From Eric Pincus, LA Times: With the trade deadline at noon Pacific time Thursday, General Manager Mitch Kupchak made it clear over recent days he has no intention of trading center Dwight Howard. “It’s hard to get a talent in this league and to have a talent like Dwight Howard,” said Kupchak on Wednesday on ESPN Radio’s “The Herd with Colin Cowherd.” “He belongs to have his name on the wall and a statue in front of Staples [Center] at some point and time.” Howard responded well to that with a 24-point, 12-rebound game against the Boston Celtics. In just 30 minutes, Howard hit 10 of 13 shots to help the Lakers win, 113-99. “He was very aggressive. He was very active. He was big for us on the offensive glass — on the defensive glass,” said Kobe Bryant. “He controlled the paint defensively for us and we got our pick-and-roll game going, which got him a lot of easy opportunities, which kept the defense off balance. It was a great game by him.” Bryant and Howard haven’t exactly meshed this season. The Lakers haven’t as a team, struggling to stay healthy and consistent. “Everything that’s been going on, Mitch knows what we’ve been going through this year,” said Howard. “He sees it, the stuff that’s been going on with me. He understands, especially with my back. He’s just been in full support.”
From Jack McCallum, Sports Illustrated: They could’ve had Magic Johnson do it, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or maybe Jerry West. Heck, they could’ve trotted Jack Nicholson out there. This is a franchise, after all, dripping with Big Names. But there was Kobe Bryant, wireless microphone in hand, standing at center court to say goodbye — on behalf of the Lakers’ organization — to Dr. Jerry Buss before Wednesday night’s game against the Celtics at the Staples Center. It was a task that required the face of the franchise, 2013. And so there is no doubt that that face is No. 24. Bryant did a good job, too. He was obviously emotional, but he kept his poise and told it short and sweet. And so did the “second half” of the NBA season, otherwise known as the final 28 games, begin on a bittersweet note for the desperate Lakers.
From Dan Devine, Yahoo Sports: Before the Los Angeles Lakers took on their longtime rivals, the Boston Celtics, on Wednesday night, the team celebrated the life and legacy of late owner Dr. Jerry Buss, who died Monday at age 80 as a result of kidney failure after being hospitalized. The pregame ceremony included a slideshow of images tracing Buss’ journey from poverty in Wyoming to vast wealth and power in L.A.; a brief speech by Lakers star Kobe Bryant, whose entire 17-year NBA career has been spent with the Lakers and who credited Buss with making him realize he wanted to be a Laker for life; and a moment of silence observed by the capacity crowd of 18,997 on hand at Staples Center. In case you missed it, watch the ceremony below:
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Jerry Buss’ Staples Center suite positioned behind the Lakers’ bench was left empty and dark except for one chair, lit up by spotlight Wednesday night. On the court below, the Lakers played with the sort of passion, intelligence and beauty that Buss pursued during his life that ended Monday. The Lakers routed the Boston Celtics, their archrivals whom Buss so longed to pass in all-time NBA championships, by a 113-99 score. The Celtics still lead the Lakers, 17-16, in NBA titles. The first game after the All-Star break lived up to all the unrealized preseason hype for the Lakers:Dwight Howard being a game-changing force,Steve Nash shooting and passing artfully andKobe Bryant being the leader that Buss trusted Bryant would grow to become.
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll: The Los Angeles Lakers have succeeded in forcing upon their fans a variety of emotions over the past few months: Excitement (no matter how short-lived); anticipation; anger; despair; frustration – so, so much frustration. With the passing of our beloved owner, Dr. Jerry Buss, we added two emotions to the list that really have no place in sports, grief and mourning. And now, because of what Dr. Buss’ passing inspired in his team, at least for one night, we get to experience satisfaction.