Los Angeles Lakers: Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Lakers 119, Jazz 104

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14
8:32
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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SALT LAKE CITY -- Not that it should be much of a surprise by now, but the Los Angeles Lakers proved on Monday that they just couldn't get things right this season.

When they needed to win in the early part of the season, they were terrible at it, becoming the first team in the league to be eliminated from postseason contention with 16 games left to play.

When they needed to lose late in order to help their draft standing, they proved equally bad, pulling out spoiler wins against the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks to hurt those team's playoff chances.

Nothing summed up the backward season more than what happened in Salt Lake City, however. The Lakers were up against a Utah Jazz team they will be battling for ping-pong positioning next month and, all of the sudden, they looked like world beaters.

There was Nick Young making seemingly everything he put up there, setting a season high with 41 points.

There was Jordan Hill causing fans to once again scratch their heads and wonder why he ever fell out of the rotation, scoring 21 points on 10-for-13 shooting.

There was Jodie Meeks playing like the true professional he's groomed himself to be, dropping in 23 points of his own.

There was Kendall Marshall dishing out 15 assists and giving the team something to think about when it comes to making him an offer this offseason.

But through it all, there was the Lakers' draft chances for next season taking a hit, which is really what matters at this point.

How it happened: The Lakers fell down by as many as 13 points in the first half, but used a 19-2 run to close out the second quarter to take a 57-51 lead into intermission. The Jazz tied it back up 86-86 heading into the fourth. L.A. blew Utah's doors off in the final frame, with Young scoring 17 points in the quarter.

What it means: The Lakers promised they hadn't given up on things and were playing for each other, and for pride. Apparently they weren't lying.

Hits: The Lakers shot 54.9 percent as a team.

Misses: The Lakers' lottery positioning took a hit on Monday as L.A. could have vaulted below Utah to the No. 5 spot, but instead pretty much cemented its place at No. 6.

Stat of the game: 18. The Jazz had 18 turnovers leading to 29 points for the Lakers.

Up next: There's just one game left in this forgettable season for the Lakers. They travel to Texas to play the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday in a game where Gregg Popovich is sure to rest his key players -- with the No. 1 record in the league and home court throughout the playoffs already locked up for the silver and black.

Rapid Reaction: Warriors 112, Lakers 95

April, 11, 2014
Apr 11
10:02
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Steve Blake was back in town to play his former team and was asked before the game if there was any commonality he could come up with to explain how the down-on-their-luck Lakers actually managed to beat a handful of playoff-bound opponents this season.

Blake pointed to L.A.'s outside shooting as the great equalizer, no doubt remembering how his dagger 3 before being traded to the Golden State Warriors led the Lakers to a road win in Houston early in the season.

Come game time, Blake showed off his personal shooting ability by scoring 13 points and making five of his nine shots off the bench.

The Lakers? Not so much.

L.A. shot just 35-for-89 as a team (39.3 percent).

There was no upset in the cards on this night.

How it happened: A game after being outscored by 20 points in the third quarter against the Houston Rockets to blow their chance of a victory, it was the second quarter that did the Lakers in Friday. The Warriors outscored the Lakers 32-17 in the second, shooting 13-for-21 as a team (61.9 percent) compared to 8-for-24 for L.A. (33.3 percent). Golden State pushed its lead to as many as 21 in the fourth before settling on the 17-point win.

What it means: The Warriors are a team playing for something. The Lakers aren't. Not much more to it than that.

Hits: Nick Young went on a personal 7-0 run as part of a 14-point fourth quarter, finishing with a team-high 25 points off the bench.

Jordan Hill (18 points, 12 rebounds) and Ryan Kelly (14 points, 11 rebounds) both chipped in with double-doubles.

Misses: With 30 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, Stephen Curry became the first Warriors player since Wilt Chamberlain in 1962-63 with four triple-doubles in a season. Chamberlain had five that season.

Blake's 13 points set a new season high for him with Golden State and matched the total he'd scored in his past eight games combined (going 5-for-17 in those games).

Jodie Meeks shot just 2-for-12.

L.A. was outscored 46-32 in the paint.

Stat of the game: 11. The Warriors snapped an 11-game losing streak against the Lakers at Staples Center, where the Lakers had also beaten them in 20 out of 21 games overall.

Up next: And then there were three. The Lakers play their final home game of the season Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies and then go on the road to play the Utah Jazz on Monday and San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday to wrap things up.

Rapid Reaction: Rockets 145, Lakers 130

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
10:30
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Dwight Howard missed his sixth straight game Tuesday because of a left ankle injury. Kobe Bryant missed his 53rd in a row because of his left knee.

