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  • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

    Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 8:22 AM on February 23, 2018 Permalink |  

    The reinvention of Carmelo Anthony 

    Carmelo Anthony has spent his 15-year career doing one thing more than anyone else in the NBA. But as the league moves on without the non-paint 2, Anthony is trying to learn how to move with it.

    Source: The reinvention of Carmelo Anthony

  • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

    Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 10:20 PM on February 17, 2018 Permalink |  

    The Digable Things and the W.I.P.s 

    Have to say, this has been fun so far.  The tale a season tells has more twists and turns then a M. Night Shyalam plot.  You can never predict what injuries will; happen, nor how the team will react and step up.  Took these Lakers a spell to figure out how to win without Lonzo Ball, but when they did they started looking like an NBA team that can compete on a nightly basis.  So, with the last chunk of season yet to be played, here are some things I am really digging.

    1) Brandon Ingram.  Magic put a spotlight on him and while he may not, yet, be shining in it as brightly as he will he hasn’t wilted.  Picking up from last year’s slashing game to close it out Brandon started off on the same note: drive it to the rim until teams figure out how to defend it.  Once they did, he added a mid-range game that built his confidence in his shooting up to the point that he’s shooting the three ball as comfortably as I’ve ever seen him.  He’s upped his passing game and he still defends well just using his length.  Brandon Ingram is a player on the rise, a lot of his biggest weaknesses can be improved on with hard work.  I think he has it in him, I’m hoping he closes out this season as strong as he did last season, maybe threaten that 20 ppg mark which would take him finding another level of controlled aggression.

    2)  Speaking of controlled aggression: Julius Randle.  Julius has really carved out a role on this team under Luke.  He needs to get better at bouncing off the defense in his probes, he’s not recognizing or feeling the defense out well enough, especially in the 4th quarter.  Team are ganging up on him in the mid-post before he starts his move, bottling that kinetic energy and he’s not the kind of player that gets a lot of ‘touch fouls’ whistled in his favor.  So it’s on him to make an adjustment: pop that 15-20 footer, pull it back out quicker, or tempt an offensive foul which he’s good for at least one a game.  This may read more like a critique but it’s a credit to Randle that he’s upped his game over the season to warrant a nit-picky blather about his 4th quarter read/reacts.  He’s hitting his free throws, rebounding like he does, playing the best defense of his life and he’s doing it all most nights.  The next step is feeling the game better, especially in the 4th.

    3)  Josh Hart.  This dude wasn’t dislodged by the arrival of an All Star who’s led his teams to playoff victories.  Josh Hart is everything you want in a two guard: solid defense on the perimeter, shoots within the offense, doesn’t flinch taking a big shot.  Anything else is gravy in the modern NBA.  The fact that his defense and hustle are so consistent is why I think only Lonzo Ball will dislodge him from that starting spot.  But Josh makes it a conversation as to whether he should dislodge Lonzo form the starting spot.  At any rate, another gem mined from the late first round by the Laker scouting department and another guy who spent more formative time in college than most players do these days.  Take note kids, enjoy those early 20s from an apartment near campus, plenty of time for a job, later.

    4)  Front Office staying unpredictably predictable.  They sure had me fooled, sounding resigned to toeing the line, keeping the team status quo.  Tinkering with something that was working better, but wan’t threatening to work great, isn’t a huge gamble.  They’ll have the cap space they need to sign the players they are able to.  If Julius keeps this up I warrant he’ll be on that list.  Not so sure about KCP, Lopez, Frye or IT Jr.  All four of those players need to move the needle a lot in these last few games for me to be much of an advocate.  If there was a realistic shot that KCP would sign here for 6-8 mil I’d be into it, same goes for any of them.  Otherwise I’d just as soon see us keeping flexibility to re-sign Randle and see how Paul George is feeling in July.  We’ll soon be needing some space for Brandon Ingram, as well.  I don’t think LBJ is leaving the Cavs.  I’d be willing to see if we could get Boogie on a big one-year deal, as well.  If Paul George opts out with intentions to mosey, go at him hard.  Otherwise let it turn over.

    5)  Our G-Leaguers.  They’ve done well, and it’s a major credit to the Lakers as an organization to make such great use of this tool.  I’ve long been s believer in something akin to an NBA minor league system and this, my friends, is it.  Once every team has one I think we’ll slowly see it’s use expand.  One key is for the game sot be slightly more profitable, and the League seems to be banking an awful lot on just that.  At any rate, to a man I’ve been pleased with how they’ve played at this level.  Not a one stands out as a major impact player going forward…maybe Zubac could enter that convo if he played more like he did last night…but more often than not they’re over-matched both talent and experience-wise whenever they play.  For them to have played as well as they have has been cool.

    The Works In Progress are the defense which comes and goes, the veterans and the team identity.

    1) The Laker defense can be among the best in the league.  It’s not due to any one player, rather when they coalesce as a unit and defend as a team.  While that often results in a stat for a singular player, it’s not a reflection of the work that went into generating that steal or block.  That burgeoning chemistry has been slightly uprooted by the recent trade, but it was never a consistent to begin with.  It threatened to be for stretches of the season, but to say it was a solid component of our team identity was definitely a stretch.  It shouldn’t be.  It needs to be something we see a lot more of than not.  I don’t care how big or small you are: defend your position and communicate out there.

