Lakers Grades: March 28-April 4
Chris Kaman stars in rout of the Suns:
He came to the Lakers as a former All-Star who could provide depth behind the oft-injured Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill in the front court, or maybe even play alongside them. He became buried on Mike D'Antoni's bench, considered redundant alongside Gasol on offense and lacking when it came to defense as compared to Hill or Robert Sacre. Yet, after 10 straight DNP-CDs to start the month of March, Kaman had his number called when Gasol went down with a bout of vertigo and boy did he deliver. Kaman pumped in 28 points, 17 rebounds and six assists, helping the Lakers to a rare win that was even sweeter coming against a team like the Phoenix Suns, who were fighting for a chance to make the playoffs.
Nick Young goes off for 40 against the Trail Blazers:
There hasn't been much that has been enjoyable about this Lakers season, but Young routinely has kept the entertainment value at the highest level it could be all things considered. "Swaggy P" provided some more must-see TV against Portland, starting the game off 8-for-8 and finishing 15-for-26 as he ended up with 40 points (with only one assist, of course). Even though L.A. lost 124-112 to the Blazers, Young -- playing on a fractured knee no less -- provided enough highlights to make the game worth watching.
Kent Bazemore resumes starting role:
After D'Antoni abandoned the experiment of putting Wesley Johnson as the starting stretch 4 when Johnson's energy level waned, the coach went back to the team's surprising trade deadline acquisition in Bazemore with the first five. While he still has plenty of learning to do -- his foul at the end of the Kings game after missing a layup was unnecessary and could have cost L.A. a win -- he also clearly has plenty of game. In his last five games, he's averaging 15.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
McCallum, Gay and Cousins scorch depleted Lakers in Sactown:
That ill-advised foul by Bazemore mentioned above was on Kings rookie Ray McCallum, who abused the Lakers' defense to set a career high of 27 points on 12-for-22 shooting. He wasn't the only Sacramento player to scorch L.A. Rudy Gay scored 31 points. DeMarcus Cousins had 20 points and 10 rebounds. The Lakers, meanwhile, had only nine healthy players and shot 38.5 percent from the field as a team.
L.A. gives up a season-high 143 points to the Timberwolves:
Maybe it's because before the game happened the Lakers had already had 14 games where they surrendered 120 points or more this season (including five games of 130 or more) that when Minnesota hung 143 on L.A. it didn't seem like as big of a deal as it really was. The Lakers have had their bad luck this season, but there's no excuse for the abhorrent defensive effort they put forth against the Wolves. Minnesota shot a franchise-best 67.1 percent from the field and scored 41 points in the first quarter after L.A. came into the game supposedly stressing first-quarter defense because the Wolves had already torched the Lakers for 47 in an opening frame earlier in the season.