Los Angeles Lakers: Devin Ebanks

2012-13 Lakers Report Card: Bench frontcourt

May, 3, 2013
5/03/13
12:33
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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For a franchise that has won 16 titles, any Los Angeles Lakers season that doesn't end with a championship is considered a failure. But rather than just dole out a blanket "F" for the Lakers' disappointing 2012-13 season, we're going to break down each player's production in groups: Today it's the bench frontcourt. Yesterday was the bench backcourt. Check back for grades on the starters and the Lakers' coaching staff and front office next week.

JORDAN HILL

Back in the preseason, when Dwight Howard was out and Mike Brown was coaching and Hill was on the court playing with boundless energy on the boards and actually hitting some jump shots on offense, it looked like the fourth-year forward would be the Lakers’ most important player off the bench this season.

A coaching change for L.A. followed by a hip injury for Hill changed all that. Under Mike D’Antoni, Hill received three straight DNP-CDs in December and then missed the rest of the regular season after hurting his left hip against Denver on Jan. 6 and requiring surgery. Hill made a brief return in the playoffs, only missing three months of action instead of six, which is a testament to his dedication to rehabilitation and his body’s healing powers, but he couldn’t sway the Lakers’ fate against the Spurs.

Hill says he might not ever return fully to the player he was before hip surgery, but even 90-95 percent of the activity he’s known for bringing on the court can be a game changer.

“Once you injure something, it’s not going to be back to where it originally came from, but it’s not going to stop me from doing what I do,” Hill said. “I just got to stay on it.”

Stats

6.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 0.7 bpg, .497 fg -- Hill’s points and rebounds were career highs and he did it in just 15.8 minutes per game, but his most notable stat was that he played only 29 games in the regular season.

Outlook for 2013-14

Hill’s role will depend on who returns out of the Lakers’ frontcourt group of Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Antawn Jamison, Metta World Peace and Earl Clark and also on how, or if, D’Antoni feels comfortable with him in his system. Hill is a young (turns 26 in July), inexpensive (owed $3.5 million next season) talent that will help the Lakers one way or another, either on the court or as an attractive piece in a trade.

Grade

B-: Hill performed when given the chance and healthy, but his season, like many of his teammates’, was derailed by an injury.

ANTAWN JAMISON

Jamison certainly didn’t leave a three-year, $11 million offer from Charlotte on the table to come to L.A. and receive six straight DNP-CDs, as he did in late December through early January. The 15-year veteran and the Lakers went through growing pains together, evidently, because around the time Jamison’s role started to become defined, L.A. started winning.

During the Lakers’ 28-12 finish to the regular season, Jamison scored in double digits 25 times. Overall, the Lakers were 15-4 this season when Jamison scored 15-plus points, as his offense added another dimension to the sometimes predictable tandem of Kobe Bryant and Howard. And Jamison did it playing the final five weeks of the season with a torn ligament in his right wrist that required surgery this week.

All in all, Jamison’s contributions to the team were a bargain for the $1.4 million veteran’s minimum he signed for.

Stats

9.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, .464 fg, .361 3fg, 21.5 mpg -- It was the first time since Jamison’s rookie season that he scored less than 10 points per game, but it was also the first time since he was a rook that he played less than 30 minutes per game, explaining the drop in production.

Outlook for 2013-14

Jamison is only 42 points shy of becoming just the 39th player in league history to score 20,000 points. That fact alone will be motivation for Jamison, who turns 37 in June, to want to lace them up again next season. It just probably won’t be in Los Angeles. Jamison butted heads with D’Antoni, even getting into an on-court shouting match with the coach while checking into a game in Houston, and the Lakers will sacrifice the skills of a guy like Jamison to find a younger, more athletic replacement for their bench.

Grade

B: Jamison played a role capably and often excelled at it.

(Read full post)

Goudelock and the Lakers: Reunited and it feels so good

April, 14, 2013
4/14/13
8:18
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Lakers equipment manager Carlos Maples' job was easier this time around.

Usually when the team signs a free agent late in the season, Maples has to scramble to get a uniform made up in time for the player's arrival. Since the Lakers already had plenty of Andrew Goudelock's old No. 0 jerseys in stock, all Maples had to do Sunday was sew on a Dr. Jerry Buss commemorative "JB" patch onto one of them.

Goudelock was called up from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA D-League on Saturday and completed the paperwork to sign with the Lakers for the remainder of the season just about an hour before tipoff of their game against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.

