Archive for the ‘ Los Angeles Lakers Blog ’ Category

Kemba Walker has had a bit of trouble during his NBA career when facing LeBron James teams. Here’s Boston.com reporting:

Kemba Walker finally did it. He finally defeated LeBron James.

The three-time All-Star was 0-28 in his career in his team’s games against James entering Monday night’s Lakers-Celtics matchup.

That changed Monday after the Celtics’ 139-107 win. Walker scored 20 points in the win and improved his all-time record against James to 1-28.

Walker was drafted first round in 2011, and played for the Charlotte Hornets all these years until 2019-20 when he became a Celtic. Which helps explain his longtime struggles against NBA teams with LeBron James on them. But still, that was a heck of a streak.

Congrats, Kemba. Today, you are a champion. Kinda.

Kyle Kuzma has received some nice opportunities to step up and do bigger things for the Lakers lately.

And he delivered.

Here’s the Los Angeles Times reporting:

His immense value to the Lakers was on display over the weekend, when Kyle Kuzma stepped up to fill a big void and delivered dazzling performances, each more impressive than the last.

He started in place of the injured Anthony Davis (bruised backside) Friday at Dallas and scored a season-high 26 points in a 129-114 win, the Lakers’ seventh straight. Then Kuzma followed that with another high of 36 points Saturday at Oklahoma City, with Davis and LeBron James (flu-like symptoms) both out, leading a 125-110 win.

Naturally, Kuzma was asked if his inspired play had anything to do with his name coming up in trade speculation.

“Nah, that’s for y’all to talk about,” Kuzma said Saturday night.

This is yet another positive indication of just how serious a championship contender this Lakers squad is for 2020.

Already atop the organization, the Los Angeles Lakers have given Rob Pelinka an even greater responsibility. It’s entirely his show now.

The Lakers today named Rob Pelinka Vice President, Basketball Operations and General Manager.

Pelinka, was hired as the Lakers General Manager in March 2017. He orchestrated one of the biggest trades in franchise history last offseason, acquiring six-time All-Star Anthony Davis.

Per the Los Angeles Times, “Magic Johnson, former president of basketball operations, was largely given credit for landing James. Johnson abruptly resigned before the final game last season. Buss, in her first interview since Johnson resigned, said then that she had confidence in Pelinka.”

“I’m extremely pleased with the work Rob has done in order to put this franchise in a position for success, “said Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss. “His strong leadership skills, as well as his commitment to building a winning culture, both on and off the court, have brought us one step closer to being a championship-caliber team and I look forward to our continued work together.”

Pelinka, 50, joined the Lakers after spending the greater part of two decades representing many of the NBA’s top talent. The Lake Forest, Illinois native earned his B.B.A. from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan with high honors in 1993, before receiving his J.D., Cum Laude, from the University of Michigan Law School in 1996. While at Michigan, Pelinka earned a 1989 National Championship as a member of the Wolverines basketball team and also took part in three NCAA Final Fours (1989, 1992 & 1993).

Anthony Davis injury is minor

Good news for the Lakers. Anthony Davis has not suffered a real injury. He’ll be back on the court very soon. Possibly as early as tomorrow. The OC Register reports:

The Lakers announced Wednesday morning that an MRI revealed that Davis had a gluteus maximus contusion – in layman’s terms, a bruised backside. He’s expected to travel with the team for a Friday game against Dallas, where he’s listed as questionable…

The new medical findings mean Davis (27.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.6 bpg) could play in Dallas on Friday or in Oklahoma City on Saturday. The Lakers are 1-1 in games when Davis hasn’t been available, and they blew out the Knicks 117-87 after Davis left the game Tuesday.

The Lakers have been one of the best teams in the NBA this season, and Anthony Davis has been outstanding, putting up huge stats but also performing as well as anyone in the league on the defensive side of the floor.

LeBron James finally missed a game this season, as the Lakers fell to the Nuggets Sunday. Here’s the Denver Post reporting:

The Nuggets strode into the Staples Center and rocked the Lakers 128-104 on Sunday night, improving to 20-8 and stretching their winning streak to six. They’ll go for seven on Monday night in Phoenix against the Suns.

Though James was ruled out with a rib injury — the first game he has missed all season — the Nuggets put together a fantastic collective effort that might have won them the game had he been healthy.

Paul Millsap scored 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting, but his dogged effort on Lakers superstar Anthony Davis was arguably more valuable. Though Davis finished with 32 points, Millsap chased him around the court and hounded him as the Lakers fought fruitlessly to get back into the game.