That reunion between the former testy teammates will have to wait until next season.

Much like Los Angeles Lakers fans are left waiting until next season for a lot of things.

A healthy roster? An impressive draft prospect? A new coach? It all remains to be seen.

One thing is for sure, this season's squad set the bar low. The 2014-15 edition won't have to do much to clear it to show improvement.

The Lakers' loss on Tuesday was their 53rd of the season, setting a new mark for losses in a season since the team moved to L.A. and tying the 1957-58 Minneapolis Lakers (19-53) for most losses in a season in franchise history.

How it happened: The Houston Rockets turned a five-point halftime lead into another blowout loss for the Lakers, starting off the third quarter 5-for-5 on 3-pointers (and ending the period 7-for-10 from deep) to take a 25-point lead into the fourth.

What it means: If it looked as though the Lakers didn't have anything left to play for Sunday when they were trampled by the Los Angeles Clippers, Tuesday's game only confirmed it. They are dead men walking out there.

Hits: With five assists in the first half, Steve Nash passed Mark Jackson for No. 3 on the all-time assists list, bringing his career total to 10,335.

Jodie Meeks had another big night for L.A. with 32 points on 12-for-21 shooting along with five assists.

After twisting his bum left knee in the Lakers' previous game, Nick Young came off the bench to tie Meeks for the team lead with 32 points on 11-for-19 shooting, including a 6-for-10 mark from deep.

Ryan Kelly had 18 points. Jordan Farmar, in his first game back from a right groin injury, had 15 points and eight assists off the bench.

Misses: The Lakers allowed the Rockets to score a season high for an opponent with 145 points on 57.7 percent shooting as a team.

Terrence Jones, who left the game early because of a left leg injury, and James Harden, scored 33 points apiece, shooting a combined 23-for-33. Harden also had 12 assists.

Stat of the game: 49. The Rockets scored 49 points in the third quarter, outpacing L.A. by 20 points in the period as they shot 18-for-24 (75 percent) as a team.

Up next: There are only four games left in the season for the Lakers -- two at home and two away -- starting Friday against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center.

Rapid Reaction: Clippers 120, Lakers 97

April, 6, 2014
Apr 6
3:34
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- On a day when the Los Angeles Lakers picked up their 52nd loss of the season to tie the 1974-75 squad for the most defeats in a single season in franchise history, the way it went down was wholly appropriate with the rest of their crummy campaign.

Their foe, the Los Angeles Clippers, thoroughly outclassed them for the third straight game, shooting 56.6 percent from the field.

Meanwhile, in what's become a recurring nightmare for the Lakers, their players couldn't stay healthy. Kent Bazemore went down in the second quarter because of a sprained right foot and did not return. Nick Young tweaked his left knee in the third quarter and had to get treatment on the bench before limping around in meaningless minutes in what had already became a blowout in the fourth quarter.

Oh, and this is about the time to mention that the Lakers came into the game with only nine healthy players to begin with.

There was nothing particularly painful about Sunday's loss, other than the actual pain from those injuries. It was just another example of a superior opponent taking care of business and the Lakers wishing for it to end.

How it happened: The Lakers kept things relatively close in the first half, trailing 57-49 at intermission, but the Clippers used a 37-23 third quarter to blow things wide open. It was already garbage time by the start of the fourth.

What it means: Mike D'Antoni pretty much conceded the game before it even started, admitting during his pregame remarks, "They know they're up against a mountain today." The Lakers didn't fare too well in climbing it.

Hits: Jordan Hill had 22 points and nine rebounds.

Jodie Meeks kept up his consistent scoring, dropping in 17 points.

Kendall Marshall had a double-double with 10 points and 11 assists, and Robert Sacre neared one with nine points and 10 rebounds.

Young scored 18 points off the bench.

After being the last Lakers player to check into the game with only a couple of minutes left in the fourth quarter, MarShon Brooks immediately nailed a 3.

Misses: The Lakers were outscored 27-13 in fast-break points.

Stat of the game: 52.9. That's what the Clippers shot on 3-pointers, going 10-for-19 from deep.

Up next: The Lakers have five games left on the schedule, starting Tuesday against the Houston Rockets in a game that Dwight Howard may not play in because of a sore left ankle.

Rapid Reaction: Mavericks 107, Lakers 95

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
9:58
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- The Dallas Mavericks came into Staples Center fighting for their playoff lives Friday. The Los Angeles Lakers haven't had anything meaningful to play for as a collective in weeks.

It showed for both teams.

While the Lakers were without their former champions in Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, the Mavs had their tried-and-true front man, Dirk Nowitzki, leading the way. Nowitzki scored 27 points to go with nine rebounds and five assists and passed Dominique Wilkins for No. 11 on the NBA's all-time scoring list in the process.