The 6-foot-2 combo guard, who was selected by the Lakers with the No. 46 pick in the 2011 draft and waived during training camp this season, just feels good to be back.

"This is like home for me," Goudelock said. "This is the first place I played in the NBA, and for me to be able to come back, it was surreal for me. When I got the call, I didn’t even know [what to think]. I was just looking at my coach for like five minutes, like, ‘Are you serious? Are you playing with me?’ So, this is a surreal feeling. I just want to take advantage of it."

Goudelock was informed by Vipers coach Nick Nurse before their playoff game against the Maine Red Claws on Saturday.

"I’m just doing my regular thing and my coach comes out," Goudelock recalled. "‘You’re not playing today.’ I’m like, ‘Am I in trouble?’ He’s like, ‘No, the Lakers called you back. So you got to leave in the morning.’"

Goudelock arrived in Los Angeles from Houston around noon on Sunday and got to the arena at 3 p.m. for a crash course with assistant coach Dan D'Antoni.

"We went over just some basic things, but he said most of it is just playing," Goudelock said. "They said if you don’t shoot, [D’Antoni] gets mad. That’s right up my alley."

Goudelock did plenty of shooting in the D-League. In 51 games (all starts) with Sioux Falls and Rio Grande Valley this season, Goudelock averaged 21.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.16 steals in 36.9 minutes. Goudelock, who said he lost 15 pounds since training camp in part because of dedicated training and in part because his meager D-League salary didn't allow him to eat like he did when he was with the Lakers, thought the experience made him a better player.

"The D-League is definitely tough," Goudelock said. "From the pay, to the travel, to dealing with different guys, different personalities, different coaches -- it’s definitely a learning curve.

"It definitely sucks to have to leave the NBA, leave all this and then go there. Then you think you deserve to be called up, you think that you deserve to be in the NBA, but it doesn’t happen. You just have to wait. You just have to wait and wait and wait, and it’s devastating, but when it does happen, words can’t really explain how you feel. And I feel like I got so much better, it’s almost like I’m getting a second chance here. Whereas when I first came in, I didn’t know that much. This time I’m coming around and I know a lot."

D'Antoni knows that Goudelock is a capable NBA player who had a four-game stretch in his rookie season during which he averaged 11.5 points on 50 percent shooting from the field and 57.1 percent shooting on 3-pointers (8-for-14) in 20.8 minutes, and the Lakers went 3-1.

"He can play and he can make shots. That’s the biggest thing," D'Antoni said. "That was the thinking [that he can create his own shot] and also he can go into the playoffs with us [because he is eligible]. He’s comfortable here and he can make shots."

Goudelock had other opportunities overseas in China, Russia and Puerto Rico, and there was even some flirtation by the Memphis Grizzlies, but somehow his journey took him back to L.A. when Kobe Bryant, the guy who dubbed him the "Mini Mamba" last season, went out with a season-ending Achilles tear.

"It’s just surreal," Goudelock said. "You never think you’ll be back here, and then you’re back here."

Even though Goudelock was cut back in October, he has paid attention to the Lakers' season and has kept in touch with former teammates Devin Ebanks, Darius Morris and Pau Gasol.

"You got to pay a lot of attention to the Lakers because it’s always on TV," Goudelock said. "As soon as you turn on ESPN, it’s the first thing that comes on TV. It just seems like something is happening every day, something different."

He did not anticipate the Lakers struggling the way they have.

"This is the most talent that I’ve ever seen," Goudelock said. "I thought that it would be a lock that these guys would be at least in the top three or four [teams in the league]. So I was surprised. I didn’t know what to [think]. People would be like, ‘Maybe they need you back.’ And I’m like, ‘No, not me.’ But you never really know how things are going to turn out; I guess that’s why they play the game. You just can’t put a team together and say, ‘Hey, they’re going to be No. 1.’ They played the game and unfortunately things didn’t turn out as well as everybody wanted them to, but they still have a chance to make the playoffs, and the playoffs is a new season."

And for Goudelock, it's a new chance at an NBA career.

"You never really know what’s going to happen in this business," Goudelock said. "People keep telling you that, people keep telling you that, and you never really believe it until stuff like that happens to you."

Rapid Reaction: Lakers 102, Wizards 96

December, 14, 2012
12/14/12
7:19
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
The important thing? The Los Angeles Lakers won.

Does a six-point victory over a 3-17 Washington Wizards squad without John Wall, Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker and A.J. Price qualify as a particularly impressive achievement? Not in the slightest. But that’s not what’s important right now for the Lakers.

