the Rockets, but the Grizzlies are continuing to coast along, winning just over two of every three games…which is what they’ll continue to do all season, barring any major injuries.
#7 Golden State Warriors 18-10 (7): They’ve dropped (a bit) after losing two of three, but still maintain in the playoff mix out West. it will be interesting to see how the parts fit together once starting center Andrew Bogut returns. Tough 6-game stretch facing them, with the final two coming against the Los Angeles Clippers (twice) and Memphis.
#8 Atlanta Hawks 16-9 (8): Had they not been able to make such quick work of the Bulls (92-75), the Hawks would have dropped. They have a softer patch in the schedule, which should permit them to get back into a groove before a test on the road vs the Rockets (next Monday).
#9 Indiana Pacers 16-12 (N/A): Winners of six of their past seven games, the Pacers are finally looking like the team that surprised much of the Eastern Conference last season. After receiving that huge contract, Roy Hibbert simply hasn’t been able to get rekindle last season’s success.
#10 Houston Rockets 15-12 (N/A): The Rockets have won six of seven, and James Harden is back to playing MVP-type basketball over his past five games (29 ppg, 4.6 rebs, 5.6 asts). Let’s see how they handle their next four games: @Minnesota, @San Antonio, vs. OKC, vs. Atlanta.
Daniel broke down the state of the Lakers, what they’ll look like now that Steve Nash has returned from injury, and if we can should expect any roster moves in their future. We went on to take questions from callers, answer Twitter followers, and mix in a few predictions for the Christmas Day games. Please feel free to pass the link along if you happen to be entertained by what you hear. Thanks!
Andrew Bynum claims playing with Kobe Bryant was essentially a gift and a curse. To be exact, he said Bryant made the game easier for him at the start of his career, but could see how playing alongside Bryant actually stunted his growth in the long run. I’ll say this, as a resident of Los Angeles, I miss Bynum’s candor and flat-out willingness to say whatever came to mind. While I can somewhat see where a person in Bynum’s position could justify such feelings, but I would venture to say the 130 games Bynum missed (due to various injuries) between 2007 and 2012 likely played a larger role than anything else. Speaking of playing with Bryant, after an unforeseen early season struggle, the Lakers are finally close to being at full strength with the news of Pau Gasol and Steve Nash returns within the next week. It will be interesting to see what that team can do with its full complement of players. Did they dig too much of a hole already?
#1 Oklahoma City Thunder 20-4 (Last week- 1): You can just about count on the automatic productivity of guys like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but when the Thunder get the 25/17 (PTS/REBS) games they got from Serge Ibaka in Monday’s win over San Antonio they are just about unbeatable. Kevin Martin continues to provide steady scoring off the bench, and the Thunder have won 11 straight. Up next: A three game road trip that ends with a Finals rematch at Miami on Christmas Day.
#2 Los Angeles Clippers 18-6 (6): Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…but these aren’t your father’s Clippers. Judge them by their past history if you’d like, but this simply is not the same team. Outside of the obvious roster improvements, this is a team that has suddenly started winning a majority of their road games (8-3). Anyone that knows the game will tell you winning road games is generally the difference between the “good” and the “great” in the NBA.
#3 New York Knicks 18-6 (4): They may have lost a short-handed showdown with Jeremy Lin and the Rockets, but the Knicks remain the top team out East. Melo is day-to-day, but should return to action on Wednesday vs. Brooklyn or Friday vs. Chicago. Their Christmas Day match-up with the Lakers could be the best game of the day if the stars are aligned.
#4 Miami Heat 15-6 (3): The defending champions haven’t left Miami since Dec. 6th, and only travel out of the state once more (@Dal 12/20) until after Christmas. Even with the home-friendly schedule and having played several games less than most other teams over the past couple weeks, the Heat have been up and down (3-3 over the last six). Ricky Rubio’s return could make their meeting with Minnesota a fun game to watch, but we all want to see the OKC rematch.
#5 San Antonio Spurs 19-7 (2): It’s a rare thing to see the Spurs lose three of four, but that’s exactly what the last six days held in store for San Antonio. No holiday game for the Spurs, but their match-ups @ Denver and vs. New Orleans should be interesting. We had better enjoy the teacher vs student pairing of Duncan vs. Ant Davis while we can.
#6 Memphis Grizzlies 16-6 (5): Memphis responded to three tough losses with consecutive convincing wins @ Utah and vs. Chicago. Even with the momentary slide, the Grizzlies remain one of the grittiest teams and stingiest defenses in the NBA. They lead the league in points allowed (90 PPG), and are currently 4th in point differential (+6.4).
#7 Golden State Warriors 16-8 (8): The most impressive thing about the Warriors’ early-season success is the fact that they are 10-5 on the road. In fact, they just went 6-1 on a 10-day road trip that featured wins over Miami, Brooklyn, and Atlanta. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have shown steady improvement, but David Lee is quietly putting up some of the best numbers of his career. A win in Saturday’s home game vs their Pacific Division rival Los Angeles Lakers could be the just the statement this up-and-coming team needs in order to fully establish itself as a playoff contender in the eyes of the public.
#8 Atlanta Hawks 14-7 (7): The Hawks salvaged the week by sandwiching a couple wins between two disappointing losses at the hands of the Heat (@ Miami) and vs. the Warriors. Due to Miami’s recent struggles, Atlanta remains just a game behind them in the Southeast Division. Big match-ups with OKC, @Philly, and Chicago coming up this week.
#9 Chicago Bulls 13-10 (10): Although highly respected, Tom Thibodeau still doesn’t get the type of acclaim he may deserve. The Bulls are currently a 4-seed, which means that even without the services of their franchise player (Derrick Rose), the are in a position to host a playoff series if the season were to end today. Obviously, we have a long way to go before the postseason, but with Rose already ahead of schedule and actively rehabbing his knee, the Bulls could return to a contender status if Rose is able to return to form.
#10 Brooklyn Nets 13-10 (9): The spiraling Nets look to be back on track, even with the tough road loss at the hands of the Bulls. As will be the case throughout the season, the productivity that Brook Lopez and the front court brings will generally be the difference for this team. After signing him to a 2-year $24 million dollar contract in the off-season, Brooklyn has to be disappointed in what the recently benched Kris Humphries is bringing to the table.