    2) The veterans are playing mindbogglingly inconsistently.  They’re all, to a player, up for a new deal and they play as if they just signed a max deal at 39 years old.  It’s unfortunate for both parties as I feel we’d have a game or three more of we had seen the Brooklyn version of Brook, the Detroit version of Kentavious and, although it’s early, I’m not betting the farm that we see much of the Boston version of Isiah Thomas Jr.  Whether we see improvement or not I’d be cautious about signing any of them back.  We’ll see, still some season to play, but it’s not looking good for any of these guys searching out a high value contract in July.

    3)  Our team identity is a definite work in progress.  The word that comes to mind is still ‘young’.  A young team implies a squad still learning, still figuring the NBA out.  That’s us, even with vets like KCP, Lopez and now IT and Frye.  You just don’t really know wha version of the Lakers you’ll see on any given night.  Chances are Ingram will show up solid and Randle will present a double-double threat but after that…  You just never know.  It’s going to take some doing to separate ourselves from other bottom-dwellers who have a lottery pick to tank for.  We do not, so hoping to see us eke out more wins down the stretch.  Some realistic goals are fairly basic: don’t be last in the league with your free throw %.  Don’t be next to last in turning it over.  Look to climb the ranks in those categories and watch us win a couple more.  There’s a lot to hope for, but hope only gets you so far.  Hoping for more positives, let’s go Lakers!

    • Magicman (Editor)

      Magicman (Editor) 10:55 PM on February 17, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

    • keen observer

      keen observer 8:40 AM on February 18, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      We ARE young. Our core is Ingram, Lonzo, Kuzma, Hart and Randle, all 23 or younger. Every above average or worse NBA veteran who has played with our young core has had a difficult time blending. It isn’t their fault. The good news is that our young core is developing continuity and, yes, an identity. While they have bad games, I disagree with your premise because I see the clear formation of who we will become regardless of the inconsistencies. Brook Lopez and KCP mead nothing to the future of this team, nor will Isaiah Thomas or Channing Frye, whose appendix was just removed. Frye should probably be bought out. You can not judge this squad by the here and now.

      • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

        Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 9:50 AM on February 18, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Seeing Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson in Minny is no different a scenario than we’re in. The right mix is out there. Not so much judging rather looking for the inconsistencies to be less consistent in these last several games. I’d re-sign more than a few current Lakers to cheaper deals just not so sure the players in mind won’t find either better teams or more money elsewhere.

      • mclyne32 (Director) 1:26 PM on February 18, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Good stuff as usual, Jamie.
        Where’s the Kuzma paragraph?
        Not since Kobe Bean, 22 years ago, has there been a talented rookie who has come in and surprised everyone. D’Lo was supposed to be our next leader. We saw how hallow those promises were. Lonzo may get there if he can get his shot working. Ingram has shown huge signs of improvement this season and could turn out to be our go to Swiss Army knife with his ability to run the point, shoot, drive and finish, and play great D.
        Right now, my money is on Kuzma.
        I think five years from now, his selection will be one of the greatest achievements of any Laker scouting team.
        He has all the tools to be great. Now we get to see if his work ethic will eventually push him up to All Star status.
        I’m so happy that our beloved franchise finally has intelligent and capable people back in charge who are leading us towards our next Chip.

    • LakerTom (Publisher) 9:38 AM on February 18, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Great post, Jamie. No doubt it’s been a crazy NBA year. The big trades, the injuries, the surprises. We’re hurtling wildly towards a franchise defining summer that will likely determine much of the Lakers’ success over the next decade, making it hard sometimes to remain patient and enjoy the journey.

      Here’s what I’m digging:

      1. Ownership and Front Office -- I’m a big believer in that everything starts at the top, which is Jeanie Buss, often wrongly maligned as being more of a bimbo who once posed for Playboy than an accomplished corporate executive responsible one of the world’s most iconic and valuable sports franchises. None of this would have happened without her courageous decision to fire her brother and replace him with Magic Johnson, who in turn made a great decision in hiring Kobe Bryant’s former player agent Rob Pelinka as the team’s General Manger. Building a great organization starts at the top and flows downward, which is exactly why Jeanie Buss deserves the credit for where we are right now.

      2. Scouting and Drafting -- You can’t win in the NBA without great players and scouting personnel and making the right decisions on whom to draft, sign, or trade for is always the key behind a successful sports franchise. Along with good fortune. The break that may have accelerated the Lakers return to prominance may have been the killer draft class they landed this summer. Not since the 1996 draft when the Lakers walked away with Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, have the Lakers landed two future starters like they did this year with Lonzo Ball at #2 and Kyle Kuzma at #27. And that’s not even counting Josh Hart at #30 and Thomas Bryant at #42. Along with Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Ivica Zubac, and the recently traded Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr., the Lakers scouting and player evaluation team has provide the team with the talent and trading chips needed to rebuild a championship team.

      3. Coaching and Development -- We’ve all heard head coach after head coach proclaim their team was going to focus on defense as a top priority only to see the same poor defense and questionable effort as before. We heard the same from Luke when he took over from Byron, who said the same thing when he took over from Mike D’Antoni. That’s why I give Luke Walton and his staff great credit fror actually getting the Lakers to play better and sometimes great defense. That is an accomplishment that promises great things in the future in my opinion. It’s an accomplishment that give me great confidence that we have the right coach and the right players. All we need is more time to grow, develop, and mature into a championship team. Add a superstar and a few second tier stars and allow Lonzo, BI, KK, and the rest of the young core to reach their potential and you have the formula for winning an NBA championship.