They needed to stop the bleeding, even temporarily, and that’s what happened.

Here are five takeaways from the game:

Bryant didn’t shoot the ball well but stepped up big as a leader

Thursday’s loss to the New York Knicks wasn’t painful just to the Lakers’ place in the standings. It also did a number on Kobe Bryant’s health. The guard was hit hard with back spasms, then spent as much time as possible with a heat pack attached to his body. His availability for Friday's game was never in question -- it’s Kobe -- and while he played through gritted teeth, I thought he did a fantastic job setting a “do whatever it takes to win” tone for his teammates.

Despite the bad back, Bryant was extremely lively on the defensive end, snagging a pair of steals and pulling down seven rebounds. He forced Cartier Martin into a travel by crowding him in pick-and-roll coverage. He even drew a charge, which Bryant, by his own admission, rarely does with a healthy back, much less a balky one. And speaking of playing through pain, Bryant absorbed some contact from Martell Webster after converting an alley-oop pass from Jodie Meeks. The landing was awkward, and Bryant stayed on the ground for about 20 seconds. But as is typically the case with Kobe, he dusted himself off and got back to work. Bryant also had the hustle play of the game, flying in to retrieve and put back a missed late fourth-quarter free throw from Dwight Howard, essentially putting the game on ice.

In the meantime, Bryant made good on his word Thursday night to operate more often as a quasi-point guard with Steve Nash and Steve Blake on the shelf. Seven assists demonstrated how Bryant appeared intent to set up others as well as himself. He went behind the back to set up Howard for an attempt at the rim. He ran a high screen-and-roll with Robert Sacre, then dished to Darius Morris along the arc to set up a triple. And perhaps the most impressive pass came toward the end of the third quarter, when he turned getting trapped by two Wizards into a pinpoint cross-court pass to a red-hot Meeks, who drained a 3.

Clearly, with 29 shot attempts, Bryant also was looking for his, and that’s fine. For that matter, so were the inevitable forced shots on a few possessions. But there was a better balancing act between scorer and facilitator Friday night, and I’m hoping that remains the case moving forward.

Meeks a major spark plug

The night didn’t begin particularly well for Meeks, who missed a couple of layups, one of which was wide open in transition after having been set up beautifully by Kobe. But it didn’t take long to discover a rhythm, and once that happened, the reserve guard became a huge spark for the Lakers. Shots were drained along the arc and in the corners, often in succession, creating desperately needed (if not necessarily carefully guarded) separation. The rim was attacked with more success, even if it meant occasionally putting back his own miss from close range. He finished the night with 24 points off the pine and appears to be usurping Antawn Jamison as the designated sixth man. And despite a few lapses, I thought Meeks did a nice job on the defensive end, highlighted by nonstop hustle.

Sacre took advantage of an opportunity

Against New York, Robert Sacre got tossed into the mix after foul trouble plagued both Howard and Jordan Hill. Mike D’Antoni had no choice but to roll with the rookie. Generally speaking, that’s how second-round rookies get on the floor: The coach’s hands are tied, so the dice are reluctantly rolled. Given how Hill missed Friday night's contest with back spasms, it stood to reason Sacre would get some more run. After Howard picked up a third foul in the first half, the rookie ended up playing nearly 11 minutes before halftime. He performed well. Four first-half rebounds were snagged -- one on the offensive glass, which he converted into an authoritative dunk -- and a Wizards shot was returned to sender. Another bucket came on a pretty step-back jumper along the baseline.

Sacre’s second-half run didn’t add anything to his stat column, but he maintained his energy and, more important, didn’t make many mistakes. Once Hill’s back heals, I’m guessing Sacre will resume his role as arguably the league’s most popular sideline entertainer, what with his dancing and reveling after big plays. But he did a nice job reassuring his coach and teammates that if times get lean, he can take the floor without the game going off the rails. For that matter, Devin Ebanks also presented himself well in an unexpected start with Hill on the shelf.

World Peace was solid throughout

The resident bull in a china shop drove the lane against Nene on consecutive plays to close the first half, the first bucket earning him an and-1 opportunity. Metta World Peace then attacked the rim on consecutive possessions to open the second half, the latter bucket a pretty give-and-go with Howard that started after MWP took a defensive rebound three-quarters of the court. While converting the layup, World Peace hurt his hand and appeared in excruciating pain for a few minutes. But, like Kobe, he gutted it out, and that help made a massive difference.

