Many Lakers’ fans (or maybe they’re a very vocal subset) would just as soon forget Steve Nash’s entire tenure as a Laker. After all, over his three year contract, he was only really fully healthy for a single game. After breaking his leg in his second regular season game, and then having his recovery and rehab continuously lose out to setbacks, we never got to see what he could really offer. As I have written, fans (and, to a certain extent his teammates and the organization) have a right to feel frustrated about that. Not as frustrated as Nash, but that’s a different story for a different day.

Those days are in the past, though. Just as, it seems, Nash’s pursuit of ever playing in the NBA again is in the past. Today Steve Nash announced his retirement via a self penned column at The Player’s Tribune:

I’m retiring.

I heard someone once say there comes a day when they tell us all that we can’t play anymore. We’re not good enough. Surplus to requirements. Too slow, maybe. When you’re a teenager with outsized dreams and a growing obsession, and someone tells you this ain’t gonna last forever, it’s scary. I never forgot it.

So what did I do? Stayed obsessed. Set goals. Worked. Dreamed. Schemed. Pushed myself beyond what was normal or expected. I looked at my hero, Isiah Thomas, and thought to myself, “OK, I’m nowhere near the player he is but if I get better every day for 5 or 10 years, why can’t I be as good as him?”

The greatest gift has been to be completely immersed in my passion and striving for something I loved so much — visualizing a ladder, climbing up to my heroes. The obsession became my best friend. I talked to her, cherished her, fought with her and got knocked on my ass by her.

And that is what I’m most thankful for in my career. In my entire life, in some ways. Obviously, I value my kids and my family more than the game, but in some ways having this friend — this ever-present pursuit — has made me who I am, taught me and tested me, and given me a mission that feels irreplaceable. I am so thankful. I’ve learned so many invaluable lessons about myself and about life. And of course I still have so much to learn. Another incredible gift.

Nash went on to thank many of the people who helped him along the way, fittingly deflecting and giving credit to those around him just as he did all those years with the Suns and the Mavs. As for his time with the Lakers, Nash briefly touched on that part of his career too:

When I signed with the Lakers, I had big dreams of lifting the fans up and lighting this city on fire. I turned down more lucrative offers to come to L.A. because I wanted to be in the “fire,” and play for high risk and high reward in my last NBA chapter. In my second game here, I broke my leg and nothing was the same.

Last spring, when I returned to the court, I was given a standing ovation at Staples Center. It was a dark time in my career and that gesture will be one of my best memories. There’s been a lot of negativity online, but in my nearly three years in L.A., I’ve never met anyone who didn’t show me anything but love and support for my efforts. There’s a lot of class in Lakerland, and the organization and staff have given me unwavering support.

As I noted on twitter, That 2013 season will always be a huge what if for me. What if Nash never breaks his leg, what if Dwight didn’t return so early in the season, what if Kobe doesn’t play that insane number of minutes down the stretch of the season, what if, what if…

Of course, we can’t play that game. What happened, happened. And in the wake of all that is the team we see in front of us now. I will never blame Nash for any of that, though. What happened to him — and as part of the domino effect, the team — was unfortunate. But he’s not to blame. In a way, no one really is. There was always risk in acquiring him, but what has played out over the last three years is the worst case scenario for his time here. I’m sure as hell happy I’m not judged as a person based off the worst version of myself.

In any event, best of luck to Nash in his post basketball life. Things may not have worked out with the Lakers, but he had a great career and he was always one of my favorite players to watch. I will miss him.

Utah Jazz vs Los Angeles Lakers

Thu Mar 19, 10:30 PM EST – ROOT, TWSN

Line: UTA -4.5, O/U: 183.0

Staples Center – Los Angeles, CA

Recent Matchups

Ranks

  • 105.4 ORTG (15)
  • 105.5 DRTG (15)
  • 90.1 Pace (30)
  • 76 DRB% (8)
  • 0.532 TS% (17)

Latest Results

Leaders

  • Gordon Hayward 19.7 ppg
  • Rudy Gobert 8.9 rpg
  • Trey Burke 4.4 apg
  • Rudy Gobert 2.3 bpg
  • Chris Johnson 1.5 spg