And the OC Register:

Unlike his trademark unibrow, Anthony Davis does his best work in a pair.

That’s not to say that the 26-year-old’s 32-point, 11-rebound, four-block game on Sunday night didn’t make him look like a star. But the performance came without a win, which has become the ultimate bottom line in a Lakers (24-6) season with renewed championship aspirations.

It was telling that even as Davis checked back in to start the fourth quarter, the visiting Denver Nuggets (20-8) kept on pulling away. In a 128-104 loss — the Lakers’ third straight and the largest margin of defeat this season — it was clear that Davis sorely lacked his running mate, LeBron James.

The Lakers have gotten national attention all season — quite justifiably — but the Nuggets deserve big praise as well. They’re 20-8 this season and their win Sunday was their sixth straight victory.

They’re being led in scoring this season by Jamal Murray (17.5 ppg), Nikola Jokic (17.3 ppg), Will Barton (14.6 ppg), Paul Millsap (13.0 ppg) and Gary Harris (11.3 ppg). But defense is why the Nuggets are having an excellent year. They’re second best in the league in that department, only behind the Bucks.

 

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The biggest game of the NBA season so far is the Lakers vs Bucks matchup on TNT at 8 p.m. ET tonight. Both teams are 24-4, and are the current favorites, if you had to make a prediction today, to reach the 2020 NBA Finals.

While the Bucks are without injured guard Eric Bledsoe, the Lakers will have forward Anthony Davis in action, said the team this evening.

Per ESPN.com, “Davis did not play in the Lakers’ loss at Indiana on Tuesday due to the mild ankle sprain. It was the second game Davis has missed this season. He is leading the team in points (27.4), rebounds (9.3) and blocks (2.6) per game.”

It’s a must-watch game. Tune in.

LeBron James discusses load management

“Load management” is getting more attention than it deserves. Only a handful of NBA players sit out sometimes, usually during one game in a back-to-back, and occasionally in other situations.

How does LeBron James feel about it? Here’s the LA Times reporting:

“If I’m healthy, I play,” James said after the Lakers’ 101-96 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. “I mean, that should be the approach. I mean, unless we’re getting to like late in the season and we’ve clinched and we can’t get any better or any worse, it could benefit from that, but why wouldn’t I play if I’m healthy? It doesn’t make any sense to me, personally.

“I mean, I don’t know how many games I got left in my career. I don’t know how many kids that may show up to a game and they’re there to come see me play and if I sit out, then what? That’s my obligation.”

The Lakers are 24-3 so far this season. That’s 27 games. LeBron has played in all 27.

 

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On Sunday, the Lakers beat the Timberwolves 142-125. The star of the night was big-man Anthony Davis, who is having as good a season as almost any players in the league.

Shooting 20 for 29, Davis put up 50 points, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals, one block and just one turnover in 39 minutes of action.

LeBron James also had himself a game: 32 points and 13 assists. And off the Lakers bench, Alex Caruso earned himself a mention: 6 of 11, 16 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals.

But Davis, who has gotten attention all season for his defense just as much as his offense, had as good a game as anyone has put up in the league so far this season.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported the following: “Davis became the third player to post 50 points on the Wolves this season while James was no slouch either with 32 points and 13 assists. Davis was an especially efficient 20 of 29 shooting and 10 of 10 from the free-throw line. He did a lot of work around the basket, and the Wolves had no answer for him defensively. ”

From the OC Register: “Davis’ prolific, proficient output — combined with James’ 32 points in 28 minutes — mitigated a productive night offensively by the Timberwolves, who shot 51.8 percent, had eight players score in double-digits and needed only until the start of the fourth quarter to exceed opponents’ 103.7 points-per-game scoring average against the Lakers.”

 

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The NBA on Saturday announced that they have fined Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo $35,000 for the following reasons:

- Making unsportsmanlike physical contact with Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder

- Verbal abuse of a game official

- Failing to leave the court in a timely manner upon his ejection.

Rondo received a Flagrant Foul 2 and was ejected, early 4th quarter this past Thursday, on the road in OKC.

A video clip of the incident is here: http://www.nba.com/video/2019/11/23/lal-okc-rajon-rondo-112219

The Lakers are off to a fantastic start this season. Through yesteday’s games, they have a league-best 13-2 record and are currently riding a six-game winning streak.

Rondo has played in just five games this season, entirely off the bench as a reserve, averaging 7.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 5.6 rebounds in 20.4 minutes per game.

