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Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  May 8, 2013

The Lakers’ post-season storylines are a pretty slim volume right now. We’re in a bit of a holding pattern aside from shedding a couple pretty decent assistant coaches and to be honest, the Bernie Bickerstaff interim romp was one of the highlights of the season.. Darius wrote about assets yesterday and that’s about the only game in town, studying our cards and considering the possibilities. Wholesale changes may not be in the books this summer. Signing Dwight is a priority, he’s a franchise cornerstone. We all hope that Kobe will come back strong for the final year of his contract. I’m not particularly keen on trading Pau unless meaningful long term value is returned. As for Steve Nash, he’s pretty beat up. Maybe his imprint comes from mentoring but it’s doubtful we have any meaningful generational metamorphosis until the summer of 2014.

For the here and now, it’s about the playoffs. The second round is shaping up in epic nature. The Knicks and Pacers are one-all. Chicago stunned Miami on their home court and are playing with free money tonight. Memphis and OKC are tied up, a tactical battle orchestrated by a couple crafty old point guards in Lionel Hollins and Scott Brooks. And then there was the double-overtime Spurs-Warriors battle the other night – GSW came agonizingly close to a huge upset. Game two is tonight.

Dave McMenamin for ESPN LA hands out grades to the Lakers coaches and management.

The Great Mambino gathers the SS&R crew for a roundtable – the worst season in Laker history?

Lucas Sheiner & Ben Pickman for BustaSports with a Jordan Farmar interview as he looks toward an NBA return.

Eric Pincus for the LATimes wraps up Steve Blake’s year, his best as a Laker although injury-shortened.

Sam Smith for the Chicago Bulls blog writes about Jimmy Butler, getting it done.

Kelly Dwyer for Ball Don’t Lie on George Karl earning Coach Of the Year.

Ethan Sherwood Strauss for Warriors World on reasons for optimism.

Racm for Pounding the Rock with a preview for tonight’s Game 2 of the Spurs/Warriors series.

And finally, from the ESPN archives, a print interview with Lionel Collins conducted ten years ago, reflecting on the ’77 Championship Portland Trailblazers.


What’s next for the Lakers? Nothing that won’t wait for another day. The draft is still six weeks away and debating the number 48 pick really isn’t exactly barn burner material. This is the place where I’d normally go on about the winding road or some such nonsense but I got nothing. Signing off now.


Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  May 1, 2013

The 2013 playoffs are still in their infancy so to speak – the eventual champions won’t be crowned until the middle of June. For the Los Angeles Lakers however, a strange and painful season is in the books The end might have come early but not surprisingly so – five key members of the roster were physically unable to play and still more played hurt. The team exit interviews are over and 15 players begin their summer vacations, almost all with no certainty of where (or if) they will ply their trade in the fall.

Ramona Shelburne from ESPN reflects on a season that fell far below expectations.

Here’s a gem from Brian Kamenetzky via Sulia, re: Darius Morris, the big picture and lessons learned from Kobe.

Speaking of Kobe, he got his stitches out on Tuesday. As he tweeted #progress.

From Mark Heisler and Sheridan Hoops, the Lakers’ summertime’s ain’t so easy.

According to Marc J. Spears at Yahoo, Kobe wants Dwight back. Dwight meanwhile, needs some time and space to consider the future.

Listening to Steve Nash tell it, when Dwight does make his choice it should be to stay in Los Angeles. Via Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times.

At Real GM, Jarrod Rudolph argues Howard’s choice isn’t just about where he plays next year, but about how good he wants to be.

If you can handle 50 signs of the Lakers’ apocalyptic doom, Michael C. Jones for the Yahoo network has them to offer.

More fun with numbers: 23 questions facing the Lakers this off-season from BK at Land O’ Lakers.

Sticking with this theme, Kurt Helin at Pro Basketball Talk gives us 5 things the Lakers should do on their summer vacation. Kurt also brings us the news that Kobe’s mom is auctioning off a bunch of memorabilia from his days at Lower Merion.


The end of each NBA season is not necessarily finite – it varies according to organizations, standings and the finish line. It can be the afterglow of a championship or the stoic suffering of fans whose teams never quite get there. The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t have a real sense of continuity in recent years, at least not in the most typical of ways. The disappointment of the 2011 loss to the Mavericks in the second round quickly gave way to a league-wide obsession with the summer lockout. The loss to OKC in the 2012 second round was accompanied by a general sense of frustration, followed by understandable relief with the signing of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.

