Stats & Info: Los Angeles Lakers

Top stats to know: NBA Draft reaction

June, 27, 2014
Jun 27
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Getty ImagesAndrew Wiggins (center), Dante Exum (left) and Julius Randle all found NBA homes Thursday night.
After Andrew Wiggins joined Anthony Bennett in Cleveland (both the only Canadian-born players to be drafted first overall), the 2014 NBA Draft was only getting started.

Here's a look at some of the top stats and storylines from one of the most anticipated NBA Drafts in league history.

Parker, Embiid fill out Top 3

With Wiggins off the board, the Milwaukee Bucks selected Jabari Parker second overall. Parker was part of an elite group of freshmen to dominate both inside and out in college during the last 15 seasons.

The Philadelphia 76ers chose Joel Embiid with the third pick, giving Kansas as many top-three picks in this draft as it had in the rest of the common draft era combined (Danny Manning and Raef LaFrentz).

When healthy, Embiid, along with last year's lottery pick Nerlens Noel, should help a Sixers team that ranked 28th in the NBA in rebounding percentage last season. In his freshman season, Embiid led all Big-7 players with a 20.5 rebounding percentage.

Randle continues Kentucky tradition

From one storied program to another, former Kentucky standout Julius Randle was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the seventh pick in the first round.

After the Lakers finished last in the NBA in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentages, Randle will be expected to duplicate his double-double dominance from Day One.

Only Michael Beasley recorded more double-doubles in a freshman season than Julius Randle did last year.

Vonleh, McDermott stand out for Midwest

Noah Vonleh went to the Charlotte Hornets with the ninth selection. Vonleh led the Big Ten in field goal percentage (50 percent) on catch-and-shoot plays, ahead of Michigan's Nik Stauskas (minimum 25 plays).

This was the first time Indiana had top-10 picks in consecutive drafts since 1976-77.

Doug McDermott, who became the first Creighton player selected in the first round since Benoit Benjamin in 1985, continued the lottery legacy of Wooden Award winners.

Since 2005, every Wooden Award winner has been a lottery pick. The last winner to not go in the lottery was Jameer Nelson, who was drafted 20th overall in 2004.

UCLA trio pulls a first since 1979

The UCLA Bruins had three players selected in the first round of the NBA Draft for the first time since 1979.

Freshman point guard Zach LaVine was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the 13th pick. The Memphis Grizzlies turned some eyes by selecting Bruins shooting guard Jordan Adams with the 22nd selection. And sophomore point guard Kyle Anderson sealed the deal when he went to the San Antonio Spurs with the final pick of the first round.

Anderson is one of three players in the last 30 seasons to average at least 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a season , joining Memphis State's Anfernee Hardaway (1992-93) and Ohio State's Evan Turner (2009-10).

Fixing weaknesses for 7 teams in draft

June, 23, 2014
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Cleveland Cavaliers – Post presence
According to Synergy Sports Technology, the Cavaliers averaged 6.0 post-up points per game last season, 26th in the league. On the defensive end, they ranked second-to-last in blocks per game.

Best fit – Jabari Parker
In his only season at Duke, Parker averaged 3.6 post-up points per game, shooting 55.4 percent on such shots.

Milwaukee Bucks – Inside presence
The Bucks grabbed just 71.4 percent of available defensive rebounds in the regular season, ranking 29th in the league. The team also allowed 108.9 points per 100 possessions, which trailed only the Jazz for the worst defensive efficiency.

Best fit – Joel Embiid
By himself, Embiid rebounded 27 percent of opponent's missed shots when on the court, the highest rebound percentage in the Big 12.

Philadelphia 76ers – Overall efficiency
Philadelphia was outscored by 10.7 points per 100 possessions last season, the worst rate by any team since the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats.

Best fit – Andrew Wiggins
The 76ers ran 151 more plays in transition than any other team last season, but scored only 49 percent of the time (worst in NBA). Wiggins could thrive in this run-and-gun system and would raise the team's efficiency, as he scored on 69 percent of his transition plays in his only season at Kansas, the best individual rate in the Big 12.

Orlando Magic – Playmaking in transition
The Magic struggled on both ends in transition, ranking 29th in transition offensive efficiency and 27th in transition defensive efficiency.

