From Eric Pincus, LA Times: On their day off Wednesday, the Lakers were tied with the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference standings. The New Orleans Hornets defeated Portland, 99-63, on Wednesday night, dropping the Blazers to 25-28, the same record the Lakers have after a 91-85 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. The Lakers are still technically in 10th place. The Lakers and Blazers have split their two games, with the next tiebreaker based on conference record. Portland is 16-16 and the Lakers are 14-18 against conference opponents. Portland is off until after the All-Star break. The Lakers host the Clippers on Thursday. A Lakers win would move the team into ninth pace with two left to play against the Blazers this season.
From Jabari Davis, LakersNation: In a season chock-full of turmoil, surprise and misfortune, I’ve been most puzzled by the lack of any resemblance of leadership and stability. With fingers being flailed in every which direction, I’ve taken the stance that no one within the organization is without responsibility for what has transpired. While (like many of you) I was pleased with the addition of Dwight Howard with the future in mind, I felt the Steve Nash acquisition would be the absolute key to get the current mix of players working. If you followed my writing prior to the season, you already know my stance on this matter. While some analysts referenced the 2003-04 season in describing what could take place, I vehemently disagreed with the Nash/Payton comparisons. Not only because I felt Nash had more left in the tank, but I thought the adjustment period would be easier than in a season where the team failed in its attempts to get (then) Payton to adjust his approach under Phil Jackson and in the Triangle Offense.
From Janis Carr, OC Register: Dwight Howard understands why the fans in Los Angeles have not fully embraced him. He knows that because he has not committed to the Lakers beyond this season, fans are hesitant to return the love. He asks them to be patient, saying that the focus right now needs to be on this year and making the playoffs, not next season. “Right now, I am committed to this team,” he said. “The only thing that matters is right now. Nothing else matters beyond what we do in the next game, do for the rest of the season. There’s no need for us to go back and forth and cause a circus.” Howard will be a free agent after this season and could get between $25 million and $30 million if he re-signs with the Lakers, more than any other team can pay. Speculation is high that he will choose to stay in L.A.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: The Clippers have not had much success since the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1984. They have qualified for the playoffs just five times during that span and never have made it out of the second round. Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni says that none of that history matters anymore. “They’re good,” D’Antoni said of the Lakers’ in-town rivals after practice Wednesday. “It hasn’t been a fluke. They’ve been good for months. They haven’t gone very far in their history, but they’ve never had Chris Paul in their history, either. So, it’s a brand new chapter for them and they’re doing well.” The Lakers host the Clippers on Thursday in the teams’ last game before the All-Star break. Steve Nash said it’s more than just Paul. It’s the Clippers’ commitment to paying players such as Paul.
From Drew Garrison, Silver Screen & Roll: Steve Nash and Dwight Howard together in the pick and roll wearing Lakers uniforms. It was supposed to be a match made in heaven: like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Shrek and Donkey, or steak and eggs. They were set to complement one another with their strengths on the basketball court. All through the use of a simple pick and roll. It’s the bread and butter of offense. A simple play– player A sets a screen for player B, then dives to the rim. The space created from a well set pick gives player B space to operate and either get a clean look at the basket for their own shot, or a clean passing lane to reward the screener. The Lakers thought they would be examining this very simple, yet effective, play in a near endless loop when they acquired both Howard and Nash in the same Summer. Even further, the Lakers jettisoned Mike Brown and brought in Mike D’Antoni in an attempt to maximize Nash as a pick and roll partner with Howard.