Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles Lakers’

Jazz Lakers

After a heartbreaking loss to cross-town-rival L.A. Clippers, the Lakers are once again on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs are concerned.

That coveted eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoff seedings is now held by the Utah Jazz, after they beat the Golden State Warriors on the road.

The Jazz hold a current half-game lead over the Lakers, which, because the Jazz own the tiebreaker between the two, is actually a 1 1/2 game lead. In other words, the Jazz’s proverbial destiny is in their own hands. Win out, and they’re in.

But, how likely is it that the Jazz win out? Not likely. However, the Lakers schedule is no treat either.

Jazz remaining schedule:

4/9 – vs Oklahoma City

4/12 – vs Minnesota

4/15 – at Minnesota

4/17 – at Memphis

Lakers remaining schedule:

4/9 – vs New Orleans

4/10 – at Portland

4/12 – vs Golden State

4/14 – vs San Antonio

4/17 – vs Houston

Mathematically, the Lakers need to win two more of their remaining games than the Jazz do. (i.e. if the Jazz win three of their four, the Lakers must win all five remaining games)

Looking at the Jazz’s remaining games against the Lakers’ remaining games, it seems highly unlikely that the Lakers get that spot back.

I would bet the Jazz end up winning three of their four games, with the lone loss coming against the Thunder at home.

This puts the Lakers in a terrible spot. Winning all five games is going to be nearly impossible. Nearly.

The two games I can see as the Lakers’ biggest issues are San Antonio and Houston.

The good news for LA is that both of those games are at home and both of those games are the last games of the season, which means both the Spurs and Rockets may be resting starters by then, as both of them have clinched their playoff spots.

The bad news, is that the Lakers aren’t exactly the most popular team in the NBA and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that every team remaining on the Lakers’ schedule would love to play the “spoiler” role.

It doesn’t matter what color the uniforms, when LeBron and Kobe are going to be on the court at the same time, it’s the biggest event of the season. The fact that it’s only going to happen twice a year, presumably, until Kobe retires (barring a meeting in the NBA finals), turns the media and fans ravenous.

Discussions of who the better player is between the two, who would you rather have on your team, and endless comparison’s and polls (which I find ridiculous anyway since, clearly, LeBron is the superior player) can be found on every Sportscenter report, sports talk radio, and NBA pre-game interviews.

After losing to the Chicago Bulls at home, Coach Erik Spoelstra mentioned during his post-game interview that some “guys were crying in the locker room.” Needless to say, the media blew those words up to the point where it was front page news.

The Heat struggled their way to a 5 game losing streak going into this match-up with the Lakers.

Most NBA analysts wrote the Heat off after going winless in 5 straight games. Add in the fact that the Lakers were on an 8 games win streak, and I suppose you could find good justification.

LeBron, as he has in 10 of 16 games against Kobe (including the last 4 straight), walked off the court the victor.

Who’s crying now?

Reports surfaced last off-season that Carmelo Anthony wanted to play basketball in New York. Being from the east coast, Baltimore, MD, Carmelo would have no reservations playing back 2500 miles closer to home.

The off-season heard talk of ‘Melo going to the Lakers as well as the Knicks after the 2010-’11 season. Lakers talk only gained steam because of the closeness of Anthony’s and Kobe Bryant‘s relationship. The Knicks made plenty of off-season moves including picking up Amar’e Stoudemire and, like the Heat, had plenty of room left under the salary cap to sign another big name such as Carmelo Anthony.

Now that the trade deadline is nearing and ‘Melo’s contract expires at the end of this season, the Nuggets are open for trade offers. So far, there have been talks with New Jersey, New York and supposedly Los Angeles.

Reports have come out that Denver and New Jersey have been talking trades the last week. Although Anthony has come out publicly and stated he would like to play in New York for the Knicks, New Jersey has the most to offer Denver in a trade with draft picks.

The Knicks, I assume, are confident that ‘Melo will sign with them as a free agent this Summer if Denver doesn’t trade him away first, because they have not put out a trade offer – also, they declined an offer made by Denver where the Knicks would give Danilo Gallinari.