Best fit – Dante Exum
Although Exum has not played in the United States, he showed off amazing speed and quickness at the NBA draft combine in May. His 10.75 seconds in lane agility and 3.19 seconds in the three-quarter court sprint ranked second and eighth (tie), respectively. The combined rank of his times was the second-fastest, trailing just Zach LaVine among 51 players who participated in both events.

Utah Jazz – Defensive presence
The Jazz ranked last in defensive efficiency and struggled to pressure the ball, ranking second-to-last in opponent turnover percentage.

Best fit – Marcus Smart
Smart was one of the best defenders in the college ranks last season, ranking top-10 nationally in opponent points per game (5.3) and opponent field goal percentage (27.6 percent). Smart also ranked third in the nation with 2.9 steals per game and had a 5 percent steal rate, seventh in the nation.

Boston Celtics – Inside offensive presence
The Celtics struggled with offensive efficiency and were especially poor in the paint, ranking 27th in paint points per game last season.

Best fit – Aaron Gordon
Although Gordon was a poor jump shooter, he did a lot of damage inside the paint when it mattered the most: the NCAA tournament. Of his 57 points during Arizona’s tournament run, he scored 42 points in the paint on 61.8 percent shooting.

Los Angeles Lakers – Rebounding
The Lakers were abysmal on the glass during the regular season, ranking last in offensive, defensive and total rebounding rate.

Best fit – Noah Vonleh
Vonleh led the Big Ten in rebounds per game last season and in defensive rebounding percentage, grabbing 27 percent of opponent's missed shots in his only season at Indiana.

Vonleh also has an added dimension as a smooth jump shooter. He shot 16-of-33 on 3-point attempts, which would have ranked eighth in the nation percentage-wise if he had qualified with enough attempts. He also led the Big Ten with a 50 percent catch-and-shoot field goal percentage (minimum 25 attempts), ahead of sharpshooters such as Nik Stauskas and Gary Harris.

Top stats to know: NBA draft lottery

May, 20, 2014
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The 2014 NBA draft lottery will be held tonight at Disney/ABC’s Times Square Studio in New York (7 ET on ESPN).

Who’s No. 1?
The Milwaukee Bucks have a 25 percent chance of winning the draft lottery, the best chance among the 13 teams.

Since the lottery moved to its present format in 1994, the team with (or tied for) the best odds has won three of the 20 lotteries – Philadelphia 76ers in 1996 (selected Allen Iverson); Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003 (selected LeBron James); and Orlando Magic in 2004 (picked Dwight Howard).

With that said, just who does win the lottery? Teams with the third- and fifth-best odds have won the draft lottery four times each. No team with the 10th- to 14th-best odds has ever won the lottery.

Lakers rare lottery appearance
The Los Angeles Lakers are participating in just their third lottery since it was first introduced in 1985. The team selected Eddie Jones 10th overall in 1994 and Andrew Bynum 10th overall in 2005.

No matter how the lottery shakes out, the Lakers are guaranteed to have a top-nine pick, the franchise's first single-digit pick since it selected James Worthy first overall in 1982. (Perhaps for good luck, Worthy will be representing the Lakers at the lottery this year.)

They have a 21.5 percent chance of jumping into the top three – and if that happens – it would be just the fourth time in the Common Draft era (since 1966) they’ve had a pick among the top three:

In 1975, L.A. selected Dave Meyers second overall after posting a 30-52 record. Just weeks later, in one of the most notable trades in NBA history, Meyers was packaged with Junior Bridgeman, Elmore Smith and Brian Winters for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Walt Wesley.

When the Lakers took Magic Johnson No. 1 overall in 1979, that pick was acquired in 1976 from the Jazz as compensation for when New Orleans signed veteran free agent Gail Goodrich.

In 1982, the Lakers were coming off a title when they selected James Worthy first overall after acquiring that pick from the Cavaliers in 1980.

Other team notes
• This is the Boston Celtics' 12th lottery pick all-time, but they have never picked No. 1 overall.

• Despite missing the playoffs, the New York Knicks do not have a first-round draft pick as a result of the 2011 Carmelo Anthony trade (they also do not have a second-round pick). The Knicks have selected only eight players in the past seven drafts.

• The Denver Nuggets will be making their first lottery pick since 2003, when they selected Carmelo Anthony No. 3 overall. The Nuggets have never selected first overall.

• The Sacramento Kings will make a lottery pick for the eighth straight year, the longest active streak.

