The Lakers lost their 62nd game of the season on Wednesday, making them the worst team in the history of the franchise. What started with a 57 loss campaign in Mike D’Antoni’s final season, has worsened to 61 and now 62 losses in Byron Scott’s first two years as the head man. Remember when so many people thought “it can’t get any worse” after D’Antoni resigned? Those people were wrong.

Boy, were they wrong.

The perceptions of a season are always shaped through the prism of expectations. Championship contenders often deal with an overreaction to any small hiccup which is viewed as potentially disrupting a run to a ring. Lower tiered teams are looked at from the standpoint of hope and marginal improvement. The Lakers, especially this year, were one of those teams. No reasonable fan thought a playoff team would emerge out of the ashes of a 61 loss season. But anywhere between 8-12 win improvement seemed possible, if not likely.

I was one of those people. In a pre-season podcast I mentioned 35 wins as a possibility if everything went right. If things did not go that well, I thought 27 – 29 wins was reasonable. The Vegas over/under of 29.5 wins backed this up. As it stands the Lakers have 16 wins with 4 games left to play. They will not get to 20 wins. They may not win another game at all. 

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The Lakers face the Clippers (again) on Wednesday, a night after getting crushed by them to the point the entire 4th quarter of the game was garbage time. While the Lakers have had a few successful games against their Staples Center co-tenants in the last few seasons, most games have mirrored Tuesday’s onslaught. The Clippers get up to play the Lakers and when you have a difference in quality between teams that’s been present the last few years, it’s not hard to predict the results.

After the game, Byron Scott offered similar critiques to ones he has leveled for most of the season — and especially recently. He lamented the lack of his young players’ intensity in comparison to Kobe and Metta World Peace, mentioned when you play “soft” and are not the aggressor games like this happen, and said they will need to learn to play with the appropriate level of intensity every night if they are going to “survive in this league”.

Another thing Scott mentioned was that he has run out of tactics and approaches to jumpstart his team. This was an interesting admission, since it not only implicates his players as (seemingly) non-responsive to his attempts to get them to play better, but also himself since he’s essentially admitting he’s no longer reaching his team (or at least a part of them). Whether he meant it that way or not, it’s also how that statement can be interpreted.

There could be a variety of reasons for this, but it’s a worthwhile discussion that is worrisome on multiple fronts.

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The Lakers play the Clippers on back to back nights a “home and home” where the only difference is the color of the uniforms, what face appears on your season ticket, and whether there are photos of your players in the rafters or not.

Oh, and there’s a difference in quality of team, too. The Clippers are pretty much locked into the 4th seed in the playoffs and a match up with the Warriors in the 2nd round. The Clippers just got Blake Griffin back from his torn quad/broken hand/suspension from punching the team’s equipment man in the face. Griffin looked rusty, but that’s to be expected.

If they are to make a deep run, they’ll need him at his best, though they will also need to find ways to integrate him back into what they did while he was away. Anchoring the 2nd unit as a point-PF who has the ball all the time might be the best way to do that, but that’s a conversation for another day.

The Lakers, meanwhile, are looking to ramp up their young players’ minutes over their final six games. This means changes to the rotation and, ultimately, Brandon Bass and Lou Williams being moved to the bench. Byron Scott gave the veterans a heads up that they should be ready should circumstances call for him to extend deep into the rotation, but otherwise they are going to sit.

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We Have a Winner…

Darius Soriano —  April 5, 2016 — 4 Comments

Last night’s UNC vs. Villanova NCAA college basketball championship game, with its amazing finish, was one of the more fun basketball games I have watched in a while. The shots at the end, the reactions of the players and coaches, the fantastic refereeing*, the crying Jordan meme dominating twitter…all of it was just great.

What was also great is that the game determined the winner of our tournament pick ’em challenge. That winner is….espn63510675 with the Hand Down, Man Down bracket.

