Around The World (Wide Web): Steve Nash, Playoffs, D’Antoni, Kobe’s Game, Dwight’s Screens

Ryan Cole —  February 28, 2013

From Jeff Miller, OC Register: The belief here is the Lakers will make the playoffs, and the explanation as to why hasn’t changed one iota throughout their whole peculiar, disappointing and staggeringly uneven season.The Lakers will make the playoffs just because. Because they’re the Lakers.Because they always do. Because there’s no way a team with so many individual accomplishments can collectively fail that badly. The answer for the Lakers is the same one that follows so many of the deepest questions in sports. Why is pitcher’s mound 60 feet, 6 inches from home plate? Why is a safety worth two points? Why does Barry Melrose still insist on wearing hair from 1984? Just because, that’s why.

From News Services, ESPN: Steve Nash says he does not regret his decision to join the Los Angeles Lakers. Nash acknowledged facing “challenges” in an interview Wednesday with USA Today Sports but also told the website that he does not regret the sign-and-trade deal that sent the two-time MVP from the Phoenix Suns to the Lakers. “Ten out of 10 times, I make the same decision again,” Nash told USA Today. Nash opted to join the Lakers this past offseason instead of signing with the New York Knicks or Toronto Raptors, a pair of East Coast teams that reportedly pursued the 39-year-old point guard.  Nash repeatedly has stated that playing in Los Angeles would allow him to more frequently see his children, who reside in the Phoenix area, and he reiterated those sentiments to USA Today. “I’ve gotten to see my kids probably four times as much as I’d seen them if I’d have gone back East,” Nash told the website. “That’s first and foremost. Second of all, it’s a great experience to play for the Lakers organization. … I’m happy here.

From Ramneet Singh, Lakers Nation:  The Los Angeles Lakers are in the final stretch of the regular season and if they do not get their act together, the team will watching the postseason from home. Los Angeles played horribly in the first half of the season, but the team is beginning to build chemistry and gain some ground in the Western Conference standings. Lakers Nation’s Serena Winters spoke to coach Mike D’Antoni at practice and he admitted that he does in fact watch the scoreboard of how the other teams in the league are performing. At this point, the Lakers are two games behind in the loss column for the eight seed in the conference, meaning they will have to rely on other teams in order to make the post season.

From Ben Bolch, LA Times: And for his next trick, Kobe Bryant will throw a baseball in the air behind his back, catch it on a fingertip and spin it like a basketball. That actually was the scene Wednesday at Lakers practice, where Bryant donned a Dodgers cap and did the seemingly impossible in a promo for the baseball franchise across town. The ball hit the court when Bryant threw it skyward, with the catch and spin (presumably) to be added electronically later. But the symbolism remained: Nothing is out of reach for the Lakers guard. After experiencing an extreme uptick in assists recently at the expense of his scoring, Bryant has been prolific in both categories over the last week. He has averaged 35.7 points and 6.7 assists while helping the Lakers win two of three games to maintain their playoff push. Bryant has also rivaled Miami’s LeBron James as an efficiency expert over that stretch, making 40 of 67 (59.7%) shots.

From Drew Garrison, Silver Screen & Roll: Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers have been searching for a sustainable rhythm in the pick and roll game. With Howard’s health being a complete hamstring on the Lakers on both ends of the floor, it’s been difficult for the purple and gold to get into a groove. When specifically look at the pick and roll game, considering Howard isn’t rolling to the rim with the gusto he did prior to the back injury, it’s been especially challenging. While he constantly slipped screens prior to the All-Star break he would leave ball-handlers on an island to fend off two defenders while Howard himself was unable to swim to the rim properly. In short, it wasn’t working. Since the All-Star break Howard has been setting noticeably better screens and it’s creating space for Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, and overall helping the Lakers’ offense. A simple tweak, such as not slipping a screen and creating contact, can be a night and day difference for an offense that is highly dependent on his ability to be effective in the pick and roll.


Ryan Cole