Stat of the Lottery
The Lakers and Celtics are both guaranteed to have a single-digit pick in the 2014 NBA draft.

It will be the first time since 1966 that both franchises will have a single-digit pick in the same draft. The Lakers selected Jerry Chambers seventh overall while the Celtics took Jim Barnett with the eighth pick that year.

Should Lakers trade lottery pick for Love?

May, 19, 2014
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Tom Dahlin/NBAE/Getty ImagesHow would Kevin Love look in Lakers purple and gold next season?

Kevin Love reportedly made it clear to the Minnesota Timberwolves that he intends to become an unrestricted free agent next year and doesn’t want a contract extension with Minnesota, leaving the door open for a potential trade this offseason.

The Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks are reportedly among the potential trade destinations for Love.

Why do the Lakers make the most sense?

They’re the only one of these four teams under the projected salary cap this offseason, meaning they could provide salary cap relief for the Timberwolves without trading back equal salaries.

The Lakers also have a lottery pick currently slotted at No. 6, with a 21.5 percent chance to move into the top 3. The Warriors, Bulls and Knicks don’t have any draft picks this year currently slotted in the top 12.

The Lakers have only $34.1 million in guaranteed salary under contract next season as of now. The salary cap is expected to be $63.2 million next season.

Since the Lakers are so far under the cap, they could potentially trade for Love by just offering their lottery pick.

The Lakers have a 6.3 percent chance to win the NBA Draft Lottery and get the No. 1 pick. They have a 21.5 percent chance to get a top-3 pick. If they get a top-3 pick, they would then likely decide between Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Dante Exum and Julius Randle.

The Lakers have a short window to win with Kobe Bryant nearing the end of his career and having just two seasons left on his contract. Even if Wiggins, Parker, Embiid, Exum, or Randle make an immediate impact, trading for Love will likely give the Lakers a better chance to win right away.

Love had 14.3 win shares this season, easily a career high. He also set career highs in points per game, assists per game, 3-pointers made and player efficiency rating.

The most win shares by any rookie in the last 20 seasons was 12.8 by Tim Duncan in 1997-98. The most by any second-year player in the last 20 seasons was 14.3 by LeBron James in 2004-05.

Therefore, assuming Love is at least as productive as he was this season in each of the next two seasons, it would take a LeBron James-like player to even compare to Love in his first two seasons in the league.

Of course, there is also the money issue. Love will make $15.7 million next season and will likely make even more when he signs a new contract. The No. 1 pick will make no more than $5.5 million next season.

If the Lakers trade their lottery pick for Love, they would still be more than $13 million under the projected salary cap. However, with only three other players under contract as of now, that doesn’t mean they’ll have that much money to spend to fill out the roster and stay within the cap.

Future outlook: Knicks, Lakers, Celtics

April, 17, 2014
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This season marked the first time in NBA history that the Knicks, Lakers and Celtics all failed to make it to the postseason.

So where does each franchise go from here?

New York Knicks
The Knicks’ win percentage dropped from .659 last season to .451 in 2013-14.

They only have $31.8M in guaranteed contracts next season but that does not include Carmelo Anthony ($23.3M), Amar'e Stoudemire ($23.4M) or Andrea Bargnani ($11.5M). All 3 players have early-termination options (it’s the player’s option to opt out), but it's a virtual certainty that Stoudemire will remain with the Knicks as no team in the open market would pay anywhere near that number. Bargnani staying in New York seems highly likely as well.

If Carmelo leaves this summer, the Knicks would still likely be over the projected salary cap of $62.9M in 2014-15, but they likely wouldn’t be a taxpaying team.

The result? Their best tool would likely be the non-taxpayer mid-level exception. In 2014-15, that exception allows teams to sign any free agent to a contract with a starting salary up to $5.305M.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers’ .329 win percentage was their second worst in franchise history and worst since moving to Los Angeles. The Lakers’ 55 losses were their most in franchise history.

Mike D’Antoni's first full season as a NBA head coach came with the Phoenix Suns back in 2004-05. In four full seasons in Phoenix, he guided the team to a .707 win percentage and two Conference Finals appearances. In six combined seasons with the Knicks (four) and Lakers (two), he’s posted a .425 win percentage while failing to win a playoff game.

