<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Triple Threat]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/blogs/triple-threat http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Thu, 24 Apr 2014 04:39:35 -0700 Thu, 24 Apr 2014 04:39:35 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Dodgers' Billingsley Has Setback in Elbow Rehab]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 18:36:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/168*120/billingsley+copy.jpg

Dodgers' pitcher Chad Billingsley received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow, which has set back his recovery from Tommy John surgery he had in 2013.

Billingsley said he felt some discomfort while throwing a bullpen session last week in San Francisco. An MRI revealed he had tendinitis in the elbow. He says, though, he’s felt good the past few days.

“I did a lot of treatment yesterday, and it felt better,” Billingsley said.

Rest for the next five to seven days is in order for the right-hander, after which team doctors will evaluate if he’s ready to resume his throwing program. The team will be on the road, with stops in Minnesota, Florida and Washington, D.C..

Billingsley made just two starts last season before injuring his elbow. The 29-year-old has a career record of 81-61 with a 3.65 ERA.

Meanwhile, Clayton Kershaw will pitch in a game that counts this week, for the first time since he pulled a back muscle. Manager Don Mattingly said the left-hander looked good in his latest bullpen session Wednesday.

Kershaw is scheduled to pitch Friday for the organization’s high-single-A club in Rancho Cucamonga. The plan is to let him throw slightly more than the 50 pitches he tossed in a simulated game last Sunday.

“I think...we’re in the 55 (pitch) range, I don’t think we’re jumping way up from the pitches he threw the other day, maybe a few more,” Mattingly said.

How many tuneup starts the 26-year-old need is yet to be determined.

“We’ll just go one at a time and see, more than one, for sure,” said Mattingly.

Kershaw went on the disabled list after he reportedly pulled a muscle in his upper back while throwing a few days after his opening day start April 22 in Australia. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2014 Los Angeles Dodgers]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 10:33:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*123/dodgers2014-18.jpg After capturing the NL West crown and reaching the NL Championship Series last season, the Dodgers look to improve on their success in 2014.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Defense Fails Dodgers In Loss]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 17:05:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/173*120/dodgers-error-1.jpg

Poor defense has plagued the Dodgers all season, and it cost them in an extra-inning loss Tuesday night to the Phillies.

Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez bumped into each other going after a pop fly to shallow left field in the 10th inning. The ball fell in, and Carlos Ruiz went to second base. Crawford was charged with an error.

You can guess what happened next.

Dominic Brown's double into the left-center field gap rolled to the wall and Ruiz scored, giving the Phillies a 3-2 lead, and eventually, the game.

It was the Dodgers second error of the night and 22rd on the season -- most in the Major Leagues. LA's manager Don Mattingly said after the game that that play should've easily been made, and the defense, simply, has to get better.

"It's kind of become a frustration for us...we just have to get better," he said.

Both bullpens were solid. J.P. Howell (1-2) suffered the loss, but before the fatal error he and three other Dodgers relievers retired 10 of the 11 batters they faced in three-plus innings.

Philly's bullpen only allowed two hits in 3 1/2 innings of work. Antonio Bastardo (3-1) got the win, and Jonathan Papelbon picked up his sixth save of the season.

The Phillies got the scoring started in the fifth. Outfielder Marlon Byrd sounded like he broke his bat, but got enough of the ball to get it into left field for a run scoring double. Ryan Howard then came up and hit a sacrifice fly to left, and the Phillies were up, 2-0.

The Dodgers got one back by manufacturing a run in the bottom of the inning. Tim Federowicz led off with a double down the left field line. Hyun-Jin Ryu executed a sacrifice bunt to move him to third, and Carl Crawford drove Federowicz in with a sacrifice fly to center.

Dee Gordon led the Dodgers charge to tie the game in the seventh. The second baseman, who celebrated his 26th birthday Tuesday, hit a ground ball into right-center field. The ball slowed down in the outfield grass, but Gordon didn't, and ended up with a double. He then stole third, and scored on a pinch-hit single by Justin Turner.

On the steal, Gordon took a knee to the face, and would leave the game after the inning. Mattingly said afterward Gordon was taken out as a precaution, and believes he was given a concussion test.

Gordon went 2-for-3, scored a run and stole two bases, giving him a Major League leading 13 on the season.

Phillies starter A.J. Burnett (0-1) kept the Phillies in it with his arm, but more so with his bat. His slider kept Dodgers hitters off balance in the 6 2/3 innings he pitched. His bat also had it going. Burnett went 3-for-3, and scored the Phillies first run. His three hits Tuesday gives him four total on the season; equaling his total for all of last year.

Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-1) lasted six innings, gave up two earned runs, nine hits and struck out three.

Wednesday, Cole Hamels will make his first start of the season for the Phillies after being activated from the disabled list Tuesday. Hamels suffered from tendinitis in his left elbow. The Dodgers will counter with Zack Greinke (3-0). 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Quick, Kings Can't Overcome Third-Period Barrage in Loss ]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 06:52:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/486185803.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings held two separate leads in Game 3 on Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks, but they ended up coughing them both up as they fell in a 4-3 overtime loss. The defeat puts the Kings on the brink of elimination, and the Sharks smell blood in the water as they will go for the sweep on Thursday night.

The third period of the game Tuesday was really the defining period of the entire series for the Kings. It started out really well (just like Game 2 did) as Los Angeles scored less than a minute into the frame. Anze Kopitar made a nice play to keep the puck in the zone, and skated it back along the boards before firing it in towards the net. Jeff Carter tipped it, and the goal not only set off the Staples Center crowd but also gave the Kings a 3-2 lead.

Following that goal though, it was the Sharks who ended up grabbing the momentum and running with it. In the third period alone, the Sharks attempted 33 shots against Jonathan Quick, putting 23 of them on net. The Kings' goaltender did a tremendous job amid the barrage of shots that he was facing, stopping 22 of them as he helped the Kings sneak into overtime with the game still tied. In fact, the only goal that Quick gave up was a second-chance opportunity off the stick of Tomas Hertl, who stuck around the front of the net untested as he hacked at the puck. Finally, it sneaked in past Quick's right pad, and with about 10 minutes remaining in the game, things were tied up at 3-3.

A few minutes later, Quick had to make two incredible saves to keep things tied up. After stopping a Brent Burns shot, Quick had to deal with Joe Thornton, who managed to get his stick on the rebound and flipped it back toward the net. Sprawling across the crease in a full-on splits, Quick snared the shot out of midair and collected it as several Shark sticks took whacks at his glove, but he held onto it to keep the game tied.

Late in the period, the Sharks got a power play with about two minutes left, and they picked up a couple of really good opportunities. Joe Pavelski and Burns both had great one-timer chances thanks to some solid puck movement by the Sharks, but Quick continued to stymie the attack, using his quick movements laterally in the crease to keep the puck out of the net. The former Conn Smythe winner had a few tricks left up his sleeve in the closing seconds too, as he denied both Jason Demers (initial shot) and Logan Couture (rebound one-timer) to send the game to overtime.

Unfortunately for Quick, bad luck ended up ending his night as the overtime got underway. The Kings got the first five shots of the extra stanza, but when Patrick Marleau's back-handed shot deflected off of Kings defenseman Slava Voynov, Quick couldn't make the adjustment as the puck floated over him and into the net, ending the game and likely putting one more nail in the coffin of the Kings' season.

The Kings have seemingly tried everything in this series to get the better of the Sharks. They've come out of the gate strong, they've tried to ratchet up their physicality, and they've tried matching San Jose's speed, and none of it seems to be working. Quick has been working his tail off in the crease, but he has faced so many shots that he's simply getting overwhelmed by the ferocity of the Shark attack. The third period in Game 3 provided some great glimpses of Quick's ability to change games with his skill, but when a team allows the kind of quality and uncontested chances that the Kings surrendered to the Sharks on Tuesday, it's not a surprise that they ended up killing Los Angeles in the end.

If Quick can play on Thursday like he did in this game, then the Kings have a great chance to win. Unfortunately for both the goaltender and his teammates though, a lot of things are going to have to go right for them in order to climb back into this series, and if the third period on Tuesday is any indication, there isn't a cavalry on the way to rescue the troops this time.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Gordon on a Hot Streak]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 01:34:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/161*120/dee+gordon.jpg

There’s a point in every major leaguer’s career when he either figures it out and sticks, or he wanders into obscurity. The way Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon is playing right now, he’ll be sticking around for awhile.

Gordon turned 26 years old today, and he’s been celebrating since the season started. Entering Tuesday, he’s tied for fifth in the National League with his .355 batting average, and he’s tied for the league lead with 10 stolen bases.

Not a bad start for a player who, before this year, spent the last three in an elevator going up and down between triple-A and the big leagues.

“It takes a little bit for some people,” says Gordon. “Some people get it quick, and some people don’t, you just gotta continue to learn and continue to get better.”

He'll never be mistaken for yasiel Puig, but thecadded weight Gordon, whose real name is Devaris, has put on could be why he's more confident as a player. Last season he reported to camp at about 160 pounds. The Dodgers media guide for this season has him listed at 172. Now, the guy who barely looks old enough to vote is taking early batting practice sporting a Superman T-shirt.

It could also be Gordon's acceptance, albeit begrudgingly, of the position change from short to second base.

“To see the confidence in him is just great, and he should be very proud of what he’s done” says Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire. “In one winter things have clicked and everybody’s very excited for him.”

McGwire says Gordon has started to figure out what’s going to make him successful offensively: make contact, hit the ball on the ground, and use what he has above most players - blazing speed.

The son of former Major League pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon has incorporated that nickname into his game own on the base paths.

“He’s a threat every time he comes up to the plate and it’s something that we’ve really needed, it’s a nice little spark,” says McGwire.

In 2012, Gordon finished eighth in the NL with 32 stolen bases, and he did it in only 87 games.

Gordon says he didn’t workout any differently this past off-season, and his off the field routine is still the same: a lot of sleep, chillin’ with family, and staying out of trouble. He says he’s just reaping the rewards of his effort.

"I'm putting in the right work, listening to the coaches, and trying to trust in the process that they have for me," he says. 

Gordon, and his alter ego "Skinng Swag", has become quite popular with his nearly 60 thousand Twitter followers. While he has fought his way through a couple of rough seasons, Gordon is not as skinny, but he’s still got his swag.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Down 2-0, Kings Have Work to Do to Bounce Back vs. Sharks]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 09:29:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/485859723.jpg

In an 0-2 hole as they head back to Los Angeles, the Kings are in desperate need of a win on Tuesday night in order to stay in their series against the San Jose Sharks.

The first two games of the best-of-seven affair have been anything but pretty for the Kings. In Game 1 the team went down 5-0 in the second period, and despite battling back to a 5-3 deficit they were unable to finish off the comeback. Game 2 didn’t go much better, as the Kings got out to an early 2-0 lead but were then buried under a tidal wave of goals as the Sharks scored seven unanswered tallies to win the game easily.

Normally, a return to home ice would be a good thing for a team, as they get all of the benefits of being the host of a game. Whether it’s the benefit of last line change or the crowd noise from a raucous Staples Center crowd, the Kings should have plenty to be optimistic about in that regard, but there are several counters to that optimism.

Chief among those is that the “matchup” advantage doesn’t really play into the Kings hands, since the Sharks have been getting scoring punch from throughout their lineup. Normally a team can game plan against one or two lines in order to slow down an opponent, but when you have guys like Raffi Torres and Mike Brown scoring goals against you, it’s impossible to just dedicate all of the defensive attention to stopping the top two lines that the Sharks roll out there.

Their versatility in their style of attack makes it very difficult to gameplan against too. Whether it’s the lightning quick puck movement of a guy like Logan Couture or the aggressive defensemen jumping into plays like Dan Boyle and Marc Edouard Vlasic, the Sharks can beat teams in a myriad of ways, and in the first two games of this series, the Kings haven’t shown much in the way of being able to stop them.

The play of goaltender Jonathan Quick has certainly left something to be desired as well. Normally a rock-solid wall for the Kings in the postseason, Quick has been thrown off his game by the aggressive Sharks offense, and he ended up getting pulled from Game 1 in favor of Martin Jones. Quick got the call again in Game 2, but once again he struggled as he gave up seven goals on 40 shots.

Of course, having 40 shots fired at you isn’t exactly a recipe for success, but Quick’s poor rebound control and poor anticipation definitely cost the Kings in the first two games of this series, so the team has to be hoping that a return to the friendly confines of Staples Center will be enough to get him turned around.

In spite of all of the negatives however, there is still some reason for optimism for Kings fans as the series resumes Tuesday. For starters, Drew Doughty has been playing some solid hockey for the team, picking up an assist and actually finishing as a plus-1 in the plus/minus column in their Game 2 defeat. That statistic, normally something to be cast aside by serious hockey fans, is actually impressive because all seven goals the Kings gave up came at even strength, which means that Doughty was able to play over 23 minutes and not get a minus rating.

Jake Muzzin has also been turning some heads so far in the playoffs, picking up a nice goal in Game 2 while also blocking two shots and dishing out two hits. He might get some more ice time in Game 3, especially considering how well he played on the penalty kill in earlier games, and head coach Darryl Sutter would be wise to give it to him.

Finally though, the Kings need look no further for inspiration than last season’s series between the two teams. In that series, the Kings grabbed a 2-0 lead on the Sharks after two impressive wins on home ice, but the Sharks refused to roll over and die. They won the next two games at SAP Center, and the series ended up going the full seven games. That series shows that not only can home ice resurrect a team, but it also showed that no series, no matter how over it may seem, really is.