Ranks

  • 103.7 ORTG (21)
  • 110 DRTG (28)
  • 94.3 Pace (12)
  • 75.8 DRB% (10)
  • 0.513 TS% (25)

Latest Results

Leaders

  • Kobe Bryant 22.3 ppg
  • Jordan Hill 8 rpg
  • Kobe Bryant 5.6 apg
  • Ed Davis 1.3 bpg
  • Ronnie Price 1.6 spg

There was a point in time, maybe earlier this season, for sure last season, that you’d have looked at the Jazz then looked at the Lakers and not seen much difference. Yes, the Jazz had “potential” in the wings with some of their young players, but a combination of poor coaching and what seemed to be the unfulfilled promise of some of those young players it seemed they would be perpetually in the lottery where they could simply collect another young player to add to their collection. The Lakers, meanwhile, were/are in their downturn with less players who had the p-word attached to their trajectory, but similarly lacking in an ability to win games.

The difference today, however, is that the Lakers’ downturn is still very much a real thing and the Jazz have begun to cash in on that potential and turned it into tangible progress. Credit a lot of factors — the maturity of the players, a young big (Rudy Gobert) proving to be a steal of his draft class, Quin Snyder proving to be the right leader to steward this group of guys — but the fact is that this team has taken a step forward this season. They have won 11 of their 14 games since the all-star break and showing that they will be a team to be reckoned with — if they aren’t already — if they continue on this path.

The backdrop for this game, then, is a lot about what one team who is starting to turn the corner after an especially long bend and a team who hopes to do the same. Only, you know, a lot faster. This, of course, has been one of the themes of the season — something that will happen in a league full of teams who have set a desirable foundation while your team is still drawing up the blueprints.

As for the action on the floor, these teams have squared off several times this year to this point so the game will likely go as the others have. The Jazz have the best player on either team (Gordon Hayward) and enough talent on their front line in Derrick Favors and Gobert to neutralize the Lakers’ best positional strength. For those still rooting for Lakers’ wins, the hope would be that the team’s quality depth and 2nd unit can outdue their Jazz counterparts to the point that the game is interesting in the 4th quarter and down the stretch where, in this league, anything can happen. After all, the Jazz, for all their strides, are still a young team who can make mistakes in games that are close late.

Of course, for those of you who want the Lakers to not win, you probably won’t have to hope too hard. You can likely skim the game and tune into the NCAA tourney to dream about the next prospect who can, hopefully, help build the type of foundation the Jazz have already started to form.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710AM Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Lakers vs Golden State Warriors

Mon Mar 16, 10:30 PM EST – CSBy, TWSN

Line: GS -18.0, O/U: 208.0

ORACLE Arena – Oakland, CA

Recent Matchups

Ranks

  • 103.6 ORTG (22)
  • 110.1 DRTG (28)
  • 94.2 Pace (12)
  • 75.7 DRB% (9)
  • 0.513 TS% (25)

Latest Results

Leaders

  • Kobe Bryant 22.3 ppg
  • Jordan Hill 8 rpg
  • Kobe Bryant 5.6 apg
  • Ed Davis 1.3 bpg
  • Ronnie Price 1.6 spg

Ranks

  • 111.1 ORTG (3)
  • 100.7 DRTG (1)
  • 98.4 Pace (1)
  • 73.8 DRB% (20)
  • 0.571 TS% (1)

Latest Results

Leaders

  • Stephen Curry 23.6 ppg
  • Draymond Green 8.2 rpg
  • Stephen Curry 7.8 apg
  • Andrew Bogut 1.7 bpg
  • Stephen Curry 2.2 spg

Based on opponent’s record, the Lakers are on the 2nd night of the most difficult back to back in the league. It’s not just that the Hawks — who, even though they rested three starters beat the Lakers fairly easily — and the Warriors have their respective conference’s best records, they have the two best records in the entire league.

If you were hoping for some reprieve tonight, like the Hawks “provided” in the form of rested starters I have some bad news for you. While the Warriors rested half their rotation against the Nuggets on Friday, they played their full squad against the Knicks and, since this is a home game, will likely do the same tonight against the Lakers.

