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Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  April 5, 2013

So here we are, seven games to go, the home stretch!. It’s the same place we were on Wednesday except today’s Friday. Plus, it’s game day – tonight’s visitors to Staples are the Memphis Grizzlies, currently 5th in the west, with a 51 & 24 record, on a four-game win streak and trying to get into the top half of the bracket. The Lakers meanwhile are in 8th place, a half-game up on the Jazz. None of this should be a problem, right? Good. I didn’t think so either. Here’s some links:

Ramona Shelburne at ESPN writes about the difficult choices ahead for Lakers management. Thank you for the bright and happy news on a day when we are feeling supremely confident about the playoffs.

Patrick Michael for the Yahoo network looks at the possibility of New Orleans playing spoiler for those vying for the eighth and final spot in the west.

Brian Kamenetzky from the Land O’Lakers on Dwight Howard’s defensive numbers (along with a great embed from Drew at SS&R).

Drew Garrison for Silver Screen & Roll reports that Steve Nash won’t be suiting up tonight. Blame Drew – he’s the messenger.

Actuarially Sound for Silver Screen & Roll feels that the Lakers’ playoff hopes rest on Dwight’s shoulders.

Andrew Khatchaturian from Beyond the Final Score examines the idea that an overcrowding of star players has hindered the Lakers this season. This hopefully guarantees the win tonight since Nash and Metta are out.

Wait, hold on – Dave McMenamin from ESPN says Metta’s already off his crutches and excited about returning to action sooner than anticipated. Metta had knee surgery last week and was predicted to be out for six weeks. Mister Peace does not live by other people’s rules, man. It is on!

I didn’t find any new articles today about Kobe which could mean that he’s planning to go stealth tonight and annihilate the Grizzlies for daring to think they can come in here and pad their win streak on our backs. There was however a great piece by Darius yesterday about Kobe and off-ball defense.

Anyway. I haven’t had lunch yet and have a rending headache. Which may account for the sparse and loopy nature of today’s links post. So summation – Friday, top of the home stretch, we will enjoy a monumental and sustained run through the rest of the season and into the playoffs, stunning the sports world and assorted national media types who will quickly regroup and say they knew it all along. That is all.

Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  April 3, 2013

It hasn’t been a good season for the Los Angeles Lakers. We all know this. It has been chronicled every which way and will be chronicled some more before all is said and done. Some nights are are still about the win however and sometimes even more. The Lakers opened and closed the game strong, preserving a chance to make the playoffs. And to Mark Cuban’s great consternation, they basically ended that same chance for the Dallas Mavericks.

If ever there was a time for this year’s model to show up it was last night – Shaq was in the house to have his jersey retired, Phil Jackson was there to present the honors and Jerry West and other Laker legends were there as well to watch, witness and smile. There were subtexts aplenty and a shaky start to the third quarter as Dallas went on a run – I don’t even want to contemplate what a loss would have felt like given the circumstances. Credit Earl Clark for generating a run of his own – the Lakers did plenty of things right in the fourth and won it in a romp.

Dave McMenamin for ESPN, on Kobe’s maxed-out minutes – he’s had a total of 79 seconds rest on the bench over the past two games.

Ramona Shelburne for ESPN, on Dwight stepping up in crunch time and the challenges posed by Shaq.

On a night that saw fans cheering loudly for Phil Jackson, Kelly Dwyer for Ball Don’t Lie credits Shaquille for keeping things on point with a classy speech.

Drew Garrison for Silver Screen and Roll, recapping the Lakers win and Kobe’s triple-double.

Marc J. Spears for Yahoo Sports writes about the respect that Kobe Bryant now has for his former foe.

Kurt Helin for ProBasketballTalk, on Mark Cuban and his ‘first housewife’ dig at Phil Jackson.

Brian Kamenetzky for the Land O’Lakers, relives an iconic Kobe-to-Shaq moment in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Championship against Portland, with a classic Chick Hearn narration.

Serena Winters for Lakers Nation provides post-game clips from Kobe Dwight.


It was the closing seconds of the game and the Lakers were up by a ton. There was virtually no chance the Mavericks were going to mount a serious challenge – their plodding hack-a-Howard had run its course and failed to make a difference. Kobe was still in the game though and while his motivation to play so much and so spectacularly is understood, the question still becomes at what cost and why the gamble? The Los Angeles Lakers have been absolutely decimated by injuries this year. They are flying into the home stretch on shredded wings and fuselage.