The Kings have a golden opportunity to bounce back and show the Sharks that they mean business, and their effort when the puck drops Tuesday will show exactly where their mindset is heading into this crucial game.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Phillies Hold Dodgers Scoreless ]]> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 06:48:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/485992553.jpg

Philadelphia Phillies starter Cliff Lee is on a roll, and Monday night the Dodgers found out just how good he is right now.

Lee (3-2, 3.09 ERA) threw eight shutout innings, allowed four hits, and struck out ten without surrendering a walk, in the Phillies 7-0 win over LA at Dodger Stadium.

"He just dominated the strike zone," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said after the game. "He pitched well inside and out and as he went along mixed in breaking pitches, but he was in complete control out there."

In his last four starts, Lee has given up 33 hits in 30 innings, but he’s posted a 1.20 ERA in that span with 37 strikeouts and one walk.

The only real threat the Dodgers made against him Monday night came in the bottom of the first inning. Yasiel Puig singled on the first pitch he saw, and advanced to second on a fly ball to deep center field. With two outs Adrian Gonzalez hit a chopper to second baseman Chase Utley. When Utley knew he couldn’t get the out at first, he threw behind Puig who raced around third toward home, and was eventually tagged out in a rundown.

Gonzalez was credited with a single, which extended his hitting streak to 16 games. The first baseman is hitting .343 during the streak but finished his night just 1 for 4.

The Dodgers would get one runner to second base the rest of the game, and, at times, were visibly angry by strike calls from home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt.

It was a rough outing for Dodgers starter Paul Maholm (0-2, 5.60 ERA). He walked the first batter of the game, then gave up a single to Jimmy Rollins. But, after getting Chase Utley out, Carlos Ruiz hit a double down the right field line to put Philly up, 2-0. It didn’t help that Puig overthrew both cut-off men, allowing the second runner to score.

Maholm seemed to come unglued in the fifth. he got two quick outs, but then walked Ruiz. Ryan Howard then came up and sent a slider into the right-center field seats for his fifth homer of the season, padding the lead to 4-0. Two singles later, Maholm should've been out of the inning on a slow roller back to him, but he turned and sailed the throw over Adrian Gonzalez's head at first base, which allowed another run to score. He got out of the inning before any more damage was done trailing 5-0.

Maholm hit the shower after that, but his manager Don Mattingly said he battled.

"I thought he hung in there for us to give us a chance, but we just didn’t do enough to win the game tonight," Mattingly said.

The Phillies added two more runs in the ninth when Ruiz welcomed reliever Jose Dominguez back to the big leagues with a two-run homer of his own to make it 7-0. Dominguez was called up before Monday’s game to replace utility player Chone Figgins, who was sent down to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Mattingly said before the game that it was done boost the number of arms in the bullpen, and for Figgins to get some much needed playing time.

The Dodgers are 2-2 on their current ten-game homestand. Tuesday Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-1, 1.93 ERA) will take that mound for the Dodgers against Phillies started A.J. Burnett (0-1, 2.74). First pitch is at 7:10 p.m.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ryu Donates $100K to S. Korea ]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 19:50:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/hyun-jin-ryu.jpg

Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu continues his efforts to aid the recovery in his native country South Korea after a deadly ferry boat accident that has left more than 85 dead and more than 200 missing.

“Being away from home, if I can help in any way, I’ll do whatever it takes to help the cause,” Ryu, 27, said through his interpreter.

The left-hander donated $100,000 last week through his HJ 99 Foundation, and Sunday he made an appearance at the Dodgers Viva Los Dodgers event at Dodgers Stadium, with money raised going to benefit survivors and the families of victims who died in the disaster.

Ryu says that’s where he wants the money to go, and his team in South Korea is currently scouting various charities to disperse the funds.

Though, he wouldn’t comment on his personal conversations with family or friends back home, Ryu says he’s continued to stay on top of developments through various media reports.

The ferry Sweol capsized off the southern coast of South Korea on April 16. It took off from the port in Ryu’s hometown Incheon, and was headed to the island of Jeju.

In a start the next day, Ryu pitched seven innings of shutout ball and got the win as the Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants, 2-1.

"I thought if I could win today and pitch well, maybe I might give them a little brighter side to think about, so that's why I went out there and tried to do the best I could,” Ryu told reporters after his win in San Francisco.

He’s likely to get a rousing ovation from the crowd Tuesday against the Philadelphia Phillies when he makes his first start at Chavez Ravine since the tragedy. 

Photo Credit: Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kershaw Progresses in Rehab]]> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 15:04:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/171*120/kershaw1.jpg

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw was back on the mound Sunday at Dodgers Stadium - he faced live hitters for the first time in a simulated game as part of his rehab from a back injury.

The 26-year-old threw 50 pitches from the windup and the stretch and did not report any discomfort afterward. Far from midseason form, Kershaw reportedly threw at max effort and topped out at 90 mph.

"Obviously, you can't simulate the adrenaline you have in a big-league game, because that's where you get your extra velocity and stuff from,” Kershaw told Fox Sports after the workout. “As far as pitching at 10 a.m. in a sim game, that's all I've got.”

The two-time Cy Young Award winner was placed on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in his seven-year career just days after his opening day start March 22 in Australia. Kershaw pitched 6 ⅔ innings, allowed one run, and struck out seven in a 3-1 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Kershaw believes a rehab assignment could be the next step in his comeback, according to ESPN.

Dodgers Catcher A.J. Ellis - who is also on the disabled list - caught the practice game and liked what he saw from the lefty.

"I think there was some very, very small rust in the way he threw, but he looked great and he was throwing everything," Ellis told the Associated Press afterward.

Ellis had arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left knee. He hurt it April 6 sliding into home during a game against the San Francisco Giants. He’s eligible to come off the disabled list today.

Kershaw has led the National League in ERA in each of the past three seasons. He is in the first year of a seven-year $215 million contract; the richest for any pitcher in Major League Baseball history.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Free Game Tickets in Dodgers New Program]]> Sun, 20 Apr 2014 17:31:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/183603158.jpg

Thousands of Los Angeles-area kids will get to attend Dodgers home games for free this season as part of the team’s new outreach program for inner-city youths.

The Kids 4 Dodgers Baseball initiative will host 250 youngsters at 51 home games. The first was Friday night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks and the team hosted youths from the Catholic Charities of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, they didn’t see a win. The Dodgers lost to Diamondbacks 4-2 in extra innings.

Along with free Reserve level tickets to games, kids are given meal vouchers, T-shirts, and a shout out during the game to everyone in Dodgers Stadium on the jumbotron in left field.

The team says it plans to bring in nearly thirteen thousand young people as part of the program this season.

"Our success on the field is just as important as how successful we are off the field in the LA community. I believe Kids 4 Dodgers baseball is a very special addition to the Dodgers' community outreach programs,” Dodger Owner Earvin "Magic" Johnson said in a statement.

Groups have to go through an application and process to be selected.

At Saturday’s game against the Diamondbacks the Dodgers will host the Phoenix Continuation School. The church group, based in South LA, serves at-risk high school students.

The Dodgers are currently on a ten-game homestand that ends April 27th.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Score Big in Win over Arizona]]> Sun, 20 Apr 2014 17:27:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/april-19-2014-kemp-either-dodgers.jpg

When the Los Angeles Dodgers offense has sputtered this season, Arizona Diamondbacks pitching has been there to help them get on track, and Saturday’s game was no different.

A five-run fifth inning highlighted the Dodgers 8-6 victory against the Diamondbacks in front of 48,541 fans at Dodgers Stadium.

LA has averaged six runs per game against Arizona pitching in their seven matchups so far this year, and it’s a big reason why they’re 6-1 in those games. They’ve scored five runs a game against their other opponents.

The Diamondbacks jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third inning thanks in part to a fielding error from shortstop Hanley Ramirez. Dodgers starter Dan Haren induced what could’ve been an inning-ending double-play ground ball, but Ramirez dropped the throw from second baseman Dee Gordon allowing Mark Trumbo to score. Two batters later Miguel Montero doubled home Paul Goldschmidt to cap the scoring.

The Dodgers committed two more errors Saturday giving them 19 on the season - the second most the big leagues behind the Washington Nationals 20. 

Their offense made up for it in the third inning when rightfielder Andre Ethier hit a three-run homer off of Arizona starter Mike Bolsinger, brining LA within one run. The RBIs gave Ethier 600 for his career.

“It’s even more of an honor than anything to be here that long and be able to do something like that,” Ethier said after the game.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Ethier was given IVs before the game and it was questionable whether he would play, but the rightfielder quickly shot that down.

“No, I was ready to go all day,” he said.

Boslinger was making his first Major League start, but couldn’t get out of the fifth. He loaded the bases giving up three straight hits. Boslinger should’ve been out of the jam, but an error by third baseman Martin Prado allowed the tying run to score and his night was done. Oliver Perez relieved the rookie but didn’t fare any better. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez welcomed him with a two-run single that proved to be the decisive hit putting LA up for good. Matt Kemp tacked on insurance following Gonzalez with a two-run double, and when the dust settled the Dodgers plated five runs and led 8-4.

“We’re never out of a game with, especially with the offense that we have,” Kemp said after the game.

After going 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position Friday night, the Dodgers went 3 for 4 in Saturday night’s game.

Gonzalez continued his current tear extending his hitting streak to 14 games, and his two hits raised his average to .296.

Diamondbacks slugger Paul Goldschmidt has hit .326 lifetime against the Dodgers but he’s just 1 for 9 in the series, though he did hit a two-run single to pad Arizona’s early lead Saturday.

Closer Kenley Jansen - who came into the game with an 5.00 ERA - picked up his sixth save of the season.

The two teams close out their three-game series Easter Sunday with a 1:10 p.m. first pitch.

Josh Beckett will get the start for the Dodgers, and Josh Collmenter will take the mound for Arizona.

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Lose in Extra Innings]]> Sat, 19 Apr 2014 02:20:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dodgers+player+web+ready.gif

After 12 innings, 12 combined pitchers, and 12 total hits, a winner emerged Friday night at Dodgers Stadium.

The Arizona Diamondbacks outlasted the Dodgers 4-2 in the first of their three-game, weekend series.

The action was flat for most of the game as starting pitchers Zack Greinke for the Dodgers and Wade Miley for the Diamondbacks mowed through hitters on each side, each only surrendering one run.

Things picked up, however, in the ninth inning.

The Diamondbacks got a runner to third base with one out when Dodgers reliever Chris Withrow was given the order to intentionally walk hitter Martin Prado. His next pitch sailed over catcher Tim Federowicz’s head, rolled to the backstop and allowed Tony Campana to score.

Arizona took their 2-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth and were two outs from victory. Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe came up and laced a drive down the left field line that looked like it would hook foul before clearing the fence for a homerun, but the ball smacked off the foul pole, Uribe had his homerun, and the game was knotted up 2-2.

It stayed that way until the top of the 12th inning.

A.J. Pollock started the inning off for the Diamondbacks by hustling into second base with a double. Pinch-hitter Cliff Pennington was then hit by a pitch. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third. Aaron Hill singled to right-center field. Pollock and Pennington scored giving the Diamondbacks the lead 4-2.

The Dodgers went down 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the inning, and the game was over.

Greinke did his part going six innings; his only mistake came during his 102nd pitch when Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero blasted his second homerun of the season in the sixth inning.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was upbeat afterwards, despite his offense squandering scoring changes. His team went 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position.

“This game is stupid sometimes. You swing the bats you get eight (runs), you get seven (runs), you’re hitting the ball all over the place, next thing you know you’re having trouble putting runs on the board, it’s just the flow of the game,” Mattingly said after the game.

Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez went 1 for 4 extending his hitting streak to 13 games. He’s hitting .333 with five homers and 14 RBI during his tear.

The two teams will face each other again on Saturday. First pitch is at 5:10pm.


<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Checked Out Before Season Was Up]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:07:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/464700169.jpg

Is there a disconnect between the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant?

“First of all, I did not know he was leaving town,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said on Friday. “Second of all, I think it’s a bigger story to everyone here (the media) than it really is to us (Lakers management).”

The opening response from the Lakers GM’s annual season ending press conference was telling that Bryant did not answer to anyone despite the $30 million he was paid in salary this season. For an employee to hop a flight out of the country without notifying his team, coach or general manager while the season was still ongoing was poor form.

Of course, blind backers will state that Bryant was injured and could not play and that his absence made no difference.

True, but Pau Gasol could not play and was suffering from vertigo that would certainly not be aided by flights, but he was still travelling with the team until the final game. When asked why he was on the final road trip of the season, the Spaniard told Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding that it was about being a “good teammate” and a “professional.”

Gasol hit the nail on the head. Bryant’s decision to ditch the team and disappear from sight was not professional, and he had ceased being a good teammate a long time ago.

Bryant had a duty to step forward and continue to be the face of the team in the face of injury. Bryant’s legend is so great that his mere presence on the bench is enough to fill fans in the stands.

If Bryant had only neglected his professionalism on one count this season, that would be forgivable. However, he was a repeat offender that seemingly cared more about selling sports drinks than thanking fans.

After speaking with the media to announce the end of his season, Bryant did not once entertain questions from the press for the final weeks of the season. He was no longer acting like the face of the franchise and the captain of the team.

Bryant stopped supporting his teammates, too. By season’s end, his appearance on a road trip would have been more newsworthy than his repeated absence. He stopped travelling with his teammates as they struggled to finish a season that was largely spoiled rotten by his injury.