Kobe Bryant signed a two-year contract extension for $48.5M in November, maintaining his status of the highest-paid player in the league. This summer looms large for the Lakers, who currently have just three guaranteed contracts in 2014-15 for a total of $34.1M.

The projected salary cap for next season is $62.9M and the Lakers could gain around an additional $6.5M in space by using the stretch-provision on Steve Nash (he would be released and his $9.7M contract would be spread over three seasons).

Note: the only Lakers player that has a player option for next season is Nick Young ($1.2M).

Boston Celtics

The Celtics’ .305 win percentage was their third worst in a single season in franchise history.

The only other instance in which both the Celtics and Lakers missed the postseason in the same year came in 1993-94. Following that season was the only year in which both teams had lottery picks (the lottery era dates back to 1985; Celtics took Eric Montross ninth and the Lakers selected Eddie Jones tenth).

Looking ahead to the 2014 draft, the Celtics will have two first-round picks – their own lottery selection and the Nets (17th or 18th overall). it is important to note that Boston also receives a 1st-round pick in 2015 from Philadelphia should that pick fall outside of the lottery (15-30).

The Celtics have $44.7M in guaranteed contracts on the books for 2014-15. The projected salary cap line is $62.9M. While they will have a little wiggle room this offseason, it looks like Danny Ainge has his eyes set on the summer of 2015 as Gerald Wallace’s $10.1M contract is the only guaranteed money Boston has on its books in 2015-16. The only player that could bump that number up significantly is Jeff Green, who has a $9.2M player option in the final year of his contract.

Lakers show Thunder 18-point lead not safe

March, 9, 2014
Mar 9
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Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty ImagesJodie Meeks scored a career-high 42 points against the Thunder on Sunday in Los Angeles.
For the first time in nearly two years, the Oklahoma City Thunder wasted an 18-point lead.

Behind Jodie Meeks’ career-high 42 points, the Los Angeles Lakers dug out of a big first-half hole and beat the Thunder 114-110 on Sunday. The last time the Thunder had squandered an 18-point lead was April 22, 2012 – also against the Lakers, also in Los Angeles.

After Oklahoma City took a 46-28 lead with 7:39 left in the second quarter, the Lakers went on a 59-31 run through the end of the third quarter.

Quiet triple-double
Conspicuous by his absence during the Lakers’ run was Kevin Durant. He was 2-of-5 shooting for seven points from the Thunder’s high-water mark to the end of the third quarter, which ended with the Lakers leading 87-75.

Still, Durant finished with 27 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. It was his third triple-double this season, which equals the number he had in his first six seasons combined.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first time that the team with a conference’s worst record beat the team with that conference’s best record in March or later since April 18, 2001. In that instance, the Chicago Bulls (14-67) defeated the Philadelphia 76ers (56-25) in the final game of the season. NBA MVP Allen Iverson did not play.

Meeks in great company
The Lakers scored 15 points in transition – all by Meeks, who averaged 4.5 transition points entering the game. Meeks (11-of-18 from the field, 14-of-14 from the free-throw line) is the fourth Lakers player since the merger (1976-77) to score 40 or more points while shooting at least 10 free throws without a miss. The others are Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The Thunder entered Sunday’s game shooting 42.3 percent in isolation situations, the third-best percentage in the NBA. On Sunday, the Thunder struggled in isolation, shooting 14 percent (1-of-7).

The Thunder hadn't allowed a 40-point scorer in the first 61 games of the season. In the last two games, Gerald Green of Phoenix and Meeks each topped 40. The last time the Thunder/SuperSonics franchise allowed 40 points to players in back-to-back games was December 2000: Antawn Jamison of Golden State (51) and Jerry Stackhouse of Detroit (41).

US PresswireChris Paul (right) and Blake Griffin led the Clippers to an historic blowout of the Lakers.
The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, 142-94 on Thursday, a blowout of historic proportions. Let’s not waste any time breaking it down.

• It’s the largest win in Clippers franchise history and the largest loss in Lakers history.

• It’s the most points the Clippers have ever scored against the Lakers, and it’s the most points they’ve ever scored in a road game (it was in their home arena, but the Clippers were the road team).

• It’s the most points the Clippers scored since March 13, 1998, a 152-120 win against the Toronto Raptors.

• The Clippers’ four largest wins since moving to Los Angeles in 1984-85 have come this season, and two of them have been against the Lakers.