      4. Flexibility and Positioning -- There is no question you need superstars to win championships in the NBA. That’s always been true and isn’t going to change ever. With only 5 players on the floor at a time, having 2 or 3 of them as elite can make a team dominant, like the Golden State Warriors. The moves by Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinca have positioned the Lakers right there alongside the Celtics as the teams to replace the Warriors when their dynasty falters. With the recent moves, the Lakers have a great portfolio of young talent, cap space, and draft picks to win a seat at the table when the next NBA superstar comes on the market via trade of free agency. They will be able to make a move like the Celtics did to land Kyrie Irving when he become available. Whether it’s Anthony Davis or Kristaps Porzingis or Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Lakers will now be major players.

      Here’s what I want from the last 25 games:

      1. Be a Playoff Team -- While I don’t think we can make the playoffs at this point, I think we can win 15 of our last 25 games, which would mean playing at the level of a playoff team. To do that, we will need to show we can still play the same level of defense we played at our best earlier in the year. We will also need our Baby Big Three of Lonzo, Brandon, and Kyle to take their games to the next level. Same with Julius Randle and the vets who hope to earn a permanent role on the Lakers, including Brook Lopez and KCP.

      2. Play Like Lonzo -- We’ve seen the formula at both ends of the court. When Lonzo is rocking and rolling, the Lakers are at their best on offense and defense. Considering Lonzo has missed a third of the season already, it’s a testament to how well the coaches and players have performed but adding him back for these last 25 games is going to be an opportunity for Lonzo to elevate his game and as a result the entire team’s game at both ends of the court. Lonzo is the difference maker and we’re going to be reminded of that daily throughout the remaining 25 games.

      3. Integrate Isaiah Thomas -- There is no bigger wild card on the Lakers right now than Isaiah Thomas, who the Lakers acquired as a salary cap match throw-in in the trade for Clarkson and Nance, Jr. The Lakers need to give IT a chance to get healthy and show them he can be as key a player for the Lakers going forward as he was for the Celtics last year. If he can come back, then the Lakers frankly will have one of the two superstars they need to be a genuine contender. Forget the haters and naysayers who dismiss IT as a poor fit. Before the injury, he was an NBA MVP candidate who almost averaged 30 points and 6 assists per game.

      Here’s what I want to see this summer:

      1. Sign Paul George to 4-year max deal on the first day of free agency. There is no better fit for the Lakers. Paul wants to come home and this weekend at Staples is only going to make him want it even more. We pass on LeBron and his baggage and commit to building around PG and the kids.

      2. Use the $35 million it would cost LeBron to sign Julius Randle, Isaiah Thomas, and Nerlens Noel to 3-year deals between $10-15 million per eyar so we keep all of their Bird Rights. Elite players on favorable contracts can be easily moved if we need to open up cap space and chances that the true superstars like Davis or Porzingis or Antetokounmpo will be moved via trade and not free agency.


      Reserves: Isaiah Thomas, Josh Hart, Trevor Ariza, Julius Randle, Thomas Bryant

      • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

        Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 9:53 AM on February 18, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Thanks LT, I think those are all reasonable aspirations for the now and for the summer. It’s been one of the better, certainly more fun, Laker seasons in a long while. Hoping it continues to track upwards. I really hope we can sign Paul George. If not, I’m fine kicking that can one more summer, although losing Clarkson and Nance for an empty summer will stick in my craw if we don’t.

        • LakerTom (Publisher) 10:00 AM on February 18, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Thanks, Jamie. Don’t worry about the Clarkson/Nance trade. I’m betting right now that when all the smoke clears, we’ll be remembering Clarkson and Nance as the guys we had to give up to get Isaiah Thomas, who will become a Lakers perennial 6th Man of the Year candidate for a championship Lakers team.

    • Magicman (Editor)

      Magicman (Editor) 11:58 AM on February 18, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Well thought out.

  • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

    Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 10:34 PM on February 13, 2018 Permalink  

    If Kyle Korver ever figures out to shoot on a team with LeBron James…watch out.

  • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

    Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 9:08 AM on February 11, 2018 Permalink  

    Been baby watching but I liked how we played the new guys! IT looked good, Ingram ascending. This was a coulda, shoulda, woulda kind of game.

    • LakerKev

      LakerKev 9:10 AM on February 11, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I agree Jamie… loved what I saw last night offensively. On the individual game level, it was a strategic mistake to leave a barely-practiced IT in at the end; but I think Walton was showing his appreciation of and confidence in IT’s game. Can’t wait for Lonzo to get back, and I’m anticipating a very strong close to this season… great things ahead for our Lakers! Woo-Hoo!!!

    • LakerTom (Publisher) 9:36 AM on February 11, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      This game reminded me of the Hornets game. The Mavs shot way better than normal. Dirk had a season high. Powell was a real problem and the Mavs took advantage of the Lakers major defensive weakness -- no rim protection. We also missed Nance’s defensive smarts in rotation. Lots of miscommunications. The one thing I wish we took care at the trade deadline was landing a rim protector. Hopefully, we’ll go after NN or DD this summer. Lopez is OK but is so slow afoot and can’t jump that he doesn’t deter anybody from attacking the rim. Isaiah has already learned you can’t throw Brook lobs in the post that he has to jump for.

