The Lakers lost to the Kings on Tuesday, a game which saw Lou Williams go supernova in the 4th quarter to bring the team back from a double-digit deficit to nearly pull out the win. Williams’ last second heave was wide right, but his work up to that point was thrilling even though I was frustrated by the number of possessions he was using and the time D’Angelo Russell spent on the bench because of it.
The Lakers lost a close game to the Kings on Tuesday night, breaking some fans hearts on Valentines Day. For Shame! All jokes aside, after the contest I took to the twitter machine and said a few things which lit my mentions on fire:
This is like a loss from last season. Passing to the "go to" guy for a nice flurry all 4th & still lose while Russell/Randle sit.
— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) February 15, 2017
And I'd say this even if they won. They ran zero "scheme" offense & though their defensive effort was good, there's little to takeaway.
— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) February 15, 2017
Needless to say, I wasn’t happy. I also wasn’t exactly mad either. It was more a sense of indifference, a feeling I felt for long stretches of the previous two seasons but not much (if at all) this one. So, it was all very familiar and I was trying to reconcile that with myself. At the end of it all, I determined to look towards Wednesday’s game and go from there. No reason to fuss over this one, I thought.
After a nice (and needed) break from games after the team’s eight day road trip while the Grammy’s invaded Staples Center, the Lakers are back in action against the Kings tonight. The game will actually only serve as a one game reprieve from the road as the team will travel to Phoenix for a Wednesday back to back before another extended break through the All-Star game and into next Friday in Oklahoma City.
Just as he showed as a player during the Showtime Era, Magic Johnson is proving to be very comfortable in the spotlight after being brought on as an advisor to Jeanie Buss.
Since his hiring was announced only 12 days ago, Magic has made an appearance with the Lakers’ TV partner for an interview, he’s made on the record comments to USA today saying he wants to “call the shots”, he (or someone close to him) sourced comments to ESPN which implicated Mitch Kupchak, he’s gone on CBS radio, and today he did an interview with Hannah Storm on ESPN.
In this episode of the Laker Film Room Podcast, Pete and I discuss in more depth the change to the starting lineup and how that change might be impacting the play of the bench, Magic Johnson’s recent comments and what those might mean to the team’s power structure, and also get into the team’s recent meeting with Larry Sanders and whether either of us would take a flyer on him.
Click through to give it a listen.
Tarik Black’s journey to becoming the Lakers’ full time starting center has been a bumpy one. First acquired by the team as a waiver pick up in his rookie season, Black saw good minutes on an injury decimated team in Byron Scott’s 1st season. Black posted a 16.3 PER with the team that season and looked like a player who could contribute the following season.
Only that didn’t happen. Not at all, actually. In their second year together, Byron Scott promptly jerked Black around by limiting his role and (as he did nearly every other young player) speaking poorly of him in the press. This, from a January 2016 column on Scott and Black:
“Go ask Tarik what I told him this summer,” Scott said before the Lakers hosted the Houston Rockets on Sunday at Staples Center. “Just ask him what I told him he needs to do to stay in this league for 10-15 years. When he gives you the answer, come back and tell me and I’ll tell you if that’s exactly what I told him.”
Naturally, a handful of reporters approached Black for his recollection.
“He told me to be a beast, get every rebound and play aggressively,” Black said, reflecting on his exit interview with Scott and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak. “They told me to work on my skillset. I’m better in my mid range with my size and height in the NBA.”
Okay, that seems rather tame (and probably incorrect since Black is not “better in the mid-range”) but there’s more:
But Scott reported he told Black he wants him to model his game after an NBA All-Rookie first team member (Denver forward Kenneth Faried), a Hall of Famer (Dennis Rodman) and a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year (Ben Wallace).
“He hasn’t done that yet,” Scott said. “They played balls out, full of energy and aggressive. They didn’t care about the offensive end. … That’s what he has to do to be an integral part of any team.”
“He has been OK. What he gives me off the bench, I don’t know,” Scott said. “He hasn’t done anything spectacular. But he hasn’t done anything devastating where you say, lets send him down to the D-League. But when you’re bringing guys off the bench. You want them to have an impact. He doesn’t have that.”
I don’t rehash all of this to trash the former coach. He had his opinions and they impacted how much Black played — which was not much at all. Black ended up playing in only 39 games for a total of 496 minutes last season. But in a season where Scott leaned heavily on Roy Hibbert (who was terrible) and behind him Brandon Bass (who was good) at C, it seemed odd that Black couldn’t get more minutes (especially at Hibbert’s expense). Even odder was the excuse that Black somehow wasn’t playing hard in his minutes.
With the news breaking Thursday evening that Magic Johnson is maneuvering to be more than just an “advisor” to Jeanie Buss, instead wanting to “call the shots” for the Lakers, I almost forgot the Lakers had a game to play today. The team is in Milwaukee, playing the final game of their five game road trip in which they are currently 1-3. The loss to the Pistons on Wednesday was a stinker, but the team has otherwise competed well even if the wins have not followed.
Against the Bucks, then, it would be nice of the team could simply wash away that last game and rekindle the energy and effort they’d had in the previous few contests. Especially since, recently, the Bucks have been going through their own issues.
Losers of 11 of their previous 13 games and, sadly, just getting the news that 3rd year forward Jabari Parker tore his ACL for the 2nd time in three seasons, Milwaukee is reeling. And even though they have gotten guard Khris Middleton back from a torn hamstring which has kept him out the entire year, he is on a minutes restriction and cannot be expected to have his rhythm or game conditioning up to his normal standards yet.
If you thought this Magic Johnson story was just going to settle in and not produce any more headlines, it seems that was a mistake. While at the UCLA vs. Oregon men’s basketball game game on Thursday night in Los Angeles, Magic offered more insight into what he ultimately wants out of his new position as “advisor” to Jeanie Buss.
Magic Johnson said he wants to “call the shots’’ for the Los Angeles Lakers, a week after it was announced he has rejoined the team as an adviser to owner Jeannie Buss.
“Working to call the shots, because it only works that way,’’ Johnson told USA TODAY Sports when asked what he hopes his role with the franchise will be. “Right now I’m advising. I get that. But at the end of the day, then we all got to come together and somebody’s got to say, ‘I’m making the final call,’ all right? And who’s that going to be?
“So, we’ll see what happens.’’
Johnson, the former Lakers great, said the decision about his role rests with Jeannie Buss, whose brother Jim has been in charge of the franchise since their father, Jerry, died in 2013. During the 2013-14 season, Jim Buss said he would step down after three to four years if the franchise was not yet competing for NBA titles again.
Let’s unpack that quote because there’s a lot there.