How it happened: The Player Haters Ball was back in session, for a half at least. The Lakers took a 54-52 lead into intermission and trailed by only four at the start of the fourth, but the Mavericks used an 11-3 run to open up the final period and secured the victory from there.

What it means: While there hasn't been any overt quit in these Lakers, with only six games left in the regular season and injuries continuing to mount (Xavier Henry was ruled out for the rest of the season Friday), you have to wonder how much fight they'll have left in them to pull out any wins down the stretch.

Hits: Jodie Meeks continued to show why he should be considered the Lakers' MVP this season, scoring 25 points on 10-for-17 shooting.

Jordan Hill had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Nick Young scored 14 points in 20 minutes off the bench.

Wesley Johnson had 11 rebounds.

Misses: Young came down awkwardly and suffered a mild right ankle sprain after grabbing a defensive rebound with 7:04 left and did not return.

Brandan Wright scored 23 points on 10-for-10 shooting for Dallas.

The Mavs outrebounded L.A. 52-38 and outscored the Lakers 64-44 in the paint.

Stat of the game: 5. After Steve Nash turned in a four-point, seven-assist performance in 18 minutes against the Mavs, he stands only five assists away from passing Mark Jackson for No. 3 on the NBA's all-time assist list.

Up next: The Lakers play a "road" game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. The Clippers have won 17 of their last 20 games and beat the Lakers by 48 points the last time the teams played. It could be a rough one.

Rapid Reaction: Kings 107, Lakers 102

April, 2, 2014
Apr 2
9:37
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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SACRAMENTO -- In a clash between the NBA's seventh-worst and sixth-worst teams, the Los Angeles Lakers came away as losers against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.

However, in the upside-down world occupied by these franchises prepping for the draft lottery, it means the Lakers were actually winners. They maintained their spot ahead of the Kings when it comes to potential pingpong ball positioning.

The Sacramento fans seemed to enjoy it nonetheless, breaking out a "Beat L.A." chant in the fourth quarter, no matter if their team was also beating its own lottery chances.

With both Pau Gasol (vertigo) and Chris Kaman (right calf strain) out of the lineup a night after the Lakers went with the twin towers in the starting lineup, coach Mike D'Antoni was forced to take another approach.

"We got to spread the floor, get out and run a little bit and just play very intensely with reckless abandon and see what happens," D'Antoni said before the game.

What happened was the Lakers losing for the 50th time in 75 games this season and a continued abandonment of any semblance of winning basketball.

How it happened: After trailing by as many as 12 in the first half, the Lakers came out of intermission on an 11-4 run to draw to within 64-63. The spurt was short-lived, however, as the Kings pushed their lead back up to 11 heading into the fourth. Wesley Johnson's tip-in with 1:04 remaining cut the Kings lead down to just three, but that was the closest the Lakers would get.

What it means: The Lakers came in with only nine healthy bodies -- no Kobe Bryant, no Gasol, no Steve Nash, no Kaman, no Jordan Farmar, no Xavier Henry -- and it showed. L.A. has done its best to bounce back from an assortment of injuries all season long, but the combination of the second night of a back-to-back, on the road, with so many guys missing this late in the season is not just something you easily overcome.

Hits: Jodie Meeks got back on track with 21 points.

Johnson had 12 rebounds and Kendall Marshall picked up 10 assists.

Kent Bazemore filled the stat sheet with 14 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals.

Jordan Hill, a day after picking up a DNP-CD, had 18 points and 15 rebounds.

Bryan Cranston, aka Walter White of "Breaking Bad," was sitting courtside.

Misses: The Lakers made rookie Ray McCallum look like an All-Star, as the smooth-shooting guard went off for a career-high 27 points to go with five assists.

Rudy Gay scored 31 and DeMarcus Cousins scored 20 to go with 10 rebounds for the Kings.

Young followed up his 40 points with 17 on 6-for-17 shooting, also picking up a technical foul.

Stat of the game: 7. Young increased his franchise record for most four-point plays in a season by hitting his seventh of the year when he got Cousins to foul him on his follow through in the first half.

Up next: The Lakers are off Thursday before hosting the Dallas Mavericks on Friday as they continue to count down the final games left on their regular-season schedule. The Mavs will come in with plenty to play for, as they're in the hunt for one of the final two playoff spots in the West.

Rapid Reaction: Blazers 124, Lakers 112

April, 1, 2014
Apr 1
10:27
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Nick Young did his best to keep the Los Angeles Lakers' "Player-Haters Ball" going for another night.

But it turns out the purple and gold's spoiler party was short-lived.