 

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Here’s the OC Register getting Lakers guard Lonzo Ball’s opinion on UCLA head coach candidates:

The only Bruin on the Lakers has an opinion on whom the next UCLA basketball coach should be.

Lonzo Ball said after Wednesday morning’s shootaround that he would like to see Earl Watson, a former Bruin himself, get the head job.

“I know Earl personally,” Ball said. “I think he has coaching experience in the league. Obviously he went there, he’s alumni, so I think he’s a good fit.”

Even if you don’t follow college hoops or UCLA, it’ll be interesting to see who actually gets the job.

On the Dec. 25 Lakers vs. Warriors game

At 8 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN, LeBron James and the Lakers visit Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and the Warriors. Here’s the LA Daily News with some thoughts on the matchup:

The timing of the game is intriguing, given that the Lakers are coming off a week hot with James saying he’d like to play alongside Anthony Davis. With rumors earlier in the month that the Lakers were open to trading for Trevor Ariza and other trade talk rumors continually circling the team, even a regular season game can take on a mountain of seemingly high stakes. It has the feeling of an audition — even if that’s not something the Lakers will admit.

For their own part, the Lakers did their best to tamp down the importance of the Warriors’ game. Both Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said it was just another game, and Luke Walton said he thought it was imprudent to start sizing up how the Lakers match up with the Warriors.

“I never like to put too much importance on one game as far as it shows you how close or how far you are,” he said. “They’re a team that can hit 30 threes in a night, doesn’t mean they’re that much better than you, or we can go up there and win. Doesn’t mean now they need to close that gap to us. It’ll be a lot of fun.”

The only Laker who admitted to looking forward to the game more than others was JaVale McGee, who will be receiving his 2018 championship ring before the game.

Tuesday’s NBA Christmas day action begins at 12 p.m. ET with the Knicks hosting the Bucks.

Full article

The Grizzlies on Sunday outscored the Lakers by 11 points in the 4th quarter to leave Los Angeles with a 107-99 win. Rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. did big things in the win. Here’s the Los Angeles Times reporting:

Jackson finished with 27 points while Marc Gasol and Conley each scored 17 for the Grizzlies.

Lebron James led the Lakers with 22 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. Ivica Zubac added 19 points and Brandon Ingram had 20.

Although center JaVale McGee was cleared to play, the Lakers held him out for one more game as he recovers from an illness that eventually became pneumonia. McGee played against the Charlotte Hornets on Dec. 15 after he began to feel ill, then missed the Lakers’ next three games.

The Lakers are now 19-14 this season, which puts them in a three-way tie for the 4th best record in the Western conference. The Grizzlies are now 17-16, which is the 10th best record in the West — yet they are just 5.5 games out of first place. Because that’s how close the West is this season.

Full article

Brandon Ingram out with sprained ankle

Here’s the L.A. Times reporting on Lakers forward Brandon Ingram:

Brandon Ingram’s MRI Thursday evening confirmed a sprained left ankle and Ingram will be reevaluated in one week, the Lakers said Saturday.

That means Ingram will miss at least two more games after Saturday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Lakers play the Miami Heat at home Monday and will start a four-game road trip that begins in Houston Thursday.

Full article.

And here’s ESPN.com with more:

Ingram is averaging 15.2 points and 4.0 rebounds per game this season. He suffered the injury in the first quarter of Wednesday’s win over San Antonio when he landed on the foot of Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge after taking a jump shot. Aldridge was whistled for a flagrant foul 1 for sticking his foot where Ingram was going to land.

Full article.

LeBron James and the Lakers visit Cleveland tonight to play a Cavs team that has been in shambles this season and looks nothing like the contender they were when LeBron was still on the squad. The game will be on national TV. Seeing the type of reception LeBron receives during pregame intros and an expected video tribute will be fun to watch. More on the game from Cleveland.com below:

Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson opted for the canned answer when asked about the importance of Wednesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

“Just another game. Another game on the schedule,” Thompson said following shootaround. “Another opportunity for us to play at home and compete and be on our floor.”

Only it’s not. Wednesday marks LeBron James’ first return to Quicken Loans Arena since leaving the Cavaliers a second time in free agency.

Promos have been playing for weeks on ESPN. It’s one of two games nationally televised for the Cavaliers this season. This is the one fans have had circled on the calendar since it was released.

The Lakers through Tuesday’s games are 9-7 and the West’s 8th seed, while the Cavs are an NBA-worst 2-13 and currently dealing with a reported trade request/demand from veteran shooting guard J.R. Smith.