      Biggest take away from last night was that the Isaiah Thomas the Lakers got is going to be a lot more like the Celtics’ IT than the Cavs’ IT. That spells HUGE WIN for LA. Even though we didn’t see Frye, the addition of IT combined with the improved 3-point shooting of Lonzo, Ingram, and Hart is going to make our offense much harder to guard. I bet our 3-point shooting for the second half of the season could be top half of the league, which should translate into more wins than losses. Luke’s offense is perfect for Isaiah. IT just needs to perform, stay humble, and help the Lakers challenge to make the playoffs. Redemption will be sweet.

    • LakerTom (Publisher) 9:46 AM on February 11, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      How is the little one and mother doing, Jamie? Hope life is sweeter and better for you all.

  • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

    Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 10:13 AM on February 8, 2018 Permalink  

    Hope This Works Out But…. 

    That’s a hefty price to clear the decks for players who may or may not come here. Re-signing IT and Frye is, likely, not what most Laker fans thought of when Rob and Magic say ‘two max contract free agents’. Isiah Thomas Jr. will be expecting max money but has played nowhere near that level this season as he works his way back from a hip injury he only rehabbed and didn’t opt for surgery. That’s a major concern going forward, especially if the Ramona Shelburne report of the Lakers intentions to keep both players rings true.

    I’m very sad to see Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson leave us. Neither would have ever been an All Star, although Larry will now be repping his hometown of Cleveland as opposed to his adopted home of LA in the Slam Dunk competition, but they played very hard on Laker teams that had z-e-r-o chances of success based on the overall level of talent and experience. While the likely late first rounder is a decent consolation prize it doesn’t make this a great trade, it only makes it palatable.

    So, in honor of two of my favorite Lakers, I offer up this little ditty.

    Still a lot of trading deadline day to go…who else might be headed out the door?

  • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

    Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 11:28 AM on February 7, 2018 Permalink  

    A feeling I’ve not felt since… 

    Earlier this century. That’s the last time I expected to see the Lakers have a shot at winning just about every game they played. While I’m not quite there, I do feel there is a subset of teams in the NBA we are “better” than. The issue has been the young kids playing down or up to their level of competition. Star player out? Rando benchie goes off for 20 points and 7 dimes. Lottery team in the midst of tanking? 22 point blowout. So the story line had been going in recent years.

    This year started off much the same. Up to, and including, the 9 game losing streak that culminated with coach Walton and the Lakers addressing reports he had ‘lost the team’ we didn’t play to our level of talent, skill or work ethic. We played down to lower teams and got up big time for the best. I have no idea what changed. Maybe it was the team meeting, maybe it was the media reports and the team not wanting to have to answer questions about their coach, maybe it was LeVar Ball. Who freaking knows or, really, who cares.

    The Lakers are playing their best basketball in years. They’re not relying on anyone single player, they’re playing with collective intent. Sure there are breakdowns, and there will continue to be as they grow and the league adjusts, but to see this level of play sustained for most of January into February has been a an absolute blast to watch. Coach Walton has the team playing playoff level defense after we had slipped in December on that end. An improved team-wide effort and the insertion of Josh Hart as a starter over Ennis or Caruso has paid off well on defense. The coaching staff should get some of that credit for making some changes.

    Brandon Ingram looked like he was returning to the form we’ve seen in flashes. The form where he scores on a mix of drives, pull ups and catch and shoot opportunities. He made all of his free throws. He had defended well at the rim. He had a game-changing dunk. He canned his three point shots. BI was playing some of his best ball all season last night, definitely worth a look at the highlights.

    Josh Hart continued to fill in extremely well at the starting PG position. His second double-double (points and rebounds) as well as some great defense makes him my choice as the back up PG for the foreseeable future. Ennis has been basically terrible all year, Caruso is a G-League level player who will turn in that one great game every once in awhile. Hart shows up every night. He’s canning threes with confidence. He’s bodying up guys and getting in great defensive position (those calls will start to swing his way when he gets more of a defensive rep). In some ways he’s already light years ahead of Lonzo Ball, minus the uncanny vision, but that’s what 4 years of college does for a young player. While I’m under no illusions that Hart is on the verge of stealing Ball’s starting spot I do like how we could have a nice starter/back up progression where we have good to great defenders at the PG spot all game long in the future. Josh Hart: another late first-round diamond unearthed by the Laker scouting department.

    Kuzma and Randle both had solid games at the 4, Randle ran into a rough patch in the third where he started turning the ball over by attacking the defense far too aggressively but Luke sat him down to mull it over and got him back in the game down the stretch to help us close it out in style. Kuzma got STAPLES center rocking and rolling with a transition throwdown that could qualify as the dunk of the year. Sometimes Kyle leaves those a little short at the rim…not last night. Epic stuff from the rookie who looks like he’s returning to early season form.

    As I said, fun win. Great stuff all around and even the guys who struggled to score (KCP and Clarkson come to mind) found ways to impact the game positively in other ways. We’re one game under .500 at STAPLES. Getting to .500 and pushing past that is a very realistic goal for this team. If we start to approach .500 on the road…look out, NBA, the Lakers are coming for you sooner than expected. Go Lakers.

    • mud

      mud 12:00 PM on February 7, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      i agree, this is fun.
      i just wanted to point out, though, that Josh Hart has been playing small forward.

      • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

        Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 12:06 PM on February 7, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        …in the starting line up? No, Ingram may be bringing the ball up on occasion (especially in the 4th) but Josh Hart is listed as the starting PG. Josh Hart is becoming the Derek Fisher of PGs: there mainly for defense and timely scoring because there are other guys who are better at breaking down a defense. Lonzo Ball has done the same thing when a half court heave isn’t available. He isn’t playing SF, either.

        • mud

          mud 12:46 PM on February 7, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          nope, Ingram has been starting at point. you notice that he is guarded by little guys and he has been guarding point guards, while Hart has been goi8ng against bigger guys?

          Josh Hart has a lot in common with Fisher, both are very strong, and both a good spot up shooters and both are tough as nails, but Fisher is(was) a much better ball handler. Hart can play 2 or 3, but he’s not really fit to be a 1.

          even Luke Walton said that Brandon is playing the point. since Hart is listed officially as a guard, so fan listings will show that, just like BI is listed as a forward, so he won’t be listed as a guard in the paper or on ESPN, but that has nothing to do with where he is being played. Hart has been playing Small Forward. he is 6′ 5″ and 215 pounds. he can hold his own against that position, no problem.

          believe me or not, this is factual.

    • Michael H (Editor)

      Michael H (Editor) 12:42 PM on February 7, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Nice write up Jamie

      It has been fun to watch and Josh has looked like another steal of the draft. While everything else pretty much went wrong, the scouting department has been amazing. Just one note. BI has been playing the point. And in the NBA.com box score BInis listed at point guard. Hopefully once Ball returns Luke can adjust the rotations to have BI play some PG when Ball is resting.

    • LakerTom (Publisher) 2:51 PM on February 7, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Good stuff, Jamie. My wife and I took a drive out to Point Reyes this morning and I almost missed your post due to all the new posts. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Lakers play the rest of the season and how Lonzo returning impacts the lineup and our record. All told, Lonzo has missed one third of the games the Lakers have played this season.

      While it’s obvious at times that Luke is still learning how to coach and what he has with each player, you have to give him great credit for how this team is playing, defending, and competing. Starting Josh Hart rather than Ennis or Caruso and turning point guard duties over to Ingram was a great move for a couple of reasons.

      First, Hart’s presence greatly improved the starting lineup at both ends with his physical defense and intelligent shot selection. Teams that tried to post Josh up and take advantage of the rookie quickly learned that was not a smart move. Kid can defend. I love the Mini-Barkley comparisons. Josh is for real and only Paul George will keep him on the bench.

      Second, and more importantly, however, was Luke’s decision to have Ingram take over the starting point guard duties rather than relying on Ennis or Caruso. That was the move that opened up Hart to play small forward, where he continued to show the defensive toughness and skillset to guard bigger players. And by putting him at the point, it ensured Ingram would stay aggressive.

      Third, it was good to see Luke prioritize the starting lineup and not worrying about the impact to the bench of promoting one of their key players to a starter. Good to see Luke not hesitate this time to move Josh into the starting lineup to improve them at both ends. It’s great to see a young coach learn and apply the lesson.

      The next thing I want to see Luke do is roll out a Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Julius Randle small ball lineup. So far, that fivesome has posted zero minutes. I think it could be the Lakers most versatile and deadly lineup.

      • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

        Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 4:23 PM on February 7, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        “The next thing I want to see Luke do is roll out a Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Julius Randle small ball lineup. So far, that fivesome has posted zero minutes. I think it could be the Lakers most versatile and deadly lineup.”

        That’s an interesting lineup, we’ve basically seen it minus Lonzo Ball and substitute Clarkson for Ball and KCP for Hart, in some situations. My worry has and will continue to be Lonzo’s lack of getting his own shot. That’s what makes Clarkson as valuable as he is to this team. There are other players out there who can drive and create or score better than Jordan does, but they’re on this team. I hope that the many injuries Lonzo has suffered since the summer have kind of added up and sapped his scoring a bit. While he doesn’t need to score like Ingram does, he does need to be able to hit open shots and make layups. He’s struggled in both those areas for most of the season. Same with his free throw shooting which is terrible. All of it compounds his basic issue which is he’s a little too ‘team first’. Same issue I have with Larry Nance Jr.

        At any rate, I’m glad they’re taking it easy with his return because a healthy player is a better player, which is better for the team. I think he and Hart as a 1/2 defensive monster would be a ton of fun to watch. They are both defensive pluses. Throw in Ingram, or better yet a defensive superstar like Paul George, and you have the next great Laker Defense of this era.

        Good stuff, lately, it’s been a lot more fun to write about and enjoy on game days. Here’s to more games like this recent spate and to a healthier Lonzo making it all even better.

        • LakerTom (Publisher) 5:33 PM on February 7, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Definitely a lot more fun to blog when we’re winning, Jamie.

          I think Lonzo will be fine. His 3-point shooting has improved greatly since his horrid start. Since 11/18/17, Lonzo has shot 35.6% from deep, 4th best on Lakers behind Hart, Lopez, Ingram, and Kuzma and ahead of KCP’s 34.8% or Clarkson’s 30.1%. I don’t have a comparison for his layups but he’s improved in that area too although not as much as his outside shooting. I think we hold him out until after the All-Star break to make sure he’s 100% ready to go.