Young started the game 8-for-8 from the field and finished with a season-high 40 points, but the Lakers were unable to replicate the beating they gave the surging Phoenix Suns on Sunday or the tough time they gave the Trail Blazers a couple of weeks ago in Portland.

While Young did his part on his own, going 15-for-26 overall, it was no match for Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge (31 points, 15 rebounds, six assists) and Damian Lillard (34 points, eight assists), who made the Lakers pay from both inside and out.

How it happened: The Lakers trailed by as many as nine in the first quarter but pulled to within two, 63-61 at the half. It was a different story after intermission as the Blazers built an eight-point lead heading into the fourth quarter and led by as many as 23 in the final period en route to a runaway victory.

What it means: So much for the power of that Pau Gasol-Chris Kaman starting lineup that Lakers fans have been clamoring for. Both Gasol (4-for-9, nine points) and Kaman (6-for-16, 12 points) looked out of sync offensively. Meanwhile, for all of that size, the Lakers were outscored 44-34 in the paint and the Lakers' twin towers combined for only 10 rebounds as L.A. was also beaten on the boards 50-45.

Hits: Steve Nash had 10 points and 10 assists off the bench.

Kent Bazemore scored 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting.

Misses: Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill were casualties of the rotation, both collecting DNP-CDs.

Meyers Leonard was called for a flagrant foul 2 for knocking Kendall Marshall to the floor with 36.9 seconds left. The good news is Young and Ryan Kelly immediately came to Marshall's defense.

Stat of the game: 33-2. That's how many different starting lineups the Lakers have used this season compared to the Blazers. In related news, Portland has nearly twice as many wins as L.A. does this season (49 to 25).

Up next: The Lakers travel to Sacramento for the second night of a back-to-back Wednesday. The Kings (26-48) are nearly as bad as L.A. is (25-49).

Rapid Reaction: Wolves 143, Lakers 107

March, 28, 2014
Mar 28
7:36
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Kobe Bryant has been active on social media lately, sending out a series of tweets in the last several days about his new sports drink business venture and clarifying his stance on the controversial Trayvon Martin case.

However, nowhere to be found in the flurry of tweets was any mention of the Lakers, or basketball, for that matter. Until Friday night, that is.



The Los Angeles Lakers were in the midst of being completely dominated by the Minnesota Timberwolves, and there was Bryant -- who did not attend the trip as he continues to rehabilitate his fractured left knee that shut down his season after only six games played -- checking in from afar.

It had been nearly three weeks since Bryant had made mention of the Lakers on his timeline. Not surprisingly, that tweet also was inspired by a poor effort -- the Lakers' 48-point loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on March 6, accounting for the largest margin of defeat in franchise history.



There was certainly more misery in Minnesota on Friday. And the only motivation seemingly left for this group is the fact that there's only 10 games left before the season ends.

How it happened: This one was over before it started. After dropping 47 points in the first quarter against the Lakers at Staples Center in November, Minnesota "only" scored 41 in the opening frame Friday, building a 17-point lead. The Wolves outscored L.A. 33-19 in the second quarter to take a 31-point lead into intermission. The Wolves cruised from there.

What it means: After L.A. dropped consecutive games to the worst team in the league in Milwaukee, then were embarrassed by Minnesota, that blowout win against the Knicks has proved to be a major aberration rather than a sign of improvement down the stretch.

Hits: Kent Bazemore, starting in place of Wesley Johnson, led L.A. with 21 points.

Robert Sacre had 14 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Steve Nash returned after sitting out three games because of nerve discomfort in his back and right hamstring to put up four points and six assists in 14 minutes.

Misses: The Wolves set a franchise record for shooting percentage in a game, connecting on 67.1 percent of their shots and eclipsing their previous mark of 64.2 percent.

The 143 points were a new season worst allowed for the Lakers and a franchise-best mark for the Wolves.

Stat of the game: 60-30. The Wolves doubled up on the Lakers with 4:45 remaining in the second quarter and would go on to push their lead up to as many as 41 in the fourth.

Up next: Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said "there's a chance" Pau Gasol could return to the lineup Sunday, when the Lakers host the surging Phoenix Suns (winners of five in a row). Gasol has missed the last three games because of vertigo symptoms. L.A. will have the day off Saturday, coming off the back-to-back.

Rapid Reaction: Bucks 108, Lakers 105

March, 27, 2014
Mar 27
7:44
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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MILWAUKEE -- The city of Milwaukee has not been good to Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni over the years.

His history with the place dates to November 1973 -- his rookie season with the Kansas City-Omaha Kings -- when he broke his hand in the first start of his career.