This team has no clue how to close a game

None. Whatsoever. At all. And that needs to change, posthaste.

What's up with Devin Ebanks?

November, 21, 2012
11/21/12
5:40
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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It has been six games since Devin Ebanks last appeared in a game for the Los Angeles Lakers. The time frame coincides with the amount of games the team has played since Mike Brown was fired, but the dearth in playing time also started immediately following Ebanks being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Ebanks appeared in four of the Lakers' first five games under Brown to start the season and averaged 2.5 points and 2 rebounds on 23.1 percent shooting in 10.3 minutes per game.

According to Lakers spokesman John Black, Ebanks being benched is a basketball decision, not a disciplinary act. Not only has Ebanks not played in the past six games, he wasn't even dressing for the first three, as Darius Johnson-Odom took his spot on the active roster. Steve Blake's abdominal strain has had Ebanks back in uniform the past three games, at least.

"To my knowledge, it's a basketball decision," Ebanks told ESPNLosAngeles.com before the Lakers hosted the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday. "I just still got to remain professional and keep working and be ready for my number to be called."

Ebanks is still being paid while he is out of the rotation, so the benching is not considered a suspension. He is due back in court Dec. 7 to address the DUI charge. A suspension could be levied if Ebanks is found guilty at that time, as is NBA procedure whenever a player faces legal troubles.

"I can't speak on that right now," Ebanks said when asked about the arrest.

Ebanks being out of the lineup has opened up playing time for Jodie Meeks to get a chance as Kobe Bryant's backup at shooting guard. Meeks has not exactly seized the opportunity, averaging just 3.2 points on 28.5 percent shooting in the past six games.

New Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said his decision regarding Ebanks has been a matter of familiarity.

"I don’t know him," D'Antoni said. "In that sense, I haven’t watched him that much. We haven’t really practiced that much, so [you've] got to give me some time to evaluate and see what the team needs. But, obviously, he’s a talent and he’s there and we’ll see going forward. I just couldn’t tell you today what I envision today, because I don’t have that yet."

Ebanks agreed.

"I haven't really talked to him personally, really, like one-on-one,” he said of D’Antoni. “I'm sure as the season goes we'll start to talk a little more."

Even though Ebanks is out of the rotation, it's a long season. At some point over the course of the next 71 games he will likely get a second look. Especially if Meeks keeps struggling.

At 6-foot-9 and 215 pounds, Ebanks has the frame to run the floor in D'Antoni's system. He also has an improved form on his jump shot from working on holding his follow-through, rather than pulling his arms back after his release. But it has yet to show up statistically; Ebanks is shooting just 1-of-5 on 3-pointers this season after going 0-of-9 last season.

"His system is, pretty much, keep the floor spread," Ebanks said. "That's definitely something I like. I need some space to cut, pick-and-rolls. I like his offense so far, just on things he's been running and putting in. I definitely like where he's going."

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Lakers suffering from repeat symptoms

November, 7, 2012
11/07/12
11:50
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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This certainly isn't Kobe Bryant's first rodeo.

The 34-year-old veteran has just about seen it all in his 17-year career, from an NBA Finals Game 7 to a first-round flameout in the playoffs to everything in between.

So it's entirely feasible Bryant sensed that the Lakers weren't out of the woods just yet when asked about their progression at Wednesday's shootaround, hours before their 95-86 drubbing to the Utah Jazz that dropped them to 1-4 on the year.

"We just keep chipping away at it and when it happens, it happens," Bryant said when asked how long it would take for this team to click into gear. "There will probably kind of be peaks and valleys, as every regular season is, unless you win 70 games like the [Chicago] Bulls did. But, for most teams, it’s kind of up and down."

It certainly was a short peak, that one triumph against the winless Detroit Pistons, when the Lakers put it all together to shoot well (51.9 percent) and defend well (holding Detroit to 35.4 percent) on the same night.

But here they are, back in a proverbial valley just one game later, with many of the same problems popping up that suggest it will be some time before the Lakers make their way up the hill again.

There is a ton of unfamiliarity around this team. New faces in Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks. New assistant coaches in Eddie Jordan, Steve Clifford and Bernie Bickerstaff. A new Princeton-style offense.

And there also has been a rash of new injuries derailing this squad’s development, from Bryant's foot to Nash's leg to Howard and Jordan Hill's backs.

The Lakers are five games into this thing. It's not even Thanksgiving yet. Heck, it's not even Veteran's Day yet.

So the patience angle is understood loud and clear.