Seven games left. The same win/loss record as Utah but the Jazz hold the tiebreaker. Thankfully, the Lakers have a couple days to rest before facing Memphis on Friday. Hopefully, Steve Nash will be back for the last leg of a season that has left most observers scratching their heads. Buckle them up for the end of a bumpy ride.

Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  March 27, 2013

The Los Angeles Lakers simply can’t keep the same starting lineup on the floor. Sometimes, Mike D’Antoni won’t permit it. More often, the unceasing parade of injuries won’t allow it. Of the 14 guys on the roster, each has started at least once. That’s about the only commonality you’re gonna get this season. Scratch that, losing has also been a commonality. It’s technically not a majority at this specific time and place – the Lakers are 36 & 35 going into tonight’s game. The latest addition to the inactive list is Metta World Peace, more about that in the links below.

The Lakers are in Minnesota tonight and if there’s ever a shot to end a three-game skid and rally the troops you’d probably pick this match-up. The Timberwolves have lost 21 of these meetings in a row, their last victory being in double overtime, March 6, 2007. The Lakers went 42 & 40 that season. That was back in the days of Smush and Kwame and Vlad Rad. Eleven months later Pau Gasol arrived. Things got better for quite a while after that, until the Lakers managed to put together a supergroup for the ages and found themselves back where they had been six years earlier. In Minnesota, nursing a .500 record and per chance, a date with the record books once again.

Dave McMenamin for ESPN brings news of Metta’s torn knee ligament. Course of remedy to be determmined.

Eric Freeman from Ball Don’t Lie also reports on Metta’s injury, noting that further info would be coming after Peace’s appointment with team doctor Steve Lombardo today.

Satchel Price for SBNation updates Metta’s situation with news that he is likely lost for the remainder of the regular season.

Kevin Arnovitz for TrueHoop writes about the NBA’s hurt locker.

Kevin Ding for the OCRegister reasons that Kobe is the one who controls the Lakers’ trust issues.

Mike Bresnahan from the L.A. Times, on Dwight Howard’s dearth of touches in the 4th quarter.

C.A. Clark from Silver Screen and Roll tees off on Kobe Bryant’s defense.

The Kam Bros and their Land O’Lakers offer up a new podkast; Kobe’s defense, the losing streak and DJ Mbenga stories.

Kurt Helin for ProBasketballTalk shines a light on the Mavericks, suddenly looming large in the Lakers’ rear-view mirror.

Elizabeth Benson for Lakers Nation brings the pregame report for tonight’s match-up.


So where are we now? The moment you know (you know, you know). Given the age of the roster and contractual realities, this was guaranteed be a team in transition. The hope of course, was that it would also be lightning in a bottle, a glorious coming together of past and present stars, the endgame being champagne and at some point, memoirs. Instead it has been a rubbernecking pileup by the side of the road.

The Lakers lace them up against the T-Wolves tonight. Jodie Meeks will start at the two-guard and Kobe will slide over to the wing. It won’t be nationally televised. Eleven games to go in the regular season, trying to hang onto eighth place in the west. Fingers are crossed. Just walking the dead.

Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  March 20, 2013

The Lakers have just 13 games left in the regular season which basically means they’re well into the fourth quarter. They remain in eighth place in the west and are one game back from Houston. At the top of the bracket, San Antonio is a game ahead of OKC. You can work the math however you want, I personally wouldn’t want to face either of those teams in the first round.

The Lakers still have a slim shot at catching the Golden State Warriors for sixth place and that opens up some possibilities – a seven-game showdown against the Clippers perhaps, a team who just dropped a stunner to the Sacramento Kings. Or, Memphis or Denver – the latter just became the first team to beat the Thunder three times this year, extending their win streak to 13. So maybe that’s not an optimal match-up, Denver has only lost three games at home all season.

Is there the possibility of a Staples Center hallway series and how would we get there from here? Golden State faces San Antonio tonight and the Wizards on Saturday. The Lakers face the Wizards on Friday and Golden State on Monday. In other words, there’s a serpentine path toward getting a little closer in the next few days. Are you clear yet? Did you ever go clear? Maybe it’s better that I don’t start quoting Leonard Cohen songs. Or maybe I should, this whole numbers game confuses me and all I really care about is when Kobe and Pau are coming back.