"Had to go to the hospital in my warm-ups, it wasn't good," D'Antoni said before the Los Angeles Lakers played the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center on Thursday. "Oscar Robertson broke it, so that's how it goes."

So much for the Big O. More like the Big Ouch for D'Antoni.

Then there was this season when Milwaukee most recently messed with the coach -- the Bucks' 94-79 beatdown of the Lakers on New Year's Eve.

At the time, D'Antoni declared it "rock bottom," as it marked the Lakers' sixth straight loss to drop them to 13-19.

Considering the Lakers have gone just 11-27 since then, Thursday's game against the Bucks gave D'Antoni a chance to revisit his remark.

"There's been a lot of rock bottoms," D'Antoni said shortly before tip-off. "That could be one. Yeah, that sounds good. I don't remember it. It feels like a lifetime ago."

Thursday felt more like déjà vu.

The Bucks came into the game losers of eight games in a row and 11 of their previous 12 overall.

But there's nothing like feeling good about yourself against the Lakers. At least this season, anyway.

And D'Antoni was left with some more Milwaukee memories he'd rather forget.

How it happened: The Lakers used a 19-4 run in the first quarter to erase an early eight-point deficit, but then found themselves down by double digits in the fourth quarter as Milwaukee (55.7 percent as a team) couldn't miss. L.A. didn't lay down, drawing to within three points with 16.7 seconds left after Nick Young hit his second 3-pointer in the game's final minutes. Zaza Pachulia scored a layup with 10.5 seconds left off of a well-executed inbounds play to push the Bucks back up by five. But Kent Bazemore followed with a difficult 3-pointer with 2.0 seconds left, bringing L.A. back within two. Ramon Sessions (remember him?) was fouled on the next possession, going 1-for-2 from the line with 0.6 seconds left, putting Milwaukee back up by three, setting up the final play of the game. After a timeout, Young couldn't get a handle on Jodie Meeks' pass and didn't get a chance to attempt a potentially tying 3 before the buzzer sounded.

What it means: Those Lakers fans worried about L.A.'s recent two-game win streak (including a rout of the New York Knicks) can rest easy. It was a "tank you very much" kind of a night for the Lakers, who fell to 24-47 with 11 games left to play and got back to their losing ways.

Hits: Hill led L.A. with 28 points on 13-for-17 shooting, matching his career high he set two games ago, and had 16 rebounds.

Meeks (10 points) extended his double-digit scoring streak to nine games.

After missing the team flight to Milwaukee because of personal reasons, Chris Kaman arrived on his own on a commercial flight, getting to the arena just before the tip. He finished with 13 points on 6-for-12 shooting.

Misses: The Lakers had 20 turnovers leading to 20 points for Milwaukee.

Xavier Henry shot just 2-for-8 and looked to be limping on his bum knee.

Pau Gasol (vertigo), Steve Nash (nerve root irritation), Jordan Farmar (groin) and, of course, Kobe Bryant (knee), did not play.

Stat of the game: 45. That's how many games under .500 the Bucks were coming into the game.

Up next: The Lakers head to Minnesota for the second night of a back-to-back Friday against the Timberwolves. The Wolves have dropped three of their past four games.

Rapid Reaction: Lakers 127, Knicks 96

March, 25, 2014
Mar 25
10:30
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- The last time Phil Jackson was in the building at Staples Center for a game, Kobe Bryant made of point of playing a "clean game" -- free of any turnovers, unnecessary dribbling or wasted motion -- to make his former coach proud.

The Los Angeles Lakers played a game so clean Tuesday you could eat off of the court, and there were plenty of things the purple and gold, minus Bryant of course, did to make a basketball purist like Jackson proud.

Too bad he now roots for the New York Knicks, whom the Lakers throttled 127-96.

Yes, a lot has changed since Jackson was merely a guest of fiancee Jeanie Buss at Staples last April when the Lakers retired Shaquille O'Neal's jersey.

Now, Jackson and Buss are presidents on opposing teams. And while both franchises certainly have their questions to be answered, Buss didn't just have the better seat than Jackson -- sitting in the second row instead of up in a skybox like him -- she also had the better team.

How it happened: After looking sluggish and out of sync in the first quarter, shooting only 5-for-18 as a team and trailing by eight, the Lakers caught fire. L.A. outscored New York 36-20 in the second quarter (shooting 15-for-20 as a team) and 51-31 in the third (shooting 19-for-26) to blow the doors off a Knicks team that came into the game having won eight of their previous nine games.

What it means: Maybe that goal set by Nick Young and Pau Gasol to avoid being the worst team in Lakers history has some credence to it. They now must finish 7-5 in their final 12 games to eclipse the 1974-75 squad's all-time mark of futility -- a 30-52 record.