But there are some problems that promise to be around even when the Lakers get healthier and their timing on offense improves.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Jazz 96, Lakers 85

November, 7, 2012
11/07/12
9:21
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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A week or so ago I was asked on the radio to forecast the Lakers' first five games. I called two Lakers losses, and Wednesday's game at Utah was one. Salt Lake City is always a tough place to play, particularly when the Jazz have some talent, as they do now.

Moral of the story: I can't say I'm shocked the Lakers lost, because it could have happened even if things were going well. It's how they lost giving me (and Lakers fans worldwide) pause. Particularly now that their record has dropped to 1-4, with the victory coming courtesy of a hapless Detroit team. Credible squads are having their way with them.

Here are four takeaways from Wednesday's game:

You only thought the Lakers were struggling offensively

Yes, Steve Nash isn't yet comfortable. Yes, they turn the ball over at almost absurd rates. But, really, the Lakers haven't lost in the early going because of the offense. They entered tonight's game in Utah well into the top-10 in efficiency. The defense, meanwhile, has been a major drag. Anyone unsure of the distinction got a taste Wednesday night. The Lakers shot 34 percent as a team and didn't crack the 80-point barrier until late in the fourth quarter. They scored 17 points in the first and 16 in the third. Steve Blake and Metta World Peace combined to miss seven of their first nine 3-point attempts, and as a team L.A. finished 4-of-23 from distance.

And, as is their custom, the Lakers were far too generous, with 18 turnovers on the night, including six from Kobe Bryant. Pau Gasol was a complete non-factor, scoring only five points on 2-of-9 shooting and lacking any push to the free throw line (only two attempts). Add in a weak night on the glass (stuck on five TRB's until late in the game, finishing with a soft seven) and it was a very poor evening for the Spaniard.

Dwight Howard was efficient enough (7-of-11, 19 points) and Kobe attacked relentlessly (17 FTA's), but overall the Lakers were too flat, too frequently, and paid for it.

The Lakers need to stop whining

In the first half, Howard thought he was fouled by Utah's Enis Kanter and stopped to complain about the no-call. Kanter, meanwhile, hauled down the floor and scored. Howard never entered the frame. In the second half, Kobe thought he was hacked, assumed a foul and, once again, the Lakers were burned in transition . But the worst was when both Kobe and Gasol were late getting back because Pau stopped to watch Kobe complaining about contact uncalled. Maybe Gasol anticipated a whistle, but c'mon, man. Get back.

As a rule, the Lakers allow this sort of thing to happen far too often, especially for a team operating without much margin for error. It's something Mike Brown has talked about now for over a season, but hasn't managed to fix. Moreover, the Lakers didn't have sustained energy, or show the requisite amount of mental strength. Utah was quicker to seemingly every loose ball. At one point, off a dead ball under the Utah bucket, the Lakers were beat in transition.

Off a dead ball! Against good teams -- Utah made the playoffs last season and has a chance to improve this year -- this sort of laziness will almost always be punished.

(Read full post)

World Peace adding extra duties at backup SG

November, 7, 2012
11/07/12
2:57
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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SALT LAKE CITY -- For Lakers fans clamoring for benched sharpshooter Jodie Meeks to get some burn behind Kobe Bryant as the backup shooting guard, try this one on for size.

Lakers coach Mike Brown is experimenting with Metta World Peace, a guy who has shot less than 40 percent from the field each of the last two seasons, to help fill that role.

"I just felt I that trying to bring another starter back with the second unit would help us out, so that's all I'm doing in a nutshell," Brown said after Lakers shootaround Wednesday as they prepared to play the Utah Jazz. "I like to stay big also."

This isn't a demotion for World Peace. He'll continue to start at small forward. It's actually more of a promotion. Brown has been so impressed by what he's seen out of World Peace in the early going that he wants to give him more time on the court.

World Peace averaged just 26.7 minutes per game last season after he came into camp severely out of shape following the NBA lockout. He was also dealing with a complicated lower-back issue.

He's up to 34.5 minutes so far this season and it's paid off in his production as his points (7.7 to 9.8 per game), rebounds (3.4 to 4.3) assists (2.2 to 3.3) and steals (1.1 to 1.8) are all up, as is his shooting accuracy (39.4 to 44.1 percent).

"He’s in shape," Brown said. "I think he can play those types of minutes -- the low to mid-30s -- on any given night."

World Peace had a breakout game against the Detroit Pistons, putting up 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting in the Lakers' first win of the season.