Bryant did not take ownership of this team or this season. Considering he was not only the highest paid player on this team but also in the league, that was unacceptable.

On the final home game of the season--labeled “fan night”--Bryant was set to address the fans and thank them for their support during an incredibly testing season. Instead, he claimed a migraine and an unprepared Nick Young grabbed the microphone and thanked fans in attendance.

Young may have had a great year, but Bryant was still the Laker fans wanted to see standing at center court. Migraine or not, Bryant should have stepped on the floor and said a few words to thank the fans who have stuck with this team through the thinnest of times.

Would Bryant miss a game due to a migraine? Bryant balked at the chance to thank the fans, and that was inexcusable.

Then, Bryant confirmed that he had checked out, literally.

On the night the Lakers were playing their final game of the season, Bryant was already vacationing in France. During their season ending press conferences, his coach and general manager confirmed that they had no idea he had left the country until after the fact.

Not surprising, Bryant decided not take part in exit interviews. As his teammates sat through interview sessions with the coach and general manager, answered difficult questions from the media and said goodbye to the season, Bryant was enjoying views of the Eifel Tower and visiting the Louvre.

For everyone who attacked Steve Nash for not earning his salary this season, Bryant earned three times as much as the Canadian and played less than half as many games. Also, Nash traveled with the team until the end. He was always present, regularly answered questions and acted like a true professional.

When exit interviews came about, Nash sat on the stage and answered difficult questions about his future and the team’s direction in both English and Spanish. At the same time, Bryant was busy practicing his French somewhere in Paris.

Not being available for his teammates, the fans or the media, Bryant did not only complete the most injured season of his career; he just completed the least professional season of his career.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[D'Antoni Still Coach, Lakers GM Wraps Up Year]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 16:49:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/156458447.jpg

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni was not fired. 

“He’s under contract for two more years. If anything changes, we’ll let you know,” Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak started out his press conference at the Lakers practice facility in El Segundo, Ca.

For Kupchak, it was business as usual. 

D’Antoni would go away for a few days to decompress after the season. Then, at some point in the near future, Kupchak would sit with D’Antoni and co-owner and Executive VP of Basketball Operations Jim Buss to review the season that was.

“There is no timetable, but while it’s still fresh in everybody’s mind, I would expect [the meeting] to be sometime in the near future,” Kupchak told reporters on Friday as the Lakers GM sat down for his end of season press conference.

The Lakers GM was quick to point out that this type of meeting occurs every year.

From Kupchak’s comments on the day, he did not believe the coach’s performance was entirely to blame for the 55-loss season that finally concluded on Wendesday--the worst season in the history of the Lakers since the team moved to Los Angeles.

Kupchak referred to the overwhelming number of injures to explain his assessment, “Under the circumstances, I’m not sure anybody could have done a better job than [D'Antoni] did.”

For those fans who expected to hear Kupchak express disappointment in the defense and discard the coach, that type of thought was as non-existent as, well, the Lakers' defense.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt it’s changed. He’s 100 percent correct,” Kupchak agreed with earlier comments from D’Antoni stating that the NBA was a new league with a new style predicated on playing smaller, playing faster and spacing the floor.

Kupchak continued, “It’s just how they play today. It is fun to watch. I thought at the beginning of the season, this year, we were fun to watch. It was exciting. We were relatively healthy. The way the rules are today, it promotes that type of play.”

As Kupchak continued on, it was clear to see that his vision of where the game was at present and where it was going in the near future was in line with D’Antoni’s brand of basketball.

“Players love to play that way, and I think it’s here to stay,” Kupchak continued. “Our challenge, or teams that have a more mature or older roster, is ‘how you do…incorporate the talents of certain players on a team into a style of play.’”

For those who do not understand the language of NBA general managers, Kupchak was saying the Lakers would continue to shoot three-pointers and race ahead for lay-ups, but where exactly Bryant fit into this style of play was still open for debate.

Speaking of Bryant, Kupchak admitted that he had no idea the world famous superstar, who earned roughly $30 million for the season, opted to take a flight to vacation in France before the season ended: “I did not know he was leaving town.”

Kupchak contended he was not bothered by Bryant’s actions. Truthfully, the message from the Lakers GM on Friday was better served without Bryant present to contradict the direction and location of the team. The Lakers were doing their best to rebuild and climb out cautiously. Bryant would prefer the team go all-in for his final two seasons.

Kupchak acknowledged, “If he’s in Europe watching this, you know, I’m sure [he is] saying ‘why is Mitch using the word patience?’ He is not the most patient person in the world. That’s never going to change.”

The Lakers GM credited Bryant’s impatience as one of the driving factors that led to five championships. Kupchak tried to find common ground that both wanted more titles for the Lakers, but the conflict between the player’s goals and the team’s goals derived from Bryant’s two-year timeline.

“We both want to win as much and as soon as possible, but once again, it takes an organization a long time to get into a position that we’re in where we have options financially going forward for the next year or two or three. And you just have to make wise decisions using that space.”

The message was clear enough: the Lakers are rebuilding, and Bryant’s career came second to returning to the Lakers to long-term prominence.

Kupchak added, “If you don’t make wise decisions, you can set yourself back six or seven years, and we don’t want to do that.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Third Period Rally Gives Kings Blueprint to Beat Sharks]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:24:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/485420879.jpg

If there is one way that a team should try to avoid beginning a playoff series, then the Los Angeles Kings likely found it on Thursday night as they got off to a hideously sluggish start in a 6-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

The Kings ultimately gave up three goals in the first period and two more in the second before staging a rally in the late stages of the game, but it wasn’t enough as the Sharks drew first blood in a series between two of the game’s fiercest rivals.

In the first period of the game, the Kings started out poorly on offense and didn’t look much better on the defensive side of things either. On the first goal of the game, several Kings defenders ended up mesmerized by the puck as Brent Burns carried it along the end boards. Even Jonathan Quick was caught napping a bit, as Burns’ pass to Joe Pavelski in front of the net didn’t cause the Kings netminder to even turn his head. Pavelski’s slow shot ended up being deflected by Joe Thornton, and just three minutes into the game the Kings trailed.

The defense seemed to settle down a bit after that goal, but the offense was still slow to get going. Whether it was shots from the point or quick snap shots on the rush, the Kings couldn’t get any sustained pressure and looked very much like the team that finished 26th in the league in scoring this season. Meanwhile, the Sharks simply allowed the pressure to go up the sides of the ice, collapsing on the middle and preventing rebounds and cross-ice passes that would have opened up the game a bit more for the Kings.

Just before the end of the first period, the Kings ended up surrendering two more tallies. Tomas Hertl, who was making his postseason debut, ended up picking up the goal after a weird sequence. Both Kings defenders jumped over to cover James Sheppard on the rush, but his shot attempt skipped off his stick. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, Quick was sliding over to cover the shot, and when it veered off, he couldn’t adjust as Hertl popped the puck into the wide open net to make it a 2-0 game.

With only three seconds left in the period, the Sharks scored again. This time, they got a 2-on-1 rush following a Kings turnover, and Matt Nieto’s pass across to Patrick Marleau was perfectly timed as Quick had absolutely no chance to stop the shot that made the game 3-0.

As bad as that first period was, the third period gave Kings fans some reasons for optimism as the series moves forward. Early in the frame, Anze Kopitar made a nifty steal of the puck at the offensive blue line to keep possession going for the Kings, then fed a pass to Jake Muzzin. The defenseman’s shot found its way through traffic (helpfully provided by Justin Williams in front of the net), and was a good reward for a smart play by Kopitar and a quick shot by Muzzin.

A tremendous individual play by Slava Voynov cut the Sharks lead to three just five minutes later. Under heavy duress from Sheppard, Voynov deked around him and drove in towards the net. Jarret Stoll provided the netfront traffic in front of Niemi, and the goaltender couldn’t react as Voynov’s sharp wrister found the back of the net.

With about six minutes remaining in the game, the Kings used traffic in front of the net and patient skating by their forwards to score again. This time, it was Jeff Carter pulling a spin move after he entered the zone, and both Trevor Lewis and Dustin Brown got to the top of the crease. Brad Stuart helplessly tried to stop both players, but he couldn’t control either man as the shot from Carter deflected off Lewis’ skate and into the net to make it a 5-3 game.

No, the three goals the Kings scored in the third period didn’t ultimately help them to win the game, but they did show them the recipe that it’s going to take to compete with the free-wheeling Sharks. The Kings will not win if the series becomes one giant track meet, but if they can get traffic in front of Niemi and can establish some patient play with the puck, then they are going to get their fair share of scoring opportunities. For a team that averaged just 2.4 goals per game during the regular season, that is a big deal, and could ultimately prove to be one of the deciding factors in this series.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Steve Nash Explains Hopes, Talks Salary]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 01:04:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/186973645.jpg

For the final six minutes of his exit interview with the Los Angeles Lakers, Steve Nash painfully strained to speak in Spanish with reporters. Still, he struggled, he tried and he refused to stop trying his unique brand of Spanglish until the Spanish speaking reporters ran out of questions.

Those six minutes perfectly describe Nash at age 40 with the Lakers: even if he did not have it in him, he refused to throw in the towel until he had done all he could and everyone else caved.

“I want to just come back and contribute to the club the best I can, hopefully on the court,” Nash explained his hopes for his final year with the Lakers. “If not, off the court being a mentor and a great influence and a positive force.”

Nash, who is still under contract for another season, believes that he will be back, citing the consistent support Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak ha, provided him since his arrival to the Lakers. Also, Nash was quick to point out that the Lakers were not exactly rich with options as they were involved in a “rebuild.”

Although fans of the Lakers may cringe when they hear that word “rebuild,” one would have a difficult time arguing against the Canadian, given a record of 27 wins and 55 losses -- bad enough for sixth-worst in the NBA and worst-ever in the history of the LA Lakers.

Throughout the season, a segment of fans called for Nash to retire, and the 40-year-old answered those calls in a documentary film that explained that yes, the money was a part of why he would continue to play.

“In some ways, like with the money comment, I just felt it was an opportunity to be really honest, and backlash be damned,” Nash said on Thursday. “It felt right at this stage in my career to be open and to hell with being judged. That is the truth.”

Nash was again asked if there were any circumstances where he did not see himself returning to the Lakers, and the soft-spoken point guard replied with unfiltered honesty and reason.

"We fight in the collective bargaining to keep guaranteed contracts,” Nash started out. “You know, I broke my leg playing for this team, and my body's never been the same. Frankly, I would be lying if I didn’t say that I feel that that’s my end of the deal.”

Nash’s point was valid in that his injury occurred on the job in his second ever game with the Lakers.

Nash continued, “You know, we signed these contracts before (we earned them). Maybe it would be a better business if we got paid for what you actually accomplish, but that’s not the business we’re in. And frankly, I probably would have made a lot more money if I got paid afterwards instead of before throughout my career.”

As usual, the Canadian’s reasoning was sound. However, he wanted to explain that he was not only motivated by money. “Competition” and “enjoyment” motivated the best shooter in the history of the NBA.

“It gets convoluted because I love to play the game,” Nash said. “If I didn’t have any options, and the Lakers said, ‘You can come play for us but we can’t pay you,’ and no one else was offering me a deal, I would still love to play. And I would play for free (but) not when you have three teams offering you money.”

After answering difficult questions about money, explaining he would help in any manner asked of him—including mentoring a young point guard—Nash took on the challenge of answering questions in Spanish.

After speaking eloquently on tough topics in English, Nash did not change his attitude when struggling to answer complex questions in Spanish with limited vocabulary.

Nash did not have to answer any of these questions, obviously, and the Canadian could have taken a cue from teammate Kobe Bryant, who opted to not meet for exit interviews, stopped travelling with the team for the final couple months of the season, and decided to go on an early vacation to France while his team struggled to finished off a difficult season.

Instead, Nash worked until the final day and earned his paycheck, which happens to be worth one-third of Bryant’s.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pau Gasol Talks "Last Day" With Lakers]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:09:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/470565333.jpg

At every exit interview and prior to every trade deadline for the past few years, Pau Gasol has thought about his last day with the Los Angeles Lakers. Seemingly, every summer and fall, Gasol heard rumors that he was getting shipped out of Los Angeles.

“Like I say every year, I don’t know,” Gasol responded to the same question asked of him at every exit interview inquiring if he would be back with the Lakers after the summer. “This year is a little different because every time I said that, it’s been because I didn’t know if I was going to get traded.”

Gasol continued, “This year, that possibility is out of the question, so now it’s because I’ll be in charge of my future and my destiny, and I’ll have to listen to the different possibilities that I’ll have on the table.”

Despite hundreds of rumors and a trade that was eventually cancelled by the NBA league office, Gasol finished his contract in Los Angeles.

“This could be my last day, maybe,” the Spaniard admitted on Thursday.

He seemed thrilled to be in the driver’s seat and in charge of his own life. Gasol has always been considered one of the more cerebral personalities in the NBA since entering the league, and his outlook on the summer reflected that spirit.

“I look at this as an opportunity,” Gasol said. “Probably for the first and only--maybe--time, I’ll be a free agent where I can choose. It’s exciting and nothing I’ve experienced before in the NBA, so it should be fun.”

Despite the constant trade rumors and feeling of betrayal after having been traded, Gasol explained that returning to the Lakers was indeed still a possibility.