In other words…

And I don’t mean for the Warriors. With that, I don’t need to go on and on, here. So, instead, a couple of personnel related storylines heading into tonight:

  • Byron Scott is adjusting his starting lineup again — inserting Jeremy Lin for rookie Jordan Clarkson. It’s not that Clarkson has played poorly (though he has run into a wall with his shooting the last few games), but more that Lin has played very well since coming back from the all-star break. Maybe it was not being traded or maybe he’s “thinking less” as his coach would say. Or, maybe, he’s just having a nice streak that is assisted by him running more P&R. Fact is, he deserves some extra burn and it’s worth exploring if he can play at this same level when going up against team’s starters.
  • Nick Young’s knee is still bothering him so he will receive a CT scan to see if more can be determined about the swelling that won’t subside. Depending on what is (or is not) found, Young may not play for the rest of the year.
  • With Young out the Lakers called up guard Jabari Brown from their D-League affiliate, the D-Fenders. Brown played on the Lakers summer league team and also had a camp invite before being one of the final cuts when the regular season roster was finalized. Brown signed a 10-day contract and will get his last game before the contract is up tonight. Add to that the fact Brown is from Oakland and it’s a big game for the rookie who will be looking to play well in front of friends and family while also hoping to catch on for a 2nd 10-day contract.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM Los Angeles.

Atlanta Hawks vs Los Angeles Lakers

Sun Mar 15, 9:30 PM EST – FSSO, TWSN, SPSO

Line: ATL -9.5, O/U: 198.0

Staples Center – Los Angeles, CA

Recent Matchups

Ranks

  • 109.1 ORTG (6)
  • 102.5 DRTG (6)
  • 93.9 Pace (15)
  • 73.3 DRB% (23)
  • 0.566 TS% (2)

Latest Results

Leaders

  • Paul Millsap 16.9 ppg
  • Paul Millsap 7.9 rpg
  • Jeff Teague 7.2 apg
  • Al Horford 1.3 bpg
  • Paul Millsap 1.8 spg

Ranks

  • 103.8 ORTG (22)
  • 110.2 DRTG (28)
  • 94.3 Pace (11)
  • 75.5 DRB% (10)
  • 0.513 TS% (25)

Latest Results

Leaders

  • Kobe Bryant 22.3 ppg
  • Jordan Hill 7.9 rpg
  • Kobe Bryant 5.6 apg
  • Ed Davis 1.3 bpg
  • Ronnie Price 1.6 spg

It was way back on November 18th that the Lakers played the Hawks the first time this season. It was the team’s 11th and 10th games of the year respectively. The Lakers won that game (and their next one, the following night against the Rockets!) to bring their record to 2-9. Meanwhile, the Hawks fell to 5-5 after the defeat.

I bring all this up because what’s happened since that point is pretty remarkable, at least from the Hawks side. After falling to the Lakers, the Hawks have gone on to win 46 games while only losing 9. Read that again. After dropping a mid-November game to the Lakers, the Hawks essentially turned into a top-two team in the league (right there with the Warriors), dismantling every team that crossed their pass via a clockwork offense and a versatile and malleable defense. They play smart, play as a team, and punish your mistakes on both ends of the floor my making the right play as consistently as any team you’ll watch.

The Lakers, meanwhile, have won 15 more times since that game.  Looking back at this season, those back to back wins against the Hawks and the Rockets may turn out to be the most WTF consecutive days of the team’s campaign. Not much has gone right since that point, that is for sure.

As for tonight, it’s tough to know what the Lakers will play like. In their last game, they came out and laid an impressively large egg against the horrid Knicks. New York came into Staples as the worst team in the league — playing a bunch of guys who you probably never heard of — and controlled the entire contest from nearly start to finish. The Lakers were never able to get over the hump and pretty much just folded their tents in the 2nd half and lost going away. This effort, however, came on the heels of the team playing some solid ball since the all-star break (note, by “solid” I don’t mean “winning”) keeping it close nightly against some pretty strong teams.