"Against Detroit he was just the recipient of other guys getting paid attention to," Brown said. "He got swing (pass), (followed by) swing (pass) 3s or kickout 3s. That's something he'll be able to continue to do and when he's at the two, we may post him some. It just takes time for us and for him to get a feel of what he can and should do out on the floor."

While Brown detailed how World Peace can be ideally used on offense as a spot-up shooter with the starters and a featured post player with the substitutes, Kobe Bryant said World Peace's defensive presence is what can really bolster the bench group.

"Metta's intensity really changes the momentum of the game when he's able to get out there and get deflections and get steals," Bryant said. "It brings a physicality to that second unit."

Bryant said World Peace is in the best shape of his life "by far" -- comparable to his days with the Indiana Pacers -- and that his energy has increased.

"He can play harder for longer stretches," Bryant said.

Which means there will be shorter stretches available for Meeks and the current backup shooting guard, Devin Ebanks, for the foreseeable future.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

The Forum: First week impressions

November, 7, 2012
11/07/12
7:48
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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The Lakers' season has, to put it mildly, gotten off to a rocky start. Has this changed our perception of a team penciled in by many -- us included -- as potential champions in 2013? We discuss.

 

PodKast: Lakers-Clippers preview

November, 2, 2012
11/02/12
12:14
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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With the Lakers 0-2 heading into tonight's action against the Clippers and Steve Nash looking doubtful to suit up, has this season's first crosstown battle lost some of the juice? Not from where I'm sitting. Regardless of Nash's participation, this is a matchup between two teams with similar postseason aspirations, new faces still seeking their proper fit and a palpable mutual distaste. Those ingredients always carry the potential for compelling basketball. Plus, perhaps a date with their Staples Center roommates can summon a focus and energy necessary for the Lakers to offset their early-season confusion and finally get off the schneid. Or they rack up a third loss in as many tries and hysteria continues.

Either way, I know I'll be watching.

For more perspective on the Clips, I was joined by Kevin Arnovitz and Jordan Heimer, who co-host ESPNLA's Clippers podcast. The show can be heard by clicking on the module and a breakdown of talking points can be found below:



Play Download

- (2:25): Arnovitz and Heimer share impressions of the Clippers after eight preseason games and Wednesday's regular season victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. (On a side note, those two teams should be required to play each other at least once a week.) In a nutshell, both like how the Clips are developing, and the potential impact of the new faces. The latter factor only reinforces the culture created by "General Manager" Chris Paul.

- (8:15): Former Laker Lamar Odom arrived for his second tour of duty with the Clippers in shape, but unfortunately, the shape would best be described as "round." Considering LO is coming off by far the worst season of his career, the lack of conditioning raised red flags. How has Odom fit in with the second unit?

- (11:10): In addition to LO, the Clippers offseason acquisitions included Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Grant Hill, Ronny Turiaf and Willie Green. How does their second unit stack up against the Lakers' reserves? Who's the better center between Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard to anchor that crew?

- (20:10): Obviously, the biggest issue plaguing the Lakers' during two season opening losses hasn't been the offensive approach, but rather defense and turnovers. By far. However, this goal of meshing Nash's (not to mention Howard's) pick-and-roll skills with the Princeton's motion-based principles is one I find fascinating on a philosophical level. The question to me isn't so much whether or not this plan can work, but rather if it's truly worth a likely 2-3 months spent trying. Arnovitz and Heimer weigh in.

- (31:50): Which are the most intriguing matchups in this game? Arnovitz chooses Blake Griffin (on defense) vs. Gasol (on offense). Heimer is interested in to see how the Laker perimeter players can check their Clipper counterparts. I'm curious to see how much DeAndre Jordan can make Howard work on both ends of the floor.

Also, Arnovitz expresses dismay at the notion of Antawn Jamison playing small forward, considering he can't even guard power forwards. And no matter whether he plays the 3 or 4, dude needs to start shooting more.

- (38:45): Who has better offensive game between Howard vs. Andrew Bynum? Plus, a salute to Drew's Philadelphia hair, which is just fantastic!

- (40:20): Predictions!

The Forum with Chris Duhon: The bench

October, 26, 2012
10/26/12
10:43
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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For the Lakers to make a legitimate championship run, the reserves will have to perform considerably better than last season, when they were the least productive bench in the entire league. Will that happen? We ask a member of the second unit, Chris Duhon.