“I’ll have to evaluate each and every option and possibility that I’ll have on the table and try to kind of put my feelings aside a little and make a decision where I could fit the best and where I would have the best opportunity to, hopefully, go after a championship.”

He added, “I’m still going to listen closely to what the Lakers will have to offer.”

Gasol explained that his relationship and history with Kobe Bryant would under line his decision to return to the Lakers, should he decide to do so.

“I know that he’s going to be one of the main reasons why I would come back with the team,” the 33-year-old Barcelona native explained. “I think we complement each other well--personally and also professionally.”

With regards to his future beyond his free agency decision, the two-time champion did not sound like a man nearing retirement.

“I see myself playing several more years at a high level,” Gasol explained. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to play another good five years. That’s kind of my vision.”

After he had answered all his questions in English, Gasol took questions from the Spanish media. Following the media session, Gasol shook hands with every media member that approached him. He shared a smile, accepted kind words and offered thanks.

If Thursday was the last day Gasol was a Laker, he was a class act until the absolute end.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Exit interviews: Part 1]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:12:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Lakers_Farmar_4_17.JPG

Only Thursday morning in El Segundo, the Los Angeles Lakers set up a dais on their practice floor and presented players on their way to summer vacation.

After each player met with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, they took questions about the disappointing season that had passed and the uncertain future that lay ahead.

In the morning session, the Lakers started out with a four-some: Nick Young, Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman and Jordan Farmar—all expected to hit free agency this summer.

First to the podium was Kaman, and the often frustrated center released some of the built up pressure regarding his role but still attempted to play the diplomatic card.

“I had my issues with coach and I think he knew I was frustrated,” Kaman said. “My situation wasn’t really controllable from my end as much as I would have liked to have had it. I tried to put in the time and just stay positive. It just drains on you over the year as it goes.”

Kaman was asked if his frustrations ever boiled over. He responded, “Not that I want to talk about, but yea.”

Next, Hill took the podium, and he was also asked about his frustrations with the coach and relating to Kaman.

“Chris was just a butt-hole sometimes,” Jordan Hill drew laughter. “He just gets out of his head sometimes from the frustrations.”

Hill was asked about his personal disagreements with the coach and his inconsistent playing time.

“We didn’t have any problems,” Hill contended he had a good relationship with D’Antoni. “We never argued. I never snapped out on him. He never snapped out on me.”

After a couple of frustrated big men, the Lakers brought out two guards that were happy with the experience even if it featured more losing than winning.

Jordan Farmar said he was not sure he would be back, but he was clear that he wished to be back. He wore his two championship rings from his first go-around with the Lakers to his exit interview with the intention to provide management a couple reminders that he played a valuable role in winning titles for the franchise.

Farmar said he believed the criticisms of D’Antoni were not “fair,” and he viewed the season as having an asterisk on it based on all the injuries the team suffered. Farmar also recounted how he helped recruit Young to the Lakers and the progress and development he saw in his fellow Angeleno.

Farmar said, "It was awesome to see Nick really blossom into something that we all know he could be."

As Young stepped to the podium, he was all smiles and jokes.

“Hopefully I can be back,” Young started out. “It’s always good to hear [Lakers GM] Mitch (Kupchak) say something positive about you.”

When asked what exactly Kupchak said to him, Young provided some color to the serious occasion: “He said he’s going to sign me for $100 million, something like that.”

Young admitted he was joking about the offer. He admitted that he wanted to be back in Los Angeles but also admitted that the financial components played an equal role in his upcoming decision. Young said that Kupchak advised him to opt in, as the player holds a player-option to return to the team.

However, Young expects to make significantly more money on the open market, so he will likely hit free agency, putting his return to the Lakers in serious jeopardy.

Young said he even saw Kupchak smiling before adding, "He don't smile too much." Perhaps for one final time, Young provided laughs and filled the Lakers’ practice facility with smiles.

<![CDATA[Lakers End Bad Season on Good Note]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 06:23:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/481662297.jpg

On Wednesday evening in San Antonio, the Los Angeles Lakers wrapped up the 2013-14 season with a win on the road against the best team in the NBA.

Sure, Tim Duncan did not play, and Tony Parker only played the first half, but the Lakers only had nine guys available to play. With the 113-100 win over the San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers finished with the sixth-worst record in the NBA and the worst season in the history of the franchise since moving to Los Angeles.

The 2013-14 Lakers finished with a mark of 27 wins and 55 losses.

For those fans already looking to the NBA draft lottery, the Lakers enter the ping pong contest with a 6.3 percent chance at the no. 1 overall pick.

The result of Wednesday’s game did not mean all that much, but it did show that the Lakers did not give up on the season until the final buzzer sounded on the final game. Considering most of the players did not have any guarantees on returning to LA next season, Wednesday was another example of the team playing unselfish team basketball.

Eight of the nine players who stepped onto the court scored in double digits for the Lakers.

Only three Laker players have guarantees to be back at the start of training camp: Kobe Bryant, Robert Sacre and Steve Nash. Of those three, Nash’s future is in question, as the Lakers have the ability to waive the 40-year-old point guard and stretch his contract across three years should they choose to do so.

Ultimately, only two Lakers—Bryant and Sacre—are truly guaranteed to be back at the start of the season, and Bryant was already vacationing in France before the final game of the season started.

Bryant seemingly detached himself from the team in the final months of the season, but he did take a moment to tweet out that this season was one to forget. The all-time great promised that next season would be “epic.”

Earlier in the day, news broke that Bryant was finally cleared to resume training once he returned from his vacation. Bryant is expected to be healthy and ready to go at the start of training camp.

Along with the uncertainty in the squad, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni was also in the spotlight, and the coach deserved credit for finishing the season strong. He kept his players engaged until the end in an unbelievably difficult season.

Entering the offseason, the Lakers have more questions than answers, but for one final night, the Lakers were winners again. Hopefully, the way this season ended carries into the 2014-15 season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Play Season Finale in San Antonio]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 08:45:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/450321317.jpg

When the season started up, making the playoffs was a coin flip. As the season wound down, finishing last place in the Western Conference was a 50-50 proposition.

Well, the Los Angeles Lakers did not make the playoffs, and they were not the absolute bottom team in the West, but the 2013-14 season will go down as the worst year in the history of the franchise since the Minneapolis Lakers relocated to sunny Southern California and became the Los Angeles Lakers.

To discipline this team for the punishment it inflicted upon its fans for the better part of six months, the season finale will be held in San Antonio on Wednesday. The San Antonio Spurs are the best team in basketball and are the only team with more than 60 wins this season. They have more wins than the Lakers have losses, so the Spurs are better at winning than the Lakers are at losing.

That’s impressive.

On Wednesday, the Lakers will finish with the sixth-worst record in the NBA—unless the Boston Celtics beat the Washington Wizards and the Lakers beat the Spurs. If the Celtics win and the Lakers lose—wishing for this to happen should make every “team tank” member question what he has become—the Lakers would finish tied for the fifth-worst record in the NBA.

In summary, the Lakers were terrible this season.

An unbelievable string of injures made them the worst Lakers team Angelinos ever experienced, but this assembly of Lakers never expected to win the title this season. Even if Kobe Bryant didn’t break his knee, this team never expected to win the division, make a deep playoff run or celebrate a victory parade.

The Lakers were due to lose this season, but injuries allowed them to overachieve and lose at a rate that often had fans celebrating losses. The painful whimpers of all those beatings may ultimately translate to the joyous screams of victory come draft day.

Before draft day or lottery day, though, the 2013-14 Los Angeles Lakers play their final game of an historically bad season on Wednesday night at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Yes, on Wednesday, it finally ends.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nick Young "Pretty Much" Opting Out]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 17:14:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/481662353.jpg

After winning in Utah and guaranteeing the Lakers will not be the worst team in the Western Conference on Monday night, Tuesday was an off day for the Lakers.

In San Antonio for the season finale, the Lakers hopped around town and still managed to make some news. With the exception of Kent Bazemore (surgery), Xavier Henry (surgery) and Kobe Bryant (er, Kobe) every other Laker, injured or not, went along for the final road trip.

This may be the worst season in the history of the Los Angeles Lakers, but future hall-of-famers Pau Gasol and Steve Nash were still committed to being a part of the experience until the final day of the season.

Young, who scored 41 points in the win over Utah, was especially engaged. He went on ESPNLA 710am radio and said he was “pretty much” going to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Lakers. Young previously hinted that he deserved more money and that he was a better player than his salary indicated, but he had still not officially stated that he would bypass the guaranteed $1.3 million on his contract next season.

Young also took to social media to interact with fans on his day off with a flurry of tweets answering questions. In that streak, Young repeated that he does not want to leave LA, but he pointed to Chicago when a fan asked what other city he would like to play in.

Apart from Young, Robert Sacre made his presence felt on the social media circuit visiting the world famous Paris Hatters. Sacre found a moment to pose with the owner before displaying his newest pair of cowboy boots. The Canadian, who also celebrates Mexican culture in LA, has seemingly assimilated into his American surroundings without a stutter.

On Thursday, the Lakers will wrap up the season against the team with the best record in the NBA, and Chris Kaman and Steve Nash have both not yet been ruled out. For both of them, Wednesday could well be the last time they play with the Lakers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Young Scores 41, as Lakers Beat Jazz]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 20:48:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/483440017.jpg

Nick Young scored 41 points, as the Los Angeles Lakers snapped a seven-game losing streak in Utah on Monday night. With the victory, the Lakers guaranteed they will not finish at the bottom of the Western Conference, and Young was well aware of the stakes.

“We didn’t want to be in last place,” Young said after the game. “I was trying to get my career high tonight.”

Young’s career-high was 43 points, and the player fell just shy of his personal best. However, Young was not simply gunning and pouring on the points for selfish reasons. Initially, the Lakers came out flat and trailed by 13 points early in the contest.

With two games to go, only nine guys available and the team playing on the second night of a back-to-back, the Lakers could have packed it in and accepted defeat against the Utah Jazz.

However, Young was not interested in any of that, and his energy off the bench sparked the Lakers. Already leading the team in scoring on the season, the Lakers’ sixth man shouldered the responsibility of leading his guys to victory.

Young led the Lakers on a 19-2 run and finished with 17 first-half points, giving the Lakers an edge at the halftime intermission. Young’s energy was contagious, as the Lakers rallied and battled to take an eight-point lead after the halftime break.

By the time the buzzer sounded to mark the end of the third quarter, though, the Lakers and Jazz were level at 86-86.

Then, the Jazz’s offense stuttered, but Young did not. He continued to pour it on and scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter to put the purple and gold up by nine points.

“Nick is fun. He’s a good guy in the sense he’s always laughing, smiling,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said after the game. “He can get his shot off against anybody.”

Although a large segment of fans were hoping for a loss to get a better spot in the NBA’s draft lottery, one would find it difficult to criticize a player for playing hard--especially considering he is playing through a knee injury and on the verge of entering free agency.

For Young, the 41 points eclipsed his previous season high of 40 points. Young has been a fan favorite in his lone season with the Lakers, and his infectious personality has rubbed his teammates and coaches the right way. Often referring to himself as “Swaggy P” in the third person, Young had a way of consistently rising above adversity throughout the season.

Given his season, one would expect Young to receive several offers should he opt out of his contract, as is widely expected.

After the game, Young wrapped up his interview by telling the camera, “I hope ya’ll know Swaggy P can play a little bit.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Need Loss Vs. Jazz]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 03:57:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/185696277.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers take on the Utah Jazz on Monday night in a game that could be judged to be the most important game of this season.

The Lakers are currently only one game away of the Jazz for last place in the Western Conference, and more importantly fourth-worst record in the NBA. If the Lakers lose Monday, they will go into their final game of the season tied for the fourth worst record in the NBA.

With the Boston Celtics winning two games in a row, the Lakers enter Monday’s game tied for the fifth worst record in the league. At 25-55 on the season, the Lakers have already eclipsed the worst record in the history of the team since moving to LA, but a loss Monday would be celebrated more than any other defeat in this season of disappointment.

Currently on a seven-game losing streak, the Lakers need to extend that run to nine games to ensure the season will end with the Lakers tied for fourth worst in the NBA. Theoretically, the Lakers could finish alone in the four spot, which would be a welcome surprise at this point.

Technically, the lottery makes it so that Lakers could fall back as far as seventh-place, but the team could also jump up to spots 1-3.

On the second night of a back-to-back, the Lakers have plenty of excuses to lose in Salt Lake City. If that happens, finishing the season with a loss in San Antonio, home of the best record in the NBA, would provide the purple and gold the best chance in the draft.

Some losses mean more than others, and a loss on Monday would mean the most to the Lakers’ future.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Say Goodbye to Staples For Summer]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 03:57:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/470565333.jpg

On a sellout night at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Lakers collected their 55th loss of the season, which was a record for the team since moving to LA. The Lakers lost their final home game of the season on Sunday night, but that was hardly a surprise or the story of the night.

Without their best players available to play, the Lakers had not fared well of late. Sunday night was the Lakers’ seventh loss in a row. Facing a Memphis Grizzlies team on the outskirts of the playoff picture, one would find it hard to pick the nine-man Lakers without Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Chris Kaman, Kent Bazemore, Xavier Henry and Pau Gasol to win.

Of the five names mentioned, only Gasol appeared in public on Sunday evening. Sure, some may say Gasol was there to watch his brother, Marc Gasol, play for the Grizzlies, but the best Spanish speaker on the Lakers has consistently appeared on the sidelines to support his team since suffering vertigo.