Hits: Xavier Henry, playing in his first game since being diagnosed with a torn ligament in his left (shooting) wrist, scored a team-high 22 points off the bench on 8-for-11 shooting.

Nick Young had 20 points and Kent Bazemore had 18, helping L.A.'s substitutes outscore New York's reserves 82-21.

The Lakers shot 18-for-28 on 3-pointers (64.3 percent), coming one shy of the franchise record for most 3s made in a game, set earlier this season against Sacramento.

Chris Kaman, playing for the first time in 10 games, had 13 points and nine rebounds.

Misses: Steve Nash did not play for the second straight game because of nerve root irritation in his right hamstring and Gasol also sat out the game because of lingering effects from a bout with vertigo over the weekend.

Stat of the game: 51. The Lakers set a franchise record for points in a quarter, outscoring the Knicks 51-31 in the third. The previous high was 49 set twice, March 19, 1972, against Golden State and Nov. 23, 1966, against Chicago.

Up next: The Lakers have a good chance to achieve only their second three-game win streak of the season -- and their first since November -- when they travel to Milwaukee to play the lowly 13-58 Bucks on Thursday. They follow that up with the second night of a back-to-back Friday in Minnesota, when Lakers fans will be paying extra attention to a certain big man who plays for the Timberwolves.

Rapid Reaction: Lakers 103, Magic 94

March, 23, 2014
Mar 23
9:10
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- It was appropriate that the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic met on Sunday night during the finale of the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament.

The Magic came into Sunday owners of the third-worst record in the NBA. The Lakers came in with the fourth-worst. The scouting departments for both teams will be scouring the tourney with an extra-keen eye, hoping to unearth the right prospect to turn their respective teams around when June's NBA draft rolls around.

Orlando might have one of the top candidates for rookie of the year in Victor Oladipo (21 points, 10 assists, five rebounds) to build around already, but the Lakers showed they have a few pieces that they should seriously considering keeping around next season and beyond as they try to ascend back to contender status.

How it happened: The Lakers jumped out to a 14-4 lead, but Orlando crawled back to go up by 30-29 early in the second quarter. Again, L.A. stormed ahead by 15, before the Magic used an 8-0 run heading into halftime to pull to within seven. The Lakers' lead was down to only two after three quarters, with the Magic's Kyle O'Quinn (14 points on 7-for-10 shooting) and Tobias Harris (16 points on 7-for-14 shooting) leading the charge. With the game going back and forth for much of the fourth, Nick Young nailed a 3-pointer with 3:23 left to put L.A. up by seven. The Lakers controlled things from there.

What it means: This is one of those wins the Lakers could be kicking themselves about when the lottery order is set in a couple of months. However, it was Catch-22 territory for the team. The Lakers want to see this group of players win games so the front office can properly evaluate their talent in situations that count. At the same time, the future of the franchise could be drastically improved if the Lakers get their man with say, for instance, the third pick, instead of potentially missing him with the fourth.

Hits: Jordan Hill had perhaps his best game as a Laker with a career-high 28 points and 13 rebounds.

Young scored 26 points off the bench.

Jodie Meeks had a career-high six steals.

The Lakers ended their four-game losing streak.

L.A. also snapped its streak of giving up 110 points or more at eight games.

Misses: Steve Nash did not play because of nerve root irritation in his right hamstring and Pau Gasol left the game at halftime because of dizziness and nausea and did not return.

Stat of the game: 5. That's how many four-point plays Young's season total is up to after notching another one in the first half Sunday. Young already owned the franchise record for most four-point plays in a season. In the process he upped the Lakers' four-point plays as a team this season to eight, which is also a franchise record.

Up next: The Lakers host the suddenly surging New York Knicks on Tuesday. The game is sure to pack plenty of intrigue for Lakers fans with Phil Jackson potentially being in the building and also Carmelo Anthony, who could be a free agent target of the purple and gold this summer, on the court.

Rapid Reaction: Wizards 117, Lakers 107

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
10:12
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- A day after declaring their team goal to avoid becoming the worst squad in franchise history, the Los Angeles Lakers didn't look all that bad.

It wasn't a blowout like more and more of their losses had turned into lately.

And there was actually something for the fans to stand up and cheer about on a Friday night as Steve Nash, Nick Young and Jordan Hill all played for the first time since February.

And the Lakers actually performed well in two of their normal problem areas, keeping pace with the Wizards on the boards (44-44) and outscoring them 58-40 in the paint.