In saying that, I do not expect the Lakers to win, but I’d be lying if I said I knew for sure this game would go any specific way. The Hawks are good and smart enough to take advantage of every edge the Lakers give them, burying them in the process. I can envision quick, pointed ball movement leading to open shots at the rim and behind the arc to go along with disciplined defensive rotations that snuff out the Lakers’ attack. I could also envision the Lakers big men matching up well with the Hawks’ front line, Clarkson staying with Teague enough to make his life a little bitter harder, and them hitting enough three pointers and working the offensive glass enough to keep the game close.

Neither would surprise me in the slightest. The Lakers are that strange a team and while the Hawks’ deliberate style and superior talent and coaching will most likely win out in the end, the details that happen over the course of the contest are much less predictable. You’ll just have to watch to find out.

Where you can watch: 6:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM Los Angeles.

New York Knicks vs Los Angeles Lakers

Thu Mar 12, 10:30 PM EST – TWSN, MSG

Line: LAL -6.5, O/U: 188.5

Staples Center – Los Angeles, CA

Recent Matchups

Ranks

  • 100.7 ORTG (29)
  • 110.4 DRTG (29)
  • 90.8 Pace (28)
  • 73 DRB% (26)
  • 0.509 TS% (28)

Latest Results

Leaders

  • Carmelo Anthony 24.2 ppg
  • Amar’e Stoudemire 6.8 rpg
  • Jose Calderon 4.7 apg
  • Louis Amundson 1.3 bpg
  • Iman Shumpert 1.3 spg

Ranks

  • 103.8 ORTG (21)
  • 110.2 DRTG (28)
  • 94.3 Pace (12)
  • 75.3 DRB% (12)
  • 0.514 TS% (24)

Latest Results

Leaders

  • Kobe Bryant 22.3 ppg
  • Jordan Hill 7.9 rpg
  • Kobe Bryant 5.6 apg
  • Ed Davis 1.3 bpg
  • Ronnie Price 1.6 spg

Today’s preview was written by friend of the site and frequent commenter, Ray Diaz. He can be found on twitter at @Radius1238. Give him a follow and enjoy his thoughts on the battle of the basement that is Lakers/Knicks.

The Lakers are coming off their first win after a five game losing streak, a rare win for a team that has the 4th worst record in the league and the worst record since the All-Star Break.  The starting five led the way against the free falling Detroit Pistons with all 5 starters in double figures led by Jordan Hill’s 16 points.  Jeremy Lin added 12 points mostly from the charity stripe and Ed Davis continued his solid play with 13 points on 6-8 shooting.

The Lakers continue to play hard since the All-Star break and this was one of the rare games where the young team did not have a bad stretch in the second half.  Even better, Kobe Bryant was seen giving rookie Jordan Clarkson tips when Jordan went to the bench.  Jordan is basically getting schooled in the game by one of the best scorers ever in Kobe and one of the best point guards ever in Steve Nash.

That is one of the biggest draws to watching Lakers games at this point: the surprising development of Jordan Clarkson as the point guard of the future.  Jordan reached his career high in assists against Detroit highlighted by a leading, thread-the-needle pass to Boozer in the 1st quarter and his backhanded assist to Tarik Black in the 3rd quarter.  Jordan is a nice surprise and has some Lakers fans on twitter asking if we truly need to go after Rondo or another point guard next year (ok, it was just me questioning it, but seriously: do we really want Rondo?).

Lakers are in a rare situation where they are favored over the opposing team.  Phil Jackson’s New York Knicks are the worst team in the league.  With Carmelo Anthony done for the rest of the year, trades of JR Smith and Iman Shumpert, and the buy-out Amar’e Stoudemire, the Knicks best players are center Andrea Bargnani and recent acquisition Alexey Shved.  Unless Derek Fisher gets his team to play out of their mind to help him win one on his old floor, the Lakers should be able to win against the worst team in the NBA.  The Lakers need to play with the same effort they showed against the Pistons.

So where does this leave fans whom like to watch the team win but understand the reality of the lottery?  The Lakers are currently the fourth worst team in the NBA with 17 wins.  Orlando is fifth with 21 wins.  Sacramento (22), Detroit (23) and Denver (24) are not far behind (or ahead depending on how you see things).   Orlando’s schedule through the end of March is more difficult than the Lakers schedule so a Lakers’ win against the Knicks will be dangerous to their efforts to keep their top 5 pick.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710 Los Angeles.