Earlier in the day, the Lakers announced that Gasol would not play in the final two games of the season, but the committed teammate would still travel with the team on its final road trip of the season. One criticism of Bryant this season has been his perceived detachment from the Lakers, and the Lakers superstar has rarely appeared on the sidelines since fracturing his knee in December.

Gasol, however, has been a compassionate teammate and has taken ownership over the worst season in LA Lakers history. Although fans may not be unified in bringing him back to the team next season, they appreciate Gasol’s role in Laker Land since his arrival on Feb. 1, 2008.

At one point late in the game, a well-dressed Gasol popped up on the big screen. The fans that were still in attendance, and there were plenty of them, showered the Spaniard with warm applause.

Sunday night may well be the last time Gasol appears at Staples Center as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, as the Barcelona-native is an unrestricted free agent in the summer. The fact that he may not be a welcome face at Staples Center was apparently not lost on Gasol, as the Spaniard spent extended time on the court signing autographs and posing for pictures after the game.

Sure, the Lakers lost 102-90 in their final home game of the worst season in LA Lakers history, but if Gasol leaves, Sunday Apr. 13 will always be remembered as the last night Gasol was a Laker at Staples Center.

Fitting, Gasol was a perfect example of class even after the buzzer sounded. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Play Final Home Game on Sunday]]> Sun, 13 Apr 2014 11:57:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/459336813%281%29.jpg

On Sunday evening, the Los Angeles Lakers will make their final appearance at Staples Center for the 2013-14 NBA season.

One last time, the hobbled, hampered and beaten Lakers will take their home floor. The explain how the team accumulated a LA Lakers record 54 losses is not difficult looking at the squad available on Sunday night.

Future Hall-of-Famers Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash are all unavailable. Young standouts Kent Bazemore and Xavier Henry are consumed with scheduling and recovering from surgeries rather than preparing to play again this season. Veteran Chris Kaman is also out.

In all, nine Lakers will be available on Sunday against the Grizzlies, a team battling for the playoffs.

At the final home shootaround, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni revealed that stand-in starting center Jordan Hill was suffering migraines in the morning, but the coach expected Hill to be available and start on Sunday evening.

Joining Hill in the front court should be rookie Ryan Kelly. Not expected to play a central role in the team at the start of the season, Kelly earned extended time due to injuries that struck the Lakers early in the season. As a rookie, the former Duke Blue Devil took part in 56 games and made 22 starts entering Sunday's game. With three games remaining, Kelly should also start the final three games of the season.

Wesley Johnson should retain his starting spot at small forward, as Henry and Bazemore are both out for the season. Johnson has struggled to display consistent form this season, but the Lakers do not have any better options at the moment.

At point guard, Kendall Marshall expects to make his 43rd start of the season. Marshall joined the Lakers from the Development League in late December. For his first five games, Marshall struggled to get on the court. After Henry went down injured, Marshall played in every game for the Lakers and started a healthy majority of those games.

At shooting guard, the Lakers have their most improved player and the most consistent player on the team. Jodie Meeks is the one player the Lakers are guaranteed to actively target in free agency, and Meeks sounded like he wanted to be back wearing purple and gold when talking to reporters during the Lakers’ final practice on Saturday. Meeks cited “weather” as one of the reason he loved playing in LA.

To say this is the weakest starting lineup in Los Angeles Lakers history is not inaccurate. The Lakers are worse than they’ve ever been since moving to LA.

The Lakers’ bench still has Nick Young, who is a talented scorer, and Jordan Farmar, who is probably a better point guard than Marshall. Second-year Robert Sacre has improved leaps and bounds from a season ago, but he is far from a developed product. MarShon Brooks, the last player on the Lakers’ short bench, is out of the Lakers’ rotation and did not play in the Lakers’ loss to the Warriors.

On Sunday, these Lakers are not expected to win against the Grizzlies, and frankly, no one would be surprised if this team lost all three remaining games.

Thankfully, the season is almost over, and finally, Sunday night will be the last time the Lakers play a home game this season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nick Young Talks Tanking]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 20:39:27 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers_Nick_Young_Tanking_Apr_12_1200x675_224601667714.jpg At the last practice of the season, Lakers guard Nick Young talks about tanking and jokes about draftees taking the current players' spots.]]> <![CDATA[Warriors Ravage Lakers]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 22:29:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/459739077.jpg

Entering Friday’s game, the Los Angeles Lakers were a team tethered to the bottom of the Western Conference, and the Golden State Warriors were a team heading for the playoffs. After 48 minutes at Staples Center, it was easy to see why.

For the first quarter, the Lakers came out with a purpose and played hard on both ends. Despite a strong start from Stephen Curry, the home team still finished the first period level at 26-26. Fresh-faced Ryan Kelly led the Lakers attack with eight points at that point, but the rookie would finish with only 14 points for the game.

In the second period, the Lakers attempted to keep pace with the Warriors, but Curry was playing at a level beyond any player dressed in purple and gold. The 26-year-old point guard cut through the Lakers’ defense with ease and entered the halftime break with 22 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and two steals.

For Curry, a triple-double was almost guaranteed, as the sizzling point guard only required three assists and three rebounds in the second half. For the Lakers, a loss seemed likely, and avoiding embarrassment in front of a packed house was the more reasonable task at hand.

The Lakers entered halftime down 15 points.

As the second half got underway, the Lakers did not exactly help matters by immediately falling behind by 20 points. Although they would rally and cut the lead to 11 points on one occasions in the third quarter, the game would not reach a single-digit differential for the duration of the second half.

Every Laker rally was matched with a Warrior run, and the game never returned to a point where the Warriors were in danger of losing.

In this season of disappointment, one must strain to find bright spots. However, for the optimists, Jordan Hill and Nick Young both put together positive performances. Young finished with 25 points and kept fans in their seats longer than should have been the case. Hill recorded a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds on the night.

However, the story of the evening was Curry and his triple-double. Curry would eventually finish with 30 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, and predictably, the Warriors beat the Lakers 112-95 and nobody got tacos.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Xavier Henry Has Successful Surgeries]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 12:11:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/451850941.jpg

In a season of demoralizing injuries that refuse to subside, the Los Angeles Lakers received rare good injury news—kind of. Xavier Henry, who was already ruled out for the season, underwent successful surgeries to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist and to correct cartilage abnormality in his right knee.

Fittingly, even the good injury news was related to a player who was no longer playing.

Henry was a valuable contributor in his lone season with the Lakers. Primarily used as a scorer off the bench, Henry averaged career-highs in games played, minutes, points, steals, assists, rebounds, free throw percentage and field goal percentage.

Only in his fourth year as a professional, the 23-year-old excited fans with his aggressive style of play, highlighted by high-flying drunks and aerial acrobatics.

The former Kansas Jayhawk drew high praise from Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni throughout the season. The coach went so far as to say that Henry proved he could play in the league, something the coach was unsure of entering the season.

One notable characteristic Henry displayed was mental and physical toughness. The Belgian-born shooting guard hinted at his pain threshold by playing though a cut on his forehead early in the season. Constantly in danger due to his style of play, Henry did not relent and attempted to play through a knee injury that kept him out for two months.

After tearing a ligament in his left wrist, which was especially problematic for the left-handed player, Henry insisted on playing through the pain and led the Lakers as the leading scorer in a win over the New York Knicks--the game which Knick president Phil Jackson and Lakers president Jeanie Buss both attended.

Soon after, the Lakers training staff and coaching staff decided that they had seen enough of the 23-year-old. Henry was shut down, and surgeries to repair the damage done to his knee and wrist were scheduled.

On Friday, the surgeries were deemed a success, and Henry was expected to make a full recovery before the start of training camp. Whether Henry is back with the Lakers, however, remains to be seen, as he is an unrestricted free agent.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Host Warriors For Final Friday of Season]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 11:48:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/166465273.jpg

Friday night at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Lakers will host their penultimate game of the season. The Golden State Warriors are in town, and one cannot help but think back to 12 months earlier. On April 12, 2013, Kobe Bryant ruptured his Achilles tendon in the fourth quarter against the same Warriors team on the same basketball court.

At that point, the Lakers were embroiled in a late playoffs chase. On Friday, the Lakers are engaged in a chase for the bottom of the Western Conference. Since that fateful night when Bryant bravely attempted and converted two late-game free throws on a fully ruptured Achilles, the face of the Lakers for the better part of two decades has only taken part in six games.

Instead of playoffs or championships, the story for Friday night is the return of Steve Blake to Los Angeles. Blake was sent away on the night before the trade deadline, and he has become a staple for the Warriors off the bench.

Since joining Golden State, Blake has played in 24 games. Exclusively used as a reserve, Blake is averaging 3.8 points and 3.3 assist in 20.8 minutes per game with Golden State. However, Blake’s greatest asset was always toughness and defense, two characteristics the Lakers have missed with the departure of the 34-year-old point guard.

For the Lakers, Friday night is the same tired story: injuries.

For Friday’s game, the Lakers will be without the services of Bryant (fractured knee), Pau Gasol (vertigo), Chris Kaman (strained leg), Xavier Henry (wrist and knee), Steve Nash (nerve root irritation) and Kent Bazemore (torn tendon, foot).

The undermanned and underdog Lakers will send out the same starters as last game: Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly and Jordan Hill. With only nine players available, the Lakers’ bench will feature Jordan Farmar, Nick Young, MarShon Brooks and Robert Sacre.

Worth mentioning, Farmar is only one game back in his return from a groin injury, and Young is playing through his own knee issues. Even the nine players available on Friday night are not exactly examples of good health.

Playing the second to last home game of the 2013-14 season, this is the final Friday night for the Lakers at Staples Center.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Practice: Young "Confident" of Return]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 17:20:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/481662297.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers met at their El Segundo practice facility on Thursday in what most expect to be the penultimate practice of the season, and Nick Young offered some added insight into his future beyond the current NBA season.

First, though, as is customary every time the Lakers gather, bodies had to be counted and injuries had to be updated.

Steve Nash was feeling better, but he was doubtful for Friday’s game. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni hinted that Nash could be back on Sunday and possibly play the final three games of the season. With Nash, however, nothing is guaranteed. From the sounds of Thursday’s practice, Nash should return to the court this season.

Chris Kaman, who was missing his usual free flowing beard, was out for Friday’s game. Kaman said shaving his beard had been a “mistake” and that he would have a new beard before next season.

Pau Gasol, the Lakers’ first-choice starter at center, was also not expected to play on Friday against the Golden State Warriors.

Jordan Farmar, who only returned to the Lakers on Tuesday following a long stretch on the sidelines, said he was good to go and felt no ill effects from playing against the Rockets.

“It felt good to play basketball,” Farmar said before laughing off suggestions that he should be concerned about possibly reinjuring himself before the summer.

With the injuries handled, Nick Young’s uncertain future took center stage.

“I’ll probably give more tickets out,” Young said when asked about whether he was more emotional going into what could be his final four games with the Lakers. “That’s about it.”

Young admitted he had given thought to the idea that the upcoming stretch of games could be the last four times he dresses the Lakers’ colors.

“Just wearing that purple and gold, you know, it’s been great. It’s been amazing. Especially to share the same locker room as Kobe (Bryant) and pick his brain a little bit,” Young said.

Young, who holds a player option to return next season in his contract, is expected to opt out and hit the open market for more money. Although he acknowledged the financial components in play, Young sounded like he wanted to be back in LA.

“Of course, I want to be here and be part of a team that’s going to the playoffs and fighting for championships,” Young said. “Being part of that Laker parade and having my own little speech like Shaq did: ‘Can you dig it?’”

Young said he was “confident” that the front office and the player could come to some agreement.

The LA-native reminded reporters, “This is home. I would love to finish off here, as a Laker.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Steve Nash's Season Likely Over]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 19:21:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/184006159.jpg

“At one point, he came to me during a timeout and said he tweaked it, said his hamstring’s on fire,” Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni recalled his interaction with Steve Nash during Tuesday night’s loss to the Houston Rockets. “I go, ‘well, you want out?’ And he says, ‘If I go out, I may never go back in.’”

Nash was chasing history, and he required five assists on Tuesday night to pass Mark Jackson and take sole possession of third place on the NBA’s all-time assists list.

“So I go, ‘Ok, it’s either the record or we’ll carry you off the floor,’” D’Antoni continued in his postgame press conference.

No stretcher was necessary, as Nash got five assists in 13 first-half minutes. He walked off the court with a smile and received a thunderous standing ovation.

Of the four players at the top of the assists list, only one was a two-time league Most Valuable Player. Truthfully, Nash probably deserved three MVP awards, but Dirk Nowitzki was gifted the 2007 trophy to break the monotony of picking Nash three years in a row.

“He was in pain,” D’Antoni said with sunken eyes that refused to tear up. “What’s remarkable is how he can run a team even on one leg and keep us in the game.”

Even with 40 years under his belt and playing through a nerve issue that would have ended most athletes’ careers a long time ago, Nash was still able to tab five assists in 13 minutes. To put that in perspective, Lakers starting point guard Kendall Marshall only managed four assists in 19 minutes of play in the same game.

The conditions were fitting. Nash made a career of making his teammates better, and getting five assists without Kobe Bryant or Pau Gasol in the lineup served to underline that talent. The Lakers did not have a single player that resembled an all-star. Arguably, the Lakers did not have any players that belonged in a starting lineup of an NBA team.

Still, four decades into his life and playing on one leg, Nash made it look easy.