But as much as it was a pleasant surprise to see Nash rack up five points and 11 assists in 19 minutes, or a welcome return seeing Young score 21 points off the bench or watching Hill collect nine points and 14 rebounds, the Wizards proved quite simply to be the better team.

How it happened: The Wizards jumped out to an 11-point lead at the half with John Wall picking up nine of his 14 assists in the first two quarters. Washington's lead ballooned to 21 before Nash lead a surge by the Lakers to pull to within seven heading into the fourth. L.A. ran out of gas in the final period however as the playoff-bound Wizards made the lottery-bound Lakers look the team at the opposite end of the standings that they are.

What it means: With 14 games to go, it will be interesting to see how guys like Kent Bazemore (three points in 11 minutes) and MarShon Brooks (DNP-CD) respond to the new, healthy bodies added to the mix.

Hits: Jodie Meeks scored 21 points.

Xavier Henry scored 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting off the bench.

Pau Gasol had 14 points and 14 rebounds.

Misses: With the Wizards up by 10 with 2:14 to go, the game got ugly for a moment with Drew Gooden wrapping up Young's elbow and pulling it at an awkward angle. Young then pushed Gooden after he had fallen to the floor and Hill came to Young's defense when players started to crowd around Young and pushed Marcin Gortat out of the way before wrapping him up in a bear hug. Gooden was called for a flagrant-2 foul and ejected. Hill was T'd up and ejected. Young was also called for a technical foul. And it all had virtually no bearing on the outcome of the game.

Stat of the game: 21. The Lakers had 21 turnovers leading to 24 points for the Wizards.

Up next: L.A. finally gets a reprieve from its brutal schedule down the stretch with a date with the Orlando Magic (19-50) on Sunday.

Rapid Reaction: Spurs 125, Lakers 109

March, 19, 2014
Mar 19
10:17
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
LOS ANGELES -- After suffering a franchise-worst 34 point loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni dubbed the Spurs the best team L.A. had faced all season.

Then again, the Lakers were on the road and playing on the second night of a back-to-back and reeling from the news that both Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash would be out for the rest of the season.

With the setting shifting to Staples Center and the Lakers coming into Wednesday having had four days off without a game, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich predicted a change of events.

"It will be different tonight," Popovich said before tip-off.

It was and it wasn't.

The Lakers didn't suffer as embarrassing an outcome as they did in Texas, but the result was ultimately the same.

The Lakers lost again. The Spurs scored north of 115 points again while shooting in the mid 40 percent range on 3-pointers again.

L.A. did some things better -- namely closing the rebounding gap down to six, 52-46, after being outboarded 64-37 in San Antonio -- but for another night they were outclassed by a far superior opponent.

How it happened: The Spurs jumped out to an 11-point first-quarter lead, but the Lakers crawled back into it thanks to Xavier Henry scoring 19 of his 24 points in the first half. L.A. trailed by only five points heading into the fourth after taking a brief two-point lead, but the Spurs opened things up late, finishing with seven players in double figures, including all five starters.

What it means: There's 15 more games to go for the 22-45 Lakers. They gave an honest effort Wednesday. More of that and the final 15 might not be too painful.

Hits: Pau Gasol had 22 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

Ryan Kelly had 14 points and six boards and a nice coast-to-coast take.

Kendall Marshall found his shot, scoring 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting.

Robert Sacre grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds.

Misses: L.A. shot only 9-for-26 on 3-pointers (34.6 percent).

MarShon Brooks played only seven minutes, going 0-for-1.

Stat of the game: Kawhi Leonard had the line of the night with 22 points, 10 rebounds and four assists while shooting 8-for-12.

Up next: L.A. will host former Laker Trevor Ariza and the Washington Wizards on Friday. The Wizards have cooled as of late, losing three of their past five games but still feature one of the league's best young backcourts in John Wall and Bradley Beal.

Rapid Reaction: Lakers 114, Thunder 110

March, 9, 2014
Mar 9
3:50
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Turns out that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook aren't all that intimidating when you have Jodie Meeks on your side.

Meeks exploded for a career-high 42 points, and the same Los Angeles Lakers defense that had given up an average of 136 points in their last three games held the Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder to 26 points below that in the Lakers' most shocking win of the season.

It was appropriate that Meeks was the guy to lead the way. In a season marred by injuries and inconsistency, Meeks could be counted on all year, scoring in double digits in 51 of the 59 games he played in.

Sure, Durant and Westbrook combined for 47 points, but they shot just 15-for-42 compared to Meeks' 11-for-18.