          Everybody has forgotten how good Lonzo is because of a few great wins without him but his defense and playmaking alone are at the heart of what this team is all about. Kuz is going to be a star and Hart a Derek Fisher or Robert Horry qualiity contributor but make no mistake, Lonzo Ball is the heart and engine of this team which screams watch out when he gets back and this team is running on all cylinders. He will still be the Lakers Rookie of the Year if not decade.

    • Magic Phil

      Magic Phil 6:53 PM on February 7, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      C’mon man, Caruso is good. Not flashy but old-school playmaker. Super smart. I’d leave him there when we have to play BI on SF

      • Magicman (Editor)

        Magicman (Editor) 7:41 PM on February 7, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Caruso I like a lot, MP.

        I think he needs to be developed.

        Zo, Josh, Kyle are Sink or swim players. Obviously, they’ve proven they can swim in the deep end and not drown.

        Alex and Thomas need seasoning, some salt and pepper in the G League.

      • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

        Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 8:23 PM on February 7, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        He’s certainly smart, you need guys like him to help manufacture system buckets. But, like many of our smart role players, needs to figure out a way to do more than pass. Especially when you get all the way to the rim. Teams just sit on him to pass now and it often works. I think he’s done a lot with his opportunity, so far, still has some to grow, too.

    • mclyne32 (Director) 8:53 PM on February 7, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Great write up, man.
      It’s so nice to be able to look forward to each game again!

  • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

    Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 10:13 PM on February 6, 2018 Permalink  

  • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

    Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 4:39 PM on February 6, 2018 Permalink  

    For those who dig a bit of grunge…stay tuned til the end for some epic Evil Knievel “poetry”. Amazing stuff.

  • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

    Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 10:40 PM on February 5, 2018 Permalink  

    Lakers have bounced back from losing streak with their best basketball in years 

    The Lakers are 21-31, a win total they did not reach until March 24 last season, and four wins better than they finished the 2015-16 season.

    Source: Lakers have bounced back from losing streak with their best basketball in years

  • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

    Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 9:58 PM on February 4, 2018 Permalink  

    Tough Win 

    Tough as in we were tough both mentally and physically all night. All 5 starters in double-figures was a nice flip of the season-long script of the bench outplaying the starters, for the most part. Outside of Clarkson pouring in 18 points (most of them from 3) the bench mostly held the line. Which is the traditional role of an NBA bench. What was the outlier tonight was how very well the starters played, especially on the defensive end.

    It started with Josh Hart who had his second double-digit rebounding game in his second game as the starting PG. He also set the tone defensively not backing down from any of the Thunder superstars that routinely got switched onto him on the perimeter. Josh Hart has grown on me each every week this season. I started off wondering why we picked him and have come to appreciate his tenacity, winning attitude and team-first mentality. He has a little Derek Fisher in him, methinks.

    Julius Randle turned it up against Carmelo Anthony and his aggression was a catalyst for the rest of the team. His game comes with some caveats (offensive fouls and turnovers) but he didn’t back down and it was a big part of the win tonight. He’s playing with a real nice blend of aggression and control, lately. Real nice to see him play his way out of his early season funk.

    Brandon Ingram continued to show signs of being fully recovered from his ankle sprain and his quad injury. His 5 assists were tied for the team lead along with Brook ‘don’t count him out’ Lopez. Brook has played very well since the 9 minute stint a couple games ago. Been hitting his 3s at a decent clip, but more importantly he’s doing damage in the post. His improved effort was rewarded by the staff with 4th quarter minutes.

    All in all, great win tonight. The Thunder are as legit as it gets. We kept our composure better in a nationally televised game. Our defense held strong all game allowing us to win 3 out of 4 quarters against a team that expects to compete for the Larry O this season. A tip of the cap to the coaching staff for crafting a great game plan and an excellent job of the players executing it, competing hard, and for stating the course and not losing their cool in the face of adversity.

    21-31, climbing and scrambling towards respectability. Good to see. Phoenix at home, let’s see if we can climb closer to .500 at home. Enjoy the win and let’s beat the Suns. Go Lakers!

    • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

      Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 10:03 PM on February 4, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Also, congrats to the Eagles!

    • Magic2Worthy

      Magic2Worthy 7:52 AM on February 5, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Hart is really coming along….. Wish LB had been healthy and we were watching him improve too!!

    • LakerTom (Publisher) 9:34 AM on February 5, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Next Thursday night’s final re-match with the Thunder at Staples is going to be a huge game for the Lakers and Thunder and maybe for Paul George and Lonzo Ball.

      The Thunder could be looking to break a 5-game losing streak since they play the Warriors Tuesday night while the Lakers could be looking to win their 4th in a row assuming they can handle the Suns Tuesday night.

      The trade deadline is also Thursday. Will Randle, Clarkson, and Nance, Jr. be Lakers. Maybe the Lakers and Thunder make a big trade: PG for RC&N? :-)

      It could also be Lonzo Ball’s first game back from injuy.

      And it will be the Lakers’ and Paul George’s last chance this year to pesonally audition for each other.

      Can the Lakers win their 4th in a row and seal Paul George returning to LA this summer?
      Biggest game of the year for the young Lakers.

  • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

    Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 10:13 PM on January 31, 2018 Permalink  

    Different Kinda Streak 

    That about sums it up. Some of our players managed to put the ball in the basket better than others, nobody played well. Terrible effort on the court, non-existent coaching in the game. Nothing smart happened on the court. I think, think mind you, we played 2 minutes of something resembling a motion offense and a lot of standing around the rest of the game.