• The Clippers’ starters outscored the Lakers’ starters, 88-51, and none of them played in the fourth quarter (it was 88-39 through three quarters).

• The Clippers had three reserves score in double digits (not to mention all five starters), as many as the Lakers had altogether.

• The Clippers outscored the Lakers 44-13 in the second quarter and outrebounded the home team 22-5. Darren Collison outscored the Lakers by himself in that quarter, 14-13.

His 14 points in the quarter are more than he’s scored in 45 games this season.

• The Clippers have won six straight games, the longest active win streak in the NBA.

Top stats to know: Rockets at Lakers

February, 19, 2014
Feb 19
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Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports
Dwight Howard returns to Los Angeles tonight for the first time since leaving for Houston.


Dwight Howard will visit the Lakers for the first time since bolting for the Houston Rockets as a free agent.

Howard became the first player in NBA history to play in three straight All-Star games, each representing a different team (2011-12 Magic, 2012-13 Lakers, 2013-14 Rockets).

February has been kind to Howard so far. He is averaging 25.8 points on 65.7 percent shooting from the field in five games during the month.

In the first meeting on Nov. 7, Howard missed seven late free throws to allow the Lakers to keep it close before Steve Blake hit a wide-open 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds remaining to lift L.A. to a 99-98 victory. Howard totaled 15 points and 14 rebounds but went just 5-16 from the line.

Howard has been better from the line lately. He’s shooting 70.8 percent (46 for 65) at the line over his last six games. In his previous 47 games this season, he had a 52.2 free throw percentage.

Streak watch: Harden vs Lakers
James Harden has scored 30 points in four straight games against the Lakers, averaging 33.5 PPG against them in that span.

Only three players have had a longer such streak against the Lakers in the last 30 seasons: Michael Jordan (1986-1988), Charles Barkley (1988-1990) and Scottie Pippen (1995-1996), each of whom had a five-game streak.

Marshall racking up the assists
Lakers point guard Kendall Marshall is taking advantage of his minutes in Steve Nash’s absence. In 16 starts this season, Marshall is averaging 12 points and 11.9 assists per game. Marshall’s assists are leading to 21.9 points per game. That ranked second-best in the NBA at the All-Star Break, trailing only Chris Paul (25.0).

Lottery bound
The Lakers are 18-35 and tied with the Sacramento Kings for the fourth-worst record in the NBA. Their .340 win percentage is on pace to be third-worst in a single season in franchise history and worst since 1959-60, their last season in Minneapolis.

Los Angeles is also in the midst of a seven-game home losing streak, their longest streak in a single season in franchise history.

At this point in the season, it seems worth asking what sort of chances the Lakers will have in this year’s draft lottery.

The Lakers have the toughest remaining schedule of any team in the league. Their opponents entered the All-Star Break with a combined .552 winning percentage.

According to Hollinger's Lottery Odds, L.A. currently has an 8.4 percent chance of winning the top pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the fourth-best chance in the league.

The Lakers have picked in the top 10 of the NBA Draft just five times dating back to the ABA-NBA merger in 1976, last doing so in 2005 (Andrew Bynum, 10th overall). They have been very successful with those picks, which include Hall of Famers Magic Johnson in 1979 and James Worthy in 1982.

Lakers win a wacky game

February, 6, 2014
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AP Photo/Mark DuncanRobert Sacre fouled out, but remained in the game on Wednesday vs the Cavaliers.
Wednesday’s contest between the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers began odd considering the Lakers dressed only eight players, but no one could have predicted how quirky the game's ending would be. The Lakers eventually pulled out all the stops to break a seven-game losing streak.

Sacre fouls out, keeps playing
Los Angeles dressed eight players for the game. Nick Young and Jordan Farmar suffered injuries and could not return. First, Chris Kaman fouled out, then backup center Robert Sacre fouled out with 3:31 remaining in the 4th quarter. Sacre was allowed to continue playing because of a little-known rule that stated the last disqualified player had to remain on the court if the team didn’t have any remaining healthy and eligible players.

The Lakers were assessed a technical foul because they did not have any remaining healthy players. Had Sacre committed any additional fouls (which he did not), the Lakers would have been assessed a technical foul as well.

Lakers huge offensive night
The Lakers were hot out of the gate tonight, scoring 70 first-half points. It was their highest scoring half of the season.

