From Eric Pincus, LA Times: With the trade deadline at noon Pacific time Thursday, General Manager Mitch Kupchak made it clear over recent days he has no intention of trading center Dwight Howard. “It’s hard to get a talent in this league and to have a talent like Dwight Howard,” said Kupchak on Wednesday on ESPN Radio’s “The Herd with Colin Cowherd.” “He belongs to have his name on the wall and a statue in front of Staples [Center] at some point and time.” Howard responded well to that with a 24-point, 12-rebound game against the Boston Celtics. In just 30 minutes, Howard hit 10 of 13 shots to help the Lakers win, 113-99. “He was very aggressive. He was very active. He was big for us on the offensive glass — on the defensive glass,” said Kobe Bryant. “He controlled the paint defensively for us and we got our pick-and-roll game going, which got him a lot of easy opportunities, which kept the defense off balance. It was a great game by him.” Bryant and Howard haven’t exactly meshed this season. The Lakers haven’t as a team, struggling to stay healthy and consistent. “Everything that’s been going on, Mitch knows what we’ve been going through this year,” said Howard. “He sees it, the stuff that’s been going on with me. He understands, especially with my back. He’s just been in full support.”
From Jack McCallum, Sports Illustrated: They could’ve had Magic Johnson do it, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or maybe Jerry West. Heck, they could’ve trotted Jack Nicholson out there. This is a franchise, after all, dripping with Big Names. But there was Kobe Bryant, wireless microphone in hand, standing at center court to say goodbye — on behalf of the Lakers’ organization — to Dr. Jerry Buss before Wednesday night’s game against the Celtics at the Staples Center. It was a task that required the face of the franchise, 2013. And so there is no doubt that that face is No. 24. Bryant did a good job, too. He was obviously emotional, but he kept his poise and told it short and sweet. And so did the “second half” of the NBA season, otherwise known as the final 28 games, begin on a bittersweet note for the desperate Lakers.
From Dan Devine, Yahoo Sports: Before the Los Angeles Lakers took on their longtime rivals, the Boston Celtics, on Wednesday night, the team celebrated the life and legacy of late owner Dr. Jerry Buss, who died Monday at age 80 as a result of kidney failure after being hospitalized. The pregame ceremony included a slideshow of images tracing Buss’ journey from poverty in Wyoming to vast wealth and power in L.A.; a brief speech by Lakers star Kobe Bryant, whose entire 17-year NBA career has been spent with the Lakers and who credited Buss with making him realize he wanted to be a Laker for life; and a moment of silence observed by the capacity crowd of 18,997 on hand at Staples Center. In case you missed it, watch the ceremony below:
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Jerry Buss’ Staples Center suite positioned behind the Lakers’ bench was left empty and dark except for one chair, lit up by spotlight Wednesday night. On the court below, the Lakers played with the sort of passion, intelligence and beauty that Buss pursued during his life that ended Monday. The Lakers routed the Boston Celtics, their archrivals whom Buss so longed to pass in all-time NBA championships, by a 113-99 score. The Celtics still lead the Lakers, 17-16, in NBA titles. The first game after the All-Star break lived up to all the unrealized preseason hype for the Lakers:Dwight Howard being a game-changing force,Steve Nash shooting and passing artfully andKobe Bryant being the leader that Buss trusted Bryant would grow to become.
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll: The Los Angeles Lakers have succeeded in forcing upon their fans a variety of emotions over the past few months: Excitement (no matter how short-lived); anticipation; anger; despair; frustration – so, so much frustration. With the passing of our beloved owner, Dr. Jerry Buss, we added two emotions to the list that really have no place in sports, grief and mourning. And now, because of what Dr. Buss’ passing inspired in his team, at least for one night, we get to experience satisfaction.
Chris J says
Nice win last night. Howard finally played like the player the Lakers had hoped they were getting last summer, and Nash looked more like his old self. Still, this is such a glass is half-full/half-empty season… Even when they play very well, it begs the question, “Why isn’t that effort there more consistently?”
If Howard is ever to realize Kupchak’s dream of seeing his statue outside Staples – which is just comical, by the way… Get in line behind Worthy, Elgin, Kobe and who knows how many others who’d be more deserving of that honor, even if Dwight were to bring in a couple of rings – he’ll have to give us months and months of consistently dominant, All-Star-level play. A great game here, a solid quarter there – that’s just not cutting it.
And as we saw last night, the Lakers are a much different team on those (so far few) nights when Howard truly comes to play and has an impact.
Now that the trade deadline is gone, perhaps we will see a more focused Laker squad. However, I am disappointed that they did not go after KMart and will apparently now hope that Raja is released. I really think having a backup big would have been very beneficial for the team come playoff time (if we do make it).
LT mitchell says
The good MWP, who hits his open shots, compared to the bad MWP, who forces and bricks everything in sight while refusing to pass the ball, makes a pretty substantial impact on the success of this team. The same goes for good Dwight, the active one that sets hard screens, rolls hard, and is engaged on defense, versus bad Dwight, the one who seems hobbled and unmotivated. If good MWP and good Dwight show up for the rest of the season, along with the return of Gasol, this team IMO has the potential to be a contender THIS season. Dwight will hopefully regain his health as the playoffs approach. With no back to backs in the post season, it will be much more likely that we will see the good Dwight more often than not come playoff time. I was hoping the front office would make a small trade for an athletic SF, but oh well, I still believe! Go Lakers!
Mark Sigal says
Anyone see this note from Kevin Ding on Sulia?
I asked Dwight about his role in Lakers offense. Revelatory answer: “We have years to play with each other, so it’s a learning process.”
DH: Yes – he is inconsistent and has been disappointing. However we must figure out how to use him properly and motivate him. That comes from coaching, it comes from Kobe, it comes from Nash, and of course DH himself. There are plenty of guys who were nightmares on one team only to be saviors on others. Rodman and Rasheed to name a couple notable ones. It doesn’t reflect well on those guys that they are so inconsistent, but it also doesn’t reflect well on the teams where they underperformed, when others use them highly successfully.
Howard’s biggest problem remains his back. He looked good against Boston in part because he had a few days mostly off leading in and Boston lacks size/bulk. The previous game against Boston was in the middle of a 4-in-6. Boston was on a b2b that night as well, but not coming from Denver.
There are other factors involved, of course. I think Nash and Kobe were also both helped by the time off and he was uitilized better. But the guy just can’t move like he used to. Unless that changes, he is going to have issues on the floor.
I don’t blame the FO for keeping him; I would have. But I would not have second-guessed them that much if they had moved him, due to the back and the FA.
Great ceremony for Dr. Buss. If you didn’t watch or haven’t signed the giant memoir outside Staples you my friend are what we like to call a “fair weather fan”.
I’m actually pretty upset that we didn’t get KMart. I’ve been blowing up the Laker hotline for months about that guy.
Kenny T says
Isn’t Kenyon Martin a free agent? I think the Lakers can still negotiate with him if they want to.
nope Knicks now
Kenny T says
Agree with you that Kenyon would have been a good pickup for the Lakers. I thought they would have tried to get another big to offset the losses of Gasol and Jordan Hill.