Yes, it has been chronicled endlessly – every calamitous and sorrowful bend of the road. There is a numbness that follows. There is also a roster of players, some with contracts and some without. And despite every injury, every event, every wrong move, there are ingredients that remain. Some will be kept, some will be tossed aside, some will be added. The cooks in the kitchen have the summer to plan and make their stew. We will have the summer to look over their shoulders.

Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  April 26, 2013

Maybe you thought the injury bug had passed, that Kobe’s Achilles tear would be enough to appease the dark basketball gods who inexplicably dogged the Lakers all season long. Wrong and wrong again. The maladies cycle and regenerate in direct correlation to whatever the team’s greatest needs and weaknesses are at any given moment. It is beyond reason now, it has gone viral. It has become a macabre plot device – the last man standing, a post-apocalyptic scenario in which the remaining players exit the bunker and look around – are we the only ones left? Until some sadistic winged creature swoops down and grabs another one in its wretched scabby grip. There is no safe place to be. Give us more.

The Kamenetzky Bros offer up another fine podcast on their Land O’Lakers blog – on injuries, the future of Mike D’Antoni,, PJ scenarios and trips to Mars.

C.A. Clark for Silver Screen and Roll examines the Lakers gift that keeps on giving – turnovers.

Dave McMenamin for ESPN Los Angeles writes about the likely loss of Steve Blake, Steve Nash and Jodie Meeks for tonight’s game.

Speaking of Meeks, Mark Medina of the LA Daily News is reporting Meeks’ MRI shows a “partial ligament tear. That doesn’t sound good.

Ben Bolch for the LATimes also chronicles the guard corps woes.

Dan Devine for Ball Don’t Lie on a hopeless scenario and Magic Johnson’s affirmation of same.

Sam Amick from USA Today has a different take, this from Dwight Howard who says he’s not going down without a fight.

Mark Medina for Inside the Lakers brings Dwight’s take on the Spurs’ art of flopping.

Finally, Ross Gasmer for Lakers Nation has put together a chart of the Lakers injuries this season.

And more finally, a late-breaking misery loves company report, Russell Westbrook is out for the season. You never want to see a player go down, no matter whose team it is.


Things are seeming grim, just two games into the first round playoffs. But what about the newly-named NBA Development League’s Most Valuable Player? The inside-out game won’t work without perimeter threats. Enter Andrew Goudelock, the 2011 College Three-Point Champ, also drafted by the Harlem Globetrotters for his 4-point ability. The problem of course is the small matter of defense – it’s really not Glock’s forte. Which is why we have Darius Morris, no? At 6-4 he’s got some size and played a bit more this season than last. End of year report cards have indicated potential and he’s managed a place on the roster for insurance reasons. And then there’s Chris Duhon, the nine-year journeyman and third cousin to Robert Sacre.

Sometimes things go so calamitously wrong that you wind up using those guys on the padded leather chairs at the end of the line. They fill a variety of roles – some are practice bodies, some possess a particular skill set and some still have vestiges of the star power that once made them the face of a franchise. Tracy McGrady was recently signed by the Spurs after stints in China and his living room couch. What would you rather have, a guy who was once the truth or a young gunner straight off a minor-league MVP award? Players like Duhon, Morris and Goudelock are often dismissed by virtue of definition – they’re at the end of the bench for a reason. Sometimes the reason becomes the reality you never expected – they’re needed. Here’s hoping the 41st and 46th picks of the 2011 draft do us proud. Just keep an eye on the Staples Center rafters for those screaming death-spiral birds of prey. They might still be hungry.


Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  April 24, 2013

Game day once again, the second of the first round series against the Spurs, once again in San Antonio. The first game showed a few things – that the Lakers possessed some defensive will, that Kobe’s instant offense was sorely missed and that Steve Nash in his first game back was not in particularly good shape. In some obvious ways, the game presented the ghosts of the Lakers’ past, present and future. The team is old and injured and many of the players who wear the uniform now won’t be wearing it in years to come. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a pathway to a steal on the road, however narrow. Can the Lakers find an effective way to redistribute Kobe’s minutes and responsibilities? Can Steve Blake thrive alongside Nash? Just how far can Gasol and Howard take the team?