Rapid Reaction: Clippers 97, Lakers 91

October, 24, 2012
10/24/12
10:37
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- No Kobe Bryant, no Dwight Howard, no Chris Paul, Grant Hill, Lamar Odom, or Jamal Crawford.

Fair to say much of the starch in Wednesday's preseason battle between the Clippers and Lakers was removed long before the tip. Still, as you'd expect in any matchup between L.A.'s teams, it was a spirited 48 minutes. In the end, the Lakers kept their preseason winless streak intact, falling 97-91.

They now have one more shot at avoiding a winless slate of pretend games, Thursday night in San Diego against Sacramento. Here are four takeaways:

1. Jordan Hill makes a big difference.

They might have been down Howard and Kobe, but the Lakers' bench received a badly needed boost with the return of Jordan Hill, who had been out since the preseason opener while rehabbing a herniated disc. He shook off the rust and showed the sort of energy that made him such a key player down the stretch last season, grabbing 5 rebounds (2 offensive) in 13 first-half minutes. He also flashed a little range on the jumper, something he worked on through the summer. It wasn't all MoonPies and cotton candy. There were some questionable choices defensively, wobbly passing (one of which sent the Clips the other way for easy points) and confusion in the offense. All to be expected, though. Overall, it was a solid effort coming off a long layoff. He finished with 12 points and 8 rebounds in 26 minutes.

(Read full post)

Lakers at Clippers: What can we learn?

October, 24, 2012
10/24/12
9:51
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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As a rule of thumb, preseason games aren't used to predict regular season and playoff success. A strong October forecasts little about April-June, just as a weak October doesn't mean a struggle awaits. (Except in the case of the Bobcats, whose current 1-5 clip is likely a solid indicator of what lies ahead). Beyond rust gathered by months away from meaningful basketball, any extenuating circumstances render training camp results even fuzzier. For example, if a team is integrating new faces and/or a new system, confusion is expected. One can only glean so much information from a squad bit early by the injury bug. And should veteran players sit out games as a precautionary measure against "you name it," the final score can be tossed out the window.

In other words, the preseason hasn't really taught us much about the Lakers.

Today's game against the Clippers may not buck that trend. Kobe Bryant is likely to sit out the action with a foot injury, and Dwight Howard will be a game-time decision due to lingering soreness after his debut Sunday. Yet another game without the starting five intact, and the same may hold true for the Clips' first five as well. Whatever comes from this contest, it's unlikely to reveal much about the championship prospects for the new-look Lakers. That said, a handful of specifics could be revealed, even with incomplete rosters on both sides. Here are five things we might learn about the Lakers tonight.

1) Who's got the edge at backup shooting guard?
For those seeking silver-ish linings to Kobe being sidelined, at least Mike Brown will get the rare opportunity to see Devin Ebanks and Jodie Meeks in extended minutes at shooting guard, where he's earmarked both to play with a full roster. As the coach explained during Monday's practice, in a perfect world, he'll employ a big man rotation of Howard, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill, with Antawn Jamison the primary backup at small forward behind Metta World Peace. This leaves Ebanks and Meeks penciled in for Kobe's leftovers. Unfortunately, Hill's absence has forced Brown to slide Jamison to the 4, Ebanks to the 3 and clarity to the side.

With Hill potentially on hand for a big man rotation with Gasol and Robert Sacre tonight, Brown can perhaps watch Ebanks and Meeks in his preferred spot. Brown has been complimentary of both, but their skill sets are fairly different and equally useful. Ebanks is more of a slasher, with a higher upside as a rebounder, defender and general athlete. Meeks is the more proven shooter, and this team desperately needs floor spreaders. Talking with the coach Monday, he didn't tip his hand much about the direction he's headed, but acknowledged the small sample size for making a decision. Perhaps this game can narrow down his decision.

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The Forum: Preseason concerns

October, 19, 2012
10/19/12
7:01
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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The Lakers' 0-4 preseason record is arguably meaningless, but Dwight Howard has yet to play and Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill have missed games, which interrupts continuity and muddies the picture for Mike Brown while creating a rotation. Thus far, have the Lakers gotten what's needed from the preseason? Along with ESPNLA 710's Drew Belzer, we discuss the question.video

Rapid Reaction: Jazz 114, Lakers 80

October, 16, 2012
10/16/12
9:44
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Preseason games are rarely enticing, but they don't necessarily have to be this ugly. Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers, light on stars, were again waxed by the Utah Jazz, 114-80. Their preseason record stands now at 0-4 heading into Friday's game in Vegas (baby!).