Steve Blake recorded his second career triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists. Over the last quarter century, the only other Lakers players with at least 15 assists in a triple-double are Kobe Bryant (once in 2002) and Magic Johnson (14 times from 1988-91).

The Lakers made 18 three-pointers, a franchise record for a regulation game. The only game in franchise history where they made more came in an overtime loss to the Wizards in December 2006.

Cavaliers trade making no difference
A futile first half hurt the Cavaliers. They shot 1-18 from three-point range in the first half, the worst half for any team with at least 15 attempts in a half this season.

The Cavaliers have now matched their season-worst losing skid at six. Since trading for Luol Deng on January 7, they are 5-10 – an identical record to the 15 games before the trade. Deng was 1-10 from the field Wednesday. His 10 percent from the field was the worst shooting percentage of his career in a game in which he had at least 10 attempts.

Lakers and Celtics rivalry hits historic low

January, 17, 2014
Jan 17
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The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, teams with a combined 33 NBA titles, are used to playing each other as two of the best teams in the league, but on Friday their rivalry hits a historic low.

The Celtics and Lakers are a combined 28-51 this season (.354). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is the lowest combined win percentage entering a game between these teams in their series history (min. five games into season).

No team has a worse record than the Lakers (1-12) and the Celtics (2-11) since December 21. The Lakers win percentage (.359) this season is on pace to be their worst since they moved from Minneaplis and the Celtics (.350) would be their fourth-worst in franchise history.

Despite the bad seasons, there is a flurry of activity surrounding each team.

Rondo Returns
Rajon Rondo will return Friday in his first game since January 25 last season when he tore the ACL in his right knee. That is potentially good news for the Celtics, depending on how you look at it.

Rondo led the NBA in assists per game in each of last two seasons. His 3,943 assists before his age 27 season rank ninth all-time, between Oscar Robertson and John Stockton.

On the other side, Coach Mike D’Antoni said last week he hopes Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant (each played six games this season) will return January 28 against the Pacers after a seven-game road trip.

However, the Lakers have fallen to 8.5 games back of the eighth spot in the Western Conference and there may be no need to rush their stars back.

Trade activity and future outlook
The Celtics traded Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to the Warriors on Wednesday in a three-team trade, receiving Joel Anthony and two draft picks. They also traded Courtney Lee for Jerryd Bayless’ expiring contact January 5 to better position themselves for the offseason.

This summer also looms large for the Lakers, who currently have three guaranteed contracts in 2014-15 for a total of $34.1 million (Pau Gasol’s $19.3 million salary comes off the books after this season).

The projected salary cap for next season is $62.9 million and the Lakers could gain more space by using the stretch-provision on Nash (he would be released and his $9.7 million contract would be spread over three seasons).

Boston and LA could be prime markets for the promising free agent class.

Both teams are currently in position to have lottery picks next year. The only year that both the Lakers and Celtics had lottery picks was 1994 when the Celtics took Eric Montross ninth and the Lakers took Eddie Jones tenth. Both teams made the playoffs the following season.

The Celtics could be in better position for the 2014 NBA draft. They potentially have three first-round picks as they will receive one from Brooklyn, and have the 76ers lottery protected pick.

The Lakers are guaranteed to have their first-round pick this year, as it is untradeable due to NBA rule stating a team cannot trade first-round pick in back-to-back seasons.

Key to victory: Heat own the paint

December, 25, 2013
12/25/13
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What were the keys to the Miami Heat's win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday?

It really came down to one key. Scoring and creating from in close.

James beats the traffic
LeBron James was 1 for 8 shooting outside the paint, but made up for that with his work going to the basket.

James drove to the basket nine times, which resulted in 15 points (11 points for him and two assists).

James’ season averages as highlighted by player-tracking data on NBA.com, are 5.9 drives per game and 6.9 team points per game.

James finished a perfect 6-for-6 in the paint for the game.

Wade gets to the rim
Dwyane Wade posted his fifth straight 20-point game and did so almost exclusively from in the paint. Wade was 11 for 17 from the field for the game with an average shot distance of 7.3 feet. He scored 20 of his 23 points in the paint, his second most paint points this season and tied for the fourth most by a guard this season.

Wade leads all guards with 10.9 paint points per game this season.

Bosh more proactive
Chris Bosh went 8 for 12 from inside of five feet en route to his third 20-point/10-rebound game this season.