The other three players on the top of the assists list, John Stockton, Jason Kidd and Mark Jackson, were three of the greatest players of all time. No one can contest their individual greatness, but arguing Nash was the best player of the four was not entirely unfounded.

“It’s incredible,” Nash said after reaching the milestone. “When you look up and down the list, at this end of it, it’s people I grew up emulating.”

Top of the list, Stockton played alongside Karl Malone, a two-time league MVP and second on the all-time scoring list. Not to discount Stockton’s talents, but Malone certainly helped place Stockton at the top of the heap. Of course, Malone likely would not sit second all-time in scoring if Stockton had not been licking stamps for the “Mail Man.”

Kidd, Jackson and Nash all went through stretches where they played with all-time great players, but ultimately, all three passed with flair that did not rely on Hall-of-Fame talent.

Worth pointing out, there was only one league MVP among the top four passers in NBA history, and Nash earned two of those highly coveted trophies.

After the game, Nash sounded doubtful he would be able to return again this season. Whether or not Nash plays another game this season or returns for a final season remains to be seen.

For now, though, one should take a step back and marvel at how a 40-year-old kid from Victoria, Canada still had enough magic dust to steal the spotlight and draw a standing ovation on a night when the Lakers secured the absolute worst record in Los Angeles Lakers history.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Agree to Extension With GM Kupchak]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 05:22:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/150132887.jpg

As first reported by Ramona Shelbourne of ESPNLA.com, the Los Angeles Lakers and general manager Mitch Kupchak agreed to a multiyear extension. Kupchak served under longtime general manager Jerry West before taking the reins in 2000.

Since taking over as general manager, Kupchak has been the architect of four championships and six trips to the NBA Finals. Famously, Lakers longtime owner Jerry Buss took Earvin “Magic” Johnson on a picnic and asked him which player he though would help the team win.

Johnson said he Kupchak would make the difference, and Buss and the Lakers brought in the former Washington Bullet. Kupchak, who had already won a championship with the Bullets in 1978, suffered a serious knee injury that kept him sidelined for the Lakers’ 1982 championship run. However, Kupchak played a vital role in the 1985 title run.

A year later, Kupchak retired and immediately became assistant general manager in 1986, under West. For 14 years, Kupchak dutifully served as an assistant in the front office before taking the lead role in 2000.

Kupchak had one year remaining on his current contract, but the Lakers clearly felt strong enough about the former North Carolina Tar Heel to bring him back for multiples years. Financial details customarily are not released for Lakers management.

Widely respected as one of the best in the business, Kupchak’s experience and confidence flowed into the Lakers’ locker room on the night he received his multiyear extension.

After losing to the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night, Lakers point guard Jordan Farmar, who won two titles with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010, was asked about seeing the team go from winning titles to putting together the worst season in the history of the team since it moved to Los Angeles.

"This franchise will be OK. Mitch Kupchak is one of the best in the business, and the Buss family is in charge and committed to winning," Farmar laughed off the thought that the Lakers would stay down. "[Kupchak and the Buss family are] going to do whatever they have to do to keep this franchise and the Lakers fans where they want to be."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nash, Lakers Make History in Different Ways]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 01:19:45 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/186973645.jpg

History was on the menu on Tuesday night at Staples Center, and it came in both good and bad forms for the Los Angeles Lakers against the Houston Rockets.

Without Dwight Howard playing, the Lakers hosting the Rockets lacked most of its luster. Add in that the Lakers were also significantly hobbled, the game itself meant extremely little. However, history was made.

First, the Lakers provided their fans and fans of the sport with a reason to cheer. Entering the night, Steve Nash sat on 10,330 assists for his career, only four back of Mark Jackson’s career total of 10,334.

With five assists in the first half, 40-year-old Nash took only 13 minutes to pass Mark Jackson on the all-time list and did not draw out the drama for too long. Truthfully, he could have hit the mark even earlier in the game, but Robert Sacre struggled to convert for his fellow countryman.

Ultimately, the Canadian point guard tied and surpassed Jackson’s mark by targeting the same player: Jodie Meeks. Meeks has been the Lakers’ most consistent player this season, and the 26-year-old had 16 points in the first half.

What was a competitive game in the first half quickly spiraled out of control for the Lakers in the third quarter. Predictably, the Lakers came out flat in the third quarter, and that was that. Before fans could blink, the Lakers were down by 23 points, and the game became academic.

Nash would not step onto the court in the second half, as the game was out of reach and he had already reached the personal milestone. There was no reason for the aging point guard to step onto the court in yet another loss.

Whereas most losses have been rather meaningless for some time, Tuesday’s loss was historic. The Lakers suffered their 53rd loss of the season, guaranteeing them the worst season in Los Angeles Lakers history. The franchise had one season in Minneapolis that was worse than the current season, but since arriving in California, the Lakers have never been worse.

With four games remaining, every additional loss this season will only add to the team’s historically bad record.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar Back For Lakers]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 12:16:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/475703525.jpg

“I’m excited,” Steve Nash said at Tuesday morning’s Los Angeles Lakers shootaround.

With Kent Bazemore and Xavier Henry ruled out for the season, the Lakers will get a slight lift with the returns of Jordan Farmar and Nash on Tuesday night against the Houston Rockets.

For Nash, Tuesday night’s game could be an historic occasion. The Canadian is only four assists back of Mark Jackson on the all-time assists list, and most expect the 40-year-old to sit alone at no. 3 of the all-time assists list by the end of the night.

“I think Mike (D’Antoni) really wants me to get this assists thing out of the way. Now, I’d really like to get it out of the way too, frankly,” Nash said on Tuesday morning. “It’d be nice not to have to talk about it.”

With Nash and Farmar returning at the same time, it is a little unclear as to how the second unit will line up. Thus far, the idea is that both Farmar and Nash will play in tandem, so the Lakers will likely go small in the back court. How that ends up looking remains to be seen.

Farmar missed the Lakers’ previous 11 games due to a groin injury, but he sounded confident that he would be productive against the Rockets.

“It wasn’t as bad as the hamstring,” Farmar said at shootaround. “For the sake of the season and where we are, what was the point of risking it? Training staff was just being overly cautious…We sat out probably a few more days, a week longer than I had to.”

Given his injuries this season and his uncertain future with the team, the former UCLA Bruin was asked if he had any regrets about leaving significant money on the table to return to the Lakers in the offseason.

“For me, it wasn’t coming back for one season,” Farmar said he had no regrets. “It was to be here for a while.”

Farmar sounded intent on staying in the NBA and, likely, staying with the Lakers. For the final five games, the 27-year-old has the opportunity to provide fans and management multiple reminders of why he should be back in LA next season.

Farmar will look to provide the first of those reminders on Tuesday night, when tip-off for the Lakers and Rockets is 7:30 pm Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Xavier Henry Having Surgery on Wrist, Knee]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 19:14:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/480583867.jpg

On Monday afternoon, the Los Angeles Lakers officially announced that Xavier Henry would go under the knife to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist. In addition, Henry will also undergo arthroscopic surgery on the cartilage abnormality in his right knee.

This was not exactly breaking news.

On Friday, LA Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni revealed that Henry was done for the season and would be examined to determine what procedures were required to repair the 23-year-old’s injured body.

Henry sounded down about the news on Friday, but he understood that he had nothing left to prove at this point. With only a few games remaining in the season, the Lakers understood what he brought to the table. A couple weeks of watching Henry agonize through pain to finish the meaningless season—or worse, get hurt worse in the process—was something D’Antoni did not want on his conscience.

For Henry, this season was a roller coaster ride that started with him finishing as the leading scorer against the Los Angeles Clippers in the Lakers’ opening night surprise victory. When the bench took over and provided one of the few highlights of a historically low season, Henry starred for the bench against the Clippers.

After an up and down month of November, Henry finally showed signs of consistency in December. Prior to getting injured on Dec. 29, the former Kansas Jayhawk scored 10 or more points in 10 of 12 games during the month.

The gifted athlete had a habit of flying high above the rim, and what goes up must, often painfully, come down. His ability on the court is not in question, but his inability to stay on the court is. Henry possesses more than enough talent to not only play at an NBA-level game, but his talents allow him to change and win games.

With great talent comes great responsibility, and Henry still needs to develop into a player who can preserve the body while also disrupting the game. Arguably, the greatest tool Kobe Bryant had in his arsenal of offensive moves was the shot fake, and Henry could stand to learn from that point.

Initially, Henry’s knee injury was considered a short-term issue that only required short rest to heal. However, the soreness did not subside, and setbacks kept the 24-year-old out for about two months.

After forcing his way back, Henry went through tune up games with the LA D-Fenders, the Lakers’ Development League affiliate. Henry ramped up and played seven straight games for the Lakers, slightly improving along the way. In that seventh game, Henry scored 24 points in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

The next game, Henry scored 12 points in 23 minutes, but he tore a ligament in his wrist.

Since the injury happened occurred on a Friday night, the specialist would not be available until Monday. As such, Henry sat out for a game, but he swore to his coach that he would be back playing regardless of what the specialist said.

The ligament was torn, and Henry said it made him more comfortable considering he could not cause further damage since it was already ruptured. The kid is tough.

How tough? The next game, Henry shot 8-11 from the field and scored 22 points on a torn ligament in his shooting wrist. He made 3-4 from behind the three-point line. One game later, Henry was pulled due to soreness in the knee. He would attempt a return that lasted 13 minutes, and that was when D’Antoni say him playing with a pained look on his face.

The coach called it, and likely no one argued.

Henry was tough, he had the skill and ability to be a big time player, and his attitude and effort never wavered. Whether or not the Lakers bring him back, however, will depend on his recovery from surgery and their confidence in his ability to stay healthy for a full season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Bazemore Out for Season]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 19:12:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/481643101.jpg

Officially, the Los Angeles Lakers injury bug is not restricted to players who started the season on the roster. On Monday, Kent Bazemore underwent an MRI that revealed he had a torn peroneus longus tendon in his right foot. Joining the likes of Kobe Bryant and Xavier Henry, Bazemore’s season is officially over.

Bazemore suffered the injury during the Lakers’ historic loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. After the game, the shooting guard said he heard a “pop,” which is never a good sound.

X-rays taken at the arena came back negative, so the MRI was scheduled for Monday, and the results were not good.

Acquired from the Golden State Warriors via a trade involving Steve Blake, Bazemore played 23 games and started 15 of them. He was an athletic wing player who possessed enough ball control to serve as a backup point guard. He averaged 13.1 points, 3.1 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 28 minutes per game with the Lakers.

Upon arrival, Bazemore was a bit trigger happy while integrating into the new team. However, he embraced the team role recently and had four or more assists in six of the last nine games -- including the loss to the Clippers.

At the time of Bazemore's injury, the Lakers were involved in a one-possession game.

Based on his production, Bazemore looked like the type of young talent that was worth developing and bringing back to the team. Depending on the surgery and his timeline for recovery, the Lakers should still be interested in Bazemore’s services next season. If anything, the injury likely scares off potential suitors for the 24-year-old out of Old Dominion University.

In only his second season as a professional, Bazemore displayed the ability to shoot from distance and also get to the rim with ease. A hard worker on defense, the undrafted second-year player possesses several key characteristics scouts look for in young players that can develop into good players.

Per Lakers PR, a timetable for his recovery will not be made available until after the conclusion of the surgery.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nick Young Talks About Time With Lakers, Clippers]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 12:40:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/186970764.jpg

In the wake of yet another demoralizing loss, Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young was asked about the difference between the Lakers and the Clippers. The LA-native attended the University of Southern California and has spent time with both of LA's professional basketball teams.

"I say the Clippers [are] more for the youth," Young said after suffering his third straight defeat at the hands of his former team. "They get more young people to their games."

"I think we just got that 'vet' feel. You know, the Lakers get that more mature crowd," Young added.

Before fans drop their heads and wonder why Young was calling Laker fans old, Young was not attempting to offend or put down either set of fans. After he was done with the general interview, NBCLA.com approached the 28-year-old and asked what he meant, exactly.

"Grown and sexy" was the term escaping Young earlier, and he told NBCLA.com that the Lakers crowd was "grown and sexy." Whether Young was talking about the fans or projecting his own personal life onto the franchises was unclear.

With the Lakers, Young is a 28-year-old NBA veteran in his eighth season as a professional. By all accounts, Young has been a positive teammate helping a hobbled and battered Lakers team finish a historically bad season.

With the Clippers, Young was a maturing 25-year-old kid still learning his way. He would spend less than half the season alongside Chris Paul in his first season in LA.

Young's future in LA is uncertain, and his comments often sound like he is preparing for his inevitable departure.

“For me, just personally, it’s a blessing. I enjoy playing here for the Lakers,” Young reflected on his lone season with the purple and gold. “It’s been great. Honestly, I wish we could have won more and had a better year, but just personally, I enjoyed it.”

Young has a player option on his contract, and most insiders expect Young to opt out of his contract and earn more money on the open market. Whether or not the Lakers hold onto Young may ultimately be a financial decision, as the Cleveland High School graduate is a fan favorite and has been a positive contributor on the court and in the locker room this season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clippers Beat Lakers 120-97]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 08:23:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/481643101.jpg

The Los Angeles Clippers beat the Los Angeles Lakers 120-97 on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center, guaranteeing that the 2013-14 Lakers will be the worst team in franchise history since moving to LA.

Sunday’s loss offered an overbearing reminder of exactly how and why these Lakers will hold the distinction of being the worst LA Lakers team ever. Injuries ended the game as a contest on Sunday.