Winning in the NBA, when all is said and done, comes down to really only 2 things; match-ups and depth. I can prove it with a little formula I thought of for the All-Star game. To show a correlation between a team’s representation in the All-Star game and its place in the rankings, I’ve created a simple point system. 5 points per starter a team has and 3 points per reserve. The rankings worked out in this order.

East:

1. Miami Heat – 13 points (2 Starters: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, 1 Reserve: Chris Bosh)

2. Boston Celtics – 12 points (4 Reserves: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen)

3. Atlanta Hawks – 6 points (2 Reserves: Joe Johnson and Al Horford)

4. Chicago Bulls – 5 points (1 Starter: Derek Rose)

– Orlando Magic – 5 points (1 Starter: Dwight Howard)

– New York Knicks – 5 points (1 Starter: Amar’e Stoudemire)

West:

1. LA Lakers – 8 points (1 Starter: Kobe Bryant 1 Reserve: Pau Gasol)

– OK City Thunder – 8 points (1 Starter: Kevin Durant 1 Reserve: Russell Westbrook)

3. San Antonio Spurs – 6 points (2 Reserves: Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili)

4. New Orleans Hornets – 5 points (1 Starter: Chris Paul)

5. Denver Nuggets – 5 points (1 Starter: Carmello Anthony)

6. Dallas Mavericks – 3 points (1 Reserve: Dirk Nowitzki)

7. Utah Jazz – 3 points (1 Reserve: Deron Williams)

8. LA Clippers – 3 points (1 Reserve: Blake Griffin)

9. Minnesota Timerwolves – 3 points (1 Reserve: Kevin Love)

First, let’s look at the East. Aside from the fact that the Heat and Celtics are currently 2nd and 1st in the actual current standings, respectively, this point system loosely reflects the standings of the top 6 teams in the Eastern Conference standings to date.

The Western Conference is a little more spread out, talent-wise. The team with the conference’s worst record is even represented with a reserve player (Kevin Love). However, the point rings true as all 3 top teams in the conference, San Antonio, Dallas and Los Angeles are all represented by 2 All-Stars, while the remaining 6 All-Stars are lone team selections.

I’m sure this same formula could be applied when the Lakers were boasting both Kobe and Shaq as All-Star starters back when they were winning 3 titles in a row. Nothing has changed. Only the names and faces.

When you hear LA, NBA, and king, you would sooner think of Kobe Bryant before Blake Griffin. I agree. Kobe has 5 championship rings, all with the LA Lakers. Blake Griffin is playing in his rookie year.

I say King of LA in comparison of course to LeBron James. I wrote an article a week or so ago about which of the two(Griffin or James) had the more impressive highlight reel. Watching Blake Griffin play basketball will remind you of LeBron‘s style. Griffin stands 2 inches taller than LeBron at 6’10” and can jump unlike anyone besides “King James”.

Griffin has averaged 22.8 points per game and 12.9 rebounds per game through his first 44 games as a pro. James averaged 20.9 PPG and 5.5 RPG through his rookie year. Granted, LeBron was 18 years old his rookie year, 4 years younger than Griffin this year. Griffin is by far the rookie of the year and possibly even MVP.

LeBron has already seen his numbers take a hit at the cost of playing with 2 other NBA stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. It’s unlikely that Kobe will win the MVP this year either as his Lakers have slowed a step or two since last season. Dirk Nowitzki and Derek Rose are competitors for the title thus far as well, but one thing is for sure, Blake Griffin is the real deal and as long as he can stay healthy (he missed his “would be” rookie year in ’09-’10 season with a knee injury), he has the potential to not only win the MVP this season but be dominant in the NBA for a long time.

The could-be “trump card” that Griffin holds over all other MVP candidates this year is that Nowitzki and Rose types all have good to great supporting casts. Griffin, does not. Griffin’s pure talent has earned him his numbers. His play-making and sharp-shooting abilities are phenomenal.

Like LeBron, Griffin uses his size and athleticism to overpower and just plain outwork the opposition.

Griffin deserves all the praise and attention he has received so far and if the Clippers can draft or trade for some promising players, who knows? Maybe the Clippers can become the ’06-’10 Cavaliers of the West