The Lakers began the season 0-3, then won 7 of their next 10 games, and at 7-6 are currently the 8th seed in the Western conference through Sunday’s games. Rotation adjustments will likely continue for weeks or longer as head coach Luke Walton continues to learn how to mesh LeBron James with young players that the team hopes will be around for a long time with the team’s veterans, many of whom are signed to one-year deals.

As for how they closed things out in a one-point win Sunday against a rebounding Hawks squad, here’s the LA Times reporting:

With the outcome of the game in the balance, Lakers coach Luke Walton chose to use an unconventional lineup — with no point guard — to close against Atlanta on Sunday, a decision he made because he wanted his best defenders on the court.

In the final minutes of a tense game at Staples Center, Walton’s resolve to leave point guards Lonzo Ball and Rajon Rondo on the bench served the Lakers well.

Ball had replaced Rondo with seven minutes, 41 seconds left in the game. Ball had not played in the fourth quarter of the previous two games, but now he was getting his opportunity.

Then with 4:32 left and every defensive stand being crucial in a game the Lakers were trailing by three points, Ball was replaced by Josh Hart, who the Lakers consider to be one of their better defenders because of his ability to guard multiple positions.

Hart closed out the game with LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Tyson Chandler.

Full Article

The Los Angeles Lakers have assigned rookie center Moritz Wagner to the South Bay Lakers on rehab assignment.

Wagner, who sustained a left knee contusion on July 10, has been medically cleared to return to play and will continue his rehab progression with the South Bay Lakers. The Michigan product was selected by the Lakers with the 25th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

The Nuggets are off to a great start this season, but their first loss came courtesy of a LeBron James triple-double fueled Lakers squad. Here’s the Denver Post reporting:

The Nuggets were up 106-98 with 6:11 left in the game before the Lakers closed on a 23-8 run. LeBron James’ triple-double helped, as did Lonzo Ball’s clutch step-back 3-pointer, but give Lance Stephenson credit. He had a personal run of eight straight, including back-to-back 3-pointers that energized the Staples Center crowd with Kobe Bryant sitting courtside.

“Six minutes is a lifetime on the road with a guy like LeBron James,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone said.

Veteran Paul Millsap, who struggled from the floor with just six points, put the onus on the Nuggets.

“Something we haven’t been all year, got a little rattled, little rattled down the stretch. Forced a few shots. We didn’t stay poised like we normally do,” he said…

Monte Morris finished with a career-high 20 points, seven assists and three steals as the third Nugget to notch at least 20 points (Nikola Jokic 24, Jamal Murray 22).

Full article

Lakers assign Isaac Bonga to G League

The Los Angeles Lakers have assigned guard Isaac Bonga to the South Bay Lakers, the team’s G League affiliate.

Bonga appeared in five preseason games for the Lakers, averaging 3.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 10.7 minutes. The rookie guard was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 39th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft and acquired by the Lakers on July 6, 2018.

The South Bay Lakers opened their 2018-19 training camp today and will host the Northern Arizona Suns for their lone preseason game on Saturday, October 27 at 12:00pm PT from the UCLA Health Training Center.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram has been suspended four games without pay, Lakers guard Rajon Rondo has been suspended three games without pay, and Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul has been suspended two games without pay, for their roles in an on-court altercation with 4:13 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Rockets’ 124-115 win over the Lakers on Oct. 20 at Staples Center. The suspensions were announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

Ingram has been suspended for aggressively returning to and escalating the altercation and throwing a punch in the direction of Paul, confronting a game official in a hostile manner, and instigating the overall incident by shoving Rockets guard James Harden. Rondo has been suspended for instigating a physical altercation with, and spitting and throwing multiple punches at, Paul. Paul has been suspended for poking at and making contact with the face of Rondo, and throwing multiple punches at him.

Paul will begin serving his suspension tonight when the Rockets face the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. Ingram and Rondo will begin serving their suspensions on Mon., Oct 22, when the Lakers host the San Antonio Spurs.

To view the incident, click on this link.

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed forward Johnathan Williams to a two-way contract. And in a related move, the team has waived forward Travis Wear.

Williams (6-9, 230) played in all six preseason games for the Lakers, averaging 6.8 points (.516 FG%) and 4.3 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game.

Per NBA rules, teams are permitted to have up to two players under two-way contracts on their roster at any given time, in addition to their 15-man regular season roster. The Lakers roster remains at 16, including two two-way players.

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