Starting the game with only nine healthy players, the Lakers were at a giant disadvantage against a team widely recognized as a worthy title contender. Then, the injuries hit, and the Lakers never recovered. The previous statement can be applied to the game and the season.

The final “battle for LA” was competitive for the first 14 minutes. The Lakers even took a brief lead at the start of the second quarter. About a minute later, though, Lakers guard Kent Bazemore went down and did not get back up. He was helped off the floor and immediately had X-rays that came back negative. Bazemore will undergo an MRI on his right foot Monday.

Without Bazemore, the eight-man Lakers allowed the Clippers to open a healthy double-digit lead before closing the first half down eight points. Were any of the eight remaining players named “Pau Gasol,” “Kobe Bryant” or “Steve Nash,” the Lakers may have fared better in the second half.

Instead, the Lakers’ eight survivors included rookie Ryan Kelly and second-year players Kendall Marshall and Robert Sacre. With MarShon Brooks out of favor, the seven-man, in-effect, Lakers struggled to compete in the second half.

Approaching the end of the third quarter, the Lakers hovered around a 20-point differential. Fans dressed in purple and gold wondered how this day could possibly get worse. As has been the case all season long, the Lakers answered those rhetorical questions immediately.

Nick Young hurt his knee and stayed down long enough to force a full timeout. Young would eventually get up and walk over to the bench and even re-enter the game, but he was pulled soon after.

“I just twisted my knee a little bit,” Young said after the game. “I’m still trying to play till the end. We only got, what, five more games left? And like I said, I’m just trying to go down with the ship.”

In the final 12 minutes, the Clippers emptied their bench with only one of their five starters seeing any time in the fourth quarter. The Lakers, conversely, did not even have a bench to empty. When the final buzzer sounded, the Lakers hobbled into the locker room with seven healthy bodies.

On Sunday, the Lakers hit the mark that guarantees the worst season in the history of the franchise since moving to LA, and watching Sunday's game, no one had trouble understanding how it happened.

Young summed up the game and season succinctly: “It’s hard when everybody’s getting hurt.” 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers at Clippers For Sunday Brunch]]> Sun, 06 Apr 2014 01:47:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/186970751.jpg

After Friday's loss, a reporter asked Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni a poorly worded question: “Mike, can you talk about looking forward to playing against the Clippers?”

“Like I’m looking forward to it?” D’Antoni sarcastically asked through his pained smile. “You mean you want me to talk about not looking forward to it?”

The Clippers are good. They’re real good, actually. And the Lakers, well, are not.

Entering Sunday’s matinee, the Clippers have passed the 50-win mark this season. The Lakers, conversely, have collected over 50 losses this season.

D’Antoni had good reason not to sound excited about Sunday’s game. Last time these teams played, the Lakers suffered their worst loss in franchise history--a 48-point thrashing on the Lakers’ home court. This time around, a loss to the Clippers would guarantee that the Lakers will finish with the worst record in Los Angeles Lakers’ history.

Adding to the long odds, the Lakers only have nine healthy bodies available to play on Sunday. At this point, listing the Lakers’ injuries is redundant but still necessary: Kobe Bryant (knee); Jordan Farmar (groin); Pau Gasol (vertigo); Steve Nash (age, nerve root irritation); Xavier Henry (knee, wrist); and Chris Kaman (leg). Even at this advanced stage in the season, the injuries refuse to relent.

Evidenced by Clippers point guard Chris Paul recently receiving loud jeers at the LA Dodgers’ home opener, the Lakers still run LA when it comes to license plates, clothes and fans. On the court, though, the Clippers have been running Staples Center for a couple seasons now.

The Lakers have lost six of the last seven games between the two city rivals--five of those six losses came with D’Antoni in the captain’s seat. In the last two meetings, the Lakers lost by a combined 84 points.

Still, popularity and interest in the Lakers has not waned. The Lakers were recently found to be most-searched NBA team on Google. Based on the last decade of Google trends, the Lakers were nearly eight times more popular than the Clippers.

“Lakers have been the most dominant thing, what is it, 50 or 60 years,” D’Antoni said at Saturday’s practice. “That doesn’t erase over one season, and I don’t think it will ever erase. That’s just the way it is. The Lakers are always going to be special and hopefully can get back [to the top] sooner rather than later.”

Tip-off for the Lakers at Clippers is 12:30 pm Pacific Time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nash Not Done, Lakers Win By Losing]]> Sat, 05 Apr 2014 05:26:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/186761400.jpg

Friday was an odd day in Laker land, but ultimately, the Los Angeles Lakers succeeded from their failures.

First of all, the Lakers lost to the Dallas Mavericks 107-95.

The loss, in many ways, was a victory. In the big picture of this terrible losing season, every loss is a victory toward a higher pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. The Utah Jazz, currently holding the fifth-worst record in the league, beat the New Orleans Pelicans Friday night, so the Lakers moved one game closer to their closest opponents in the race to the bottom.

By the end of the night, the Lakers creeped within one game of the Jazz. The night would have meant even more in the draft race if Boston had managed a loss against the lowly Philadelphia 76ers. Somehow, the Celtics lost by nine points, so the Lakers remained stuck to sixth place in the lottery chase.

Second, the Lakers failed to provide Steve Nash with 12 assists against the Mavs, which was the number the future Hall-of-Famer needed in order to go third all-time on the assists list. Nash finished with seven assists in 18 minutes and 50 seconds on the court. He did enough on the floor to have twice as many assists as the statisticians ultimately marked down, but his teammates failed to convert open looks at the basket.

The manner in which Nash verbally picked up teammates after they missed open shots and the way he apologized to teammates for missing them on empty possessions displayed his character on the court. The 40-year-old kid was enjoying playing and leading his team on the floor. He led with encouragement and class.

As bad as Nash looked after the leg break during his first season with the Lakers, the veteran’s recent appearances have featured that special magic and quality that set him apart from the crowd during his accomplished career. Even at 40 years, he often looks like the most gifted Laker on the court.

“This may be it tonight,” Nash said on Friday morning before adding a bit of doubt. “We’ll see though, you never know.”

When the day started, the Canadian publicly shared his belief that his season would likely end because teammate Jordan Farmar was due to return on Tuesday. The Lakers, theoretically, still needed to evaluate Farmar, so Nash would sit. After Friday night’s performance, however, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni changed that plan.

“I think you’ll see him again," the coach said early into his postgame press conference. "He’ll play some more.”

“I said ‘this is not your last game, so you better get used to it.’ He said, ‘okay.’” D’Antoni recalled his conversation with Nash after the game. “So, he’ll play,” the coach added.

With that, Nash’s night transformed from thoughts about his work in the upcoming summer, his uncertain future with the Lakers and reflecting on an impressive career to a night focused on recovering for Saturday’s practice, possibly taking part in Sunday’s game, practicing on Monday and being ready to play on Tuesday night. Nash’s immediate future shifted with such ferocity that he was unable to come out and speak with reporters after the game. At last check, he was still receiving treatment, possibly with the hopes to play Sunday.

On Friday morning, playing on Sunday sounded like it was out of the question. By Friday night, the words spoken on Friday morning carried little weight.

In his next appearance, Nash should easily pass Mark Jackson's mark of 10,334 assists, but catching either Jason Kidd or John Stockton was no longer a possibility, even if Nash had another healthy 82-game season ahead.

Ultimately, the Lakers lost on Friday night, and Nash did not touch the record he deserves to hold, but the results of the loss were that the Lakers improved their standing in the draft lottery and one of the greatest point guards in the history of the game would continue performing his legendary magic for the loyal Laker fans still watching the final few games of the season.

To quote the 1992 film White Men Can’t Jump, “Sometimes when you lose, you really win.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Video: Steve Nash Calls Nick Young "Loco"]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 20:39:27 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers_Steve_Nash_Nick_Young_Loco_Apr_14_1200x675_216501315803.jpg Steve Nash calls Nick Young "loco" along with incredible and passionate in Spanish language interview after a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on April 1, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Nash Says Friday Likely Last Game]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 14:09:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/186752025.jpg

“It’s always a game-time decision right now, but hopefully I can play tonight,” Steve Nash offered the only positive news at Los Angeles Lakers morning shootaround.

Chris Kaman was out due to a leg issue that did not allow him to play on Wednesday in Sacramento. Pau Gasol, who was trapped in his hotel room with vertigo on Wednesday, was also ruled out. Gasol’s season was in jeopardy depending on how quickly the effects of his peculiar affliction passed. With only seven games remaining in the season, Gasol coming back did not make a whole lot of sense.

Gasol’s season may possibly be over, but Xavier Henry’s season was officially over. The explosive shooting guard was in a somber mood when talking to reporters on Friday morning.

“He tried to battle through. He’s done a great job, and your heart goes out to him,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said about Henry. “He’s only 23 years old. He’s learning.”

The coach said Henry was an NBA-level player “without a doubt,” something he admitted was in question at the start of the season.

“Yea, I feel like I’ve shown what I wanted to do,” Henry responded when asked about his time on the court. “I can compete with all the guys. I mean, I always knew I could. It was just the opportunity to go out there and play. I got that opportunity this year, and I had fun doing it.”

With Henry, Gasol and Kaman out against the Mavericks, the Lakers expect to lineup with the same starting five that played in Sacramento: Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks, Kent Bazemore, Ryan Kelly and Jordan Hill.

Off the bench, Nash expects to play on Friday night, but the Canadian was not shy about sharing his thoughts on his future.

Nash believed Friday night would be his last game of the season.

Jordan Farmar, who is sidelined with a groin injury, expects to be back on Tuesday. With an early game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, the 40-year-old point guard did not expect to play with the short turnaround. Once Farmar returns, the plan is to shut down the aging point guard, who is only 12 assists shy of Mark Jackson on the all-time assists lists.

For Nash, like the Lakers, next season is full of questions. Friday, however, was a rare game when the point guard's status was not considered questionable. Whether Friday night will be the final game in Nash's Hall-of-Fame career, though, is just that: questionable.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Lose To Kings, Loss No. 50]]> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 05:41:08 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/167148830.jpg

Wednesday night was not a dull affair or a blowout, but it was a typical loss in a season full of failure.

The Los Angeles Lakers lost their 50th game of the season, but this loss did not hurt as much as others. The half-century mark was commemorated in fitting fashion. This season has been hampered by injuries, and Wednesday was simply another bizarre day in this odd season.

From the team that lost to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night, four rotation players were unable to play on Wednesday night in Sacramento: Steve Nash was too old to play on back-to-backs; Pau Gasol was unable to leave his hotel room with vertigo; Chris Kaman’s calf was acting up and Xavier Henry’s knee was not good enough to go.

“We had a tough trip. Over the flight up, we lost four guys.” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni attempted to once again make light of the lingering injury motif that has cursed the season. “That was a tough flight. I mean, a little turbulence, but I didn’t know it was that much.”

Already facing long odds, the Lakers battled until the final 30 seconds. Down by three points, Kent Bazemore flipped up an open layup with 30 seconds to play. The shot fell off the rim and into the hands of DeMarcus Cousins of the Kings.

Instead of playing defense for the next 24 seconds and attempting to tie the game with a three-point shot, Bazemore took out his frustrations and intentionally fouled. The game immediately jumped to a two-possession contest, and the Lakers went on to lose by a five-point margin, 107-102.

Jodie Meeks, as he has been all season long, was the most consistent player for the purple and gold. Meeks finished with a team-high 21 points. Jordan Hill only shot 5-15 from the field, but he finished with 18 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks.

Only one night earlier, Hill was unable to get off the bench against the Blazers.

The 50th loss was typical of the season. Injuries and inexperience accounted for the defeat, and the undeveloped talent was forced into the spotlight. Rookie Ryan Kelly had an impressive two-hand jam at one point, but that was only one of two baskets the 22-year-old converted on the night.

Undersized, undermanned and 25 games under .500, the Los Angeles Lakers have seven games left in a season that should be stripped of its clothes and burnt from memory.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Updated - Lakers at Kings: Gasol Out]]> Wed, 02 Apr 2014 18:56:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/459188457.jpg

Update in Italics: Pau Gasol suffered a relapse of vertigo and was unable to leave his hotel room. He was ruled out of Tuesday’s game against the Sacramento Kings. Chris Kaman, who was expected to start alongside the Spaniard, has a sore calf and is considered a game-time decision.

If Kaman can play, Kaman will start. However, Kaman was considered most likely out.

Regardless of whether Kaman starts, Robert Sacre, Ryan Kelly and Jordan Hill expect to see extended time on the floor. Hill and Kelly were expected to move into the starting five. With Kelly starting, the team will look to spread the floor and take advantage of a power forward with range. This is the coach’s preferred style of stretching the floor.

Sacre will be the Lakers' only big man off the bench, so Wesley Johnson may see some time at power forward.

The Lakers' game plan (as described in the original preview below) is out the window at this point, so D'Antoni can start just about anyone at this point.

The Los Angeles Lakers started their 33rd different lineup of the season on Tuesday, and it did not look quite right. The Lakers lost, but Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni hinted that he would stay with his twin towers of Chris Kaman and Pau Gasol for Wednesday’s game in Sacramento.

“I wasn’t confident out there. I wasn’t assertive enough to make aggressive moves or turns. When I turned my head a couple times, everything was still shaking,” Pau Gasol said after Tuesday’s game. “Maybe it was a little too early.”

Gasol missed over a week with vertigo and dizziness that sent him to the hospital. For Wednesday’s game, Gasol would not fully commit to playing but did say he hoped to feel better.