The 12 shots from in-close were unusual for Bosh. He’s averaged only 3.5 attempts per game from that close this season.

It all adds up
The Heat outscored the Lakers 58-26 in the paint, their highest paint-points differential this season. The previous high was 28 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 7.

Top stats to know: Kobe Bryant's injury

December, 19, 2013
12/19/13
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What are the top stats to know related to the announcement that Kobe Bryant will likely miss the next six weeks with a knee injury?

Kobe wasn’t helping that much
The Lakers were 2-4 since Bryant’s return after starting the season 10-9 without him.

The Lakers were playing a lot better as Bryant’s return drew closer. They were 6-2 in the last eight games before he came back, averaging 109.1 points per 100 possesions. In Bryant's 177 minutes on the court, the Lakers were outscored by 32 points and averaged only 96.9 points per 100 possessions.

Bryant was averaging 13.8 points on 42.5 percent shooting in six games. He’d scored 20 or more points three times, but had also been held to single digits three times, alternating between the two. It was his most such single-digit scoring games since the 1998-99 season.

Bryant had 34 turnovers, the most of anyone in the NBA since December 8.

What were Bryant’s biggest issues
Bryant ran 28 pick-and-roll plays in which he was the ballhandler and 15 of them resulted in him turning the ball over. Among the 121 players who have run at least 25 pick-and-rolls as a ballhandler this season, Bryant’s turnover percentage (54 percent) is by far the worst. Only one other player, Nick Calathes, had a turnover percentage of 40 percent or worse.

Bryant also started the season with a shooting touch that was a bit rusty. He was shooting 33 percent from the floor on shots 10 feet and out. For his career, Bryant is a 39 percent shooter from that range.

The Lakers were working Bryant back slowly. Last season, 28 percent of his plays came with him running something in isolation. In six games this season, that rate was only 12 percent. Bryant was used more in a post-up role, doing so on 22 percent of his plays in the six games, compared to 13 percent last season.

Elias Sports Bureau: Did You Know?
This season will mark the first time that Bryant will miss a game played on Dec. 25 in his NBA career. Bryant is the NBA’s all-time leader in games played (15) and points scored (383) on that date.

Top stats to know: Lakers at Thunder

December, 13, 2013
12/13/13
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The Los Angeles Lakers will be on the road to face the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night (8 ET on ESPN). The Thunder have been playing very well, winning 12 of their last 13 games.

Home sweet home
The Thunder are a perfect 10-0 at home this season, winning by an average margin of 10.1 points. That doesn’t bode well for the Lakers, who have dropped six straight games in Oklahoma City (including the playoffs).

The Indiana Pacers are the only other team in the NBA with a perfect record at home (10-0).

Kobe Bryant
Friday will be Kobe Bryant's third game of the season. The Lakers are 0-2 since he returned to the lineup.

In the 57 minutes Bryant has been on the court since this season, the Lakers are being outscored by 19 points. L.A. is outscoring its opponents by one point in the 39 minutes he’s been off the court.

Bryant posted up six times Tuesday night against the Suns, scoring eight points on 3 for 5 shooting on such plays. He only posted up twice in his first game back against the Raptors with no shots on those plays. Kobe's average shot distance was 10.9 feet Tuesday compared to 16.4 feet against the Raptors.

Dynamic duo
Few duos in NBA history have been as offensively dominant as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. They are currently the highest scoring duo in the NBA this season at 46.7 points per game.

It would be their third consecutive season leading the league in that category. Only four duos in NBA history led the league in three or more consecutive seasons.

Durant is averaging an NBA-high 28.4 points this season, if he wins the scoring title it would be the fourth of his career.

He is also averaging 7.7 points in the fourth quarter this season, which is the second-highest mark in the NBA (Stephen Curry is first with 8.9).

State of hoops in Los Angeles at the break

February, 15, 2013
2/15/13
2:23
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Getty ImagesThings haven't gone as planned for Kobe Bryant (left) and the Lakers, but Chris Paul (right) and the Clippers are riding high, currently in third place in the Western Conference.
Things are upside down in Los Angeles these days.

The two NBA teams that call L.A. home are breaking new ground this season. The Clippers are enjoying one of their best seasons, while the Lakers are enduring one of their worst.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS (25-29)
The Lakers have 29 losses at the All-Star break. Since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976-77, the Lakers have finished with 29 or fewer losses FOR THE ENTIRE SEASON 24 different times (82-game seasons only).