The Lakers are in the middle of a three-day rest period. The time off has given some pause for reflections on various subjects, including questions about Mike D’Antoni’s seven-man rotation against the Suns on the back end of a back-to-back. There’s also been news about the severing of a longtime relationship. Dwight Howard has parted ways with his business manager of nine years, a guy who also happens to be his first cousin. The move is seen as another step along the path to becoming his own man. And finally, Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol have expressed their best wishes, for Andrew Bynum’s speedy recovery. Their former teammate had arthroscopic surgery on both knees Tuesday, cleaning out loose debris.

Continue Reading…

Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  March 15, 2013

The game against the Hawks the other night was a mess. Two banged-up teams on the end of a back-to-back and by the time it was over, the Lakers were a whole lot gimpier. That plus another loss at a point in the season where eighth-place teams can’t afford to be losing. If they come out with a game like that tonight, the Indiana Pacers will eat them alive. Believe it.

At the moment, Kobe Bryant’s availability is uncertain. There is a common way of thinking when it comes to Kobe’s injuries. He is able to play through extraordinary pain, his ability to compartmentalize is legendary. We are spoiled as fans because we have come to expect it and count on it. The same goes for his teammates. They’re talking a good game right now about stepping into the breach. Let’s hope they deliver – a gimpy right elbow and sprained left ankle are just the latest in Mamba’s long parade of hurts and at some point, the candles will simply fail to light.

Dave McMenamin for ESPN examines Kobe’s ankle and the issue of being undercut by Dahntay Jones.

The Great Mambino for Silver Screen & Roll also weighs in on the Dahntay brouhaha.

Brian Kamenetzky from the Land O’Lakers looks at the consequences of the injury, going forward.

Kevin Ding for the OCRegister reports on Kobe’s non-stop treatment plan plus a question of degrees.

At TrueHoop, Henry Abbott riffed on the play that injured Kobe and how players have incentive to walk the line between fair and foul when playing defense.

Jeff Miller for the OCRegister on the Lakers’ uphill battle and lessened leverage.

Adrian Wojnarowski for Yahoo Sports writes about Kobe’s race against the clock.

Eric Freeman for Ball Don’t Lie on a day that was all about Kobe’s ankle and the league ruling.

Finally for a change of pace, Kelly Dwyer for Ball Don’t Lie brings news of the insurance policy that will kick in if Andrew Bynum misses the remainder of the season for the 76ers.

Mike Bresnahan for the LATimes has some good news, Pau Gasol should be back on the court next week and in a starting role again. Mike also looks at the Pacers, a team with a 26/7 home record.

Eric Pincus for the LATimes looks at the Heat’s run as they try to break the Lakers’ all-time winning streak of 33.

Mark Medina for the Long Beach Press-Telegram writes about Brian Shaw, still associate head coach for the Pacers and patiently biding his time.


May of 2011 was a dark time for the Lakers. The team had been bounced in the second round, ending Phil Jackson’s last stand. Brian Shaw had generally been considered the front-runner to take over Jackson’s spot but barely got a proforma sniff. He learned about Mike Brown’s hiring through the media and was just one member of a mass forced exodus. Much has been written about that strange chapter and much more will be written once Kobe’s days as a player are done – it’s just too fascinating to ignore, in a repelling kind of way.

There will always be questions about what a Shaw-coached team might have accomplished. The lockout-shortened season was rough all over. It’s hard to imagine however, that his familiarity with the team would have been a detriment. The collision of new faces and a new system seemed unending, a slow-motion chain reaction that continued through another second-round exit. And then it started up again in the fall as old wounds were reopened and another curious coaching interview took place.

Tonight, Kobe Bryant may or may not be in uniform. Brian Shaw will be sitting in his customary spot next to Frank Vogel. The Pacers are currently in second place in the east with New York close behind. The Lakers have been pushing hard lately to get into the hunt and now have to push harder just to stay in. And per usual, nobody’s pushed harder than Bryant. Tonight another episode as the Lakers world turns.

Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  March 13, 2013

Dwight Howard stepped to the free throw line and took a deep breath. Dwight stepped to the free throw line. The free throw line. The line. Again and again, 39 times, matching his total number of points. It’s a lot of times at the line. It’s a lot of points. It was his first trip back to a city where he had been much loved, a city that he jilted badly, awkwardly and way too many times before it was finally over – a long messy divorce in that messy way that divorces can be. There can be a fine line between being fouled for basketball reasons and being fouled for other reasons altogether. Sometimes the line isn’t there at all.

There’s guys that always have to clown around. Dwight’s one of them. He’s the kid in school that wants to make you laugh, the actor at the party who won’t stop after he manages to tell a good one. Dueling Shakespeare lines anyone? It’s just who he is and the fact that he came wrapped in an outsized package with outsized expectations further complicated things. Playing hurt and making excuses and telling jokes when it just wasn’t that cool anymore. Until he started playing according to the expectations of a major media market and the team started winning. We love our zany guy because he’s our zany guy. Winning cures all.

Adrian Wojnarowski for Yahoo Sports, on heckles, boos and broken hearts.

Dave McMenamin for ESPN considers a season full of Minesweeper distractions, now moving forward. Dave also reports on Pau Gasol’s rehab progress.

Lately, it has seemed as though Earl Clark is starting to hit the proverbial NBA wall. Ramona Shelburne from ESPN Los Angeles has the story.

Kevin Ding from the OCRegister on last night’s hostile environment and Dwight killing them with kindness.

Andy Kamenetzky from the Land O’Lakers likens the improved team chemistry to improv and theater situations.

Mike Bresnahan from the LATimes recaps Orlando – buried at the line.

Eric Pincus for the LATimes, previews tonight’s game against Atlanta.

Ben Rosales for Silver Screen and Roll and the flipping of the switch, a beast or burden story.

Aaron McGuire for Gothic Ginobili offers a stretch run primer including the idea of the Lakers targeting the sixth seed in the western conference.

Kirk Goldsberry for Grantland charts Kobe’s season as the structure of his game changes.

Elizabeth Benson for Lakers Nation on the big drama and the new normal.


Tonight’s the second night of a back-to-back, step right up folks, we got your tickets here. The Lakers are always a draw when the big top comes to town but there’s a new storyline now. The giant is awake and the national swivel-heads are starting to rethink this thing. The Atlanta Hawks are also on a back-to-back and a bit of a skid. Currently in seventh place in the east, they lost to Miami last night. Their starting point guard Jeff Teague rolled an ankle late in the third quarter and is listed as questionable. The Lakers arrive at an opportune time, looking to extend their win streak to five.

The Lakers comeback parade hasn’t turned into a bandwagon yet but it could. At the moment, it’s a fine line. The team has only just reached the lunatic fringes of a playoff bracket they were supposed to own. Seventeen games to go and we’re drawing beads on ducks in a gallery and hitting more than not. The lights in the cabin were turned low but a big man with a broad smile wasn’t done telling jokes and doing impressions. His teammates looked up occasionally and smiled with earbuds in. We love you man. Just don’t leave us until we’re ready for you to leave us. And keep winning. The night went dark and turned to day and night once again. And the banks of white light clicked on and bodies crashed and whistles blew. Dwight Howard stepped to the free throw line and took a deep breath.

Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  March 8, 2013

The glow of the Lakers’ galvanizing fourth-quarter comeback on Wednesday still lingers but the next bend lies right ahead. It’s a big night for western teams on the playoff fringe. Houston visits Golden State, Utah visits Chicago and the Lakers host Toronto.

What does this mean? Golden State has a two-game edge on Houston, possesses a solid home record and has won two in a row. Utah has a weak road record while Chicago’s coming off a couple tough losses – they’d love a win before heading west (facing the Lakers at Staples on Sunday). As for the Lakers themselves, winning is absolutely everything – currently 1.5 games out of eighth. With the right combo of wins/losses tonight, they could be just a half-game back come midnight.

It’s been a story about numbers lately, written here, there and everywhere. And as the Lakers demonstrated on Wednesday, there may well be a new wrinkle – Dwight Howard says the win brought the team closer together and for a season marked by injuries, inconsistency and conflict, the statement could be more than just words.

Arash Markazi for ESPN brings MWP’s explanation of his support for Dwight (in pure Metta-fashion).