Dave McMenamin from ESPN Los Angeles details Lakers adjustments going into game two – more ball movement to compliment the inside-out game.

Mike Trudell for the Lakers Blog, reporting on Tuesday’s practice.

Mike Bresnahan for the LATimes writes that the Lakers need more offense, instantly.

Drew Garrison for Silver Screen and Roll on the Spurs’ gamble and payoff in game one.

Ben Rosales for Silver Screen and Roll takes on the matter of offense in a Beast or Burden post.

The Kamenetzky brothers’ latest podcast covers a lot of ground, including Devin Ebanks’ burial.

In case you missed this one, Phillip Barnett stopped by to talk with Matthew Tynan at 48 Minuted of Hell on the eve of the Lakers/Spurs series.

Fran Blinebury for Hang Time Blog writes about a hobbled Steve Nash.

Arielle Moyal for Lakers Nation on Steve Nash and other Lakers news and rumors.

Adrian Wojnarowski for Yahoo Sports reports on Mike Brown’s return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Substitute for generic Kobe Bryant social media article: Kobe tweeted. Then he didn’t.


It’s not unheard of for an 8th seed to beat the top team in either the eastern or western divisions. The Nuggets did it against the SuperSonics in ’94, the Knicks defeated the Heat in ’99, the Warriors beat the Mavericks in ’07. Grizzlies took down the Spurs in 2011 and the 76ers upset the Bulls just last season. As for the real pot of gold, New York might have had a real shot when they made it to the finals in ’99 against San Antonio, were it not for Patrick Ewing’s torn Achilles.

The Lakers survived a horrendous season through increased determination, just barely outlasting their own diminishing stockpile of live bodies, inching agonizingly closer to a playoff berth but not guaranteed one until the very last day of the regular season. Our eyes and sense of logic informs us that a miracle upset like the ones listed above, simply isn’t in the cards. Still, tonight represents one of those rare, true tipping points, where one game can turn a series. Win this one and head back to Staples Center and a three-game home stand.


After The Gold Rush

Dave Murphy —  April 18, 2013

There’s an oft-used saying, ‘it’s a tough act to follow.’ You don’t want to be the band that takes the stage after the last band just totally shredded. Or the comedian that follows the guy who had them rolling in the aisles. Phil Jackson was a tough act to follow. Just ask Rudy T, ask Tim Floyd, ask Mike Brown.

Mike D’Antoni could have been the guy that simply followed Brown, they might have given him the keys to the city. But Jackson was back in the picture and for the most obvious of reasons – he was probably the best man for the job, having delivered great riches in the past. D’Antoni’s preferred system of basketball wasn’t suited for for the All-Star roster he inherited and it certainly wasn’t suited for a revolving door of injuries. A pretty rough season followed.

The Lakers lost another giant recently, someone whose greatness defined the team’s identity and direction. Kobe Bryant rounded the corner on Harrison Barnes and headed for Achilles surgery and a new found hobby of tweeting. Who knew?

Things can turn on a trifle as someone used to say. The loss of Bryant was both stunning and surreal and a couple hundred epic articles dropped over the next 24 hours and observers burped and patted each others backs and headed to the sink with the dishes, ready to rinse and wash and move on to the playoffs. In this particular narrative, non-Laker fans could afford to be magnanimous with their sympathy – you guys always have next year. Or not.

A funny thing happened at the tail end of the regular season. In the absence of certain giants and expectations, a team began to form their own ad hoc destiny. You can’t really label them bad news bears, not when fronted by Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. You also can’t pin the month of April on the loss of Kobe and some new found freedom. The Lakers went seven and one and five of those games saw Kobe playing insane minutes and carrying much of the load.

Sometimes, you just have to watch. One of Mike D’Antoni’s pet phrases is ‘letting the ball find the open man’. He has no ownership of the concept, it’s as old as the game itself, a guiding principal in the sport, sometimes honored and often ignored. Over the last two games, the ball has found new movement out of necessity. Guys are getting touches they didn’t get before. And who would have guessed that Andrew Goudelock would get a call-up and join Darius Morris on the floor during pivotal minutes in a seed-defining win?

It’s not simply the loss of Kobe that has caused a change in the team’s philosophy. Steve Nash has been out of action and may suit up on Sunday against the Spurs, depending on the results from two recent epidurals. Will his return put a damper on Steve Blake’s resurgent play? There are no simple answers.