No NBA franchise has made the playoffs in more seasons than the Lakers since the merger, but after last night's loss to the Clippers, ESPN.com’s Hollinger Playoff Odds give the Lakers just a 28.9 percent chance of reaching the postseason.

Even if the Lakers do find a way to reach the postseason, it might not matter. They’re 1-9 against the top four teams in the Western Conference this season (including an 0-3 mark against the Clippers), and they still have four games remaining against those teams (Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Grizzlies).

What's wrong?

The Lakers rank 17th in the NBA in defensive efficiency, allowing 103.4 points per 100 possessions (worst since 2006-07 season). They finished in the top six in this category in four of the previous five seasons.

The Lakers have also struggled getting back on defense after missed shots this season. They've allowed an NBA-worst 16.1 fast-break points per game.

In fact, the Lakers have allowed at least 20 fast-break points in 15 games this season, including in three of their last five games. No other NBA team has allowed 20 fast-break points in more than 12 games this season.

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (39-17)
The Clippers, on the other hand, enter the All-Star break with 39 wins and a .696 winning percentage.

Their best single-season winning percentage since moving to Los Angeles came last season (.606), and since the move, the Clippers have NEVER made the playoffs in a season the Lakers failed to make the postseason.

The Clippers have been at their best in the final period this season. They've outscored their opponents by 118 points in the fourth quarter.

Only the Spurs (163) and Knicks (126) have a better fourth-quarter differential.

One of the reasons for that fourth-quarter success has been their lock-down defense late in games. They've allowed just 40.2 percent shooting by their opponents in the fourth quarter, by far the lowest in the NBA.

At their current pace, the Clippers would finish the season with 57 wins, which would make this the first 50-win season in franchise history and would eclipse their previous single-season record by eight wins.

Bryant on verge of youngest to 30,000 Pts

December, 4, 2012
12/04/12
3:45
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Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireKobe Bryant needs 52 points to reach 30,000 for his career.
The Los Angeles Lakers visit the Houston Rockets tonight with Kobe Bryant just 52 points shy of 30,000 for his career. Only four players in NBA history have reached the 30,000-point milestone (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain).

Thanks to an NBA career that began at age 18, Bryant (age 34) is poised to become the youngest player to reach the mark. There is an outside chance he could eclipse 30,000 points tonight, as he has scored at least 52 points in a game 14 times in his career. What's more, three of those games have come against the Rockets, which is tied for his most against any opponent.

While Bryant will be the youngest to reach 30,000 career points, he is also getting there with more mileage. He has over 7,000 more career minutes played (including playoffs) than Jordan had when he reached 30,000, which is approximately two and a half 82-game seasons averaging 35 minutes per game.

What is the rough equivalent of reaching 30,000 points in the NBA? Based on how rarely it is attained, it is similar to several other elite milestone across pro sports. Only four players have 50,000 passing yards in the NFL, while only five players have reached 3,500 hits in MLB.

Looking ahead, when will Bryant potentially move up the scoring ladder? Assuming he averages 25 points per game and does not miss another game this season, he would match Chamberlain by the end of this season.

As for catching all-time leader Abdul-Jabbar, if Bryant keeps up his 25.0 points per game pace, which is roughly his career average, he could track him down in the 2016-17 season.

Heat Look to Capitalize on Epic Mismatch

Elsewhere, the Miami Heat (12-3) travel to play the Washington Wizards (1-13) tonight in a notable mismatch (more than a 700-point difference in winning percentages). According to Elias, over the last 20 seasons visiting teams with that large of an advantage in winning percentage this late in a season (with both teams having played 14 games) are 26-7.

In addition, the Wizards are running into a very hot Miami squad, as the Heat are riding a season-high six-game win streak and are looking to start 13-3 for the first time in franchise history.

Washington is likely going to have a tough time defending Miami, which ranks top five in the league in points per 100 possessions, effective field goal percentage and turnover percentage. The Wizards, on the other hand, rank last in both points per 100 possessions and effective field goal percentage.

Adding to the Wizards’ woes is their poor three-point shooting. They have attempted 305 three-pointers, their most in franchise history through 14 games according to Elias, but have connected on just 30.2 percent. That's their second-lowest percentage in the three-point era (minimum 200 attempts) over that span.

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