Kevin Ding for the OCRegister brings the power of Dwight’s positive thinking.

Mark Whicker for the OCRegister conveys another plot twist for Antawn Jamison.

Drew Garrison for Silver Screen and Roll breaks down the Kobe-fueled comeback against NO.

Ben Rosales for Silver Screen and Roll examines a matter of heart in his latest Beast or Burden.

Kurt Helin for ProBasketballTalk looks at the math and says Utah should be nervous.

Mike Bresnahan for the LATimes, on the Lakers hope for complimentary figures.

Bill Plaschke for the LATimes on the right decision in keeping Kobe over Shaq.

For Sheridan Hoops, the Kamenetzky Brothers offer their Cali report – heading down the stretch.

Mark Medina for Inside the Lakers explains Dwight’s Posture Shirt.

Elizabeth Benson at Lakers Nation brings video of Kobe on Kimmel.

Max Piner at Lakers Nation has the pregame report for the Lakers vs. Raptors.


With just twenty games left in what was once termed a cakewalk season, the Lakers have a shot – to make the playoffs. This is where we find ourselves. Back at Staples, facing a team with a 9 & 22 road record on a night when the western conference schedule is as favorable as could be for a giant step forward. For Dwight Howard, another chance for redemption in front of a home crowd that wants to believe. For Steve Nash, he’ll be facing the team that most people assumed he would sign with during the off-season. It has been a period of willing reinvention for the 39 year-old guard. And for Kobe Bryant, there are no simple ways to convey what he means to the team or the city or the game itself. Tonight, he’ll take to the court once more, Sisyphus with a bad elbow and a glare, just looking for the win.

Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  March 6, 2013

Watching Kobe Bryant play injured can be a cinematic experience. Dribbling down the court left-handed, his right arm dangling, finally using it as some sort of stabilizer appendage as he rises up to nail the outside three. And time and again, driving into the paint, knowing that his opponents are more than happy to keep wrenching at the wounded wing. It wasn’t a recipe for beating the Oklahoma Thunder on their home court, at least not without more team ingredients. Still, but you’ve got to admire the ability to adjust and recalibrate – just watching the economy of motion at the free throw line was memorable.

The Lakers managed to get close in the fourth quarter, narrowing the gap to five points before missing nine shots in a row. It didn’t logically feel like a game they should have won. It might have been a different story if Dwight Howard had been more of a force. And while it’s tempting to delve into the have and have-nots of a warrior mentality, it doesn’t change anything about the reality of this season and the numbers game. The Lakers are once again two and a half games back from the eighth spot in the west and running out of real estate.

C.A. Clark from Silver Screen and Roll recaps a gritty team performance.

Kevin Ding from the OC Register also recaps the game, as well as the injuries.

Dave McMenamin from ESPN reports that the three injured Lakers starters are expected to play tonight in New Orleans.

Brian Kamenetzky at the Land O’Lakers examines the team’s transition defense woes.

Eric Pincus for the L.A. Times has a preview for tonight’s game.

Jeff Caplan at Hang Time Blog wonders if Howard came back from surgery too soon.

Aaron McGuire at Gothic Ginobili looks at why OKC is so hard to knock off.

Eric Freeman at Ball Don’t Lie examines the free throw issue for Dwight.

Jabari Davis for Lakers Nation writes about the need for the Lakers to respond to adversity.


Tonight, the Lakers have a chance to get back to .500. It won’t be easy, a back-to-back on the road for a team nursing a litany of injuries. If there’s any silver lining, it’s that the Hornets are having their own nightmare season – 21 & 40 on the year and looking toward the draft. It’s doubtful however, that they’ll simply roll over. There’s plenty of things that the Lakers need to do right to get the win – chief among them being a team-wide effort.

There’s been much written lately about Kobe Bryant’s future and whether he’ll retire after next season. He has hinted at it and there has been plenty of responses back, including the notion that his talent and determination are too precious to let go of. What nobody but Bryant can know however, is the reality of chronic pain. Last night was only the latest example of so many years of adjustment, the constant reconfiguration of body parts and the ability to accept and compartmentalize physical suffering. Tonight, he’ll be expected to go out on the floor again and do what he does so well and nobody will have a greater expectation than Kobe himself. The pain that often mingles, in your fingertips. Beware of Mamba.