    Worst game of the season, so far. Lopez left the bench for a hot minute, “bathroom break” was the official reason and it’s safe to assume the team play left him feeling as bad as we all did. Defense was just…nonexistent. Heart stayed on the bus. No execution further marred by the coaches not really trying to do anything about it. They looked as ‘given up’ as anyone on the bench.

    Nothing to do but turn the page.

  • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

    Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 5:42 PM on January 28, 2018 Permalink  

    The Winning Streak ends with a 

    At any rate, there were some mild bright spots. Caruso looks more like the first backup off the bench every game. After a rough start (one similarly experienced by Josh Hart who was slow in coming back from his leg injury) Caruso has shown he can compete at this level. In 13 games he’s shooting 46%, 36% from 3. Like the rest of the team his free throws are a mess, but he makes solid reads and hasn’t shown a proclivity to make silly plays. Ennis struggled from the start, never found a groove, and largely looks nothing like the player I was mildly fond of late last season. Not sure what is going on but he’s committing absurdly silly fouls, not really hustling how we’ve seen he can, and is making terrible reads with the ball. Not a good recipe for your success at this level.

    Julius Randle had an awesome first half and should have been the focal point of the offense tonight but never really was. Jonas couldn’t stop him, Serge couldn’t stop him and yet they settled for a lot of jump shots when they were down in the third. Larry Nance Jr. had a great game, Clarkson a so-so game for him, lately. Kuzma looked tired, again, but I think he and Hart are in the middle of hitting their respective rookie walls. I’m hoping he gets some bounce back in him. Maybe after All Star weekend.

    Comebacks hinge on stops and scoring off of them but despite turning over the Raptors 15 times we only scored 8 fast break points. We played so-so defense tonight (too many points in the paint) but just could not figure out how to score on the Raptors. Won the battle from the free throw line, for once, but lost the rebounding game and we just couldn’t knock down threes to save our lives. That’s what makes it so odd we ignored our best low post players so often when that was the only part of the game working for us. Need to be a smarter team followed by a better fundamentals team. Hallmarks of a young team learning.

    All in all, the Raptors are going to the playoffs, maybe even the Eastern Conf. Finals, and with the Cavs struggling and Boston not having an option other than Kyrie…this could be the year they get to the Finals. They’re a solid NBA team. You maybe don’t want to see Fred VanVleet go off on you for 25 points…but there it is. Maybe this is the game that helps us move past losing our effort and focus when a couple shots or calls don’t go your way, especially on the road. Couple days off before the flight to Florida and the Orlando Magic. The best teams lose one and start a new streak, let’s see how these young Lakers respond.

    Oh, I almost forgot. Congrats Nigel Hayes on some big NBA minutes and team leading PER of +7!!!

    • Magicman (Editor)

      Magicman (Editor) 5:57 PM on January 28, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      VanFleet can play. He’s not a scrub.

      Ron Baker can play to.

      Even though most analysts didn’t think either one could make the NBA.

      Wichita State produces NBA talent

      • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

        Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 6:33 PM on January 28, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        “Wichita State produces NBA talent” that’s what Stu Lantz said. They’re a good to possibly great team when the bench plays like that and the starters play their roles well enough. They no longer need a huge game from either DeRozan or Lowry or good games from both to win. This team’s so good it could cost coach Casey his job if they get bounced early.

    • tate793

      tate793 6:05 PM on January 28, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Brook Lopez and KCP had horrible games. Lopez cannot be counted on to block out or rebound. His scoring is sporadic, at best. Ingram’s shot was way off, too. Really wouldn’t hurt to give Bryant some burn. Couldn’t be any worse than Lopez.

      I’m also scratching my head over some of Luke’s decisions/indecisions and lack of adjustments.

      Again, we allowed the opposition 50%+ fg shooting and missed a whopping 10 free throws.

      • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

        Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 7:35 PM on January 28, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Yeah, I keep wondering how long Luke and the front office decide to keep Brook in that starting spot. Wouldn’t be too surprised to see some lineup changes after the trading deadline and again after the All Star break. Especially if we’re well out of a playoff spot. 7 back from the 8 spot it only kinda out of it in the modern NBA. Lots of season left.

        I feel like Randle and Thomas Bryant would do great as a starter/backup tandem. I’d like to see Zubac as a starter when the season starts to wind down, see if he’s got something to bring. But I figure, at least until the trade deadline, they’ll give the big money some minutes to see if they can get something of value or restocks our draft picks.

        It’s one reason I’m surprised by Deng playing zero, not even dressing. I’m not even sure he’s with the team, they don’t show him on the bench. It’s like he’s persona non grata.

        • mud

          mud 8:43 PM on January 28, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          it was announced at the beginning of the season that the team informed Deng that this would happen.

          • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

            Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 11:30 PM on January 28, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

            Yeah I remember that, I just wondered if they would at least trot him out a few times before the deadline. Make an attempt to generate some interest in him. Likely they’re resigned to waiving and stretching him.

    • MongoSlade

      MongoSlade 6:14 PM on January 28, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      When u have a team this young the biggest issue is inconsistency. That’s why u can’t get too low during a 10 game losing streak or too high when they win 8 outta 10. Gonna see some “flashes of brilliance” (hate that phrase) combined with stretches of incompetence…the truth is someplace in the middle.

      • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

        Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 6:37 PM on January 28, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Yeah, that’s what I hope to see more of than less of by year’s end. Consistency.

        Thought Ingram really had it going until he tweaked that ankle. Needs to keep building up that frame, lot of thin spots that can only take so many hits or weird falls.

        Raps a re a great team so no shame in losing them, only thing I didn’t like was the efoort and like Magicman said: go rubber (sic.legs)

  • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

    Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 3:37 PM on January 28, 2018 Permalink  

    Tyler Ennis is so bad he couldn’t backup the ball boy. Dude just doesn’t bring much to the table and when doesn’t play smart it’s even worse. Caruso should be starting, that’s how bad Ennis has been save for a game or two this season.

  • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

    Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 6:18 PM on January 27, 2018 Permalink  

    Andre Roberson of Oklahoma City Thunder injures left leg, taken off court on stretcher 

    Visit ESPN to get up-to-the-minute sports news coverage, scores, highlights and commentary for NFL, MLB, NBA, College Football, NCAA Basketball and more.

    Source: Andre Roberson of Oklahoma City Thunder injures left leg, taken off court on stretcher

  • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

    Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 1:31 PM on January 27, 2018 Permalink  

    Saturday Musings 

    First off, great win last night. To say we won with defense, again, feels odd in that the Bulls were on fiiiyyyaaaaah from deep last night. If they had been able to score from anywhere but the three point line consistently (terrible free throw% for Chicago, too) the game would have been a lot tougher to win. The flip side is we would have won going away if we had allowed fewer offensive rebounds (16!) to the Bulls so…

    One thing I liked was how Luke is settling in on something resembling a rotation. Brook at the start of the halves, small ball to finish halves. Clarkson, Randle, Ingram and whomever is hustling to close games out. That’s been the formula, for the most part, during the uptick in winning over the last couple of weeks. Clarkson has found a nice rhythm, Randle is playing with a more relaxed form of aggression, Ingram had his best game last night since tweaking that ankle.

    The team is obviously taking it’s time with Lonzo Ball, smart move. The knees are nothing to mess with and we’re not really in the playoff hunt. His long term health is the concern and he wasn’t knocking on that Rookie of the Year door very hard. More likely to be considered for that honor will be Kyle Kuzma, although I think Ben ‘Should Have Been a Rookie Last Year but Whatever’ SImmons will get it as he’s likely to be part of a playoff team.

    Speaking of Kuzma, he got hot early and cooled late and I liked how Luke didn’t hesitate to sub in Nance and go for the win. Development and winning comes with a tightrope balancing act for our young coach. I thought Luke was smart to get that unit on the floor to close it out and let Ingram and Clarkson go to work. Ingram scored 10 points in the 4th quarter, Clarkson had 4 assist to zero turnovers, and the defnese held strong despite a furious Bulls rally. Great coaching by Luke last night and since the 9 game losing streak ended, in general.

    The free agent picture isn’t one the team can control and it looks like they’ve found a way to tune it out. Smart. The business side of the sporting world is always the coldest aspect of the game. The only thing to guard against it is to rally around your tribe. Being mentioned in trade rumors as a young player is actually an honor. It means you’re making noise, roll with it and put that work in.

    To that, the cap space we’ll have this summer will be there…in the summer. The players we can expect to be traded are actually the one’s whose deals are expiring. Brook to the Pelicans could happen (toss in Jameer Nelson to make the salaries work, or whomever on the lower end of their salary spectrum). Deng, works, too. Rehab Cousins for a year or so is one option.

    Seeing what happens with Paul George is another. I am of the opinion that, if there’s any kind of decent playoff in run in OKC they go into the tax and keep that group together. If there’s not, who knows. But I think that ownership group is very leery of trading away superior talent for a gamble, I also think Laker ownership is smarter than trading away any of their current crop of talent for anything more than a superstar signed past next year. Trading a player we have no intention of resigning, sure, or one of the expiring deals for a player…maybe. I think the Lakers will look to keep the core together and add a player of impact over the summer. Keep the flexibility intact for next summer.

    End of the day, I’m loving how we’re competing right now and I think the front office does, too. We got our defensive mojo back, we’re playing smarter every game and they’re back to scoring via team offense and little less iso ball. Those are winning ingredients and to shake it up now seems foolish, unless you’re getting a major talent in return that is already signed beyond next season. A 2 month rental for a player that can walk should not be in the Lakers’ plans. At least in this fan’s opinion. But I am not seer nor do I possess a crystal abll, it’s the NBA: anything can happen.

    • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

      Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 6:54 PM on January 27, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      With the season done for Roberson I would wager the Thunder are less likely to trade Paul George. Having said that the Lakers a re pretty much the only team that could offer enough raw talent that could approach the combined contributions of those 2 players. Would you do a deal for Andre Roberson and Paul George for Deng and Clarkson? Roberson is on the hook for $10 mil for 2 more years after this one.

      • MongoSlade

        MongoSlade 7:18 PM on January 27, 2018 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        I’m getting the feeling that PG is gonna stay in OKC. Pelinka rolling back the talk of getting top free agents kinda struck me as him getting word thru “back channels” that these dudes ain’t gonna be lining up this off-season. It’ll be expensive for OKC for one season then Melo comes off the books & they dip outta the repeater tax. Their real Big 3 is Russ, PG, & Adams..that’s as solid a core as any in the league…outside of Oakland…

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