From Gabriel Lee, Lakers Nation: Phil Jackson once famously told a reporter several years ago that he doesn’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. The Zen Master felt that if a goal is worth achieving, it should be self-motivated instead of being dictated by the turn of the calendar. You’re allowed to say things like that when your resume includes 11 championships as a head coach and two as a player. However if there was ever a time when the team he used to coach needs a list of resolutions, this would be the year. Heading into 2013, the Lakers now sit at a respectable 15-15 after a dreadful 1-4 start. Even with the recent improvement in play, if the playoffs started today the Lakers would not qualify. After acquiring Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in the off-season, very few people expected the Lakers to be in this position at the quarter mark of the season. Here are the resolutions I would assign to the key members of the Laker organization.
From Eric Pincus, LA Times: Antawn Jamison has fallen out of the Lakers rotation, a source of frustration for the veteran, but one he says he’s willing to endure for the opportunity to win a championship. Certainly the Lakers haven’t shown they’re quite at that level, but the team has performed better with Jamison sitting out (although that may have more to do with the returns of Pau Gasol and Steve Nashthan the absence of Jamison). “He didn’t do anything to get out of the rotation, I just went a little different way,” said Coach Mike D’Antoni. “I thought Metta [World Peace] would give us a little toughness and defense.”D’Antoni moved World Peace to the bench but with heavy minutes, now both at small and power forward.Recently Jordan Hill found himself in the same position, out of the rotation, but now Hill is a regular contributor (getting some of Jamison’s minutes, no less). How did Hill get back into the lineup despite other plans? “His energy,” said D’Antoni, who noted he didn’t have the chance to help General Manager Mitch Kupchak put the roster together over the off-season and that he didn’t have the “luxury” of overseeing a training camp. “I had to go through everybody to see if I see something.”
From Mark Medina, LA Daily News: As the Lakers ring in the New Year, Steve Nash represents the Champagne. He instantly popped open the Lakers’ offense with pinpoint passes that look as smooth as a well-poured glass. Nash also represents the confetti. The Lakers care only about purple-and-gold streamers dropping from the Staples Center rafters in June, but his four-game stint following a 24-game absence because of a fractured left leg has given the team reason to break out the party horns. Nash also represents the New Year’s resolution. The Lakers (15-15) enter tonight’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers (14-17) at Staples Center convinced they’ve fixed what initially made things difficult to grasp in coach Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced offense. “Steve’s pace of the game allows people to flow around him and field their positions better than anybody,” Lakers assistant Dan D’Antoni said. “When you see him with the ball, the pace that he plays allows people to get into the positions.” Dan D’Antoni’s observations go beyond Nash’s four-game stint with the Lakers, in which the 38-year-old guard has averaged 12.3 points on 60 percent shooting and 9.5 assists per contest. Dan worked as an assistant to his brother, Mike, both with the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns. In Phoenix, Nash won two regular-season MVP awards in four years under D’Antoni (2004-08)
From Ben R, Silver Screen & Roll: Amongst the turmoil of the season and just after a poor effort in the Denver game, the Lakers’ performance on Friday was a return to form we came accustomed to during their heyday: the almost routine dismantling of a team lower on the basketball totem pole in a contest that was never in doubt. From the beginning of the game, Steve Nash directed the tempo and flow as he usually does and Portland offered little resistance to the Lakers’ offensive onslaught. Indeed, taking a moment to reflect on the Lakers’ second game of the year reveals the enormous magnitude of the changes that have come in Laker Land. Last we saw the Blazers, this team featured Nash being muzzled by a poorly implemented Princeton offense, Kobe Bryant turning the ball over every other possession, and Mike Brown doing Mike Brown things such as playing Antawn Jamison at the three and benching Jodie Meeks for no real reason at all. It was a team in stark disarray with no belief in the system the coach was espousing or chemistry between the big pieces that had been thrown together in the offseason. Fast forward two months and we have practically the opposite of all those things taking place, with the biggest change being that the team finally seems to be settling on a common identity that they have confidence in.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: Even though it’s been a rocky start to the season for the 15-15 Los Angeles Lakers, the play of Kobe Bryant has been on point. After shooting 50 percent or better from the field in each of the first four games to start the 2012-13 campaign, Bryant has proved the increased accuracy wasn’t a fluke as his team is more than a third of the way through the season and his field-goal percentage is still a lofty 47.8 percent — the highest mark of his 17-season career. Just how good is the 34-year-old Bryant, the league’s leading scorer at 30.1 points per game (his highest scoring average since 2006-07) playing? “This is probably the best I’ve played in a while,” Bryant said after practice Monday. “I’ve had years the last few years where I’ve felt pretty good but we kept my minutes down so the numbers didn’t look the same, but this year I feel pretty good.”