“Well, we’re down 10 (points) each time we did it,” D’Antoni said referring to his lineup featuring the two 7-footers playing in tandem. “Again, Pau’s just coming off vertigo. It could be a little bit of that.”

Both Kaman and Gasol acknowledged that the lineup featuring the twin towers had not looked good on Tuesday night. On the night, the team was down 18 points during Gasol’s time on the court. One point worse, Kaman’s time on the floor saw the Lakers trail by a net of 19 points.

Still, D’Antoni was willing to give the duo another try.

“We’ll probably stick with it,” D’Antoni said it would be difficult to change lineups on the second night of a back-to-back without a practice or shootaround available. “I’m sure Pau will have a better outing, as he gets over his vertigo and stuff.”

On Wednesday night in Sacramento, the Lakers will likely start Kaman and Gasol for only the fifth time this season. With three losses in four games thus far, the combination does not appear to be the miracle cure-all that fans hoped it would be.

“I just didn’t think it went that well, to be honest,” Kaman admitted. “It didn’t work the way I thought it would. It was a little funky.”

“I was real confused with where I was trying to be,” Kaman concluded.

Although the final eight games are largely meaningless for the Lakers, Wednesday’s game in Sacramento has draft lottery implications. With a win, the Lakers would be tied with the Sacramento Kings for sixth and seventh worst record in the NBA. Whereas the Lakers looked like contenders for the third worst record in the league a few weeks ago, the home stretch could see the Lakers fall as far back as seventh or even eighth in the NBA draft lottery standings.

As painful as they may be to watch, losses are more helpful than wins at this stage.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nick Young Scores 40, "Had To Be The Shoes"]]> Wed, 02 Apr 2014 05:23:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/481662297.jpg

“I just got in the zone,” Nick Young said after scoring 40 points in a losing effort against the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

Young started the game by making his first eight shots and fell only three points shy of his career-high. In the second quarter, Young shot 7-for-8 from the field and collected 18 points in the period. Although the flashy shooting guard cooled off in the second half, finishing with 15 makes on 26 attempts was nothing to frown about.

“He was obviously on fire the first half—brought us back,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said about Young after the game. “The guy can score. I mean, that’s always been part of his game, always will be part of his game.”

Asked how he was able to make shots with video game frequency in the first half, Young offered a unique response.

“Had to be the shoes,” Young explained his sizzling second quarter. “They might not look right, but hey.”

Young was sporting dark yellow colored shoes that hurt eyes about as much as staring into the sun. For all the stick Young received pregame for his unattractive looking sneakers, the player ignored the criticism and put on the ugly footwear. Obviously, the shoes did not impede Young’s ability, as he notched his first 40-point performance with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Young’s love of shoes has been well documented, and his $6,000 pair of Air Nike Yeezy 2 "Red October" shoes were included in the major items stolen from the LA native's home recently.

On Tuesday, Young walked into the locker room wearing a new pair of "Red October" shoes, and he told NBCLA.com that his girlfriend had bought him a replacement pair as a gift. Young’s spirits were raised before the game, and he brushed aside slanted looks and questioning comments from reporters and the Lakers' equipment manager before the game.

After the game, Young had the last laugh.

"Let me retire these," Young made a scene at his locker as he put his lucky ugly shoes away. "All the magic is gone."

With that, Young confirmed that he will have a different style of shoe for Wednesday night's game in Sacramento.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Announce Plans For New Facility]]> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 19:44:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/135510486.jpg

Less than an hour before the Los Angeles Lakers tipped off against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Lakers announced that they had agreed to purchase a five-acre undeveloped property in El Segundo, Ca. The proposed site will feature a brand new training facility for the Lakers and its NBA Development League associate the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

Currently, the Lakers and D-Fenders both practice at the Toyota Sports Center, also in El Segundo. That location also serves as the Los Angeles Kings practice facility.

The new location is on the northwest corner of Mariposa Avenue and Douglas Street, which is less than half a mile away from the Toyota Sports Center. Along with a brand new training facility, the Lakers and D-Fenders will move their respective business operations offices in the new facility.

The Lakers were quick to point out that the purchase will not be finalized until various conditions, including the approval by the City of El Segundo, are met.

However, the Lakers must be confident of the sale going through at this point considering they opted to send out a press release on a game night with all media covering the team present.

It may only be down the street, but the Lakers are moving. No immediate timeline was available for when construction would begin on the proposed site.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Going Big Against Blazers]]> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 14:39:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/481661985.jpg

Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman will start together on Tuesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.

"Better late than never," Gasol said at Tuesday's Los Angeles Lakers shootaround, as the veteran big man has previously hinted that he preferred to play with a bigger lineup. “We’re both active. Our IQ, our experience, our quality should make a difference.”

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni did not sound overly enthusiastic about the switch, but Kaman’s recent production combined with Gasol’s stature within the team forced the decision onto the coach’s shoulders.

“It’s going to affect other people,” D’Antoni lamented. “Somebody’s going to pay for it. So, we’ll see how it goes. We’re going to play two bigs, and we’re going to play Ryan (Kelly) and space the floor.”

The switch means that Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre will fight for time with the second unit. One of those two will likely be the odd man out, and judging by the team’s priorities and recent trends, Hill expects to be the player not to hear his number called on Tuesday.

For the Lakers, a host of players enter the game listed as probable. Xavier Henry is one of those players, and Henry is fighting off a knee injury that soured a sweet start to the season. After two months on the sidelines, the final month of the season is already a start and stop affair for the high-flying shooting guard.

Along with Henry, Steve Nash is also probable to play for the Lakers, but Nash does not expected to start. The 40-year-old point guard is content to play any role, and he is motivated to play before Jordan Farmar returns and takes away the need of a backup point guard.

Farmar is still out with a groin injury, but the former UCLA Bruin was cleared by medical staff on Tuesday. Farmar will resume practice with the hope to return in about a week.

With nine games and 16 days remaining in the 2013-14 Los Angeles Lakers season, the finish line is in view.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[With Pau Gasol Back, Will Chris Kaman Play?]]> Mon, 31 Mar 2014 18:29:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/187823740.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers held practice Monday, and the familiar face of Pau Gasol was visible taking part in non-contact drills along with his teammates.

Asked about Gasol’s status for Tuesday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said the Spaniard was probable after recovering from vertigo. If Gasol returns, he expects to waltz back into the starting lineup, and Chris Kaman’s 28 points, 17 rebounds and six assists against the Phoenix Suns may, once again, take the last seat of the Lakers’ bench.

“I was going to ask you guys,” D’Antoni responded when asked how he would fit both big men into his team. “I’m open to suggestions.”

This season, Kaman played well as a substitute when Gasol missed games due to injury or illness. However, the Lakers’ dilemma involving Kaman and Gasol when both are healthy remains as present as ever.

Considering his role as leader of the team and the two championships he brought to the organization, Gasol takes the starting spot at center. Also, D’Antoni attempted to sit Gasol last season, and those attempts blew up in his face, so when healthy, Gasol starts.

According to the coach, Kaman was not willing to play spot minutes. Further, developing young players like second-year center Robert Sacre and rookie power forward Ryan Kelly took priority over playing an established veteran like Kaman as the playoffs were ruled out.

How about playing Kaman as the anchor on the second unit? Well, then, Jordan Hill does not get minutes, and fans have screamed and shouted about Hill not playing enough louder than they have about Kaman not playing at all.

D’Antoni’s argument was valid: “If Jordan Hill isn’t playing, we’ll have the same discussion: ‘Why isn’t Jordan Hill playing?’”

So, if Gasol comes back Tuesday against the Blazers, there is a strong possibility that Kaman will find himself as the bearded fellow at the end of the bench rather than the big foot lookalike on the court.

Unfortunately, there is no easy solution, and D’Antoni attempted to explain the math at Monday’s practice. He explained there were five guys - Kaman, Gasol, Sacre, Kelly and Hill - available to play two positions, power forward and center. With 48 minutes in a game and two positions open, that meant five guys had to share 96 minutes.

Thirty or more of those minutes would go to an established veteran like Gasol. Hill averages about 20 minutes per game on the season, so that would leave 46 minutes to be split between Kaman, Kelly and Sacre. With Sacre averaging about 20 minutes per game in his last 10 appearances and Kelly averaging 28 minutes per game in his last 10 games, the math did not add up, and Kaman’s number was the one least likely to be called.

At this point, giving Kelly and Sacre the opportunity to play takes priority over Kaman. Initially, the coach may work magic to get Kaman onto the floor as Gasol regains his health. However, if Gasol returns to playing 30 minutes per game, there is no time available for Kaman in the final couple weeks of the season.

“You can look at it a thousand ways,” D’Antoni said. “It’s just the way the team is made up.”

As a reminder, Kaman finished the last game with 28 points, 17 rebounds and six assists. Yea, no one has time for that. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pau Gasol Speaks About "Scary" Sickness]]> Mon, 31 Mar 2014 15:58:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/481661985.jpg

“Nightmare” was the word Pau Gasol used to describe the night he suffered vertigo during a game and ended up in the hospital. “I was extremely pale, I was kind of shivering, I couldn’t really move. I had three liters of I.V. fluid. I couldn’t get up. I couldn’t sit. They had to take me to the hospital on a stretcher.”

On Mar. 23, Gasol played the first half against the Orlando Magic, but after the intermission, the Spaniard was absent from the bench. News trickled out that the 7-footer was dizzy and nauseous, which did not sound all that serious initially. However, about an hour after the game ended, Gasol was still hooked up to an I.V. receiving fluids. Eventually, he spent the night in the hospital.

“I couldn’t really move my eyes, even, because it made nauseous, and (I) wanted to vomit,” Gasol recalled how miserable he felt that Sunday night. “It was scary, a scary moment for me, for my family and those that love me.”

For the next week, Gasol was nowhere to be found, and a timeline for a return was hard to pin down.

After missing four games, though, Gasol appeared at Monday’s Los Angeles Lakers practice and was listed as probable for Tuesday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

“Don’t really know why it happened,” Gasol stated. “All the tests came out negative, so all the worst stuff was out to the way. They could only guess a couple things, but nothing for sure.”

The uncertainty seemed to bother the Spaniard, but he was intelligent enough to take the negative tests as a positive sign that something more serious had been avoided. Gasol explained that he spent five or six days at home barely moving. He likened the experience to the concussion he suffered a season ago, but he pointed out that he was not affected by lights this time around.

“The inner ear was affected. That's (where) our balance is,” Gasol tried not to get too medical with his responses. “I’m on medicine. I have a patch here (points behind ear).”

Gasol revealed that he was taking part in balance building exercises that challenged him, and they would now become part of his routine.

“There are certain exercises that force you to get dizzy, force you to lose balance,” Gasol attempted to hide his frustrations. “So, as you go through them more and more, supposedly you’re supposed to get less dizzy because your brain and your balance system gets adjusted to it, and the recovery time should be shorter."

The Spaniard would now be performing these exercises on a daily basis, “I have to repeat the exercises that make me feel dizzy, make me feel worse.”

That does not sound fun, does it?

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kaman Impresses in Win Over Suns]]> Sun, 30 Mar 2014 21:44:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/481643039.jpg

With Pau Gasol still unable to play after suffering vertigo and dizziness, the Los Angeles Lakers looked to seldom-used veteran Chris Kaman against the Phoenix Suns, and the frustrated center came through to lead the Lakers to a 115-99 win at Staples Center on Sunday night.

For Kaman, Sunday night at Staples Center was his fourth start in a row, but the 31-year-old came out especially active with a point to prove. Throughout the season, Kaman has remained a consummate professional in a difficult situation where his play does not appear to have a direct impact on his playing time.

In Friday’s blowout loss to Minnesota, Kaman started the game before being pulled less than six minutes into the contest. He never returned to the game, and Kaman voiced frustrations after the contest.

Unfortunately for the Suns, Kaman had a point to prove on Sunday.

The former NBA All-Star and Los Angeles Clipper proved his pedigree from the opening tip with 10 points and eight rebounds in the first quarter. Kaman’s instant offense led the Lakers to an early 26-15 lead after 12 minutes.

In the second period, the often-forgotten big man continued releasing his frustrations onto the Suns. By halftime, Kaman’s 18 points, 10 rebounds and three assists resembled a final stat line for a respectable starting center, not the last guy on the bench being asked to temporarily stand in.

In his 11th year in the league, Kaman appeared focused from the onset and continued his strong play into the second half. After three quarters, Kaman’s count was up to 24 points on 11/16 shooting to go along with 14 rebounds and four assists.

As the Lakers opened up leads as large as 26 points, Kaman obviously had help. Jodie Meeks, who converted on four conventional three-point plays (often called "And 1"), finished with 22 points. Also, youngsters Kent Bazemore and Ryan Kelly played well. Bazemore continues to showcase his passing and shooting ability with 12 points and six assists on the night. Kelly finished with 17 points, including a couple big buckets late in the game. When it came to passing, however, Kendall Marshall set the example with a game-high 11 assists to go along with his 13 points.

However, the story of the night was Kaman. Regularly this season, Kaman was listed as available and found himself the odd man out. On Sunday, the Lakers had no choice but to play the well-traveled big man, and Kaman made a point to show his coach that sitting him for the majority of the season had been the wrong decision.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, Kaman finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds and six assists. He was named the player of the game and even received an early substitution and deserved applause from the home crowd.

After a performance like that, one cannot help but wonder how the Lakers would have looked if Kaman have been used more often.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>