Here are five takeaways:

1. Game play has offered few clues to how this whole thing will work.

Dwight Howard has yet to suit up. Jordan Hill is on the shelf. Kobe Bryant has missed a game. Tuesday, it was Pau Gasol's turn to observe in street clothes, as coach Mike Brown gave him the night off. These aren't peripheral players we're talking about, here. No surprise, then, to see the quality of play ebb and flow, whether in the starting lineup or among the reserves. Tonight's first five -- Bryant, Steve Nash, Robert Sacre, Antawn Jamison, and Metta World Peace -- led a first quarter in which L.A. scored a mere 15 points, on 4-for-15 shooting from the field. Even Kobe and Nash weren't on the same page. Late in the first, Kobe cut back door when Nash expected him to pop out high on the wing. Turnover. (The Lakers compounded the error by not getting back in transition, giving up a bucket sure to tick off Brown when the game film is reviewed. For that matter, the defensive effort as a whole, particularly in transition, was shoddy.)

The second quarter (and beyond) featured too many players who won't make the regular-season media guide to glean heaps of meaning. Nash didn't play after the first quarter, and so on.

The important thing is how the Lakers are able to practice, because that's where the real work of training camp gets done. In that regard, they're fine. Everyone (save Hill) has been on the floor consistently and with little restriction. Still, it can be argued actual game play hasn't offered a whole lot of clues as to what the Lakers will look like when the real games start.

2. Jamison still hasn't found the range.

There were positive signs Saturday, when Jamison canned a couple of jumpers and finished a well-executed set baseline inbounds play at the rack. Still, he entered Tuesday's game a paltry 6-of-18 from the field, and didn't do himself many favors in Anaheim. He turned an on-time, on-target feed from Nash into a first-quarter 3-pointer, but it was Jamison's only bucket among his first five attempts. His sixth, a hurried shot at the end of the clock, went off the front rim. Finally, he put one in off a nice feed inside from Bryant. In the second half, he missed each of his four attempts. Final line, 2-for-11, seven points.

He'll be fine, but for the time being Jamison isn't looking good.

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Rapid Reaction: Jazz 99, Lakers 86

October, 13, 2012
10/13/12
10:26
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
LOS ANGELES -- For those concerned about such things, the Los Angeles Lakers remain winless in the preseason, as the Utah Jazz outscored them by 24 points in the second half Saturday at Staples and won going away, 99-86. So there are kinks to work out, but this is as good a time as any to remind folks that the actual score of games featuring players who won't actually be on the team at the end of the month aren't all that important.

Here are five takeaways.

1. Robert Sacre wants to be on the Lakers.

You'd expect any 60th pick to work his tail off in any preseason burn, because that's what 60th picks are supposed to do. Sacre definitely does just that, and over 27 minutes Saturday it paid off in the form of 10 rebounds, including five on the offensive end. He hit the floor in pursuit of loose balls (it's a long way to the ground for a 7-footer), and did his best getting up and down the floor. But Sacre isn't just hustle, the activity comes with purpose. On multiple occasions he went high on the perimeter defensively in pick-and-roll coverage, and rotated well defending the basket, including a Sacreblock! (patent pending) on Al Jefferson in the third quarter. Offensively, when he rolled to the bucket on P-n-R sets, he did so assertively, and also tossed in some nice post moves on the block.

He still has plenty to learn -- avoiding fouls (he picked up his sixth with 10:22 left in the fourth) and playing defense while staying on the floor, for example -- but overall Sacre looked like a guy who belongs in the NBA. Whether it's with the Lakers remains to be seen, but he's certainly not hurting his chances. Nine points, 10 rebounds, three blocks.

2. Kobe Bryant went hard, particularly early.

Perhaps it was a matter of using up all the energy left over from sitting Wednesday's game in Ontario? But from the jump, Kobe was playing with a level of oomph not typically seen in the preseason, translating into an impressive floor game. There was the highlight reel no-look pass through his legs to Pau Gasol on the break in the first quarter, and an almost equally slick feed to Antawn Jamison from the right baseline to the left in the second. He grabbed seven rebounds, three offensive, and lived at the rim earning 12 free throws, making 11. Defensively, he had two steals and a block. Final line: 25 minutes, 18 points (12-for-14 from the line), eight rebounds, five assists.

3. Not a great night for Gasol.

Five times he turned the ball over, three times he had his shot blocked, and for most of his 27:44 didn't look particularly comfortable.

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SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0