How it happened: It looked like another long night for L.A. as it fell down by 18 points early, but the Lakers outscored the Thunder 36-19 in the third quarter (shooting 11-for-19) to get back in it. They rode that wave of momentum all the way to an 18-point fourth-quarter lead of their own before holding off a furious Thunder rally. Meeks ended up guarding Westbrook at the 3-point line with 33.7 seconds left when Westbrook air-balled a 3 that would have tied the game. Kent Bazemore tacked on two of his seven fourth-quarter points with a layup, and the Lakers held on.

What it means: That impressive road win in Portland last week was all but forgotten after the Los Angeles Clippers completely embarrassed the Lakers by 48 points. But Sunday's effort proved that this Lakers season isn't just going to spiral out of control over these final five weeks. There's too much pride in that locker room.

Hits: The Lakers shot 13-for-31 from 3 (41.9 percent).

Pau Gasol had 20 points and 11 rebounds.

Jordan Farmar scored 12 off the bench, going 3-for-4 from 3.

Ryan Kelly had a career-high eight assists.

Misses: The Lakers were outrebounded 59-36.

Stat of the game: 11. Meeks eclipsed his previous career high of 31 points by 11 points with 42.

Up next: The Lakers get a bit of a respite with no game until Thursday, when they travel to play Oklahoma City again, followed by the San Antonio Spurs on the road Friday.

Rapid Reaction: Nuggets 134, Lakers 126

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
8:39
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive


DENVER -- After suffering the most lopsided loss in the 67-year history of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise, coach Mike D'Antoni vowed for a change in Denver on Friday night.

"I expect a whole different team," D'Antoni said of his Lakers.

After giving up an average of 137 points in their past two home losses, turns out the only thing different about Friday was the venue.

For yet another night, the Lakers' defense proved to be about as effective as a screen door on a submarine.

Led by Ty Lawson's relentless drives and improved outside touch (the point guard had 30 points, 17 assists and shot 5-for-6 on 3-pointers), Denver did whatever it wanted to on offense and ran the Lakers off the floor.

Sure, the Lakers didn't allow the Nuggets to score 137 points, but 134 points got the job done just the same.

As disappointing as the 48-point drubbing on Thursday was, it could be accepted on some level because the Los Angeles Clippers are clearly a better team than the Lakers.

That's not the case with the Nuggets, however. Much like how the Lakers proved to be the salve that fixed the New Orleans Pelicans earlier in the week, playing sacrificial lamb to end Nola's eight-game losing streak, they also played Denver's doormat, as the Nuggets had lost 11 of 13 coming into Friday.

A popular question being asked after the Clippers game was whether the Lakers had already quit on the season with 20 games left. While the result against the Nuggets was discouraging, there was no evidence to suggest that the purple and gold are already packing it in.

There are too many individual agendas at stake. With a roster composed of 12 out of 15 players on expiring deals, there will be nights like the Nuggets game the rest of the season when a Ryan Kelly (24 points, 11 rebounds) or Xavier Henry (10 points, five rebounds, two steals) impresses, but it's just not going to translate to wins.

How it happened: Denver jumped out to a 12-point lead in the first quarter, setting the tone for another long night for L.A. The Lakers tried to get back into it in the second quarter with Jordan Farmar scoring eight of his 24 points in the period to draw L.A. within two at one point, but Denver used a 13-3 run to push the lead back to 11 at the half. The Nuggets went on to lead by as many as 23 in the second half as they coasted to victory.

What it means: For one, there is a reason Phil Jackson used to call games like Friday -- the second night of a back-to-back against a run-and-gun team -- a "scheduled loss." It wouldn't have mattered who was coaching the Lakers in a situation like this -- Jackson included -- the challenge the Nuggets presented was as tough as it gets in the NBA. In other words, an eight-point loss to the Nuggets, all things considered, is not a bad bounce-back effort from L.A.

Hits: Pau Gasol kept up his scoring ways, dropping in a team-high 27 points on 12-for-21 shooting.

Jodie Meeks scored 16.

Kendall Marshall broke out of his slump ever so slightly with eight points (on 3-for-9 shooting) and 16 assists.

Misses: As good as Lawson was, Kenneth Faried might have been even better, finishing with 32 points on 14-for-20 shooting and 13 rebounds.

The Lakers were outscored 64-50 in the paint by the Nuggets.

Stat of the game: 14-for-24. The Nuggets shot better from the 3-point line (58.3 percent) than they did on free throws, going 12-for-21 (57.1 percent).

Up next: What's the Lakers' reward after playing four games in five nights? How about a pair of games -- one at home Sunday, followed by one on the road Thursday -- against the No. 1 team in the Western Conference in the Oklahoma City Thunder? No rest for the weary.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 9.7
AssistsK. Marshall 8.8
StealsJ. Meeks 1.4
BlocksP. Gasol 1.5