To say it has been a season of adjustment is saying just a little. There have been recent moments that show an interesting unity however. A time out and coaches interact with their players. Dwight’s chatting with Bernie Bickerstaff, Chuck Person makes a point with Metta World Peace. D’Antoni calls the guys to gather and they’re paying attention. A group that has seen little time together on the floor goes back out there and gets some stops. Games are won ugly but they’re won. And the Lakers are in the playoffs with the seventh seed and if nothing else they’ve earned the right to keep playing.

Spring is regarded as a time of renewal and hope. It’s not always pretty, it follows in the barren footsteps of winter after all. The NBA season is too long for the health of its players. It affects all teams and the San Antonio Spurs will be heading into the first round with issues of their own. For the Los Angeles Lakers, it’s a transitional era in ways that are sometimes willfully ignored. Their earth has been mined and harvested, it is in need of replenishment and the new CBA has thrown a few obstacles into the mix. It’s not to say you can’t use your remaining assets though or that you can’t use them well.

The past, present and future of the Lakers has coalesced for the moment – it may not be the most stable of circumstances but there is at least some acceptance – from a head coach willing to let his team play to its strengths to a team willing to share, no longer bound to a singular voice. The expectations game will be back in the summer, one way or another. For at least this moment however, it’s simply the game of basketball.

Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  April 17, 2013

So here we are. The last game of the regular season. How to adequately sum up all that has led us here? It’s too hard, too unwieldy. It has been an epic sprawl. The season brought unforeseeable adjustments to say the very least, a myriad of lineups and minimal shared minutes. An unceasing chain of stops and starts, end-games and more end-games. Yet for unthinkable injuries and even greater loss, there have been signs of life. You can’t ignore a record of six and one in the month of April. Or a wonderfully ugly win against the Spurs on Sunday. The Los Angeles Lakers have been scrabbling up through some hard dirt lately. Tonight determines if they move forward into the first round or into a summer of even harder questions.

Ramona Shelburne for ESPN charts Kobe’s road to recovery with his trainer, Tim Grover.

Drew Garrison at Silver Screen and Roll speaks with a highly-regarded foot and ankle surgeon about Kobe’s injury and recovery prognosis.

Dave McMenamin from ESPN writes about Andrew Goudelock’s return from the D-League.

Brian Kamenetzky from the Land O’Lakers looks at variables results for tonight’s game against Houston.

Eric Pincus for the LATimes reports that Steve Nash will miss the regular season finale with nerve, hip and hamstring issues.

Daniel Buerge at Lakers Nation brings Jordan Hill’s encouraging news.

The Spurs, just signed Tracy McGrady for their playoff run. J. Gomez for Pounding the Rock, takes a look at his place on the team.

The other possible first-round match would be OKC of course. Sekou Smith for Hang Time Blog looks at the challenges facing the number one seed.


For those who aren’t fans of the Lakers, this notion of hardship in the land of plenty can be difficult to appreciate. Talk about a rough season when your own team has never even sniffed the finals. The Lakers have been there plenty, never have to worry about their media market, are flush with a payroll reaching into the stratosphere and were handed a roster of All-Stars before heading for the ditch.

So what? Fans aren’t apt to choose their teams off a new menu each season. We form lasting attachments, sometimes geographically and often for no particular reason whatsoever. We find ourselves inordinately wed to an organization and the bond isn’t defined by logic – we spend huge chunks of time watching, questioning, analyzing, bemoaning and sometimes rejoicing.

Dwight Howard arrived fresh off back surgery. Steve Nash broke his leg and currently suffers from a malady known as old and hurt. Steve Blake returned after abdominal surgery and is filling in for Methuselah. Pau Gasol ruptured a part of his foot I can’t even spell. Metta World Peace was supposed to rehab for six weeks after knee surgery but came back after ten days.Jordan Hill’s recouping from hip surgery, Antawn Jamison messed up his shooting hand and Kobe Bryant blew out his Achilles after jamming his knee while playing on bone spurs and a sprained ankle. Some thought that would be the end of it.

One more game to shut up the critics and then on to the playoffs and a whole new discussion.

Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  April 12, 2013

We’re truly in the end-game now. Three frames left in the regular season, tonight’s match against the Golden State Warriors being one. The Lakers will be without Steve Nash again, the Warriors will be without Andrew Bogut who sprained his surgically-repaired left ankle against OKC last night. This post is late getting out and there will be a preview coming up so let’s just go straight to the links – some choice reading on tap today:

JM. Poulard who writes for both Warriors World and Forum Blue and Gold, offers a great 3-on-3 with the Lakers side being repped by Darius and Rey.

Dave McMenamin at ESPNLA reports that Jordan Hill has been cleared to ramp up workouts with a possible return if the Lakers go deep into the playoffs.

Ben Rosales at Silver Screen and Roll offers another great Beast or Burden post, looking at the recent play of the current big three.

Andy Kamenetzky at the Land O’Lakers embeds a Bee Gees video into his latest post/podkast thereby covering all the bases including Kobe and Pau.

Ben Bolch for the LATimes takes a close look at Kobe Bryant, defying age and logic as the finish line nears.

Eric Pincus for the LATimes has the preview for tonight’s game against the Golden State Warriors.

Brett Pollakoff for ProBasketballTalk has a great podcast on the Lakers, Warriors, Jazz and Bulls.

Serena Winters for Lakers Nation has tonight’s shoot around report.

Marc J. Spears for Yahoo writes about the Lakers and the playoff possibilities including a memorable line from OKC guard Kevin Martin, “They would be the scariest eighth seed team in history.”

Adrian Wojnarowski for Yahoo reports on talks between Rutgers and Lakers assistant Eddie Jordan. It’s hard to imagine a better choice.

And finally, Thomas Gollanopoulos at Grantland writes about a rap career that didn’t pan out for Kobe Bryant. It’s easy to laugh about the idea, but this is an intriguing in-depth piece – well worth the read.


The Lakers are currently a game ahead of Utah but the Jazz hold the tie-breaker and are playing a very winnable match tonight – hosting the Timberwolves. The Lakers will stay in town after tonight’s Warriors’ face-off, welcoming the Spurs on Sunday and Houston on Wednesday for the final game of the regular season.  The Jazz on the other hand will travel to play the T-Wolves again on Monday and close out their regular season in Memphis on Wednesday. This is it. Take your protein pills and put your helmet on.

Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  April 10, 2013

Last night’s game had it all, some good, some not. It was solid in spots and completely rudderless in others and in the end, there were even moments of brilliance. Kobe caught fire in the fourth quarter, Pau found his assertiveness and in the end, a victory over New Orleans on a night when Utah lost to Oklahoma City. This was a much needed win. The Lakers are up in Portland tonight – the second half of a two-game back-to-back plus the fact that they’re 6 & 25 in the Rose Garden is just a bit worrisome.

Sam Amick for USA Today on a resurgent Pau Gasol.

Brian Kamenetzky at the Land O’Lakers has a podkast and transcript, the zen of Pau.

Drew Garrison at Silver Screen and Roll writes about last night’s two-man give and go with Kobe and Pau.

Mike Bresnahan at the L.A. Times looks towards the challenges posed by tonight’s game. Also Mike plus Eric Pincus from the Times on Metta’s fast return.

Mark Medina for Inside the Lakers writes about the load Kobe’s carrying, trying to will the team into the playoffs.

Anybody who knows me knows that Craig Sager and Phil Jackson are two of my favorite fictional characters. Here, Aaron McGuire from Gothic Ginobili does it up right.

Dave McMenamin at ESPN has an injury update for Steve Nash and Jordan Hill.

This just had to be included – Eric Freeman from Ball Don’t Lie supplies video from MWP’s ‘too sexy for my cat’ speech last night.

Ross Gasmer from Lakers Nation has some Mike D’Antoni quotes from last night.

One of the things I miss most about Phil Jackson is the two-finger whistle. There were times when his bemused refusal to call a time out could frustrate and in all honesty, he seemed to lose his team’s dedication at the end of his last run. Still, he had the ability to focus and organize his teams. There’s something to be said for system basketball. The Lakers increasingly strayed from classic triple-post principles in the later-model Phil lineups but they still operated out of certain fundamental concepts. The injury factor has been joined at the hip with a lack of framework this season and while there are reasons offered, it doesn’t change the fact that a central tenet of coaching is unity. Tonight, the Lakers bring their chances to the Rose Garden – four games to go, four games for the right to continue playing.