You, mr. anonymous espn63510675, won our challenge with 1180 points. Please step forward to claim your prizes. Which, if you have forgotten, are one copy each of Jonathan Abram’s “Boys Among Men and Andy Glockner’s “Chasing Perfection”. Both are outstanding books and you will be better off for having them.

To claim your prize, simply email me by clicking here and messaging no later than Friday, April 8th. We can work out the details then. If I do not hear from you by then, your rightful prizes will be given to the 2nd place person.

For the rest of you, go buy the books if you have not already. Seriously, they are excellent. Thanks to everyone for playing.

*This is not true. The refereeing was not good in this game. And by not good, I mean…really quite bad. There were so many touch fouls and 50/50 plays where I thought “that has to be a no call”, but of course it wasn’t. In some ways, I thought the way UNC played that final possession was indicative of them not wanting to draw a last second foul which would have put ‘Nova at the line for game winning FT’s. Anyway. I didn’t have a horse in this race, so the outcome doesn’t matter to me. But I thought the refs were not good in this one.

It’s sometimes nice to take a break from the Lakers’ current woes and remember better times. Today is one of those days with the news that Shaquille O’Neal will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer.

While Shaq played for 7 teams, he will be most remembered for his time with the Magic (who drafted him), the Heat (where he won a championship in 2006), and the Lakers where he spent more years than any other franchise and had his most success both as an individual and with a team.

But if you ask any Lakers’ fan, they will always think of Shaq as a Laker first and foremost.

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It’s been a strange week for the Lakers. Off court drama + a 48 point loss in Utah + an overtime win vs. the Heat = fans’ heads spinning. But nothing grounds the Lakers or their fans like a game vs. the Celtics. It seems almost any other storyline takes a backseat to a game against Boston and a chance to beat the organization’s most bitter rival.

Kobe’s farewell tour adds an additional layer to this. Against the Heat, Kobe played 9 minutes and was held out of the entire 2nd half after telling Byron Scott he “couldn’t move” on the court. But with multiple days off and the lure of one last game against the hated C’s, there is little doubt Kobe will play in this game. There is no playoff push to make or any seeding implications for the Lakers, but this game means something. It always will.

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It has been widely discussed that one reason the Lakers fell in love with rookie D’Angelo Russell is that his combination of skill and confidence reinforce the idea he can one day be the type of alpha leader who carries the Lakers’ franchise forward post-Kobe Bryant. What is not talked about enough, though, is Julius Randle — the Lakers’ first lottery pick of their rebuild — also has some of these same traits.

Randle isn’t viewed as having the same skill level as Russell. His bully-ball style lacks the polish and smoothness that Russell’s game does. But do not let the raw physicality of Randle’s approach overshadow the skill level he does possess — especially for a 6’9″, 250 pound man.

His off the dribble work and open court prowess have been on display all season — be it on coast to coast takes or on moves like this one versus the Cavs:

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Let me get this out of the way up top, there is a pretty juicy story circulating involving the Lakers, D’Angelo Russell, and Nick Young. If you haven’t read about it yet, you will soon. It is everywhere and will dominate social and traditional media for at least today. Very likely it will last much longer. The story has legs and lots of folks have opinions on what happened, what’s going on now, and what should be next.

That said, I’m not going to discuss the issue here, at my site, beyond the paragraph above. When this site was founded nearly 12 years ago, there were other off-court and drama-rich stories swirling around high profile players. This site was founded as a place to continue to discuss the game and the on-court happenings of the Lakers. It’s one of the principles of FB&G and I’m not going to depart from that now. Not because of the increased presence and importance of social media; not because these types of stories get larger portions of the news cycle; not because there is great fan interest.

If that costs me some readers or eyeballs on this blog, I will live with that. Odds are, if you have followed me (or Kurt before me) you already knew this. But if you’re newer to this site than others, I want to reiterate my stance on this. There are other places who will cater to your desires for updates and coverage. I implore you to seek them out if you’d like more on that subject or if you would like to discuss it with other Lakers’ fans. I will still be here when you come back, talking about the on-court happenings of the really bad 15-59 Lakers.

With that out of the way…

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